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World-traveler Blake Wheeler hopes Bruins hit their stride on the road 10.13.10 at 4:21 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Forward Blake Wheeler was among a small group of Bruins players who had never been to Europe prior to the team’s Belfast-Prague excursion that closed the preseason and opened the regular season. Though the team’s ultimate goal was to get four points out of the trip (they settled for two), the second-line winger sees the time the players were able to spend with one another as something that should benefit the team throughout the season.

“The guys are probably as close as you can get, between going to Vermont (for team building) and being over [in Europe] where you’re forced to be together for 12 days straight. Guys had a great time together, guys were together all the time, and it was great to see guys that maybe weren’t hanging out so much in the past all of a sudden going to dinner together and doing stuff like that. It was great to see that kind of team unity come out, and I think that’s one of the many perks of being able to go on a trip like that.”

Wheeler joked that with the team having so many days in between the Prague trip and Saturday’s game in New Jersey against the Devils, it feels like the Bruins, who don’t play at the until a week from Thursday, “don’t have a home right now.”

When the Bruins do play in that home-opener against the Capitals, they will be gracing the Garden ice for the first time in three weeks and one day.

“It almost seems unfair,” Wheeler said with a laugh. “You go on this long trip and then you start on the road again, but that’s the way the schedule is. It always makes up for itself, so you’re going to play an even amount of home and away games no matter what. It is what it is.”

Indeed, the Bruins will see dividends paid if they can push through the high number of away games early on, as eight of the team’s final 11 games of the season will be played at home.

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Much has been made of youngsters such as Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron getting to spend time on lines with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi in practice or regular-season settings, but it should also be noted that both have now seen time with Wheeler. Seguin centered Wheeler while he was on the third line in the preseason, and Caron is now linemates with the third-year player. As Wheeler hopes his time developing is done, he’s more than willing to lend a hand.

“It almost feels kind of weird now, helping out some of the younger guys like [Jordan Caron], playing on our line, and even [Tyler Seguin],” Wheeler said. “Just king of giving them little tips. That was me not too long ago, so I think the learning curve has passed. Now it’s just all about going out there and letting it fly.”

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The one-hour stop on Iceland wasn’t exactly the perfect opportunity to enjoy the land. Having just spent three and a half hours in the air, people were tired and there was only one duty-free shop in the airport that was open. Still, for someone who was capping his first trip to Europe, Wheeler made the most of it.

“It was pitch black,” Wheeler said as he recalled the fuel stop. “I can’t really paint too much of a picture. I took a picture though — on my iPhone, I’ve got the map thing. I’ve got there a dot there in Iceland. I’m a world traveler.”

Video: Zdeno Chara, 10/13/10 10.13.10 at 2:11 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Here’s the video of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara speaking after the team’s first practice since returning from an 11-day trek through Europe.

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Mike Milbury on D&H: Tyler Seguin ‘not an impact player’ 10.13.10 at 1:22 pm ET
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NESN and NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury made the first of his weekly appearances on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Asked about rookie Tyler Seguin and the impact he could have this season, Milbury said Bruins fans will need to be patient. “I’ll answer the question without having seen him enough: He’s not going to be an impact player this season. He’s not,” Milbury said. “Those players are very few and far between. I’d put big money that he’s not an impact player. Does he get 15-20 goals? Maybe. Thirty points, 50 points tops, but that’s not an impact player. And when [Marc] Savard comes back ‘€” and I assume he will ‘€” he’ll have a tough time finding ice time.”

With the Bruins signing Zdeno Chara to a seven-year contract extension last week, Milbury voiced his displeasure with long-term deals, citing the risk of injury and psychological letdown. “I don’t like it. I don’t like it for anybody, let alone the Bruins,” Milbury said. “And they’re not the only ones making questionable decisions with the salary cap. I mean, the team they play next, New Jersey, is a mess. They can’t even dress the full complement of players because of the cap issue.”

Added Milbury: “I don’t like long-term contracts. It’s a heartbeat away. You never know what these contracts will do a player’s psyche. This is not baseball. It’s not like you might not get hurt. You’re going to get hurt. It’s just how seriously.

“The team has made its bet on these core players. And we’ll find out in two years, three years maximum whether this core has the stuff to win a Stanley Cup championship. But the bet’s been made. And we’ll find out if it was a good one or not.”

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Read More: Cam Neely, Mike Milbury, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara
Caron hopeful for ice time vs. Devils 10.13.10 at 1:07 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Rookie winger Jordan Caron practiced with the second line on Wednesday after seeing some movement in and out of lines on the team’s recent European trip. The team departed for Belfast with Caron on the second line with Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron, and after an inconsistent scrimmage against the Belfast Giants, he was moved into the third line mix with Daniel Paille, Tyler Seguin, and Michael Ryder.

Caron was a scratch for the season-opener on Saturday agains the Coyotes, but after Paille was among the players whom Claude Julien described as playing “average” in the 5-2 loss, Caron played on Sunday on a revamped second line with Bergeron and Blake Wheeler. He logged a team-low 9:42  of ice time but appeared more confident and comfortable than in the Belfast scrimmage. Caron said on Wednesday that having to watch the first game from the stands motivated him even more to have an impressive showing on Sunday.

“I wanted to play the next game [while watching on Saturday], but there was nothing I could do about it. “‘€¦ I was happy they put me in the lineup for the second game and [I feel] I had a good game, so we’ll what’s going to happen in the next game.”

Given that there were no extra forwards donning the yellow sweaters that signified second-liners, it’s a good sign for Caron at this point that he stands a good chance to play again on Saturday when the team takes on the Devils in New Jersey.

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Julien offers updates on Savard, Sturm, Ference, and Seidenberg 10.13.10 at 12:51 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the team’s first practice since returning to the United States that the club is better off not putting unnecessary pressure on Marc Savard has he recovers from post-concussion syndrome symptoms. Savard has been unable to take the ice since failing his impact test when the team opened training camp in September.

“I’ve taken the approach that as long as he’s not with us, I’ve got to keep working with our group here,” Julien said. “I haven’t had any real good chances to talk with the medical staff and stuff like that, but he’s been working out, that much I know. It’s getting better every day, so I’m looking forward to seeing him on the ice, and we’ll take it from there.

“He’s behind by at least a month, a month and a half already, where we’ve been on the ice, so we have to be patient and give him a chance to come back. Right now I don’t think there’s any reason why we should push this guy to get back more than we should be helping him to get back. That’s the thing we have to make sure we do here, is give him due time to make that comeback, and when he’s ready to make it, we’ll help him through it.”

Julien also added that Marco Sturm, another long-term injury player (knee) is expected to begin skating in the coming days as he continues his recovery.

Both Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference left the ice early on Wednesday. Julien said that while Seidenberg was dealing with either the flu or food poisoning, Ference was unable to shoot pucks due to a cortisone shot he received in his thumb. Julien noted that the veteran defenseman’s thumb ailment is “very, very minor” and that he won’t miss additional practice time due to it.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Claude Julien, Marc Savard,
Welcome back to Wilmington 10.13.10 at 10:28 am ET
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WILMINGTON — It sure isn’t as visually pleasing as Prague’s O2 Arena, but it’s good to be back at Ristuccia Arena for the Bruins’ first practice since returning from Europe.

Prior to the team’s 10:30 skate commencing, there was a bit of an on-ice meeting with 10 Bruins consisting of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Tuukka Rask.

Despite skating with the aforementioned first, smaller group, Ference did not skate with the team in practice. Judging by the team’s multi-colored sweaters, here are the forward lines.

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton

Jordan Caron – Patrice Bergeron – Blake Wheeler

Mark Recchi – Tyler Seguin – Michael Ryder/Daniel Paille

Brad Marchand  – Gregory CampbellShawn Thornton/Brian McGrattan

Dennis Seidenberg left the ice after about half an hour, so Thornton tossed a black jersey on to balance out the defense. Chara was paired with Boychuk, Hunwick was with Mark Stuart, and Thornton skated with Adam McQuaid.

Read More: Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara,
Ryan Miller says Savard is out because of ‘smartass’ hit 10.12.10 at 4:55 pm ET
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Bruins fans have plenty of reason to not want to see any more ugly hits. Having watched the concussion-inducing blows that cost both Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard significant time, it would be understandable. At any rate, here’s the hit from Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarrson on Sabres forward Jason Pominville that had Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller all charged up when speaking to WGR Sports Radio.

“I don’t care if it’s unintentional. It’s what we have to get away from in hockey right now, is the culture of, ‘I was trying to make a play, therefore it’s not my fault,'” Miller said, adding that the hit “absolutely needs to be punished.”

“I don’t even know if there’s enough made of it is because Jason is walking out with just stitches,” Miller added. “What if Jason has a fractured neck? We don’t even know if it’s going to have an impact with concussions.”

Miller spoke very passionately against dirty hits and called for players to take more accountability in wake of such plays.

“I just think more people should be a little more outraged,” Miller said. “When [Hjalmarsson] left the ice he was surprised he got kicked out. Are you serious? I would have probably started shading towards the locker room if I were him.”

The reigning Vezina trophy winner said that he hopes “the league wakes up and sets a precedent for the year,” so that players will no longer be at risk of losing time or their careers to concussions. One of the plays mentioned was Matt Cooke‘s March 7 hit on Savard.

“Savard’s still not playing,” Miller said. “One of the best playmakers we have in this game is still not playing because of a stupid, smartass hit.”

Savard, despite returning for the team’s second-round matchup with the Flyers, has been out since training camp with post-concussion syndrom symptoms.

Read More: Marc Savard, Ryan Miller,
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