|12.15.10 at 3:49 pm ET|
Claude Julien told reporters Wednesday morning that whether or not Tyler Seguin plays against the Sabres will be a game-time decision. Seguin sat out Saturday night with what the team called flu-like symptoms (he skated with the scratches that morning) and Daniel Paille, despite posting a minus-1 on the night, was solid, single-handedly saving a goal with Tim Thomas out of position following a rebound.
Yet Paille, for the most part, has been dreadful when he has played this season. His performance in the season-opener against the Coyotes made the decision to put Jordan Caron in the lineup a no-brainer. Still, he’s only played since then due to injury, so the opportunities to prove himself this season have been limited (10 games this season).
As for Seguin, people will have two questions should he be a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. No. 1, will it stunt his development, and No. 2, will he pout?
To answer the first one, missing one game (well, two if you count Saturday) won’t make his ceiling any lower, and he likely knows that. It might actually be good for him in the long-run. Seguin’s clearly been explosive through the neutral zone and is a huge asset in shootouts, but sitting might add some motivation for the rest of his game.
The time off can also let Seguin take a step back and reset, so to speak. He hasn’t been slow out there, but he certainly hasn’t been as in sync with Marc Savard as many would have expected, and a game or two off might help him clear his head.
Regarding whether he’ll be an unhappy camper, who knows? What we do know is that he’ll try not to show it. The 18-year-old didn’t answer a single question in training camp or the preseason without attaching “if I make the team” to it. He’s been very careful to not come across as a kid who’s taking things for granted, so one could expect a stock “whatever’s best for the team” answer when he’s asked about all this.
Seguin has four points in his last 15 games and has 10 points (five goals, five assists) on the season. He’s scored just two goals over his last 19 games. The second overall pick in last June’s draft, Seguin is viewed as one of the more talented young goal-scorers in the league and has been compared to the likes of Steven Stamkos. He’s clearly not anywhere near Stamkos’ level, but time will tell whether he becomes the elite right-handed center many project him to be.
|12.15.10 at 1:01 pm ET|
NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Milbury said it was tough to see Marco Sturm go, as the Bruins completed the trade with the Kings to clear up cap space. Said Milbury: “I wish there were another way to go, because on this team he would have been a great fit on the third line and allowed a bunch of other guys to try a hand at a top-six forward position. And that’s where I think Sturm fits best. He can play up to the second line. He’s a real good third-line player on a terrific team, and the Bruins are working their way toward that.”
Milbury said he’s not a fan of the hard cap. “I don’t like it. I mean, what is it doing? It’s sort of leveling the playing field for everybody. Is that what we’re trying to do? It’s sort of un-American, isn’t it? You’re supposed to be out there, spend as much as you want, do whatever you want, and you reap the consequences or the benefits. After all is said and done, I miss the Evil Empire in New York and I miss the Detroit Red Wings spending all sorts of money.”
Commenting on Flyers forward Jody Shelley‘s hit on Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid in Saturday’s game, Milbury said: “It was a dumb hit. He’s paying the price for it. I think that was one that every player in the league can go, ‘Geez, you’ve got to be smarter than that.’ ” Milbury added that he supports automatic icing so as to avoid such situations.
Linus Omark made his NHL debut with the Oilers on Friday night, and the youngster turned some heads in the shootout when he did a 360-degree spin upon touching the puck, then faked a slap shot and fired the pick past Lightning goalie Dan Ellis for the winner.
The flashy moves did not bother Milbury. “We go to this shootout after an overtime, and it’s a gimmick,” he said. “It’s not hockey, it’s a test of skill. You know what? Let it rip. Let it fly. Do handsprings or backflips or whatever you think of to A) entertain the fans, and B) maybe distract the goaltender. ‘¦ He can do whatever he wants. He can go naked at center ice, a la ‘Slap Shot.’ I’d like to see that. That would really sell some tickets.”
|12.15.10 at 12:14 am ET|
The Bruins will take on the Sabres for the third time this season as the two teams face off in Buffalo on Wednesday night. The Bruins have points in their last six games (4-0-2) and have taken both of their meetings with the Sabres. Their most recent win over Buffalo came last Tuesday when Mark Recchi tipped a Dennis Seidenberg shot past Ryan Miller to give the B’s a 3-2 win in overtime.
Tuukka Rask was first off the ice for the Bruins, an indication he’ll be between the pipes come game time.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Sabres are a sub-.500 hockey team (12-14-4) because of their struggles at home. Nine of their 14 losses this season have come in Buffalo, as they’ve posted a 6-9-1 record at HSBC Arena. They are 3-3-0 in their last six home games.
– The Bruins remain a more dangerous team when playing away from TD Garden. They’ve posted a 9-3-1 road record. They took a shootout loss to the Maple Leafs in their last road game.
– Fighting majors aside, the Bruins have been avoiding the penalty box as of late. They had just one penalty in both Saturday’s game and last Tuesday’s Buffalo game, both of which contests went into overtime. The B’s are 15th in the league in penalty minutes per game (12.9), though that is helped by their 26 majors, a number that puts them fifth in the league despite tying seven teams for playing the least amount of games.
– Milan Lucic is on pace for 44 goals. Does anybody truly see him as a 40-goal-scorer? Variables such as empty netters and a couple softies have been on his side thus far, so while he may eventually slow down, he still figures the finish the season as the team’s top goal-scorer if he remains healthy.
– David Krejci has three points (all assists) against the Sabres this year. He’s only had three points against one other club, and he knocked that out in one game when he scored two goals and tallied an assist in the team’s 8-1 win over the Lightning. Krejci is also on a three-game point steak that began with his two assists last Saturday against the Sabres.
– Marc Savard and Tyler Seguin have combined for just two points — an assist apiece — since Savard made his return to the lineup on Dec. 2. One would have to assume the two will get going and that Seguin will eventually be big asset for Savard, but it simply hasn’t happened yet.
Savard’s ice time has generally been anywhere from 13:15 to 16:26, and he’s averaged 15:01 per night.
– Here’s a totally useless and hardly telling stat from the good ol’ WEEI.com stat truck: The Bruins have won the first game of a three-in-four stretch every time this year. In those games, they’ve grabbed wins in Buffalo (5-2 on Nov. 3), Pittsburgh (7-4 on Nov. 10), New York (3-2 over the Rangers on Nov. 17), and Philadelphia (3-0 on Dec. 1).
STORYLINES GOING IN
– Tim Thomas has started and won both of the team’s games against the Sabres thus far. It’s quite remarkable that Tuukka Rask is on pace for just 26 starts this season, but he’ll get his first crack at the Sabres Wednesday.
– Miller was dealing with a groin injury when the Bruins beat up on Jhonas Enroth and Patrick Lalime on Nov. 3, but he manned the pipes last Tuesday vs. the B’s. It wasn’t his best showing, as he allowed a bit of a softie to Lucic — letting a shot from a tough angle just sneak between his leg and the left post.
Miller is coming off a rough loss to the Penguins on Saturday. He allowed four goals on just 23 shots.
– It is up in the air whether the B’s will dress Tyler Seguin or Daniel Paille. Seguin didn’t play Saturday with what the team called flu-like symptoms, and Paille played well. Claude Julien told reporters that it would be a game-time decision.
– Adam McQuaid, who could have been badly injured on Jody Shelley‘s cheap shot Saturday, is also fine. Both players practiced Tuesday.
|12.14.10 at 5:40 pm ET|
Peter Chiarelli released a statement Tuesday saying Marco Sturm has passed his physical with the Kings, making his trade from the Bruins official. Rich Hammond was the first to report the physical being completed.
The Bruins announced on Saturday that they had sent Sturm to Los Angeles in exchange for nothing. Trading Sturm, who is coming off a torn ACL and MCL, allowed the Bruins to avoid a messy salary cap situation that would have been encontered with his activation. Sturm, a free agent at season’s end, has a $3.5 million salary cap hit.
With the trade, the Bruins are $288,793 under the cap, according to capgeek.com.
|12.14.10 at 2:57 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins players can rest easy now that the team has trade Marco Sturm to the Kings. With the deal, which they made on Saturday, the team could go the rest of the season with it’s current squad and not have to worry about the salary cap, as they’re a little less than $300,000 under the cap.
Rumors swirled throughout the beginning of the season regarding the likes of Matt Hunwick, Michael Ryder, and Blake Wheeler. Of the three, only Hunwick was dealt, and the rest of the team can now breathe easy. Still, Claude Julien doesn’t see it as reason for complacency.
“I think for a player, it certainly has to give them a little bit of relief as far as saying ‘all these question marks have been answered,”’ Julien said Tuesday. “At the same time, I think players have to realize that just because we’re there now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to stay there if we don’t get the results we want.
“You’re always fighting for a spot in the lineup, you’re always fighting to keep your job, and you’re always fighting to stay on the team. I think that part should stay the same time, what’s been lingering over their heads now has more or less been taken care of.”
MCQUAID FEELING IT A BIT, PRACTICES
Julien seemed to suppress any opinions when commenting on the league’s decision to suspend Flyers forward Jody Shelley for two games. The league made the decision on Monday, and Shelley will lose nearly $12,000 in salary over the two contests.
“They obviously took it seriously enough to suspend him, and you’ve got to respect that,” Julien said.
The B’s coach was glad to have Adam McQuaid, the recipient of the suspension-inducing shove from behind Saturday, on the ice with the team as they skated Tuesday. McQuaid said on Monday that he was still sore, but his coach noted that he wasn’t limited in practice after simply having the wind out of him Saturday.
“He’s still a litte stiff, but not stiff enough to keep him out of the lineup or keep him out of practice,” Julien said. “I think he still feels the effect of that hit, but he’s a tough individual. He’s battling through it to the point where I don’t think it’s going to be a factor as far as affecting his game.”
POWER PLAY FOR KAMPFER?
If Steven Kampfer ends up seeing time on the power play, as he did on Tuesday, you can bet he’ll be in for even more comparisons for former Michigan teammate Matt Hunwick.
Kampfer has essentially stepped in to replace the skill-set of Hunwick since last week’s injury to Mark Stuart. He’s been compared to the now-Avalanche defenseman quite a bit, but he’s had a hardly robust six seconds on the power play in his two games since being called up.
The 22-year-old was told by the Bruins to watch film on Hunwick and study the types of things he does. Kampfer says he is flattered by the comparisons but feels that he is not yet the skater Hunwick is. He remains the Bruins’ best puck-moving option.
|12.14.10 at 2:15 pm ET|
The Bruins had a rare two-day break from the ice after Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Flyers. The players’ time was their own on Sunday, while they spent Monday at Target in Woburn Christmas shopping for children who have to spend the holidays in the hospital.
On Tuesday, they returned to Ristuccia Arena, working on the power play and practicing for over an hour.
“The two days [off] is definitely nice,” Nathan Horton said. “I think we’re overall rejuvenated, and everybody’s ready to go. Everyone was excited to get back after two days. It’s been a while, and it’s nice to have a couple of days off.”
The B’s were preparing for their upcoming stretch of three games in four days beginning on Wednesday in Buffalo. After their bout with the Sabres, they’ll travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Thursday before returning home against the Capitals on Saturday.
Given how heavy the schedule has been, Claude Julien saw Sunday and Monday as a good opportunity to let the B’s rest up and let any aches players may be feeling work themselves out.
“I think so,” Julien said when asked if the time off was necessary. “It’s been a pretty heavy schedule for a lot of teams around the league. It’s an opportunity for us to keep them off the ice here for a little bit.”
With the return to the ice, Julien liked what he saw out of his guys. The break, which he hoped would allow them to “clear their heads a little bit and get ready for a big week,” seemingly paid off with a good practice.
“I think they looked like they had lots of energy,” Julien said. “Sometimes a couple of days off it good for you. When you say a couple of days off, I don’t think they really had days off. They were busy doing other things. It’s one of the few times that we’re able to help them out in a way where they can get their rest and get away from practice.”
|12.14.10 at 11:25 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins took the ice at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday after two days off. The team had an off-day following Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Flyers in overtime and spent Monday picking out gifts for local hospitalized children.
Everyone was accounted for as the B’s took the ice, and it’s their first skate since trading Marco Sturm. The team worked on the power play before practice. Here’s how the color-coded lines looked:
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Wheeler – Bergeron – Recchi
Seguin – Savard – Ryder – Paille
Marchand – Campbell – Thornton