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A few quick pregame numbers before Game 2

05.03.09 at 6:38 pm ET
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A few notes before things get started here at the TD Banknorth Garden while Thunderstruck plays over the opening highlights for Game 2:

Tim Thomas is riding an 11-game win streak after finishing the regular season on a six-game win streak. His last loss came to the Los Angeles Kings by a 3-2 overtime score on March 19.

David Krejci leads the NHL with a +8 during the postseason after leading the NHL through the regular season with a +37. Milan Lucic and Michael Ryder are both a +7 during the playoffs.

–Matt Hunwick is biking and conducting light workouts again, and has gained back three pounds of the 14 that he lost after rupturing his spleen following Game 2 of the first round vs. Montreal.

Don Cherry giving some big B’s love on HNIC

05.03.09 at 4:51 pm ET
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Good Boston Bruins material from Don Cherry from ‘Coach’s Room’ on Hockey Night in Canada over the last couple of weeks. Cherry has never shied away from showing some big, big love for his former team, and he fires off a few good rounds over the last few weeks of TV time.

The first CC is a walk down memory lane with the Lunchpail AC team he helped mold behind the Boston bench, and a comparison between B’s goaltender Tim Thomas and Hall of Famer Gump Worsley given their similarly athletic, frenetic goaltending styles. There’s no denying that some of the old school grainy Gump footage looks like a heck of a lot like Thomas when things get a little hectic around the Boston cage.

Here’s another round of CBC’s Coach’s Corner from this weekend with Cherry continuing his long-standing hockey love affair with Marc Savard. Cherry also features what looks like a Bruins beanie baby on the HNIC desk while he and HNIC host Ron MacLean breeze their way through the intermission show. He starts it all by pronouncing “I’m on the (Bruins) bandwagon”, and then lauds Savard for everything from his playmaking to the understated way he celebrates goals in Game 1 against the Hurricanes. Love the Scott Stevens “crazy eyes” shot as well.

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Game 2 Pregame Notes: Kessel skates, looks ready

05.03.09 at 1:07 pm ET
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Phil Kessel was on the ice for a voluntary team skate on Sunday morning, and appears ready to go one day after missing practice with a swollen left elbow. Kessel injured the wing after taking a spill and landing on it in the corner during the second period of Game 1 on Friday night.

–A long pregame chat with Hurricanes winger — and former Boston Bruins wunderkind — Sergei Samsonov, who found himself on his fifth NHL team when he joined up with the Canes last season. Samsonov seems to have found a home in the heart of NASCAR country over the last two seasons, and had himself a pretty good season for the Canes in getting close to 50 points (16 goals, 32 assists) in 81 games played.

“I had a great time (in Boston). It was the best years of my career. I felt like something was never accomplished because we never really did it in the playoffs, but as far as everything else goes it was great,” said Samsonov. “My first game, my first NHL goal — stuff like that (I remember). There’s a lot of (memories).

“We still come back as a family here to Boston during the summer because we still have a lot of friends here,” added Samsonov. “It’s only natural when you spend so much time in one city that you grow roots here.”

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Phil Kessel is raising his game in the playoffs

05.03.09 at 2:41 am ET
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Phil Kessel fell on his left elbow and yelped in pain during the second period of Friday night’s opener against the Carolina Hurricanes, and the collective members of Bruins Nation held their breath with more than a hint of concern.

It was simply a swollen left elbow that kept the former first-round pick out of Saturday morning practice, but coach Claude Julien assured all concerned that his young scorer would be “100 percent” for Sunday night’s Game 2. That’s good news for a hockey team that already had to make due without Kessel for 12 games missed this season due to injury and illness, but didn’t want to learn to live without their top goal-scorer in the playoffs.

While many of the eyes in the B’s/Canes series centered on Zdeno Chara and the Bruins’ handling of Carolina scorer Eric Staal, it’s just as vital that the Canes contain the growing offensive force known simply as “Phil the Thrill.” Kessel has just as many goals scored this postseason as household hockey names like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, but has turned the trick in less actual playoff games.

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Kessel not practicing, should be 100 percent for Game 2

05.02.09 at 12:35 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Phil Kessel wasn’t on the practice ice for the Bruins Saturday morning at Ristuccia Arena, but B’s coach Claude Julien indicated that the young sniper was simply taking a day off after banging his left elbow during the second period of Game 1. Kessel took a hit in the corner and landed hard on his left elbow. He had an ice bag wrapped around the area while walking through the Bruins dressing room this morning after practice.

The 22-year-old dusted himself off to set up Boston’s second goal of the game on a Marc Savard rebound shot, and then played the rest of the game without any problem. Julien indicated that Kessel would be back in the lineup for Sunday night’s Game 2.

“Phil’s okay,” said Julien. “When he fell (Friday) he banged his blow. It’s not a big deal. It’s just a little swollen this morning, so we kept him off (the ice). He’ll be 100 percent tomorrow.”

–A lot more talk about the goaltender crowding/bumping that took place in Game 1, and that the B’s expect it to be a favored Hurricanes tactic for the duration of the playoff series. The aggressive Carolina skaters zeroed in on Thomas between the pipes in Game 1 — to the point of earning themselves a goaltender interference call immediately after they scored their one and only goal — and are hoping to drive “Tank” to distraction much like they did with New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur during the last round.

Right now it looks as if Ryan Bayda (5-foot-11, 185-pounds), Tuomo Ruutu (6-foot, 200-pounds) and Erik Cole (6-foot-2, 205-pound) will be the bodies of choice used to make Thomas’ life more difficult, but it’s something the Black and Gold skaters are prepared for in defending their turf.

“That’s what they do,” said Bruins winger Michael Ryder. “They throw bodies in front to try to cause traffic and get rebounds, and they’re going to do that. It’s a matter of us being strong in front of our net defensively. Against Jersey and Brodeur they were doing the exact same thing and I think they banged into him a couple of times too. We know they’re going to come to the net and we just have to be strong in that area.”

–A scoring change from Game 1 that was announced at practice on Saturday morning. The Bruins first goal was credited to back to Aaron Ward, who fired a long shot at the point that was originally credited to center David Krejci during the first period on Friday night. It didn’t appear that Krejci changed the trajectory of the puck as it hurtled toward the net, so now Krejci and Ryder have the assists. And Ward has his playoff goal against his former team.

–There was actually a Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake sighting at Bruins practice on Saturday morning. When I first saw the bleach blonde hair and the tight white UnderArmor T-shirt I thought it was Randy “The Ram”, but Brutus still looks like he could get in the ring and lock down a few sleeper holds if he really wanted to. Mr. Beefcake is a friend to one of the members of the B’s training staff, and was observing as a guest of the club. No word on whether he gave out any unwanted haircuts following practice. 

–Finally, a big thanks to reader Hockey Joe for sending this along. Here’s our favorite mullet-headed hockey analyst, Barry Melrose, on the Worldwide Leader stating that Carolina has more talent up-front on their roster than Boston heading into the semifinal series. He also calls the Vezina-bound Thomas a “small question mark” in the series. Perhaps this is why Steve Stamkos took out a restraining order against the Pinstriped Bandit in Tampa Bay before Melrose was mercifully gassed by Bolts ownership this season.

No Rust here

05.01.09 at 10:59 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien doesn’t hand out compliments freely.

But even he was impressed with the way his team handled the nine days since dispatching the Montreal Canadiens in four straight games as the Black and Gold skated past the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, Friday night at TD Banknorth Garden in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

On Friday night, the Bruins came out fast, stumbled and then regained the focus that has made them a viable Stanley Cup contender.

‘€œFor a team that hadn’€™t played in a week-and-a-half, I thought we came out decently and were pretty poised throughout the whole game and were patient and took advantage of our opportunities,” Julien said. “But no doubt, I think our team was as good as we could have expected for tonight.’€

The Bruins got on the board when David Krejci redirected an Aaron Ward shot from the right point just 94 seconds into the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bruins, Hurricanes, NHL, Stanley Cup Playoffs

Savard scores a pair in sweet Game 1 victory for B’s

05.01.09 at 8:29 pm ET
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19:30: Ryan Whitney had a nice redirect of a Tim Gleason shot from the right point, but Tim Thomas was able to kick out a right pad and knock the puck away. Through two periods, Thomas has been the better of the two goaltenders in this Game 1 matchup. One of the biggest keys to the series.

17:31: Slashing penalty on Erik Cole. His second time in the sin bin tonight.

16:48: Chuck Kobasew took a late swipe at the puck handled by Cam Ward, and Dennis Seidenberg took exception with a hard slam to Kobasew against the back boards behind the Carolina net.

14:20: That was vintage Vezina Timmy. Whitney cut through P.J. Axelsson and Aaron Ward and feathered a backhand pass to Staal at the left post. Thomas stretched out his left pad and stoned Staal cold on the point blank shot in front of the net. A huge third period save right there.

12:39: And that’s the dagger. The Bruins and Canes traded the puck back and forth in rushes up and down the ice, but Kessel, Savard and Lucic finally broke through. Kessel carried the puck into the offensive zone on the left side,  and then threw a perfect drop-down pass to Savard at the right faceoff circle. Savard reared and fired a missile from the right dot that beat Ward blocker-side.

The Bruins have been relentless, and Ward has not looked all that good between the Carolina pipes tonight.

6:50: Another great reaction save by Thomas on a Ruutu tip of a Corvo long shot attempt from the right point.

5:57: Chara off for hooking. First PP of the night for the Hurricanes.

The Bruins torched the Hurricanes by a convincing 4-1 score during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup semifinals at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Read More: Marc Savard, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara,
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