|04.02.10 at 11:09 am ET|
His season will end on the same weekend his alma mater will be looking for its second NCAA hockey championship in three years as the Boston College Eagles take on the Miami Redhawks in the national semifinals on Thursday in Detroit.
It was in 2001, Clemmensen’s senior year at the Heights, when he led the Eagles to their first NCAA hockey title in 52 years.
Drafted by the Devils in 1997, Clemmensen had a successful career at BC before becoming the first player born in Iowa to play in the NHL.
He played his first NHL game in 2004 and spent parts of several seasons with the Devils and Maple Leafs before signing on as a free agent last summer with Florida.
On Thursday night, he turned away all 36 Bruins shots for a 1-0 win, his first shutout of the season.
“I was hoping I got my first shut out before April,” Clemmensen quipped. “Better late than never.
“They came at us pretty good. We killed penalties really well. I got kind of lucky on some saves here and there. I know they are a little bit of a snake bitten team right now and that played to my advantage. A couple of those saves I got pretty lucky.”
To do what he did on Thursday took on added significance because of the building he was in.
“I will always have a special place in my heart for Boston,” he said. “I love this city and obviously BC alumni here in this building. I have a lot of good memories in this building as well. A couple bad ones too, so I am trying to stock pile as many as I can. While I’m still playing that is the time to do it.”
He even took time to look up in the rafters for some of the banners he’s responsible for.
“Absolutely. I looked at both sides of the scoreboard during the national anthem,” he said with a proud smile. “Both sides have it; Beanpot champs and Hockey East champs. I expect it every year really.”
As for the current edition of the Eagles, he’ll find time to pay attention next weekend.
“I hope BC wins it,” Clemmensen said. “I wish they played this weekend but they do not want to compete with basketball. We are going to have to wait and I wish coach [Jerry] York nothing but the best.”
|04.02.10 at 9:50 am ET|
“We have to find ways to win these games,” Recchi said. “We did in New Jersey because we had everyone in. Tonight, we didn’t have everybody there, so the results are there.”
Julien added that he was frustrated to see the team’s best shooter, Michael Ryder, finish with zero shots on goal. “There’s no doubt we have some players who could’ve been much better for us tonight,” Julien said. “Ryder is probably our best shooter and ends up with zero shots. Those are the things we needed from those players.”
After the game, Julien said the ‘push’ has to come from within the dressing room.
And at 42 years young, it was Recchi pushing the hardest.
“We had a lot of good chances and we just didn’t score,” Recchi said. “I mean, we can’t ask for much more, effort-wise. I still don’t think we had 20 guys tonight, but you know, the guys that were going were generating a lot of opportunities and you got to put those in. We need ‘ like I said, this time of year, you need 20 guys, regardless, so that’s a little bit of a disappointment, but we definitely controlled the game and played the right way and we should have won this one.”
Recchi saw a Florida Panthers team that, while not in the playoff chase, would come in and play a conservative, hard-checking style. And, when the visitors went up, 1-0, in the first period, that’s exactly what the Bruins got.
“They played hard,” Recchi said. “We knew they were going to play hard. I mean, we’ve had some tough games against them this year and, you know, if anybody watches the games and I don’t know, I’m not sure how many guys do, but they play hard. They compete. They haven’t quit. They’ve got some young players that want to play well and you know, they’ve got some, obviously some leaders over there who are not letting those young guys quit and I don’t know if we underestimated them or not, but this time of year, I don’t think you should underestimate anybody.
“I’ve been on the other end where you’re spoiling opportunities and there’s nothing more enjoyable when you know you’re five games away from the end of the season and if you can hurt somebody’s chances of making the playoffs, that’s what you play for and that’s what those guys are playing for right now.”
Recchi was trying so hard on the ice, he thought he was rewarded midway through the second period when he re-directed a shot and raised his stick a bit prematurely, almost willing the puck in the net when nothing else was working.
“Yeah, I thought it went in, but obviously, it didn’t, but yeah, I thought it went in,” Recchi admitted. “We had a lot of good opportunities. Their goalie [Scott Clemmensen] made some good saves. You’ve got to give him some credit too, but, you know, a lot of pucks ‘ he’s a big kid and he played big, and a lot of pucks hit him and we weren’t able to capitalize.”
But again, it comes down to having everyone in and Recchi made it clear Thursday night that, with just five games left, that’s something he expects.
“In a game like this, if you have 20 guys, we don’t lose, and we still miss,” he said. “[In] New Jersey, we had 20 guys, and we win. It’s no secret this time of year. The teams that have guys that are ‘ and we talked about this after the last game ‘ you might not feel good, but this time of year, chances are you don’t feel great but, you know, you have to dig deep down and do it for your teammates, do it for yourself. You have to find ways.
“If you’re a goal scorer and you’re not scoring goals, you got to be physical; and you got to play great defensively, and if you’re a physical guy, then you know, you got to chip in at times, so there’s a whole bunch of factors that play into this and I think we have to, with five games remaining, I think we shouldn’t have to be talking about it, but the results are there. [If] we don’t have 20 guys, we don’t win, and [if] we do, we win.”
|04.01.10 at 9:21 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins had that familiar feeling on Thursday as they had trouble finishing chances against the Florida Panthers in a game they lost 1-0 at TD Garden. Tuukka Rask took the loss for Boston on the night with 19 saves while Scott Clemmensen got the shutout for the Panthers in turning away 36 Bruins shots and plethora of opportunities.
The Panthers got on the board in the first period when Keith Ballard pinched the slot with space in front of Rask and went underneath the goaltender’s pads to give Florida a 1-0 lead at 7:15 in the first period. The goal ended a 121:42 shutout streak by Rask over parts of four games.
Boston knocked on the door repeatedly in the second period with 17 shots and two power play opportunities but the Bruins could not beat Clemmensen as every puck that came close was turned away, inches wide or above the net and the game entered the third period with the Panthers still up by the lone goal. Both Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi thought at one point they had scored goals only to see the end result of the puck on the wrong side of the net.
One of Boston’s best chances to score was on a short-handed opportunity in the third period when Blake Wheeler found himself on a 2-on-1 break with David Krejci following him on the right wing. Wheeler ended up waiting too long to make the decision to shoot or pass and put and ineffective tip on the edge of the crease at 4:40.
Rask received the Bruins Seventh Player Award before the game as the player who “went above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded the expectations of Bruins fans during the season.”
Keith Ballard — The defenseman’s first period goal was the only scoring in the game. He also blocked a least a half dozen shots to help his goaltender keep the puck out of the net.
Scott Clemmensen — The former Boston College Eagle was good enough in net to keep the Bruins off the board and out of the win column with (#) saves.
Tuukka Rask — Even in a losing effort the Bruins net minder was solid in turning away the Panthers chances and keeping Boston in the game.
Turning Point – At 15:40 in the second penalty on a delayed penalty the Bruins Mark Recchi thought he had beat Clemmensen with a redirection. He went so far as to raise his hands and stick thinking that it went in but turned out to go wide right. Later in the period on the power play Milan Lucic did almost the same thing as he deflected a puck that went over the net, causing Clemmensen’s water bottle to stir in the process. Lucic raised his hands just as Recchi had but again the puck did not go into the net (though the officials did review Lucic’s tip).
Key Play – Keith Ballard pinched the slot in the first period after a Bruins flurry on the other end of the ice and caught the defense sleeping while the Boston forwards were not being aggressive on the back check. Given a few seconds right in front of a goaltender, most NHL players will take advantage of the situation and Ballard was no exception as he used Rask’s pads against him as he went up and underneath them for the first (and only) goal of the game.
|04.01.10 at 8:35 pm ET|
If the Bruins somehow miss the playoffs, it would be appropriate that they do so by one point.
After all, this has been the year of the near-miss for the Bruins offense. The Bruins trail 1-0 after 40 minutes on Keith Ballard’s first-period goal.
Just watching the second period, fans witnessed a microcosm of what has been missing this season – the finishing touch.
Twice in the second period, Bruins began to raise their sticks in expectation of a goal, only to discover their shots were near-misses. Mark Recchi re-directed a shot in front of Scott Clemmensen midway through the second and felt confident it was past the Florida netminder as he raised his stick. The puck deflected wide.
With just five minutes left in the period, Milan Lucic had an even better chance and wristed it just high and wide when he thought it was in. Lucic wasn’t the only one fooled as one of the on-ice officials saw the water bottle on the net behind Clemmensen twitch and thought the puck might have gone in and out.
At the next stoppage – several minutes later – the play was reviewed and it was revealed that Clemmenson’s stick handle was the culprit.
The Bruins applied constant pressure throughout the period, spending most of the period in the Florida zone and outshooting Florida, 17-10.
|04.01.10 at 7:47 pm ET|
Another Thursday night and another inexplicably flat first period against a non-playoff bound team from Florida.
This time, it was the Florida Panthers who grabbed the 1-0 lead after 20 minutes thanks to a shaky goal off the stick of defenseman Keith Ballard at 7:15 of the first period.
Ballard pinched up the slot and didn’t appear to get all of the puck but enough that it changed directions on Tuukka Rask and fluttered by as Patrice Bergeron was standing by helplessly watching it go in.
The goal ended Rask’s impressive shutout streak at 121 minutes, 42 seconds. Before the game, Rask was honored with the ‘Seventh Player Award’ for the Bruins player who ‘goes above and beyond’ the expectations of fans.
The only highlight for the Bruins came when Johnny Boychuk laid out Victor Oreskovich along the left corner boards just moments after the Panthers’ goal.
The Bruins held a 10-8 shots advantage in the first.
|04.01.10 at 12:56 pm ET|
At this point in the season there are no more trap games, no wake up games, no small games or revenge games.
They are just big games.
“A win is a win or a loss is a loss, no matter who you play,” coach Claude Julien said after Thursday’s morning skate. “Whether you are playing a top team in the league, it is going to be a tough competition, just like it was last game or whether you play a team that is out of the playoffs and is loose and they want to be spoilers. If you look at it, we just can’t afford to lose a game.”
With four teams bunched within two points for the final three playoff spots, the team that can get the hottest right now will be able to separate itself from the pack. If Boston wants to be that team, it has a even chance in front of it. Of the Bruins final six games, three come against also-rans (tonight against Florida, Saturday against the Leafs and April 10 against the Hurricanes) and three comes against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, including two different trips to D.C. to visit the Capitals.
The Bruins have been playing to the level of their competition all year. For every dramatic 1-0 victory over the Devils there have been 5-3 disappointments against the Lightning. Looking back on the season, it has definitely been a roller coaster for fans of hockey in the Hub.
“You have to take advantage of the opportunities and you have to be ready to play,” Julien said. “We’ve got to be better, got to find ways to win and find some consistency.”
Florida has been in a funk of late as losers of their last four including a 6-2 in Buffalo on Wednesday where they were outshot 41-15 by the surging Sabres. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was a member of the Panthers the last time the Bruins played them (a 3-2 Bruins shootout win on in Sunrise, Fla on Feb. 13, the last game before the Olympic break). He is adjusting well to his new team and has started to contribute offensively with four points (two goals, two assists) and a plus-four rating in his last five games.
“Every time you play against your old team, it is different,” Seidenberg said. “You know all the guys you play against. But, in this case, you have to put it in the back of your mind and just concentrate on getting the points.”
Yes, the points are crucial and Boston does have a real opportunity to move up a couple of spots in the standings with a win on Thursday, but there are other franchise considerations at play around the league that are hard to not note.
For instance, there is a peculiar conundrum for the Bruins as a organization (though not for the players and coaches) in gaining two points at the expense of the Panthers. Florida currently sits three points ahead of the Maple Leafs (tied with the Islanders) for the third worst spot in the NHL. The significance, of course, is that Boston owns the Leafs first round pick this June and would love to see it be the No. 2 overall. The best way to ensure that would be to lose to the Panthers tonight and then beat the Leafs on Saturday. Nobody on the team would ever dare mention it as a course of action but the fans are well aware of where the Leafs are in the standings. If the playoffs are not in the near future for the Bruins they can still take solace in a lottery pick.
– Ference Watch: Day 7
A fair amount of Julien’s pregame presser centered around the healthy, and potential availability, of oft-injured defenseman Andrew Ference. The blue liner does need offseason surgery for a tear in his abductor muscle in his groin as well as a hernia, but that does not mean he is completely unavailable to the Bruins for the rest of the season. Julien said that the plan at the start of this week was to shut Ference down for the week and then take it day-by-day from there. Ference can play with the injury as there is no further health risk of what he can do to the injured area but that does not mean he would be in anyway effective on the ice. Even if Boston is able to bring him back next week, there is no telling how long he will last. Julien acknowledged this point.
“Exactly, I think that’s the situation. There is no guarantee. There is a guarantee that he will be back and he will be okay,” Julien said. “Now, how long he will last, that’s a gamble. When I say a gamble, there is no health risk to it, but it is a gamble we are willing to take. At least if one of our ‘D’s go down, at least there is someone with experience to step in. You look at Providence right now, [Adam] McQuaid is still out of the lineup, so you need some depth along the way and for him to at least give us that insurance is good for us.”
All other healthy skaters were present and accounted for at the morning skate.
|04.01.10 at 12:03 pm ET|
In the event that the Bruins make the playoffs, the team announced on Thursday that tickets for the first two home games in the first round will be available on April 7 at 11 a.m.
With six games remaining in the regular season, Boston sits in a three-way tie with the Flyers and Canadiens for the final three playoffs spots. With tie-breakers of the equation the Bruins technically have the seventh seed if the playoffs started today (and would play the Buffalo Sabres). The Thrashers sit two points behind the trio with 80 points. Boston has a game in hand on the Canadiens and Atlanta.
Here is the release from the team:
Tickets will be available for purchase at the TD Garden Box Office, on www.bostonbruins.com, and via Ticketmaster.
The Bruins currently sit in seventh place of the Eastern Conference. The dates and times for the two games will be determined by the National Hockey League once the final seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs is set.
If the Bruins do not qualify for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, full refund of the face value ticket prices will be given for all playoff tickets that were purchased. Various fees associated with purchasing tickets will not be refunded.
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