|Bruins set for bout with Maple Leafs||10.28.10 at 6:23 pm ET|
The Bruins are set to face off against the Maple Leafs, who are off to a 5-2-1 start to the season. The biggest difference in Thursday night’s lineup for the B’s will naturally be the presence of Adam McQuaid, who has been called upon to dress after Johnny Boychuk suffered fractured forearm on Saturday. McQuaid has been a healthy scratch for the first six games of the season.
McQuaid has skated on the third pairing with Matt Hunwick in practice this week, with Andrew Ference jumping up to the top pairing with Zdeno Chara. Claude Julien cautioned against expecting the pairings to stick throughout the games, as the Bruins have had no problems with switching them up over the course of a game.
“I think you’ve seen enough games by now that we don’t really stick with pairs. We mix and match,” Julien said Thursday.
With that being said, here is the anticipated lineup for Thursday:
Zdeno Chara – Andrew Ference
Matt Hunwick – Adam McQuaid
|Mike Milbury on D&C: ‘Don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now’||10.27.10 at 2:31 pm ET|
NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday for his weekly hockey update and discussion of other hot topics regarding the Bruins. Milbury also talked about the latest debate, which has been the goaltender situation thus far in the season.
“It’s how to handle both of them, not just Tuukka [Rask],” Milbury said. “I don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now just because [Tim] Thomas has had a good start. It looks like they’re going to battle for the top spot, and I think one of the things … is the schedule. I mean, they go overseas, they play two games, they get basically a full week off, they played three more and then they get four days off. There’s no rhythm for any of their players, not just the goaltenders.”
Following are highlights from the conversation. To hear the entire interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Can we assume the hype we saw last night in Boston won’t be matched, but will at least be evident as Phil Kessel returns to the Garden with the Maple Leafs tomorrow night?
Yeah, it’ll be fun, and the Maple Leafs are winning their share of games, so it should be competitive. They’re not trading on the back end. I mean, they’re supposed to be strong on the blue line, but they’ll, they cough it up regularly, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to score. [Jean-Sebastien] Giguere‘s been backstopping the goals against, so it’s been OK, but they’re a vulnerable team, but at least they’re playing with some vinegar, and so it should be a pretty good matchup.
If each goaltender starts roughly 40 games, what’s the best way to handle two goaltenders, and Tuukka, who’s been shaky lately?
That’s a great question. I mean, it’s how to handle both of them, not just Tuukka. I don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now just because Thomas has had a good start. It looks like they’re going to battle for the top spot, and I think one of the things, before I try to answer that question, that has conspired against Rask and Thomas is the schedule. I mean, they go overseas, they play two games, they get basically a full week off, they played three more and then they get four days off. There’s no rhythm for any of their players, not just the goaltenders.
But once they get into the need of their schedule, you know, I think there’s plenty of room to let a guy run two, three or even four games in a row. But if you really want to keep the party going in terms of competition, once you get into five and six games in a row for one guy, you’re asking much from the other guy to just bounce back and be excellent in his first start.
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|Even when injured, Marco Sturm’s impact felt by Bruins||10.26.10 at 1:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Marco Sturm hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to health. Major injuries to each of his knees have cost him playing time over the last two seasons, the most recent of which has landed him on long-term injured reserve to open the 2010-11 campaign as he works his way back from a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee.
At face value, the Bruins received some positive news on Tuesday when Sturm did some light skating on his own prior to the team’s practice. Sturm took shots on an empty net by himself, saying that though he felt weak on the ice, he was encouraged by the session. Though Claude Julien said there is no timetable for Sturm’s return and the winger himself admitted it would be “tough” to return by late November, as initially expected, his captain noted that Sturm doesn’t need to be in the lineup for the B’s to feel his positive impact.
An upbeat Sturm could be seen around the Bruins throughout preseason and on the team’s season-opening trip to Europe, and despite not being able to take part in workouts or on-ice sessions with the team, he’s kept a grin on his face and the attitude of a guy who’s getting 20 minutes a night.
“[He’s been] absolutely tremendous and supportive,” Zdeno Chara said of Sturm. “You don’t even notice that a guy like that is being affected by injuries. He’s always in a good mood, always helpful to young players, to all of us. It’s just a huge boost for us to see a guy like that always having positive attitude and bringing that energy in the room.”
It’s only natural that a player spending an extended period of time off of the ice and out of the lineup could get the sense of not being quite involved with the team as he normally is. Given the team’s dynamic, however, Sturm said one would be hard-pressed to find that with this Bruins’ club.
“I think especially on this team, it’s never been an issue,” Sturm said. “For the last few years, the guys are always really happy when injured guys are around. Like today, guys were really happy because I was on the ice for the first time. We can tell. It’s a tight group and we’re one team and we just want to be the best.”
It’s no surprise that Chara agrees with Sturm’s assessment, whiling also noting that involvement that Sturm and the other players have made a point to maintain hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“We don’t have to do much,” Chara said. “Those guys are always a big part of our team, no matter what’s going on with them as far as injuries. They’re always included, they’re always a part of the programs that we all have to go through on a daily basis. To have a guy like [Sturm] coming back and see him skating, it’s awesome. It’s been a long road for him, and eventually it’s getting shorter and shorter for him. It’s nice.”
Sturm led the Bruins in goals last year, scoring 22 in 76 games last season. He is set to become a free agent at season’s end. Until then, and especially once he returns to the lineup, the Bruins can expect more positive things, both in production and in morale.
|Video: Zdeno Chara, 10/13/10||10.13.10 at 2:11 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Here’s the video of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara speaking after the team’s first practice since returning from an 11-day trek through Europe.
|Mike Milbury on D&H: Tyler Seguin ‘not an impact player’||at 1:22 pm ET|
NESN and NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury made the first of his weekly appearances on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Asked about rookie Tyler Seguin and the impact he could have this season, Milbury said Bruins fans will need to be patient. “I’ll answer the question without having seen him enough: He’s not going to be an impact player this season. He’s not,” Milbury said. “Those players are very few and far between. I’d put big money that he’s not an impact player. Does he get 15-20 goals? Maybe. Thirty points, 50 points tops, but that’s not an impact player. And when [Marc] Savard comes back ‘ and I assume he will ‘ he’ll have a tough time finding ice time.”
With the Bruins signing Zdeno Chara to a seven-year contract extension last week, Milbury voiced his displeasure with long-term deals, citing the risk of injury and psychological letdown. “I don’t like it. I don’t like it for anybody, let alone the Bruins,” Milbury said. “And they’re not the only ones making questionable decisions with the salary cap. I mean, the team they play next, New Jersey, is a mess. They can’t even dress the full complement of players because of the cap issue.”
Added Milbury: “I don’t like long-term contracts. It’s a heartbeat away. You never know what these contracts will do a player’s psyche. This is not baseball. It’s not like you might not get hurt. You’re going to get hurt. It’s just how seriously.
“The team has made its bet on these core players. And we’ll find out in two years, three years maximum whether this core has the stuff to win a Stanley Cup championship. But the bet’s been made. And we’ll find out if it was a good one or not.”
|Welcome back to Wilmington||at 10:28 am ET|
WILMINGTON — It sure isn’t as visually pleasing as Prague’s O2 Arena, but it’s good to be back at Ristuccia Arena for the Bruins’ first practice since returning from Europe.
Prior to the team’s 10:30 skate commencing, there was a bit of an on-ice meeting with 10 Bruins consisting of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Tuukka Rask.
Despite skating with the aforementioned first, smaller group, Ference did not skate with the team in practice. Judging by the team’s multi-colored sweaters, here are the forward lines.
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Jordan Caron – Patrice Bergeron – Blake Wheeler
Dennis Seidenberg left the ice after about half an hour, so Thornton tossed a black jersey on to balance out the defense. Chara was paired with Boychuk, Hunwick was with Mark Stuart, and Thornton skated with Adam McQuaid.
|Team loses, but Chara deal means Bruins win big||10.09.10 at 6:16 pm ET|
PRAGUE — It was hard to imagine Saturday being too bad a day for the Bruins when word came down that the team had inked captain Zdeno Chara to a seven-year contract extension that will begin following this season, the last of his current deal.
Still, that 5-2 loss sure did give the signing a run for it’s money, didn’t it? The game aside (read about it here), Saturday marked the second of two consecutive huge days for the Bruins’ future. In re-signing both Chara (seven years, $45.5 million) and center Patrice Bergeron (three years, $15 million), the team made sure two players who wear letters other than the spoked “B” on the front of their sweaters (Bergeron himself is an alternate captain at 25 years of age) would be in the fold long term.
What does it mean financially? Put it this way: This season, with the Chara carrying a $7.5 million cap hit and Bergeron with a cap hit of $4.75 million, the Bruins are paying $12.25 million combined for the two of them. When the new deals kick in for the two players, Chara will have a $6.917 cap hit for the first six years (he makes $4 million — less than the average annual value of the rest of the deal — in salary in the last year, which since he will be over 40 is not allowed to be factored into the cap calculation), with Bergeron taking up $5 million in cap space. Combined, that’s a grand total of $11.917 million for both of the players, a savings of about $333,000 for Bergeron and Chara. Imagine the cap going up (even if it’s slightly) in the future, and the Bruins seem to have had themselves a very productive couple of days.
So how did it all come together for the players? Chara’s agent, Matt Keator, told WEEI.com on Saturday that “it was not an easy negotiation,” and that it had “lots of moving parts.” Even so, much like Bergeron said a day before, Chara said — as, to his credit, he did in the week leading up to the signing — that he believed the end result would be him staying in Boston. General manager Peter Chiarelli felt the same way, saying he was “pretty confident” before departing for Europe last week that the players would sign on the trip.
“From our perspective, these are two very, very important pieces of our team, very important individuals on and off the ice. There’s uncertainty as you see some precessions as far as trying to retain these types of players,” Chiarelli said. “As they get closer to the free agent market, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s also an extreme show of good faith when both sides can get it done now, meaning both sides wanted to get a deal done. We want Z and Bergy to be a part of the Bruins for a while, and they wanted to remain with the Bruins. It’s a typical thing. When two sides want something to happen, it usually happens.”
Any longterm deal with Chara, 33, figured to be a tough one for both sides to hammer out given that any deal that goes past a player’s 40th birthday can be complicated as a result of the new cap calculation that came about following the Ilya Kovalchuk saga that grabbed headlines in the offseason. Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million deal with the Devils was nixed by the league because its later years paid out little money in an attempt to lower the cap hit. Now, as a result, the above calculation applies to longterm contracts that go into a player’s 40’s.
“Obviously, Kovalchuk’s situation was a little extreme, and that maybe put the negotiations on hold for a little bit,” Chara said of the hitches that came up in negotiations. “I just knew that we would get this done and I would be a Bruin.”
That’s two top players in two days to accept deals to stay in Boston prior to hitting free agency. It could be a coincidence, but it’s more likely that the Bruins and Chiarelli are seeing a trend develop.