|05.03.10 at 1:24 pm ET|
Shawn Thornton is not the type to sit and watch his team mates go up and down the ice in an intense playoff game. Yet, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers, Thornton found himself a healthy scratch watching from media Level 9 of TD Garden, his heart trying to escape his chest every scoring chance the Bruins had on Philadelphia goaltender Brian Boucher.
“I want to be in every series. It is the best time of year, what you work for all summer and all winter long to get to this point. Watching hockey sucks. I would rather be playing,” Thornton said after the morning skate on Monday before Game 2. “I watched the second and third. The first I was working out. I can’t stand it. I almost had a heart attack. It is way harder to watch than it is to play. When you are involved you are in the flow but when you are up top or in the back room watching the game, every chance your heart jumps out of your chest, so it is tough but it is exciting as well. As I said before, I would rather be playing and that is one of the reasons because it sucks to have to sit there.”
Thornton will likely be in the lineup for Game 2, but not under the circumstances that anybody would find ideal. With Marco Sturm going down for the rest of the season (and the beginning of next) with two torn ligaments in his right knee, Thornton will resume his spot on the checking line and get down to business against the bruising Flyers attack. Thornton is a good Bruins citizen. He is always accountable, always present and always wants to play. There are more talented skaters among the Bruins forwards but he brings a lot of heart to the dressing room and the rink. He cannot see himself in the lineup as any type of reward because another one of the standout clubhouse guys has to face surgery and months of rehabilitation.
“I wouldn’t use the word rewarded. A good friend, good team mate is down. It is tough. I don’t like how it happened with the injury but I am going to get in the lineup and try to play as well as I can,” Thornton said.
A lot of people scratched their heads when Thornton was the man to sit as opposed to a player like Blake Wheeler, who has been ineffective around the goal and prone to turnovers through the end of the season and the playoffs. The thought was that, since the Flyers are so physical and aggressive, that Boston would need a player of Thornton’s talents to help counterbalance Philadelphia’s style. Former Bruins player and coach and current NESN and NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury said on the Dale and Holley show recently that sitting Thornton would be a crime.
‘I would shed a real tear if I were a Bruins fan, if that happens,’ Milbury said. ‘I don’t think his presence in the lineup is given enough importance by the people in management, frankly. I’ve seen him sort of get jerked around this year and I thought it was a mistake. If he doesn’t play tomorrow I think it is a mistake, and if he doesn’t play every game the rest of the way I think it’s a crime.’
Crime averted though it took a catastrophe to happen.
Unlike Milbury, Thornton is not suited to the media level. He joked around with reporters that they had it easy on Level 9 but ultimately, it is just not his style.
“The game is so much easier on the ninth level. That is why you guys [the media] make so much money, huh? I kind of prepare the same way I would for any other game. It is easier up there, you can see things happen before they happen. It is a lot quicker on ice level so I just come out and do what I do,” Thornton said.
|05.03.10 at 12:35 pm ET|
Marco Sturm has been down this road before and he does not like it. On Dec. 18, 2008 Sturm tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and missed the rest of the Bruins regular season as well as the playoffs. On Saturday, he tore the medial collateral [MCL] and anterior cruciate ligaments [ACL] when he went in for a hit against Philadelphia Matt Carle 21-second into his first shift in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Philadelphia.
“Yeah, I tried to hit him [Carle] and I felt it right away when I went to hit him. I got caught or something and my knee twisted just a little bit and I could hear right away the big pop and I had heard it again, before [his previous ACL tear] and I knew it was going to be the same thing from before,” Sturm said.
For Carle’s part, he did not register that the Bruins forward had been injured until play was stopped when Tuukka Rask covered the puck in the Boston zone. It was just a normal hockey play — Sturm going for a defenseman on the forecheck, the defenseman gets the puck away and braces for the hit.
“I just saw him coming out of the corner of my eye and had to get rid of the puck because I knew I was going to get hit,” Carle said. “So, I just flipped the puck and braced for the hit and saw him go down right after. Just kind of one of those weird plays that happens during a game. As soon as I flipped the puck and reacting to that and he just kind of bounced off me and I didn’t know he was hurt until later in the shift and he was just laying on the ice and you know it had to be something pretty serious because he wasn’t moving.”
Sturm noted that the injury is the exactly same that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady suffered in the beginning of the 2008 NFL season. In as such, Sturm will wait for the MCL to reduce in swelling and heal itself a little before going in and having surgery on the knee. Like his left knee the year before, Dr. Peter Asnis and Dr. Tom Gill will perform the procedure in about four to six weeks. In terms of rehabilitation, Sturm does not yet know if he will stay in Boston or head back to Germany.
“I am definitely going to have Dr. Asnis and Dr. Gill do the surgery again but for sure I am going to have it here. I don’t know if I am going to stay here or go back home. There are a lot of questions and I just don’t know and we will have to wait and see,” Sturm said. “These guys, they didn’t do it, but it’s acting like Tom Brady. Same thing. But he decided to go to another doctor. And he did it too early, because the MCL wasn’t healed. So you got to get it healed first and then do the surgery. So it could be a while.”
At this point though, Sturm is just trying to cope with what could be the lowest moment of his career and perhaps the very end of his career. He is only 31 years old and has 855 NHL games under his belt but is now looking at his second major knee surgery in as many years.
“It is going to be the toughest challenge. The last one I didn’t know what to expect, I just went at it but I was around all the season with the boys,” Sturm said. “That helped me a lot. This time I know how hard it was and all that. It is a lot of work. I don’t know. Right now, I don’t know. I am still rattled and just got to be patient. I know I have my family to support me, my family at home so, we’ll see. It will be hard, definitely but I know what to expect now and just try do the best with it.”
It will be December before Sturm can even think about coming back to the ice for the Bruins for the 2010-11 season, his last of year under contract to the Bruins for $3.5 million. Yet, Sturm is the type of high-character guy who has worked hard to get back from injuries before and, though melancholy sitting on the stage at TD Garden Monday morning, showed a bit of resolve to think that he can make it back from a catastrophic injury, one more time.
“After the ACL from last year and just never thought it was going to be another injury like this. It is going to be a tough one but I have always come back from big injuries and I will come back from this one but it is going to be tough,” Sturm said.
|05.02.10 at 2:06 pm ET|
It is always fun to see the diminutive players take on the those of elevated physical stature. Smaller players, by definition, have to be scratchy, buckle-up-your-bootstraps type of guys if they want to survive in professional sports. It is not a matter of talent; often the smaller players are more talented than their larger peers and thus pack more talent per square inch into the smaller package. It is akin to pundits saying that Shaquille O’Neal was never a very talented center but was just so physically dominant that he became unguardable.
One of the smallest guys in the Bruins locker room (and also the oldest) is forward and future Hall of Fame member Mark Recchi. In Game 1 against the Flyers on Saturday he had lost his helmet in front of the crease and found himself face-to-chest with towering Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger. The defenseman is listed at 6-foot-6 while Recchi is quite generously on the roster at 5-10 (probably more like 5-7 or so, maybe a tad taller). Recchi did not like the extra juice with which Pronger hit him at the end of the play and gave the blueliner a big push to let to show his displeasure.
“It is just the way Mark Recchi has played for us all year,” B’s coach Claude Julien said. “I think we talk about him being a good example, and that is another one besides his work ethic and commitment. He has just gone in there and it is all about business. We know that Chris Pronger takes liberties with players at times, and at one point you have got guys pushing back and that is what [Recchi] decided to do.”
For his part, Recchi did not really think much of the fracas. He was served with roughing and cross-checking penalties, and Pronger took two for a cross check.
“It is part of it,” Recchi said. “It is the playoffs. That is the way goes. You know, he is a competitive guy, we all are. Whether it is him or whatever. You try to create space and try what it takes to win games, and he is going to do that, and there is a reason that he has won championships because he does what it takes. It is just us going out there and playing and it is really no big deal.”
This is an interesting series for Recchi, who served two separate stints with the Flyers, the first from the 1991-92 season until 1994-95, when he was traded to the Canadiens in midseason. Montreal then traded him back to Philadelphia in the middle of the 1998-99 season and he stayed there until 2003-04. He won a championship with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
“Yeah, I played the longest there and Philly is a great town and very similar to Boston, a great sports town,” he said. “Great place to live and I really enjoyed my time there. I ended up winning a Cup a couple of years later so it worked out. Everything happens for a reason.”
The 42-year-old Recchi may be one of the oldest players in the NHL, but even he would be hard-pressed to give specific details on the last time the Bruins and Flyers met in the playoffs in 1978, when he was 10 years old and living in British Columbia. That does not mean he is not unwilling to help write a new chapter in the rivalry.
|05.02.10 at 12:44 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed reports Sunday afternoon that forward Marco Sturm will be out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Sturm suffered the injury 21 seconds into his first shift of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers after he hit the boards when he missed a partial check on Philadelphia defenseman Matt Carle. Sturm crumpled to the ice and had to be assisted to the tunnel.
“Marco suffer a knee injury yesterday that will keep him out for the rest of the year,” Julien said. “It is unfortunate news for our hockey club and especially for him who has battled through a major injury last year and was really looking forward to these playoffs.”
The injury is believed to be Sturm’s right knee, which is the opposite from when he injured his left knee on Dec. 18, 2008, and missed most of the 2009-10 season. Sturm had been held pointless for the Bruins’ seven playoff games, though led the team with 22 goals during the regular season. Sturm did not produce for the Bruins down the stretch, either, as he only had two points (a goal and an assist) since March 13 after back-to-back multiple-point games on March 9 and 11, the two games after center Marc Savard went down with a Grade 2 concussion in Pittsburgh on March 7.
Julien said that he was unsure what the next medical step would be for Sturm and that the doctors need to let the swelling go down before figuring the extent of the injury.
“I don’t know yet,” Julien said. “We talked about the injury keeping him out for the rest of the year. When you have the injury there is swelling involved and that is a medical issue and I don’t know what is going to happen either way with him.”
UPDATE — The Bruins announced on Sunday afternoon that Sturm has torn both his ACL and MCL and will have surgery in 4-6 weeks. Here is the full press release from the team:
BOSTON — Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that forward Marco Sturm will miss the remainder of the 2009-10 season after sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee. He sustained the injury during the first period of the Bruins/Flyers game on Saturday, May 1.
Sturm will have surgery within 4-6 weeks from the date of the injury (May 1). His expected recovery time is an estimated six months post-surgery.
Sturm is a veteran of 855 NHL regular season games and has registered 234 goals and 232 assists for 466 points in his career. The 31-year-old tallied 22 goals and 15 assists during the 2009-10 season, marking the seventh time in his career he surpassed the 20-goal plateau. He played in all seven playoff games this season and has scored eight goals and tallied 11 assists in 52 postseason games for San Jose and Boston.
An injury to his left knee caused him to miss significant time during the 2008-09 season.
|05.01.10 at 7:14 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron admitted the Bruins got away with one on Saturday.
Leading by two goals three on three different occasions, the Flyers scored twice in the final seven minutes to force overtime.
Then Marc Savard came to the rescue with his game-winner in overtime and the Bruins lead the best-of-seven series, 1-0.
But that doesn’t erase the fact that the Bruins couldn’t put away a short-handed Flyers team without stars Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne and enforcer Ian Laperriere.
“The overtime was huge,” Bergeron said. “After getting up the way we did, we couldn’t lose that game.
“Obviously, we didn’t come out the way we wanted to in the third period. We let them back in the game and we weren’t very happy about that. We had to come out strong because they are a good team, they are tough to play against and I thought the first couple of shifts set the tone for the overtime there.”
The Bruins wound up outshooting the Flyers 15-4 in overtime and it finally paid off.
“We were staying patient and staying confident that we could do it,” Bergeron said. “Obviously, we had a lot of chances. Sometimes it can hurt you when you don’t score, but we were staying positive and confident that we could get it done.”
|05.01.10 at 6:22 pm ET|
Marc Savard, playing his first game since the ‘Matt Cooke incident’ on March 7, may have scored the game-winner at 13:52 of overtime on Saturday but he wanted to make sure to thank Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci for doing their part earlier in the game to make it possible.
“I felt bad for Bergy and Krech because I was doing all those half-circles and they ended up playing 25-26 minutes,” Savard said. “But they did a great job. They battled hard and they’ve been playing great all playoffs, so I just got a break tonight.”
Savard, who skated 23 shifts in his 15 minutes, 16 seconds of ice time, expected the Flyers to test his readiness and they didn’t disappoint.
“I think they played me hard and that’s part of the playoffs,” Savard said. “You don’t make too many friends out there. And that’s the way [Chris] Pronger plays against everybody. He just took me out hard a couple times. [Mike] Richards is a fierce competitor, but that’s part of the game. We had a couple words for each other, but that’s part of the game.
“So I’m sure it’s not going to get any easier. They’re a good hockey team out there, you got to give them credit. They were down all night and they kept battling back and put us in a tough spot. Tuukka [Rask] made some huge saves again when he had to, and I’m just proud of every guy. Every guy played hard again. It was a lot of guys keep their heads up high and just kept working.”
Now that Savard has his legs, he’s going to work on his focus.
“I mean it’s been a whirlwind for me,” Savard admitted. “Obviously I went through a lot of tough days and I don’t know what happened. I felt like when they tied it and we went in the room I felt like, ‘Geez, I think this is how it’s supposed to be right here.’ I mean, everybody played great tonight. I kept it as short as I could. Obviously I did a couple circles and then came back off. But when Wides [Dennis Wideman] pinched, Wides [Wideman] made a nice pinch there and kept it alive, I was just thinking, ‘As soon as this thing lands, I’m shooting it.’ And it found a way in.”
“I guess you can’t script it any better, if you ask anybody,” he added. “It’s only Game 1, you got to remember that. I’ll have a lot of time to enjoy it actually because it was an afternoon game, so that was nice. But, just get my rest, keep working through it, and hopefully get after Game 2.”
And maybe by then Savard will be skating full circles around the Flyers.
|05.01.10 at 3:46 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins and Flyers are off to the races in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals and it was Boston that came out a leg ahead in Game 1, taking it 5-4 in overtime on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Philadelphia came back from two down in the last ten minutes of the third period to send the game to extra time. Marc Savard scored the game-winner to clinch the series opener when he beat Brian Boucher in overtime. Tuukka Rask took the win with 32 saves while Boucher was the loser by allowing five goals on 46 shots.
There was bad news for the Boston right off the bat as forward Marco Sturm tried to check Matt Carle into the boards but Carle sidestepped and Sturm only registered a partial hit. As Sturm skated away he crumpled and fell in the slot and could not make it off the ice on his own and had to be assisted by trainers off the ice and down the tunnel.
Irony would then strike and so would the Bruins. Steve Begin, who took Sturm’s spot on line with with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, scored his first career playoff (in 30 appearances) goal at 2:39 when he caught a loose puck off attempts from Recchi and Bergeron on the right side of Boucher’s crease and snapped it top shelf for the early lead. It was only the second time in the playoffs (though second straight game) where the Bruins have scored the first goal of the game.
The Bruins would make it 2-0 at 12:54 on a quick snap-bang-slam play between Bergeron and Dennis Wideman. Bergeron won a face off to the stick of Wideman at the point and the center went straight to the net as Wideman wound up and put a slap shot on Boucher’s pads. The puck bounced up and Bergeron put it behind the goaltender for his second point of the game and third goal of the playoffs.
The Flyers cut into the lead at when Ryan Parent found the puck idling up the high slot after Mike Richards and Arron Asham put pressure on Rask at 7:38 of the second period. Parent skated in with a full head of steam and got every piece of it to send it screaming through traffic in front and rattle around the back of the net to make it 2-1.
But Boston insisted on keeping its two-goal advantage and used the power play to its advantage (Mike Richards, Daniel Carcillo and Marc Savard all for roughing at 9:58) when Johnny Boychuk hit a liner from the point that deflected off of defenseman Braydon Coburn’s skate straight onto the stick of Miroslav Satan on the right dot for the put back and a 3-1 lead at 11:43 in the second period.
Philadelphia gradually shook off the rust from its long layoff between series as the game went along and kept itself in the game and the Flyers finally broke down the Bruins penalty kill late in the second. Chris Pronger was the culprit as the puck was cycled to him in the high slot and he skated over to the right point and took a seeing-eye slap shot that went through Rask’s pads to make it 3-2 at 15:58. It was the first power play goal the Bruins had allowed all postseason through 21 opportunities.
David Krejci put Boston back up by two goals at 7:25 in the third when a shot by Satan got through traffic in front of the net and slipped through to crease level where the center could wait for Boucher to commit, which he did on Krejci’s second fake, and put it in the corner passed the goaltenders skate to make it 4-2.
Philadelphia stormed back with two goals four minutes apart in the back half of the third period. The first was a rebound put back by Richards at 12:37 to cut the Bruins momentum and keep the Flyers hanging around long enough to make it a contest. The strike would prove pivotal as Danny Briere tied the game at 16:38 when he took the puck straight down the middle of the ice, through the neutral zone and high slot and split Wideman and Matt Hunwick in half to shoot, rebound and score on Rask to knot it at four goals apiece.
Marc Savard– Had the game-winner in overtime.
Patrice Bergeron — Boston’s biggest engine propelled the team to a hot start with a goal and an assist in the first period and another in overtime giving him seven points (three goals, four assists) through seven playoff games.
Mike Richards — The Flyers’ captain had two assists and a goal as Philadelphia kept up with the Boston attack.
Turning Point — Briere torched Matt Hunwick and Wideman by skating straight down the ice, through the slot and put a shot on Rask, picked up the rebound and put in in the net without ever really slowing down to tie the game at four at 16:42 in the third to bring the Flyers back from what seemed a certain defeat in the opening game of the series and eventually send the game to overtime.
Key Play – Savard scored the game-winner in overtime when he found the puck on the right circle and whipped it with vigor at Boucher who had little chance at the screamer that sent TD Garden into a riot.
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