|12.20.10 at 10:00 pm ET|
The Garden was loud as ever to begin Rancournament night on Monday, but the fans likely weren’t a promotional giveaway to be the only positive of their experience. That’s what they got, as the B’s rode a lackluster performance to a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Ducks.
The Ducks got goals from Brandon McMillan, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Corey Perry, while the Bruins struggled mightily against Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller.
With the Bruins getting plenty of pucks to the net but failing to bury them, Claude Julien changed up the lines in the third period. He pulled Nathan Horton off the top line and replaced him with Blake Wheeler. Tyler Seguin took Wheeler’s spot on Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi’s line, while Horton moved to the Marc Savard and Michael Ryder’s line.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins didn’t have a power play in Saturday’s game against the Capitals, and given the way things transpired on Monday, it seems they would rather go another night without the man advantage. The B’s failed to convert, while they allowed their third shorthanded goal of the season. Luckily for them they’re still far behind Tampa Bay in the undesirable category, as the Lightning have allowed a whopping seven shorthanded tallies this season.
– As much as all these 40-plus-shots-against games have helped Tim Thomas‘ league-leading save percentage, his performance worked against that on Monday, as he allowed had allowed three goals on 15 shots by the end of the second period. Thomas ended up facing 24 shots on the night.
– For just the second time this season, Milan Lucic is without a point in two straight games. His only other such stretch occurred when he failed to register a point on Nov. 20 and 22 against the Kings and Lightning, respectively.
– As poorly as the Bruins played overall, they weren’t helped by the fact that Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller was very good in net for the Ducks. The B’s got a respect a season-high 45 shots on net, but Hiller was equally sharp on all of them, challenging or otherwise.
Hiller had perhaps the save of the night when he robbed Tyler Seguin in the slot at 12:10 of the third period. He came up with another big stop on a Mark Recchi shot at 16:57.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins seemingly don’t have to worry about the health of Steven Kampfer. The rookie blue-liner took a shove from Teemu Selanne in the second period that helped him go headfirst into the boards in a scene slightly resembling Jody Shelley’s hit on Adam McQuaid.
The difference between the two plays was that Selanne gave more of a light shove and didn’t seem malicious, while Shelley used two hands to push McQuaid. Kampfer was helped off the ice by trainer Don Delnegro and returned to the ice later in the period. Selanne was given a minor for boarding.
– Patrice Bergeron, despite being a minus-1, continued to be one of the better players on the ice. Of course, given the team’s slow and sloppy showing, there weren’t many candidates for that distinction. Bergeron single-handedly prevented the Ducks from scoring a shorthanded goal on B’s first power play when he swept a puck out of the crease as it was about to cross the goal line after making its way past Thomas.
|12.20.10 at 9:08 pm ET|
The Bruins have some recent experience with nearly blowing a three-goal lead. Now, they’ll have to see if they can come back from one as they trail the Ducks, 3-0, after two.
Tim Thomas has allowed the three Ducks goals on just 15 shots, while Jonas Hiller has been an absolute wall on the other end.
The Bruins were 0-for-2 on the power play in the period, the first of which came when Teemu Selanne went off for boarding after he gave Steve Kampfer a soft shove that led the B’s defenseman headfirst into the boards. The play did not seem malicious and Kampfer, after being helped off by Don Delnegro, returned to the ice.
|12.20.10 at 8:16 pm ET|
The Bruins will enter the second period trailing the Ducks, 1-0, after Brandon McMillan put Anaheim on the board early on in the first.
McMillan scored his second goal of the season when a Luca Sbisa shot from the point hit McMillan in front of the net. The 20-year-old center corralled the puck and sent it past Tim Thomas at 5:57.
–David Krejci had the lone penalty of the period, a goaltender interference minor at 1:08. The Ducks got two shots on Thomas on the power play, neither of which did any damage.
– Kudos to our man Mike Petraglia on the following stat: Since jumping out to a 3-0 lead in Saturday’s game against the Capitals, the Bruins have been outshot by a 45-19 margin. The B’s had just nine shots on Jonas Hiller in the first period. The Ducks didn’t rack up the shots either, as they got just seven on Thomas.
– Nice touch by the Bruins PR people to dedicate WEEI.com colleague Graig Woodburn‘s seat in the press box to him for the rest of the season. Graig passed away at age 50 on Sunday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. I had the pleasure of working with Graig — albeit on a limited basis — but it didn’t take much time to see that he was a great hockey writer and a great guy. There’s definitely a learning curve for younger writers, but fortunately for myself I’ve had lots of great people to learn from. Graig was one of those people and he’ll be missed.
|12.20.10 at 2:10 pm ET|
Another injury, another opportunity for Daniel Paille.
That’s how the season has been for the Bruins winger and nightly assumed healthy scratch, but with Brad Marchand out Monday, he’ll once again see the good that comes of the undesirable role.
Since the second game of the season, Paille has been out of the lineup unless another forward has been injured, or, as was the case with Tyler Seguin last week, a healthy scratch. He’s played 11 games this season, with one assist and a minus-2 rating.
The idea of only playing when another guy is hurt is less than ideal from his perspective as both a teammate and an individual, but Paille is simply working with what he’s got.
“I’ve got to make the best of the opportunity every game,” Paille said Monday. “At this point, [an injury] is the only way I’m going to get into a game until I can prove otherwise.”
Marchand will miss Monday’s game vs. the Ducks due to a hit he took Saturday night. Claude Julien noted that the winger remains day-to-day and that his injury — which remains undisclosed — is not long-term. Even so, Paille figures to take Marchand’s place on the energy line with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.
Paille, who played in 74 games for the B’s last season after being acquired from the Sabres, has experience playing with Thornton. Still, the merlot line of Marchand – Campbell – Thornton has been one of the most consistent fixtures of this Bruins squad. Whether it can operate as efficiently without one of its parts remains to be seen.
“I know what to expect with Thornton and the effort he gives every night. I played with Campbell a little bit in the preseason — I really enjoyed playing with him as well,” Paille said. “He and I, I feel that we play almost similar. I think I can adjust to his game very well.
“They just bring that energy type of game,” Paille added of the line. It’s just something I’m looking to get into tonight and get a chance to play with them.”
Paille admitted that though his mind has been fresh all season, the time out of the lineup has made it “a bit harder to get in the same shape” as his teammates who play each game. He did say that John Whitesides has worked with him to make up for it so that he’s “physically ready” when he does get the call.
As for Marchand, Thornton isn’t worried about the mindset of the undersized winger, whose status is uncertain among the media given how few details have been divulged.
“Nobody likes to miss a game,” Thornton said when asked about Marchand. “He’s a competitor and he wants to play, but these things happen during the course of a long season. He’s always in a good mood, that kid.”
Though the Bruins will be missing one of their more fiery players and top penalty killers, Thornton is confident in what Paille will bring should he be inserted into both roles.
“I’ve played with [Paille] enough games to know what he brings. If he’s on our line, we’ll do the same thing,” Thornton said. “Get pucks in deep, work down low, and be strong on pucks. ‘¦They bring a lot of the same stuff to the table, so it should be a fairly easy transition.”
|12.20.10 at 12:02 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was first off the ice on Monday morning, so it’s safe to assume he’ll be in net vs. the Ducks at 7:30 p.m. Thomas bailed the Bruins out on Saturday night when he made 25 saves in the the third period against the Capitals in a 3-2 victory. Here are some other notes following morning skate:
– Brad Marchand wasn’t on the ice and is not expected to play against the Ducks. Coach Claude Julien reiterated following the skate that the energetic winger is day-to-day, adding that he is “still stiff” from a hit he took on Saturday against the Capitals. Of course, Marchand also took a crushing hit from P.K. Subban in Thursday’s game in Montreal, so it seems he just needs some time to recover from a beating he took over the last couple of games.
In Marchand’s place will be Daniel Paille, who said he was told by assistant coaches that he should expect to play. Aside from the season-opener, Paille has only seen time due to another player being either injured or scratched.
– When asked about what the B’s are facing in the Ducks, Julien called them a “big strong team” who plays “heavy game.” The Bruins coach likened the Ducks to a team like the Flyers and said their style of play is similar to “what we’re trying to do here.”
– In facing the Ducks, Shawn Thornton will be facing the team with which he got his first real chance. Thornton spent the 2006-07 season with the Ducks and on Monday will go against former teammates including George Parros, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Teemu Selanne.
Thornton spoke highly of his time in Anaheim, though he said Parros is the only one he still keeps in touch with.
– It’s never too early to begin looking at the playoff picture. Milan Lucic had the standings in mind when assessing the matchup of the Bruins and Ducks.
“They’re eighth in the West, and they’re eighth in the East,” the Bruins’ leading goal-scorer said. “We have a chance to move up here and move up in the standings and be tied with Montreal for first in the division. We know it’s a big game for us and we want to [leave] things off the right way going into the Christmas break here.”
– Last but not least, Rene Rancournament night has finally arrived. The Bruins will be giving out complimentary ornaments of National Anthem singer and cult hero Rene Rancourt to fans in attendance. There’s been quite a buzz about it from fans and media alike. Personally, I’lll consider it a letdown if the ornament doesn’t fist-pump and point correctly.
|12.20.10 at 10:39 am ET|
Two teams with 38 points will face off on Monday when the Bruins (17-10-4) take on the Ducks (17-15-4). The B’s will see an Anaheim team that aside from a six-game win streak to begin November has struggled to find consistency. The Ducks enter Monday night having lost two straight, while the Bruins broke a three-game skid on Saturday by beating the Capitals, 3-2. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, as the B’s had to fend off a swarming Washington offense in the third period after holding a 3-0 lead in the first.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Bruins are 8-4-3 at the Garden (8-5-3 in home games including the Prague opener) and have turned their luck at the Garden around since entering December as a 4-4-2 home team. The Bruins have come away with a point in all five home contests this month, posting a 4-0-1 record.
– The Ducks have been a fine home team, but their 6-9-3 road record is what finds them in third place in in the Pacific division despite having played three more games than the first-place Stars (43 points) and second-place Sharks (39). The Ducks have lost their last two games, both of which were on the road, and are 2-2-1 in their last five road contests.
– Blake Wheeler has points in consecutive games for just the third time this season, while he has scored in back-to-back contests for the first time all year. Things are starting to pick up production-wise between the 24-year-old winger and linemate Patrice Bergeron (four points in the last two games), so whether the second line can keep up their new-found means of success is worth keeping an eye on.
– The number of shots allowed recently has been alarming. Tim Thomas saw 40 or more shots just once in 15 starts through the first two months of the season. This month, however, Thomas has seen at least 40 in four of his seven starts.
Saturday was the most blatant case of the shots-on-goal problem. The B’s were outshot 26-2 in the third period. Those 26 shots for the Capitals in the final 20 minutes were five more than the 21 the B’s had all game.
– Anaheim right wing Corey Perry enters Monday night’s game fifth in the NHL with 38 points. The 25-year-old has eight points in his last four games, including an impressive showing Dec. 12 against the Wild in which he picked up his first hat trick and tied a career-high with five points.
Ryan Getzlaf also finds himself top 10 in the league in points with 35. The former first-rounder scored both of Anaheim’s goals in Saturday night’s 4-2 loss to the Hurricanes.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– The Bruins may have broken their losing streak, but their struggles are still evident. Fortunately for them, they are no longer the woeful home team they were last season and for the majority of this season. This seems to be the right setting for them to get the convincing win they haven’t had since perhaps the Tampa Bay game or the Buffalo contest. Wins over the Islanders don’t count.
– Despite the sub-par play over their last four games, the B’s, currently with 12 points in December, are a win away from tying the 14 points they had in November, their most successful month this season. Including Monday, the Bruins have five games let this month.
– The inconsistency for Nathan Horton is back, and with three shots on goal (and zero points) in his last three games, he’s got to shoot more and be more physical to avoid confirming the reputation he had coming in as a player who disappears.
|12.19.10 at 1:21 am ET|
There was a great deal of irony in the words of Tim Thomas following his latest Houdini act on Saturday night at TD Garden.
The Bruins held on for a 3-2 win over the slumping Capitals, a win that snapped Boston’s three-game losing streak while extending Washington’s to an almost unbelievable eight.
But that hardly tells the story.
Thomas noticed early on the Capitals were asleep at the wheel. But it was the Bruins who nearly blew the game by sleepwalking through the final 20 minutes.
The Bruins ran the Capitals off the ice in the opening 20 minutes. They got goals from Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Blake Wheeler and Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was in the midst of another breakdown for HBO’s “24/7 The Road to the NHL Winter Classic.” But Thomas figured it was too good to last.
“I didn’t know what we were going to get,” Thomas said. “They turned it up for a while in the second there and then they kind of went back to sleep a little bit and I didn’t know if… They looked like a tired team for the first two periods and I was hoping that was the case, but it turned out not to be.” Read the rest of this entry »