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Julien: ‘I think some of our players weren’t even born’ 05.01.10 at 12:25 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien held a pre-game press conference at TD Garden Saturday morning before puck drop of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers. Julien touched on how he will monitor the return of center Marc Savard, the play of rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid and the playoff history of the two teams. Along those lines, Julien said not to expect the same type of series that was waged between the two franchises during the heyday of the Broad Street Bullies of the 1970s.

“Because the past is the past and we all anticipate the same thing to happen that happened in I think it was 1975, that was quite a few years ago. I think some of our players weren’t even born,” Julien said. “Nonetheless, we want to associate that with today. The game has changed, the rules have changed, so much has changed. I’m not saying it won’t be a physical game, but to try and associate those two, I don’t think there is going to be a ton of comparison.”

The Bruins and Flyers have not met in the playoffs since the semis in 1978 when the Boston took down Philadelphia in five games.

Julien was noncommittal about who would make the lineup come game time though word has just come down that Shawn Thornton is the healthy scratch. He participated in warmups but will be on his way to the press box to watch shortly. Blake Wheeler will get the nod at the forward spot on the fourth line.

Here is the transcript of the press conference, courtesy of the Bruins media relations staff:

On how the team is going to handle Philadelphia is going to try and rough up the thin defensemen core:

Well, Mick I think we have been dealing with that for about a month now, since those two other guys [Mark Stuartand Dennis Seidenberg] got hurt and we have had to use more those [other] players. It hasn’t been an issue so I don’t know why we should be looking at it as an issue again. Guys know what to do. They want to stay out of the box. We have to stick together. It’s the same old cliche as you hear everyday so, again, it’s not a big deal for me and we will deal with it the way we have dealt with it so far and if it becomes more of an issue, then we will make the adjustment.

On how he monitors how Marc Savard is playing and feeling:

I think you get a pretty good idea by watching what he is doing out there and seeing the energy he is deploying and at one point he gets to the bench, you can see if he is overly tired. You can do that with any player right now. When you see them on the bench, you have a pretty good idea if a guy needs an extra break, so those are all things that we have to look at. The thing is, we talked about putting him in situations where he is going to help our hockey club. At the same time, this is playoff hockey. We can’t wait or sacrifice our team for the sake of giving him that opportunity. It is important for him to go out in the situations we put him in and really try and help our team out. It’s as simple as that. We are here to win. We are not here to cater to anybody, but we have to do what it takes for the team and that is why he has been working hard for the last ten days to get into the best shape possible so that he can step in and at least contribute in some way or fashion.

On Adam McQuaid and how he has been prepared for the playoffs:

He is a stay at home defenseman, we know that. You’re not going to see him rush up the ice a lot, but what he does is take care of his own end and takes care of it well. He is a good sized defenseman that has a good presence. He can certainly take care of the toughness area. He takes care of himself extremely well there. He makes a good first pass and that is what we’re getting out of him and that’s what we expect out of him. I don’t think we are going to ask him to do more than what he does well. I think he has done a tremendous job when called upon. That is where he fits in and we are happy with the way he has answered.

On if he expects the style of play to be the same between the two teams as it was in the past:

I don’t know. We always want to predict here before it starts and a lot of times we predict rough and tough and all of the sudden it is a good, fast-paced hockey game. I think we will probably have a better idea after tonight which direction the series is going into. I know that we just want to go out there and play our game and I think they want to do the same thing here. Because the past is the past and we all anticipate the same thing to happen that happened in I think it was 1975, that was quite a few years ago. I think some of our players weren’t even born. Nonetheless, we want to associate that with today. The game has changed, the rules have changed, so much has changed. I’m not saying it won’t be a physical game, but to try and associate those two, I don’t think there is going to be a ton of comparison.

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Bruins know what to expect from the Flyers 04.30.10 at 2:32 pm ET
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The Bruins are in for a physical series. It’s just the nature of Philadelphia sports — if you play there, you have to bring an edge. This group of Flyers is no exception, with bruising bodies including Chris Pronger and Braydon Coburn on the blue line and pesky, instigator forwards Daniel Carcillo and Scott Hartnell up front. Carcillo put up an impressive 207 penalty minutes during the regular season and then another 18 in five games against the Devils in the quarterfinals. A big part of the how the series swings will be how Boston manages the physical game and how well the B’s keep their tempers when the Flyers inevitably get under their its skin.

An interesting situation pops up with the Bruins as the return of Marc Savard from concussion causes a player to get bumped from the lineup. Indications from the last three days of practice are that nominal enforcer Shawn Thornton will sit, as Blake Wheeler may take his spot on the checking line. Coach Claude Julien warned not to assume that a decision had been made, but often this season what we have seen in practice is what we see come game time. Either way, Julien does not seem to see the loss of Thornton on the ice as a major concern.

“We are, I guess I would consider us ‘team tough.’ I don’t see any issues any way we go, and if there is, they will be addressed. It is as simple as that,” Julien said.

Thornton does not see himself as only a tough guy, to his credit because he does do other things well on the checking line. At the same time, he is always willing to ring the bell when his particular services are called upon.

“To tell the truth, I think I can play the game besides for that and be a factor in anything, not just the tough man. If that stuff happens, I am more than willing to take care of it. I think it is more that I play with a chip on my shoulder and don’t back down and showing through the last few that I don’t just want to play against the tough team but that I try to contribute in every game,” Thornton said.

Boston did well against the Sabres when it came to keeping net-crashers out of the way of Tuukka Rask, and the team is going to have to keep cutting the timber again to make sure that the goaltender can see where would-be goal-scorers are coming from.

“The less time you spend in the D-zone is for the best, but they are going to get their cracks and you just have to stay composed and stay where you are supposed to stay and just work in front of Tuukka, because if you let him see the puck he is going to stop the majority of things,” Wheeler said.

Rask, as per his normal demeanor, did not seem too concerned about the Flyers’ style of play. The Bruins have seen it before and they know what to expect.

“We know them and we played against them and their style. They like to get pucks in and crash the net. That is what a lot of teams do, but they have big forwards and really that is their style of play to get in front of the net and get pucks in,” Rask said. “I mean, guys block shots and get me a lane to see shots, and in the last series we did a great job with that. As a goalie it really helps when you can see the shooter and maybe one more thing and when you see the puck it becomes much easier.”

The Bruins also need to be aware that the Flyers have a history of the quick strike while on the penalty kill. They had just six short-handed strikes (same as the Bruins) in the 2009-10 regular season but led the league with 16 in 2008-09 and were near the top with 13 in 2007-08. Granted, without Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne for the series because of toe injuries (Gagne may return if the series goes the distance but Carter definitely is out), the Flyers’ short-handed capabilities are hindered, but that does not mean the Bruins should take the possibility lightly.

“Definitely, you have to be smart with the puck, even on the power play. You can’t make lazy passes, and if you find yourself turning the puck over it is going to be going the other way pretty quick,” Wheeler said. “Eliminate turnovers is probably first and foremost. I think they live on turning the puck over and going the other way, and if we eliminate those things I think we will give ourselves a great chance.”

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Stuart gets back into the mix at 1:19 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart was back on the ice for a second day on in a row on Friday as he resumes hockey activities after being grounded with cellulitis in his right forearm since the beginning of April. Cellulitis is an infection of the deepest layers of the skin and can spread throughout the blood stream and the lymph system with sometimes fatal consequences. Stuart has been held away from the team and from doing any type of exercise because he was not allowed to get sweat near the spot of the infection, and he wears a cast-like IV over the spot for the time being. Stuart had surgery on the area earlier this month and knows that this type of injury can be extremely serious.

“Yeah, it can be very serious. You have to take care of it. It is very serious and, you know, they did a good job of going in there and cleaning it out and now it is up to me to watch it and make sure that I am taking the meds the right way and, yeah, you have to take care of it,” Stuart said. “I think the doctors did a great job and a lot of the responsibility is on me.”

Stuart got the infection after a cut on his arm swelled up badly and quickly got worse. The Bruins initially thought that he would be missing in action for two weeks or so, but the first round of antibiotics did not take to the infection and doctors had to take time to figure out which medication was right to treat the injury.

“It swelled up badly and the infection was bad and got worse and it escalated pretty quickly, so I got on the meds and it was kind of trial and error a the beginning to find out which meds were the right ones because there is different types of bacteria, different types of infection. So, I am on the right one right now and we go from there,” Stuart said.

Unlike Marc Savard, who understandably was in a mental daze for weeks after his concussion, Stuart has been cognizant during his time away from the team — though, like Savard, not allowed to do any physical activity. Talking to Stuart, one got the sense that he has been extremely bored for the last month and has been ready to run for weeks. He was allowed to get on a training bike three days ago.

“Just going out and skating, just jumping on the bike three days ago is huge for me. Just to start doing stuff. The worst part is not only just playing but not being able to do anything and really sweat, so I think it is just nice to get out there again and we will work on trying to get back playing,” Stuart said.

Coach Claude Julien said that the recent news on Stuart is encouraging and that, if all things go well, he is on the day-to-day list in terms of practicing with the team. Having Stuart on the horizon is a good safety net for Boston because Andrew Ference has been playing with a torn adductor and hernia and, even though he made it through the Buffalo series, is a ticking time bomb as to how long he can stay on the ice, as even he has admitted.

“Well, it is because what he has gone through is unpredictable as far as the length of time that he would miss and, you know, we were told something at the beginning and obviously it didn’t respond as well,” Julien said. “We got bad news in his case and things were looking worse and now things are looking much better. That’s what happens with the type of injury that he has suffered and the infection that has gotten into it, so it is nice to see him on the ice. It is nice to have good news, and he is a day-to-day situation in terms of how he is doing, and we will go with that. If everything goes well, hopefully we will see him practicing with the rest of the guys here soon.”

A few people who saw Stuart yesterday noted that, of all the players on the team, he has the best playoff beard of all of them. Really, nobody comes close. Perhaps it is just Stuart’s manly nature, but maybe, just maybe, he had a trick up his sleeve.

“Yeah, I cheated,” he said. “This was an injury, I started this when I got surgery, so I got a couple of weeks on them.”

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Lucic: ‘Last year we kind of looked past the second round’ 04.28.10 at 2:01 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Milan Lucic and the Bruins are in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second year in a row, and this time around they want to make sure they leave their mark, no matter which team they end up facing. If Washington beats Montreal Wednesday night, the Bruins will start the playoffs on Friday in Pittsburgh and play Game 2 on Sunday at Mellon Arena. If the Canadiens can pull off the upset, the Flyers will travel to Boston this weekend, though the official schedule has not been announced for that potential matchup.

Last year the Bruins had 10 days off between their first-round sweep of the Canadiens and the start of the semifinals against the Hurricanes. Coach Claude Julien admitted on Wednesday that Boston had definitely lost its playoff frame of mind and it took until basically Game 5 after the Bruins had fallen behind in the series 3-1 to get the edge back.

“There is no doubt that that will obviously help but what I mean by that is that we allowed ourselves to slip out of the playoff mode because we had so much time off and as hard as we might have tried as a coaching staff to give some days off and some practice,” Julien said. “It is almost the frame of mind has to be there and everybody’s mind needs to be in the right place. Ten days is a lot, no matter who you are, so it took us a while to get our game back and it was a little too late, obviously. We had to scramble back from it so, hopefully this short break is just the right time and from what I see our players are still enthusiastic and get excited about going on to the next round.”

Defenseman Dennis Wideman agreed that the Bruins did not deal with the long layoff as well as they could have.

“I think last year we had so much time off that we got into a mode that we lost some intensity and we didn’t carry over the intensity and the drive from the first round into the second because we just didn’t deal with the layoff well,” he said.

Yet last year the Bruins almost seemed like they could be a team of destiny. They rolled through the regular season with the No. 1 seed in the conference and Lucic said the team was guilty of the biggest of playoff sins — looking ahead.

“I think you can’t look too far ahead of yourself,” Lucic said. “Last year we were thinking too much ‘Stanley Cup finals, Stanley Cup finals, Eastern Conference finals,’ you know. Last year we kind of looked past the second round and the Carolina Hurricanes, and we will not make that same mistake again.”

Center Patrice Bergeron, who has grown into a definitive, if quiet, leader of the Bruins over the past year or so, said that since the Bruins did not face much adversity through the regular season and first round of the playoffs last year that perhaps they did not handle the tough times as well as they could have against Carolina.

“I guess it has changed that we have to work for every inch just a little bit more, and last year everything was going right in the regular season that when we faced a little adversity, maybe we weren’t expecting it as much,” Bergeron said. “I think we have faced a enough this year that we can handle it a little bit better maybe.”

Bergeron said that there are even lessons to be learned from the Buffalo series this year, as Boston had a 3-1 series advantage and the Sabres came out and won Game 5 decisively to send it back to Boston with a chance to force a Game 7 back in Buffalo. Last year the Bruins rolled over Montreal. Yes, it was a physical and emotional series (especially considering the seven-game drama in the quarterfinals in 2008) but the Bruins were never in doubt of losing that series whereas there were times against the Sabres when it looked like they were dancing on the edge of a knife.

“Well, we have experience,” Bergeron said. “This will be my second time in the second round and we are aware of the intensity increasing more again. You can see from the first round of the playoffs that it gets harder, and now that it is the second round it is even higher and it is not over until that fourth game is won. Like in the last series we were up 3-1 and they came up with a big win.”

Lucic has been the type of player who comes up big on the biggest of stages. When he was in juniors he  played on two Canadian Hockey League Memorial Cup teams with the Vancouver Giants, and he said that the pressure from being on that big stage at a young age was not incredibly different from what he has faced in the NHL playoffs.

“Obviously with it being a higher level it goes up another notch,” he said. “Playing in the Memorial Cup a couple of times, that is a lot of pressure to deal with at a young age. It is similar, pretty much the same as that, for sure. I was lucky enough to win two championships in juniors and learn and have that experience a little bit in junior to know what it takes to win. Like I said, you don’t look too far ahead and that you just take everything one game at a time, and that is the approach that I always have taken from my first NHL playoff game to the next one coming up.”

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Claude Julien press conference 04.27.10 at 3:26 am ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien speaks to the media following the Bruins’ Game 6 win over Buffalo. The Bruins eliminated the Sabres with a 4-2 series win.

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Minor tweaks on line for Game 6 04.25.10 at 1:36 pm ET
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Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff made some tweaks to his lineup before Game 5 that ended up working out well for Buffalo. To the bench went Raffi Torres, who has yet to score a goal for the Sabres after being a deadline acquisition with the express intent of providing some scoring pop. Up came Cody McCormick and former Boston College star Nathan Gerbe and Ruff put them on a line with Paul Gaustad in Game 5 to good results.

The Bruins probably do not need to do something as drastic as a roster move the likes of bringing Gerbe up from Portland but Sunday’s practice at TD Garden did give a different look from what has been seen in this series.

Coach Claude Julien flipped Marco Sturm back to his old line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi while Milan Lucic join Miroslav Satan and David Krejci. It is the third line change of the series for Lucic after riding the wing with Krejci and on the fourth line with Steve Begin and Daniel Paille.

“I think, obviously, playing with new guys, I haven’t played up to my potential or the caliber of hockey that I know I can play,” Lucic said. “Maybe third time’s a charm. Third different line in the playoffs but hopefully they can get me going and I think I would like to find a way to get myself going with more of an edge, for sure. If I do play with an edge I am helping out the team a lot more and so I just got to do whatever I can to find it in me.”

Julien said not to think too much into the new lines. He is right. Monday will be Game 88 of the Bruins’ season through the regular season and playoffs. Just about everybody on the team has played with everybody else so there should not be a great adjustment.

“There is not much to talk about as far as those guys have played together before. We’ve moved guys around all year. There is not a ton of reasons behind it. I just felt that it was time to try that out for today and we will see what we have tomorrow,” Julien said.

Sturm is the latest of the Bruins so-called scoring forwards to go completely absent from the goal column. He has had one goal and one assist since March 11, with the goal coming in the last game of the season against the Capitals.

“I was trying to get involved a bit more and be aggressive. We had some good battles in their end and I think it was better,” Sturm said. “I know where I am going to be and I he is going to be on the puck and Recchi, like I played it in the past. Relax and have fun.”

Savard Watch

It is now time for the daily update on Marc Savard.

The center skated on Sunday with the team. He stayed on the ice longer than most other players doing conditioning and working on starting and stopping along with sustained skating. Savard said that he has another test tomorrow after the morning skate at the hospital to determine where is in the recovery process. Depending on the results, Savard may be cleared to play or maybe just to receive permission to do fuller contact drills in practice.

“I felt great out there and I was controlling the puck good,” Savard said. “I still have one more test tomorrow. I don’t know what the situation is, we have’t talked much about it so at this point it is not looking good right now.”

Julien kept to the party line when asked about Savard — wait for the doctors and get him in shape.

“He is certainly coming around, no doubt but that is all I can tell you right now because that is all we have. We have not yet been told by the medical staff that he is has been cleared so there is nothing more we can do besides keep working with him and get him in shape,” Julien said.

Tickets still available

The Bruins just announced that an extra ticket hold of approximately 500 seats will be released for purchase at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

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No suspension for Chara 04.24.10 at 2:01 pm ET
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The Bruins were never concerned that they would be without their big man for Game 6 on Monday. In their eyes the real instigator in the mini-brawl as time expired on Game 5 was Paul Gaustad and his slashing stick that set captain Zdeno Chara off and he began punching Gaustad and any other Sabre in the immediate vicinity.

That was just about every other Sabre on the ice. Nathan Gerbe and Cody McCormick entered the fray and the three of them toppled Chara like and Oregonian red wood. Even Ryan Miller got into the act as the pile on Chara thickened with both Sabres and Bruins as the goaltender came in and tried to pull Miroslav Satan out of it only to get tangled in it himself.

“To me I wasn’t even worried because I could not see it [a suspension] happening,” coach Claude Julien said. “It did not take long for them to rescind that stuff and it just didn’t make any sense, you know, a guy gets slashed behind the leg with a two-hander and he just turns around and takes a pop and three guys jump him. Where does all this stuff come from? I don’t know. It is just common sense and I just felt he didn’t deserve it.”

The Bruins players made available to the media Saturday morning at TD Garden were instantly dismissive of the notion that Chara would ultimately receive the instigator-within-five-minutes-of-the-end-of-a-game suspension. Andrew Ference did not even think it was a real fight even though Chara took a five-minute fighting major though Gaustad did not.

“That wasn’t even a fight, an instigator is when there is a fight and that wasn’t a fight,” Ference said. “The guy clearly slashed in in the ankle on the ice, if you really want to talk instigator so, but there was no fight so it was not an issue.”

Did Gaustad think he could have gotten away with the slash because the clock was expiring? Maybe he was thinking it would be a tit-for-tat move after Johnny Boychuk took out the Sabres best player, Thomas Vanek, with a slash in Game 2. The difference in the situations of the hits is clear. Boychuk was defending a partial breakaway in a one goal game. Chara was skating towards the bench areas after the Sabres had cleared the puck out of their zone with second remaining in a game that his team had already won.

“We stand up for ourselves too. It is about doing it at the right time. Sometimes a guy takes a cheap shot at you at the time of the game it gives you a power play and you say well ‘OK, I know who it is and it is a long game.’ But the game is over there. Obviously it was a cheap shot and it was unwarranted, the two-hander and he responded so I don’t think there is any damage there this time except listen, we will turn the cheek when it is time to and there’s times when you have to stand up for yourselves and he stood up for himself,” Julien said.

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