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Bruins hold optional morning skate in anticipation of Blackhawks 03.29.11 at 11:23 am ET
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The sounds of pucks hitting boards and skates cutting ice were drowned out by a game of hallway soccer, as the Bruins held an optional skate Thursday in anticipation of their game against the Blackhawks. Tuukka Rask, Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder, Tyler Seguin, Gregory Campbell, Shane Hnidy, Steven Kampfer and Adam McQuaid skated for the B’s. Expect Tim Thomas to start with Rask the only goaltender to skate in the optional.

Given that Ryder also skated in the optional and that Claude Julien expressed a desire to stick with the same lineup that won them Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, it is probable that Ryder will be a healthy scratch once again.

Here are some notes from the morning:

– Julien said that he doesn’t feel a need to talk about last year’s playoffs with his team as they prepare for the postseason this time around. The B’s blew a 3-0 series and Game 7 lead in the second round last year against the Flyers.

“I think for us right now it’€™s just focusing on the moment. From here on in, we’ve still got to maintain our play, our level of play that we’€™ve had lately and continue to try and even improve that. There’€™s no room for complacency right now, and we have lots of players. If we’€™re going to move some players in and out from here on in it’€™s not because we’€™re taking it easy, but because we want everybody ready to go. That’€™s kind of the message that we gave the players. So for us, I think we need to make sure we maintain our level of play from here on in.”

– Much was made in training camp of the new situation that former Panthers Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton found themselves in. Having never been to the playoffs in their careers, it seemed the postseason would be extra special for them. Campbell spoke about what it means to him to finally know he’s headed for the playoffs.

“I’m excited. It’s been a long time. That was the first thing I thought of when I got traded to Boston, was that I was going to get a chance to play in the playoffs,” Campbell said. “For me, at this point in my career, the most meaningful thing is to get a chance to win. I know this organization’s excited about the opportunity to get back to the playoffs again.”

– While Julien said that the recent scratches “probably” won’t get in the lineup Tuesday, he will get them in the lineup over the next two weeks to both rest those playing and keep everybody fresh.

“We’€™ve got to remember the guys were going to put in are good players. It’€™s not like you’€™re putting in a bad player,” Julien said of the players serving as healthy scratches. “It’€™s that you’€™ve got a 20-man roster for the game, but you’€™ve got 22-23 guys here. We’€™re going to put some guys in, pull some guys out, but certainly not to say, well this is a game that we’€™re going to take it easy, we’€™re going to pull so-and-so out. We’€™ve got to stay on top of our game, and that’€™s what I’€™ve been talking about, sliding guys in that can go in there and stay sharp so that if, come playoff time, we need somebody, they haven’€™t been sitting around for a month.”

– Julien spoke highly of David Krejci, who has 28 points in the 27 games since Marc Savard went down with his latest concussion. The coach said it’s been more a result of improved play than increased opportunity.

“He’€™s elevated his play, there’€™s no doubt,” Julien said. “He’€™s become a better player in the second half of the season. I think we’€™re starting to see more of the David Krejci we know. I think he had a bit of a slow start this year and wasn’€™t skating as well as we had seen him in the past. And was trying to make those plays, but when you don’€™t use your speed it’€™s pretty hard to make those plays in this league. So I think his skating has gotten better, his intensity has gotten better, and because of that he’€™s making some plays.”

– The coach said that as far as fine-tuning things go prior to the playoffs, special teams will be the focus. After an ugly stretch, the power play has scored four goals in the last four games, while the penalty kill has allowed one goal over the last five.

“[Power play] is an area we’€™ve got to get better at,” Julien said. “Even our penalty kill had been pretty good all year, then we hit that funk there for about three weeks that really made us slide down in the [rankings] in regards to that. We’€™ve got to get that back to where we feel it should be. I think our special teams are going to be important from here on in, and those are part of the things we need to work on.

“What I liked about the last game is that we were playing a really good team, it was a tight checking game and we stuck with it and found a way to win. You’€™ve got to be able to  be patient with those types of games that are tight checking games. In the playoffs, that’€™s what you’€™re going to get, and I think our guys did a great job in the third period of not creating some bad mistakes or turnovers, and eventually they broke, took a penalty, and we took advantage of it. It’€™s those little details when you get near the end of the year. You want your team to be composed and in control of their game plan.”

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Claude Julien, David Krejci, Gregory Campbell
Shawn Thornton: Let up on the letdown theory 03.26.11 at 4:57 pm ET
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One look at the line score from Saturday’s snoozefest at the Garden would suggest the Bruins went through a pretty typical letdown game in a 1-0 loss to the Rangers, less than 48 hours after lighting up the Canadiens, 7-zip.

Not so fast, says Shawn Thornton.

“No, I wouldn’€™t put too much into it,” Thornton said. “I wouldn’€™t look too much into Thursday’€™s game and then tonight’€™s. This one could have went either way, it wasn’€™t like we laid an egg tonight. I thought for the most part we worked hard. I don’€™t look at shots too much, but anytime you outshoot a team 12-1 in the third period, you’€™d think that maybe you’€™d get rewarded with one. But they did a good job blocking shots, they did a good job of cleaning stuff out in front of the net. [Henrik Lundqvist] did a good job stopping the puck.”

Thornton makes a good point. The Bruins, who were outshot 9-0 to open the second, were hellbent on putting on a late rush on Lundqvist but to no avail.

Claude Julien agreed with Thornton’s assessment. A letdown explanation would be pretty lame.

“I think that would be a weak excuse,” Julien said. “We’€™re certainly not going to use that as an excuse. This is the time our year where you got to make sure that you’€™re able to push those games aside. There’€™s a lot of emotional games coming up in the future here, in the near future, and we’€™ve got to be able to respond night after night.

“It was more our team maybe not as good as the other team tonight as far as the will to win those battles early on and being heavy on the stick,” Julien said. “It’€™s unfortunate that the only goal that was scored may be a little bit of a controversial goal, but we had lots of opportunities to make up for it.”

It was also unfortunate Tuukka Rask allowed just one controversial goal and it ended up costing the Bruins.

“It’€™s disappointing to lose, obviously,” Rask said. “But I thought we put up a pretty good effort. Maybe it wasn’€™t a solid sixty-minute game, but we definitely came out hard in the third and got our chances, battled hard. A 1-0 loss is always tough to take when you don’€™t score a goal after you score seven. But it’€™s just a game and we just have to battle back [Sunday vs. Philadelphia].”

“Obviously, it sucks,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “We didn’€™t score a goal and we didn’€™t play our best.

Speaking of the Flyers, the fourth and final rematch of last year’s epic Eastern Conference semis is on the docket Sunday in Philly.

“That’€™s often a good thing,” Julien said. “We don’€™t have time to dwell on this one here. You got to turn the page. You win the big game tomorrow in Philadelphia, and you’€™ve had a pretty tough week against some pretty good hockey clubs. If you can come out of the there 3-1, with the week, it’€™s been a pretty good week. So that’€™s what we’€™ve got to focus on. Let’€™s turn the page on this one here and hopefully be a better team [Sunday].”

Read More: Claude Julien, New York Rangers, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers
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.

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.

‘€œI think it was mutual for both, the team and Timmy,’€ Bruins coach Claude Julien said of getting back in the win column. ‘€œI 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.

‘€œI thought we were a little fragile there with what’€™s been happening,’€ Julien said. ‘€œBut 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.

‘€œThey had a few shots, they had a few good chances,’€ Thomas said. ‘€œBut 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.

‘€œYou want him to see the shot,’€ Kaberle said. ‘€œYou 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.

‘€œI 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. ‘€œI 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
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