|01.28.11 at 5:48 pm ET|
As the names are called one by one by Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom Friday night, the All-Star rosters will take shape, and Bruins fans will find out whether Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara will be teammates as usual, or whether they’ll end up going against one another come Sunday.
Yet some around these parts had been wondering whether the B’s might have ended up with a third player in the pool of names come Friday in Patrice Bergeron. With forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Ales Hemsky all bowing out due to injury and Jarome Iginla skipping the weekend to tend to an ill family member, Bergeron’s name came up across the web as a potential replacement. Philadelphia’s Danny Briere ended up getting the nod to replace Iginla, while Martin Havlat, Jeff Skinner, and Paul Stastny replaced the other three.
In all reality, the 25-year-old was a semi-long shot to head to Raleigh based on pure numbers despite having a great season for B’s. Bergeron leads the Bruins with 40 points and is tied for the league lead among forwards with a plus-21 rating. His point total fell short of Briere (45), Havlat (44) and Stastny (43), while Skinner had just as many as Bergeron. Skinner, who in his rookie season has emerged as one of the Hurricanes’ top forwards, held an edge over Bergeron based on location.
While Bergeron potentially could have been taking in the All-Star atmosphere with his teammates in Thomas, Chara and Tyler Seguin (the latter of whom’s talents will be showcased in the SuperSkills event on Saturday night), he will instead get the breather that many players can benefit from this time of year. His general manager has no problem with that.
‘He’s deserving of it, but he also deserves a rest,’ Peter Chiarelli said this week. ‘As a manager, you don’t mind if he’s not going, but he’s deserving.’
Bergeron is on pace for 66 points this year. He had 70 or more points in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 season.
|01.27.11 at 4:49 pm ET|
There will be plenty of time for Tim Thomas to focus on what’s at stake in the final 32 games of the regular season and hopefully, long after that. He reminded reporters of that following Wednesday night’s win when asked about the second half of the season that starts following this weekend’s All-Star game.
“Man, we just started the break five minutes ago,” Thomas said. “I’m just going to focus on the break. Otherwise, we don’t get that mental break we’re talking about.”
Fair enough. Thomas has earned the right to reflect on what has been a first half filled with superlatives worthy of a Vezina and Hart trophy winner. Thomas has been that good.
– He came within 11 minutes and 23 seconds of his NHL-leading eighth shutout on Wednesday night against the Panthers.
– He leads the NHL in goals against at 1.81.
– He leads the NHL in save percentage at .945.
– He is tied for second in wins with 24 behind Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller.
– His teammates believe they will win every time he takes the ice.
That last one is the most subjective but also the most important. Thomas has recovered from summer hip surgery to become the backbone of their Bruins team. So, after the 2-1 Wednesday Thomas admitted he’ll take some time to savor the winning feeling heading into the break before gearing up physically and mentally for the final 32.
“I was thinking win, feel the good feeling,” Thomas said. “Then you can really savor the feeling for a couple of days because usually we travel or get ready for another game. So yeah I thought about it.” Read the rest of this entry »
|01.27.11 at 1:06 am ET|
The Bruins aren’t exactly in a position to lose a skill center. Given Marc Savard‘s latest concussion, the team can play the “been there, done that” card with regard to such a scenario.
That’s why when David Krejci took a hit from Rostislav Olesz, crashed into the boards and remained down for a few minutes before leaving and making toward the tunnel in the first period, it was a clear-cut case of something the Bruins didn’t need.
“When he first went down, the last thing you want to see is [him] not come back,” coach Claude Julien said after the game. “We’re already minus one pretty good centerman so you certainly don’t want to lose that second one.”
Yet Krejci, who appeared to be in shoulder pain while down on the ice, didn’t end up missing a shift for the B’s. He was back on the bench shortly after the play and knew he was good to go.
“It wasn’t my shoulder, it was like my whole arm getting tweaked going for position and it was a little uncomfortable for a few seconds, so I stayed on the ice,” Krejci said. “It got a little better so it’s sore but obviously nothing major.
“I waited on the ice a long time and when I was skating off it felt a little better. I didn’t know if it was the shoulder or something. But when I was skating off the ice I knew the shoulder was fine so I was pretty sure I would come back.”
Krejci returned to make a huge play for the B’s, winning the faceoff that set up Milan Lucic’s second-period goal, the tally that proved to be the game-winner when all was said and done.
If any of the soreness lingers for Krejci, it couldn’t come at a better time. Teams now break for All-Star weekend, and the center and most of his teammates will have the next five days to rest up.
“There’s no doubt these next five days will be good for him and probably a lot of the other players too that are playing a little banged up,” Julien said. “It is, I guess, a break that we needed. We certainly didn’t need him going down and not getting him back.”
|01.27.11 at 12:41 am ET|
Milan Lucic had a number in mind before the season. That number was 20.
Never in his three-year career had Lucic reached the 20-goal plateau, and after scoring 17 goals in the 2008-09 campaign, he took a statistical step backwards — both in games played and in scoring — when injuries limited him to 50 regular season contests last season.
After scoring nine goals in the injury-shortened season, Lucic entered training camp set on not only surpassing his career-high 17, but finally scoring 20.
‘I feel like have the ability to help contribute to this team a little bit more,’ Lucic said on Sept. 21. ‘I still in my three years haven’t been able to hit the 20-goal mark. I feel like that’s a realistic goal for me this year and that’s a personal goal that I should be able to meet.”
Lucic expanded his team-leading goal count in the second period when David Krejci won a face-off clean and drew it back to him at the top of the left circle. The 22-year-old fired a quick snapshot past Tomas Vokoun to give the B’s a 2-0 lead and meet his personal goal before the All-Star break.
“It’s great,” Lucic said of finally being a 20-goal scorer. “It’s obviously something that I talked about coming in, and that was a goal for myself and I reached it as quickly as [I did]. ‘¦ It’s a good step for me and I couldn’t be happier right now, but definitely not satisfied.”
Twenty was the number in September. In revising his hopes for the season, Lucic had a new number Wednesday night.
“One game at a time, one goal at a time,” Lucic said, “so we’ll see where I can get to this year.”
The uptick in No. 17’s scoring has been a big factor in the team’s first-place standing in the Northeast Division at the break. Krejci doesn’t see Lucic as the only one benefiting from the left-winger’s scoring this season.
“It’s good,” Krejci said of seeing Lucic’s production. “Especially when he’s on my line.”
|01.27.11 at 12:15 am ET|
While most of his teammates will be going home this weekend, Tyler Seguin will be heading to North Carolina to participate in the rookie SuperSkills competition as part of the All Star festivities. He said he’s looking forward to being around some of the game’s biggest stars for the weekend.
“I’m still a fan,” Seguin said. “I was watching the NHL like any other fan last year and now I’m on the ice, so it’s starting to be a surreal experience.”
When asked if he was going to ask anyone for autographs, Seguin said he might have to, but that he would be “low-key” about it. He added that his sister is going to be disappointed because Sidney Crosby had to back out of the game with a concussion.
“I was supposed to ask Crosby if he wanted to date my sister, too,” he said. “That’s not going to work out now that he’s gone.”
|01.26.11 at 11:39 pm ET|
For as long as there has been hockey, there has been the stereotype that goalies ‘ perhaps even more than other players ‘ have their quirks. In Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Panthers, Bruins netminder Tim Thomas used one of his to make sure he knew what he was working with at all times.
When asked about the closing seconds of the game and a save he made on former teammate Dennis Wideman with 0.4 seconds to go, Thomas revealed a habit of his that he has depended on over the years.
“I count how many right-handed guys and how many left-handed guys there are, and there was only one right-handed guy on the ice there at the end, with Wideman,” Thomas said. “Unless I miscounted.
“I know that if they wrap it on my glove side, a lefty is going to have a different shot, but I knew where the right-handed guy was going to be because I’ve been watching Wides on TV and that’s where he’s scoring a lot of his goals, right from that pocket where he tried to get a shot on me. So to make a long story short, I was prepared for a right-handed shot from that angle.”
Thomas said he counts lefties and righties every faceoff and every line change. It seems like a logical and useful tactic for a goalie, but none of the reporters in the room, including one former goalie, had ever heard of anyone doing it. Thomas said he wasn’t sure how many other goalies did it, either.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I started doing it in Europe because there are so few right-handed guys. So I actually had to be aware of when there was more than one right-handed guy on the ice.”
The way Thomas, who has been dealing with a cold, broke down that final play of the game, he made it sound almost as if he was seeing it all unfold in slow motion. When asked if that’s how it felt to him, he noted that he just seems to be on top of things when he’s under the weather.
“It actually felt like [I could see the game in slow motion] all night for some reason,” he said. “I’ve got a cold if you guys haven’t heard that, and that seems to happen to me when I have a cold. I play some of my best games sick. I personally don’t like it, physically. But for example, my family, whenever they find out I’m sick, they’re like, ‘Hey, you’re going to play good.'”
Whatever Thomas is doing and however he feels, it’s obviously working. And it’s probably best to not try and make sense of it. To paraphrase Reg Dunlop in “Slap Shot,” he’s a goalie, he’s supposed to be like that.
|01.26.11 at 10:59 pm ET|
People thought they knew what to expect out of Bruins forward Brad Marchand for the 2010-11 season. An agitator who could be just as big a pest with his mouth as with the rest of his game, it was safe to assume that if the other team’s forwards were frustrated, Marchand was doing his job.
As goaltenders have learned this season, Marchand has a way of annoying them too.
The 22-year-old struck for his 13th goal of the season when he beat Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun on a wraparound in the first period of Wednesday night’s win. If one were to project 13 goals for the undersized forward at the beginning of the season, they likely would have received strange looks, yet Marchand achieved the feat before the All-Star break.
“I don’t think anyone even thought that I might score 10 this year,” Marchand said following the win. “It is nice to kind of have a little bit of an offensive flair here and there. I don’t care what anyone says. I have to go out and work hard. Whatever happens, that’s how it goes.”
Marchand has surprised hockey fans throughout town, but has he surprised himself? For a guy who was itching to score his first career goal earlier in the season, the confident yet humble Marchand admits he’s surpassed his own projection.
“Yeah, I thought I might be able to score 10,” the forward said when asked if he’s surprised himself with his statistical output. “I knew I could, and I know last year I could have had a bunch and they just weren’t going in. They weren’t bouncing the right. This year, I knew if that if I kept getting those opportunities, they’d eventually go in.”
Marchand’s 13 goals this season put him fourth amongst the Bruins. He has 11 points (7 G, 4 A) over his last 11 games.