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Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Blake Wheeler contribute to early Bruins lead 12.18.10 at 7:44 pm ET
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Goals from Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference (you read that second one right), and Blake Wheeler have the Bruins leading the Capitals, 3-0, after a period of play.

On a 2-on-2, Wheeler attracted the attention of both Washington defenders and dropped the puck off to Bergeron, who beat Michal Neuvirth at 3:27 for his sixth goal of the season. Ference then scored his first goal in 99 games by sending one past Neuvirth from the point.

Bergeron returned the favor in setting up Wheeler’s eighth of the season, and suddenly that second line is looking awfully good of late.

Following the Ference goal. Matt Bradley tried to swing the momentum in Washington’s favor by dropping the gloves with Adam McQuaid. Unfortunately for Bradley, the Garden only got louder as McQuaid unequivocally pummeled the Capitals winger.

Tim Thomas saw only five shots, stopping them all.

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Bruins lead Islanders, 2-1, after two 12.09.10 at 8:41 pm ET
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A shorthanded goal from each team, including Brad Marchand’s third shorthanded strike of the season, has the Bruins leading the Islanders, 2-1, after two periods.

The Bruins fell victim to the old shorthanded penalty shot by Frans Nielsen. The Islanders center had a shorthanded breakaway but was tripped by Patrice Bergeron. A penalty shot was awarded, and Nielsen beat Tuukka Rask with a top-shelf backhander to tie the game at 3:41.

Then, with the Bruins shorthanded due to a David Krejci hooking penalty, Brad Marchand and Rick DiPietro both came chased after a puck at the top of the circle. DiPietro won the race, but Marchand blocked his bid, chasing after the puck to grab it behind the net and score with ease at 14:41. He’s now tied for thirst in the NHL with three shorthanded goals.

The Bruins are outshooting the Islanders, 25-24.

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What the return of Marc Savard really means to the Bruins 12.03.10 at 11:08 am ET
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Less than an hour after the Bruins croaked the Tampa Bay Lightning, 8-1, at TD Garden, Bruins coach Claude Julien was asked if the team was given an emotional boost by the return of Marc Savard after a bout of post-concussion syndrome.

“Boy, you’re giving him a lot of credit, aren’t you?” Julien quipped in his classically wry sense of humor. “It’s nice to have him back, obviously everybody’s happy to have him back, but you know, I think our players, as a whole, even yesterday when he wasn’t in the lineup, decided that they were going to play hard and play well and they did. So he just added to that, I guess, fuel for tonight.”

Savard skated 21 shifts in 15 minutes and 45 seconds, taking one shot while winning 5-of-10 face-offs on the night. But his impact was felt early when he got into the fray early with a fore-check. He played on several combo lines and everyone thought he didn’t miss a beat.

“I mean, he brought a lot of offense today,” two-goal scorer David Krejci said. “He wasn’t on the score sheet but he had a lot of last minute chances. We have big depth now with him and all four lines can score goals and it’s hard for their top defensemen to defend our top guys. So, it’s good to have him back and it’s good to see him and hopefully we will keep doing the same thing we did tonight.”

And that can only help this Bruins offense. It certainly appeared that way Thursday night.

“I think that’s the first eight goals the team has scored that I haven’t had anything on it, but I kept telling Claude I was a presence tonight,” Savard said BEFORE Julien’s post-game observation. “I felt good, obviously had some shifts where I felt a little tired and as the battles wore on, I just stood in front of Timmy [Thomas], so hopefully he can stop it. It was great to be back. The fans were fantastic. I got a little emotional there. It was a little tough to go out on that shift there, but it was special.”

Tim Thomas set the tone for the night, stepping aside before leading the team on the ice for pre-game warm-ups. Instead, Savard had that honor against Tampa Bay.

“I didn’t know what he was doing there. I didn’t even realize. I just thought he was stepping aside, that’s maybe what he does now. I just kept skating, then I looked over and no one was there, so it was kind of nice of the guys, I think they did that on purpose, but it was funny.”

Still, for skating in a game for the first time since May, it was quite the adjustment for Savard.

“I mean, it’s been six months, so it’s been a long time,” Savard said. “Shaking off a bit of rust, but you know, I felt I made some good plays. I felt there’s some stuff I can build off of, some things I can work on still, obviously. Battles I had a little trouble as the shift wore on in our zone a couple times, but I felt good, I felt strong. I got in there a couple times, tried to bang around, didn’t really move anybody, but it was a lot of fun.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Bruins lead Flyers, 2-0, after one 12.01.10 at 7:46 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron did something the Bruins haven’t exactly done a lot lately: scored the first goal of the game. After 20 minutes, the Bruins hold a 2-0 lead over the Flyers.

Milan Lucic did some fancy weaving through a couple of defenders in front, only to get stopped by Sergei Bobrovsky. Old friend Seaon O’Donnell’s attempt at clearing the puck out left more to be desired, as he simply fired it to Patrice Bergeron, who quickly shot it high and into the net. It was the first time since Nov. 18 against the Panthers that the Bruins notched the game’s first tally.

The Bruins have not lost this season after scoring the first goal. It was Bergeron’s fourth goal of the season. Three of his goals have now come on the power play.

Tyler Seguin added his fifth goal of the season thanks to a tough pass from Michael Ryder on a 2-on-1. With Bobrovsky’s positioning forcing Seguin to beat him high, the rookie did just that, going top shelf to make it a 2-0 game.

Shawn Thornton and Jody Shelley danced in the period’s only fight. The Bruins were 1-for-1 on the power play, while the Flyers will still have 10 seconds remaining on their third power play when the second period opens.

Tim Thomas has stopped all 14 shots he’s seen, while Bobrovsky has allowed a pair of goals on 10 shots.

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Tim Thomas third among goalies in NHL All-Star voting 11.23.10 at 3:27 pm ET
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The NHL released the results of All-Star voting by the fans thus far, and the Bruins are far from well-represented. This means Boston fans either didn’t vote, or they, like everybody else, voted for Sidney Crosby.

Crosby leads all vote-getters with 118,755 votes, while no Bruins are currently on pace to get in via the fan vote. Patrice Bergeron is 35th among forwards with 15,020 votes, while Zdeno Chara‘s 41,081 votes are 10th among defensemen.

The most popular Bruins on the ballot is Tim Thomas, who is third among goaltenders with 47,646 votes. The odd part is that the two goalies he trails, Carey Price (71,199) and Sergei Bobrovsky (58,101), were both write-ins. Should Thomas not get in through the fan vote, which ends Jan. 3, he can still be selected in the new fantasy draft format.

Thomas leads the league in goals against average (1.49), save percentage (.954), and is tied for the league lead with four shutouts.

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Daniel Paille glad to be back in Bruins lineup 11.08.10 at 4:13 pm ET
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A rough first game and the emergence of Jordan Caron has made it tough for Daniel Paille to crack the lineup (AP photo)

WILMINGTON — When David Krejci needed the assistance of teammates to get off the ice after crashing into the boards head-first on Saturday, minds throughout New England began retooling the Bruins’ lineup while running into plenty of questions. Would Patrice Bergeron move up to the first line? [Yes.] Would Tyler Seguin see his role changed? [No.] Would this mean the end of Daniel Paille‘s 10-game healthy scratch streak?

It seems that the answer to that question is also yes. The Bruins considered dipping into the Providence supply when figuring out who would get ice time in the week or so that Krejci is out, but in the end, it appears Paille will get his second chance when the B’s take on the Penguins on Wednesday.

“We talked about [recalling a player from Providence],” Peter Chiarelli said on Monday. “There’s a couple of players down there that are playing well, but right now, Danny’s been champing at the bit, he’s been practicing very well, and he actually had a strong camp.”

Paille was among a number of Bruins who played especially poorly in the team’s season-opener, causing a turnover that led to a Coyotes goal and posting a minus-one in the 5-2 loss to the Coyotes in Prague. The next night, Paille was replaced on the third line by Mark Recchi and Jordan Caron made his NHL debut. With Paille a healthy scratch, the team won a 3-0 contest, and they stuck with the same forwards in the following 10 games, going 7-2-1 in that stretch.

“We’ve got a number of guys here that can play, and in the first 10 games, we hit a huge roll,” Paille said. “That’s something that’s understandable, and I’ve just had to wait for a time to come into the lineup and try to get back into the position.”

Paille was skating on the third line with Seguin and Michael Ryder on Monday. He has practiced with the third-liners throughout the season, so he does have a sense of familiarity with his two linemates, something he feels will be a positive as he looks to avoid encountering rust in his first game back on the ice.

In his quest to not look like a guy who’s hasn’t played in a game in over a month, Paille also hopes that the positive mindset he’s kept will bring good things. The 26-year-old has focused on staying sharp in practices despite the uncertainty of playing time.

“I find that I’ve been battling pretty hard in practices and in the game-day skates, I tend to give that extra effort, so I’m hoping that it pans out for the first game Wednesday, and hopefully it really pays off.”

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Meet the Bruins’ new second-line center: Blake Wheeler at 1:44 pm ET
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Blake Wheeler is ready for a stint at his old position (AP Photo)

WILMINGTON — Blake Wheeler left the Ristuccia ice on Monday and walked to his locker, intent on delivering a message.

“Hey guys, I’m playing center!”

The news wasn’t exactly news given that he had served as the second-line center during practice, but even Wheeler could understand that it was a notable topic as the Bruins prepare for the next week or so without the services of David Krejci.

Krejci was diagnosed with a moderate concussion after crashing head-first into the boards following a collision with Blues forward T.J. Oshie early on in overtime during the Bruins’ 2-1 shootout loss on Saturday. He is expected to miss at least a week. When the team returned to practice on Monday, second-line center Patrice Bergeron had jumped onto the first line, with Wheeler sliding in between Jordan Caron and Mark Recchi on the second line.

The Bruins had briefly experimented with the idea of playing Wheeler at center during training camp when it became clear that they’d be without Marc Savard, but ultimately it was Tyler Seguin who stuck as a pivot, playing on the third line. Wheeler, who played center his final two years at the University of Minnesota, is excited for both the opportunity to return to his old position and challenge of regaining the familiarity.

“Today was a bit of the shock to the system, with all the skating and stuff,” Wheeler said. “It’s always nice. I find that it really gets you into the game, gets you involved a lot faster than wing does sometimes because you’re up and down the ice and you’ve got to be really focused defensively. I’ve always liked playing center, so it should be a good challenge.”

Before the team left for its European excursion in late September, it became rather clear that Wheeler would remain a winger, either on the second line or third line. He played a large portion of the preseason with Seguin as his center, but feels that the little time he was exposed to center in camp should be beneficial to what he does going forward.

“It was kind of a crash-course refresher with all the little nuances of playing center,” Wheeler said. “That was huge. It gave me the confidence to know that I could still do that at this level and be effective. For me, that was the biggest thing, just knowing you can do it, and I guess we’ll see how it goes.”

Though familiarity with the center position is something that will come with time, one advantage Wheeler has with this line is that he knows his wingers well. He’s played on lines with both Recchi and Caron this season, and hopes to continue to build chemistry with the two as he adjusts over the next week or two.

“That definitely helps, to have familiarity with guys. Rex always makes it easier on you no matter where you are. That’s always nice, and Jordan’s really strong on the puck, too, so it won’t be any problem for us,” Wheeler said. “We’re going to have to help each other out and pick each other up. It should be no different.”

Wheeler has taken only three faceoffs this season, but has won two of them. He pointed to faceoffs as the biggest burden as he accepts his cameo as a center, and admitted that he hasn’t been practicing them since training camp. As long as he doesn’t lose them clean, Wheeler feels he and his line will be alright.

“That will be the biggest challenge, is the faceoffs. That’s always the toughest part, when you haven’t taken them in a while. I’ll just try to do my best and battle,” Wheeler said. “I know those two guys will be in there helping me out, and trying to get some good wins for me. I guess the job for me is not to lose them clean. As long as you’re in a battle and creating sort of a scrum, that’s half the battle.”

Through 11 games, Wheeler has one goal and two assists.

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