|04.04.11 at 9:57 pm ET|
The Bruins blew a three-goal lead Monday night at Madison Square Garden, falling victim to two late goals within 51 seconds to drop a 5-3 decision to the Rangers.
The Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead, as first-period goals from Daniel Paille and Nathan Horton were followed by Chris Kelly’s first goal as a Bruin at 10:32 of the second. The Rangers would quickly climb their way back into the game, getting a pair of second-period tallies from Vaclav Prospal, with Wojtek Wolski picking up assists on each goal. Brandon Dubinsky and Michael Sauer scored at 16:12 and 17:03, respectively, to tie it and take the lead in the third. Derek Stepan sealed it with an empty-netter.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins knew the Rangers were a team desperate for a pair of points, and though they came out the stronger team, they took a nap after Kelly’s goal. All in all, the B’s ended up with just four shots on Lundqvist in the second period after putting 19 on net in the first period. The Rangers were playing a playoff game, and when the B’s are doing the same next week, they’ll need more of a 60-minute effort.
– The four goals allowed by Thomas were the most he’s given up since March 19, a span of six starts. Thomas didn’t seem to have it even before the Rangers opened it up, but their opportunities were so scarce early on that it seemed it could be smooth sailing for the Bruins’ netminder.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– How do you sit Paille when Shawn Thornton returns? Tyler Seguin has shown at certain points recently that he deserves to be in the lineup come playoff time, but Paille is producing. The former first-round pick had a season-high four shots on goal.
– With Horton’s goal, he now has seven points over his last seven games. Twenty-five wasn’t the number that people had in mind when he came over here (a prediction of 30 would have been considered conservative before the season), but if he produces the way he has of late and not the way he did in the middle of the season, the Bruins won’t be able to complain.
– Kelly hasn’t exactly a statistical monster since being acquired in February (two points in 20 games; zero in his last 16), so his first goal with the B’s is both a welcomed and overdue sight.
– The B’s may not have gotten many shots on Lundqvist in the second period (see below), but they didn’t deal with as many blocked shots as they could have expected based on March 26. The last time the two teams met, the Rangers blocked 29 shots, 18 of which came in the third period.
|04.04.11 at 9:04 pm ET|
The Bruins opened up a three-goal lead in the second period, but a Rangers duo doomed the Bruins twice to make it a 3-2 game heading into the third period.
Chris Kelly scored his first goal as a member of the Bruins, looking off Tyler Seguin and beating Henrik Lundqvist with a wrist-shot at 10:32. Just 1:02 later, Tim Thomas came out of his net and thought he’d stopped a Wojtek Wolski shot, but it trickled through his legs, allowing Vaclav Prospal easy access to an easy goal.
Prospal would make it a one-goal game at 18:26, with Wolski getting his second assist on the night.
The Bruins had just four shots on goal in the period, and hold a 23-15 advantage after two.
|04.04.11 at 8:14 pm ET|
So much for the Bruins struggling to get shots on (and past) Henrik Lundqvist.
The Bruins are outshooting the Rangers, 19-5, and hold a 2-0 lead after a period. Daniel Paille scored his second goal in as many games (third in his last six contests) when he redirected a Johnny Boychuk shot past Lundqvist at 15:16. Just over a minute and a half later, Nathan Horton scored his 25th of the season, banging home a loose puck in front of the Rangers’ netminder.
|04.04.11 at 2:41 pm ET|
Claude Julien told reporters prior to Monday’s game in New York that Shawn Thornton (stitches) would be able to go if it were the playoffs. Since it isn’t the playoffs, the B’s are being careful with Thornton and likely going without the forward vs. the Rangers.
“Doubtful,” Julien said Tuesday. “He’s skating this morning but he still has the visor. I don’t think we’re 100 percent comfortable right now medically. As long as they’re not comfortable, I guess we have that luxury of being a little more cautious.”
Thornton was cut above the eye last week by a skate against the Blackhawks. He received approximately 40 stitches, some of which were on the inside and could potentially break from much contact.
“I think if we’re in the playoffs today and he had to play, there’s no doubt he’d be in there,” Julien said, adding that the medical staff feels it’s “a lot safer if we take the cautious route.”
Thornton has appeared in 76 games this season, totaling nine goals and nine assists for a career-high 18 points.
|04.04.11 at 10:59 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton has had a career year this season, setting career highs with nine goals and 18 assists in a campaign that seems to argue with him strictly being called an enforcer. Now, those efforts — and how far he’s come — have been recognized, at least locally. The Boston chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association has chosen Thornton as the Bruins’ candidate for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
In the past, the award has gone to players coming off injuries (Steve Sullivan, 2008-09) or facing major adversity (Jose Thoeodore won it last season for his performance after his son’s death, while Phil Kessel and Jason Blake won it in the past for playing through cancer). Thornton didn’t have to deal with such life obstacles, but his career has been far from smooth sailing.
Drafted in the seventh round back in 1997, Thornton never made it to NHL in five seasons with the Maple Leafs, and after stops in Chicago and Anaheim, he came to Boston in 2007 having never played 50 games in a season. Since coming to the Bruins, he has played at least 70 games in three of his four campaigns. Furthermore, his offensive production has increased without his fighting suffering. Though nine goals won’t get him confused with Steven Stamkos, his work ethic is something all his teammates aim to replicate.
|04.02.11 at 8:50 pm ET|
After scoring 21 goals and adding 19 assists in 72 games, the Bruins winger was honored before Saturday’s division-clinching 3-2 win over the Thrashers as the 2010-11 Bruins “Seventh Player Award” given to the Bruins player who goes above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded expectations, as voted on by Bruins fans.
“Well, it was a question mark whether I was going to be on the team this year, so it’s a honor to win that award,” Marchand said. “It’s special.
“I think I was expected to be defensively responsible and bring energy into the game. Now I think I still have to do the exact same thing, but maybe bring a little more offense.”
Marchand celebrated the honor by picking up his 20th assist on Boston’s first goal Saturday, a score by Mark Recchi.
Technically still a rookie after 20 games last season, Marchand has earned the trust of his coaching staff by playing the left wing on the team’s second line, playing with Patrice Bergeron and Recchi.
“It’s huge, they’re great offensive players,” Marchand said. “They’re both very smart. They make a lot of unbelievable plays that you don’t see coming a lot of times. So with guys like that, you’re expected to produce. It’s a pretty insane time playing with guys as good as them.”
“I think it’s very deserving and that’s certainly not to take away some of the other guys that have made tremendous steps as well,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “But, he’s one of those guys that obviously surpassed maybe a lot of our expectations, obviously not his because he had made that prediction. But nonetheless, I think he’s been a real good player for us from starting off on the fourth line and really making that line probably one of the best fourth lines we’ve had here for a long, long time and obviously was probably one of the best fourth lines in the League.
“He graduated obviously with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Rex [Mark Recchi] and those guys have certainly, as much as he’s benefited from them, they’ve benefited from him as well. They know that. He’s such a good skater and he plays hard every night. He’s been a real good player for us and I think it’s going to be exciting to see him jump into the playoffs, just by the way he is. He’s going to be pumped for that and I think he’s going to be a really good asset for our hockey club.”
Marchand is expected to receive consideration for the NHL’s Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie. The favorites are considered Carolina’s Jeff Skinner and San Jose’s Logan Couture.
But that obviously isn’t the trophy foremost on Marchand’s mind.
“We didn’t come into this season wanting to win this division,” Marchand said of the Northeast title Saturday. “We have a goal, and that’s to win the Stanley Cup. So it’s a stepping stone, and it’s a good accomplishment for a great team. But there’s a long way to go before we accomplish our goal. It’s special, but at the same time we’re a long ways away.”
|04.02.11 at 8:37 pm ET|
By his own admission, the last three weeks haven’t exactly been a joyride for Michael Ryder.
He is a player talented enough to serve the same capacity as Miroslav Satan did in last year’s playoffs. He is a veteran sniper who has playoff experience finishing his chances.
But, in the second half of this season, it’s been a different story. His penalty shot score to win Saturday’s game against Atlanta and clinch the Northeast title for the Bruins was his 18th goal but first since Feb. 27, a span of 12 games.
“Yeah, I’ve struggled to find goals lately,” Ryder said. “Last game goal post, then [Saturday] crossbar. Just got to try and stay with it. If I keep just working hard and shooting the puck, it’ll go in for me.”
In that stretch, he has been benched twice by coach Claude Julien, once last Saturday against the Rangers and once on March 10 against the Islanders.
“You want to be in the lineup, nobody wants to be out,” Ryder said. “It’s frustrating and I’ve been there before, so I kind of know what it takes to get back in. It’s just working hard and finding your game, and not letting the little things get to you. Just make sure when you get back in that you take advantage of the chances that you get.”
Sometimes you get a break and Ryder made his own break with just under eight minutes left when he forced a neutral zone turnover by the Thrashers and broke in alone. He was hooked from behind by Johnny Oduya and was awarded a penalty shot.
I was just trying to skate and get away from the guy behind me. I don’t really know what happened. Just fell down and they called a penalty shot. I was just trying to catch my breath, that’s it.
Thursday night, during the shootout, Ryder went up top and missed the net during Boston’s loss. This time, he made sure to get it on net. And when he went up top on Ondrej Pavelec, above his right shoulder, the crowd exploded. Ryder had finally snapped his goalless streak at 12 games.
“I was just excited to get the goal,” Ryder said. “I was tired on the penalty shot, so I didn’t know what I was going to do. Like I said, that was a big win for us. I knew if we got the lead and I scored there, it would get the team going and hopefully we could pull out the win. Last game I missed the net, [Saturday] I hit it. It was a big goal for us, we wanted to make sure we got the win, and I think we’ve played better games but as long as we get the two points that doesn’t mean anything.”
By benching him twice and putting him on the third and fourth lines, Julien wanted to give him time to think about what it will take to rediscover that touch in time for a Stanley Cup run in two weeks.
“I think it’s just a matter of it was nice to see him score that goal,” Julien said. “Obviously it turned out to be a big goal for us, but these are steps in the right direction. I think, you know, when he starts feeling confident about doing those things and doing them without over-thinking, he’s going to be a good player again.”