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Mike Milbury on D&H: ‘It’s a wide-open league right now’

11.24.10 at 1:07 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. The Bruins are coming off a loss to the Lightning on Monday in which they got off to a slow start and fell 3-1. “It’s a tough league, and if you’re not ready to play, you’re going to get beat,” he said. “And the Bruins clearly weren’t ready to play against Tampa. They looked as bad as they’ve looked all year.”

Added Milbury: “Maybe they’re looking ahead. It’s Florida, that’s one thing. Maybe they went golfing, maybe it was a nice day, maybe too many good-looking chicks on the street in Tampa. I don’t know. But it’s a constant challenge. It’s the art form of coaching, for me, to make sure that your team is read to go. And I think Claude Julien does by and large a real good job of that. But this time, for whatever combinations of reasons, it slipped.”

Milbury was asked if the Bruins are capable of winning the Stanley Cup this season. “It’s a wide-open league right now,” he said. “I think Chicago’s dismantling was an invitation to everybody that was close to pick it up a little, because it’s there. ‘€¦ I think it’s a pretty wide-open horse race. I think they do have the pieces.

“I’d like to see them add a defenseman,” Milbury continued. “I’d like to see them add a defenseman who can generate offense from the point, because they don’t have that right now, or the guys that they have aren’t giving that right now. And I’d also like to see them with a full roster for a little while before I make that assessment. But I think everybody would agree that when [Marco] Sturm comes back and [Marc] Savard comes back, they’re a better team for it. It’s going to cause some shuffling of lines and some disruption and that may take a little while to settle down. But when it’s all said and done, they’re two pretty good players. And any time you can put good players in the lineup, you’re going to get better. The goaltending has been outstanding.

“Yeah, I have to agree with Dale that they have the stuff to get there. I’m not calling them the odds-on favorite, but if it all comes together at the right time, they have a a chance. No question.”

Milbury reminisced about one-time Bruins coach Pat Burns, who died last week at the age of 58 after a lengthy battle with cancer, and said Burns should have been elected to the Hall of Fame this year.

“It was a shame that there wasn’t common sense going around in plenty at the meeting of the Hall of Fame selection committee,” he said. “Everybody knew Pat was not well and time was running short. ‘€¦ Wouldn’t somebody just stand up and say, ‘Come on, guys. He’s going in the Hall of Fame. He’s dying. Let’s get him in before he goes. Let’s have him has his day in the sun so he can really relish it.’ They missed the boat on that. And I don’t get it. I just don’t get why somebody who is that qualified to be in the Hall of Fame ‘€” and I think he is, and almost everybody I talk to feels the same way ‘€” and I just don’t get why they wouldn’t have honored him under these circumstances.”

Read More: Marc Savard, Marco Sturm, Mike Milbury, Pat Burns

Tim Thomas, Bruins to take on Panthers Wednesday night

11.24.10 at 12:37 pm ET
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Tim Thomas was the first to leave the ice at the Bruins’ morning skate on Wednesday, indicating he will likely be between the pipes when the B’s take on the Panthers in Florida on Wednesday night. The Panthers will counter with Tomas Vokoun.

The Panthers were in town last Friday, with the Bruins taking a 4-0 game behind a shutout from Tuukka Rask and a hat trick from Milan Lucic.

The Bruins are second in the Northeast Division with 24 points, the Panthers’ 18 points are fifth in the Southeast and third from worst in the conference.

WHERE IT’S AT

– The Bruins are 7-2-0 on the road this season, dropping their most recent away game on Monday in Tampa, 3-1, and splitting their last four away from TD Garden.

– The Panthers are 5-3-0 at BankAtlantic Center and have won three of their last four home games.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

– Three. That’s how many goals Lucic had against the Panthers last Friday and how many assists former Panther Nathan Horton had. It was Horton’s first regular-season game against his old club (for more on Horton and how he felt about playing for the Panthers, click here.)

– The Panthers have allowed nearly the same average of goals per game at home (2.50) as they have on the road (2.54).

– The Panthers are 17th in the league in goals per game with 2.7. Center Mike Santorelli leads them with six goals in 19 games. The Bruins, meanwhile, have scored 2.9 goals per game (15th in the league) and are led by Lucic with 10.

STORYLINES GOING IN

– Comparing how a team plays vs. the Lightning to how they fare against the Panthers won’t lead one to rock-solid conclusions, but it will be interesting to see if the team’s heavy practice on Tuesday got them in gear to play a full 60 minutes. It was the same old story on Monday, as they came out flat for two periods before turning it up in the third period (15 shots through two periods, 12 in the third).

– The Bruins score over a goal per game more in front of Thomas than they do in front of Tuukka Rask. They score a whopping 3.23 goals per game in front of Thomas, with Rask getting just 2.21 goals of support a night.

– It’s been a week since the Bruins allowed an opponent to score a power play goal, so here’s the reminder of how dominant the penalty kill has been. The B’s 90.3 penalty kill percentage is second only to Montreal’s 90.8.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Tim Thomas,

Peter Chiarelli says Marc Savard is cleared for contact

11.23.10 at 4:26 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli issued the following statement regarding center Marc Savard on Tuesday:

“Today Marc passed the tests administered by Dr. Micky Collins from the Sports Medicine department at UPMC, and is now cleared for contact. Marc will rejoin the team tomorrow for morning skate in Florida. There is no time-table at this time for Marc to start playing games.”

Savard had travelled to Pittsburgh to undergo the testing. He had been cleared for practice and got on the ice with the rest of his teammates on Saturday, though he could not recieve physical contact at the time.

Savard has not played a game this season due to post-concussion syndrome. He suffered a concussion last March against the Penguins, missing the rest of the season before returning in the second round of the playoffs against the Flyers. He suffered a setback while training in the offseason.

Read More: Marc Savard,

Tim Thomas third among goalies in NHL All-Star voting

11.23.10 at 3:27 pm ET
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The NHL released the results of All-Star voting by the fans thus far, and the Bruins are far from well-represented. This means Boston fans either didn’t vote, or they, like everybody else, voted for Sidney Crosby.

Crosby leads all vote-getters with 118,755 votes, while no Bruins are currently on pace to get in via the fan vote. Patrice Bergeron is 35th among forwards with 15,020 votes, while Zdeno Chara‘s 41,081 votes are 10th among defensemen.

The most popular Bruins on the ballot is Tim Thomas, who is third among goaltenders with 47,646 votes. The odd part is that the two goalies he trails, Carey Price (71,199) and Sergei Bobrovsky (58,101), were both write-ins. Should Thomas not get in through the fan vote, which ends Jan. 3, he can still be selected in the new fantasy draft format.

Thomas leads the league in goals against average (1.49), save percentage (.954), and is tied for the league lead with four shutouts.

Read More: Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara,

Steven Stamkos, Lightning beat Bruins in Tampa

11.22.10 at 9:58 pm ET
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The Bruins became the most recent team to fall victim to Steven Stamkos and the Lightning as they fell to Tampa Bay, 3-1, on Monday night.

Michael Ryder scored the lone Bruins’ goal at 10:38 of the third, with Tampa Bay getting goals from Dana Tyrell, Stamkos, and Teddy Purcell in the second period.

Though the notable lineup news for the B’s entering the game was Tyler Seguin‘s promotion to the second line, it was the first line that got attention for all the wrong reasons. Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton failed to registered just one shot on Lightning goaltender Mike Smith, who made26 saves to improve to 7-3-0 on the season.

Tuukka Rask relived the season opener once again, as the Bruins stalled in front of him for two periods before attempting a comeback that didn’t prove to be good enough. Rask make 33 saves on 36 shots. With the loss, Rask is now 1-5-1 on the season despite entering the game second third in the league in save percentage.

From Tampa the Bruins will travel to Florida, where they will face the Panthers on Wednesday.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The top line went wrong for the Bruins. Claude Julien doesn’t like to identify his lines in the first, second, third, fourth manner, and on Monday, he wouldn’t be able to if he wanted to.

The lack of shooting this season on Nathan Horton’s part has been well-documented, but on Monday it was his entirely line that failed to get the puck on net. The line got just one shot on goal, which Krejci contributed late in the third period.

– Nothing derails a comeback attempt like a penalty in the third period. After failing to capitalize on a hooking penalty assessed to Steve Downie at 1:28, the B’s were caught with too many men on the ice at 4:20, rendering them down a man and postponing a shot at a comeback for a couple of minutes. Luckily for the Bruins, the Lightning returned the favor shortly after with a too-many-men call of their own.

– Momentum, or lack thereof, was once again the story of the first two periods. No gloves were dropped after either of Tampa Bay’s three goals in the second period, and it’s something that could have aided the Bruins.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Seguin responded well to being moved to the second line, shooting more (four shots on goal) and drawing a key hooking penalty on Downie early on in the third.

Patrice Bergeron had a team-high five shots on goal, which tied his high on the season. Bergeron also had five shots against the Capitals on Oct. 21.

– Ryder and Jordan Caron really battled to set up the Blake Wheeler shot that led to Ryder’s goal. The two had to outmuscle Lighting skaters to bring the puck up and get it to Wheeler in the offensive zone, with Ryder tipping it past Smith.

Read More: Michael Ryder, Steven Stamkos, Tyler Seguin,

Lightning lead Bruins after two

11.22.10 at 9:04 pm ET
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The Bruins are down, 3-0, after two periods, and yes, Steven Stamkos has something to do with it.

Randy Jones threw a shot on net from the point, and with Adam Hall and Dana Tyrell in front, Andrew Ference tended to Hall. This left Tyrell to tip it up and past Rask, who was likely still trying to track the puck at 3:26.

It wasn’t shortly after that the B’s worst fear was realized. Game-planning against the Lightning probably starts with stopping Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, but the two got on the score sheet when St. Louis picked up his 19th assist of the season on Stamkos’ 20th goal at 5:15. Teddy Purcell added on at 11:36, grabbing a rebound off the boards and tipping it in.

Through two periods, the Lightning are outshooting the B’s, 28-15. Tyler Seguin leads the Bruins with three shots on goal.

Read More: Steven Stamkos, Tyler Seguin,

Bruins, Lightning scoreless after first period

11.22.10 at 8:13 pm ET
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The Bruins spent much of the first period trying to keep up with the tempo of the Lightning, but after one the two teams are scoreless.

Tuukka Rask has faced 11 shots, saving them all. The B’s limited Steven Stamkos to one shot on Rask, though Martin St. Louis got three on the netminder.

The Bruins have just seven shots on Mike Smith. Tyler Seguin and Shawn Thornton lead the B’s with two. Thornton had the game’s only penalty thus far when he got the gate for interference at 17:55 of the period.

Read More: Steven Stamkos, Tyler Seguin,
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