|10.20.11 at 12:49 am ET|
Phil Kessel is returning to Boston once again, and this time he probably has more confidence than ever.
The former Bruin, whose trade to the Maple Leafs is still closely monitored to this day, has been a statistical monster early on this season. While Tyler Seguin, drafted with one of the three picks received in the 2009 trade between the Leafs and B’s, leads Boston with five points, Kessel more than doubles that with a league-leading 12 points. Kessel added to his already league-leading goal total with his seventh tally of the season in Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Jets. He also had two points Wednesday.
The Bruins used the final pick of the deal in June’s draft, selecting Niagara (OHL) defenseman Dougie Hamilton ninth overall. Here’s a quick look at the players from the trade this season.
Phil Kessel 5 GP 7 G 5 A 12 P
Tyler Seguin 6 GP 1 G 4 A 5 P
Jared Knight 9 GP 7 G 3 A 10 P
Dougie Hamilton 9 GP 5 G 12 A 17 P
Though the Leafs have done poorly enough to get the Bruins top-10 draft picks in each of the last two seasons, they, like Kessel, are off to a great start to the 2011-12 campaign. Toronto has yet to lose a game in regulation this season (4-0-1) and leads the Northeast division with nine points. The Bruins, meanwhile, are 2-4-0.
|10.19.11 at 3:48 pm ET|
Nathan Horton did not speak to the media after his roughing double-minor with 8:30 remaining in a one-goal game essentially secured a Bruins’ loss against the Hurricanes Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Horton faced both the media and a sign from his coach that his slow start needs to end quickly.
After skating on the second line in practice for the first time all season (click here to see the Bruins’ revamped lines, which featured a demotion for Horton and a jump to the first line for Chris Kelly), Horton shed light on Tuesday’s incident in which he continuously punched Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason, who had declined to fight.
Though Gleason, who had slashed Horton, kept his gloves on and did not engage Horton after his challenge, the Bruins’ right wing said Wednesday that he was unaware the Hurricanes defenseman did not want to go.
“I thought he wanted to fight,” Horton said. “I turned around and waited for him. He kept acting like he was going to, but it was not the right time. I know that. It was just a little frustration, I guess.”
Added Horton: “I don’t know what [Gleason] was thinking. I just thought he wanted to [fight] because he turned around and slashed me. I turned around and he was right there. He was looking at me the whole time, and I thought he nodded his head. It’s my fault. Obviously I can’t be taking penalties like that, especially after we just scored.”
Losing his cool Tuesday hasn’t been the only bad thing to happen to Horton this season. An incredibly strong starter last season (he led the B’s with nine points through six games), Horton has just two points through six contests this season, a goal and an assist.
“It’s not something where I want to be, or as a team, not playing the way we can. We just need to get back to playing the way we can, especially myself, playing the way I can.”
The type of play to which Horton is likely referring is that of a power forward, as he displayed at points last season. One knock on Horton throughout his entire career has been his tendency to disappear for games at a time, and motivation was something with which he struggled as a member of the Panthers prior to coming to Boston.
Both Horton and the Bruins, who are now 2-4-0 on the season, seemed to be turning a corner on Saturday when the 26-year-old scored the game-tying goal, his first tally of the season, in a game the B’s would eventually win in a shootout against the Blackhawks. In a season in which positive signs have been scarce, the Bruins were unable to build any momentum from the win, as they suffered a 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes that got out of hand late.
“You can always think that way, but until you actually do it, it doesn’t matter,” Horton said of taking the Chicago win as a positive step. “Obviously, we got back to playing the way that we were before that, and it’s not going to work. As you can see, we didn’t win.”
All of Horton’s struggles and the team’s frustrations coincided in ugly fashion when Horton took his costly penalty late in the game.
“We’re not scoring, me personally or the team,” Horton said. “We’re not playing how we want to play. It’s just a little bit of frustration there. It was a bad time, obviously. I didn’t mean to hurt my team there, but that’s the way it happened and I can’t change it now.”
With new lines and three tough home games coming up against the Maple Leafs, Sharks and Canadiens, Horton and the B’s have to hope at this point that there’s nowhere to go but up. As such, Horton expressed no frustration with the fact that he was demoted and taken off Milan Lucic‘s line.
“I think there definitely comes a time when you have to change it,” he said. “[Claude Julien]’s been overly patient with us, and we definitely need to start turning things around now.
|10.19.11 at 2:01 pm ET|
Bruins center David Krejci seems to be proceeding with caution above all else as he works his way back from a core injury suffered last Tuesday in practice. He is back to taking contact and skating with a new line, but he said after practice that he has no plans of rushing back if he isn’t ready.
“If I can, I would love to play tomorrow, but I have to be smart about it. I don’t want to make it worse and be out for who knows how long. If I feel better tomorrow, then I’d love to play and that’s where we’re at I guess.”
Wednesday marked Krejci’s third straight day of skating, and second with him teammates. Krejci skated by himself prior to Monday’s practice and took part in Tuesday’s morning skate. He took some contact Wednesday but has yet to simulate the intensity and physicality of an actual game.
“I was doing some contact drills, but I don’t think anybody really hit me,” Krejci said. “If I feel better tomorrow, then I’ll ask a couple guys to do a little corner stuff and I guess we’ll decide tomorrow if I’ll play.”
Coach Claude Julien did not disagree with Krejci calling himself 50-50 for Thursday, but from how cautious both the player and the team seem to be on the matter, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Krejci wait until Saturday.
“It’s a really hard decision. yesterday I skated for the first time with the guys, and it was just a morning skate,” Krejci said. “Today was a real practice and I pushed it a little harder. I can’t say that I pushed it 100 percent, but I felt pretty good about the way things went this morning. Hopefully I’ll wake up tomorrow and if I feel good, I’ll push it 100 percent, and who knows? I might play tomorrow.”
|10.19.11 at 1:37 pm ET|
Looking for some answers after a 2-4-0 start to the season, Bruins coach Claude Julien shook up the lines in Wednesday’s practice. Nathan Horton was among those to see a demotion, as he was on the second line. The new lines are as follows:
Milan Lucic – Chris Kelly – Tyler Seguin
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Nathan Horton
Benoit Pouliot – David Krejci – Rich Peverley – Jordan Caron
Shawn Thornton – Gregory Campbell – Daniel Paille
– Krejci said he did not push himself 100 percent in practice and said that though he’d love to play Thursday, he wants to make sure he’s fully recovered before he returns. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be a go against the Maple Leafs.
– Adam McQuaid, who did not play Tuesday after being viewed as a game-time decision, was not on the ice for Wednesday’s practice. Claude Julien said after the practice that the team is still treating the injured defenseman as though he has a concussion, though there are “still no signs” of one.
– If McQuaid is unable to go, Steven Kampfer may be able to play in his place. Kampfer, who is coming off a left knee sprain, has been cleared for contact and is considered a game-time decision for Thursday.
|10.18.11 at 10:41 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien, who was given a game misconduct in the third period of the B’s 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes Tuesday, said afterwards that he was unsure of why he was tossed from the game.
“I wish I knew,” Julien said. “I really wish I knew. I guess when they announced the misconduct to Lucic, I just shook my head. I guess that was merit for being kicked out. That’s all I can come up with.”
The Bruins were assessed 82 penalty minutes minutes, and though Julien seemed upset with his own penalty, he did not blame the officiating for the result of the contest, which dropped the Bruins to 2-4-0 on the season.
“We have to take responsibility for our own actions here. ‘¦ I think what I saw from tonight is we started off the game well. In the first period we had some great chances, but we’re not capitalizing,” he said. “What I see is frustration setting in, and the minute we start getting frustrated, we lose focus of our game, and it gets worse and worse. That’s been a bit of a pattern this year.”
Julien’s lone criticism of the referees regarded Zdeno Chara’s third-period high-sticking call, with the Bruins’ coach accusing Hurricanes forward Eric Staal of diving.
“I’m not saying all the penalties were good calls,” Julien said. “I really was disappointed on the one on Zdeno, trying to hold his own ice, and for some reason he gets called because the other guy embellishes. That was one that was clear in my eyes that I would question, or not agree with, but the rest, they were calls and you have to take responsibility of your own actions.”
|10.18.11 at 9:44 pm ET|
The Bruins’ hardly hid their frustrations Tuesday night at TD Garden as they fell to the Hurricanes, 4-1, and saw their season record drop to 2-4-0. Among the 72 minutes worth of penalties assessed to the team on the night, the most notable might have come in the final minutes of the third period, when B’s coach Claude Julien was tossed from the game.
The Hurricanes received goals from Anthony Stewart, Joni Pitkanen, Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu with Rich Peverley scoring the Bruins’ lone goal. Stewart has now scored both of his goals this season again the Bruins.
On a night that featured instances of Nathan Horton taking whacks at Carolina players and the likes of Shawn Thornton being turned down in his requests to dance (Thornton practically begged Tim Gleason but was turned down), the teams finally came to blows over halfway through the second period. Horton got tangled up with Jay Harrison before Zdeno Chara came in and began pounding the Hurricanes defenseman.
Chara then had a nose-to-nose encounter with Ward, which caused Rask to skate the length of the ice to challenge the Hurricanes netminder. Ward declined, and Rask was assessed a minor penalty for crossing the red line.
Chara racked up 17 penalty minutes on the play, as he got an instigator and 10-minute misconduct in addition to his fighting major. Horton received a roughing minor, with Harrison, like Chara, getting a fighting major. After all the penalties, the Bruins were forced to kill off a 5-on-3.
Fisticuffs occurred again halfway through the third period, when Milan Lucic tried to fight Gleason before Chris Kelly eventually fought Brett Sutter, who had injured Joe Corvo earlier in the game. Minutes later, Horton threw Gleason to the ice after Gleason kept his gloves on and clearly was not interested in throwing. Horton was assessed a double-minor for roughing as well as a 10-minute game misconduct, ending his night.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Horton’s penalty was Lucic-esque for its combination of bad timing and poor judgement. With the Bruins trailing by a goal and 8:30 remaining, Horton put the B’s down a man (further penalties would make it worse) rather than in good shape to mount a comeback.
– It was not a good night for the Bruins’ fourth line. Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille were on the ice for both of the Hurricanes goals. The line had two shots on goal, both of which came from Paille.
One positive for the line came in the first period, when Thornton easily picked the pocket of Tomas Kaberle on a turnover so soft that offer grounds for nostalgia about Kaberle’s similarly soft play with the Bruins last season.
– Matt Bartkowski‘s time filling in for Adam McQuaid has not gone well. He was on the ice for Sutter’s tally, and after has now been a minus-2 over the last two games despite getting minimal ice time. He did not play at all in the second period, but saw some time in the third period. The Bruins would be fortunate to get McQuaid or Steven Kampfer back as quickly as possible.
– Julien made a statement in the third period by taking Lucic off the first line and promoting Benoit Pouliot. Lucic took Pouliot’s old spot on the third line. Lucic led the Bruins with 30 goals last season but has just one point (an assist) through six games.
– Dennis Seidenberg took a couple of bad penalties at the wrong time as well. Textbook cases of interference in the second period and a boarding call with 7:50 remaining, much like Horton’s actions, made things drastically worse on a night in which things were already bad.
– The Bruins lost Corvo 10 minutes into the first period when Hurricanes forward Sutter slammed the former Hurricanes blue liner into the boards in the corner of the Bruins’ zone. Corvo remained on the ice for several moments before getting up and skating off the ice under his own power. Peverley approached Sutter following the play, though Lucic was among those who watched.
Corvo returned and was on the bench at the start of the second period. It remains to be seen whether Brendan Shanahan will have anything to say about the play.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Peverley’s goal ended the Bruins’ power-play drought. They are now 2-for-24 on the man advantage this season.
Aside from Peverley’s goal helping the B’s erase an ugly statistic, there wasn’t much of anything that was remotely positive for the Bruins. It was just an ugly night in which the fights didn’t help them. Even Kaberle got an assist.
|10.18.11 at 6:30 pm ET|