|10.13.10 at 10:28 am ET|
WILMINGTON — It sure isn’t as visually pleasing as Prague’s O2 Arena, but it’s good to be back at Ristuccia Arena for the Bruins’ first practice since returning from Europe.
Prior to the team’s 10:30 skate commencing, there was a bit of an on-ice meeting with 10 Bruins consisting of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Tuukka Rask.
Despite skating with the aforementioned first, smaller group, Ference did not skate with the team in practice. Judging by the team’s multi-colored sweaters, here are the forward lines.
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Jordan Caron – Patrice Bergeron – Blake Wheeler
Mark Recchi – Tyler Seguin – Michael Ryder/Daniel Paille
Brad Marchand - Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton/Brian McGrattan
Dennis Seidenberg left the ice after about half an hour, so Thornton tossed a black jersey on to balance out the defense. Chara was paired with Boychuk, Hunwick was with Mark Stuart, and Thornton skated with Adam McQuaid.
|10.12.10 at 4:55 pm ET|
Bruins fans have plenty of reason to not want to see any more ugly hits. Having watched the concussion-inducing blows that cost both Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard significant time, it would be understandable. At any rate, here’s the hit from Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarrson on Sabres forward Jason Pominville that had Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller all charged up when speaking to WGR Sports Radio.
“I don’t care if it’s unintentional. It’s what we have to get away from in hockey right now, is the culture of, ‘I was trying to make a play, therefore it’s not my fault,’” Miller said, adding that the hit “absolutely needs to be punished.”
“I don’t even know if there’s enough made of it is because Jason is walking out with just stitches,” Miller added. “What if Jason has a fractured neck? We don’t even know if it’s going to have an impact with concussions.”
Miller spoke very passionately against dirty hits and called for players to take more accountability in wake of such plays.
“I just think more people should be a little more outraged,” Miller said. “When [Hjalmarsson] left the ice he was surprised he got kicked out. Are you serious? I would have probably started shading towards the locker room if I were him.”
The reigning Vezina trophy winner said that he hopes “the league wakes up and sets a precedent for the year,” so that players will no longer be at risk of losing time or their careers to concussions. One of the plays mentioned was Matt Cooke‘s March 7 hit on Savard.
“Savard’s still not playing,” Miller said. “One of the best playmakers we have in this game is still not playing because of a stupid, smartass hit.”
Savard, despite returning for the team’s second-round matchup with the Flyers, has been out since training camp with post-concussion syndrom symptoms.
|10.11.10 at 12:59 pm ET|
The Bruins announced on Monday that they have signed enforcer Brian McGrattan to a one-year deal. McGrattan, 29, had travelled with the team to Belfast and Prague while on a tryout.
The 29-year-old has played in 182 games between the Senators, Coyotes, and Flames. Though known throughout the NHL as one of the league’s most willing fighters, McGrattan’s most impressive statistic was his 551 penalty minutes in 71 AHL games in the 2004-05 season.
The team also placed goaltender Nolan Schaefer on waivers with the intention of assigning him to Providence. Teams were allowed to bring a third goaltender on the season-opening European trip, and as a result the former Providence College netminder traveled with the Bruins.
|10.10.10 at 1:57 pm ET|
PRAGUE – Eastern Europe was good to Nathan Horton.
The Bruins right winger, who was acquired in a June 22 trade with the Florida Panthers, scored the only two goals in Boston’s Saturday loss to Phoenix, and struck again on Sunday with his third goal of the short-lived season and an assist to Milan Lucic.
Horton will certainly return to Boston as the center of attention after his spectacular performance overseas, but he doesn’t seem to care much. He’s just excited about heading back and returning to the fans at home.
“It’s a hockey city, Boston,” Horton said. “It’s hockey and it’s sports, and it’s fun to play there and be a Boston Bruin.”
More remarks from the locker room:
On playing on the first line with Lucic and David Krejci, Horton said:
“Every day is getting better. We try not to be too fancy sometimes. I think that’s where we get into trouble, and getting some pucks to the net. I think if you try to work little plays, give and gos, and just have fun out there. Just relax and try to work to gather. They’re great players, so it’s just get them the puck and things happen.”
On first round-pick Tyler Seguin’s first NHL goal (Horton himself was the third overall pick in the 2003 draft):
“Good for him. He’s such a skilled player. He’s confident, and he knows he’s good and he’s going to score. It’s great for him to score and get it out of the way. There’s going to be a lot more in the NHL for him to come. “
|10.10.10 at 1:37 pm ET|
PRAGUE – In the Czech Republic’s capital city, Tim Thomas got a fresh start to the young season.
Coming off a lackluster 2009-2010 campaign, not to mention off-season hip surgery, the 36-year-old Bruins goalie put on an impressive show against Phoenix on Sunday as he stopped every puck that came his way and earned his first victory of the year.
Amid the howls of Coyotes fans and the growls of the Bruins faithful clad in black and gold, Thomas made the job look seemingly effortless – and for nearly the entire game, it was. The Bruins defense, led by Captain Zdeno Chara, kept the pressure off Thomas and redeemed itself after allowing five goals the night before. For their part, Phoenix had just 29 shots on Thomas the entire game and worse, no goals to show for it.
Thomas could be seen lounging in the crease for much of the first two periods while most of the action was taking place across the ice. He almost looked bored, his arm resting up against the goal as his teammates took shots at Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Thomas said it wasn’t a symptom of boredom, but rather a symptom of his age.
“I’m 36,” Thomas said after the game. “That’s going to happen all the time.”
In May, the Bruins goalie underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. That, after a season in which he went 17-18 and 23-year-old hotshot Tuukka Rask seemed to garner all the praise in Boston.
It explains why Thomas was so nervous before Sunday’s game in Prague. But all things considered, it also explains why the victory felt so good.
“It’s been a long road, but it feels great to get a shutout right off the bat,” he said.
|10.10.10 at 12:34 pm ET|
PRAGUE — The newcomers made most of the offensive noise, but it was an old face in Tim Thomas who was the story as the Bruins picked up their first win of the season, a 3-0 shutout over the Coyotes at the O2 Arena in Prague.
A night after Tuukka Rask looked impressive despite allowing four goals, Thomas got the start and recorded his 18th career shutout. Additionally, the defense looked far more responsible in shutting down any of Phoenix’ offensive attempts throughout the night.
Former third overall pick Nathan Horton picked up two more points in the game, including his third goal of the season. Rookie Tyler Seguin took a pass from Michael Ryder in the third period and converted it into a breakaway goal, the first of his NHL career.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Nathan Horton’s first two games with the Bruins could not have gone better. After getting the primary assist on Lucic’s goal and potting one of his own from the slot in the second period, he has now been on the scoring sheet for four of the Bruins’ five goals this season.
Bruins fans shouldn’t get too carried away — Horton’s scored 30 goals in his six-year career just once — but it could be time for this writer to rethink the 33-goals he predicted for the 25-year-old. Motivation was a question for Horton while he played for the Panthers, and both he, his teammates, and management have spotted a rejuvenated player in him. It’s pretty clear at this point that the Bruins won’t need Tyler Seguin to overachieve in order to have a top pick light up the stat sheet.
Horton said prior to the game that he and his linemates continue to get more comfortable with one another with each practice and each game, but the three of them have looked terrific to this point. The dynamic between he and Lucic is something to keep an eye on, as their styles of play are very similar and the two have moved the puck to one another well to this point.
- Unforced errors and turnovers grabbed headlines following Saturday’s game, but the cautious and responsible style of play that the Bruins have become known for in recent years made its return on Sunday. The Coyotes’ offense struggled to get going for long stretches at a time, particularly in the second period, when it took Phoenix about 15 minutes to get their second shot on goal of the period.
- The new third line, with Tyler Seguin skating between Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder, looks intriguing, but not for the reason one would think. Though Seguin had his first career goal on a breakaway that once again suggested his talents as a scorer will be too much to allow him to hit too big of a rookie wall, Ryder turning the corner from a down year last season could also help the Bruins big. Ryder sent Seguin a hail mary pass on the rookie’s goal.
- That would indeed be Mr. Tim Thomas with the shutout for your Boston Bruins. Thomas wasn’t spectacular, and at times could have been caught out of position, but the bottom line was that he made timely saves. As was mentioned above, the Phoenix offense had its fair share of lulls, but Thomas was ready for the spurts of pressure when they came.
In total Thomas, made 29 saves in the game, his first win of the season and his 18th career shutout.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The defense was strong for the Bruins, but it can’t be an encouraging sign that the team has shuffled its pairings regularly throughout the first two games. Such was the case in the preseason, but it appears that Claude Julien needs to be careful with who he pairs with Matt Hunwick, who despite playing better on Sunday than he’ll probably be noticed, is a bit of a liability as he comes into his own.
|10.10.10 at 11:40 am ET|
PRAGUE — Sure, there have been some things not to like about the Bruins so far in their young season, but that first line still looks awfully good. Milan Lucic, admittedly on a quest for his first 20-goal season, got one out of the way courtesy of a Nathan Horton feed. Horton later scored yet another goal on a wrist shot from in front of the net, ant the first line has now produced all four of the Bruins’ goals this season. Horton has been on scoring sheet for each of them after a two-goal performance Saturday.
The Bruins were sloppy in every area of the ice on Sunday, so they’ll they have plenty of reason to be excited by the solid neutral zone play displayed through the first 40 minutes of the game. Horton set up Lucic’s goal at the red line, hitting his streaking linemate in stride, and Lucic took it into the offensive zone and rifled a powerful slapshot past Bryzgalov from behind the circle at 12:12.
The Coyotes essentially gave Tim Thomas the first 15 minutes of the period off, producing just one shot on goal for the majority of the period. They finished the period strong with eight, and the shots on goal are now 27-16 in favor of the Bruins.
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