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Steven Kampfer the hero as Bruins win wild one over Flyers 01.13.11 at 9:37 pm ET
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Steven Kampfer saw to it that the Bruins had the last laugh in a back-and-forth affair, scoring with just 1:34 remaining in regulation to give the B’s a 7-5 win over the Flyers at TD Garden.

The rookie scored his fourth goal of his career in dramatic fashion, capping a game that featured five lead changes between the two teams. Gregoy Campbell added an exclamation point with an empty net goal with 6.8 seconds left.

The Bruins came up with three third-period goals, getting timely tallies from Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder, and Brad Marchand. Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron also scored for the Bruins. It was Chara’s second goal in three games, while Bergeron has now scored six over his last four.

Tim Thomas earned the victory, allowing five five goals on 35 shots.

The Bruins will face the Penguins in a matinee on Saturday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins scored goals in the first 45 seconds of both the seconds. Bergeron redirected a Steven Kampfer shot past Boucher at 0:45 of the second, while Recchi tied it up just 38 seconds into the third.

Recchi got a very lucky bounce on his goal. With Boucher going to behind the net to play a puck that had been dumped in the zone, the puck bounced right off the end boards and in front of the net, where Recchi easily sent it into an empty goal.

- It was good to see Shawn Thornton challenge Jody Shelley in the first period. Thursday marked Shelley’s first game at the Garden since his shove from behind on Adam McQuaid that got him suspended for two games. The B’s didn’t have their chance to get back at Shelley after the play on Dec. 11, as he was tossed, but Thornton sent a good message with fisticuffs on Thursday.

- This can be a game that gives Marc Savard some confidence that he desperately needs. He was the star of the team’s 5-on-3 that led to Chara’s goal in the first period. He nearly scored himself in front of the net on the two-man advantage, but the puck was blocked by Recchi’s skate.

- Marchand has had success on the Merlot Line and second line this season, and it seems he can handle any sort of mix-and-match situation he’s thrown in. Greogory Campbell and Blake Wheeler contributed to the undersized winger’s ninth goal of the season.

- Nathan Horton is crawling back to being the asset he’s capable of being. He still has just one goal in his last 13 games, but he had three shots on Boucher through the first two periods and got a helper on Ryder’s tally. It still is Horton’s second game back from missing two contests with an undisclosed injury, but he’s back to playing strong games and just needs to see more production.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins squandered two leads in the game, one of which came in the third period. All in all there were five lead changes on the night, with neither team leading by more than one goal until Campbell’s empty netter.

- The five goals that Thomas allowed are the most he’s given up this season. The Vezina wasn’t at is top form, but he had to deal with lots of odd man rushes given up by the B’s.

The good news for Thomas was that he picked up his third assist of the season on Recchi’s goal. He now has three helpers on the season.

- Andrew Ference missed the third period, though it’s unclear what kept him from playing. We smell an undisclosed injury.

- Chara had a bad turnover in the second period that led to the Flyers tying it at two in the second. With the B’s up, 2-1, following a Bergeron’s goal, the captain took a shot from the point that was blocked and sent up to Nikolay Zherdev, who beat Thomas on a breakaway.

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Bruins and Flyers tied after one 01.13.11 at 7:48 pm ET
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An oddball goal from Scott Hartnell and a Zdeno Chara snipe on a two-man advantage have the Flyers and Bruins tied at one after a period of play.

After Hartnell made it 1-0 by batting a puck in mid-air past Tim Thomas from behind the net, a pair of hooking penalties gave the B’s a two-man advantage. Marc Savard stood out on the 5-on-3, nearly scoring in front of the net and making the pass to set up a blast from Chara from the point.

David Krejci is getting big opportunities but is an early candidate for post-game questions about being snakebitten. The skilled center intercepted a pass in the first minute in the Flyers’ end but couldn’t control it well enough to fire a shot from the dot. With 6:36 in the period, Krejci decked out front and brought Boucher with him.

The good news on Krejci’s missed opportunity late in the period was that he drew a Mike Richards hooking call on the play. Hartnell and Braydon Coburn added hooking penalties later in the period, and Chara tied it up on the 5-on-3.

Shawn Thornton did indeed go after Jody Shelley, and the two squared off in a bout that left Thornton bloodied. Shelley delivered a shove from behind to Adam McQuaid on Dec. 11

The Flyers are outshooting the B’s, 13-11.

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Statistician’s research suggests Gregory Campbell, not Patrice Bergeron, is Bruins best defensive forward 01.13.11 at 3:59 pm ET
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Here’s an interesting one. Patrice Bergeron‘s strong statistical output of late (17 points over the last 13 games) has made him a popular candidate for this season’s Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is given to the league’s best defensive forward. One’s candidacy for the award, which is supposed to be focused on the defensive aspect of the game, is generally aided by good offensive numbers, making Bergeron, who is among the top two-way forwards in the game, a good fit.

Yet this piece from James Mirtle in today’s Globe and Mail (and feel free to form your own opinion of it) throws a bit of a monkey wrench at the system. Taking the quality of players faced and how many goals they are on the ice for in both even strength and shorthanded situations into, a bit of research from Behind the Net statistician Gabriel Desjardins suggests that Bergeron isn’t even the best defensive forward on his own team.

Desjardin’s research suggests that Gregory Campbell was the first half’s second-best defensive forward, ranking behind only Washington’s Brooks Laich. Bergeron ranks No. 24 on the list. Here’s a look:

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Bruins won’t get carried away as they look for more consistency in second half 01.13.11 at 1:19 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton is taking the one-game-at-a-time approach. (AP)

The Bruins made it through the first half of the season with some of everything. From other-worldly goaltending, to injuries, to special teams highs and lows, there wasn’t much the first 41 games of the season didn’t feature.

One of the things that has made the 2010-11 Bruins a tough squad to figure it out is their inconsistent play. Winning streaks quickly turned to droughts, while it seems they had a knack for following up “worst loss of the season” candidates with statement-making wins. Take the Anaheim loss at home on Dec. 21, for example. The B’s put on a lineup-wide clinic on the art of disappearance in a 3-0 Ducks win that had fans booing at their loudest. The next game, they beat up on the Thrashers, both figuratively and literally.

Then there was the blown 2-0 lead against the Canadiens in the third period on Saturday. The Habs came back to sink the B’s in overtime, and the Bruins followed it by scoring four goals in the final 3:23 against the Penguins two days later for a 4-2 win. It’s tough to find patterns with this team, and with the Bruins having won two in a row, it’s tricky to assume whether things are trending upward for the Northeast Division-leading B’s.

“Most of us have been around long enough to know that it’s a long season with a lot of ups and downs,” Shawn Thornton said Thursday. “… Obviously there’s going to be a couple of blips there, but you can’t let it bother you too much.”

“It’s a long season. Every team goes through their highs and their lows, but the big thing, if you look around at teams that are at the top of the league, they’re consistent,” Adam McQuaid said. “Every team has their off night every once and a while, but I think the big thing is this league is consistency.

This season’s edition of the B’s is a confident bunch, and while they look to make strides in the second half, they aren’t going to take anything as a given or assume there won’t be more lows.

“You learn from your mistakes,” Thornton said. “There’s going to be downs, too. It’s not the end of the world when we lose, and don’t order the rings when you win a game.”

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Post-morning skate notes: Milan Lucic out, Tim Thomas off first, Mark Stuart takes another step 01.13.11 at 12:23 pm ET
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After participating in Thursday's morning skate, Mark Stuart hopes to return to the Bruins' lineup sometime next week. (AP)

Tim Thomas was first off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate, so it looks like he’ll be rewarded with the start vs. the Flyers after shutting out the Senators on Tuesday. He faces a tougher challenge against Philadelphia, as the Flyers are third in the league with their 3.4 goals per game, while the Senators’ 2.2 goals per game rank 29th.

Forward Milan Lucic will be out for the second straight game, as the undisclosed injury (which seems to be going around these days) hasn’t healed to the point at which Claude Julien is comfortable putting the slumping winger back in the lineup.

“[He's feeling] better,” coach Claude Julien said following the skate. “Obviously he won’t be i tonight, but he’s getting better.”

Julien likened Lucic’s situation to that of Nathan Horton, who missed a pair of games with an undisclosed injury prior to returning in Tuesday’s 6-0 victory over the Senators.

“[He's] day-to-day,” Julien said. “It’s a lot like Horton. He’s dealing with the same kind of situation as far as day-to-day is concerned.”

When Lucic does return, he’ll be looking to both shake of rust and bust out of an 11-game goal drought. Lucic leads the Bruins with 16 goals this season.

While Lucic wasn’t on the ice for the morning skate, defenseman Mark Stuart was. Stuart has been out since suffering a fractured hand and dislocated finger on Dec. 7 and hopes to return to the lineup sometime next week.

Given the impressive play of Steven Kampfer, who was called up following Stuart’s injury, as well as Adam McQuaid‘s safe and solid play on the blueline, the B’s will have a decision to make when it comes to making room for Stuart. To Stuart, the fact that both have played so well tells him that the team is in good shape, and that he shouldn’t assume anything will be handed to him.

“This is the best position to be in, and it’s going to make me work even harder to get back and to play well,” Stuart said.

“It’s definitely the case,” he added regarding the competition he anticipates for his spot. “You have to earn your way back. I don’t care who you are. … Guys are playing well. It would probably be different if the team was on a downswing and they were looking to change things up.

“It’s good to see, though. That’s what you need. That’s what all good teams have. You look around the league at the good teams. They all have guys coming up, guys coming in and out. Everybody can play, everybody comes in and does the job. I think that’s what you’ve seen with us the last month or so.”

Julien noted that with Stuart still a week to 10 days away, he isn’t in any rush to make a quick decision on how things will unfold.

“It’s probably a little early to answer that question,” Julien said. “… [We have] lots of games and so sometimes you have to make those decisions, sometimes you don’t so I’ll give myself a little break on that one.”

Here are some other notes from the skate:

- The lines looked the same for the Bruins as they were on Tuesday against Ottawa.

Ryder-Savard-Horton

Marchand-Bergeron-Recchi

Wheeler-Krejci-Seguin

Paille-Campbell-Thornton

- McQuaid probably likes getting attention more from his play and his fighting rather than from perhaps the scariest moment of his career. With the Flyers in town, though, so too is Jody Shelley, who sent him head-first into the end boards on Dec. 11 when the two were chasing an iced puck.

The B’s blueliner wanted to move on from the play, which got Shelley suspended for two games, at the time, and as the spotlight returns with Flyers, he would rather not dwell on it.

“You never want to kind of see yourself going head-first into the boards at any point in time, but it’s not really something I’m thinking too much about,” McQuaid said. “I’ve moved on, moved past it, and just want to be focused for tonight.”

- Horton wasn’t around following Tuesday’s game or during Thursday morning’s media availability, so it’s tough to gauge exactly how comfortable the winger feels since returning from his undisclosed injury. Julien liked what he saw from the winger on Tuesday, but on Thursday didn’t know if Horton’s feeling completely better.

“Let’s put it this way: he’s well enough to play,” Julien said. “I don’t know that I’d say he’s 100 percent, because you don’t come back from missing games and all of a sudden you’re 100 percent.

“[He was] close enough that the risk factor was kind of pushed aside, and they’re minimal, and that he was able to give us what we wanted and well enough to play.”

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Bruins look for third straight win as they take on Flyers 01.12.11 at 11:19 pm ET
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Brian Boucher and the Flyers grabbed a 2-1 win in overtime last time they were town. (AP)

Fresh off a 6-0 trouncing of the Senators on Tuesday, the Bruins (23-12-7) will will play their second of four consecutive home games when they host the Flyers (27-10-5) on Thursday. The two teams have split the season series thus far, with the Bruins grabbing a 3-0 win in Philadelphia on Dec. 1 and the Flyers returning the favor with a 2-1 overtime victory at TD Garden on Dec. 11.

The Flyers sit atop the Eastern Conference with 59 points in 42 games and are currently riding a four-game winning streak. With the Canadiens falling to the Penguins, 5-2, on Wednesday, the Bruins have an opportunity to expand their lead in the Northeast Division to four points. Tim Thomas will get the nod for the B’s.

WHERE IT’S AT

- The Bruins are 10-7-3 in home games this season. They’ve gone 3-2-0 over their last five contests at the Garden dating back to their 3-2 win over the Capitals on Dec. 18.

- The Flyers are 14-4-3 outside of Wells Fargo Center, and their 31 road points on the road put them in a tie with the Rangers for the most in the NHL. They’ve gone 3-2-0 in their last five road contests, most recently beating Buffalo, 5-2.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

- The Flyers are one of only two teams in the Eastern Conference to have a better goal differential than the Bruins. The B’s are a plus-30 on the season, while both the Flyers and Penguins are a plus-33. The Canucks lead the league with a plus-42 differential.

- Patrice Bergeron has two things going for him entering the game, as he’s scored one of the Bruins’ four goals against the Flyers this season and is riding hot streak consisting of 17 points in his last 13 games. Bergeron recorded his first career hat trick on Tuesday night.

Tyler Seguin, who also scored in that Dec. 1 game, is coming off a two-point night Tuesday.

- Since scoring the Bruins’ only goal against Philadelphia on Dec. 1, Nathan Horton has just one tally, a second-period strike against the Maple Leafs on Jan. 3. That’s a span of 12 games with just one goal. Horton has 12 on the season.

- The Bruins have scored 10 goals without allowing one dating back to the third period of their 4-2 win over the Penguins on Monday night. Those numbers are of course helped a bit by the fact that the majority of them came against the lowly Senators.

STORLYINES GOING IN

- It seems there have been a lot of instances of wondering whether a player hindered by an undisclosed injury will be able to go. This time, it’s Milan Lucic. The Bruins’ leading goal-scorer was kept out of Tuesday night’s game, with Claude Julien saying that the injury is “hopefully a day-to-day situation.” [UPDATE: Lucic will not play.]

- The last time the Flyers were in town, Jody Shelley became a villain to Boston when he shoved B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid into the end boards while the two were racing for an iced puck. McQuaid was shaken up a bit, while Shelley was suspended for two games.

- That Dec. 11 was a forgettable one for Marc Savard. It was his turnover that led to Mike Richards‘ game-winner in overtime. It was Savard’s fifth game since returning from post-concussion syndrome.

In 19 games this season, Savard has six points (2 G, 2 A) and a team-worst minus-8 rating.

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Bruins throttle Senators behind Patrice Bergeron’s first career hat trick 01.11.11 at 9:37 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron notched his first-career hat trick Tuesday night, as the Bruins blasted their way past the Senators, 6-0, at TD Garden.

Bergeron had what was the game-winning goal when he opened the scoring at 3:33 of the first, and added goals in the second and third period. Blake Wheeler, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin netted the Bruins’ other three goals. David Krejci also had a two-point night.

Tim Thomas made 31 saves in the victory, recording his league-leading sixth shutout of the season.

With the Canadiens winning on Tuesday, the Bruins held onto their two-point lead in the Northeast Division.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Tim Thomas has now set a career high for shutouts in a season — just one game into the second half of the season. Thomas, who began his season with a shutout in Prague, had gone 12 starts without blanking a team, his longest stretch of the season.

With six shutouts, Thomas now holds the league lead all to himself, while also leading the NHL in goals against average and save percentage. He’s the easy mid-season choice for Vezina.

- Bergeron continued the torrid pace he is on. With his three goals on Tuesday night, Bergeron now has 17 points over the last 13 games. He’s been rather balanced in going about it as well, as he has eight goals and nine assists in that stretch.

- Seguin has struggled to produce in home games, as he had just four points at the Garden prior to Tuesday night. He turned that trend around by having his first multi-point game at the Garden (his second multi-point game of the season, as he had a goal and an assist on Jan. 1 in Buffalo).

- That’s two straight games with a goal for Brad Marchand. His value to this team can’t be stressed enough, as he’s effective both as an energy guy and as a bigger contributor when called upon to play on the the second line.

Marchand has three points over his last three games. He leads Bruins rookies with eight goals this season.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Two brave souls tossed tossed their hats onto the ice after Marchand’s goal, believing it to be Bergeron’s hat-trick-notching tally. Before one could even commend their daring nature, the entire ice was filled with the hats thrown for the wrong reason.

The question is whether the folks who went to the pro shop in between periods to restock were the same ones who tossed hats once Bergeron actually got the hat trick.

- Not that the Bruins need it, but they get their first power play of the night until 6:58 of the third period. Drawing penalties has been a struggle for the B’s at times this year, and considering they’re not a safe bet to win by six every night, it remains an area that needs improvement.

The B’s ended up with two more power plays late in regulation thanks to a Matt Carkner roughing call and a delay of game. The Bruins were 0-for-3 on the power play.

- While the game was a blowout, it was hardly a triumph. The Senators were equally as bad as the bruins were on the night, as Ottawa seemed to pride itself in turning the puck over in the their zone throughout the night.

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