Rask, Horton at full-strength heading into season


Rask, Horton at full-strength heading into season

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- The Bruins enjoyed rare good health en route to their Stanley Cup victory last spring, and it appears that has carried over through the summer.

Tuukka Rask looks to be at full strength following surgery on the meniscus in his left knee after the playoffs, and Nathan Horton has experienced zero setbacks or symptoms from his Cup Finals concussion. Both players went through the Fridays afternoon of physicals and fitness testing, and should be at full strength when training camp practice sessions begin this weekend.

The Bruins coaching staff will pull back on the reins if either Rasks knee or Hortons noggin become an issue, but that doesnt appear to be the case at all.

Right now Rask is ready to go and that was the whole key behind it, said Claude Julien. Now if he has a little bit of stiffness which is normal when you have surgery well be able to tell more once we start grinding through camp. There are no limitations for Tuukka and were going to treat him like hes 100 percent.

What about Horton?

As we speak right now everything seems like its a go, said Julien. We havent seen any red flags and we dont expect to see any.

Thats a good sign for Bostons outlook in 2011-12, and its something that could continue to pay dividends after it was a sizable factor in the Bs run toward the Cup. Andrew Ference played up to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals as a member of the Calgary Flames and had an entire season to rest up afterward as the NHL lockout washed away the ensuing season. But Ference said that team was beaten up physically by the end of their attempted Cup run, and would have been hard-pressed to repeat their deep playoff run.

Ference sees a completely different scenario playing out with a Bs team thats missing Marc Savard and nobody else.

The Flames were really beat up. Its not even close if you compare that team to last years Bruins team, said Ference. Our health last year through the playoffs was one of the reasons that we won. Guys were able to stay fresh and the ice time was fairly balanced.

Calgary was like a hospital ward with guys out all over the place. I cant even really draw on that year at all. You saw guys coming into our camps the last couple of years with a long list of surgeries and guys rehabbing all summer with long term injuries. Those summers are hard because its 6-8 weeks with surgeries before you even start feeling close to normal. To not have any of that to deal with means a lot of guys including me feel much better about things coming into camp.

It remains to be seen how long the good health run will last for the Black and Gold, but its something theyre going to enjoy and utilize rather than think about.

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

Backes: Bruins were ‘wounded’ after ugly Detroit loss

Backes: Bruins were ‘wounded’ after ugly Detroit loss

BRIGHTON, Mass – It certainly sounded like there were some things that made the Wednesday night loss in Detroit a little different for the Bruins.

The Bruins media corps conducted postgame interviews in the hallway rather than in the visiting dressing room after what must have been a combustible atmosphere immediately following the shootout defeat. 

There was also evidence of anger in the visitor’s dressing room at Joe Louis Arena, according to reports, with a door off its hinges when the media was able to get a look inside the dressing room area.

David Backes confirmed something was different about the loss after blowing a pair of three-goal leads, and failing to follow up their dreadful no-show vs. the Islanders with a winning performance against another bad team in Detroit. The B’s forward said the plane ride home from Detroit was solemn and quiet, and that it was clear the Bruins team was “wounded” after a crushing loss.

“Both [losses] can be great lessons if we learn from it, and neither was very enjoyable. That was probably the quietest I think our guys were all year on that plane ride home from Detroit,” said Backes. “To me, that’s a great sign that it hit us in the heart, and it hit us where it really mattered. We’re thinking about how we can turn the tide and thinking about we can be victorious the next time out.

“We had the lead, and in a lot of instances you’re expecting, as you should, to come out of there with two points. We’re at the time in the season where wins need to be garnered and taken home.

“There were a lot of aspects where we should have grabbed the game back. When you feel like you’ve had a lot of opportunities to take the game and you don’t do it, it’s not a good feeling. I was reflecting on that during a very quiet team plane ride back from Detroit, and it seemed pretty clear that the whole team was feeling wounded. I think it’s a good sign that guys were feeling that way, and that means they’re going to do everything in their power to not have that feeling again.”

The words are encouraging from a 32-year-old natural leader in Backes, who has seen good times and bad as captain of the St. Louis Blues in his 10-year NHL career. But the proof is ultimately on the ice where the Bruins have games against the Blackhawks and Penguins coming up and face some very stiff tests coming off a couple of losses against the worst teams in the East that exposed Black and Gold fragility at this point in the season. 


After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins, looking for a spark after terrible, back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings, are hoping the return of Matt Beleskey from a knee injury can help provide the inspiration. 

The blue-collar left winger has missed the past 23 games with a torn MCL in his right knee suffered in early December against the Buffalo Sabres, but now he’s easing back into the lineup on the fourth line in Friday night’s showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Beleskey was skating with Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik on the fourth line at morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena and should be expected to throw a few hard hits and play with some intensity in his return.

“I’m ready to go and excited to get back out there,” said Beleskey, who has been skating with the team for roughly a week after giving the knee sufficient time to heal. “I’ve just got to keep it simple and do what I do well: Be hard on pucks, take the body and just try and find your groove. You don’t want to expect too much in your first game back, but you just want to be able to contribute.

“’I’ve been saving [the pent-up energy] for a while, so I’m ready to get back out there and hopefully provide a spark for us.”

The Beleskey return also provides the player with a bit of a reset button after a slow start to the season that saw him with two goals and five points along with a minus-6 rating in 24 games played for the Black and Gold prior to his injury. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairs against the Blackhawks based on morning skate today: