|11.24.09 at 9:13 pm ET|
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:
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.
5. (10) 16-8-0 Starting to round into form ‘ Sidney Crosby nets OT game winner in comeback win in Florida.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|11.24.09 at 2:44 pm ET|
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.
|11.19.09 at 7:47 am ET|
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.
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.
|11.16.09 at 11:12 pm ET|
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.
|11.13.09 at 1:56 pm ET|
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.
‘It 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. ‘Everyday 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.
‘I’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.
‘The last three weeks I’ve been on the ice and they have been pushing me pretty hard’ he says. ‘For 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.
‘He’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. ‘If 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.
‘We go day to day, at one point they are going to tell us how well he is coming along,’ said Julien. ‘Right 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.’
|11.13.09 at 6:22 am ET|
Here is a video blog brought to you by Kristine Leahy:
|11.13.09 at 12:58 am ET|
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.
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