|03.23.11 at 2:35 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — To the surprise of nobody, both Boston and Montreal media surrounded Zdeno Chara‘s spot in the dressing room after Bruins’ practice Wednesday. With the B’s and Habs facing off Thursday for the first time since March 8’s 4-1 Canadiens win, the attention naturally turns to the Bruins captain, who was tossed from the game after hitting Habs forward Max Pacioretty into a stanchion.
Chara received major criticism from fans north of the border, and a criminal investigation was even launched into whether the play served as grounds for assault charges. Chara, who was not suspended for the hit, said there might not be a point in trying to change people’s minds.
“It’s tough to really address that,” Chara said. “I don’t know if I should even try. It’s one of those things where they probably are beleiving one thing, and it’s really hard to explain that it just happened.
“I can’t control how they talk about me, or what they say about me. I just try to focus on my game.”
After being initially diagnosed with a severe concussion and a fractured vertebrae, Pacioretty, who said he felt Chara intended to harm him, has not spoken to the Bruins’ captain.
“I made a few attempts,” Chara said. “I’m waiting for some kind of response back, but so far nothing.”
|03.23.11 at 1:26 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins president Cam Neely raised eyebrows recently on CBS radio when he said that the team’s goaltenders needed to “show us who’s ready to be the goalie for the playoffs.” Tim Thomas is the favorite to win the Vezina trophy after posting historic numbers in the first half of the season, while Tuukka Rask has seen improved play since getting more time in the second half of the season. Since the All-Star break, Rask has started nine of the B’s 22 games after starting 15 of the first 50.
Speaking to WEEI.com Wednesday, Rask offered his thoughts on whether the Bruins have a No. 1 guy for the playoffs.
“Well, you don’t have to be a [expletive] rocket scientist,” Rask said with a smile. “[Thomas] is playing every game.”
While Rask, who started every game of the playoffs last season, might not necessarily think there is an open competition over the final 10 games of the season, he does embrace being part of such a strong goaltending tandem and hopes it pays dividends in the postseason.
“We’ll see what happens,” Rask said. “Obviously to succeed you’re going to need two goalies to get going because you never know what’s going to happen in the playoffs. I like the thought that we have two No. 1 guys, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll both play.”
|03.23.11 at 11:50 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are coming off a 4-1 win over the Devils and are back at Ristuccia Arena Wednesday in antcipation of a big test vs. the Canadiens Thursday at the Garden. The practice lines were the same as they’d been in the previous two practices.
On another note, the Montreal media is here in full force. More to come following practice.
|03.22.11 at 11:54 pm ET|
What’s a Milan Lucic milestone without interesting postgame attire?
After recording his 30th goal of the season Tuesday night, Lucic entered the dressing room in an old, faded (and old) Bruins windbreaker from what appeared to be the early 1990s. Lucic conducted his entire session with reporters without making mention of it, but explained the fashion choice afterward.
“Andrew Ference found it, and he wanted to kind of pass it on between the guys,” Lucic said, “so I guess I’m the model for it.”
“It’s Cam [Neely]’s era,” Lucic said of the style with a laugh. “His team track suits.”
Devotees will remember that Lucic was sporting a fedora following his Nov. 18 hat trick. He said after that game that each player to pick up a hat trick would wear the fedora following the game. Since then, both Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara have celebrated hat tricks — sans headwear.
“I guess I’m the model of the team,” Lucic said of the fact that he starts trends that his teammates may or, more commonly, may not follow. “I have to fashion off all the new stuff.”
The jacket was entertaining, but it certainly wasn’t “new stuff.” It was old.
|03.22.11 at 11:38 pm ET|
Shawn Thornton broke a 19-game goal-less streak in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Devils, but like many others in the Bruins’ dressing room, was focused on the team getting a much-needed victory following the game. One topic that was visited in his post-game chat was the fact that he countered Ilya Kovalchuk‘s first-period tally with one of his own.
Thornton and Kovalchuk have a bit of a comical connection in that as late as December, Thornton had more goals than the $100 million man. The two have not kept pace, of course, as Kovalchuk now has 27 to Thornton’s nine. Thornton said after the game that he was just happy that his goal, a Dennis Seidenberg shot that deflected off him, went in.
“I didn’t even know I scored. It went off my pants and in. I thought I blocked it,” Thornton said. I was going to curse myself for getting in front of it, but it found a way.”
“If I kept pace with him, there is something wrong with this game,” he added with a laugh. “I will take it anytime our line can chip in with one I’m happy.”
|03.22.11 at 10:49 pm ET|
Tim Thomas entered Tuesday night in the midst of his worst stretch of the season. He hadn’t won a game in nearly three weeks, going 0-2-2 in his last four starts. It marked the first time all season he had gone four games without a win and the first time all season he had given up three or more goals in four straight.
Tuesday night, Thomas returned to form in the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Devils. He stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced to earn his 30th win of the season.
‘I think it was mutual for both, the team and Timmy,’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said of getting back in the win column. ‘I don’t think we have to worry about him. He’s been a good goaltender for us this year, so it certainly wasn’t a concern on our part more than our team play. And our team play was much better.’
Thomas was especially strong in the early going, as the Devils registered 12 of the game’s first 13 shots. New Jersey did manage to score during that span, but it came on a power-play one-timer by Ilya Kovalchuk that Thomas didn’t have much of a chance to stop.
‘I thought we were a little fragile there with what’s been happening,’ Julien said. ‘But we were able to resist and obviously Tim made some big saves early on just to keep us in there.’
Thomas said the key to turning around his recent lack of success was that his defensemen did a better job of allowing him to see the puck.
‘They had a few shots, they had a few good chances,’ Thomas said. ‘But they were also letting me see the puck a little bit more than we had in the last few games. ‘¦ I think that’s definitely a right step forward. We need to build off it and make sure we continue on. And we need to do the same things that gave us success tonight.’
Defenseman Tomas Kaberle said getting out of Thomas’ way is something the team has been focusing on in practice.
‘You want him to see the shot,’ Kaberle said. ‘You don’t want to tip the puck or something. You just want to box out in front of the net and hopefully he’ll make the big saves. Especially on the outside, he’s going to make the save every time. We talked about it before the game and in between the periods. He’s been a key to success for us this season and hopefully we keep it that way.’
After the slow start, Boston was able to take control of the game and relieve Thomas of some of the pressure. Following the early 12-1 shot deficit, the Bruins outshot the Devils 29-19 the rest of the way. They also drew five straight penalties at one point and were able to net four unanswered goals.
‘I think by the end of the first, or last half of the first period, we started to get our legs moving and that was the difference,’ Thomas said. ‘I think that’s what led to them taking the penalties in the second period, because we were moving our feet and that leads to penalties, drawn penalties. We were able to continue that throughout the game.’
|03.22.11 at 9:22 pm ET|
The Bruins took a step toward ending the funk they have found themselves in of late, defeating the Devils, 4-1, at TD Garden Tuesday night.
Shawn Thornton, Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi provided the goals for the B’s,with Chara’s serving as Boston’s first 5-on-4 goal since Feb. 18. The Bruins went 1-for-5 on the power play, with four Devils penalties coming in the second period.
Lucic’s third-period goal was his 30th of the season, and he gives the B’s their first 30-goal scorer since Phil Kessel in the 2008-09 season. Both Lucic and Chara had two-point performances.
Brad Marchand made his return to the Bruins’ lineup after serving a two-game suspension for an elbow on Columbus forward R.J. Umberger last week. Marchand saw time on both lines he has frequented this season, skating with both the Merlot Line and the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi.
The B’s will face Montreal next, as the Canadiens will be at the Garden Thursday night in the first meeting between the two teams since an ugly 4-1 Bruins loss on March 8.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– One big injury scare was avoided. David Krejci left the ice early in the third period after getting hit in the lower body with a shot, and after a few minutes on the bench was able to return to the ice. With everybody so concerned with the team’s struggles, it would be hard to imagine them suffering an injury to a player like Krejci. After all, it hurt them badly enough last postseason.
– Thornton’s season-worst goal-less streak is over at 19 games, and it’s funny to think that 19 games would be a long time for a guy who went 69 straight games without a goal a season ago. With the victory, the B’s are now 7-1-0 in games in which the B’s enforcer has scored. The one game that they did lose featured perhaps Thornton’s most clutch tally of the season, as he tied the score at three after the team trailed the Capitals, 3-0, on Nov. 5 (the Capitals would end up taking the game, 5-3).
– Yes, the power play finally scored, but even without the goals, being given four power plays in a period is an easy way to swing momentum. The B’s were suffocated by having to spend too much time on the kill back on March 10 against the Sabres, but they were able to see the other side of it Tuesday.
– The win was Thomas’ first in five games, as he came in 0-2-2 in his previous four starts. That stretch marked the first time Thomas had gone four starts without a win all season and the first time he had given up three or more goals in four straight starts. Tuesday night, Thomas appeared to return to form, saving 30 of the 31 shots he faced. He was especially sharp early when the Devils registered 12 of the game’s first 13 shots.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– While the number of penalties swung in favor of the Bruins, Gregory Campbell heading to the bin at 8:51 of the third period while holding onto a one-goal lead can’t have Claude Julien thrilled. Campbell brings a ton to this Bruins team, but this isn’t the first time he’s taken a third-period penalty in a close game.
– How about opening the game by being outshot, 12-1? Not what you’re looking for, but the Bruins were able to make their third shot of the game count thanks to Thornton’s tally, and they really made their statement in the second period. After being outshot, 16-6 in the first period, the B’s had a 17-8 advantage in the second period thanks to the time they saw on the power play.
– The power play isn’t the only area that has struggled recently. After allowing Kovalchuk’s first-period goal, the B’s have allowed seven power play goals over the last seven games.