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Marc Savard set to play in Game 7, no Bruins lineup changes 05.14.09 at 12:01 pm ET
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Bruins center Marc Savard isn’t going to let a knee injury stop him from skating in Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, and B’s head coach Claude Julien said that his crafty pivot will be in the lineup. Savard suffered a knee-on-knee hit from Carolina winger Chad LaRose in the third period of Game 6, and exited the game early after Julien sent him to the dressing room.

Julien indicated on Thursday morning following the pre-game skate that the Bruins will skate the same lineup that took the ice in an impressive 4-2 victory over the Candy Canes on Tuesday night. That means Byron Bitz, who impressed with his blue collar work along the back wall with puck possession, will again skate with David Krejci and Michael Ryder.

“We’ll have the same lineup tonight (as Game 6),” said Julien. “There shouldn’t be any changes.”

–Julien and his veteran players said that the most important key to success in the Game 7 setting is staying composed and keeping panic and chaos out of a game that can very easily spiral out of control.

The weight and pressure of season elimination can be a divisive influence that can pry a player out of their comfort zone and get a team out of their game plan — and Julien stressed it was important for his team to stick with the style of play that’s resulted in two straight wins leading up to Thursday night.

“It’s being composed. Being composed. You saw it in the game last night in Pittsburgh that they were able to come out and play their game and they were successful,” said Julien. “You’ve got to be composed. I thought even last year in Montreal in Game 7 during the first period in Montreal, we were the better team.

“But sometimes you need the breaks and then (the Canadiens) got another goal in the second to make it 2-0. Had we stayed probably a little more composed, we could have battled back and got ourselves back into the game. But we were a young team last year. You hope what the young guys learned last year was to handle the pressure situation of Game 7 much better.”

–B’s center Stephane Yelle is playing in his 12th career Game 7 tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes, which is tops among all active NHL players and ranks him second in NHL history with Glenn Anderson and Ken Daneyko. The key to success from a guy that’s been there nearly a dozen times:

“There’ll be chatter before the game like there always is, and if the young guys have questions then they’ll usually come and ask them,” said Yelle. “Sticking with the game plan and not panicking (is key). When you start panicking you tend to get away from what you should be doing, and usually you feel like there’s a ripple effect along the team and things turn to chaos. That’s when you lose sight of what you’re supposed to do.

“Different personalities will handle differently. I try to learn from my previous ones and go from there. My first year was Patty…Patty Roy and he had played in tons of them already. He was just a great leader and I followed him when I was younger being from Ottawa. I knew what he was all about. I just tried to watch him and see what he was doing (before Game 7).”

–Carolina winger Scott Walker has taken on the role of ultimate villian after sucker-punching Aaron Ward in the third period of Game 5 — and then subsequently skirting by with a simple $2500 slap of a fine — but said he’s not going to get rattled by the “Ulf Treatment” at the Garden on Thursday night.

“I played in the minors a lot and it gets rowdy in some of those barns, and obviously in Vancouver it was a lot similar to this. A little bit in the New Jersey it rowdy behind the bench, but you don’t really notice it that much. It’s such an important game in Game 7 that I don’t think the fans will affect the way they play or we play … or myself. It’s great for them that they’ve got something to yell and scream about, but I don’t think we’ll lose our focus or anything like that.”

–There seemed to be some indications out there that a potential Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins would be scheduled at the TD Banknorth Garden on Sunday — likely Sunday afternoon. Stay tuned for that one because it could be another doubleheader if the Boston Celtics series goes to seven games.

Read More: Claude Julien, Marc Savard, Stephane Yelle,
Marc Savard still on track to play in Game 7 05.13.09 at 3:24 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien reiterated this morning that Marc Savard is expected to suit up and play in Game 7 on Thursday night after suffering a knee-on-knee hit from Chad LaRose during the third period of Game 6. The center was helped off the ice following the hit and took a quick shift before retiring to the dressing room for the remainder of the game.

In the Cloak and Dagger world of Stanley Cup playoff injuries, I’ll remain skeptical that there still may be some uncertainty whether the B’s All-Star can play at 100 percent effectiveness on Thursday night — but the B’s coaching staff is sending the same message that there’s no question about Savard’s availability.

”Same as last night,” said Julien. ”I don’t anticipate any reason he couldn’t play.

”I know it’s Chad LaRose, and everyone would like to think it was dirty, but it wasn’t. It was a collision, and there is nothing more to say than it was two guys colliding.”

–The team worked out off the ice, but rehabbing forward Marco Sturm was the only skater going through on-ice workouts.

The Bruins cruised through the Hurricanes in Game 6, 4-2 05.12.09 at 8:59 pm ET
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RALEIGH, N.C. — 18:52: Looking a little bit of a knee-on-knee or leg-whip hit by Chad LaRose on Marc Savard while he was holding the puck near the sideboards in the offensive zone. Savard had to be helped off the ice, and he looked pretty upset at LaRose for the leg it.

Good little tidbit by Versus. The Bruins haven’t blown a three-goal lead entering the third period in a playoff game dating back to 1971.

15:59: Solid shot from the high slot by Ryder off a Bitz feed. Bitz certainly adds something to that line — the same of physicality and size that Lucic brought to them when he was skating with the pair.

13:48: Savard just left the ice to go back to the dressing room.

12:40: Samsonov and Staal working and grinding in front of the Boston net, and the Russian forward finally popped one by Thomas after the third try. This place just woke up.

11:49: Boarding for Steve Montador after hitting Tuomo Ruutu into the corner. PP for the Hurricanes, and a good job by the Finnish forward of selling the call.

11:38: Great save by Thomas on a Joe Corvo big blast from the left point and then a follow from Staal right in front.

11:28: Another huge Thomas save on a Corvo blast from the high slot that he kicked out of the danger area.

9:14: Dennis Wideman delay of game penalty after he tossed the puck over the boards with Erik Cole bearing down on him behind the net.

7:56: Great individual play by Patrice Bergeron on a short-handed rush at the Carolina net. He got dumped by a defender as he swooped in to the cage, but he still put the shot on net from the seated position. Bergeron has played a great game tonight.

6:30: Somehow Thomas got a glove on a Cullen shot from point blank while he was in the butterfly and then fell on the puck. He’s been immense in goal tonight.

2:00: Cam Ward is out for the Canes.

The Bruins have taken Game 6 over the Canes by a 4-2 score at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. The deciding Game 7 will be at the TD Banknorth Garden on Thursday night at 8 p.m.

Savard and Kobasew bump the B’s back up to 4-1 05.12.09 at 8:03 pm ET
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RALEIGH — 19:35 Booming one-timer from Staal in the left facoff circle off a pass from Ray Whitney, but Thomas came up with the juggling save.

17:11: The Bruins have been playing with fire for the last few minutes and they finally got burned. Shane Hnidy was beat to a puck in the corner by Matt Cullen, peeled off him and allowed him to get the net after he passed the puck and then Scott Walker found him in front. Thomas poked the puck away, but Cullen recovered and flipped a backhand past Thomas.

There was a scrum minute or two after the goal, and PJ Axelsson looked a little shaken up afterward. Keep an eye on that.

Things just turned up a notch physically. Erik Cole dumped Chara back behind the play with the Bruins moving the puck up the ice.

12:37: The Bruins have settled things down a little. A nice sequence there where Montador and Wideman were having trouble getting the puck out of the zone with speed, so Bergeron came back to help the B’s move the puck swiftly through the neutral zone.

12:36: Great neutral zone pass by Byron Bitz to a rushing David Krejci, but the nifty centerman couldn’t control the puck and shake his defender for a shot.

11″07: That was a big time play. Milan Lucic picked up the puck around the blue line and dangled through Tuomo Ruuto, Jussi Jokinen and Joni Pitkanen before dishing to a wide open Marc Savard at the right faceoff dot. Savard banged it into the open net, and the B’s have answered the Canes challenge again.

9:00: Quick glove save on Scott Walker after a testing bid from the right faceoff dot.

5:49: Interference call on Pat Eaves when he dumped Axelsson in front of the Carolina net. First PP for the Bruins. The Cainiacs are sitting down with hands folded, and are pretty quiet right now.

5:30: Big time save by Thomas on Cullen during a short-handed rush when Wideman turned the puck over from the left point.

4:18: Big glove save by Ward on a Kessel snap shot on his trademark curl and drag move from the left side boards.

3:37: Wideman just hit a left post on a blast from the right faceoff circle after Kessel had rushed the puck up the ice. That was a full wind up and blast from Wideman that beat Ward cleanly.

1:57: Another score. Bergeron carried the puck down low in the Canes end and then fired a shot in front of the net just as Kobasew reached the post. Kobasew tucked the puck between Ward’s pads for his third goal of the playoffs.

00:33: Mick Colageo of the New Bedford Times keeps calling Byron Bitz a “Young Man’s Knuble” and I can’t disagree. Bitz draws a penalty behind the net as Anton Babchuk basically hog-tied him to get the puck away from him. Somehow I don’t see Blake Wheeler drawing a penalty like that behind the Boston net.

The Bruins are beating the Hurricanes by a 4-1 score after two full periods during Game 6 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

Read More: Marc Savard, Matt Cullen, Milan Lucic,
Recchi, Montador have Bruins up 2-0 after first period 05.12.09 at 7:12 pm ET
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RALEIGH — 19:26: Patrice Bergeron knifes through the Carolina defense and levels a shot at Cam Ward from the right faceoff circle.

18:48: Big heavy shot by Dennis Seidenberg from the right point that Tim Thomas kicked out harmlessly to the right.

17:59: Bruins score that immediately silences that crowd. Bergeron again rushed the puck up the right side of the all by himself, cut through the Hurricanes defense and then dished to a wide open Mark Recchi as Anton Babchuk took out Cam Ward at the net and knocked the post off the moorings. It looked liked the puck got through before the post came unhinged, but it’s under review.

Call on the ice stands. It’s a goal.

17:33: A bad Carolina turnever in their own end leads to another Michael Ryder snap shot from the slot. The Canes look sloppy in this one early.

14:56: Wow. Great behind the back tip pass from David Krejci in the high slot to Steve Montador at the right left point, and Montador beats Ward up high with a slap shot blast. The Carolina crowd’s silence is deafening.

12:06: Big pad save by Thomas on a Tim Gleason bomb from the right point. The Canes look as if everything is coming from the outside in the early going.

Just like I wrote in this piece, it looks like the Bruins players have made a little bit of an adjustment and are sometimes just lugging the puck all the way up the ice with speed rather than passing around too much and letting the forecheck hem them in their own zone.

8:14: Phil Kessel fired a shot from the slot and then just couldn’t corral the rebound in a prime shooting spot in front of the net.

7:40: Best save of the night for Thomas as he was falling forward on a doorstep bid by Eric Staal and basically leapt forward at the puck to block the shot in tight.

5:55: Great job by Patrice Bergeron of forechecking and stealing a puck out of mid-air and then battling with Chad LaRose for a potential one-on-one bid with Ward. Bergeron couldn’t quite get past LaRose, though, and just pushed a diving forehand bid to the right of the goal.

The B’s are putting heavy pressure on Ward in this period from very close to the night.

5:04: Good job by Thomas of blocking a Matt Cullen shot and then directing it toward the side of the net.

4:05: That was Thomas’ best save of the net. Sergei Samsonov rifled a shot from the left faceoff circle and Thomas kicked it to Jussi Jokinen in the slot. Jokinen fired but Thomas able to deflect the shot and avert a really messy situation in close to the B’s cage.

00:30.1: The Hurricanes have really started turning up the pressure, and the Staal, Cole, Whitney line kept the puck in the B’s zone for at least a minute with some really rapid fire puck movement. The possession resulted in Zdeno Chara blasting Eric Staal behind the net and holding him down behind the cage while his teammates tried to get the puck out of the zone. First PP for the Canes.

Big for the B’s to hold off the Canes and sustain their two-goal lead after getting hit with a pretty good shot by Carolina there at the end.

The Bruins have taken a 2-0 lead after one full period of play during Game 6 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

Read More: Mark Recchi, Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas,
Wheeler is the scratch for the Bruins again in Game 6 05.12.09 at 7:00 pm ET
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RALEIGH, N.C. — For the second straight game rookie winger Blake Wheeler is the scratch for the Boston Bruins — along with Andrew Ference and Matt Hunwick — and Byron Bitz is again in the lineup and skating with David Krejci and Michael Ryder.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Boston Bruins, Byron Bitz,
Keys to a Game 6 victory for the Bruins 05.12.09 at 2:28 pm ET
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RALEIGH, N.C. — There are obviously intriguing player matchups and clear strengths and weaknesses to each of the seven elite NHL hockey teams still alive during the postseason, but a great deal of any best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series comes down to momentum and pressure.

Which team is riding high on the momentum wave, and which team is slowly crumbling under the pressure?

The Carolina Hurricanes clearly rode a tsunami-like blast of momentum to a 3-1 lead in the series and utilized quick D-to-D passing and a strangling forecheck as something of a Shock and Awe attack on a sleepy Bruins outfit. The Hurricanes stifled, confused and obstructed a frustrated Bruins team that clearly didn’€™t respect the Canes after blowing them out in Game 1 of the series.

But after the B’€™s woke up out of hibernation ‘€“ something that Mark Recchi admitted during the team’€™s last disastrous trip through Carolina for Games 3 and 4 last week ‘€“ the real Black and Gold team took a big step forward on Sunday night. The Boston defenseman suddenly remembered that part of their job is to move the puck up the ice with speed and good decision-making, and the forwards remembered to provide back pressure while taking care of all of the little details needed to slow down a Carolina team with far greater team speed along the blueline than the Bruins.

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