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Claude Julien still sees plenty of room for improvement 01.26.13 at 10:46 am ET
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The Bruins have started out 3-0-1 and have looked impressive in the process.

But for 40 minutes Friday night, Claude Julien watched as his team was sluggish, falling behind 2-1 to the Islanders before recovering to tie the game, 2-2, before the third period.

Zdeno Chara scored on a perfect pass from Milan Lucic with just under 13 minutes left to break the tie and Patrice Bergeron add late insurance in a 4-2 win.

“Obviously happy we haven’t lost in regulation yet. But, I don’t think we’re extremely happy with our game [Friday],” Julien said. “For 40 minutes, I didn’t think we were on top of our game, we didn’t seem to be in sync, we didn’t seem to have the energy that we usually show. So, it was a struggle for us tonight, but the last 20 were a little bit better, we found a way to win. A lot of times, that’s what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to push through those kind of nights and we did. So, you take the two points and you move on.”
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Do the Dougie: 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton is a Bruins sensation 01.25.13 at 10:32 pm ET
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He’s only 19 but defenseman Dougie Hamilton is already showing why the Bruins’ management felt comfortable putting him right into the fire of the NHL.

Hamilton had two assists as the Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 4-2 Friday night at TD Garden. The crowd began to chant his name in the third period after his outlet pass set up Patrice Bergeron‘s insurance goal. The players are already singing to him in the locker room, asking him to — as the song says — “Teach me how to Dougie.”

Claude Julien noted Hamilton work in juniors that prepared him for his debut early on in this shortened season.

“There’s a couple of things that’s happened to help him along the way here,” Julien said. “He’s been playing since September with his junior team, he’s gone to the World Juniors, so he’s played in high-caliber tournaments. So, he’s got that experience and he’s come in here with a good jump, having played four months of hockey and right now he’s playing with a lot of confidence. The guys that he’s playing with have been extremely helpful with him on the ice.

“I think that’s why our [front office] guys drafted him, because they saw a lot of things we’re seeing right now. We liked his size, we liked the way he moved on the ice, but at the same time, we thought he had real good hockey sense. He sees the ice well, he finds the passing lanes and you saw on that goal, breakout out of our own end. You see the guy scoring, but it all starts from our end, and that was from his pass to [Brad] Marchand and to Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] for the breakaway. Those kind of things is what our scouts saw in him and those kind of things he’s demonstrating right now. You have to be pleased and impressed with a young player playing the way he has been.”

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Late charge: Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron lift Bruins to win over Islanders at 9:35 pm ET
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Daniel Paille decks Islanders defenseman Brian Strait as the Bruins and Islanders battled at the Garden. (AP)

Zdeno Chara fired a wrist shot past Rick DiPietro with just under 13 minutes left in the third period to break a 2-2 tie, as the Bruins bounced back from their first loss of the season with a 4-2 win over the Islanders Friday night at TD Garden. Rookie sensation Dougie Hamilton added two assists and set up Boston’s fourth goal with a pretty outlet pass as the Garden crowd began to chant his name.

The Bruins overcame a two-goal night from Waltham and Chelmsford, Mass. native Keith Aucoin to improve to 3-0-1 in the young season. With seven points on the season, they also have gained a point in all four games.

Tuukka Rask has started all four games and stopped 24 of 26 shots on the night to record his third win.

The Bruins jumped on top just under five minutes into the game when Shawn Thornton collected a loose puck and put it past DiPietro. Hamilton set up the goal when he took a shot from the right point that deflected off the stick of Daniel Paille. DiPietro couldn’t control the shot and Thornton was in the right spot on the doorstep for his first goal of the season and Hamilton’s second NHL point.

The Islanders tied it six minutes later when the red-hot Aucoin took a pass from Colin McDonald from the side of the net and put it past Rask.

The first period featured a fight between Milan Lucic in which the Bruins leveled Matt Carkner with a right cross, getting the Friday night Garden crowd into the game.

The Islanders opened the second period on the power play. While they couldn’t score, they used the advantage to gain momentum of the game. That proved productive when Rask and the Bruins allowed a loose puck to bounce uncontrolled to the high slot. Aucoin was in the right spot at the right time again and blasted a slap shot past Rask at 9:50 of the period for an unassisted goal, his second of the game and third in two nights.

The Bruins used good fortune to gain the equalizer four minutes later when David Krejci threw a puck on net from the far boards. The puck glanced off the skate of Islanders defenseman Joe Finley and onto the stick of Gregory Campell, who put it past DiPietro to make it 2-2 after 40 minutes.

With just under 13 minutes left, the Bruins regained the lead when Lucic took a pass from Nathan Horton and fired a pass from the right circle to the tape of Chara. The Bruins captain snapped a wrist shot from the slot past DiPietro to give the Bruins the lead with 12:53 remaining. It was his first goal of the season and he pumped both hands in the air in relief after the goal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Claude Julien is a perfect fit for the Bruins 07.24.12 at 3:49 pm ET
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There are plenty of reasons Peter Chiarelli and Bruins management decided to extend the contract of Claude Julien this week.

First of all, his contract was expired after last season.

Secondly, no one else since Harry Sinden has been behind the bench as the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.

And thirdly, no one is more respected for his ability to blend character, discipline and humor the way Julien has since taking over for Dave Lewis after the 2006-07 season.

There’s another much more subtle reason to keep Julien behind the bench for the Black and Gold – stability. Should the Bruins and the rest of the NHL not figure out their pending labor issues by the Sept. 15 deadline, the season could easily be shortened, and like the NFL and NBA in 2011, teams may have to wing it to get their teams ready for competition.

No one knows more what he wants or expects from the Bruins than Julien.

“The one thing you try to do as a coach is keep things fresh,” Julien said at his contract extension press conference at TD Garden Tuesday. “Every year you try to attack certain areas that will maybe change just a little bit that will give guys a fresher look. That’s how you keep your team interested, intact and hopefully competitive.”

To Chiarelli, what he sees is a coach over five years that hasn’t just won a Stanley Cup, he’s instilled just the right amount of discipline, walking that fine line between motivation and expectation from his players.

“Leadership in a coach manifests itself different ways with different people,” Chiarelli said. “To me, I like to talk about a coach’s persona. His person in a venue like this [press conference] and his persona in the room. It’s about commanding respect. It’s about motivating the players in a respectful way and a professional way. It’s about the ideas, the formats, the approaches. It’s all professional, it’s all to an end. There’s a plan.

“Claude’s ability to have that persona and have players respect what he stands for and to be able to deliver that message in a way that engages them, that’s what I see as leadership and that’s what Claude has, and a large part of that leadership is character.”

For Julien, there have been rocky times to be sure. Remember the May 13, 2010 when the Flyers completed their comeback from 3-0 down to eliminate the Bruins? Remember in their Cup run of 2011 when P.K. Subban scored to force overtime in Game 7 in the first round. If the Bruins don’t win that game, it’s a near certainty that Julien is not up on the dais Tuesday talking about his vision for the Bruins. Even this year, when the Bruins were fading a bit in the final two months of the season, falling from first to third in the East, there were whispers that players were tuning out Julien. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tommy Cross: A development camp legend 06.29.12 at 5:11 pm ET
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Tommy Cross won two NCAA titles with BC. (AP)

WILMINGTON — A few years before Matt Grzelcyk was drafted, the Charlestown native went to Ristuccia Arena to watch the Bruins run their development camp. One of the players he watched at the camp was 2007 second-round pick Tommy Cross.

Cross, who just capped off a four-year career at Boston College with his second NCAA championship and third Beanpot title, has been a constant at the Bruins development camp. He hasn’t always been able to participate (he’s had three major knee surgeries), but he’s been there since the camp started.

Cross made his first appearance at the first camp in 2007, when the team was evaluating the then-17-year-old alongside players such as David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask and Adam McQuaid. Now, the 22-year-old Cross is the veteran of the camp, playing alongside younger prospects such as Dougie Hamiton, Malcolm Subban, Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner.

But while the players changed around him, the development camp has been a familiar experience for the Westminster, Conn. native.

“[It is the] same as usual,” Cross said. “It is a really good learning experience. You can still take a lot out of these camps no matter how many times you come here.

“You know what to expect. They change it up every year obviously. They kind of keep you on your toes. But you know the staff pretty well. You know some of the other players.”

As the veteran member of the camp, the former BC captain has become a leader among the Bruins’ prospects, especially those who are here for the first time. One player who is at his first development camp is goaltender Parker Milner, who won a national championship alongside Cross last season.

“Tommy is intense,” Milner said. “Whether it is the first practice here or the national championship, he is going to be intense. But he looks good out there. I think he is ready to make the jump and his leadership is next to none.”

This will be Cross’ final development camp, as he is expected to play next season with the Providence Bruins. Cross played two games with Providence last season, using the experience to get better acclimated to professional game as opposed to the college game.

“The guys in the AHL are obviously older,” Cross said. “It is a little bit more of a controlled style. I think college hockey is a great place for learning though, and I prepared myself for the next level and the AHL is kind of like a new system.”

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Peter Chiarelli: Tuukka Rask ‘wants to prove to me that he is a No. 1 goalie’ at 1:19 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Speaking between sessions at Friday’s development camp, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed the team’s agreement in principle with goaltender Tuukka Rask on a one-year, $3.5 million deal. For bookkeeping purposes, the team will not register the deal until Sunday, the first day of free agency. Rask would have become a restricted free agent Sunday, and he will be one at the end of his upcoming deal.

While Rask only agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth $3.5 million, he certainly plans to be in Boston past next season. According to the general manager, Rask agreed to the one-year deal so he could prove that he is worth a long-term contract.

“He wants to prove that he is the No. 1 goalie for the Bruins for a long time,” Chiarelli said. “This was the easiest way to set the stage for that. Tuukka has been a really good goalie for us, but for one year he hasn’t been the number one goalie. The stage is set for him and we will see where it takes us.”

The contract, which is less money and less years than that of comparable goalies Ondrej Pavelec (five years, $19.5 million) and Cory Schneider (three years, $12 million), prevents Rask from testing the market as a restricted free agent.

“He could have went out and tried to do [arbitration], or tested free agency, and he is not,” Chiarelli said. “He wants to be a member of the Boston Bruins for a long time and I like to hear that. I know you hear that often when you sign guys, but Tuukka throughout since he has been here, he has started here, and he has been patient.

“He has worked in Providence and he has worked as a backup. He is following the steps. I like that. I like that he wants to prove to me that he is a number one goalie.”

Rask, who has a .926 save percentage and a 2.20 goals against average in 102 games with the Bruins, spent the past two seasons backing up Tim Thomas. However, with Thomas likely to sit out next season, Rask will be thrust into the starting role, something that Chiarelli thinks he is capable of handling.

“We saw [good performance from Rask] for a large portion of [2009-10],” Chiarelli said. “He’s coming back earlier to train. I guess the proof is in the pudding at the end of the day, but $3.5 million isn’t chump change. He’s shown to me that he’s ready to take that next step.”

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Patrice Bergeron and Bruins powerless to stop Caps when it mattered most 04.26.12 at 11:52 am ET
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It was as if the hockey gods were sending a message to the Bruins.

Jason Chimera hugged Johnny Boychuk ever so briefly, as the two went to the ice in the Bruins defensive zone. Chimera was called for a highly suspect and questionable holding penalty with 2:26 left in regulation of a 1-1 contest in Game 7.

If the Bruins could muster simply one power play goal, they almost certainly would be headed on to the second round and have escaped a first-round scare like they did in 2011.

But all the Bruins could muster was a harmless shot from the high slot from Brian Rolston as the power play dwindled to a precious few seconds. As was the case for most of the series, the Bruins could even get the puck on the sticks of the playmakers to organize a threat.

One shot on the season’s most important power play chance. Scoreless in three chances in Game 7. Two goals in 23 power play chances in the series.

Even when the hockey gods tempted, the Bruins could not control their own fate.

No one felt the pain more than Patrice Bergeron, who was playing with an arm/shoulder injury so bad he couldn’t take faceoffs in Games 6 and 7.

“It’s obvious that we had to better on the power play and we didn’t do that and at least create some momentum out of it and I don’t think we did that,” Bergeron said. “But, more than that I think it’s about especially Game 7, you have to find ways.”

The Bruins were very, very lucky last year to win the Stanley Cup with an inept power play for three rounds. This year, it would be why they are eliminated after one round.

“When you talk about [the game], that’s probably the most frustrating part of our game, was that power play that could have ended the series and the game,” added Bruins coach Claude Julien. “But, I guess, when you look at the whole picture, I think it was more than that. At the end of the series, you look at their team, and you look at ours, and they were the better team. They had more guys going than we did, and they played us tough. It was unfortunate that we’ve got to look at this one incident because it did play a big role in, but a lot of the damage had been done before that as well.”

It was Bergeron who had the series-winning shot on his stick 40 seconds into overtime, only to have Karl Alzner come over and interrupt glory, knocking Bergeron and the puck off target.

“It kind of exploded – just rolled on my stick and the puck was bouncing I just tried to go quick because obviously there wasn’t a lot of time and the puck wouldn’t settle,” Bergeron said.

“You look at all the overtime goals in this series, it’s always like that. It’s a tough break or a lucky bounce and the other team doesn’t get that and I think that’s what it is. It’s overtime, it’s one shot so yeah.”

Bergeron is captain material.

All you have to do is listen to him not address the seriousness of his arm injury following the toughest loss of the year to appreciate his leadership.

“I don’t want to use that [excuse],” Bergeron said. “I’ll let [media] know, I don’t want to talk about it right now if you guys don’t mind. Obviously on the checkout day so I’ll let you guys know.

“It’s there, it was a little better but not much better but like I said I don’t want to use that as an excuse right now. It’s a tough one to swallow and I really don’t want to put that on an injury. I’m not the only one that goes through that stuff.”

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