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Tim Thomas gets fifth shutout as Bruins beat Flyers

12.01.10 at 9:30 pm ET
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It didn’t advance them to the Eastern Conference finals, but the Bruins beat the Flyers, 3-0, in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin had goals in the first period, while Milan Lucic added an empty-netter to put the nail in the coffin. Tim Thomas turned in 41 saves for his league-leading fifth shutout of the season.

The Bruins won in a rather flashy manner, receiving sprawling saves from Thomas and Tyler Seguin’s latest eye-candy goal, a top-shelf tally on Flyers’ goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Thomas also stopped Flyers winger Scott Hartnell on a penalty shot in the second period.

With five shutouts, Thomas tied his career high, which he had reached in each of the last two seasons.

The Bruins will return to TD Garden on Thursday night, where they will face Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Bergeron’s goal marked the first time in five games that the Bruins have scored the first goal of the game. The team remains undefeated when scoring the first goal, and in the last four games, the team had been 1-3-1.

Claude Julien said following the home opener on Oct. 21 that Tim Thomas had played so well that the only way he could have allowed a goal was if he caused it himself.

It was rather apparent early on in the second period Wednesday that Thomas was having that type of night once again. The 36-year-old stood on his head, making seemingly-impossible saves and recovering well when caught out of position. Unlike that home opener, where Thomas did pass a puck to Jason Chimera for the Capitals’ lone goal, there wasn’t a single error on Thomas’ part in his fifth shutout of the season.

– The special teams had a better statistical night after their recent slumps. The Bruins were 1-for-2 on the power play and stopped the Flyers on all four of their power plays.

The B’s penalty kill had allowed goals on four of their opponents’ last sic power plays entering the game.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins took a positive step with a win over one of the best teams in the league, but the slump continued for Nathan Horton. The winger has now gone eight games without a goal and has no points in his last six games.

The posts also continued to haunt Horton, as a third-period opportunity rang off the post of Bobrovsky.

– Here’s a case of sneaking a “what went right” into the “what went wrong” area: David Krejci was all over the place but had nothing to show for it until his assist on Lucic’s empty-netter. The center tied Blake Wheeler for the most shots among Bruins forwards, including an impressive between-the-legs bid in the second period.

Read More: Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin,

Bruins lead Flyers, 2-0, after two

12.01.10 at 8:39 pm ET
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Tim Thomas has been spellbinding, and after two periods, the Bruins are holding on to a 2-0 lead over the Flyers.

The Bruins’ netminder has 29 saves through 40 minutes of play, and he’s been especially tough on Scott Hartnell. Hartnell has four shots on goal and actually got hit in the face by Thomas after he was a little too persistent with trying to knock a puck out of Thomas’ possession. Both players received minor penalties, with Tyler Seguin serving Thomas’.

After serving his penalty, Hartnell came out of the box and had a breakaway foiled by Andrew Ference taking him down. The play resulted in a penalty shot, with Thomas once again besting the Flyers winger.

The Flyers are 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Bruins are 1-for-2. Sergei Bobrovsky has 22 saves on 24 shots.

Read More: Tim Thomas,

Bruins lead Flyers, 2-0, after one

12.01.10 at 7:46 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron did something the Bruins haven’t exactly done a lot lately: scored the first goal of the game. After 20 minutes, the Bruins hold a 2-0 lead over the Flyers.

Milan Lucic did some fancy weaving through a couple of defenders in front, only to get stopped by Sergei Bobrovsky. Old friend Seaon O’Donnell’s attempt at clearing the puck out left more to be desired, as he simply fired it to Patrice Bergeron, who quickly shot it high and into the net. It was the first time since Nov. 18 against the Panthers that the Bruins notched the game’s first tally.

The Bruins have not lost this season after scoring the first goal. It was Bergeron’s fourth goal of the season. Three of his goals have now come on the power play.

Tyler Seguin added his fifth goal of the season thanks to a tough pass from Michael Ryder on a 2-on-1. With Bobrovsky’s positioning forcing Seguin to beat him high, the rookie did just that, going top shelf to make it a 2-0 game.

Shawn Thornton and Jody Shelley danced in the period’s only fight. The Bruins were 1-for-1 on the power play, while the Flyers will still have 10 seconds remaining on their third power play when the second period opens.

Tim Thomas has stopped all 14 shots he’s seen, while Bobrovsky has allowed a pair of goals on 10 shots.

Read More: Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin,

Bruins at Flyers preview

12.01.10 at 5:41 pm ET
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The Bruins are in Philadelphia to take on the Flyers for the first time since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last May.

The team did not have a full morning skate, with just rehabbing players and a healthy scratch — Marc Savard, Marco Sturm and Daniel Paille — as well as Tuukka Rask, taking the ice. With Rask skating this morning, it is anticipated that Tim Thomas will start for the B’s.

WHERE IT’S AT

The Flyers are 9-4-1 at home this season, though they’re 1-1-1 in their last three games in Philadelphia.

The Bruins, on the other hand, continue to be a far better road team than they are a home team. Their away record stands at 8-3-0 compared to their 4-5-2 mark in home games. Still, the Bruins are slumping, and it’s hit them no matter where they’ve been playing. They’ve dropped two of their last three games away from TD Garden, the most recent of which was a 4-1 pounding from the Thrashers in Atlanta on Sunday.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

– It’s almost time to send a search party out for Nathan Horton. The sharpshooting winger has gone seven games without a goal and is a minus-2 with zero points over his last five contests.

– Wednesday marks the 100th game of James van Riemsdyk‘s career. The 21-year-old forward spent two years at UNH before making the jump to the NHL last season. The former second overall pick has three goals in his last four games, which is a good sign for the Flyers when considering his benching last month. Of course, the three goals are his only three of the season. In 21 games this season, JVR has three goals and seven assists for 10 points.

– The Flyers have scored on just two of their last 34 power plays. The B’s penalty kill has been slumping, allowing four power play goals in their opponent’s last six opportunities. The majority of the damage was done last Friday, of course, when Carolina went 3-for-3.

– Thomas still leads the league in save percentage (.951) and goals against average (1.56) and is tied with Carey Price for the NHL lead with four shutouts. He is coming off what is one of his worst starts of the season statistically, though much like Rask could have in the season-opener, he can blame the numbers (three goals on 21 shots) on bad bounces and Daniel Paille.

STORYLINES GOING IN

– Storylines in this game? Hard to think of any’€¦ When the B’s last left Philadelphia, they had let the Flyers tie the series at three games apiece after leading it, 3-0. The Flyers took Game 7 in Boston, 4-3, to win the series and shock the NHL.

– It’s been bad for the Bruins of late. They’re 5-6-2 in their last 13 games, so what better motivation to turn things around than facing the team that embarrassed them last May?

Adam McQuaid will play his 11th game of the season, but first since the trade of Matt Hunwick. With Hunwick now gone, the physical right-handed-shooting blueliner finally has a full-time job after going back and forth between dressing and sitting as a healthy scratch.

Read More: James Van Riemsdyk, Nathan Horton, Tim Thomas,

Bruins consider Marc Savard day-to-day

12.01.10 at 2:33 pm ET
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Bruins coach told reporters in Philadelphia that the status of forwards Marc Savard and Marco Sturm is the “same old,” though in speaking about Savard revealed that the center is close to a return.

“He’s become almost a day-to-day situation with different reasons for holding him back. I think that decision will hopefully come sooner [rather] than later,” Julien said. “We’re looking forward to having him in our lineup, and he’s looking better every day.”

Savard will not play on Wednesday against the Flyers, though the possibility exists that he could play Thursday at home vs. the Lightning or in Toronto on Saturday night.

Asked about the possibility of returning by Saturday, Savard on Tuesday was hopeful that such a scenario would play out.

‘€œThat would be a lot of fun,” Savard said. “Hopefully I can get in by then.’€

Savard has not played a game this season, as he was kept out of training camp with post-concussion symptoms.

Read More: Marc Savard,

Mike Milbury on D&H: Milan Lucic ‘can’t lose that edge’

12.01.10 at 1:05 pm ET
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NESN, NBC and Hockey Night in Canada NHL analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, including Milbury talking about whether he would consider a return to coaching, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

With the Bruins struggling, Milbury was asked what the team needs to do to turn things around.

“I haven’t seen the intense forecheck, except when they get desperate,” he said. “That’s not a good thing. You want to get on the forecheck. You want to get in and create some havoc. And when you’re doing that, that means physical play. And if you’ve been watching the Bruins for the last five or six games, you’re not seeing a ton of that. And I’m not talking about fighting. I’m talking about in-fast, pressure forechecking, intimidating not only with your bodychecking, but with your speed and intensity to cut down the time the defenseman has to move the puck. They’re sort of blah. ‘€¦ The Bruins have to play at a far higher pace to be successful.”

Asked if Zdeno Chara needs to set the tone for the team, Milbury said he’d first like to see players such as Milan Lucic provide more of a physical presence.

“I think Lucic has to be more involved physically,” he said. “And I’m not talking about fighting from him. The 10 goals are well and good. But harken back to a couple of years ago when this kid made a mark on this city and this franchise. It was with his purposeful forechecking. It was like nonstop, Terry O’Reilly-type forechecking. I haven’t seen that. I know he’s going to mature and settle in and use his energy more efficiently and conservatively. But you can’t lose that edge. And right now, I don’t think he’s got it.

“Chara can take care of it in his own zone, and I think he needs to do a little bit better job of being on the edge and nasty in order to make sure people on his team see that, feel it, feel the intensity,” Milbury added. “That’s what’s missing. Those are two key players in the scheme of things. But you need it from [Brad] Marchand. You need it from [Gregory] Campbell. You need it from guys that can get there and pressure defensemen, and that’s their role. They’re not expected to be huge offensive contributors, but they set the tone. They set the passion level for this team.”

Milbury noted the Bruins’ lack of speed is an issue as well.

“I think they need quickness. I think they need some speed,” he said. “I don’t want to go back to the [Phil] Kessel deal in a big way, but they miss his speed, they miss his penetrating speed off the wing. ‘€¦ It’s the kind of speed that gets defensemen second-guessing themselves, thinking about, ‘Jeez, where is this guy? Where’s he going to go?’ ”

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Read More: Matt Hunwick, Mike Milbury, Milan Lucic, Pat Burns

Adam McQuaid ready to stick in the Bruins’ lineup for good

11.30.10 at 6:17 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Adam McQuaid has gotten plenty of attention this season, but each time he’s been in the spotlight, it seems it’s been because of another player. That’s generally the life of a healthy scratch, but it’s a life McQuaid no longer leads.

When Johnny Boychuk‘s forearm ended up being fractured following a slash he took from Brandon Dubinsky on Oct. 23 against the Rangers, McQuaid, who had spent the first six games of the season in a suit, got the call. He’s received attention lately for post-practice battle drills with Marc Savard, something the team hopes will get the center ready for the physical aspect of the game. Now, the questions about McQuaid regard how he can step in and replace Matt Hunwick, who the team traded to Colorado on Monday in a team to clear cap space.

“It’s an opportunity. I’m not going to try and change too much,” McQuaid. “I’m obviously not going to step in and replace what [Hunwick] did. I’ll just play my own game, and hopefully secure a spot.”

Indeed, McQuaid will not replace what Hunwick brought to the table, as speed and puck-moving are not McQuaid’s forte. Instead, McQuaid’s safe and bruising style (and right-handed shot) will have to suffice. The “secure a spot” talk doesn’t really apply to McQuaid right away at least, as the move to send Hunwick out was also a vote of confidence for McQuaid from the Bruins. This isn’t a quick fix or a temporary replacement while a guy is hurt — McQuaid is now part of the six, something he hasn’t been able to say without somebody being injured.

“It can be mentally tough when you’re in and out of the lineup, and from game to game not sure if you’re going to play,” McQuaid said. “I think if anything, it’s made me mentally tougher. Being here all year and practicing, it gives me the opportunity to be up here at this level.”

In 10 games this season, McQuaid has an assist and an even rating to go along with 21 penalty minutes. His teammates know that there’s some give and take involved with swapping McQuaid in for Hunwick, but they’re excited to see what he can do with a job that is definitely his own.

“It gives us another right-handed shot. Hunwick’s a good skater, and it gives an opportunity for Adam to step in and do a good job,” Boychuk said.

McQuaid played in 19 games last year, registering one goal and 21 penalty minutes before adding six more penalty minutes in nine playoff games. A lower-body injury forced him out of Game 3 against the Flyers and kept him out for the rest of the playoffs.

Judging on what he’s seen from McQuaid since his NHL debut last season, Claude Julien has seen improvement in some areas, but none more than in the 24-year-old’s confidence.

“He was basically playing very safe last year. He didn’t want to make mistakes, and I think this year, he’s got more confidence,” Julien said. “That confidence is coming from a little bit more experience. That’s probably what’s changed the most about his game.”

McQuaid will play his 11th game of the season when the Bruins take on the Flyers in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Matt Hunwick,
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