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Claude Julien on Rangers: ‘Let’s go at it’ 01.19.13 at 12:39 pm ET
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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.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Rick Nash, Tuukka Rask,
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 LucicDavid KrejciNathan Horton
Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronTyler Seguin
Chris Bourque – Chris KellyRich Peverley
Daniel PailleGregory CampbellShawn Thornton

Zdeno CharaJohnny 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 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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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.”

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin,
How the new CBA impacts the Bruins 01.06.13 at 12:17 pm ET
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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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Catching up with Tuukka Rask 12.07.12 at 4:05 am ET
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Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is back from the Czech Republic and feeling good. After playing spending the first two months of the NHL lockout playing for HC Plzen of the Czech Extraliga, Rask returned to Boston late last month with the belief that the NHL and NHLPA would resolve their difference and get the ball rolling for a season. Until that happens, he’s just keeping himself ready.

“I thought it was going to get settled — I hope it’s going to get settled soon,” Rask said Thursday at Kevin Youkilis‘ “Youk’s Kids” Not Your Average Idol event. “I figured it would be a good time to get a break before the season starts because I’ve already played 15 or so games, so I figured I might as well come here and let the body rest before the season starts.”

Rask estimates the aforementioned 15 games played in the Czech Republic, though HockeyDB lists him as having played in eight games (those numbers could very easily be incomplete), posting a 6-2 record with a 1.85 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.

Regardless of how many games he played, the fact that he played is the best news of all for Rask. The 25-year-old didn’t play again last season after suffering an abdomen strain/groin strain on March 3. He said Thursday that getting back into games was his primary motivation for playing elsewhere during the lockout, adding that his groin feels good despite what he described as an overblown injury scare.

Rask left HC Plzen’s Oct. 23 game after the first period due. When Czech play-by-play man Roman Jedlicka tweeted about the injury scare, confusion as to whether Rask had reinjured the groin spread, but Rask insisted that he was simply playing it safe when he felt a little tightness.

“The truth was I just tight from games, and if it were to have happened here, there would have been no problem,” Rask said. “I probably would have stayed in the game, but I didn’t want to risk anything. I just left the game, took a couple periods off and an extra day off. I played the next game, so there was never really a worry anywhere. I know people were kind of worried here, but it’s all good.”

While in the Czech Republic, Rask played against some of his Bruins teammates in David Krejci (Pardubice HC) and Andrew Ference (Ceske Budejovice HC).

“We beat them both, which was good,” Rask said. “Krej scored a goal on me, but we won in a shootout and he didn’t score in the shootout, which was great.”

Rask got everything he wanted out of his time in the Czech Republic. He likes the area, as he’d been there a couple of times before (including the team’s season-opening trip in 2010), but now he wants to get back to playing in NHL games. There’s certainly reason for him to want to, as he’s got both the starting job to himself and a contract to play for. Rask is on a one-year, $3.5 million deal and will be a restricted free agent after the next season, whenever that may be.

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