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Bruins year in review: Unsung hero 06.24.11 at 3:45 am ET
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Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’€™ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. So far, we’ve looked at the goal of the year, fight of the yearsave of the year and top rookie. Up today is the Bruins’ rookie of the year, a no-brainer for anyone who followed the championship season.

UNSUNG HERO

Andrew Ference: 70 GP, 3 G, 12 A, 15 P, +22 (regular season)
25 GP, 4 G, 6 A, 10 P

‘€œHe’€™s been very, very consistent, if not the most consistent defenseman we’€™ve had all season. He’€™s been solid every time he’€™s been on the ice. He never gives up any soft goals. He’€™s been unbelievable for us, and a real workhorse.’€

- Dennis Seidenberg, May 19

There was no questioning who the Bruins’ most important player was during their Stanley Cup run, as Tim Thomas was outstanding for the B’s. Next on the list of key performers would probably be either Zdeno Chara or Dennis Seidenberg, as those two formed the shutdown pair that nobody could beat.

Yet while all of the praise rightfully went to the goaltender and the No. 1 pairing, Andrew Ference was continuing his solid season that saw him earn every dime of his $2.25 million cap hit.

Ference was never Chara-like, nor did he have to log the type of minutes Seidenberg did, but at the end of the day, what Ference brought was something the Bruins needed. It was hard to say with confidence going into the season who the Bruins’ No. 3 defenseman was, and just how good he’d be. Ference answered that by staying healthy (for the most part) and giving the Bruins a splendid No. 3 D man.

Were there low points with Ference? Absolutely. The game-winning play for the Canucks in overtime of Game 2 started with Ference, and him flipping off the Montreal crowd was an avoidable headache. At the end of the day, Ference was huge for the B’s, even if he didn’t get credit for it.

HONORABLE MENTION: Claude Julien, Shawn Thornton

Read More: Andrew Ference, Bruins Year in Review, Dennis Seidenberg,
What will the Bruins do with the ninth pick? 06.24.11 at 3:14 am ET
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As the world continues to have a laugh over pictures of Brad Marchand and the Bruins’€™ bar tab (did you hear they had a $100,000 bottle of champagne?) to the point where the dead horse couldn’€™t possibly take another blow, the Stanley Cup champions are getting ready to add a potential franchise player.

The B’€™s will pick ninth overall in Friday’€™s NHL draft, finally closing the book on the Phil Kessel trade as they add one of the top players in a draft widely considered to be a notch below that of last year’€™s. Given that Toronto’€™s selection is slotted ninth, it’€™s safe to say the B’€™s will add one Central Scoutings’€™ highest-rated players.

Here are the top 15 skaters in this year’€™s draft accoriding to Central Scouting.

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer (WHL)
2. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Kitchener (OHL)
3. Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Saint John (QMJHL)
4. Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara (OHL)
5. Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL)
6. Sean Couturier, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
7. Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland (WHL)
8. Ryan Strome, C, Niagara (OHL)
9. Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener (OHL)
10. Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
11. Vladislav Namestnikov, C, London (OHL)
12. Joseph Morrow, D, Portland (WHL)
13. Jamieson Oleksiak, D, Northeastern (Hockey East)
14. Mark McNeill, C, Prince Albert (WHL)
15. Zack Phillips, C, Saint John (QMJHL)

And the top five European skaters:

1. Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (Sweden)
2. Mika Zibanejad, C, Djurgarden (Sweden)
3. Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestad (Sweden)
4. Joel Armia, RW, Assat (Finland)
5. Dmitrij Jaskin, RW, Slavia (Czech Republic)

Of course, Central Scouting isn’€™t everything, as we saw last year. The top-ranked player (Tyler Seguin) went second overall, and it looks like the Hurricanes weren’€™t crazy when they drafted the 34th-ranked North American skater (Jeff Skinner) seventh overall.

Whoever the Bruins take with the ninth pick (assuming, as Peter Chiarelli indicated Thursday, they stay put), don’€™t expect him to be in Boston next season. Chiarelli told reporters in Minnesota that based on the players he expected to be on the board at No. 9, the player the B’€™s select will not be NHL ready. That means bad news for Seguin, who jokingly expressed hope on breakup day that someone else could be ‘€œthe kid’€ next season and that everyone would be on the draft pick’€™s case instead of his.

Chiarelli said his intention is to draft the best available player, and given that this draft is top-heavy when it comes to defense, that player may be a blueliner. Picking defense would give the B’€™s a blue-chipper in an area in which it organizationally does not have a sure-fire star in the making, and it would also be somewhat of a deviation for Chiarelli. The highest the Bruins’€™ GM has selected a defenseman was 35th overall, when the B’€™s traded up in the second round to grab Tommy Cross 35th overall.

If the B’€™s spend the ninth pick on a defenseman, you can bet your bippy the Tomas Kaberle rumors will swirl, and there will obviously be two easy arguments. If the team has a young puck-mover (we’€™ll get to the players below) with star potential a year or two away, perhaps they could try to go with Steven Kampfer next season (and beyond) and let Kaberle walk. On the other hand, the Bruins happen to have just won the Stanley Cup, and the Vezina winner isn’€™t getting any younger. There isn’€™t much of a window closing for the Bruins given that they are good and young both offensively and behind Tim Thomas (remember Tuukka Rask?), but they certainly want to win now.

With all that being said, here are some of the guys who have been common Bruins’€™ selections in mock drafts and/or might make sense for the B’€™s at No. 9:

Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener (OHL)
Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 166 pounds
2010-11 stats: 63 games, 26 G, 53 A, 79 P, 36 PIM

An offensive-minded defenseman, Murphy’€™s 26 goals were the most among OHL blueliners this past season. Considered a plus-skater and strong passer, he could eventually offer more than the Bruins are currently getting out of Kaberle on the power play. The Bruins certainly showed in the Kaberle deal that a defenseman who can help the offense is a priority, so landing one for the long term would be a wise move if Murphy is still on the board. Given that he’€™s ranked 9th by Central Scouting among North American skaters, it could be close. Murphy is also a right-handed shot. The Bruins’€™ blue line was lefty-dominant last season, with Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid (and, at points, Kampfer) the only righty defensemen in the lineup.

Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL)
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 174 pounds
2010-11 stats: 65 games, 12 G, 33 A, 45 P, 52 PIM

Beaulieu is another strong-skating defenseman, though his speed won’€™t get confused with that of Murphy. He still brings an impressive offensive skill set to the blue line, and he certainly offers more size than Murphy. He would most certainly be the puck-moving defenseman of the future if the B’€™s were to select him.

Ryan Strome, C, Niagara (OHL)
Height/weight: 6-foot-0, 175 pounds
2010-11 stats: 65 games, 33 G, 73 A, 106 P, 82 PIM

Another center? With the Bruins, you never know. You have to figure that Seguin will eventually become a full-time center once he’€™s done being eased in, but there are enough question marks in the future to make selecting a center not seem so crazy. Excluding Marc Savard given all the uncertainty, Patrice Bergeron and Seguin are the only pivots signed past next season (David Krejci will be a restricted free agent, while Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell will be unrestricted).

Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
Height/weight: 6-foor-2, 192 pounds
2010-11 stats: 72 games, 5 G, 38 A, 43 P, 121 PIM

The bulkiest of the blueliners featured in this sample, many things you read about about Siemens will suggest he’€™s behind some of the other defensemen in this draft as far as both development and potential go. Still, he’€™s strong, and though he doesn’€™t bring the same bells and whistles that guys like Murphy and Beaulieu do, he could still be a welcome presence on Claude Julien‘€™s blue line eventually.

Read More: 2011 NHL Draft, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Gregory Campbell
Peter Chiarelli doesn’t expect ‘magic’ in draft 06.23.11 at 8:39 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday in Minnesota that he does not expect the team to do anything crazy movement-wise with the ninth overall pick in Friday’s draft. The team holds a top-10 pick for the second consecutive year thanks to the Phil Kessel trade. After selecting Tyler Seguin a season ago with the second overall pick, Chiarelli said he doesn’t envision the team picking that high again.

“I don’€™t think there will be any magic for us tomorrow,” Chiarelli said. “We’€™re picking nine, I’€™d say there’€™s, maybe after three or four, there’€™s a real good group of another eight, and there’€™s a good batch of defenseman, there’€™s a good batch of wingers and there’€™s a good batch of centermen. So we’€™re pretty content where we are and we’€™ll see where it goes. Oftentimes, players that you have ranked below your group go in and really good players drop and go last.”

Chiarelli said he doesn’t expect the player they take with the ninth pick to crack the lineup as a rookie, but noted that there’s always the possibility that an NHL-ready prospect could fall, a la Cam Fowler a season ago.

“You never say never about a player being able to play that’€™s drafted that low,” he said. “My guess is [the player won't make the team], to say no, just my knowledge of the players that I think will be available. There may be one that can play that may drop to us but that’€™s, you know, that would be a huge bonus and it’€™s just more about getting the right player and starting to develop him.”

The Bruins also have a high second-round pick, as they’ll choose 40th overall with Minnesota’s selection.

“I think it’€™s a fairly deep draft,” Chiarelli said. “… There’€™s no definitive number one and that runs deep through the first five or six I think. And you know I’€™d say it’€™s a good round and a half as far as guys that you’€™re excited to get these players, guys that you really feel strong with playing and maybe turning into something. I think it’€™s a good round and a half.”

The Bruins’ GM has spoken to the agent for Tomas Kaberle, but has not spoken with Michael Ryder’s agent. Kaberle and Ryder are both unrestricted free agents. He did confirm that Tuukka Rask will be getting knee surgery and that Milan Lucic will have his nose reset this offseason.

Read More: Peter Chiarelli,
Report: Tuukka Rask, Milan Lucic set for surgery 06.23.11 at 4:52 pm ET
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According to a pair of tweets from the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and forward Milan Lucic are set to have offseason surgery. Rask is expected to have minor knee surgery to clean up an cartilage issue that had plagued the second-year player throughout the team’s championship season, while Dupont tweets that Lucic will have nose surgery.

Lucic played late in the season and into the playoffs dealing with a sinus infection. He then broke his toe when a Tyler Seguin slapshot went off his foot in practice during the Eastern Conference finals. After leading the B’s with 30 goals in the regular season, Lucic finished tied for fifth on the team with five playoff goals.

Rask, who led the NHL with a 1.97 goals against average and a .931 save percentage in the 2009-10 season (his rookie campaign), lost the starting job to Tim Thomas this past season. In 29 games (27 starts), he went 11-14-2 with a 2.67 GAA and .918 save percentage.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask,
Bruins to open season vs. Flyers 06.23.11 at 2:23 pm ET
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The NHL announced the 2011-12 regular-season schedule on Thursday. The Stanley Cup champion Bruins will kick off the season by raising their championship banner at TD Garden vs. the Flyers on Oct. 6.

The Bruins will then host the Lightning, the team they eliminated in the Eastern Conference finals, on Oct. 8. Their first meeting with the Canadiens will come on Oct. 27, when they host the Habs at the Garden.

The B’s will face the Canucks on Jan. 7 as the Western Conference champions will travel to Boston for the first time since the B’s defeated them in Game 6 of the Cup finals. The schedule will also feature a meeting of the past two Stanley Cup champions, with the B’s heading to Chicago to face the Blackhawks on Oct. 15.

The schedule is as follows:

Thu. Oct. 06 Philadelphia 7:00PM
Sat. Oct. 08 Tampa Bay 7:00PM
Mon. Oct. 10 Colorado 1:00PM
Wed. Oct. 12 At Carolina 7:30PM
Sat. Oct. 15 At Chicago 7:30PM
Tue. Oct. 18 Carolina 7:00PM
Thu. Oct. 20 Toronto 7:00PM
Sat. Oct. 22 San Jose 7:00PM
Thu. Oct. 27 Montreal 7:00PM
Sat. Oct. 29 At Montreal 7:00PM

Tue. Nov. 01 Ottawa 7:00PM
Sat. Nov. 05 At Toronto 7:00PM
Mon. Nov. 07 N.Y. Islanders 7:00PM
Thu. Nov. 10 Edmonton 7:00PM
Sat. Nov. 12 Buffalo 7:00PM
Tue. Nov. 15 New Jersey 7:00PM
Thu. Nov. 17 Columbus 7:00PM
Sat. Nov. 19 At N.Y. Islanders 7:00PM
Mon. Nov. 21 At Montreal 7:30PM
Wed. Nov. 23 At Buffalo 7:00PM
Fri. Nov. 25 Detroit 1:00PM
Sat. Nov. 26 Winnipeg 7:00PM
Wed. Nov. 30 At Toronto 7:00PM Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Thomas wins second Vezina Trophy 06.22.11 at 8:53 pm ET
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Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was named the 2010-11 recipient of the Vezina trophy, awarded to the league’s top goaltender in the regular season.

Thomas beat Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne for the trophy, winning it for the second time in the last three years. Thomas led the NHL with a .938 save percentage and a 2.00 goals against average. His save percentage is the best in a single season since the statistic began being recorded by the league.

Thomas is now the fifth goaltender to win the Vezina multiple times since 1982, when the criteria for the distinction switched from allowing the fewest regular-season goals to being the top regular-season goaltender.

When the regular season began, Thomas was not expected to be the team’s starter. Though he had won the Vezina in 2009, hip issues and a dip in performance saw him lose the starting job to Tuukka Rask down the stretch in the 2009-10 season. Rask started each game of the 2010 postseason as the Bruins were eliminated by the Flyers in the second round.

Thomas had offseason hip surgery, and when Rask allowed four goals in the team’s season-opening 5-2 loss to the Coyotes in Prague, coach Claude Julien gave Thomas the start the next night. Thomas shut out Phoenix in that Oct. 10 contest, and never relinquished the starting job or the league lead in GAA and save percentage.

Thomas is now the first Vezina-winner since 2003 (Martin Brodeur) to win the Stanley Cup in the same season. He is the first goalie since 1975 (Bernie Parent) to win the Vezina, Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy in the same season, though at that time, the criteria for the Vezina was as listed above.

Read More: Tim Thomas, Vezina Trophy,
Zdeno Chara wins Mark Messier Leadership award, loses Norris 06.22.11 at 7:33 pm ET
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Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was named the 2011 recipient of the James Norris Memorial trophy at Wednesday’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas, edging out Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Predators blueliner Shea Weber.

Lidstrom has now won the award, given to the league’s top defensive player, seven times in his career. Only Bobby Orr has won it more, as he achieved the honor eight times in his career.

Though Chara did not take home his second Norris trophy, he did win the Mark Messier leadership award. The award has only been around since the 2006-07 season, with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby winning it last season.

While the Messier award isn’t anywhere near the Norris’ level, it is a good achievement for the Bruins’ captain. While he’s always been one of the most feared defensemen in the league, his qualities as a captain have often been overlooked due to his straight-laced, serious demeanor. Chara finally got his Cup, and now he’s getting his due.

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