|12.28.11 at 12:10 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley talked with Dennis & Callahan guest hosts Tom Caron and Chris Mannix on Wednesday morning to discuss the Bruins’ busy second-half schedule, which teams provide the biggest challenge to the B’s in the Eastern Conference, and NHL First Star of the Week Brad Marchand.
Last week, Marchand scored a goal in the 3-2 victory over the Canadiens and capped off the week with a hat trick and two assists in the Bruins’ 8-0 dismantling of the Panthers.
“I think we should be a little surprised to the degree that he’s playing as well as he’s playing,” Brickley said. “I think any good team and any good young player that fits into a real good hockey club that’s deep and balanced like Boston, you expect those young players to get better from their rookie seasons and you’ve certainly seen that from both [Tyler] Seguin and Marchand. To think that he would be this good this early — this productive and this reliable — is a little bit of a surprise. But keep in mind both of those young players bring a nice element of speed along with their skill set to the Bruins.”
Brickley has been just as impressed by the play of Patrice Bergeron, who is on pace to have his most productive season and has lifted Marchand and Seguin.
“They play with a guy in the middle like Bergeron and that’s a huge benefit to them,” Brickley said. “It allows them to play to their strengths, have a little bit more freedom offensively because Bergeron will distribute the puck, he’ll take care of all three zones, and he’ll win his puck battles, and he’s so reliable and dependable yet he’s got an offensive flair himself. So to have that kind of centerman in the middle — that kind of experience, that kind of talent — is a huge benefit for those two guys.”
|12.28.11 at 12:26 am ET|
It seems the Bruins aren’t quite ready to throw Rich Peverley back into their lineup just yet, choosing instead to give him another night off Wednesday.
The Bruins’ plan was to give Peverley last Friday’s game off, so he would have eight days off between his last game (last Monday against the Canadiens) and his next one, but it seems the B’s have changed that plan. Coach Claude Julien told reporters after Tuesday’s practice in Phoenix that the team doesn’t expect to have the third-line winger in the lineup Wednesday.
Peverley, who has six goals and 19 assists for 25 points in 30 games this season, has been dealing with an undisclosed nagging injury that Julien has said is helped by rest. The winger had a full week of time off the ice, and returned to it Tuesday when he did some skating after the team’s practice. Julien said the winger will participate in Wednesday’s morning skate and will then return to practicing with the team normally.
If Peverley doesn’t play Wednesday and instead returns to the lineup on Saturday against the Stars, he will have gone 11 days between games.
“He’s still on schedule, and everything is going when we figured it would be,” Julien told reporters, adding that the team “certainly” expects him to play Saturday.
Considering that it’s the 34th game of the season, giving Peverley the night off won’t hurt the Bruins now as much as it might end up helping them down the road. The Bruins have been bitten by the injury bug at times this season, but thus far it hasn’t been bad enough to give the team any question marks regarding where they’ll stand come spring time. The priority is obviously to have everyone ready then, so there’s no harm in being extra careful with a guy like Peverley now.
With Peverley out, one of this season’s pleasant surprises will get another chance to play. It’s hard to imagine anybody saw it coming, but Zach Hamill has been a strong bottom-six winger for the Bruins in his limited time in the NHL. He’s proven capable of handling minutes as a penalty killer and has worked on the power play, bringing such a complete game that it was Jordan Caron who the B’s sent to Providence last Friday.
Once Peverley is back and at full strength, it will be interesting to see if he and his line with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot pick up where they left off. Peverley had set up Pouliot for the game’s first goal in his last two games before taking last Friday off, and both Peverley and Kelly were finding success in the faceoff circle. The Bruins are likely eager to see if he can continue to be a big part of what’s been a pretty consistent line of late, but it’s clear that they aren’t going to rush Peverley back. Even the craziest of Boston fans couldn’t disagree with the logic behind that.
|12.27.11 at 2:22 pm ET|
The show, which follows players for 36 hours, began following Bergeron at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and will air the episode on Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Sports. Peter Coyote will provide narration.
In a statement about the episode, executive producer Ross Greenburg cited Bergeron’s championships in the NHL, the Olympics and World Junior Championship, calling him “one of the league’s most underrated superstars.”
Bergeron has seven goals and 21 assists this season for 28 points and is on pace for his first 70-point season since 2006-07.
For Bruins fans, this should be must-see TV. Bergeron, who is as polite and humble as they come, doesn’t go out of his way to stick his head in the spotlight. Teammates describe him as an increasingly vocal leader, so it will be interesting to see how much of that is captured.
|12.26.11 at 12:14 pm ET|
Bruins forward Brad Marchand was named the NHL’s first star for the week ending Dec. 25 after the youngster turned in dominant performances in a pair of games last week.
Marchand had six points (four goals and two assists) and recorded his first career hat trick in Friday’s win over the Panthers. His other goal during the week, a third period tally against the Canadiens on Monday, proved to be the game-winning goal in that contest. The 23-year-old leads the Bruins with 15 goals this season.
New York forward Marian Gaborik and Colorado goaltender Jean-Sebastian Giguere were named the second and third stars, respectively.
|12.23.11 at 9:30 pm ET|
The Bruins wanted to head into Christmas break on a high note. If it got any higher, it would probably be inaudible.
Brad Marchand had a hat trick and a career-high five points, and Tuukka Rask recorded his second shutout of the season as the Bruins trounced the Panthers to the tune of an 8-0 final. Patrice Bergeron had a goal and an assist for three points.
Marchand got the B’s on the board with a shorthanded goal at 5:56 of the first period, and Milan Lucic scored on the power play at 13:40. Benoit Pouliot and Dennis Seidenberg added goals to make it 4-0 at the end of the first period. Gregory Campbell and Bergeron scored in the second period to make it 6-0, with Marchand adding his second of the night 1:53 into the third.
Rask made 30 saves in the contest, improving to 7-4-1 on the season. The Bruins will next play Wednesday in Phoenix.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Marchand now leads the Bruins with 15 goals this season, as he surpassed linemate Tyler Seguin. His first goal of the night was also his first shorthanded tally of the season. The pesky forward had five goals on the power play last season.
– Pouliot now has goals in three straight games and has played a large role in the Bruins’ six-game game winning streak. His goal was one of the prettiest tallies you’ll see all season, as he took a pass from Chris Kelly after Kelly won the face-off in the Bruins zone and took the puck the length of the ice. With one man to beat, Pouliot absolutely broke Dmitry Kulikov’s ankles with some fancy stick work and deked Theodore for his seventh goal of the season. A lot of players could be considered “in the zone” right now, and Pouliot’s certainly one of them.
– Lucic didn’t show any rust after sitting out Monday’s game due a league-mandated suspension for his hit from behind Saturday on Zac Rinaldo. Lucic scored one of the Bruins’ four first-period goals, parking out front on the power play and sending a puck past Theodore after a Bergeron shot from the point missed wide and bounced off the endboards to the 23-year-old left wing.
– As though the score didn’t do a good enough job telling that things went the Bruins’ way, the B’s even got some lucky bounces. Bergeron’s goal came when a pass to the front of the net bounced off Ed Jovanowski and in, while Marchand’s second goal wasn’t even put on net. The second-year forward was trying to send a pass through the Panthers’ zone, but it bounced off a Panthers player and past Clemmensen.
– Zach Hamill played in place of Rich Peverley, and once again showed he is very capable of handling NHL minutes. The former eighth overall pick (2007) saw time on both the power play and the penalty kill. His strong play is certainly hurting Jordan Caron’s case for playing time.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Nobody has more holiday spirit than me, but an arena-wide “Mer-ry Christ-mas” chant doesn’t exactly scream “intimidating building to play in.” The Garden crowd busted that chant out in the second period, making for perhaps the only pleasant moment of the night for the Panthers.
|12.23.11 at 7:00 pm ET|
|12.23.11 at 12:45 pm ET|
The last two months have acted as a search for which teams in the NHL can actually hang with the Bruins. Few can, but the Panthers have proven they’re one of those teams.
Not many teams have beaten the B’s since Nov. 1. In fact, only three have. One of those teams is the Panthers, and they’re in town Friday as the Bruins will look to head into the upcoming Christmas break with a victory over the last team to defeat them.
The Panthers came into Boston on Dec. 8, and played the perfect road game against the B’s. Florida stayed in a scoreless game until late in the third period, when Tomas Kopecky scored with less than three minutes remaining. Kris Versteeg added an empty-netter, and the Panthers left Boston with a 2-0 victory thanks to a shutout from Jose Theodore.
The Panthers remain at the top of the Southeast division, but when the B’s face them Friday, they’ll be a different-looking team. Florida will be without five of the players that skated in the Dec. 8 meeting, and they have seven players out overall. The team is dealing with injuries to Mikael Samuelsson, Marco Sturm, Scottie Upshall, Jeff Skille, Stephen Weiss and Marcel Goc, and are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss Thursday in Ottawa.
Injured or not, the Bruins know well enough not to take the Panthers lightly.
“They’ve got a bunch of injuries right now, so they’ve got a bunch of call ups, but they constantly work hard,” Daniel Paille said Friday. “One thing is you can’t take them for granted anymore, because they’re top in their division. They’re a team that’s going to battle throughout every minute tonight. They showed it last game against us, so it’s going to be tough.”
Since beating the Bruins, the Panthers have had only two of their seven games decided in regulation (2-2-3). Whether it takes more than 60 minutes to accomplish, the B’s want to make sure they give the proper response to their last loss.
“I feel like we’re going to probably feel like we owe them something, so we’re going to play pretty hard,” Joe Corvo said. “No matter who’s in or out of their lineup, they play the same way. They play a good game, so it will be tough. We’ve just got to keep our minds on it and not think about Christmas break.”