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Nathan Horton travels to Vancouver with Bruins, teammates keep him in mind 06.14.11 at 11:28 pm ET
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VANCOUVER — It wasn’t immediately clear whether Nathan Horton would be well enough to endure a coast-to-coast flight, but the concussed Bruins forward did indeed make the trip to Vancouver to watch his team play Wednesday’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

“He certainly wanted to be here. We wanted him on this trip,” coach Claude Julien said Tuesday. “As you know, when you get this far, you’re a pretty close-knit  group. Our guys wanted everybody here and they’ve got it.”

Horton suffered a severe concussion that ended his season when he was dropped by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome early in Game 3 of the series. The first-line right wing left the game and arena in a stretcher and was ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs the next day. Rome, meanwhile, was suspended for four games for the hit. Horton was at TD Garden for Game 6, being shown on the Jumbotron with tears in his eyes waving a pair of Bruins flags.

Now, the Bruins have left Horton’s equipment in his locker, a sign that he is still just as big a part of the team as anyone else. Given that he came to the Bruins with a reputation as a player who was indifferent to the game, the former third overall pick certainly made a strong impression on his teammates in his first year in Boston and found an NHL home.

“That’s something the guys wanted to do,” Julien said of the equipment gesture. “They wanted him to be part of our group here. Until, again, the third game of the playoffs, he was a big contributor to our hockey club. If the doctors would let him, he would play [Wednesday] and we all know that that’s the way he feels right now. He would be willing to play through what he’s gone through.

“But we know that’s not the right decision to make. But that’s the way he’s feeling right now. He wants to play so badly, he would be willing to play through that. So when a guy has that approach and has that will to want to do that for his team and teammates, the least you can do is honor him in your own way. Our players chose to honor him by making sure the trainers brought his equipment. Before the game, his sweater is hanging in his stall. He’s part of our team and we want him there to the end.”

One man who will not be at Rogers Arena Wednesday is Marc Savard. Like Horton, Savard is dealing with issues from a concussion, though Savard’s history of concussions likely make traveling more difficult. Savard has been in attendance at for a couple of games in Boston, a significantly shorter trip from Peterborough, Ontario, this postseason.

“Marc is probably the only one right now that’s not here, and his health varies from day to day, week to week,” Julien said. “He’s still in our thoughts and he’s part of our hockey club as well. We’ve got a lot of guys that are part of this and some of them are here and one of them isn’t.”

Horton developed a reputation as a clutch player in his first postseason this year, scoring series-clinching goals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and finals. He had eight goals and nine assists for 17 points and a plus-11 in 21 games.

Video courtesy of Bruins.NHL.com.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Marc Savard, Nathan Horton, Stanley Cup Finals
Bruins probably hope second time’s a charm for Andrew Ference 06.14.11 at 11:11 pm ET
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VANCOUVER — Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference may be playing for his first Stanley Cup championship, but Wednesday night in Vancouver won’t be his first Game 7 of the finals. Ference has been one win away from the Cup before, but it wasn’t as memorable an experience as he would have hoped.

Ference and his Flames led the Lightning, three games to two, in the 2004 Stanley Cup finals before Tampa Bay took Game 6 in double overtime to force a seventh game. In that decisive contest, Ference led all Calgary skaters in ice time, but with the Flames trailing, 2-1, in the third period, he took a charging penalty with 1:01. The Lightning held on to seal Game 7 and hoist the Cup at St. Pete Times Forum.

Asked Tuesday at Rogers Arena whether being in another Game 7 with the Cup on the line, Ference wasn’t his generally elaborate self, saying he hasn’t given much thought to the way things panned out last time he got the chance.

“You don’t have to block [the memories] out,” Ference explained. “It was a long time ago. I don’t know. You obviously remember it and stuff like that, but it’s not really on my mind.”

Like the Bruins this year, the 2004 Flames had to deal with a seven-game series more than once. Ference’s squad opened that postseason as the No. 6 seed and defeated the No. 3 Canucks in seven. They then eliminated the Red Wings and Sharks (both in six games), to reach the finals and eventually come one victory away from wining it all.

Coming as close as he did to winning it in ’04 doesn’t give the 32-year-old Edmonton native any more motivation to winning the Cup. Though he’s been so close he could taste it before, he never felt the urge to close out the series was lacking. He just learned the hard way that one team wins, and one team loses.

“I had all the motivation last time as well,” Ference said. “Sometimes it shakes out the right way for you, and sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t think the approach is any different or the desire is any stronger. It’s the same. You just hope that the team that you’re on puts it together.”

Ference, like Mark Recchi, can use their experience in the final game of the postseason to prepare guys who haven’t been there before. The second-pairing blue-liner likes to think he’s helped his teammates get ready for it all year.

“You talk about it all year. You become friends with people on your team,” he said. “It’s not like you just start talking about these things when you’re in the situation. You live together all year and spend so much time together that stuff like that is always talked about.”

After Wednesday night, perhaps Ference won’t have any pointers left to give his teammates. If they’re all Stanley Cup champions, they’ll be on the same page.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Andrew Ference, Mark Recchi, Stanley Cup Finals
Mason Raymond (vertebrae) out 3-4 months 06.14.11 at 4:08 pm ET
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The Canucks announced Tuesday that forward Mason Raymond sustained a vertebrae compression fracture in his first-period collision with Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals and will be out for three to four months.

Raymond remained on his stomach after the play and was taken to the hospital. He had no points and was a minus-3 in the finals vs. Boston and finished the playoffs with two goals and six assists for eight points and a minus-1 rating.

With Raymond out, forward Jeff Tambellini should return to the lineup after sitting the last three games in favor of Tanner Glass.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Jeff Tambellini, Johnny Boychuk, Mason Raymond
If this is it, Mark Recchi finishing his career strong 06.14.11 at 4:48 am ET
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Bruins alternate captain Mark Recchi said it during the season: if the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, he’s done. He’ll close the book on a historic career and retire.

With the Bruins one game away from winning it all, Recchi could very well be in the final days of his career. He’s won the Cup twice already, having hoisted it with the Penguins in 1991, and against with the Hurricanes. This might be the last time he’s come this far, and he knows from experience that it’s worth savoring. Especially with this team.

“That’s the great thing about it. You know, I was fortunate to win one early in my career,” the 43-year-old said after recording three assists in the Bruins’ 5-2 win Monday. “From ’06 when I won in Carolina to every playoff I’ve played in after that, I’ve been able to embrace it and enjoy it and watch how guys react and watch how they’re acting and enjoy the experience of seeing guys go through the firsts.

“It’s neat and you’re able to do that. I’ve been doing that for a number of years now and it’s been just a great, great year this year for me. [It's been] great from the get-go with this group of guys. You knew there was something special right from the first time we got together. When we went over to Prague, we knew we had something good there.”

It’s unclear what Recchi will do if the Bruins do not the Cup this year. In a scenario in which he hung them up regardless of the series’ result, Monday could have been his last game had the Canucks won.

“It crosses my mind, but, you know, I have a job to do out there for the guys and I can’t put those thoughts in my head,” Recchi said of thinking about playing in his last game. “I’m going to lay it on the line one more time and see where it takes me after that.

“No matter what, it’s been a great 22 years, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. This has been one of my best ones, regardless of what happens and I’m just still proud to play in the NHL. I love playing hockey and love being in the NHL and I think it’s the greatest sport out there.”

Perhaps there’s something to be said for Recchi finishing strong. He has six points (three goals, three assists) the last five games. The next one might be is last. If it is, Bruins fans should consider themselves fortunate to observe a player who is a winner above all else.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Mark Recchi, Stanley Cup Playoffs,
Expect the unexpected: How about some early scoring? 06.13.11 at 1:51 pm ET
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The scoreboard operator got plenty of work early into games when the Bruins faced the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals. In fact, 12 first-period goals were scored between the teams in the first five games of the series.

The same can’t be said for the Stanley Cup finals. The three Bruins’ losses have been nail-biters, and in total there have been just two goals scored in the first period. Quite a departure when considering that more goals were scored in the first 69 seconds (three) in the first five games of the conference finals than in the first 20 minutes of games thus far between the B’s and Canucks.

While the Bruins have used their home ice to essentially do whatever they want against Vancouver, the idea that they could be up for yet another close game in which the teams are scoreless in the third period (as has happened twice already) is not out of the question given the stakes.

“You can’t let anything get to you. If they score early, we can’t let it bug us,” Michael Ryder said Monday. “We still have a lot of game left. It’s a matter of us wanting to get that first goal. We need to get that first goal to set the tone. If it doesn’t happen, we can’t let it get to us. I think that’s upper main priority: come out, get the emotions up high early, get the intensity up there. I think if we do that, we’ll get on the scoreboard first.”

The team that has scored the first goal has one each game this series, though in Game 2 there were two blown leads before the final score was decided. Even so, the idea of getting a lead early on would provide this series with some fresh material.

“It definitely gets guys in the game, gets you going when you have the lead,” Ryder said. “When teams play with the lead, you do things a little different, you play a little harder. That’s what we want to do tonight.”

The earliest a goal has been scored in a game this series was 11:59 into Game 4, when Rich Peverley scored the first of four Bruins’ goals.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Michael Ryder, Rich Peverley, Stanley Cup Finals
Bruins hopeful Nathan Horton will attend Game 6 06.13.11 at 1:28 pm ET
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The Canucks have the Stanley Cup at the Garden for motivation Monday night, and it seems the Bruins will have some less famous inspiration in the house.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said he expects Nathan Horton, who is out for the series due to a severe concussion suffered in Game 3, to be in attendance as the B’s look to prevent elimination in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. Horton came into the Boston dressing room after the team’s 4-0 victory in Game 4, and has seen teammates here and there since.

“He’s been around,” Claude Julien said, also noting that under no circumstances would Horton be able to make a return to the ice this week. “‘€¦If people are looking for miracles, if he’s [in attendance Monday], it will be pretty special. But right now, he’s still dealing with those concussion issues as we speak.

“He popped in quickly this morning just to say ‘hi.’ I have the impression that he’s going to be coming to the game tonight as long as he feels good, and that can vary as the day goes on. I think right now his plan is to hopefully be here tonight.”

Horton had eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 21 games this postseason, his first playoffs experience. He scored series-clinching goals in Game 7 of both the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and finals.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Julien, Nathan Horton, Stanley Cup Finals
Bruins want to play Game 7, not talk about it 06.13.11 at 12:59 pm ET
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Milan Lucic has faint memories of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals, when his hometown Canucks fell to the Rangers in seven games. Though it was just a week after his sixth birthday, he knows what a Game 7 in Vancouver looks like.

Yet when asked Monday about a Game 7 in Vancouver potentially being played Wednesday, the 23-year-old Bruins winger was in no mood to answer.

“To be honest, I don’t even want to talk about Game 7,” Lucic said, “because Game 6 hasn’t even been played yet.”

Such was the mindset throughout the Bruins’ room Monday. The ultimate goal, at least as it pertains to Monday, is to force a seventh game, but it’s the last thing they want to think about. They know there is danger in overlooking the fact that the Stanley Cup is in Boston waiting to be awarded to the Canucks tonight, so preventing that from happening is far more important than thinking about winning it themselves.

“No. Game 6. It’s Game 6,” Shawn Thornton said when asked about Game 7. “That’s it. Let’s see what happens tonight and then we’ll worry about that after.”

The Bruins have dominated the Canucks at TD Garden in what have been the only two lopsided games of the series. The Bruins’ margin of victory in Games 3 and 4 was 12-1, while all three Canucks’ wins at Rogers Arena have been decided by one goal.

While the Bruins are being motivated by elimination, the Canucks are being motivated by the most coveted trophy in all of sports. For either team to count the other out would be a mistake, and it’s one the Bruins don’t want to make.

“I think it’s clear to our players that all the focus should be about tonight,” Claude Julien said. “If you want to create a Game 7, you have to focus on tonight’s game, not on Game 7.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Stanley Cup Finals,
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