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Michael Ryder undergoes surgery for orbital fracture

02.09.09 at 12:39 pm ET
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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.

Bruins and Flyers locked in 3-3 tie

02.07.09 at 2:23 pm ET
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With Manny Fernandez between the pipes for his first game since Jan. 8, scores by Marc Savard, Byron Bitz, Chuck Kobasew in the first twenty minutes have the Bruins and Flyers tied at 3-3 in the second period. Bitz scored Boston’s second goal on a juicy rebound right at the goal mouth after Mark Stuart’s slap shot from the high point rattled around the Philadelphia cage.

The goal was the first career NHL score for the 24-year-old rookie from Saskatoon. The B’s and Flyers are tied 3-3 after two full periods of play following Philly agitator Scott Hartnell’s game-tying goal in the second period.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Byron Bitz, Chuck Kobasew, Marc Savard

Jumbo Joe Thornton talks about trade from Boston

02.07.09 at 1:18 pm ET
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On Tuesday Jumbo Joe Thornton will return to TD Banknorth Garden for only the second time since being traded away from the Black and Gold for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau back in November of 2005.

The Sharks meet the first overall Boston Bruins at 7:00 p.m. eastern time on VERSUS. Here’s the transcript from the NHL-sponsored conference call on Friday morning with Thornton in anticipation of the showdown between the Best in the West and the Best of the East. It’ll be Joe’s second tilt at the Garden since getting dealt by Harry Sinden and Mike O’Connell back in 2005, and he said that much of the emotion left the matchup for him following the 5 minutes, 13 seconds he played the last time he was in Boston.

Here’s the transcript: 

Q. A lot has been said about rookie coach Todd McLellan, but can you tell me a little bit about what Jay Woodcroft has meant to your team? JOE THORNTON: He’s been great. He actually takes care of all the video part and some of the on ice stuff. But he breaks down the good things, the bad things in our game right then, and he works one-on-one with us after and at practices and things like that. He’s been a great addition to the whole coaching staff. 

Q. Also, could you tell me about the additions of (Rob) Blake and (Dan) Boyle and what that’s allowed your offense to do knowing you’ve had those two back there on the defensive line?  JOE THORNTON: Yeah, they’ve been great. They obviously played big, big minutes. They play both power play and penalty kill. They’re two stud defensemen that definitely should be up for Norris consideration. They’ve been great. They give other confidence to the other defense on our team, and they’re good veteran guys that won Stanley Cups, so you know you can rely on guys like that, too.

Q. Obviously you want to make this (trip to Boston) last longer than the last one. The fact that that game was so short for you a few years ago when you were here shortly after the deal, did that kind of leave a bad taste in your mouth? Do you kind of want to play a complete game now? JOE THORNTON: Well, yeah. It’s hockey and you kind of expect the unexpected, but obviously you want to play the full 60 minutes. It ended up working out well because I think we won, I’m not sure what the score was but we won pretty big that night. It worked out good; I got to eat some popcorn in the room and everything. But yeah, the plan is to play a full game and to have a good game. 

Q. Why are the Sharks better this year? What’s going on with that team? Is it moving the puck better from the back end? JOE THORNTON: Well, I think with the new coach we just tweaked our system a little bit, plus we added some big players on the point, so I think when you add all that together, you’re going to have a pretty good season, I guess.

Q. I’m actually working on a story on Mike Grier and would like to know from your standpoint, how would you describe his importance to the team? JOE THORNTON: He’s a big part of our team. He brings a lot of leadership, a lot of character. He’s huge on the penalty kill. He blocks shots, does all the little things that don’t get maybe noticed on the stats sheet and things like that. But he’s a big part of this team. Yeah, he’s been through a lot of wars, so you definitely can lean on a guy like that, especially for the young guys that expect what’s to come down here in the last 30 games here plus the postseason.

Q. I covered the Sabres for a number of years, including the time when he was there, and I recall a lot of the players when he left saying how much he was missed in the locker room because he always seemed to have a knack to say the perfect thing at the perfect time. Have you been exposed to that, and do you have any examples by any chance? JOE THORNTON: Yeah, he’s just a real positive guy, and I think when something needs to be said, I think a guy like him definitely has it where he can stand up no problem and address the room, and he’s done that in the past. I have no examples, but he is good with talking in the room and calming guys down if it’s a situation that needs to be handled a little bit or fire the guys up. So he has a good pulse on the team. 

Q. Is his family’s background a popular topic in the dressing room? JOE THORNTON: Yeah.

Q. What comes up about that, and how do you think that ? How could you imagine that that family background has impacted his development as a hockey player, even though we’re talking about different sports? JOE THORNTON: No, I think just his dedication to sport, obviously his family all into football, one is in Houston, one is in Miami. No, it comes up a lot. We love talking about football because we usually have Sundays off, so he knows quite a bit about it. I think he reads your magazine front to back, as well. He’s well?groomed in the sports category area. 

No, I think for his father just to be part of the NFL, I think he just learned a lot of discipline from him and maybe just leadership qualities from his dad. Yeah, he’s just a tremendous teammate.

Q. Just kind of going back to the return to Boston, lots of time has passed, lots of water under the bridge. Are you still in touch with a lot of the players there? I can’t even imagine that there would be very many guys that remain from when you played there. JOE THORNTON: No, there’s not. Well, I still talk to PJ once in a while, but I think he came in the same year as me, and that’s about the only one that really started with me. Timmy Thomas was there a little bit and Patrice Bergeron was there, but that’s pretty much it on the player side. You talk to the trainers a little bit here and there and the equipment guys, but everything else has pretty much all changed there.

Q. So is it then easier to go back in a situation like that, because even though it’s the team where you started, there’s I guess the sense that it is another game, an important game because they’re the top team in the east? JOE THORNTON: Yeah, really that’s all it is to me. There’s not too many ex-teammates over there, and it’s just really an important game in the schedule. They’re the best in the east, and we’re the best in the west. So it’s an important game that way rather than I’m playing against friends, I think.

Q. And then just one final follow-up. There’s some of us that are imagining, like occasionally there’s upsets in the playoffs, but sometimes the top teams get through, and if the top teams do get through this year, there would be a San Jose/Boston Stanley Cup final, which I guess from your perspective would look good because it means you’re competing for the Stanley Cup. Do you allow your mind to wander, or is it too dangerous to do that because you’ve got to get there first? JOE THORNTON: You wander a little bit, but obviously we’ve still got a lot of hockey to work out here. If that were to be the case it would be great because both teams made it there, but I think both teams would agree we’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us.

Q. Just to go back to that Boston game three years ago, the fans gave you a pretty good ride. You did not hang around long to get booed more, but they gave you a pretty good ride. Do you expect the same thing this time?  JOE THORNTON: I don’t think you expect anything. I think you go in with no expectations. That’s how I’ll go into Tuesday’s game, just with no expectations again. 

Q. Do you have any regrets about what happened in Boston, or is that passed? JOE THORNTON: I have no regrets at all. That’s years and years ago. I had no regrets when I played there and when I left, no.

Q. How about the feeling of being traded at that time? What did it mean to you when you got traded at that time? JOE THORNTON: Well, I never in juniors had gotten traded, so that was my first dose of getting traded. It was a little weird, a little emotional to be leaving. But really, after I got traded, from that night on, it was tough, and then the morning came and I flew and I met my new teammates with the Sharks. I think after really that first 24 hours, I think it wasn’t hard, it was just back to business, I think. It wasn’t too tough after that.

Q. About this season, new coach, and McLellan obviously comes in with a winning pedigree from last year especially, but I guess you could expect that you guys would be a good team, but did you expect that it would be like this? JOE THORNTON: Well, you expect it to be good because I think with having Dan Boyle, I don’t think too many people outside of Tampa really knew how good he was. But I played with him in the world championships and things like that, so I expected him to make a big impact, and Rob Blake, because Rob, we play here in California all the time.

So I knew those two guys were going to make a big impact, but I just didn’t know how big. I think with those two guys coming here, our expectations were real high. But to have the start we are, I don’t think anybody expected that, no.

Q. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re still with Setoguchi and Marleau, correct?  JOE THORNTON: Yes.

Q. There seems to be a pretty good chemistry there, and all three of you guys were in Montreal for All-Star weekend there, as well, which must have been pretty special to have a whole line there. Where do you think it all stems from, that chemistry, if you can just break it down a little bit? JOE THORNTON: Well, I think you look at Paddy has tremendous speed and so does Seto. They both shoot the puck really, really well, they both see the ice well. I’m a big believer in good players make each other into great players. I think that’s the case with us.

We’re all good players, and when you put them together, we become better players. All three of us have good hockey sense, and I think when you throw three guys in a line that have good hockey sense, usually good things come out of it.

Q. McLellan keeps pushing the right buttons. What’s different with him in the room with him as the coach this year? Has much changed? JOE THORNTON: Not too much to be honest with you. I think just our daily approach is just a little bit different. We just really focus in on that day. I think in years past we kind of looked maybe too far ahead, and this year we’re just working out our kinks now, and we’re working hard each and every day and focusing on that day. I think that’s probably going to be the difference.

Q. Does the Stanley Cup from last year ever get brought up? Does he ever bring it up and say this is what works? JOE THORNTON: It does come up a little bit, and we saw his ring when we came to Detroit there and the Red Wings came to the rink. So we do talk about it a little bit, what championship teams do. So it’s nice having a coach that has been there and done that.

Q. You were talking about the Boston thing. Have you ever understood why or got an explanation why you were traded? JOE THORNTON: Really, I don’t really know. I know at the time I can remember the team wasn’t doing so well. But no, I really don’t know or I don’t think anybody knows other than a couple people why that happened. But yeah, I still don’t know.

Q. You said there’s not a lot of people associated with the team in terms of players that are still there. How about do you still have friends in the community that will be pretty cool to reunite with for at least one day?JOE THORNTON: Yeah, my brother still lives in Boston. He goes to school there at Boston University. It’s going to be nice to see him. Yeah, I’ve still got quite a few friends there over the years. I started when I was 18, so that’s a lot of good friends that I still have there. So it’ll be nice when we get a couple days off, which will be good to kind of go visit some people that I need to.

Q. And the last question would be this weekend, in different circumstances, but obviously Marian Hossa will go back to Pittsburgh this weekend and back to one of his old teams, albeit he didn’t play there that long, be he might get a little bit of a cool reception. Any advice for Marian when he goes in there, how to deal with it? JOE THORNTON: No, I just think you go in with no expectations, and that’s about it, really. You’ve just got to go play your game. That’s the bottom line.

Q. I’m calling from Swedish television, and I was just wondering, why is San Jose playing better than Detroit this season? JOE THORNTON: We’ve been real consistent since day one, and that’s probably the one thing is just our consistency. We try to play hard each and every night, and we’ve got lots of talent. I think when you work hard and you’re consistent, you’re going to get results. I think that’s the case this year.

Q. And Douglas Murray has a lot of fans here in Sweden. What can you say about him and his season so far?JOE THORNTON: He’s had a great season, actually. He’s just so big and strong, and he just controls the puck when he has it. But he’s been great for us all year long. He plays big minutes for us on the penalty kill and things like that. But he’s been a big, huge part of our success.

Q. When you’re looking back now in hindsight at getting traded and going to San Jose and everything, how beneficial was the trade from Boston to San Jose and going from one situation to the other for your career? JOE THORNTON: Well, I think it’s worked out well for me, obviously. But you know, I thought it was going good in Boston, as well, though. I don’t think there was anything wrong there to be honest with you. But I think just being a little bit older, I think I was young then and now I’m just maturing to be an adult now. So I think just maturity-wise you get to know the game a little bit better, you get more confidence, and you just know your body a little bit more.

I think it just really is two parts of a hockey player that I was.

Q. Did you use that trade as motivation or like you kind of maybe had to prove something to somebody after the fact? JOE THORNTON: No, not at all. You just play hockey, and that’s what I do. I’m a hockey player. But no motivation or anything like that. You just have to earn respect from your new teammates, and that’s about it. But there’s no new motivation. You have enough on yourself that you don’t need any more.

Q. How different for you personally is it going to be going back to Boston this time than last time? Maybe a lot less emotional than the last time you were there? JOE THORNTON: Yeah, I feel like I’ve been a Shark for a long time now. It’ll be a little bit funny, but I don’t think now, being through it once before, I don’t think it’s going to be a big challenge for me.

Q. And when you kind of look back on that one other time, that five minutes and 13 seconds that you were actually in the game, what sticks out in your mind just from that day going back? Is there anything that you really kind of think of when you think of that day? JOE THORNTON: Just how weird and awkward it was to be honest with you. It just felt really strange to be on a different side on the bench and skating a different way. Just a little bit awkward, I think.

Q. I just wonder if you could walk me through what a typical week for a pro hockey player is, the rhythms of the week with practice and games and whether there’s a particular day that you think you do better on or look forward to playing on or something like that? JOE THORNTON: Pretty much typical days are you play a Tuesday, a Thursday and a Saturday, and on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday you usually have practice at 11:00 o’clock. So you wake up 9:00-ish, quarter to 9:00-ish, go to the rink, grab some breakfast and away you go. And then after practice there might be a little light workout or things like that.

Then usually home, and then here in California you can sit out by the pool if you like and then play some Tiger Woods in the afternoon, and then dinner time and then maybe see a movie or watch a TV show on television, then just do it all over again the next day. I like Saturdays personally. I like Saturday night games. They seem to be fun.

Q. Why is that?  JOE THORNTON: I don’t know, just…well, we sell out every night here, so it’s really just that if you’re on the road, usually Saturday nights will be sold out on the road and there’s quite a good atmosphere in the building. Saturday nights, it’s Hockey Night in Canada, too, you to get to watch Don Cherry on TV.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Joe Thornton, P.J. Axelsson, San Jose Sharks
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