|10.05.10 at 6:06 pm ET|
LIBEREC, Czech Republic — Though Patrice Bergeron clogged the stat sheet with his gaudy numbers on Tuesday night (five points), it was a lower number that may have been the most positive sign for the Bruins as they crushed Liberec HC in 7-1 fashion. Tim Thomas was outstanding in net, sprawling around in his signature fashion and limiting the Czech club to one goal on the night.
Thomas came out of the gate particularly strong, stopping all 14 shots he faced in the first period. At the end of the night, Thomas, who is coming off offseason hip surgery, saw the light at the end of his recovery’s tunnel shining a little brighter than he had throughout the summer.
“I need to feel like myself, and it’s definitely coming. I’m working on it in practice, and I think it showed up in my game during this game here,” Thomas said. “… I guess when I’m playing and feeling comfortable, I’m not thinking. I actually felt way more in control than the Washington game, so I’m making steps in the right direction.”
Though coach Claude Julien agreed with the assessment that Thomas looked fluid in the victory, he also pointed to the offensive explosion and defensive stability put on display by the Bruins over the course of the night.
“When you play well in front of goaltender, it gives him confidence because all he has to do is worry about stopping the puck,” Julien said. “Our guys did a great job in front of him, and when he had to make the saves, he was there to make them. That’s what’s important, because if you’ve got your goaltender wondering if you’re going to be in the right position, then he’s second-guessing himself, and it was nice to play in front of him tonight because it gave him the confidence to make the saves he had to make.”
The Bruins’ preseason is now in the books. They will hold practices in Prague on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before opening the regular season against the Coyotes.
STITCHES FOR PAILLE
Julien said after the game that Daniel Paille received 15 stitches on his lip after getting hit in the face by either a stick or a puck in the first period. Though the coach and reporters weren’t sure exactly what him (there were no replays except on scoring plays at the arena) nothing appeared remotely serious.
|10.05.10 at 3:15 pm ET|
Bergeron scored in the second and third periods, while also assisting Seguin’s goal, a snipe from the point on the power play, as well as tallies from Jordan Caron and Blake Wheeler. Trade acquisitions Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell also picked up goals in the first and third periods, respectively.
Tim Thomas looked very sharp in net for the Bruins, playing the entire game and looking particularly impressive in a first period in which he made 14 shots. He allowed just one goal on the night, an Andrej Podkonicky strike into second period.
From the Liberec the Bruins will travel an hour south to Prague, where they will continue to practice before opening the regular season with two games against the Coyotes on Saturday and Sunday.
|10.05.10 at 2:31 pm ET|
LIBEREC, Czech Republic — The Bruins enter their final period of the preseason holding a 3-1 lead over Liberec HC, with goaltender Tim Thomas continuing to impress and Jordan Caron perhaps getting a boost of confidence following the team’s third goal.
Patrice Bergeron made it a 2-0 lead for the Bruins when he intercepted a blind pass in the neutral zone, deked, and gently slid in an easy-looking — albeit impressive — goal. After Andrej Podkonicky put Liberec HC on the board with a goal of his own on Tim Thomas, Bergeron assisted the Caron goal in which a top shelf wrist-shot grazed the Liberec goaltender Pinc Marek’s left shoulder on the way in.
Perhaps most importantly, the end of the period is signified here at Tipsport Arena with what can only be described as the sound of wood splintering in an old rocking chair.
|10.05.10 at 1:45 pm ET|
LIBEREC, Czech Republic — It’s a non-NHL exhibition game, the Bruins are in a foreign country and have allowed a few big scoring opportunities to the lesser squad. Sound familiar? Though it is a bit similar to the Bruins’ first period on Saturday against the Belfast Giants, the team at least has a 1-0 lead to show for its efforts this time around. Nathan Horton once again found his way to the hashmarks and fired off a wicked wrister on a goal that was assisted by local(ish) heroes Zdeno Chara and David Krejci. It was Horton’s third of the preseason, and if you’d like to imagine what it looked like, think back to his goal at the TD Garden against the Panthers and you’ve got the gist.
Tim Thomas has stood on his head to this point, looking very impressive in a period in which the defensive pairings were constantly changing. Offensively, the second and third lines saw some changes as the period progressed, with third line wing Jordan Caron seeing some time with his former linemates in Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron.
It’s hard to imagine Claude Julien is thrilled with the team’s offensive output thus far, so some more line shuffling could take place despite it being the team’s final preseason game before the Bruins take on the Coyotes for two regular season matches in Prague on Saturday and Sunday.
|10.05.10 at 1:01 pm ET|
LIBEREC, Czech Republic — We are just a few minutes away from the puck dropping for the Bruins as they take on Liberec HC in Tipsport Arena in Liberec, Czech Republic. David Krejci continued his man-of-the-hour by getting far and away the biggest applause from the Liberec fans, with teammate Zdeno Chara the only other Bruin to get more than a round of applause.
A couple of notes:
– This place is known for creating a “White Hell” in which fans dress all in white to create an intimidating backdrop. The comical part is that this arena looks just like the Whittemore Center, and, much like UNH’s “White out the Whit” campaign, the participation in “White Hell” just enough substancial enough to make it work.
|10.05.10 at 8:50 am ET|
PRAGUE — The Bruins will only have to scratch two skaters Tuesday night — Brian McGrattan and Matt Bartkowski — in addition to goaltender Nolan Schaefer as they gladly abide by the European 22-man limit when they face Liberec HC at Tipsport Arena. Claude Julien cautioned members of the media not to read into Bartkowski’s second consecutive sitting as him being “done,” while McGrattan, who is still in on a tryout, remains up in the air. It would be surprising if he were to not end up the team’s 13th forward.
As Julien said on Monday, Tim Thomas will make his second preseason start in the game. Here is how the offensive lines should shake out.
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Recchi – Bergeron – Wheeler
Paille – Seguin – Caron/Ryder
Marchand – Campbell – Thornton
|10.05.10 at 7:38 am ET|
PRAGUE — Jordan Caron entered the preseason as the savvy hockey fan’s sleeper pick for the Calder trophy, someone whose offensive capabilities could prove more valuable in the coming season for the Bruins than second overall pick Tyler Seguin. At practically each checkpoint, anyone who entered camp high on Caron looked smarter and smarter. The team’s 2009 first-round pick scored a hat trick in the first rookie exhibition at the Garden against the Islanders, and when the team suited up Saturday’s tilt with the Belfast Giants, they did so with Caron as their second-line right wing.
Yet over the course of this European trip, Caron has battled issues that were previously nonexistent, and as a result has been bumped from the second line by third-year man Blake Wheeler. Caron, who is now splitting time with Michael Ryder as the third line right wing, has showed symptoms of fatigue from a long buildup to the season, according to coach Claude Julien. Mark Recchi feels his former linemate is battling confidence issues. Whatever is going on with Caron, he’s not prepared to let it define him as he enters his first professional season.
“It’s been a long camp for me, but I don’t want to take that as an excuse,” said Caron, whose English is still coming along. “I guess it has been a long training camp for me, but I have to get over it and just try to do my best.”
Even without making excuses, Caron could identify that he’s now playing in a far different league and environment than before. He pointed to the exhibition game in Montreal as his wake-up call that he’s become an NHL caliber player, but also stated that the competition is much tougher.
“Everything is faster, everything is stronger. You can tell the guys are much stronger, just in front of the net and in battling for pucks,” Caron said. “You don’t play against 18 or 19-year-old guys, you play against men. I think that’s the biggest difference.
“It’s pretty hard just to play against older guys like this, but I don’t want to make any excuses. I just need to do my best.”
Recchi and Patrice Bergeron, both of whom played with Caron throughout the beginning of the preseason on the second line, grabbed lunch on Monday to discuss Caron and how to help him with whatever jitters he may be showing. The two figured it would be best if Bergeron, who not long ago went through the rookie process and is also from Quebec, sat the youngster down for dinner on Monday as part of the continued mentorship for Caron.
“I’ve talked with Bergy a lot, and he says sometimes you don’t even have to battle,” Caron said. You have to be be smart and postition yourself in the right place and it will be easier.
“Having him speaking French, he really takes care of me in every aspect. Any type of question [I have], I can go right up to him and ask him.”
It isn’t a secret that Recchi, 42, has seen everything in this league, and he’s no stranger to seeing a player fight through a rookie wall. He likens the case of Caron to that of another Jordan in Jordan Staal, who in 2006-07 showed the same things with the Penguins he is currently seeing from Caron.
“I think you’re so intense and you’re so nervous over the course of the whole time, and you can’t sustain it,” Recchi said. “I remember Jordan Staal. He was great, great, great, then he hit a little bit of a wall, and then just before the season he got good again, and then he took off into the season. I remember getting close to the end of camp, he got a little bit tired. It was the same thing [as Caron]. ‘¦ It happens. It’s a lot. They had rookie camp, so they’ve been going at it for a while, and they may skate a lot earlier than most older guys do.”
Now skating with Seguin, a player with whom he’s gotten pretty close throughout development camp, rookie camp, and training camp, Caron isn’t too concerned with which line he ends up on. For now, he’s sticking to the conservative “if I make the team” mentality made famous by Seguin.
Julien has left the door open for him to “prove” that he belongs on the second line, which Caron admits he would love to play on. Recchi said that the rookie “got” the message that he needed to revert back to the player he was long before being moved off the second line. The veteran is confident that Caron has a long career of him, and that it will kick into high gear once he breaks the habit of overthinking things on the ice.
“I think he got really nervous in Belfast, just because [the season is] getting close,” Recchi said. “‘¦That’s like with anybody. When you start losing your confidence, you start thinking too much and then you don’t reach as quick, nothing comes naturally. It’s a natural thing for a young kid.”