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Sunday notes: Pressure? What pressure for Game 5? 05.09.10 at 3:18 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Pressure?

Whatever.

There has been a lot of talk in this Eastern Conference semifinals series about where the pressure lays. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said that the pressure is on the Bruins before Game 4, Mark Recchi said afterward that he does not see where Laviolette gets that notion. Really though, we are talking about pressure. It is like talking about “character” — some esoteric notion that you know exists and it effects how a team plays and is perceived but it cannot be quantitated or examined until well after the point of pressure and high anxiety has passed.

“I feel that every game there has got to be a sense of urgency and that is the way we have approached it,”  coach Claude Julien said. “Some people call it pressure some people call it something else. You put the pressure on yourself to do well because we want to do well. I think pressure is something that, if you handle well, is a great thing to have on your side. If you can’t handle it well it is certainly something that can be detrimental to your team.”

Part of the reason the Bruins may have been playing so well through the playoffs is that their definition of “pressure” may have worn off. The ultimate embarrassment for Boston would have been to not qualify for the playoffs at all a season after having the best record in the Eastern Conference and starting the year as one of the Stanley Cup favorites. In that regard there was more pressure through the end of March into April than there has been during the playoffs.

“Well, we have been better for quite a while. We did it when we got into the playoffs. This is a better team and you move on from there,” Julien said. “There was a sense of urgency or whatever you want to call it before the playoffs started so, we have gone through that and are adjusting to it right now. I find we are very focused team right now. We just have to keep that in the right direction and for us, everybody game is a must-win. So, no matter what, every game is a must win, we take that approach and it has served us well.”

After making the tournament and getting out of the first round, the fear of embarrassment or failure, which might be a good definition of pressure, has not been present. They are able to go out and play hard and have fun while working hard. It is the playoffs, it is supposed to be fun because, after all, hockey is just a game.

“You can’t play this game and not have fun. You guys can’t do your job and not enjoy it. Otherwise, might as well changed your job right?” Julien said.  ”It is the same thing for players. You have to go out and love this time of year. There’s a bunch of teams right now watching us play that would love to be where we are and that is fun. We have to take that approach and we have taken that approach. We have come into the dressing room after a period either down a couple of goals or tied or whatever and say ‘guys, lets just go out there and win this game and have fun doing it.’ And the guys have taken that approach and it has worked well for us.”

Notes: The full compliment of healthy Bruins skaters were present at Ristuccia with Adam McQuaid the only player who might have been a possibility missing. He is still out with a “lower-body injury” and remains doubtful for Monday’s Game 5. It is not likely that McQuaid would play either as Mark Stuart has come back to the lineup and, after a poor Game 4, feels that he will be able to get back up to mental and physical speed in his second playoff game of the year.

“Yeah, it was a little different actually, I felt like I was crashing the party,” Stuart said. “I thought my emotion level would be there because of the playoffs and it definitely was because of the situation and the intensity is way up and everything is faster. I think I will be up to speed tomorrow.”

Dennis Seidenberg skated on the Ristuccia ice after the rest of the team had completed its practice and was worked out by trainer John Whitesides. Seidenberg has been on the ice for two days in a row now as he battles back from a lacerated tendon suffered in Toronto on April 3. He had a hard cast taken off the left forearm last Monday to reveal a long, horizontal scar five inches up from his wrist. He is not expected to be back until at least eight weeks after the surgery but Julien said that it has been encouraging to gets guys back into the lineup even as big performers (Marco Sturm, David Krejci) have hit the infirmary.

“Any time you see that kind of thing around your team it is a positive,” Julien said. “We have been hit this week with some big injuries but then you look at the other side and you see some other guys start to come around. So, hopefully we continue to win hockey games to give those guys and opportunity to come back.”

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Morning notes: Gagne a game-time decision 05.07.10 at 1:55 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — The Broad Street faithful are hoping to see one of their old friends on the ice at the Wachovia Center on Friday and hope that he will be able to continue their season, if only just a little bit longer.

Simon Gagne will be a game-time decision for Game 4 after having surgery on a broken toe on April 23 after the fourth game of the quarterfinals against the Devils. Gagne skated at the Flyers practice facility in Vorhees, NJ on Thursday but did not take part in Philadelphia’s morning Friday. He was the only Flyers player to [officially] address the media before Game 4 and said that he will take part in warmups and consult with the athletic trainer and doctors before making a decision on whether or not he will play.

“There is no need right now to go out there and skate. I am going to wait in my warmup and put all the chance on my side and decide from there,” Gagne said.

Gagne had an MRI on the toe on Thursday after practice to make sure it had not moved or been displaced during the skate. All results were OK and now it just seems like how much pain he can withstand and how much the injury will allow him to contribute.

“I am going to have to talk to the trainer after warmup and tell him how I feel and get the call from the doctor,” Gagne said. “I talked to him yesterday and we went and got that MRI and we talked a little bit about what I have to look for to be able to play. Do, like I said, I need to get ready for warmup and we will chat with Jimmy [McCrossin -- athletic trainer] after warmup and then we will decide if we are good to go.”

Coach Peter Laviolette said in his morning news conference that the emotional benefit from getting a player back is fleeting when it comes to the work it takes to win a hockey game. He would talk nothing of assumptions concerning whether or not Gagne would play or what his minutes would be other than to say that he probably would not spend much time on the penalty kill.

“When the players return I think there has to be more than the bang that you might get in the first minute,” Laviolette said. “There is so much work that has to be done throughout the course of the game and even when a player, when he does return, I think it is important that they are contributing factors. Maybe you get a quick boost but there is a lot of work to be done. Boston won’t put a lot of stock into a player when he returns to the lineup.”

The Flyers are going to need all the help they can get if they want to climb back into this series. Gagne admitted that a Game 4 timetable was not on his mind, he figured, at best, Game 5, perhaps later in the series. A player has to do what a player has to do. It is playoff hockey.

“To be honest with you, I was looking toward Game 5 or maybe the end of the series, but I started to actually feel pretty good before Game 3,” Gagne said. “It is the playoffs and right now we are against the wall and we have to win and we are not allowed to lose any games. It is right there and if I feel good enough to play, I will be there.”

Laviolette expects the Flyers to play to win Friday night, regardless of the status of Simon Gagne. He went so far as to say that the pressure had shifted to the Bruins, which is not all that unreasonable. The fourth game is always the hardest to claim. Boston found that out in Game 5 of the quarterfinals against the Sabres.

“I would expect us to play a really good hockey game,” Laviolette said. “We had a good practice yesterday, had a good meeting. Our backs are up against the wall but the pressure really shifts to Boston at this point, not so much on us. I would think our guys are going to come out with one heck of an effort tonight.”

Morning notes — The Bruins had a full team practice while only a couple Flyers took part in the morning skate, reversed from the situation on Thursday we Philadelphia had a full team practice and the Boston had a workout day (in Bruins parlance, that means they played soccer in the hallway of the Wachovia center). Shawn Thornton did not skate for the Bruins and coach Claude Julien said that “he exercised his option” on whether to skate or not. An interesting choice for a player who does not have a contract after the season ends. Trent Whitfield is the probably replacement for David Krejci in the Bruins lineup as Julien likes the idea of having five true centermen in the lineup but the decision between him and Brad Marchand will be made after warmups.

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Julien has to make decisions for Game 4 05.06.10 at 3:34 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins are focused.

It could be sensed on Wednesday which team is walking the concentrated, confident path and which one a little bit lost in the dark. The Bruins have the swagger, the Flyers need a flashlight.

So, when it comes to the loss of a key guy like David Krejci, the collective Boston dressing room bucks up and comes together to continue down the road. It is a key loss, for sure, but it is not like these Bruins have not been dealing with it all season. They lost Marc Savard to a Grade 2 concussion for two months and have been without two of their top for defenders in Mark Stuart and Dennis Seidenberg throughout the playoffs. Yet, here they are, one game away from the Eastern Conference finals.

“It is never easy to lose guys like that. We’ve got two guys in our top four ‘D’s’ who are out of our lineup still,” coach Claude Julien said. “It is part of the game. It is one that you can’t dwell on because it takes away your focus on what you need to do to succeed so as a coach you look at what you got there and you have to make the best of what you got.”

Julien has not yet made a decision on who will replace Krejci in the lineup, it will be either Trent Whitfield or Brad Marchand but the coach also has to figure out who will take rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid’s spot as well. The blue liner was lost for the rest of Game 3 after being hit behind the net in the first period on Wednesday and tallied three shifts for 1:49 of ice time. Julien said on Thursday that he had a “lower-body injury” and is “very doubtful” for Game 4. His options in the cupboard are either Andy Wozniewski, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Jeff Penner or maybe, just maybe, Stuart.

“He suffered what we would call a ‘lower body injury,’ in the playoffs. Basically, very doubtful for tomorrow but then will be a day-to-day situation,” Julien said of McQuaid.

There is still no word on medical clearance for Stuart coming back from a cellulitis infection in his left pinky. He has been skating and practicing but has not been fully cleared to get into a game. McQuaid going down will not speed up the timetable for Stuart and Julien reserves the right to make the decision on if the defender is ready when he does get clearance.

“No, we are not going to accelerate [Stuart],” Julien said. “If [Stuart] ever plays it is because he is ready to play and he is also a guy who, when I say re-evaluted, we haven’t gotten clearance from the medical staff yet but he has been cleared for full practice so all we need now is full clearance. If we do have that tomorrow, whether we get it or not, then it will be our decision.”

Stuart has been practicing with an IV cast that he moves around his arms and is still on antibiotics until May 25th. He feels he has good conditioning and has repeatedly stated the desire to get into the playoffs as soon as he is cleared. On Thursday he skated with Penner, Wozniewski, Bodnarchuk, Whitfield and Marchand along with goaltenders Tim Thomas and Dany Sabourin. Outside of the net minders, pluck two players from that list, perhaps Bodnarchuk and Whitfield as a first guess, and insert them into the Bruins lineup for Game 4 on Friday.

“I think we have a lot of guys who have been around our team for a while now and we will keep that decision probably for tomorrow,” Julien said. “I still got a whole day to sort things out here and we have a lot of guys capable of jumping in and doing the job here. It is a matter of picking and choosing who we want. So, there are still a couple of question marks. We talk about Stuart, we talk about the other ‘D’s’ available, we are definitely going to need a guy there and definitely going to need another forward. So, there will be two new additions in our lineup tomorrow.”

On a separate injury related note, Seidenberg had his hard cast removed from his left forearm on Monday to reveal a two to three inch scar from where he suffered a tendon laceration. He wears a splint over it and has been working out though not yet able to take the ice. He is about four weeks through the eight weeks of expected recovery time which might make him available if the Bruins go to the Stanley Cup Finals.

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A little rest for the heavy hitters 05.04.10 at 1:42 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — It is easy to forget through the first two rounds of the playoffs that the Bruins are still operating without some significant depth on the blue line. Mark Stuart started skating this week, coming back from surgery for cellulitis, and Dennis Seidenberg has been a regular press box presence at TD Garden, but otherwise the injured players are in the forgotten man ether that comes with the disabled list. The de facto top four defensemen — Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Wideman and Matt Hunwick — have logged big minutes since the last week of the regular season and even though coach Claude Julien has stepped off the throttle with them a little bit as Andrew Ference has contributed and rookie Adam McQuaid has settled down, the top two pairs are still the oxen pulling the cart.

Hence, all four blueliners got the day off on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena between Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers. Julien dresssed six the three Black Aces the Bruins have up with the team — Andy Wozniewski, Jeff Penner and Andrew Bodnarchuk, along with Stuart, Ference and McQuaid.

“I think it is just a matter of giving a few guys some days off here and doing something different,” Julien said. “We can still get them on the ice before the game tomorrow morning. It is just about managing that stuff.”

The other heavy hitters in the Bruins lineup got to sit Tuesday as well including Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi and Tuukka Rask. A minor reward for carrying the team to a 6-2 record through eight games but nothing major. The rest of the team only skated for a half-hour or so as it has a quite turnaround for a 1:30 p.m. flight to Philadelphia.

In terms of Stuart, the defenseman is not yet ready to make the jump back to the lineup. He has been skating for the last week and only with the full team a couple of times as of yet. He said on Tuesday that he is still on antiobiotics (until May 25) and still wears an IV cast like thing on his right arm. With him around the team people cannot help but ask if he will be ready for Game 3 but the situation is not as simple as a workout or practice. He will not be on the ice Wednesday night and the team still has to wait for medical clearance as well as for Stuart to get back to a level where he can contribute.

“Definitely no … He is not playing tomorrow, he is not ready for that yet,”Julien said. ”It is a situation where he has to be medically cleared and what he has got is a bone infection. He can practice now is what we have been told, he can do some things but before we can ever consider him he has to be medically cleared and feel that he is ready to go as well.”

Stuart sees a defensive unit that has been playing well through the playoffs and knows he will have to be ready to contribute when he does finally make his return to the ice.

“It is not like we don’t have six D-men playing their best right now, cause we do,” Stuart said. “It is not going to help to play a guy who hasn’t done anything for two months just to rush him back. So, I feel good out there though and obviously I want to play but it is going to be a coaches decision when they feel like I can contribute and they feel like they need me and I will just be ready whenever that comes.”

Here are the lines from Tuesday’s skate:

Yellow sweater — Brad Marchand, Trent Whitfield, Daniel Paille

White — Marc Savard, Blake Wheeler, Michael Ryder

Grey — David Krejci, Miroslav Satan, Milan Lucic

Red — Begin, Shawn Thornton, Vladimir Sobotka

Defense — Wozniewski, Penner, Bodnarchuk, Ference, McQuaid, Stuart

Goaltenders — Tim Thomas, Dany Sabourin

Out — Chara, Boychuk, Wideman, Hunwick, Bergeron, Recchi, Rask

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Bruins consider Carcillo a non-factor at 1:19 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — When it comes to instigators, the Bruins have upgraded from series to series.

Patrick Kaleta of the Sabres is one type of player — chippy and irritating — but Daniel Carcillo is another entirely. He accused Marc Savard of biting him in a scrum started when he and Kimmo Timonen jumped Savard after the Bruins center took a whack (and a subsequent slashing penalty) at the glove of Brian Boucher after a glove save. Earlier, Carcillo had a dust up with forward Steve Begin in which Carcillo easily could have taken an interference or a charging penalty or maybe even two for diving when Begin pushed him to the ice. The amazing thing through Game 2 was that Carcillo never actually went to the penalty box. Savard and Begin did.

“You saw the play, I got hit and I just wanted to push him and he went down,” Begin said. “I think he could have taken two for diving, but, he didn’t get one. Oh, it wasn’t a hard push,” Begin said. “We play hard too. We go out there, we play hard, we hit, we try to make things happen. You can’t get away from your game for players like that. He wants to draw penalties, so you have to be smart and just keep playing and make sure nothing bad happens.”

Carcillo is a character, to say the least. Self-assured with a chip on his shoulder, he adds only a touch of offense to the usually stacked Flyers lines (12 goals, 10 assists in 76 games this year) but racks up the penalty minutes by the by the fistful — 207 in total through the regular season. He is missing his two front teeth and speaks his mind, whether it is the entire truth or some exaggeration of the truth. Overall, his play and antics can be quite amusing.

The Bruins do not think so. Savard insisted that Carcillo put his hand in his mouth during the scrum and repeated early and often that the forward embellishes on just about everything he does. Coach Claude Julien did not think much of the Begin-Carcillo dustup, chalking it up to playoff hockey and a player known for theatrics.

“Those [penalties] most of the time you end up killing,” Julien said. “I think, you know, he took a pretty good run at him. It was deemed a clean hit and I don’t really disagree with that either but it was borderline charging and it basically just him [Begin] saying listen, that he crossed a line and I sent a message. I don’t think there are any issues with that either way from either team. If our player did that and threw a legal hit and it was borderline and did something about it, I wouldn’t mind that. It is playoff hockey guys, we worry about every little thing that happens but that is part of the game and we live with it.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Claude Julien press conference at 3:02 am ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien speaks to the media following the B’s Game 2 win over the Flyers.

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Sturm out for season with knee injury 05.02.10 at 12:44 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed reports Sunday afternoon that forward Marco Sturm will be out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Sturm suffered the injury 21 seconds into his first shift of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers after he hit the boards when he missed a partial check on Philadelphia defenseman Matt Carle. Sturm crumpled to the ice and had to be assisted to the tunnel.

“Marco suffer a knee injury yesterday that will keep him out for the rest of the year,” Julien said. “It is unfortunate news for our hockey club and especially for him who has battled through a major injury last year and was really looking forward to these playoffs.”

The injury is believed to be Sturm’s right knee, which is the opposite from when he injured his left knee on Dec. 18, 2008, and missed most of the 2009-10 season. Sturm had been held pointless for the Bruins’ seven playoff games, though led the team with 22 goals during the regular season. Sturm did not produce for the Bruins down the stretch, either, as he only had two points (a goal and an assist) since March 13 after back-to-back multiple-point games on March 9 and 11, the two games after center Marc Savard went down with a Grade 2 concussion in Pittsburgh on March 7.

Julien said that he was unsure what the next medical step would be for Sturm and that the doctors need to let the swelling go down before figuring the extent of the injury.

“I don’t know yet,” Julien said. “We talked about the injury keeping him out for the rest of the year. When you have the injury there is swelling involved and that is a medical issue and I don’t know what is going to happen either way with him.”

UPDATE — The Bruins announced on Sunday afternoon that Sturm has torn both his ACL and MCL and will have surgery in 4-6 weeks. Here is the full press release from the team:

BOSTON — Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that forward Marco Sturm will miss the remainder of the 2009-10 season after sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee. He sustained the injury during the first period of the Bruins/Flyers game on Saturday, May 1.

Sturm will have surgery within 4-6 weeks from the date of the injury (May 1). His expected recovery time is an estimated six months post-surgery.

Sturm is a veteran of 855 NHL regular season games and has registered 234 goals and 232 assists for 466 points in his career. The 31-year-old tallied 22 goals and 15 assists during the 2009-10 season, marking the seventh time in his career he surpassed the 20-goal plateau. He played in all seven playoff games this season and has scored eight goals and tallied 11 assists in 52 postseason games for San Jose and Boston.

An injury to his left knee caused him to miss significant time during the 2008-09 season.

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