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Post-morning-skate notes: Claude Julien doesn’t want a repeat of last Sabres meeting 01.20.11 at 1:12 pm ET
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With the Bruins seeing the return of Andrew Ference to the lineup on Thursday, Adam McQuaid isn’t necessarily the odd man out yet, so to speak.

McQuaid missed last Monday’s game with an undisclosed injury, with the team calling up Matt Bartkowski to play in his place. The medical staff still doesn’t feel that McQuaid is in tip-top shape, so Claude Julien isn’t yet ready to say that the 24-year-old will once again be relegated to life as a healthy scratch.

“If they keep playing the way they are, it’€™s going to be difficult [to make a choice],” Julien said. “There’€™s no doubt. It’€™s certainly not going to be an easy decision to make, and if they’€™re all playing well, I’€™ve seen situations where you alternate and make sure they’€™re all playing.

“We’€™ll cross that bridge when we get to it. It’€™s not something you look forward to but it’€™s something that you have to deal with at times. Right now I think our back end’€™s been pretty good for us, and they all deserve to play.”

With Steven Kampfer considering surgery on his broken nose, Julien isn’t very surprised that the right-handed puck-mover has played through the discomfort he’s been experiencing. Kampfer broke his nose Saturday against the Penguins when Zdeno Chara got him in the face with his stick.

“It’€™s been getting a little better, but I think that there’€™s blood up there that has clogged up his sinuses and has made it hard for him to breathe, but he’€™s certainly playing through it, and that’€™s what we’€™re talking about [with guys playing through pain].

“We know what Kampfer brings to our team,” Julien added. “We haven’€™t got a lot of guys that are offensive minded and mobile defensemen like he is, and when you make a decision [on who to play], you make it based on that as well.”

Tuukka Rask is expected to start. Here are some other notes from the morning skate:

– The lines all looked the same for the Bruins on Thursday morning. They are as follows:

Ryder – Savard – Horton

Marchand – Bergeron – Recchi

Lucic – Krejci – Seguin

Wheeler – Campbell – Thornton

– This will be Blake Wheeler‘s third straight game on the “energy line.” While many would have expected the 24-year-old to be a top-9 forward, Julien said the emergence of Brad Marchand has allowed them to use Wheeler with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.

“I think the fact that we put Marchand with [Patrice] Bergeron and that line was going well, we thought that Wheels is probably really similar to [Marchand] as far as his relentless forecheck and his good skating. I thought he’€™d be a good fit for that line and we’€™ve always liked that line since the beginning of the year and somehow without moving Marchand [back] we’€™re trying to keep it a lot of the same.”

Wheeler has 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points this season. He picked up an assist on Campbell’s second-period goal on Monday.

– Julien is hoping to not see anything resembling a repeat of the B’s last meeting with the Sabres. The Bruins blew three different leads on Jan. 1 before losing, 7-6, in a shootout. Julien said the game was a shootout in more ways than one given the back-and-forth nature of the game, calling the contest “uncharacteristic of the way these two teams play each other.”

Luckily for the Bruins, Drew Stafford, who had a hat trick and scored in the shootout, will not play for Sabres tonight due to a groin injury.

On the season, the Bruins have gone 2-1-1 against the Sabres.

Tyler Seguin, who has spent the last couple of games on a line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, doesn’t have a point over his last four games. Seguin and Krejci seem a natural fit for one another given their speed, and Julien said that he likes the rookie on the wing with Krejci in the middle.

Seguin is obviously in a more comfortable place than he was at the beginning of the year, and he’s had flashes of brilliance that he’s tried to sustain. Julien said Thursday that the second half of the season will be another challenge that the second overall pick will encounter.

“I think we still know there’€™s room for him to continue to improve. And you know, as we get closer to the end of the year, games get tougher and tougher and he’€™s got to learn to be able to battle in those circumstances and that’€™s what we expect from him,” Julien said. “His skill level is what it is, it’€™s great and it’€™s going to keep showing more and more as he progresses with experience.

“The one thing he hasn’€™t faced yet is that second half of the year where games mean so much to teams and that grinding part of it means more and more and he’€™s got to be able to battle through that.”

Seguin is 15th among rookies with 16 points this season.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Andrew Ference, Claude Julien, Drew Stafford
Tuukka Rask off first for Bruins, Andrew Ference to play vs. Sabres at 12:03 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien described defenseman Andrew Ference as “good and cleared to go,” meaning the blueliner will make his return to the lineup when the B’s host the Sabres on Thursday night. Ference has missed the team’s last three games with an upper-body injury. Adam McQuaid, who missed last Monday’s game against the Penguins, is out, with Julien adding that he still is less than 100 percent.

“It’s not a tough decision [to sit McQuaid] because in his case, he’s been playing banged up for the last couple of weeks,” Julien said. “I think the medical staff said it would probably be beneficial for him to take a bit of a break. I think he could certainly play through it if he had to.”

Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice in the morning skate, an indication that he will start in goal. In Rask’s last start against the Sabres, he allowed three goals in the first period an was replaced by Tim Thomas at the start of the second. The Bruins went on to lose the game, 7-6, in a shootout.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Andrew Ference, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask
Bruins try to keep momentum going as they host Sabres 01.19.11 at 10:29 pm ET
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After sweeping a home-and-home with the Hurricanes on Monday and Tuesday, the Bruins will return to the Garden Thursday to face the Sabres for the fifth time this season. Thus far, they’€™ve gone 2-1-1 against the Sabres, with the most recent meeting resulting in a 7-6 shootout loss on Jan. 1.

That New Years Day game was a memorable one, as Tuukka Rask was yanked after three first-period goals, while Drew Stafford had a hat trick and scored one of the Sabres’€™ three shootout goals. Luckily for the Bruins, Stafford is not expected to play Thursday due to a groing injury.

WHERE IT’€™S AT

– The Bruins are 12-8-3 in home games this season. They’€™ve gone 3-2-0 at the Garden since the New Year, and have received a pair of Tim Thomas shutouts over their last four home games. Only one of the four meetings between the two teams this season has been at the Garden, with the B’€™s taking a 3-2 shootout win on Dec. 7.

– The Sabres are 9-9-4 on the road this season and have gone 2-1-1 away from HSBC Arena in 2011. In their most recent road contest, they took a 5-3 loss to the Islanders on Saturday.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

– Four different Bruins’€™ defenseman scored in the Jan. 1 game, as the B’€™s got first-period goals from Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara in the first, as well as third-period tally from Steven Kampfer. The defense wasn’€™t exactly overwhelming in their own end, as the B’€™s blew three different leads in the game.

- Ryan Miller has started 22 games dating back to Nov. 26. And people were worried about Thomas’€™ eight in a row last month’€¦

– The Bruins have the second-best goal differential in the Eastern Conference at plus-39. The Sabres have a minus-9 differential.

Mark Recchi has four multi-point games in the Bruins’€™ last 12. Linemate Patrice Bergeron has five multi-point games in that stretch.There’s no doubting that their line with Brad Marchand has been one of the most consistent of late.

Johnny Boychuk scored his first goal of the season Tuesday in Carolina. He was initially credited with the goal, a blast from the point, before credit was given to Marc Savard. A second change to call gave the goal to Boychuk for good.

STORYLINES GOING IN

– The Sabres are eight points out of a playoff spot, and have played less games than every team currently in line for a trip to the postseason. Given how they’€™ve fared against the B’€™s thus far and the fact that they’€™re coming off a win over the Canadiens, this is a big game for the Sabres. The Bruins have played 46 games to the Sabres’€™ 45, though the eighth-place Thrashers have played 48. Buffalo isn’€™t counting this season as a lost one, and even without Derek Roy, who had 35 points in 35 games before a left quadriceps tear ended his season in December.

– Ference was again kept out of Tuesday’€™s game, with Claude Julien saying he could have played in a pinch. Ultimately, both Kampfer and Adam McQuaid have filled in admirably for the B’€™s and the team doesn’€™t feel pressured to rush Ference back at the risk of the upper-body injury that’€™s ailed him. Ference has missed the last three games for the Bruins.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Patrice Bergeron
Bruins look to make it two wins in two days vs. Hurricanes 01.18.11 at 12:05 pm ET
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The Bruins and Hurricanes have taken turns shutting one another out this season, and on Tuesday, the Canes will look to avenge a 7-0 beatdown the B’s delivered on Monday. Tim Thomas had his seventh shutout, while Zdeno Chara notched his first career hat trick.

WHERE IT’S AT

– The Hurricanes are 11-7-2 at the RBC Center this season. They’ve won their last three home games, the most recent of which was a 6-4 win over the Lightning on Saturday.

– The Bruins are 13-5-4 in road games this season. They have picked up points in each of their last seven away games (4-0-3). It’s been over a week since they’ve played outside of the Garden, with the B’s scoring four goals in the final 3:23 against the Penguins in a 4-3 victory in Pittsburgh last Monday.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

– Only two of Thomas’ seven shutouts have come against teams that would have a playoff spot if the season were to end today, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s leading the league in the category and both the other major goaltending categories (GAA and save percentage). Claude Julien has given Thomas the next start following each of his shutouts this season.

– Despite not picking up any points on Monday, Carolina rookie Jeff Skinner still has eight (5 G, 3 A) over his last six games. The seventh overall pick has 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points. His point total leads all rookies, with Brad Marchand‘s 19 points putting him 10th and Tyler Seguin‘s 16 putting him 14th.

– After going 0-for-13 on the power play from Dec. 30 to Jan. 8, the Bruins have picked it up on the man advantage, going 5-for-22 in five games since. They are still just 19th in the league with a 17.5 power play percentage, though their fourth-ranked penalty kill hasn’t allowed a goal in four games.

Milan Lucic has gone 12 goals without a game, though he did shoot a puck past a goaltender who tried saving it, if that counts for anything, on Monday. Lucic still leads the B’s with 16 goals on the season.

Adam McQuaid, Marc Savard, and Mark Stuart tied for a game-high plus-3 rating on Monday. McQuaid was one of four Bruins to have a multi-point game in the matinee. Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci also had multiple points on the day.

STORYLINES GOING IN

– Will Andrew Ference play? It doesn’t necessarily seem that way after Claude Julien addressed the media this morning and called the defenseman “questionable” to go.

Julien had said Monday that he was a possibility for Tuesday’s game, and that it would be a tough decision regarding which guy to sit. While that likely won’t pertain to Tuesday, it’s still a question worth exploring. Both Steven Kampfer and McQuaid have played very well, and both have four points over their last four games. Kampfer brings the Bruins more of what they need with his abilities as a puck-moving defenseman, but the B’s might also want McQuaid in there in case it’s a more physical game following the B’s beatdown of the Canes Monday.

– The Bruins chased Cam Ward from Monday’s game in less than 12 minutes, though Paul Maurice said following the contest that he expects Ward to start Tuesday. Justin Peters wasn’t much of an improvement over Ward, as he allowed five goals over the rest of the game and racked up four penalty minutes.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara,
Tuukka Rask to start for vs. Penguins; Milan Lucic, Andrew Ference out 01.15.11 at 12:10 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters prior to Saturday’s game against the Penguins that Tuukka Rask will start for the B’s. Rask’s last start came against the Penguins, as he earned a win in the Bruins’ 4-2 come-from-behind victory in Pittsburgh on Monday.

Milan Lucic will miss his third straight game with an undisclosed injury, while Andrew Ference will miss his first game of the season due to an upper-body injury. Ference, who played in the team’s first 43 games, left Thursday’s 7-5 victory over Philadelphia after the second period. Rookie Matt Bartkowski, who was called up from Providence on an emergency basis Friday, is expected to play in his place.

Bartkowski made his NHL debut on Monday in Pittsburgh, posting a minus-1 in 9:53 of ice time. He was filling in for Adam McQuaid and was returned to Providence the following day.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Matt Bartkowski, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask
Claude Julien: Andrew Ference ‘very questionable’ vs. Penguins 01.14.11 at 3:39 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters on Friday that defenseman Andrew Ference is dealing with an upper-body injury, explaining his absence in the third period of Thursday night’s 7-5 win over the Flyers.

Julien said that Ference is “very questionable” for Saturday’s game against the Penguins.

“We’re hoping it’s minor enough that we’ll see him back soon,” Julien said.

Given Ference’s status, the Bruins on Friday morning called up Matt Bartkowski on an emergency basis from Providence.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Matt Bartkowski,
Bruins lead Sabres, 4-3, after one 01.01.11 at 8:13 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask probably wasn’t planning on allowing three goals in the first period, but he’s got a 4-3 lead to play with as the Bruins and Sabres enter the second period.

Just 1:29 into the contest, Marc Savard won a face-off to set up an Andrew Ference goal from the point. After Ference’s streak of 99 games without a goal ended last month, the blueliner saw to it that there would only be five games between occurrences of him scoring.

Jason Pominville got the Sabres on the board shortly after, though Dennis Seidenberg and Brad Marchand would add goals for the Bruins to make it 3-1 just over five minutes into the game.

With the Sabres on a 2-on-1, Thomas Vanek appared to trip Ference when going for the puck, but when no penalty was called, Vanek beat Rask to make it a 3-2 game. To make matters worse, Savard was called for a questionable slash four seconds later.

The penalty would prove to be a blessing in disguise. With the B’s on the penalty kill. Mark Recchi got the puck up to Patrice Bergeron to create a 2-on-1, and Bergeron slid it across to Zdeno Chara, who put sent it past Ryan Miller for a shorthanded goal. It was Chara’s first goal in 24 games.

With less than a minute remaining in the period, Rask was unable to hold onto a puck long enough to get a whistle, and Drew Stafford knocked it in to make it 4-3.

The Sabres have outshot the Bruins, 16-11.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Brad Marchand, Dennis Seidenberg, Tuukka Rask
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