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Savard Joins Full Practice

01.22.10 at 12:21 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins are working on some power play drills and some from the corner 2-on-1 drills today at Ristuccia as they try to forget Thursday’s painful upset at the hands of the Blue Jackets. Marc Savard is on the ice wearing a red sweater and lightly participating in the session after a solo workout this morning.

“I felt great today,” Savard said. “I was only going to go out for a bit and ended up staying the whole way . . . We haven’t talked about [playing this weekend.] For now it is still next Friday. It is going to be up to the coaching staff and the training staff and how comfortable they are with it. I don’t have any pain and that is a good sign. I have the brace and felt solid out there.”

Other than that, the lines look like they are the same as last night. Marco Sturm, Steve Begin and Byron Bitz are not on the ice and Drew Larman is sticking around with the big club for at least one more day. Defenseman Andrew Ference is also still on the inactive list.

“Just going day-by-day,” Larman said before the Columbus game. “I am looking to bring my best to the ice.”

For those who may not be familiar with Larman, this is how he describes his game: “Strong two-way player, very solid in the defensive zone and reliable. Strong on face offs, strong on the penalty kill, getting in the right lanes, having and active stick, chipping in offensively with the right timing of a goal,” Larman said.

Larman had seven shifts with 5:29 of ice time on Thursday and recorded one shot.

- Here are the lines by sweater color:

Yellow: Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi, Daniel Paille

White: Michael Ryder, Trent Whitfield, Miroslav Satan

Grey: Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, Milan Lucic

Red: Larman, Vladimir Sobotoka, Shawn Thornton, Savard

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Derek Morris, Mark Stuart, Dennis Wideman, Matt Hunwick, Johnny Boychuk

Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas are both present and accounted for in the opposing goals.

- The Bruins will wear their Winter Classic sweaters tomorrow for their matinee rematch against Ottawa. This will be the second of four times that Boston will wear the sweaters this year.

Read More: Marc Savard,

Bruins got shafted but…

01.22.10 at 11:13 am ET
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The Bruins had all the reason in the world to feel they got shafted on Thursday night.

And that shaft belonged to one Anton Stralman, who clipped his teammate Derick Brassard with his stick. But, as everyone knows by now – including the officials – it was Milan Lucic who was incorrectly penalized with a four-minute high-sticking call.

The subsequent power play led to R.J. Umberger re-directing Stralman’s shot past Tuukka Rask for the deciding goal in a 3-2 heart-breaking loss to Columbus.

But after Bruins coach Claude Julien and his staff were given an apology by supervisor of officials Mick McGeough following the game, there was a sense that the officials’ error could have been easily mitigated if only the Bruins could somehow put away a last-place team on their home ice.

That was the focus of several players – including Lucic afterward.

Here’s what they had to say:

Lucic said the third-period must be a time to put away the competition and the Bruins aren’t.

Blake Wheeler said solving the third-period dilemma must be a priority.

Patrice Bergeron said it’s simple – Bruins need to bury their chances when they get them.

Julien pointed to David Krejci missing an open net early in the third period as a turning point.

After getting an apology from referee supervisor, Julien said it was just human error that led to Lucic call.

Julien was asked if instant replay, like in the NFL, would have helped the Bruins.

Bruins postgame: Video from Ryder

01.22.10 at 1:55 am ET
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Patrice Bergeron scored his first goal since coming back from a broken right thumb. But his goal, which put the Bruins up, 2-1 after two, turned out to be little consolation as the Bruins suffered another third-period meltdown on TD Garden ice in a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jackets.

The other goal scorer from Thursday night, Michael Ryder, said there’s no panic but the Bruins are still a team searching for ways to finish teams off in the third period.

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Patrice Bergeron,

Bruins cannot close out Blue Jackets

01.21.10 at 10:02 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins dropped a heartbreaker to the Columbus Blue Jackets, as they watched a 2-1, third-period lead disintegrate into a 3-2 loss in front of a packed house at the TD Garden. The Jackets’ R.J. Umberger tipped an Anton Stralman blast from the point past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask with a little more than a minute left in the game.

Michael Ryder struck the first blow in the game off an open-ice dish from Trent Whitfield to give the Bruins an early 1-0 advantage in the first. Columbus struck back later in the period when Raffi Torres intercepted a weak clearing pass from defenseman Dennis Wideman and crossed to Chris Clark, who beat Rask with a slap shot from the high slot.

Boston outplayed the Blue Jackets in the second period and took the lead when Patrice Bergeron split a pair of defenders with a shot that beat Steve Mason low on the glove side. It looked like the Bruins were going to make the goal stand until Antoine Vermette busted down Rask’s door in the middle of the third to tie the game.

Three Stars

Steve Mason — Outside of the Umberger game-winner, Mason was the difference for the Blue Jackets on the night. He showed flashes of his former self from the 2008-09 season and was pivotal in stopping a plethora of B’s scoring chances in the first and second period and finished the game with 32 saves on 34 shots.

Antoine Vermette — The Bruins were never safe or comfortable when the Jackets’ first-line center was on the ice. He scored the tying goal and had a power-play goal disallowed (kicking) in the second period.

Patrice Bergeron — The Bruins’ points leader played a good all-around game and gave the Bruins the lead in the second period. The goal was his 12th of the year and added to his team high 32 points on the year.

Turning Point

The play that set up the Umberger game-winner was a phantom double-minor high-sticking penalty on Milan Lucic at the 18:29 mark in the third. Lucic was driving from the corner to the net when he was called for the penalty, setting up the power play. Columbus scored 15 seconds later after a timeout to break the Bruins’ back.

Key Play

Late in the second period, the Blue Jackets were on their first power play of the game when it appeared that Vermette had beaten Rask with with a dribbling puck when the goaltender was out of position. Rask immediately protested that the puck had gone off of Vermette’s skate and the officials reviewed the play. It turned out that Vermette had indeed kicked the puck into the goal with his back skate and the goal was disallowed because of the center’s “distinct kicking motion.” The Bruins would eventually lose the lead, but the play kept the advantage on their side until the final half of the third.

Read More: Michael Ryder, Patrice Bergeron, RJ Umberger, Tukka Rask

Savard shooting for next week, Sturm out again

01.21.10 at 12:06 pm ET
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Here are the notes from the morning skate at TD Garden.

– The Bruins recalled 24-year-old Drew Larman from Providence, which means that Marco Sturm, Steve Begin and Byron Bitz all will once again be unavailable for Boston Thursday evening when the B’s take on Columbus at TD Garden. None of the three forwards participated in the morning skate. Coach Claude Julien would not describe Bitz or Begin’s injuries because they could “be back at any time” and doing so would be a “liability.” Sturm left practice yesterday to prevent a setback with the leg injury he has been dealing with in the past week.

“He didn’t set himself back he just felt that he wasn’t ready so he pulled himself off before he set himself back,” Julien said.

There are no smoke and mirrors with the Bruins injury situation right now as the players who took part in the morning skate will be the ones to take the ice tonight.

“What you saw out there is what we got,” Julien said. “I don’t think there are any secrets there. We have got our 20 guys and that is what we will run with.”

– Marc Savard spoke the the media after the skate and said that he expects to be back in the lineup next Friday on the road against Buffalo. He sustained a Grade 2 partial MCL tear against Chicago 28-seconds into the first period on January 7th. Today was the second day that he has skated and he has been wearing a big brace on during his workouts.

“When I am actually out there and doing stuff and skating I am not thinking about it but when I stop I think about it for a bit. But, besides for that it feels pretty normal,” Savard said.

“Hopefully I am better for all of this and I finish strong,” Savard said. “I was out there today and I felt pretty good. I said ‘maybe I can come back Sunday?’ But that is not the case. I have got to watch it and make sure, you don’t want to come back on Sunday and hurt it again and be losing my mind. I am just going to work through it and have a good skate tomorrow and go from there.”

– Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice which probably means that he will get the start tonight against the Blue Jackets.

Read More: Marc Savard, Marco Sturm, Tuukka Rask,

Slumping Bruins look for a spark

01.20.10 at 7:35 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — There is a white board in the entrance hallway to the Bruins locker room in Ristuccia Arena where the NHL standings are updated in black marker every morning after practice. A few Bruins players watched as staff members filled out the Eastern Conference board, where Boston starts the day in seventh place with, two points ahead of the last playoff spot and three away from falling below the demarcation line for those who will be playing extended Spring hockey and those that won’t.

Much has been made of the fact that the Bruins have had an inordinate amount of injuries have derailed Boston this year after last year’s team was the Eastern Conference powerhouse throughout the regular season. The top line from last year is basically been non-existent this year with Phil Kessel in Toronto, Milan Lucic missing most of the first half of the season and Marc Savard out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury. But the Bruins struggles have not been all about injuries and schedule quirks. There are a couple players on the roster who have not been playing well of late, players who are important for Boston to put pucks in the net.

Two that immediately come to mind are Dennis Wideman and Michael Ryder. Wideman and the coaching staff know that he needs to bring up his intensity, his compete-level as they call it, if he is going to return to prior form as a productive member of the team.

“We are almost 50 games in now and you have to take charge of the situation and bring you intensity level up,” head coach Claude Julien said. “Because if you are going to play like a (number) five or six then that is the ice time you are going to get ice time wise. It is pretty simple. We have to do the right things for our hockey club and he needs to pick up his game. He knows it, he wants to, but he has got to understand that his intensity and his compete-level have to be higher.”

For the normally sharp-shooting defenseman, it may be his head that is getting in the way.

“It is probably more mental than anything,” Wideman said. “I have got to start practicing a little better and hopefully I carry if over into the game . . . I have been in slumps when I have not been scoring or playing this well, but never this long. It is tough to be confident you are playing that way.”

Wideman has 14 points on the year and has no reasonable shot of matching his career-high 50 points from last season, even if he does turn on the light and become a point-a-game player for the remainder of the season. His plus/minus of – 8 is tied for the worst on the team (Byron Bitz).

“When you are tied for the lead in the minus department of you hockey club you have to look at yourself and ask ‘is that really me?’” Julien said.

For a guy who averages around 23:00 minutes of ice time per game, that is a number that is not acceptable. Especially from a guy who should be the number two defenseman on the roster behind captain Zdeno Chara.

On the other hand is Ryder, who has 19 points (11 goals, 8 assists) and has been having trouble not just finding the net but also finding the puck to shoot. He has been held shot-less in two of the last four games.

“It is always tough when you are supposed to score and you are not producing and you definitely take it upon your self where you just have to start doing it,” Ryder said. “I’ve got to make sure that I play better.”

Ryder had 27 goals and 53 points last year and he will also be hard pressed to even approach those totals the rest of this season.

The Bruins have the potential on the roster to turn from where they are at now, a mediocre hockey club searching for a spark, to something more like what they were last year. If Ryder and Wideman can find their grooves and combine that with players returning from the infirmary, it would be a start in the right direction. Yet, as Julien said, the whole team needs to bring its compete level up.

“It is one of those things that, if you bring your compete level up, you have a chance,” Julien said. “We have a lot of guys out of our lineup but you have to hope that they guys that you have in your lineup, that their compete level is where it should be. We should make a game out of it. We didn’t make a game out of it last game and we look to rebound from that.”

Read More: Dennis Wideman, Michael Ryder,

Sturm Practices – McQuaid Recalled

01.20.10 at 11:29 am ET
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WILMINGTON — A little rest can do a body good.

The Bruins resumed hockey activities this morning at Ristuccia Arena after taking Tuesday off to rest and recover after their grinding California road trip and quick turn-around Monday Martin Luther King, Jr. Day matinee loss to Ottawa. Wingman and leading scorer Marco Sturm was back on the ice after missing the Senators game but forwards Byron Bitz and Steve Begin were missing once again.

Sturm skated with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi in yellow practice sweaters. The other lines for the day were: David Krejci, Blake Wheeler, Miroslav Satan (grey), Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic and Vladimir Sobotka (red) and Daniel Paille, Trent Whitfield and Michael Ryder (white).

Adam McQuaid was recalled from Providence and was the seventh defenseman on the rink. The 23-year-old has skated in eight games for the Bruins this season without a goal or an assist with 14 penalty minutes.

UPDATE — Sturm ended up leaving the practice rink early. Head coach Claude Julien said that he will be questionable for tomorrow night’s game against Columbus.

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