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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.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Flyers, NHL, Winter Classic
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.

Read More: Bruins, Chara, NHL, Recchi
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.

Read More: Bruins, Flyers, NHL,
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’.

Read More: Bruins, Maple Leafs, Phil Kessel,
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.

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: ‘€œWe 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.”

‘€œI 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.’€

Read More: Bruins, Maple Leafs, NHL, Phil Kessel
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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