|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.
|11.12.09 at 9:49 pm ET|
Corey Stillman scored the shootout game winner as the Florida Panthers took a 1-0 victory over the Bruins Thursday.
Stillman whisked a backhand shot past Tim Thomas in the fourth round of the shootout. Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun made 40 saves for his third shutout of the season.
Thomas made 23 saves during regulation and overtime. He is also credited with his third shutout of the season despite the shootout setback. He has now posted back-to-back shutouts and has not allowed goal since the first period of a Nov. 5 contest against the Montreal Canadiens, a stretch of 173 minutes and 28 seconds of hockey.
The Bruins completed a four-game home stand with a 2-0-2 mark.
Boston shut down three Florida power plays and has killed 31 of the last 32 opposition power play chances during the past five games.
With the Panthers working on an extended five-on-three advantage in the opening period, Thomas made a sprawling stick save to stuff a goal-mouth shot by Nathan Horton.
Later in the same Florida power play, Thomas made a pair of slick poke checks with his goal stick to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard.
The Bruins allowed Florida just one shot in the second period, a season-low by an opponent. Boston had limited the Penguins to just two shots in the opening period of Tuesday’s 3-0 win.
Despite outshooting the Panthers 19-1 in the second, the game remained scoreless as the Bruins failed to convert on two power play chances.
Boston’s second line, with David Krejci centering for Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, showed signs of a pulse in the middle period. The trio pinned the Panthers in the Florida zone for a full shift, generating several scoring chances before changing on the fly, to spirited applause from the restless crowd.
Minutes later, Krejci also drew a tripping call on Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard.
Bruins winger Shawn Thornton tangled with Florida defenseman Bryan Allen in the second-period. No decision.
Player of the Game ‘ Vokoun was perfect in regulation, overtime and the shootout.
Turning Point – After being outshot 19-1 in the second, the Panthers found their game, taking a 14-8 shot advantage over the Bruins in the third.
|11.11.09 at 1:55 pm ET|
Getting past the swine flu maybe the easy part of David Krejci‘s week. Now the third-year center needs to get his offensive game back in order.
Krejci returned to lineup in Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Pittsburgh. With him having not been able to skate for five days while recovering from the HINI virus, it was not surprising that his game was slightly off.
‘I felt my legs were a little out of shape,’ Krejci said after getting in some extra skating at the conclusion of practice in Wilmington Wednesday.
‘We had some good chances, but I didn’t feel that great all game. My legs weren’t there,’ Krejci said. ‘I was thinking too much. What to do with the puck, it should just be [instinct]. Tomorrow, I’ll do everything I can to make it work.’
It certainly would be a good time for Krejci to jump start his game.
After finishing as the Bruins’ second-leading scorer last season (73 points), Krejci inked a three-year, $11.25 million contract extension this summer. He has just five points (1 goal, 4 assists) in 15 games this season.
Bruins coach Claude Julien was quick to stress Wednesday that Krejci needs to raise his game.
‘His game is certainly not where it should be,’ Julien said. ‘That’s up to him to work through it. He’s at that stage where he needs to find his game and work through the glitches that he seems to have right now.’
Added Julien: ‘There’s no doubt he’s pressing. Sometimes when guys press they don’t take the right approach to get themselves out of it. My approach is always to work hard, work through it, things will turn around.’
For his part, Krejci seems ready to help lead the Bruins offense.
‘That was my plan coming into the season, things didn’t go the way I wanted but you have to start somewhere. It’s not too late,’ he said. ‘I’m trying to stay positive about being able to develop my game.’
Defenseman Derek Morris was held out of practice after coming down with the flu Tuesday.
‘We just gave him the day off,’ Julien said.
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