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NHL Power Rankings 1/6 01.06.10 at 7:22 am ET
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A new year, a fresh start and a new team atop the WEEI Power Rankings.

1. (2) 30-10-3  The Blackhawks skated past New Jersey 5-1 in a top-of-the-charts showdown last week. They arrive in Boston to play the Bruins Thursday. Sounds like a good time for them to make their on-ice debut as our new No. 1.

2. (1) 30-10-1  A road loss to the Blackhawks made for an unhappy New Year’s Eve for the Devils. Leading scorer Zach Parise ended a brief three-game stretch without a point by scoring a second-period goal in a 4-0 win over Dallas Tuesday.

3. (3) 27-9-7  The Sharks had a great first half to the season, but a 6-2 home loss to the Kings on Monday, in which Evgeni Nabokov gave up five goals on 16 shots, says that winning the Pacific is no lock.

4. (5) 26-11-4  Team USA general manager Brian Burke says Ryan Miller is the best goalie in the NHL right now. Anyone disagree ?

5. (4) 25-11-6  The Caps drop two this week, the Sabres win two. Trade places in the rankings, please.

6. (8) 24-13-6  Please welcome your Northwest Division-leading Avalanche. You expected to hear those words this year, right ? The Avs continue to stay in the fight for the division lead.

7. (10) 25-12-5  The Flames have gotten hot again, winning five in a row, including a 3-1 win in Nashville Tuesday.

8. (7) 26-14-4  A minor slump for the surprising Coyotes. They had lost three of four before taking an overtime win in Edmonton Tuesday.

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Bruins bounce back, beat Sens 4-1 01.05.10 at 10:10 pm ET
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Responding to some sharp criticism from their coach and the loss of one of their top players, the Bruins unleashed an energetic first-period attack to take a 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place Tuesday.

Blake Wheeler scored twice in the opening period, David Krejci and Mark Recchi also added early goals as Boston built a four-goal advantage in the opening 14 minutes of the contest.

One night earlier, the Bruins had sleep skated through the opening two periods in a 3-2 loss to the Rangers in New York. The uninspired effort led coach Claude Julien to publically question the leadership and character of the B’€™s in his post-game comments.

The lackluster defeat also came with the additional setback of losing top forward Patrice Bergeron with a thumb injury that will sideline him for at least two weeks.

Facing both the self-inflicted motivational adversity and the loss of Bergeron, the Bruins quickly went to the net with more resolve Tuesday against the Senators and were rewarded for their efforts. The B’€™s chased Ottawa starting goalie Brian Elliott from the game after he gave up four goals on just 16 shots and Boston’€™s long dormant road power play suddenly netted two goals in one period after failing to score at all in 10 prior road games.

The big lead was more than enough for Tim Thomas, who made 27 saves for his 11th consecutive win over Ottawa.

The contest was not a completely positive one for Boston as defenseman Andrew Ference left the game after getting hit in the first period and did not return

Satan to make Bruins debut tonight 01.05.10 at 1:33 pm ET
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Miroslav Satan will make his debut for the Bruins in Ottawa tonight.

Satan was signed to a one-year deal Saturday and had been expected to practice for a week before playing, but with Patrice Bergeron suffering an apparent hand injury in last night’€™s 3-2 loss to the Rangers in New York, the B’€™s are moving the timetable up for Satan.

‘€œWe were hoping to give him at least a week, but the circumstances are we don’€™t have an extra forward right now,’€ Bruins coach Claude Julien told reports in Ottawa this morning.

The 35-year-old Satan has not played since skating with the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in June. He had been working out and skating on Long Island before being signed by the Bruins.

‘€œHe’€™s in good shape, the only thing we wanted to do was give him a chance to get his timing and a week of practice,” said Julien. “Unfortunately he doesn’€™t have that luxury and neither do we.’€

Julien did not have any further information on the extent of Bergeron’s injury or an estimate of how long his top forward could be sidelined.  Bergeron flew back to Boston this morning to be examined by team doctors today.

“Our doctors haven’€™t seen him so I can’€™t give you an estimate timeline on that,” Julien said.

Julien: Satan one week away 01.03.10 at 1:14 pm ET
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WILMINGTON – It should be about a week before new Bruins forward Miroslav Satan is able to jump into the lineup. Satan, who had not been playing this season, skated with the Bruins for the first time Sunday after signing a one-year free agent deal with the team.

“He’s in pretty good shape actually, ” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after practice. “We’ve seen that through testing and everything else. He’s really taken good care of himself for a guy who hasn’t played yet. But that’s one thing. It’s another thing to come up to NHL speed. We’ll go, when I say day to day, it’s more closer to a week. We’ll go from here. He needs some time to practice at this pace.”

Julien added that Milan Lucic is progressing toward a return, but the team is being cautious not to rush him back. Lucic is in the final stages of recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered in late November.

“It was my first full practice with the team, I think it went real well,” said Lucic, who has been skating but had not been involved in any prior contact. “It was definitely a confidence builder that I’m getting close to getting back”

The 35-year-old  Satan won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins last season. He chipped in one goal in five assists in 17 playoff games during the run to the Cup. In 1,012 regular season games he has 354 goals and 367 assists. The fact that through over 1,000 NHL games Satan’s career goal and assists marks are almost equally balanced shows  he is an overall offensive catalyst, and not simply a goal scorer.

“He’s a skill guy, he’s obviously been in the league a long time,” said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. “We just felt we needed to increase out depth at forward and our skill. He can make plays and he can shoot.”

Satan, who will wear No.  81, is excited about the new opportunity with the Bruins.

“I think it makes sense for the team and it makes sense for me also, it’s a good situation,” said Satan who had been skating in Long Island while waiting for playing options to sort out. “This is a team that will have a chance to go deep in the playoffs.”

Breaking Down the Bruins’ Classic Win 01.01.10 at 4:23 pm ET
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Here is a recap of the Bruins’ 2-1 win over the Flyers in Friday’s Winter Classic at Fenway Park (for game story, click here):

Three stars:

1. Bruins ‘€“ Marco Sturm nets the game-winner 1:57 into overtime.

2. Bruins ‘€“ Mark Recchi ‘€“ The 41-year-old skated like a kid, keeping the puck alive and creating chances before crashing the net for a rebound goal to draw the Bruins even with 2:18 to play. He also played a stretch in the third with only one glove without lessening his resolve for the puck. That’€™s Winter Classic spirit.

3. Flyers – Danny Syvret ‘€“ Recalled from the AHL earlier in the week, he scores his first NHL goal, giving the Flyers a second-period lead.

Turning Point ‘€“ Trailing 1-0, the Bruins go on the power play late in the third period. Recchi scores a rebound goal tying the game and setting up the overtime heroics by Sturm.

Key stretch – With the Flyers already holding a 1-0 lead, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was whistled from tripping 10:16 into the second period. Philadelphia picked up its pressure against Tim Thomas, but the Bruins also started creating more chances. The game became more wide open, with several odd-man rushes for both teams.

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Already an ‘amazing’ experience for Bruins 12.31.09 at 4:09 pm ET
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On cue, the snow, the Bruins and the excitement, arrived at the Winter Classic ice rink at Fenway Park Thursday.

And from the moment they left the locker room ‘€“ make that the dugout ‘€“ the Bruins were enjoying the moment.

‘€œIt was amazing when we walked up the stairs, the snow was coming down, seeing Fenway Park in the background,’€ center Patrice Bergeron said. ‘€œIt was amazing. A great day, a great moment, great experience for me, I’€™m just glad to be part of it.’€

After posing for a team picture – one with knits hats, one without ‘€“ the players and coaches became reacquainted with simple concept of outdoor hockey. When it snows, you shovel.

‘€œI remember when I was a kid that was my first job,’€ Bruins center Marc Savard said. ‘€œI think I was around 13 years old and shoveled the outdoor rink and opened and closed the shack.’€

Things were a little different Thursday, as pro athletes and coaches jumped into grab snow shovels, although the team’€™s young guns seemed to be handling most of the snow removal duties.

‘€œI kind of noticed that the younger guys had grabbed shovels, I figured I better help out too,’€ said rookie Adam McQuaid, obviously a quick study at the ways and means of young NHL players.

He was not alone.

‘€œI was just doing what I was told, I remember it from the old days,’€ second-year forward Blake Wheeler said. ‘€œBack in the day, when it was snowing that hard we’€™d just go inside and wait for it to clear.’€

The snow certainly added to the atmosphere inside Fenway, as did the up-tempo music and sea of fans making there way to the ‘€œFree Fan Festival’€ across the street.

Seat cushions were in place, albeit with a dusting of fresh snow. The left field scoreboard had replaced the American League East standings with those of the NHL‘€™s Northeast Division.

Home plate had been transformed into a music stage, set for James Taylor to sing the US national anthem, Daniel Powter the Canadian version and the Dropkick Murphy’€™s to punctuate the day with ‘€œI’€™m Shipping Up to Boston.’€

There was no doubt, the Winter Classic was in play.

‘€œIt’€™s crazy,’€ said Steve Begin, ‘€œIt’€™s fun. The ice was unbelievable. It was special. I haven’€™t skated in snow in a long time.’€

While the snow was fun for practice, players were in general agreement that it would not be a good thing for the game itself.

‘€œHopefully we are going to get some clear ice out there because with the snow it makes it pretty interesting,’€ Wheeler said. ‘€œIf not, that’€™s the way it is and we have to adapt to it and play the game accordingly.’€

Aside from the obvious changes from a regular NHL game, the outdoor contest presents some interesting qualities.

With Tim Thomas likely to get the starting nod in goal, Tuukka Rask could be one of the coldest players on the ice as he sits through the game. But in keeping with his usual calm approach, Rask’€™s taking it all in stride.

‘€œSomeone told me there were seat warmers and you could always drink hot chocolate,’€ said Rask. ‘€œGear up, put a tuc on and enjoy. No stress for me. If I’€™m cold, then I’€™m cold.’€

There has also never been a fight in a Winter Classic game. Former Flyers enforcer Dave ‘€œthe hammer ‘€œ Schultz, was wondering about that while skating at the rink earlier in the week.

‘€œThere’€™s never been one so at this point, I think we should try it out,’€ grinned Schultz. ‘€œFlyers and Bruins ‘€“ its gotta happen.’€

Shawn Thornton would be a potential candidate to drop the gloves for the Bruins, but he wasn’€™t expressing any interest in looking to start a brawl.

‘€œI honestly have never gone into a hockey game thinking about fighting, this is no different,’€ Thornton said while holding court in David Ortiz‘€™s locker. ‘€œI’€™m going to go play hockey as if it were any other game. If something needs to be addressed, it will be addressed. I’€™m sure it’€™s the same on the other side.’€

Fights or no fights, snow or no snow, when all was said and done there was little doubt the Bruins were enjoying the experience.

‘€œIt’€™s great, it’€™s awesome,’€ said center David Krejci. ‘€œI can’€™t wait to go out there tomorrow and see 35,000 people cheering for you and being excited about the game.’€

Drop the puck.

Olympic selection thrills Bergeron 12.30.09 at 5:23 pm ET
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It was not just another day at the rink for Bruins center Patrice Bergeron.

The 24-year-old received a message during the team’€™s morning skate that, Kevin Lowe, an official with the Canadian Olympic hockey team had called. Upon returning the call, Bergeron learned a dream had come true and  he was headed to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

‘€œI’€™m pretty happy, pretty excited about it,’€ said Bergeron outside the Bruins locker room before tonight’€™s contest against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Bergeron was the only player selected for the Canadian team that had not been invited to a training camp this summer. Instead, he earned his way into being selected as one of  the 13 forwards on Canada’€™s Olympic squad by playing consistently strong hockey all season.

‘€œI worked hard, it wasn’€™t just for the Olympics, but for the Bruins and I’€™m very happy to get rewarded like that today,’€ said Bergeron, who leads the Bruins in scoring with 29 points and is among the top faceoff men in the league.

Still, the skilled forward was somewhat taken aback to learn he would be helping Canada try to win a Gold Medal while hosting the Olympics in mid-February.

‘€œIt was kind of hard to believe today, it was kind of overwhelming a little bit,’€ said Bergeron. ‘€œMy family is here for the New Year, so I was real happy to have them here with me. I’€™m very honored and very happy. It’€™s a great feeling.’€

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