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That’s what Christmas means to Zee: A look at European Bruins’ traditions 12.24.10 at 6:10 pm ET
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The Bruins gave fans an early Christmas with a statement-making win on Thursday, but when it comes to the Black and Gold, there’s plenty about Christmas that the average Bostonian doesn’t know. David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, and Dennis Seidenberg spoke to WEEI.com about what Christmas is like in their native countries.

Here’s a look at each player’s customs and holiday memories:

DAVID KREJCI: STERNBERK, CZECH REPUBLIC

Jezisek brought David Krejci and Zdeno Chara toys as they were growing up in Czechoslovakia. (AP)

Santa who? Jezisek (pronounced “eshishik”) is the man, er, boy for the job back home for Krejci. Czech for “Child Jesus,” Jezisek is a child who delivers gifts to families, much like St. Nick would in these parts.

As is the case in Europe, Krejci’s family is all done with sharing gifts by the time the 25th rolls around.

“We have dinner on the 24th, and right after, we open gifts, so Christmas is the 24th,” Krejci said.

Given his years in juniors and now in the NHL, Krejci, like his European teammates doesn’t get to celebrate Christmas back home.

“It’s been a long time since the last time I was back home for Christmas,” Krejci said. “I guess I’m used to it. It still sucks that you’re not with your family, but I’m getting older and it’s been a long time, so I guess I’m getting used to it now.”

Teammate Tyler Seguin, like many North American kids in the ’90′s, remembers asking for Power Rangers toys and all things Barney. Over in Sternberk, then a part of Czechoslovakia, Krejci couldn’t think of anything but his future career.

“When I was growing up I always wanted skates, hockey sticks, and all the cool stuff that was really expensive that I couldn’t afford,” Krejci said. “So I asked my parents. I never got it, but I was excited for it anyways.”

TUUKKA RASK: SAVONLINNA, FINLAND

What do Rask and Santa Claus share in common? Nothing, besides the fact that they hail from the same land.

“Santa Claus is Finnish,” the 23-year-old goaltender told a now-enlightened WEEI.com. It’s a fact that can be confirmed here.

Aside from that interesting tidbit and opening presents on the 24th (“That’s the only thing I’ve known, ever since growing up”), Rask doesn’t think his time on Christmas as a child is too dissimilar from that of an American.

“The food is different,” Rask, who remembers meals of ham, salmon, and bread, said. “I think every family has their different traditions, but to stay at home and be with the family, that’s the same everywhere.”

DENNIS SEIDENBERG: VILLINGEN-SCHWENNINGEN, WEST GERMANY

The biggest difference that Seidenberg notices between the States and West Germany around the holidays is level to which it’s taken.

“It feels like there’s a lot more toys under the Christmas tree here,” said a smiling Seidenberg. “It’s just a lot more done-up, it seems, than in Europe.”

A traditional Christmas meal is also different from in the USA, and from the countries of his European teammates.

“We eat a lot of duck with cabbage, mashed potatoes, and stuff like that,” Seidenberg said.

The Bruins will practice on Sunday, which probably wouldn’t take place over in West Germany. After eating and opening presents on the 24th, they get the 25th and 26th off as Christmas holidays.

ZDENO CHARA: TRENCIN, SLOVAKIA

While Krejci had Jezisek and Rask had Santa Claus, the Bruins’ captain grew up with both.

“One thing we have is Santa — that’s ‘Mikalas’ — and then whoever brings the presents is Jezisek,” Chara said.

Chara shares Rask’s logic that despite the differences between the countries, there’s no cultural differences (hey, remember those? Those were funny!) when it comes to the most important part of the holidays: family.

“It’s pretty much the same as over here,” Chara said. “We all get together, the families gather together and want to spend it together. We have a nice dinner, and in Europe we open the presents on the 24th at night.

“As far as everything else, it’s almost the same. We have different food traditions for dinners. You guys have different over here, but I think the atmosphere around Christmas is pretty much the same.”

Happy holidays from the Big Bad Blog and WEEI.com.

Read More: Christmas, David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg, Tuukka Rask
Bruins, Sabres tied after one 12.15.10 at 7:45 pm ET
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David Krejci and Drew Stafford each scored and the Bruins and Sabres are tied after 20 minutes of play.

Krejci got his fifth goal of the season and fourth point against the Sabres when he redirected a Dennis Siedenberg shot past Ryan Miller at 17:59.

With Milan Lucic in the box for boarding, Drew Stafford buried a third-chance opportunity at 18:41 to tie it at a goal apiece.

Andrew Ference took a big hit from Patrick Kaleta, who bounced off the B’s defender in the Bruins’ end. Ference responded by shoving Kaleta following the play and was headed off for roughing.

Less than a minute into the Sabres’ power play, David Krejci was attempting to catch a pass as he entered Buffalo’s end but was, slashed by Drew Stafford at the blueline.

Steven Kampfer saw time at the point on the Bruins’ power play after having just six seconds on the man advantage through two games.

The Sabres are outshooting the Bruins, 18-14.

Read More: David Krejci, Tuukka Rask,
Bruins lead Islanders, 1-0, after one 12.09.10 at 7:46 pm ET
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Milan Lucic scored his 14th goal of the season, a power play tally, and the Bruins lead the Islanders, 1-0, after a period.

It appeared that Lucic’s shot actually hit the right post, bounced of New York goalie Rick DiPietro and into the net. Marc Savard got the assist on the goal, registering his first point since his return from post-concussion symptoms.

DiPietro had the save of the period on Dennis Seidenberg. After giving up a big rebound off a shot from Nathan Horton, DiPietro had to lunge to stop Sedidenberg on the rebound.

The Bruins outshot the Islanders, 16-7, and Tuukka Rask didn’t really face much pressure. The Bruins are 1-for-2 on the power play, while the Islanders are 0-for-1. The Bruins will begin the second period on the man advatnage, as P.A. Parenteau went off for boarding with 10.2 seconds left in the period.

Adam McQuaid and Zenon Konopka squared off in the only fight of the period.

Read More: Marc Savard, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask,
Scheduled day off for Marco Sturm; Tuukka Rask to start at 12:19 pm ET
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Marco Sturm was missing from the Bruins’ morning skate on Thursday morning. Following the skate, the team’s media relations folks said it was a scheduled day off for the rehabbing winger. Of course, one would have to assume the team is still looking to trade him to avoid the salary cap mess that would coincide with his activation.

Sturm said Wednesday that he isn’t sure whether he’ll be traded, but that he is not pleased with his situation. He waived his no-trade clause to facilitate a deal to the Kings last week, but the trade fell through.

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Tuukka Rask was first off the ice Thursday morning, an indication that he’ll be between the pipes against the lowly Islanders. Rask took a 4-1 loss last Sunday against the Thrashers and is 1-6-1 on the season with a 2.59 GAA and .926 save percentage.

Read More: Marco Sturm, Tuukka Rask,
Tuukka Rask expected to start for Bruins in first matchup of Tyler Seguin and Steven Stamkos 11.22.10 at 2:39 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask was first off the ice on Monday, indicating he’ll be between the pipes when the Bruins take on Mike Smith and the Lightning in Tampa Bay. Guy Boucher‘s club is currently riding a three-game win streak.

WHERE IT’S AT

- The B’s are 7-1-0 on the road, with their lone loss coming on Nov. 5 in Washington. They have 10 goals in their last two road games, seven of which came in their come-from-behind victory over the Penguins on Nov. 10.

Steven Stamkos leads the NHL with 19 goals. (AP)

- The Lightning are 4-2-1 at home, and 2-2-1 in their last five home games.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

- Michael Ryder saw a dip in his playing time on Saturday. Ryder entered the contest averaging 14:01 a night, but got just 9:50 of ice time. It was the first time all season that Ryder played less than 12 minutes, let alone 10.

- Between the two starting goalies tonight, just one goal has been allowed in their last starts. Rask blanked the Panthers in Boston while Smith allowed one goal on 30 shots against the Sabers in Buffalo.

- Steven Stamkos is out of his mind. He’s got 19 goals this season, with Sidney Crosby and Alexander Semin a distant five goals behind him for the lead league.

Stamkos had 23 goals as a rookie, and given all the parallels between he and Tyler Seguin, this scribe is holding firm on the projection that Seguin finishes the season in that ballpark. Seguin is on pace for 18.

STORYLINES GOING IN

- After one game of having Seguin as a third line winger, Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports that Seguin will swap spots with Jordan Caron and jump up to the second line. The initial reaction is that this is a great move for multiple reasons. For starters, it returns Seguin to the generation-spanning line that looked so intriguing in the preseason and puts the young scorer on a line with two of the top-three guys on the team in assists. Mark Recchi leads the B’s will 11, while Patrice Bergeron is tied for second with Nathan Horton (10).

This move will also be good for the team in that it gets a slumping Caron off the second line. He hasn’t scored in 10 games, picking up just two assists over that period.

Expect the lines to look like this:

Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Seguin – Bergeron – Recchi
Caron – Wheeler – Ryder
Marchand – Campbell – Thornton

- It should be interesting to see how Rask, who is tied for third in the league with a .939 save percentage, fares against an offense as productive as Tampa Bay’s. Rask had a 41-save shutout the last time out against the Panthers, but the Tampa Bay is averaging 3.1 goals per game (5th in the NHL) and have totaled 14 goals in their three-game winning streak.

- Special teams could be key in this game, as it matches the third-best power play in the league (Tampa Bay scores on 24.4 of its power plays) against the Bruins’s 89.9 penalty kill percentage, which is second in the league.

Read More: Steven Stamkos, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin,
Kings at Bruins preview 11.20.10 at 10:33 am ET
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With the Bruins heating up at home, they will face a test against a very good Kings team that has been cooling off of late. Tim Thomas was first off the ice for the Bruins, an indication that he will likely be between the pipes for the B’s against UMass product Jonathan Quick.

WHERE IT’S AT

- The Bruins are 4-4-1 in home games this season, but are 4-3-1 in games played at TD Garden given that the first game was actually in Prague. Things are looking up for them in Boston, though, as they have won their last two home games, shutting out both the Senators and Panthers.

- The Kings are a dominant home team, but the same can’t be said for they’re road play. They’re 4-5-0 outside of Los Angeles and have dropped their last two road games.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

- Ten. That’s how many victories both Tim Thomas and Quick have been able to attain in just 12 starts this season. Thomas is 10-1-0, with Quick entering the game at 10-2-0. Thomas has four shutouts to Quick’s one.

Despite the impressive play and 1.73 goals against average for Quick, he’s coming off a rough game Wednesday in which he allowed four goals to the Blue Jackets on just 25 shots.

- Thomas leads the NHL in save percentage (.959), but one might be surprised that Tuukka Rask is third in the league in the category with a .939 clip, ahead of Quick and many others. Not bad for a guy with a 1-4-1 record, eh?

- This might be the only time one could point out that Milan Lucic is on pace for 48 goals, so why the hell not? His career high is 17, though he’s never had an 82-game season in his career.

STORYLINES GOING IN

- This is a battle of two teams that have been at opposite ends of the spectrum recently. The Bruins are winners of their last three, while the Kings have lost three in a row after a 12-3-0 start to the season.

- The last time these teams faced one another, it was an interesting one. It wasn’t until the sixth round of the shootout that Jarret Stoll sealed a 3-2 Kings victory in Boston. The game was the Bruins’ seventh of their 10-game losing streak that stretched from Jan. 16 (another loss to the Kings) to Feb. 16.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask,
Bruins beat Panthers behind Milan Lucic hat trick and Tuukka Rask shutout 11.18.10 at 9:30 pm ET
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On a night that was seemingly all about Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell, Milan Lucic stole the show with his second career hat trick in a 4-0 Bruins victory over the Panthers at TD Garden.

Lucic and the first line provided the majority of the offense for the Bruins, beating Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun on a goal assisted by former Panthers third overall pick Nathan Horton. He added another from virtually the same spot in the third and made it a hat trick seconds later, stuffing in a rebound to make it 3-0. With the game, Lucic reached 10 goals, surpassing Horton (8) for the team lead. Shawn Thornton added his fourth of the season at 16:04.

Tuukka Rask hadn’t been getting consistent play in front of him to begin the season, so he made it a little easier on teammates, shutting out the Panthers. It was his first victory of the season. Rask stopped all 41 shots he saw, frustrating a busy Panthers offense and improving his record to 1-4-1.

“You know, you play five, six games and you feel like you are playing good and the puck is not bouncing our way,” Rask said after the game. “That’s all it is and that’s what I said before, just keep working hard and good things will happen and today they did.”

The victory improved the Bruins’ record to 11-5-1. They are now 4-4-1 in home games and 4-3-1 in games played at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Uh, Lucic. Lucic. And Lucic again.

- It took much longer than one would have expected on, say, Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. Prague Time, but Rask finally got his first win of the season. Entering the night, Rask was 0-4-1 in five games, but he had played well enough to win on a few occasions, notably the team’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Blues on Nov. 6.

- Brad Marchand may be a pest to other trash-talking players, but on Thursday he was even more of a pest to Vokoun. The third-line winger led the B’s with five shots on goal. The total tied his career high, which he reached last season on Nov. 1 against the Rangers.

- A top line missing its center is like a rock band losing its lead singer — you just assume it won’t be the same. Yet with David Krejci out, Patrice Bergeron has channeled his inner Sammy Hagar/Ronnie James Dio and proven that the first line can be fantastic with him in the middle.

For the second straight game, the line was able to manufacture a well-executed goal on the opening tally. Of course, Vokoun should have been able to stop Lucic’s first one, which he took after receiving a drop pass from Horton, but it was the latest example of how well these three are starting to play together.

- Once again, the penalty kill came up big for the Bruins. A night after killing off a 5-on-3 late in a one-goal game in New York, the Bruins kept the Panthers off the board despite being shorthanded five times throughout the night.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The power play only got two chances, and it didn’t see anything come of them. Bryan McCabe went off for unsportsmanlike conduct in the second and Cory Stillman was called for interference at 5:08 of the third. In not converting, the Bruins now have just one power play goal in their last five games.They’ve had 18 opportunities. Hard to think they’re not missing Krejci in that respect.

- Rask was sensational, but that didn’t mean he had to face as many shots as he did. David Booth usually gets a lot of pucks on net, but he had 11 shots through the first two periods. All in all, the Panthers put 41 shots on Rask, 12 of which came off the stick of Booth.

The most shots on goals the Bruins have allowed this season is 46, which Tim Thomas faced on Nov. 6 against the Penguins.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask,
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