|01.10.11 at 2:03 am ET|
The Bruins (21-12-7) are in the midst of a rather tough stretch in their schedule, and it continues Monday night against the Penguins (26-13-4) in Pittsburgh. While the Penguins, whose 56 points are the second-most in the Eastern Conference, are looking for their first win without Sidney Crosby (concussion), the Bruins are simply looking for anything that can make people forget about their collapse against the Canadiens Saturday night in a 3-2 overtime loss.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Penguins are 14-8-1 at CONSOL Energy Center, and only the Capitals and Canadiens have more home points this season. On Saturday, they dropped a 4-0 contest to the Wild at home.
– Despite getting one point in a game in which they should have had two in Montreal, the B’s continue to rack up the points on the road. They are 12-5-4 in away games and haven’t lost a road contest in regulation since Dec. 16.
– Zero. That’s how many shots Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, and David Krejci combined for on Saturday. Especially in Lucic’s case, that’s about as inexcusable as it gets for a leading goal-scorer, and as we pointed out after the game, it’s something that has happened eight times this season.
– Kris Letang, one of four Penguins voted into the All-Star game in the fan-balloting process, is fourth among defensemen with 36 points. That’s already a career-high for the 23-year old, and he’s on pace to finish his fourth season with 69 points. Letang leads the Penguins with a plus-21 rating.
– If you’re a fan of power play goals, you might want to watch a different game. Over the last nine games, the Penguins are 3-for-32 on the man advantage, while the B’s are 3-for-27. The Bruins have gone five games without a power play goal.
To make matters worse for each team’s power play, they’ll be going against stiff competition. The Penguins and Bruins’ penalty kills rank first and seventh in the league, respectively.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– What will the Bruins’ blueline look like? The Bruins recalled Matt Bartkowski on an emergency basis Sunday, and reports indicate he’ll take the place of Adam McQuaid in the lineup. The Bruins have been mum on what ails McQuaid. Maybe he caught the “discomfort” that’s going around.
Speaking of which, whether or not Nathan Horton makes his way back into the lineup is another thing to keep an eye on. “Discomfort” is the only word of information the B’s will divulge regarding why the 25-year-old missed Saturday’s game.
Regardless of who the B’s have out, they won’t have the right to complain while in Pittsburgh. Crosby, who still leads the league with 32 goals and 66 points, has been out for the last two games, with the team going 0-1-1 in his absence.
– The Bruins pulled off a memorable one vs. Penguins last time they were in town. The B’s came back from a 4-2 deficit with five third-period goals and took a 7-4 victory behind a three-point night from Mark Recchi on Nov. 10.
– Will the Lucic-Savard-Ryder line live to see another day? With the way it performed on Saturday (two shots on goal, both of which were from Michael Ryder), Bruins fans should hope not. Savard just isn’t himself, and his presence on a top line isn’t helping the B’s quest for offense right now.
– While on the subject of Savard, Monday will be the center’s first trip back to Pittsburgh since suffering his concussion on a hit from Matt Cooke last March 7.
– This will be the first of two match-ups between the two teams over the next week. After the B’s leave Pittsburgh, they will return to the Garden, where they will face the Senators and Flyers this week before hosting the Penguins on Saturday. After Saturday, the two teams won’t meet again until they close out their season series on March 5.
|01.09.11 at 9:25 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday night that they have recalled defenseman Matt Bartkowski from Providence and placed defenseman Mark Stuart on injured reserve. The 22-year-old Bartkowski will be available to the B’s when they face the Penguins on Monday night.
Bartkowski was the Bruins’ final cut from the NHL roster before the regular season. In 34 games in Providence, he has four goals and eight assists for 12 points on the season.
The Bruins acquired Bartkowski from the Panthers in last season’s trade for Dennis Seidenberg. The Ohio State product was drafted by the Panthers in the seventh round of the 2008 draft.
Stuart has been out since Dec. 7 with a fractured hand and dislocated finger. He has two points (both assists) in 26 games.
|01.08.11 at 9:59 pm ET|
Thomas lost what would have been his sixth shutout of the season with 2:22 remaining in regulation when he failed to get a stick on a Scott Gomez shot with the Canadiens on the power play. One minute and 34 seconds later, former Boston College star Brian Gionta redirected a James Wisniewski shot past Thomas to cap the Habs’ comeback.
The Bruins got a pair of goals from Patrice Bergeron, who scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season in the second period.
The Habs outshot the Bruins, 25-8 in the third period and overtime combined, and finished the night with 42 shots on Thomas. Carey Price made 27 saves for the Canadiens on 29 shots.
With the overtime loss, the Bruins remain in first in the Northeast division with 49 points. The B’s have played two games less than the Habs thus far this season.
From Montreal, the Bruins will travel to Pittsburgh, where they will take on the Penguins. Two of their next four games come against the Penguins, with the other two being played against the Senators and Flyers.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– An 0-for-3 showing on the power play means the Bruins have now gone five games without a power play goal. The last time the B’s scored on a man advantage was back on Dec. 28 when Mark Recchi scored the game-winner against the Lightning with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.
– Michael Ryder’s penalty for tripping Wisniewski came back to bite the B’s, as it led to Gomez’ goal and Thomas losing his shutout.
– P.K. Subban didn’t seem interested in obliging Shawn Thornton, as the B’s enforcer/semi-sniper had plenty to say to the rookie defenseman as he skated away from an invitation. Subban is responsible for the huge (and clean) hit on Brad Marchand last month that cost Marchand three games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Though it was Bergeron’s first two-goal game of the season, it also made for yet another productive night in a very productive stretch. Bergeron now has 12 points over his last 11 games. Though Bergeron has had his offensive lulls this season (two different scoreless streaks of four games, including one to kick off the season), he has been one of the Bruins’ top offensive performers since mid-December.
– When Mathieu Darche whacked a puck past Thomas with a stick that was right around crossbar height, the B’s were undoubtedly aided when, after a few seconds, it was called no-goal on the ice. The play was very close, and it seemed whatever the call on the ice was would stand given that the video evidence wasn’t overwhelming one way or another.
– Wheeler falls in both categories. He took two penalties in the game, but he also drew one and broke a three-game scoreless streak when he assisted Bergeron’s first goal. His three games without a point made for his coldest streak since going five games without a point in early December. Wheeler has 16 points on the season.
The 24-year-old winger had an opportunity to give the B’s a three-goal lead in the third when he intercepted an attempted clear from Price. He took a split-second too long with it, as Price, who was out of his net, was able to get back in time to glove Wheeler’s attempt.
|01.08.11 at 8:46 pm ET|
A pair of goals from Patrice Bergeron has the Bruins leading the Candiens, 2-0, entering the third period in Montreal.
With the Habs trying to break out of their own end, Brad Marchand kept the puck in the zone, and after hitting Blake Wheeler with a pass was crushed by Scott Gomez. It all paid off for Marchand, as Wheeler found Bergeron in front of the net to set up the center’s ninth goal of the season.
Later in the period, Bergeron capped a hard-fought shift by putting a loose puck in front of Carey Price past the Montreal netminder. The 25-year-old now has eight career multi-goal games, but has yet to pick up a hat trick.
With the B’s holding their two-goal lead, Zdeno Chara came up huge to keep Tim Thomas‘ shutout intact. With Thomas out of position after cutting down the angle on Travis Moen, the Habs winger slid the puck in front of an unoccupied net looking for Jeff Halpern of Tom Pyatt, but the B’s captain sent the puck out of the B’s zone.
Tomas Plekanec took his second penalty of the game when he went off slashing 78 seconds into the period. The B’s are 0-for-2 on the power play on the night, while a Wheeler slashing call at 15:30 yielded nothing for the Habs.
Through two periods, the B’s are outshooting 21-19.
|01.08.11 at 7:55 pm ET|
The Bruins and Canadiens are scoreless after a period at the Bell Centre, with the B’s outshooting the Habs, 12-11.
Tim Thomas and Carey Price, who have five and four shutouts, respectively, both look sharp thus far. Gregory Campbell, Zdeno Chara, and Steven Kampfer each have two shots apiece on the Habs netminder.
Dennis Seidenberg (7:29) and Kampfer (7:26) lead the Bruins in ice time.
The lone power play in the period came from a Tomas Plekanec hooking call. The B’s served up yet another dud on the man advantage.
Adam McQuaid and Travis Moen provided the only fight of the period. With three Habs swarming Thomas after he made a save on a shot from the point, McQuaid took exception and dropped the gloves with Moen.
|01.08.11 at 4:27 pm ET|
Nathan Horton is out of the Bruins’ lineup as the team takes on the Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday night. Coach Claude Julien had told reporters earlier in the day that the forward was unlikely to play with an undisclosed ailment that Julien would only describe as “discomfort.”
Horton has not missed a game this season. In 39 games, he has 12 goals and 14 assists, though he has just four goals over his last 23 contests.
|01.08.11 at 8:52 am ET|
First place in the Northeast division is on the line as the Bruins (21-12-6) take on the Canadiens (22-16-3) at the Bell Centre on Saturday night. The Habs have taken both of the contests between the rival teams thus far this season, with Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas taking losses on Nov. 11 and Dec. 16, respectively.
The Bruins are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Wild at the Garden on Thursday. It was their first regulation loss since being blanked by the Ducks on Dec. 20.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Canadiens are 13-5-3 at the Bell Centre, and their 29 home points are second only to the Capitals’ 33 in the Eastern conference. Following their Dec. 16 4-3 win over the B’s, they spent seven games on the road and have returned to Montreal with an overtime loss to the Thrashers on Sunday and a shootout win over the Penguins on Thursday.
– While this game features one of the league’s best home teams, it also features one of the best road teams in the Bruins. The B’s 12-5-3 road mark is among the best in the conference, as only the Flyers and Rangers have more points (29 apiece) on the road this season.
– New Habs defenseman James Wisniewski has five points — two goals and three assists — in four games since joining the Canadiens. He was a minus-18 with the Islanders this season, but playing for a winning team has changed that a bit. Wisniewski hasn’t posted a negative rating in any of his games with Montreal since being acquired from New York for second and fifth-round picks.
– Who would have thought that Steven Kampfer would be the hottest Bruins scorer over the last five games? The rookie defenseman has scored the first three goals of his career over the span, including a second-period tally against the Wild in which he sent a rebound from a Patrice Bergeron shot past Jose Theodore.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– There’s no bigger story than what this game means in the standings. The B’s have been in first place since beating the Panthers back on Dec. 27. Since then, they have opened a three-point lead in the Northeast and seen it shrink to one point. The the Bruins have played have played multiple games less than most of the other teams in the Eastern conference, the fact that their division-leading 48 points is worse than those of six other teams in the conference should be eye-opening enough to illustrate how important winning the division is to being in a good spot when the playoffs roll around.
[UPDATE: Horton is not expected to play, as Julien told reporters Saturday that he is “very unlikely” to go.]
If Horton plays, it seems he will do so on a new line. Julien flip-flopped Horton and Michael Ryder, meaning Horton is with Blake Wheeler and David Krejci, while Ryder will play with Milan Lucic on a line centered by Marc Savard.
– Though he has battled his way in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch this season, Habs rookie defenseman P.K. Subban has been a pain in the Bruins’ you-know-what. The 21-year-old Toronto native scored his first career goal back on Nov. 11 at the Garden and most recently laid a crushing hit on Brad Marchand that led to the winger leaving the following game vs. Washington and then missing the next three.
(You can brush up on your French with the feed.)
– This is a bear of a stretch for the B’s, as their four games following Saturday includes two games against the Penguins and one against the Flyers. It’s one their schedule’s toughest stretches of the season (they’ve got another one coming up in February that includes games against the Stars, Sharks, Habs, and Red Wings) and a good test of how far this team has come since snapping out of its mid-December funk.