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Matt Bradley cuts into Bruins lead 12.18.10 at 8:37 pm ET
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The Bruins slowed down a bit in the second period, while Matt Bradley potted his third goal of the season. After two, the Bruins lead the Capitals, 3-1.

Tyler Seguin had perhaps the best scoring opportunity for the Bruins when he waited too long on a breakaway and had no room to stove it in glove-side on Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

After being outshot, 9-5, in the first period, the Capitals had the shots-on-goal advantage in the second, 10-8. Through two, the B’s have 19 shots the Washingon’s 15.

Read More: Matt Bradley, Michal Neuvirth, Tyler Seguin,
Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Blake Wheeler contribute to early Bruins lead 12.18.10 at 7:44 pm ET
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Goals from Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference (you read that second one right), and Blake Wheeler have the Bruins leading the Capitals, 3-0, after a period of play.

On a 2-on-2, Wheeler attracted the attention of both Washington defenders and dropped the puck off to Bergeron, who beat Michal Neuvirth at 3:27 for his sixth goal of the season. Ference then scored his first goal in 99 games by sending one past Neuvirth from the point.

Bergeron returned the favor in setting up Wheeler’s eighth of the season, and suddenly that second line is looking awfully good of late.

Following the Ference goal. Matt Bradley tried to swing the momentum in Washington’s favor by dropping the gloves with Adam McQuaid. Unfortunately for Bradley, the Garden only got louder as McQuaid unequivocally pummeled the Capitals winger.

Tim Thomas saw only five shots, stopping them all.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Andrew Ference, Blake Wheeler, Patrice Bergeron
Tyler Seguin still working to ‘figure this league out’ 12.18.10 at 1:22 pm ET
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Tyler Seguin knows that he’s been able to produce in the face of adversity. He’s done it since he’s been on the radar of hockey fans, but it might be a bit different at this level. That’s why he doesn’t want himself — or anyone else — to assume he’ll embark on a career-defining hot streak after being a healthy scratch earlier this week. Observe the following exchange.

It hasn't been the easiest adjustment to the NHL for Tyler Seguin. (AP)

WEEI.com: Obviously in juniors after that coaching change, and then when you didn’t make the World Juniors team last year, these things have seemed to spark a –

Seguin: Don’t. Don’t jinx it. Don’t keep going.

[A bit of background information: Seguin, who was taken ninth overall by the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL draft in 2008, wasn't producing like a top-10 pick out of the gate. He had just one goal in his first 17 games, and after coach Greg Stefan left to take a scouting gig with the Carolina Hurricanes, Seguin finished the season with 21 goals despite his slow start. This came after Mike Vellucci, who took over as coach, sat the then-16-year-old down and told him he expected him to produce regardless of age.

Last season, Seguin, the ninth-ranked prospect in the NHL draft, didn't make the World Junior Championship team and used it as motivation as he went on to lead the OHL with 48 goals and take over as the top-ranked prospect.]

Fast forward to mid-December.

Whether he liked it or not, Seguin was forced to take in Wednesday’s game against the Sabres from the press box, observing the pace of a game he’s still learning at a professional level. He sat alongside Doug Jarvis as the Bruins fell to the Sabres, 3-2.

“I got to sit up top and look at it from a different perspective, and that’s how the coach and GM wanted me to spend the game,” Seguin, seemingly understanding of the decision, said.

The 18-year-old followed the scratch with an encouraging showing in Montreal, making a nice play to get the puck to Andrew Ference to set up Marc Savard‘s first goal of the season. Seguin has just three points in his last 10 games, so he’ll look to build on whatever forward steps he can take after being kept out of the lineup.

“I always try to turn a negative into a positive,” Seguin said. “All it is is adversity. You’ll face it a million times in your hockey career, so it was just another experience of it. I wanted to come out with a strong game in Montreal, and I think I did that. I just want to stay consistent.”

As the second overall pick still gets his bearings and finds different ways to adjust to the NHL, top pick Taylor Hall has seemed to hit his stride, scoring 10 goals thus far. Still, Seguin knows that how a player performs in the early going of his rookie year does not exactly set the pace for one’s career production.

One of the players to whom he most often compared in Steven Stamkos (flip a coin on the frequency of comparisons of Seguin to Stamkos or Steve Yzerman) was also a healthy scratch at times as a rookie. Seguin, who has five goals thus far, kiddingly noted that Stamkos had four before Christmas prior to lighting it up with 20 goals after the holiday. In fact, Stamkos — the same guy who has 24 goals this season — only had three before Dec. 25. Regardless of the solace he may take in knowing he isn’t the first to deal with such adjustment to the NHL, Seguin isn’t trying to follow anyone’s path or try to be somebody he’s not.

“I just want to be Tyler right now,” Seguin said. “I want to find my own identity and figure this league out.”

Read More: Steven Stamkos, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin,
Post-morning skate odds and ends 12.18.10 at 12:07 pm ET
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Tim Thomas was first off the ice for the Bruins following their morning skate, an indication that he’ll be in net when the B’s face the Capitals tonight. In three starts against the Capitals this season, Thomas is 2-0-0 with five goals allowed and a shutout. He was pulled from the team’s 5-3 loss on Nov. 5 after allowing three goals through two periods.

The Capitals aren’t exactly jonesing to face the early Vezina favorite in Thomas. Coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday that “you just have to play really perfect hockey to beat [the Bruins] and then you have to play more perfect hockey to beat Thomas.

- If you’re surprised by how many minutes Steven Kampfer has been getting, you’re not along. Asked if he expected to play as much as he has, Kampfer honestly replied, “Uh, no. I definitely didn’t think I’d be getting that many, but I’m just trying to play well, trying to play simple and help the team get a couple of wins here.”

Kampfer said patience has been the biggest thing he’s picked up at the NHL level, which is quite interesting and a good explanation as to why he’s handled the callup and the minutes so well. Young players often try to counter the quick pace of the NHL game by hurrying things more than they need to, but it hasn’t seemed to be the case with Kampfer — at least not much.

- Claude Julien knows the Capitals have been winless over their last seven, but he’s worried about his own guys, who have gone three without a W. Julien addressed the slump by saying “we’ve got to show some determination and resilience.”

- The Capitals have been followed by HBO cameras for the NHL 24/7 show that’s sweeping the nation. Have to admit I haven’t been able to see it (or this season of Eastbound and Down) due to my lack of owning HBO, but the hockey world has been going nuts over this show. One of the draws of the show is the prolific use of a four-letter word beginning in “F” by Boudreau.

“That goes on in every dressing room, in every team, in every sport at this level,” Boudreau said, noting that the team is so comfortable with having the camera around that it has become “second nature.”

Boudreau is by no means taking pride in the language aspect of it, but he said such talk “just comes out of your mouth when you’re mad,” adding, “my mom talked to me about it, so I’ll be OK.”

- Stay tuned for what came of an interesting chat with Tyler Seguin about Christmas, being a healthy scratch, and once again having something in common with Steven Stamkos. More to come later.

Read More: Bruce Boudreau, Claude Julien, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin
Capitals at Bruins preview 12.18.10 at 10:26 am ET
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A couple of teams in dire need of a win will hit the Garden ice on Saturday night as the Bruins (16-10-4), winless in their last three, take on the Capitals (18-11-4). Despite dropping their last seven games, Washington still leads the Southeast division with 40 points.

WHERE IT’S AT

Alexander Ovechkin is on pace for a career-low 30 goals this season. (AP)

- The Bruins are 7-5-3 in home games this season, a mark that was brought over .500 with a 2-0-1 showing in their most recent home-stand. Saturday marks the first of three home games in a row before they play seven of the following eight on the road.

- The Capitals are one of only three teams with 12 home wins (despite dropping their last five at the Verizon Center), but the road has been a different story. They’re 6-7-1 outside of the nation’s capital, and are looking for their first win as the away team since Dec. 1, when they picked up a 4-1 win in St. Louis. It remains the team’s only win this month.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

- Milan Lucic is a goal away from tying his career-high of 17. The 22-year-old power forward hasn’t just led the Bruins in goals this season, he’s been cold-streak-proof. The longest stretch without a point this season for Lucic is two games, something he’s only done once (11/20 vs. LA, 11/22 at TB). Lucic scored his 16th goal of the season Thursday.

- In their seven-game winless streak, the Capitals have scored two goals just three times. They have been shutout twice in that span.

- I promise this is the last time that we’ll mention that Steven Kampfer has had 20-plus minutes of icetime twice despite being only four games into his NHL career, and that Matt Hunwick had two 20-minute nights in his 22 games for the B’s this season.

Playing with Zdeno Chara and seeing the time he’s seen of late on the power play helps, and Kampfer should continue to get big minutes as a result. It’s rather clear the B’s made the right choice in making Kampfer the guy when it came time to call someone up from Providence following the Mark Stuart injury.

STORYLINES GOING IN

- This will be the fourth and final meeting between the two teams. The Bruins won the first two before dropping a 5-3 decision on Nov. 5. In that game, the B’s climbed back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game at three. This came after a goaltending switch and Tuukka Rask‘s entrance into the game in the third period. The loss, in which Rask allowed just one goal, remains perhaps the best single representation of the luck the Finnish goaltender has fallen on this season.

- It’s a good thing the Bruins are getting all of their games with Washington out of the way so early, because Alexander Ovechkin is bound to bust out of his season-long goal-scoring slump (by his standards, anyway) eventually. Ovechkin has just 12 goals this season, which puts him on pace for a career-low 30 goals. His lowest total in a season is the 46 he scored in 2006-07, his sophomore campaign. It is the only season of his five in which he did not register at least 50 goals.

Over his last 15 games, the 25-year-old has scored just twice. Ovechkin has one goal against the Bruins in three games thus far, an empty netter in the Nov. 5 contest.

Although he hasn’t scored nearly as much as one would expect from the 6-foot-2 winger, Ovechkin is on pace for a career-high 60 assists. He had 59 a season ago.

- The Capitals’ leading goal-scorer this season, Alexander Semin, will not play vs. the B’s after not traveling with the team to Boston, according to the Washington Post. Semin is out with a lower-body injury.

Semin has 18 goals this season despite not notching one in his last seven games.

Read More: Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Milan Lucic, Steven Kampfer
NHLPA appoints Donald Fehr as executive director 12.18.10 at 10:17 am ET
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The NHL Players Association announced Saturday morning that they have voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of appointing former MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr to the same position in the NHLPA.

Now 62, Fehr served as an advisor for the NHLPA last year. In his time as head of the MLBPA, he led them through the 1994-95 baseball strike, sued the owners for $280 million over collusion, and took rookie salaries from $30,000 to $400,000 over.

Here is the press release:

TORONTO, ON (December 18, 2010) – The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) announced today that the full membership of the NHLPA has voted overwhelmingly to appoint Don Fehr as the new NHLPA Executive Director, following the Executive Board’s endorsement.

Fehr, 62, is the former Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) where he worked for the players for 33 years, serving as Executive Director from 1983 until 2009.

“I am both humbled and honored by the expression of confidence that the players’ vote reflects,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director. “I’m looking forward to working closely with the membership and the Executive Board.”

On September 8, 2010, the Search Committee, made up of Ryan Getzlaf, Jamie Langenbrunner, Brian Rafalski, Brian Rolston and Mathieu Schneider, recommended to the Executive Board that Fehr be hired as Executive Director. This was endorsed by the Executive Board which then directed the matter be put to a full vote of the NHLPA membership.

The NHLPA also announces today that the membership has voted overwhelmingly to accept amendments that were put forward by the Constitution Committee, consisting of Steve Montador, Dominic Moore, Tim Thomas and Marty Turco, and endorsed by the Executive Board.

These amendments add clarity to, and simplify, the new Constitution as well as the Association’s decision-making process, allowing for more efficient and timely decision-making and encouraging cohesion. The new Constitution is now in effect and is available on nhlpa.com.

Fehr will start in his new position immediately.

Read More: Donald Fehr,
Slow start dooms Bruins in loss to Canadiens 12.16.10 at 9:46 pm ET
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It was a game that featured plenty of back and forth, but the Bruins didn’t join in until they had fallen behind early on and the Canadiens took a 4-3 victory Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

The Bruins started slow, allowing a penalty shot goal to Mike Cammalleri at 1:04 when Zdeno Chara hooked the winger on a breakaway that was the result of a Milan Lucic turnover, while Maxim Lapierre added his fifth of the season at 6:24.

The Bruins were able to come within a goal of the Habs in each period thanks to goals from Blake Wheeler, Marc Savard, and Milan Lucic, respectively, but goals in the first and second from Mac Pacioretty and Brian Gionta extended Montreal’s lead throughout the night.

With the loss, Tim Thomas fell to 14-3-3 on the season.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins didn’t give Tim Thomas much of a chance when they gave Mike Cammalleri a penalty shot just 64 seconds into the night, and they didn’t give themselves much of a chance when they fell behind by two goals less than seven minutes in. It was a tight and competitive game for most of the night, but the B’s dug themselves too big a hole in the game’s opening minutes.

- The four goals allowed by Thomas tied for the most he’s allowed this season. He also allowed four goals in the B’s 7-4 come-from-behind win over the Penguins on Nov. 10. It was also the third time this season he has faced 40 or more shots, as he faced 46 in the Pittsburgh game, 41 against the Flyers on Dec. 1 and 40 on Dec. 4 against the Maple Leafs.

- The Bruins are now winless in their last three games, and they will face the Capitals for the fourth and final time this season Saturday at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Steven Kampfer eclipsed the 20:00 mark for the second straight night. For a comparison, Matt Hunwick saw 20 minutes of ice time twice in his 22 games with the Bruins this year.

It wasn’t the prettiest night for Kampfer, as he nearly gave the puck away in front of his own net in the second and had a shot blocked in the third that led to a Tomas Plekanec breakaway. Neither play did any damage on the scoreboard.

- Marc Savard scored his first goal of the season on a play set up by Michael Ryder and Tyler Seguin. The line is finally forming some chemistry and Seguin had one of his better games of the season a night after sitting out as a healthy scratch

- Blake Wheeler picked up his first point in the last six games when he beat Carey Price from an odd angle in the first period. The 24-year-old now has seven goals on the season.

- David Krejci dropped the gloves for the first time in his NHL career (he’d done it once in both the QMJHL and in the AHL). He went against Mike Cammalleri, another unlikely fighting candidate, and cut the winger above the eye in a tussle that ended with Cammalleri taking Krejci down.

The fight was symbolic of the majority of the second period: the Bruins had more pep in their step and were grabbing at anything to give them momentum.

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