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Bruins open season with win over Rangers 01.19.13 at 9:42 pm ET
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The Bruins started things off right Saturday, opening the 48-game season with a 3-1 win over the Rangers at TD Garden.

Milan Lucic got the Bruins on the board in the first period thanks to a nice play that was started by Andrew Ference. The veteran blueliner hit David Krejci with a pass at the Rangers’ blue line, and Krejci fired a snapshot that yielded a kick save from Henrik Lundqvist that bounced right to Lucic. The 24-year-old buried the rebound to give the B’s a 1-0 lead.

Daniel Paille made it 2-0 in the second period, sending a pass to Gregory Campbell in the neutral zone and hustling to the net to deflect Campbell’s shot past Lundqvist. That goal woke the Rangers up, however, as New York picked up its play and cashed in on a Brad Richards wristshot from outside the right circle that went through a crowd and beat Tuukka Rask top shelf stick-side.

As usual, the Bruins sent the fourth line out following the goal, and both Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell tried to help the Bruins regain momentum by dropping the gloves with Mike Rupp and Stu Bickel, respectively. The fights occurred three seconds apart from one another.

The B’s managed to add to the lead in the third period thanks to Johnny Boychuk, who was celebrating his 29th birthday Saturday. Boychuk threw a wristshot toward the net that went off a Rangers player and the seemingly the stick of Patrice Bergeron before finding its way past Lundqvist. The goal was credited to Boychuk, though to the naked eye it appeared Bergeron may have gotten a piece of it.

The B’s will return to action Monday when they host Blake Wheeler and the Jets in a matinee at TD Garden. They’ll face the Rangers again Wednesday in New York.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- It was good to see Lucic get off to a good start, as the power forward entered the season surrounded by questions of what kind of shape he kept himself in during the lockout. Lucic went without a goal in the first six games last season and hadn’t scored in a season opener in the first four years of his career.

- The B’s came through with a huge five-on-three penalty kill in a one-goal game in the third period. Thirty seconds after Lucic went off for boarding Carl Hagelin, Patrice Bergeron was caught in the Rangers’ zone and Rick Nash sped through the Bruins’ zone and split Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. Chara hooked Nash, giving the Rangers 1:30 of five-on-three play without the Bruins’ best defenseman on the ice. Seidenberg, Bergeron, Chris Kelly, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid and Andrew Ference did a masterful job limiting the Rangers, and Ference eventually drew a hooking call on Nash with 20 seconds remaining in the Chara penalty.

- Dougie Hamilton did what the Bruins wanted him to do: Play smart hockey and limit mistakes. The 19-year-old played the first shift of his NHL career on the power play thanks to a Carl Hagelin interference penalty 19 seconds into the game.

Hamilton was paired with Dennis Seidenberg and was credited with two shots on goal and three hits on the night.

- The Rangers took a too-many-men penalty with 58 seconds remaining and Lundqvist pulled, effectively ending any shot at a two-goal comeback in the final minute.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Henrik Lundvist turned in an easy candidate for save of the year when he snagged a David Krejci who into a wide open net just before it crossed the line with the B’s on the power play in the third. The goal appeared to be such a sure thing that the spotlight actually came on for a second to celebrate the goal, but the reigning Vezina winner was quick to turn it off. The play was reviewed and upheld.

- Speaking of interference penalties, there were three such calls between the two teams, and there were four in the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia game. Looks like the calls will be a bit tighter, at least early on in the season.

- Ference had a bit of bad luck, as he made the long pass to Krejci that led to Lucic’s goal, but he got off the ice for a change before Lucic put the puck in the net. He was then on the ice for Richards’ goal, so he had a minus-1 rating despite having played a major hand in Boston’s first goal.

- In the what-else-is-new department, the Bruins’ power play struggled and went 0-for-7 on the night. It was particularly sloppy in the first period and got better looks as the game went on, but the good news is that the B’s also kept the Rangers without a goal on their five power plays.

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Claude Julien on Rangers: ‘Let’s go at it’ at 12:39 pm ET
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Rick Nash was the Rangers' offseason prize. (AP)

For the most part, the Bruins have a relatively easy schedule for the first third or so of the season. They’ll only face two teams that made the playoffs last season in their first 15 games, but one of them is the Rangers, and they’ll face them three times.

To narrow it down even more, the Bruins will face the Rangers twice in their first three games of the 48-game season. The B’s and Rangers are two popular favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference this season, as the B’s no longer have the Stanley Cup hangover excuse, while the Rangers have added six-time 30-goal-scorer Rick Nash to a roster that grabbed the top seed in the East last season.

That means both teams will have a couple of big tests right off the bat, and could easily begin the season with two early losses if they aren’t sharp enough. Claude Julien said after Saturday’s morning skate that he embraces the challenge.

“I don’t know if I feel more weight; I think I like that opportunity,” Julien said. “I really do. I’d rather play one of the best teams in the conference than not. And right now let’s go at it. Like I said, we’re both at the same stage where we’ve had six days of training camp. Let’s go at it. You know, we go at it again on Wednesday. So there’s no issue from my end of it, and as I’ve always said you control what you can and control your team and the schedule is made and then you go with it.”

Tuukka Rask, who will get the nod in net for the B’s Saturday, said that he expects the Rangers to be a difficult opponent with the addition of Nash, but that he expects every game to be a challenge.

“You know what? It doesn’t matter who you play against in this league,” he said. “Every team has good players, and everybody knows they added him during the offseason. They’ve got some power up front, so we’ve just got to be aware of that and get ready.”

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Adam McQuaid cleared to play, no surprises in morning skate at 11:40 am ET
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Everybody was on the ice and the lines and defensive pairings were as expected as the Bruins held their morning skate in anticipation of Saturday’s season opener against the Rangers.

Claude Julien said that Adam McQuaid has been given clearance to play after recovering from blood clot surgery over the last few months, so expect to see him in the lineup.

In a bit of obvious news, Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice, meaning he’ll get the nod in net for the B’s. Depth guys Lane MacDermid, Jay Pandolfo and David Warsofsky were also on the ice, meaning everyone was accounted for at the skate.

Based on morning skate, the lines, defensive pairings and goaltenders are as follows:

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin
Chris Bourque – Chris Kelly – Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara – Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg – Dougie Hamilton
Andrew Ference – Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask
Anton Khudobin

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Tuukka Rask thinks Tim Thomas got a bad rap 01.15.13 at 12:39 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas shared the Bruins' net over the last three seasons. (AP)

Tuukka Rask tried to call Tim Thomas recently, only to find that the embattled netminder had changed his phone number. That’s not a huge surprise for Thomas, who lost much of the good faith he had built up in Boston as he made his political beliefs increasingly public over the course of last season before eventually deciding to take this year off.

Rask, who is taking over for Thomas as the Bruins’ No. 1 goaltender, finally got to catch up with his former teammate when Milan Lucic got a hold of the Thomas’ new phone number and shared it with teammates interested in getting in touch with him. The two spoke over the last few days in what Rask called more of a “‘hey, how ya doing’ type of thing’ than anything else, but consider that Rask, who shared the Bruins’ net with Thomas over the last three seasons was probably closer to him than anyone else on the Bruins, was just happy to catch up.

“He’s enjoying his life right now with the family and the time off,” Rask said. “I was glad to hear that.”

Thomas is now living in Colorado with his family. The move was planned during last season, but when asked in December about his intentions, Thomas was guarded and said he wasn’t ready to address his plans past the season. Things went south from there when Thomas skipped the team’s visit to the White House and began using his Facebook page to express his thoughts about such topics as the government, birth control and Dan Cathy after the Chick-fil-A president made anti-gay remarks.

The less-candid Thomas caught a ton of flak from the media (present company included) and fans, but as a teammate, he wasn’t any different. Rask and Thomas got along well, and Rask said Tuesday that he felt Thomas may have gotten a bad rap.

“The things you read in the media, I don’t read that stuff because we didn’t talk about political things or anything like that,” Rask said. “We just talk about hockey and stupid stuff like guys usually do. Everybody believes in what they believe in. You’ve got to respect that.

“It’s all about the choices you make,” he added. “Knowing him, he doesn’t really care about what anybody thinks. He stands behind his opinions, and I really respect that. It didn’t affect our relationship at all.”

Thomas was very much his own man. He made it about himself often, but Rask didn’t see the harm in that considering the position they play.

“I think as a goalie, you have to be kind of like that,” he said. “Some guys might take it to an extreme. You’re part of the team, but you’re still an individual. You’re by yourself out there, so you kind of have to have that mentality to be kind of selfish in a certain way to be able to become a successful goalie.”

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Peter Chiarelli: Tim Thomas wants to play next season 01.13.13 at 11:14 am ET
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Tim Thomas

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli provided a minor update on the status of goaltender Tim Thomas, who is not playing this year despite being under contract for this season.

Thomas, a two-time Vezina winner and the recipient of the 2011 Conn Smythe, is spending the year in Colorado with his family and will be suspended by the team when he does not show up by 10 a.m. on Monday, but Chiarelli said that the 38-year-old has told him that he does intend to play next season.

“Tim’s not going to show up, and he’s told us that he’s not playing for the year and wants to play next year,” Chiarelli said. “As late as last week he’s told me that through his agent, so we’ll end up suspending him and we want to do it in a non-adverserial way. I’ll talk to the agent and we’ll agree to some sort of set of facts and remedies and that will be it.”

With Tuukka Rask taking over as the No. 1 goaltender, it would appear that Thomas’ time with the B’s is done. There had been talk that the B’s could send Thomas, who has one year left on his contract with a $3 million salary and $5 million cap hit, to a team that needs to get to the salary floor. Chiarelli doesn’t see that scenario playing out, but he could still trade Thomas eventually.

“He will be on our cap unless I trade him,” Chiarelli said. “With the floor as it is — $44 million — there’s probably not the opportunity to move him to a team that needs to get to the floor, so it’s a bit of a standstill. He’s on our cap.”

Chiarelli said the Bruins have the ability to require Thomas to give them another year under the same terms of his contract, but that it’s “too early to tell” whether the B’s will do that. It would seem unlikely that they would do that and keep him, as the Bruins’ cap situation for next season (just under $7 million in space without Rask signed) is tight as it is, leaving them no room for Thomas’ $5 million cap hit.

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Bruins gear up for training camp 01.07.13 at 1:18 pm ET
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With training camp a matter of days away, a group of Bruins players had some pep in their collective step at an informal practice Monday at Agganis Arena.

Present for the skate was Andrew Ference, Tyler Seguin, Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid and Gregory Campbell in addition to a group of local NHLers. McQuaid is still getting his strength back as he recovers from blood clot surgery, but he was taking wrist shots and slapshots Monday.

Seguin said after the skate that “words can’t describe” how much he’s missed the NHL.

“Just from hanging out with the guys, seeing everyone and obviously the game,” he added. “It’s been a long couple months.”

The third-year NHLer said that while he spent plenty of time during the lockout when it was going to be resolved, he also kept the fans in mind.

“I felt sorry [for them],” Seguin said. “I mean, I want to apologize for everything that happened, but hopefully we can move forward from here. Obviously we’re going to play our hearts out the next 48 games and play for the fans out there.”

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How the new CBA impacts the Bruins 01.06.13 at 12:17 pm ET
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The Bruins will have more money to sign Tuukka Rask. (AP)

Three of the biggest issues in the weeks before the NHL and players agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement were the salary cap for the 2013-14 season, the issue of compliance buyouts and the maximum length of contracts. With all three being resolved in a season-saving CBA, here’s a quick look at what came about and how it affects the Bruins’ roster.

$64.3 million salary cap in 2013-14: The league was pushing hard for a $60 million cap, which would have forced the Bruins to deal away a player or three. As is, the Bruins have $57.3 million committed against the cap in the 2013-14 season, and that does not include any goalies. That would mean the B’s would have had to shed some cap space in order to sign Tuukka Rask, but the $64.3 million cap to which the league and players agreed will allow the Bruins enough space to sign Rask without having to do anything too drastic. Depending on what Rask commands, the team might have to make a tough decision or two, but it could have been much worse. $4.3 million worse, to be exact.

Rask is playing this season on a one-year, $3.5 million deal, a choice he made as a restricted free agent with the hope that putting together a strong full season as the team’s starting goalie would allow him to be better compensated. The shortened season already derailed those plans, but Rask could certainly boost his value with a big campaign for the B’s.

Two compliance buyouts: This likely will not impact the Bruins. Teams can buy out up to two players prior to the 2013-14 season without it going against their salary cap, but the Bruins honestly don’t have any bad contracts. Sure, Johnny Boychuk‘s deal raised eyebrows at the time for its $3.36 million cap hit, but it’s a sign that the B’s have spent wisely if that is their worst contract. Marc Savard (who will have four years left on his deal prior to the 2013-14 season with an annual $4.007 million cap hit) is not a candidate because teams cannot buy out injured players.

You want to talk about teams that will eat up these compliance buyouts? Start with the Canadiens. They should jump at the chance to shed Scott Gomez ($7.35 million cap hit) and Tomas Kaberle ($4.25 million).

Maximum contract length of seven years (eight for teams retaining their players): Well, it looks like the Bruins technically weren’t guilty of sneaky pre-CBA CBA circumvention (that’s an ugly sentence). The six-year, $34.5 million deal given to Tyler Seguin was the longest of three big deals they gave out before the lockout. Also inked to extensions prior to the expiration of the last CBA were Brad Marchand ($18 million over four years) and Milan Lucic ($18 million over three years).

Not that the Bruins were likely to do so, but this does mean that the Bruins won’t be able to give out a marathon of a contract like goalies such as Roberto Luongo (12 years) Jonathan Quick (10), Ilya Bryzgalov (nine) and yes, Rick DiPietro (15) have received over recent years.

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