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Ice Guru: ‘Good Lord couldn’t have done better’ 01.01.10 at 12:22 pm ET
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When you play an outdoor hockey game on New Year’s Day in Boston, sometimes you need some divine intervention.

The Bruins, Flyers and NHL got just that on Friday when the weather turned out perfect for the Winter Classic – and most importantly the ice at Fenway Park.

“Awesome,” NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig said of the ice. “The Good Lord couldn’t have done better for us right now.”

This isn’t the first time Craig has found religion for the sake of playing an outdoor hockey game.

“Buffalo for me, was very stressful,” he said of the 2008 classic between the Sabres and Penguins. “[I was] praying that we could have a good game. Chicago [2009], with our new equipment, [I was] nervous but confident in our equipment and the crew and knowing we were going to have a good game, which we did. And today, it is a calm confidence that we are going to have an awesome, awesome day at the park.”

Many fans assume that the colder the better for the ice. Not necessarily. If it’s too cold, the ice gets too brittle. Last year at Wrigley Field the temperatures hovered in the low 20s. So the forecast for 38 degrees at face-off work well for Craig and the NHL.

“Today is different from Chicago, due to the weather and how warm it’s going to be,” Craig said. “My crew can monitor ice conditions as they’re happening on the field of play. I will be in tune with them and with the engineer on the truck because I have to make sure that the truck goes down slowly in temperature as the temperature rises outside.

“Right on target – within tenths of a degree of the target, which is 24 degrees. We’re right where we want to be.”

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Hard-earned break 12.24.09 at 11:11 am ET
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Thanks to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and its players, the Bruins won’t have to worry about stepping back onto the ice for the next couple of days.

And thanks to their power play on Wednesday night, they can take nice thoughts with them over the Christmas break.

The Bruins broke an 0-for-13 drought on the power play, scoring three times in five chances on Wednesday night in a 6-4 win against the Atlanta Thrashers at TD Garden – a team by the way they will face exactly one week later on the same sheet of ice.

The Bruins, now with 43 points, also finished up the break with two key wins against Ottawa and Atlanta, two teams that coming into the week, were neck-and-neck with the Bruins for 4th and 5th place in the Eastern Conference.

Here are some of the highlights from a happy locker room as the Bruins take a break before lacing them up again on Sunday in Florida against the Panthers and Monday in St. Pete against the Lightning.

Marc Savard said it was an exciting win.

Savard said it was nice to finally get the power play working.

Mark Recchi said it was big to get wins against Ottawa and Atlanta before the break.

Coach Claude Julien said what’s most important is the Bruins finding a way to win.

Julien said the team dealt with the holiday distractions.

Captain Zdeno Chara said it was big to win with Ottawa and Atlanta chasing them in the East.

Chara said it was nice to finally see the power play clicking.

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Julien: ‘We collapsed’ in third period meltdown 12.15.09 at 1:39 am ET
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Claude Julien expected more from his team on Monday night.

He thought after his Bruins killed a 5-on-3 Philadelphia power play in the first period, they would come out for the jugular.

He thought after they worked and worked and finally got a late second-period goal from Vladimir Sobokta on a lucky re-direct of a centering pass from Shawn Thornton, they would find a way to put away the Flyers in the third period. They were 9-0-0 before Monday night in similar situations this season.

And he thought, despite a Sobokta goal being disallowed earlier in the game, the Bruins would outwork the dispirited Flyers and come away with two points.

If Monday’s game were a multiple choice game, none of the above would be the correct answer as the Flyers scored three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes and came away with a much-needed, much deserved 3-1 win at TD Garden.

Claude Julien said his team simply collapsed in a third-period meltdown.

Julien said he expected more from his team after killing a Flyers 5-on-3 power play.

Julien said he was disappointed his team wasn’t ready for the third.

Zdeno Chara said two good periods wasn’t good enough on Monday.

Chara said the Flyers played like the hungrier team.

Mark Recchi said the Bruins had no killer instinct.

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Kesselmania over – we can get on with our lives 12.11.09 at 1:37 am ET
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Even Claude Julien had to take notice of the TV-generated hype over Phil Kessel’s return to Boston twice in the last five days.

Yes, he was a terrifically talented player who could score and strike the fear of hockey gods into the opposition if given space on ice to wheel and deal.

But the Bruins knew full well how to contain No. 81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He had two shots in 16 minutes in Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Boston. On Thursday, just five days later, Kessel’s line wasn’ t much prettier.

He had 22 shifts in over 18 minutes with just two shots, no goals and two face-off wins as the Bruins won again, 5-2. Not exactly what Toronto coach Ron Wilson had in mind but just what Claude Julien and the Bruins drew up in practice this week when discussing Kessel.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said he was very proud of the way his team contained the explosive Toronto forward.

Julien said his team wasn’t obsessed with Kessel and did a good job of not being affected by ‘Kesselmania’.

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Kessel: ‘there was pressure’ 12.05.09 at 10:30 pm ET
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Here is Phil Kessel in his postgame chat with reporters following his two-shot, -3 performance against the Bruins in Boston’s 7-2 win.

Kessel spoke about the boos, the chants and his inability to solve the Bruins’ defense all night.

Some other notable quotes from No. 81:

“There was pressure but that was probably the worst game I’ve played in a while. I’ve got to be better.” Kessel, with two shots, -3 rating and 16:28 of ice time.

“Yeah, you hear it but it doesn’t get to you. I just didn’t have a good game tonight and I have to be better.” Kessel on the boos and the chants of ‘Kessel, Kessel’ all night.

“You figure you come back and that’s what’s going to happen. It’s part of the game. Obviously, I didn’t play very well.” Kessel on the boos.

But maybe it was Toronto head coach Ron Wilson who put the game in perspective: “We stunk and we’ll move on. We were horrific defensively in Columbus. Joey [MacDonald] had a great game. And tonight, the same mistakes, the Bruins took advantage. The game was over halfway through the second period, so unfortunately we couldn’t do anything right.”

Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman was injured and is a question mark for the rematch with Toronto on Thursday in Boston.

“Hopefully minor injury. Call it upper body. Hopefully ready for Thursday,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien on Wideman injury.

Julien admitted he was fired up in his pregame speech to the team after a 5-1 debacle in Montreal 24 hours earlier.

“It would have been totally unacceptable for us to come out and not be ready to play.” Julien said. ”We had to redeem ourselves and it was fortunate we had back-to-back games to do that.”

“I guess, fired up, we needed that,” added Patrice Bergeron. “We needed that big effort we all knew before this game that we needed to bounce back. Last night was embarrassing and especially in front of our fans today we needed a big effort and we did it.”

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Bruins Dec. 2 Post Game 12.03.09 at 10:36 am ET
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Marc Savard talks about his new contract and 200th goal, Claude Julien says the Bruins are getting into a groove, and Patrice Bergeron discusses the 4-1 win over Tampa Bay.

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Julien has had enough 11.16.09 at 11:12 pm ET
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Claude Julien has had enough.

The Bruins head coach, who won the Jack Adams Award last year as the NHL’s best coach, has had enough of his team not coming out hungry. He’s had enough of his team feeling frustrated for hitting posts and crossbars. He’s had enough of injuries and weak power players. And, of course, he’s had enough of losing games.

But maybe most telling following Monday’s 4-1 lackluster loss to a hungrier, tougher Islanders team on Monday night, Julien had enough of answering for his players.

Julien doesn’t want to hear his players talk anymore about coming out flat.

Julien said his team is not playing smart hockey.

Julien said his team has no identity right now.

David Krejci said the Bruins just aren’t doing the little things right now to find goal-scoring success.

Krejci said it’s inexcusable not to score on the 5-on-3 power play they had.

Derek Morris said the Bruins were just outworked by the Islanders.

Morris said the Bruins were just flat the whole game.

Blake Wheeler said the Bruins just aren’t doing enough of the dirty work.

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