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Brad Marchand returns to practice with Bruins 12.26.10 at 2:27 pm ET
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Injured Bruins forward Brad Marchand (soreness from Dec. 16′s P.K. Subban hit) made a step Sunday toward his eventual return to the lineup when he skated with teammates in practice for the first time since leaving last Saturday’s game vs. Washington.

Marchand had skated with fellow injured Bruin Mark Stuart (hand) on Thursday morning, but Sunday marked the 22-year-old’s first full practice with the team since the Washington game. The undersized winger was in the lineup for the bout with the Capitals but left in the second period after feeling too uncomfortable from Subban’s hit on him two days prior.

Coach Claude Julien told reporters on hand for Sunday’s practice in Wilmington that the team has yet to determine whether he’ll be able to go on back-to-back days, as the Bruins will face the Panthers on Monday and the Lightning on Tuesday.

The uncertainty over Marchand’s status is also tied to the other Bruins news of the day. The fact that Milan Lucic will not be suspended after receiving a match penalty on Thursday night means the team could play Daniel Paille in Marchand’s place without having to call up an extra forward for the team’s five-game road trip.

Milan Lucic not suspended for punching Freddy Meyer, gesturing to Atlanta bench 12.26.10 at 1:19 pm ET
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Bruins left wing Milan Lucic will not be suspended after sucker punching Thrashers defenseman Freddy Meyer in the head and gesturing to the Atlanta bench in the third period of the B’s 4-1 victory at TD Garden on Thursday. He will instead receive fines totaling $3,500.

Lucic had received an intent to injure match penalty for punching Meyer after the Thrashers defenseman hit Lucic high, a hit deemed dirty by all Bruins skaters on the ice, as a line brawl broke out between the two teams. The match penalty carries with it an automatic suspension pending a review, and after Lucic met with NHL vice presidents of hockey operations Mike Murphy on Sunday, it was determined that he will not miss any time.

Following is the statement released by Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli:

“The NHL has informed us that Milan will not be suspended as a result of the match penalty assessed to him during our game against the Thrashers last Thursday. He will be fined $2,500 for the punch thrown in the scrum and $1,000 for making an obscene gesture directed at the Thrashers bench. He will join the team on the flight to Florida and be available for Monday’s game against the Panthers.”

Read More: Freddy Meyer, Milan Lucic, Peter Chiarelli,
That’s what Christmas means to Zee: A look at European Bruins’ traditions 12.24.10 at 6:10 pm ET
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The Bruins gave fans an early Christmas with a statement-making win on Thursday, but when it comes to the Black and Gold, there’s plenty about Christmas that the average Bostonian doesn’t know. David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, and Dennis Seidenberg spoke to WEEI.com about what Christmas is like in their native countries.

Here’s a look at each player’s customs and holiday memories:

DAVID KREJCI: STERNBERK, CZECH REPUBLIC

Jezisek brought David Krejci and Zdeno Chara toys as they were growing up in Czechoslovakia. (AP)

Santa who? Jezisek (pronounced “eshishik”) is the man, er, boy for the job back home for Krejci. Czech for “Child Jesus,” Jezisek is a child who delivers gifts to families, much like St. Nick would in these parts.

As is the case in Europe, Krejci’s family is all done with sharing gifts by the time the 25th rolls around.

“We have dinner on the 24th, and right after, we open gifts, so Christmas is the 24th,” Krejci said.

Given his years in juniors and now in the NHL, Krejci, like his European teammates doesn’t get to celebrate Christmas back home.

“It’s been a long time since the last time I was back home for Christmas,” Krejci said. “I guess I’m used to it. It still sucks that you’re not with your family, but I’m getting older and it’s been a long time, so I guess I’m getting used to it now.”

Teammate Tyler Seguin, like many North American kids in the ’90′s, remembers asking for Power Rangers toys and all things Barney. Over in Sternberk, then a part of Czechoslovakia, Krejci couldn’t think of anything but his future career.

“When I was growing up I always wanted skates, hockey sticks, and all the cool stuff that was really expensive that I couldn’t afford,” Krejci said. “So I asked my parents. I never got it, but I was excited for it anyways.”

TUUKKA RASK: SAVONLINNA, FINLAND

What do Rask and Santa Claus share in common? Nothing, besides the fact that they hail from the same land.

“Santa Claus is Finnish,” the 23-year-old goaltender told a now-enlightened WEEI.com. It’s a fact that can be confirmed here.

Aside from that interesting tidbit and opening presents on the 24th (“That’s the only thing I’ve known, ever since growing up”), Rask doesn’t think his time on Christmas as a child is too dissimilar from that of an American.

“The food is different,” Rask, who remembers meals of ham, salmon, and bread, said. “I think every family has their different traditions, but to stay at home and be with the family, that’s the same everywhere.”

DENNIS SEIDENBERG: VILLINGEN-SCHWENNINGEN, WEST GERMANY

The biggest difference that Seidenberg notices between the States and West Germany around the holidays is level to which it’s taken.

“It feels like there’s a lot more toys under the Christmas tree here,” said a smiling Seidenberg. “It’s just a lot more done-up, it seems, than in Europe.”

A traditional Christmas meal is also different from in the USA, and from the countries of his European teammates.

“We eat a lot of duck with cabbage, mashed potatoes, and stuff like that,” Seidenberg said.

The Bruins will practice on Sunday, which probably wouldn’t take place over in West Germany. After eating and opening presents on the 24th, they get the 25th and 26th off as Christmas holidays.

ZDENO CHARA: TRENCIN, SLOVAKIA

While Krejci had Jezisek and Rask had Santa Claus, the Bruins’ captain grew up with both.

“One thing we have is Santa — that’s ‘Mikalas’ — and then whoever brings the presents is Jezisek,” Chara said.

Chara shares Rask’s logic that despite the differences between the countries, there’s no cultural differences (hey, remember those? Those were funny!) when it comes to the most important part of the holidays: family.

“It’s pretty much the same as over here,” Chara said. “We all get together, the families gather together and want to spend it together. We have a nice dinner, and in Europe we open the presents on the 24th at night.

“As far as everything else, it’s almost the same. We have different food traditions for dinners. You guys have different over here, but I think the atmosphere around Christmas is pretty much the same.”

Happy holidays from the Big Bad Blog and WEEI.com.

Read More: Christmas, David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg, Tuukka Rask
Milan Lucic hearing scheduled for Sunday 12.24.10 at 2:52 pm ET
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According to a tweet from TSN’s Darren Dreger, a hearing has been set for Sunday between the league and Bruins forward Milan Lucic. The 22-year-old faces a suspension after receiving a match penalty for clocking Thrashers defenseman Freddy Meyer in the temple on Thursday following Meyer’s high hit on Lucic. Because Gregory Campbell plays for the Bruins, Mike Murphy will handle the hearing rather than Colin Campbell.

Lucic said after the game that he — like coach Claude Julien — felt Meyer’s hit was dirty, though Lucic added that he would “face the consequences” for the punch that refs deemed intent to injure.

The hit from Meyer resulted in a line-brawl between all skaters on the ice, with Nathan Horton fighting Evander Kane, Marc Savard taking on Bryan Little, and Andrew Ference dropping the gloves with Anthony Stewart.

The Bruins won the game, 4-1.

The Hat Trick: Bruins respond in big way 12.24.10 at 3:24 am ET
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It seemed a forgone conclusion this week that Dec. 23 was going to be a critical day in the 2010-11 Bruins’ season. It was the day the town was watching to see what they were made of, and Boston was going to get an answer, one way or another.

The Bruins beat the Thrashers in more than one way Thursday. (AP)

The answer the B’s gave came in perhaps their most complete game of the season, a 4-1 pounding of the Thrashers (recap) at TD Garden. Everything that was missing in Monday’s 3-0 loss to the Ducks, particularly the drive that seemed to escape the Bruins recently, was there. They scored, they played sound special teams, and they fought (a lot).

Now, with the Bruins going from playing their worst game of the season Monday to perhaps their best, it’s only natural to wonder if this could be a turning point for the team. Did everything this week, from the criticism to the questions to the absurd rumors that Claude Julien was on the hot seat, get to these Bruins and inspire them to put an end to the madness?

“You learn more from the losses and from the tough times,” Andrew Ference said after the game. “When you finally put it together and get a game where you take a step in the right direction, it definitely helps.”

Bruins players had mixed reactions to the idea that Thursday was a statement game, but there is no question a statement was made. Should the town get carried away with it? Why not? Hey, it did after the last game.

Here’s the Hat Trick:

A GOOD RESPONSE GOES BAD

Last season, and even this season, the Bruins have been questioned for not responding when their teammates are victims of cheap-shots. On this night of proving everybody wrong about everything, it was only fitting that they responded to one with a line brawl at 4:06 of the third period.

With Milan Lucic coming through the neutral zone, Freddy Meyer elbowed him in the face, and as Lucic hit the ice, so too did every glove (goaltenders excluded) of every skater. Ference went after Meyer, and from a massive scrum came three separate spinoffs. Nathan Horton pounded on Evander Kane, Marc Savard tangoed with Bryan Little, and Ference took on Anthony Stewart. Read the rest of this entry »

With suspension looming, Milan Lucic and Claude Julien call out Freddy Meyer for dirty hit 12.23.10 at 10:43 pm ET
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Milan Lucic and Claude Julien were both upset over Thrashers defenseman Freddy Meyer‘s hit on the Bruins forward that led to the all-out brawl that took place with 4:06 remaining in the B’s 4-1 victory at the Garden Thursday night.

“It was a high hit, for sure. I was bleeding from the lip. After a hit like that — that was the second time he’s hit me cheap,” Lucic said. “That’s the second time. You can’t give a guy a free pass too many times.”

Lucic was given a match penalty for attempt to injure when he punched a helmet-less Meyer in the temple, knocking him to the ground. He now faces a suspension, pending review. Julien said the fight — which also featured Nathan Horton, Marc Savard, and Andrew Ference – could have been avoided were it not for the hit, which he deemed unequivocally cheap.

“Nobody saw that coming until that dirty hit. And that was a dirty hit,” Julien said. “I’ve looked at it again, and it’s a cheap hit, and hopefully it’s seen that way.

“If you’re a player, with all the head injuries we’ve had with our team, whether it’s [Patrice] Bergeron or Savard, and all the other things where we’re talking about cutting down on head shots, you can’t blame a player for reacting to those kind of things. I think everybody reacted, and that’s what happened.”

Thrashers head coach and former Bruins assistant coach Craig Ramsay deemed the hit fair and didn’t like the Bruins’ response.

“Freddy laid a good hit. That is what happens. You throw a big hit and you have to have a fight,” Ramsay said. “We are taking hitting out of the game. He gets a penalty for a good hit. They started all the fights and I thought we should have had a power play for the rest of the game.”

Julien disagreed and supported the way Lucic’s teammates responded.

“I’m going to stand here and say that our guys [stuck] together for something that was, to me, a real cheap shot and uncalled for. Hopefully the league sees it that way, too.”

Bruins answer the call with convincing 4-1 win over Thrashers 12.23.10 at 9:38 pm ET
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The Bruins spent the past two days dealing with backlash from both fans and the media over their recent struggles. They responded in a big way Thursday, playing one of their better games of the season in defeating the Thrashers, 4-1, at TD Garden.

Though Patrice Bergeron got the B’s on the board with a shorthanded goal in the first and Michael Ryder tallied what proved to be the deciding goal, Shawn Thornton was the offensive hero for the 17,565 to pack the Garden seats. The energy line winger had a big night, beating Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec for two goals.

Tim Thomas improved his record to 15-4-3 on the season.

The Bruins will have two days off before returning to practice on Sunday. From there, they will embark on a five-game road trip before returning home to the Garden on Jan. 6.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Shawn Thornton came an assist away from a Gordie Howe hat trick and a goal away from a real one. His fight with Eric Boulton off the opening the face-off helped ignite everybody in attendance, while his two goals brought his season total to a career-high seven.

- The Bruins responded to the call for more passion and motivation. They were more offensively persistent and sustained energy throughout the night. Additionally, they did it against a very good Thrashers team. This game was looked at by some (including your’s truly) as a game the team could use to establish more of an identity. Now that they’ve shown they can respond to losses as ugly as Monday night’s, the next step is seeing to it that there aren’t any more like their embarrassment vs. the Ducks.

The fans undoubtedly left the house satisfied, as an all-out brawl broke out with 4:06 remaining in the game following a Freddy Meyer hit to Milan Lucic’s head. Lucic, Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference, and Marc Savard dropped the gloves for the B’s.

- Thornton wasn’t the only one to show up on the stat sheet multiple times. Patrice Bergeron (G, A) and Daniel Paille (2 A) also had two points on the night. With Brad Marchand still out due to soreness stemming from the P.K. Subban hit, it’s good for Paille to have a game that can give him some confidence should he stick in the lineup for another game or two.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- With the match penalty that Lucic received for punching Freddy Meyer in the helmet, he now faces a suspension, pending review. It was clearly intent to injure on Lucic’s part and it’s hard to believe anybody will view it as anything but.

- Of course, Dustin Byfuglien scored the Thrashers’ lone goal. Byfuglien had a goal and three assists when the Thrashers beat the B’s last month, so his tally on Thursday gave him his fifth point against the Bruins this season.

- Tyler Seguin and Steve Kampfer were the the lone Bruins players to have a negative rating. After his minus-1 on Thursday, Seguin is a plus-1 on the season.

- The Canadiens were held on for a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes after scoring twice in the final 3:03 of the second period. The B’s remain two points behind the Habs for the division lead.

Read More: Michael Ryder, Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, Shawn Thornton
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