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Jumbo Joe Thornton comes calling in third period

02.10.09 at 9:15 pm ET
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Jumbo Joe Thornton finally showed up in the third period of his second homecoming as a Devin Setoguchi pass from behind the net glance off his right skate and snuck between Tim Thomas’ pads midway through the period. The goal gives the Sharks a two-goal lead as the Bruins have been held off the scoreboard since Milan Lucic’s two scores in the third period.

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Marleau ties things up for Sharks

02.10.09 at 9:04 pm ET
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Sharks center Patrick Marleau tied things up in the third period for the Sharks when he beat Dennis Wideman to a loose puck in front of the net, and banged home the deflected puck past Tim Thomas. The score is tied 2-2 with 13:19 to go in an evenly-matched game that’s lived up to the billing.

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Petteri Nokelainen won’t return tonight

02.10.09 at 8:31 pm ET
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Petteri Nokelainen was hit with a high stick in the final seconds of the first period, and B’s media relations just announced that “he won’t be returning” to tonight’s game due to the injury. Chuck Kobasew took Nokelainen’s place alongside Krejci and Wheeler at the beginning of the period, but coach Claude Julien has been mixing and matching lines during the period.

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Petteri Nokelainen out after high stick to eye

02.10.09 at 7:47 pm ET
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Petteri Nokealainen just skated off with a huge gash at or above his right eye following a high stick from Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle — an infraction that was never called by the ref display several clear replays that showed Boyle’s stick rode up and caught Nokelainen flush in the face.

That is the second right winger — if you’re keeping count — that’s gone down on the Blake Wheeler/David Krejci line as a result of a high stick to the grill. The B’s still lead the Sharks after one period of play.

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‘Looch’ puts Bruins up by a 2-1 score

02.10.09 at 7:39 pm ET
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Milan Lucic’s two first-period goals sandwiched around a Sharks goal have the B’s leading by a 2-1 score. The Best of the East Bruins scored first when Lucic banged home a loose puck in front of the net that gave the B’s a brief lead. San Jose stormed back with a Rob Blake power play goal that ping-ponged off Blake Wheeler’s stick and Dennis Wideman’s skate before winding up in the net. The PP was set up by a Patrice Bergeron penalty. Lucic followed with a rebound score of a Petteri Nokelainen shot to again give the Bruins the lead. The B’s are beating the Sharks by a 2-1 score with 4:40 to go in the first.

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B’s fireside chat with Peter Chiarelli

02.10.09 at 2:56 pm ET
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Chiarelli put down the jersey just long enough to give the media some updates this morning...

Chiarelli put down the jersey just long enough to give the media some updates this morning...

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli held court with the media for about 10 minutes during this morning’s skate. Here’s a transcript of Chiarelli’s thoughts on a number of subjects including Ryder’s injuries, the trade deadline and his team’s play through their recent nine-game gauntlet of Eastern Conference contenders.

How is Ryder doing? PC: He had three small fractures in the bridge of the nose, around the orbital (bone). He had surgery (Monday) evening. He’s recovering. Surgery was successful. He had three small plates put in. He’s home right now. He’ll be back in two-to-three weeks and probably be back riding a bike in two-to-three days.

Will he have to wear a shield or a cage? PC: I would suspect so. I would if I were him.

What are the plans as far as callups or reinforcements given the news? PC: Well, we’ve got our full roster right now, so it’ll stay that way. Meaning we played without him the other night, and it will stay that way for a little while.

This doesn’t change your strategy with regard to trade talks? PC: Nope … nope. He actually thought he was going to play before they detected the little fractures. So it’s not as bad as it was first expected.

Do you consider this good news then? PC: Sure … yeah. Anytime someone has a fracture to the face it isn’t good news, but yeah.

When you’re talking to other teams and news come down that Ryder is hurt, or whatever it is, do you see evidence of prices going up or teams using that as leverage in trade talks? PC: No. Not really. If these guys detect a weakness then the price tag will go up. In most cases, you’ve had discussions that have gone deep enough that you can’t just backtrack when you’re deep into discussions. I’m not that deep into discussions. I’m just talking generally here.

What has made Ryder so valuable this year? PC: Well, he’s got 19 goals, but I like his strength on the puck and I like his play off the wall. He’s strong on the puck and he’s good for our cycle game. He’s a strong player. You can be a scorer and not be a strong player, and he’s played well defensively. So he’s fit into our system and there’s not many that can shoot the puck like him.

Do you wait and see how the injury and any equipment he might need when he comes back affects Ryder? PC: I think he’s just going to wear a visor. Maybe at some point he takes it off and makes that choice, but I think at this point he’ll wear a visor because (the injury).

How will Ryder’s absence affect Krejci and Wheeler? PC:I think they’ve all benefitted from playing with each other. He’s that shooter on the line, but something that gets lost sometimes — as I said before — is that he’s strong on the puck, he digs pucks out of corners and you see him banging bodies down low and coming out with the puck. He’s a key component on that line and he really benefits from the passing of both David and Blake. When you put lines together you really try to dovetail characteristics and that’s been a good line for us.

What have you seen out of Wheeler and Krejci over the last 10-15 games? PC: I think you’ve seen that in our team in general, and part of that is due to the increase in the level of play. The games are more grinding games now, and that’s the way they’re going to be as we inch toward the playoffs. I think their play coincides with that increased level of play and I think maybe they’ve hit a little bit of a wall too.

It’s a long year and it’s hard to play hard all year. We demand that of them, but we also recognize that you can’t do it all year. I know that we do want them to keep playing hard and staying strong on the puck, and we’re going to stress that.

The fans are looking forward to tonight. Are you looking forward to tonight? PC:The way I looked at this last couple of weeks is that we played 3 or 4 teams that are really just big, strong teams and this includes San Jose. So it’s a good test and they’re obviously the best record in the West and we’re the best in the East — so that’s going to be a good game. But I’ve really looked at the Washingtons, the New Jerseys, the Phillys and the San Joses and how we’ve matched up against them. That’s going to be playoff hockey against those type teams, so it’s another test in that respect.

Have you liked what you’ve seen so far? PC: Yeah, I think our record speaks for itself in that time. You never like to lose leads, but that stuff happens. Lucky bounces happen, and you see that stuff go for us and we’ve seen it happen against us. I’ve been satisfied.

You said earlier in the season that you would like to get bigger. Is that still something you’re looking for — that physical size and strength? PC:I think we’ve got some size that we can compete against (bigger teams) like that, but I think in the low cycle both defensively and offensively over time — and during a series — (the size) will wear you down. If we can get bigger it’s something that we’d like to do. We’ve added Byron Bitz in a fourth line role, and he’s a big body who bangs and is good off the wall. I think that’s important. I don’t want to give up skill, but I think that type of game is important going into the playoffs.

Has Bitz opened some eyes in his time in Boston, or did you see this during training camp? PC: I thought he had a really good camp. Out east he played well and then he had a good game in Detroit during the preseason. He had a good year last year. What surprised me was that his year in Providence started off a little slowly this year. He’s not a big goal scorer, but he’s just a smart player and he makes the smart, simple play. Based on his camp and his play last year we thought he might spend some time up here this year, and that time is now.

So why did he start slowly in Providence? PC: I don’t know. He’s not a big point producer, so slow is relative. He wasn’t doing as well as last year, but it didn’t bother me as much because he was still getting his chances and playing a smart game.

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Jumbo Joe remembers…

02.10.09 at 2:16 pm ET
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Joe Thornton can’t help but remember the last time he was in Boston. Though he’d like to forget.

It was Jan. 10, 2006, less than two months after he was dealt to the San Jose Sharks in a blockbuster trade by then Bruins general manager Mike O’Connell.

He logged exactly 2 minutes, 10 seconds of ice time before taking a elbowing penalty at 5:13 of the opening period. That bad-boy behavior also carried with it a game misconduct and it was nitey-nite for Jumbo Joe, in his much anticipated return.

“I really don’t remember too much,” Thornton said this morning while surrounded by 25 reporters in the visitors’ locker room at TD Banknorth Garden. “I just remember going through warm-up and then I was out of the game, pretty much. I had a great warm-up and I thought I was ready for the game and I remember we won the game, actually, that’s the only thing I remember. But I don’t remember too much on the ice because I wasn’t on it long enough to remember anything.”

He hopes to have a better return tonight.

“It’s super for hockey,” Thornton said of the matchup between the top two teams in the NHL. “To have a game like this in mid-February that has so much buzz around it is good for the game and good for hockey.”

Other nuggets from Jumbo Joe.

He said he still stays in touch with old teammates, like getting text messages from P.J. Axelsson Monday night.

He said he has no great expectations on a reaction from the Garden fans.

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