|Lehtonen returned to Providence||11.06.09 at 6:21 pm ET|
As expected, Bruins forward Mikko Lehtonen was returned to the Providence Bruins on Friday afternoon after filling in for the B’s Thursday night in their 2-1 shootout loss to the Canadiens. Lehtonen was held scoreless in 7:08 of ice time Thursday night, and will head back to the P-Bruins to build on his 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) and 25 penalty minutes in 11 AHL games.
Lehtonen was recalled on an emergency basis on Wednesday night, but was expected to return to Providence once Byron Bitz made it through Friday’s practice without aggravating his groin injury. Bitz thought he’d be ready to go for Saturday’s game against the Northeast Division-leading Sabres, who have allowed the fewest goals (24) in the NHL this season. Bitz skated with Trent Whitfield and Shawn Thornton
‘I feel pretty good. It’s one of those things where one day it feels better and hopefully I’m turning the corner here,’ said Bitz. ‘It feels pretty good. Hopefully it holds up. It’s always tough to watch, but it’s out of your control. If you’re injured, you’re injured. You just hope to heal as quickly as you can so you can get back out there.’
Bitz also has the distinction of being David Krejci‘s roommate on road trips, and the Cornell alum was admittedly a bit concerned that he might also come down with the H1N1 virus after staying in the same hotel room with the center in Detroit. But he hasn’t started exhibiting any of the telltale symptoms, and hopes he’s out of the woods.
‘I thought about that a little bit when I first heard about, but I’ve been feeling fine, knock on wood,’ said Bitz. ‘Everybody is so careful about washing their hands and trying not to spread any kind of a flu bug. I just saw it online that [Krejci] had the swine flu, and I was surprised. He didn’t say anything about feeling under the weather to me.’
|Bruins lock up another young asset in Rask||11.05.09 at 6:44 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had a bright young hockey asset taken from him last summer when Toronto leveraged the threat of a contract offer sheet into a trade for Phil Kessel just prior to the season’s start.
Give the B’s GM full marks for not letting that happen again as he locked up another talented youngster in Tuukka Rask to a two-year contract extension that will take the Finnish netminder through the 2011-2012 season. Reports have the salary pinned between $2.6-2.8 million overall with a cap hit in the $1.35 million neighborhood, but exact figures haven’t yet been unearthed.
The 22-year-old was set to become a restricted free agent following the current season, but ‘ along with Milan Lucic ‘ Chiarelli made the determination to keep his prized youngster away from potentially damaging offer sheets.
‘I guess you’ve got to change with the times,’ said Chiarelli about getting more proactive toward locking up players mid-season, particularly younger players with expiring rookie contracts. ‘To a certain degree I went through it this summer with Phil [Kessel] and Toronto and I have to consider that. I have to put that into the equation now.’
Rask is 2-1-1 in four games with a 2.41 goals against average and a .915 save percentage, and has already flashed the kind of cool, calm collected style between the pipes that’s made him one of the best goaltending prospects in the world.
The Bruins still have restricted free agents Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to contend with following this season as well as an organizationally important negotiation with unrestricted free agent Marc Savard. Tying up Rask allows Chiarelli to concentrate on other matters at hand with his goaltending completely covered for the next three seasons.
–The picture cleared a little bit more for swine-flu ridden center David Krejci, who will miss at least two games while recovering from a bout with the H1N1 virus diagnosed on Thursday. Krejci will be away from the ice for at least the next 3-5 days in quarantine, and might miss a third game when the Bruins taken on the Penguins next Tuesday night at TD Garden.
‘He had a raspy throat and it kind of sunk it into his chest and that’s when they brought him to get it diagnosed. [He’ll be] 3-5 days in quarantine, so he’ll spend that time at home in quarantine.’
|Bruins: Krejci diagnosed with H1N1||at 10:56 am ET|
BOSTON, MA – Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club’s medical staff has confirmed a diagnosis of H1N1 for David Krejci. Based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations, Krejci will be isolated from the rest of the team until he is symptom and fever free for 24 hours.
‘Like most people, we are taking many precautions to try to prevent our players and staff from contracting the H1N1 virus,’ said Chiarelli. ‘Our medical staff is working with David to get him healthy as soon as possible, and our players and staff will continue to take precautions with hopes of preventing the spread of the virus to others in the organization.’
|Krejci finally getting things up to speed||10.27.09 at 4:33 pm ET|
David Krejci always has acted as his own harshest critic, so who knows what was going through the Czech Republic native’s mind after mustering up a scoresheet doughnut in the Bruins‘ first four games. There were, of course, ready-made excuses after the 23-year-old underwent right hip surgery to repair an impingement last summer and missed the entire preseason.
He was instead dropped into the lineup on opening night after receiving a clean bill of health, and has been slowly kicking the rust of his game during the season.
It took a few games, but the playmaking pivot finally snapped out of his scoreless funk against the Avalanche with a pair of helpers. He’s been getting closer to the nearly point-per-game Krejci of old ever since that Oct. 12 loss. In fact, Krejci has a goal and four assists and sits at plus-5 in six games since the loss to the Avs — and finally smashed through with a clutch game-tying score in Saturday’s shootout win over the Senators.
“We all know that our guys got hurt and now it’s everybody’s job to step and be in the right spot,” Krejci said. “I think the last few games I’ve been feeling much more comfortable. We’re trying to play hard and make it hard for the other team. Keep it simple.”
The goal was Krejci’s first tally in 10 games this season and would seem to act as the final weight lifted off the young center’s shoulders as he reconnects with his game. But appearances can be deceiving. Krejci said he wasn’t even thinking of that score in terms of his first individual goal of the season, and he was instead looking at its importance in the grand scheme of all things team.
“All six of us did a great job [in the final minute against Ottawa] and I was in the right place at the right time,” Krejci said. “It could have been anybody else. I didn’t really take it as my first goal of the season. I took as it the tying goal in a game, and it was pretty exciting.”
The youngster is adjusting to his new role as center on the top line with Marco Sturm and Mark Recchi riding shotgun, and Krejci ticked off resurrecting the power play as the next order of business on the docket.
“It’s been tough because they’re so fast and I’m just trying to keep up with them, but it’s getting better and better every game,” Krejci said. “They’re different players [than Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder]. We’ll see how it goes as we keep playing for each other. We’re going in the right direction now, and it’s about continuing to go in that right direction.”
Krejci is the Bruins player most similar to Marc Savard in both skill set and ability to elevate his teammates around him, but hasn’t worked much with the top power-play unit heading into Thursday night’s tilt against the Devils. He ranks well behind many of his teammates in terms of power-play ice time and is 10th on the B’s with an average of 2:15 of ice time per game on Boston’s man advantage.
Krejci may or may not see an increase in power-play time as his production continues to rise during the month of October, but his teammates are beginning to see the same old Krejci that flourished during last year’s breakout season. That’s just what the hockey doctor ordered with Savard on the shelf and all offensive hands needed on deck for the Black and Gold.
|B’s solid despite shootout defeat in Philly||10.22.09 at 9:58 pm ET|
The Boston Bruins hadn’t been able to put two solid games together this season, but they finally snapped that spell of inconsistency Thursday night in the normally unfriendly City of Brotherly Love. The B’s put together an imperfectly solid road game at the Wachovia Center and earned a point by getting to overtime before dropping the shootout decision in a 4-3 loss to the Flyers.
Young center Claude Giroux scored as the final of the three Philly shooters in the overtime shootout, and Michael Ryder rang iron on the left pipe with a high slot shot attempt to give the Flyers eventual victory.
The two Northeast sports havens have been building up a heated, hated rivalry over the last three seasons, and that bad blood spilled over into some pretty entertaining, intense hockey Thursday night. It seems that a little enmity draws some pretty solid play out of both teams, and Boston impressed despite their seemingly rag tag roster. Tuukka Rask was outstanding in goal with 36 saves overall, and never better than on a stunning stone-job on Jeff Carter when the Flyers sniper broke in short-handed in the final minute of play.
It wasn’t perfect, but there were plenty of positives with both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci playing at a considerably high level in the absence of Marc Savard, and Matt Hunwick, Steve Begin and Derek Morris factoring into the regulation scoring. Perhaps the best trait out of the Black and Gold was the resiliency to come back three different times in the game — a characteristic that’s been a big part of the B’s units under coach Claude Julien. The B’s power play even got into the act early in the game when Morris scored on a bomb from the deep point area after Boston was held without a shot on the man advantage the night before.
With the loss, the Bruins fail to get over .500 for the first time this season, but can take perhaps a morsel of satisfaction that things finally seem to be spinning in the right direction for the Spoked B with a gritty, even road effort.
YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND AND NOTHING’S EVER GONNA GET YOU DOWN:Tuukka Rask made a game-saving stop on Jeff Carter during a shorthanded breakaway, but he was solid throughout with each of the 36 saves he made in the shootout victory. The 22-year-old fresh-faced rook was Cool Hand Tuuk when it mattered most in the pressure-packed minutes at the end of the game, and made a great stop with his right leg pad when Carter opted for the backhand flip. One could envision Rask being a heck of a playoff goalie after watching the job between the pipes against the Flyers.
GOAT HORNS:Mark Stuart was saddled with a -3 for the night and struggled at times when things began looking like a Chinese Fire Drill in Boston’s defensive zone. Adding injury to insult, Stuart took a Steve Begin stick to the chops on the Flyers’ second goal of the night and feel like a ton of bricks in front of the net just before Darroll Powe popped the goal past Rask. Not a banner night for Stuart, but clearly not all of it was of his own doing.
|Sobotka sent down to Providence||09.30.09 at 4:39 pm ET|
The Boston Bruins have sent Vladimir Sobotka to the AHL’s Providence Bruins on Wednesday afternoon in a surprise move just prior to the beginning of the NHL regular season on Oct. 1. It appeared that Sobotka had made the big club in Boston after a solid final kick during the preseason, but the move sends a pretty clear message that center David Krejci is 100 percent healthy to start the season.
Sobotka appeared headed for a healthy scratch on Thursday night and the foreseeable future as the 13th forward with the Bruins, and wouldn’t have seen much playing time with the club enjoying good health at the season’s beginning. The move to Providence allows Sobotka to stay sharp playing in all situations at the AHL level, and clears a bit more space under the B’s salary cap.
With only two Bruins games spread out over the next six days, there wasn’t going to be much of a chance for Sobotka to crack the lineup. According to a hockey source, Sobotka was not subject to waivers as a part of Boston’s transaction sending him to the Baby B’s.
The Bruins now have 21 skaters on their active roster with only one extra defenseman and a backup goaltender to go along with the 19 players slated to skate against the Washington Capitals Thursday night. The move sending Sobotka to the P-Bruins was first reported by the Providence Journal on Wednesday afternoon.
|Krejci likely to play in B’s opener||09.28.09 at 2:32 pm ET|
With Zach Hamill and Brad Marchand both dropped down to Providence, it’s expected that David Krejci will be able to skate in Thursday night’s season-opener against the Washington Capitals. Krejci was at his customary position centering a line of Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, and B’s coach Claude Julien took as a great sign when his young pivot took part in all drills at practice.
Both Marco Sturm (groin) and Steve Begin (groin) also skated a full practice on Monday morning at the TD Garden, and neither player felt any health restrictions during the session.
“It’s a positive because nobody told me they had to get off [the ice] and they’re doing fine,” said Julien, referencing all three players battling assorted bumps and bruises. “They’re doing fine. Krejci is fine and he’s been practicing with us for close to a week now. The other two guys had small groin issues, and with a day off yesterday ‘ and giving them a few days to heal before that ‘ it’s going to help us Thursday.
“[Krejci] is day-to-day, and I’ll still put him at 50-50 for Thursday. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. Today was a little more gritty for him at times with 3-on-3 down low. We made sure that guys finished their checks on him and made sure he’ll feel comfortable. I think a lot of it is feeling comfortable [mentally].”
‘¢ Vladimir Sobotka couldn’t keep the smile from his face after learning that he had made the final roster after a training camp effort that improved with each passing day. The young Czech Republic forward pointed to a conversation he had with Julien that helped him relax and begin playing his game ‘ a mix of puck skills and controlled aggression.
“I’m glad I could stay here and get this opportunity. I just have to keep it simple,” Sobotka said. “The last three games I felt less pressure on me and I didn’t put it on myself. I didn’t try to do too much on the ice and it helped me. I wanted to try to score two goals every game, you know, and it wasn’t working.
“[Julien] told me to play like I did two years ago and I’d be good. I try to play without minuses, the coaches don’t like that. Try to score some goals, keep it simple and play my game.”
‘¢ Chris Bourque has made the Washington Capitals’ final roster after a competitive training camp, and he’ll be taking shifts at his hometown rink on Thursday night for the first time as an NHL player.
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