|03.19.09 at 10:29 pm ET|
One could make the case that the Bruins didn’t see Thursday night’s self-destruction coming.
But talk to the players themselves following a 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the Garden and they will tell you that if they didn’t see the writing on the wall, they certainly felt the trembling beneath their skates.
Earlier in the season, a two-goal lead heading into the third period was money in the bank. The Bruins are quickly turning into AIG. Entering Thursday night, they were 32-2-2 when leading after two periods. Even more impressively, they were 19-1-2 with a 2-0 lead.
But the Bruins had two golden opportunities to make it 3-0 and couldn’t on two power plays midway through the second.
The Kings scored early in the third and all of sudden things began to change.
Tim Thomas, though, said afterward that while Michael Handzus’ goal on the power play was big at 9:50 of the third period, it was the inability to put that third marker on the board that came back to haunt the Bruins.
“When they scored the first one, it changed even more. But I think the momentum had changed even before that,” Thomas said. “We left them in the game and kind of made believers out of them.”
But Thomas’ next statement about protecting a third period lead is FAR more telling about the state of mind the Bruins have right now and what they need to address come playoff time.
‘Earlier this season we just knew we were going to win when were in that situation,” Thomas said. “I think now we still believe we’re going to win but it’s not like a 100 percent like it was earlier this year. It’s not 100 percent confidence.’
Then there’s their head coach. Claude Julien hasn’t minced words or treaded lightly all season. He wasn’t about to start after this loss.
‘We’re going to have to start outworking the other team and our best players are going to have to start finding their game,’ Julien said. ‘Our power play was totally flat tonight. If anything, our (penalty kill) had better chances tonight.’
|03.19.09 at 8:31 pm ET|
00:34.2: Dustin Brown bangs it home with only 30 seconds to go to the shootout. An ugly finish for the Spoked B.
|03.19.09 at 7:55 pm ET|
15:39: Another great save by Tim Thomas as he closed up the five hole on a Dustin Brown redirect from point blank range in front of the net. It looks like it’s going to take an act of Congress to get one by the Tank tonight.
13:09: Thunderous body check by Dennis Wideman on Kevin Westgarth as the young Kings skater tried to push the puck the left side of the ice.
10:10: Power play strike by Michael Handzus in a mucker of a power play goal following several Kings shots and Thomas saves. Thomas made the initial high slot stop on Wayne Simmonds and then another stop down low on Teddy Purcell, but was on his but and out of position when the puck hoppped on the stick of Handzus by the right post.
5:04: Back and forth action for both squads that included the trademark Aaron Ward “forearm shiver’ in the D-zone to a Kings player that’s obviously never felt its wrath before. Sean O’Donnell in the box for hooking and another PP for the Bruins, who are 0-for-3 tonight.
4:16: Great Quick save on a Ryder one-timer from the right faceoff circle.
1:36: Unbelievable turn of events for the Bruins. Milan Lucic steals a puck at the blue line and moves in all alone. Quick makes the save on his shot, and then the Kings break the puck out with Wayne Simmonds hitting the post on a shot from the high slot and rookie Drew Doughty banging home the loose puck behind Thomas.
The B’s are tied with Kings at a 2-2 score after three full period at the TD Banknorth Garden. Not a good sign from the Bruins in the third period when they can’t hold down a team that’s already mailed in this season.
|03.19.09 at 7:00 pm ET|
19:42: Tim Thomas picks up right where he left off in the first and makes a great swiping save of an Alexander Frolov bid to open the second period.
18:22: Good stick work by David Krejci, who intercepted a pass and popped a shot from the right faceoff circle that left a juicy rebound in front. Nobody home as Milan Lucic was crashing the other side of the net. Krejci has been getting much better chances as of late, but he appears to be epitomizing the term “snake-bitten”.
16:12: Mark Recchi goal that started with a hard Chuck Kobasew forecheck that removed the puck from youngster Jack Johnson. Kobasew flipped the puck behind him to Bergeron in front of the net, and the scrambling D and goaltender were clear out of position when Bergeron slid it over to a wide open Recchi.
10:55: Raitis Ivanans must enjoy the comfy confines of the Garden penalty box because he just crunched Andrew Ference from behind after coming out of the penalty box for an earlier slash on Stephane Yelle. Interesting to see if there will be some later retribution for the 6-foot-4, 256-pound Ivanans, who has scrapped with the Bruins in earlier games against them.
5:16: Great work by Blake Wheeler to keep the puck in LA’s end, including a great 1-on-3 move that ended when he was dragged down by a Kings defender. A little reminiscent of the incredible 1-on-5 move that he put on the St. Louis Blues earlier this season.
00:53.2: Great snap glove save by Thomas on former UMaine player Teddy Purcell from the high slot. In case you haven’t noticed, there are a ton of former college players in the Kings’ organization.
The B’s are leading the Kings by a 2-0 score after two full periods at the TD Banknorth Garden.
|03.19.09 at 6:33 pm ET|
6:35: Both goaltenders look sharp early with local boy done good Jonathan Quick representing UMass hockey well between the pipes for the Kings. Quick just made a great sprawling glove save on a Blake Wheeler breakaway. Big Wheels came bombing straight down the slot without a defender in sight after a great takeaway and dish from Marc Savard. Wheeler made a few “quick hands” moves with the stick and then attempted to tuck a forehand inside the right post. Quick stayed strong to the pipe, however, and stopped the puck’s momentum until the whistle blew. Great save.
Tonight also marks the fifth start in a row for Tim Thomas dating back to the Manny Fernandez MSG meltdown against the New York Rangers on March 8. It’s a good bet that Man-Fern could do one of those “Not going anywhere for a while” commercials from the Bruins bench.
5:18: Matt Hunwick has certainly made an impression after being scratched the last few games. He was in the box for a hook in the first few minutes and then just put the B’s on the board with a snipe from the slot. Michael Ryder fed Hunwick a perfect pass from behind the net, and Hunny rushed in from his D-man spot and went to a knee while blasting away from the slot. Every Bruins player touched the puck on the play in a nice display of puck movement.
The B’s have a 1-0 lead over the Kings after one period of play at the TD Banknorth Garden.
|03.18.09 at 5:14 pm ET|
Veteran center Stephane Yelle again practiced, but is still in question for Thursday night’s tilt against the Los Angeles Kings with the ever-mysterious “upper body injury”.
“It’s a day to day process,” said Julien of Yelle’s condition. “It’s certainly looking better, and I think we’ll probably find out more about it tomorrow at the game day (skate). We’ll see if he’s ready to go.”
If Yelle can’t go, it’s likely that the Bruins will once again place Byron Bitz in the middle between Shawn Thornton and P.J. Axelsson. Bitz, by the way, spent a good 5-10 minutes at the end of practice in front of an empty net taking all manner of shots aimed directly at him while he practiced tipping and redirecting pucks in front of the high traffic area.
If the rest of the Bruins team is looking for a player that’s proving he’s willing to pay the price on a daily basis, it was Bitz as he was taking direct hits to his feet and body while searching for the perfect tip.
–Odd Julien comment when the line of questioning moved toward Manny Fernandez and whether the B’s bench boss still has confidence in the second portion of his goaltending duo. Fernandez hasn’t played in a game since his famous pirouette move during a 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers nearly two weeks ago, and has coughed up four goals in four of his five games since returning from a lower back injury.
“There are no issues there. What people see on the outside and what’s happening on the inside are two different things. We talk. He knows exactly what’s going on,” said Julien. “There are things that not everybody needs to know about. We’ll leave it at that.”
–A bit of good-natured ribbing for Big, Bad Milan Lucic, who told his teammates that his girlfriend dragged him to go see the Britney Spears concert at the TD Banknorth Garden on Monday night. Looch said he was a fan of Spears’ early work when he was in the sixth or seventh grade, but the hulking left winger was more than a little surprised when he found out that Spears lip-synchs throughout her entire concert.
Looch was the only B’s player that admitted taking in the Circus Show at the Garden, but several Bruins players wondered if Marc Savard might have also made it over to Causeway Street for a rousing rendition of “Womanizer”. According to Bruins blueliner Andrew Ference, Savvy is an actual “Britney Fan.”
“It was so funny because (Lucic) came in here the next day (after the concert) and Looch was like ‘You wouldn’t believe it…she lip synchs.” said a laughing Ference. “I was like ‘No (expletive)’. What do you think that she did? He was like … surprised or devastated. I don’t know what.”
It was a busy week for Lucic, who also took in the Dropkick Murphy’s St. Patrick Day show on Wednesday night at the House of Blues.
–Marc Savard wasn’t ducking any criticism after Julien touched upon the center’s giveaway at the end of Penguins game on Sunday afternoon — a turnover that led to the Penguins banking the empty net goal and really salting away a hotly contested hockey game.
“I’m out there trying to make plays, and I just need to make them stronger ones at times. That’s part of the game. I’m going to continue to try to make plays. That’s what I do, and that’s my game. I just need to make smarter plays at times. Unfortunately when things aren’t going well it goes in your net. And that’s what has happened on a couple of occasions.”
|03.17.09 at 1:00 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — With only two games scheduled over the next 10 days for the Boston Bruins — including a pretty big statement tilt against the New Jersey Devils this Sunday afternoon – the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins jumped back onto the practice ice this morning with something of a scrimmage feel.
The players were working on four-on-four drills and head-to-head matchups designed to raise the compete level and give off the vibe of an actual game, perhaps the best use of the time without a game until Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings at the Garden.
“We need to fine tune ourselves, get some rest and get going in the right direction,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “I think our team play is what’s suffering the most right now. If we get the team back on track then the standings will take care of themselves.
“It’s about getting our team to play as well as it can right now,” added Julien. “The thing that I see from watching our games is that the effort being deployed isn’t a poor effort. But it can appear like that at times when it’s not done properly. I thought our guys competed hard, but didn’t compete well and it resulted in penalties and scoring chances against. The slot opportunities that the (Penguins) had against us was as (many) as I’ve seen us ever give. It’s about a commitment to playing our game, and fine-tuning that part of it.”
–Winger Phil Kessel was given a maintenance day off where he was at Ristucca Arena but didn’t see the ice. Everybody else was present and accounted for in the Boston lineup for the skate after an off-day on Monday.
–Julien agreed that defenseman Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman have been part of a group of Bruins players that have perhaps attempted to do too much during the Black and Gold’s recent stretch of treading hockey water. During the month of March, Big Z has a goal and 5 assists, but is also an Chara-like -2 in 8 games while Wideman — who really had a poor game against the Penguins in giving up the puck that led to the first goal, heading to the box for a penalty that created a 5-on-3 and having a shot from the point blocked that directly led to another Pens goal — has 2 assists and a +/- of zero over those very same eight March hockey games.
Chara has been -3 in two games since the beginning of March (losses to both the Flyers and Penguins) since not posting that bad a +/- since Opening Night against the Colorado Avalanche way back in October — a period of time when the towering defenseman was still regaining form after offseason shoulder surgery.
Julien didn’t see a pair of blueliners that were injured or really worn out by the considerable ice time they’ve logged this season, but instead talked about a pair of good players getting out of their respective “games”.
“I don’t think it’s got anything to do with the minutes played. There are a lot of D playing minutes like that. It’s more about those guys trying to do too much and forcing too much. When you have a team trying to gain consistency, you’ll have guys that are attempting to do more thinking they’re going to help the team.
“And it just makes it worse,” added Julien. “This is a good time to take a step back and simplify your game and give it that type of effort for 60 minutes. Simple and consistent, and that will help us find our game again.”
–Marc Savard wasn’t going there when asked about the war of words between himself and Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby on Sunday afternoon that supposedly escalated to Sid the Kid taking off his face shield mid-game in anticipation of dropping the gloves with Savard. Perhaps it was simply something wrong with the visor — a scratch perhaps — that caused Crosby to take the protectice visor, but he was clearly playing without it later in period.
Savard said there was a little chirping between himself and Crosby, but nothing more.
“Well, it was just chirping you know … whatever,” said Savard. “There was nothing there. I don’t even want to talk about it.”
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