|10.23.10 at 1:53 pm ET|
If you think very highly of the Bruins’ fourth line after its most recent example of high-energy play on Thursday, you’re not alone. The combination of youngster Brad Marchand, newcomer Gregory Campbell and fan favorite Shawn Thornton has made for a line that has impressed many on the young season, including the guy who determines their minutes.
“That’s as good as I think we’ve seen our fourth line here in the years that I’ve been here as far as what they do, I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to start these guys,” Claude Julien said following Saturday’s game. “They’re reliable enough that if the other team puts their top line in, they know, and what’s good about them is that they don’t question what they’re going to do. They put pucks in deep and they’re going to work and they work hard and they seem to be in sync with the fore-check, but they seem to set the stage and the tempo for the game early on.”
The line can expect about 10 minutes of ice time a game, with Campbell and Marchand both seeing time on the penalty kill. Thornton and Campbell both have a plus-one rating, while Marchand’s is even. There’s a lot to like, and the members of the fourth line are taking pride in it.
“We work hard,” Gregory Campbell said following Saturday’s morning skate. “The coaching staff has given us a lot of confidence and that helps out a lot as a player. [They’ve] kind of expected us to do more than just be a responsible checking line. That’s something that we have to take pride in, to be an energy line and to be responsible and to be hard to play against. On the flip side of that, we have to try to create things, and that helps a lot when we have three good lines that are playing before us, and for us to go out there at key times in the game and provide that energy and wear the other teams down. It helps over the course of a game and the season.”
The players undoubtedly appreciate the minutes that they’ve been given each night. Marchand knows that if they are to continue getting as much ice time as they’ve gotten, they’ll need to prove capable of passing each test they face. Going against Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals’ top line on Thursday was the most recent example of them doing so, and perhaps a big reason for Julien’s postgame praise. Marchand hopes that as the games pile up, the fourth line continues to handle whichever line they’re up against.
“I think that the main thing as that we want to take advantage of the other teams’ fourth lines,” Marchand said on Saturday. “We just want to get it deep in the other team’s end and try to take as many pucks to the net as we can. We want to be defensive and be accountable in our end. It’s nice of [Julien] to trust us against other team’s top lines. We played against Ovechkin’s line there the other night, and I think we held our own, so it’s nice that they trust us and they know we’re accountable out there.”
|10.23.10 at 1:19 pm ET|
Taking an Alexander Ovechkin shot off the foot isn’t one of the NHL feats a player hopes to accomplish in their career, but as of Thursday, Bruins fourth-line winger Brad Marchand, like it or not, finds himself among the group of players to do so. Marchand was limited to two shifts after the occurrence and sat out Friday’s practice. He was on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate, however, and said afterwards that he feels he’s good to go.
“I feel a lot better today. It was nice to have that day off yesterday to rest my foot up, and it felt good when I was out there today,” Marchand said, later adding that “it’s a little tender, but I’ll be able to go tonight.”
Asked where the shot hit him, Marchand seemed apologetic in answering, “somewhere in the foot.” Though he didn’t seem overly concerned with the foot on Saturday, he admitted that the same couldn’t be said for how he felt Thursday.
“I couldn’t put any pressure on it when I was on the ice, and it just went numb. Guys have told me before that when you break your feet and your hands, it just goes numb, so I was kind of panicking at that point in time,” Marchand said. “I got back to the room, started to get some more feeling back as time went on, but I was just more scared when it was broken.”
Reporters have been hard-pressed to find certainty regarding who they can expect to play in net each night, but Claude Julien was more than accommodating in commenting on Marchand’s status. The coach seemed optimistic as the team prepares to take on the Rangers in their second game at the Garden.
“He seems good,” Julien said. “This morning I talked to him again and he felt good, and obviously we’ll make that final decision after warm-ups if there is an issue. If not, he’ll be in the lineup.”
The verdict: He should play unless the pain comes back.
“I can’t afford to miss any games and sit out,” Marchand said. “It’s not that bad.”
|10.23.10 at 12:49 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask was first off the ice during the Bruins’ morning skate Saturday, typically signifying that he will be getting the start in net when the B’s host the Rangers. Rask, however, was also thought to be the starter Thursday when he not only exited the ice first during his team’s morning workout, but insinuated that he would be receiving his first start between the pipes since the season opener on Oct. 9. ‘It’s fun,’ Rask said after the skate, Thursday. ‘It’s been a while since [my] last start, so it should be great.’
during his team’s morning workout, but insinuated that he would be receiving his first start between the pipes since the season opener on Oct. 9. ‘It’s fun,’ Rask said after the skate, Thursday. ‘It’s been a while since [my] last start, so it should be great.’
After Bruins’ win over the Capitals, Tim Thomas (who improved his record to 4-0 with a 0.75 goals against average), explained the situation, saying ‘I knew [I was going to start] from yesterday, and nobody asked me this morning.’
Claude Julien didn’t note who would be between the pipes in his press conference following Saturday’s morning skate but did comment on how Rask has approached a long stretch in which the only ice time he’s seen has been in practice.
“When you don’t play much, these practices have to be games for you,” Julien said. “You’ve got to be sharp and on top of everything, and that’s how you stay sharp.”
Rask said the same thing when asked following the morning skate. One reporter sarcastically quipped that Rask seemed more ready on Saturday than he did Thursday. The goaltender didn’t offer much of a response, simply laughing and saying, “I don’t think so.”
Rask hasn’t started since the Oct. 9 season-opener in Prague, a game in which he faced 36 shots and allowed four goals in a 5-2 loss. Thomas, meanwhile has a .978 save percentage and 0.75 goals against average in four games played. Both statistics are tops among goalies who have started a game this season.
|10.22.10 at 1:33 pm ET|
Bruins forward Nathan Horton checked in with the Dale & Holley show Friday to talk about the B’s fast start to the season. Horton has four goals and three assists in five games as the Bruins have gone 4-1-0.
Horton is enjoying his new team after spending his first six seasons with the Florida Panthers in the Miami area, where hockey obviously does not have the same importance. “This is what every player dreams about playing, just this type of atmosphere, and this city,” he said of Boston. “It’s not like you can imagine. Once you’re there, it’s pretty amazing.”
Horton said no matter where he is, his style remains the same. “You have to perform,” he said. “Even if you’re not putting up points or anything, you have to work hard and be a team guy and just play hard for your teammates. I think that’s what everyone’s trying to do. We like each other as a team. It’s like a family already. Everyone gets along. It’s an unbelievable feeling when you want to come to the rink every day, you’re going to win games, and I think everyone’s having fun.”
Regarding the B’s goaltending situation, Horton said Tuukka Rask has not shown any signs of disappointment despite serving as Tim Thomas‘ backup the last four games. “He’s been great,” Horton said. “He knows he’s a great goaltender. He’s going to get his shot. ‘¦ He’s still having fun. Nobody can score on him in practice, too.”
|10.22.10 at 12:01 pm ET|
At the end of last year and in the playoffs, Tim Thomas wasn’t smiling that much. He was in pain from not playing and from bad hip that required labrum surgery in the offseason.
Fast forward five months and you have a spry 36-year-old goalie sliding easily from post to post, stopping 38-of-39 saves in a 4-1 win over the mighty Washington Capitals in the team’s first game of the season before a fired-up crowd at TD Garden. He is 4-0 to start the season, allowing only three goals while posting a 0.75 goals against and a .978 save percentage.
Why wouldn’t you be smiling?
“I felt good, I felt really good,” Thomas said. “My movement felt real good and maybe there was some rebounds, where there’s a different kind of on, where it just sticks to you and there’s no rebounds and stuff. I didn’t exactly have that tonight, so my D helped me out with the rebounds, but I had the movement and the speed. One of these days, you’ll have everything and one of these days I’ll play the puck the right way too.
“I think it’s been exceptional the last couple of weeks since, you know, I got back into the groove. I felt it coming in the early days of Czech and you know, it’s fun when you can move.”
Thomas even admitted he’s exceeded his own expectations in his recovery.
“For sure, and obviously, I couldn’t be happier with the way I’m feeling this far,” Thomas said. “You know, now I’ve just got to keep working hard and keep working in practice, and there’s ways that I can make it easier on myself. That will be my goal in practice.” Read the rest of this entry »
|10.21.10 at 11:30 pm ET|
Michael Ryder continued his solid start to the season on Thursday night, picking up his second goal of the season and putting the Bruins up 1-0 in the first period. It was the Bruins’ first power play goal in their last 12 chances and it started off a great night for the B’s on the man advantage. Nathan Horton and Zdeno Chara added tallies of their power play, and on the night the B’s were 3-for-4.
“Our power play was struggling there, and we wanted to get it going. We worked on it the last few days and I think tonight we did a lot better at getting pucks to the net and creating more. We got three power play goals, so that’s big momentum for us. Hopefully we can just keep it going.”
|10.21.10 at 11:05 pm ET|
Rookie Jordan Caron admittedly hit a speedbump when the team was in Belfast. He got a bit of a pep-talk from Patrice Bergeron in Prague. He spent plenty of time on the road, and it’s hard to imagine he wasn’t champing at the bit to get back to the Garden.
Yes, back to the Garden. Don’t forget, the 19-year-old had a hat trick in the first of two rookie games against the Islanders back in September. He may not be as used to the Garden as the veterans, but he can certainly do some damage there. He proved in Thursday’s 4-1 win when he netted his second goal of the season, a tally in the second period that gave the B’s a 2-0 lead at the time.
“It feels great [to score at home],” Caron said after the game. “I told [Bergeron] on the bench, I think I was more happy tonight than for [my first career goal Saturday vs. the Devils]. From the crowd here, it was a great feeling again.”
Caron is still mastering English, with the emphasis on mastering. A Quebec native, Caron’s English has improved dramatically over the span of the last few months, though the language isn’t the only adjustment he’s dealing with. He, like Tyler Seguin, is getting used to a new league and a new group of fans. So far, he likes what he sees.
“It was great,” Caron said of the atmosphere in his first regular season game at TD Garden. “We had a great second period. We came out really strong and we put good pressure and I think the fans loved it. It was a fun game to play.”
As the adage goes, it’s fun when you’re winning, and the Bruins, riding a four-game win streak, are certainly having a lot of fun.