Notes: Bruins, Krejci dodge a bullet

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Notes: Bruins, Krejci dodge a bullet

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The last thing the Bruins need is another injury at the center position, but there was a big scare on Wednesday night.

It appeared they might have another pivot go down when David Krejci tumbled awkwardly into the boards after getting planted from the side by Rostislav Olesz in the first period of the 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Krejci stayed down for long minutes clutching his left arm and wrist in obvious pain, and he went straight down the runway once he was able to get off the ice under his own power. But after getting his left arm looked at by the trainers, he returned to the ice and played the rest of the game.

It wasnt my shoulder. It was like my whole arm getting tweaked going for position and it was a little uncomfortable for a few seconds . . . so I stayed on the ice, said Krejci. You know it got a little better . . . its sore, but obviously nothing major.

Krejci must have made a pretty quick recovery from the issue because it was his clean faceoff win in the Florida zone that set up Milan Lucics game-winning goal in the second period.

Coach Claude Julien said he was just glad Krejci was able to shake the left arm issue off, as it would have left the team short-handed when it comes to playmaking skills and power play creativity.

When Krejci first went down, the last thing you want to see is him not come back. Were already minus one pretty good centerman Marc Savard, so you certainly dont want to lose that second one, said Julien. But he came back and he finished the game and he seems to be okay. Theres no doubt these next five days for the All-Star break will be good for him and probably a lot of the other players that are playing a little banged up.

Its, I guess, a break that we needed. We certainly didnt need Krejci going down and not getting him back.

Krejci now has eight assists in his last nine games and is back on playmaking track after he experienced a bit of a lull in the middle of his season. In fact, Krejci sounds like a man thats ready to go on a tear in the second half of the season with Savard down and out and the opportunity there for Krejci to make the power play his own.

I feel a little better now. My last few years, the end of the season was always better, said Krejci. I believe this is going to be a good half of the season for me and I just dont want to talk about it . . . you just have to go out there and prove it.

The second half is going to be way better for me.

The first key to a way better second half for Krejci is staying healthy, and it looks like he dodged a bullet on Wednesday night.

Steve Kampfer said he wont need surgery on his broken nose as theres been some progress in clearing up his nasal passage for easier breathing out of his nose over the last couple of days. Kampfer will instead head back home to Michigan to take in some college hockey with a few of his NHL buddies.Brad Marchand heads into the All-Star break on a high after putting up seven goals in his last 11 games heading into this weekend, and putting himself on the radar while fitting in nicely with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi on Bostons most effective line. The offensive burst places Marchand sixth among NHL rookies with 13 goals scored and leads all first-year players with a plus-21 this season, but despite all that he never received an invite to the Superskills rookie challenge at the All-Star game this weekend when other rookies had to drop out.Jordan Eberle was scratched due to injury and Jeff Skinner was moved into the actual All-Star game as an injury replacement, but the NHL opted for Carolinas Jamie McBain and Montreals P.K. Subban as replacements over Marchand.No matter, said Marchand, as long as the team is having success and the Bruins can get on a roll heading into the playoffs.Seguin would be so much better than me in all those skills challenges anyway, said Marchand. Hes the right guys to go down there. I actually didnt think about it at all, and none of that stuff really matters to me as long as the team is doing well and were winning hockey games.Claude Julien also joked that Marchand told him during the season that hed end up with 20 goals this season, but the rookie came clean and admitted that he wasnt sure he could get to 10 goals this season. Now Marchands prediction to Julien is beginning to look a little bit more like a realistic goal.I thought I might be able to score ten. I knew I could make it. Last year I know I couldve had a bunch, and they just werent going in, they werent bouncing the right way, said Marchand. This year, I knew if I kept getting opportunities they were eventually gonna go in. Bruins legend Willie ORee was on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck at TD Garden on Wednesday night, and took part in several equipment drops around the Boston area for the Hockey is for Everyone campaign. ORee was the first black hockey player to break into the NHL ranks with the Bruins, and still remains active in events for the Black and Gold when he can find the time.

The equipment donation and Special Olympics hockey clinic are part of a number of activities taking place throughout the month of February through the NHL's "Hockey is for Everyone" initiative. Throughout the month of February, Hockey is for Everyone provides support and unique programming to non-profit youth hockey organizations across North America that are committed to offering children of all backgrounds opportunities to play hockey.
Tim Thomas and the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist each have seven shutouts to lead the NHL this season, and Thomas narrowly missed out on his eighth shutout of the season when he allowed a blocker-side goal in the third period of Wednesdays 2-1 victory.Nathan Horton has scored only a single goal in the last 20 games while enduring the worst slump of his career, but Claude Julien lauded the right wing for his effort and willingness to work in Florida's 2-1 win after some spotty efforts recently.To his credit, Nathan Horton has retained his sense of humor about the situation and said he was going to spend his NHL All-Star break"finding a new stick" and then joked with rookie Tyler Seguin to be on the lookout for some good right-handed sticks at the All-Star game events.

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

Chara: 'A great honor' to be nominated for Masterton Trophy

Chara: 'A great honor' to be nominated for Masterton Trophy

It takes only the highest levels of perseverance and dedication to the game to log over 1,300 NHL games and to play past your 40th birthday. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has both of those qualities in overflowing amounts as the fourth oldest player in the league behind Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr, Arizona Coyotes forward Shane Doan and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cullen. Chara is also the second longest tenured captain in the league behind Doan, who has been the captain of the Coyotes since 2003.

For all those reasons and more, Chara has been voted by the Boston Chapter of the PWHA (Professional Hockey Writers Association) as the Bruins nominee for the Masterton Trophy given to the player that best exemplifies “the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

The Bruins captain has also been the embodiment of good sportsmanship in his 11 years as captain of the Black and Gold while leading teams with his steady, hard-working hand through both epic highs and lows. Chara is always at the forefront of the Bruins charitable efforts and has shown his dedication to the game by nearly always participating for his Slovakian homeland whether it’s world championships, the Olympics or the World Cup as the setting for the International tournament.

It all comes back to Chara’s love for the game, his dedication to setting an example as a professional and his enjoyment of the hard work required to play in the NHL for 18 plus seasons.

“From my first day in the NHL until today it is an absolute thrill to play in the league,” said Chara. “It’s a great honor to be nominated. I always take a lot of pride in doing my job as a professional, and doing it right. Doing all of my work on and off the ice. I’ve always felt really humble about being a part of this league and this game. It’s a game that gives you so much in life, and helps you become a better person and a better hockey player each day.

“I’m just enjoying my time with team and my teammates, and cherish the memories of winning. I just try to work every day on my game and improve. I enjoy every day whether I was 20 years old or 40 years old. I love the game, and I love everything about it.”

Chara had missed only 41 games for the Bruins in his first 10 seasons with the team in a remarkable show of durability and toughness while playing the role a physical defensive stopper. He's never shied away from the big hits, the big players or the big ice time totals. The veteran D-man is having a banner season as a 40-year-old that started out by leading Team Europe to the World Cup Final against Team Canada, and it’s continued with his season-long mentoring job helping develop 20-year-old rookie defenseman Brandon Carlo.

Chara has changed a bit from his Norris Trophy days while adjusting his game to reduced levels of physicality and out-and-out dominance, but the ability to still call on both of those qualities at 40 years old is unique for an intimidating 6-foot-9 force out on the ice. Equally impressive is his standing as a No. 1 defenseman at this point in his 18-plus year career while constantly dedicated to improving himself, and learning, both on and off ice. Perhaps Chara’s most underrated quality is his ability to move the puck and chip in offensively, a set of skills that will see him pass the 600-point milestone this season after a career built in part on a big slap shot from the point.

It’s also a great example of Chara remaking himself into more of a puck-mover and power play point producer when he was projected to be a good defense/limited offense shutdown defenseman all those years ago working his way through the Islanders’ ranks.

Chara continues to be a strong lead-by-example personality within the Bruins dressing room, one who demands hard work and total dedication to both the game and the team concept when it comes to his Boston teammates.

Cassidy quells goaltender controversy: 'Tuukka's our No. 1 goalie'

Cassidy quells goaltender controversy: 'Tuukka's our No. 1 goalie'

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While the sequence of events over the past couple of days could understandably lead one to wonder who will start between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night vs. Nashville, interim coach Bruce Cassidy tried to quell any hint of a goalie controversy.

The vote of confidence was certainly needed after Anton Khudobin’s fifth consecutive win halted the B's four-game losing streak with a huge 2-1 victory over the Islanders on Saturday night in the wake of Rask’s absence while tending to a short-term lower body issue.  

“[Rask] had a good practice today. I spoke with him. We’ll see how he wakes up tomorrow and we’ll make our decision. He’s our No. 1 goalie, so there’s no way we can skirt our way around that issue. He’s our No. 1 and his health is very important. When he’s physically ready to go and he tells me that, then we’ll make that decision,” said Cassidy. “He’s a guy that’s played a lot of hockey this year...and he’s not a 240-pound goaltender that can handle all of the games, all of the workload every year. We know that. I’m not going to put limitations on him, but we probably overused him at the start of the year. At this time of year, it gets tougher and tougher with any player that’s been overplayed.

“That’s why we have two goaltender, and [Anton Khudobin] has really stepped up in that last stretch and done what’s asked of him. He’s fixed that area of our game. It’s nice to have a guy that’s your No. 2 that can win you hockey games and play well. It’s a great problem to have, to be honest with you. But Tuukka is our No. 1. But Tuukka is our No. 1. He’s our guy.”

Rask declared himself fit to play after going through a full Monday practice with no issues, but said he’s still waiting to hear the final word on whether he’ll play on Tuesday night vs. the Predators. The Bruins franchise goalie also said he isn’t worried about any recurrence of the lower body injury that “popped up” in the Tampa Bay loss Thursday night, which really doesn’t bring any clarity to the entire situation.

“It was a good day back on the ice. I feel good. We’ll see what the decision is [for the Nashville game], but I feel good today,” said Rask, who is 8-8 with a .892 save percentage and a 2.91 goals-against average since the All-Star break, compared to Khudobin’s 2-0-0 with a .920 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against average. “You need to put the best lineup out as possible, and I wasn’t in any shape to play. So, there are no easy decisions this time of year, but I’ve played a lot of hockey and injuries happen. We talked to the training staff and managers and came to a decision that [Khudobin] was going to play the game, and that’s it.

“It’s obviously tough from a personal standpoint, but it’s never about one guy or two guys. It’s a team game and I feel confident that we’re going to get the job done as long as we play the way we did. It was great to see.”

Clearly, it looks like Rask is going to play vs. Nashville and that’s the safe, easy decision when it comes to a No. 1 goalie getting paid $7 million a season and perhaps it all works out with a fired up Finnish netminder after sitting out Saturday night. But nobody is going to be faulted if they wonder what’s going to wrong with Rask ahead of the next gigantic game Boston will have to play with the Stanley Cup playoffs on the line.