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Not surprised to see Roberto Luongo sitting vs. Bruins 01.06.12 at 3:07 pm ET
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Surprise, surprise.

Canucks goaltender and Marblehead native Cory Schneider told reporters Friday that he, not Roberto Luongo, will be the team’s starting goalie when Vancouver faces the Bruins Saturday in a rematch of the teams in last season Stanley Cup finals.

Luongo is coming off a shutout Wednesday against the Wild, but he had a very difficult time playing in Boston in the postseason. In three starts in Boston in the finals, he allowed 15 goals and was chased from both Games 4 and 6. He allowed five goals in the other four games at Rogers Arena.

This season, Luongo is 17-8-3 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. Schneider, who played his college hockey at Boston College, is 8-5-0 with a 2.16 GAA and a .931 save percentage.

It ultimately isn’t surprising for Luongo to sit Saturday vs. the B’s. He got off to a rocky start this season, but has turned things around. If anything could shake him right now, it’s the idea of playing in Boston again.

Things went downhill for Luongo following the Canucks’ 1-0 win in Game 5 of the finals. Following the win, Luongo criticized Tim Thomas‘ style of play, saying the game-winning goal he allowed to Maxim Lapierre would have been an easy save for him. Luongo was chased jsut 8:35 into the next game after allowing three early goals and went on to allow three goals in the Bruins’ 4-0 Cup-clinching Game 7.

Thomas told WEEI.com recently that Luongo’s remarks gave him confidence, as he realized that Luongo was distracted.

‘€œAs far as Luongo goes, actually, all that did was give me confidence that his head was in the wrong place, because I was focused on stopping the puck and he was thinking about my style,’€ Thomas said on Dec. 21 as he reflected on the now infamous comment.

‘€œI realized that I had an advantage over him,’€ Thomas added. ‘€œ’€¦ The challenge on my end was to keep that advantage.’€

The Bruins starter is currently unknown, though Tuukka Rask has allowed just one goal over his last four starts and is coming off his third shutout this season. Just this writer’s opinion, but it might be wise for Julien to continue to ride the hot hand and stick with Rask for Saturday’s game. That way the B’s can go back to Thomas, who beat Winnipeg in November, when the Jets come to town Tuesday. Rask was in net for the Bruins’ Dec. 6 loss to the Jets.

Read More: Roberto Luongo,
Chris Kelly on M&M: ‘I’d love to stay here’ 01.06.12 at 1:35 pm ET
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With Brad Marchand sick and unable to make his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show, fellow forward Chris Kelly filled in to talk about Thursday’s rout of the Flames and Saturday’s highly anticipated Stanley Cup finals rematch with the Canucks.

The Bruins continued their red-hot ways — nine wins in 10 games — with Thursday’s 9-0 rout of the Flames, and the balanced scoring throughout the lineup has been impressive.

“Every line goes out and plays hard,” Kelly said. “I’ve been on other teams that have been pretty deep and have had success, but not to this extent. Our first line all the way down to our fourth line, all lines play the exact same way and work hard and do their job defensively. Obviously, certain guys have more offensive abilities, but I think for the most part we go out and play the system and work hard.”

Looking back on the team’s first-month struggles and subsequent resurgence, Kelly acknowledged some of it had to do with the team being overconfident following last season’s championship.

“We heard it from everybody about this Stanley Cup hangover,” he said. “I think maybe certain games we came in just feeling a sense of entitlement. Winning a Stanley Cup, we figured we could just show up and we’d get the two points. But every team came at us even harder because of what he accomplished the year before.

“I think it took us a month to realize that. When November came around, I think collectively as a group we realized we had to play better, and we did.”

Next up for the Bruins is a Saturday matinee against the Canucks. Kelly downplayed the importance of the matchup.

“The media has hyped this up more than the players have,” he said. “We just want to go out and have a good game. They’re playing extremely well — I think they’re first in the West — and we’re playing well right now. We don’t have anything to prove other than going out there and playing hard and trying to get the two points.”

Kelly wouldn’t admit to the Bruins having revenge on their minds despite the likes of Canucks pest Alex Burrows returning to Boston.

“It was a good, physical series, battled hard by both sides and went the distance to seven,” he said. “We just want to go out there and play hard and play our style. We’re a big, strong, physical team when we’re playing at our best, and that doesn’t change regardless of who we’re playing.”

Kelly’s contract expires after this season. While he said that no negotiations have been going on, he left no doubt that he hopes to return.

“Obviously, I’d love to stay here,” he said. “Boston’s a great city, a great team. My wife and I have enjoyed this city so much since we’ve been here. It couldn’t have been a more perfect thing for me to come here last year and end up coming to a great team that wins the Stanley Cup. Hopefully, it’s something we can get worked out.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, Chris Kelly,
Andrew Ference on D&C: Bruins ‘ready to respond’ to Canucks 01.06.12 at 12:05 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning and talked about Saturday’s Stanley Cup finals rematch against the Canucks, coach Claude Julien‘s coaching style, and Thursday’s 9-0 beatdown of the Flames.

Thursday’s rout of the Flames was the Bruins’ ninth win in 10 games and their second straight home rout of eight goals or more. For Ference, though, it wasn’t the type of game he likes to play in.

“The tight games are more fun than that,” he said. “The nail-biters when you come out on the right side are a little more enjoyable than that. That was a defeated team out there last night. I don’€™t know if you want to call it sympathy, but we don’€™t have any sympathy for guys you play against. But that sucks to be on the other side of that.”

Ference said he didn’t feel bad for Calgary and that it was important the Bruins didn’t stop playing hard.

“You don’€™t want to gloat about it,” Ference said. “You want to keep playing your game. Obviously, we have bigger things to worry about than feeling bad for Calgary. But you don’€™t want to throw it in their face. We stopped celebrating and coming by the bench when we scored goals. We don’€™t stop playing, you keep playing your game, but we’€™re not celebrating after the goals. You try to be a little bit more muted about stuff like that. But you can’€™t stop playing, you can’€™t let your guard down. That’€™s when guys get hurt, is when you let your guard down, when you let up or start playing a little easier. You can’€™t do it.”

Ference said that the Bruins are much further ahead of where anyone expected them to be at this point in the season, something that he attributes to the a strong core group of players with a winner’s mentality.

“I think after that first month where we kind of just, I don’€™t know, I don’€™t know what we were doing but I think we kind of just picked up back at the hockey that we were playing during the spring,” Ference said. “That playoff kind of hockey is one where its great consistency, every line is playing the same style, not really taking any shifts off, and that’€™s something that a lot of teams build up toward during the spring. And I think as the season goes, the games get closer and closer and closer because teams are tightening up their defense, and I think we kind of just skipped a couple of steps this year. We’€™re kind of just playing that good spring hockey but at a different time of the year, so that’€™s obviously what we’€™re trying to work up and get better and stay sharp and do all those things as well. And that’€™s probably the biggest thing we have to remember, we can’€™t just get comfortable and be satisfied because the teams around us are going to get better.”

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Read More: Andrew Ference, Claude Julien,
Green Men Blog: Checking in before Bruins-Canucks rematch 01.06.12 at 7:00 am ET
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We meet again Boston.

With the Canucks in town for a rematch of the Cup final, we thought we’€™d check in. The fans back here in Vancouver are starting to think we retired after last year’s second place finish. It’s funny to look at message boards and see people asking if Force is actually a different person or if I [Sully] have a different suit. Nothing’€™s changed. We just haven’t had the chance to renew old rivalries yet.

Since September, Force and I have done quite a bit off the ice. We rappelled down a skyscraper in Vancouver and helped raise $10,000 for charity. We’ve travelled abroad to ECHL, BCHL and even NFL games and cheered on other teams as part of our training camp. We’ve paid a visit to a few friends in hospitals and we’ve wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. The fun good-willed seasonal spirit ends now though.

In 2011, Force and I picked up nearly a quarter million fans online, tickets to see every game of the cup final, met the Prime Minister, were spoofed by Letterman and were on ESPN almost every other day. Needless to say, it’€™s going to be tough to top what happened last spring. That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to do it, we’re just saying it won’t be easy.

So far, Force and I have been to only one game this season, between the Canucks and the Nashville Predators in early December. The crowd wasn’t quite as into it and you could tell each team in the rink wasn’t quite in playoff mode either. That was a whole year ago though.

Since then, the Canucks have been on a tear. [Roberto] Luongo‘s played his best hockey of the season. [Ryan] Kesler is back to beast mode and our young rook Cody Hodgson can’t be stopped. This team added a few pieces in the offseason, got focused again and hasn’t looked back.

Now, having to watch your Bruins tear it up in the east from over here hasn’t been easy. You guys have a good team this year, I’ll give you that. Since you cleared some space in the locker room by getting rid of Mark Recchi‘s walker and his lifetime supply of Bengay, you’ve looked refurbished. This will be your first test though. Who are we kidding? The East is always a cakewalk.

The better team won last year, we won’t question that. You guys played harder and you earned the Cup. While we still can’t stand your team, we’re happy and proud of our hometown boy Looch [Milan Lucic].

In fact, we took a bit of flack last year because of 17 in black. A lot of people thought he was giving it to us in the box, because of his hand gestures [in Game 5]. The guy was a beauty to us though, and was laughing the whole time. I had a fake witch’s nose on and he kept saying his was bigger. Though on TV, it looked like he was talking about Brad Marchand in the showers.

Everyone back here is congratulatory of your accomplishment last year, except for the few skidmarks of this city that unfortunately all showed up at Game 7 to riot. They don’t represent our city or country. In fact, we’re doing our best in Vancouver to put them where they belong, behind bars.

Our Green Men 2012 debut is inching closer and closer, much like your inevitable choking when it comes to defending your Cup. You have a great city and we really enjoyed our time there. When it comes to baseball, we don’t like the Stanks either, so we’ll leave that alone. When it comes to football, your glory days are behind you. When it comes to basketball, same thing. Hockey’s no different. You’re forgetting that this is our game. Consider what happened last year a gift, it won’t happen again.

See you in the final Boston,

The Green Men

Read More: Green Men, Milan Lucic,
Nathan Horton: Canucks rematch ‘just another game’ 01.05.12 at 10:21 pm ET
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Nathan Horton had a rare session with reporters following Thursday’s 9-0 blowout win over the Flames. The forward, who had two goals in the win, was asked his thoughts about Saturday’s meeting with the Canucks.

The game figures to be an emotional one, perhaps even more so for Horton. The power forward was blindsided by Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, giving him a concussion and knocking him out for the rest of the finals.

“I think everyone’s just thinking it’s another game, but we did play them in the finals,” Horton said. “They’re still a good team, and we’re still a good team, and it’s going to be a good game. I’m not really thinking too much about what happened, but just getting excited for the game.”

Rome will not be in the lineup for the Canucks, as he is out with a hand injury.

After Thursday’s three-point performance, Horton has 12 goals and 14 assists this season for 26 points.

Read More: Aaron Rome, Nathan Horton,
Bruins crush Flames, 9-0, behind Tuukka Rask’s latest shutout 01.05.12 at 9:27 pm ET
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Since losing to the Stars on Saturday night, the Bruins may have developed a habit of blowing teams out of the water. They did so for the second straight night Thursday, crushing the Flames, 9-0, behind Tuukka Rask‘s third shutout of the season.

This one was never close following Tyler Seguin‘s tally 74 seconds into the game, and the Bruins weren’t afraid to pile it on once again. Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton each had two-goal nights, while the B’s also received goals from Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille.

The Bruins picked up the win without forward Brad Marchand, who was out with flu-like symptoms. The B’s certainly made due without the 23-year-old, as Bergeron’s line still produced three goals.

The Bruins will next play on Saturday when they host the Canucks in a rematch of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

—  No Marchand? No problem. Pouliot was superb in filling in for the ill winger on the second-line, getting four shots on goal and assisting Seguin and Bergeron’s goals. Benoit Pouliot did a nice job of stealing the puck in the neutral zone, feeding Seguin to set top Bergeron’s goal in the second period. He now has 13 points (seven goals and six assists) in 31 games this season. He got secondary assists on Seguin’s goal and Bergeron’s second tally.

The three assists for Pouliot matched a career-high, and it doubled his assist total this season.

— More of the same from Rask. The B’s backup lowered his league-best goals-against average and save percentage with the shutout, and has now allowed just one goal over his last five games. Scary to think that this is a guy who might not even get a start in the postseason.

– Good to see Paille score a shorthanded goal on the breakaway. Very quietly — a secret that’s been kept off the stat sheet for the most part — Paille has been putting together a heck of a season. He now has seven goals on the season, and if he had a better finishing touch he could easily have double that.

Joe Corvo was a plus-4 on the night despite not picking up a point in the game with a game-high seven shots on goal. His plus/minus was best among the Bruins, while Flames defenseman Chris Butler was a horrific minus-7. In Butler’s case, Wednesday’s game could ruin him in that category for the season.

— Given how many goals the B’s scored on the night, of course it was another night in which the Bruins scored goals within a minute of each other. Bergeron’s first goal and Kelly’s tally came 47 seconds apart, marking the 13th time this season the B’s have scored two goals in less than a minute.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

— Nothing.

Read More: Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, Tuuka Rask, Tyler Seguin
Bruins-Flames Live Blog: Daniel Paille makes it 9-0 01.05.12 at 7:01 pm ET
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Bruins-Flames Live Blog

Read More: Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, Zach Hamill
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