After the win, a day of rest in Lake Placid

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After the win, a day of rest in Lake Placid

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

LAKE PLACID, New York The Bruins finally wrestled some momentum away from the Montreal Canadiens with a Game Three victory at the Bell Centre on Monday night, and on Tuesday they met and rested.The Bruins gathered for meetings at the Olympic Center smack dab in the middle of Lake Placid at 2364 Main Street the hallowed hockey spot where the 1980 U.S. Olympic Miracle on Ice took place and recharged their batteries for a solid Wednesday practice, followed by an equally immense Game 4 back at the Bell Centre.Its so pretty. You look at around and even in Lake Placid you get a pretty good showing of media, said Andrew Ference. I dont think you really escape anything, but you feel relaxed in a setting like this. You go outside and its really casual and relaxed. You just chill out for a couple of days.The visit to Lake Placid is more meaningful to some players than others. Tim Thomas is was born in Flint, Michigan and he grew up influenced by the Miracle on Ice that inspired him to become a hockey player and be like his boyhood hero, Jim Craig. But while its an inspiration setting for Thomas and a hockey Mecca of sorts, the Bs goaltender also said it wasnt going to be a Miracle-style upset if the Bruins rip off three more wins against Montreal.This is a great place to visit and very special for me, but my main focus is Thursday and playing the game in Montreal, said Thomas. It wouldn't be a 'Miracle' if we win Thursday, so its a different page in a different book. The only Bruins to practice Tuesday afternoon were Tyler Seguin, Shane Hnidy, Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, Adam McQuaid and Tuukka Rask and the rest of the Black Aces from the Providence Bruins. Claude Julien said Zdeno Chara was understandably tired after playing 26-plus minutes during Game 3 after returning from a bout of severe dehydration, but that hed bounced back well after waking up on Tuesday morning.He was good, said Julien. He pushed hard to make what he did yesterday happen. There was no doubt after the game he was tired, but I think even as a healthy player youd be tired. He stood in there and I thought he had a great game. For all of the challenges I thought he had to overcome, he played well. He was solid, physical and I thought he was very focused. Andrew Ference, not wanting to receive a penalty that would have negated the power play the Bruins were about to receive, said he was careful to wait for Benoit Pouliot to drop hisgloves before jumping into a fight with him in the first period ofMonday night's 4-2win at theBell Centre.
The 6-foot-5 Pouliot -- who tangled with David Krejci in the fight night atTD Garden during the season --left his skates and attempted tothrow an elbow, which wound up off target, toward Johnny Boychuks head. Pouliot was the second man in after Ryan White had already stapled Boychuk to the boards with a heavy body hit near the corner. Theunderachieving Habs winger was slappedwith a charging penalty whilealso earning himself a fighting major.Ference once again was among the first to respond when an opponent took liberties with one of his teammates. If it was up to him, Pouliot would have received supplementary discipline from the NHL . . . but the league, after reviewing the incident, declined to impose any further penalty. Ference avoided the instigator in the smart hockey player, and stood up for his teammate at the same time.
From what I saw, it looked like a really dangerous play," said Ference. "A hit like that especially to your partner you want there to be some answer for it. But I didnt want to drop the gloves without him dropping them so as not to receive an instigator penalty. I was 100 percent aware of that. Chris Kelly was sporting a healthy shiner around his right eye after getting tripped by Scott Gomez and hurtling face first into the post during the first period of Monday nights win at the Bell Centre. Kelly finished the game after being momentarily dazed and Gomez was called for an interference penalty. But Julien didnt believe that there was true malicious intent to Gomezs actions.They got a penalty for interference. To be honest with you its a little bit of the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty. Its a hit that turned out badly, said Julien. But I think in Kellys case it was interference, but he didnt mean to push him in the net or cause him to hit the post."Youve got to understand that sometimes the result of what happened wasnt exactly the intention. So is it a penalty? Absolutely. But I didnt think there any intent to injure and thats something you dont like to see.

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

Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

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Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It certainly doesn’t feel like it will go on forever this way for the Bruins, but at this point it’s essentially a case of musical left wings on the David Krejci line as it’s been for much of this season. 

Ryan Spooner has spent the majority of the season adjusting to playing the wing with Krejci, and has been just okay trying to play away from his natural center spot while using his speed and playmaking on the wing. But the speedy Spooner also spent his share of time lately on the fourth line after getting off to a slow offensive start this season with three goals and eight points along with a minus-1 rating in 23 games. 

The bouncing between the second and fourth line has undoubtedly been frustrating for the 24-year-old getting pushed off his natural position after posting 49 points in his first full year as a third line center. But Spooner has continued to toe the company line, work on keeping his confidence high for a productive offensive season and do what he needs to in an effort to get off a fourth line.

That’s opened the door for hard-nosed former Providence College standout Tim Schaller to get some top-6 forward time on the Krejci line as well, but he’s just posted a single assist in the last three games while working hard to keep up offensively with David Krejci and David Backes. The 6-foot-2, 219-pound Schaller has the grittiness to do the dirty work for that line in the corners and in front of the net, and he can certainly skate well enough for a big, energy forward. 

“To think this was going to happen, I would say ‘no’,” said Schaller when asked if he could have predicted at the start of the season that he’d be getting a look from the B’s in a top-6 role. “I’ve been able to play with whoever and whenever my whole career. I wouldn’t want to say it’s one of those things that I had expected, but I’m always ready for it. 

“We’ve been working pretty well together. I don’t know that we’ve had too many great [offensive] opportunities to capitalize on, but Backes and Krejci are good enough players that they’ll come. They’re good enough to bury on those chances, so the goals will come. I’m always going to play the same way no matter who I’m with. Those guys might have the puck on their sticks a little longer than other linemates of mine, but that will just create more space and opportunities.”

So Spooner and Schaller bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table as the B’s coaching staff searches for the right fit alongside Krejci and Backes, and Julien sounds like a coach that’s going to keep swinging back and forth between the two players. He certainly did that with Spooner during the third period in Philly, which led to an immediate goal for Krejci in the third period comeback, and toward the end of the Carolina win with the B's desperate for offense. 

Julien also didn’t rule out Matt Beleskey getting another look there as well with the Bruins having a tough time finding anybody to consistently fill Loui Eriksson’s role from last season.

“At times I don’t think that offense has been producing much because maybe it’s lacking a little bit of speed at that time, so you put Spooner back up there. But sometimes you feel like that line isn’t winning enough battles or spending enough time in the offensive zone, so you put Schaller back in there because he’s going to play a little grittier. So we’re looking there,” said Julien. “We’d love to be able to find somebody to be a consistent player there. We’ve had Matt Beleskey there and that line never really did anything. 

“[Beleskey] has been much better on the [third] line and he’s been getting more chances, so I’ve been trying to put the best scenario together, I guess. Sometimes it’s the situation and sometimes it’s the matchup [against the other team] as well. So there are different reasons for that. I’ve just got to make it work. If it’s working with [Schaller] on that night then you stick with it, and if you don’t think you’re getting enough then you move [Spooner] there and see if you can a little spark with some speed. It doesn’t mean Beleskey won’t go back there. That’s what we have right now.”

So it’s clear Julien, and the B’s coaching staff, have simply tried to find something that will work on a consistent basis with a couple of key offensive players on Boston’s second most important forward line. The one wild card in all of this: the impending return of Frank Vatrano, who has been skating for nearly two weeks as he works toward a return from foot surgery.

Vatrano was initially penciled in as the left winger alongside Krejci to start NHL camp this fall, and the Bruins were hoping he was going to build on the eight goals he scored in Boston last season in a limited role.

Vatrano could be ready to play within the next couple of weeks, and should be back in the B’s lineup prior to the early January timetable originally offered at the time of his surgery. So perhaps the 22-year-old Vatrano can end this season-long carousel of Bruins left wingers getting paraded on and off the Krejci line, and finally give the B’s greater options at left wing. 

But the Czech playmaking center could use some stability also as he looks to find the highest level of his game in a challenging year for the Black and Gold, and do it while the Bruins find the right kind of talent to skate alongside him. 

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win.