Bruins

Bruins ready for a rumble at Madison Square Garden

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Bruins ready for a rumble at Madison Square Garden

WILMINGTON, MA Just three days after ruining the start to their season by handily tossing them a bitter defeat before they were demoralized by the Pittsburgh Penguins on their own home ice, the Bruins know that the Rangers wont be a red-faced bunch of Blueshirts on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Theyre fully prepared for the hornets nest effect waiting for them at Madison Square Garden and know the urgency will be there for a New York team thats now 0-2-0 in a shortened campaign where a bad start could be fatal.

We know their season hasnt started the way they wanted to, so theyre going to come at us with everything theyve got, said Milan Lucic as the Bruins finished up Tuesday practice at Ristuccia Arena before boarding their charter flight for New York City. Theyre a proud team and weve had some great battles over the last few years. We expect nothing less tomorrow night.

This is the first time that weve started the season 2-0-0 since Ive been here, so we want to keep it going. Were looking to put away what weve already done, and then start all over again every time we drop the puck.

In fact it's the Bruins best start in 11 years dating back to the 2001-02 edition of the Black and Gold that started off 3-0-0 on the season -- and boasted current assistant general manager Don Sweeney among it's defensemen corps and had the inimitable Byron Dafoe between the pipes.

Its difficult to explain whats going on in New York beyond some key players that simply dont appear like they were ready to begin the season. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was pulled from the Penguins loss, the first time that has happened since October 22, 2011 in Edmonton when the Swedish puck-stopper was having equipment issues, and didnt look sharp last weekend against the Bruins either.

Rick Nash has points in each of his first two games for the Rangers, but its clear the old chemistry isnt quite there yet for a team that won the Eastern Conference and marched to the conference finals last season. With the Bruins feeling on top of the world after a 2-0-0 start at home and the Rangers already feeling the heat while struggling with 4 percent of their season already complete, it should the same kind of playoff atmosphere that kicked up at TD Garden on Saturday night.

Will the Rangers come out with more urgency?

I dont think they will, I know they will, said Bruins coach Claude Julien. When youre that type of team and youre put in that kind of position, you would expect the very best out of them tomorrow.

Its not an easy building to play and weve had our fair share of tough games there over the years. So were expecting a challenge. But nonetheless its an opportunity for us to go into their building and play the best New York team that theyve been so far this season. It will be a really tough test and well be up to it.

Heart-and-soul players like Ryan Callahan and Ryan McDonagh will have their mean faces on, the defense should be paying much more attention to detail after allowing nine goals in their first two games and pride should certainly be kicking in for Lundqvist, he of the .865 save percentage two games into the wild, wacky 48-game regular season.

So put Saturday nights win in the books as a nice opening statement and get ready for the kind of Wednesday night Round 2 that Madison Square Garden has seen its share of in its 45-year history.

Rask helped off ice at Bruins practice after collision

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Rask helped off ice at Bruins practice after collision

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask had to be helped off the ice midway through practice Wednesday when it appeared rookie Anders Bjork crashed hard into the Bruins No. 1 goaltender in a drill. 

Coach Bruce Cassidy didn't have much in the way of an encouraging update on Rask following practice: "He left early. We had a line rush drill where there was obviously contact around the net. He's being evaluated. Hopefully, he's fine, but we don't know anything until he gets checked out."

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Rask never returned in what looked like another streak of bad luck for the B’s. Rask is off to a slow start at 1-3-0, with a 3.30 goals-against average and .882 save percentage, but Boston can ill afford to lose their top goalie right now.

The Bruins continue to look for the right mix of players at the start of the season and they’ve called up a couple of forwards off to hot starts in Providence for a look.

Big, skilled Slovakian winger Peter Cehlarik and AHL scoring champ Kenny Agostino have both been called up while it looks like some struggling NHL veterans, perhaps Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano, might be hitting the pine.

The two call-ups, along with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson were off to a red-hot start in Providence: Agostino leads Providence with two goals and five assists for seven points (tied for third in AHL) with a plus-four rating in three games this season. Cehlarik is second on the team with two goals and three assists for five points with a plus-three rating in three games with Providence.

Patrice Bergeron was again wearing the maroon no-contact jersey at practice on Wednesday while participating in line drills, and it would appear it’s going to be a stretch for him to be available vs. the Canucks. Adam McQuaid returned to practice on Wednesday, so Ryan Spooner was the only injured Bruins regular that wasn’t able to suit up and practice with the team.

Tuukka Rask had to be helped off the ice midway through practice when it looked like Anders Bjork crashed hard into the Bruins No. 1 goaltender in a drill. Rask never returned in what looked like another streak of bad luck for the B’s. Rask is off to a slow start at 1-3-0, with a 3.30 goals-against average and .882 save percentage, but Boston can ill afford to lose their top goalie right now.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Wednesday afternoon’s practice with it looking like David Backes might be up for a possible return on Thursday:  
 
Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak
Schaller-Kuraly-Backes
Cehlarik-Nash-Agostino
 
Beleskey-White-Vatrano
 
Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Miller-Postma
McQuaid
 
Rask
Khudobin
 

Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

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Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

BRIGHTON -- While there will clearly need to be sign-offs from the medical staff, the Bruins aren’t ruling out a return from David Backes for Thursday night’s game vs. the Vancouver Canucks.

Both Backes and Patrice Bergeron returned to Bruins practice with the rest of their teammates on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, but it was only the 33-year-old Backes that practiced fully without any limitations.

“He skated a little while we were away and a full practice today, so we’ll consult with the medical staff going forward with his plan,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “Potentially he could be an option for Thursday, and I think that should sort itself out in the next couple of days. We’re no different than anybody else, right? We’d like to have our full complement, and some of the guys we’re missing are glue guys that could really add that element to some of the kinds of games that got away from us.”

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After the team practice, Backes said that he’s been skating for the last four days and that he’s lost about 10 pounds over the last couple of weeks while adjusting to the medication and dietary treatments for diverticulitis. It wasn’t a complete shock to Backes given some of his family medical history, but he wasn’t expecting anything like that to hit him in the prime of his professional athletic career at just 34 years old.

“I have a family history of it, but this is kind of unfortunate timing and unfortunate circumstances. Hopefully I take care of this, get it behind me and not have to ever think about it again,” said Backes. “The first couple of days it was tough to just stand up straight or do anything, and then you’re on a ‘no exercise’ regimen for six or seven days. So progress . . . certainly. A return . . . we’ll see. Long-term prognosis we’ll have to discuss with the really smart guys.

“You don’t have much appetite, to deal with pain you take a painkiller and then that slows down digestion and just makes it even worse. So you’re stuck there…and it really drains your energy. I was on a liquid diet there for a few days and lost about 10 pounds. I don’t suggest that as a crash diet for anybody.”

He’s come a long way from being stuck in a Mass General hospital bed during Bruins opening night against the Nashville Predators, and Backes is hoping he’ll be all the way back to playing sooner rather than later. The Bruins right winger skated in a third line spot with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller on Tuesday, and said he’s actually even consulted a bit with former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light, who battled his own stomach issues with Crohn’s Disease during his NFL career.

“I was like a kid in a candy store before practice. You have that carrot of Game 1 dangled in front of you and then taken away, and finally you’re back with the guys on the ice after they’ve been gone a week. Knowing what the results have been you want to interject a little energy out there while knowing that we’ve got 77 games left to establish ourselves, and find our game,” said Backes. “I felt good out there and it was nice to be back on the ice. I was smiling most of the day knowing that I’ll hopefully be playing some ice hockey in the future.

“We’re working to get that strength back and to return me to a productive member of this hockey team, which is going to be on the upswing here shortly. It’s not just due to me, but because guys are putting work in as a group. I’m trying to be as educated about it as I can, so I can be available as often as possible and as productive as possible when I am available.”

There are medical hurdles that need to be traversed by Backes before he can return, but once it becomes a matter of toughness and grit then he’ll be suiting up again for the Black and Gold, and that moment might be coming soon.

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