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Walker facing suspension after “sucker punch” incident

05.11.09 at 10:19 am ET
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The hibernating Bears woke up on Sunday night, and there shouldn’t be too much worry about any more hockey naps in the remaining two games of the semifinal series against the Carolina Hurricanes. The big question is why the Carolina Hurricanes chose to poke the proverbial Bear in the Cage during a Game 5 blowout, and never was that more evident than Scott Walker’s sucker punch of Aaron with less than five minutes to go in the third period.

Ward and Canes forward Matt Cullen were engaging in the exact kind of pushing and shoving that was evident through the entire game, and Walker came out of nowhere to jump into the fray as the third man in. Walker and Ward both threw quick gloved shots at each other, and then Walker crossed over the line with an overhand right at Ward’s face while the Bruins defenseman still had his gloves on.

It was clear Ward wasn’t going to fight, and Walker took that as open invitation to slam his unprotected face. Walker was tossed from the game with a misconduct, fighting penalty and instigator penalty and — according to section 47.22 of the NHL rule book — the Hurricanes is automatically suspended for a game pending review after drawing an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of regulation. 

Bruins coach Claude Julien indicated after the game that team doctors believe that Ward may have a broken orbital bone as a result of the incident — and that the veteran defenseman could be lost to the Bruins for at least a few games as a result of the injury.

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, who got a clear view of the incident as it happened right in front of the Boston net, essentially said it was a bush league move during a postgame interview with Versus following the third period incident: “That’s one of the worst sucker punches I’ve ever seen. That is something I haven’t seen since I was in the AHL.”

It will be interesting to see how far NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell takes the punishment with an incident like this, which he’ll already be reviewing given the instigator penalty rule. The NHL has an unwritten rule that they come down much harder on infractions when an injury results, and that appears to be the case with Ward’s injury. If Ward is out, the Black and Gold will be forced to dip into their supply of Black Aces at Providence and perhaps tap Johnny Boychuk for defenseman duty after only a handful of NHL games this season.

Here’s the youtube footage of the Walker “sucker punch” with an assist to www.hockeyfights.com:

Read More: Aaron Ward, Boston Bruins, Scott Walker,

Bruins know ‘how bad they want it’

05.11.09 at 12:45 am ET
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We want it as bad as you. It’s been the slogan of these Boston Bruins all season.

On Sunday night, the Bruins showed their electrified fans how badly they want to become the first team in franchise history to come all the way back from a 3-1 series hole.

Sunday night’s 4-0 shellacking of the Carolina Hurricanes was Step 1 in what they hope is a three-step journey to history.

“You can over systems as much as you want to but it really comes down to, ‘How bad do you want it?’ You’ve got to give Carolina credit,” Bruins hitman Milan Lucic said. “They’ve just shown all series long that they’ve wanted it real bad and, especially Games 2,3 and 4, they really didn’t give us nothing and were on us like crazy. Today we did a better job of keeping our composure and having that will to win.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bruins, Hurricanes, Marc Savard, Milan Lucic

Bruins storm the Canes by a 4-0 score in Game 5

05.10.09 at 9:29 pm ET
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There doesn’t appear to be a Zdeno Chara sighting on the bench. Not good. Nevermind, Chara just returned to the end of the Boston bench.

19:12: Chara jumps back on the ice to huge cheers.

18:09: Big save by Tim Thomas after a Shane Hnidy turnoever. Scott Walker passed the puck back to Matt Cullen in the slot, but Thomas deflected the bid.

17:03: Shawn Thornton just checked in with a beatdown of Tim Conboy at center ice. Maybe he thought that was Jokinen’s #38 rather than Conboy’s #38.

16:22: Pretty awesome sight. The Bruins are tossing all of their gold towels down into the penalty box with Conboy, Joni Pitkanen and Anton Babchuk all sitting in the visitor’s box. There’s about 20 gold towels in the sin bin now after one of the Canes players looked as if he spit on the towel and then threw it back into the stands.

14:37: Erik Cole in the box for delay of game. More gold towels getting tossed in the box.

8:52: Great kick save by Tim Thomas on Joe Corvo.

7:39: Ballgame. Michael Ryder lifts a shot from the slot that Ward is able to stop, but Lucic loads up the gun on the rebound and blasts away from the right faceoff dot. See you in Carolina.

7:07: Apparently Conboy didn’t have enough. He and Mark Stuart just dropped the gloves, and again Stuart threw him to the ground amid a flurry of right hands.

3:04: Good brawl at the end between the B’s and the Canes. The hate is really starting to flow between the two squads. It included a shot to the face of Aaron Ward when the Boston D-man hadn’t even dropped his gloves.

The Bruins have beaten the Hurricanes by a 4-0 score in Game 5 at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Bruins romping with a 3-0 lead over Hurricanes after two periods

05.10.09 at 8:38 pm ET
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17:44: Good pressure by the Bruins in the second period. A couple of Grade A shots by Mark Stuart with plenty of traffic in front, but Ward makes the two saves.

15:45: A pair of really good hits by Chuck Kobasew on Tuomo Ruutu and Chara on Staal behind the Boston net leads to offense.

15:20: Goal. Kessel. From the high slot off a feed by Marc Savard from the side of the net. The play was all set up, though, by Chara blasting Staal in the defensive end to jump start the offense.

13:22: The little blonde kid that they play ripping his shirt off during the opening highlight package had something special in store tonight. He whipped out his shirt to show off a big painted Spoked B on his chest and then started throwing punches while “Shipping Up to Boston” was playing during the break. Classic.

11:35: Good save by Cam Ward on a Dennis Wideman big blast that Recchi couldn’t get get a tip on while standing in front of the Carolina cage.

10:46: Good rush up the right side by Lucic. He flew around the back of the net and tried to stuff it in by the right post, but Ward was there.

10:25: Some shoving and face-washing in front of the Canes net by Patrice Bergeron and Chad LaRose turns into a roughing call on LaRose after he started taking shots at Bergie’s head. You can feel the enmity building between these two teams.

8:37: It appears that the Bruins are taking the one-man rush strategy to new heights in this game. Dennis Wideman just burned up the ice with speed and got a good shot off against Ward that he deflected into the netting.

6:13: Great shift by the Kobasew, Recchi, Bergeron line with a near score when Kobasew fired from the half-boards and Recchi popped up the tip in front of the net.

4:35: Lucic showed up ready for business tonight. He blasted Jussi Jokinen early in the shift and then stood up Pat Eaves while attempting to keep the puck in the Boston zone later on. Dennis Wideman was called for a penatly at the end of the shift. Canes about to go on the PP.

4:35: We just had a Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake sighting in the stands on the jumbotron. He’s officially the Bruins mascot now.

00:28.8: Zdeno Chara ended up in a heap on the ice at the end of shift in the offensive zone after carrying the puck. He ended up going to the dressing room. The reason: a slash from behind by Jussi Jokinen on his left ankle that went uncalled by the refs. Things are getting heated between these two teams.

The Bruins lead the Hurricanes by a 3-0 margin after two full periods during Game 5 at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Recchi and Kessel give Bruins a 2-0 lead in the first

05.10.09 at 7:44 pm ET
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18:34: Two minute minor to Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason for holding the stick. First PP of the night for the Bruins.

Nothing on that first PP for Boston. Not a good start to this one just yet.

13:54: Interference call on Zdeno Chara that took place way behind the play with Boston cycling in the offensive zone. Not a good time for a whistle right there no matter what was going on.

12:40: Good kill by the Bruins leads to an interference penalty on Sergei Samsonov. Here’s a spot where the Black and Gold could start building some momentum.

11:35: David Krejci to Dennis Wideman on the one-timer. Just missed to the left.

The Bruins are outshooting the Canes by an 8-0 count, but haven’t had any real Blue Chip opportunities.

8:56: Now there’s a save. Great glove stop by Tim Thomas on an Eric Staal rocket from the left faceoff circle.

8:13: Savard trying to screen Ward on a Shane Hnidy shot, and then a good job at selling a Dennis Seidenberg cross check afterward. Not good enough for a call though.

6:50: Great dropback pass from Krejci to Wideman again at the right faceoff circle, but Cam Ward was able to deflect the shot. Krejci is playing pretty well tonight.

5:45: Milan Lucic just completely woke this crowd up with a thundering hit in the corner on Dennis Seidenberg. The crowd was oohing and aahing in anticipation and then exulted when Looch pounded Seidenberg into the boards. It sparked his teammates too, and resulted in a Seidenberg penalty with Phil Kessel and Marc Savard cyling behind the net.

If the Bruins score here, that Lucic hit will be the turning point in the game. An early one, but a clear one.

5:12: And it comes to be. Savard wins a faceoff. Wideman to Chara, big blast that Mark Recchi tips through Ward’s pads. That was big for this Bruins team.

4:27: Interference call on Steve Montador. The defenseman hit Tuomo Ruutu after the puck had already traveled into the offensive zone.

2:50: Two unbelievable saves, one right after another, Samsonov and Joni Pitkanen during the penalty kill. The save on Pitkanen’s rebound blast — with Thomas leaping toward the puck on pure recovery reflex — was easily his best of the night.

1:24: There’s been a Kessel sighting. First in a while. Great cross-ice pass from Savard to Kessel with Lucic hanging in front of the net. Kessel bangs it home and makes it a two-goal lead.

The Bruins have taken a 2-0 lead after one full period of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup semifinal series at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Recchi ready to play in Game 5 for Bruins

05.10.09 at 12:26 pm ET
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Bruins winger Mark Recchi, who missed Saturday practice after getting “banged up” against Carolina in Game 4, skated in Sunday morning pregame skate at the TD Banknorth Garden and is expected to play. Andrew Ference didn’t participate in the morning skate and is out for a pivotal, do-or-die Game 5 showdown with the Hurricanes.

Perhaps this is the game that B’s bench boss Claude Julien opts to scratch Blake Wheeler — a virtual non-entity for the series against the Hurricanes aside from his PK responsibilities – and put both Shawn Thornton and Byron Bitz in the group of 12 active forwards.

“I’ve got a decision to make tonight after warmups,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “We’re going to have an extra forward. Who that will be? I really can’t tell you right now.”

–Interesting that Claude Julien is all of a sudden getting very vocal about a Carolina “trap” that they’re throwing at the Bruins to stifle their offensive surge — when it actually seemed like an aggressive forecheck combined with poor dump-ins have been more of Boston’s problem through the first four games of the series. Combine that with a pop-gun power play that’s been more bust than boom, and you have all of the ingredients for an offensive slowdown.

Quick decision-making and crisp passes out of the defensive breakouts appear to be the issue more than anything else, but Julien went in a different direction with the question. Perhaps it’s an attempt to protect a D-Man corps that hasn’t been very good in the best-of-seven series and exposed as something of a liability under heavy, constant pressure.

Julien is crediting Carolina coach Paul Maurice with throwing something at the B’s players that they weren’t necessarily expecting: a stifling four man trap from the red line in.

“(Spending time) in their end has been a big challenge for us,” said Julien. “They play four guys back. They just wait for us in the neutral zone, and it’s something a little surprising coming from (Paul Maurice) because I know he used to complain about that last year when he was in Toronto. About us killing with the trap.

“But that’s what they’ve done, and they’ve created a pretty tough situation for us as far as getting in (Carolina’s zone). We’ve got to find ways to get pucks in and play more in their end. They’ve got three guys waiting for us between the ride and blue line, and they’ve got a D back in deep that just retrieves the puck whenever we chip it in. Somehow we’ve got to manage to get pucks behind and also put them in areas where we can retrieve them.” 

–There was a tacit understanding among the players that a Game 5 win in Boston would not only rekindle Boston’s confidence, but it could put a good deal of pressure on the Hurricanes in a Game 6 scenario at the RBC Center. The Canes players will, no doubt, want to avoid a Game 7 in Boston at all costs, but all Bruins players had 100 percent focus on the task at hand Sunday night.

“For us it’s really about tonight’s game and then don’t look at anything else. It’s tonight,” said B’s center Patrice Bergeron. “We want to be practicing tomorrow, you know? That’s the approach we have. We can’t think about Game 6 before we think about Game 5. We’ve got to think about tonight’s game, and we’re going to be ready for that.

“We’re happy with the chance to have (home ice advantage) and play in front of our fans.

Recchi not present at Bruins practice this afternoon

05.09.09 at 1:42 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Greetings from the Ristuccia Arena practice ice where the Boston Bruins may be having their final on-ice run through of a mostly magical 2008-09 hockey season.

–It appears that veteran B’s forward Mark Recchi — along with Andrew Ference and Matt Hunwick — isn’t on the ice with his Bruins teammates for this go-round. Don’t remember seeing anything really violent that took place with the 41-year-old during the Game 4 disaster at the RBC Center, but he isn’t practicing with the team today. Blake Wheeler has taken his place alongside Patrice Bergeron and Chuck Kobasew, and Byron Bitz is skating with David Krejci and Michael Ryder.

UPDATE: B’s coach Claude Julien said after practice that Recchi was “banged up” in Friday night’s loss, but that the 41-year-old should be able to answer the bell for Sunday night’s do-or-die Game 5.

“We still have Ference that’s doubtful,” said Julien. “Recchi is banged up today, but I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be back with us (Sunday) as we speak. Those are going to have to be some decisions that are made tomorrow.”   

–Julien believes that a lot of the problems have become mental with his B’s skaters. So many young players without deep playoff experience combined with a veteran corps with few Cup veterans have turned into the B’s into mere shadows of their former selves. Now is the time, according to Julien, for the team to simplify their games, conquer their frustration and anger and transform all of this puck angst back into Bruins hockey.

If they don’t, then the season end beckons in one of the next few hockey contests. 

“A lot of it has to be mental,” said Julien. “When you lost three games in a row the way we’ve played, and the way we’ve played in the past, mentally it takes its toll and mentally we have to get our heads around it. We have to go out and play the game that we’ve played all year.

“We need to look at tomorrow’s game as the only obstacle to overcome. It’s the only thing we should be thinking of, it’s the only thing we should be worried. We shouldn’t think of anything else but that, and that’s how you simplify things. Some of the reasons we’re in the situation we’re in right now is because we’re doing things that we haven’t done the whole year. I think some of the players mentioned that it’s the effort or the will to want to do it. We’ve got to get our heads around it play our game. That’s what is costing us.”

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