|03.09.12 at 9:53 am ET|
In the midst of a 1-1 game in the third period, the Sabres and Bruins appeared for all the world to be heading for overtime.
Then with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third – BANG – Johnny Boychuk delivers.
No, it wasn’t his go-ahead blast from the right point with seven minutes remaining. It was something just as electric and woke everyone up in the building. Boychuk cleanly leveled Sabres star Thomas Vanek at Buffalo’s blue line and the tempo had been set for the rest of the game.
“I saw a guy coming back so I could pinch down and I could see [Vanek] wasn’t really paying attention too much ‘ I just wanted to make sure it was a clean hit,” Boychuk said. “The fans gave us a little boost and we took it from there.”
Shawn Thornton knows a thing or two about physical play and loved what he saw from the hit. To Thornton, the Bruins were playing a solid game and Boychuk’s hit just raised the level.
“Yeah, he’s a very physical player,” Thornton said. “I thought we played a pretty good game so I thought the momentum might have been amped up a little bit more. I thought we were pretty solid most of the night as it was.”
There’s an expression in hockey for what the Bruins had Thursday night – jam. It’s the energy to make things happen on the ice.
Two minutes after Boychuk’s wake-up call – just about 15 feet in closer from where he delivered his hit on Vanek – he unloaded one of his characteristic “Johnny Rockets” past Jhonas Enroth and the Bruins had the lead for good in a 3-1 win over the Sabres at TD Garden.
“It was just like a scramble play and I saw the puck coming through and I just decided I’ll go down and try to rip it home,” Boychuk said. “It’s just, you see the play developing and I know [Patrice Bergeron] is good defensively, so if I go down and get that puck I know he’s going to be backing me up.”
Boychuk was asked if he were actually aiming the puck to an open spot above Enroth’s shoulder, the mere suggestion of which made Boychuk laugh.
“Well, I was aiming of course,” Boychuk laughed. “I hit him in the belly a couple of times and one went through him so you know, try to just put it on top.”
|03.08.12 at 9:29 pm ET|
It took the Bruins long enough, but they finally won their second game in a row thanks to Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Sabres. The victory marked the first time in 26 games that the B’s have won back-to-back contests.
Jason Pominville gave the Sabres the lead in the first period when he beat Tim Thomas with a rocket over the veteran netminder’s glove. Gregory Campbell tied the game in the second, redirecting a Shawn Thornton slap shot past Buffalo starter Jhonas Enroth. Johnny Boychuk gave the B’s the lead in the third period with his fourth goal of the season, with David Krejci providing insurance at 15:52.
Thomas made 19 saves on 20 shots faced. The game was the seventh consecutive contest in which Thomas has played.
The Bruins will host the Capitals Saturday as they go for their — get this — third straight win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
— Claude Julien called for more secondary scoring after Saturday’s loss to the Islanders, and for the third straight game since, he got it. After Jordan Caron dominated Sunday and Tuesday as a third-liner (three goals, two assists over the two games), it was the fourth line that chipped in with the equalizer in the second period. A Buffalo turnover left the puck waiting for Thornton to fire on not, and Campbell got a piece of it to tie the game. The goal was Campbell’s seventh of the season.
— Speaking of Caron, Julien switched Caron and Brian Rolston, putting Caron with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the second line and Rolston with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot. Rolston hasn’t made enough of a statement to earn top-six minutes since coming over in a trade from the Islanders last week, and it’s good for Julien to reward Caron for his improved play of late.
In picking up the assist on Boychuk’s goal, Caron extended his point streak to three games. The 21-year-old has three goals and three assists over his last three contests.
— The B’s new top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin has produced at least one goal in all five games since Julien put the trio together. Krejci has five goals over the last five games, while Seguin has four and Lucic has one. Some quick arithmetic shows that the members of the line have totaled 10 goals over their last five contests.
— The Bruins outscored their opponent in the second period for the third consecutive game. As has been well-documented, the Bruins have not been a good second-period team over the difficult stretch they’ve found themselves in since mid-January, but they have outscored their opponents 6-2 in the second over the last three games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
— Greg Zanon was made a healthy scratch for the first time since debuting with the B’s last week. Julien spoke highly of Zanon Thursday morning, calling him “sturdy” for the Bruins in his first four games with the Bruins, but the truth is that Zanon’s had a rough go of it since his debut. Zanon impressed in his first game with the B’s last Thursday, handling everything that was thrown his way and adapting to new partners as the team twice went to a five-man rotation. Since then, he’s had a rough time for the Bruins, having multiple flubs in front of Tim Thomas‘ net, knocking a puck in and posting a minus-4 rating over his last three games. He was one of just two Bruins (Thornton being the other) to have a minus rating (minus-1) in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs.
Mike Mottau played in Zanon’s place, skating on pairing with Adam McQuaid.
— Bergeron and Marchand have both gone the last six games without a goal. The second line is one that’s effective for its prowess in all three zones, but the B’s need two of their better forwards in Bergeron and Marchand to get going.
|03.08.12 at 6:54 pm ET|
|03.08.12 at 12:30 pm ET|
When it comes to the Bruins, the last two months have been the definition of mediocrity. They were shut out five times in February and they’ve gone 11-12-2 over their last 25 games. Their scoring has dropped off and they’ve been allowing goals at a greater rate.
Perhaps the most alarming bit about their sluggish stretch is that they have not managed to win back-to-back games over their lsat 25 contests. It’s been since Jan. 10 and Jan. 12, and on Thursday they will have their latest chance to string together two victories.
The Bruins have obviously been banged up, but even the talent that’s left on the roster is capable of more. They’ve certainly been better over their last few games, but ultimately they can’t put their finger on what’s made it so difficult to win two in a row.
“I don’t know. We’ve been playing better of late,” Shawn Thornton said Thursday morning. “I think New York, we deserved to win [vs. the Rangers, a 4-3 loss]. I think we played well in Toronto. I think our game’s getting back to wear it needs to be. As long as we stay consistent with the way we’re playing, I’m happy.”
Last season, the Bruins were also struggling around this point of the season. On March 8, the B’s dropped what would be the second of four straight games (0-2-2) as part of a 1-3-3 stretch. The B’s found a way to pick up over the last few weeks, going 7-3-1 over their last 11 games.
Obviously, that didn’t solve all of the Bruins’ problems at the time. The B’s dropped the first two games of the Eastern conference quarterfinals to the Canadiens before coming alive and winning the series in seven games. Not letting the losses get you down is a mindset preached in the Bruins’ room, and it’s one that helped them then and eventually helped them win the Stanley Cup.
“We said it a lot last year. We didn’t let the highs get too high and the lows get too low,” Thornton said. “I know it’s cliche, but it’s true. We kind of just go about our business and focus on the next game. I think we’ve been pretty good at that this year, too. I think the experience has helped, but that was a big key in our success last year, just not worrying about what just happened, whether it was a big win or a big loss. [It was about] focusing on what’s coming up.”
On Thursday, the challenge to win two straight will come in the form of the Sabres, a squad that’s beaten the B’s in their last two meetings. Winning two straight hasn’t been easy for the Bruins of late, and it certainly won’t be easy given Buffalo’s situation. The Sabres are two points out of a playoff spot and have picked up their game, picking up points in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-2).
“They might be desperate, but they’re also playing great hockey, so it’s a combination of both,” Claude Julien said of the Sabres.
Two of the Bruins’ losses following wins over their last 25 games have come against the Sabres, so the B’s will be looking to change that trend Thursday night at the Garden. They feel they’ve been playing well enough recently (nine goals over their last two games) to pick up back-to-back wins for the first time in a long time. Frankly, they’re overdue.
“Our attitude in this room has never been a problem, but I think that we’re playing better of late,” Thornton said. “If we continue to be consistent playing that way, then we’re going to be good.”
|03.08.12 at 11:51 am ET|
Claude Julien said after Thursday’s optional morning skate that forward Benoit Pouliot is expected to be in the lineup Thursday night against the Sabres. Pouliot took only two shifts in the second period Tuesday against the Maple Leafs before leaving and not returning.
“Looks good, looks fine,” Julien said of Pouliot. “[He] told us he’s ready to go.”
Forward Daniel Paille and defenseman Andrew Ference will not play for the B’s on Thursday. Both players are considered day-to-day. Paille has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, while Ference has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. Paille, Ference and Pouliot all skated Thursday morning.
|03.07.12 at 8:05 pm ET|
The Bruins recalled forward Max Sauve from Providence on an emergency basis Wednesday and sent goaltender Michael Hutchinson to Providence.
Sauve, a second-round pick in the 2008 draft, has seven goals and 10 assists in 29 AHL games this season. He is expected to join the B’s for Thursday’s morning skate. The Bruins could be in need of a forward with Benoit Pouliot day-to-day after leaving Tuesday’s win over the Maple Leafs in the second period.
Hutchinson was recalled Saturday following the injury to Tuukka Rask in the team’s loss to the Islanders. Hutchinson did not play a game with the B’s in his stint with the team, and was no longer needed after the team signed veteran netminder Marty Turco.
|03.06.12 at 9:33 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin also did his usual damage against the Leafs, scoring two goals to increase his team-leading total to 24 on the season. With the win, the B’s improved to 5-0-0 against Toronto this season.
The Leafs got on the board early with a goal from Carl Gunnarsson, but Caron tied the game late in the period. The B’s outscored the Leafs, 4-2, in the second period thanks to goals from Seguin, Chris Kelly and Caron. The B’s held a 5-3 lead entering the third period Mikhail Grabovski made it a one-goal game 13:13 into the third.
The Bruins will host the Sabres at TD Garden Thursday and will have the opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time in 26 games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Caron hadn’t had a multi-point game in his career prior to Sunday, and now he’s picked up a goal and an assist in each of the last two games. Caron impressed Sunday by forcing turnovers, and Tuesday saw him produce thanks to physical in front. He dove to get a puck from Benoit Pouliot and poke the puck past Gustavsson in front, and his net drive created Kelly’s second-period goal.
The Bruins’ third line had a field day with the Maple Leafs‘ pairing of Luke Schenn and Jake Gardiner, as Kelly’s goal and Caron’s second of the night came against the pairing.
– With his second-period goal, Kelly set a new career high with 16 on the season. Kelly scored 15 in the 2006-07 and 2009-10 seasons. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent at the season, so he’s picked a good time to have a career year.
– For the second consecutive game, the Bruins outscored their opponent in the second period. Prior to Sunday’s loss to the Rangers, the B’s had only done so once in their previous eight games. Over the last two games, the B’s have outscored their opponent, 5-2, in the second period.
– Greg Zanon picked up his first assist as a Bruin when he got the secondary helper on Seguin’s second goal. Zanon has had a rough go of it since impressing in his debut, and it continued early in the game when he screened Thomas on Gunnarsson’s goal, so perhaps he can take his first point with the team and build off it.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Pouliot left the game after his second shift of the third period and did not return. That will be worth watching going forward.
– Thomas allowed at least three goals for the third time in as many starts. The Leafs’ third goal was the softest of the three he allowed, as Thomas knocked the puck into the net when he tried to reach back for it in the crease.
– While both the first and third lines have been scoring much more frequently of late, the same can’t be said for Patrice Bergeron’s line with Brian Rolston. Both Bergeron and Brad Marchand have both gone five games without a goal. All three players have gone without a goal since being put together last Thursday against the Devils.