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Turns out Claude Julien knew ‘exactly’ what Mark Recchi was doing … and saying 03.24.11 at 11:09 pm ET
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You can count on one hand the number of times in his career Zdeno Chara has needed someone to stand up for him against the opposition.

But a 43-year-old winger who runs about foot shorter than the Bruins 6-foot-9 captain did just that this week and it paid huge dividends in a 7-0 Bruins rout of the Canadiens on Thursday at TD Garden. And he didn’t need to throw a punch, finish a check or swing a stick. Just open his mouth.

Mark Recchi acknowleged he made comments this week critical of Canandiens management and their medical staff to take pressure off Chara. Recchi told a Boston radio station Wednesday that the Canadiens “embellished a little bit” the hit on Max Pacioretty on Mar. 8 that resulted in a concussion for Pacioretty but no suspension for Chara.

“I have to be honest with you guys. I wanted to take the heat off Zee for a day and I’m a big boy,” Recchi said after the game. “I think anyone who knows me, knows that I have great respect for the Montreal organization, I played five years there. I have great respect for Doctor [David] Mulder, the medical staff there. … In 22 years, I’ve respected all my teammates, all the players I play against. My record has shown that.

“I have nothing but great things to say about the Montreal organization, I had five great years there. And it’s still an unfortunate situation it all happened. We all hope Max [Pacioretty] gets a full recovery here soon and we know he’s well on his way. And like I said, this is something that I believe in twenty-two years I’ve been very respectful to players and opponents throughout. So that should be the end of it really.”

Maybe in Boston but not Montreal, where the questions from the media kept coming.

“I’m a big boy and like I said, I’m sorry if it hurt some people, but at the same time, I think everyone knows my reputation for 22 years,” Recchi repeated. “I’m very respectful of teammates, players, organizations and that is not going to change. I felt a need to protect our captain and it’s important. That will be the end of it and you won’t hear anything said by me anymore.

“I took pressure off my captain for one day,” Recchi added. “He deserved it. He earned it.”

Chara certainly appreciated the gesture.

“I obviously don’t know exactly all the comments,” Chara said of Recchi’s radio comments. “But he’s such a great teammate and such a respected guy and leader. It’s a thrill to have him. We all learned so much from him. He’s obviously the next hall-of-famer and such a classy guy. Like I said, I can’t thank him enough to be my teammate and be part of this team, and helping all of us to be better.”

Recchi’s teammates all knew how important Thursday was to Chara.

“It’s been hard for us to sit here and see Zee,” said Gregory Campbell, who got into the only scrape of the night with Paul Mara. “Zee takes things personally, and he’s a good person. He doesn’t like to see anybody get injured. Behind the scenes, it’s a hard thing to handle, and he’s handled it extremely well.”

Bruins coach Claude Julien said he wasn’t surprised since he knows Recchi is a veteran and knows exactly what he’s doing.

“It says a lot because I know what kind of player he is,” Julien said. “I knew exactly what he was doing. You don’t have to speak. He’s 43 years old, he’s a big boy. He can answer for himself. I don’t think I need to coach him on any of that stuff.

“When you see a guy with that kind of experience say something like that, you know what he’s doing. So, there was nothing to be said. Their focus was on the game. He had to say what he had to say for whatever reason. That was something where I didn’t need to ask him that question because I knew exactly what he was doing.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Mark Recchi, Max Pacioretty
Bruins not focusing on Mark Recchi’s comments at 5:22 pm ET
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Thursday night’s game between the Bruins and Canadiens has been getting even more attention than usual thanks to Mark Recchi’s recent suggestion that the Habs exaggerated Max Pacioretty’s injury to get B’s captain Zdeno Chara suspended. Milan Lucic made similar comments Wednesday, but prior to the game stressed that the team’s focus is on the game.

“I think the focus, even berfore the war of words is to get the win,” Lucic said. “Whatever Mark said he said. He’s been on the Montreal side before, and now he’s on the Boston side. I don’t think we need to repeat what he said or what I said. As of right now, we’re focused on getting a big win here, and we know it’s a big night for us in the last game of the season [series].

“He’s been in the league for two decades. He’s done more than his fair share of time here, and I feel like he has the right to say whatever he’s going to say. Rex said whatever he felt was right, and our focus is not on anything like that. We’re just going to go out there and play.”

Claude Julien had no interest in answering questions about Recchi’s comments.

“We’re here to play hockey,” the coach said. “That’s all there is to it, and this he-said-she-said stuff and soap opera, I’m not interesting in asnwerign those questions because two hours from now, there’s a big game to be played, and it’s a big two points for both teams. That’s what my focus is on right now.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Mark Recchi, Max Pacioretty, Milan Lucic
Tim Thomas returns to form following four straight losses 03.22.11 at 10:49 pm ET
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Tim Thomas entered Tuesday night in the midst of his worst stretch of the season. He hadn’t won a game in nearly three weeks, going 0-2-2 in his last four starts. It marked the first time all season he had gone four games without a win and the first time all season he had given up three or more goals in four straight.

Tim Thomas' 30th win of the season was his first in his last five games. (AP)

Tuesday night, Thomas returned to form in the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Devils. He stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced to earn his 30th win of the season.

“I think it was mutual for both, the team and Timmy,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of getting back in the win column. “I don’t think we have to worry about him. He’s been a good goaltender for us this year, so it certainly wasn’t a concern on our part more than our team play. And our team play was much better.”

Thomas was especially strong in the early going, as the Devils registered 12 of the game’s first 13 shots. New Jersey did manage to score during that span, but it came on a power-play one-timer by Ilya Kovalchuk that Thomas didn’t have much of a chance to stop.

“I thought we were a little fragile there with what’s been happening,” Julien said. “But we were able to resist and obviously Tim made some big saves early on just to keep us in there.”

Thomas said the key to turning around his recent lack of success was that his defensemen did a better job of allowing him to see the puck.

“They had a few shots, they had a few good chances,” Thomas said. “But they were also letting me see the puck a little bit more than we had in the last few games. … I think that’s definitely a right step forward. We need to build off it and make sure we continue on. And we need to do the same things that gave us success tonight.”

Defenseman Tomas Kaberle said getting out of Thomas’ way is something the team has been focusing on in practice.

“You want him to see the shot,” Kaberle said. “You don’t want to tip the puck or something. You just want to box out in front of the net and hopefully he’ll make the big saves. Especially on the outside, he’s going to make the save every time. We talked about it before the game and in between the periods. He’s been a key to success for us this season and hopefully we keep it that way.”

After the slow start, Boston was able to take control of the game and relieve Thomas of some of the pressure. Following the early 12-1 shot deficit, the Bruins outshot the Devils 29-19 the rest of the way. They also drew five straight penalties at one point and were able to net four unanswered goals.

“I think by the end of the first, or last half of the first period, we started to get our legs moving and that was the difference,” Thomas said. “I think that’s what led to them taking the penalties in the second period, because we were moving our feet and that leads to penalties, drawn penalties. We were able to continue that throughout the game.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Tim Thomas, Tomas Kaberle,
Claude Julien reiterates that Shane Hnidy will be a depth player at 12:30 pm ET
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With Shane Hnidy coming off LTIR Tuesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien seemed to reiterate Sunday’s comments that he is by no means coming in and taking anyone’s job. He said after Tuesday’s practice that Hnidy can’t go down to Providence, so that he’ll remain with Boston as a depth guy who could occasionally see playing time.

“I don’t know what upper management has in mind here. I don’t think he can go to Providence at this stage of the season, after the trade deadline,” Julien. “So this is something that I don’t think is in the options. But he’s come around, and I think we’ll see him at some point in our lineup. We brought him here to give us some depth, and if we’re going to use him as a depth player, at some point from here to the end he’s going to see some action.”

With that being said, Julien noted that he doesn’t feel Hnidy, who hasn’t played all season due to a shoulder injury suffered in training camp with the Coyotes, is a liability.

“Just because he’s in our lineup doesn’t mean we can’t win our hockey game either. It’s just a matter of him not having played this year,” Julien said. “There’s going to be some small adjustments with him, but we can manage that, put him in some situations where he can get on the ice and help us more than hurt us.”

Given that all the other defensemen are healthy, the B’s have eight blueliners to choose from.

Read More: Claude Julien, Shane Hnidy,
Bruins hold optional skate at 11:20 am ET
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After two days of high-energy practices, Claude Julien elected to make Tuesday’s morning skate optional. Just about everyone on the team agreed with this logic, as only Tuukka Rask and Daniel Paille took the ice.

Reading into things, this could mean that Paille might be the healthy scratch among the forwards. Brad Marchand is eligible to return vs. the Devils after a two-game suspension, while Tyler Seguin‘s recent play has made him hard to sit. The last two practices have featured both Marchand and Michael Ryder on the wing opposite Mark Recchi, so if Paille is the scratch, Marchand could be a candidate to reunite with the Merlot line.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Claude Julien, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder
Shane Hnidy ready to come off LTIR 03.21.11 at 5:45 pm ET
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Shane Hnidy last played for the Bruins in 2009. (AP)

He might not play, but at least he’s eligible to do so.

Shane Hnidy will see team doctors Tuesday en route to officially coming off long-term injury reserve, meaning the veteran blueliner will be available to the Bruins for the first time since they signed him in late February. Hnidy had been rehabbing a shoulder injury suffered with the Coyotes in training camp.

“It’s the doctors’ thing,” Hnidy said. “If it was up to me, I was ready a while ago, but it’s probably best to wait. It feels really strong, and I’ve been able to battle the last few practices and have been doing it for a while. I haven’t had a negative effect at all.”

Claude Julien reiterated Sunday that Hnidy was brought in for depth purposes and that he wouldn’t be taking anyone’s job. Hnidy understands that, but he’ll welcome the playing time when it comes.

“The whole reason you want to come is to play, but I knew what the situation was coming in,” he said. “If it works out and I’m needed and have to play, I’m going to go out there and do my best. I’m anxious to get back and get in a game, but if not, I’ll just continue on this path, and try to prepare the best way I can.”

Hnidy previously played for the Bruins from 2007-09, totaling 17 points (4 G, 13 A) in 108 games.

Read More: Claude Julien, Shane Hnidy,
Claude Julien says he doesn’t support Tuukka Rask’s displays of frustration at 1:16 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask has a 10-12-2 record this season. (AP)

WILMINGTON — When Claude Julien put Tim Thomas back in to start the third period against the Maple Leafs Saturday night, the logical reason as to why was because of Tuukka Rask‘s latest display of frustration. After Rask, who came in with over 11 minutes remaining in the second period in relief of Thomas, allowed the game’s fifth goal, he was visibly infuriated with defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who screened him on the play.

Julien has maintained that the move was not disciplinary, and that it was because Thomas wanted to go back out. Monday, he shed light on Rask’s behavior on the ice.

“I don’t support that,” Julien said. “I don’t think anybody supports that, including him. Sometimes frustration sets in, you see players breaking their sticks after a goal against or something. You see them putting their heads up in the air after they miss an open net. There’s a frustration point, so I’m certainly not going to stand here and start accusing him of that, but it’s something you don’t want to see from anybody because it has a big impact on your team.

“Having said that, I think Tuukka’s aware of that, and if anything, he’s been playing some of his best hooky lately, so I don’t think there’s any need for that. I think it’s just that sometimes you’ve got to control your emotions. He’s frustrated with the first half of the year, and he wants to help this hockey club. Sometimes his emotions are probably running a little too high and he reacts that way, but having said that, it had no influence on my decision on Saturday.”

For what it’s worth, Rask has been cool as a cucumber off the ice all season despite the uncertainty as to when he’ll play. On the ice, however, he’s never shied away from expressing his emotions, and Julien hopes he can keep them in check.

Read More: Claude Julien, Dennis Seidenberg, Steven Kampfer, Tim Thomas
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