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Bruins at Panthers preview 12.27.10 at 4:46 am ET
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The Bruins are coming off perhaps their most monumental win of the season, a 4-1 victory over the Thrashers that featured the grit and emotion the team had lacked over its previous 1-3-1 stretch.

The B’s play the next five on the road, starting with Monday’s matchup with the Panthers. The Bruins have won both games against Florida this season, most recently grabbing a 3-1 victory at BankAtlantic Center behind two goals from Mark Recchi on Nov. 24.

WHERE IT’S AT

- The Panthers are 7-6-0 at BankAtlantic Center this season, though they probably feel as though they don’t know the place anymore with the way their schedule has been. Nine of their last 12 games have been played on the road. They’re 2-4-0 in their last six home contests dating back to Nov. 22.

- The Bruins are 9-5-1 on the road and have dropped their last three away from the Garden.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

- The Panthers are the only team in the NHL to not have an overtime loss this season. The Bruins have come away with the single point in four contests.

- Milan Lucic has gone without a point in three straight games for the first time this season. His last point came on Dec. 16 in Montreal, a third-period power play goal. Despite his mini-slump, he continues to lead the Bruins with 16 goals.

- Each of the Bruins goaltenders have put together impressive performances vs. the Panthers this season. Tuukka Rask grabbed a shutout on Nov. 18 at the Garden, while Tim Thomas allowed on goal on Nov. 24th. Florida is the only team that both Bruins goaltenders have beaten.

- The Bruins have allowed 35 shots or more in seven games in December. If David Booth comes close to the 14 shots he had against the Bruins on Nov. 18, they might be in for a high shots allowed total again.

STORYLINES GOING IN

- The biggest question for this Bruins team is how they can sustain what they did Thursday for an entire road trip, and then beyond that. They have Tampa Bay Tuesday, followed by a rematch against the Thrashers on Thursday. If the Bruins want to carry momentum from their victory last Thursday they will need to kick off the road trip with a win over the Panthers.

- The Bruins have not sat Tuukka Rask for five straight games yet this season. Tim Thomas has started the last four, and has had such a stretch only twice this season. It might make sense for Rask to get the nod against the lowly Panthers, which would avoid overwhelming Thomas with three starts in four days, but reports out of Florida suggest Thomas will be between the pipes.

- The Bruins benefit greatly from the fact that Lucic was not suspended for Monday’s game. This way, they can take their time with bringing Brad Marchand (soreness) back and not have to summon an extra forward while they’re away. Claude Julien told reporters Monday that Marchand will not play.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask,
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:

‘€œThe 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

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 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.”

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