|10.25.11 at 8:44 pm ET|
An interesting point was raised regarding Bruins goaltending during Peter Chiarelli‘s conference call with the media Tuesday. Remember when the Bruins said their intention was to play Tuukka Rask more than last season, especially early on?
Rask has started just two games this season, allowing one goal to Avalanche in the B’s 1-0 loss in the third game of the season, and allowing four goals last Tuesday against the Hurricanes. As was the case last season, Tim Thomas has been the No. 1 guy by a large margin as far as starts goes.
“In fairness to Tuukka, he probably should have gotten another start here or there, but you see Tim, how he’s playing, and you want him to recapture some of the stuff that he had last year,” Chiarelli said. “‘¦ What I see and observe is we’ve had had discussions on the goaltender situation. I think in the end you’ll see it go into line with what he originally put out there.”
The upcoming home-and-home with the Canadiens should be interesting when it comes to splitting up goaltending duties, should they go in that direction. If Rask starts Thursday and Thomas starts Saturday, Thomas will have gone a week without playing. Rask has gone a week since his last start as it is, and his last game in Montreal wasn’t pretty for anyone, perhaps with the exception of Lars Eller.
Rask started 27 games last season, posting an 11-14-2 record, 2.67 goals against average, and .918 save percentage. Thomas started the rest of the games, going 35-11-9 in his second Vezina-winning season. He had a 2.00 GAA set the NHL single-season record with a .938 save percentage.
|10.25.11 at 8:33 pm ET|
It’s the oldest cliche in the book, but one that it seems is worth believing.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a conference call Tuesday that he believes the Bruins’ 3-5-0 start is, on some level, the team suffering from a Stanley Cup hangover. The defending champs have failed to capitalize on scoring chances, and have scored as many goals as they’ve allowed (19).
“I’ve talked to GMs and coaches and players that have been through this,” Chiarelli said. “They have different stories, but they all say there’s something that happens that you can’t avoid. Malaise is too strong of a word, but it’s just a bit of a cloud right now. I know one team said it took them 20 games before they were back to normal. There’s no easy answer, and I’m not using it as a crutch. It’s something that we expected, and talking to the guys to start the year, we’ve just got to deal with it.”
The Bruins have not played since Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Sharks and will not play again until they host the Canadiens Thursday at TD Garden.
“I’m obviously not happy with where we are in the standings, but this is new to us,” Chiarelli said. “I don’t want to overreact, and unfortunately we have to do it game-by-game.”
|10.25.11 at 7:28 pm ET|
Stick-tap to NESN’s Naoko Funayama for snapping this picture of the Bruins visiting Children’s Hospital on their off-day Tuesday, and kudos to Zdeno Chara for dressing up as an enormous bunny. If there’s a theme to these costumes, I don’t get it.
|10.25.11 at 1:48 pm ET|
With the Bruins having another day off Tuesday, they figure to be well-rested and refreshed when they face the Canadiens at TD Garden on Thursday. The contest, the first game of a home-and-home, will be their first game in five days, with ideal result being wins in Boston and Montreal to mark their first two-game winning streak of the season.
Consistency has been a major issue for the Bruins through eight games (3-5-0). Each win has been followed with a loss or two, and the team will need to win both games against Montreal to even be .500 in the month’s first season.
It’s for that reason that, while the time off is good for the Bruins, they’re hungry to return to game action. While this week can provide rest and an opportunity to correct mistakes, Tim Thomas and the B’s are eager to face the Habs and pick up some points.
“I don’t think a break can help you with [consistency],” Thomas said Monday. “That’s got to come when you’re playing. It can help prepare you to get to that level of consistency when you start to play, but you can’t build consistency when you’re not playing a game.”
Three of the Bruins’ five losses have come against teams that currently do not have winning records, while the B’s have allowed as many goals as they’ve scored (19).
“We’re not too far out,” Thomas said. “We’re not getting completely dominated. We’re just making mistakes and not scoring enough. We’re right there, but with this league, every game is a battle. Every game is a very tight game. We had a whole year of tight games last year and a whole playoffs of tight games, for the most part. It’s the same thing this year.”
|10.25.11 at 11:07 am ET|
The Bruins’ 3-5-0 start to the season has certainly been underwhelming, but their next opponent and biggest rival is in even deeper trouble.
As the B’s await the Canadiens on Thursday, the Habs are still looking for their second win of the season. Montreal has gotten off to a 1-5-2 start to the season, with their latest loss being suffered to the Panthers Monday night at the Bell Centre. Jacob Markstrom made 40 saves for the Panthers, so a solid start from backup goaltender Peter Budaj was wasted by the Habs.
The loss dropped the Habs to 0-3-2 at home. They will host the Flyers on Wednesday as they look to get their first home win of the season.
Though neither team has started the season as well as they’d hoped, the Bruins certainly hope their home-and-home with the Habs on Thursday and Saturday can amp them up enough to start winning again.
“They’re obviously a big rival, and a good team,” Rich Peverley said Monday. “It’s going to be fun to play back-to-back games against them. Playing them in the playoffs, there’s some hostility, but those will be fun games to play in.”
|10.24.11 at 4:12 pm ET|
The Bruins were able to do something last Thursday against the Maple Leafs that they haven’t done much this season: score goals in bulk. Their six-goal effort was one of just two games this season in which they were able to score three goals, so it’s no surprised their satisfactory 19 goals allowed is matched by a subpar 19 goals for.
The offensive struggles have been especially apparent early on, as quality chances haven’t yielded ideal results, which explains why the opponent has scored the first goal in the Bruins’ last six contests. When opportunities turn into squandered opportunities, and squandered opportunities turn into losses, the results aren’t pretty. The Bruins’ 3-5-0 record through eight games is proof of that.
“I think we’ve done a good job of creating chances,” third-line right wing Rich Peverley said Monday after the Bruins’ practice. “It’s not only first and second opportunities, it’s other opportunities. Third opportunities and fourth. At the same time, maybe we’re holding our sticks a little too tight, but we’ve got offensive guys in here that I think can put the puck in the net, so maybe it’s just finding their stride for some guys.”
The Bruins have a good chunk of time to loosen the grip on their sticks, as they will next play Thursday against the Canadiens at TD Garden. Maybe all the time off (they took Sunday off and may take another day off this week) will provide an opportunity to forget about their in-game woes, but the time they have in practice can also help them get back to basics.
“I think sometimes you need practice to help with structure,” Peverley explained. “There are obviously some things that we feel we need to work on. It’s important that we correct those.”
Boston has outshot its opponents in the last four games (2-2-0) after doing so just once in the season’s first four contests (1-3-0). The B’s had their fair share of scoring bids both early and late Saturday against the Sharks, but quality chances and odd-man rushes didn’t end up registering on the scoreboard until the third period and the Bruins lost, 4-2.
Now, with the statistical output not matching the team’s bids, the B’s have time to shake off their frustrations. Guys like Brad Marchand (no points the last four games) and even fourth-liners such as Daniel Paille, who has had multiple chances of late, figure to see results in time, however they may come.
“Sometimes it takes a lucky break to get a guy’s confidence back, but it’s just shooting the puck and putting the puck on net,” Peverley said. “Sometimes it will just find its way in.”
|10.24.11 at 1:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — One of the bad things about returning so many players from a Stanley Cup champion team is that the next year’s squad will always be compared to, well, itself.
Maybe that’s one reason as to why Bruins fans are puzzled by the B’s 3-5-0 start to the season. Through eight games last year, the B’s were 6-2-0 with a plus-13 goal differential and three shutouts, all of which were registered by Tim Thomas. This season, they’re allowed as many goals (19) as they’ve scored, good for an even differential.
So with so many of the same guys yielding such different results, how do the Bruins explain it, and how do they respond?
“It’s a different year, different challenge,” Thomas said. “We’re in a different spot. It’s how we react to it that’s going to be the key.
“All last year, no matter what type of adversity was thrown our way, we reacted well. That’s part of what made up our identity as a team by the time the playoffs came around.”
It’s hard to imagine the Bruins continuing to play sub-.500 hockey for much longer, but to expect things to turn around is no better than expecting the Bruins to have repeated their start from a season ago. Thomas recalls the Bruins making their own luck right out of the gate last year, so he isn’t counting on things simply coming to the defending champs because of past success.
“We have to try to build that same thing this year. It’s not just there,” Thomas explained. “You don’t get it because you had it last year. You’ve got to build it again.”