|04.09.10 at 1:21 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The equation has become pretty simple — The Bruins won on Thursday therefore any Rangers regulation loss guarantees Boston a playoff spot. There was a lot of talk yesterday about what type of scenarios would have to play out this weekend for Boston to make (or not make) the playoffs but it really just boils down to counting points. Boston has a three point lead over the ninth spot, the Rangers only have the potential to gain four points and start a home-and-home against the starting Friday.
The eyes of the Hub will be keenly attuned to Madison Square Garden tonight but there is more at stake for the Bruins than just a playoff birth this weekend. Head coach Claude Julien alluded to the fact after practice at Ristuccia Arena on Friday that the Bruins are also looking at playoff positioning as much as just making the tournament.
“It is a matter of sticking with it. Not just the fact that you get into the playoffs, but, where do you want to be in that situation?” Juliend said. “We’ve got an opportunity right now to be anywhere from sixth to ninth and we have to recognize that and we have to win as many games as we can.”
Practice was loose on Friday and the feeling around the Bruins is that they are really taking to the example set by veteran Mark Recchi when he says that being in the midst of an NHL playoff race should be fun. Players were whooping and hollering on the rink as they continually messed up one of Julien’s drills and gave a rousing applause when a unit got it right. Make no mistake about it though, the Bruins may be loose but the cord of tension that has been tightening around the team since the Olympic break is as tight as it has ever been.
“The biggest mistake is for [the sense of urgency] to be lessened,” coach Claude Julien said. “Two points guarantees us a playoff spot but those two games coming up, Carolina, I just watched them last night against Montreal, they are playing pretty well. They are playing loose and playing well and they got a pretty good goaltender that keeps them in the game. I don’t think that anything is a given but we have an opportunity to watch a game tonight that may, or may not give us the answer that we want.”
Miroslav Satan Putting It Together
Forward Miroslav Satan has come on for the Bruins of late, scoring the game-winning goal among his two strikes last Saturday against Toronto and tying the game on Thursday after teaming with David Krejci to create a turnover on the forecheck and marching straight in on Sabres’ goaltender Patrick Lalime.
Satan now has nine goals, three in the last week, in 36 games for the Bruins after missing the first half of the season before signing with Boston. He has gone stretches during his stay in the Hub where he has not been a factor but has proved to be good for the Bruins in the games that have mattered most.
“I think that was a good pickup by us,” Julien said. “For what he has given us he has certainly been good. You know, he has always had good hands and has been a guy who has scored a lot of goals in this league and you know, again, his experience yesterday when he just took it to the net, those are the things that we have been talking about a lot and he finds those holes and he finds ways to score goals in those situations.”
“I like what he has brought to our team. To me he has gotten better as he has played here and for a guy who didn’t play the first half of the year to have, I think it is nine goals right now is pretty good for a team challenged to score to start with,” Julien said.
The Bruins forecheck was active on Thursday and led to Satan and David Krejci breaking the puck loose off the half wall where Satan could take it straight to the net and the game-tying goal on a backhand. Since Julien changed the lines to give Krejci new wing mates the unit with Satan and Marco Sturm has been aggressive on the forecheck and has given the Bruins some scoring opportunities that may have not been present otherwise.
“The fact that we are aggressive creates turnovers and when players like Krejci and Satan create a turnover a turnover and are going in on net you are pretty comfortable because those guys are pretty crafty,” Julien said.
|04.09.10 at 1:08 am ET|
So it has come down to this. Thanks to a win over the Northeast Division champion Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night at TD Garden, the Bruins could clinch a playoff berth on Friday while enjoying a meal.
“We’ve been right there,” Wideman said of the charge toward the playoffs. “You don’t want to be looking too far ahead. We still have two more games that we want to try and win and not make it come down to the last game so we have to make sure we’re ready to play Carolina on Saturday. Carolina always plays us tough so we have to make sure that we are up to the task.”
That is why the Bruins were rightfully feeling proud of their win on Thursday and none moreso than Dennis Wideman who has seen more ups and downs than anyone in Bruins black and gold this season.
It was Wideman’s turnover that led to Buffalo’s goal by Derek Roy in the first period. The Bruins were down 1-0 after 20 minutes and tied, 1-1, after 40.
But it was Wideman’s shot from the high slot in the third that proved to be the game-winner in Boston’s 3-1 victory.
“Yeah, that was a real big win for us,” Wideman said. “We struggled a bit early. We weren’t quite up to where we wanted to play, but I think we stuck with it and came through with the win.
“That’s one thing that you can’t do when you get into situations like that and you start panicking you start gripping your stick a bit too tight and then things just go downhill from there. It was good that we didn’t panic and we responded and we came back and back and ended up winning the game.”
Wideman fired a shot through Blake Wheeler‘s screen for the goal in the third period.
“Blake did a great job on that goal,” Wideman said. “I think he turned the puck over in the neutral zone, then he kicked it out to Vlad [Vladimir Sobotka] and then Vlad drove it down wide there and showed great patience by not just throwing it at the net into a crowd of people and he pulled back and he found me in the slot and all I had to do was make sure I hit a hole in the net because Blake had a great screen on him.”
The crowd booed Wideman every time he touched the puck after his turnover in the first. But they cheered him when he became the hero in the third.
“I didn’t hear the cheering, no,” he said, before offering, “I don’t know what to say about that actually. Obviously, it’s not easy. It’s a little harder when you’re trying to make a play or trying to be patient with the puck when that is going on, but that is part of the game.
“[Fans] can do whatever they want,” Wideman added. “They pay to come to the game. Obviously at the start of the year and most of the year, things didn’t go as well as I would like or as well as it has in the past. I just have to prove to them that I can still play and I still want to win.”
|04.08.10 at 9:35 pm ET|
Summary — Boston took a big step towards the playoffs on Thursday with a 3-1 win over the Sabres at TD Garden. Boston now leads the idle Rangers by three points for the final playoff spot as each team has two games in the regular season.
Tuukka Rask got the start for the Bruins and was his usual solid self in turning away 31 shots for the victory. The Bruins may have thought they had dodged a bullet when Buffalo started backup goaltender Patrick Lalime over All-Star Ryan Miller but he backstop was solid and contributed to Boston’s goal-scoring frustration with a steady 31 saves in the loss.
Dennis Wideman got the game-winner for Boston at 1:59 in the third period with a blast from the point that had eyes through Lalime towards the back of the net. It was Wideman’s sixth of the year.
The Bruins found a familiar refrain at 11:00 in the first period. Wideman could not control the puck off the wall in neutral ice and lost it for a breakaway by Derek Roy. The defenseman could not recover and Roy had an easy time picking his spot, high glove side, against Rask for the opening goal of the game.
Boston came back early in the second. Miroslav Satan found himself in a small scrum on the half wall in the Bruins offensive zone against two Sabres and lost control of the puck but got enough stick on it to keep it live. David Krejci circled around from behind the goal line to keep the puck in play, hit a touch pass to back to Satan who skated into Lalime’s crease and put a backhander home at 2:15.
Zdeno Chara [Mark Recchi] gave the Bruins the breathing-room goal late in the third period on a one-time blast from the corner on a pass from Milan Lucic at the left point that deflected off of Recchi and overpowered Lalime at to make it 3-1 at 16:35.
Miroslav Satan — The veteran forward tied the game in the second period with his ninth of the season for the Bruins.
Derek Roy — The Sabres center was pesky presence all night and was rewarded for his efforts in the first period when he plundered Wideman and took his booty to the net to beat Rask for the opening goal of the game.
Tuukka Rask — the statistical league leading netminder did his thing in shutting down the Sabres to keep the Bruins in the game and give them a position to claim points to be applied to their playoff pursuit.
Turning Point — When Wideman redeemed himself early in the third. He stood up a little short of the right point and time his shot perfectly with the screening body of Blake Wheeler to catch Lalime in a blind moment for his sixth of the season and game-winning goal.
Key Play — A lot of good Rask saves to choose from. One of the most important was a point blank shot from Sabres’ forward Tyler Ennis that was unleashed two feet in front of the crease that Rask stoned cold with a little more than a minute to play in the second period. Had Ennis been able to score and Buffalo entered the third period with a goal lead, the dynamic of the final frame would have been much different as Boston would have had a more aggressive (riskier) offensive attack as opposed to playing tighter defense with the lead.
UPDATE — There was a scoring change on the Bruins third goal after the game with the tally being awarded to forward Mark Recchi on a deflection from Chara’s shot. The goal was Recchi’s 18th of the year.
|04.08.10 at 8:44 pm ET|
Despite their continuing ineptitude on the power play, the Bruins managed to get themselves back on level ice with Sabres after 40 minutes.
Miroslav Satan collected a loose rebound in front of Buffalo goalie Patrick Lalime and slid a backhand five-hole to tie the game just 2 minutes, 15 seconds into the second period. For Satan, it was his ninth of the season and his third in his last three games. He has three of Boston’s last five goals, overall.
And the Bruins have killed off both Sabres power plays tonight. They have killed 13-of-last-14 opponents’ power plays.
That’s the good news.
The bad… they had another two power play chances and missed on both, making them 0-for-5 on the night and an incredible 0-for-17 in their last six games.
Tuukka Rask continues to look sharp in goal, as he turned away all 14 Buffalo shots in the second while the Bruins had 11 on Lalime.
|04.08.10 at 7:49 pm ET|
Again the Bruins came out with energy in the first period.
And again they had several chances to capitalize on the power play.
And once again, they head to the dressing room scratching their collective heads as to why they’re down, 1-0, after 20 minutes.
The last time they played, Dennis Wideman took a high sticking penalty in the first 24 seconds of overtime and it led to the game-winner in overtime for Washington.
Tonight, he mishandles a puck at the left point, leading to a turnover and a Derek Roy goal at 11:00. Roy skated in on Tuukka Rask and beat him blocker side, up top for the game’s only score.
The Bruins had three power plays, and in keeping with recent trends, could do nothing with them. They have now gone six games without a power play – an 0-for-15 stretch. They have scored just three man-advantage goals in their last 16 games, going 3-for-41, or 7.3 percent. Not exactly the stuff of playoff hockey teams.
All three of those goals came against Calgary on March 27 at TD Garden.
The Bruins outshot the Sabres, 10-6, in the first period.
|04.08.10 at 12:51 pm ET|
Just when things were starting to go so well on the ice for Dennis Seidenberg an odd injury forces him to watch the rest of the season from the press box.
Seidenberg will miss eight weeks with a lacerated flexor carpi radialis tendon in his left forearm which he had surgery to fix on Tuesday and expressed disappointment that his time with in Boston may be coming to a premature end. The defenseman was picked up by the Bruins on the March 3 NHL Trade Deadline from Florida along with Matt Bartowski for Craig Weller, Byron Bitz and a second round draft pick and played in 17 games with two goals and seven assists. Seidenberg’s 215 blocked shots between the Panthers and Boston lead the NHL.
Seidenberg cut the tendon in his forearm last Saturday in the first period against Toronto at Air Canada Centre. Initially he did not think the cut was that bad but after skating on Tuesday morning at Ristuccia realized that something was definitely wrong with the area and went to see a doctor. The news of a torn tendon came as a surprise.
“Well, I went through knowing something was wrong because it was really painful, I wasn’t just going there in passing,” Seidenberg said. “I was expecting something to be wrong with it but not expecting for the tendon to be torn and to have surgery was even more surprising so it was disappointing and tough to hear.”
Seidenberg does not expect the rehabilitation to be all that strenuous and sounded like a man who had been through similar injuries before. His arm was in a cast on Thursday and he said that it will stay there for four weeks before starting exercises to regain his range of motion.
“Usually a tendon takes four weeks to heal and after that you just get the motion back and get the strength back and everything. It is an easy rehabbing process,” Seidenberg said. “It could be worse. It is just a regular tendon tear and the rehab should be easy.”
Now that his time in Boston has just about come to and end, Seidenberg was asked what he thought about his time in the Hub and if he wanted to stay. Since arriving he has played exclusively as the No. 2 defenseman paired with captain Zdeno Chara and has been a solidifying presence on the blue line in lieu of Derek Morris who was traded to Phoenix the day Seidenberg was acquired. He said that he has not yet been approached by Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli but that he would hope to hear from him soon to start discussing a possible future with the team.
“No, it has been pretty quiet. The last couple of days have been about finding out about my wrist and so hopefully soon something will start to happen,” Seidenberg said. “It has been good. I am playing lots and I couldn’t ask for anything more. I think I fit in nicely and I hope I stay here.”
|04.08.10 at 12:06 pm ET|
Bruins’ center Marc Savard dropped by TD Garden for the team’s morning skate on Thursday and spoke to the media to give an update on his condition after sustaining a Grade 2 concussion after a hit from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on March 7. Savard still looks a little pale and speaks like a person not used to being out of bed but said there has been progress.
“I am starting to feel better. I have been getting out a little bit and doing somethings, you know, getting out of the house. Starting to feel better, that’s for sure and hopefully it continues,” Savard said. “I am still not quite feeling 100 percent.”
Severe concussions are a tricky injury to come back from because there can be good days and bad days. Kind of a two steps forward, one step back type of ordeal. Savard reiterated multiple times that he is “starting to feel better” and that he has been able to get out of the house and do some walking around.
“I have made some steps this week, especially with the good weather I have been able to get outside, get some color and definitely this last week I have felt better,” Savard said.
Part of the recovery process is dealing with an irregular sleep cycle and Savard expressed that was one of the biggest problems that he has been having.
“Obviously I am on a little bit of medication to help me through that because my sleep has been a little bit all over the place. I have had some trouble sleeping through the night but the doctors gave me a prescription to get through that. Having some bad dreams and stuff like that but nothing I can’t get over,” Savard said.
Until Savard is symptom free, he said he is not even going to start to think about hockey related activities. Right now it is enough just to be able to watch the games and root for his teammates.
“There is still minor headaches and some other stuff that I am still cautious about and until that goes away I am not going to look at coming back. For now I am cheering the boys on and able to watch now,” Savard said.
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