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Phil Kessel on undesirable combination of slump and Bruins fans: ‘It doesn’t bother me’ 02.15.11 at 1:02 pm ET
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Phil Kessel is bringing the second-worst scoring slump of his NHL career with him as he and the Maple Leafs take on the Bruins Tuesday night at TD Garden. A popular target among fans given the trade that sent him Toronto prior to the 2009-10 season, Kessel said he isn’t worried about entering a hostile environment riding streak of 14 straight games without a goal.

“No,” Kessel said when asked about it. “Like I said before, it doesn’t bother me very much. It’s been a year and a half now, so I don’t think it’s that big a deal.

“I just get over it,” he added about how he is treated by Bruins fans. “Obviously, I loved my time here in Boston. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the city, the team and the players over there. I loved playing here.”

Kessel, 23, last scored on Jan. 11, and he has not gone 15 straight games without a goal since his rookie season. He has been placed on a new line with Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak.

“It’s been tough, obviously, but I think it’s happened to everyone in this league,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep going. I’m getting a lot of chances, to tell you the truth. I just can’t figure out a way to put it in the net.”

While many will be focused on the former fifth overall pick’s latest return to Boston, Kessel, who scored 36 goals in his final season as a Bruin, is hoping he can help the Maple Leafs pick up the pace a day after the trade of forward (and Kessel’s roommate) Kris Versteeg.

“He’s a great player. We’ve got to keep going here, right? We’re 10 points out, so we’ve got to fight here,” Kessel said. “If we win a couple of games and get right back in this. Hopefully that’s what we can do.”

Read More: Phil Kessel,
Steven Kampfer says scratch vs. Red Wings was ‘for good reason’ 02.15.11 at 12:42 pm ET
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Despite not even playing, Steven Kampfer was a popular topic Sunday. A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., Kampfer was expecting upwards of 40 people to attend Sunday’s game against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. His parents even flew in from Florida.

While friends and family bought tickets to see Kampfer play at the arena he once attended as a fan, the 22-year-old rookie was scratched for the game as a result of recent struggles. Kampfer touched on the surprise scratch prior to Tuesday’s game.

“It was for good reason,” Kampfer said of Claude Julien‘s decision. “I wasn’t happy with my game [either]. It’s to help me out in the long run. One game is not going to hurt with me sitting out, so I got a good perspective on sitting out and watching the game.”

Kampfer was driving to Detroit from Ann Arbor with his parents on Saturday when he was notified that he would not be playing. He then had the undesirable task of notifying his family and friends via text that he was out of the lineup.

“Obviously you’re disappointed and you want to play,” Kampfer said of his initial reaction. “You want to play every game. At the same time, when I got to the rink the next morning and talked to Claude, it was a good meeting. It was one of those things where we both thought it was a good idea for me to sit back, learn some things, and maybe get a different perspective on the game. I definitely did. We talked this morning as well, so it was good.”

After impressing and being handed substantial minutes following his Dec. 9 NHL debut, Kampfer’s play had dipped. With the likes of Mark Stuart pushing to get in the lineup, the rookie said without hesitation that though he didn’t feel he was “getting comfortable,” the scratch was beneficial.

“I think you go through your ups and downs, and that’s when I think I got down on myself and wasn’t helping this team as much. I think to sit back and take a game and realize what I could do better for the long run will be very helpful for this team and myself,” he said. “More importantly, you want to learn because you want to make this team win.”

Kampfer expects to be in the lineup Tuesday night vs. the Maple Leafs.

Read More: Mark Stuart, Steven Kampfer,
Wrong place, wrong time for Phil Kessel as he brings slump to Boston 02.14.11 at 11:38 pm ET
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When it comes to Phil Kessel, “draft” is a popular word. The fifth overall draft pick in 2006, Kessel was traded for critical draft picks in September 2009 and, in his second season in Toronto, was the last pick of the NHL All-Star fantasy draft.

Selections aside, it’s hard to imagine anyone could have drafted such a lousy script for the 23-year-old of late. The former 36-goal scorer for the Bruins has been freezing for the Maple Leafs over the last month, racking up a grand total of zero goals in his last 14 games.

With Kessel’s luck, he is ‘€” of course ‘€” going to be in town Tuesday to potentially extend that streak to 15 games, the longest stretch of games without a goal for Kessel since his rookie year in Boston. In that 2006-07 campaign, Kessel failed to score from Jan. 18 to Feb. 20, though the combination of adjusting to the league as a rookie and coming off surgery for cancer is probably the toughest thing a player could face.

Incidentally, he also went 14 games without a goal during the 2008-09 season, and that stretch also occurred around the same part of the season, lasting from Jan. 6 to Feb. 21. The months of January and February have not been nice to Kessel, and as he’ll surely be reminded of Tuesday, neither has the Garden crowd when he and his Maple Leafs have rolled into town.

While Bruins scorers have also had their slumps (Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton have had goal-less streaks of 12 and 10, respectively, at points this season, while Blake Wheeler‘s 14-game goal slump matches Kessel’s), here’s a fun stat to play off of Kessel’s current drought: Entering Tuesday, only one Bruins player has a longer streak of games without a goal than Kessel ‘€” defenseman Andrew Ference, who has gone 16 games. Not surprisingly, nobody will be getting on the blueliner any time soon for that.

While Bruins fans will enjoy every moment of Kessel’s struggles (especially if Tyler Seguin scores, which will be the cue for a certain chant), Toronto fans have been nearly as relentless in their treatment of the player their team traded three high picks to acquire. Check out this picture from Puck Daddy, a great hockey blog on Yahoo! Sports:

That’€™s just cruel. Kessel will be at TD Garden on Tuesday, but whether he is once again ‘€œmissing’€ for the Maple Leafs remains to be seen. Things haven’t been rosy for Kessel and the Leafs, as the team has 52 points (fifth-worst in the NHL as of Monday night) and said earlier in his drought that it “might not be working out here” before backpedaling. Kessel will be skating on a line with Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak.

NAME THAT QUOTE

As noted above, the Bruins and Leafs have each had their scorers face slumps this season. Below are two quotes, one of which is Claude Julien on a Bruins player at some point this season. The other is Leafs coach Ron Wilson on Kessel.

‘€œThere’€™s been a lot of talk about [player] not scoring goals. Well, I can stand here tonight and when I see the effort that [player] puts in the game, I can live with that. Obviously I would like to see him score and I think everybody would. You’€™ve got to recognize when a guy is not scoring goals, but you also have to recognize some of the good things he does.”

‘€œ[He] is the one who has to work his way out of this. There is only so much you can do to help him in terms of playing with different people. He has to go earn his chances and dig in and help in other ways until the puck goes in the net.’€

The first would be Julien describing Horton on Jan. 26, while the second quote is from Wilson describing Kessel on Monday. Quite a difference there.

Read More: Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin,
Cross Kris Versteeg off the list of Bruins’ trade targets, and hey, the Leafs have a first-rounder 02.14.11 at 6:47 pm ET
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Less than a week after the Predators’ trade for Mike Fisher ruled out one trade possibility for the Bruins, the Flyers have taken yet another name off fans’ wish lists. According to a tweet from TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Flyers have shipped first-and-third-round draft picks to the Maple Leafs for the 24-year-old winger, who has 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points in 53 games this season.

What does this mean for the Bruins? Well, for starters, it means that the guy they once traded along with a draft pick for Brandon Bochenski is now worth first-and-third-round picks. Secondly, and more importantly, it means that the Maple Leafs’ first-rounder, which the Bruins own, is looking better and better the more they sell off pieces of that roster. Heading into Tuesday’s game against the Bruins, Toronto has 52 points, good for the fifth-worst in the NHL. Edmonton (40 points) is currently in line for its second consecutive first overall pick.

For both the Bruins and prospective trade partners, that’s a good thing. The Leafs clearly aren’t doing much to prevent the B’s from having yet another high pick as a result of the Phil Kessel trade, and anyone willing to do a blockbuster move with the Bruins has to like the idea of selecting in the top five or higher.

From an on-ice standpoint, the top team in the Eastern Conference just got tougher. Peter Chiarelli all but guaranteed the team would make a deal before the Feb. 28 trade deadline in talking to Dale & Holley last week, and now it’s looking like it will have to be a big one.

Read More: Kris Versteeg,
Bruins assign Jordan Caron to Providence 02.14.11 at 11:37 am ET
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The Bruins announced Monday that they have assigned rookie forward Jordan Caron to Providence. Caron played in three games since being called up last week, registering a combined zero points and a minus-1 rating against the Canadiens and two contests vs. the Red Wings.

Caron, 20, has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in 23 games for the Bruins this season. He spent the last three contests playing on a line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Winger Daniel Paille‘s four-game suspension is up, allowing for him to return to the Bruins lineup Tuesday against the Maple Leafs.

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Bruins assign Zach Hamill to Providence 02.13.11 at 3:49 pm ET
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The Bruins announced following Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Red Wings that they have assigned center Zach Hamill to Providence. Hamill played in three games since being recalled last week, picking up an assist on a Michael Ryder goal in Wednesday’s 8-6 victory over the Canadiens.

Hamill did not play for the B’s on Sunday. He was a healthy scratch in favor of rookie center Tyler Seguin. The eighth overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, Hamill has 28 points (3 G, 25 A) in 44 games for the team’s AHL affiliate this season.

Read More: Zach Hamill,
Bruins drop second straight to Red Wings 02.13.11 at 2:58 pm ET
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The Bruins dropped a 4-2 decision to the Red Wings on Sunday and have now lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since Dec. 15 and 16, when they dropped contests to the Sabres and Canadiens in succession.

Todd Bertuzzi had two goals for the second straight game against the Bruins, with Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper also beating Tim Thomas. Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand provided the scoring for the B’s.

Jimmy Howard, who played his college puck at Maine, improved his record to 28-10-3, giving him the most wins in the NHL. He made 23 saves on 25 shots.

Thomas on the other hand, saw his record fall to 26-7-6. Steven Kampfer, who grew up in Ann Arbor and played his college hockey at the University of Michigan, was a healthy scratch for the game.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton had minimal impact on the game. That can’t happen down the stretch, and it certainly can’t happen in the playoffs. Krejci and Lucic had two shots apiece, which was more than could be said for Horton’s one. With Horton having no shots on goal Friday, he has just one over the last two games.

– Brad Marchand was second in the NHL with a plus-25 rating entering Friday’s game, but he’s been a minus-5 over the two contests since. After a minus-3 rating on Friday, he was on the ice for two of the four Detroit goals Sunday.

Marchand had a particularly costly turnover in the first period, as he sent a blind pass right to Bertuzzi in front of the net in the first period. Bertuzzi turned the play into his third goal against the B’s in two games, and second gift goal. He capitalized on blunder made by Tuukka Rask while playing the puck on Friday night.

– Tyler Seguin turned a very encouraging first game back from back-to-back healthy scratch into further proof as to why Claude Julien has been taking it easy with the rookie. After scoring the Bruins’ first goal by staring involved in the play in front and sending a rebound off a Blake Wheeler wraparound past Howard in the first period, he played a large role in the game-winning goal for the Red Wings. The second overall pick didn’t stick with Kris Draper, and the right winger scored the go-ahead goal in the second period off a saucer pass from Patrick Eaves.

– Tim Thomas has allowed 11 goals over his last seven periods. That might be a Hart-breaker for the Vezina shoo-in.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Lucic was fine after getting hit square on the front of his right skate with a shot from the point. Trainer Don DelNegro came to the ice to tend to him, and the 22-year-old winger left the ice slowly, but under his own power. He returned to the bench moments later.

– After going five straight games without a power play goal, the B’s have been able to convert with a man advantage in each of the last two games. Krejci had the Bruins’ lone power play tally on Friday, a night in which the B’s went 1-for-3, and Marchand scored on the first of three Bruins’ power plays on Sunday.

Michael Ryder had his second multi-point performance in the last three contests. After scoring twice against the Canadiens on Wednesday, he had a pair of assists Sunday. The original scoring of Seguin’s goal gave Wheeler credit for the goal, with Seguin getting the lone assist, but upon correction, Wheeler and Ryder were each credited with a helper. Ryder made a beautiful pass to set up Marchand’s goal on the power play.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin,
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