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Lehtonen returned to Providence

11.06.09 at 6:21 pm ET
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As expected, Bruins forward Mikko Lehtonen was returned to the Providence Bruins on Friday afternoon after filling in for the B’€™s Thursday night in their 2-1 shootout loss to the Canadiens. Lehtonen was held scoreless in 7:08 of ice time Thursday night, and will head back to the P-Bruins to build on his 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) and 25 penalty minutes in 11 AHL games.

Lehtonen was recalled on an emergency basis on Wednesday night, but was expected to return to Providence once Byron Bitz made it through Friday’€™s practice without aggravating his groin injury. Bitz thought he’€™d be ready to go for Saturday’€™s game against the Northeast Division-leading Sabres, who have allowed the fewest goals (24) in the NHL this season. Bitz skated with Trent Whitfield and Shawn Thornton

‘€œI feel pretty good. It’€™s one of those things where one day it feels better and hopefully I’€™m turning the corner here,’€ said Bitz. ‘€œIt feels pretty good. Hopefully it holds up. It’€™s always tough to watch, but it’€™s out of your control. If you’€™re injured, you’€™re injured. You just hope to heal as quickly as you can so you can get back out there.’€

Bitz also has the distinction of being David Krejci‘€™s roommate on road trips, and the Cornell alum was admittedly a bit concerned that he might also come down with the H1N1 virus after staying in the same hotel room with the center in Detroit. But he hasn’€™t started exhibiting any of the telltale symptoms, and hopes he’€™s out of the woods.

‘€œI thought about that a little bit when I first heard about, but I’€™ve been feeling fine, knock on wood,’€ said Bitz. ‘€œEverybody is so careful about washing their hands and trying not to spread any kind of a flu bug. I just saw it online that [Krejci] had the swine flu, and I was surprised. He didn’€™t say anything about feeling under the weather to me.’€

Read More: Byron Bitz, David Krejci, Mikko Lehtonen,

Bitz is back to practice with the B’s

11.06.09 at 12:53 pm ET
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WILMINGTON, Mass. ‘€“ The good news: Byron Bitz was back on the ice with the rest of the team practicing Friday morning after missing three games with a strained groin muscle. This also means that Bitz ‘€“ David Krejci‘€™s roommate on road trips ‘€“ hasn’€™t succumbed to the H1N1 virus that felled the 23-year-old playmaking pivot earlier this week.

The bad news: the Bruins are still mired in an offensive funk without the services of Marc Savard and Milan Lucic.

Bitz skated on a right wing with Trent Whitfield and Shawn Thornton during practice at Ristuccia Arena, and rookie Mikko Lehtonen was also still with the team practicing as the 13th forward.

If Bitz is healthy enough to play Saturday against the NHL‘€™s stingiest defense in the Buffalo Sabres ‘€“ allowing a league-best 24 goals this season, six better than the next-best team ‘€“ then the emergency call-up will likely be returned to the Providence Bruins.

Here are today’€™s lines from practice:

Marco Sturm ‘€“ Patrice Bergeron ‘€“ Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler ‘€“ Vladimir Sobotka ‘€“ Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille ‘€“ Steve Begin ‘€“ Brad Marchand
Shawn Thornton ‘€“ Trent Whitfield ‘€“ Byron Bitz/Mikko Lehtonen

We’ll have more in a bit.

Turn up the volume: no one will feel sorry for us

11.06.09 at 2:05 am ET
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Say this much for Bruins head coach Claude Julien – he’s not looking for sympathy.

In the opening month of the season, he has lost his leading playmaker Marc Savard, his leading tough guy in Milan Lucic and now, David Krejci, one of his most skilled young forwards has been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.

Add to that the team’s power play is dead last among the 30 NHL clubs and you have a team that is having a hard time scoring. How hard? Try 192 minutes, six seconds without lighting the lamp between Vladimir Sobotka’s tally on Saturday and Patrice Bergeron’s game-tying goal with 51.7 seconds to go on Thursday.

Still, the Bruins had to settle for just the one point as the trio of Blake Wheeler, Bergeron and Mark Recchi could not solve Carey Price in the shootout and fell 2-1 to the Montreal Canadiens.

Claude Julien said no one will feel sorry for the Bruins.

Julien said Bergeron deserved a star Thursday as Boston’s best player.

Montreal’s Carey Price said he could tell Bruins were desperate to score.

Tim Thomas said the Bruins couldn’t get discouraged when the Bergeron goal was disallowed in the second period.

Patrice Bergeron said the Bruins had to keep going, even after disallowed goal.

Bergeron said this is one step forward for the Bruins.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, NHL,

Bruins once again are shooting mostly blanks

11.05.09 at 9:46 pm ET
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The Bruins once again seemed to be all up, over and around the net, and — lo and behold — there was even a measly goal scored. The B’s hadn’t potted a point in 192 minutes and 6 seconds deep into the third period of Thursday night’s tilt against the Canadiens,  but they finally broke the proverbial ice with a Patrice Bergeron special with 52 seconds remaining on the clock. Boston salvaged a point, but they still ended up losing a 2-1 shootout to the hated Habs at TD Garden.

The defeat allowed them to avoid their third straight shutout loss, but it still shines a glaring light over a Black and Gold offensive problem that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. The last time the B’s had been shut out in three straight games? That would be way back in the Eddie Shore days of the 1929. Old Time Hockey. The B’s did win the Stanley Cup that season, but something tells me lightning isn’t striking twice.

Tim Thomas called it “breaking the seal” and that’s exactly what it was for a hockey gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

“We’re shooting the puck and now we have to get a bit more dirty and try and [reach] those rebounds,” said Steve Begin, who was his normal human pinball machine self against his old team. “That’s how we are going to score goals. It’s not going to be nice. It’s going to be ugly goals. It’s tough, but like I said we have to keep pushing ourselves. It’s going to happen.”

The Bruins actually looked to have ended the drought in the second period when Patrice Bergeron hustled after a loose rebound at Carey Price’s feet, and appeared to squeeze a shot through a sliver between the right post and Price’s leg pads. Bergeron was following a Sturm speed rush up the left side of the ice, and the B’s bench exhaled a large sigh of relief when the lamp went red for the first time in three games.

But a review of the goal found that Sturm — while battling with Roman Hamrlik by the right post in question – appeared to have slightly lifted the goal post just as the puck squirted past Price. Replays showed that the puck actually slid under the post after Sturm’s little lifting session. No goal and the scoreless streak was still on.

This was no case of Price standing on his head or a goaltender dazzling the B’s skaters with a flurry of show-stopping saves. Thursday night was Exhibit A of a Boston offense flailing their way through an epic struggle that would have seemed a near impossibility for last season’s goal-happy bunch.

Montreal’s only goal came in the first period when Andrei Kostitsyn took advantage of a Dennis Wideman spill in the neutral zone, and flashed toward the net with the puck. Kostitsyn attempted the wraparound score, and the puck somehow found its way to Glen Metropolit waiting out in front. Metropolit slammed a shot into the vacant portion of the net, and the Habs appeared to have all the offensive firepower they would need against the offensively-challenged Bruins.

But Bergeron managed the last-second rebound goal with Zdeno Chara occupying three different Canadiens defenders with his gargantuan 6-foot-9 frame in front of the Habs net, and Boston scraped together a point. Bergeron, Wheeler and Recchi all came up short in the shootout after a scoreless overtime, and Mike Cammalleri beat Thomas with a sizzling top-shelf wrister.

YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND AND NOTHING’S EVER GONNA GET YOU DOWN: Bergeron has been the best thing about the Bruins this season, and it’s no coincidence he was the player to finally snap Boston’s streak of futility. Both Bergeron and Sturm landed seven shots on net and were all over the ice in attempts to resuscitate a flatlining offense.

GOAT HORNS: Over three hours of scoreless hockey and absolutely nothing to show for three power play chances. The B’s are now fruitless in their last 20 power play tries, have scored only once in 23 attempts since Marc Savard went down with his broken left foot. I’d say anybody in Thursday night’s audience is wearing the goat horns right about now if the B’s hadn’t pulled out that last-ditch goal. Dennis Wideman had another neutral zone mistake that cost the B’s a score in the first period, but the slate is officially clean after Bergeron mercifully lit the lamp.

Turn up the volume: Chiarelli on Rask

11.05.09 at 7:16 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli addressed the media prior to Thursday’s game with Montreal and explained why the club decided to sign goaltender Tuukka Rask to a two-year contract extension through the 2011-12 season.

Chiarelli said they have seen steady improvement from Rask since they drafted him from Finland.

Chiarelli said veteran Tim Thomas is still the team’s No. 1 and a great role model for the 22-year-old Rask.

Chiarelli explained the origin and motivation of the Rask contract talks.

More from the team release below:

Rask has appeared in nine NHL games in his career  - all with the Bruins – and has registered a 5-2-2 record, 2.43 Goals Against Average, .917 save percentage and two shutouts. He has played in four games this year for the Bruins and has posted a 2-1-1 record, 2.41 GAA and .920 save percentage. He is coming off a 2-0 shutout win of the Edmonton Oilers in his last start on October 31.

Rask made his NHL debut for the Bruins on November 20, 2007 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and recorded his first NHL victory in that game. He spent the majority of the last two seasons in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins where he had a 60-33-6 record and five shutouts in 102 appearances. He opened the season on an NHL roster for the first time in his career this year.

The 6′€™2′€™’€™, 171-pound native of Savolinna, Finland played two seasons in the Finnish Elite League before coming to North America in 2007 and he has represented Team Finland in three World Junior Championships.

Read More: Boston Bruins, NHL, Tuukka Rask,

Turn up the volume: Chiarelli on H1N1

11.05.09 at 7:01 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli addressed the media prior to Thursday night’s game against Montreal announced the club’€™s medical staff has confirmed a diagnosis of H1N1 for David Krejci.

Based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations, Krejci will be isolated from the rest of the team until he is symptom and fever free for 24 hours.

Chiarelli said the team is taking all precautions to ensure that facilities are kept sanitized.

Chiarelli said the team is taking this diagnosis very seriously.

Chiarelli admitted this adds to a very frustrating time for a team trying to find it’s early season rhythm.

Read More: Boston Bruins, H1N1, NHL, Peter Chiarelli

Bruins lock up another young asset in Rask

11.05.09 at 6:44 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had a bright young hockey asset taken from him last summer when Toronto leveraged the threat of a contract offer sheet into a trade for Phil Kessel just prior to the season’€™s start.

 

Give the B’€™s GM full marks for not letting that happen again as he locked up another talented youngster in Tuukka Rask to a two-year contract extension that will take the Finnish netminder through the 2011-2012 season. Reports have the salary pinned between $2.6-2.8 million overall with a cap hit in the $1.35 million neighborhood, but exact figures haven’€™t yet been unearthed.

 

The 22-year-old was set to become a restricted free agent following the current season, but ‘€“ along with Milan Lucic ‘€“ Chiarelli made the determination to keep his prized youngster away from potentially damaging offer sheets.

 

‘€œI guess you’€™ve got to change with the times,’€ said Chiarelli about getting more proactive toward locking up players mid-season, particularly younger players with expiring rookie contracts. ‘€œTo a certain degree I went through it this summer with Phil [Kessel] and Toronto and I have to consider that. I have to put that into the equation now.’€

 

Rask is 2-1-1 in four games with a 2.41 goals against average and a .915 save percentage, and has already flashed the kind of cool, calm collected style between the pipes that’€™s made him one of the best goaltending prospects in the world.

 

The Bruins still have restricted free agents Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to contend with following this season as well as an organizationally important negotiation with unrestricted free agent Marc Savard. Tying up Rask allows Chiarelli to concentrate on other matters at hand with his goaltending completely covered for the next three seasons.

 

–The picture cleared a little bit more for swine-flu ridden center David Krejci, who will miss at least two games while recovering from a bout with the H1N1 virus diagnosed on Thursday. Krejci will be away from the ice for at least the next 3-5 days in quarantine, and might miss a third game when the Bruins taken on the Penguins next Tuesday night at TD Garden.

 

‘€œHe had a raspy throat and it kind of sunk it into his chest and that’€™s when they brought him to get it diagnosed. [He'€™ll be] 3-5 days in quarantine, so he’€™ll spend that time at home in quarantine.’€

Read More: David Krejci, Peter Chiarelli, Tuukka Rask,
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