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Capitals knot it up, Bruins hang tough

02.02.10 at 8:46 pm ET
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It did not take long for the Capitals to come back. Washington came out for the second period and was able keep the pressure in the Bruins zone and turned the aggression into a game-tying goal at 2:04 when defenseman Tom Poti carried the puck hard down the left wing and centered to a crashing Mike Knuble. Boston goaltender Tim Thomas was not quick enough across the crease and the Capitals were back in the at a goal apiece.

Then something happened that you do not see in regulation NHL hockey all that often — a penalty shot awarded on a shorthanded breakaway. With Marco Sturm in the box for holding, David Krejci found himself alone with the puck facing down Capitals goaltender Jose Theodore. Knuble caught Krejci from behind and hooked him a couple of times and Krejci missed the ensuing shot. The officials gave Krejci a penalty shot, which he subsequently missed wide right to end the unusual drama.

The Bruins still had to kill off Sturm’s penalty and he was joined by Patrice Bergeron at 11:09 to give Washington a :19 second two-man advantage. Boston killed off both and were able to turn around and put some pressure on itself a couple minutes later. Alexander Semin took went to the penalty box for a hook (his third penalty of the game) after Blake Wheeler and David Krejci had multiple opportunities against Theodore that Washington was able to thwart. Boston had more opportunities on the ensuing power play with Bergeron hitting a post as the Bruins rained shots on goal.

After the rocky start to the period, the Bruins have stayed tough and stayed within their game and have been able to generate shots and keep Alex Ovechkin from causing any havoc on the ice.

Second period shots (total):

Bruins 16 (29)

Capitals 12 (17)

Read More: David Krejci, Mike Knuble,

Bruins use power play to gain momentum

02.02.10 at 7:46 pm ET
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The Capitals are giving the Bruins some power play chances early. For once, Boston has been able to capitalize.

The Bruins got on the power play early when Washington center Nicklas Backstrom went to the box for a hold at 1:04. It was for naught though as the Bruins’ Blake Wheeler gave the man-advantage back with an interference call at 2:16. The Bruins may have lost the opportunity but were able to kill the rest of Wheeler’s penalty to get back to even strength.

Minutes later, the Bruins found themselves with a golden opportunity to jump on the best team in the Eastern Conference. Capitals’ forward Matt Bradley went to the box for a hold and was joined 1:12 later by Alexander Semin on a high stick. Boston wasted no time with the two-man advantage as seconds later Marc Savard crossed the puck across the crease to David Krejci on the baseline. Krejci bent his knees and torqued a shot back across Washington goalie Jose Theodore’s pads to the back of the net for a 1-0 Boston advantage.

The Bruins are doing what they need to do — putting pucks in front of the net, keeping the pressure on and limiting the explosive Capitals chances. It has resulted in a significant shot advantage and, most importantly, a one goal lead heading into the second period.

Shots:

Bruins – 13

Capitals – 5

Read More: David Krejci, Marc Savard,

Capitals a tough challenge for Bruins

02.02.10 at 8:48 am ET
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WILMINGTON ‘€“ The Bruins went through a series of game situation drills at practice Monday, but they were hard-pressed to replicate the reality of what they’€™ll face in game action at TD Garden Tuesday night.

In order for the Bruins to end their seven-game losing streak, they will have to defeat the highest-scoring team in the league while it’€™s playing its best hockey of the season.

The Washington Capitals arrive in Boston having won 10 straight games. Led by Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals have scored a league-best 214 goals, some 23 more goals than San Jose, the second-highest-scoring team in the league.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Bruins have the league’s least effective offense (130 goals) and have not won at home in over a month.

One high-scoring team on a roll, another team stuck in reverse. It could be a tough night ‘€” or perhaps the Bruins’ finest hour in several weeks.

‘€œIt’€™s definitely a challenge,’€ Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. ‘€œTo be honest, there’€™s not any goalie in the league right now who is excited to go up against them. But you can look at it positively, you know if you shut them down you have done a really good job.’€

Although the Caps will present a major challenge, the Bruins have played competitive hockey in their two most recent games, a 2-1 setback at Buffalo Friday and a 3-2 shootout loss to Los Angeles at home Saturday.

‘€œWe have to be ready, it’€™s a great challenge for us,’€ center Patrice Bergeron said. ‘€œPlay hard and follow up from last game, but get the result.’€

With Marco Sturm and Steve Begin returning to the lineup Saturday, the B’s forward lines remain intact for the first time in weeks. But as the Bruins look to jump start their offense, they’€™ll need to avoid falling into an uptempo game that would favor the Caps’ style.

‘€œWe shouldn’€™t play a run-and-gun game against them, we should stick with the system,’€ Bergeron said. ‘€œObviously, the offense right now has to come from somewhere, but we can’€™t force too many things. If we do that against a team like Washington, that’€™s what they want ‘€” to counter.’€

The Bruins will have one break in their favor as Washington star defenseman Mike Green will not play Tuesday as the result of a three-game suspension handed out by the league Saturday.

Peter Chiarelli on D&H: Not trading high pick

02.01.10 at 2:54 pm ET
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Since the Bruins’ stunning win over Philadelphia in the Winter Classic, 2010 has not been kind to the B’s. General manager Peter Chiarelli was on with Dale & Holley Monday to talk about potential moves that could be made to kick start a Bruins playoff run.

Chiarelli voiced his displeasure with the overall performance of the team but said there is no way he parts with the valuable pick that he received from Toronto in the Phil Kessel trade.

‘€œI’€™m not going to trade the pick that we received from Toronto for this year,’€ he stated. ‘€œI’€™ve said that before on other conversations, and I have had other conversations regarding everything else.’€

The GM said the players need to step up, including No. 1 goaltender Tim Thomas, to right the ship on Causeway Street. He said that he has seen some improvements over the last couple of games, but under no circumstance would Chiarelli give away secrets to the show.

‘€œI’€™d like to tell you exactly what I’€™m doing, but I’€™m not going to,’€ he said.

Here is a transcript of the interview, to hear the interview click here.

What do you make of all the moves and trades that the Toronto Maple Leafs made this weekend?

This isn’€™t a comment on those trades, but if we are going to make something it has to be the right deal and it’€™s not for lack of trying right now. I’€™m not beating the bushes so to speak. It has to be the right deal if we are going to do something. Those deals, I think Calgary was trying to shake things up and I think Toronto was building for the future.

Would you shake things up here in Boston?

It’€™s not easy to make a trade, and that’€™s where we are at right now.

Have you received or presented a deal with the draft picks you have from Toronto?

I’€™m not going to trade the pick that we received from Toronto for this year. I’€™ve said that before on other conversations, and I have had other conversations regarding everything else. If it is picks to players I’€™m all ears.

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Read More: Peter Chiarelli,

Fight costs Bruins Stuart for 3-4 weeks

02.01.10 at 1:20 pm ET
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WILMINGTON ‘€” Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart paid an unfortunate price for helping his team gain some much-needed momentum.

Stuart broke his finger while fighting with Wayne Simmonds in the second period of Saturday’€™s 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings He will be lost to the team through the break for the Winter Olympics.

The altercation with Simmonds occurred seconds after Stuart leveled Kings center Anze Kopitar with a devastating shoulder check. Simmonds immediately went after Stuart and the two quickly traded punches.

After the fight was broken up, Stuart went to the Bruins bench and not directly to the penalty box, indicating he may have been injured.

‘€œHe’€™s getting operated on this afternoon, he’€™ll be out until after the Olympic break,’€ Bruins coach Claude Julien said. ‘€œThat’€™s from the fight.’€

Stuart had just returned to the B’€™s lineup on Jan. 16 after missing 14 games with a broken sternum.

‘€œThe last couple of games I thought he was playing his best hockey,’€ Julien said. ‘€œWe liked his game and unfortunately we lose him for 3-4 weeks.’€

The injury is all the more frustrating because it occurred during a fight instigated by Simmonds, who felt the need to stand up for a teammate even though Stuart’€™s hit on Kopitar was legal.

‘€œThat’€™s as clean a check as you’€™ll see, there’€™s no doubt,’€ Julien said. ‘€œUnfortunately, this game seems to be heading in that direction ‘€” when a good clean hit is given, everybody responds. We’€™re not excluding ourselves. We defend our teammates and obviously [Kopitar] is one of their best players that took that hit. If you look around the league, it was kind of the normal reaction.’€

With Stuart out of the lineup, the Bruins recalled Adam McQuaid from Providence on an emergency basis. McQuaid has played eight games for Boston this season, providing physical play and a willingness to drop the gloves.

The Bruins also were encouraged to see defenseman Andrew Ference practicing with the team Monday for the first time since suffering a groin injury Jan. 5 in Ottawa.

‘€œIt’€™s nice to be on the ice, being with the guys a little sooner than expected,’€ Ference said. ‘€œThere’€™s a couple of steps, [Monday I wasn'€™t doing] stops and starts or any contact. But at least it’€™s getting back to practice.’€

It is not likely that Ference will be available until after the Bruins complete a four-game homestand Saturday.

B’s need to be two-timers

01.31.10 at 2:35 am ET
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BOSTON  –  Patrice Bergeron stood before reporters with a very somber face in front of his locker following Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings at TD Garden.

Good reason.

His Bruins, despite getting back the services of Marco Sturm and Steve Begin, still couldn’t find a way to hold a 2-1 third period lead and fell in a shootout. Yes, the Bruins captured one point but as Bergeron pointed out afterward, when you’ve now lost seven in a row and six straight at home for the first time in 85 years, that one point seems of extremely little consolation.

“Tonight was a good effort but we’ve got to find a way to get those two points,” Bergeron said. “We kept having some chances. We scored a goal, on the power play. I don’t think they were all over us with that 2-1 but they found a way to come back and tie it.”

Bergeron’s take on the 3-2 shootout which still leaves the Bruins on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said the team is coming around.

Marco Sturm talked afterward about his first outing in seven games as he returned from a leg injury.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, NHL,

Struggling B’s sparked by Stuart

01.31.10 at 12:57 am ET
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The losses are piling up. The Bruins are going to end January without a win in the TD Garden for the month and just eight points since the start of the new year. There have been stretches this month where the team has been wretched to watch, playing dull, flat-skated hockey that has resulted in some poor losses, such as the 5-1 defeats against Carolina and Ottawa. The Bruins now have 55 points through 53 games, would not qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today, and cannot score a goal to save their lives.

Yet everybody around the team insists that the Bruins are ready to turn the corner and turn back into a playoff team.

Now, if you have been sitting in the stands at TD Garden, you might not actually believe that. But the Bruins do and, at this moment, that is all that matters.

“We played a little bit more physical and a little bit more into it and that is why, overall, I feel like we are turning the corner and heading in the right direction,” coach Claude Julien said. “That is two games in a row now where we competed a lot better than we had in the past. This is what we have to build on and emotion is a part of that and the guys are wanting to turn the corner so they are getting a little bit more involved.”

There have been glimpses of the emotion and physicality that were trademarks of the 2008-09 Boston Bruins, a team that won the top spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Bruins have worked hard in their last two games but have been betrayed by some penalties and an inability to find the net on the power play.

The momentum swing against the Kings on Saturday night took place early in the second period. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles’ rising star center and leading scorer, was passing his own blue line on a clearing pass when he met the shoulder of Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart. In a flash, Kopitar went from moving forward to being thrown backward, the type of hit that makes highlight reels. It was clean and the crowd roared.

“Yeah, I am pretty sure if it wasn’€™t clean I wouldn’€™t be sitting here right now because he could have taken my head off,’€ Kopitar said. ‘€œMaybe I am fortunate that he is not as tall as [Zdeno] Chara because he would have definitely taken my head off. It is one of those plays that happens in the game that caught me looking backward. I have not seen it in the replay yet but it wasn’€™t a dirty hit.’€

Kings forward Wayne Simmonds was trailing the play and saw the hit develop. His first reaction was to go after Stuart for knocking his team’s best player off his keister. Stuart and Simmonds went at it for a few seconds and penalties piled up. Simmonds went to the box for two two-minute minors for instigating and unsportsmanlike conduct, a five-minute fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct. Stuart also took a penalty for fighting.

“I kind saw it coming before I saw him pinching up and I saw [Kopitar] looking at him from the side and he got caught and as soon as he got caught it was my first instinct to jump in there,” Simmonds said. “You know, when one of your teammates gets hit that hard you have to step up there and do something.”

The Bruins were not able to break through on the resulting power play (and remain quite snake bitten in that area), but the team definitely had regained some swagger. After that moment the Bruins scored two goals to regain the lead before Kopitar had his revenge in the third. It was not a full blown instance of a big fight and brawl that can help turn a team around, but it was also not the type of play that the Bruins have seen much of in January.

“It is definitely a big hit,” Bruins forward Michael Ryder said. “[Stuart] is a physical player and he is at his best when he does that. He made a great hit there on one of their top players and when you do that it kind of gets the team going and I think we built off that hit and made up the momentum from there.”

Looking back on last season, the Bruins really came alive after a game-long brawl with Steve Avery, Steve Ott and the Dallas Stars. Boston has not seen the same type of emotion-filled physical game this year. The Bruins lack a defining moment this season and the doldrums of near-miss losses has worn on the team psyche to the point that it has played some very mediocre hockey that has led to its longest losing streak in nearly 13 years.

The hit that Stuart put on Kopitar was a good reminder that these Bruins have what it takes to be big and bad once again. Did the team turn the corner back towards winnings ways? Not on Saturday, but it could be a start.

“We’ve got to keep working through this,” Julien said. “We’re the only ones who can do it, so it’s up to us to keep our heads up and keep working hard and competing hard hard and at one point you know that you may end up getting a break.”

Read More: Anze Kopitar, Mark Stuar,
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