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Optional skate for Bruins 03.05.11 at 11:12 am ET
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The Bruins’ morning skate for Saturday was of the optional variety, so there’s no telling who will be between the pipes vs. the Penguins later on.

The Bruins tweeted that it was Matt Bartkowski, Shane Hnidy, Zdeno Chara, Tomas Kaberle, Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg, Gregory Campbell, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin, Chris Kelly, and Tuukka Rask taking part in the skate. Bartkowski is playing after being called up due to Steven Kampfer’s concussion, while Seguin will be in the lineup because personal matters have caused Patrice Bergeron to travel elsewhere.

The Bruins have won seven games in a row and can make it eight with a victory over the fourth-place Penguins. Pittsburgh has struggled of late, but that can be expected from a team playing without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins have won just one of their last seven games, going 1-2-4. Five of their last seven have gone into overtime.

Read More: Matt Bartkowski, Tyler Seguin,
Bruins return to practice without Steven Kampfer, Patrice Bergeron 03.04.11 at 12:03 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — There were no new faces in the house at Ristuccia Arena for Friday’s practice, though a couple of familiar ones were missing in Steven Kampfer and Patrice Bergeron.

Kampfer left Thursday night’s 2-1 win over the Lightning in the second period due to a hard hit from Mattias Ritola. Claude Julien said after the game that he “got his bell rung” and would be re-evaluated Friday. It may just be a rest/maintenance day for Bergeron.

With Bergeron not on the ice, Rich Peverley donned a yellow sweater along Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi. Tyler Seguin, scratched Thursday, wore a grey sweater with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder.

Milan LucicDavid KrejciNathan Horton

Brad Marchand – Rich Peverley – Mark Recchi

Tyler Seguin – Chris Kelly – Michael Ryder

Daniel PailleGregory CampbellShawn Thornton

More to come following practice.

Read More: Patrice Bergeron, Rich Peverley, Steven Kampfer, Tyler Seguin
Tyler Seguin scratched vs. Lightning 03.03.11 at 7:01 pm ET
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Tyler Seguin is the healthy scratch for the Bruins as they take on the Lightning Thursday night. Seguin has zero points in his last four games, and with the 19-year-old out, Daniel Paille is in, skating with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.

This will be Seguin’s fifth scratch (fourth of the healthy variety) this season.

Read More: Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, Tyler Seguin
Pre-game notes: Shawn Thornton says cool it with the 1972 comparisons at 1:18 pm ET
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No time for celebration, as the Bruins, fresh off a 6-0-0 road trip, are back at the Garden for a huge game with the Lightning on Thursday. The teams are tied with 81 points apiece through 63 games, with the B’s holding the tie-breaker for second place given that they’ve won less games via shootout.

It will be Tim Thomas between the pipes, as he’ll put his 28-8-6 record on the line after last playing Saturday night in Vancouver. Tuukka Rask started the Bruins’ last two, earning victories over the Oilers and Senators.

Thomas is 2-0-0 in two starts against Tampa Bay, allowing four goals with a .944 save percentage.

While the Bruins have won their last six, the Lightning have gone 3-2-1 in the same span. They lost a 2-1 contest to the red-hot Devils on Wednesday.

Here are some pre-game notes:

– Comparisons are nice, but even Roger Clemens would say people are beating references to 1972’s perfect six-game road trip with a dead horse.

“I don’t look at it at all,” Shawn Thornton said after the morning skate. “I honestly don’t. It’s purely a coincidence as far as I’m concerned.

“We’ve got a six game thing going here, and it doesn’t matter about anything else. We’re just trying to get seven in a row and then eight in a row. We’ll take it one at time here.”

Claude Julien offered an update on Andrew Ference, who is out with a lower body injury.

“He got examined yesterday by our doctors and things are going extremely well for him,” Julien said. “We hope to see him back on the ice the beginning of next week. That could be as early as Sunday if things keep going well.”

– No Vincent Lecavalier for the Lightning. He’s out with a mid-body injury on which the Lightning haven’t elaborated much.

– The three new guys in Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly will play in the Garden as Bruins for the first time Thursday. Kaberle and Kelly have played five games for the B’s since being acquired via trade, while Peverley has four under his belt.

While Bruins fans will welcome all three to the Garden, the focus will likely be on Kaberle, who was the big fish of trade season. Neither of the newcomers have lost a game as a member of the Bruins, and after years of limited team success in Toronto, that’s something Kaberle welcomes.

“My first six years I played in the playoffs every year. The last five, it wasn’t there. It’s tough to always answer the questions to the media of ‘why not,'” Kaberle said after the morning skate. “Hopefully we’ll have a good rest of the season and prepare for the playoffs.”

Kaberle said he is feeling more and more comfortable as he familiarizes himself with the Bruins way.

“I feel good. Obviously it’s a great team. Every line’s got something on the ice, and everybody can score. It’s nice to see that, and with two goalies behind us, we feel pretty comfortable.”

– Kaberle is undoubtedly the biggest name the team added when the moves were made, but Kelly and Peverley are fitting in very nicely on the third line. Both were among the leagues better faceoff men at the time they were acquired, and having both taking draws and killing penalties is something Julien likes to see.

“Right now, you’€™ve got to be extremely pleased with first of all [Peverley’s] faceoffs, how dominant he’€™s been on draws,” Julien said. “With that line you’€™ve got a guy taking him on the strong side, and Kelly, a lefty and a righty, so you’€™ve got to be comfortable with that situation.”

“At the same time I think both Kelly and Peverley have seemed to have built some pretty quick chemistry there on the penalty kill as well. They seem to read off each other extremely well.”

– Thornton doesn’t want the new guys’ ability to come in and contribute immediately to go unnoticed. All three players have wound up on the scoring sheet since joining the B’s.

“They’re a big part of it too. These guys came in and stepped in seamlessly,” Thornton said. “It’s been a really easy transition for us and them.”

– How about this one from the stat truck? Over the last 10 games, Tyler Seguin has more goals than Steven Stamkos. Take that, development.

Well, not exactly. By Stamkos’ standards, the Tampa Bay star is in a slump as far as goals go. He has just two over the last 10 games (Seguin has three), but continues to lead the league with 41. Seguin has no points over his last four games.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly, Claude Julien, Rich Peverley
Seguin elaborates a bit more on expectations, playing time to Montreal Gazette 03.01.11 at 4:30 pm ET
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Bruins forward Tyler Seguin has had an up-and-down rookie season, and as a result his minutes have predictably gone up and down. It can’t be an easy thing for an 18-turned-19-year old to deal with, especially one who has dominated every level at which he has played previously.

Yet to Seguin’s credit, as unhappy with his ice time as he may be at times, he hasn’t let it seep its way onto the public record. He told me recently that he had previously been “blaming the wrong people” for a cut in ice time that included healthy scratches, but that he was done doing so. If he was more unhappy about it, he kept it to himself.

Yet in talking to the Montreal Gazette recently, he touched on a couple of the same subjects he’s been approached about over and over, and this time he elaborated a bit more.

“It’s hard to meet those expectations, whether it’s points or your individual bonuses in your contract when you get less opportunity and less ice,” Seguin told the Gazette. “But the coaches know what they’re doing to help me as a person and as a player.”

Seguin and Taylor Hall were as 1-and-1a as it gets in a given draft year, and the Oilers opted for Hall, the No. 2 prospect in the draft according to NHL Central Scouting. After a rough start, Hall has come into his own for an Oilers team that is on pace to finish last in the league for a second year. Seguin, despite some encouraging signs over the last couple of weeks, still has yet to hit his stride. He has 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points this season, which puts him 17th amongst rookies. Hall’s 40 points (21 G, 19 A) puts him third, behind only Jeff Skinner (chosen after both players at seventh overall by the Hurricanes) and San Jose’s Logan Couture.

Seguin knew before last year’s draft that this could be the case if he came to Boston. Because they had Toronto’s first-round pick, the team that made it to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference semifinals would be able to add a type of player that generally would be given room to develop as a rookie.

‘€œIn the end it’s still the NHL so I’m happy to go to either team,’€ Seguin said in a conversation with WEEI.com prior to the draft. ‘€œI don’t have a preference. Edmonton is a Canadian city so they have a great fan base and they are a bit of a weaker team so there might be more opportunity there. With that being said, Boston’s already a contender. You can hop in the NHL and get a run for the Stanley Cup.’€

Now, he’s experiencing just that.

“That’s one of the things with coming to a top team,” Seguin told the Gazette. “The young guys aren’t going to get as many opportunities on this type of team as maybe a guy like Taylor Hall in Edmonton. Not taking anything away from him, he’s had a great year so far and I know he’s going to finish off strong, he always does. And I’m going to be going into the playoffs, and that’s where my head is at.”

Read More: Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin,
Bruins snap skid with win over Islanders 02.17.11 at 9:27 pm ET
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The Bruins broke a three-game losing streak by turning on the offense against a pair of Islanders goaltenders in a 6-3 victory at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night.

Tyler Seguin had his third multi-point game of the season, as he set up Blake Wheeler‘s goal to open the scoring 55 seconds into the game and added his 10th goal of the season in the second period. Wheeler and David Krejci also had multi-point nights with a goal and an assist apiece. Mark Recchi, Gregory Campbell and Milan Lucic also scored for the Bruins. Lucic now has 24 goals on the season, which leads the team.

After the team jumped out to a 4-0 lead, John Tavares scored the first of his two goals on the game in a back-and-forth second period. Josh Bailey scored the other Islanders’ goal.

Islanders starter Nathan Lawson was scored after Seguin’s goal made it 5-1, and Al Montoya made 13 saves on 14 shots. Tuukka Rask improved to 6-11-1 on the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Some have been too quick to give Seguin credit where it isn’t due, but it’s safe to say that Seguin was bringing everything Thursday night that he needs to. The 19-year-old was every bit as engaged as the Bruins are hoping for him to be down the stretch. This was highlighted in the second period, where he was persistent enough score his 10th of the season while losing his balance. Later in the period, he dove at the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone.

Seguin’s performances weren’t anything special in his first two games following last week’s healthy scratches (in the case of Sunday, it was detrimental in Detroit), but Thursday’s was the type of performance that suggests the youngster is starting to get it.

– As hectic as things were in the second period, it’s good to see Rask turn in a solid performance in the victory. The third goal was preventable, but but considering that he was pulled after two periods and five goals last Friday against the Red Wings, encouraging signs are welcomed for a guy who you have to assume will get more time between now and the end of the season.

– All three lines scored for the Bruins, and their six goals equaled the number they scored in their losing streak. More nights like Thursday would be a welcomed sign for a team that had been outscored 14-6 over their last three.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

Michael Ryder‘s minus-1 made him the lone Bruins player with a negative rating on the game. Now at a minus-5 on the season, Ryder is the only Bruin currently on the roster with a negative rating on the year.

– The Bruins went from dominating the first period to playing in a closely contested second period, and that speaks to both the Islanders waking up and the B’s not keeping the pedal to the metal. They still scored three in the second period, but the Islanders’ opportunities against Rask were far more frequent, as the Bruins were outshot, 22-12, in the second.

- Tavares simply did damage. In addition to his two goals, the former first overall pick could have had a hat trick if it weren’t for a third-period bid behind Rask sliding across the crease.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, Gregory Campbell, John Tavares
Wrong place, wrong time for Phil Kessel as he brings slump to Boston 02.14.11 at 11:38 pm ET
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When it comes to Phil Kessel, “draft” is a popular word. The fifth overall draft pick in 2006, Kessel was traded for critical draft picks in September 2009 and, in his second season in Toronto, was the last pick of the NHL All-Star fantasy draft.

Selections aside, it’s hard to imagine anyone could have drafted such a lousy script for the 23-year-old of late. The former 36-goal scorer for the Bruins has been freezing for the Maple Leafs over the last month, racking up a grand total of zero goals in his last 14 games.

With Kessel’s luck, he is ‘€” of course ‘€” going to be in town Tuesday to potentially extend that streak to 15 games, the longest stretch of games without a goal for Kessel since his rookie year in Boston. In that 2006-07 campaign, Kessel failed to score from Jan. 18 to Feb. 20, though the combination of adjusting to the league as a rookie and coming off surgery for cancer is probably the toughest thing a player could face.

Incidentally, he also went 14 games without a goal during the 2008-09 season, and that stretch also occurred around the same part of the season, lasting from Jan. 6 to Feb. 21. The months of January and February have not been nice to Kessel, and as he’ll surely be reminded of Tuesday, neither has the Garden crowd when he and his Maple Leafs have rolled into town.

While Bruins scorers have also had their slumps (Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton have had goal-less streaks of 12 and 10, respectively, at points this season, while Blake Wheeler‘s 14-game goal slump matches Kessel’s), here’s a fun stat to play off of Kessel’s current drought: Entering Tuesday, only one Bruins player has a longer streak of games without a goal than Kessel ‘€” defenseman Andrew Ference, who has gone 16 games. Not surprisingly, nobody will be getting on the blueliner any time soon for that.

While Bruins fans will enjoy every moment of Kessel’s struggles (especially if Tyler Seguin scores, which will be the cue for a certain chant), Toronto fans have been nearly as relentless in their treatment of the player their team traded three high picks to acquire. Check out this picture from Puck Daddy, a great hockey blog on Yahoo! Sports:

That’€™s just cruel. Kessel will be at TD Garden on Tuesday, but whether he is once again ‘€œmissing’€ for the Maple Leafs remains to be seen. Things haven’t been rosy for Kessel and the Leafs, as the team has 52 points (fifth-worst in the NHL as of Monday night) and said earlier in his drought that it “might not be working out here” before backpedaling. Kessel will be skating on a line with Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak.

NAME THAT QUOTE

As noted above, the Bruins and Leafs have each had their scorers face slumps this season. Below are two quotes, one of which is Claude Julien on a Bruins player at some point this season. The other is Leafs coach Ron Wilson on Kessel.

‘€œThere’€™s been a lot of talk about [player] not scoring goals. Well, I can stand here tonight and when I see the effort that [player] puts in the game, I can live with that. Obviously I would like to see him score and I think everybody would. You’€™ve got to recognize when a guy is not scoring goals, but you also have to recognize some of the good things he does.”

‘€œ[He] is the one who has to work his way out of this. There is only so much you can do to help him in terms of playing with different people. He has to go earn his chances and dig in and help in other ways until the puck goes in the net.’€

The first would be Julien describing Horton on Jan. 26, while the second quote is from Wilson describing Kessel on Monday. Quite a difference there.

Read More: Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin,
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