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Bitz, Karsums called up from Providence

01.10.09 at 7:53 am ET
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Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club has recalled forwards Byron Bitz and Martins Karsums from the Providence Bruins (American Hockey League). Bitz gives the Bruins a skilled big body that can replicate a little bit of the unique size/skill set that Milan Lucic brought to the table before his injury (which will keep him out again today) and Karsums is once again called up to Boston in the never-ending carousel from Providence.

Yesterday morning Chiarelli voiced a preference to find in-house solutions capable of dealing with the potential loss of Marco Sturm for the season and Patrice Bergeron for an extended period of time, and the 22-year-old Karsums would seem to be getting his chance. Expect this to be a longer stint than the one-and-done experience earlier this season for Karsums, but Bitz is headed back for the Baby B’s once Lucic is healthy enough for a return. 

Don’t discount the chance that the B’s could make a move outside the organization (trade, free agent signing etc.) if they don’t find another reliable scoring option with both Sturm and Bergeron out for the near future.  

They will join the team today and be available for this afternoon’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Bitz has registered three goals and seven assists in 37 games for Providence this year. The 24-year-old scored 13 goals and made 14 assists in 61 games with the Providence Bruins last year. Before joining the P-Bruins in 2007, Bitz played four seasons at Cornell University with 28-60=88 totals and 155 penalty minutes in 124 career games.

The 6’5″, 215-pound Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native was originally drafted by the Bruins in the 4th round (107th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. This is the first recall of Bitz’ professional career.

Karsums is currently the leading scorer for Providence with 16 goals and 23 assists in 38 games, and ranks 8th in points overall in the AHL. Recently named an AHL All-Star, he will play for the Planet USA team in the AHL All-Star Classic on January 26.

He was recalled by Boston earlier this year and made his NHL debut against the Atlanta Thrashers on December 13. He tallied a career-best 20 goals and 43 assists in 79 games during his second professional season with the Providence Bruins last year and joined the P-Bruins in 2006 after playing three seasons of junior hockey with Moncton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The 5’10′€™”, 198-pound Riga, Latvia native was originally drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round (64th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. The Bruins play the fifth game of a six-game homestand on Saturday,
January 10 when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Byrod Bitz, Marco Sturm, Martin Karsums

Bergeron speaks…

01.09.09 at 11:25 am ET
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There was one overiding theme to Friday’s media availability with Patrice Bergeron at TD Banknorth Garden. “This year is different.” From Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli to coach Claude Julien to the man himself, everyone wanted to make sure this much was clear – this year’s concussion, suffered on Dec. 20 against Carolina, is NOT like last year’s grade 3 concussion that ended Bergeron’s 2007-08 season in October against Philadelphia. Last season, Bergeron addressed the media in December before a press room full of reporters and it was an uncomfortable if not traumatic experience for everyone in the organization, including Bergeron. This year, while crowded with cameras and reporters to the right of his locker stall, Bergeron look far more at ease as he took questions. Last season, there were concerns not just about his career but his long-term health. While those concerns are there for every player, Bergeron talked about getting his heart rate up to 140 beats a minute for 35 minutes while doing cardio. And last year, till the very end of the season, there was no indication when he might return. This year, reading between the lines, it seems as though a return somewhere around the All-Star break at the end of the month may not be out of the question. Joe Haggerty has the full story at Pucks with Haggs. Let’s listen to what the parties had to say Friday at the Garden.

Bergeron said it’s been tough staying positive after taking the hit from Dennis Seidenberg.

Bergeron is confident he’ll be back.

Bergeron said he’s not the first to get a concussion from the jaw.

Chiarelli admits he was nervous when Bergeron took the hit to the jaw.

Chiarelli said Bergeron has peace of mind now.

Chiarelli is confident Bergeron will be back.

Julien said everyone wants to see him back.

Julien said this concusion is not comparable to last season’s hit against Philadelphia.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, concussion, Patrice Bergeron

Lucic and Wheeler invited to All-Star Weekend

01.09.09 at 11:16 am ET
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A bit of good news/bad news here for the Bruins as — according to media relations guru Matt Chmura — second-year winger Milan Lucic and rookie forward Blake Wheeler were the only fresh-faced Bruins players asked to take part in the NHL All-Star Game’s newly adopted Rookies vs. Sophomores Game. The game will take place on Saturday’s All-Star Skills Competition along with traditional fare like the NHL’s hardest shot competition — a test of shooting strength that towering blueliner Zdeno Chara has turned into his own personal playground over the last few years.

In the Bad News Dept.: Somehow both second-year center David Krejci and rookie blueliner Matt Hunwick were bypassed for the game despite Krejci’s place among the NHL’s top 20 scorers this season and Hunwick’s place among rookie defenseman. Hunwick is perhaps understandable in that he’s not a household name, but Krejci has easily been among the best players in the entire NHL this season, and should have merited more consideration for the main event game at the Bell Centre on Sunday — never mind a showcase event for the NHL’s Young Guns one day prior.

–B’s General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced that Bruins winger Marco Sturm will undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and may also potentially be facing ACL surgery during the same procedure. If Sturm’s ACL is torn — a notion that Chiarelli said appears to be be likely but won’t be certain until the doctors look at the injury during surgery — then the German forward will be lost for the duration of the 2008-09 season.

Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli also announced today that the Bruins have assigned forwards Martin St. Pierre and Vladimir Sobotka to the Providence Bruins (American Hockey League). Chiarelli also informed the assembled media that the B’s would call up two forwards from Providence to take their place on the roster — as Milan Lucic will be out of the lineup with the undisclosed injury again Saturday afternoon — for tomorrow’s matinee against the Carolina Hurricanes.

St. Pierre has seen action in nine games for Boston this year and recorded 1-2=3 totals. In 30 games with the P-Bruins this season, he registered a 10-25=35 line.

The 25-year-old St. Pierre has appeared in 30 NHL games in his career – 21 with Chicago, 9 with Boston – and has tallied two goals and five assists. Signed as a free agent by the Blackhawks on November 12, 2005, St. Pierre was acquired by the Bruins on July 24, 2008 in exchange for Pascal Pelletier.

Sobotka has played in 15 games for Boston during the 2008-2009 season and recorded 1-1=2 totals. In 17 games with the P-Bruins this year, Sobotka tallied 10 goals and 11 assists.

He split the 2007-2008 season between Boston and Providence. With Boston, he saw action in 48 regular season games and contributed one goal and six assists and added two goals in six postseason games. With Providence last year, he had 10-10=20 totals in 18 regular season games and added four assists over six postseason games. Sobotka was originally drafted by the Bruins in the 4th round (106th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

The Bruins play the fifth game of a six-game homestand on Saturday, January 10 when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Boston Bruins, David Krejci, Martin St. Pierre

Bergeron: I’m feeling better…

01.09.09 at 10:15 am ET
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In his first public words since going down with a concussion nearly three weeks ago, B’s center Patrice Bergeron said he’s back working out on the exercise bike and has been headache free for the last 5-6 days. The 23-year-old wouldn’t put a timetable on Bergeron’s return to the ice, but he made clear that this concussion wasn’t nearly as severe as the one last season. He also made clear that he’ll be returning to game action this season.

 “I’m feeling better,” said Bergeron, looking healthy and sounding lucid through the 10 minute conversation. “For the last five or six days I’ve been having some great days. No headaches. It’s been good. I’m still taking it day-by-day and not looking too far ahead, but but so far I’m feeling good.”

This is outstanding news for everyone involved with the Bruins and for Bergeron, himself, who clearly experienced flashbacks to last year’s season-long struggle to shake the debilitating cobwebs from his head and return to the ice.

Here’s a transcript of Bergeron’s Q&A with the media this morning, and the link to the sound bytes from Bergie are here:

How are you feeling? PB: I’€™m feeling a lot better. For the last five or six days I’€™ve been having some great days. No headaches. So it’€™s been good. Obviously I’€™m still taking it day-by-day and not looking too far ahead. So far I’€™m feeling good.

Take us through what happened and what has it been like to recover. PB: As everyone knows I had a concussion. It’€™s been tough. It’€™s been frustrating. I’€™ve worked my way back from last year and starting to feel a lot better on the ice and then that hit happened. I’€™m trying to stay positive and now that the worst of it is behind me I feel a lot better. I’€™m obviously very positive about the way that I’€™m feeling. Talking to the doctors and knowing that the type of hit right on the jaw like that has nothing to do with last year’€™s hit. He said that it would have happened to almost anyone’€¦a hit like that on the jaw.

That seems a little strange that you got a concussion rather than an injured jaw. PB: Well, I mean I’€™m not the first one to ever get a concussion from getting a hit to the jaw. I would have preferred [an injury] to the jaw instead of a concussion. My jaw is fine now. It was sore for a couple of days. But I’€™m good and I’€™m just looking better each and every day.

Did you kind of go through the ‘€˜Oh no’€¦not again’€™ in your head? PB: Well’€¦not right away. Right away I was really dizzy and I wasn’€™t really thinking about much. Looking back a couple of days after [the hit] I was really frustrated. I was a little down, but now that I’€™m feeling better I’€™m positive, I’€™m looking forward and I’€™m taking it day-by-day.

Do you have a schedule to get on the ice? PB: Not yet. Obviously there is all the doctors, the neurologists and the trainers with me and helping me out. I’€™m following their orders and they were great with me last year. I know they’€™re doing the right thing. For me it’€™s taking it day-by-day and seeing what happens.

Do you sense this is different than last year? PB: Yeah. Totally. They said it but I can also feel it. I feel a lot better. I’€™m talking to you guys and it’€™s been a little less than three weeks and I feel good. It’€™s not even close to last year and it’€™s not even related, so I feel good about that.

Where are you in your workouts? PB: As far as workouts go, I take it day-by-day and right now I’€™m riding the bike. I’€™m just trying to see if I get any symptoms when I increase my heart rate and things like that. Right now I’€™m at about 25 or 30 minutes on the bike or the elliptical right now with my heart rate up to about 145 per minute to 150. I’€™m very  happy about that and the doctors are also. So far I’€™m taking it day-by-day and I don’€™t want to get too far ahead and then get disappointed by stepping back. So I’€™m taking it day-by-day and improving every day and feeling good.

Are you relieved and excited at where you are right now? PB: I am [excited]. I would like to be on the ice right now and skating and playing with the guys and be talking to you guys without talking about any concussion-type issues. But it happened and now I’€™m optimistic and very happy and feeling better almost every day. So it’€™s good.

What have your teammates told you? PB: Well, they’€™re fine. They also showed a lot of support. They did it last year and they did it again this year. They’€™ve seen me around the locker room and they know that I’€™m feeling better. They’€™re supporting me, but at the same time I’€™m good.

What’€™s it been like emotionally? PB: Well, I worked so hard to get back and I was starting to feel better with my game and that [hit] happened. To go down again with a concussion was really frustrating. Like I said, it was the first week that I was really thinking about that and down and a little negative. Now that I’€™ve improved I’€™m not thinking about that. I’€™m just looking forward.

How is your family taking it? PB: It was hard for them. They were actually watching the game back in Quebec and it was hard for them. You know it’€™s tough for them. I had to go and tell them after a minutes that I was feeling better. They came down ‘€“ well they’€™re gone now ‘€“ but they came down for a while after the hit and my girlfriend was there too. It was obviously tough for my family, but they were there supporting me and helping me getting through this.

Has the recovery been a little easier given that you’€™ve been through this before? PB: Yeah. A little bit. I think that the biggest thing I learned about last year was taking it day-by-day and not looking too far ahead. If I do I might get disappointed. If I say that I want to be skating in one or two weeks and then I don’€™t ‘€“ then I would be disappointed. So I take it day-by-day and follow the orders of the doctors and the trainers and don’€™t try to do too much when you do feel better. Because it can set you back.

Any fear about getting back on the ice? PB: Nope. Not at all. I was asked that last year and I said the same thing. I wasn’€™t scared at all and it wasn’€™t the same thing. It happened. There’€™s not much you can do about it. I’€™m going to go back out there and play my game. That’€™s about it.

What actually happened on the play? PB: I was trying to force the red line on Seidenberg and sort of try to force him to get rid of the puck. He was coming in flying and he got me and I kind of turned I guess at the wrong moment. He kind of got me right on the jam. That’€™s a play that I’€™m going to do 20 times and he’€™s never going to hit me on the jaw like that. You know’€¦I guess it’€™s an accident but it’€™s a tough one to take when you go down for 9 or 10 games and get a concussion. But that’€™s I look at it. I was trying to play the red line.

Did you hear from Seidenberg? PB: No, I haven’€™t heard from him. It’€™s the type of play where, yes, you feel bad that the guy goes down, but there’€™s not much you can do. He just kept skating. It’€™s not the type of hit that’€™s a cheap shot. Not even close to that. He didn’€™t try to reach me, but it’€™s part of the game.

Will you definitely play again this year? PB: Yeah. I’€™m very confident I will play this year. It’€™s a matter of when. That’€™s why I don’€™t want to put a date on it at this point and then get disappointed like I was last year during the playoffs. I’€™ve learned from that, but yes I believe I’€™ll be back.

Has it been tough watching and knowing you can’€™t play right now? PB: Yes it is, but at the same time when you’€™re winning then you’€™re happy [for the team]. I’€™m happy for all of the guys. They’€™re playing well and I would love to be out there helping them. Everybody is doing a tremendous job and everybody is pulling together. It’€™s fun to watch.

Are you looking into equipment and other ways to maybe avoid concussions out on the ice? PB: Part of it is that the symptoms are gone and I’€™m working my back. But part of it is also is looking at things that could help with a concussion. Right now there’€™s not much that doctors know. We all know that a mouthpiece helps. I do wear a mouthpiece and we’€™re looking into it and seeing if there’€™s anything better. We’€™re looking into that. Helmets’€¦all of that stuff. We might have to work with Reebok and see if we can change some stuff on the helmet. Right now I have no idea. So far it’€™s about me feeling good, getting better every day and then taking it from there.

What was going through your mind as you were coming off the ice after the hit? PB: I don’€™t know. Not much. After off the ice I was more frustrated and sad I guess that I might be going through this all over again. A little fear from what happened last year. Right away when the hit happened you’€™re like ‘€˜Geez is that the same thing all over?’€™ But I guess after a week or a week-and-a-half it wasn’€™t anything like last year and I was going to feel better, quicker.

How long did the symptoms last for and what were they? PB: First few days’€¦first week-and-a-half I had headaches, nausea, dizziness and that’€™s about it. Just feeling very sleepy. Had to sleep a lot.

But the symptoms weren’€™t as bad as last year? PB: No’€¦it wasn’€™t even close. That kind of helped me knowing it wasn’€™t close to last year and that I’€™d be back. But it’€™s still hard to go through that feeling again. It’€™s a tough feeling because you can’€™t do much. You have to go rest and you don’€™t ever know when the headaches are going to be there. So it’€™s not a good feeling.

No setbacks? PB: So far I’€™ve felt pretty good because I’€™ve taken it easy because we didn’€™t want to go out there and get on the bike and then have to step back. So, we went from five minutes barely spinning the legs to 25-30 minutes. So we didn’€™t have any setbacks this time.

No headaches? PB: Yes.

Any issue with lost strength or weight when you do come back? PB: I don’€™t see it being as bad because I don’€™t see it being as long. Last year I was out for I think 7-8 months without doing anything and I lost 15 pounds. So obviously it was hard to gain muscle and strength back. This time it’€™s not even close. I am still like two pounds lighter than I was when the hit happened. So I’€™m keeping the same weight. I don’€™t think it’€™s going to be as hard.

Sounds of the game… Bruins 6, Senators 4

01.09.09 at 8:39 am ET
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With everyone in the Bruins locker room stopping just short of saying it was a must win, the Black and Gold came out with energy and intensity in the opening minutes of the first period to take a 2-0 lead over Ottawa. It was the first time in seven games that they scored first and they are now an impressive 19-3-2 when they light the lamp first. Then Shawn Thornton got into a fight with Ottawa’s Chris Neil and head coach Claude Julien thought that would raise his club’s intensity even more. But the opposite happened as Ottawa seemed to wake up. The Bruins blew leads of 2-0 and 3-1 before finally showing its superior muscle in the third and coming away with a 6-4 much-needed win.

Claude Julien on why this win was important after two straight losses.

Zdeno Chara said this win was more important that fans may think.

Marc Savard said the Bruins needed to get back into the win column.

Blake Wheeler said the team needs to keep the pressure on after a good start like Thursday.

Chuck Kobasew said Thursday shows that the Bruins just need to be more consistent.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Boston Bruins, Chuck Kobasew, Claude Julien

“More important than everyone thinks…”

01.08.09 at 9:12 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien wanted to drill a real simple message into his team prior to its game with the Ottawa Senators Thursday night. Don’t let a two-game losing skid reach three.

He began preaching this on Wednesday morning at practice. He continued this through the morning skate on Thursday and preached it during the game as he watched his team lose a 3-1 lead to the lowly Ottawa Senators and head into the third period tied, 3-3.

But the switch turned on during the second intermission. The Bruins got goals from David Krejci, Marc Savard and P.J. Axelsson as they outscored the Senators, 3-1, in the final 20 minutes to skate off with a 6-4 victory.

“This was a very important game, more important than everyone thinks,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “It’s kind of a situation where you lose a couple of games, the team starts questioning the talent, the play. I think at some points it’s okay to face adversity but also we have to believe we’re a good team.”

Adversity is what the Bruins faced following a 4-2 loss to Buffalo on Saturday and a 1-0 clunker on Tuesday against Minnesota.

“It was either stop the hemorrhaging and continue the slide,” added coach Claude Julien. “You lose three in a row, your confidence takes an even bigger beating. Losing this game would have certainly hurt us a lot more than we think and winning it might hopefully be what we need to get back to our game.”

With Milan Lucic and Shane Hnidy out with injuries, Aaron Ward’s first goal of the season and Chuck Kobasew’s seventh have helped the B’s pick up the slack and take a 2-0 first-period lead. The highlight of the opening period was a knock-down, drag ‘em out bare-fisted brawl between Shawn Thornton and Ottawa’s Chris Neil.

While Julien loved the energy of Thornton, he didn’t like his team’s response.

‘€œI thought our first six minutes was pretty good,” Julien said. “I thought that after the fight, Thorny stood in there and did a good job. We didn’€™t respond. They did. If you look at the second period, a lot of bad mistakes.’€

Mistakes that resulted in two Ottawa goals and a 3-3 game after two. But still, the Bruins showed the kind of resiliency that teams with 30 wins halfway through an NHL season show.

‘€œWe’€™re at a stage right now where we’€™re highly critical of our team because of what we’€™ve accomplished so far. We’€™ve got some guys right now who are underperforming,’€ said the coach.

One of those NOT underperforming is Manny Fernandez. He has shown why the Bruins acquired him before the 2007-08 season from the Minnesota Wild. There was some discussion as to who would start the game as Fernandez had an extra-long skate in the morning but he came out and started for the Bruins.

Martins Karsums was recalled on an emergency basis for tonight’s game at TD Banknorth Garden. The move was presumably in the event Stephane Yelle couldn’t go with flu-like symptoms. The Bruins are 2-2 so far on their season-long six-game homestand, which continues on Saturday against Carolina at 1 p.m.

‘€œTo win itself, was important but the way we won it wasn’€™t so good,” Julien concluded. “We’€™ve got a lot of things right now that are challenging us. Some of our better players are struggling right now, trying to find their groove.’€

Read More: Bruins, Claude Julien, David Krejci, Marc Savard

Kessel: Teammates are “really deserving”

01.08.09 at 11:10 am ET
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Phil Kessel has the second-most goals in the NHL this year and could have been understandably miffed with the NHL powers that be for not being named to the NHL All-Star Game’s Eastern Conference team. But instead the 21-year-old phenom mentioned how deserving veteran teammates like Marc Savard, Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara were for again getting to the NHL’s mid-winter classic and representing the Black and Gold.

 “I think [Chara, Thomas and Savard] are really deserving,” said Kessel, who is fourth in the NHL with 24 goals scored and .  “We’re on a really good hockey club this year and our leaders and guys like that deserve to be there.”

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