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Johnny Boychuk and the Bruins know it’ll be a bruising fight to the finish 03.11.11 at 11:59 am ET
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One look at the face of Johnny Boychuk tells you all you need to know about what kind ending is in store for the Bruins in the last month of the regular season.

A fight to the finish to be sure.

While all the focus was on Zdeno Chara and the firestorm of controversy over his hit on Max Pacioretty, Boychuk was playing his first game since suffering quite the shiner below his left eye in a fight with Montreal’s Ryan White a period earlier. Boychuk echoed the sentiment of the Bruins when he said he was happy to see Chara drill Jason Pominville with a clean hit early in the first period.

“He’s not going to change the way he’s going to play,” Boychuk said. “He’s a big man and he’s our team leader. You wouldn’t want him to change his game because I like seeing the physicalness in his game.”

On Thursday, Boychuk and the Bruins found themselves in a different sort of battle – one with the officials.

The Bruins killed off the first four penalties against them but Buffalo capitalized on two of the next three to help erase a 2-0 Bruins lead early.

“It’s kind of tough to give a 60-minute effort when we’re always killing penalties like that,” Boychuk said. “I don’t know if they’re good calls or bad calls but it definitely takes a toll on some guys in the dressing room when you’ve got guys killing penalties all the time. And some of those guys are also play power play so they’re going to be out there more than others and by the end of the game, they’re going to be tired.”

The other concern of late – during the three-game losing streak – is the lack of discipline and focus over 60 minutes.

“I think that we had that when we were on that winning streak,” fellow B’s blueliner Adam McQuaid said. “For the most part we had sixty-minute effort. The last few games there have been very highs and very lows, so I think the biggest thing is to get back to that sixty- minute effort.”

Seven different minor penalties were called on the B’s, including two with the Bruins already a man down that created 5-on-3 chances for the Sabres. The Bruins killed off the first but weren’t so lucky the second time in the third period as the Sabres tied the game and won it in overtime.

Boychuk knew going into the game with the Sabres Thursday night that they would be facing a desperate team.

“We did play them in the playoffs last year and they’re fighting for their playoff spot so we didn’t expect them to roll over and die on us,” Boychuk said.

That will be the same approach the Bruins can expect from just about every team they play from here on out.

Even the Islanders, who are out of the playoff picture in the East, could play spoiler when they take on the Bruins tonight in Nassau County on Long Island.

Before dropping their third straight Thursday, the Bruins started their seven-game win streak against the Islanders on Feb. 17 on Long Island.

“Might as well start another one,” Boychuk said. “Why not?”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Jason Pominville, Johnny Boychuk
Fresh Thomas locks Islanders down 01.15.09 at 11:24 pm ET
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Tim Thomas didn’t earn the shutout last night when he coughed up a goal off David Krejci’s skate late in the third period, but he looked as fresh as he has all season in the 2-1 win over the Islanders.

There’s a good reason for that.

B’s coach Claude Julien has done a masterful job of sharing the workload between his two thirtysomething goalies, and it’s allowed them to become the best goaltending tandem in the NHL this season. In season’s past, the energetic and athletic style employed by Thomas would cause him to wear down over the grind of a long season — a situation worsened without a ton notch partner between the pipes.

The 34-year-old appeared in 66 games during the 06-07 season when injuries and the stunning collapse of the SS Raycroft pushed him into an extreme workload, and it was something that even Thomas himself acknowledges might have been a few too many games jammed into one regular season. Last year’s brief Manny Fernandez appearance along with some great support work done by Alex Auld allowed Thomas to scale back nine games and — coupled with an excellent defensive system installed by Claude Julien and his coaching staff — resulted in career-highs in save percentage and GAA.

At this point last season Thomas had appeared in 29 games and the B’s have slackened that pace even more this season with Man-Fern in the wings — as last night was his 25th appearance of the season. The fresh-as-a-daisy tender turned away 40 shots on a night when the Black and Gold clearly weren’t at their best against the mucking, scrapping Isles, and is on pace to appear in 47 games this season — the lowest games played total for him since surfacing from the Providence Baby B’s to play in 36 games way back in 2005-05.

“I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to have had good relationships with lots of goaltenders that I played with. I’ve actually played kind of in tandem like this with Raycroft in Providence, where we both pretty much played half and half,” said Thomas during a recent NHL conference call. “I did get used to it then. For a few years I haven’t played in a goaltending tandem like that.

“Last year we had Alex Auld. He was great, took a lot of the pressure off of me. But I still played more games percentage-wise than I’m playing this year,” added Thomas. “The good thing about playing with Manny this year is we’re pretty much the same age with pretty much the same experience level. We’ve been able to help each other out. Through a season, players don’t always have their A games. When that happens, I think as goaltenders we can see it in each other. We either settle each other down if that needs to be or kind of try to fire each other up if that’s what needs to happen. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that this year.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Manny Fernandez, New York Islanders
Cherry calling out Looch, or just Don Being Don? 11.30.08 at 12:25 pm ET
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Don Cherry is always nothing if not outspoken, but did he step over the line and invite the ire of a top-of-the-world Bruins Nation after his weekly edition of Coach’s Corner yesterday evening on Hockey Night in Canada? Grapes was doing his usual eight minutes of hockey bluster thing and going through his observations for the week, and then he stopped to applaud rugged New York Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt.

Cherry gave Witt an attaboy and called him a warrior for taking on “Lucy” when the Isles played the Bruins last weekend. Grapes was pointing out that Witt was showing courage in dancing with Milan Lucic during a blowout loss before a frenzied Garden crowd last Friday, but there seemed to also be a potential dig at Lucic.

Co-Host Ron MacLean quickly corrected Cherry and said Lucic, but it caused me to wonder whether Cherry was purposely mispronouncing Looch after the “L’Affaire Laraque” in Montreal last week. Grapes can sometimes be at a loss for names and bungle anything that doesn’t sound like a name out of the Mississauga phone book, so pure Grapes error is more likely. In fact, Dandy Don butchers at least a couple of names in the Coach’s Corner segment before even getting to Lucic. Cherry has always been complimentary of Looch in the past, and just last week he had a few bon mots for both Marc Savard and Andrew Ference.

All that being said, one has to wonder if there’s any possibility Lucic was using his heightened platform as CBC’s High Priest of Hockey to take a veiled shot at the Big, Bad Looch.

Here’s the video, and you decide whether Cherry’s gaffe was purposeful, or simply his always motoring mouth moving faster than his brain. It should be noted that Cherry later goes on to call Looch a monster, which he most certainly is when he laces up the skates. The Lucic/Witt portion begins around the 6:15 mark of the youtube video:

Read More: Andrew Ference, Boston Bruins, Brendan Witt, Don Cherry
Sounds of the game… Bruins 7, Islanders 2 11.28.08 at 2:47 pm ET
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The big train known as the Boston Bruins keeps on rolling. Following their ONLY regulation loss of the month in 12 tries on Wednesday night in Buffalo, the Bruins came out looking a little sluggish in the first period against the New York Islanders, falling behind 1-0. A true testament to their early season dominance is the following stat… It was just the sixth time in 23 games the Bruins have found themselves behind after 20 minutes. But that was not even a speed bump to the Black and Gold as they responded with five straight goals and put the game away with a five-goal onslaught of the overmatched Gordon’s Fisherman in the third. Scott Gordon, who coached the Baby B’s in Providence, was not shown any hospitality by the Bruins on the ice. Michael Ryder netted two goals and seven Bruins had at least two points in the win. Next up, the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings at the Garden on Saturday night. That’s can’t miss hockey for those wondering if the Bruins should be put in the same class as the the defending champs.

Michael Ryder was put on the line with David Krejci and Blake Wheeler and responded with two goals.

Ryder said the B’s were flat in the first.

Blake Wheeler on Manny Fernandez’s big save on Bill Guerin midway through the third.

Wheeler on facing the defending champs Saturday night.

Coach Claude Julien on the test Detroit provides Saturday.

Julien happy to see balanced scoring.

Manny Fernandez says the B’s will be out to prove something with Detroit coming to town.

Scott Gordon will try to forget this homecoming to Boston.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Michael Ryder
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