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Tim Thomas named NHL’s First Star of the Month for November 12.01.11 at 12:56 pm ET
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Goaltender Tim Thomas earned some national recognition for his no-loss November when he was named as the NHL’s First Star of the Month on Thursday. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner was 9-0-0 in November with a .941 save percentage and a 1.76 goals against average. Thomas recorded three shutouts in the month, the first of which came on Nov. 5 against the Maple Leafs while the other two came in back-to-back fashion against the Islanders on Nov. 19 and the Canadiens on Nov. 21.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews took home Second Star honors while the Maple Leafs’ Joffrey Lupul was the league’s Third Star. Toews finished the month with nine goals and nine assists via three multi-goal games and five multi-point games in the month. Chicago went 7-6-1 in November.

Lupul found his way onto the scoresheet in 12-of-14 games the Maple Leafs played in November. He started the month with a hat trick in a 5-3 win over the Devils and finished with a seven-game point-scoring streak. Toronto was 7-6-1 in November. This is the second time this season a Maple Leaf took home a monthly honor, as Phil Kessel finished as the league’s First Star in October.

Read More: Joffrey Lupul, Jonathan Toews, Phil Kessel, Tim Thomas
Andy Brickley D&C: Phil Kessel ‘was just a really immature kid’ 11.30.11 at 9:42 am ET
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NESN analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan for his weekly appearance to discuss the Bruins’ upcoming two-game series with the Maple Leafs that starts on Wednesday night in Toronto. The teams will square off in Boston in the second game on Saturday.

The Leafs lead the Northeast division with 30 points, while the Bruins are right on their heels with 29 points in second place. Boston is already 2-0 against the Leafs this season, though, winning the latest game on Nov. 5 in blowout fashion, 7-0. Brickley explained that the Bruins match up well with the Maple Leafs.

“I like the match-ups. I think Boston matches up pretty good against Toronto,” Brickley said. “It’ll be a little bit more difficult here in Toronto because of the change situation so you’ll see a little bit of chess match tonight trying to get [Zdeno] Chara basically and his partner out there tonight against Phil Kessel and his line. I think that if you’re able to keep that line, especially Phil Kessel off the scoreboard, and then you match up the three forward lines against each other’s D-pairings, it favors Boston. That’s generally the way it goes and I think Boston has a huge advantage in goal.”

As Brickley pointed out, the Bruins will need to contain Kessel, who leads the NHL in both points (31) and goals (16). The former Bruin has flourished in Toronto since being traded from Boston in 2009, while the B’s drafted Tyler Seguin with one of the picks they received from the Leafs. Brickley said that Kessel had maturity issues during his team in Boston and that he wanted more money than the Bruins were willing to pay.

“I think he was just a really immature kid,” Brickley said. “He had some baggage, personal baggage when the Bruins first drafted him and they were well aware of that. The immaturity factor, expectation level, not only by the Bruins organization but from Phil himself. I don’t think he was prepared for that. Could not handle criticism. Could not handle you have to earn your ice time.

“When you add a breakout year when he scored a bunch of goals, you saw how much money everybody was making across the league. Based on those numbers, and he wanted that money right then and there, and the Bruins weren’t prepared to pay him.”

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Read More: Andy Brickley, Phil Kessel, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin
Are Phil Kessel and the Leafs for real, and who’s in net? 11.04.11 at 7:38 pm ET
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One of the biggest questions early in the NHL season is whether Phil Kessel, who’s always been a fast starter, will sustain his crazy numbers over the course of the entire season. Right now, both Kessel and the Maple Leafs have shown no signs of slowing down.

Kessel has scored 30 goals in each of the last three seasons, but with 10 goals through 13 games, he’s on pace for an absurd total of 63. Kessel will eventually come back to earth, but it would appear a safe bet that he should go on to surpass his career-high of 36, which he scored in 2008-09, his final season in Boston.

“Phil’s matured. Just like any other player, he’s getting older,” Claude Julien said of Kessel on Thursday. “When I say he’s matured, [I mean] as a person. As a player, you can see it. He’s a lot stronger hanging on to the puck than he ever was. He shoots the puck and he’s finding ways to get shots off. Every game he has a lot of opportunities, so he’s becoming a better player with age.”

While the world is seeing a better Kessel this season, they’re also seeing a better Toronto team. Though the Bruins handed them a 6-2 beating last month in Boston, it was one of only three regulation losses for the 9-3-1 Leafs this season. Their 19 points are tied with the Penguins (who have played one more game), for best in the East.

One thing worth noting for Saturday is that starting goaltender James Reimer will once again miss a Leafs’ meeting with the Bruins. Coach Ron Wilson said Friday that the former first-round pick “hit a plateau in his recovery” from his upper-body injury. Jonas Gustavsson allowed six goals on Oct. 20 against the Bruins, and in his most recent start allowed three goals in a 3-2 loss against the Senators on Sunday.

Ben Scrivens made his NHL debut Thursday, allowing one goal in a 4-1 victory over the Blue Jackets.

Read More: Ben Scrivens, James Reimer, Jonas Gustavsson, Phil Kessel
Slumping Bruins must now face red-hot Phil Kessel 10.20.11 at 12:49 am ET
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Phil Kessel is returning to Boston once again, and this time he probably has more confidence than ever.

The former Bruin, whose trade to the Maple Leafs is still closely monitored to this day, has been a statistical monster early on this season. While Tyler Seguin, drafted with one of the three picks received in the 2009 trade between the Leafs and B’s, leads Boston with five points, Kessel more than doubles that with a league-leading 12 points. Kessel added to his already league-leading goal total with his seventh tally of the season in Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Jets. He also had two points Wednesday.

The Bruins used the final pick of the deal in June’s draft, selecting Niagara (OHL) defenseman Dougie Hamilton ninth overall. Here’s a quick look at the players from the trade this season.

MAPLE LEAFS

Phil Kessel                5 GP      7 G      5 A      12 P

BRUINS

Tyler Seguin             6 GP      1 G       4 A       5 P

Jared Knight             9 GP      7 G      3 A       10 P
(London, OHL)

Dougie Hamilton     9 GP      5 G      12 A     17 P
(Niagara, OHL)

Though the Leafs have done poorly enough to get the Bruins top-10 draft picks in each of the last two seasons, they, like Kessel, are off to a great start to the 2011-12 campaign. Toronto has yet to lose a game in regulation this season (4-0-1) and leads the Northeast division with nine points. The Bruins, meanwhile, are 2-4-0.

Read More: Phil Kessel,
Report: Bruins sign Jared Knight, Ryan Spooner 07.19.11 at 11:52 am ET
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According to Kirk Luedeke (one of, if not the best, hockey prospects writer out there) of the New England Hockey Journal, the Bruins have signed both of their 2010 second-round picks in right wing Jared Knight and center Ryan Spooner to three-year entry level deals.

The signings of the player in no way impacts their standing with the big club, as the 19-year-olds would both have to return to their OHL clubs if they don’t make the Bruins this season. They do not have AHL eligibility for the full season given that they are under 20 and haven’t played four years of junior hockey. Both did finish last season in Providence, however on amateur tryout agreements. Knight had a pair of assists in three games, while Spooner had two goals and an assist in his three contests.

Knight, selected 32nd overall in 2010, was a product of the Phil Kessel trade, as the pick used to select him was acquired in the Sept. 2009 deal. He had 25 goals and 45 assists for 70 points for London (OHL) last season. Spooner, selected 45th overall, had 35 goals and 46 assists between Peterborough and Kingston (both of the OHL) last season.

Both players were singled out by B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli as players who impressed at this summer’s development camp.

‘€œFor a guy like Spooner, one of the things that we told him at the end of last year and at development camp and at training camp, was he has to put the time in to get better, to get stronger, to get bigger,” Chiarelli said. “And he did. He did do that, and all the testing showed that. There’€™s still room to improve, but you could tell, we take the testing very seriously and Ryan put the time in and you could see it in his play. He had a little more spring in his step with the puck, he had a little more bulk in his, he was able to protect the puck a little bit better.

‘€œYou see it firsthand, so a guy like Knight, he was already last year in tremendous shape and this year he’€™s even improved.’€

Read More: Jared Knight, Peter Chiarelli, Phil Kessel, Ryan Spooner
What will the Bruins do with the ninth pick? 06.24.11 at 3:14 am ET
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As the world continues to have a laugh over pictures of Brad Marchand and the Bruins’€™ bar tab (did you hear they had a $100,000 bottle of champagne?) to the point where the dead horse couldn’€™t possibly take another blow, the Stanley Cup champions are getting ready to add a potential franchise player.

The B’€™s will pick ninth overall in Friday’€™s NHL draft, finally closing the book on the Phil Kessel trade as they add one of the top players in a draft widely considered to be a notch below that of last year’€™s. Given that Toronto’€™s selection is slotted ninth, it’€™s safe to say the B’€™s will add one Central Scoutings’€™ highest-rated players.

Here are the top 15 skaters in this year’€™s draft accoriding to Central Scouting.

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer (WHL)
2. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Kitchener (OHL)
3. Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Saint John (QMJHL)
4. Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara (OHL)
5. Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL)
6. Sean Couturier, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
7. Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland (WHL)
8. Ryan Strome, C, Niagara (OHL)
9. Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener (OHL)
10. Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
11. Vladislav Namestnikov, C, London (OHL)
12. Joseph Morrow, D, Portland (WHL)
13. Jamieson Oleksiak, D, Northeastern (Hockey East)
14. Mark McNeill, C, Prince Albert (WHL)
15. Zack Phillips, C, Saint John (QMJHL)

And the top five European skaters:

1. Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (Sweden)
2. Mika Zibanejad, C, Djurgarden (Sweden)
3. Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestad (Sweden)
4. Joel Armia, RW, Assat (Finland)
5. Dmitrij Jaskin, RW, Slavia (Czech Republic)

Of course, Central Scouting isn’€™t everything, as we saw last year. The top-ranked player (Tyler Seguin) went second overall, and it looks like the Hurricanes weren’€™t crazy when they drafted the 34th-ranked North American skater (Jeff Skinner) seventh overall.

Whoever the Bruins take with the ninth pick (assuming, as Peter Chiarelli indicated Thursday, they stay put), don’€™t expect him to be in Boston next season. Chiarelli told reporters in Minnesota that based on the players he expected to be on the board at No. 9, the player the B’€™s select will not be NHL ready. That means bad news for Seguin, who jokingly expressed hope on breakup day that someone else could be ‘€œthe kid’€ next season and that everyone would be on the draft pick’€™s case instead of his.

Chiarelli said his intention is to draft the best available player, and given that this draft is top-heavy when it comes to defense, that player may be a blueliner. Picking defense would give the B’€™s a blue-chipper in an area in which it organizationally does not have a sure-fire star in the making, and it would also be somewhat of a deviation for Chiarelli. The highest the Bruins’€™ GM has selected a defenseman was 35th overall, when the B’€™s traded up in the second round to grab Tommy Cross 35th overall.

If the B’€™s spend the ninth pick on a defenseman, you can bet your bippy the Tomas Kaberle rumors will swirl, and there will obviously be two easy arguments. If the team has a young puck-mover (we’€™ll get to the players below) with star potential a year or two away, perhaps they could try to go with Steven Kampfer next season (and beyond) and let Kaberle walk. On the other hand, the Bruins happen to have just won the Stanley Cup, and the Vezina winner isn’€™t getting any younger. There isn’€™t much of a window closing for the Bruins given that they are good and young both offensively and behind Tim Thomas (remember Tuukka Rask?), but they certainly want to win now.

With all that being said, here are some of the guys who have been common Bruins’€™ selections in mock drafts and/or might make sense for the B’€™s at No. 9:

Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener (OHL)
Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 166 pounds
2010-11 stats: 63 games, 26 G, 53 A, 79 P, 36 PIM

An offensive-minded defenseman, Murphy’€™s 26 goals were the most among OHL blueliners this past season. Considered a plus-skater and strong passer, he could eventually offer more than the Bruins are currently getting out of Kaberle on the power play. The Bruins certainly showed in the Kaberle deal that a defenseman who can help the offense is a priority, so landing one for the long term would be a wise move if Murphy is still on the board. Given that he’€™s ranked 9th by Central Scouting among North American skaters, it could be close. Murphy is also a right-handed shot. The Bruins’€™ blue line was lefty-dominant last season, with Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid (and, at points, Kampfer) the only righty defensemen in the lineup.

Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL)
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 174 pounds
2010-11 stats: 65 games, 12 G, 33 A, 45 P, 52 PIM

Beaulieu is another strong-skating defenseman, though his speed won’€™t get confused with that of Murphy. He still brings an impressive offensive skill set to the blue line, and he certainly offers more size than Murphy. He would most certainly be the puck-moving defenseman of the future if the B’€™s were to select him.

Ryan Strome, C, Niagara (OHL)
Height/weight: 6-foot-0, 175 pounds
2010-11 stats: 65 games, 33 G, 73 A, 106 P, 82 PIM

Another center? With the Bruins, you never know. You have to figure that Seguin will eventually become a full-time center once he’€™s done being eased in, but there are enough question marks in the future to make selecting a center not seem so crazy. Excluding Marc Savard given all the uncertainty, Patrice Bergeron and Seguin are the only pivots signed past next season (David Krejci will be a restricted free agent, while Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell will be unrestricted).

Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
Height/weight: 6-foor-2, 192 pounds
2010-11 stats: 72 games, 5 G, 38 A, 43 P, 121 PIM

The bulkiest of the blueliners featured in this sample, many things you read about about Siemens will suggest he’€™s behind some of the other defensemen in this draft as far as both development and potential go. Still, he’€™s strong, and though he doesn’€™t bring the same bells and whistles that guys like Murphy and Beaulieu do, he could still be a welcome presence on Claude Julien‘€™s blue line eventually.

Read More: 2011 NHL Draft, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Gregory Campbell
Bruins will pick ninth overall in NHL Draft 04.12.11 at 8:35 pm ET
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The Devils won the NHL Draft lottery Tuesday night, meaning they got to move up the maximum four spots from No. 8 to the fourth overall pick. Given that the team that won the lottery was already picking ahead of the Bruins, the B’s, who have Toronto’s first-round pick from the Phil Kessel deal, will remain at ninth overall.

For the second consecutive year, the Oilers will pick first overall. Edmonton selected Windsor (OHL) left wing Taylor Hall with the top pick last season. Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini had tried to swing a deal with Boston to get the second overall pick as well in order to secure both Hall and Plymouth (OHL) center Tyler Seguin, but the B’s kept the pick and selected Seguin.

The rest of the top five sees Colorado picking second, followed by the Panthers, Devils and New York Islanders.

Read More: 2011 NHL Draft, Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin,
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