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What happens goalies get into a ‘friendly fight’: Ask Tim Thomas and Carey Price 02.10.11 at 2:00 am ET
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It was almost like fighting your brother. You know deep down you don’t want to but as a matter of pride – and territory – you need to.

That was one way to look at the way Tim Thomas took off some 185 feet like hell on skates after fellow All-Star goalie Carey Price with 7:24 left in the second period Wednesday night.

So Tim, what happened?

“Which part? I mean…well he was jumping in,” Thomas said of Price’s actions when Brad Marchand drilled James Wisniewski on an icing touch-up. “I went off the blue line and he backed into his crease. And then so I’m like okay, and then he went in again and you just can’t let it be an outnumbered situation and so that’s what I was thinking when I went down there. He was more than willing to fight. And I had this big old plan. I was going to grab his right and I was going to throw lefts because I know he’s bigger and taller and has a reach on me.

“I thought I could do a better job throwing lefts in him and when I went to grab he got a good hold on my right arm and I got nothing. So then I was like, oh now what do I do? Because I know he’s got a big right cocked and ready to come so I tried to switch arms and get my right free and I grabbed him by the back of the shirt and when he threw the right I pulled on…I was trying to pull him off-balance and his shirt came off his head and then I fell and…actually as I was falling my left arm came free and but then it was over. He fought with the fighter’s manners as far as not hitting when you’re down.”

Fighter’s manners. There’s a new one. Fighter’s manners apparently included patting each other on the shouler and backside after it was over, after only 15 seconds of grabbing and tugging.

“We’re on opposing teams but we spent some time together at hockey camp a few summers ago and we were just at the All-Star game together,” Thomas said. “We’re on friendly terms. It was business. But once business is done, it’s done.”

“Well, I know Timmy pretty well,” Price added. “I think we were just out there play-fighting more than anything. Neither one of us really wanted to get hurt, but we are out there doing whatever we had to do, I guess.”

Price was surprised when he saw Thomas skating right for him but in the end, he didn’t think the wrestling match was going to amount to much and certainly not like the fight between the Islanders’ Rick DiPietro and Pittsburgh’s Brent Johnson that ended when Johnson knocked out DiPietro, breaking the orbital bone of his face with a punch.

“Yeah, we didn’t really know what is going on, but really there is not much to get thrown out about,” Price said. “The biggest thing is that we didn’t back down. Our guys stood behind each other. I think these are good games to play in. I think they are good character builders.”

What was also new to Thomas was the idea of fighting the opposing goalie.

“I’ve been playing a long time and it’s just never a situation where it’s worked out like that but tonight it did,” he said.

Bruins coach Claude Julien sounded a much more serious but still, understanding tone.

“It’s not something you like to see,” Julien said. “I don’t think, you never like to see your goaltenders get into those kinds of things but, certainly not sitting here and condemning him for doing that, it’s the heat of the game. They were both willing combatants and you live with that.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Milan Lucic, Montreal Canadiens
Logan Couture ‘most complete player’ Joe Thornton has ever seen 02.05.11 at 7:05 pm ET
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All things are relative, but ask Joe Thornton and he’ll tell you that red-hot rookie center Logan Couture is not just the best player for his age that’s he’s ever played with, but the player he’s seen with so little NHL experience.

How little? The ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft is still just 21 years old. Saturday marked his 75th game in the league but just his 50th this season, and he is still considered a rookie in the eyes of the NHL.

With his game-winning power-play backhander past Tim Thomas in the first period on Saturday, Couture has 23 goals and 11 assists in 50 games. And to think the Bruins could have had him in that 2007 draft.

Instead, with the eighth pick, the Bruins selected Zach Hamill, the same Zach Hamill who was playing just his second NHL game on Saturday, first this season.

“Actually, it almost felt like my first game but at the same time I got into the speed of it the guys in the room helped me out a little bit to calm me down but it was good,” Hamill said.

It’s Couture who has been going at full tilt for the entire season, leading all NHL rookies in goals at 23. And since Couture only played in 25 regular season games at the NHL level last year, he’s still eligible for Calder Trophy consideration.

“He’s the most complete player that I’ve seen at that age,” Thornton said. “He penalty kills, he plays power play and plays all the important minutes. By far, the Calder winner so far this year.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, NHL
How the Bruins have become Team Unity, and why it matters 02.04.11 at 8:57 am ET
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Just four minutes into Thursday’s slugfest at the Garden, Stars forward Adam Burish came in on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and fired a shot several seconds after the whistle had clearly blown, stopping play.

That is a big hockey no-no.

And Andrew Ference made sure Burish paid the penalty. The Bruins defenseman came over to enforce the hockey the law, eventually drawing Burish into a fight — which Ference clearly won — and a message had been sent. Don’t mess with these Bruins or you pay the price, especially on Boston’s home ice.

“We’re a tight group,” said Patrice Bergeron, who scored twice and assisted on an empty-netter. “We’ve always said that and we all know that. We’re … we get along real well off the ice and we try to bring that on the ice. I think that Ference fight is the best example just by showing that he took a shot after the whistle on Tuukka and Andy responded right away. So I think it’s … it showed our unity, and we’ve got to keep going.”

As for Ference himself, he said Thursday’s win showed how the Bruins can get back to being the right mix of talent and toughness, just like 2008-09, when they were the top seed in the East and a favorite to get to the Stanley Cup finals.

“One of the good things we did in that year, and something we’ve established over the last few is, when our team is emotionally and physically involved, we’re a very good team,” Ference said. “We’ve proven that the other way around, too. When it’s not there, we lose games. You know, go back to the Carolina series a couple years ago. I think that’s what almost all of us pointed our fingers at, it was missing. We know that that has to be there for us to be successful, and it was good [against Dallas].”

Bruins coach Claude Julien certainly had no problem with it.

“It was an opportunity for us to step up for each other, and we did and I thought it certainly played in our favor,” Julien said of the four fights in four minutes — three in the opening four seconds. “We’re a team that can handle that and guys seem to be ready for it and certainly that part of it was good. Those two quick goals also were proof that we were ready to play.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adam Burish, Andrew Ference, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien
There will be plenty of time for Tim Thomas to focus… after the All-Star break 01.27.11 at 4:49 pm ET
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There will be plenty of time for Tim Thomas to focus on what’s at stake in the final 32 games of the regular season and hopefully, long after that. He reminded reporters of that following Wednesday night’s win when asked about the second half of the season that starts following this weekend’s All-Star game.

“Man, we just started the break five minutes ago,” Thomas said. “I’m just going to focus on the break. Otherwise, we don’t get that mental break we’re talking about.”

Fair enough. Thomas has earned the right to reflect on what has been a first half filled with superlatives worthy of a Vezina and Hart trophy winner. Thomas has been that good.

Consider:

- He came within 11 minutes and 23 seconds of his NHL-leading eighth shutout on Wednesday night against the Panthers.

- He leads the NHL in goals against at 1.81.

- He leads the NHL in save percentage at .945.

- He is tied for second in wins with 24 behind Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller.

- His teammates believe they will win every time he takes the ice.

That last one is the most subjective but also the most important. Thomas has recovered from summer hip surgery to become the backbone of their Bruins team. So, after the 2-1 Wednesday Thomas admitted he’ll take some time to savor the winning feeling heading into the break before gearing up physically and mentally for the final 32.

“I was thinking win, feel the good feeling,” Thomas said. “Then you can really savor the feeling for a couple of days because usually we travel or get ready for another game. So yeah I thought about it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Hart Trophy, NHL
Claude Julien has reason to believe Milan Lucic will continue to ‘come up big’ 01.26.11 at 10:46 pm ET
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Milan Lucic scored his 20th goal Wednesday night in the Bruins’ 2-1 win over Florida, and his coach is hoping to see more of that from the power forward in the post-All Star break portion of their schedule.

“I think what we’ve seen in the first half is what he’s capable of doing for us as we move on,” Claude Julien said. “He’s also one of those players that I think has always come up big in the big games, such as playoffs and all that stuff. He’s one of those guys who always rises to the occasion and you hope that continues as well.”

Lucic made it clear from Day 1 of camp that he had every intention of scoring at least 20 goals this season. Now that he’s reached the goal before the break, bigger and better things should be ahead.

“It’s obviously something that I talked about coming in, and that was a goal for myself and [to] reach it as quickly as I did, it’s a good step for me,” Lucic said. “I couldn’t be happier right now, but definitely not satisfied.”

Last season, the expectations for the 21-year-old star on the rise were the same but the results were not. He scored nine goals in 50 games during an injury-riddled season, with a plus-minus rating of minus-7.

“Yeah, a lot more, definitely,” Lucic said when asked if he might be enjoying this season a little more. “It was real tough going through what I went through. Being out for so long, and especially even when I came back, that high ankle sprain was still bugging me so to work as hard as I did this summer and to get rewarded for it thus far throughout the season is great. And definitely like I said before, I can’t stop here. I’ve got to keep pushing for more.”

A year later, he’s 22 and he’s already surpassed his career-best goal total from 2009 when he potted 17 and had 25 assists, raising those expectations that were there last season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Milan Lucic, NHL
Mark Recchi hears Claude Julien loud and clear: ‘That’s what happens when you don’t have everyone going’ 01.21.11 at 1:16 pm ET
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Following another head-scratching performance Thursday — when the Bruins blew a pair of one-goal leads on home ice and lost, 4-2, to the Sabres — venerable B’s spokesman Mark Recchi again called out his teammates for not giving it their all.

“We didn’t have everybody going, and that’s what happens when you don’t have everybody going. And when we’ve got 20 people going, we’re just really tough to play against,” Recchi opined. “We don’t have everybody going [on] all cylinders and competing at the level we should you know it just makes it hard for us. And I think we know that and we’ve been a lot better at it lately and more consistent and we just have to keep learning from these ones that when we do have these, that there’s reasons why.”

There was a very good reason for Recchi’s post-game ego check following a week that saw them score a pair of seven-goal wins. They also had a pair of losses in which they managed two goals apiece. The Bruins need more consistency all around if they’re going to make April and May truly meaningful.

He believes they can and so does coach Claude Julien, who matched Recchi’s sentiment almost word for word
Thursday night.

“Well there’s no doubt,” Julien began. “I don’t think from start to finish, I don’t think there’s much to say here except that we were totally flat, from the first player to the last. So it’s not about pointing to one or pointing to the other, we came out flat tonight and never seemed to find our game. Even in the third period, you are coming in there tied and you got an opportunity, twenty minutes again, to seal your fate and it just wasn’t happening tonight

“We were flat. I’m not saying guys were bad, I’m saying we were flat tonight so that’s the thing that I, you know, we kind of talked about after the game, is that from the first player to the last, just didn’t have it.”

The Bruins did put 40 shots on U.S. Olympic goalie Ryan Miller but only two got through, none in the third period when the Sabres took over.

“He made some lucky ones, he made some great saves,” Recchi said. “We had a lot of traffic. You know he’s a good goalie. But he made the saves he had to make and a couple snuck behind him and he got some help but that’s what happens when you’re a goalie, you make those saves.”

Recchi said the 40 shots were nice but not good enough.

“It wasn’t our game, no it wasn’t what we’re capable of doing,” Recchi said. “And we’ll just have to regroup. We’ve got a tough trip ahead of us and we’re a pretty good road team so we have to again learn that consistency is going to be a big part of us being a very … a great team instead of just a real good team, and we’re getting there and we gotta keep pushing along here.”

That push continues Saturday in Colorado and Monday in Los Angeles against the Kings — perhaps with just a little more purpose behind it.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Claude Julien, Colorado Avalanche
Nathan Gerbe is a ‘pest’ to the Bruins in his homecoming to Boston 01.21.11 at 12:05 pm ET
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The TD Garden ice has always been kind to Nathan Gerbe.

It was again on Thursday night as the list of former Boston College players coming back to Boston and providing nightmare after nightmare to the Bruins continues to grow.

There’s Brian Leetch with the Rangers. There’s David Emma, Brian Gionta and Bill Guerin with the Devils. There’s Patrick Eaves of the Hurricanes. Now, add Nathan Gerbe to that list.

With Bruins holding a precarious 2-1 lead midway through the second period, Gerbe fired a shot from the left circle past Tuukka Rask for the game-tying goal on the power play. It changed the momentum and set the stage for Thomas Vanek to take over the game in the third in Buffalo’s 4-2 win Thursday night at the Garden.

Gerbe – not lacking confidence despite his 5-foot-5 frame – was the latest from The Heights to make life miserable for the Bruins as he mixed it up with B’s captain Zdeno Chara and then lit the lamp.

“I’m a little frustrating player to play against,” Gerbe said. “I am a little pest there, so I just tried to get under their skin a little bit. It is all in fun. He is a big guy, and I don’t think I would win in a battle but it was definitely one to enjoy. I tired to hold my ground as much as possible. Just stand there and don’t fall. He is so strong and such a good D man. It is fun to compete against him.”

He certainly was a pest to the Black and Gold Thursday night.

“Those Boston College guys did a good job for us tonight,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff added. “I thought [Tyler] Myers made a great play, great look to feed it to him. Nathan, on the heels of playing a real strong game for us the other night, playing a excellent game for us tonight.”

Gerbe, of course, was excellent during his three seasons at Boston College, capped off in 2008 when he scored five goals in the final two games of the Frozen Four, leading the Eagles to the national championship. He earned a place at the table as a Hobey Baker finalist as one of the very top players in all of college hockey with 68 points in 43 games. He led the Eagles to the Beapot and Hockey East titles that year, too – on the same Garden ice.

“Yeah you always get a lot of good memories here and a lot of good feelings,” Gerbe said. “You get chills up your body, but it is a different league and you try to do as well as you can every night.”

He scored last year in the playoffs against the Bruins in Game 6 but the Sabres lost, 4-3, as the Bruins moved onto the second round.

Now, he is helping to turn around a Sabres ship that was sinking just two weeks ago. The Sabres have beaten the two teams – Montreal and Boston – ahead of them in back-to-back games and are showing signs of moving up from 10th in the East.

‘Very, very satisfying to score here,” Gerbe said. “Even more satisfying to get the win and get the two points. It was huge for us. Hopefully we can keep rolling.”

Read More: Beanpot, Bill Guerin, Boston Bruins, Boston College
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