|05.28.13 at 11:15 am ET|
WILMINGTON — For the first time in four days, the Bruins practiced on Tuesday. For the first time in weeks, all players were on the ice.
Andrew Ference and Wade Redden joined the rest of Boston’s defensemen in the practice as the B’s practiced for the first time in anticipation of the start of the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins this weekend.
The lines, color-coded by jerseys, are the same for the B’s as they were against the Rangers, meaning Jaromir Jagr is skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand while Tyler Seguin is on the third line.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|05.28.13 at 11:15 am ET|
Hours after the Bruins' 5-2 victory over the Rangers last Sunday, the TD Garden sat still and empty.
The boisterous crowd had long since departed after Boston took care of business, holding serve on home ice, supplying the team with a 2-0 series lead in its Stanley Cup playoff conference semifinal series. The players and coaches trickled steadily out of the building, the janitorial crew had finished cleaning. Hours after the final whistle, Jaromir Jagr returned, alone, to the ice.
'Hockey is who he is,' said Mark Recchi, Jagr’s former Penguins teammate. Last seen in a Bruins sweater hoisting the Stanley Cup, Recchi now is a hockey operations advisor with the Stars, the team that dealt Jagr to the Bruins. 'That's his life. He's passionate about it, he works hard at it, and he still wants to be a great player. He does whatever it takes to stay at that level.'
In front of 17,565 empty golden seats, the 41-year-old Jagr skated. Using every inch of his 6-foot-3, 240 pound frame, the forward from Kladno pushed himself, feeling the burn in his thickly muscled thighs. Living over 3,900 miles from his family in the Czech Republic, Jagr needed to be back on the ice, back home. The man with such phenomenal balance on skates then skated some more.
'This is playoffs,' reminded Jagr. 'Any player will find out. It doesn't matter if you're on the first, second line or third. It's tight checking. It's harder to score.'
Jagr began his NHL career with the Penguins but now is looking to end Pittsburgh’s season. His playoff resume includes 78 playoff goals, though none have come recently. Amidst the longest scoring drought of his career, Jagr has not scored in 21 consecutive playoff games (his last playoff goal came against the Penguins in 2012). Though he has accumulated 193 playoff points over the course of his career, Jagr has registered just four points in 12 games during the Bruins’ 2013 postseason run.
'It's harder to score for me, and it's harder to score for anybody else,” he said. “Unless you the best player in the world.'
Jagr would know better than most, considering, once upon a time, he was the best in the world.
Just like Jagr can't fathom the idea of leaving the rink after a game (he is on record stating his desire for the NHL to begin playing doubleheaders), the concept of life without hockey is far removed from his mind. The offensive dervish entered the National Hockey League at the age of 18. Since then, every imaginable part of his life — and the world — has changed. His identity as a hockey player has evolved over the past 23 years, but his profession remains unchanged. Jaromir Jagr, all these years later, is still a hockey player.
'I don’t think he’ll ever change,' said Craig Patrick, general manager of the Penguins from 1989-2006. 'He was built this way.'
|05.28.13 at 10:21 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning and previewed the B’s Eastern Conference finals series against the Penguins, talked up “underhyped” goalie Tuukka Rask and revealed that he received a congratulatory text message from former teammate Tim Thomas after Game 3 vs. the Rangers.
The Bruins return to practice Tuesday following two days off since dispatching the Rangers in Game 5 on Saturday night, preparing for what is expected to be a much tougher test from the top-seeded Penguins.
“They’re a pretty deep group up front, that’s for sure,” Thornton said. “They’ve got guys like Brenden Morrow on their fourth line. That’s some pretty good players back there. So, yeah, they’re a force to be reckoned with up front.”
Added Thornton: “I know there’s a lot of hype with the guys we’re playing against, and rightfully so, they’re great players. It’s always kind of the Sidney Crosby show wherever he goes. He’s the face of the league and he’s probably the best player in the game. You can’t get caught looking at that. We have to worry about what’s going on in our locker room, like we did last series with the Rangers and the series before with Toronto. You can’t really worry about what’s going on outside. We’ve got to play our game if we want to be successful. '¦ You get caught just trying to react to what they’re doing, you’ll get caught with your pants down. They’re a dangerous team.”
Asked if Crosby is the best player he’s played against, Thornton said: “Yeah, I’d say, all-around. There’s not much he doesn’t do well. He competes hard. Not only how skilled he is, his compete level is right up there. He never seems to take a night off. I think that’s part of the reason why he’s so good. ”
Thornton said there are no hard feelings toward Jarome Iginla after the veteran forward chose Pittsburgh over Boston at the trade deadline.
“No, I don’t care,” Thornton said. “He made a decision based on his personal opinion. He has a no-trade, he’s entitled to that. He earned it. He played a lot of great years in Calgary for that right. As a player, you can’t really fault him for it.”
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|05.28.13 at 6:43 am ET|
According to multiple reports, the Bruins will open the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night in Pittsburgh. This would mean a week between games for the B’s, who finished off the Rangers at TD Garden in Game 5 this past Saturday.
The delay is due in part because both Western Conference semifinals are headed to Game 7s. The Blackhawks beat the Red Wings on Monday night in Game 6, and the final game in that series is scheduled for Wednesday. The Sharks and Kings play Game 7 Tuesday night.
Games 3 and 4 in Boston are likely to be next Wednesday and Friday. TD Garden is booked next Sunday and Monday nights for concerts featuring New Kids on the Block.
|05.27.13 at 1:20 pm ET|
Jarome Iginla chose the Penguins over the Bruins, and now they have a chance to make that decision look wrong.
The Bruins and Flames agreed to a deal prior to the trade deadline that would have sent Matt Bartkowski, Alexander Khokhlachev and a first-round pick to Calgary in exchange for Iginla. The veteran right wing had said he would waive his no-trade clause for the Bruins, Penguins, Kings or Blackhawks, but upon the agreement of the trade informed the Flames that he would only go to the Penguins. The Flames then negotiated a deal with Pittsburgh to accommodate him.
At the time, the Bruins said they took no issue with Iginla’s decision, but the Iginla-Boston storyline will certainly get attention during the Conference finals. Claude Julien understands that, but he sees bigger motivation to beat the Penguins than simply proving Iginla wrong.
“I would say that moving to the Stanley Cup Finals is way more important than that situation,” Julien said. “That's where our focus has to be.”
|05.27.13 at 11:34 am ET|
The Bruins were off on Monday, but injured defenseman Andrew Ference took the ice and worked with strength coach John Whitesides at TD Garden. Coach Claude Julien said afterwards that Ference has been skating for the last day or two.
Once Ference is able to return, the Bruins will likely have to choose between reinserting the veteran into the lineup or leaving Matt Bartkowski in. Both Bartkowski and Torey Krug have become contributors since entering the lineup due to injuries on the blueline, with Torey Krug all but guaranteeing himself a spot going forward four goals in five games thus far.
“A lot goes into it,” Julien said. “At one point you make a decision, and that doesn't mean that it's an easy one, because it's not. But we'll deal with it when the time comes, we did it with [Dennis] Seidenberg. If Ference becomes available, we'll have to deal with that, too.”
Other players to hit the ice Monday for the B’s were Jay Pandolfo and Jaromir Jagr.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|05.26.13 at 1:30 am ET|
For all the great saves Henrik Lundqvist made on the Bruins throughout Game 5 Saturday at TD Garden, the one save that will be remembered the longest is the one made by Tuukka Rask on Rangers captain Ryan Callahan on a breakaway with just over 11 minutes left in the third period.
The Bruins were clinging to a 2-1 lead as Callahan was fed on a break through the neutral zone and had a clear path toward Rask. The Bruins goalie made the save, and Boston’s lead stood up in a 3-1 win over the Rangers in the clinching Game 5.
“Well, our goalie coach [Bob Essensa] told me after, I think it was Game 1 when he scored on that breakaway, that he never goes backhand,” Rask said. “So I was banking on him shooting and keeping it on the forehand. But he went backhand, and I just extended my leg and blocker there and made the save.”
Rask had faced just 17 shots through two periods before facing 12 in the third, including Callahan’s.
“That's just staying mentally sharp,” Rask said. “But you have to know something is going to happen, and they're going to throw everything they could at you and going to try to get that change to tie the game. You know, today it happened to be a breakaway and I just wanted to make one or two big saves in the third and hopefully keep that lead. And today we succeeded.”
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