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Marco Sturm still not close to returning to Bruins 11.19.10 at 1:17 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins got good news on Marc Savard on Friday, as he passed a conditioning test that will clear the center to participate in line drills and other non-contact practice scenarios. While it’s a positive step for Savard, it doesn’t seem their other long-term injury reserve resident, winger Marco Sturm, is on as fast a track to return to the lineup.

“He is… I would say he’s a little bit away,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said of Sturm’s progress when asked on Friday.

Sturm is recovering from a torn ACL and MCL suffered against the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. His rehab hit a bit of a snag when he travelled with the team to Belfast and the Czech Republic to begin the season.

“I think all the traveling to Europe, I think all that didn’t really help.,” Sturm said in late October. “But the whole team went, and I wanted to go too. It was good, but all the traveling, it didn’t help too much and that’s why I think [the rehab] has gone back a couple of weeks.”

Sturm led the Bruins in goals last season with 22.

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Marc Savard cleared to practice with Bruins 11.19.10 at 12:39 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday morning that Marc Savard is cleared to practice with the Bruins but will not take physical contact.

“This morning he passed one of the tests, which was a conditioning test, so he’s able to practice with the team, non-contact, so he can do line drills and non-contact drills,” Chiarelli said, “so that’s good news.”

Savard, who has not played or practiced with the team this season due to post-concussion syndrome, will also travel with the team.

“It’s very good news. If Marc were to have his druthers, he’d be back with the team two weeks ago. That’s what Marc’s all about,” Chiarelli said. “It’s good news. We’re on a crunch of games here it seems where it looks like we’re in a compressed schedule here, so it will be good to get a player of his caliber back. This is a real positive step to getting him back.”

Next week will be the earliest that Savard could begin taking physical contact, as Chiarelli noted he must undergo “a couple more tests.” As for when he is set to return to the lineup, Chiarelli was mum on a date.

“I’ve got one in mind. I’m not going to disclose it,” Chiarelli said with a grin. “These things change. It could be earlier, or it could be later. This is a real big step, and the tests coming up are big steps, so he’s passed every test to date and this is a big one also.”

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Bruins beat Panthers behind Milan Lucic hat trick and Tuukka Rask shutout 11.18.10 at 9:30 pm ET
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On a night that was seemingly all about Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell, Milan Lucic stole the show with his second career hat trick in a 4-0 Bruins victory over the Panthers at TD Garden.

Lucic and the first line provided the majority of the offense for the Bruins, beating Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun on a goal assisted by former Panthers third overall pick Nathan Horton. He added another from virtually the same spot in the third and made it a hat trick seconds later, stuffing in a rebound to make it 3-0. With the game, Lucic reached 10 goals, surpassing Horton (8) for the team lead. Shawn Thornton added his fourth of the season at 16:04.

Tuukka Rask hadn’t been getting consistent play in front of him to begin the season, so he made it a little easier on teammates, shutting out the Panthers. It was his first victory of the season. Rask stopped all 41 shots he saw, frustrating a busy Panthers offense and improving his record to 1-4-1.

“You know, you play five, six games and you feel like you are playing good and the puck is not bouncing our way,” Rask said after the game. “That’s all it is and that’s what I said before, just keep working hard and good things will happen and today they did.”

The victory improved the Bruins’ record to 11-5-1. They are now 4-4-1 in home games and 4-3-1 in games played at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Uh, Lucic. Lucic. And Lucic again.

- It took much longer than one would have expected on, say, Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. Prague Time, but Rask finally got his first win of the season. Entering the night, Rask was 0-4-1 in five games, but he had played well enough to win on a few occasions, notably the team’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Blues on Nov. 6.

- Brad Marchand may be a pest to other trash-talking players, but on Thursday he was even more of a pest to Vokoun. The third-line winger led the B’s with five shots on goal. The total tied his career high, which he reached last season on Nov. 1 against the Rangers.

- A top line missing its center is like a rock band losing its lead singer — you just assume it won’t be the same. Yet with David Krejci out, Patrice Bergeron has channeled his inner Sammy Hagar/Ronnie James Dio and proven that the first line can be fantastic with him in the middle.

For the second straight game, the line was able to manufacture a well-executed goal on the opening tally. Of course, Vokoun should have been able to stop Lucic’s first one, which he took after receiving a drop pass from Horton, but it was the latest example of how well these three are starting to play together.

- Once again, the penalty kill came up big for the Bruins. A night after killing off a 5-on-3 late in a one-goal game in New York, the Bruins kept the Panthers off the board despite being shorthanded five times throughout the night.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The power play only got two chances, and it didn’t see anything come of them. Bryan McCabe went off for unsportsmanlike conduct in the second and Cory Stillman was called for interference at 5:08 of the third. In not converting, the Bruins now have just one power play goal in their last five games.They’ve had 18 opportunities. Hard to think they’re not missing Krejci in that respect.

- Rask was sensational, but that didn’t mean he had to face as many shots as he did. David Booth usually gets a lot of pucks on net, but he had 11 shots through the first two periods. All in all, the Panthers put 41 shots on Rask, 12 of which came off the stick of Booth.

The most shots on goals the Bruins have allowed this season is 46, which Tim Thomas faced on Nov. 6 against the Penguins.

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Bruins holding onto lead after two periods 11.18.10 at 8:35 pm ET
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The Bruins have picked up the pace offensively, but still lead the Panthers, 1-0, following a scoreless second period.

Tuukka Rask has saved all 29 shots he’s seen, while the B’s put 15 shots on Tomas Vokoun in the second to bring their total to 26. Brad Marchand leads the B’s with five shots on goal.

After killing off the remaining 12 seconds of the Blake Wheeler minor that carried into the second, the B’s found themselves shorthanded twice more thanks to penalties to Mark Recchi (interference) and Patrice Bergeron (hooking). The Panthers are 0-for-4 on the power play, while the B’s are 0-for-1.

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Bruins lead Panthers after one 11.18.10 at 7:42 pm ET
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Milan Lucic scored his eighth goal of the season at 15:37 of the first period, and it’s a 1-0 Bruins lead after 20 minutes.

Nathan Horton dropped it for Lucic at the face-off circle, and Lucic took it from there, beating Tomas Vokoun top shelf. Patrice Bergeron also picked up an assist on the play.

The Panthers came awfully close twice in the middle of the period, with a David Booth shot trickling off Rask’s glove but falling wide of the net, and Jason Garrison firing one that hit the post. Later in the period, Booth took a pass in front from Rostislav Olesz, with Rask getting in position and making a fantastic save.

Shawn Thornton and Darcy Hordichuk provided the fighting for the period, squaring off at 16:31 in a twist that left Thornton with a bloody nose. The lone injury scare of the period when Patrice Bergeron took a Dennis Wideman shot off the foot, but he returned to the ice.

Florida is outshooting the Bruins, 16-11. The Panthers are 0-for-1 on the power play, with 13.2 seconds remaining on a high sticking on a high stick call on on Blake Wheeler.

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Johnny Boychuk in for Bruins 11.18.10 at 7:04 pm ET
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Johnny Boychuk is making his return to the Bruins’ lineup as the B’s take on the Panthers on Thursday night. Based on warmups, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Ference – Chara

Hunwick – Seidenberg

Stuart – Boychuk

Boychuk had been out since Oct. 23 with a fractured forearm. Tuukka Rask is in net for the Bruins.

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Johnny Boychuk a game-time decision for Bruins vs. Panthers 11.18.10 at 12:37 pm ET
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Those who are looking for news regarding Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk are in for some mild disappointment, because there isn’t any.

“It’s the same thing as last night,” Claude Julien said Thursday morning. “He’ll be a game-time decision.”

Boychuk has been out with a fractured forearm since Oct. 23rd and has been practicing with his teammates in anticipation of an eventual return. He and Marco Sturm were the only Bruins to skate Thursday morning, as the team studied video while fellow rehabbing players David Krejci and Marc Savard were given the day off.

It was noted by Boychuk on Wednesday that he hasn’t been given the opportunity to endure physical contact given the nature of his on-ice sessions. Once he does return, his coach understands that he might not be in mid-season form, and that minimizing the effect that it could have on the team is key.

“It’s about limitations. He went on the ice again this morning and went through the things that we were concerned about. I think it’s more about that than anything else,” Julien said. “At one point, [he's] going to have those kinks out, but right now our schedule is not helping us out with so many games. You’re preferring to give your team — because the team goes before the individual — you want to give them some rest in order to give yourself the best possible chances of winning a hockey game. If we wait for the right opportunity to give him a practice, we might be waiting even longer.”

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