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Hibernation is Over...

The Boston Bruins return tonight.

Thursday, 10.01.2009 / 11:54 AM / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop  - BostonBruins.com
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Hibernation is Over...
10/01 vs. Washington: Rosters (PDF)
10/01 vs. Washington: Game Notes (PDF)
10/01 vs. Washington: Pregame (PDF)

6:41 p.m.
Time to live blog. See you over there.

6:37 p.m.
The B's lines look like this:
Lucic-Savard-Sturm
Wheeler-Krejci-Ryder
Recchi-Bergeron-Kobasew
Thornton-Begin-Bitz
Chara-Morris
Ference-Wideman
Stuart-Hunwick
Thomas
Rask

This morning, Washingtonpost.com's Tarik El-Bashir had the Caps lines as:
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin
Laich-Morrison-Knuble
Laing-Steckel-Clark
Kane-Gordon-Bradley
Morrisonn-Green
Poti-Jurcina
Erskine-Pothier
Theodore
Varlamov

6:28 p.m.
It's Theodore vs. Thomas. Look for the lines in a few.

5:03 p.m.
Blake Wheeler picked up the keep it simple theme, too.

"Well, you just go out and play the game," said ^26. "I think that was what made us so successful last year -- we kept everything very simple, worried about each game kind of as it came, worried about it one by one and never really worried about anything else.

"[It's] what’s in our locker room and what we have to control. So as long as you just worry about the things that are in your control, things that you can do on a nightly basis and that makes the game pretty simple and it’s going to give you a better chance of succeeding."

I asked if having a year under his belt made it easier or harder to keep himself calm.

"I think sometimes when you come to the league you’re not necessarily thinking, you’re just going out and playing," he said. "I think that’s a definite asset when you’re out there and I think the more you get into the league maybe the more you expect of yourself so that can kind of set you back a bit.

"But I think you learn how to manage those expectations and just to go back to just playing the game and not worrying about the bounce of the puck.

"You’re going to score goals maybe you shouldn’t and some are not going to go in that you should score, so that’s part of hockey and you just have to take it as it comes."

4:55 p.m.
October's schedule wallpaper is up. Click here.

4:27 p.m.
Thomas
Tonight's probable starter, Tim Thomas, talked about the change in atmosphere he's witnessed around the Garden since he arrived in Boston.

"It means that we’ve come a long way since a few years ago," said Tim. "But we just have to break it down and play on a night-to-night basis.

"It’s a long season, 82 games, and we would love to have a good start here tonight."

Thomas said he won't know what kind of nerves he will face going into tonight's contest.

"It’s hard for me to answer because that stuff doesn’t kick in for me until like five o’clock tonight when we come back into the locker room," he said. "So I don’t really know how much excitement or nervousness there will be."

Thomas is not changing his routine, though.

"It’s the same," said Thomas.  "Morning skate, [then] we’ll have our lunch here.

"I’ll go home, take a nap, get up, have a coffee on my way back into the rink and be back into the locker room by five."

Thomas said the Bruins will spend their time focusing on their opponent.

"You have to [prepare] yourself for the team that you’re playing against," he said. "You have to think about who you’re playing and you’ve got Ovechkin over there.

"So you have to be ready, especially as a goalie. You’re going to be challenged tonight."

4:20 p.m.
Nice to see so many "True Believers" waiting to get into Fan Fest. Thank you to everyone who said hello!

3:10 p.m.
Marc Savard, for one, couldn't hide his excitement regarding tonight.

"It’s like the first game you ever played in the league," he said. "It always feels like that way starting out the year so I know we’ll be excited, I’m sure we’ll have our fans behind us, we’re going to try and have some fun.

"It always gives a little boost to yourself and to your teammates."

And what about being thrown right into the fire (so to speak) against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

"Yeah, we’re excited for this challenge," said Savard. "They’re going to have a great hockey club this year and I feel the same about ours, so it’s going to be a good battle and hopefully we can win it."

Like many of his teammates, Savard said that the B's can't try to be fancy against their Eastern Conference rivals.

"I think we'll try to just play a simple game against them," he said. "We didn’t want to get into the run and gun hockey because when you get into that, those guys start taking over.

"So we just have to keep it simple, play our system and we should be fine tonight."

2:48 p.m.
Julien on Sobotka
Claude Julien was asked about Vladimir Sobotka's assignment to Providence.

"Here’s a guy that played well for us down the stretch," began Julien. "He got better as [training camp] went on.

"And again, there are decisions that have to be made by organizations all due to CBA, Cap issues, and everything else.

"So you know, it is unfortunate for players, and it is unfortunate to him.

"I would like to have him on our team and so would Peter [Chiarelli], to say the least. Unfortunately we have to make some decisions that better the hockey club," he said.

Julien reiterated Sobotka's worth to the Bruins

"We are carrying 21 players, and without a doubt if we could carry 22 he would certainly be here," he said. "At the same time he is going to go down there and either play a lot or hopefully we will see him back soon."

Julien echoed his GM when he said that in all likelihood Sobotka would have started the season with Boston had the club begun the season on the road.

1:23 p.m.
Julien
Head coach Claude Julien sounded just a little relieved this morning.

"Actually we are all excited about it, and it's nice to get it going," said Julien of finally starting the regular season. "And it will be a different challenge this year starting at home, verses being on the road for the first five games."

Looking back, Julien said he wished he could have packed some more things into the club's short training camp.

"The challenges we have talked about over the past couple of days, probably wishing that we could have had a little more time to practice with your real team, would have helped," said the coach. "But most of the teams in the league have gone through a similar situation so we just have to make up for it with some smart hard work.

"We need to grind it out for the first few games here."

Like his players, Julien indicated that he knows his Bruins are wearing a target.

"There is added pressure to this hockey club this year with the fact that we probably are in a better position to start the season than we were last year, as far as predictions are concerned," he said. "Those are situations that are created by the results of last year and we have to be able to handle those situations and good teams always do."

It does help, however, that Marco Sturm, David Krejci and Steve Begin are in game shape and will be ready to play right off the bat.

"All three of those guys are ready to go tonight," said Julien. "So we will see David in for the first time, he feels good and so do Marco and Begin."

12:35 p.m.
Chiarelli
GM Peter Chiarelli also spoke about re-signing Assistant GM Jim Benning to an extension.

"Well he’s obviously a tremendous employee and we want to keep him around," he said. "He’s my right hand man on a lot of issues. As I said in my statement we were fortunate to get him when we did in ’06 and we’re fortunate to retain him.

"An Assistant General Manager is one step, one very close step, short of being a GM. They weigh in heavily on all decisions so you know Jimmy can tell you we go through the trenches together to make decisions.

"Obviously it’s a big step to getting him in the mix for the foreseeable future."

Benning took the time to thank some people for helping him excel.

"I’d like to thank Peter [Chiarelli] and the Boston Bruins for giving me the opportunity to continue working with the team," he said. "I’d like to thank Cam [Neely] and Donny [Sweeney] for teaching what it means to be a Boston Bruin and the type of players we need in this market place.

"Finally, I’d to acknowledge all the hard work that our pro and amateur scouts have done to help us to get to where we are at right now."

Asked how he had met Benning, Chiarelli told a familiar tale -- one that meandered from Cambridge to Canada.

"I had met Jimmy [Benning] along the way a little bit when I was working in Ottawa [but] I met him first hand through my college roommate who is Jimmy’s brother, Mark [Benning]," he said. "I roomed with [Mark] on the road when we played together.

"I know the Benning family quite well...and then Jim had worked with John Muckler and we kind of shared stories along the way."

But then the GM smiled and said, "We can’t tell you those stories, ‘Muck’ [John Muckler] wouldn’t appreciate that."

12:21 p.m.
Salary Cap Sidelines Sobotka

Sobotka
This morning, Peter Chiarelli spoke about assigning forward Vladimir Sobotka to providence.

"It just preserves [cap] space going forward," said the GM. "Going with a roster of 21 versus 22, there’s some positives, there’s some negatives.

"Part of our job is to preserve cap space and that was part of the issue."

Chiarelli said that if the Bruins had gone on the road they probably would have started with 22 players on the active roster.

"We all spoke to Vladie including Claude [Julien]," added the Bruins GM. "He was upset. He understood, but he was upset.

"But these things happen.

"He’s a good competitor and I think he showed in the second half of his camp that he can play at this level and you’ll be seeing him again."

11:57 a.m.

What we know...
Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice this morning. He should be the starter in goal. With the assignment of the Vladimir Sobotka, the Bruins have 12 forwards on the roster -- so, Sturm, Begin and Krejci will all be playing tonight.

And if you are following along @NHLBruins you already know all of this because I can update instantly via my BlackBerry!

Keep it here for coverage of Coach Julien's press conference right here in the blog. Meanwhile, over at bostonbruinsTV.com they will have video from inside the locker room straight away!

Dyan Lebourdais contributed to this blog.

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