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Tuukka Rask to start for vs. Penguins; Milan Lucic, Andrew Ference out 01.15.11 at 12:10 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters prior to Saturday’s game against the Penguins that Tuukka Rask will start for the B’s. Rask’s last start came against the Penguins, as he earned a win in the Bruins’ 4-2 come-from-behind victory in Pittsburgh on Monday.

Milan Lucic will miss his third straight game with an undisclosed injury, while Andrew Ference will miss his first game of the season due to an upper-body injury. Ference, who played in the team’s first 43 games, left Thursday’s 7-5 victory over Philadelphia after the second period. Rookie Matt Bartkowski, who was called up from Providence on an emergency basis Friday, is expected to play in his place.

Bartkowski made his NHL debut on Monday in Pittsburgh, posting a minus-1 in 9:53 of ice time. He was filling in for Adam McQuaid and was returned to Providence the following day.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Matt Bartkowski, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask
Claude Julien: Andrew Ference ‘very questionable’ vs. Penguins 01.14.11 at 3:39 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters on Friday that defenseman Andrew Ference is dealing with an upper-body injury, explaining his absence in the third period of Thursday night’s 7-5 win over the Flyers.

Julien said that Ference is “very questionable” for Saturday’s game against the Penguins.

“We’re hoping it’s minor enough that we’ll see him back soon,” Julien said.

Given Ference’s status, the Bruins on Friday morning called up Matt Bartkowski on an emergency basis from Providence.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Matt Bartkowski,
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.

Read More: Patrice Bergeron, Steven Kampfer, Tim Thomas,
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.

Read More: Shawn Thornton, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara,
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:

Read More: Gregory Campbell, Patrice Bergeron,
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.”

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Shawn Thornton,
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.”

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Jody Shelley, Mark Stuart, Milan Lucic
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