|10.17.11 at 6:28 pm ET|
Five games into last season, one could hardly tell the Bruins were going to be Stanley Cup champions, but a couple of things were apparent. For starters, it was clear that Tim Thomas was capable of playing at a high level again after his offseason hip surgery, and it seemed that Nathan Horton had it in him to play some big games for the B’s.
Now five games into this season, there are a few things that are apparent about this team, though injuries to the likes of David Krejci and Adam McQuaid have made it tough to effectively gauge some things.
The Bruins started off the season in a 1-3-0 funk, but may be coming out of it after their 3-2 shootout victory over the Blackhawks Saturday in Chicago. Up next is a four-game home stand with the Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, Sharks and Canadiens coming to town.
“I feel we’re turning the corner here,” coach Claude Julien said Monday of the team after five games. “I liked our game in Chicago, the way we progressed through tut the day. Today in practice we seemed to have a much better pace. Hopefully that’s a good sign of us turning the corner.”
Here are five quick stats on the Bruins through five games, with a look at last season as well.
1. Tyler Seguin leads the Bruins with five points, which is a little less than a quarter of his 22 points from all of last season. He also leads the team with a plus-3 rating and has 16 shots on goal, good for tops amongst forwards and second only to defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.
2. Last season, Horton led the team with seven points through five games. This season, he has a goal and an assist through five contests, struggling mightily in the first few games of the season before seemingly finding himself of late. Bottom-six forwards Gregory Campbell, Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron (who has only played in three games) are the only Bruins’ forwards with less than his five shots on goal.
3. Thomas has won two and lost two this season, allowing eight goals in four games. Five games into last season, Thomas had allowed three goals in four games, and had won all four of his starts. He picked up his first shutout in the second game of the 2010-11 season and went on to have two more by the end of the month.
4. Bruins were 4-for-19 on the power play through five games last season. This season, they are 1-for-21, as they have not scored on the man advantage since Brad Marchand scored on the team’s first power play of the season.
5. Seidenberg leads the B’s in ice time with an average of 25:26 a night yet also has a minus-2 rating that is tied for worst on the team. Further proof that plus-minus rarely tells the whole story.
|10.17.11 at 2:55 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are close to getting one of their injured defensemen back, as Adam McQuaid participated in Monday’s practice after skating Sunday. McQuaid is suffering from a neck injury sustained when he crashed into the boards last Wednesday against the Hurricanes.
“I skated a little bit yesterday and feel like I’ve been doing more and more every day,” McQuaid said Monday after practice. “I’m feeling better each day.”
McQuaid said there was “not too much” discomfort in Monday’s practice, and he is viewed by coach Claude Julien as “probably” a game-time decision for Tuesday’s game against the Hurricanes. That’s certainly good news for the second-year defenseman.
“It feels good just to be back out with the guys and skating again,” McQuaid said. “We’ll see how things go here the rest of the day and tomorrow.”
The Bruins have been treating McQuaid as though he suffered a concussion, though they seem to doubt the injury is anything more than to the neck. Still, as a precaution he will undergo necessary testing before he is cleared to return to game action.
“McQuaid’s been good,” Julien said Monday. “He’s done every test that he has to go through right now, the biking, the exertion and all that stuff, so things are going well,” Julien said. “His headaches are non-existent, which we had felt it was probably more the neck injury that was causing that. It seems to be going that way, but we’re treating it as a concussion because that’s the safest route to take. He’s going to go through all the tests, and we’ll see how it is tomorrow.”
McQuaid has only played two full games for the B’s this season. He was kept out of the season-opener against the Flyers because he was under the weather, and after playing against the Lightning and Avalanche was injured in the third period in Carolina. In three games this season, McQuaid has two assists.
|10.17.11 at 12:58 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer, who is coming off a sprained left knee injury suffered in the preseason, practiced Monday with the expectation that he would begin taking contact the next day. Tuesday came a little early for Kampfer when he and Milan Lucic collided in the final minutes of practice, leaving Kampfer down on the ice for a moments before taking a knee and eventually getting up.
“I guess we were supposed to wait till tomorrow for that,” Kampfer said with a laugh after practice, noting that he was fine following the hit.
Kamper was skating backwards when Lucic turned into him, a hit that neither saw coming and one that at least for a moment provided a bit of a scare to onlookers.
“I actually felt fine getting hit like that, and not expecting it,” Kampfer said. “I guess that kind of eases the mind a little bit, to know that you can get hit and it doesn’t hurt anything.”
If Kamfper were to have been injured in practice, there would be no knee left to injure for the first time. He suffered a right knee injury while playing for Providence late last season and sprained the left knee on Sept. 29 against the Senators. He took the ice this weekend, starting with light skating in circles before returning to practice on Monday.
“I think going through it [with the other knee last season] definitely helps,” Kampfer said. “Obviously this one wasn’t nearly as severe as the last one, so to get back and start skating, you know you’re going to feel the tweaks and pulls and everything like that, so it’s kind of comfortable to get back and start skating.”
Kampfer noted that he did not feel any pain or discomfort when turning, which was his biggest worry heading in. He figures to be a good bet to replace Matt Bartkowski as the team’s seventh defenseman once he does get healthy, though that remains to be seen. RIght now, the second-year defenseman is just happy to be making progress.
“It feels like it’s getting there, so obviously we’ll see in a couple of days when it keeps getting better,” Kampfer said of his knee. “Right now it feels good.”
|10.17.11 at 12:33 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Though he wasn’t on the ice for the team’s practice, Bruins center David Krejci, who is dealing with a core injury, skated Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena. Krejci has been out since he left last Tuesday’s practice, missing games in Carolina and Chicago. He is also expected to miss Tuesday’s game against the Hurricanes.
“David skated this morning,” coach Claude Julien said. “He’s coming around. Probably doubtful for tomorrow, but after that I would really qualify him as day-to-day.”
|10.17.11 at 10:55 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins returned to practice Monday at Ristuccia Arena, with a couple of injured defenseman taking part in the skate. Adam McQuaid, who suffered a head last Wednesday, was back on the ice after missing Saturday’s game. Steven Kampfer is back to skating with the team after suffering a sprained left knee in the Bruins’ Sept. 29 preseason game against the Senators.
|10.15.11 at 11:21 pm ET|
The Bruins never led in the game, but they broke their two-game losing streak with the help of Seguin, who’s been big for them all season, and Nathan Horton, who had taken a while to get going on the young season.
Seguin scored the Bruins’ lone shootout goal on Corey Crawford, with Thomas stopping Janathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.
Horton tied the game at 7:56 of the third period to give the Bruins late life and momentum, with the Bruins’ other tally coming in the form of a shorthanded Chris Kelly Tally. The Blackhawks got their scoring from Bryan Bickell and Kane.
The 2-3-0 Bruins will return to Boston, where they will face the Hurricanes Tuesday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Horton appeared to be going through the motions once again Saturday, but he came through in a big way when he took Johnny Boychuk’s feed from behind the net and beat Crawford. It was Horton’s first goal since he notched the lone tally in the Bruins’ 1-0 victory over the Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last spring.
– It was fitting that Boychuk would figure into the most important play of regulation, as Boychuk had a very strong showing for the Bruins. Boychuk struggled last season, but on Saturday had six hits and logged over 20 minutes on a night in which Matt Bartkowski’s presence meant the B’s had to essentially play five defensemen.
– The Bruins’ penalty kill was not only strong (one shot on goal allowed on there Blackhawks power plays), but their only source of scoring. Peverly sent a puck over the stuck of the stick of Duncan Keith to Kelly, who went wide to the net and easily sent a puck over the diving Corey Crawford to tie the game and give the Bruins’ their first special teams tally since the season-opener.
– Another game, another point for Tyler Seguin. The second-year player leads the Bruins with five points through five games, as he picked up the second assist on Horton’s game-tying tally. Playing against a more physical Blackhawks team, Seguin still didn’t seem timid when it came to chasing pucks in the tougher areas. That’s a very good sign for the Bruins and what should be a superstar in the making.
– The Bruins saw their first fight of the season when Gregory Campbell took on Jamal Mayers in a first-period bout. Shawn Thornton had tried in previous games to drop the gloves, but was unable to find a willing dance partner. Not much good came of Campbell’s fight, as he lost the tussle and the Blackhawks scored the next goal.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Blackhawks’ first goal came at a forgettable moment for Andrew Ference. Bickell intercepted a pass from Ference in the neutral zone, and Ference couldn’t catch up to Bickell as he beat Thomas five-hole on a breakaway.
– Peverely had a breakaway in overtime after taking a feed from Milan Lucic coming out of the Bruins’ zone but missed the net with his backhand bid.
– The Bruins’ power play has now gone to 1-21 on the season, which, as twitter follower jdittro4 (http://twitter.com/#!/jditro44) points out, means they’ve scored as many shorthanded goals as they have power play goals. Furthermore, the Bruins are lucky Jonathan Toews is a left-handed shot, as he failed to connect on a one-timer when on a shorthanded 2-on-1 in the second period.
|10.14.11 at 10:33 am ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning for his weekly appearance. Ference discussed the Bruins’ slow start to the season and the reasons behind their struggles. Boston is 1-3, and some have wondered if the B’s are struggling from the so-called “Stanley Cup hangover.”
“I know that we’ve had some close games, we’ve been a bit frustrated that we’ve not been playing as good as we can,” Ference said. “We’re just going through a tough little stretch right now.”
Ference said that execution has been the problem for the Bruins, as they’ve played some “sloppy games.” The defenseman suggested that the Bruins may be expecting too much of themselves this early in the season, especially after the success of last year’s team.
“We’ve gone through it before as a team where we’ve almost tried too hard to be perfect and you expect yourself to be perfect at this time of year. It just doesn’t work that way,” Ferrence said. “You have to build up your game again. Obviously, we have a foundation to work from. But everything’s not going to be as crisp as it was halfway through the year and you can’t get frustrated when things aren’t at the standard that we had during the playoffs. You have to build up to that. I think we have to work through some frustrations with that.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
On if teams are playing the Bruins tougher this year: “They’ve been tough games, for sure. ‘¦ It’s definitely tough. Every opponent is going to get up for you. You know, I think that we had a standard as a pretty good team in the league for the last three years. Teams would get up for the Boston game anyways because of our success over the last few years. But you definitely expect a bump. I know how I would play against the defending champs in past years.”
On if bringing the Stanley Cup to Gillette was overkill now that the season has started: “I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. It’s a real positive thing that the Patriots were going to do for us. ‘¦ It’s the last thing with the Cup, for sure, but there’ll be plenty more team get-togethers and we’ll have a good time, because that’s what we do. It helps build the team up. ‘¦ You turn the page on the Cup, but you don’t forget about it.”
On how road trips are good for team bonding: “It’s nice, especially for a couple of the new guys we have on the team just to get them more involved with everybody. Those are the guys that I feel bad for during the start-of-the-season Cup stuff, because it’s just a little awkward.”
On Marchand and Seguin playing well early in the season: “I’m not surprised with how well they’re playing. Definitely I think there were a few guys who talked with them after the season when they were going pretty good there. They’re both really good character guys and have some pretty good drive and unbelievable skills. I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m happy that they took care of themselves for the majority of the summer and got ready. As soon as I saw Seguin when he came to training camp, I knew we were in for a good year from him. He was absolutely ripped. He was a kid last year and he bulked up, he looked more like a man, so we’re in for good things from him, so that was great. And Marchand’s got a killer attitude, as you can tell, he plays on the edge. He’s not going to give up on anything.”