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Bruins begin weeklong effort to improve

01.25.10 at 2:25 pm ET
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WILMINGTON ‘€” The Bruins knew they needed to get to work early on Monday.

After a week in which they lost four games and dropped out of the eight playoff positions in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins hit the ice at Ristuccia Arena looking to get the most out of four practice days before Friday’€™s contest in Buffalo.

‘€œWe came in here knowing we needed to skate, everyone came in with a positive attitude looking forward to Friday,’€ forward Daniel Paille said. ‘€œWe have four days to practice and to improve.’€

There is little doubt the Bruins could use plenty of improvement. The team has lost five in a row and has just two wins in its last 10 games (2-7-1).

‘€œWe’€™re obviously making a lot of individual mistakes right now from pressing, at the same time we’€™ve got to find ways to score goals if we plan on winning hockey games,’€ coach Claude Julien said after practice. ‘€œAll that stuff we have an opportunity to work on this week and to stabilize our team a little bit. Hopefully, we’€™ll get the results.’€

It looked like the Bruins couldn’€™t wait to put Sunday’€™s 5-1 debacle in Carolina behind them. Before the Zamboni had finished resurfacing the ice Monday morning, the team was already waiting by the rink door to get on the ice.

‘€œI think it’€™s really good to get out there and work,’€ forward Mark Recchi said. ‘€œHaving the opportunity to have some practices, get some good work days in, get some good habits is a great thing.’€

Julien agreed that getting in a positive practice was probably better for the team than a head-clearing day away from the rink for players.

‘€œIt’€™s not necessarily punishment, its more about we need to work our way out of this. Today was an important day to start that,’€ Julien said.

‘€œOur fans are disappointed in us and rightfully so, we haven’€™t delivered. That’€™s part of accepting what’€™s going on here. And if you accept that, then hopefully you want to do something about it. Our fans and everybody deserves better than what we have been getting. Somehow we have to find that game of ours that will give everybody what they want to see. We have to work our way out of it and that’€™s hopefully what we started to do today.’€

Bruins hit practice with help on the way

01.25.10 at 2:01 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — A Bruins fan taped a sign to the bleachers at the Bruins practice facility at Ristuccia Arena Monday morning that read: “Success is how high you bounce when you hit rock bottom,” ‘€” General George Patton. Monday’s practice was spirited from the get-go, with coach Claude Julien running full ice drills early as he tries to keep his team focused through this extended slump during which time Boston has dropped from the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference to the ninth.

The B’s hope that when they take to the ice for Friday’s game in Buffalo that the team will have a couple of key forwards back in the fold. With three more full practices before then, the Bruins have some housekeeping to take care of as they try to bounce back from this horrendous stretch of losses.

“Today was just things you have to do, things that you have to work on,” defenseman Derek Morris said. “It is going to be a long week of practice. We have to forget about those ones behind us and worry about the ones coming up. Win three, four, five games in a row and we are back up there in fifth moving our way back up. Everybody is kind of counting us out. We are not out yet and we are getting some guys back, we are getting healthy and we just have to worry about the next one.”

Speaking of getting healthy, Marc Savard was slotted into a line with Miroslav Satan and Daniel Paille. It was the first time since he sustained his injury that he has participated in full practice activities with linemates. He is still wearing a brace on his injured knee but says that he does not think about it much.

“It was a good test for it, got a little tired towards the end, but other than that, it felt strong,” Savard said. “Did everything, did the battle drills toward the end, felt good skating, hands felt good. Hopefully this time around I can be more of a presence when I get back.”

Savard said it definitely has been frustrating to watch his teammates and not be able to help out. At the same time, he is making sure that when he does come back that he will be an effective member of the team.

“It seems like when it rains, it pours. It is an old saying, but it seems that is what is happening right now,” Savard said. “Perhaps we just have to get the first goal in a game. We have a good week of preparation this week and we will keep on working until Friday.”

Byron Bitz rejoined practice for the first time since the Bruins came back from their three-game California trip.

“Feel good, full practice today. Stayed out the whole time. Hopefully it keeps progressing,” Bitz said. Bitz now has skated three days in a row and is shooting for Friday as his return date. “Third day in a row now on the ice, [the stamina] is coming back. Only had a week off so you don’t lose too much in that time, and we have three more practices to recover.”

Marco Sturm and Steve Begin, both who have been listed as day-to-day for the last week, did not skate and continue to be on the watch list. Julien does not know when to expect them on the ice and says that he can only go off what the training staff tells him.

“Just to clarify things, we have had players who we were saying were day-to-day, and those guys were day-to-day,” Julien said. “Sometimes day-to-day becomes a week situation. If I had known they would have been out for a week, I would have told you. Right now, Marco is still day-to-day but the hope is that he is going to start skating this week. That is all I can tell you right now.”

Here is the list of participation by sweater color:

Grey — Michael Ryder, David Krejci, Blake Wheeler.

Yellow — Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic.

White – Satan, Savard, Paille.

Red — Shawn Thornton (left early), Vladimir Sobotka, Bitz.

Bright Red — Drew Larman, Trent Whitfield.

Defense — Zdeno Chara, Morris, Matt Hunwick, Dennis Wideman, Johnny Boychuck, Mark Stuart, Adam McQuaid.

Goaltenders – Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask.

Read More: Byron Bitz, Derek Morris, Marc Savard, Marco Sturm

Bruins lose another to Senators

01.23.10 at 3:55 pm ET
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Summary — The Senators completed a sweeps week against the Bruins with another victory at TD Garden, 2-1 over in this Saturday’s matinee. Daniel Alfredsson scored Ottawa’s first goal and Jason Spezza had the game winner in the second period. Tim Thomas took his second loss of the week at the hands of the Senators though he played better than Monday when he was pulled from the game in favor or Tuukka Rask.

Daniel Paille scored the Bruins only goal in the second period with a blast from the left wing over Elliot’s glove shoulder to tie the game. The goal was the forward’s seventh of the season.

The Bruins have not won a game in the Garden during the entire month of January (they did when at Fenway) and continue to struggle to score goals without Marc Savard and Marco Sturm. Byron Bitz and Steve Begin also missed the game. None of the four will travel to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes tomorrow night as the Bruins will not have ice time before the game.

Boston is now six points behind Ottawa for second place in the Northeast Division.

Three Stars

Brian Elliott — Ottawa’s goalie was solid in stopping 32 of shots and his team outscored the Bruins 7-2 on the week.

Daniel Alfredsson — In two games this week, Alfredsson has outscored the Bruins 4-2 and been a general menace in the TD Garden. The wingman has six goals and four assists for Ottawa in his last 12 games since coming back from an injury.

Daniel Paille — The wingman skated hard and provided the only spark of offense for the Bruins in another frustrating offensive performance.

Turning Point

For the second game in a row the play hinged not on a goal that was scored, but one that was not. After killing an Ottawa penalty it looked like the Bruins had taken a 2-1 lead late in the second period when Mark Recchi crashed the net and appeared to knock the puck past Brian Elliot. The play was reviewed and determined that Recchi kicked the puck (which ricocheted of Elliot’s skate). About a minute later Spezza scored the go-ahead goal and the Senators did not look back.

Key Play

Jason Spezza was questionable coming into Saturday’s game and the Bruins probably wish that he had delayed his comeback from injury for at least another day. He scored the game winner at 16:39 in the second period and the goal took away any momentum the Bruins had mustered. Spezza was fed in the center of the offensive zone from Alex Kovalev and let out a wily wrist shot that Thomas was able to see and follow, but could not corale.

Read More: Daniel Alfredsson, Daniel Paille, Tim Thomas,

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
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