WILMINGTON, MA - Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara will be missing the team's final two games prior to the Olympic break, as he has been given the honor of carrying Slovakia's flag in the Opening Ceremonies this Friday, February 7 in Sochi, Russia.
It's an honor not lost on Chara, or Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.
"When you look at what Zee has done for this club, I think it's an easy decision to make, because you're carrying your country's flag at the Olympics," Julien said back on January 16, when the announcement was made.
"And even if he misses a game and maybe two, I think that's the least we can do for a guy who's given us so much since he's been here."
After suiting up versus the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, Chara will then be absent for the Bruins' games against the Blues in St. Louis on Thursday, and then against the Ottawa Senators in Boston on Saturday.
BOSTON, MA - Just over five minutes into the first period on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, Edmonton's Ales Hemsky raced on a partial breakaway towards Chad Johnson between the pipes.
Johnson stood his ground, and thwarted the chance on the Oilers' first shot of the game. The netminder made 21 more saves en route to a 4-0 win over Edmonton, and his first shutout as a Boston Bruin.
He now has a 10-3-0 record in Black & Gold.
"His record speaks for himself," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said of Johnson following the shutout. "I think the way he played tonight – even though people are going to say he didn’t get tested - but we know that’s as big a challenge for a goaltender as any. Especially when you’re playing a team like that that does have a lot of skill."
"He’s been playing well."
"It means a lot," said Johnson. "For me, it’s always just about the wins but I think when you can add a shutout there, it’s just kind of like a bonus point for myself. To get it at home too, it’s nice. It’s always nice to get a shutout."
Johnson did get help in front with the Bruins' better effort in the bounceback win from their 4-1 loss to Montreal on Thursday. They got back to playing their game.
WILMINGTON, MA - The Bruins hit the ice on Friday at Ristuccia Arena, ready to work out Thursday night's 4-1 loss to Montreal.
The areas of emphasis were simple: skating, decision-making and execution.
Practice focused heavily on their transition game - and having a bit of fun, ending the skate with two-on-two battling drills in one corner of the ice.
"That last drill is pretty intense, but a lot of fun, you learn how to battle in tight areas, and you touch up some areas you want to get better at; you try and make it interesting," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien following his squad's up-tempo practice.
The Black & Gold next host the Edmonton Oilers (and former Bruin Andrew Ference) on Saturday at TD Garden in a 1:00 p.m. matinee. After a 3-0 shutout of Carolina, the Oilers come in on their second three-game winning streak of the season.
"You try and create a situation where that energy is going to be back for tomorrow, and I think the biggest thing is if we can play well tomorrow, it's a lot easier to turn the page. If you don't, then you're prolonging the pain," said Julien.
BOSTON, MA - The outcome for the Bruins was a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden on Thursday night.
Afterwards, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien didn't have much trouble explaining why.
"It was three things for me," said the bench boss, during his postgame press conference. "We didn't skate well tonight, we didn't make good decisions, and we didn't execute well. When you have none of those three things, you're not going to win too many hockey games."
"So that was absent in our game tonight, and we certainly didn't pick a good night to play that kind of game, but the results are from a lack of those three things."
The Bruins hadn't trailed in a game for four straight contests. All four of those ended in wins for the Black & Gold. They had been playing with speed, with a strong pace that had led to three consecutive six-goal games.
Just 2:16 into the first period, the Canadiens took a 1-0 lead off Alexi Emelin's shot from the slot with traffic in front that found its way past Tuukka Rask.
"I mean, basically everything," alternate captain Patrice Bergeron sited, on the team's main problem in the defeat. "Execution and our heads weren’t into it. They deserved to win. We didn’t play anywhere near where we need to play to have success in this league."
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins host the Montreal Canadiens for the first time this season Thursday night at TD Garden.
When Boston faced them for the first time on December in Montreal, it was Reilly Smith's first time at the Bell Centre, and first time experiencing the heated Original Six rivalry that has stretched 90 years, and over 700 games.
The forward found out right away what makes this game different than the others.
"It's not the toughest game to get up for," Smith said pregame, following the team's morning skate at TD Garden. "These rivalry games are good to test the team and it should be a pretty emotional game tonight. These rivalry games are huge and they'll come out with their best game, so we have to be expecting that."
"It's always a great matchup, an intense game but also a fun game to be part of," added Patrice Bergeron. "There are only five games before the break now and it's a good challenge for us to wind up on a good note, and we have to take it a game at a time, and tonight's one of them."
The Bruins are 5-0-1 in their past six games, and have won four straight, putting up six goals apiece in their past three wins. Meanwhile, the Habs just picked up a 3-0 win over Carolina to snap a four-game losing streak.
BostonBruins.com - For seven weeks, Chris Kelly remained positive.
"I'm still smiling," he would say, with a smile.
"You can see light at the end of the tunnel - that's what they keep telling me - so I'm going to go by what they're saying."
He finally reached that point on January 28 at TD Garden, when he made his return to the lineup in the Bruins' 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The alternate captain had missed 22 games.
Kelly had been skating for two weeks, and traveled with the Bruins on their recent road trip that saw them pick up a pair of six-goal wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders, but he had to watch from up top in the press box.
"It's always difficult, but you know, there was light at the end of the tunnel," he stressed. "And we had a plan in mind, going into the last few weeks."
"And it would have been nice to play but it was nice just being around the guys."
Injuries can be a lonely time. His return in the Bruins' 6-2 win over Florida, with another four-line offensive outburst, was anything but.
BOSTON, MA - Shawn Thornton may not always score goals, but when he does, they are often beauties.
On Tuesday night at TD Garden, with the Bruins leading 4-2 over the Florida Panthers in the third period, Thornton collected a quick pass from Gregory Campbell just before the blueline in front of the Boston bench.
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The winger then streaked down the left side, cut across the middle, won the battle along the right wing boards against the Panthers' Tom Gilbert and Tomas Kopecky. He threw a shoulder, protected the puck, worked himself free and walked the goal line.
He had his 'Merlot Line' linemate Daniel Paille at the goal mouth for a pass, but had room to walk the goal line, fake a shot on defenseman Brian Campbell, move to his backhand, get around one more Panther and roof it top shelf on former teammate Tim Thomas.
Paille's wide smile - and Thornton's - told it all.
"Honestly, on that goal, Piesy brought a lot of guys to him and created a lot of space for myself. Being on the back door, he was chirping me that I looked him off actually," laughed Thornton.
BOSTON, MA - It may sound like a broken record right now, but the Bruins would be happy for this record to stay in the same groove, and play over and over again.
On Tuesday night at TD Garden, they picked up their third straight six-goal win, this one coming in a 6-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.
The Panthers would push to reduce it to a two-goal deficit, but the Bruins pushed right back.
Shawn Thornton scored what would be deemed one of his best goals in Black & Gold, and David Krejci added a third-period goal off a takeaway top-shelf on Tim Thomas that drew out an extra spirited roar from the crowd. They knew what reaching half a dozen on the scoresheet meant.
Boston's 18 goals in their past three wins have come from 10 different scorers.
"I think everyone’s going. We haven’t really had any passengers from the goalie on out," Thornton said postgame. "I think there’s obviously been a few stretches here, five-ten minutes that we get away from it a little bit, but we regroup pretty quickly and get back to playing our style of game. I think that’s helped us have success for sure."
BOSTON, MA - Chris Kelly is set to make his return to the lineup against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night after missing 22 games.
He broke his right fibula (calf bone) on December 7. After more than seven weeks of recovery, the centerman is more than ready.
"I'm going to play tonight, and I'm excited, first game back in a while, it's almost like training camp again, it's an exciting time," he said a few hours before puck drop at TD Garden.
BostonBruins.com - The Bruins are not usually dialed in to upcoming offensive milestones. Often, they are informed after the fact.
They then take in the moment, and appreciate the accomplishment.
But when Zdeno Chara scored to put the Bruins up 6-3 over the New York Islanders Monday night on Long Island, recording his 500th NHL point in the process, there was a visible happiness from the always intense captain as he threw his arms up in the air.
"The win is obviously big. We knew we were facing a really good team, and a team that is battling for the playoffs, so they gave us basically a good challenge," Chara said following the win that gave the Bruins their third straight victory. "And we were very fortunate to score some goals and control the game at the end."
Chara's goal gave his team full control in the third period. Dougie Hamilton gave the puck to Brad Marchand, who did the work along the boards to maintain puck possession and feed it up to Chara at the right point.
The defenseman did the rest, wristing the puck on net, where it bounced off of goalie Kevin Poulin's blocker and in. Chara's fists pumped towards the rafters, as Marchand, Hamilton, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith all gathered 'round.
It was his 12th goal of the season, the 156th of his career, and point No. 500.