|02.03.11 at 1:51 pm ET|
Former Calder Trophy-winning Bruins netminder Andrew Raycroft will get the start in net for the Stars on Thursday, making it the first time he faces the man he was traded for in Tuukka Rask. After shining in his rookie year in 2003-04 and struggling in the season following the lockout, Raycroft was traded to the Leafs for Rask in June of 2006.
Raycroft has continued to struggle since leaving Boston, as he became a bit of a journeyman, making stops in Colorado and Vancouver following two years in Toronto. He has picked it up a bit with the Stars in his first season in Dallas, posting a .920 save percentage and 2.42 goals against average that is mostly inflated by an ugly start Jan. 21 in which he allowed seven goals in a loss to the Flames.
With the Bruins clearly having won the trade involving the two goaltenders they now look to win Thursday night’s game. The B’s haven’t turned in steady play in front of Rask, and it shows with the 23-year-old’s 4-10-1 record despite his .923 save percentage.
“I think we have a good goaltender in Tuukka and we know his statistics are good. The only negative thing is the win-loss column right now, and I have a feeling that’s going to turn around,” coach Claude Julien said after the team’s morning skate. “Tuukka’s a good goaltender and we have to use him and he has to give us some games and he got to give us some wins and he’s got to give us the performance we know he’s capable of.”
Here are some other notes from the Garden:
– If it weren’t for the world needing a bunch of useless information about music, today is a today that I could consider hanging up my twitter skates. The internet has gone crazy saying tonight’s matchup is overhyped, but there are simply too many reasons as to why this game is very important for the Bruins to win.
First of all, there’s the aspect of Rask being in net. The Finnish netminder was essentially victimized by his team’s play in front of him prior to the All-Star break, and the team can really make a statement by playing well enough for him to earn a win against a very good Stars team.
Then there’s the “very good Stars team” part. Dallas, despite losing three of it’s last four games, is currently third in the Western Conference and went 8-2-1 in January. The Bruins have struggled against Western Conference teams this season (2-4-2) and have been especially bad when they have hosted the (0-2-2). When you consider that the Sharks are in town on Saturday and that the B’s have a pair of games against the Red Wings coming up, there are just too many reasons as to why this a very important game for the Bruins.
– As previously noted, Mark Stuart will be a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game. Given the play of Adam McQuaid and Steven Kampfer, it isn’t too shocking, but the fact that Julien admitted it isn’t even at the point where it’s a game-time decision anymore is a bit telling.
“I’m not going to mix anything up right now,” Julien said. “It is what it is and we keep talking about that almost everyday as well, is that we’ve got a guy in Stuey that so far has had a great attitude towards not disrupting the team and understanding how tough it is to play.
“At the same time, our six D’s are doing a great job so you don’t punish other guys for that kind of stuff. Things always work out and Stuey knows that and has been a real, I guess helpful player in regards to that, at not disrupting the team. He’s still working hard, and when he gets his chance he’ll be ready.”
– Julien was asked Thursday morning if he feels Tim Thomas, who leads the NHL with a .945 save percentage (on pace to be the best ever), 1.82 goals against average, seven shutouts (tied with Henrik Lundqvist) and 25 wins (tied with three others), is the best goaltender in the league. The answer wasn’t very surprising.
“I’m going to back that up 100 percent,” Julien said. ” The way he’s played for us definitely a great goaltender and the thing with Timmy that helps this hockey club is we play well in front of him, but when we do break down he’s there to keep us in the game at those key times. And that’s what’s important for our team. And again we may give up a certain amount of shots, at the end of the night we say ‘how many scoring chances did we give up?’ and some of those scoring chances we may not give up a ton but they’re real good scoring chances and Timmy comes up big. That’s what makes a difference and that’s why Timmy’s a good goaltender.”
|02.03.11 at 1:01 pm ET|
Goalie fights. There’s nothing like them.
Wednesday night, those who live to see the blockers and mitts dropped were treated to an entertaining ‘ albeit very brief ‘ bout between Brent Johnson and Rick DiPietro after DiPietro took a cheap shot at (and here’s the ironic part) Penguins forward Matt Cooke. The former Boston University netminder has a history with Cooke, as Cooke twice was called for goaltender interference the last time the Islanders were in Pittsburgh. A scrum ensued after the hit, with Johnson skating the length of the ice to his teammate’s defense.
The fight didn’t take long, as it took, to quote philosopher Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, “one shot, bro” before DiPietro was down on the ice.
Vezina favorite Tim Thomas saw the fight and shared his thoughts on netminders dropping the gloves with WEEI.com on Thursday.
“Well, it was two American guys going at it,” Thomas said. “That’s the first thought that crossed my mind. The second thought that crossed it was that if I’m in the same situation, watch for both hands, because I don’t think DiPietro was ready for the left.
“The third thing I thought was, I’m glad that wasn’t me that got hit and knocked down on Versus, because so many people watch on Versus.”
While the play was certainly amusing given how short-lived the fight ended up being, Thomas could appreciate why it unfolded, as DiPietro was responding to Cooke, with Johnson simply having the back of his teammate.
“I just saw the way it played out with Cooke and DiPietro, and that’s hockey, and it kind of played out in the way that it should,” Thomas said. “DiPietro was frustrated, I understand that, but Johnson coming down and sticking up for his teammate, I understood that, too. It was just a fair hockey play.”
Could Bruins fans, who were delighted back in the day when Byron Dafoe squared off with Olaf Kolzig, see one of their goaltenders fight any time soon? Thomas admits he hasn’t envisioned himself fighting another netminder, regardless of how frustrated he may be with a certain player on a particular night.
“You don’t think about it,” Thomas said. “It’s hard. I try to play honest, so because of that it’s going to lower the chances that it ever happens with me. DiPietro stepped out of his way at Cooke. I try not to do that.
“I have been frustrated enough to do that before, don’t get me wrong. I’ve responded to [Sean] Avery, and probably went a little bit over the edge against the Capitals at the end of the season. I overreacted when Jason Chimera hit me, but I don’t know. I’m so focused on stopping the puck and getting the win that night, that my mind doesn’t switch to that way of thinking very easily.”
Here’s the Avery incident:
And the Chimera play:
|02.03.11 at 12:06 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday morning that center Marc Savard is en route to Boston after returning home to Peterborough, Ontario following the diagnosis of his fourth concussion. Savard, who missed the first 23 games of the season with post-concussion syndrome, suffered his second concussion in just over 10 months on a routine hit from Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick on Jan. 22.
Upon Savard’s return to Boston, he will receive further evaluation from the team doctors.
“Savvy is due in today, but I don’t think we’re going to get an answer today, and people are all waiting for an answer here,” Julien said. “He still has to see the medical staff. Again, that doesn’t mean the decision will be made tomorrow or the day after.”
Julien added that while he can understand why updates on Savard are so heavily sought, he doesn’t know when the answer regarding what the center’s short-term and long-term future holds.
“Right now, I know he’s on his way back,” Julien said. “From there on [out], it’s kind of out of my hands. It’s out doctors and our medical people and our trainers that are going to be dealing with him.
“With concussions, as you know, it could be a matter of saying, ‘Well, we’re going to give it another week and see how he feels,’ but we don’t know when that answer’s going to come. That’s where we’re at right now with Savvy. How’s that going to impact the team? I think we’ll only be able to find that out when we do have that answer that everybody’s looking for.”
|02.03.11 at 11:54 am ET|
Tuukka Rask was first off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate, an indication that he will get the start in goal when the Bruins take on the Stars at TD Garden.
Rask last started on Jan. 20 against the Sabres, making 29 saves on 33 shots in a 4-2 loss. He is 4-10-1 with a 2.67 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.
Coach Claude Julien said after the skate that Mark Stuart will be a healthy scratch once again for the Bruins, and that it’s “not really” a matter of him being a game-time decision at this point. He noted that with six defensemen playing well, he doesn’t want to “punish” any of them by disrupting the success they’ve had. Stuart has been a healthy scratch for the last four games.
|02.02.11 at 6:31 pm ET|
In case you haven’t heard, Nathan Horton scored on Tuesday. Who would have thought when the Bruins acquired the talented scorer over the summer that such a basic feat, and one that he’s accomplished 155 times, would be a big deal in February?
Inconsistency set in with Horton after a great start to the season, and more recently he had been unable to score even when he had positive showings. Such is the life of a streaky goal-scorer, but after scoring his first goal after 10 days without one, what is next for the 25-year-old?
Thanks to the good old stat truck, we can actually do a bit of projecting here, and it looks good. Turns out that Horton, who is known to have slumps, really turns it on when they reach 10 games.
Horton went 10 games without a goal to begin his career back in the 2003-04 season. Despite the fact that he was the team’s first-round draft choice (they traded down from the top spot and grabbed him at No. 3 overall), rookies get cut a bit of slack in that department. Hell, Tyler Seguin has had stretches of 11 and nine games (the latter of which is active) without a goal, but you don’t get on a rookie for struggling to find the back of the net. But I digress.
The story with Horton is that he is no stranger to these extra-long stretches of games without a goal. He’s probably the most talented scorer on the team (though Seguin should eventually dethrone him there), but he has had his struggles with getting goals on a consistent basis.
The good news is that 10 seems to be some sort of magic number for Horton. He reaches either 10 or 11 straight games without a goal and then finds a way to not only score, but score often. Take that rookie season of his for example. Horton scored his first career goal in the 11th game and followed it up with another tally the next game. From there he cooled again, but over the course of his career, Horton has been able to follow cold streaks that reach double digits by reminding people why his talents are so highly regarded.
Here’s the rub on Horton’s other stretches of 10 or more games without a goal over the course of his career:
– Horton failed to register a goal over 10 games from Dec. 22 to Jan. 8 in the 2005-06 season. Similar to this season, Horton scored after 10 games, and followed it up with another goal the next game. Upon scoring the slump-breaking goal against the Blues on Jan. 12, Horton went on to notch five goals in his next 10 games.
– In the 2007-08 season, Horton went 11 games (Jan. 5-Jan. 30) without a goal. He caught fire following the stretch, scoring eight goals over the next nine games, including a stretch of four straight games with a goal.
– The 2008-09 campaign also saw a prolonged scoring slump for Horton. He went 10 games without a goal from Nov. 14 to Dec. 26 (with some missed games sprinkled in therewith an ankle injury). Horton followed that up with six goals over his next eight games. You’ve probably caught onto the pattern from now on.
Last time Horton found himself the topic of “it’s been ___ games since this guy scored” columns and discussions (Dec. 15 to Jan. 1), he scored after nine games, getting one in the second period of the team’s 2-1 victory over the Maple Leafs on Jan. 3. That didn’t seem to be the slump-breaker that he’s gotten in the past, as he followed it up with the freezing 10-game stretch that he finally broke Tuesday.
Maybe nine doesn’t do the trick when it comes to Horton’s slumps. Once it gets to 10, the statistical output that may have seemed to be hiding finally emerges, and does so in a big way. The Bruins can only hope that 10 proves to be the magic number once again.
|02.02.11 at 1:27 pm ET|
Bruins center Marc Savard hadn’t made it back to Boston as of Wednesday afternoon due to travel issues, with the team hoping he would end up arriving before the day’s end. Savard is set to be re-evaluated by team doctors after he spent the last week in Peterborough, Ontario resting following his second concussion in just over 10 months.
While the team will obviously learn more from further evaluation, Peter Chiarelli told ESPN this week that Bruins are considering shutting him down for the rest of the season in hopes that he can have a clean slate at the start of the 2011-12 campaign. After missing the first 23 games of the season with post-concussion syndrome stemming from last March’s Matt Cooke hit, Savard totaled two goals and eight assists for 10 points and had a minus-7 rating in 25 games.
Savard has suffered four concussions in his career. The 33-year-old is in the first year of a seven-year deal that carries an annual salary cap hit of $4.017.
|02.01.11 at 9:31 pm ET|
Tim Thomas made 24 saves on the night and improved his season record to 25-5-6. His 25 wins put him in a tie with Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller for the league lead.
The Hurricanes received goals from Jamie McBain and Joe Corvo in the first and third period, respectively.
The Bruins will return the Garden Thursday night when they face the Stars.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– To say the Bruins needed Horton to get going in an understatement. The 25-year-old had just 12 goals entering the night, and only one of those had come in the last 20 games. With Marc Savard out, the Bruins need all their guys going, and can’t depend on Patrice Bergeron to continue scoring enough for multiple people. Speaking of which’¦
– Bergeron continues to score enough to make up for any slumps teammates may be going through. Bergeron, who was named the NHL’s No. 1 Star of the Month for January via his 17 points last month (8 G, 9 A) kicked off January in style by scoring his 17th goal of the season.
– With Adam McQuaid‘s plus-1 on the night, he is now a plus-16 on the season, good for fifth on the team. Chara was also a plus-1 and leads the Bruins with a plus-1 and leads the B’s with a plus-23 rating.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins found themselves shorthanded four times, with the last penalty, a Brad Marchand hooking call, resulting in a Carolina goal.
– Staying in the special teams department, the Bruins didn’t have a single power play over the course of the game, as the only time a Hurricanes player found the penalty box was when Jay Harrison got five for fighting following his first-period bout with Milan Lucic.
It was only the second game this season (Dec. 18 vs. Washington) in which the Bruins did not have a power play.