|12.23.10 at 7:45 pm ET|
The Bruins wanted to make some noise right off the bat, and after doing so they lead the Thrashers, 1-0.
With Claude Julien putting the energy line out to start the game, Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves with Atlanta winger Eric Boulton. The fight, which was the sixth between the two, energized both the B’s and the Garden crowd, but Patrice Bergeron would give them more to cheer about three minutes later.
Just 13 seconds into a Zdeno Chara hooking penalty, Bergeron put the B’s on the board by deking Ondrej Pavelec and putting it in low on the forehand. It was Bergeron’s 300th career point and the fifth Bruins shorthanded goal of the season.
The two teams have played one another tight this far, with each squad registering 10 shots on goal. There were five minor penalties handed out in the period between the two teams, with the B’s going 0-for-3 on the power play.
|12.23.10 at 2:10 pm ET|
After a lackluster effort on Monday night (a 3-0 loss to the Ducks at the Garden), the Bruins were given two days to figure things out. While the rest of the town (foolishly) talked about whether Claude Julien should begin frequenting Monster.com, the B’s buckled down and did what they deemed necessary to help them regain the promise shown at the beginning of the season. They did so with two gritty, high-energy, high-intensity practices, and as they prepare to face Atlanta on Thursday — a “must-win” game by multiple players’ accounts — they hope the hard work will have paid off.
“The last two days have been very good,” Patrice Bergeron. “Practice has been very hard with lot’s of battle and lots of emotion, and I think that’s what we need to bring in games.”
The B’s didn’t hold a morning skate on Thursday, but the players in the dressing room exuded a confidence that suggested they know they’ve put the work in, and now they need to put it to good use.
“As long as we learn from it — and we do — we’re fine,” Mark Recchi said Thursday of the team’s two days following perhaps their worst loss of the season. “We have a good group of guys who care and want to get better. The tempo was great in practice. ‘¦ We don’t get the opportunity to practice like that for a couple of days, especially with the schedule. To get that opportunity now is good.”
The Atlanta game is monumental for the young season for multiple reasons. In addition to the fact that the Thrashers beat the B’s, 4-1 last month, the Bruins will play five consecutive road games after Thursday. Given how much the team has struggled (1-3-1, 1.8 goals per game over their last five), the team also needs to show angry fans — who booed the team mightily on Monday — that the high expectations placed on them this offseason weren’t unwarranted.
A big part of the team’s struggles has been a difficulty to string 60-minute efforts together, with the forecheck and physically cutting in and out throughout the night. Recchi, who has spoken throughout the season of how difficult a team to play against the Bruins could be, knows the team has yet to reach that point, but that hope is not lost.
“We’re progressing. We’re getting there. We know when we do the right things, we’re a miserable team to play against, and we’re getting there, but it’s a process,” Recchi said. “It takes all year. … We’ve had our ups and downs, but I think the guys understand that it’s not easy being like that every night, but at the same time, it’s pretty rewarding.”
The Bruins can use Thursday, a game in which the town will be watching to see what the squad’s made of, to unveil new lines, and a new mindset for the B’s who with a win and a Canadiens loss could suddenly find themselves third in the Eastern conference. If they do, and the team does find a way to turn it around, this week could be one that’s looked back on as a turning point in the season.
“I think we needed some practices to get back on track and talk about our system a little bit more,” Bergeron said. “‘¦ I think it was good to re-focus and re-set ourselves to be back on track.”
|12.23.10 at 11:49 am ET|
“I don’t think he’s 100 percent,” Julien said of the 22-year-old winger.
Marchand, speaking for the first time since leaving in the second period of Saturday’s game against the Capitals, said that he is dealing with general soreness that came as a result of a crushing hit he took from Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban last Thursday.
“My body’s a little sore and it was affecting my game,” Marchand said. “I figured it would be best for the team if I pulled myself from the game.”
Though the brunt of the injury came from the Subban hit, Marchand began feeling worse as he took more hits in the Washington game that he ultimately left.
“I took a couple of little hits in the Washington game, and I started feeling it when I was out there.”
Marchand did not take any physical contact in his skate on Thursday. He was joined on the ice by Mark Stuart, as the Bruins, who have had high-intensity practices over the last two days, didn’t take the ice.
|12.22.10 at 1:02 pm ET|
NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show to give his opinions about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Asked if the Bruins might consider a change behind the bench, Milbury said it’s too early for Claude Julien‘s job to be in jeopardy. “I don’t think so, no,” he said. “This team has shown remarkable resiliency. When they get down, you think that the wheels are falling of the wagon, they pull it together. And I think they’ll pull it together for Claude again.”
Added Milbury: “They need to loosen the screws a little bit offensively. Go after it, make some mistakes, try some things, do some things differently. Do I think they’re ready to knock on Claude Julien’s door? Absolutely not. I don’t think that’s a consideration right now. Tell me 10 games from now when they’ve won one, and it’s a different story.”
Milbury said there are plenty of other people who need to answer the critics before the coach. “[Marc] Savard hasn’t quite hit the plateau that he wants to be at,” he said. “[Patrice] Bergeron has not had a great year offensively. [Milan] Lucic is not doing what he’s supposed to do in terms of being an explosive chemistry set ‘ just get in there and create some mayhem. That’s important to that team, and it’s been lacking. I’m on [Blake] Wheeler and [Michael] Ryder all the time for that. These are pretty smart players and gifted players. But the games needs passion. And the Bruins more than anything right now need some passion.”
Milbury said there are individuals showing that passion, but the team’s marquee players need to step it up. “The guy that leads the most for me in terms of effort is Shawn Thornton,” he said. “And he does it on a regular basis. He’s a really important part of this team. [Zdeno] Chara needs to pick it up physically. Just because he’s playing 30 minutes [a game], it doesn’t mean he can’t whack and bang and play with some sort of Kevin Garnett-like attitude once in a while ‘ more in-your-face. All these guys. Savard, when he’s playing well, he’s a bouncy, in-your-face guy. Bergeron in his own quiet way will get there and be in the way and get in the way.
“I don’t know what’s ailing them, but I’m not going to pin it on young guys/old guys, I’m going to pin it on the team and the coach, that somehow have got to refocus their priorities ‘ not to forget about defense, but to make sure they know that the way they’re going to score goals is causing turnovers. And doing that means ‘ dammit, there’s not a better word than hustle.”
|12.22.10 at 12:48 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Brad Marchand was once again missing from the Bruins’ practice at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday. Following the skate, coach Claude Julien said the forward is “questionable” for Thursday night’s tilt against the Thrashers at TD Garden.
Marchand has been out since leaving Saturday’s game against the Capitals late in the second period. The team has not disclosed what the injury is, but Julien has said that it stemmed from a hit he took in that game. Daniel Paille has skated with the energy line in his absence.
In 31 games this season, Marchand has 12 points (4 G, 8 A) and a plus-5 rating. Three of his four goals have come on the penalty kill.
|12.22.10 at 12:39 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — On Wednesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien addressed the swirling speculation over whether his job in Boston is safe. Fans have called for the team to fire him, while media outlets have also raised the question of whether a coaching change could be in the works.
“I don’t let that get to me. I come in, I’m going to coach the same way, and I’m going to do what I do the best I can,” Julien said after the team’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “It’s as simple as that.
“It is what it is. Honestly, I just went out there today and yesterday very positive with the players and doing my job just like I would any other day. I hear what’s going out there, but certainly not listening or reading, because that’s certainly not helpful for me.”
Julien was given a vote of confidence by general manager Peter Chiarelli on Wednesday. Despite the team’s recent struggles, Chiarelli said “yes” when asked on CBS Radio Boston if he would say “unequivocally that Claude Julien’s job is not in danger.”
Chiarelli said such a decision ultimately would have to be made by a group of front office members, but that he feels the team is better off with Julien than without him.
“That’s my preference and that’s my recommendation,” Chiarelli said. “This is a collective thing that we do on these matters. But I have full confidence in Claude and the staff to figure it out.”
While he’s glad the organization has his back, Julien said that he isn’t going to let anything he sees or hears change the way he goes about his business.
“You always appreciate support. That’s important, but right now my job is coaching this hockey club. Whatever is being said out there and however it goes is out of my control,” Julien said. “I come in here every day with the same intentions and that’s to coach this hockey club and make them as successful as I can.”
Julien is in his fourth season as head coach of the Bruins. He has led the team to three straight playoff appearances, including two trips to the second round. This season, the B’s are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 38 points, though they trail the Canadiens by two points for the Northeast division lead.
|12.22.10 at 10:58 am ET|
WILMINGTON — After a high-energy practice on Tuesday, the Bruins rolled out the same revamped lines at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday. Brad Marchand (undisclosed injury) remains out for the B’s. The injury stems from a hit he took Saturday against Washington. Here are the forward lines:
Lucic ‘ Savard ‘ Horton
Recchi – Bergeron ‘ Seguin
Wheeler ‘ Krejci ‘ Ryder
Paille ‘ Campbell ‘ Thornton