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Big Z: The fans ‘deserved to have the ‘W’ ‘ 01.01.10 at 6:52 pm ET
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara spoke for the entire organization when he expressed his gratitude toward the Boston fans who exploded in the final five minutes of their 2-1 overtime win at Fenway Park.

“I pointed right to them,” Chara said. “They were great. They deserve it. They probably bought their tickets a long time ago. It costs a lot of money for a lot of families. I know it’s not easy to spend the money but they did and they deserved to have the ‘W’. For sure, we owe them a lot tonight.”

Chara was asked about the thrill of playing at Fenway Park, where it’s the Red Sox who usually get fired up after the playing of Sweet Caroline.

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Ice Guru: ‘Good Lord couldn’t have done better’ 01.01.10 at 12:22 pm ET
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When you play an outdoor hockey game on New Year’s Day in Boston, sometimes you need some divine intervention.

The Bruins, Flyers and NHL got just that on Friday when the weather turned out perfect for the Winter Classic – and most importantly the ice at Fenway Park.

“Awesome,” NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig said of the ice. “The Good Lord couldn’t have done better for us right now.”

This isn’t the first time Craig has found religion for the sake of playing an outdoor hockey game.

“Buffalo for me, was very stressful,” he said of the 2008 classic between the Sabres and Penguins. “[I was] praying that we could have a good game. Chicago [2009], with our new equipment, [I was] nervous but confident in our equipment and the crew and knowing we were going to have a good game, which we did. And today, it is a calm confidence that we are going to have an awesome, awesome day at the park.”

Many fans assume that the colder the better for the ice. Not necessarily. If it’s too cold, the ice gets too brittle. Last year at Wrigley Field the temperatures hovered in the low 20s. So the forecast for 38 degrees at face-off work well for Craig and the NHL.

“Today is different from Chicago, due to the weather and how warm it’s going to be,” Craig said. “My crew can monitor ice conditions as they’re happening on the field of play. I will be in tune with them and with the engineer on the truck because I have to make sure that the truck goes down slowly in temperature as the temperature rises outside.

“Right on target – within tenths of a degree of the target, which is 24 degrees. We’re right where we want to be.”

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Bruins show their true focus 12.31.09 at 1:39 am ET
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Claude Julien wasn’t so worried Wednesday about his team looking ahead to Friday’s once-in-a-lifetime game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park .

The Bruins head coach was more concerned with his team just finding consistency and focus – both of which have been lacking in a season after finishing atop the Eastern Conference.

But on Wednesday night at the Garden, Julien watched from behind the Bruins bench with a smile as his team executed a nearly flawless performance in a 4-0 win over the Atlanta Thrashers.

Afterward, Julien, Tuukka Rask and Marc Savard, with two assists in the win, were among those to talk about the win and finally able to look ahead to Friday.

Julien said the team’s focus was much better on Wednesday.

Julien said the Bruins clearly were focused and not distracted by Olympics or Winter Classic.

Tuukka Rask said he thought Atlanta mailed it in once they got behind.

Rask said the team is now looking ahead to Friday against Philly, a team they feel they need to beat.

Marc Savard congratulated fellow Canadian Patrice Bergeron on making Team Canada’s Olympic team.

Savard said it was great to be able to put the Thrashers away.

Savard said the Bruins proved they weren’t distracted by the Winter Classic on Friday.

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Hard-earned break 12.24.09 at 11:11 am ET
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Thanks to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and its players, the Bruins won’t have to worry about stepping back onto the ice for the next couple of days.

And thanks to their power play on Wednesday night, they can take nice thoughts with them over the Christmas break.

The Bruins broke an 0-for-13 drought on the power play, scoring three times in five chances on Wednesday night in a 6-4 win against the Atlanta Thrashers at TD Garden – a team by the way they will face exactly one week later on the same sheet of ice.

The Bruins, now with 43 points, also finished up the break with two key wins against Ottawa and Atlanta, two teams that coming into the week, were neck-and-neck with the Bruins for 4th and 5th place in the Eastern Conference.

Here are some of the highlights from a happy locker room as the Bruins take a break before lacing them up again on Sunday in Florida against the Panthers and Monday in St. Pete against the Lightning.

Marc Savard said it was an exciting win.

Savard said it was nice to finally get the power play working.

Mark Recchi said it was big to get wins against Ottawa and Atlanta before the break.

Coach Claude Julien said what’s most important is the Bruins finding a way to win.

Julien said the team dealt with the holiday distractions.

Captain Zdeno Chara said it was big to win with Ottawa and Atlanta chasing them in the East.

Chara said it was nice to finally see the power play clicking.

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Julien: ‘We collapsed’ in third period meltdown 12.15.09 at 1:39 am ET
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Claude Julien expected more from his team on Monday night.

He thought after his Bruins killed a 5-on-3 Philadelphia power play in the first period, they would come out for the jugular.

He thought after they worked and worked and finally got a late second-period goal from Vladimir Sobokta on a lucky re-direct of a centering pass from Shawn Thornton, they would find a way to put away the Flyers in the third period. They were 9-0-0 before Monday night in similar situations this season.

And he thought, despite a Sobokta goal being disallowed earlier in the game, the Bruins would outwork the dispirited Flyers and come away with two points.

If Monday’s game were a multiple choice game, none of the above would be the correct answer as the Flyers scored three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes and came away with a much-needed, much deserved 3-1 win at TD Garden.

Claude Julien said his team simply collapsed in a third-period meltdown.

Julien said he expected more from his team after killing a Flyers 5-on-3 power play.

Julien said he was disappointed his team wasn’t ready for the third.

Zdeno Chara said two good periods wasn’t good enough on Monday.

Chara said the Flyers played like the hungrier team.

Mark Recchi said the Bruins had no killer instinct.

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Kesselmania over – we can get on with our lives 12.11.09 at 1:37 am ET
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Even Claude Julien had to take notice of the TV-generated hype over Phil Kessel’s return to Boston twice in the last five days.

Yes, he was a terrifically talented player who could score and strike the fear of hockey gods into the opposition if given space on ice to wheel and deal.

But the Bruins knew full well how to contain No. 81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He had two shots in 16 minutes in Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Boston. On Thursday, just five days later, Kessel’s line wasn’ t much prettier.

He had 22 shifts in over 18 minutes with just two shots, no goals and two face-off wins as the Bruins won again, 5-2. Not exactly what Toronto coach Ron Wilson had in mind but just what Claude Julien and the Bruins drew up in practice this week when discussing Kessel.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said he was very proud of the way his team contained the explosive Toronto forward.

Julien said his team wasn’t obsessed with Kessel and did a good job of not being affected by ‘Kesselmania’.

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Serving his team and country 12.11.09 at 1:23 am ET
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Mark Stuart was a very proud man on Thursday night.

Just before face-off, the Bruins defenseman had the privilege of accepting a Bruins flag that flew in Iraq with the U.S. Army Rangers.

He took a slap shot from the top of the slot that beat Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala between the pads for his second goal of the season, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

The he got into a shoving match two minutes into the second period with Jamal Mayers. As they came out of their respective penalty boxes, the two decided to come out swinging this time, both earning five minute majors.

The only thing missing from Mark Stuart’s night to remember was an assist. That would have given him the so-called Gordie Howe hat trick – A goal, an assist and a fight. Still, Stuart was clearly the most important player on the ice on Thursday during Boston’s 5-2 win over the Leafs at TD Garden.

Afterward, he shared his thoughts on the special night.

Stuart said it was an emotional night, starting with the opening flag-presenting ceremony.

Stuart said he was happy to finally get mixed up with Mayers after their roughing minors.

Coach Claude Julien thought Stuart deserved the No. 1 star.

Captain Zdeno Chara said Stuart provided a valuable spark.

Mark Recchi said every Bruin can learn something from Stuart’s performance Thursday.

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