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Will the playoffs be the time for Tuukka Rask to shine? 04.26.13 at 4:58 pm ET
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The last time Tuukka Rask started a playoff game was one all Bruins fans would like to forget.

It was May 14, 2010. Rask was spotted a 3-0 lead in the first period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers. The Bruins would lose the game on a power play goal by Simon Gagne when the Bruins were called for too many men on the ice.

The game marked Boston’s collapse after going up 3-0 in the series and three goals in the final game on home ice. Rask was thrown into the spotlight that season when Tim Thomas was nursing an injured hip that eventually required surgery. Rask was 7-6 in the playoffs that season with a 2.61 goals against and a .912 save percentage. Not bad but a lot of Bruins fans felt Rask was exposed.

Of course, that was all forgiven 12 months later as Thomas and the Bruins won their sixth Stanley Cup in history.

Now, Thomas is gone. It’s Tuukka’s time to shine, and shine is exactly what Rask has done this season. He has five shutouts, including a 2-0 blanking of the Lightning on Thursday in which he turned aside all 30 shots. He is a leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy awarded to the top goalie, sporting a 19-9-4 record with a sparkling 1.97 goals against and a .930 save percentage.

There’s no doubt he’s the goalie going into the playoffs. Still, there were questions about Rask and the Bruins in the last three weeks, as the team has struggled with consistency.

How important was Thursday night in terms of confidence? Even Rask isn’t sure it means all that much.

“I don’€™t know. I guess you always try to take the positives no matter how it goes, but the playoffs is a different season,” Rask said. “Everybody knows that. I just try to feel comfortable out there and play the game one at a time.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, NHL, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask
Claude Julien on bounceback win: ‘I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for reaction’ 04.26.13 at 12:59 am ET
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After his team shut out the Lightning, 2-0, to clinch home ice in the first round of the playoffs, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he was happy with his team’s response to Tuesday night’s loss in Philadelphia.

“Like I said [Thursday] morning, we’€™re going to find out quickly if it was just a little bump in the road or whether it was a step back,” Julien said. “I thought our guys played hard tonight. I’€™m not looking for perfection, I’€™m looking for reaction.”

What kind of reaction?

“Reaction, to play with some emotion, play with some grit, desire, determination,” Julien added. “I saw all those things tonight. The identity of our team is as such, we’€™re a team that prides ourselves on being a physical team, a team that’€™s hard to play against. We have to create that, the rest of the game will come along. That’€™s what we’€™re looking to see from our guys for 60 minutes and I think they did a good job of playing a full 60 tonight.

Tuukka Rask was a big part of the reaction Thursday, turning back all 30 shots in recording his fifth shutout of the season.

“Overall, I thought we played hard, we moved the puck quickly, when there was a breakdown Tuukka was there to make the big saves. I was pretty happy with the game, I know that if we keep playing that way we’€™ll only get bet better.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, NHL, Tuukka Rask
Dougie Hamilton wins Bruins’ Seventh Player Award 04.25.13 at 7:45 pm ET
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In what could be the first of many individual honors, Dougie Hamilton received his first Thursday night.

The Bruins announced that the 19-year-old defenseman is the winner of the NESN Seventh Player Award. Voted on by Bruins fans, the Seventh Player Award is an annual award presented to the Bruin who went above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded the expectations of Bruins fans during the season.

Ironically, Hamilton was a healthy scratch Thursday night against the Lightning as the team gives him a rest before the start of the playoffs next week.

In his first season with the Bruins, Hamilton has notched five goals and 11 assists in 42 games with a plus-6 rating. The rookie ranks second among Bruins defensemen in points (16) and goals (5).

Hamilton is tied for third in the NHL among rookie blueliners in points (16), third in assists (11) and tied for third in goals (5).

Hamilton started the season with the Niagra IceDogs (Ontario Hockey League), skating in 32 games, notching eight goals and 33 assists for 41 points. Last year, he was named the Canadian Major Junior Defenseman of the Year.

The 6-foot-5, 199-pound native of Toronto was drafted by the Bruins in the first round (9th overall) of the 2011 NHL draft.

In addition to the Seventh Player Award trophy, Hamilton will receive $5,000 to donate to the charity of his choice.

Recent recipients include Tyler Seguin (2012), Brad Marchand (2011), Tuukka Rask (2010), David Krejci (2009) and Milan Lucic (2008).

The Seventh Player Award sweepstakes winner was Scott Martioski of Orange, Mass. Martioski wins a three-year lease on a 2014 Kia Sorento courtesy of Central Auto Team of Norwood and Raynham.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Dougie Hamilton
Brad Marchand: ‘I was definitely fighting back tears’ 04.18.13 at 11:19 am ET
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Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand could not have picked a more emotional night to make their returns from concussions.

Bergeron hadn’t played since April 2, a span of six games. Marchand missed the last two games since being elbowed by Anton Volchenkov of the Devils.

Neither player figured in the scoring but both had a positive signs of bouncing back on a night the city of Boston looked to bounce back.

“They both played well and they both played hard,” their coach Claude Julien said after Boston’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Sabres. “You know, it’€™s unfortunate they didn’€™t get rewarded with anything tonight, but they had some great opportunities. And you’€™ve got to give their goaltender credit; he played extremely well for them tonight and allowed them to stay in that 2-1 game for a long time. I think had there been another goaltender it could have been a totally different story.”

Marchand, like everyone in the building, wasn’t thinking about himself but rather being part of something bigger during the national anthem.

Never were the emotions higher than during the national anthem for Marchand.

“It was extremely emotional. I was definitely fighting back tears,” he said. “To see again how everyone was reacting to that video, it obviously touched not only people who were here tonight but everyone at home, too, watching. It’€™s something that we’€™ll never forget. For everyone to show their respect and obviously give their thoughts and prayers for everyone, it’€™s great that everyone is kind of coming together at this time and helping each other out.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Boston Marathon tragedy, Brad Marchand, Claude Julien
Claude Julien: Bruins fans ‘made you feel proud of this city’ 04.18.13 at 9:32 am ET
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Whether player, coach or team staffer, Wednesday night was a night of solidarity.

That was a point made unmistakably clear by Bruins coach Claude Julien, even after a 3-2 loss to the Sabres at TD Garden.

Julien was asked about his reaction to the fans singing the national anthem and the “We are Boston” chants throughout the game.

“Well, I think like everybody else, it was pretty emotional,” Julien said. “In a way, it made you feel proud of this city and of our fans of this solidarity that was shown throughout this whole thing. Certainly, like I said, proud of this city for how they responded.

“The national anthem was pretty touching. And, obviously, everything that they did. I remember the video, I remember the national anthem and we even saw those people up there on the screen in the TV timeouts. And looking up there and realizing that those guys have done an unbelievable job for this city throughout this crisis and we should be grateful to a lot of people and we should also feel for the people that are going through it right now. I think we still do.”

Did it ever felt like a normal hockey game to Julien and his staff?

“I don’€™t know,” Julien said. “I think through it all, our guys really wanted to battle hard and make it happen. We had a lot of chances and, sure we probably didn’€™t bury those and we’€™d like to be better in regards to that, but the main goal is to go out there and really play well for the cause and I thought we played a really decent game. Unfortunately, sometimes bounces don’€™t go your way. They tied it up late in the game and I thought we probably deserved to win at that point.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Boston Marathon, Buffalo Sabres, Claude Julien
Video: With national anthem, Bruins fans show just how Boston Strong they are 04.17.13 at 8:26 pm ET
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In one of the most powerful and stirring moments in recent Boston sports history, Bruins fans took over for national anthem singer Rene Rancourt Wednesday night, singing the entire national anthem in tribute to the victims and the heroes from Monday’s Boston Marathon attacks that killed three and left over 170 injured. Before the anthem, the Bruins showed a wonderfully crafted video tribute to the first responders who rescued victims from the carnage on Boylston Street. That video – courtesy of the Boston Bruins – is below.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Boston Marathon, Boston Strong, Buffalo Sabres
Shorthanded: B’s fall to Islanders 04.11.13 at 9:24 pm ET
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Josh Bailey scored twice and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 30-of-31 shots as the Islanders beat the Bruins, 2-1, Thursday night at TD Garden. The Bruins (26-10-4) had their modest two-game win streak snapped and more importantly, fell back into second place in the Northeast Division, one point behind Montreal, which beat the Sabres in Buffalo.

The Bruins played their first game without Brad Marchand, who was diagnosed Thursday with a concussion. He becomes the second player on his line out of action with a concussion, though Patrice Bergeron did return Thursday morning and participated in a light pre-game skate at the Garden.

With Marchand out coach Claude Julien was forced to juggle the lineups again, starting with a line Jaromir Jagr and Milan Lucic, and centered by Gregory Campbell. David Krejci centered the line of Nathan Horton and Daniel Paille.

Adam McQuaid returned after missing the previous 11 games with a shoulder injury. McQuaid’s return allowed Julien the chance to rest rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton for the first time this season. The rookie had played in all 39 games before Thursday’s game.

The Bruins and Islanders appeared destined for a scoreless opening period before the Bruins allowed the Isles to break out on a 4-on-2. Bailey ripped off a shot from the top of the left circle that beat Tuukka Rask to the top far corner with 20.5 seconds left in the first.

The Bruins got the goal back on a pretty power play feed from Campbell to Tyler Seguin across the low slot. Seguin’s one-timer cleanly beat Nabokov 3:41 into the second for the equalizer. Despite the power play goal, the Islanders carried play though the period, outshooting Boston, 19-8. The hard work paid off for the visitors when Bailey fired a bad-angle shot from the left circle on Rask. The Bruins goalie appeared to have the play covered but allowed the puck to leak through and the Islanders had their second one-goal lead of the night.

It could’ve been worse for the Bruins but Rask made a spectacular sprawling save on Matt Moulson with 10 minutes left in the second to keep the game tied, three minutes before Bailey’s second of the night put New York back on top.

Bailey looked for the hat trick with 5:45 left in the third but Rask made a save that kept the Bruins within one. The Bruins could not sustain any pressure in the Islanders end for most of the third period as the Bruins continued to all the opponent to rack up high shot totals. The Islanders finished with 36 shots on goal.

Rask was pulled with 1:23 left as the Bruins failed in their attempt to get the equalizer.

The Bruins are off Friday before taking on the Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C. on Saturday night. For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia from the Garden, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

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