Big Bad Blog AT&T
WEEI.com Blog Network

Bruins taking ‘baby steps’ in right direction toward playoffs

03.09.12 at 11:49 am ET
By   |   Comments


brightcove.createExperiences();

The mere suggestion by the toughest Bruin evokes laughter.

But when Shawn Thornton said the Bruins are starting to take “baby steps” in the right direction following the team’s 3-1 win over the Sabres Thursday night, he was making no joke.

“I’€™m more concerned about how we are playing,” Thornton said. “I think that Rangers game we could have very easily won. I think the way we have been playing for the last week or so is the style of play you’€™re used to seeing from us. As long as we keep putting up efforts and everyone is showing up every night, the wins will come with those performances.”

The inability to win back-to-back games had become a sort of unintentional comedic relief for the Bruins as they grind toward the playoffs, wondering how they’re going to cope without Tuukka Rask for at least a month and how they’re going to position themselves as they get ready for a title defense.

“It seems to be for a lot of people, and I think it’€™s the same for us,” Claude Julien said after the 3-1 win over the Sabres, giving the Bruins consecutive wins for the first time since early January. “We’€™ve been obviously battling with our consistency, and even though this is our first back-to-back win in a long time, I think the fact I was encouraged by our play in New York and it’€™s just kept coming along in the next game.

“Obviously winning, and then again tonight a pretty decent effort. I think that’€™s what we’€™re looking for now as more a consistent effort and hopefully they turn into wins. When you got the amount of injuries you have, you take every win for what they are and [Thursday] was a good win for us.”

Now, with the playoff race in the East tightening, the Bruins realize they need to stop messing around and get in playoff mode.

“Well, we have to, right? We’ve been forced into it by apparently not winning back-to-back games since January 10th through 12th, or whatever it was, and also, just the standings are getting tighter so we’re getting forced into a playoff mode, which is probably a good thing for us,” Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said.

The Bruins have 83 points, which is good for first in the Northeast. But, consider that point total would tie them for third in the Atlantic with No. 5 seed Philadelphia and you see Thomas’ point. Ottawa, which has played three more games, is only three points behind. Win the division and the Bruins almost certainly will be the No. 2 seed behind the Rangers. Finish second and the B’s could wind up anywhere from fifth through seventh.

“It is a baby step, for sure,” David Krejci said of Thursday’s win. “We finally won two in a row. It’s been a while. It feels good. I feel like, especially the last three games, it started in New York, we played really good hockey. We keep playing the way we have, the wins will come.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, David Krejci, Shawn Thornton, Tim Thomas

Johnny Boychuk helps Bruins find their jam

03.09.12 at 9:53 am ET
By   |   Comments


brightcove.createExperiences();

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.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Jhonas Enroth, Johnny Boychuk

Bruins finally win two in a row, defeat Sabres

03.08.12 at 9:29 pm ET
By   |   Comments

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.

Read More: David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Caron, Tim Thomas

Bruins-Sabres Live Blog: B’s go for second straight

03.08.12 at 6:54 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Bruins-Sabres Live Blog

Bruins aim to finally win two in a row

03.08.12 at 12:30 pm ET
By   |   Comments

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.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Shawn Thornton,

Benoit Pouliot expected back for Bruins, Daniel Paille and Andrew Ference remain out

03.08.12 at 11:51 am ET
By   |   Comments

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.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Benoit Pouliot, Daniel Paille,

Bruins recall Max Sauve, send Michael Hutchinson to Providence

03.07.12 at 8:05 pm ET
By   |   Comments

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.

Read More: Max Sauve, Michael Hutchinson,
Bruins Box Score
Bruins Schedule

Latest from Bleacher Report

Bruins Headlines
NHL Headlines