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Bruins know Tuukka Rask can do only so much to save the D 04.09.13 at 11:20 am ET
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Tuukka Rask can only do so much.

He’s been outstanding in the last week, turning away 40 shots in a 1-0 shutout last Thursday over the Devils and making another 40 saves Monday night in a 6-2 win over the Hurricanes.

And in some ways, Monday’s performance in what looked like a blowout on paper was more impressive than the shutout.

The Hurricanes opened the game with a five-minute flurry of action in front of Rask, trying to get that all-important first goal to set the tempo for the game. Rask turned away the first eight shots and allowed the Bruins to find their scoring touch.

Boston scored twice in the first eight minutes and took the spirit out of Carolina. After Monday’s 40-save effort, Rask was asked if all the action is sharpening him up for the playoffs that start in just over two weeks.

“I don’t know,” Rask said. “I’ve felt sharp throughout the year, trying to be calm and just poised out there. It’s been good the past three games so I’m just trying to work on that and keep that up.

“I think defensively we’ve been pretty good, if you look at the goals against. I don’t think we’re the best we can be in that area. Especially today, a couple let downs there. Still we’ve been pretty solid defensively, that’s our bread and butter, as you know, it was good to see that offense get going. Every team goes through phases like that. I don’t blame the guys because they’re trying and sometimes you just don’t have it. It was good to see.”

While defenseman Dennis Seidenberg had three assists, he remains concerned about the team’s defensive approach – or lack thereof.

“I don’t know,” he said. “We’re getting into that phase of the season that we have to get sharp for the playoffs, and we only have I think 10 games left now, and it comes down to the wire for us to get into playing playoff hockey, and just playing that style of hockey makes you successful going into the postseason.

“If [Rask] doesn’t stop the puck we’re behind in the game, and you know how the game changes once the team is up. They sit back, so we got lucky in the first. Obviously we converted on those chances, but if we had fallen behind it would have been tough to come back from. It’s been a few games now that we haven’t been sharp in the first period. I don’t know how many games we’ve given up the first goal and had to battle back or try to come from behind, but tonight Tuukka saved us, kept us 0-0, and we luckily scored.”

Rask knows how very important these next two weeks will be in establishing the right defensive trend for postseason.

“Yeah I think so,” he said. “I think we kind of have to build that momentum in the last 10 games or whatever we have left. Build it off of the defense and try to get that offense going like we can. Sometimes it feels like we are trading those chances and I get a lot of shots, it plays into my advantage, but I don’t think in the long run that would be a good idea.

“I mean there’s always room to improve. I think sticking with the structure and not getting caught running around and stuff like that. Keeping our heads up and protecting that net front, I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Claude Julien wants to see a defensive urgency in front of Rask in the final two weeks.

“There’s no doubt, we need to see that urgency to get ourselves better,” Julien said. “Although defensively we weren’t very good, it was a step in the right direction, as far as being a little bit better offensively. We’ve got to carry that into the next game, where it’s going to be even tougher, against a Devils team that doesn’t give much. But at the same time, hopefully we’re better defensively as well.”

Rask isn’t nearly as hard on the defense in front of him as fans and his own teammates are. Read the rest of this entry »

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Claude Julien on allowing 87 shots in 2 games: Bad habits have ‘crept into our game’ 04.05.13 at 2:20 am ET
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Claude Julien can read the shot board on the TD Garden scoreboards like anyone else.

He knows full well that the Bruins gave up 47 shots on Tuesday night and escaped with a 3-2 win over the Senators thanks to the play of back-up goalie Anton Khudobin.

He knows full well the Bruins allowed Tuukka Rask to face 40 shots Thursday night against New Jersey, only to have their rear ends saved by the fact their goalie turned away all 40 in a 1-0 squeaker over the Devils.

“Well, he was good,” Julien said in his best understated voice. “You know, he was one of the reasons we won, obviously. He made the big saves when he had to and kept us in the lead at times when they could have gotten themselves back into the game. He was good for us tonight, and sometimes a little bit of rest and a little bit of work with the goalie coach is what goaltenders need.”

Rask wasn’t complaining afterward. Actually, he was happy to see so many pucks early, as the Bruins were outshot 17-6 in the opening 20 minutes after he had the last two games off.

“Yeah, I was saying to Doby [Anton Khudobin] in the first intermission that I would rather take 17 shots, then three or four shots to just get kind of get going and even though they had 17 shots there were a lot of shots from the outsides so it was good to get that feeling. Feel for the puck and stuff like that, so good effort.

“I’d just rather go out there and just get my mind right during the game. Doby played great in Buffalo, played great against Ottawa so I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself sitting out there. I was feeling good for him. He’s kind of in that groove and he’s playing really good so it was good to watch him for a couple of outings there and I felt good out there.”

Is Julien concerned about the shot totals and the way his team is playing defensively? Read the rest of this entry »

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Tyler Seguin has a whole new appreciation for Patrice Bergeron 04.05.13 at 1:47 am ET
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He didn’t think it would be this hard.

But after skating up and down the center of the ice and going side to side in his first game as a center, Tyler Seguin has a whole new appreciation and understanding of exactly what Patrice Bergeron does.

In his first game replacing the concussed Bergeron, Seguin skated 19 shifts in 19 minutes with Jaromir Jagr on his right and Brad Marchand on his left. Seguin finished with three shots in Boston’s 1-0 win over the Devils Thursday night at the Garden.

“First shift I was like, ‘Bergy, I appreciate you a lot more right now,’” Seguin said. “I guess the first period I felt it a little bit more, but, again, as the game progressed I felt like I could use my speed a little bit more, and it was just about finding those areas. It’s one thing from being a centerman and then going to the NHL, but it’s another thing from going center to wing in the NHL and then going back to center, so it’s going to take some adjustment.”

His coach could certainly see a difference.

“Well, it brought us what we thought. Tyler is obviously realizing, probably, how tough it is for Bergy to play that position, because playing in the D-zone, there’s a lot of territory to cover as a centerman, and when pucks are going from one side to the other, he wasn’t always there,” coach Claude Julien added. “That’s the work in progress, and that’s what we expected, and that’s what he’s going to get used to. But overall, that line was fine. Again, you’ve got to remember there’s a Hall of Famer on that line with two young players who were probably looking for him a bit too much versus making the plays or taking the shots like they should’ve. Hopefully, it will wear off and it will get better.”

Seguin also has a new appreciation of the responsibility Bergeron carries in the face-off circle. Seguin won just three-of-12 but vowed to get better with practice. Read the rest of this entry »

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Picture perfect: Jaromir Jagr scores only goal, Tuukka Rask spotless in 1-0 win 04.04.13 at 9:26 pm ET
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Jaromir Jagr (left) had the first laugh on Martin Brodeur (30), scoring a goal when a pick went off his skate and past Brodeur. (AP)

Jaromir Jagr was the main attraction but Tuukka Rask stole the show.

Rask turned aside all 40 shots while Jagr scored the only goal in his Boston debut as the Bruins edged the New Jersey Devils, 1-0, Thursday night at TD Garden. The win was an important one for the Bruins, who improve to 24-8-4. Boston has 52 points and kept pace with first-place Montreal in Northeast Division. The Bruins trail the Canadiens by just one point heading into another showdown north of the border Saturday night.

Jagr finished with a team-leading five shots in 19 shifts, which including 19 minutes, 12 seconds of ice time. He also had one hit, one blocked shots and one giveaway in his first game with the Bruins since being acquired from Dallas on Tuesday. One game after allowing 47 shots on net in a 3-2 win over Ottawa, the Bruins allowed the Devils to fire 40 shots.

Fans were ready for the debut of Jagr early on Thursday night at the Garden. As he took the ice for the pre-game skate, fans cheered him, the last Bruin to take the ice for warmups.

Jagr’s debut included a standing ovation in his first shift, the third overall of the game for the Bruins. As was the case in the morning skate, Tyler Seguin centered Jagr’s line with Jagr on the right wing and Brad Marchand on the left.

His first period was active, if not productive. He was on the ice for six shifts, totaling five minutes, 58 seconds. He had two shots and a blocked shot but the game was scoreless after 20 minutes. The Devils, after getting outplayed in the first four minutes of the game, dominated the final 15 minutes, outshooting the Bruins, 17-6, for the period.

While all eyes were on No. 68 every time he stepped on the ice, Rask was the bigger story as he made big save after big save, including a pair of back-to-back right pad saves on Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson from the low slot midway through the period. Minutes later, Rask turned away Adam Henrique on blocker save.

The Bruins and Jagr finally broke through in the second period as a centering pass from Marchand ricocheted off Jagr’s left skate and through the five-hole of Martin Brodeur just 80 seconds into the period for a 1-0 Boston lead. It was the 640th goal of Jagr’s career and 18th against Brodeur in 64 career meetings.

Six minutes later, the Bruins and their fans got a good look at another reason why management went out and acquired the 41-year-old veteran. When David Clarkson took an interference penalty, Jagr was placed on the power play for the full two minutes. He was stopped by Brodeur in close on a backhander and spent a majority of the time behind the net, though he did have one giveaway on the man advantage. Jagr was on the first power play unit with Zdeno Chara, Nathan Horton, Marchand and Seguin.

The Bruins applied serious pressure in the final two minutes of the second but Brodeur turned away Gregory Campbell and Marchand to keep it a one-goal game.

Rask kept up the sterling play in the third, highlighted by another big pad save on Andy Greene with just under eight minutes left in regulation. Greene broke through the Bruins defense and had a clean look but Rask stopped the wrister in close.

The Bruins are off Friday before leaving for a Saturday night date with the Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal. For complete coverage of Jagr’s debut from the Garden from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

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Jaromir Jagr couldn’t be happier to be with Bruins: ‘At the end, it’s going to be great’ 04.04.13 at 12:21 pm ET
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New Bruins superstar Jaromir Jagr, acquired in a Tuesday trade with the Stars, says he’s not a young kid anymore but he’s very happy to be with the Bruins.

At 41, Jagr figures to re-energize a team that again has aspirations of lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup in June.

So, it’s no surprise to find Jagr hasn’t given serious thought to retirement.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I love to play. If I feel healthy and I feel like I can play on some kind of good level, I want to keep playing, if I can get an opportunity to play. I’m not going to saying anything [like] I’m retiring because I’m not ready for it. I love the game too much, so if I’m not good for the NHL, I’m going to go and play in the Czech League or somewhere else but I still love the game and like everybody else, if you love something, you just don’t want to let it go. You hold it ’til you can.”

Is there enough left in the tank?

“I believe where there is love there is no time,” Jagr said with a smile.

“I [don't have] a no-trade clause so I guess wherever Dallas got the best opportunity, they took it. But I’m happy about it. You don’t ask questions, you just go to play. Through my whole hockey career, I was pretty lucky to play where it was always good for me. I know it’s going to be good, maybe not from the start but at the end, it’s going to be great.”

Jagr feels like Boston is similar to Philadelphia in 2012, a team that was a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Jagr helped the Flyers beat the Penguins in the first round before losing to the Devils in the Eastern semifinals.

“I’ve changed so I kind of like it,” Jagr said. “I don’t mind it at all. I was in the same situation in Philadelphia last year. I was so happy when I see the other guys play with me, my teammates, doing so good. When they did interviews [in Philadelphia], they said, ‘Jagr helped us.’ So, that’s what makes me also happy, not just scoring goals but he can help. I know I can help. There’s a lot of young guys. I’ve learned a lot of stuff through my hockey career. I played for 23 years and I’ve played with so many great players and I’ve learned so much stuff.

“You can always learn. No matter how old you are, you can always learn. If someone thinks they know everything when he’s 25, he’s lying to himself or he’s dumb. So, you can always learn and I’m here to teach the guys and tell them what I have to go through and make their hockey life easier.”

For more, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

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Claude Julien: Jaromir Jagr is ‘coming to help us, he’s not coming to save us’ 04.02.13 at 11:15 pm ET
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Clearly, the Bruins felt a positive buzz from the acquisition earlier in the day of Czech superstar and future hockey hall of famer Jaromir Jagr. The Bruins went out, fired 50 shots on net and beat the Senators, 3-2, at TD Garden.

But Bruins coach Claude Julien made it very clear that he’s not expecting the 41-year-old player to save the Bruins, just help them, much in the same way Mark Recchi helped Boston to a Stanley Cup in 2011.

“Well, there’s no doubt he’s going to help us,” Julien said. “And I think that’s the key word, he’s coming to help us, he’s not coming to save us. That’s what people have to understand. He’s a great player, and he still is a great player, but at the same time, if we expect to watch him do the work we’re not going to be going anywhere.

“We need our team to play better and he’s certainly going to help our team be better. I like the acquisition – a big strong guy, he’s hard to knock off the puck around the net area, in the corner; he does a great job. To me, he seems to suit our needs and what we’re all about. Again, I know he’s happy to come here and we’ll certainly be happy to have him in our lineup because he’s going to help in a lot of areas.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Patrice Bergeron leaves game, Bruins offer no update 04.02.13 at 10:30 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron left Tuesday's game. (AP)

Patrice Bergeron left Tuesday’s win over the Senators after colliding with Ottawa’s Colin Greening early in the second period and did not return. Following the game, Claude Julien offered no update on his condition.

Replays showed that Bergeron hit his head on Greening’s elbow/forearm while Greening was attempting to shoot in the Bruins zone. Rich Peverley took Bergeron’s place on the second line with Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin.

Bergeron, who has had three concussions in his career, left the ice and went down the tunnel following the collision. Bergeron’s last concussion came in 2011 against the Flyers.

Though Julien had no update on Bergeron and wouldn’t talk about the prospect of playing without him, Bruins teammates expressed concern for the reigning Selke winner.

“I haven’t talked to him yet, but we all know what kind of guy and what kind of player he is,” David Krejci said. “We don’t have to talk about it. It sucks, but I hope it’s nothing serious and he’s going to be back in the lineup soon.”

For more, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

DJ Bean contributed to this report.

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