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Right or wrong, Shawn Thornton sticks up for his teammate Daniel Paille 12.09.11 at 1:04 am ET
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Yet in another example of how NHL players are different than any other sport, Shawn Thornton stood up and admitted Thursday – after battling with Krys Barch of the Florida Panthers – that he was just fighting to stick up for his teammate and nothing else.

Midway through the first period, with the Bruins and Daniel Paille on the puck in their own defensive zone, Barch came over to the far corner boards to the left of Tim Thomas and drilled Paille up against the wall.

The force of the two heads colliding was so great that both went to the ice in a daze. When Barch got up, there waiting was Thornton to fight the Panthers forward, who had the nerve to lay what Claude Julien said was a “clean hit” on Paille. Truth be told, Barch did get two minutes for elbowing at the time but replays shows it was a shoulder hit and nothing more.

“I didn’t see it,” Thornton admitted. “I really didn’t, I still haven’t seen it. I just saw Paisey [Paille] laying there and obviously the type of team we are, I’m going to air on the side of sticking up for him. I mean, if it was a clean hit, then it was a clean hit but if it wasn’t, I’m glad we got in there. I mean for, especially guys like me and Soupy [Gregory Campbell] aren’t going to- we’re definitely going to step up if one of our teammates is laying there.

Campbell, indeed, was also ready to fight for Paille, having already dropped his gloves when Paille was drilled by Barch.

“Yeah, that’s my job- it’s both our jobs, I guess,” Thornton said. “Soupy [Gregory Caampbell] is a very, very character guy that, I mean, I’m very fortunate to play with a guy like that but I was trying to get over there at the same time and I think, I mean me and Mr. Barch [Krystofer Barch] have a history anyway so it’s, I take that upon myself, but I commend Soupy for getting in there right away too.

“We’re definitely, I mean especially for me and him I mean, that’s the type of players we are. I think we’re not going to let liberties be taken while were out there, that’s for sure. I was more focused on what I was doing and then I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it after, so wind out of the sails thing, I was on the other side of the rink so wrong guy to ask, I guess.”

Thornton did say the team felt better when they saw Paille in between periods, though they knew right away with a head injury, Paille was done for the night.

‘Well, I saw him in between periods so I think, a little bit of relief there, we were talking, so a little bit of relief there,” Thornton said. “I haven’t gotten an update on him but at least I had a conversation with him so that’s a little easier to take.”

Paille was sent to an area hospital after the game for tests to determine the severity of the injury and whether or not he suffered a concussion.

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Bruins can’t wait for their next test: Sidney Crosby and the East-leading Penguins 12.05.11 at 10:42 am ET
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It’s the perfect test at the perfect time.

The Bruins have rebounded from a 3-7-0 start and are the hottest team in the NHL. They have 13 of 14 and are unbeaten in regulation since Oct. 29 in Montreal.

The Penguins are the top team in the East and have been the best team in the conference since the start of the season.

Now the top two teams in the conference meet in tonight in Pittsburgh.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” said Chris Kelly, who scored the game-winner on Saturday night. “They are playing extremely well. They have their best player back and he seems like he hasn’t missed a beat. It will be an exciting game for us.”

Of course, the “best player” to whom Kelly refers is Sidney Crosby. He returned from his post-concussion symptoms on Nov. 21 with two goals in a 5-0 win over the Islanders. He hasn’t scored since but he does have 10 assists and the Pens are 5-1-1 in the seven games with him back in the lineup.

“It’s going to be a big game,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “We haven’t faced them this season yet. Obviously they’ve got a healthy team now. I’m sure it’s going to be a good game.”

Tonight marks the first of four games between the last two Eastern Conference teams who have won the Stanley Cup. The Penguins won on Detroit’s home ice in Game 7 in 2009 while the Bruins accomplished the same feat back on June 15 in Vancouver.

Is this is a “measuring stick” game for the defending champion B’s?

“I think we’re approaching- we’ve got the right mind set going into every game right now,” new pugilist Joe Corvo said. “I feel like we’re playing the same way every game and we’re being super consistent and if we don’t at some point in the game, it gets corrected. I think it’s obviously a good test, they’re in first place so it’ll be an exciting game.”

With a regulation win, the Bruins will be just one point out of the top spot in the East, 15 games after being in the cellar.

“We want to get up there in the standings and this is a game for first place so it’s going to be a big one,” David Krejci said.

There will be no rest after the game, either. The Bruins hop on a plane and go halfway across the continent for a Tuesday night game in Winnipeg.

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Claude Julien hopes his team is ‘heading in the direction’ of the Red Wings 12.04.11 at 12:36 pm ET
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Claude Julien doesn't want his team satisfied with one taste from the Stanley Cup. (AP)

For all the talk of a Stanley Cup “hangover” following a 3-7-0 start, the Bruins are in the midst of one of the best early-season runs any defending champ has had in recent memory.

The numbers are remarkable.

A 10-game winning streak, points in 14 straight games, and a 13-0-1 mark in those 14 contests.

They dispatched of their division rival Maple Leafs, 4-1, on Saturday at the Garden, sweeping the home-and-home series. They have manhandled the Leafs, 24-6, in winning all four games this season.

What’s next for this powerhouse?

How about doing it year-after-year? That’s what Claude Julien is thinking, just like the Red Wings, the only team to beat the Bruins in this remarkable stretch, the day after Thanksgiving.

“As a coach you are always afraid you’re going to peak to early and then when things start going bad, it will take a while to get yourself back on track But I feel differently about this because of the, I guess the sentiment in the room and the feeling is we’re not taking anything for granted,” Julien said. “We’re staying poised, we’re not getting cocky, we’re not getting complacent, we’re still focused and that’s the part I like. And again, that’s probably from experience and we’ve seen other teams in the past and we talk about the Red Wings and every year they come back strong and maybe we are a team heading in that direction.”

But the Bruins don’t have to wait until possible rematch with the Red Wings in the Cup finals for their next big test. That’ll be Monday night in Pittsburgh against the East-leading Penguins with a now-healthy Sidney Crosby back and powering his team.

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David Krejci, Bruins know they ‘didn’t deserve to win’ 11.18.11 at 9:08 am ET
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He may have tricked Curtis Sanford on the decisive goal of the shootout that gave the Bruins a 2-1 win over the lowly Blue Jackets Thursday night at TD Garden, but David Krejci wasn’t fooling anyone after the team’s seventh straight win.

This was a game in which the Bruins were outworked and outmuscled. But in the end, they found a way to get the two points.

They’ll take it.

“Yeah, I don’t know if we deserve this win tonight but we’ll take it,” Krejci said. “I think games like that happens sometimes and I think we battled through it and we got our two points, so we’ll take that.”

The Bruins led the Jackets 6-5 in shots after 20 minutes but then hit the wall of walls in the second, getting outshot 14-8 on their home ice and looking like a tired team that was finishing up a five-game homestand against a team that had won just three times in 17 previous tries.

“Yeah, well, I guess we kind of thought it was going to be an easy game but it wasn’t,” Krejci said. “They came here to play and they were really hard on their sticks and they were winning lots of battles, so I don’t think we were ready for that. So, it was a very tough game and, you know, like I said, I don’t think we deserved to win tonight but we’ll take the two points.”

Was it fatigue?

“Yeah, it could be,” the game’s hero said. “Maybe it — last week — especially the last few games, they were really hard and took lots of energy out of us so maybe it looked like it, but like I said, we still — the effort was still there, we still battled through it and at the end of the night we had our two points so we’re happy about that.”

As for his game-winner through the legs of Sanford, Krejci said he was just glad he wasn’t facing Tuukka Rask.

“I knew what I’m going to do,” Krejci said. “Obviously, we practiced some things. With Tuukks, we do shootouts at the end of the practice but Tuukks knows me pretty well in the last few years so it’s kind of hard to score. But these other goalies, they don’t know what I do, so I knew exactly what I’m going to do and it worked this time.”

And the lesson learned Thursday for the defending Stanley Cup champs?

“Well, don’t take anybody lightly,” Krejci said. “You know, to end a streak — you can lose against the last-place team, you can beat badly the first-place team. Just don’t take anybody lightly and just play your game. I think that’s what we have to do from now on.”

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Milan Lucic: ‘That was the toughest battle we’ve had’ 11.16.11 at 8:47 am ET
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The Bruins knew defending their Stanley Cup perch would be difficult.

But eventually, they also knew they would be up to the challenge.

And the challenge that came Tuesday night from a hard-working, big, strong and physical Devils squad was the toughest yet this season. At least, according to Milan Lucic.

“Yeah, definitely I have to say out of all the games so far through the season that was definitely the toughest battle that we’ve had,” Lucic said. “And we needed to dig real deep to get a win in this one and we definitely had to fight to the end. And we showed a lot of character, sticking to the game plan and finding a way. Obviously they came at us real hard and they’re a hard team to play against and we were able to find a way and get a good one here.”

The Bruins took the quick 2-1 lead six seconds into the third period, only to have the Devils come back two minutes later for the equalizer.

“This is definitely one that we had to earn and it was one that, when we get the lead they come back and score, it’s easy to get down and get discouraged,” Lucic said. “But we were able to find a way and keep pushing and keep finding a way to push for more and in that third period I think we had eighteen shots which goes to show that we really wanted to win this one.”

The Bruins have scored 34 goals in their six-game winning streak but Tuesday was the first one of the six they really had to sweat out in the end.

“I know this is one of the toughest wins that we’ve had,” Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. “Probably the toughest win out of the six games that we’ve had. They really tested us, they really worked hard, they really played a good game. We just stayed with it, and we were the ones that had the ability to turn it on the last ten minutes, and were able to pull out the win because of that.

“We’ve had a couple of games where everything went our way, kind of easier wins, and this was a good wake up call without having to pay the price because we were able to get out of it with the win. You know, this is the way it’s going to be the majority of the time, it’s not always going to be the way it has been the last three or four games. And so it’s a good experience for our team, I think.”

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Brad Marchand knows he did wrong and makes up for it at 8:16 am ET
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No one had to tell Brad Marchand why he was benched in the second period of the Bruins’ 4-3 win over the Devils Tuesday night at TD Garden.

He knew that coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with him taking a roughing penalty midway through the period, throwing a punch at New Jersey’s Adam Henrique when the two squared tussled in the Devils zone.

The penalty was the first of two straight called on Boston, which led to a 5-on-3 power play and a New Jersey goal, after the Devils had gone scoreless in 22 straight power plays.

“I didn’t have to say anything. I think we’re kind of at the stage where we’ve been together long enough, he knows what I wasn’t happy with and why he sat,” Julien said. “But at the same time, he’s a good player for us, and he certainly deserves a chance to get back into it, and it was nice to see him respond quickly. He was a much smarter player in the third period.”

Marchand’s response?

He took a pass from Zdeno Chara on the opening faceoff of the third period – as Julien put him back on the top line – and raced down the ice and beat Johan Hedberg six seconds into the period to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.

“I took a bad penalty there and they scored on it and it’s a learning process when things like that happen,” Marchand admitted. “You’re going to pay for it sometimes. And I had to pay by sitting on the bench tonight.

“You just want to bounce back. I didn’t want to hang my head I wanted to go and show I can be better. And I think he was kind of giving me a pat on the butt. I had to be better in the game. I didn’t have a good first couple periods I want to come in the third and play stronger and help the team win.”

He was given encouragement on the bench from teammates like Patrice Bergeron.

“Bergy a couple of times before the third and right before when we’re on the ice and just said, ‘keep your head up and let’s go for it, bounce back,’ that kind of thing and kind of get me motivated. It just shows his leadership and just another little thing.

“You don’t ever want that to be the scenario when you miss a couple of opportunities at the end of the game when your down a bit. But a couple penalties were…I have to avoid. It’s kind of a wake up call. It is needed sometimes and tonight was one of those times.”

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Tyler Seguin shows Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins why it’s great to be a Bruin 11.11.11 at 8:25 am ET
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There’s no doubt that Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have All-Star careers ahead of them. By all accounts from NHL scouts, the pair are can’t miss talents that will help lead the Edmonton Oilers back to prominence.

Throw in Ryan Smyth, who had two goals Thursday, and you can see why their forward skill is envied by others around the league.

All three certainly showed their talent Thursday night.

But in the end, it was Tyler Seguin‘s Bruins who had the deeper roster and better defensemen as the B’s prevailed, 6-3.

Seguin already has a Stanley Cup ring.

Seguin was a second overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft while Hall and Nugent-Hopkins were the last two No. 1 overall picks. Seguin said it was fun taking it all in.

“Yeah, I mean it was fun,” the 19-year-old Seguin said, before referencing Nugent-Hopkins, who is a whopping one year younger than Seguin. “And then there were some – you know, that new first overall kid – I don’t know why I said kid; I’m a kid – that was the first time I’d actually seen him play as well, and it’s cool seeing new talent coming into the league. They’re going to be a great team in a few years to come; they’ve got a lot of talent.” Read the rest of this entry »

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