Boston Bruins

Bruins tired of talking about the past

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Bruins tired of talking about the past

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The ad showed the frantic final seconds of an on-ice battle. It was the Philadelphia Flyers, a puck-clear away from the Eastern Conference Finals. Then the ad cut to the newly eliminated Boston Bruins. They skated back to their bench. They flew home.

"WATCH," the TV instructed, "AS THE BRUINS LOOK FOR REVENGE AGAINST THE PHILADELPHIA FLYERS IN THEIR FIRST MEETING SINCE BOSTON'S STUNNING DEFEAT IN THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS." Or something like that.

Pregame stories trumpeted the same scene, each promising a bloodthirsty Bruins team "haunted by their epic seven-game setback" and ready for a "rematch."

The ad ran before the Bruins' game in Philadelphia on Dec. 1. But that wasn't all. Not a single mention of that game, in any medium, failed to tie it to last season's collapse.

Understandable.

Of course the Bruins wanted to punish the team who beat them. They confirmed it every single time they were asked. They were pissed off. They were both unwilling and unable to forget.

And that Wednesday night, 10 days ago, they skated into the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and took what they could get: A 3-0 win. Two points. Some satisfaction.

Yet meeting the Flyers on home turf tonight will be an even more of a headhunt, right? Go get that chum bucket! Roll out the sad-Bear commercials! Dip those game previews in venom!

For us. But for them? Are the Bruins sick of the media's 2010 Revenge storyboard and ready to move on?

"Yes,'' Mark Recchi said Friday. "That was last year. It's over, it's done with. It's a new season."

The tired winger's eyes were clear when he spoke. He had just practiced on the TD Garden ice for an hour on what would normally be an off-day. It was prep for Saturday night's fight, the third game in five days. Where there can be signs of physical exhaustion in a locker room the mental strain can only be imagined.

But Recchi took the time to make sure he was perfectly understood.

"We have to learn from it, obviously. But it's over,'' he repeated. "They've got a good team now to worry about. It's always been a good rivalry for us. They've got a good team, we've got a good team, and we've got to be ready."

Teammate Blake Wheeler reacted the same way when prompted about the media's playoffs fixation. He shook his head as he shucked elbow pads and turned to his locker.

"That was last year. Guys will never forget about it but that carries no weight this year. Obviously we're always going to remember that but it's something that's gotta be kept in the past and our focus is just on the present and keep continuing to play well at home."

Can you blame them. Rehashing past failures is miserable for anyone on any plane of life. To be poked and prodded into reliving it for reporters gripping voice recorders ("React! Emote! Say something provocative!") seems like it should be in some textbook about psychological trauma. How frustrating it must be to get dragged backwards when you're trying to forge ahead.

It's not that the guys won't be hungrier than usual for a win tonight. The hunger is just channeled differently. What it can do is fuel the Bruins toward the goal of being the better team in 2010. Because Lord Stanley doesn't care if you settled last season's scores.

But what about the fans? Are they as focused on the current season? Was that win in Philly as satisfying for the boys at the bar wearing Black and Gold as it was for the Bruins? How about the three generations of Hub hockey fans gathered around that antagonizing TV?

I wonder if they want blood.

I wonder if they're fantasizing about October of 2009 when Carolina came back into Boston. The Hurricanes, of course, were the revenge foil prior to Philadelphia after ousting the Bruins from 2009's Eastern Conference semis. And talk about revenge. Boston was murderous, unleashing a beating on both the scoreboard (a 7-2 win) and the ice (92 total penalty minutes).

The fans were deranged with happiness. They celebrated in the club seats and unleashed bedlam in the balcony. A victory that complete against the wretched 'Canes who stole their Cup was better than anyone had hoped for in a regular season rematch.

Wheeler imagines the passion will be there again tonight.

"It's a huge game for the fans,'' Wheeler said. "It's still fresh in their memories... what happened last year, so they want to see us come out and play a really solid game."

After the game day morning skate, Flyers forward Scott Hartnell agreed. "Itll be hostile, Im sure, to say the least. There are probably a lot of disappointed fans that were not only at Game Seven, but that were watching at home."

There's one little hang-up to this fan fantasy of a Boston massacre, though. Boston already beat the Flyers this year, remember? So who's looking for retribution tonight?

"We played a good road game in Philly," coach Claude Julien said of the Bruins 3-0 win. "It was a battle and I expect an even bigger battle Saturday, to be honest with you. Now you got a team coming back wanting to redeem themselves and get that win back that we stole from them in their home building and I would expect it to be a tough challenge."

Hate for Philly is a familiar feeling in this city. These two teams met in the playoffs not once but four times in the 1970s. This isn't the Broad Street BulliesBig Bad Bruins clash of that era but those memories are built into the brains of many B's fans who will come roaring into the TD Garden tonight.

Last year's playoffs loss is just another layer that will eventually be buried under others, a benchmark for the momentum shifts that happen in every rivalry. Boston won the Winter Classic on an overtime goal, then the Flyers won the playoffs matchup; this year Boston triumphed on December 1 and now Philadelphia has a chance to pay them back.

And you know what? The loser will have the motivation for "revenge" when they meet again in March.

The lesson: You can't compare. The only game that matters is the one in front of you. Hartnell can jaw all he wants about the past as he did Saturday morning, "We did a great job of fighting back and ruining a night when they were supposed to win Game 7 and dominate," but if his team loses again tonight those words will fall flat.

That's why the Bruins need to be, and are ready to, move on.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Krug, Forbacka Karlsson suffer upper body injuries vs. Red Wings

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Krug, Forbacka Karlsson suffer upper body injuries vs. Red Wings

BOSTON – The Bruins ended Tuesday night’s preseason home date with another feel-good victory over the Red Wings, but it may have come at a cost.

Both Torey Krug and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson were injured in the second period of the B’s 4-2 win over the Red Wings at TD Garden, and didn’t return to the game. Krug was hit in the face with a puck in the defensive zone during the second period, and quickly exited the ice with Bruins trainer Don DelNegro after the impact of the puck hitting his face initially took his feet out from under him.  

“[Krug] clearly didn’t finish the game, and took a shot up in the facial area,” said Bruce Cassidy of Krug, who had a couple of shots on net in 9:10 of ice time while largely playing with Charlie McAvoy in an offensive-minded pairing. “We’ll probably have an update tomorrow.”

Forbacka Karlsson took a hard tumble into the end boards in the game’s middle period, and never returned after serving up the primary assist on Danton Heinen’s goal earlier in that very same period. JFK tried to return to Tuesday night’s win over the Red Wings, according to Cassidy, but was kept out of the game with an upper body injury that has his status as questionable moving forward.

“He went into the boards late in the second. He’s day-to-day, upper body. I think wanted to – he did come back and try [to return to the game],” said Cassidy of JFK, who put up an assist and a plus-1 rating in 8:37 of ice time before leaving the game. “I don’t think it’s serious, but I can’t speculate. We’ll get another update tomorrow. It didn’t look good, but I don’t think it’s as bad as it looked. We’ll know more [about JFK] tomorrow.”

It certainly sounds like both Krug and JFK could miss a day or two of practice moving forward after the injury wear-and-tear of preseason action, but the hope is that the Black and Gold won’t be missing a couple of key performers for anything more than that.  

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Talking Points: Austin Czarnik puts on a show vs. Red Wings

Talking Points: Austin Czarnik puts on a show vs. Red Wings

GOLD STAR: Austin Czarnik once again showed that he can really put on a show during training camp after winning an NHL job last season based on his strong preseason. Czarnik finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-1 rating in 15:15 of ice time, created a penalty shot situation solely based on his skating speed and perfectly executed a 3-on-1 late in the third period while feeding a one-timer dish to Teddy Purcell for the insurance marker. Czarnik tied David Pastrnak with a team-high four shots on net for the night, and won 8-of-15 draws for the Bruins while manning his natural center position. Czarnik showed once again that he can play effectively when he’s motoring at a high pace and playing aggressive hockey, a couple of things he didn’t always do with the Bruins once the routine of the NHL regular season settled in last year.

BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo didn’t have a particularly terrible night, but he did end up as the only Bruins player with a negative plus/minus. Carlo was on the ice for both goals scored by Detroit, and otherwise didn’t really factor into the game while clocking in a solid 17:48 of ice time. His only other major contribution was an interference call halfway through the first period that put the Wings on the power play. Carlo was playing without his usual partner, Zdeno Chara, of course, and one of the remaining questions about the 21-year-old D-man is exactly how good he can be as a shutdown defenseman when he doesn’t have the big captain on his left side. Clearly, it was a good night overall for the B’s, but Carlo was far from his best in his preseason debut.

TURNING POINT: Nobody would have blamed the Bruins if they were a little frustrated after outshooting the Red Wings by a 13-8 margin, and not seeing any points up on the board. Instead of getting frustrated they kept working and finally busted through with a pair of goals within 90 seconds of each other in the second frame. Ryan Fitzgerald finished off the first chance off a nice dish from Jakub Zboril, and Danton Heinen followed by banging home a backdoor dish from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson across the ice. The two goals from two of Boston’s young forward group pushed the B’s out to a lead that they would never relinquish against Detroit.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jakub Zboril probably hasn’t received some of the fanfare of the other first-round picks in Bruins camp, but the skilled, improving D-man played an excellent first preseason game for the Black and Gold. It was Zboril’s one-man rush from his defense position that helped set up his creative dish to a wide-open Ryan Fitzgerald for Boston’s first goal, and he followed that up with 19:12 of mostly solid ice time. Zboril finished with the assist and a plus-2 rating along with a shot on net and a registered hit while also playing a special teams role on both the power play and the penalty kill. Zboril is still working on the polish to his game that will eventually make him an effective pro, but he was noticeable in a good way in his first preseason action of the season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 – the team-leading number of shot attempts for David Pastrnak in his first action of the preseason while skating with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Who is hard on the puck? Who is winning pucks? Who can keep their pace up? I think [the young forwards] are all capable of making plays, the young skilled guys. You can probably list seven or eight that have talent and could make NHL plays.” – Bruce Cassidy, on what he’s looking for out of B’s forward prospects that want to win NHL jobs.