|04.08.11 at 10:23 pm ET|
Thomas Vanek scored 1:16 into overtime to give the Sabres a 4-3 victory over the Flyers Friday. The Bruins probably wish he did it about 1:17 earlier.
With the Flyers picking up one point in the game, they improved to 104 on the season after 81 games. With one game remaining, they control their destiny as far as the No. 2 seed goes, though only a tie-breaker separates the Penguins (shootout win Friday, 104 total points) from snagging the Atlantic Division . A Flyers’ win over the Islanders Saturday means the second seed is all theirs. A loss or a tie, and the Bruins could still be in the picture. This, of course, is assuming the B’s can take care of business against the Senators.
With one game remaining for the Flyers and two left for the Bruins it all comes down to this: If the Bruins can finish the season with as many or more points than the Flyers and Penguins, they’ll be in via the tie-breaker (regulation and overtime wins). To spell it out even more, here are the scenarios:
FLYERS GET NO. 2 SEED IF:
– Flyers beat Islanders Saturday.
– Flyers lose in overtime/shootout Saturday AND Bruins lose or both remaining games.
– Flyers lose in overtime/shootout Saturday AND Bruins win one game and lose the other in overtime/shootout in the other.
PENGUINS GET NO. 2 SEED IF:
– Islanders beat Flyers in regulation or shootout/overtime Saturday AND Penguins beat Thrashers Sunday.
– Islanders beat Flyers in regulation Saturday AND Thrashers beat Penguins in overtime/shootout AND Bruins win one game and lose the other in overtime/shootout.
– Islanders beat Flyers in regulation Saturday AND Thrashers beat Penguins in overtime/shootout AND Bruins don’t win both both remaining games.
BRUINS GET NO. 2 SEED IF:
– Islanders beat Flyers in regulation or overtime Saturday AND Penguins lose in regulation or overtime AND Bruins beat Senators Saturday and Devils Sunday.
– Islanders beat Flyers in regulation Saturday AND Penguins lose in regulation AND Bruins win one game and lose the other in overtime/shootout.
Montreal and Buffalo each have 94 points through 81 games. Since Montreal has 40 regulation and overtime wins (ROW) to Buffalo’s 37, the Habs currently hold the sixth seed while the Sabres are in seventh.
|04.08.11 at 6:39 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien cringes at the thought of someone wanting to know his starting goaltender before a game, so it’s understandable that he’s divulging zip when it comes to his playoff lineup.
“We’re going to have two or three extra players, guys, so I guess when the time comes, we’ll make those decisions,” Julien said after Friday’s practice. “Even if I had or we had made our decisions, I don’t think I’d be here speaking about it. We’ve got a couple of games left to play, and we’ve got to go out there and play them.
“A lot of things will also depend on what’s going to happen here tonight, and which certain teams are playing and everything else. We’ll see where we stand after tonight. It’s a day-to-day process on decision making. At this stage of the year, it’s not just the coach, but the organization trying to look at what direction they want to take with these next few games.”
Julien noted that he likes to think the entire season will be more of a determining factor than the final two game, as he said he wants to “rely on the big package rather than the small package.”
As for Tyler Seguin, who at this point figures to be the healthy scratch come next week, Julien isn’t ready to agree with the public’s line of thinking.
“I think that’s a lot of speculating. Guys are speculating that he’s fighting for it, whether he’s in or he’s out, and understandably,” Julien said. “For me, those are tough questions to answer, because you guys are all looking for, ‘what is my possible scenario?’ I’m going back to the same thing again. We don’t know what’s going to happen until Monday, and we’ll find out Monday where he stands and the rest of the team stands. A lot of things can happen from here until then.”
|04.08.11 at 1:12 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is trying not to think about the fact that he’s very close to setting the record for best save percentage in a single season.
So much for trying.
Seemingly with just one start left in the regular season, Thomas’ .938 save percentage this season would just barely edge Dominik Hasek‘s .937 mark from the 1998-99 season. Thomas’ save percentage didn’t move last game, when he allowed two goals on 32 shots.
“I know that [my next game] will be my 57th game, I think,” Thomas said. “The more games you play, the harder it is to impact it one way or the other. I plan playing well so that I don’t even have to worry about it, but hopefully I have a little bit of a buffer.”
Given that he holds the edge by .001%, it seems it will take a performance with just one, two or perhaps three goals allowed (depending on how many shots he faces) to finish ahead of Hasek’s mark. Told that he could potentially allow as many of three goals and not see his save percentage change, he replied, “I don’t know [if it would move it] either. I’d hope eight doesn’t move it.”
Claude Julien, meanwhile, is not willing to divulge whether he plans to use Thomas in the next two games at all.
“He might,” Julien said with a grin before adding, “is the record more important than the team?”
Thomas has led the NHL in both save percentage and GAA since his first start of the season back on Oct. 10 in Prague, a shutout against the Coyotes.
|04.08.11 at 11:10 am ET|
WILMINGTON — With two weekend games on the horizon, the Bruins took the ice Friday morning at Ristuccia Arena for their final practice of the regular season. Prior to the skate, Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci and Nathan Horton shot on Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas.
The color-coded jerseys are the same, as they look as follows:
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
|04.07.11 at 11:58 am ET|
This is a very, very difficult time of the year for NHL coaches who know their teams are already in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They have to balance fighting for playoff position with fighting complacency.
Sometimes, the task can become quite frustrating, if not overwhelming, to manage.
Just ask Claude Julien. With his team already assured of home ice in the first round by virtue of their Northeast Division crown, Julien watched on Monday night as his team blew a 3-0 lead to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in an ugly 5-3 loss.
Then on Wednesday, at home to the lowly Islanders, he watched his top two lines go through the motions, only to get great games from his “energy line” in a 3-2 escape at TD Garden. Shawn Thornton had a goal in his return and Gregory Campbell had a goal and an assist.
Afterward, a reporter at Julien’s press conference opened by asking if that’s the kind of effort he was looking for after the Monday meltdown in New York.
“Are you serious with that question?” Julien chirped. “No, certainly not the kind of game you want to see from your team and I think the execution wasn’t very good tonight. We weren’t very sharp. Our best players certainly didn’t make a difference and who made a difference was our fourth line and the Campbell line was very good for us tonight and the goaltender made some good saves for us.
“But, it’s one of those games where you try and motivate your team to play hard and play well and I think there’s a challenge there. You know, you can say what you want and you can preach what you want, but there’s a lot of players I think that are looking forward to the next season and so those are the challenges that we have at this time of year.” Read the rest of this entry »
|04.07.11 at 1:43 am ET|
The Bruins announced late Wednesday night that they have assigned defenseman Steven Kampfer to Providence. Kampfer will report to Providence on Thursday.
Kampfer has played in 38 games for the Bruins this season since being called up following a hand injury to Mark Stuart in December. He has totaled five goals and five assists for 10 points.
The Providence Bruins have three games remaining on their schedule, meaning Kampfer could see time Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In 20 AHL games this season, Kampfer has three goals and 13 assists for 16 points.
|04.06.11 at 11:24 pm ET|
Forget the fact that he is regarded by many as their toughest player, if everyone on the Bruins had Shawn Thornton‘s energy, the team would never be accused of taking nights off. Thornton is trying to make sure that the Bruins are fired up for the playoffs that start next week.
His goal at the latest possible moment (19:59.9) of the first period got the Bruins going in his first game back and helped the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Islanders at TD Garden. The Bruins have 101 points now but to Thornton, the more important mission in the final two games is to keep focus.
“Just keeping that rhythm I think,” Thornton said. “Keeping our confidence. Keeping the fun going into the playoffs. This is the best time of the year. The weather is getting nice. You have to want to come to the rink this time of year. For me that’s the biggest thing: to stay upbeat, confident and play our game.
As their coach Claude Julien pointed out afterward, the Bruins did not look sharp in the win as there were defensive breakdowns that allowed the Islanders back in the game, two days after blowing a 3-0 lead to the Rangers in New York.
“I mean there were some lapses,” Thornton said. “We just have to play our game and not worry who we’re playing against. When we’re playing our style of game we’re a really, really good team. When we get away from that, we’ve seen it through the years what happens there. As long as we continue to play our game plan we’ll be a pretty good team.”
As for who they’ll be playing in the first round, Thornton said it doesn’t matter to him since he’s not even paying attention to the standing right now.
“You’re talking to the wrong guy,” Thornton said. “I don’t ever pay attention to the standings. No I don’t know what is going on. Maybe the other guys are different, but I just kind of focus on what’s going on today and don’t worry about the rest.”
After scoring his 10th goal of the season in his first game back since a nasty injury to his forehead, Thornton was also quick to give credit to his assistant coaches and back-up goalie Tuukka Rask after Wednesday’s win. Read the rest of this entry »