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Meet the Bruins’ new second-line center: Blake Wheeler 11.08.10 at 1:44 pm ET
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Blake Wheeler is ready for a stint at his old position (AP Photo)

WILMINGTON — Blake Wheeler left the Ristuccia ice on Monday and walked to his locker, intent on delivering a message.

“Hey guys, I’m playing center!”

The news wasn’t exactly news given that he had served as the second-line center during practice, but even Wheeler could understand that it was a notable topic as the Bruins prepare for the next week or so without the services of David Krejci.

Krejci was diagnosed with a moderate concussion after crashing head-first into the boards following a collision with Blues forward T.J. Oshie early on in overtime during the Bruins’ 2-1 shootout loss on Saturday. He is expected to miss at least a week. When the team returned to practice on Monday, second-line center Patrice Bergeron had jumped onto the first line, with Wheeler sliding in between Jordan Caron and Mark Recchi on the second line.

The Bruins had briefly experimented with the idea of playing Wheeler at center during training camp when it became clear that they’d be without Marc Savard, but ultimately it was Tyler Seguin who stuck as a pivot, playing on the third line. Wheeler, who played center his final two years at the University of Minnesota, is excited for both the opportunity to return to his old position and challenge of regaining the familiarity.

“Today was a bit of the shock to the system, with all the skating and stuff,” Wheeler said. “It’s always nice. I find that it really gets you into the game, gets you involved a lot faster than wing does sometimes because you’re up and down the ice and you’ve got to be really focused defensively. I’ve always liked playing center, so it should be a good challenge.”

Before the team left for its European excursion in late September, it became rather clear that Wheeler would remain a winger, either on the second line or third line. He played a large portion of the preseason with Seguin as his center, but feels that the little time he was exposed to center in camp should be beneficial to what he does going forward.

“It was kind of a crash-course refresher with all the little nuances of playing center,” Wheeler said. “That was huge. It gave me the confidence to know that I could still do that at this level and be effective. For me, that was the biggest thing, just knowing you can do it, and I guess we’ll see how it goes.”

Though familiarity with the center position is something that will come with time, one advantage Wheeler has with this line is that he knows his wingers well. He’s played on lines with both Recchi and Caron this season, and hopes to continue to build chemistry with the two as he adjusts over the next week or two.

“That definitely helps, to have familiarity with guys. Rex always makes it easier on you no matter where you are. That’s always nice, and Jordan’s really strong on the puck, too, so it won’t be any problem for us,” Wheeler said. “We’re going to have to help each other out and pick each other up. It should be no different.”

Wheeler has taken only three faceoffs this season, but has won two of them. He pointed to faceoffs as the biggest burden as he accepts his cameo as a center, and admitted that he hasn’t been practicing them since training camp. As long as he doesn’t lose them clean, Wheeler feels he and his line will be alright.

“That will be the biggest challenge, is the faceoffs. That’s always the toughest part, when you haven’t taken them in a while. I’ll just try to do my best and battle,” Wheeler said. “I know those two guys will be in there helping me out, and trying to get some good wins for me. I guess the job for me is not to lose them clean. As long as you’re in a battle and creating sort of a scrum, that’s half the battle.”

Through 11 games, Wheeler has one goal and two assists.

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David Krejci injury update: Peter Chiarelli calls concussion ‘moderate’ 11.08.10 at 11:39 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli offered an update on top-line center David Krejci on Monday, saying the concussion Krejci suffered in overtime on Saturday is “moderate” on a mild – moderate – severe scale.

Chiarelli noted that the only symptoms shown by Krejci following the hit were a headache and some amnesia, and that there was no loss of consciousness. The Bruins have been encouraged by how Krejci has felt in the last two days and that he will be re-evaluated on Tuesday. Chiarelli didn’t feel the play in which Krejci was injured, a collision with Blues forward T.J. Oshie that led to him hitting his head against the boards, was malicious in nature.

“I had no issue with the hit,” Chiarelli said, deeming the play an “incidental hit.”

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Bruins lines see tweaking in first practice following David Krejci concussion 11.08.10 at 10:36 am ET
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WILMINGTON — After taking the day off Sunday, the Bruins returned to work at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington on Monday for their first practice following Saturday’s injury to David Krejci. The top-line center suffered a concussion when he hit the boards following a hit from T.J. Oshie in overtime.

With Krejci out, the color-coded lines saw a bit of shuffling. Patrice Bergeron is now wearing a white sweater, signifying he’ll be on the top line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. Blake Wheeler appears set to center the second line, while it looks like Daniel Paille might get some third-line ice time out of this deal. Here are how the lines look based on the practice jerseys.

Lucic – Bergeron – Horton

Caron – Wheeler – Recchi

Paille – Seguin – Ryder

Marchand – Campbell – Thornton

- Brian McGrattan has been placed on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to Providence. The Bruins have indicated that they will not be recalling anybody for the time being.

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Bruins lose to Blues in shootout 11.06.10 at 9:57 pm ET
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Michael Ryder and Patrice Bergeron couldn’t score in the Bruins’ first shootout of the season, and the Blues walked away 2-1 winners on Saturday night.

It seemed as though Jaroslav Halak was set to surpass Tim Thomas for the league lead in shutouts throughout the night, but for the second straight night, a Bruins’ fourth liner threw a monkey wrench at the system.bGregory Campell took a pass from Michael Ryder at 13:00 of the third period to beat Halak and tie the game and give the Bruins new life. It was Campbell’s first goal as a member of the Bruins.

While no goals were scored in overtime, the Bruins suffered a potential big loss as David Krejci left early on with an injury (see below).

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins got hosed a bit with the instigator call. Andrew Ference danced with David Backes in defense of Mark Recchi and got called, but when B.J. Crombeen went after Stuart following a hard hit on Jay McClement, nothing outside of the traditional fighting major was charged to Crombeen.

- Nathan Horton played one of his best games in a Bruins uniform but was horribly snakebitten. Twice he had to watch from the bench as near-goals were reviewed, neither of which yielded the Bruins any good news on the scoreboard.

For Horton to beat Halak twice with nothing to show for it is certainly frustrated, but he seemed to play harder as the game went on and the bad news piled up. He seemed to get progressively physical but not to the point where he was taking himself out of the play or costing the Bruins (his roughing call at 8:39 of the third was matched by Erik Johnson). Quite a departure from his reputation as a guy who faded over the course of games in Florida.

- T.J. Oshie laid a perfectly legal but still scary hit on David Krejci along the boards in overtime, and the first-line center was down on the ice for a couple of minutes with trainer Don DelNegro before leaving the game. More on Krejci’s condition to come.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Campbell couldn’t have picked a better time to score his first goal as a member of the B’s, but it isn’t exactly surprising behavior from the fourth line. After all, Thornton did tie the game against the Capitals a night earlier.

- The penalty kill continues to be an impenetrable fortress. The B’s had to deal with four minor penalties throughout the game and sillenced the Blues’ power play throughout the night.

St. Louis entered the game 20th in the league in power play percentage, so while their unit may not be anything to write about, the consistency that continues to be displayed by the top penalty killing unit in the league has been a great sign on the young season.

- Horton had season-high and game-high eight shots on goal on Saturday. He said before the game that he knew he wasn’t shooting enough and intended to fire off more shots.

Horton entered the game sixth on the Bruins in shots on goal with just 19 through 10 games. Of his 148 career goals, 26 of them have been scored on his only shot of the game.

-Tyler Seguin scored the B’s lone shootout goal in beautiful fashion, deking Halak and beating him top shelf on the backhand. A scorer like Seguin was designed for shootouts, and it showed Saturday.
- Rask gave up some big rebounds early on, but he really found his rhythm. He had the save of of the game to keep it tied when he stopped David Backes late in the third low, laying out and getting a pad on Backes’ bid along the post.

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Bruins trail Blues entering the third period 11.06.10 at 8:47 pm ET
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Nathan Horton experienced deja vu in the second period, and the Bruins remain down, 1-0, entering the third period.

Horton had his second goal of the game waved off when he appeared to beat Jaroslav Halak top shelf. Much like with his non-goal in the first, the puck did not cross the line, much the dismay of the Bruins’ bench.

Andrew Ference defended Mark Recchi but the Bruins got the worst of it. Ference squared off with David Backes, who who had himself gone after Recchi, and Ference got an instigating minor tacked onto his five for fighting. With Shawn Thornton serving the penalty, the Bruins stopped the Blues on the man advantage. The Blues are 0-for-4 on the power play through two periods.

Interestingly enough, the Bruins didn’t benefit when the shoe was on the other foot. Mark Stuart laid out Jay McClement in the neutral zone and was immediately invited to dance with B.J. Crombeen. Crombeen did not receive an instigator penalty for the play.

Through two periods the shots are 25-18 in favor of the Blues.

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Bruins trail Blues, 1-0, after one period 11.06.10 at 7:47 pm ET
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The crowd cheered for what they thought was a Bruins goal, but by periods’ end it was only an ex-Bruin who had scored, and the B’s trail the Blues 1-0.

Vladimir Sobotka, traded to the Blues for David Warsofsky during the draft, picked up his first goal of the season late in the first period. Matt Hunwick was in a tough spot, trying to account for Sobotka and Alexander Steen. When poking the puck from Steen was just out of reach for Hunwick, Steen sent it to Sobotka, who had plenty of time to beat Rask.

Nathan Horton seemed to have his seventh of the year when he beat Halak low from the bottom of the circle at a tough angle, but the play was ruled no goal, The play was reviewed, with it being determined that the puck hit the post and never crossed the goal line.

The Bruins took a page out Friday’s book in the first period. After mustering just nine shots through the first two periods on Friday, the Bruins put only six shots on Blues netminder Jaroslav Halak. Rask stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced, and aside from a couple of juicy rebounds looked good.

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Tuukka Rask to start for Bruins vs. Blues 11.06.10 at 6:30 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien said late Saturday afternoon that Tuukka Rask will be between the pipes for the B’s when they take on the Blues. Rask took the loss on Friday night in relief of Tim Thomas. The 23-year-old played the third period and saw the B’s come back from a 3-0 deficit against the Capitals before John Carlson scored the game-winner for Washington.

In two starts this season, Rask has allowed seven goals and taken a pair of losses. He is 0-3-0 after falling to the Capitals on Friday.

Former Canadien Jaroslav Halak, who has put together an outstanding start to his first season in St. Louis (7-1-1, 1.53 goals against average, .940 save percentage) will be in net for the Blues. The Blues have an impressive 16 points to start the season, but have gone just 1-1-2 on the road.

Here are the anticipated lines for the B’s:

Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Caron – Bergeron- Recchi
Wheeler -Seguin- Ryder
Marchand – Campbell- Thornton

Chara – Ference
Hunwick – Seidenberg
Stuart – McQuaid

Rask
Thomas

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