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Bruins know ‘how bad they want it’ 05.11.09 at 12:45 am ET
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We want it as bad as you. It’s been the slogan of these Boston Bruins all season.

On Sunday night, the Bruins showed their electrified fans how badly they want to become the first team in franchise history to come all the way back from a 3-1 series hole.

Sunday night’s 4-0 shellacking of the Carolina Hurricanes was Step 1 in what they hope is a three-step journey to history.

“You can over systems as much as you want to but it really comes down to, ‘How bad do you want it?’ You’ve got to give Carolina credit,” Bruins hitman Milan Lucic said. “They’ve just shown all series long that they’ve wanted it real bad and, especially Games 2,3 and 4, they really didn’t give us nothing and were on us like crazy. Today we did a better job of keeping our composure and having that will to win.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bruins, Hurricanes, Marc Savard, Milan Lucic
No Rust here 05.01.09 at 10:59 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien doesn’t hand out compliments freely.

But even he was impressed with the way his team handled the nine days since dispatching the Montreal Canadiens in four straight games as the Black and Gold skated past the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, Friday night at TD Banknorth Garden in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

On Friday night, the Bruins came out fast, stumbled and then regained the focus that has made them a viable Stanley Cup contender.

‘€œFor a team that hadn’€™t played in a week-and-a-half, I thought we came out decently and were pretty poised throughout the whole game and were patient and took advantage of our opportunities,” Julien said. “But no doubt, I think our team was as good as we could have expected for tonight.’€

The Bruins got on the board when David Krejci redirected an Aaron Ward shot from the right point just 94 seconds into the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bruins, Hurricanes, NHL, Stanley Cup Playoffs
Hunwick Hospitalized with Spleen issue 04.18.09 at 11:34 am ET
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Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick has been hospitalized with a spleen-related issue, according to Bruins head coach Claude Julien. Hunwick was taken from the team’s practice facility at Ristuccia Arena this morning around 11 a.m. and transported to a local hospital.

According to The Bruins Blog, two ambulances, two fire trucks and two police vehicles were on the scene. The site also reports that Hunwick looked ‘extremely’ pale as he was taken off the ice. Veteran blueliner Shane Hnidy will replace Hunwick in Saturday night’s lineup for Game 2. The Bruins host Montreal tonight at 8 o’clock at TD Banknorth Garden in Game 2 of their first round series, leading the Canadiens, 1-0, in the best-of-seven series.

The Bruins issued the following release at 1 p.m.

“This morning Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick was transported to a local hospital due to a spleen injury. At this point there are no further details regarding Matt or his condition.

The Bruins ask that the media and general public respect Matt’s privacy at this time, and the club will provide an update on Matt’s condition when one is available.”

Read More: Bruins, Matt Hunwick, NHL,
Warning signs 04.16.09 at 8:15 pm ET
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The Canadiens came out and carried play for the first five minutes, spending most of the time in the Bruins end. A concern if for no other reason than they also dominated the final five minutes of the second period, including a game-tying laser by Alex Kovalev from the right circle.

It was the 43rd playoff tally for Kovalev, a rookie when the Rangers ended their 54-year Cup drought in 1994.

Kovalev’s goal was scored just seven seconds after the Bruins killed off Stephane Yelle’s goaltender interference penalty.

2-2 with 12:17 to go in the third. And the crowd that was waving the yellow towels up 2-0 in the first is getting a tad nervous.

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Stanley Cup Playoffs,
Sounds of the game… Bruins 2, Islanders 1 03.14.09 at 4:07 pm ET
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Anyone who watched Phil Kessel play the first half of this season knows how integral he was to the success of the Bruins.

His coach took the occasion of his 30th goal on Saturday during Boston’s 2-1 win over the Islanders to remind him of just that.

“He’s what you saw tonight, a game-breaker,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Phil is the type of player that, when he’s on his game with his speed, his shot, his skill level, he can certainly be a game-breaker type of player.

And everyone in the Will McDonough Press Room at the Garden knew there was a ‘but’ coming.

“Having said that, when he doesn’t compete the way he’s been competing the way he’s been competing lately, he’s a player that doesn’t bring as much to the table,” Julien continued. “This is what you need from guys like Phil, and from young players, to be able to develop into being better players, bringing a compete level, night-in and night-out.”

Talk about laying it on the line and not mincing words. Julien clearly wants his team to be ready for April, May and hopefully beyond. And he realizes he needs his young talented players to be prepared for the intensity that awaits them.

Kessel, who became the first Bruins 30-goal scorer since teammate Patrice Bergeron scored 31 in 2005-06, scored No. 30  and Boston’s first goal in the first period. Then, just 65 seconds later, he fed a beautiful pass to Marc Savard for the second Bruins goal.

‘€œIt’€™s a nice milestone,” Kessel said of reaching 30 goals. “(I have) a lot to attribute to my teammates and the linemates I’€™ve been playing with this year. They find me quite a bit, so I’€™m fortunate to be playing with some good hockey players this year.’€

Another milestone came in the form of Tim Thomas‘ 30th win, matching his career best of 06-07. Julien said it was nice to see Thomas back in form on Saturday.

Other audio nuggets from Saturday.

Julien still wants his team to compete better for 60 minutes.

Julien said the Bruins started well and then held on.

Tim Thomas said killing the Islanders’ 5-on-3 power play in the third was key.

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said the Bruins regrouped after a very sluggish second.

Read More: Bruins, Islanders, NHL, Phil Kessel
Healthy bodies add up to B’s victory 01.27.09 at 11:59 pm ET
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Prior to Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime win over the Capitals, there were several Bruins players that warned of the hazards inherent in adding several new, or returning, players to an established hockey mix.

Andrew Ference hadn’t taken a D-man shift since before Thanksgiving. Patrice Bergeron hadn’t played wing in an NHL game since his rookie season in 2003-04, when he did so alongside a who’s who of anonymous B’s teammates like the immortal Rob Zamuner, Michael Grosek and Carl Corazzini. On top of that, Bergeron was coming back from the second significant concussion in his last 15 months of hockey. Milan Lucic hadn’t thrown one of his patented teeth-chattering body checks during a live game in nearly a month, and hadn’t skated on the top line with Marc Savard since the merry month of December.

So it might have been both excusable and a bit expected if the Black and Gold dropped a game to an explosive Capitals bunch that has seemingly owned Boston’s number over the course of this year. It appeared early that the freshly minted skating combinations for the B’s were a little bit out of sorts and a lot of bit out of position. Throughout the game, the B’s never looked particularly crisp in their breakouts or razor-sharp in their execution. Despite those limitations, Boston still found a way to net the win.

As the game progressed the trio of returning players inched its way into the energetic pace of a playoff-style hockey game, and the healthy bodies allowed the Bruins to start resembling their recognizable first-half selves: a team that was in each and every one of their 47 pre-All Star break games from beginning to end. The Bruins again resembled a plucky puck squad that never lost a game by more than a two-goal margin, and that could brazenly skate against style employed by their opponent.

“It has been a while. I thought that all those guys handled their game fairly well tonight,” said coach Claude Julien. “I thought Bergeron, for being out that long and having to play on the wing, I thought he played well.  Looch [Milan Lucic] threw some good hits out there, and Andrew [Ference] is such a smart player and he moves the puck well.”

Ference skated 22 shifts and ate up 18:43 chunk of ice time, and — more importantly — supplied the B’s with another puck-moving defenseman to allow Julien to pull back the reins on the rest of his fellow blueliners: Dennis Wideman, Mark Stuart and Shane Hnidy.

Lucic wasn’t quite in midseason bone-crunching form, but he still laid the lumber on four official hits and got back to his role of creating space for center Marc Savard to pull off magic tricks with the puck.

Bergeron was perhaps the most impressive player in his transition back to the ice as he skated five-on-five as well as on both the power play and penalty kill unit — and displayed a streak of fearlessness that led to Boston’s game-tying goal in the second period. In his first game back after missing 15 with a concussion, Bergeron was working the right point on the power play when he saw a puck headed out of the offensive zone and instinctively dove to retain possession.

“Bergy was amazing tonight,” said Shawn Thornton. “Obviously, he played the wing, and he did a great job there. It looked like it was Brian Rolston giving him the puck four years ago. He was great on the wall and all over the ice. It didn’€™t look like he had missed a beat out there.”

Claude Julien, in a delightful bit of coaching hindsight, shuddered at what might have happened had Bergeron lost the puck and allowed a short-handed odd man rush up the ice, but instead the youngster did something he hadn’t had a chance to do in over a month: he made a play. Bergeron quickly rose to his feet with the puck by the side wall, and reversed a cross-ice pass to a wide open Marc Savard at the right faceoff dot. Savard did a little stutter-step fake and then ripped a wrist shot past Jose Theodore to tie it up at 2-2. It was a big goal and a big play by Bergeron.

“You know, I went for it. I knew it was kind of a risky play, but I mean, if you don’€™t try sometimes you don’€™t get any results so it worked,” said Bergeron. “As soon as I got up, I knew (Savard) was going to be there and I saw him coming from the side a little bit so I just threw the pass and he made a great play, a lot of patience and he put it in.”

The power play struggled noticeably in the games immediately following Bergeron’s concussion, and one quick instinctual play illustrated exactly what the youngster contributes beyond the cold, hard hockey numbers along his stat sheet. Bergeron is one of Julien’s most trusted penalty killers and should get a huge slice of the credit along with fellow killers Blake Wheeler (5:01 of ice time on the PK unit), Zdeno Chara, Dennis Wideman, David Krejci, Mark Stuart and Stephane Yelle. The Bruins were short-handed six times and didn’t allow a single power play goal to a Caps team that is sixth in the NHL with a 22 percent success rate on the man advantage.

The lines were certainly a bit jumbled and the on-ice chemistry wasn’t always popping with the normal verve the Black and Gold have shown this season, but last night was the first step in a long journey toward getting their entire team back. It couldn’t have happened at a better time.

Bring on the role players

Tim Thomas obviously made some huge saves in the victory — including a game-saver on Nicklas Backstrom’s rebound bid of an Ovechkin shot in overtime — and David Krejci nabbed the game-winner in OT, but a huge debt for the win goes to the unsung guys in the B’s trenches.

Any good playoff-style victory needs a strong helping of role players filling out their puck destiny, and there was plenty of that on Tuesday night. Rookie Matt Hunwick would have normally played the role of seventh defenseman relegated to watching in the press box, but instead took shifts at a forward spot and skated with Petteri Nokelainen and Byron Bitz on the fourth line. Speaking of Bitz, the big, brawny winger earned huge verbal bouquets in the form of good-natured F-bombs from Shawn Thornton following the game — an appropriate tribute for a young hockey player who stuck his neck out and tangled with one of the NHL’s toughest guys in Donald Brashear.

“(Expletive) awesome. He was awesome. (Bitz) did a hell of a job. He [Donald Brashear] is one of the top three tough guys in the league. He did a great job. It shows about his character,” said Thornton. “I know the guys love having him in the room; love having him on the team.

“I know I love playing with him, when I was playing with him for a few games. I can’€™t say enough about that kid. He has great character; he’€™s a good person. He just did a hell of a job.”

Thornton rounded out the role players’ roll call when he scored Boston’s first goal of the night by dangling through a Capitals defender and lifting a nifty backhanded bid that actually knocked Jose Theodore’s water bottle from its nestled spot above the goal.

“Are you surprised?” asked Thornton. “I don’€™t score unless they are highlight reel (goals).”

Read More: Bruins, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron,
Sounds of the game… Bruins 3, Capitals 2 OT at 11:19 pm ET
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It was an ugly game between two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

And appropriately, the contest featured a bizarre ending.

David Krejci’s shot ricocheted off Shaone Morrisonn’s leg and past Jose Theodore for a power play goal at 1:55 of overtime as the Bruins finally found a way to beat the Washington Captials, 3-2, in overtime. It was their first win over Washington in three tries.

Significant, if only because both teams felt afterward they could be seeing each other again come the spring in the NHL playoffs.

The game was also symbolic to the Bruins because of the return of three key components to their early-season success.

Defenseman Andrew Ference came back after a 31-game absence due to a fractured right leg. Milan Lucic was out seven games with a bum shoulder. And Patrice Bergeron returned after missing 15 games with a concussion.

Head coach Claude Julien said it wasn’t their best performance but they’ll take the win.

Julien on the return of three of their best players.

Patrice Bergeron said it was great to be back on the ice.

Bergeron on his great pass to Savard on the game-tying goal in the second period.

Savard said the win was important because these two teams could be facing each other again.

Tim Thomas made two game-saving saves on Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom in overtime.

Thomas said the two teams realize they could see each other again down the road.

Mike Green said Tim Thomas just shut down the Capitals after their second goal.

Alex Ovechkin said they outplayed the Bruins but lost.

Read More: Alexander Ovechkin, Bruins, Capitals, Claude Julilen
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