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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.

‘€œIt 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. ‘€œI’€™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.

NHL Power Rankings, 1/20

01.20.10 at 7:03 am ET
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Hey, all you Joe Thornton bashers, look at it this way: The longer the Sharks stay at the top of our Power Rankings, the bigger their chance for another playoff letdown. But for now, they are at top of their game and once again the top of the rankings.

1. (1) 33-10-8 Even with a 2-1 shootout setback to the Bruins, in which they outshot Boston by a 41-31 margin, the Sharks went 3-0-1 on the week and continue to circle atop the NHL waters.

2. (3) 34-12-4 Tuesday’s uninspired 4-1 loss to the Senators, who were playing the second of back-to-back games, eliminated the Blackhawks from consideration for the top spot.

3. (5) 31-12-6 The Capitals rallied to beat Detroit Tuesday and have won four straight.

4. (2) 32-14-1 There’s some trouble brewing in the swaps of Jersey, as the Devils have lost three in a row.

5. (4) 30-12-6 After an impressive 7-2 win vs. Phoenix Monday, the Sabres gave up four goals in the first period of a 5-4 loss in Anaheim Tuesday. That’s a strange bit of inconsistency for highly consistent and efficient team.

6. (7) 28-15-6 The remarkable success of the Avalanche this season could best tested while they attempt to overcome the loss of Milan Hejduk (knee surgery) over the next 3-4 weeks.

7. (8) 29-17-3 A minor concern in the Music City: The Nashville power play has not scored in three straight games (0-6). Still, the Preds have won 3-of-4.

8. (11) 28-18-2 A lopsided 6-2 win over the Penguins Saturday could get the Canucks back on track. The victory ended a three-game losing steak.

9 . (10) 31-19-1 Hmm, rest of the league please take note: Sidney Crosby had SIX points (2 goals, 4 assists) and Evgeni Malkin had a hat trick in the Penguins’ 6-4 win Tuesday over the previously very hot Islanders. A frozen giant may be waking up.

10. (9) 28-17-5 Ouch, the Coyotes suffered a 7-2 home loss to Buffalo Monday. That’s the most goals the Yotes have allowed this season, but they’re still holding on to second place in the Pacific.

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B’s no match for Sens

01.18.10 at 3:31 pm ET
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Summary ‘€“ Daniel Alfredsson recorded a hat trick and Mike Fisher added three assists as the Ottawa Senators handled the Bruins, 5-1, in the MLK Day matinee at TD Garden. While Patrice Bergeron [thumb] and Dennis Wideman returned from injuries, the Bruins were forced to play without forwards Byron Bitz, Steve Begin and Marco Sturm. Those three are in addition to Marc Savard and Andrew Ference, both already on the injured list. The Bruins broke through five minutes into the third on Daniel Paille’s sixth goal of the season. The Senators beat the Bruins for the first time in five meetings this season.

Three Stars

Daniel Alfredsson ‘€“ Recorded a hat trick in his second game back from a left shoulder injury that forced him to miss 11 games over three weeks. He has four goals and two assists in his return.

Mike Fisher ‘€“ His play-making was evident throughout. He assisted on the first three Ottawa goals.

Filip Kuba ‘€“ He tallied two assists and played a terrific two-way game, never allowing the short-handed Bruins to get any momentum going.

Turning Point

Blake Wheeler, playing the role of San Diego Chargers kicker Nick Kaeding, fired wide left in the first period, setting a rush the other way for the Senators. That rush resulted in the game’s first goal at 7:39 of the first by Alex Kovalev. The Bruins never seemed the same after.

Key Play

With Alfredsson on the doorstep to the right of Tim Thomas, Kuba found Alfredsson with a beautiful pass from the right point and the goal turned a 2-0 game into a 3-0 affair in the second period. It marked the end of the day for Thomas after six saves on nine shots and 30 minutes of play and the end of any realistic chance the Bruins had on the day.

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Ottawa Senators,

Julien: ‘We’re not going the other way’

01.18.10 at 2:46 pm ET
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Monday was a day that America took time to remember one of the great speeches ever delivered in U.S. history.

And while Claude Julien was trying to repeat Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ address, he did take time before the Bruins’ MLK Day matinee with Ottawa to remind everyone that his team won’t let nagging injuries get them down.

Even before his short-handed team took the ice Monday afternoon without Steve Begin, Marco Sturm, Marc Savard, Andrew Ference and Byron Bitz and got smoked by Ottawa, Julien sounded a hopeful if not optimistic tone.

“We’ll go out there and play hard and hopefully get good results,” Julien said in the moments before Monday’s debacle.

Julien did want to make one thing clear. He’s not blaming the injuries on the training staff.

“None of injuries are related to conditioning,” he said. “It’s really about the injuries banged up because of contact with different things. It’s got nothing to do with the conditioning. At the same time, it’s definitely not from being fatigued or tired because we’re really trying to give those guys some rest whenever we can.

“I don’t know if you want to call it bad luck but every year is different. Some years you go through a whole season and you’re fortunate to stay away from those injuries. Other years, you get more and we’re just one of many teams that are going through that right now.” Read the rest of this entry »

Begin, Bitz and Sturm all out against Sens

01.18.10 at 12:46 pm ET
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The short-handed Bruins will be without forwards Steve Begin, Byron Bitz and Marco Sturm for their matinee clash with the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Both are out with undisclosed injuries.

The team, already without Marc Savard and Andrew Ference, could get a boost with the return of center Patrice Bergeron and defenseman Dennis Wideman.

Bergeron has been out for six games with a broken thumb while Wideman returns after an undisclosed injury.

“I think the doctors had a chat with him and he wants to give it a try,” head coach Claude Julien said pregame of Bergeron’s desire to return Monday. “He’s been practicing now for a week.”

As for Bitz, Julien was a little more cryptic.

“Actually, it’s something new,” the coach said. “We’re a little banged up, but we’re grinding through and again, don’t make excuses.”

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Patrice Bergeron,
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