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Picture perfect: Jaromir Jagr scores only goal, Tuukka Rask spotless in 1-0 win 04.04.13 at 9:26 pm ET
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Jaromir Jagr was the main attraction but Tuukka Rask stole the show.

Rask turned aside all 40 shots while Jagr scored the only goal in his Boston debut as the Bruins edged the New Jersey Devils, 1-0, Thursday night at TD Garden. The win was an important one for the Bruins, who improve to 24-8-4. Boston has 52 points and kept pace with first-place Montreal in Northeast Division. The Bruins trail the Canadiens by just one point heading into another showdown north of the border Saturday night.

Jagr finished with a team-leading five shots in 19 shifts, which including 19 minutes, 12 seconds of ice time. He also had one hit, one blocked shots and one giveaway in his first game with the Bruins since being acquired from Dallas on Tuesday. One game after allowing 47 shots on net in a 3-2 win over Ottawa, the Bruins allowed the Devils to fire 40 shots.

Fans were ready for the debut of Jagr early on Thursday night at the Garden. As he took the ice for the pre-game skate, fans cheered him, the last Bruin to take the ice for warmups.

Jagr’s debut included a standing ovation in his first shift, the third overall of the game for the Bruins. As was the case in the morning skate, Tyler Seguin centered Jagr’s line with Jagr on the right wing and Brad Marchand on the left.

His first period was active, if not productive. He was on the ice for six shifts, totaling five minutes, 58 seconds. He had two shots and a blocked shot but the game was scoreless after 20 minutes. The Devils, after getting outplayed in the first four minutes of the game, dominated the final 15 minutes, outshooting the Bruins, 17-6, for the period.

While all eyes were on No. 68 every time he stepped on the ice, Rask was the bigger story as he made big save after big save, including a pair of back-to-back right pad saves on Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson from the low slot midway through the period. Minutes later, Rask turned away Adam Henrique on blocker save.

The Bruins and Jagr finally broke through in the second period as a centering pass from Marchand ricocheted off Jagr’s left skate and through the five-hole of Martin Brodeur just 80 seconds into the period for a 1-0 Boston lead. It was the 640th goal of Jagr’s career and 18th against Brodeur in 64 career meetings.

Six minutes later, the Bruins and their fans got a good look at another reason why management went out and acquired the 41-year-old veteran. When David Clarkson took an interference penalty, Jagr was placed on the power play for the full two minutes. He was stopped by Brodeur in close on a backhander and spent a majority of the time behind the net, though he did have one giveaway on the man advantage. Jagr was on the first power play unit with Zdeno Chara, Nathan Horton, Marchand and Seguin.

The Bruins applied serious pressure in the final two minutes of the second but Brodeur turned away Gregory Campbell and Marchand to keep it a one-goal game.

Rask kept up the sterling play in the third, highlighted by another big pad save on Andy Greene with just under eight minutes left in regulation. Greene broke through the Bruins defense and had a clean look but Rask stopped the wrister in close.

The Bruins are off Friday before leaving for a Saturday night date with the Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal. For complete coverage of Jagr’s debut from the Garden from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils
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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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 »

Read More: Andrew Ference, Boston Bruins, David Clarkson, David Krejci
David Krejci: ‘You just can’t turn it on when the playoffs come’ 03.02.12 at 8:46 am ET
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David Krejci knew full well what his February was like. Like his whole season to this point, it had been very up and down and inconsistent.

That all changed Thursday when the calendar flipped to March. The center-turned-winger was back at center and he netted his second career hat trick, finishing it off with an overtime goal that propelled the Bruins past the Devils, 4-3, in overtime.

Krejci had been in a huge slump coming in, just 13 goals, including two in 13 games in the month of February. His assist totals are also way off. He hasn’t had a helper since Jan. 31 and has 28 for the season, one reason why Julien moved him from center to wing.

But Thursday night with Tyler Seguin on his wing, Krejci was back at center. He looked reenergized and fresh, and most importantly, ready to contribute in a big way down the stretch as the Bruins try to regain their momentum for another spring title run.

“Yeah, I wasn’€™t thinking about it, I had two goals in the month of February,” Krejci said of his struggles in February. “But, you know, I just take it game by game. I want to do my best every game and I was feeling really good before the game and I got Segs on my line so I was excited about it. We click well together with Looch [Milan Lucic] and him and it was a good game for us. I know we had a little sloppy second period but we came back hard in the third and won the game. That was the most important thing.”

His coach has noticed an improvement of late.

“I think he’€™s really, he looks more comfortable right now,” Claude Julien said of Krejci. “As I’€™ve often said, he puts a lot of pressure on himself. He’€™s probably his worst enemy when things aren’€™t going well, and because of that, it doesn’€™t help him in the long run. You try and take some of that pressure off and say, ‘€˜Listen, you’€™ve just got to go out there and play.’€™ So, when he feels good about his game, you see a big difference, and that’€™s what we’€™ve seen here.”

Like his previous two goals, his overtime goal came as the result of finding space in front of Martin Brodeur. And like his first two goals of the night his timing and positioning in front paid off.

“A little lucky that one, I guess. I was at the end of my shift, I was tired and, you know, Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] made a good play,” he said. “I kind of sensed it that he was going to throw it in front of the net and Z [Zdeno Chara] tried to jam it and I was just at the right time at the right place. I saw Brodeur was down so first thought was go upstairs and it worked that time.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, New Jersey Devils
Claude Julien on motivating his team for playoffs: ‘I’m only a coach’ 04.07.11 at 11:58 am ET
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This is a very, very difficult time of the year for NHL coaches who know their teams are already in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They have to balance fighting for playoff position with fighting complacency.

Sometimes, the task can become quite frustrating, if not overwhelming, to manage.

Just ask Claude Julien. With his team already assured of home ice in the first round by virtue of their Northeast Division crown, Julien watched on Monday night as his team blew a 3-0 lead to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in an ugly 5-3 loss.

Then on Wednesday, at home to the lowly Islanders, he watched his top two lines go through the motions, only to get great games from his “energy line” in a 3-2 escape at TD Garden. Shawn Thornton had a goal in his return and Gregory Campbell had a goal and an assist.

Afterward, a reporter at Julien’s press conference opened by asking if that’s the kind of effort he was looking for after the Monday meltdown in New York.

“Are you serious with that question?” Julien chirped. “No, certainly not the kind of game you want to see from your team and I think the execution wasn’€™t very good tonight. We weren’€™t very sharp. Our best players certainly didn’€™t make a difference and who made a difference was our fourth line and the Campbell line was very good for us tonight and the goaltender made some good saves for us.

“But, it’€™s one of those games where you try and motivate your team to play hard and play well and I think there’€™s a challenge there. You know, you can say what you want and you can preach what you want, but there’€™s a lot of players I think that are looking forward to the next season and so those are the challenges that we have at this time of year.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Gregory Campbell, New Jersey Devils
Tim Thomas: ‘It’s time to start righting the ship’ 11.15.10 at 11:40 pm ET
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Tim Thomas was happy to admit that his fourth shutout of the season was a collective effort. Thanks to the blocked shots of Dennis Seidenberg and captain Zdeno Chara effectively rubbing out Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Elias, Thomas faced just 28 shots and stopped them all in a 3-0 win over the Devils Monday night at TD Garden.

But that wasn’t the biggest story. The Bruins managed to put three pucks behind future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, one more than they scored during an unlikely three-game home ice losing skid.

“There was definitely a little urgency but it was a controlled urgency,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t a panicked urgency. It was more like, ‘Hey, it’s time to start righting the ship and tonight’s a good place to start.'”

The Bruins were just 2-4-1 on home ice this season.

“I personally approached it as a must-win and I think the team did too,” Thomas said. “We need to get back on track; we need to show some urgency. We faced a team that’€™s been playing better but has struggled this year, and we needed to come out with the win so that we could start building and getting back to the game that we were playing when we were having success.”

Thomas did face pressure at times, like late in the second period when the Devils fired the last six shots of the period.

“Yeah, that and the first couple minutes of the game there,” Thomas said. “Elias was very, very patient. You know, there was some times where we really controlled the play for long periods of time and there were other times where they made a push and I just had to be on my toes and the team had to be on their toes for the rebounds.”

The way it played out, Thomas weathered the storm at the start, and had pretty much clear sailing the rest of the way.

“I don’€™t know, well, you could look at it either way. Yeah, it could be tough, or looking back, it actually could help get me into the game,” Thomas said. “And it happened so quick that I didn’€™t have time to think about it. I didn’€™t have time to think, ‘€œIs this really happening in the first minute of the game?’€ It was just like, ‘€œI got to find some way to stop this thing.’€

“It’s a similar feeling to how I felt against Washington, probably early this year was the closest that I kind of felt like that. I just felt like they weren’€™t going to find a way to score.”

As the minutes wound down, he could sense he was closing in on his 21st career shutout, just 91 shy of his counterpart Monday night.

“The last several minutes you start to put some emphasis because you don’€™t want to work that hard and not get it,” Thomas said. “I used to not care about shutouts and I still don’€™t for the most part, but that was 21 and 25 is a milestone that few people reach in the NHL.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Dennis Seidenberg, Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
The Hat Trick: Bruins can’t save the work for the third 03.15.10 at 10:43 pm ET
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Before we go any further into the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Devils on Monday night, let’s get one thing straight: This wasn’t a Jacques Lemaire or Pat Burns-coached team that the Bruins fell to Monday night. It wasn’t a fall-behind-by-one-and-the-game’s-over scenario, as many who have followed the Bruins have grown accustomed to when it comes to playing the Devils. And while the Devils are a very viable Cup contender this year, this wasn’t a throwback to the mid-’90s-on torture that the black and gold have fallen victim to.

This was a struggling team going against a struggling team (the Devils, currently fourth in the conference, entered the evening 4-5-1 over their last 10 games) and struggling.

On Monday night we saw plenty of the Bruins’ flaws highlighted. Whether it was the painful uncertainty in net that led to Tim Thomas being yanked after 20 minutes of decent play accompanied by bad luck and big rebounds (for what it’s worth, only Zach Parise’s goal can be blamed on Thomas ‘€” Scott Niedermayer’s was the result of a screen and David Clarkson’s a breakaway), a missed opportunity at physically setting the tone (Milan Lucic’s dasher to the face) or the lack of consistent offense, it was all there in a rough night for Claude Julien and the gang.

The Bruins are still hanging onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by just one point, with their 72 points narrowly edging the Rangers’ 71. Still, in a prospective matchup with the top-seeded Capitals (who are 2-0 against Boston this year and have outscored the Bruins by a margin of 8-2 in their two meetings), the playoffs might just be a formality ‘€”  a quick stop on the way to yet another offseason filled with questions of how the Bruins can return to prominence for good.

It wasn’t all bad, though. The offense, aside from being snakebitten when it comes to getting multiple tallies in the third (see below), peppered New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur with 15 shots in the final 20 minutes, and after being outshot 22-21 through two periods, ended the game having outshot the Devils, 36-28. Here is the hat trick of lessons learned in close-but-not-close-enough match at the Prudential Center.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Milan Lucic, New Jersey Devils, Tim Thomas
Second period summary: Bruins-Devils at 7:45 pm ET
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The presence of Tuuka Rask changed the tone of the game Monday night. That, of course, and the presence of scoring.

Mark Stuart, pinching in the offensive zone, threw the puck on net at an odd angle that was tipped by Blake Wheeler and slipped past the leg of Martin Brodeur just 43 seconds into the second period to bring the Bruins within two goals in a 3-1 game.

Stuart nearly had one of his own on the following drive when his shot from the point lanced off of Brodeur’s glove.

A close call came at 8:53 when Rob Neidermayer, positioned in front of Rask, redirected a shot from the point past Rask for what appeared to be the Devils’ fourth goal. The goal was waved off immediately and was confirmed seconds later.

Shawn Thornton and Pierre-Luc Letornee-Leblond participated in somewhat of a balet recital at 2:47 in a fight that never really got off the ground. Still, with the highly anticipated bout with the Penguins on tap, Bruins fans may be willing to take any sneak preview they can get.

A troubling play came when Milan Lucic, following a biffed attempt at hitting Andy Green, went face-first into the dasher in the middle of the period. He left for the locker room following the play but later returned.

The Bruins kept up the pressure late in the second period, including a drive that featured a couple of close plays involving Dennis Seidenberg. A 3-on-1  in the period’s last minute also looked promising but went for naught. Even so, the Bruins wrapped up the period playing with far more energy than they ever were in the first period.

Each team had 10 shots and through two the Devils are outshooting the Bruins, 22-21.

Read More: Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils,
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