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Claude Julien: ‘There’s no doubt we’re hungry’ 06.10.13 at 5:02 pm ET
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The Bruins were focused on head coach Claude Julien as they begin to install a game plan for Chicago. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Bruins have reached the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three years. And being back so soon hasn’t diminished the thirst to drink from the Cup, some Claude Julien pointed out Monday after another practice at TD Garden.

“I would think so,” Julien responded when asked if the desire to win it all still burns. “There’s no reason why it wouldn’t. Anybody that makes it this far know how hard it is. There’s no doubt we’re hungry.”

That doesn’t mean Julien won’t press a few buttons, something he did mid-practice Monday when he brought all of his troops together for a high-spirited discussion.

Beyond that, Julien and his staff are busy right now trying to impart the right information on the Blackhawks to his troops without bordering on information overload.

“That part of it hasn’t changed for us. Even if we haven’t played them we’ve taken the same approach as far as giving information,” Julien said. “Same thing, even if you’ve played them you don’t want to give them information overload. Like I said, we do all the research as coaches and we have all that stuff for ourselves, so if we need it we can share it with the players. We give them the basics and you give them the things that you really have to be careful with.

“That way you don’t kind of handcuff your players not to play their games because they’re overthinking. It really is all about your team and how well you want to play, and whatever they do extremely well you try to adjust to that. Not anymore than that, even though we haven’t played them it’s really about us having confidence in our game and trying to minimize their strengths like we’ve done with every other team so far.”

Most importantly, Julien made it clear that despite the speed the Hawks possess through the neutral zone in players like Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, the Bruins have to stick to their game plan and have a strong forecheck in the offensive zone.

“Our forecheck has to be our forecheck,” Julien said. “It’s got to be efficient in order to minimize that. And that means putting pucks in the right places. If you don’t, they’ll have some easy breakouts. They excel at that area. They have a lot of D’s back there that can carry the puck and skate well, so there’s no doubt that that’s going to be a key. Some of our success will be how good we are in those areas.”


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Adam McQuaid has moved beyond joy of Game 4 against Pittsburgh at 2:46 pm ET
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After his game-winning goal in Game 4 against Pittsburgh, Adam McQuaid says he and Bruins are focused on Chicago. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Friday was quite the night for Adam McQuaid.

He fulfilled Milan Lucic‘s prophecy of scoring a goal, a tally that sent the Bruins onto their second Stanley Cup finals appearance in three seasons. He savored the moment, talked to friends who texted him congratulations and got his rest.

Now, all of that is in the distant past.

“That night was pretty fun but turn the page and [get] focused for the next round here,” McQuaid said Monday as the Bruins began to prep for the Blackhawks on the ice. “I had a few more messages than normal. It was nice. Just turn the page now and get re-focused.”

The Bruins skated on Sunday but Monday had more a regular feel as the Bruins staff had a day to break down film and get their team ready.

“Yeah, we need to make sure that we’re ready to go,” McQuaid said. “We’re facing a real tough challenge. We have to make sure we’re focused and at our best here.”

McQuaid and the Bruins defensive corps will have their hands full with the likes of Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Jonthan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus. McQuaid was watching all of them Saturday night when the Hawks won Game 5 in double-overtime on a Kane hat trick.

“They’re a well-balanced team,” McQuaid said. “They come hard with a lot of talent. And again, they’re another team that can generate offense and is strong on the puck. It’s going to be a good challenge.”

Both the Bruins and Blackhawks came perilously close to not making this date in the finals. The Bruins had their epic comeback from 4-1 down in the last 11 minutes of Game 7 against Toronto in the opening round. The Hawks were down 3-1 to the Red Wings before winning three straight in the second round.

“To get that point and to be able to come through it, maybe we were able to relax a little bit and go out and play the way we’re capable of playing, where at times before, maybe we weren’t,” McQuaid said of being down in Game 7. “Maybe we were a little too worried about the result instead of going out and playing our game and giving ourselves the best chance.

“I think you see for our teams to get this point usually they go through something like that. Chicago came back from that 3-1 [deficit] against Detroit. I guess we’ve learned nothing is over until it’s over. So, something to learn from, I guess.”

This is not the first trip to the finals for McQuaid, who of course was part of the 2011 Bruins team. He said that might help at first but then, it will come down to execution on the ice.

“Having been there before, everything won’t be totally new,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s a new year. We have to be sure we’re approaching it the right way, that we’re not thinking that just because we’ve been there before that we’re going to have the same result if we just go out and play. We have to make sure we’re approaching this as a new situation, a new year and being ready to go.”

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Patrick Kane hat trick sends Hawks into Stanley Cup finals against Bruins 06.09.13 at 12:08 am ET
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Patrick Kane netted a hat trick, including the game-winner in 2OT, to send the Hawks into a Stanley Cup showdown with the Bruins. (AP)

Patrick Kane scored his hat trick goal with 8:20 left in double-overtime to give the Hawks a 4-3 win over the Kings Saturday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, sending the Hawks to the Stanley Cup finals and a match up with the Bruins beginning Wednesday night in Chicago.

The meeting of the Bruins and Blackhawks gives the NHL its first “Original Six” final since 1979, when the Canadiens defeated the Rangers, 4-1.

Game 1 is Wednesday in Chicago, followed by Game 2 Saturday, June 15 in Chicago. The series will then shift to Boston for Games 3 and 4 back in Boston on June 17 and 19. Game 5 will be June 22 in Chicago, followed by Game 6 in Boston on June 24. Game 7 would be back in Chicago on June 26. All games will start at 8 p.m. ET.

The Hawks appeared on their way to an easy night when Duncan Keith and Kane scored in the opening six minutes. Keith’s goal came on a slap shot from the left point when Jonathan Quick didn’t seal the five-hole and the puck slipped between his pads. Kane scored when Quick came out of his net to play the puck but fell down and Kane circled until he had an open net.

But the Kings began to build momentum when Dwight King scored shorthanded in the second period.

Los Angeles got their first equalizer of the night when Bryan Bickell took an ill-advised boarding penalty. Anze Kopitar made Bickell and the Hawks pay with a power play goal 3:34 into the third. The goal was set up by a perfect pass from Jeff Carter from the high slot.

Another former Philadelphia Flyer – Mike Richards – would figure in much higher drama later in the game. After the Hawks got the second goal of the game from Kane with 3:52 left in regulation, Chicago appeared destined for the Stanley Cup finals.

But Bickell iced the puck with 15 seconds left, giving the Kings one more chance in the Chicago end with their goalie pulled. The Kings won the draw and Kopitar fired a shot from the boards that was redirected by Richards’ lower body and past Corey Crawford with 10 seconds left in regulation, forcing overtime.

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Marty Turco appreciates ‘tremendous’ time in Boston 04.04.12 at 10:40 am ET
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Marty Turco did Tuesday night what he’s always done in his long NHL career – stem the tide.

The powerful Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a couple of fluky goals in the first period.

The 35-year-old in those unmistakable gold pads and blockers then held the fort until the Bruins could muster the strength to tie the game. What happened late in the second period he had little control of as he became a shooting range target during a 5-on-3 power play that yielded two goals and the game was essentially over, as the Penguins prevailed, 5-3.

“I think by the end of the night [with] the chances, the amount of chances, that we had you feel like you deserve to win a hockey game. Those power play goals really ended up costing us, with those calls. But there’s a lot to be taken from this game. For me, it’s the end of the line as far as the regular season goes and these guys, you know, they battle to be down twice like that and even though we went down 5-2 in the third, there was no give up in this bunch,” Turco said.

“And that’s, I think that’s a huge thing for these guys to build on. They’ve been a tremendous third period team, everyone knows that real well. But to see them pour it on at the end and give us a chance was also a good sign too. But at the end of the day it’s disappointing to lose anytime, never mind against a team like that.”

Turco has had quite the career, including with Dallas in 2002-03 when he set a new NHL record with a 1.72 goals against mark. He won the NCAA title with Michigan twice, including in Boston in 1998. He signed with the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in the summer of 2010.

But to find what Turco means to this Bruins team you have to look back to March 3. That’s when Tuukka Rask injured his groin against the Islanders and was essentially lost for the rest of the regular season. Two days later, the Bruins signed Turco, who in December 2011 signed a deal with the EC Red Bull Salzburg of the Erste Bank Hockey League in Austria. He cleared waivers on March 7 and joined the Black and Gold. Since he was signed after the NHL trade deadline, he is not playoff eligible. But that does not diminish his presence over the last four weeks in the Bruins dressing room, and their impact on him.

“It’s been tremendous, really,” Turco said. “I’ve been around for a bit; can’t say that disappointments have been much a part of my time here. I’ve been fortunate to have an opportunity and I’m truly grateful, for my family and I, for [what] the Boston Bruins gave me when things seemed pretty bleak. You want to play great and you want to show them, never mind anyone else, and for the most part – days, game and practice, and being a good team man – I’ve felt pretty proud of my time here so far. Between Tampa and a little bit tonight, those two games – part of them anyway – are pretty disappointing but at the end of the day I’ll continue to hold my head high like I have all year to be ready in this position and still want to play some. So, we’ll see what happens.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Are the Bruins this year’s Blackhawks? The Blackhawks can see the signs 03.30.11 at 10:54 am ET
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After a game like Tuesday’s, there is most certainly a temptation to look ahead to how far this Bruins team could be going in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s especially tempting when you consider the Bruins dismantled the team that won the Cup last June.

But Tim Thomas isn’t biting, not even after stopping all 32 shots in a 3-0 win over the Blackhawks.

“Haven’t thought about it at all, to be honest with you,” Thomas said after his career-best ninth shutout this season and 26th career. “I’m just focusing on each game-to-game, and even during the game just trying to play the same way for the whole 60 minutes no matter what the situation. We’re pretty good about not think about that kind of stuff lately, so I’d prefer not to start now, if you don’t mind.

“This was a good challenge for us. Chicago is a good team, I know they’re battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. But that’s a good thing because you know they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game, because those points mean a lot to them. It was a big test, and we responded very well. They’re a very fast team and we had our legs going right from the beginning of the game and were able to match them stride for stride.”

If the Bruins are headed for a deep run this spring, Thomas will be a good reason. He turned away every scoring chance in the first period, discouraging the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks so much that even their coach felt his team — battling for its playoff life — was discouraged.

“They were the harder working team tonight,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “They play hard. First 10 minutes, we are on our heels. We got back in the game and we didn’t do much after they scored first.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Shawn Thornton will handle the Blackhawks ‘chirping’ his own way after nasty injury at 12:12 am ET
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The sight of his own blood was bad enough. So was the feeling as he was falling to the ice that he was about to go face-first into the back of the skate blade of Fernando Pisani and suffer 40 stitches on his forehead above his right eye.

But to have the opposition taunt you as you’re going off the ice was too much for even tough guy Shawn Thornton to take Tuesday night.

How bad was it? So bad that even referee Don Van Massenhoven was yelling at the Chicago bench to shut up as he was ushering Thornton off the ice to the Bruins’ bench and eventually dressing room.

“If I ever find who it was, I’ll deal with it my own way,” Thornton said. “Yeah something was said. Obviously I can’t swear when I talk to you guys. There was some stuff said that I am not happy about.”

Cameras showed Thornton shoving and nearly punching Van Massenhoven, who was actually trying to stand between Thornton and the Chicago bench.

“He heard it and he was [ticked],” Thornton said. “He was [ticked] too. He didn’t know who it was either. He actually yelled at their bench. I appreciate it. Those guys on their team chirp a lot. I don’t know if it is right when someone’s face is half across the other side of their face.

“But it is a tough game and people have to live with their actions. If you guys ever find out who it is don’t be afraid to send me a Christmas card.”

Thornton said he was prepared to return to the game with a visor but because the medical staff was concerned about a concussion and the 40 stitches opening up, he was held back and not permitted to return.

“I am fine,” Thornton said. “I guess I was lucky. It could have been worse. It could have been on eye. No headache, no concussion, no nothing. It was just throbbing a little bit from getting some stitches but nothing bad.”

Thornton said he was given great treatment immediately by the Bruins medical staff, led by Lars Richardson, who administered so many stitches he lost count.

“I didn’t ask,” Thornton said. “Someone else did and they said around 40. I don’t know, they lost count. I was told that was the reason I couldn’t come back. They had some fine stitches inside and they didn’t want those to pop out or I might look deformed afterwards.”

As for the play itself in the second period, Thornton nearly scored a great pass from Daniel Paille before heading back down ice to back check. He was chasing Pisani when he lost his balance.

“I went to go finish my hit,” Thornton said. “I don’t know if I tripped over a stick or some feet or whatever and fell on the back on his skate blade. It was accidental. It was something that happens when the game is moving so fast. If I had scored the goal right before that none of this would have happened. We would have been lining up at center.”

He could see the injury coming, which made it all the more gruesome in his mind.

“I kind of slowed down,” Thornton said. “I was fortunate to see it coming after I fell. It is easy to say now but I knew it was a bad cut. I didn’t see how bad it was they wouldn’t let me go look at it. I knew nothing else was hit other than my forehead.

“It had happened to me before and it doesn’t really hurt when it happens like that it just feels like you got banged in the head. I know how lucky I am. It could have been a little lower and I could have been in a lot of trouble.”

As for Thursday for Toronto, it’s wait-and-see for Thornton.

“I don’t know,” Thornton said. “I don’t think so but the doctors will look over it the next couple of days and make sure everything is where it needs to be. The good news is, I don’t know what is going to happen, we are in good position and if need be we have some extra bodies around anyways.”

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Bruins get back to basics in victory over Blackhawks 03.07.09 at 6:06 pm ET
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With Blake Wheeler relegated to being a healthy scratch for the Bruins lineup for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon, the message was sent out loud and clear to the entire team that those deserving ice time on merrit – and spots reserved in the 18 skaters sent out for each and every game from here on out – will be getting it regardless of salary, pedigree or reputation.

It’s a point that B’s coach Claude Julien made with Milan Lucic last season at certain points in his rookie season, and something he did in Montreal while coaching Michael Ryder as a rookie amid a group of veterans Canadiens skaters. Julien is hoping that the breather can reinvigorate Wheeler as much as it seemed to help energize the entire hockey club. on Saturday afternoon in a pivotal “show me” game.

“Players in their first year sometimes they get to a point where they hit a wall.  Everything seems to be overwhelming and heavy on them.  Everything we did for him today was for the best for Wheels,” said Julien following the victory. “He’s going to take a step back.  He had an opportunity to watch the game tonight with [Assistant Coach Doug] Houda upstairs (in the press box) and chat about what he was seeing. 

“There’s no doubt that’s going to benefit him. I thought it was important to him at this stage to do that, and he’s too good of a player to keep out of the line-up for a very long time. It was something that I think is certainly going to benefit him in the long run.”

The move — made possible with the addition of the versatile, offensively gifted Mark Recchi to the Bruins lineup this week – clearly paid immediate dividends as it sparked the Bruins offense to 39 shots and five goals in a 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon at the TD Banknorth Garden.

The B’s had previously been working and fighting their way through a listless 3-6-2 stretch over their last 11 games, but many of the traits they’d been shying away from returned in a fiercely lunch-pail opening two periods against an explosive Chicago team.

It was a nod to the Big, Bad hockey game that this young and powerful team featured so many times over the first half of the year: sending willing and able bodies crashing to the net, crushing hits waiting in the corners and for any opposing skater brave or foolish enough to retrieve pucks or invade Boston’s defensive zone, and the kind of skill that can pick a team apart once they’ve been properly loosened by the on-ice B’s battering rams up and down Boston’s roster.

The “back to B’s basics” couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It comes at a very important time because we need to get back on track,” said goalie Tim Thomas. “You can look at our record after January and look at our record the past 10 games and we need to start putting some wins together, whether they are ugly, pretty or hard-worked-for like tonight.”

As it wont to happen with a struggling hockey club seeking to climb out of doldrums, the Black and Gold skaters kept it simple and furiously threw pucks and bodies at the net. Recchi lived to his “Wrecking Ball” moniker by camping out in front of the net and jamming the puck between Crystobal Huet’s pads for the first score, and then tipped a shot through a sliver of an opening for Boston’s third goal.

The Blackhawks skaters tied it up at 1-1 a short time after Recchi’s first strike – just as the Phoenix Coyotes had done only two nights prior — but this time the Bruins didn’t break, bend or fold under the small-ish bit of adversity. Instead, David Krejci followed Recchi’s lead and absorbed an Andrew Ference shot in the gut by the post, and then quickly blasted the loose puck into a crack on the short side of Chicago’s net.

Recchi followed with the second score in tight around the Chicago net that made it 3-1, and the Bruins attack was off and running. The mistake-inducing forecheck and pinpoint pinball passing led to a perfect Marc Savard setup for Phil Kessel in the right faceoff circle, and Kessel — who had fumbled away a similarly picture-perfect dish from Savard in the first period — buried his second chance at scored his team-leading 27th goal of the season. It was a great game overall for Kessel, Lucic and Savard and continued the momentum they began to build up when they were reunited in the third period of their loss to the Coyotes.

It was one of eight shots on goal for the dangerous Kessel, who seemed to take heart to the “earn your ice time” philosophy that Julien was imploring following the offensively-challenged effort against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night: get rubber to the net and good things are going to happen for both the player and the team.

“Every night you watch highlights on TV, and there’s always a few of those (gritty) goals going in. So why not put pucks on net?” said Julien. “I think we need to do that as much as we can.  We lost a game a week ago in here on a shot from outside the blue line.  Those things happen in this game, so it’s important we don’t try and be too cute.”

Injury Ward: Stephane Yelle sustained an injury in the second period after falling backwards into the boards, and won’t be making the trip to New York for Sunday’s matinee against the New York Rangers. Julien said after the game that his veteran center will be evaluated on Sunday, and he’s not sure if Yelle will meet them for Tuesday’s game in Columbus.

Player of the Game: Phil Kessel. The young winger seemed energized in a matchup against Chicago’s fellow young guns like Jonathan Toews and Pat Kane, and fired off eight shots on net — including the eventual game-winner for the B’s in the third period 

Goat Horns:  Brian Campbell and Marty Havlat both finished with -3s for the Blackhawks, and were among several Chicago players overpowered by Recchi down low throughout the game. Havlat was dominant at points, but took some very bad angle, low percentage shots at the cage.

Turning Point: The game wasn’t truly won until the Bruins responded to Chicago’s best roundhouse right in the third period, and P.J. Axelsson turned into a one-man forechecking machine in the closing minute. Axelsson appropriately ended up with the open net score for all his hard work, and the game was placed securely in the W column. It’s moment like these when it’s clear why Axelsson is such a valued member of the Bruins.

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