|02.03.10 at 12:12 pm ET|
We have a new leader in Washington. Sorry, Mr. President and Scott Brown, it’s your Capitals.
1. (3) 38-12-6 There’s plenty going right for the Capitals, who set a franchise record with their 11th straight win by beating the Bruins Tuesday night. Getting a 41-save effort from Jose Theodore also could be a very good sign.
4. (4) 35-18-2 A little payback is a good thing. The Devils gave all-time shutout leader Martin Brodeur the night off and g0t blanked 3-0 by Toronto Tuesday.
5. (5) 32-15-7 After having his 16-game point streak stopped last Wednesday, Tim Connolly got right back to it. He picked up an assist in the Sabres’ next two Sabres games over the weekend, giving him points in 18 of 19 games. Nice.
8. (9) 34-18-5 Ilya Bryzgalov continues to shine. He made 25 saves in leading the Coyotes to a 1-0 shootout win in Nashville Tuesday.
|02.02.10 at 11:29 pm ET|
Boston has not seen its hockey team have a stretch this bad since the days when Vic Stasiuk used to lace up his skates at the old Garden in 1956 when the Bruins had a stretch where they went 0-8-0.
With an 0-6-2 record in its last eight games, this season’s Bruins have not seen a win since beating the Western Conference leaders from San Jose on Jan. 14. It would have been odd to see the Bruins sandwich seven losses in a row with wins against both conference leaders, but it was not to be in a 3-1 loss to the Capitals on Tuesday.
Everybody knows what the problem is. There’s no hiding what ails these bears ‘ they cannot score. Through the past eight contests, the Bruins have 12 goals, or 1.5 per game. After a stretch where the team simply did not play well, the Bruins have had decent efforts and good scoring chances in the past few contests and have run into some pretty good goaltending along the way. Why can’t the Bruins score? It is kind of a chicken or egg type of question.
|02.02.10 at 10:54 pm ET|
It seemed very innocent and obvious when Bruins coach Claude Julien gave his team credit for battling the hottest and best team in the NHL to a 1-1 draw after two periods. After watching his team surrender three in the third, it became nothing more than another in a string of eight straight losses, 4-1 to Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
In short, Julien said they deserved the win on Tuesday night “if we had scored some goals.” Julien believed his team could have been up, 4-1, after two instead of tied.
And of course, deserving the win and earning the win is a bridge these struggling Bruins have yet to cross.
Here is what Julien had to say for his troops following Tuesday’s setback, an eighth straight loss that gave them their longest losing skid in 54 seasons.
|02.02.10 at 9:33 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins hung tough with the best team in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday but ultimately could not hang with the Capitals as they dropped their eighth straight game 4-1 in front of a sold out TD Garden. Brooks Laich had the game-winner for Washington early in the third period off a feed from Alexander Semin and Boyd Gordon added a goal later to break a 1-1 tie to start the final frame. Tim Thomas took the loss for the Bruins with 21 saves while Jose Theodore stood on his head at times stopping 41 Bruins shots. The eight game losing streak is tied for the second longest in Bruins history and longest since Dec. 22, 1955 to Jan. 12, 1956.
The Bruins struck in the first by taking advantage of a 5-on-3 power play at 6:58 when Marc Savard cross the puck to David Krejci on the baseline. Krejci bent his knee and whipped a shot back across Theodore’s pads for the early lead. The score was Krejci’s 10th of the year. The Bruins were able to keep the pressure on most of the period and outshot the Capitals 12-5 heading into the second.
It would not take long for Washington to come back. At 2:04 in the second Tom Poti broke deep down the left wing and crossed a pass to a crashing Mike Knuble who was able to beat Thomas out of position for the game-tying goal.
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. It was the Bruins second shorthanded penalty shot of the season after Marco Sturm was unsuccessful against the Rangers Henrik Lundqvist on Jan. 9.
Brooks Laich — The Washington center scored the game-winner with his 17th of the year in the third period off a feed from Alexander Semin.
David Krejci — The Bruins second line center now has a two game point streak after his first period goal and though he was unsuccessful on the penalty shot he was able to put himself in position for the play and helped kill Boston’s penalties on the night.
Tom Poti — The Capitals defenseman assisted on Washington’s first and third goals of the night and now has two goals and 17 assists for the season.
The Bruins best chance of getting on top of Washington came in the second period when Blake Wheeler and Krejci had near open net chances against Theodore but were unable to slam the puck home. Wheeler had two points blank chances and Krejci missed on the follow up and the Capitals cleared the puck to end the threat. The Bruins would never really threaten Theodore for the rest of the game.
Semin was able to redeem himself after taking three penalties through the first two periods when he founds the puck in space off the half wall in the offensive end and flipped it through the circle to Laich in front of Thomas. Laich let go of a wrist shot that beat the Bruins goaltender on the stick side for the game-winner at 5:04 in the third.
|02.02.10 at 8:46 pm ET|
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)
|02.02.10 at 7:46 pm ET|
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.
Bruins – 13
Capitals – 5
|02.02.10 at 8:48 am ET|
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.
‘It’s definitely a challenge,’ Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. ‘To 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.
‘We have to be ready, it’s a great challenge for us,’ center Patrice Bergeron said. ‘Play 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.
‘We shouldn’t play a run-and-gun game against them, we should stick with the system,’ Bergeron said. ‘Obviously, 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.
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