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Canadiens set to invade TD Garden 02.04.10 at 1:27 pm ET
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If there was ever a game for the Bruins to get back to their winning ways, Thursday night against archrival Montreal Canadiens would be it. Boston has fallen from fifth to 12th in the Eastern Conference standings during its eight game losing streak and has watched division opponents like the Habs leapfrog them in the standings.

Over the past three games the Bruins have played with good energy and decent emotion but have not seen the results on the scoreboard. The team has not had a positive seminal moment during the season, a game that defines the squad and sets the pace for winning hockey. With the Canadiens in town and all the fanfare that comes along with them, Thursday could be a good time to turn things around.

“There is a lot of history in it, the crowd always gets into it. It is kind of cool when they have all those Montreal Canadiens fans in the crowd. It always gets us excited every time we play these guys,” Milan Lucic said.

Yes, there is history between these two Original Six hockey clubs, but recent history between the players on each roster is not worth much going into Thurday’s contest. Last year Boston and Montreal hooked up for a memorable, fight filled battle in the Bruins last home game of the regular season and tensions and between the two were high during the Boston’s three game, first round sweep in the playoffs. Yet, significant agitators on last year’s Habs roster such as Mike Komisarek (Toronto), Saku Koivu (Anaheim), Georges Laraque (released late January) and Andrei Kostitsyn (knee injury, out till after Olympics) are not around as are several players from last year’s Bruins roster. Hence, there are not many hard feelings carried over between the players going into Thursday’s contest.

“I wish [there was carry over] but they have kind of revamped their lineup so a lot of those guys who we had the big rivalries with in the last three years are gone. I would not mind creating new ones, I suppose,” Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton said. “We don’t like each other, we haven’t for years. I think it will be a fun game to play in, I think everybody will be up for it. So, I hope we will turn it around, yeah.”

The Bruins roster turmoil has had some effect on their goal output recently as they strive for chemistry on newly formed lines with the roster turnover or players returning from injury. As players such as Marco Sturm and Marc Savard get their health and timing back, the hope is that Boston can start generating more goals and find a way to win some games.

“We have not helped ourselves either with all the different line combinations but we are not the only team going through that and we are not going to make excuses but we have not had the same lines,” coach Claude Julien said. “The chemistry with injuries and the lines, it is a challenge and kind of have to fight through that and hopefully as we are getting a little healthier hopefully that comes back.”

At the same time, the Bruins goaltenders would do the rest of the team a big favor if they could completely shutdown an opposing team. Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice after Thursday’s morning skate and will likely get the start against the Canadiens. He said that both him and Tim Thomas are always approach games with the notion that the goaltender might be able to steal a win for the team.

“We got to have that state of mind before every game. The past few games have been like that, we can’t let in any weak goals. We approach games that way that we are going to steal them and hopefully it is going to happen soon,” Rask said. “We really feel that we have been playing better and better here just without the results but I am trying to get the win here today.”

10 Bruins forwards participated in the morning skate with Mark Recchi, Savard, Sturm and Michael Ryder the missing men. On the blue line Boston had six skaters with Andrew Ference taking the ice and Dennis Wideman absent. Ference has missed the last 12 games with a groin injury. Mark Stuart will still be sidelined with a broken finger he sustained against the Kings last Saturday and is expected to be out until after the Olympics at the very least. It remains doubtful that Ference will play against the Canadiens which probably means that Adam McQuaid and Wideman will be on the rink when the puck drops barring a last minute change of plans.

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Savard shooting for next week, Sturm out again 01.21.10 at 12:06 pm ET
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Here are the notes from the morning skate at TD Garden.

– The Bruins recalled 24-year-old Drew Larman from Providence, which means that Marco Sturm, Steve Begin and Byron Bitz all will once again be unavailable for Boston Thursday evening when the B’s take on Columbus at TD Garden. None of the three forwards participated in the morning skate. Coach Claude Julien would not describe Bitz or Begin’s injuries because they could “be back at any time” and doing so would be a “liability.” Sturm left practice yesterday to prevent a setback with the leg injury he has been dealing with in the past week.

“He didn’t set himself back he just felt that he wasn’t ready so he pulled himself off before he set himself back,” Julien said.

There are no smoke and mirrors with the Bruins injury situation right now as the players who took part in the morning skate will be the ones to take the ice tonight.

“What you saw out there is what we got,” Julien said. “I don’t think there are any secrets there. We have got our 20 guys and that is what we will run with.”

– Marc Savard spoke the the media after the skate and said that he expects to be back in the lineup next Friday on the road against Buffalo. He sustained a Grade 2 partial MCL tear against Chicago 28-seconds into the first period on January 7th. Today was the second day that he has skated and he has been wearing a big brace on during his workouts.

“When I am actually out there and doing stuff and skating I am not thinking about it but when I stop I think about it for a bit. But, besides for that it feels pretty normal,” Savard said.

“Hopefully I am better for all of this and I finish strong,” Savard said. “I was out there today and I felt pretty good. I said ‘maybe I can come back Sunday?’ But that is not the case. I have got to watch it and make sure, you don’t want to come back on Sunday and hurt it again and be losing my mind. I am just going to work through it and have a good skate tomorrow and go from there.”

– Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice which probably means that he will get the start tonight against the Blue Jackets.

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Turn up the volume: Chiarelli on Rask 11.05.09 at 7:16 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli addressed the media prior to Thursday’s game with Montreal and explained why the club decided to sign goaltender Tuukka Rask to a two-year contract extension through the 2011-12 season.

Chiarelli said they have seen steady improvement from Rask since they drafted him from Finland.

Chiarelli said veteran Tim Thomas is still the team’s No. 1 and a great role model for the 22-year-old Rask.

Chiarelli explained the origin and motivation of the Rask contract talks.

More from the team release below:

Rask has appeared in nine NHL games in his career  - all with the Bruins – and has registered a 5-2-2 record, 2.43 Goals Against Average, .917 save percentage and two shutouts. He has played in four games this year for the Bruins and has posted a 2-1-1 record, 2.41 GAA and .920 save percentage. He is coming off a 2-0 shutout win of the Edmonton Oilers in his last start on October 31.

Rask made his NHL debut for the Bruins on November 20, 2007 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and recorded his first NHL victory in that game. He spent the majority of the last two seasons in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins where he had a 60-33-6 record and five shutouts in 102 appearances. He opened the season on an NHL roster for the first time in his career this year.

The 6’2’’, 171-pound native of Savolinna, Finland played two seasons in the Finnish Elite League before coming to North America in 2007 and he has represented Team Finland in three World Junior Championships.

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Bruins lock up another young asset in Rask at 6:44 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had a bright young hockey asset taken from him last summer when Toronto leveraged the threat of a contract offer sheet into a trade for Phil Kessel just prior to the season’s start.

 

Give the B’s GM full marks for not letting that happen again as he locked up another talented youngster in Tuukka Rask to a two-year contract extension that will take the Finnish netminder through the 2011-2012 season. Reports have the salary pinned between $2.6-2.8 million overall with a cap hit in the $1.35 million neighborhood, but exact figures haven’t yet been unearthed.

 

The 22-year-old was set to become a restricted free agent following the current season, but – along with Milan Lucic – Chiarelli made the determination to keep his prized youngster away from potentially damaging offer sheets.

 

“I guess you’ve got to change with the times,” said Chiarelli about getting more proactive toward locking up players mid-season, particularly younger players with expiring rookie contracts. “To a certain degree I went through it this summer with Phil [Kessel] and Toronto and I have to consider that. I have to put that into the equation now.”

 

Rask is 2-1-1 in four games with a 2.41 goals against average and a .915 save percentage, and has already flashed the kind of cool, calm collected style between the pipes that’s made him one of the best goaltending prospects in the world.

 

The Bruins still have restricted free agents Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to contend with following this season as well as an organizationally important negotiation with unrestricted free agent Marc Savard. Tying up Rask allows Chiarelli to concentrate on other matters at hand with his goaltending completely covered for the next three seasons.

 

–The picture cleared a little bit more for swine-flu ridden center David Krejci, who will miss at least two games while recovering from a bout with the H1N1 virus diagnosed on Thursday. Krejci will be away from the ice for at least the next 3-5 days in quarantine, and might miss a third game when the Bruins taken on the Penguins next Tuesday night at TD Garden.

 

“He had a raspy throat and it kind of sunk it into his chest and that’s when they brought him to get it diagnosed. [He’ll be] 3-5 days in quarantine, so he’ll spend that time at home in quarantine.”

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B’s pregame notes versus Oilers 10.31.09 at 11:24 am ET
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Here are a few quick tidbits to get everyone ready for the Saturday afternoon matinee between the Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers. The Oil are coming off a wild 6-5 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night and Dustin Penner already has five multi-point games this season. The key to Penner’s turnaround: dropping some extra weight this summer and shedding the doghouse he was locked in under former Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

–B’s defenseman Dennis Wideman is scoreless in his last five games, but played pretty solidly against the New Jersey Devils Thursday night. He’s a candidate for a breakout game against Edmonton.

–Michael Ryder will be playing in his 400th career game with the Bruins Saturday afternoon.

–Saturday afternoon’s tilt against the Western Conference Oilers touches off a 15 games in 29 days stretch thanks to the Winter Olympics-ified NHL schedule, and hands the B’s a pretty hefty challenge that will slowly gnaw away at their roster depth. The key, according to head coach coach Claude Julien, is building some momentum along the way. That momentum starts on Saturday afternoon, when the Bruins go on a mini-stretch of fives games in eight days.

“You’ve got to build some consistency and some momentum. You hope that you stay healthy through this stuff,” said Julien. “As a coaching staff, we need to know when to push on the gas pedal and when to back off. We need to make sure we keep getting better. We’ve had our rest. We’ve had our days. We need to make sure that when it comes time for game time that we’re ready to go.” 

–No word yet on the starting goaltender, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see Tuukka Rask get the start after Tim Thomas started five of the last six games.

–A few trends with the Oilers: Edmonton is 1-3 overall on the road this season and sits at 1-4 when they allow the first goal in games this season.

–Penner is coming off a one goal, three assist performance against the Wings Thursday night and is averaging nearly two points a game with 7 goals, 9 assists in his last nine games.

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Julien: ‘[Chara] can be better’ 10.30.09 at 12:20 pm ET
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WILMINGTON, Mass. — Full practice at Ristuccia Arena on Friday morning with everybody seemingly healthy and accounted for, and all lines as they were in Thursday night’s loss to the New Jersey Devils.

The Bruins are working on tip drills and battles in front of the net, which factored heavily into just about all of the scoring between the offensively-challenged Devils and Bruins clubs in a 2-1 decision. A lot of focus on jamming the puck beyond the goaltender, and conversely getting the defensemen in the painted area to swat loose pucks away. More after practice as the Bruins prepare for a grueling fives games in eight days schedule that begins with Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Edmonton Oilers.

–During the battle drills in front of the net Tuukka Rask let a shot slide by him into the goal, and immediately exploded with a fit of goaltender pique. Rask screamed at himself in Finnish and then slammed his paddle hard against the crossbar, and created a violent enough collision that he knocked his Gatorade water bottle off the top of the net. Temper, temper Tuukka.

–Zdeno Chara has been inconsistent through 11 games this season and certainly isn’t living completely up to his Norris Trophy standards while putting up six assists for the Black and Gold. The 32-year-old has had his “up” moments such as his 29:38 masterpiece against the New York Islanders when he notched an assist and a pair of shots on goal, but he hasn’t been able to sustain his play over a long stretch.

The blueliner was out working on his game before and after practice last week, and taking extra shots from the point positions while attempting  to get a higher volume of shots toward the cage during the power play. When asked about his captain’s play after practice, B’s coach Claude Julien didn’t pull any punches and said that Chara needs to find his “happy zone” just like the rest of the team.

“[Chara] has been good, but can be better. He knows that,” said Julien. “He’s been good and there are some games where we’ve seen him be dominant like in the past. But we haven’t seen him be dominant night in, night out like he has been. He’s frustrated a little bit too. You saw him working on his shots, and he’d like to get his shots through a little better. But the thing that we like about players is when we see them trying to do something about it.

“That’s what he’s been doing. He’s been working on his shot and trying to find those seams. Eventually it’ll come, but he’s in that stage where he wants to be better – and he can better. I think his whole game has been, at times, up and down a little bit. Let’s put it this way: he’s never been terrible but there are some nights when he’s just been okay. When you talk about Z and having success, we’d like to see him where he was last year when he was a stellar defenseman and stingy. A defenseman that every team hated to play against. This is a game of momentum. Sometimes things fall right into place and sometimes it takes some time. Our whole team is working through that and trying to find that momentum, and I think he’s in that equation as well.”

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B’s solid despite shootout defeat in Philly 10.22.09 at 9:58 pm ET
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The Boston Bruins hadn’t been able to put two solid games together this season, but they finally snapped that spell of inconsistency Thursday night in the normally unfriendly City of Brotherly Love. The B’s put together an imperfectly solid road game at the Wachovia Center and earned a point by getting to overtime before dropping the shootout decision in a 4-3 loss to the Flyers.

Young center Claude Giroux scored as the final of the three Philly shooters in the overtime shootout, and Michael Ryder rang iron on the left pipe with a high slot shot attempt to give the Flyers eventual victory.

The two Northeast sports havens have been building up a heated, hated rivalry over the last three seasons, and that bad blood spilled over into some pretty entertaining, intense hockey Thursday night. It seems that a little enmity draws some pretty solid play out of both teams, and Boston impressed despite their seemingly rag tag roster. Tuukka Rask was outstanding in goal with 36 saves overall, and never better than on a stunning stone-job on Jeff Carter when the Flyers sniper broke in short-handed in the final minute of play.

It wasn’t perfect, but there were plenty of positives with both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci playing at a considerably high level in the absence of Marc Savard, and Matt Hunwick, Steve Begin and Derek Morris factoring into the regulation scoring. Perhaps the best trait out of the Black and Gold was the resiliency to come back three different times in the game — a characteristic that’s been a big part of the B’s units under coach Claude Julien. The B’s power play even got into the act early in the game when Morris scored on a bomb from the deep point area after Boston was held without a shot on the man advantage the night before.

With the loss, the Bruins fail to get over .500 for the first time this season, but can take perhaps a morsel of satisfaction that things finally seem to be spinning in the right direction for the Spoked B with a gritty, even road effort.

YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND AND NOTHING’S EVER GONNA GET YOU DOWN:Tuukka Rask made a game-saving stop on Jeff Carter during a shorthanded breakaway, but he was solid throughout with each of the 36 saves he made in the shootout victory. The 22-year-old fresh-faced rook was Cool Hand Tuuk when it mattered most in the pressure-packed minutes at the end of the game, and made a great stop with his right leg pad when Carter opted for the backhand flip. One could envision Rask being a heck of a playoff goalie after watching the job between the pipes against the Flyers.

GOAT HORNS:Mark Stuart was saddled with a -3 for the night and struggled at times when things began looking like a Chinese Fire Drill in Boston’s defensive zone. Adding injury to insult, Stuart took a Steve Begin stick to the chops on the Flyers’ second goal of the night and feel like a ton of bricks in front of the net just before Darroll Powe popped the goal past Rask. Not a banner night for Stuart, but clearly not all of it was of his own doing.

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