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Claude Julien: Bruins need to freshen up 11.11.10 at 11:56 pm ET
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Bruins head coach Claude Julien admitted that his team didn’t have fresh legs against Montreal, one night after scoring five goals in the third period of a 7-4 win over the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

Former Boston College and New Jersey Devils star Brian Gionta scored the go-ahead goal on the power play just 29 seconds into the third period as the Canadiens beat Tuukka Rask and the Bruins, 3-1, Thursday night at TD Garden. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara took an interference penalty in the final eight seconds of the second period to give the Canadiens the man-advantage to start the third.

On Wednesday in Pittsburgh, the Bruins trailed, 4-2, heading into the final period. This night, the Bruins were tied but had no jump in the final 20 minutes and it showed.

“Probably the first half of the first period, we were fine,” Julien said. “I think what happened tonight was totally different. We just, we ran out of legs. We just didn’t have the legs and progressively our game got worse. We looked more and more tired and got a fresh team waiting for you here at home in a divisional game.

“It’s a big game, they’re ready for us,” Julien said of the Canadiens. “I’m going to stand here and say our guys really wanted it bad enough, but when you don’t have your legs, the rest of your game kind of falls apart as well. A big part of your game looked bad. That’s what it is. You can try and push your players all you want, but if they don’t have the legs, they don’t have the legs. So that, to me, is what I saw happening tonight. You got a couple of tough penalties that we took, put us in trouble as well. And you know, sometimes when you’re tired, not only your legs, but your mind maybe doesn’t work as well.”

The Canadiens scored their first two goals on the power play and got an insurance tally from Scott Gomez midway through the third as the visitors peppered Rask with 41 shots on the night. Chara took a perfect pass from Milan Lucic and scored the only goal for the Bruins at 15:49 of the first to tie the game. It was his fourth of the season.

Rask, who was making his fourth start, remains winless this season with a record of 0-4-1. The win gave the Canadiens 21 points, four more than the second-place Bruins in the Northeast Division.

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T.J. Oshie defends hit on David Krejci 11.06.10 at 11:43 pm ET
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The Bruins are awaiting further word on the health of top-line center David Krejci after his head collided with the far center boards on a check by St. Louis center T.J. Oshie with 4:15 left in overtime on Saturday night at TD Garden. He was on the ice for a minute before getting to his knees and then his feet. He was helped off the ice by Zdeno Chara and Andrew Ference and then headed directly to the dressing room and did not return.

“Not yet,” Julien said when asked if he had any word on Krejci’s condition. “Obviously, he got his bell rung there We don’t know what the severity is yet. I didn’t see the replay. He’s here and he’s being evaluated.”

Krejci, who was knocked out of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers last spring with a dislocated wrist, leads the team in assists (8) through 11 games and is tied for second with Milan Lucic in points (10), one behind Nathan Horton.

Oshie defended the hit, which was not penalized.

“Just two guys going at the puck, Oshie said. “I tried to get low and get a good center of gravity. He was coming at me. From what it looked like, he was coming to hit me as well. It was a had battle tonight, a physical game. I certainly hope that he’s ok and he’ll be back.”

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Milt Schmidt meant more to Tim Thomas than Phil Kessel 10.29.10 at 1:14 am ET
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Don’t get Tim Thomas wrong. He still respects Phil Kessel.

It’s just that on this night – one to honor a man with 75 years of history with the Boston Bruins – it was more important for the goalie to focus on getting the win, not the lightning rod of the Hub’s hockey fans.

And focus is exactly what Thomas did, turning away all 20 shots over 60 minutes in posting his 19th career shutout – a 2-0 dispatch of the Toronto Maple Leafs before a fired-up TD Garden sellout crowd.

“Yeah, you know, it being Milt Schmidt night, the best thing we could do for him I think was to get a win, and so we were trying hard to get a good result,” Thomas said. “I mean, just listening to the accomplishments, that that man has had as part of the Bruins organization, and he deserved the win tonight, so we were focusing on that.

“Now as far as Phil Kessel goes, the other side of that coin there the you’re talking about, we’re not thinking about that We’re thinking about the two points. We needed the win. Especially we needed to bounce back after a loss, so we’re not thinking about individuals like that. At least, I’m not.”

That doesn’t mean Kessel didn’t have his chances. He had six shots on net, including one point-blank in the second period when Kessel came up the slot and took possession of a loose puck in front of Thomas.

“Oh, was it? On the other side? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I remember that,” Thomas recalled.

When you’re stopping players like Phil Kessel point blank, you’re likely putting up great numbers. And that’s what Thomas has been doing, ever since getting the start in the season’s second game.

He has two shutouts, including Thursday’s 2-0 win. He is a perfect 5-0 with a 0.60 goals against average. His save percentage is a near-perfect .980.

Is the best start he’s ever had?

“Well, probably statistically? I feel obviously that I’m playing good. The team is playing very well in front of me. They’re really helping me out with rebounds, screens, blocking in the screens, I mean. [Dennis] Seidenberg had as many saves as I did tonight, and that’s making it very helpful.”

The five straight wins to start a season is the best by a Boston goalie since Tiny Thompson went 6-0-0 in his first six games of the 1937-38 season.

Added coach Claude Julien, “Solid again. I think we can’t say enough about the way he’s played. What I liked about his game too, you know, they had some shots from the point and he did a great job of not giving any rebounds. He kept those inside of him. I thought he did a great job of smothering those loose pucks and just solid challenging and confident.”

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Mike Milbury on D&C: ‘Don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now’ 10.27.10 at 2:31 pm ET
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Mike Milbury

Mike Milbury

NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday for his weekly hockey update and discussion of other hot topics regarding the Bruins. Milbury also talked about the latest debate, which has been the goaltender situation thus far in the season.

“It’s how to handle both of them, not just Tuukka [Rask],” Milbury said. “I don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now just because [Tim] Thomas has had a good start. It looks like they’re going to battle for the top spot, and I think one of the things … is the schedule. I mean, they go overseas, they play two games, they get basically a full week off, they played three more and then they get four days off. There’s no rhythm for any of their players, not just the goaltenders.”

Following are highlights from the conversation. To hear the entire interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Can we assume the hype we saw last night in Boston won’t be matched, but will at least be evident as Phil Kessel returns to the Garden with the Maple Leafs tomorrow night?

Yeah, it’ll be fun, and the Maple Leafs are winning their share of games, so it should be competitive. They’re not trading on the back end. I mean, they’re supposed to be strong on the blue line, but they’ll, they cough it up regularly, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to score. [Jean-Sebastien] Giguere‘s been backstopping the goals against, so it’s been OK, but they’re a vulnerable team, but at least they’re playing with some vinegar, and so it should be a pretty good matchup.

If each goaltender starts roughly 40 games, what’s the best way to handle two goaltenders, and Tuukka, who’s been shaky lately?

That’s a great question. I mean, it’s how to handle both of them, not just Tuukka. I don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now just because Thomas has had a good start. It looks like they’re going to battle for the top spot, and I think one of the things, before I try to answer that question, that has conspired against Rask and Thomas is the schedule. I mean, they go overseas, they play two games, they get basically a full week off, they played three more and then they get four days off. There’s no rhythm for any of their players, not just the goaltenders.

But once they get into the need of their schedule, you know, I think there’s plenty of room to let a guy run two, three or even four games in a row. But if you really want to keep the party going in terms of competition, once you get into five and six games in a row for one guy, you’re asking much from the other guy to just bounce back and be excellent in his first start.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Tim Thomas is a happy man 10.22.10 at 12:01 pm ET
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At the end of last year and in the playoffs, Tim Thomas wasn’t smiling that much. He was in pain from not playing and from bad hip that required labrum surgery in the offseason.

Fast forward five months and you have a spry 36-year-old goalie sliding easily from post to post, stopping 38-of-39 saves in a 4-1 win over the mighty Washington Capitals in the team’s first game of the season before a fired-up crowd at TD Garden. He is 4-0 to start the season, allowing only three goals while posting a 0.75 goals against and a .978 save percentage.

Why wouldn’t you be smiling?

“I felt good, I felt really good,” Thomas said. “My movement felt real good and maybe there was some rebounds, where there’s a different kind of on, where it just sticks to you and there’s no rebounds and stuff. I didn’t exactly have that tonight, so my D helped me out with the rebounds, but I had the movement and the speed. One of these days, you’ll have everything and one of these days I’ll play the puck the right way too.

“I think it’s been exceptional the last couple of weeks since, you know, I got back into the groove. I felt it coming in the early days of Czech and you know, it’s fun when you can move.”

Thomas even admitted he’s exceeded his own expectations in his recovery.

“For sure, and obviously, I couldn’t be happier with the way I’m feeling this far,” Thomas said. “You know, now I’ve just got to keep working hard and keep working in practice, and there’s ways that I can make it easier on myself. That will be my goal in practice.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Capitals 4, Bruins 1 09.29.10 at 10:35 pm ET
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And finally, it’s off to Europe.

The 24 hours leading up to Wednesday night’s red-eye, 5 1/2-hour flight to Belfast, couldn’t have been more hectic for the Bruins.

They played Tuesday night in Washington and lost to the Capitals, 3-2, in a tense game that featured third-period rough-housing between Gregory Campbell and Alexander Ovechkin.

They hopped on a plane and had to come to Boston for the team’s annual media day Wednesday morning.

They then went home to finish up packing for a 12-day trip to Europe and came back to play the same Capitals team at TD Garden.

So it was hardly a surprise that in their final North American preseason tuneup before getting on a plane for Belfast, Ireland and their season opener on Oct. 9 in Prague, the Bruins dropped a 4-1 decision to the Capitals.

Tim Thomas saw his first action of the preseason and played all 60 minutes, allowing four goals on 24 shots. Niklas Backstrom scored the first two goals before the Capitals built their lead to 4-0 early in the third period.

Mark Recchi scored his first of the preseason midway through the third on a power play, with assists from Patrice Bergeron and Michael Ryder. The Bruins left immediately after the game for Logan Airport, where they caught a charter flight to Belfast. They will play an elite area team in Ireland on Oct. 3 before opening with the Phoenix Coyotes in a pair of games Oct. 9 and 10.

The Bruins finished their NHL portion of preseason with a 1-3-1 mark, while the Capitals, who did not travel superstar Alexander Ovechkin to Boston, remained perfect at 4-0-0 in preseason.

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First period summary: Capitals 1, Bruins 0 at 7:43 pm ET
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Tim Thomas faced six shots and stopped five as Nicklas Backstrom beat the veteran goaltender on a one-timer in front of the net midway through the period.

With teammate Tuukka Rask in sweats up in the press box halo looking on, Thomas looked solid, if not spectacular in his first preseason action this fall.

The Bruins managed just five shots on Capitals netminder Dany Sabourin.

The highlight of the period came two seconds in when Bruins center Gregory Campbell dropped the gloves with Capitals center Matt Hendricks. Just 24 hours earlier, Cambell got into it with Alexander Ovechkin as the two exchanged pleasantries at the Verizon Center.

Ovechkin cross-checked Campbell, who later came back at Ovechkin with a hard hit into the boards. The rough stuff continued and escalated in the third period.

Ovechkin didn’t make the trip so Hendricks was the stand-in and delivered the message at the earliest possible moment – the opening face-off.

As for the most anticipated talent in these parts since Joe Thornton, Tyler Seguin centered the line with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder. He played 5 minutes, 13 seconds and didn’t get a shot on goal. He was on the ice for the Backstrom goal and finished the period with a -1.

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