|12.30.10 at 3:51 pm ET|
As the Bruins prepare to take on the Thrashers at Philips Arena, they do so with two lines producing: the Blake Wheeler – David Krejci – Michael Ryder line and the energy line of Brad Marchand, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton. With Campbell reportedly under the weather and considered a game-time decision, they may not even have that. All the more reason for the team’s top line to get going.
Since the post-Rancournament line shakeup (PRLS), the line of Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, and Nathan Horton has produced zilch. Savard and Horton picked up assists on Steven Kampfer‘s goal Tuesday night, but they did so when they were out there for the power play (the penalty expired seconds before the goal was scored). In the third period, Savard and Horton were shown the bench for a stretch of over seven minutes, and Horton finished the contest with a season-low 11:36.
Claude Julien told reporters that in trying to motivate a guy like Horton, you’ve got to know the player’s personality and find a means of motivation that works with that. He’s shown the players on the top line video and used other tactics. With many waiting on the trio to take the form many were excited about following the Horton trade, Julien also implied that patience could pay off.
“They’ve been together for three games. You have the choice of either working with them and trying to get that line going, because you know what the potential is, or you blow it up,” Julien said. “I don’t think we’re ready to blow it up right this second. Were going to try to work with these guys and hopefully get them going, because if they do, they’re going to be a dangerous trio.”
Tim Thomas was reportedly first off the ice in the morning skate, so in the most unsurprising news of the day, he’ll be in net. Quick: when was the last time Tuukka Rask started a game? If you said the Buffalo game 15 days ago, you have a good memory.
|12.30.10 at 7:00 am ET|
Last Thursday, the Bruins grabbed their most monumental victory of the season when they beat (and beat up) the Thrashers, 4-1, at TD Garden. While the B’s (20-11-4) have won their two games since then, the Thrashers (19-14-6) stumbled, dropping both of their post-Christmas contests.
The tables have turned a bit, and now it’s the Thrashers looking to re-establish momentum as they host the B’s Thursday night at Philips Arena.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Thrashers are 10-7-3 in Atlanta this season, but are 1-2-2 in their last five home games. In their most recent home contest, they fell to the Lightning, 3-2, in a shootout.
– The Bruins have been a very good road team all season, as their 11-5-1 record away from the Garden (excluding the first Prague “home” game) would suggest. Thursday night marks the third game of their current five-game road trip. They are looking to make it three in a row on the road (four in a row overall).
– The Bruins have to Dustin Byfuglien‘s opponent of choice. In two games vs. the B’s this season, the former Blackhawk has two goals and three assists, both of which are the most he has against any club. He’s also had five points in his last five games. To say the Bruins need to keep an eye on him is an understatement.
– Michael Ryder is riding a three-game point streak that has featured a pair of goals and a pair of assists. His line with David Krejci and Blake Wheeler has unquestionably been the Bruins’ best PRLS (post-Rancournament line shuffle — think it won’t catch on?) and he’s picked up an assist in both games vs. the Thrashers this season.
– One. That’s how many goals the Bruins have won each of their two games this week. They’ve been cutting it close, but you get two points no matter how you win. Perhaps they’ll be a bit more offensively potent when the top two lines hit their stride.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– The Bruins’ loss to the Thrashers last month was an ugly one, but it was also a rare occurrence. The B’s have won 11 of their last 12 against Atlanta.
– Last week it was about the Bruins making a statement as a team. This time the city is awaiting a statement from an individual in the form of one Nathan Horton. The 25-year-old is freezing cold, as he hasn’t scored in seven games and was one of three Bruins forwards benched for a large chunk of the third period Tuesday night in Tampa. Horton didn’t register a shot on goal, marking the 12th game he’s had either one or zero shots on net this season.
The problem with Horton is that he let the cat out of the bag from the get-go in the preseason: He can be physical, and he can be the best player on the ice. That’s why nobody’s ridiculing Peter Chiarelli for trading for him. Everybody knows how good he is, but he needs to give reminders far more frequently.
– It will be Tim Thomas between the pipes for a seventh straight game. He allowed one goal on 27 shots last Thursday vs. Atlanta, while the Thrashers put four past Tuukka Rask last month on 26 shots. Thomas has won his last five vs. Atlanta.
|12.29.10 at 5:34 pm ET|
Nathan Horton‘s been a popular guy lately for all the wrong reasons, as Tuesday’s no-show was the latest example of a contest that, if made into a movie, would not have a part for the winger.
Matt Kalman had an interesting post at the Bruins Blog today pointing out that Horton has had one shot or less in 12 games this season. I was astonished last night when seeing that he’s actually third on the team in shots despite how frequent these duds seem to come. With that in mind, here’s a quick breakdown of each line and its players shots on goal. Of course, the lines are listed just for organization’s sake, as the current lines have only existed for three games this season.
* Savard has played in 12 games,
** Seguin has played in 33 games.
^ Krejci has played in 28 games.
^^ Marchand has played in 32 games.
Moral of the story? As good as Thornton is at getting pucks to the net and creating rebounds, he shouldn’t be nipping at Horton’s heals — and that’s not a plea for Thornton to shoot less.
|12.29.10 at 3:30 pm ET|
It seems like just yesterday that people in the Bruins locker room were giving Jody Shelley the benefit of the doubt as an honest player who made a dirty play following his cheap hit on Adam McQuaid on Dec. 11. Shelley of course received a one-game suspension, but that hasn’t been the extent of his league-ordered missed time.
On Tuesday night, Shelley reached over a Canucks player to sucker-punch former Bruin Andrew Alberts in a scrum, sending the defenseman down. This time, Shelley’s antics have cost him two games, as the Flyers learned Wednesday of his multi-game suspension.
The Flyers will take on the Kings Thursday and the Ducks on Friday. Philadelphia is currently second in the Atlantic division with 49 points.
|12.29.10 at 1:58 pm ET|
NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday with guest hosts Mike Mutnansky and Chris Villani. To hear the interview, including Milbury’s thoughts on the upcoming NHL Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Milbury said enforcer Shawn Thornton deserves credit for sparking the Bruins with his fight just seconds into the game against the Thrashers last Thursday. The B’s won that game and now have won three straight. Said Milbury: “I thought Thornton was tremendous in the game where the team needed emotion, and he clearly once again established himself as a guy that won’t relent and won’t fall off the map, even though others around him might be suffering and feeling sorry for themselves. This guy just does it. It was a huge pick-me-up.”
The Bruins won Tuesday night after a controversial call went their way late in the game, with the Lightning getting penalized for Steve Stamkos‘ shoulder-to-shoulder hit that sent Gregory Campbell sprawling into the boards and the B’s scoring the game-winner on the ensuing power play. In a story in Wednesday’s Tampa Tribune, writer Erik Erlendsson brought up the fact that Campbell’s father, Colin, is the NHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations. Milbury agreed that the call was incorrect, but he was not pleased with the insinuation that Campbell’s father’s role had any effect on the referee’s decision.
Said Milbury: “No. 1, that’s really dirty pool cheap shot involving Greg Campbell. No need to go there. ‘¦ This call had nothing to do with who was involved in the play. A lot of times you say a guy like Stamkos gets the benefit of the doubt. The star player usually gets a little bit more room by and large in the league. So, knock that off the table as consideration and call it really low-down journalism in my impression.”
As for the penalty call, Milbury said it’s another example of a negative trend in the game. “Where are we going with this?” he said. “I’ve called it a number of things; I’ll leave it at wussification. To me, that was a great hit, good body position, [Campbell] lost his balance. The whole climate throughout the league has been, sorry, soccer mom mentality. Little Johnny might get hurt if he gets hit hard enough, and we’re all worried about hits to the head and overly sensitive to stuff that occurs.
“It’s a dangerous sport and guys will get hurt and they can get hurt, but if we’re going to eliminate hits like the Stamkos hit on Campbell ‘ [Devils analyst] Ken Daneyko was saying last night, ‘This is a courageous game.’ We’re taking the courage out of the game when you take away a hit like that. You’ve got to put guys in a little fear and a little jeopardy. And when those people have to face that, they have to get through it somehow or other. If we eliminate those circumstances, I think we’re doing the game a disservice. Last night I thought was a terrible call.”
|12.28.10 at 10:12 pm ET|
Mark Recchi sent a wrist shot past Dan Ellis with 19.7 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Bruins a 4-3 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday night in Tampa.
Recchi’s goal was the B’s second power play tally of the night, as the Bruins were on the man advantage late in the contest thanks to a Steven Stamkos boarding call for a hit on Gregory Campbell.
Michael Ryder, Steven Kampfer, and Brad Marchand scored in the first, second, and third periods, respectively to give the Bruins leads in each period. Kampfer’s second-period tally was his first career NHL goal, while Marc Savard got his 700th point in assisting it.
The Lightning were able to tie the game following each of the B’s first three goals, getting tallies from Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.
Tim Thomas made 31 saves on the night and improved to 18-4-3 on the season. The Bruins will travel to Atlanta to face the Thrashers on Thursday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Kampfer’s goal was the latest reminder that he has been just what the Bruins needed when they traded Matt Hunwick. Monday night’s blunder that led to David Booth‘s was the only time the 22-year-old’s style of play has cost the B’s, and he remains their best (and only) puck-moving D-man.
– The Bruins got Brad Marchand back. After missing three games with soreness caused by the crushing hit he took from P.K. Subban. Daniel Paille filled in admirably, but Marchand’s return to the lineup saw him grab his fifth goal, giving him as many as Tyler Seguin.
– The Bruins were able to draw penalties early on the penalty kill twice. With Milan Lucic in the box for hooking in the first, the Lightning power play lasted just five seconds before Stamkos went off for tripping Zdeno Chara.
In the second period, Blake Wheeler went off for high-sticking Dominic Moore, but Teddy Purcell was in the box 16 seconds later for holding. On the night, the B’s were 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Lightning went 1-for-5.
From the WEEI.com Stat Truck: In firing the shot that’s rebound led to Marchand’s goal, Shawn Thornton picked up his second assist of the season. That ties him with Thomas, who also has a pair of helpers.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Milan Lucic has now gone five games without a point. Prior to this stretch, which began Dec. 18 against the Capitals, Lucic had only gone two games without a point once. Lucic is a minus-2 throughout the streak. His linemate isn’t faring much better, as Nathan Horton had a season-low 11:36 of ice time, including a 3:09 first period.
– While a couple of rookies shined in Kampfer and Marchand, Seguin has been very quiet. He failed to get a shot on goal, and has now gone 10 games without a goal. He has just two points in those games.
– The B’s blew three leads in the game. The game featured plenty of back-and-forth, but the Bruins had the opportunity to close it out following Marchand’s goal in the third and failed to do so until the Stamkos penalty.
|12.28.10 at 9:15 pm ET|
For the second straight period, the Bruins jumped out to a lead only to see Tampa Bay tie it, and the two teams are knotted at two as they head for the final 20 minutes of regulation.
After costing the Bruins a night before with a turnover in his own end that led to a Panthers goal, Steven Kampfer scored his first career NHL goal after the final seconds of a too-many-men penalty on the Lightning ticked away. In sending a puck to Kampfer from the corner to set up the tally, Marc Savard picked up his 700th career point.
Tampa was able to tie it when Vincent Lecavalier picked up his fourth goal in the last three games at 14:02. With Tim Thomas cutting down the angle perhaps a bit too much, Lecavalier went wide and around the net to jam home a wrap-around.
Through two periods, the Bruins are 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Lighting are 1-for-4. The Lightning are outshooting the B’s, 21-14.