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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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Kessel: ‘there was pressure’ 12.05.09 at 10:30 pm ET
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Here is Phil Kessel in his postgame chat with reporters following his two-shot, -3 performance against the Bruins in Boston’s 7-2 win.

Kessel spoke about the boos, the chants and his inability to solve the Bruins’ defense all night.

Some other notable quotes from No. 81:

“There was pressure but that was probably the worst game I’ve played in a while. I’ve got to be better.” Kessel, with two shots, -3 rating and 16:28 of ice time.

“Yeah, you hear it but it doesn’t get to you. I just didn’t have a good game tonight and I have to be better.” Kessel on the boos and the chants of ‘Kessel, Kessel’ all night.

“You figure you come back and that’s what’s going to happen. It’s part of the game. Obviously, I didn’t play very well.” Kessel on the boos.

But maybe it was Toronto head coach Ron Wilson who put the game in perspective: “We stunk and we’ll move on. We were horrific defensively in Columbus. Joey [MacDonald] had a great game. And tonight, the same mistakes, the Bruins took advantage. The game was over halfway through the second period, so unfortunately we couldn’t do anything right.”

Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman was injured and is a question mark for the rematch with Toronto on Thursday in Boston.

“Hopefully minor injury. Call it upper body. Hopefully ready for Thursday,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien on Wideman injury.

Julien admitted he was fired up in his pregame speech to the team after a 5-1 debacle in Montreal 24 hours earlier.

“It would have been totally unacceptable for us to come out and not be ready to play.” Julien said. ”We had to redeem ourselves and it was fortunate we had back-to-back games to do that.”

“I guess, fired up, we needed that,” added Patrice Bergeron. “We needed that big effort we all knew before this game that we needed to bounce back. Last night was embarrassing and especially in front of our fans today we needed a big effort and we did it.”

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B’s extend assistant coaches 11.30.09 at 9:24 am ET
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Several assistants under Claude Julien had reason to be very thankful over the just-completed holiday weekend when Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli extended them to multi-year extensions.

Chiarelli announced on Sunday that the club has signed assistant coaches Doug Houda, Craig Ramsay and Geoff Ward, goaltending coach Bob Essensa and video coach Brant Berglund to multi-year contract extensions.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The team’s release is below:

Houda, hired by the Bruins on July 25, 2006, is in his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Black & Gold. He came to the Bruins following three seasons as an assistant coach with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. The Amerks had a 125-86-16-13 record over his three seasons as an assistant, including a franchise record 112 points in 2004-05.

Houda was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round (28th overall) of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft and enjoyed a 15-year playing career. He had 19-63=82 totals and 1,104 penalty minutes in 561 career NHL games with Buffalo, Detroit, Hartford, New York Islanders, Los Angeles and Anaheim. Read the rest of this entry »

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Turn up the volume: Thomas makes amends 11.29.09 at 12:55 am ET
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There wasn’t a bigger Michael Ryder fan in the building before his shootout chance in the first extra round than the man defending the Bruins goal.

Tim Thomas was making his first start since Nov. 14, a span of six games and early and late, the rust showed. He allowed a pair of goals in the first period, including one on the second shot he faced.

But the goal he surrendered to Milan Michalek was a back-breaker. It came with 19.3 seconds remaining from a bad angle-a really bad angle. A angle so bad that Michalek was practically parallel with the goal when he flipped a back-hander on net.

As if the goal wasn’t bad enough, the timing was worse. The Bruins had just fought back with three power play goals to take a 3-2 lead and were poised to take a two-point lead in the Northeast Division.

As it was, the Bruins had to settle for a one-point gain over Ottawa as the Bruins earned two points and Ottawa one for the 4-3 Boston victory. Here’s what it sounded like in the Bruins dressing room.

Thomas was his usual standup self, admitting he cost his teammates a point.

Thomas on why he felt terrible about the late goal.

Thomas felt he let his team down.

Coach Claude Julien was impressed with the way Thomas collected himself in overtime.

Captain Zdeno Chara wasn’t surprised that Thomas re-focused himself in overtime.

Michael Ryder said this was a huge win for first in the Northeast Division.

Dennis Wideman scored for the first time since Oct. 3 as the Bruins finally got their power play going.

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Thomas returns for B’s 11.28.09 at 6:56 pm ET
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Tim Thomas returns tonight for the Bruins after missing the last six games with a minor undisclosed injury. The Bruins take on the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden.

The B’s have earned 9 of a possible 10 points in their last five games to tie Ottawa for first in the Northeast Division with 29 points.

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Turn up the volume: Tuukka is still a ‘bad’ loser 11.27.09 at 5:40 pm ET
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Claude Julien made it clear after his team dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the New Jersey Devils on Friday afternoon – you can’t criticize your team when they fight hard and lose on penalty shots.

The good to come out of the Friday’s loss – beyond the effort level without the reinjured Milan Lucic – is they gained a point and now have 29, tied with Ottawa for first in the Northeast Division, one point ahead of Buffalo.

The bad is they still are searching for ways to light the lamp. The Bruins were 0-for-3 on the power play and now have just four goals in their last 24 chances on the man advantage. They are 12-for-86 on the season, 27th out of 30 in the NHL.

Here are some audio highlights from the Bruins locker room and podium following the Black Friday matinee at TD Garden.

Julien said you can’t criticize the team or goalie Tuukka Rask after a tip-top effort.

Julien said they got a very quality goalie when they acquired Rask from Toronto for Andrew Raycroft in June 2006.

Blake Wheeler, who scored Boston’s only goals on the day in regulation and the shootout, said they turned up the intensity in the third.

Wheeler said the team is looking forward to their Saturday night showdown with Ottawa at the Garden.

Marc Savard said the team is not about to have a ‘woe is us’ mentality after losing Milan Lucic for a month.

Savard almost won the game with three seconds to go in regulation but was denied by Martin Brodeur.

Savard is looking forward to the Senators coming to town.

Tuukka Rask calls himself a bad loser, in regulation or overtime.

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Chiarelli: ‘Looks like a challenge all year’ 11.27.09 at 1:31 pm ET
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It’s hard to blame Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli for feeling ‘woe is me’ when it comes to the mounting injuries of his club.

The Bruins lost Marc Savard for 15 games with a broken foot and Milan Lucic for 14 games with a broken finger. Tim Thomas has missed the last six games now with a minor undisclosed injury.

Savard made his return on Wednesday and Lucic had been back four games and the Bruins appeared to be hitting their stride with a four-game winning streak. But you never know when you’re going to catch an edge at the wrong time.

Just ask Lucic, who caught the tip of his left skate in the ice in Minnesota on Wednesday and fell awkwardly to the ice. The diagnosis – out at least a month with a left high ankle sprain.

“It is consistent with the rest of the year,” bemoaned Chiarelli before Friday’s matinee. “It looks like it is going to be a challenge all year. All teams have their challenges but this is pretty consistent.”

Asked if he feared the worst, Chiarelli was philosophical.

“You do that by nature as a general manager,” he said. “You also learn to wait. Usually the report on the injury initially is really, really bad. That applies every time. You learn to wait until the next morning, then the following morning. As is the case, it got better this morning.”

But it’s coach Claude Julien who has to deal with shuffling the lines, which included slotting in Vladimir Sobokta on Friday afternoon.

“Well, it’s something we’ve been dealing with since the beginning of the year and injuries are part of the game,” Julien said. “We just go forward with what we’ve got. That’s always been the case and that’s what we have to deal with right now. Obviously, you lose a pretty good player who has a pretty good impact on games at times so we’ve been without him for a month and we’ll have to deal with it for a little longer now.”

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