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Gregory Campbell: Playing Thursday a ‘realistic possibility’ 09.18.13 at 12:52 pm ET
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Good news on the Gregory Campbell front, as the veteran center didn’t seemed bothered at all Wednesday in a training camp session packed with battle drills. Asked how he felt after the contact-heavy skate, Campbell said he is continuing to improve “day by day.”

It would appear that Campbell is both in game shape and physically capable to play in games after returning from a broken leg suffered in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins. With the Red Wings in town Thursday, Campbell said that the idea of him making his preseason debut in the game is a “realistic possibility.”

To this point, Campbell, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara have been held out of games.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Peter Chiarelli’s best and worst moves as Bruins general manager 08.29.13 at 7:31 pm ET
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Peter Chiarelli is sticking around. (AP)

Peter Chiarelli is sticking around. (AP)

Why are the Bruins so good? Duh, it’s because they’re from Boston and they all “get it” and nobody else wants to win as badly as they do.

Nope, it’s because they have a really good roster and a really good coach. The man responsible for that was rewarded on Thursday, as the B’s announced a four-year extension for general manager Peter Chiarelli. Since coming to the Bruins in 2006, Chiarelli has revamped the roster and taken the Bruins from cellar-dwellers to annual Stanley Cup contenders and 2011 champs.

Though he often flies under the radar, Chiarelli has established himself as one of the best (if not the best) general managers in Boston in recent memory. He hasn’t been perfect, but he also hasn’t been afraid to do the unpopular thing. He’s made big moves (trading Phil Kessel and later Tyler Seguin) and he’s made smaller splashes where fans were calling for bigger ones (Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley).

It’s easy to forget how these Bruins rosters came about over the years, so here’s a look at Chiarelli’s best and worst moves as B’s general manager.

BEST MOVES

(Definitely not) signing Zdeno Chara

Chiarelli, who was working as the assistant general manager of the Senators, was hired by the Bruins on May 26, 2006, though he couldn’t begin working for the Bruins until July 15. Senators free agent defenseman Zdeno Chara, who highly respected Chiarelli, turned down a nice offer from the Kings and signed with the Bruins on July 1. So too did Marc Savard, which makes for a rare case in which a team was able to build itself into a contender via free agency in a salary cap league (Drew Brees with the Saints also comes to mind).

Technically, it was interim general manager Jeff Gorton who made those signings — technically — but in getting Chiarelli, the Bruins were able to get Chara, and he has been the biggest piece of this whole thing.

(It should be noted that the Bruins made some important moves under Gorton. Chiarelli was actually sitting at the Senators’ table when the Bruins “reached” for Milan Lucic with the 50th overall pick, took Brad Marchand 71st overall and traded for some kid named Tuukka Rask.)

Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew

The Bruins moved two-thirds of their return from the Joe Thornton deal (they’d later trade Marco Sturm for, in Chiarelli’s words, “nothing”) so it had to hurt some B’s fans to not see them get huge names for what they’d gotten for a Hart winner, but Ference ended up being a major part of both Cup runs for the Bruins. He was the unsung hero of the 2011 championship team and played a big role in neutralizing the Penguins when the B’s allowed just two goals to them in the Eastern Conference finals last season. Factor in what he did for team chemistry and his contributions to the community, and Ference was worth both the trade and the three-year, $6.75 million extension the B’s gave him.

Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and Tampa Bay’s 2010 second-round pick for Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski

We’ll see what happens with second-round pick Alex Petrovic in Florida, but Bitz has played 17 NHL games since the 2010 trade, while Weller played last season in Germany. Meanwhile, the Bruins got a top-pairing defenseman in Seidenberg and a very good young defenseman in Bartkowski, who scored in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs and should stick in the NHL this season.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Zdeno Chara joins Marian Hossa for day with Stanley Cup 08.13.13 at 10:44 am ET
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Zdeno Chara didn’t win the Stanley Cup, but he did take part in neighbor and friend Marian Hossa‘s celebration in Slovakia. Stick-tap to the good folks at Puck Daddy for the following photo:

charahossa

Though that picture may look weird, it isn’t overly surprising considering how far back Chara and Hossa go. Players are friends with players throughout the league, whether because they played together at some point or otherwise.

The irony is that had Chara been healthy, the B’s would have forced a Game 7, which could have potentially resulted in Hossa crashing Chara’s party this summer. Chara notably detoriated over the course of the Cup finals due to a hip injury, with his pain and resulting ineffectiveness culminating in him not being able to stop Bryan Bickell in front of the net on Chicago’s game-tying goal in the Cup-clinching Game 6.

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Tuukka Rask gets eight years, $56 million from Bruins 07.10.13 at 5:28 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask has been rewarded with the biggest annual salary on the Bruins. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Bruins announced Wednesday that they have signed goaltender Tuukka Rask to an eight-year, $56 million contract.

Though not the richest contract for a goalie in NHL history because there is now an eight-year limit on contract terms, Rask’s $7 million cap hit ties him with Nashville’s Pekka Rinne for the highest-paid goalie in the league.

Rask played on a one-year, $3.5 million deal last season, his first as a full-time starter for the B’s. He led the B’s to within two wins of a Stanley Cup victory as he led all postseason goalies with a .940 save percentage.

Rask’s new contract makes him the team’s highest-paid player, just ahead of Zdeno Chara, who makes $6.91 million a season.

In 36 regular-season games in 2013, Rask posted a 19-10-5 record with a GAA of 2.00 and a .929 save percentage with five shutouts. The B’s netminder finished the season tied for fourth in the NHL in wins (19), tied for first in shutouts (five), third in save percentage (.929) and tied for fourth in goals against (1.96).

During the 2013 postseason, Rask led the NHL in save percentage (.940), tied for first in shutouts (three) and finished fourth in GAA (1.88) in 22 games. Rask set a club record for home playoff shutout streak at 193:16, spanning from Game 4 of the conference finals to Game 3 of the Cup finals.

In Tim Thomas‘ final season with the Bruins (2011-12), Rask appeared in 23 games, recording an 11-8-3 record with a 2.05 GAA and a save percentage of .929. In 2009-10, Rask set a career high in wins (22) and led the NHL with a 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage, becoming the first Bruins goaltender to have a GAA below 2.00 since 1998-99. His 1.97 GAA that season, was the lowest by any Bruins goaltender since 1938-39 season.

In 138 NHL games, all of which have come with the Bruins, Rask has compiled a 66-45-16 record with 16 shutouts, a .927 save percentage and a 2.15 goals against average. The 26-year-old has appeared in 35 postseason games for the Bruins, amassing a 21-14 record, while posting a 2.15 GAA and a .930 save percentage with three shutouts.

Prior to joining Boston, Rask spent the majority of two seasons with the Providence Bruins (AHL) from 2007-09, amassing a record of 60-33-6 with a 2.42 GAA and .910 save percentage. In his rookie season with Providence in 2007-08, Rask finished the season tied for fifth in wins (27) and the following year was tied for second (33).

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound native of Tampere, Finland, was selected in the first round (21st overall) of the 2005 NHL draft by the Maple Leafs. The Bruins acquired Rask from the Maple Leafs in exchange for Andrew Raycroft on June 24, 2006.

Mike Petraglia contributed to this report.

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Zdeno Chara played with hip flexor 06.26.13 at 1:37 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was not very forthcoming in regard to players’ injuries at Wednesday’s breakup day, though he did say that Zdeno Chara was playing through a hip flexor that was “pretty potent.”

Chara did not want to discuss his injury with reporters. Chiarelli added that he believes Nathan Horton (bankart procedure on his shoulder) is the the only player set to have offseason surgery.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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For Zdeno Chara, he and Bruins didn’t get ‘bounces’ they needed 06.25.13 at 10:17 am ET
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While the Blackhawks were celebrating, Zdeno Chara (33) was left to stare and wonder. (AP)

The last 76 seconds of Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup will be dissected and analyzed by Bruins fans for years to come.

What happened and how did the Bruins defense collapse? How did Bryan Bickell get free enough to pot the game-tying goal?

“I think you if I had to really talk about defense, I thought throughout the whole playoffs we did a really good job,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “They did find some holes and at times, I have to be honest, it’s not just a matter of being in the right position or covering guys. Some bounces you need to have go your way.

“If it gets deflected and goes off skates and this and that, obviously that’s not an excuse but you need to have some bounces. It seemed like we didn’t get those like we did before. But you know, they did a great job going to the net and creating a lot of traffic in front.”

Chara, who acknowledged he was dealing with some sort of injury throughout the series, will be an obvious scapegoat in the eyes of some. He was on the ice for the game-tying goal by Bryan Bickell with 1:14 left. He was on the ice for the first two goals Monday. He was on the ice for all three goals (one empty-net) in Game 5 and he was on the ice for five of the six goals in Game 4. In all, Chara was on the ice for 10 of Chicago’s final 12 goals in the series.

But, of course, Chara was also on the ice for all of those goals because no one is trusted enough to skate the kind of minutes he did all season and throughout the playoffs.

Claude Julien rode he and Dennis Seidenberg as hard as he possibly could until there was nothing left to give. In Game 6 Monday, Chara logged a team-high 25 minutes, 29 seconds in 30 shifts. Only Duncan Keith, with 28:51 in 38 shifts skated more.

Chara was asked if he was shocked when Dave Bolland scored 17.7 seconds later on a rebound from a Johnny Oduya shot from the left point.

“You know, it wasn’t like it was over,” Chara said, almost defiantly. “We were still in the game. We still had some times left and obviously you’re asking me where was my thinking and where were my emotions? Yeah, I mean, till that buzzer I am going to try to win a hockey game. At that point, we were trying to obviously get inside their zone and make a play to try and even the game.

“On the tying goal it was a quick play, I think out of the corner that there was a guy coming to the net, guy in front and guy on the side. So, they made a quick play. The third goal there was a shot from the point, and a deflection. It’s a tough way to lose, tough way to lose a game, tough way to lose a series.”
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Claude Julien on injuries: ‘This is not a time to make excuses’ at 12:53 am ET
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Tyler Seguin was also dealing with an injury during Stanley Cup final. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

After Monday’s game, Claude Julien made it a point not to address injuries specifically because he thought that would come across as making excuses in the wake of a crushing Game 6 loss that handed the 2013 Stanley Cup to the Chicago Blackhawks.

“The reason I’m saying that is because this is not a time to make excuses,” Julien said of not addressing specific injuries. “They’ve got injuries, too. As the series went on, talking about since the start of the Stanley Cup, we had some injuries. And again, it’s hard to keep guys out. They want to play through it, and some guys were able to do that. I think the biggest challenge for me was probably these last few
games starting with a full roster but not being able to end with it.

“Somewhere along the way you have to shorten your bench because you don’t have four lines and players were getting hurt either at the beginning or middle of the game, so that was probably the biggest challenge. But playing hurt is part of it, and our guys did that, and that’s why I said earlier you’ve got to be extremely proud of those guys. It’s going to take a little while before we can realize the accomplishment that we had in making it to the final again, but right now it doesn’t feel good.”

In addition to Patrice Bergeron playing with a broken rib, torn cartilage and a separated shoulder, suffered in Monday’s loss, there were other Bruins playing through significant injuries.

As first reported by WEEI.com, Nathan Horton confirmed that he was playing with a separated left shoulder, which forced him out of the first overtime in the Game 1 loss in Chicago.

Tyler Seguin said he was playing through an injury that he is going to see a medical specialist about.

“I’ve got to see the docs [this week] and see what they say,” Seguin said. “I don’t know. I don’t want to say. I’ll talk to you guys. I’ve had the same problems my whole life.”

Then Seguin acknowledged the fact that – while he had a shortened NHL season – playing in Switzerland made for a long season.

“I played I don’t know many games — even though I don’t regret going to Europe, I definitely felt zeros pouring on in the end in the playoffs,” Seguin said. “I gave it everything I had in the tank tonight. I have no regrets looking back. Obviously I would have liked to pop a few goals for my teammates, but I’ve just got to move on and learn from it, and realize I’m still young, and have a great offseason to get ready for next year.”
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