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Game Day: Flyers vs. Bruins

Sunday the Bruins visited Fenway. Today the Flyers visit the B's.

Sunday, 12.13.2009 / 11:55 AM / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop  - BostonBruins.com
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Game Day: Flyers vs. Bruins
6:38 p.m.
The B's lines...
Wheeler-Savard-Bitz
Sturm-Bergeron-Recchi
Sobotka-Krejci-Ryder
Thornton-Begin-Paille
Chara-Morris
Ference-Wideman
Boychuk-Stuart
Thomas
Rask

Tonight's in-game live blog is up and running. Click the link to the right  to join -------->

6:18 p.m.
This morning, Coach Julien talked about games 30-40 for the B's and said that the M.O. has not changed for his club.

"We just have to keep plugging away, because it’s important even with the last game that we lost we still plugged out a point," he said. "As much as it is disappointing, because we thought we played well enough to win at the end of the year, we keep saying how that point becomes very valuable.

"So I think staying in every game and continuing to rack up points [is important], because everything is so packed in the standings that you don’t want to be coming out of games empty handed."

6:10 p.m.
Pregame Pressbox Notes...
STORYLINES: The next time these two teams meet, they will be playing outdoors at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day. But tonight, the TD Garden will play host as the Bruins and Flyers square off for the second time this season. Boston has been among the league’s hottest teams of late, with a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 and 10-2-5 in their last 17. Philadelphia meanwhile has encountered some recent turbulence as they are just 2-8-0 in their last 10.

Following tonight’s tilt, the Bruins will embark on a three game road trip with stops in Chicago, Toronto and Ottawa not play another home game until Tuesday, December 22.

“This is our last home game before we play Atlanta right before Christmas and we have a tough road trip ahead of us,” said Julien. “Without looking ahead, this is a game [that] is a must win if you want to put it that way, we need to make sure we win this one because it is not going to get any easier as we go here.”

FIRST SKATE AT FENWAY: Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, Terry O’Reilly and Bobby Orr will be among the Bruins greats to participate in the “First Skate at Fenway” on Friday, December 18 at 9:30 a.m. at Fenway Park. The participants in the First Skate will all meet at the TD Garden at 8:45 a.m. and head over to the Fenway in a caravan that will consist of trolleys, the Bruins Hummer, and a Zamboni. Also riding in the caravan and participating in the First Skate will be 15 youth hockey players from the Boston area who were selected by the Bruins organization. For the complete list of participants and more details, visit BostonBruins.com.

SANTA’S HELPERS: On Tuesday, December 15, beginning at 1:00 p.m., the entire 2009-10 Boston Bruins roster will continue the Bruins annual toy delivery holiday tradition at seven hospitals throughout Boston. For the full delivery schedule, visit BostonBruins.com.

BRUINS/FLYERS CONNECTIONS: Mark Recchi played seven full seasons and parts of three others in two separate stints in Philly.

STREAKING: Michael Ryder (1-3=4) and David Krejci (2-3=5) each have three game assist/point streaks in progress.

SPECIAL TEAMS WATCH: The Bruins rank 22nd in the NHL on the power play overall (17.9%) and 13th at home (20.6%). They rank tied for 1st on the PK overall (85.7) and 5th at home (86.8%). The Flyers rank 5th on the PP overall (22.5%) and tied for 13th on the road (20.0%). They rank 26th on the PK overall (78.3%) and 23rd on the road (75.8%).

3:24 p.m.
David Krejci is returning to the level of play that he displayed last season when he wowed the NHL with his ability to dictate the pace of play.

"Well, you need that in a centerman, somebody who can slow the play down and move the puck to his wingers," said fellow forward Blake Wheeler. "I think he does a great job of it.

"He’s been successful doing it and I think he can only get better. He had a great year last year...but I think he can still improve and I think he knows that.

"And that’s the exciting thing about him, that 75 points isn’t his ceiling, he can go higher and he can be one of the better players out there every night," he said.

Tuukka Rask spent some time talking about Krejci this morning, as well.

"I think when you look at him, when he has the puck or even when he doesn’t have the puck, he’s so calm about it," said Rask. "His game IQ is so good that he knows what’s going on on the ice and he can make those right decisions."

And although he has earned the nickname "The Matrix" from NESN's Jack Edwards for his ability to slow down the play, Rask said that Krejci's speed is a great asset.

"You know, he looks like he’s not going that fast there, just how he skates, but he’s pretty fast," said the goalie. "And when you’ve got the combination of speed, skill, and hockey IQ, you know, it’s a good package."

Wheeler said that Krejci just adds to the Bruins arsenal up the middle.

"I think all centermen...want the puck on their stick and I think that’s a characteristic that you want to see in a centerman -- somebody that wants to have the puck and bring it up the ice," he said. "[They] distribute it to the wingers when the time is right. So I think they all [of the B's centers] share the characteristic.

"Obviously they’re different players in other senses too, but you know, it’s great to see that they want the puck and they want to come up the ice with it."

Beyond his playmaking abilities, Rask sees a sniper, too.

"Yeah, I keep telling him that he should shoot more, because even though his shot is not the hardest, he’s got the accuracy and he knows where to put it," said Tuukka. "It’s not always the speed of the shot, it’s the accuracy.

"Like if you caught the goalie in a bad position and put it in the right spot, that’s what he can do and he’s really good at it."

Rask also said that David's professionalism is apparent, too.

"I think in Providence he came down there and expected a lot from himself [and wanted] to try to find his game," said Rask of Krejci's 2007-08 season. "I don’t know how long, he stayed there...but he found it.

"He’s been up here for two years, and you know, if he gets into a slump or whatever you want to call it, he knows the way to work out of it and he’s really matured from what I’ve seen."

Recently, he and Michael Ryder have started finding the back of the net pretty frequently. Wheeler said that just bodes well for the Bruins.

"You need balanced scoring throughout the team," said Blake. "That was one thing that made us so successful last year, that we had guys scoring up and down the lineup.

That definitely helps, and you need guys doing that.

"And it was great to see all those guys have a good game doing it [on Saturday and Thursday]," he said.

12:58 p.m.

Postgame on Saturday, Coach Julien admitted that his club had come out of the locker room flat.

That shouldn't happen again tonight -- particularly If Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has anything to say about it.

"I like to be more intense," said the Bruins captain this morning. "I’m a guy who is not going to sit back and be quiet, I like to be involved.

"That’s just me and sometimes I know I have to get the room ready and sometimes, I know there are times, where I have to back off and just be quiet.

"That’s the way it is -- you just have to read the locker room and have a feel about it," he said.

Tonight doesn't seem to be one of those nights when any of the Bruins vets will sit back. Sure, the B's looked very loose during the skate, but after the skate, Coach Julien talked about the Flyers. And it seemed very clear that the Bruins coach isn't taking the Philadelphia squad lightly.

"When you look at their lineup, they are a pretty good team and there is no doubt that with the moves they made this summer that everyone anticipated them to be one of the top teams," he said. "It doesn’t mean that they won’t be there, they are going through some struggles right now they have had some key injuries like everybody else.

"The bottom line is, and I know I keep saying this...but it really is the truth that you can’t just go into games anymore and say you know what this is going to be an easy one.

"It doesn’t exist in this league anymore and that is just the pure truth. You have to be ready every night and you can’t be over confident and you can’t go into games unprepared because every time you do that you end up with a loss," he said.

12:06 p.m.
Thomas. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice following morning skate. This should indicate that he will get the start in goal against the Flyers.

Thomas is 2-1-2 in his last five games, but it should be noted that he played in just five games over the last month while battling an undisclosed injury.

On Saturday night, he dropped a hearbreaker just 19 seconds into overtime as the Islanders sent the B's home with a 3-2 OTL.

Tim's last win came against Tampa Bay on December 2nd, when he made 39 saves against the Bolts as the Bruins took the 4-1 victory.

10:34 a.m.
It looks like everyone is on the ice for pregame skate (except Milan Lucic).

9:07 p.m.
It's a big day at TD Garden.

As noted in today's NHL preview, the Flyers (2-8-0) come into the Winter Classic warmup 1-4 since Peter Laviolette took over the coaching reigns.  On the other hand, the B's are 7-1-2 in their last 10 and have garnered points in 10 of their last 11 games with a 8-1-2 record.

Not to mention that David Krejci and his line have heated up, as well. Over the last three games, Krejci is a 2-3-5 and Michael Ryder is 1-3-4. Vladimir Sobotka added a helper on Saturday night, as well.

Sunday, December 13
6:36 p.m.

BOSTON - DECEMBER 13: Michael Ryder #73 and Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park during the build out of the ice rink for the 2010 Winter Classic on December 13, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
On Sunday and Monday the Bruins enjoy a double dose of prelude to the dream matchup on January 1st.

Tomorrow, the Philadephia Flyers visit the Garden in a Winter Classic preamble, but  today, several members of the Black & Gold -- Daniel Paille, Tuukka Rask, Michael Ryder, Marc Savard and Shawn Thornton -- visited Fenway park to take a look at the construction of the rink.

"You know, just walking in here today it’s unbelievable to think that you’re going to play a hockey game here," said Marc Savard to bostonbruinsTV. "I’ve come down to watch a lot of baseball games, so I’m excited and I can’t wait for that day."

Just a few minutes later Shawn Thornton looked at the field, took a deep breath and said, "I mean, as it gets closer, it’s pretty exciting. Now being here and seeing the stuff go down, it’s -- you know -- it’s here.

"So you get a little bit more amped up for it, I guess," he continued. "But as I was just saying to [NESN's] Naoko [Funayama], it’s another game.

"So enjoy the day but maybe not try to get caught up too much in it. And stay focused because we need the two points at the end of the year."

Savard said it was too early to think about the 2010 Winter Classic in terms of its place in sports history.

"I don’t think I’ve looked at it that way yet, but you know watching the one last year at Wrigley Field...I understood [how exciting] that was, so when I get a chance to do it, it’s something I’m going to cherish and probably look back on forever."

Savard talked about the seasonal setting he would prefer when the puck finally gets dropped in January.

"I think I’d like to see snow at some point," said the Ontario native. "That’d be a lot of fun.

"But, you know, I want it to be not too cold...[with] a little bit of sun.

"Whatever comes I’m ready for it, and I think that’s why we’re having it, you know. Just to be in surprise of whatever happens and to be ready to go."

Shawn Thornton, who has adopted Boston as his home town, has different ideas about a perfect setting.

"I hate winter," said Thornton, unequivocably.

"I love this city, but I hate winter. When I’m all done and retired and hopefully I have enough money in the bank, I will not live in the winter.

"But the city’s so great, you can’t really complain about it too much," he said.

The two men agreed that Boston itself was the perfect place for the outdoor game.

"Obviously, you know, the sports here are tough to beat, you know," said the center. "[Boston is] number one...in the world the way the fans are.

"Having all the great teams that we have, you know, every one of them seems to contend every year. So I think being part of that is special."

Tuukka Rask had his say, here. And Michael Ryder discussed his previous experience playing hockey outside, here.

5:04 p.m.
Just got back from Fenway -- we have plenty of video going up on bostonbruinsTV. Check out Marc Savard talking about the Winter Classic here. Shawn Thornton is here.

12:37 p.m.
On Friday, Dan Rosen wrote about the hard work needed to transform America's most beloved ballpark into a field of icy dreams:
Dan Craig and Don Renzulli, the two men tasked with making the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic as magical the previous two, are comfortable with the plan and confident they can enact every detail on cue.

Hey, they've transformed a near century-old baseball stadium into a modern-day hockey rink before. Who's to say "the Iceman" and "Mr. Events" can't do it again on New Year's Day 2010?

But, wait …

"If you go in with that kind of confidence, you're going to screw something up," NHL Senior Vice President of Events Renzulli told NHL.com late Thursday afternoon from his makeshift office in a storefront along Yawkey Way. "I don't think you should ever be that confident."


You can read more about that and see the architectural rendering of "Fenway Rink" right here.

12:33 p.m.
With the Bruins day off and with my having some space to fill, I'll be heading over to Fenway to see what I can see as far as the rink construction goes.

However, according to NHL.com, Dan Craig -- or the NHL's ice guru -- has Sunday off, too.

On Saturday, Shawn P. Roarke wrote:
Dan Craig doesn't do off days during the Winter Classic build-out, but Sunday might be as close as he will get.

 "It's a working day off," Craig told NHL.com Saturday afternoon as he talked of Sunday's plans. "We're in good shape. Everybody's in really good shape."


Read more and check out Fenway Cam, here.

11:56 a.m.

New York Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson (30) makes a save on a backhand shot by Boston Bruins' Michael Ryder (73) late in the third period of an NHL hockey game at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)
After garnering a point on Long Island, there's no practice for the Bruins today. They'll rest up before taking on the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday evening in the TD Garden.

Some might say that it's a somewhat surprising day off, given the frustrating end to the B's last contest. But despite the final play of the game (a breakaway goal for Frans Nielsen off a B's miscue), Coach Julien blamed one man for the Bruins 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday -- former UMass-Lowell standout goalie, Dwayne Roloson.

And in the aftermath of the Bruins second loss to the Isles this season Julien had trouble finding fault with his club's effort.

"I thought we did everything pretty well for a road game," said Coach Julien to the gathered press in Uniondale. "Their goaltender was at his best and made a lot of big saves and we just couldn't [hold] that lead.

"Then, one mistake in overtime and it is in our net."

Sometimes teams simply run into a hot goalie was the explanation that the B's bench boss gave the press.

"I mean, what more can you do?" Julien said. "You've got to try and score some goals and I think we created those chances and played that third period well.

"And, like I said, it came down to one little mistake."

Those who watched the game at Nassau Memorial Coliseum or at home on NESN did see the Bruins come out of the gate a little flat.

Julien agreed with that assessment, but said the horizontal RPM's were short-lived.

"We had a bit of a slow start," said Julien. "The first half of that first period there, we weren't quite on top of our game, and then we started picking up the momentum in that second half

"And from there on in, I really felt we were the better team."

Just looking at the stats, it was clear to see which team held sway for the final 50 minutes of regulation. Boston outshot New York 32-19 and 23-11 in the second and third period.

"We had a couple of good chances, but again, the few chances we had...their goaltender was making the big saves," said the Bruins head coach. "A lot of it was him being good -- and he had a little luck -- all good goaltenders have that.

"But I thought he was the difference tonight. He was the difference in the game."

Julien was not taking anything from the Islanders, but he simply couldn't fault the Black & Gold.

"They're obviously pleased with the win, but I think from our end of it, it's hard to criticize your team with that type of effort.

"It was one of those nights where, as hard as we tried to score goals, [Roloson] just stood tall.

Krejci line heats up...
Michael Ryder and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist on Saturday, and Vladimir Sobotka added an helper as Krejci's trio showed their stuff.

"Ryder was playing well," said Julien when asked about his double shifting the winger late in the game. "I thought he was having a good game and I wanted to give him some extra ice time to keep him going.

"[Michael made] great play [on the Krejci goal] and even his goal was a typical Ryder goal; a quick release.

"I thought that line played really well tonight...Krejci and Ryder, especially, those two were on top of their game."

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