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Bruins set to play the first of two vs. Red Wings

02.11.11 at 1:33 am ET
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Winners of four of their last five, the Bruins (69 points) will host the Red Wings (70 points) at TD Garden on Friday. It will be the first of two the teams will play against one another in three days, as the Bruins will travel to Detroit to face the Wings for a Sunday matinee.

Starting for Detroit will be former University of Maine goaltender Jimmy Howard, who is one of five goaltenders with 26 wins this season. He was pulled halfway through Wednesday’€™s 4-1 loss to the Predators after allowing all four Nashville goals. Expect Tuukka Rask to start for the B’s after he didn’t participate in Friday’s optional skate.

WHERE IT’€™S AT

– The Bruins are 15-10-3 in home games (14-10-3 at TD Garden) and have won three of their last four at the Garden. Their most recent was Wednesday’€™s high-scoring penalty fest against the Canadiens, an 8-6 victory.

– The Red Wings are 16-8-2 on the road this season. They lost their most recent road game, getting blanked, 3-0, in Nashville on Feb. 5.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

Nathan Horton is coming off the first five-point night of his career, as he had a goal and four assists Wednesday vs. the Habs. His five points were more than he had in his previous 13 contests.

Henrik Zetterberg is fourth in the NHL in assists with 41. His 57 points rank eighth in the league.

Brad Marchand has a plus-25 rating on the season, putting him behind only Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros for the league lead. The only other forward in the top five is Vancouver’€™s Ryan Kesler, whose plus-23 puts him in a tie for fifth.

– The Bruins got a power-play goal from Michael Ryder on Wednesday, but their power play is still struggling to produce. Ryder’s tally was the first strike with a man advantage for the Bruins in six games, and also the first since Marc Savard went down on Jan. 22 in Colorado.

STORLYINES GOING IN

– Despite being second in the Western Conference, the Red Wings haven’€™t exactly been tearing it up of late. They have lost three of their last four contests and are 5-6-1 over their last 12 games.

– The last three games and the coming two against the Red Wings have made for the Bruins’€™ most difficult five-game stretch in their schedule, and so far they have to be pleased with how they’€™ve fared. With slugfest wins over the Stars and Canadiens and a tough 1-0 loss to the Sharks, they are 2-1-0 so far.

– After a lot of fighting on Wednesday, Micky Ward will drop a ceremonial first puck prior to Friday’€™s game. In other pre-game news, we’€™ll keep an eye (or ear) on whether the revamped hip-hop warmup music selected by Johnny Boychuk sticks. The team skated out to Wiz Khalifa’€™s ‘€œBlack and Yellow’€ rather than Metallica’€™s cover of ‘€œWhiskey in the Jar’€ on Wednesday.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Henrik Zetterberg, Jimmy Howard, Nathan Horton

Micky Ward to drop ceremonial first puck Friday

02.10.11 at 4:11 pm ET
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Lowell native and former junior welterweight boxer Micky Ward will drop the ceremonial first puck on Friday when the Bruins host the Red Wings at TD Garden. It’s unlikely the Bruins and Wings will be able to recreate the 192-penalty minute showing of Wednesday’s 8-6 B’s win, so Ward’s presence will have to make up it.

Ward went 38-13 as a professional boxer after winning three New England Golden Gloves as an amateur. The Academy Award-nominated movie “The Fighter” was based on his life, with Mark Wahlberg portraying Ward in the film.

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Nathan Horton on D&H: ‘I’ve never been involved in games like these’

02.10.11 at 4:03 pm ET
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Bruins forward Nathan Horton joined Dale and Holley on Wednesday, discussing Wednesday’s wild victory over the Canadiens and the unusual equipment tidbit that aided his five-point effort.

The Bruins and Habs combined for 192 penalty minutes in an 8-6 Bruins win. It joined the likes of last week’s win over the Stars and Dec. 23’s victory over the Thrashers as games in which the Bruins stood up for one another throughout the night.

“It’s crazy,” Horton, who played his entire career for the Panthers before being traded to Boston in June, said. “I’ve never been involved in games like these where everybody’s got each other’s back. It’s great to be on a team like this and be on the ice. You know that your teammates are going to stick up for you. That’s what you want and that’s what you need.”

Horton, who had been slumping after a fast start to the season, had joked to Tyler Seguin prior to the All-Star break that the rookie should bring him back some sticks to help him. While players had a laugh over the comment, Horton wasn’t kidding when it came to getting his hands on some new sticks.

Horton and a friend went to a local hockey store, and the winger, used to having sticks sent to him, bought sticks off a rack and still had the price tag on his when he scored a goal and had four assists Wednesday.

“I said at the All-Star break I was going to go find a curve and that hopefully something would work,” Horton said. “I’m not even sure of the pro shop’s name, but I picked up a whole bunch of sticks, and that’s one of the sticks I used last night in the game. I’ve got one left of the same one and now I’m going to have to go searching for them again.

“When I went in with my friend, I was saying it was for him. He played hockey, too, so [I said] we were picking out sticks for him.”

The 25-year-old winger now has 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points in his first season with the Bruins.

Read More: Nathan Horton,

A great Tim Thomas stat brought to you by a Leafs blogger

02.10.11 at 2:43 pm ET
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If anyone on twitter isn’t following Down Goes Brown (@downgoesbrown), not only are they missing out on very amusing snarky commentary on the NHL, but they will have also missed out on perhaps an amusing stat regarding Tim Thomas and his MVP campaign. Check out this nugget, which emerged Thursday in wake of Thomas’ goalie fight with Carey Price Wednesday:

Thomas is a serious Hart candidate, though the six goals he allowed Wednesday dent his chances. Even so, his current .942 save percentage would surpass Dominik Hasek’s .937 in 1998-99 as the best since the stat began being recorded.

As for the second half of this interesting development, DGB tweets that the other Hart winner to have a fighting major in the last 10 years was one Joe Thornton, who fought Tim Gleason in 2005-06.

Only six goaltenders have been named MVP of the league, but it seems a Hart winner dropping the gloves these days is just as rare. The spectacle that is Thomas’ season continues to grow.

Read More: Joe Thornton, Tim Thomas,

Milan Lucic muscles up so Nathan Horton can finally do his thing

02.10.11 at 10:21 am ET
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Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton are big, big men on the ice, cut from the same mold. But while it’s been a great year for Lucic, it’s been an up-and-down one for Horton, in his first season in Boston.

They both clicked Wednesday night and as a result, the impact on the Bruins’ offense was dramatic – as in eight goals dramatic.

Lucic added to his team lead in goals with tallies Nos. 22 and 23 and Horton – with a goal and four assists – had his most productive night of his career in an 8-6 knock-down, drag-out KO of the Habs.

“We are just happy that we were able to get that win,” Lucic said. “They have been a tough opponent for us. We lost last time but not [this time]. Most of all we are happy to get those two points and to keep moving up in the standings.”

Indeed, for all the excitement over the pugilistic debut of Tim Thomas against Carey Price, this game was a huge one in the standings. The Bruins increased their lead to four points over the Habs, with a game in hand, still.

As for his line of center David Kreji and Horton, it was on fire.

“I mean I felt like that ever since we were put back together lately we have been ok, I mean we have had no goal here, one goal there,” Lucic said. “We knew we could be a threat every time we went on the ice and that is what we have kind of talked about as a line yesterday we wanted to be that threat and you know get in there and play with that emotion. Be the guys that Coach counts on, and so its definitely great that we had a game the way we did we have to keep pushing it and keep getting more.”

Horton’s struggles have been well-chronicled. Even coach Claude Julien has pointed to Horton’s struggles often in the last two months. Wednesday night, Julien admitted that the Bruins have been waiting for this breakout ever since Horton started the season with eight goals and 10 assists in the first 17 games of the season.

“Well, that’€™s what we have wanted from him for a while now, so it happened tonight,” Julien said after Horton’s career game. “We are certainly happen with that. Now it’€™s a matter of hopefully him continuing to do that for our team, he was a big help for us.”

“It’€™s nice,” Horton said in the understatement of the night. “Obviously, it helps me a little bit with my confidence. It is nice but it’€™s nice to get the points, it’€™s a big game for us. It was a four-point game, and we won.

“It was just working hard. I think we were ready to go. We talked about it as a line, before the game, we need to start playing and start contributing. I think we did that tonight but it’€™s only one game and hopefully we can continue to keep bringing it.”

But nothing means more than to have the support of a fellow teammate and linemate.

“It seemed like he was getting really hard on himself getting really down on himself but it these last few games you can see he is on his game again and its all starting to find his game again,” Lucic said of Horton. “It all starts with him skating, using his speed, his body, and you know he had a big night tonight and hopefully he continues with his confidence.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Milan Lucic, Montreal Canadiens

What happens goalies get into a ‘friendly fight': Ask Tim Thomas and Carey Price

02.10.11 at 2:00 am ET
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It was almost like fighting your brother. You know deep down you don’t want to but as a matter of pride – and territory – you need to.

That was one way to look at the way Tim Thomas took off some 185 feet like hell on skates after fellow All-Star goalie Carey Price with 7:24 left in the second period Wednesday night.

So Tim, what happened?

“Which part? I mean’€¦well he was jumping in,” Thomas said of Price’s actions when Brad Marchand drilled James Wisniewski on an icing touch-up. “I went off the blue line and he backed into his crease. And then so I’€™m like okay, and then he went in again and you just can’€™t let it be an outnumbered situation and so that’€™s what I was thinking when I went down there. He was more than willing to fight. And I had this big old plan. I was going to grab his right and I was going to throw lefts because I know he’€™s bigger and taller and has a reach on me.

“I thought I could do a better job throwing lefts in him and when I went to grab he got a good hold on my right arm and I got nothing. So then I was like, oh now what do I do? Because I know he’€™s got a big right cocked and ready to come so I tried to switch arms and get my right free and I grabbed him by the back of the shirt and when he threw the right I pulled on’€¦I was trying to pull him off-balance and his shirt came off his head and then I fell and’€¦actually as I was falling my left arm came free and but then it was over. He fought with the fighter’€™s manners as far as not hitting when you’€™re down.”

Fighter’s manners. There’s a new one. Fighter’s manners apparently included patting each other on the shouler and backside after it was over, after only 15 seconds of grabbing and tugging.

“We’€™re on opposing teams but we spent some time together at hockey camp a few summers ago and we were just at the All-Star game together,” Thomas said. “We’€™re on friendly terms. It was business. But once business is done, it’€™s done.”

“Well, I know Timmy pretty well,” Price added. “I think we were just out there play-fighting more than anything. Neither one of us really wanted to get hurt, but we are out there doing whatever we had to do, I guess.”

Price was surprised when he saw Thomas skating right for him but in the end, he didn’t think the wrestling match was going to amount to much and certainly not like the fight between the Islanders’ Rick DiPietro and Pittsburgh’s Brent Johnson that ended when Johnson knocked out DiPietro, breaking the orbital bone of his face with a punch.

“Yeah, we didn’€™t really know what is going on, but really there is not much to get thrown out about,” Price said. “The biggest thing is that we didn’€™t back down. Our guys stood behind each other. I think these are good games to play in. I think they are good character builders.”

What was also new to Thomas was the idea of fighting the opposing goalie.

“I’€™ve been playing a long time and it’€™s just never a situation where it’€™s worked out like that but tonight it did,” he said.

Bruins coach Claude Julien sounded a much more serious but still, understanding tone.

“It’€™s not something you like to see,” Julien said. “I don’€™t think, you never like to see your goaltenders get into those kinds of things but, certainly not sitting here and condemning him for doing that, it’€™s the heat of the game. They were both willing combatants and you live with that.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Milan Lucic, Montreal Canadiens

Price tagged: Bruins crush Habs

02.09.11 at 9:58 pm ET
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The Bruins lit up Montreal goaltender Carey Price for eight goals as they picked up their first victory against the Canadiens this season, a 8-6 win at the TD Garden.

Nathan Horton had five points, while David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Michael Ryder, and Dennis Seidenberg also had multi-point nights.

The game featured 192 penalty minutes between the two teams. The more notable of the fights was a goalie brawl between Tim Thomas and Price at 12:36 of the second period. The netminders squared off in the Canadiens’ zone, with Price getting the better of Thomas.

Despite losing the fight, Thomas improved to 26-6-6 on the season, and the victory puts the B’s four points ahead of the Habs in the Northeast Division. The Bruins will return to action Friday when they host the Red Wings Friday night.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

Patrice Bergeron‘s line continues to impress. Before the floodgates opened on both sides and the game turned into a high-scoring affair, it was Marchand that got the B’s on the board after a beautiful display of passing from the rookie, Mark Recchi, and Bergeron.

– It was good to see Ryder’s two-goal performance given his struggles earlier in the game. Ryder entered the game having not scored in eight straight games, and he lost the puck in front of the net early in the second. Ryder’s first goal was set up by a beautiful backhanded pass from Zach Hamill. Both players had to be encouraged by their nights. Ryder had what he thought was his second goal of the night waved off in the third period, as Brad Marchand was pushed into Price. He would make up for it with a power play goal at 10:01.

Nathan Horton had five points (1 G, 4 A) on the night, the most he’s had in a game as a member of the Bruins. He had three helpers on Nov. 18 against the Panthers at the Garden.

Horton has definitely sprinkled in some very good games in the midst of his goal-scoring slump. See below regarding his penalties, but offensively, Wednesday was one of them those games.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

P.K. Subban is a pain in the Bruins’ you-know-what. He scored on the power play in the second period and added an assist in addition to once again getting under the skin of the Boston players. In four games against the B’s this season, Subban has four points (2 G, 2 A) and on Dec. 16 drew the penalty that led to a Habs power play goal. Whether it’s on the stat sheet or by getting in players’ heads, the rookie blueliner has been able to be pest to the Bruins. The B’s got the last laugh, of course, as the rookie ended up with a minus-3 rating for the night.

– As encouraging as Horton’s assists were, his penalties cost the B’s in both the second and third periods. Horton went off twice for tripping, and the Habs scored on each of the power plays, getting Subban’s second-period strike and a Max Pacioretty goal 7:06 of the third.

– Statistically, Wednesday night’s was Thomas’ worst game of the season. The six goals he allowed was the most he’s given up in a game this season. Thomas allowed five goals to the Flyers on Jan. 13 in a 7-5 win. He faced 35 shots in that game, making 30 saves, whereas he only saw 33 shots Wednesday night.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Carey Price, Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas
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