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Claude Julien has reason to believe Milan Lucic will continue to ‘come up big’ 01.26.11 at 10:46 pm ET
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Milan Lucic scored his 20th goal Wednesday night in the Bruins’ 2-1 win over Florida, and his coach is hoping to see more of that from the power forward in the post-All Star break portion of their schedule.

“I think what we’ve seen in the first half is what he’s capable of doing for us as we move on,” Claude Julien said. “He’s also one of those players that I think has always come up big in the big games, such as playoffs and all that stuff. He’s one of those guys who always rises to the occasion and you hope that continues as well.”

Lucic made it clear from Day 1 of camp that he had every intention of scoring at least 20 goals this season. Now that he’s reached the goal before the break, bigger and better things should be ahead.

“It’s obviously something that I talked about coming in, and that was a goal for myself and [to] reach it as quickly as I did, it’s a good step for me,” Lucic said. “I couldn’t be happier right now, but definitely not satisfied.”

Last season, the expectations for the 21-year-old star on the rise were the same but the results were not. He scored nine goals in 50 games during an injury-riddled season, with a plus-minus rating of minus-7.

“Yeah, a lot more, definitely,” Lucic said when asked if he might be enjoying this season a little more. “It was real tough going through what I went through. Being out for so long, and especially even when I came back, that high ankle sprain was still bugging me so to work as hard as I did this summer and to get rewarded for it thus far throughout the season is great. And definitely like I said before, I can’t stop here. I’ve got to keep pushing for more.”

A year later, he’s 22 and he’s already surpassed his career-best goal total from 2009 when he potted 17 and had 25 assists, raising those expectations that were there last season. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mark Recchi hears Claude Julien loud and clear: ‘That’s what happens when you don’t have everyone going’ 01.21.11 at 1:16 pm ET
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Following another head-scratching performance Thursday — when the Bruins blew a pair of one-goal leads on home ice and lost, 4-2, to the Sabres — venerable B’s spokesman Mark Recchi again called out his teammates for not giving it their all.

“We didn’t have everybody going, and that’s what happens when you don’t have everybody going. And when we’ve got 20 people going, we’re just really tough to play against,” Recchi opined. “We don’t have everybody going [on] all cylinders and competing at the level we should you know it just makes it hard for us. And I think we know that and we’ve been a lot better at it lately and more consistent and we just have to keep learning from these ones that when we do have these, that there’s reasons why.”

There was a very good reason for Recchi’s post-game ego check following a week that saw them score a pair of seven-goal wins. They also had a pair of losses in which they managed two goals apiece. The Bruins need more consistency all around if they’re going to make April and May truly meaningful.

He believes they can and so does coach Claude Julien, who matched Recchi’s sentiment almost word for word
Thursday night.

“Well there’s no doubt,” Julien began. “I don’t think from start to finish, I don’t think there’s much to say here except that we were totally flat, from the first player to the last. So it’s not about pointing to one or pointing to the other, we came out flat tonight and never seemed to find our game. Even in the third period, you are coming in there tied and you got an opportunity, twenty minutes again, to seal your fate and it just wasn’t happening tonight

“We were flat. I’m not saying guys were bad, I’m saying we were flat tonight so that’s the thing that I, you know, we kind of talked about after the game, is that from the first player to the last, just didn’t have it.”

The Bruins did put 40 shots on U.S. Olympic goalie Ryan Miller but only two got through, none in the third period when the Sabres took over.

“He made some lucky ones, he made some great saves,” Recchi said. “We had a lot of traffic. You know he’s a good goalie. But he made the saves he had to make and a couple snuck behind him and he got some help but that’s what happens when you’re a goalie, you make those saves.”

Recchi said the 40 shots were nice but not good enough.

“It wasn’t our game, no it wasn’t what we’re capable of doing,” Recchi said. “And we’ll just have to regroup. We’ve got a tough trip ahead of us and we’re a pretty good road team so we have to again learn that consistency is going to be a big part of us being a very … a great team instead of just a real good team, and we’re getting there and we gotta keep pushing along here.”

That push continues Saturday in Colorado and Monday in Los Angeles against the Kings — perhaps with just a little more purpose behind it.

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Marc Savard hasn’t forgotten about Matt Cooke 01.15.11 at 5:22 pm ET
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It was 10 months ago that Matt Cooke hit Marc Savard with a blindside hit on a Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh that put not only his season but his career in jeopardy.

Savard did come back and appeared in the playoffs, scoring the game-winning overtime goal against the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis. But still, he was not the same.

On Saturday, Matt Cooke returned to Boston with the Penguins and was booed lustily by the Bruins crowd each time he touched the puck. The Bruins Johnny Boychuk even tried to engage him long enough to drop the gloves. No luck.

“He won’t do a thing,” Savard said. “Johnny [Boychuk] has tried him last few games and he just skates away. He’ll get you from different areas but he won’t get you head on, obviously.”

But on Saturday, it wasn’t Cooke but rather defenseman Deryk Engelland that leveled him with a clean hit along the far boards in the third period, knocking him off-balance and into the boards.

“A little woozy, to be honest with you,” Savard said. “But we’ll see how I feel the rest of the day here tonight and stuff, because… I don’t know I haven’t seen the replay, it felt like he just got my head, so I don’t know. But a little woozy.”

Savard, as was the case in Pittsburgh last March 8, was caught off-guard.

“Yeah, I think I was looking kind of behind me for a pass to make, and I think he closed me off,” Savard said. “I felt okay, I felt a little bit… a little winded king of thing. Nothing bad right now.

“All I wanted to do, is make sure I gathered my thoughts, you know, and everything came back together … fine so, I’ll monitor it and watch the rest of the day here, see how I feel a little bit … I was a little bit shaken up.”

He is just hoping he’ll be okay to skate with the team during it’s Sunday practice in advance of Monday’s matinee with the Hurricanes.

“Just a little dazed,” Savard said. “I haven’t gotten a headache yet or anything like that. Just a little dazed and just getting your bell rung a bit. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about right now.”

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Steve Kampfer suffers broken nose, Marc Savard ‘fine’ after fall into boards at 4:11 pm ET
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Rookie defenseman Steve Kampfer was sent to the hospital with a broken nose after being bloodied by teammate Zdeno Chara 57 seconds into the second period. Chara became entangled with Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis in the offensive corner when Kampfer came skating by, catching Chara’s stick in the face.

“He went to the hospital and has a broken nose,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “They are just checking him out. We’re going to find out more and the severity of it [Sunday].”

Dupuis was called for the major high-sticking penalty but TV replays clearly showed it was Chara’s stick that did the damage.

“I think it was my stick but not 100 percent sure,” Chara explained after the 3-2 loss to the Penguins. “I was batting and somehow my stick got high, hit Stevie. Just an unfortunate play. But I don’t know exactly how it happened.”

Meanwhile, Marc Savard took a header into the far boards in the third period, after a hit from Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland but after spending about a minute on the ice, he got to his knees and skated off on his own power.

“From what I’m told, there was nothing wrong. It was a clean hit,” Julien said. “He was off-balance, got his bell rung a little bit but he’s alright.”

Savard, of course, was hit by Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke last March 8 on a blindside hit and missed several weeks with a Grade 2 concussion. The two had a couple of run-ins on Saturday but no major brush-ups.

Still, Savard will pay close attention to how he feels over the next 24 hours before getting ready for the Hurricanes on Monday afternoon at TD Garden.

“I’ll monitor it and watch the rest of the day, see how I feel a little bit,” Savard said. “I was a little bit shaken up.”

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Zdeno Chara and the Bruins didn’t want to ‘ruin’ the good vibes from Pittsburgh 01.12.11 at 2:55 pm ET
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As much talk as there was following Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Senators about Patrice Bergeron and his first career hat trick, there was just as much about the impressive way the Bruins followed up their dramatic win in Pittsburgh 24 hours earlier.

“It’s huge,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “You want to follow up with a good performance. You don’t want to have obviously a nice comeback game and then come back and just ruin it. I mean that’s totally something you don’t want to do.”

The Bruins showed what they call in hockey “good jump” in getting up 2-0 after one and 5-0 after two periods. But for Chara to consider the night a truly good one, the B’s would have to finish the job.

“Even after the first 20 or 40 minutes of tonight’s game, you don’t want to, at the end of the night, count regrets that you played well for 40 and bad for 20,” he added. “You just want to have a good feeling after the game that you really played a solid 60 minutes.”

Bruins coach Claude Julien agreed. It was a good night from what he could see from behind the bench.

“I like the way we skated. I thought we had some good jump right off the start and we had some good clean breakouts and it allowed us to have some good speed through the neutral zone,” Julien said. “We got pucks behind their D and took advantage of it. I thought our guys were well-focused tonight. It was important to build on last night and not sit on it.”

It’s rare for a team to show such good energy on the back-end of a back-to-back in mid-January like the Bruins did but Tim Thomas wasn’t complaining, as he posted his career-best sixth shutout of the season.

“We looked like we had really good legs tonight on a back-to-back with the heavy schedule that we’ve had and that’s a good sign too,” Thomas said. “A lot of things went our way tonight.”

And, of course, leading the way was Bergeron with his first career hat trick.

“We’ve talked about it, after the game in Pittsburgh, to just carry what happened in the last three minutes, you know, and carry that over to tonight, and I think we did that, you know, all game, the 60 minutes that’s what we needed.”

What the Bruins needed and got on Wednesday was the day off to stay inside and avoid the blizzard outside. They’ll need their rest with the Flyers and Penguins coming to town on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Just another two games to test how far these Bruins have come in turning around their season.

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Patrice Bergeron finally has his first hat trick ‘out of the way’ at 11:04 am ET
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It was only fitting that Patrice Bergeron had to record his first career hat trick twice.

After all, when you’ve waited seven years and 418 games, what’s another 10 minutes and 57 seconds? When the puck deflected off Sergei Gonchar‘s skate and past Brian Elliot at 14:07 of the second period, everyone assumed it was Bergeron who tipped it home. It was actually Brad Marchand who took the centering shot and it hit off Gonchar’s skate, never reaching Bergeron before it slid past Elliot.

“To be honest, I know we were both battling in front and it hit something, for sure, a skate, and Marchy told me it hit my skate so I thought I had it, but to be honest I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure.”

Still, it was announced in the building as Bergeron and the hats came raining down. Then, as fans were making their way out of their seats at the end of the second period, it was announced that the goal was changed to Marchand, meaning Bergy stood at two goals on the evening.

“It was funny, because, after the second, everyone was congratulating me about the hat trick, then it came back and, you know, ‘Hey it’s not yours, it’s Marchy’s’, and everyone was saying that ‘It’s only your first one?’, since I’ve played, so, I guess I wanted to get the last goal,” Bergeron said with a smile.

So, as the Bruins were cruising to a 6-0 romp over the Senators, Marchand made good on a promise to find him in the third period to make good and finally get Bergeron his first three-goal game in the NHL and his first since Juniors.

“It was disappointing that they took that goal away from him,” Marchand said. “I think there was a 2-on-1 there I tried to get it to him also. It is great he finally got there with a beautiful shot.”

Marchand came down the left wing and found Bergeron in the corner. Bergeron came out to the bottom of the circle and fired a shot that beat back-up goalie Mike Brodeur – in his second NHL appearance – and Bergeron finally had his hat trick.

“Everyone’s leaving the building with no hats on, so yeah, I guess I wanted to get it, because I guess everyone threw their hats on the ice. To be honest, I never really thought about it. You know, I don’t really stop and think about those kind of individual goals, but it’s always nice to have it out of the way.

Bergeron is one of the hottest players in the NHL, with five goals in his last three games and 17 points in his last 13 games.

“Our forecheck has been a lot better, we’re in sync as a line a little but more,” Bergeron said. “You know, I thought we were doing good things, also, before, but it’s just I think the puck wasn’t going in and now it is, so you know, obviously, you’ve got to take it, and go with it.

“But obviously, I’m trying to bring as much as I can for our team to win, you know, and if we get some success as a team, so, now we have a stretch here before the All-Star break, you know, and we obviously want to get some points.”

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Why the Bruins feel so bad for Tuukka Rask 01.06.11 at 11:54 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton felt sorry for Tuukka Rask. But, more to the point, Thornton – one of the true team leaders in the Bruins dressing room – felt ashamed of the effort in front of him.

Thornton called out the rest of the team for non-support of goalie Tuukka Rask. The Bruins netminder made several athletic saves, including a spectacular one on Martin Havlat to keep the Bruins tied. But the save was for naught as the Bruins fell, 3-1, Thursday night to the Minnesota Wild.

“Tuukka was awesome again,” Thornton said. “I think its awful that that kid plays so good for us all the time and we don’t get the wins for him its…we care about him and we should probably show it in a better way, he stood on his head for us pretty much every night and I don’t know his save percentage is .940 or something stupid like that.

“That should be good enough to win a lot of hockey games so we have to look ourselves in the mirror as far as that goes.”

Not that anyone is nit-picking at this point, but his save percentage is .928 after stopping 31-of-33 shots he faced, not including the empty-netter by Mikko Koivu with less than a minute to go that sealed Boston’s fate.

“It has been disappointing for him all season,” B’s benched center Marc Savard added. “He comes in and gives us a solid effort. We can’t seem to score at all when he is in there. I feel bad for him. He is one of the best goaltenders in the league.”

What about the man himself?

“I always try to have a good feeling, you know?” Rask said. “We definitely… we talked about playing better after the second period and, you know, digging deep but, an awful… an awful mistake there went in and cost us the game. I don’t even know what happened, it’s just, I guess we just lost our focus.”

As frustrated as he gets, Rask said he is doing everything in his power to stay upbeat – though the stat sheet shows otherwise, at least in terms of wins and losses.

“Yeah, you know I try to feel good about myself everyday and think positive, and you know, the past couple games have been solid,” Rask said. “Tough to lose like this, it’s kind of frustrating but you always try to feel good about yourself, but the last three games have been a step in the right direction.”

Rask has stopped 67-of-70 shots in his last two games, showing Claude Julien that he might just be ready to pick it up for the second half of the season. There was no better example of that than his save on Martin Havlat late in the second period to keep the game tied, 1-1. From his stomach, he put his left hand up at the last moment to rob the man who already had beaten Rask for the first goal of the game.

“I saw him at the last second, and I just dove there, and I guess the puck was bouncing a bit for him too, and he didn’t get enough wood on it,” Rask said. “But, you know, it’s… you got to be lucky to make those saves, too, but, I guess, half luck, half skill.”

In just his 13th game – and 12th start – Rask fell to 3-8-1 despite a 2.58 goals against average, a record neither Thornton nor their coach – Julien feels Rask even remotely deserves.

“This is a goaltender tonight that was outstanding for us, deserving a better fate and gave us a chance to win,” Julien lamented. “And so I feel bad for him because he deserves probably to be in the win column tonight, not in the loss column.”

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