Bruins close out Cup party with White House visit

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Bruins close out Cup party with White House visit

WASHINGTON, D.C. Aside from Tim Thomas decision to use the afternoon as a political bully pulpit, the Bruins had a presidentially good time during a Monday afternoon visit to the White House as reigning Stanley Cup champs. The players, coaches, management, ownership and training staff aside from Thomas as the lone absentee from this years team and Michael Ryder due to commitments with the Dallas Stars took in a 45-minute private tour of the presidential home on Pennsylvania Ave. before standing on the stage as the guests of presidential honor in the East Wing.

There have been so many good memories from winning the Cup, but a chance to come to the White House is definitely up there, said Patrice Bergeron. I never thought Id be able to do that. Now Im here. Were all here and we all met the President together just like we all won the Cup together. It was special being able to do that today.

President Barack Obama spoke for a few minutes and covered all the bases with a speech tailored around the Black and Gold just one day before his State of the Union Address: he cracked a joke about the Bs drinking exploits after racking up the gigantic bill tab from Foxwoods last summer, dropped a Brad Marchand nickname into the proceedings with the under-utilized Little Ball of Hate and made reference to the thorough domination of the Boston sports scene.

Last year, this team endured a long season, and an even longer playoff. They are the first team in NHLhistory to win three full seven-game series," said Obama amid a throng of photographers, reporters and onlookers including Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in the East Wing audience. "They had some pretty long playoff beards to show for it. I appreciate them looking a little more clean-cut as they come here today.

"Brad Marchand went into the season on the fourth line, but the Little Ball of Hate shrugged off the rookie jitters -- what's up with that nickname, man?" Obama asked before turning to a red-faced Marchand being nudged on by Zdeno Chara, "and scored five goals in the last five games of the final series.

A couple of other greatest hits from the Obama speech that included references to Marchand, Nathan Horton, Thomas, Mark Recchi and Zdeno Chara:

Nathan Horton went down hard in Game 3 of the Finals but that didnt stop him from doing everything he could to help them win. He even brought some Boston water all the way to Vancouver and poured it on the ice before the decisive Game 7 . . . so Beantown delivered.

There is no better image of the Bruins dominance than the tallest player in NHL history. Ill let you guess which one that is. Zdeno Chara hoisted the Cup high above the ice in Vancouver and Im sure thats the highest that the Stanley Cup has ever been. This Stanley Cup was won as much by defense as it was by offense and Tim Thomas posted two shutouts in the Stanley Cup Finals. He set an all-time record for saves in the postseason and he also had the honor of being only the second American to ever be recognized as the Stanley Cup playoffs MVP.

They overcame injuries and they overcame long odds. The wise old man of the team Mark Recchi summed up the season by saying, We played together, we drank together." Obama couldnt resist asking Well, how much did you drink? before going back to the Rex quote "we lost together and we never wavered.

Obama also gave some love for the Boston Bruins Foundation that raised over 7 million in its charitable endeavors over the years since its inception, and got some well-rounded applause.

It was nearly a perfect turn for the Bruins on an off-day in the nations capital between a Sunday shootout win over the Flyers and a Tuesday night tilt against the Washington Capitals finishing out the pre-All-Star break portion of the schedule. Marchand was genuinely flattered at the attention he received from the Commander in Chief, and many of the Bruins from the Slovakian captain to the Quebecois heart and soul leader of the team appreciated how unique the White House experience turned out to be.

That doesnt happen everyday . . . to have the President single you out. Its a cool thing to have happened, said Marchand. I definitely didnt expect it, but it was very enjoyable and something Ill always remember. They all saw Obama looking around for me and Zee was pretty quick to give me a shove toward him.

It was a little embarrassing at the time, but it was cool. The boys have been all over me because I got a little red-faced especially being there in the front row. Its all in good fun.

Aside from Marchand again providing some comic relief to the formal setting, the January stop at the White House with the Cup in tow also finally, officially closes the book on last years accomplishments. Several times the Bruins have said this is the last time theyll be in the same room with the Cup unless they win it again.

But this is truly the case after visiting with Obama.

Really.

Theyre sure of it.

This actually is the conclusion of our Stanley Cup celebration. While this is great, its also the end, said Chiarelli. We all see the history in this place. I really liked the President. He seems very down to earth. He talked to a bunch of us in the receiving line and he seems like a guy that genuinely loves sports. He just seems like a good guy.

With another once-in-a-lifetime experience now behind them after spending the day relaxing with Obama in the presidents house, the Bruins will move on to the business of being humble hockey players again on Tuesday.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."