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Tamer Bruins-Canadiens rivalry a relief for Max Pacioretty 01.12.12 at 12:28 pm ET
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It goes without saying that the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry has lacked the fireworks it had last season. There have been only two fights, and, at last count, zero criminal investigations. That’s quite the departure from what we saw last season.

Count Habs forward Max Pacioretty among those who has no problem with that. The Connecticut native was the center of attention in the rivalry last season. It all started when he celebrated his Jan. 8 game-winning goal in overtime by shoving Zdeno Chara. He then found himself in the middle of it again when he jumped former college teammate Steven Kampfer in a scrum on Feb. 9.

Of course, the most memorably part of last season’s rivalry came when Chara shoved Pacioretty into a stanchion at Bell Centre on March 8. The play was highly controversial and ended Pacioretty’s season.

So by comparison, the 23 year-old finds this season’s tamer edition of the rivalry to be a relief.

“It definitely is,” Pacioretty said Thursday. “That’s in my past, and hopefully it’s in everyone else’s as well. I’m just looking to help my team win hockey games. Especially against a top team in our conference, I want to do whatever I can to help, and I’ve got to put the past behind me.”

This season, Pacioretty has 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points.

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Obsess much? Canucks reportedly rip covers off NHL media guides with images of Zdeno Chara holding Cup 01.11.12 at 11:54 am ET
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These damaged media guides were in the press box at Tuesday's Canucks-Panthers game. (George Richards)

Miami Herald reporter George Richards noticed something odd in the press box at Monday’s Canucks-Panthers game. Someone had ripped the cover off the NHL Official Guide & Record Books that were there for the media.

The cover features a photo of Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara holding the Stanley Cup. Putting two and two together, Richards surmised that someone with the Canucks organization ripped the books in anger at the B’s following Saturday’s heated battle.

Richards put his photos of the damaged books on his Twitter site, and it’s been gaining steam on the web since.

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Andrew Ference on D&C: After Cup title, ‘you really realize how meaningless the stuff in the regular season is’ 12.22.11 at 1:20 pm ET
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Andrew Ference

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference checked in with Dennis & Callahan guest hosts Dale Arnold and Bob Ryan Thursday for his weekly chat. With the Bruins sitting atop the Eastern Conference, Ference talked about the HBO 24/7 special, the Bruins’ road success, and how Zdeno Chara became as good as he is.

The Bruins are on an impressive streak, but Ference said the excitement of the regular season just doesn’t compare to the playoffs.

“Obviously, the playoffs were more fun than it is right now,” Ference said. “I think that everybody’s got a pretty good head on their shoulders this year, and I think it’s due to the fact that we did win last year. If we wouldn’t have won last year and we were going on a run like this, I think guys would be a lot more giddy and patting ourselves on the back. But I think when you go through a championship run, you really realize how meaningless the stuff in the regular season is. All this is is prep work. And this is this trying to reach our first goal of just making the playoffs.”

Added Ference of the regular season: “It’s great. It’s entertaining. But for players it’s prep. It’s getting ready and trying to prime ourselves and make sure that we’re going in the right direction. And we’re learning all our lessons, but the first goal is just to try to make the playoffs. We’re building toward that. And I think everybody’s keeping a good head about it.”

Asked if this edition of the Bruins is better than last season’s Cup champions, Ference said: “It’s hard to compare, but I think the one advantage we do have is mentally. Just, like I said, learning what it takes, and not having the Stanley Cup be like a fairy tale. It’s a reality to all of us now. That’s a huge advantage. It’s one thing to imagine what it takes to win. But it’s another thing to know and to be there and go through it and have a lot of the same guys in the locker room with you again to go after it again. So, I think that’s the one huge advantage that we have over last year.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, including Ference talking about the his holiday plans, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On the Bruins’ toughness: “I think the one thing that’s been done here is, obviously Peter [Chiarelli] has done a good job of getting the right personalities in the room. Because you can’t have five guys on the team that are willing to do everything they can for the team and then have 15 that aren’t, or 10 and 10, or whatever the split is. You need every single guy to buy in or it just doesn’t work.

“It really only takes two or three guys to drag down an entire team, it really does, it’s amazing how quickly, especially in tough times, a bad apple can just attract guys and just bring the whole room down. It happens quickly and it’s just like a poison, so one thing they’ve done good here is get rid of some of the guys that had that and bring in guys that that weren’t like that. That’s essential, especially over the long term. For as many years as a lot of us have been here it’s been a really great locker room. The season’s too long to have bad apples and guys that don’t stick up for your guys that you can’t look across at in the room and know that they’re going to work their butt off every night for you.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Bruins send Jordan Caron, Steven Kampfer to Providence 12.16.11 at 8:01 pm ET
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The Bruins announced Friday that they have sent forward Jordan Caron and defenseman Steven Kampfer to Providence.

Much like when they were sent down on the first of the month, the move allows the two players who are usually the team’s healthy scratches to get some game action. The two will play for Providence on Saturday and Sunday.

The fact that the B’s sent Kampfer down suggests captain Zdeno Chara, who has missed the last two games with a leg injury, will be ready to play Saturday against the Flyers in Philadelphia.

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Zdeno Chara returns to the ice 12.14.11 at 2:18 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara, who travelled with the team to Ottawa Tuesday night, returned to the ice Wednesday morning for the first time since suffering a leg injury Saturday night in Columbus.

According to the Boston Globe, Chara skated with Jordan Caron, who figures to be a healthy scratch once again, for 35 minutes. Chara is not expected to play vs. the Senators, but could play Saturday against the Flyers.

“I felt OK,” Chara told the Boston Globe after skating. “First skate. First time on the ice in 3-4 days. I didn’t expect to be feeling great. But also, I didn’t feel bad. It’s a good sign. You’re going to have those days. Slowly progressing.”

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Morning skate notes: Zdeno Chara to travel with Bruins 12.13.11 at 11:49 am ET
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Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will be between the pipes Tuesday as the Bruins take on the Kings at TD Garden. Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Tuesday’s morning skate that he intends to play Thomas Wednesday against the Senators.

Gregory Campbell was not on the ice for the morning skate. He will miss Tuesday’s game and will “probably not” play Wednesday, according to Julien. Campbell is dealing with a foot injury, and Zach Hamill is expected to center the fourth line in his place.

Daniel Paille, meanwhile, underwent a neuropsych evaluation Monday. The winger said the team was still awaiting results on the test, with Julien adding that he could play if he is cleared before the game. Paille took part in the morning skate.

Zdeno Chara (leg) did not skate, and will miss Tuesday’s game. Julien did say, however, that the captain will travel with the team to Ottawa Tuesday night. The coach said he was unsure whether Campbell would go.

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Bruins prepared to play without Zdeno Chara, however long that may be 12.12.11 at 7:54 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara is not expected to play Tuesday. (AP)

The Bruins are going to be without Zdeno Chara — reportedly for at least a week — but the B’s captain isn’t ready to count himself out for even Wednesday’s game against the Senators.

“There is no time frame when I’m going to be back, but most likely I won’t be playing tomorrow,” Chara said Monday at Ristuccia Arena. “That’s as far as I can tell you right now, because honestly it’s at a stage where we can’t really talk about any further than 24 hours ahead.”

Chara injured his left leg in a collision with Antoine Vermette Saturday night in Columbus. The Boston Globe reported Sunday that he would miss at least this week, and could potentially held out until after Christmas.

The 6-foot-9 defenseman has not missed more than five games in a season since signing with the Bruins prior to the 2006-07 season. With that being said, he understands that injuries do occur, and that he hopes to return as quickly as he can.

“It’s just the nature of this sport. In any sport, you do get hurt. Injuries do happen, and there are some things as players that you can’t control,” he said. “They do really happen. As a player, really your job is to try to do your best with the treatments and rehab to get yourself back and on the ice with the team as fast as possible. That’s what I’m trying to do right now, but also at the same time, you don’t want to rush it. You want to be smart about it.”

With Chara out, the Bruins practiced Monday without drastically shaking up their defensive pairings. Claude Julien simply subbed in Steven Kampfer for Chara on his pairing with Johnny Boychuk and left the Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo and Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid pairings alone.

It will be Kampfer’s first NHL game since Nov. 17, though he played two games for Providence when the B’s sent he and Jordan Caron for some game action earlier this month.

Assuming Chara does indeed miss the team’s games this week, Kampfer, who played in three straight games last month, will get the opportunity to do so again here. For a seventh defenseman, playing time and opportunities in the lineup may come sporadically, but a week’s worth of game action will give him time to get settled in and shake off any rust.

“I think you can always get a rhythm, even if you’re not playing,” Kampfer said. “You get in for one game, you’re practicing, you’re playing well and you’ve got the guys around you that are keeping you in a rhythm, so it’s definitely easier when you’ve got a team playing as well as we are.”

With Chara out, Seidenberg, who is averaging 24:12 of ice time per game (second only to Chara’s 24:28), could see an increased work load. He wouldn’t complain if that were the case, though the B’s probably don’t want to tire their second best defenseman.

“It’s up to the coaches,” Seidenberg. “We’ve been playing pretty even minutes these last few games. Guys have been playing pretty great as a group, and no matter who’s on the ice, [Doug Houda] feels comfortable putting them out there.”

With all the hoopla surrounding Chara’s injury, it’s clear that the best news is that it isn’t serious enough to keep him out for significant time. The B’s have good depth defensively, but removing arguably the best blueliner will certainly create a challenge for the B’s. It’s a challenge the other defensemen think they can handle.

“I think that some of the other forwards on the other teams will probably be in better moods, but that’s probably the biggest change,” Ference said. “He’s a big presence. Guys don’t like playing against him. He’s obviously a huge matchup against other teams’ top lines. That’s something that there’s quite a few of us back there that have played against top lines and top two lines in the league. It’s not like anybody’s getting outside of their comfort zone.”

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