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Wheeler is the scratch for the Bruins again in Game 6

05.12.09 at 7:00 pm ET
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RALEIGH, N.C. — For the second straight game rookie winger Blake Wheeler is the scratch for the Boston Bruins — along with Andrew Ference and Matt Hunwick — and Byron Bitz is again in the lineup and skating with David Krejci and Michael Ryder.

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Keys to a Game 6 victory for the Bruins

05.12.09 at 2:28 pm ET
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RALEIGH, N.C. — There are obviously intriguing player matchups and clear strengths and weaknesses to each of the seven elite NHL hockey teams still alive during the postseason, but a great deal of any best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series comes down to momentum and pressure.

Which team is riding high on the momentum wave, and which team is slowly crumbling under the pressure?

The Carolina Hurricanes clearly rode a tsunami-like blast of momentum to a 3-1 lead in the series and utilized quick D-to-D passing and a strangling forecheck as something of a Shock and Awe attack on a sleepy Bruins outfit. The Hurricanes stifled, confused and obstructed a frustrated Bruins team that clearly didn’€™t respect the Canes after blowing them out in Game 1 of the series.

But after the B’€™s woke up out of hibernation ‘€“ something that Mark Recchi admitted during the team’€™s last disastrous trip through Carolina for Games 3 and 4 last week ‘€“ the real Black and Gold team took a big step forward on Sunday night. The Boston defenseman suddenly remembered that part of their job is to move the puck up the ice with speed and good decision-making, and the forwards remembered to provide back pressure while taking care of all of the little details needed to slow down a Carolina team with far greater team speed along the blueline than the Bruins.

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Aaron Ward will be in Bruins lineup for Game 6

05.12.09 at 2:08 pm ET
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RALEIGH, N.C. — Though it isn’t much of a surprise given that the Bruins didn’t fly an extra defenseman down to Raleigh with them, Boston Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward will suit up and play for the B’s in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The B’s mentioned in the minutes following Sunday night’s Game 6 in Boston that Ward might have suffered a fractured orbital bone following a “sucker punch” from Hurricanes forward Scott Walker in the final minutes of the third period, and Walker was fined $2500 by the NHL for the transgression.

But, according to Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli during an interview this morning on WEEI 850’s Dale and Holley show, Ward may actually only aggravated a prior orbital injury to his left eye and he’s expected to play without limitations and without any kind of protective face shield for the 35-year-old blue line battle horse.

“I haven’t worn (a visor) in 16 years,” said Ward. “I’m not going to start now.”

The one real byproduct of the Game 5 fireworks are the introduction of the physical element and the passionate “hockey hate” to a series that had been largely known as Nice Guy Hockey since the drop of the puck in Game 1. The switch to a physical, heated tone is something that favors the Bruins in the series, and it’s a Pandora’s Box that the Hurricanes may regret that they’ve opened if they can’t close out Boston Tuesday night at the RBC Center.

Bruins need speed burners for Game 6

05.11.09 at 6:14 pm ET
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WILMINGTON -With so much focus on the intensity and nastiness that has been cranked up as the result of Game 5 between the Bruins and Hurricanes, one small detail is getting overshadowed.

The Bruins finally found a way on Sunday to contain the speed of Carolina’s attack. Their reward was a plane flight Monday afternoon bound for Raleigh, where they play Game 6 on Tuesday night.

Duplicate Sunday’s effort on Tuesday and the Bruins will bring the series to a Game 7 back in Boston on Thursday night.

“I think our backs are still against the wall,” Milan Lucic said on Monday at the team’s practice facility at Ristuccia Arena. “They’re still up 3-2 going into their barn. There’s pressure in every game of the playoffs, it doesn’t matter what side of the fence you’re on. We’re the ones with our backs against it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton

No suspension, $2500 fine for Walker punch on Aaron Ward

05.11.09 at 3:36 pm ET
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The National Hockey League today announced that Hurricanes forward Scott Walker has been fined $2,500 for the “sucker punch” of Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward that occurred at the 17:13 mark of the third period of Sunday night’s Game 5 against the Boston Bruins.

There will be no additional punishment assessed. Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien said that doctors thought Ward might have suffered a fractured orbital bone, and he is still a question mark for Game 6 Tuesday night against the Hurricanes in Raleigh.

Walker was originally assessed an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of the third period, which earns an automatic one-game suspension pending a ruling by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell. Campbell apparently ruled that Walker’s late game actions didn’t merit a suspension despite being the third man in and throwing the “sucker punch” while Ward clearly had his gloves on.

‘€œWe are satisfied with the league’€™s ruling,’€ said Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford. ‘€œAfter our team received several punches throughout the series leading up to Game 5, it was a matter of time before one was going to be thrown back.’€

 ‘€œI accept the league’€™s decision,’€ said Walker. ‘€œBased on what was said on the ice as I was dropping my gloves, it was my understanding that I was engaged in an altercation.’€

B’s coach Claude Julien expected a suspension and said at Monday morning’s practice that he would be disappointed if Walker didn’t get hit with a penalty for something he considered to be a dirty play.

“In reviewing what I saw, I just didn’t like what happened. . . . I just don’t think there was any need for that,” said Julien. “He sucker-punched him once coming into the scrum when (Ward) was involved with another player. And then he dropped his gloves and sucker-punched him.

“I don’t care what people say about, ‘Ward should’ve protected himself.’ He had no intention of getting involved,” he added. “We asked our guys to stay composed and not fall into that trap, and he just did that. A guy with Walker’s experience should know better than to sucker-punch a guy.”

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

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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 »

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