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Shootout magic: Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask come up big as Bruins beat Devils 01.29.13 at 9:48 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton provided early energy for the Bruins with his bout vs. Devils forward Krys Barch. (AP)

Brad Marchand scored the decisive goal in the sixth round while Tuukka Rask stopped 5-of-6 shots in the shootout as the Bruins beat the Devils, 2-1 in overtime Tuesday night at TD Garden. The Bruins (5-0-1) have gained at least a point in all six games this season. The highlight of the shootout came when Tyler Seguin had to re-do his first shot that produced a goal because a fan threw something on the ice. Seguin repeated his effort and scored again.

The Bruins and Devils are the only teams in the Eastern Conference without a regulation loss so far, joining San Jose and Chicago in the West, who were perfect coming into Tuesday’s action.

The two teams battled to a scoreless tie in the opening 20 minutes. Each team recorded nine shots on goal but neither team sustained serious pressure. The main highlight of the first period was a fight between Boston enforcer Shawn Thornton and New Jersey tough guy Krys Barch. In a bout that lasted for nearly a minute and a half, Thornton landed several clean shots before the two were broken apart by the officials, with both teams applauding their skater for staying on their feet the entire time.

The Bruins killed off an Andrew Ference tripping penalty with five minutes left in the first, giving them 24 straight kills to open the season.

But the Bruins were not as lucky in the second period as Johnny Boychuk was whistled for tripping at 7:22. David Clarkson redirected a Marek Zidlicky shot from the left point past Tuukka Rask for the first power play goal allowed by the Bruins in 25 chances this season.

The Bruins would kill off the next three power play chances and finished the game 4-for-5 on the penalty kill. They are 27-of-28 on the penalty kill this season.

The Bruins came out with much greater intensity in the opening minute of the third period and were buzzing around Johan Hedberg. Boston’s best chance came when Dougie Hamilton fired a shot from the left point that just went wide, missing the stick of David Krejci. Instead of a goal, Krejci was called for goaltender interference, taking some momentum away from the Bruins. Read the rest of this entry »

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Johnny Boychuk ‘ready to go right now’ 01.08.13 at 2:49 pm ET
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Johnny Boychuk

If you see Johnny Boychuk around town and want to call a toast to hockey being back, order anything but Red Bull.

The Bruins’ defenseman, who is back in town after spending the lockout overseas, couldn’t escape the stuff while playing for EC Red Bull Salzburg of the Austrian Hockey League. Rather than a refrigerator of bottled water, gatorade and other sports drinks, the dressing room over there offered one drink. Guess what it was?

Fortunately, the tap water was good to drink and it didn’t prove to be anything more than a minor inconvenience for the Bruins’ defenseman. After his first practice back with teammates on Tuesday, Boychuk spoke highly of his European experience.

“It was kind of like I wanted to go and play somewhere and get into actual game shape, and work hard while I was there,” Boychuk said. “I heard you have to work really hard, so it was good. We rode the bike a lot and you got in shape really quick there. That was a key part of going there, was getting into competitive hockey, too.”

As was the case with fellow Bruins blueliner Dennis Seidenberg in Germany, Boychuk played on a team that rotated its defensemen more heavily, meaning the games didn’t end up being as taxing as they figure to be in the upcoming NHL season.

“We rotated a lot,” he said. “Everybody played around the same minutes, but at least you got to play quite a bit.”

Even with less minutes, the offensive numbers were good for Boychuk — two goals and six assists in 15 games — so is he becoming the puck-moving defenseman for which the Bruins have been searching for years?

Not exactly. Boychuk called the numbers “decent” but attributed them to his team’s style of play.

“It was a little bit different,” he said. “The coach wanted us to jump up in the play more and it helped up a lot.”

For what it’s worth, Boychuk appeared to pinch more often early last season than he had in the past, so maybe his lockout performance was a combination of weaker competition, being more offensively involved and simply improving. After all, this will Boychuk’s fourth full NHL season (using “full,” liberally, as he played in only 51 games in 2009-10), so he still feels he has improvements to make.

“Now I just want to step my game up a little bit more every year and play well defensively and when there’s a chance to jump up there offensively I will,” he said.

With camps opening soon, Boychuk thinks he got everything out of playing in Austria that he wanted. He’s sharp, and he’s in shape.

“I’m ready,” he said. “I’m ready to go right now, so it’s a perfect situation for me because you had to go there and work hard. Now that the season’s starting I’m glad I went there because it was a good experience and you really had to work hard to stay in shape there.”

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Bruins getting offensive with the defense 04.24.12 at 10:21 am ET
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Andrew Ference (21) celebrates his go-ahead goal in Game 6 against the Caps with David Krejci (46). (AP)

For all of the talk – and deservedly so – about Patrice Bergeron finally getting nominated as a finalist for the Selke award for best defensive forward in the game, it’s ironic that the offensive play of the Bruins’ defensemen is a key reason they even find themselves in a Game 7 Wednesday night against the Caps.

“Yeah, they’ve played well all series, but also I think all year and it’s just another aspect of our game that shows right there that we’re deep offensively, but also we’re deep on defense and throughout the lineup,” Bergeron said Monday. “They’ve been helping us in this series a lot to just get offense, but also defensively to stop their skilled guys and can’t say enough about all of them back there. They all do their job and they all take pride in it.”

Everyone knows about the abilities of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in helping to contain Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. And everyone knows that both of them bring cannons from the point with their slap shots. What fans – and even the Caps – may not have counted on was the offensive contributions of Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference.

Boychuck had one of his patented “Johnny Rockets” on a power play to tie Saturday’s Game 5 at 3-3, when time was running down. Sunday, it appeared for all the world that Ference – on “Earth Day” – had given the Bruins the game-winning goal in regulation when he pinched down and scooped up a rebound off a Tyler Seguin shot and put it in the net.

Earlier in the game, it was Ference who smartly read the rush of Patrice Bergeron and Rich Peverley out of the offensive zone circle draw toward the slot and fired a shot that Peverley tipped past Braden Holtby for the game’s first goal.

“I think he’s done a great job,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of Ference. “We’ve always liked Andrew’s battle and also for his size and also for the fact that he certainly has good versatility. He moves well, he skates well and again, we keep encouraging our D’s to support the attack and go out the ice and he’s done a great job of that.”

There is a risk, of course, like when Chara and Seidenberg get caught too far up ice as was the case on Capitals’ goals in Games 3 and 6. In Game 6, the Capitals tied the game, 2-2, when Jason Chimera got behind Seidenberg, who had a broken skate, and beat Tim Thomas.

“Our D’s seem to be finding a little bit more balance in this series as we get near the end, between jumping in [and] supporting, and also being reliable defensively we can’t forget the fact that this is a team in Washington that’s got some guys that can score goals and they love to blow the zone quickly. So we’ve got to be careful we don’t get our D’s caught up the ice all the time, but he did a great job [Sunday] at identifying that opening and going up the ice and giving us that lead.”

The Bruins will be relying on that again in Game 7 as they look for every advantage.

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Claude Julien: ‘Maybe in trouble, but we’re not dead’ 04.22.12 at 10:50 am ET
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The Bruins know the refrain by now.

The series isn’t over till you win four games.

They repeated it over and over last year on their way to a sixth Stanley Cup title. And Claude Julien repeated it Saturday after a 4-3 gut-puncher at the hands of the Capitals at the Garden.

“Well there’s certainly lots of guys in that dressing room that have gone through that and there’s some others that are new to our hockey club that have to manage that as good as they can,” Julien said. “A guy like [Brian Rolston], he’s got some experience so our guys that we’ve gotten are experienced guys so I don’t see that as an issue. We’re down 3-2 in the series and most people will tell you, until they win four games, that’s when the series is over. So we’ve got an opportunity to get back into this series and create a Game 7 and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

There were positives from Saturday that the B’s will try to carry over to today in Washington, like Milan Lucic getting in front of the net time and time again in the third period. Lucic’s “jam” in the slot created a point-blank chance for Tyler Seguin with 10 minutes left. Only a superhuman effort by Braden Holtby kept the Bruins from a late lead in their own building.

“There are some good things – I don’t think now’s the time to start collaborating all those things with players,” Julien said. “Sometimes you’ve got to feel that sting a little bit in order to get yourself ready the next day and we’ll address that tomorrow certainly before the game. Still a lot of good things that we did tonight and you look at some of the missed opportunities – Seguin is one, he had grease tonight and those opportunities were there for him, so that’s a positive. You wish he would have put some of those in and it’s a different outcome. But building on the positives, and as I said, we’re maybe in trouble but we’re not dead and we’re certainly going to make tomorrow a game that’s going to create a Game 7 for us.”

Johnny Boychuk finally blew a cannon past Holtby to tie the game on the power play to tie the game, 3-3. He sees a lot of hope.

“I thought we came out really well,” he said. “Again, [Holtby] played extremely well – he made that one stop and stretched out and got it with his toe. We did play well, but it wasn’t good enough. They scored more goals than us and that’s the end of the day. We lost the game and [today], we have to win.”

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Johnny Boychuk: ‘So far so good’ after return from knee injury 04.13.12 at 2:20 pm ET
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Johnny Boychuk played 17:58 in his first game back from a sprained knee. (AP)

For obvious reasons, the Bruins live and die defensively by the play of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Without Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference playing effectively as the second pairing, the whole operation could fall apart, especially against a team like Washington that spreads its offensive talent to create a more balanced attack.

For that reason, the Bruins should be breathing a sigh of relief. Playing in his first game since spraining his right knee on April 3 against the Penguins, Boychuk handled his return well, helping to shut down Nicklas Backstrom‘s line. He looked so much like himself, in fact, that his partner didn’t even realize he was playing in his first game back from an injury.

“I forgot that was his first game back,” Ference after a pause when asked to assess Boychuk’s return. “Honestly, I did until you just said it. He got those couple of good practices in, and [the fact that he was returning from injury] didn’t even actually cross my mind.”

Ference laughed and added, “I guess that means he did good.”

Boychuk said he felt comfortable Thursday as he logged 17:58 of ice time without feeling especially limited. He said it’s a case of “so far so good,” and overall he was more pleased with how the defense as a whole played.

“In the first two periods we held them to under 10 shots,” he said. “You can’t say more than that. They’re one of the best offensive teams in the league, so if you limit them to under 10 shots in two periods, it’s obviously a good job by the D men and the forwards.”

Said Claude Julien: “He’s good. He played well and had a couple good shots from the point and I thought he was a real decent player. He didn’t look like a guy that missed any games. I was good with his whole play physically and moving the puck and everything that comes with his game.”

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Claude Julien hopeful Johnny Boychuk (knee) will play in Game 1 04.12.12 at 1:17 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien would only say he “hopes” defenseman Johnny Boychuk will be in the lineup Thursday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Capitals.

Based on this week, it would appear that Boychuk should be ready to return after missing the last two games of the regular season with a sprained knee. He participated in Thursday’s morning skate, marking the fourth straight day he’s been on the ice with the team. In practices and line drills, Boychuk has played on the second pairing with Andrew Ference.

Julien would not reveal the healthy scratch among forwards, but it should be either Jordan Caron or Daniel Paille, as the two have shared the left wing on the fourth line this week in practice.

Adam McQuaid (upper-body) and Tuukka Rask (abdomen/groin) will not dress. Anton Khudobin will serve as the team’s backup to Tim Thomas.

Here are the Bruins’ lines:

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot – Chris Kelly – Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille/Jordan Caron – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara – Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference – Johnny Boychuk
Greg Zanon – Joe Corvo

Tim Thomas
Anton Khudobin

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Proactive Claude Julien says ‘nothing’s changed’ with Adam McQuaid 04.10.12 at 1:05 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Adam McQuaid was once again absent from Bruins practice on Tuesday as he continues to deal with what the team is calling an upper-body injury.

Things got testy between coach Claude Julien and the media Monday regarding the defenseman’s status and what the identity of the injury, and on Tuesday Julien addressed injuries prior to taking questions.

“Guys, before we get going,” Julien said, “Injury update: It’s the same as yesterday. Nothing’s changed, and that’s where we are.”

McQuaid was initially hurt when he went into the end boards head-first in the Bruins’ March 29 game against the Capitals on a hit from Capitals winger Jason Chimera. The defenseman cut his eye on the play, which led to swelling. He tried to return last Thursday against the Senators while wearing a visor, but left the game in the second period. The team considers him to be day-to-day.

Johnny Boychuk (knee) and Tuukka Rask (abdomen/groin) both practiced Tuesday for the second consecutive day.

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