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Power Rankings 11-24-09

11.24.09 at 9:13 pm ET
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Closing in on the end of November, some NHL teams have plenty to be thankful for, others need to shake off the Tryptophan and still others ‘€” you got it ‘€” are just plain turkeys. Pile on the cranberry sauce and feast on this week’s WEEI Power Rankings:

1. (2) 16-5-4  The Sharks have the best road record in the league and have not lost in regulation (7-0-2) at home. They play six of their next eight games at the Shark Tank. Get the picture?

2. (4) 15-5-2  The Blackhawks have the NHL’s best record over the last ten games, 8-1-1. Set the DVR, Grandma, the Hawks are in San Jose Wednesday.

3. (1) 14-6-1  The Devils currently sit sixth in the league in points, but they have played three less games than three of the five teams with more points. Four less games than the Sharks. Win those contests and New Jersey would actually vault past San Jose. That’s a very good hockey team.

4. (7) 13-6-3  Jarome Iginla has 12 goals in his last 10 games, helping to fuel the Flames to a 7-1-3 record on the road.

5. (10) 16-8-0 Starting to round into form ‘€” Sidney Crosby nets OT game winner in comeback win in Florida.

6. (3) 13-5-6 The Caps are thankful to be leaving Canada after three straight losses to Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.

7. (17) 11-6-6 The Stars have quietly made their way into the Top 10 with wins in three of their last four games and 28 points in 21 games for Brad Richards. That’ll work.

8. (21) 12-6-3 Four wins in a row for the Sens. Should make for an interesting “Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting” matchup with the B’s this weekend.

9. (20) 13-8-1 Please don’t tell me you saw the Preds taking off on a 8-2 run in their last ten.

10. (12) 12-7-3 The Blue Jackets are making a great case that the second-best team in the Central Division might be from Ohio, not Michigan or Illinois.

11. (5) 14-7-3 Hanging in there, but slowly falling. They are more like a glacier than an Avalanche.

12. (8 ) 13-9-2 No sophomore slump for skilled D-man Drew Doughty, who has 20 points in 24 games, fourth-best among defenseman. Leading scorer Anze Kopitar has just three assists and no goals in last five games.

13. (18) 13-10-1 The Coyotes only move this season is toward greater heights in the standings.

14. (12)  12-8-1 A tough loss for the Flyers in San Jose makes sense. Follow-up setbacks in Phoenix and Colorado, not so much.

15. (10) 11-7-4 The Red Wings already had defensive problems, and losing Niklas Kronwall to a cheap hit will not help.

16. (22) 11-8-4 The Bruins are glad to be getting key players back into lineup ‘€” and glad that Patrice Bergeron never left it.

17. (6). 12-6-2  The Sabres are starting to meander through a 4-5-1 stretch in last ten, with three straight losses.

18. (13) 9-5-7 Steven Stamkos is bringing it for the Bolts with 24 points in 21 games. Ryan Malone adding 22 points in 21 games is more of a surprise.

19. (15) 10-7-3 Thrashers play entertaining hockey, with power play and penalty killing units within the Top 10. But that needs to translate into wins.

20. (19) 12-11-0 A mediocre 5-5 stretch for the Canucks is not where this team expected to be.  Last Sunday’s return of  leading goal scorer Daniel Sedin after a five-week absence should help.

21. (14) 9-8-7 Still playing tough, but counting on Dwayne Roloson to make 58 saves to beat the Leafs is not a great plan. Tests against Flyers, Pens and Devils this week will tell us something.
22. (24) 10-9-3 The Panthers squandered a two-goal lead in a 3-2 OT loss to Pens Monday, but are still 6-2-2 in last 10. They will be making some noise.

23. (16) 12-10-1 The plummet continues. Rangers are 4-6 in last 10, now hitting the road for three.

24. (26) 8-11-3 The Ducks are starting to turn a corner ‘€” only a home loss to Sharks marred a decent week. Corey Perry run his league-best point streak to 15 games.

25. (23) 11-11-1  Yep. Even keel, .500  hockey sure sounds like a nice time in Montreal.

26. (25) 8-12-2  After slow start, the Wild has gone 5-3-2 in last ten. Interesting test against B’s.

27. (29) 8-9-4 An uptempo opening period against Boston Monday showed what the Blues can do. So did a mediocre final two periods.

28. (27) 10-11-3 Not a lot of life here, but the Oilers have won two of three and host the suddenly teetering Kings Wednesday.

29. (29) 4-11-7 The play of Phil Kessel (six goals, three assists, in nine games)  still stands as the most entertaining part of the Leafs.

30. (30) 5-13-5  Canes pick up a pair of wins, could be ready to make a move. 

Read More: power rankings,

Milan Lucic on D&H

11.24.09 at 2:44 pm ET
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Bruins forward Milan Lucic, who returned to the ice last week after missing roughly a month with a broken finger, joined the Dale & Holley Show on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the recent improved play of the Bruins, the impact of Marc Savard’s return and his decision to sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.

A transcript of highlights is below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.

The Bruins are starting to look a little better. Are you guys happy with the effort the last few games?

Yeah, definitely. We were able to get on a little bit of a roll here, especially on the road, it’€™s a lot tougher winning on the road than it is winning at home, so for myself it’€™s just nice to get back in the lineup, get some wins, and move up in the standings a bit.

When you guys were struggling, did it ever cross your mind that effort was a problem? Would you simplify it and say yes, we just weren’€™t trying hard enough, was that the issue?

I think it was a consistency and ever since I’€™ve been back here the last few games I think that’€™s what we’€™ve improved on, giving a consistent work ethic throughout the game. We’€™ve been able to apply a full 60 minutes of playing hard, and sticking to the game plan, I think that’€™s what’€™s made us successful, and that’€™s what made us get the ball rolling again and get some wins.

How hard is it to come back off a long term injury and how long it takes to knock the rust off? Savard admitted he was a little rusty last night, you slipped right back into scoring goals when you came back into the lineup. Did you feel rusty?

I felt pretty good when I came back in. Me and Savard, our injuries were a little bit different. I was still able to skate, I had the broken finger there so my conditioning was still good and all that type of stuff. They did a really good job keeping me in shape ‘€“ the trainers, and whoever I was working with ‘€“ so when I came back, my conditioning wouldn’€™t be a problem. I’€™ve been able to fit back in nicely with that, and for myself when you’€™re not in the lineup for a long time, you’€™re just really excited and anxious to get back and I think that’€™s what I’€™m doing, playing with a lot of excitement and having a lot of fun.

Anybody who has ever played with Marc Savard is usually very happy about it, those numbers go up when Marc Savard is on your side. What does he do that maybe a lot of us don’€™t see or that you have to know by playing with him?

Firstly, he wants the puck. He’€™s a guy that’€™s a puck possession guy and he wants it all the time. So he’€™s a guy that’€™s very demanding of himself and his line-mates that he wants results and he wants to go out there and contribute every night getting goals and assists, and the thing about him is he’€™s got eyes all around his head, it’€™s funny if you get open for him, he’€™ll find you even when you’€™re not looking at him. That’€™s what makes him such a great player, and for myself I was happy to play with him and have such a successful year with him last year.

Is it kind of like that off the ice too? If you’€™re walking somewhere and Savard is not looking, do you always feel like he cans see you? Does he always have that kind of vision?

Yeah, he’€™s always aware of his surroundings, that’€™s for sure.

This year was the last year of your entry level contract, and you made a commitment to this team. You signed a three-year contract extension with the Bruins through 2012-2013, why was it important to you to make the commitment and stay here?

It was an easy decision for me, I really wanted to stick around in Boston, I really liked how things were going and I really did like the organization and all the people around it. It’€™s a great city, it’€™s a great sports town and the fans are really another huge reason why I wanted to stay. They’€™ve been real great to us and to me since I’€™ve been with the Bruins, and it was just an easy decision to want to stay in Boston.

Read More: Marc Savard, Milan Lucic,

NHL Power Rankings 11/18

11.19.09 at 7:47 am ET
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As the NHL nears the quarter mark of the season, the WEEI power rankings sort things out.

1. 14-5-0 The Devils are tough on the road (9-1) and just rounding into form under Jacques Lemaire, posting an 8-2 mark in their last 10. Strong start for forward Zach Parise, 24 points in 19 games, a plus-13. Martin Brodeur has started 17 of 19 and posts a .920 save percentage.

2. 14-5-4 Tuesday loss to Nashville costs the Sharks the top spot. Dany Heatley‘s 14 goals not a great surprise, but Patrick Marleau with 13?  Still, it’s November.

3. 13-4-4 Return of MVP Alex Ovechkin gets high-powered Caps offense (league-best 83 goals) back on track.

4. 12-5-2 The Blackhawks are starting to click on all cylinders. Cristobal Huet is getting things done in goal, (2.25 GAA). They have the best penalty-killing in the league. Duncan Keith (15 points in 19 games) is sixth in the league in scoring by defensemen.

5. 13-6-3 The Avalanche may be coming back to earth after a surprising start. The Avs are just 5-4-1 in the last 10 games. Center Ryan O’Reilly is third in rookie scoring (15 points) but was minus-3 in a loss Wednesday.

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Julien has had enough

11.16.09 at 11:12 pm ET
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Claude Julien has had enough.

The Bruins head coach, who won the Jack Adams Award last year as the NHL’s best coach, has had enough of his team not coming out hungry. He’s had enough of his team feeling frustrated for hitting posts and crossbars. He’s had enough of injuries and weak power players. And, of course, he’s had enough of losing games.

But maybe most telling following Monday’s 4-1 lackluster loss to a hungrier, tougher Islanders team on Monday night, Julien had enough of answering for his players.

Julien doesn’t want to hear his players talk anymore about coming out flat.

Julien said his team is not playing smart hockey.

Julien said his team has no identity right now.

David Krejci said the Bruins just aren’t doing the little things right now to find goal-scoring success.

Krejci said it’s inexcusable not to score on the 5-on-3 power play they had.

Derek Morris said the Bruins were just outworked by the Islanders.

Morris said the Bruins were just flat the whole game.

Blake Wheeler said the Bruins just aren’t doing enough of the dirty work.

Read More: Bruins, Claude Julien, NHL,

Lucic Jumps Into Practice

11.13.09 at 1:56 pm ET
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Milan Lucic still can’€™t hit anyone, or tee up a slap shot. But he was back on the ice with the Bruins Friday morning in Wilmington.

The hard-hitting winger skated through his first full practice with the team since breaking his right index finger in a game in Dallas on October 16. Lucic also participated in the Bruins brief morning skate prior to Thursday’€™s 1-0 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers.

‘€œIt was nice to get out there with the team, it felt pretty good. I could keep up with the pace, it was a lighter practice,’€ said Lucic. ‘€œEveryday it feels more comfortable and that’€™s it getting better.’€

For now, Lucic can put limited pressure on the injured finger, he was able to participate in tip drills, but he has not been cleared for contact.

‘€œI’€™m just taking wrist shots, not big slap shots or those type of things just yet,’€ explained Lucic.

Any sort of work with the puck is a welcome relief for Lucic at this stage.

‘€œThe last three weeks I’€™ve been on the ice and they have been pushing me pretty hard’€ he says. ‘€œFor two of those weeks I wasn’€™t able to handle a puck, so what can really do on the ice without a puck ‘€“ just skate.’€

That extra skating may actually pay dividends when Lucic does return.

‘€œHe’€™s been skating for quite a while now so he’€™s in pretty good shape,’€ said Bruins coach Claude Julien shortly before his team was departing for Saturday night’€™s contest in Pittsburgh. ‘€œIf anything he might come back in better shape than he’€™s ever been.’€

While Lucic had indicated he hoped to be back for a November 19 game in Atlanta, the team medical staff will evaluate his progress next week.

‘€œWe go day to day, at one point they are going to tell us how well he is coming along,’€ said Julien. ‘€œRight now, it’€™s not really a surprise, but he’€™s a little bit ahead of schedule. That was good news to hear when they told us he could practice with the team.’€

With top line winger Mark Recchi having been given a personal day off Friday, Lucic skated with center Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm in several drills.

Video blog from Bruins loss

11.13.09 at 6:22 am ET
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Here is a video blog brought to you by Kristine Leahy:

GRAIG WOODBURN

MIKE PETRAGLIA

Turn up the volume: ‘We deserved two points’

11.13.09 at 12:58 am ET
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Last season, as the Bruins were on their way to 53 regular season wins and first place in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs, things couldn’t have been much better in the month of November. They went 11-1-1, racking up 23 of a possible 26 points in the month.

What a difference a year makes. This year the Bruins are 2-2-2 in six November games. Tim Thomas recorded his second straight shutout on Thursday night but it wasn’t good enough for a win. The Bruins were beaten in a shootout, 1-0, by a Florida Panthers team that was 5-9-1 coming in.

It was their third shutout loss and the eighth time they have scored fewer than two goals in a contest. Amazing they are even approaching .500 with an 8-8-2 mark.

How bad are things right now? They Bruins not only didn’t score in the 60 minutes of regulation, outshooting Florida 19-1 alone in the second period, they were held scoreless in the five-minute overtime. They failed to light the lamp in their first three shootout chances. And when Thomas gave them another chance by stopping the first three shootout attempts himself, he had reason or hope to think the Bruins would break through.

Not quite. After Blake Wheeler, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara missed in the first three rounds, Michael Ryder had his chance in the fourth and extra round. Not even an extended shootout could help the Bruins find the back of the net on this night.

Afterward, the Bruins talked about their hard work and frustration on a night that yielded just one point for the overtime loss.

Coach Claude Julien thought his team deserved better but they were outdone by Tomas Vokoun.

Julien said the B’s just have to find ways to score.

Zdeno Chara said the 19-1 shots advantage in the second period just didn’t pay off.

Chara said the Bruins worked incredibly hard on this night and it didn’t pan out.

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas simply looked at this game as a tie.

Bruins forward Shawn Thornton felt bad they couldn’t get the win for Thomas.

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Panthers, Tim Thomas
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