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Ryder out indefinitely with facial fracture

02.07.09 at 12:06 pm ET
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The injury bug has hit the Bruins again, and this time Michael Ryder is the victim after suffering a high-stick against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. According to B’s coach Claude Julien, Ryder is out indefinitely with a facial fracture to the nose/eye area and team doctors haven’t ruled out surgery as a possibility to repair the damaged area.

The latest news is a pretty big reversal from the last few days when it was expected that Ryder had his nasty nose gash stitched up and he would be ready to go.

“Ryder is not going today; we got some bad news on his situation,” said Julien, who said Ryder will be evaluated again on Monday. “It’s a small fracture, so he’s out indefinitely. It needs to be determined whether he can play with a shield, or how far it needs to be looked into.

“It’s a shame,” added Julien. “When you say indefinitely you hope it’s shorter than longer. There’s a fresh fracture and you really can’t let him go now. There’s a possibility of (surgery).”

Julien indicated that Ryder’s eyesight is “okay” and has not been affected by the injury, but further testing will be required next week.

In other news for pregame against the Philadelphia Flyers in yet another Saturday matinee at the Garden: Milan Lucic will play with a bruised up and purple left foot after taking a shot off it on Wednesday night, but Aaron Ward will not be in the lineup after battling the flu over the last few days.

Manny Fernandez gets his first start between the pipes since the beginning of January when he took to the ice Jan. 8 against the Ottawa Senators.

Read More: Aaron Ward, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Manny Fernandez

Bruised left foot for Milan Lucic

02.06.09 at 2:20 pm ET
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Bruins left winger Milan Lucic was back at practice this afternoon and declared himself ready to play in tomorrow’s matinee against the Philadelphia Flyers. Looch suffered a bruised left foot when he took a shot off his big dog in last Wednesday night’s tilt versus the Flyers in Philly. According to the hulking forward, he’s got a colorful and healthy bruise and some “purple toes” after taking a shot off the left foot near the skate’s lacing.

Lucic was trying to get a tip on a shot in front of the net at the time of the injury, but he missed the puck with his trusty blade and instead caught the speeding rubber biscuit flush off the front of his left foot.

“It’s good news,” said Lucic, who missed Thursday night’s game against the Senators with the injury. “I think we treated it right (Thursday) and today, and it looks like I’m going to be ready to play tomorrow.

“It’s the game of hockey; stuff like that happens all the time and you just have to be mentally strong and battle through it,” added Lucic. “I’ve got some nice purple toes. It looks funny right now, but it made a lot of progress from yesterday morning to last night.”

In other tidbits from practice:

Dennis Wideman obviously isn’t a big listener to WEEI during the late morning and early afternoon hours, if at all. When I told him that he should tell Holley that he was a big fan of his “Holley Hockey Minute” when he gets on the air, Wideman replied without missing a beat: “Oh…you mean Holley isn’t a girl? That’s good to know.”

Aaron Ward was down with the flu that’s been traveling around the Bruins club — and the Celtics for that matter over the last week — and wasn’t at practice. Chuck Kobasew was also given a maintenance day away from the ice by coach Claude JulienMichael Ryder was also given the day off after a high stick caught him in the face and cut him open during last night’s shootout win against Ottawa.

Julien and Manny Fernandez also both revealed that physically he’s ready to jump back into game action, but it’s more a matter of getting a certain feel in net between the pipes after three weeks of inactivity.

“He’s feeling good and physically I think he’s 100 percent,” said Julien. “I think we made the right decision in doing what we did and letting him heal his aching back. That’s the main thing right now, so it’s just a matter now of spotting him in a situation when we feel that he feels he’s ready.”

It was a pretty good showing at practice this afternoon at the TD Banknorth Garden given that B’s Media Relations maestro Matt Chmura estimated that the team finally got into Boston around 2:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Read More: Aaron Ward, Boston Bruins, Chuck Kobasew, Claude Julien

99 percent of Bruins’ season tickets remain flat for next season

02.06.09 at 1:55 pm ET
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The Boston Bruins announced this afternoon that B’s season ticket holders will see 99 percent of next season’s tickets remain the same for the 2009-10 season. Within that 1 percent change, the seats directly around the glass will go up from $150 to $165 next season and the tickets in Loge 3, 4, 10, 14 and 21 will drop from $89 to $85 next season. All pricing is for season ticket renewals that will begin the week of Feb. 16, with current season ticket holders set to received a package in the mail for renewals. The deadline for renewal is March 18.

“Over the past two seasons, we have seen the our team performance and our Season Ticket Holder base grow concurrently,” said Bruins Vice President of Business Operations Dan Zimmer, who added that the Bruins have a “a couple thousand deposits in hand” for new season tickets beginning next year. “When we evaluated our pricing options for next season, we felt compelled to take into consideration the current economic environment and our desire to ensure that our most loyal fans get the most favorable pricing possible.”

P.J. Axelsson plays the unlikely hero role well

02.05.09 at 11:59 pm ET
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For the second time this season, the most unlikely of hockey heroes came through in every way for the Black and Gold by securing a game that his team most assuredly didn’t deserve to win.

The light-scoring P.J. Axelsson turned in a seemingly patented wide right move during a lengthy shootout and snapped a 3-3 deadlock by squirting a puck through Ottawa netminder Brian Elliot’s spread pads in a 4-3 shootout win for the B’s over the Senators at Scotiabank Place on Thursday night.

The game-winning bid was very similar to Axy’s game-deciding tally in a 2-1 shootout victory way back on Nov. 12 against the Chicago Blackhawks — a marathon triumph that came while the B’s were clearly still attempting to gain a clear team identity during the opening months of the season.

The 33-year-old Swedish winger is — in many ways — the most unlikely of overtime/shootout heroes. He is armed with only four goals scored on the season, but possesses buckets of winning intangibles that have endeared the longest-tenured Bruin to a Boston coaching staff high on effort, grit and details. All of that added up to a positive result for Axelsson back against Chicago’s finest three long months ago.

Is that Axelsson flight of puck fancy a carbon copy of the game-winner notched by Axelsson last night against the Senators? An eventual positive score in a shootout that saw gifted skaters like Blake Wheeler, Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel and Marc Savard get turned away by an untested goaltender before him? None of those skaters, with all their variety of hockey skills, was able to solve Ottawa rookie goaltender Brian Elliott. Instead it remained up to one of the most overlooked offensive players in the entire NHL — never mind on the ice last night.

Axelsson had been quietly effective since returning to the third line — a move made possible when a host of injured B’s players returned to the lineup following the All-Star break – but he was again riding shotgun with Marc Savard and Phil Kessel on the top line with Milan Lucic again on the shelf with a ding in the fender (injured foot).

He’s surprisingly approaching a career-high with 16 assists already totaled in 49 games, and Axelsson has notched seven big helpers during a series of well-chronicled bumps up to the power-play unit. The final statistical line obviously doesn’t scream out shootout hero or top-line player ready for magazine covers, but it speaks to value amongst teammates and the coaching staff as he continues to fill valuable roles when needed.

Much has been made this season that Axelsson has only produced four total goals in the regular season — with two of them empty netters — but in one fell swoop of a shootout move last night the Swede showed why he’s still a highly valued part of the high-octane, aimed-for-greatness Bruins this season. A nifty little one-on-one move snared victory from the jaws of defeat with a rare score, another example of Axelsson contributing precisely in the fashion that his team needed.

Read More: P.J. Axelsson,

Mike Milbury and Tim Connolly aren’t buds

02.05.09 at 2:15 pm ET
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I’ve always been a big fan of all the NESN hockey broadcasters. Gord Kluzak and Rick Middleton certainly have their charms and add to the broadcasts, but nobody can bust out a “little self-centered dink” throwaway line quite like Mike Milbury. The always-volcanic Milbury proved it again last night by taking it to a new level between the second and third period of the B’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Milbury and host Kathryn Tappen sat in the studio and calmly watched as sideline report Naoko Funayama went through their paces with Michael Ryder, and then came the verbal explosion around the NHL highlights package.

The rift obviously stems from Connolly’s two years with the New York Islanders when Milbury was running the organization, but Mad Mike basically slapped Buffalo Sabres center Tim Connolly with a “self-centered, little dink” during the Sabres portion of the footage. Not quite as primitively satisfying as watching Milbury beat a man with his own shoe, but it’s still good to know that the bluster is still simmering when it needs to be called upon.

Here’s the footage from last night with the fireworks beginning around the 1:30 mark (note: you’ll need to turn up the audio to hear the comments):

Read More: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Kathryn Tappen, Mike Milbury

David Krejci finds himself in Philly win

02.05.09 at 12:41 am ET
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David Krejci has had something of a charmed season in his second year with the Bruins.

The Hockey News recently recognized the certified puck magician as the “Best Hidden Gem” in the NHL during the first half of the hockey season, but things had actually dropped off a bit for the budding 22-year-old playmaker heading in and out of January’s NHL All-Star break.

The young center had managed just one goal, four assists and was dead-even on +/- over his last eight games heading into Wednesday night, but he busted out with a goal and an assist while racking up a +3 in Boston’s solid 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center last night.

It’s been a period of adjustment for Krejci and linemates Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder over the last month as the word is out on the talented threesome. Teams have grown to recognize just how dominant a puck possession force they are for the Black and Gold, and adjusted their game plans by oft-times sending their best checking lines/defensive units out on the ice against the explosive trio. That combined with teams ratcheting up the on-ice physical intensity had seemed to cause the unthinkable to happen: Krejci was actually being keyed on and contained by the balance of contenders in the Eastern Conference.

It would have been difficult to imagine earlier in the season, but the brightest of Boston’s young stars seemed to be getting lost in the shoving shuffle of February hockey in the NHL. The minor scuffle had some wondering whether the 5-foot-10, 177-pound was tiring through the rigors of an 82 game NHL season, or if the physical nature of late winter/early spring hockey was beginning to neutralize the Czech Republic playmaker’s ability to score and create with the puck on his stick.

Like any good player, though, the nifty, cerebral playmaker simply and obstinately kept at it and continued firing pucks at the net while searching for welcoming creases to sneak pucks through. Instead of seeking out the perfect play to snap himself out of his mini-funk, however, Krejci plunked himself into the high-traffic danger area in front of the net and forced the action. Krejci simply redirected a Shane Hnidy wrist shot speeding toward him, and ricocheted the biscuit past Flyers goaltender Martin Biron.

Who was the player that won the faceoff in the Philly zone and set up the goal by working the puck back to the waiting Hnidy? That would be the one-and-the same Krejci, who also fired off four shots during the game and won seven out of 12 faceoffs during an active evening against the rough and tumble Flyers.

Last night, things finally clicked in again following Krejci’s decision to simplify his game. He once again looked like the player that’s on an amazing pace to score 84 points this season — his second full season in the NHL after earning himself a job during the second half of last season — and perhaps all is once again well in the wonderful puck world of Krejci.

Matt Hunwick ruled out for Philly game

02.03.09 at 2:13 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick won’t be making the trip to Philadelphia for Wednesday night’s game due to his ongoing battle with the flu. Hunwick missed two games over the weekend with flu-like symptoms, and B’s coach Claude Julien wanted to make certain his defenseman was fully recovered before rejoining the team. After last season’s problem with the flu spreading through the locker room, Julien is also attempting to keep Hunwick away from his healthy teammates until he’s back to full health.

 Julien didn’t rule out Hunwick, who missed practice both Monday and Tuesday, from rejoining the team on the road swing prior to Thursday’s tilt at the Ottawa Senators.

“There’s a possibility he might join us in Ottawa if need be,” said Julien. “But he’s not well enough to travel with the team…or to have him around the team for that matter.”

Manny Fernandez looks to make the two-game road trip through Philadelphia and Ottawa, and made it through Tuesday’s practice this morning at Ristuccia Arena without incident. The 34-year-old goaltender has been out since with back spasms and soreness, but should be approaching a return to goal in the near-future. Julien wouldn’t put an exact date on Fernandez’s return and wanted to speak with his veteran goalie before deciding to put him back between the pipes.

“I don’t know exactly where Manny is, and I have to sit down and talk to him about his feel,” said Julien. “Goaltenders have to feel very comfortable moving around and stopping pucks. We’ll have to sit down and have a chat with (Fernandez), see how he does over the next couple of days and then go from there.”

Phil Kessel made an appropriately speedy return from mono, but the smooth-skating forward hasn’t potted a goal in his three games back since the All-Star break, and still isn’t quite mixing together that skating, firing and forechecking combo that bestowed him with 24 goals in the first half of the season.

The shifty winger notched a pair of of assists in his first game back from the illness, but Julien feels it’s just a matter of regaining timing and touch for Kessel after missing six games with the illness. In fact, it was a month ago today that Kessel last lit the lamp against the Buffalo Sabres in a Jan. 3, 4-2 loss and his current six-game scoreless stretch represents the 22-year-old’s longest scoring drought of this season.

‘(Kessel’s level of play) is not at the level it was before the injury and he knows that,” said Julien. “He may feel good about his skating and everything else, but it’s one of those things where he needs to find his game again. He’s not terrible, but he’s not at the stage from before he got hurt.

“It’s getting a rhythm and getting into those holes and finding your timing,” added Julien. “Making those scoring opportunities happen for you and it’s a little bit of timing here and there. Some of it is us as a coaching staff showing him (video) clips to help him get back, and some of it is just (Kessel) getting his timing back as well.”

Kessel isn’t the only player that’s emerged slowly out of the gate in the second half, however, as the Krejci/Wheeler/Ryder line has been pretty well bottled up over the last handful of games as the B’s scoring levels have dropped against some pretty stiff competition. In the natural progression of things during an NHL schedule, it’s typical that play tightens up in the last few months of the season and the days of scoring or five or six goals a night morph into the exception rather than the rule.

“There’s room for improvement there and there’s other guys that can play better as well,” added Julien. “As a team we’re still playing a decent game, and when you see those things (on the horizon) it’s more encouraging for your hockey club.”

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