Bruins

Notes: Bruins like their chances next season

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Notes: Bruins like their chances next season

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Even with the Stanley Cup in their possession for the summer, many of the Bruins are starting to think about next season and training camp, which is only a few months away.

With just about 2 12 months to rest, recharge and ramp up, there'll be a lot of challenges for a team that will be the top target for everyone in the NHL. The Bruins will be attempting to avoid the Stanley Cup hangover that undoubtedly hampered the Chicago Blackhawks this season.

Also, the B's were relatively healthy this season. Playing an additional two months, and 25 playoff games, has to take a toll on a players body, and the Bruins will find exactly how much when they regroup in September.

But they're looking forward to the challenge.

This is exciting, said Patrice Bergeron. Its a lot of fun. We won the Cup, but once you have that taste you want it some more. In the room, on the plane and on the ice you want to do it again because its so amazing and surreal. Its almost the same team next year, so its very exciting and the future for us is very bright.

Coach Claude Julien said having the same cast of characters minus perhaps one or two will greatly enhance the Bs chances of defending their championship. Keeping title teams together is a rarity in the NHL salary-cap era; as an example, everyone watched the Blackhawks get decimated by trades and free agency. But that won't be the case in Boston, as most of the team's core is tied up in long-term contracts.

I personally like that as a coach," Julien said of keeping the bulk of the roster intact. "You are getting your team back . . . As a coach, when you win the Cup and you know that a big majority of your team is coming back, you have to be happy.

"If you asked Chicago last year, they would have loved to have kept their team together. They couldnt, but if they could then they would have. When you build a championship team, you like having those guys back.

Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs spoke prior to the player availability on Sunday, and was asked if he was considering putting out an executive mandate that the Bruins become the first team in nearly 15 years to repeat as Stanley Cup champs again next season.

Its a great idea," he said. "To get this done this year was an incredible, incredible experience. Weve become so proud of the people that represent you, we had a lot of good fortunes and a lot of good luck here. This is an incredibly durable, dedicated group of young men. The leadership that Claude showed them, that general manager Peter Chiarelli, and team president Cam Neely, my son Charlie Jacobs, the team's principal owner played a role, a strong role in this, helping put this group together. It just validates what strong leadership can do in bringing this to fruition.

We had a lot of talent, but without leadership, it wont happen. Im talking about leadership on the ice as well as off the ice, I know we had folks off the ice, but take Chara, who really melded this group around him and around his personality. You really had to love these guys, the durability.

"I made the observation that this was not a sprint. This was a long race, if you think about it started in Prague during the season-opening series, which is one of the most unlikely places for the players, to meld together and create a fellowship. Its unique but my experience, in Prague, was special for me personally. Then 107 games, to wind up in a place like Vancouver, it was very, very special. Its the trip of a lifetime. I would love to repeat it, I would love to repeat it, but I feel so fortunate to have gotten there.

A group of about half the Bruins were going to get tattoos commemorating the Stanley Cup championship won by the team, and defenseman Andrew Ference flew in his tattoo specialist from Calgary to assist the team-wide exercise. Several of the Bruins got tattoos with Stanley Cup Champion, Boston Bruins, 06.05.11. in three lines and Mark Recchi was planning to get all three Stanley Cups won with three different teams in one grand design on his body.

He always wanted to come here and do his thing, so he said if you guys ever win, Ill come down and tat all you guys up, said Ference. Ive seen him every year since and he tells me the same thing every year. So I sent him a quick e-mail after we won and he got on a plane and here he is.

Definitely different things, you know, some guys are just getting some writing, some guys are getting the Spoked B, the Cup and B combo or something like that. I think Rex is getting all of his done, all of his past Stanley Cups.

Nathan Horton said he wont need surgery on his separated shoulder suffered during the Tampa Bay series, and that the concussion symptoms have abated over the last few days. Horton said he was suffering from headaches during Games 6 and 7 of the Cup Finals, but that the noise and action surrounding the rolling rally parade didnt bother him in the least.

Its not fun to be injured, but youre in the Stanley Cup Finals and youre playing the playoffs. Thats what people do in the playoffs, said Horton. They play through injuries and we definitely had a lot of guys on our team with injuries. But being injured again with a concussion, it was tough to watch. It was such a good feeling when we won. I felt like I was on the ice no matter what.

"Even every time we won, we have such great teammates. Injuries happen during the playoffs and its just to be part of it and to be part of a team when youre not playing, I felt like I played Game 7. So its a good feeling.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Predators kicking it into gear

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Morning Skate: Predators kicking it into gear

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while anticpating the turkey leftovers, ready for the taking.
 
-- NHL referee Wes McCauley is at it again, this time going with a fun no-goal call after having some trouble with his microphone.
 
-- After getting humbled on Opening Night by the Bruins, the Nashville Predators are starting to get on a roll.

-- NBC Pro Hockey Talk has Kyle Turris excelling for the Predators, and Matt Duchene very much still stuck in neutral for the Ottawa Senators.

-- NHL stars go through their favorite traditions, and what they enjoy is a game that’s full of routine, superstition and tradition.
  
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ray Ferraro says “it looks rotten” with the Edmonton Oilers as they continue to struggle out of the starting gate.
 
-- Larry Brooks goes through an all-time ranking of the general managers for the New York Rangers, and it’s an illustrious list.

-- The Vegas Golden Knights could make the playoffs in their very first season, and are absolutely far ahead of expectations for a new expansion team.
 
-- For something completely different: Wild turkeys are making a major comeback in Massachusetts after being all but extinct here.
 

Even in their struggles, Bruins have reason(s) to be thankful

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Even in their struggles, Bruins have reason(s) to be thankful

Thanksgiving in the United States has become an important holiday in NHL circles because it provides a regular-season marker that allows teams to gauge their playoff viability. Roughly 75 percent of teams in a playoff spot at Turkey Day end up qualifying for the postseason, and teams within a handful of points of a playoff spot retain a pretty decent chance of pushing their way in. 

But Thanksgiving is also a great time for teams like the Bruins to also give thanks, just like everybody else, while they’re passing the turkey, the stuffing and the mashed potatoes.

Given that it’s the time of being thankful ahead of the holiday season, here is this humble hockey writer’s annual list of things that each member of the Bruins has to be thankful for as they sit down to enjoy a tryptophan-induced nap:
 
David Pastrnak – The 21-year-old is still thankful for the big bucks he signed for this fall . . . $40 million, to be exact. That should keep him in $8 sushi meals at the mall food court for as long as he wants them.
 
Brad Marchand –Marchand is thankful he finally got bumped up to the top power-play unit over the last couple of seasons, after Claude Julien really dragged his feet putting him there. Eleven power-play goals and 29 power-play points in his last 94 games certainly tell the story.
 
Patrice Bergeron – Bergeron is happy and thankful that he’s regained his health after missing the start this season, and that he’s been able to adequately handle the 21:01 of ice time he’s averaging per game.
 
Torey Krug – Krug is thankful he can again eat a nice steak dinner after being forced to have his food come out of a blender for months after fracturing his jaw during the preseason. Of course, that goes for a nice turkey dinner on Thanksgiving as well.
 
Danton Heinen – The 22-year-old is thankful for second chances after he whiffed during an eight-game audition last season in his first year of pro hockey. He’s making up for it by cementing a role with the Bruins this season now that he’s stronger, faster and a little more confident with the puck.
 
Charlie McAvoy – The 19-year-old defenseman is thankful he decided to leave BU after his sophomore season, making the very correct deduction that he was way more than ready for the NHL. If he plays his cards right, he may be thankful at the end of the season for a Calder Trophy.
 
Anders Bjork – The rookie is thankful that the B’s will be playing the Chicago Blackhawks in the Winter Classic at his alma mater, Notre Dame, next season. He may get to live out a lifelong dream of playing a hockey game on that iconic football field.
 
Jake DeBrusk – The rookie left winger is thankful that he got to score his first NHL goal in front of his family and his teary-eyed dad, Louie, during a pretty cool opening-night win over the Nashville Predators.
 
Tim Schaller – The New Hampshire native is thankful to be playing for his hometown hockey team, of course, but he’s more than just a local boy made good. Tim Schaller has been a positive factor for the bottom-6 with his size, speed and intermittent offense.
 
Zdeno Chara – The captain is thankful that both he and his employer agree that the 40-year-old D-man should continue playing for the Bruins beyond this season. Now it’s just a matter of agreeing on a contract at some point.
 
David Krejci – The playmaking center is thankful his cranky back has loosened up enough for him to get back in the lineup. Now the Bruins and their fans would be thankful if the points would start to follow now that he’s healthy enough to play.
 
Riley Nash – The forward is thankful that the B's thought enough of him to protect him in the expansion draft last summer, a show of commitment to a versatile, smart player who does a lot of little things well.
 
Sean Kuraly – The young center is thankful that he hasn’t yet hurt himself taking the jumping, flying and leaping goal celebrations that he’s quickly becoming known for.
 
Kevan Miller – The defenseman is thankful he’s back playing his natural right side for the most part after being pushed into left-side duty for much of the first couple of months this season.
 
Brandon Carlo – The second-year defenseman is thankful to still be on the Bruins, and not used as possible trade collateral in a possible Matt Duchene deal that was discussed quite a bit last year and through the summer.
 
Jordan Szwarz – The 26-year-old forward is thankful for another NHL opportunity in Boston after he’d gone a couple of years without a sniff during his time in the Arizona Coyotes organization after some early games with them.
 
Frank Vatrano – The Bruins forward and East Longmeadow native should frankly be happy that he’s still in the NHL given the training camp and early season he had with the Bruins. He’s scored a couple of goals and played well lately, so he has to hope that he’s pushed through the bad times.
 
Noel Acciari – The Providence College alum is happy to be healthy again after missing a month with a broken finger, and he’s proven that by going right back to the heavy hitting, shot-blocking tough kid that he’s always been.
 
Ryan Spooner – The speedy playmaker is thankful to be over his torn groin. He needs a strong season in order to once, and for all, show exactly what he could be to the Bruins, or some other team, at the NHL level.
 
Adam McQuaid – The veteran defenseman is thankful that he wasn’t selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft last summer, and instead continues to be a strong, robust presence in the D-zone when healthy.
 
David Backes – The 33-year-old forward is thankful to be back skating again after a couple of painful  bouts with diverticulitis that left him in surgery with 10 inches of his colon being removed. I'm still amazed that he returned to practice as quickly as he did, but he is a hockey player after all.
 
Paul Postma – The  D-man is thankful to be getting a second chance with another organization after spending his entire career with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets.
 
Matt Beleskey – The winger is thankful that he’s getting a chance to bounce back from last year’s down season, but so far the zero points and minus-7 rating in 13 games leave lots of room for improvement.
 
Tuukka Rask – The No. 1 goaltender is thankful for all the rest he’s getting in the first half of the season, which should presumably make him healthy, fresh and strong down the stretch this season. That is, if he can actually get back in touch with a game that sees him with a turkey-like .897 save percentage right now.  
 
Anton Khudobin – The backup netminder is thankful he’s been given a chance to run with things this season as he’s already twice had a chance to start three games in a row after struggling to gain regular playing time last season.
 
Bruce Cassidy – The coach is thankful for another shot behind an NHL bench 13 years after the first one, and he’s making the most of it with a rag-tag group beset by injuries and youth right now.
 
Don Sweeney – The general manager is thankful the team is still within a handful of points of a playoff spot after everything that went wrong in the first couple of months.
 
Cam Neely – The tean president is thankful for the overwhelming talent within their youth movement and the strong, loyal fan base that backs this team no matter what. But it could be a bit of a rough ride ahead, as the B's rank fourth among the big four Boston sports teams, given how good, deep and close to championship-caliber the others are right now. 

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