Julien: Bruins 'focusing on the moment'

Julien: Bruins 'focusing on the moment'

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The tests just keep on coming for the Bruins in the final weeks of the regular season as they face a Chicago Blackhawks team desperate to cement a playoff spot just a year after winning the Stanley Cup.Tonights game against Chicago ends a stretch of seven games where the Bs had played five playoff-ready opponents as well as games against teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils that were hungry to force their way into the postseason conversation.Bruins coach Claude Julien is attempting to get his team into the playoff mindset over the final three weeks of the regular season, and a pretty meaningful 2-1 win over the Flyers last weekend was a good start.That continues against the Blackhawks with the very-same lineup that Boston featured against Philly in an impressive effort.I think for us right now its focusing on the moment, said Julien. From here on in we have to maintain our play, our level of play that weve had lately and continue to try and even improve that.Theres no room for complacency right now, and we have lots of players. If were going to move some players in and out from here on in its because were taking it easy. Its because we want everybody ready to go. Thats kind of the message we gave to the players.For the Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews has 12 goals and 12 assists in his last 18 games for Chicago and goaltender Corey Crawford has played in 20 straight games for the Blackhawks and may play tonight after the Hawks beat the Red Wings in overtime last night in Detroit. Tuukka Rask, Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin, Michael Ryder, Steve Kampfer, Adam McQuaid, Shane Hnidy and Tuukka Rask were among the Bruins players that skated during an optional on-ice workout at TD Garden.Julien indicated hes going to get some of the extra players into games soon, but that probably wouldnt be happening against the Blackhawks on Tuesday night. Expect to see Hnidy in at least a couple of games prior to the playoffs in case injuries or slumps make his presence mandatory in the lineup. That also means Steve Kampfer and Michael Ryder are once again Boston's likely healthy scratches for tonight.Not tonight, but I think as we move on here theres certainly going to be guys moving in and out of the lineup here, said Julien, when asked about lineup changes. Were certainly preparing for that. With Rask on the ice for the optional skate, its likely that Tim Thomas will again get the start for the Bs against Chicago. Thomas is 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals against average in his last three starts against the Devils, Canadiens and Flyers, and has been every bit as good as he was in the first three months of the season.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Sabres' Okposo back on the ice

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Morning Skate: Sabres' Okposo back on the ice

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while officially in the Dead Zone of the NHL offseason.

*A great sight to see is Buffalo Sabres forward Kyle Okposo taking the ice in a summer league in Minnesota after a health scare at the end of last season.

*Nolan Patrick might be fresh off abdominal surgery, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be rushed if he plays for the Flyers.

*Here’s an offseason power ranking of the offseason moves for the NHL teams, and the Bruins rank 28th out of 31 teams with the organization being “stuck” in the estimation of this writer. I don’t disagree that they’re kind of paralyzed right now until David Pastrnak signs an extension, with other things being held up because of that. The Paul Postma and Kenny Agostino signings were about as small time as you can get on July 1. But the Bruins’ goal for this summer wasn’t to win in the offseason moves department, but instead continue to let their interesting mix of young players and established veterans grow into an effective mix. Winning the offseason power rankings really isn’t the thing for the Black and Gold, and that’s perfectly okay given their situation.

*There’s a wide gap between the Detroit Red Wings and Tomas Tatar with salary arbitration looming.

*It’s a good thing that Barstool Sports is here to ask the really tough questions, like whether Jaromir Jagr is being treated unfairly by NHL teams because of his hair.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Johnny Gaudreau really high on the window for the Calgary Flames to compete over the next three years with the young, talented group they have in place.  

*Nico Hischier is looking to be a playmaking force for the New Jersey Devils right off the bat after being the No. 1 overall pick in Jersey.

*A slew of soon-to-be college sophomores starred in development camps across the NHL and showed what they learned at the NCAA level.

*Classy tweet from the Arizona Coyotes wishing war hero and distinguished statesman John McCain well in his battle with brain cancer.

*Players that are on AHL contracts will be allowed to participate in the Winter Olympics this season. While the loss of NHL participation would be a difficult blow to the Olympics and fans, part of me is happy that some of these AHL guys will get to experience playing for their country when they might not have been able to otherwise.  

*For something completely different: Paul Pierce sees some very good things with first-round pick Jayson Tatum, but he’ll need to see “killer instinct” from the Celtics rookie for him to live up to the Pierce comparisons.

 

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

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AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

Players on American Hockey League contracts will be eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

President and CEO David Andrews confirmed through a league spokesman Wednesday that teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The AHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs saying players could only be loaned for Olympic participation from Feb. 5-26.

The Olympic men's hockey tournament runs from Feb. 9-25. Like the NHL, which is not having its players participate for the first time since 1994, the AHL does not have an Olympic break in its schedule.

The AHL's decision does not affect players assigned to that league on NHL one- or two-way contracts. No final decision has been made about those players.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that the league had told its 31 teams that AHL players could be loaned to play in the Olympics. It was an AHL memo sent at the direction of that league's board of governors.

When the NHL announced in April that it wouldn't be sending players to South Korea after participating in five consecutive Olympics, Andrews said the AHL was prepared for Canada, the United States and other national federations to request players.

"I would guess we're going to lose a fair number of players," Andrews said in April. "Not just to Canada and the U.S., but we're going to lose some players to other teams, as well. But we're used to that. Every team in our league has usually got two or three guys who are on recalls to the NHL, so it's not going to really change our competitive integrity or anything else."

The U.S. and Canada are expected to rely heavily on players in European professional leagues and college and major junior hockey to fill out Olympic rosters without NHL players.