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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.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Joe Thornton, NHL, San Jose Sharks

Michael Ryder will miss 2-3 weeks with sinus/orbital fractures

02.10.09 at 2:08 pm ET
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The Bruins got some good news on the Michael Ryder injury front this morning. The right wing will be out just 2-3 weeks as he recovers from surgery on Monday to repair damage to area around the sinus and orbital bones between his eyes. According to Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli, Ryder will be back up working out on the bike in the next two or three days and ready to play right around/before the March 4 trade deadline.

“He had three small fractures in the bridge of the nose, around the orbital (bone),” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said at morning skate Tuesday morning. “He had surgery (Monday) evening. Surgery was successful. He had three small plates put in. He’s home now. He’ll be back in two-to-three weeks and back riding a bike in two-to-three days.”

Chiarelli said that the circumstances surrounding the Ryder injury haven’t really affected trade talks one way or the other, and that the B’s GM isn’t very deep in discussions on any potential deals around the NHL.

“It’s not as bad as first expected,” said Chiarelli. “If (other teams) detect a weakness then the price will go up. In most cases when we’ve had discussions it’s not really possible to backtrack once you get that deep into discussions.”

With less than a month to go to the March 4 NHL trade deadline, however, Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli indicated that he isn’t close to finalizing any deals despite the trade rumors heating up in recent weeks. The B’s have been linked most prominently to potential trades for Edmonton Oilers winger Erik Cole and St. Louis Blues forward Keith Tkachuk, but the team continues to wait before pulling the trigger on deal that will bring the team additional size, strength and grit up front.

Both are left-handed shots, potential power play performers and fit many of the profiles that the B’s have been searching for to compliment a team that has shown all kinds of Stanley Cup potential over their first 50 plus games.

“I’m not that deep into discussions…I’m just speaking generally here,” added Chiarelli. “If we can get bigger, that is something that we’d like to do.” 

Tim Thomas is expected to get the start in net when the NHL-leading Bruins host Joe Thornton and the Western Conference leaders San Jose tonight at the Garden at 7 p.m. Colleague Mike Petrags has some great sound up from the media meeting with Jumbo Joe this morning in the Sharks dressing room, and Thornton — as expected — said he was happy to be back in the familiar city of Boston where he can raid his favorite restaurants and check in with his brother that still lives in the Hub.

–Lasting image from this morning’s skate aside from the expected Jumbo Joe madness: WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton gallivanting through the Bruins locker room and accidentally stomping on a group of Milan Lucic’s expensive hockey sticks as he was swooping in on a group interview. Looch stopped without missing a beat, said to Burton “Yeah, you might want to try not doing that” and then went right back to awaiting group of questioners.

Not quite a “Curt, Curt…I need you” moment, but certainly another chapter in the Book of Burton.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Erik Coke, Keith Tkachuk, Michael Ryder

Michael Ryder undergoes surgery for orbital fracture

02.09.09 at 12:39 pm ET
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Ryder could be out three weeks or more with a fractured orbital bone, and is undergoing surgery today

Ryder could be out three weeks or more with a fractured orbital bone, and is undergoing surgery today

Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed this morning that injured winger Michael Ryder is undergoing surgery today to repair a fractured orbital bone after getting whacked with a high stick last week. Julien said he didn’t know when Ryder would be able to return from the injury, and also said that the right wing wearing a “visor” or a “cage” on his helmet would be a “no-brainer.”

Hard to gauge exactly how long Ryder will be out for: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Sami Salo broke his orbital bone in Nov. 2007 and was back in the lineup three weeks later — while Mats Sundin missed exactly a month with the same injury in 2005-06.

Julien had Petteri Nokelainen skating on the right wing with David Krejci and Blake Wheeler during practice this morning/afternoon, but — as it always the case with any coach worth his salt — reserved the right to change his mind and shake up the lines. The B’s bench boss also seemed to cast doubt on the injury necessitating a call-up from Providence in the next few days — a sign that perhaps Julien feels Matt Hunwick can again play forward if more bodies go down when the team takes a four-game trek through the Sun Belt.

“It’s always a big loss when you lose players that are scoring goals for you, or an offensive threat,” said Julien. “He’s just one of them, but we’ve always eliminated the excuses and had guys step in from the beginning of the year and do the job.”

Updated: The surgery to repair Michael Ryder’s facial fracture was completed this afternoon, and Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli will address the media during tomorrow’s morning skate to discuss the surgery and the timetable for his return. Two prominent NHL players that suffered the same orbital-type injury over the last three years have been out 3-4 weeks, but there’s been no specific return date placed on the injured right winger as of yet

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Mats Sundin, Michael Ryder

Michael Ryder not present at B’s practice

02.09.09 at 11:37 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Felled right winger Michael Ryder is absent at the current Bruins practice taking place at Ristuccia Arena, and we’re all still waiting for word concerning his facial (orbital) fracture and just how long he’ll be out with the injury. Orbital bone injuries normally require surgery to repair, but Ryder also could be fitted with a cage over his helmet to protect his face as he recovers from any potential procedures or waits for the problem to heal.

B’s forwards are working on three-man cycling drills in one corner of the ice while the D-Men are firing slapshots from the left and right points and aiming them through a series of three orange cones designed to represent players looking to block shots. some of the D-men are having a much easier time with the drill than others, though I haven’t seen anyone drop their sticks and do push-ups after hitting one of the traffic cones.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Michael Ryder,

Sounds of the game… Flyers 4, Bruins 3, OT

02.07.09 at 9:04 pm ET
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The Bruins under Claude Julien rarely blow leads at home. They almost NEVER blow two-goal leads.

Saturday they did both to the very hungry Philadelphia Flyers.

After beating Philadelphia, 3-1, on Wednesday with an extremely sound game and a nearly perfect third period, the Bruins looked very tired once they went up by two with their fastest two goals since Barry Pederson and Norman Leveille scored eight seconds apart on Dec. 20, 1981.

But the Flyers were the better and more desperate team for the last 43 minutes of this one, and you’ll get no argument from the Black and Gold on that point.

Yes, they could’ve won when the Flyers’ Antero Niittymaki inexplicably knocked the puck up and over the boards for a delay of game penalty in the final 90 seconds.

Yes, they could’ve won it when Dennis WIdeman’s shot from the left point and rang off the right post in overtime.

And yes, they could’ve LOST it when Jeff Carter broke in on a shorthanded breakaway and when Simon Gagne fired one on net only to have Manny Fernandez come up big.

But they lost this game when Randy Jones, of all people, flipped the puck toward the net. It went off Andrew Ference and past Fernandez exactly three minutes into overtime for the game-winner.

It was Jones who hit Patrice Bergeron from behind on Oct. 27, 2007 at the Garden, causing Bergeron to miss the rest of the season with a grade three concussion.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said the Bruins looked like a tired bunch.

Julien said Manny Fernandez deserved a better fate in his first game back since early January.

Marc Savard said he thought the Bruins played like a tired team.

Savard said now is no time to worry about a Bruins team that already has 85 points.

Andrew Ference on the bad bounce that when off his pads and past Fernandez for the winning goal.

Randy Jones on hearing the Bruins crowd boo him every time he touched the puck.

Jones on the fortunate goal that gave the Flyers the win.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Manny Fernandez

Signs of B’s fatigue in OT loss to Flyers

02.07.09 at 8:16 pm ET
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It hasn’t happened much this hockey season and the Bruins weren’t really making their statements in the form of “shoulda, coulda, woulda” excuses after the game, but Boston’s 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime had all of the clear signs of a fatigued hockey team in need of a few night’s respite.

The Bruins jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead after the first twenty minutes of play in Saturday afternoon’s matinee performance, and appeared to have all the requisite jump and energy levels when they outshot the Flyers by a 15-8 margin and saw Marc Savard, Byron Bitz and Chuck Kobasew all pot early goals — including the rookie Bitz’s first NHL goal on a “garbage man-type” tip in at the goal mouth.

But there were also warning signs all along the way: lackadaisical and careless hooking, holding and tripping calls throughout the game including a late second period infraction by Blake Wheeler (2 penalties and one shot during his limited time on the ice) that capped off possibly his worst night as a pro thus far in his young career. Wheeler was pretty much a non-existent presence at the end of the B’s bench in the third period and had only 7:30 of ice time in the entire 63 minute hockey game — a screaming neon sign that the coaching staff felt they needed to back off a 22-year -old forward that’s been incredibly good and effective this year.

“[Wheeler] wasn’t very good for us tonight.  I didn’t think Krejci was very good for us tonight either, compared to what we’re used to seeing,” said a franker-than-frank Julien after the game. “They’re no different than anybody else.  I’ve said all along, you earn your ice time, and I didn’t feel those guys were good enough to have the amount of ice time they normally have.”

It may be that the grind of the schedule 54 games into the season is beginning to chip away at the buzz of so many of the young and exciting B’s, and a few days rest is all it will take to get them back to full Black and Gold power.

“It’s been a tough stretch of games for us,” said winger Shawn Thornton, who took the place of injured winger Michael Ryder on the second line Saturday afternoon. “I think for the most part our guys battled pretty hard, but we’re just going to think about it and refresh, day off tomorrow, I think, and come ready, hopefully with some pop in our step Tuesday.”

It wasn’t just Wheeler alone, however, displaying signs of fatigue over the last stretch of three games in four nights, all of them highly competitive contests against Eastern Conference foes in Philadelphia and Ottawa that are clearly playing some desperate hockey. David Krejci has also seen his minutes peeled back in recent games as he’s been seemingly lost at times as the physicality in games is increasing, and teams begin hoarding points like buried treasure. Phil Kessel is working on the longest goal drought of the season, and hasn’t lit the lamp since returning to the lineup from mononucleosis.

B’s head coach Claude Julien and GM Peter Chiarelli were both curious to see how the team would respond in the current nine-game meat grinder that they’re in against playoff competitors, and it’s beginning to take its toll.

“(The penalties) are fatigue.  There’s no doubt that certainly most of the calls that were made tonight were right calls, and maybe the too many men on the ice was a little suspect, extremely suspect, but other than that, I think we deserved those penalties,” said Julien, who seemed to understand the lethargy was at least partly attributed to the heavy post-All-Star break schedule of games. ” Some of that is due to fatigue; when you start hooking and taking those kind of penalties, certainly it’s a sign that you have some tired players, at least for us anyways.”

The players weren’t using fatigue as a ready-to-go excuse for the defeat — and something needs to be said for the Black and Gold taking points in each of the highly-charged eight games played since the All-Star break leading into Tuesday’s ”The Best Vs. The Best” matchup against the San Jose Sharks — and instead implied they were lacking in the magical buzzwords like “jump” and “jam”. Eyes across the TD Banknorth Garden will be the judges on Tuesday night as to whether the recent downturn in play is simply tired skating legs after three games in a short period of time, or if the B’s are simply beginning to fall back to the rest of the NHL pack.

“We haven’t had a consistent full game of jump for a couple of games,” said B’s defenseman Andrew Ference. “I don’t think that it’s a secret in the locker room that we’re not satisfied.  We’ve set the bar pretty high of where our play should be and our work ethic, winning battles and holding on to the puck, winning races to the puck.  I don’t think anybody’s satisfied with the consistency of that over the last probably couple weeks.”

Julien pointed to signs of puck fatigue during the waning moments of Boston;’s shootout win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night — a game they were able to pull out when they held on for overtime and then rode P.J. Axelsson’s shootout bid to victory. It’s been plain as day to him, but that doesn’t mean that he thinks it will linger beyond this weekend. It certainly doesn’t mean this Bruins team isn’t ready for Jumbo Joe and the Sharks to strike out onto the Garden’s frozen sheet in a game that all eyes around the NHL will be fixed on.

“I don’t think (this team) is any more tired than any other team in the league.  That’s kind of a cop out.  So I think you want to stay pretty far away from starting to feel sorry for yourself because you have a bunch of games,” said Julien. ”This has been a tough stretch for quality of opponents. We’ve played some very good teams and had some really good tests.  So yeah, you’re going to be tired, but I don’t think that other teams are feeling fresh or like they just came out of training camp.  I don’t think you want to go there.”

Bruins Nation won’t be go there just yet; just as long the B’s don’t go from tired to ”in the tank” with the hungry Sharks waiting for them next week.

Flyers’ Jones nets game-winner in overtime

02.07.09 at 4:36 pm ET
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Boston Bruins Public Enemy No. 1 Randy Jones, who heard a chorus of boos from the Garden crowd each time he touched the puck on Saturday afternoon, rifled a shot from the right point that pinballed off Andrew Ference in front of the net and then past goaltender Manny Fernandez.

The goal game with two minutes to go in the overtime session and handed the B’s their second post-All-Star break overtime loss during a brutal Eastern Conference stretch. The Bruins have picked up at least one point in each of those first eight games, and cap off the stretch with the Western Conference-leading San Jose Sharks at the Garden on Tuesday night.

Check back in a little bit at Pucks With Haggs for a breakdown of Saturday’s game.

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