Czech-ing In with Roarke

Time to work

10.01.2010 / 10:03 AM ET

Boston coach Claude Julien put the Bruins through some serious paces Friday morning, holding a brisk 90-minute practice that featured a ton of skating.

Despite stopping practice at least twice to exhort his boys to give more effort, Julien said afterward that he was happy with the pace and progress Of the final practice session before Saturday's exhibition against the Belfast Giants Selects.

"Today, was much better," Julien said. "Yesterday was pretty good for a team that had flown and just had a few hours sleep, but today was much better -- the intensity, the passing, the scoring, the commitment. We got a week to keep having these kinds of practices."

The players also noticed the difference. To a man, they said that they have overcome the shock of yesterday's jet lag and were functioning on a level more close to normal.

In fact, many of the players welcomed the workout Julien provided.

"You need to pay a lot of attention to details now," Chara told "The closer you are getting to the season, you have to pay attention to system details and make sure we are playing the structure that we want to accomplish before we start the real games. These practices now are intense. There's a lot of skating involved. It's a good thing because it is still camp and still preseason."

There was much discussion about the Odyssey Arena on Thursday afternoon as the Bruins took the ice for the first time.

Afterward, the reviews were stellar.

"The facility itself is very nice," coach Claude Julien said after a hard Thursday practice. "We're enjoying it and everything we have in our dressing room and around it is just like you have with a pro team. So, it has been well-designed and we have all been impressed with that."

Shawn Thornton expected as much. He has had a couple of friends -- including goalie Mike Minard -- play for the Giants in the past few years. Minard, who was in Thornton's wedding party, tended net for the Giants from 2005 to 2007.

Ironically, Minard played with Todd Kelman, who is now the GM of the Giants and made this Boston trip here a reality

"I have had friends play out here in the past and they have told me some stories and told me about the rink," Thornton said. "It's a really nice building."

Clearly, Belfast residents are proud of their crown jewel. One of Thursday's lines of questioning is if the 10-year-old building, which seats close to 6,000 for hockey, could hypothetically host a NHL game if the league expanded to the European continent.

"Right now, looking at the size of the rink, in the NHL new are talking about rinks the size of 17,000 and up," Julien said. "They would probably need a few more seats in here I would imagine. All you have to do is raise the roof, put in a few more seats and you might be in business."

One of the coolest things about the Odyssey Arena is the ice surface appears to be wider than an NHL surface, but still smaller than an Olympic surface.

The Boston players noticed the extra room right away and stated without a doubt that it will have an impact on Saturday's game.

"A lot more skating," Patrice Bergeron told "That's good. A lot more room on the ice. It's an adjustment for sure. It's different, but more room so you can create more plays."

Checking out the digs

09.30.2010 / 11:27 AM ET

The Bruins are practicing right now, getting their first look at the Odyssey Arena here in Belfast.

The first thing that is striking about the building is the ice surface. It appears to be a hybrid rink, probably about 110 feet wide.

The Bruins were flying throughout the session, using the extra width for passes during line rushes.

Boston has two days of practice here before Saturday night's exhibition against the Belfast Giants Selects and the team is working at finding the proper line combinations in the absence of No. 1 center Marc Savard, who is out with post-concussion syndrome.

Plus, the team still needs to make one more cut before Saturday's regular-season opener against Phoenix in Prague. Right now, the Bruins are carrying 25 players and must get down to the League-mandated 23 before the start of the regular season.

Third-string goalie Nolan Schaefer, here as insurance, will be one of the cuts. The other will likely come on the blue line as Boston is still carrying eight defensemen. If that proves to be the case, it means that rookies Jordan Caron and Tyler Sequin, the No. 2 pick in this past June's Entry Draft, will make the Bruins' opening-day lineup.

Before practice, NHL merchandise maven Barry Monaghan and myself were able to grab a quick bite to eat across the street from the hotel at a place called Robinson's Bistro. We each had the steak pie, which was even more awesome than the waitress promised it would be.

After that, it was a quick cab ride to the rink. I think I only understood one of every five words he uttered during the 10-minute trip, but we did manage to have a conversation about fighting in hockey. Wherever you go in this world, it seems people want to talk about the fights in hockey. In this case, though, the cabbie had a legit interest as he was a massive boxing fan.

Welcome to Northern Ireland

09.30.2010 / 8:10 AM ET

Well, we have arrived in Northern Ireland.

Boston's overnight charter was an uneventful 5-plus hour jaunt across the ocean.

Most of the players sacked out immediately upon boarding the plane, sleeping a good deal of the way across the Atlantic. Yours truly was not so lucky, taking almost 3 hours before finally falling asleep.

Unfortunately, two hours is not enough sleep for anyone -- especially me. I will be dragging later today. Time for some caffeine!

It is beautiful here today, sunny and in low 60s. That is only surprising because our pilot called the weather "sketchy" -- something you probably never want to hear from the man charged with getting you on the ground safely.

It seems there was some pretty dense fog cover this morning -- fortunately, according to the pilot, we had plenty of reserve fuel to circle as often as necessary -- but we knifed right through the low ceiling and burst into a sea of green meadows for as far as the eye could see.

I'm glad I didn't have to drive the 30 minutes to the hotel in downtown Belfast. As you know, they drive on the wrong side of the road here, which would be quite the challenge in my sleep-deprived state. The rotary just outside the airport, which has to be tackled in a counter-clockwise direction just about threw me over the edge and convinced me I will not be driving anything until I step back on North American soil in 11 days time.

Our hotel is beautiful as well and is one of the most historic in the city. Bill Clinton stayed here during visits to Northern Ireland and during The Troubles this hotel was the headquarters for many of the journalists that covered the sectarian conflict. 

I hope to check out the city a bit in the next little while and grab a bite to eat before practice. I'll be back with an update after the Bruins skate.

Savard won't make trip

09.29.2010 / 4:32 PM ET

Boston center Marc Savard will not travel with Boston when it leaves for Belfast later Wednesday night.

Savard, who suffered a concussion last spring, but made a dramatic return against Philadelphia in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, has missed all of training camp with post-concussion syndrome symptoms.

"He's not going to start with us," Chiarelli told reporters Wednesday morning during the team's media day. "He may join us. We're putting him on a seven ... eight day plan while we're gone, to see doctors.

"He's got to ramp up his physical activity just to get to the exertion test, so there's a lot of protocol we have to go through and we decided we'd be better having him here with the guidance of our doctors. We've got a physical therapy group here too that will work with him and start his conditioning, so he's got to go through a number of steps, better served here than over there."

While Chiarelli left the door open for Savard to join the team in Prague when it plays against Phoenix next weekend in the 2010 Compuware Premiere series, it appears unlikely that will happen.

Savard did join the Bruins earlier this week when the team went to Vermont for two days of team-building exercises. Chiarelli said that Savard's time in Vermont suggests the center is on his way toward recovery.

"He just spent the last few days with (coach) Claude (Julien) and the team in Vermont to do the team building," Chiarelli said. "He's, again, from what I see, he's progressing nicely. I've talked to him every day and he's on his way, but we need to make sure we do this properly."

Planes, trains and autombiles

09.29.2010 / 12:02 PM ET

I just hopped on the Acela train out of Newark N.J. to begin a crazy travel day that will not end until the early morning hours Thursday when I touch down in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

But, before I get there, I will likely take every form of motorized transportation known to mankind.

The morning began with the 30-minute trip from home to Newark in the trusty family Jeep. Now, it is four hours on the Acela to Boston's South Station. From there, it will be the T to North Station and the Garden for Wednesday night's exhibition against the Washington Capitals.

Post-game, it will be a quick story and then a dash to a waiting bus to go with the team to Logan Airport for the overnight flight to Belfast, which will land in the wee hours of the morning Thursday, even though it will be almost lunch time at our destination  because of the six-hour time difference.

As grueling as the journey sounds, it should be an adventure and the perfect start to a 12-day excursion through Europe to start the 2010-11 season. I'm glad you have all chosen to join me on this field trip and, in appreciation, I promise to give you as many details as possible -- both hockey-related and tourist-related -- from my time in Belfast, the Czech Republic and Riga, Latvia.

Roster for final NA exhibition announced

09.29.2010 / 11:47 AM ET

On Wednesday, the Boston Bruins trimmed their roster to 25 and also announced the lineup for Wednesday's exhibition game against the Washington Capitals, their final North American exhibition game. Later Wednesday night, Boston departs for Belfast in preparation of Saturday's 2010 Compuware Premiere Challenge game against the Belfast Giants Select team at Oddysey Arena.

Six players were cut Wednesday morning, including big-time prospects Zach hamill and Joe Colborne. The two forwards were sent to Providence, along with Steven Kampfer, Jeff Lovecchio, Jeremy Reich and Wyatt Smith.

Wednesday night's game is scheduled to feature the return of Tim Thomas, who had offseason surgery. He and Nolan Schaefer will dress for the game against the Capitals, the back end of a home-and-home series that began Tuesday night in DC.

Here is the full lineup:

FORWARDS: Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell, Jordan Caron, Nathan

Horton, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brian McGrattan, Daniel Paille, Mark

Recchi, Michael Ryder, Tyler Seguin, Blake Wheeler

DEFENSEMEN: Matt Bartkowski, Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Andrew

Ference, Matt Hunwick, Dennis Seidenberg

GOALTENDERS: Nolan Schaefer, Tim Thomas


Tuukka Rask, Mark Stuart, Shawn Thornton

INJURED NON-ROSTERED PLAYERS: Marc Savard, Marco Sturm, Trent


Boston begins final preperations

09.28.2010 / 10:51 AM ET

The Bruins have begun final preparations for their trip to Europe and just two exhibition games on North American soil -- a home and home against Washington that begins in DC on Tuesday -- remain before Wednesday night's departure to Belfast.

Tuesday morning, the Bruins made several roster moves in preparation for Tuesday's game, assigning Nathan McIver to Providence and calling up Jeff LoVecchio and making Jeremy Reich and Wyatt Smith available for Tuesday night's game against the Capitals.

Here is the roster for Tuesday night's game:

FORWARDS: Gregory Campbell, Joe Colborne, Zach Hamill, Jeff LoVecchio,

Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, Jeremy Reich, Michael Ryder,

Wyatt Smith, Shawn Thornton, Blake Wheeler

DEFENSEMEN: Matt Bartkowski, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick, Steven

Kampfer, Adam McQuaid, Mark Stuart

GOALTENDERS: Tuukka Rask, Nolan Schaefer

Boston flair added to Belfast roster

09.22.2010 / 10:41 AM ET

The Belfast Giants Selects added four more players to its roster, bringing the total to 19, for the exhibition game it will play against the Boston Bruins next Saturday. Massuchessetts native and former Bruins tryout participant Josh Prudden was named to the team, as was former UMass-Lowell star Jerramie Domish.

Former NHLer Rob Globke and high-scoring forward David Alexandre Beauregard were also named to the team Monday. Globke had three brief cups of coffee with the Panthers a few years back and Beauregard was a draft pick of the San Jose Sharks who saw his dreams of an NHL career cut short after losing sight in one of his eyes after an on-ice accident while playing in the QMJHL.

Here is the full story on Wednesday's announcement. The final four players for the roster for the Oct. 2 game will be added next Monday.

Also, you can find past announcements here, here, here, here and here.