|02.04.10 at 1:27 pm ET|
If there was ever a game for the Bruins to get back to their winning ways, Thursday night against archrival Montreal Canadiens would be it. Boston has fallen from fifth to 12th in the Eastern Conference standings during its eight game losing streak and has watched division opponents like the Habs leapfrog them in the standings.
Over the past three games the Bruins have played with good energy and decent emotion but have not seen the results on the scoreboard. The team has not had a positive seminal moment during the season, a game that defines the squad and sets the pace for winning hockey. With the Canadiens in town and all the fanfare that comes along with them, Thursday could be a good time to turn things around.
“There is a lot of history in it, the crowd always gets into it. It is kind of cool when they have all those Montreal Canadiens fans in the crowd. It always gets us excited every time we play these guys,” Milan Lucic said.
Yes, there is history between these two Original Six hockey clubs, but recent history between the players on each roster is not worth much going into Thurday’s contest. Last year Boston and Montreal hooked up for a memorable, fight filled battle in the Bruins last home game of the regular season and tensions and between the two were high during the Boston’s three game, first round sweep in the playoffs. Yet, significant agitators on last year’s Habs roster such as Mike Komisarek (Toronto), Saku Koivu (Anaheim), Georges Laraque (released late January) and Andrei Kostitsyn (knee injury, out till after Olympics) are not around as are several players from last year’s Bruins roster. Hence, there are not many hard feelings carried over between the players going into Thursday’s contest.
“I wish [there was carry over] but they have kind of revamped their lineup so a lot of those guys who we had the big rivalries with in the last three years are gone. I would not mind creating new ones, I suppose,” Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton said. “We don’t like each other, we haven’t for years. I think it will be a fun game to play in, I think everybody will be up for it. So, I hope we will turn it around, yeah.”
The Bruins roster turmoil has had some effect on their goal output recently as they strive for chemistry on newly formed lines with the roster turnover or players returning from injury. As players such as Marco Sturm and Marc Savard get their health and timing back, the hope is that Boston can start generating more goals and find a way to win some games.
“We have not helped ourselves either with all the different line combinations but we are not the only team going through that and we are not going to make excuses but we have not had the same lines,” coach Claude Julien said. “The chemistry with injuries and the lines, it is a challenge and kind of have to fight through that and hopefully as we are getting a little healthier hopefully that comes back.”
At the same time, the Bruins goaltenders would do the rest of the team a big favor if they could completely shutdown an opposing team. Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice after Thursday’s morning skate and will likely get the start against the Canadiens. He said that both him and Tim Thomas are always approach games with the notion that the goaltender might be able to steal a win for the team.
“We got to have that state of mind before every game. The past few games have been like that, we can’t let in any weak goals. We approach games that way that we are going to steal them and hopefully it is going to happen soon,” Rask said. “We really feel that we have been playing better and better here just without the results but I am trying to get the win here today.”
10 Bruins forwards participated in the morning skate with Mark Recchi, Savard, Sturm and Michael Ryder the missing men. On the blue line Boston had six skaters with Andrew Ference taking the ice and Dennis Wideman absent. Ference has missed the last 12 games with a groin injury. Mark Stuart will still be sidelined with a broken finger he sustained against the Kings last Saturday and is expected to be out until after the Olympics at the very least. It remains doubtful that Ference will play against the Canadiens which probably means that Adam McQuaid and Wideman will be on the rink when the puck drops barring a last minute change of plans.
|02.03.10 at 3:04 pm ET|
Three of the most prominent leaders on the Bruins are sounding the same theme ‘ wins are right around the corner.
The problem is the Bruins have to turn the corner first. On Wednesday, they got back to practice in Belmont and the business of pounding the pavement ‘ or ice ‘ and looking for the positive street signs ahead.
‘We always can get going and find a way to motivate ourselves,” said Chara, who has been playing with a dislocated left pinkie finger that will likely need surgery in the offseason, according to ESPN. “We have to put this one behind us and there’s a new day tomorrow. We just have to get ready for the next game and keep trying. We have to win sooner or later.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|02.03.10 at 1:24 pm ET|
BELMONT ‘ Looking for some positive energy and a change of fortune, the Bruins got on the bus and went to school Wednesday.
Still mired in an extended losing streak following a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals Tuesday, the B’s opted to practice at the Belmont Hill School instead of their normal practice rink in Wilmington.
‘It’s just a change of scenery, something a little different,’ coach Claude Julien said. ‘It’s something [GM] Peter [Chiarelli] thought would be good for the team.’
Any kind of change for the B’s will probably be a good thing as they prepare to end an eight-game losing streak hosting Montreal Thursday.
‘It’s fun, it’s nice facility,’ said veteran forward Mark Recchi who has seen struggling teams try every trick in the book to end losing streaks.
‘We’re just trying to work our way out of this, trying stay positive and to stick together,’ said Recchi. ‘Wherever we practice it doesn’t really matter. We still have to stay positive.’
Skating on the Olympic-size rink at the school, the Bruins worked on finding ways to improve the team’s offense. The B’s have scored the fewest goals in the NHL, but are showing signs of starting break out of their scoring drought. They launched 42 shots at Capitals goalie Jose Theodore Tuesday.
‘We had nine really good scoring chances in the second period and nothing to show for it,’ Julien said. ‘When you have nine scoring chances you should at least have a goal or two or three. That’s where we are really getting hurt right now. Those scoring chances we’re not able to bury them.’
Defenseman Matt Hunwick, who made a blind clearing pass that was intercepted and converted into the game-winning goal in Tuesday’s loss did not practice Wednesday. Julien said Hunwick and forward Steve Begin had been given a ‘maintenance’ day off.
|02.03.10 at 12:12 pm ET|
We have a new leader in Washington. Sorry, Mr. President and Scott Brown, it’s your Capitals.
1. (3) 38-12-6 There’s plenty going right for the Capitals, who set a franchise record with their 11th straight win by beating the Bruins Tuesday night. Getting a 41-save effort from Jose Theodore also could be a very good sign.
4. (4) 35-18-2 A little payback is a good thing. The Devils gave all-time shutout leader Martin Brodeur the night off and g0t blanked 3-0 by Toronto Tuesday.
5. (5) 32-15-7 After having his 16-game point streak stopped last Wednesday, Tim Connolly got right back to it. He picked up an assist in the Sabres’ next two Sabres games over the weekend, giving him points in 18 of 19 games. Nice.
8. (9) 34-18-5 Ilya Bryzgalov continues to shine. He made 25 saves in leading the Coyotes to a 1-0 shootout win in Nashville Tuesday.
|02.02.10 at 11:29 pm ET|
Boston has not seen its hockey team have a stretch this bad since the days when Vic Stasiuk used to lace up his skates at the old Garden in 1956 when the Bruins had a stretch where they went 0-8-0.
With an 0-6-2 record in its last eight games, this season’s Bruins have not seen a win since beating the Western Conference leaders from San Jose on Jan. 14. It would have been odd to see the Bruins sandwich seven losses in a row with wins against both conference leaders, but it was not to be in a 3-1 loss to the Capitals on Tuesday.
Everybody knows what the problem is. There’s no hiding what ails these bears ‘ they cannot score. Through the past eight contests, the Bruins have 12 goals, or 1.5 per game. After a stretch where the team simply did not play well, the Bruins have had decent efforts and good scoring chances in the past few contests and have run into some pretty good goaltending along the way. Why can’t the Bruins score? It is kind of a chicken or egg type of question.
|02.02.10 at 10:54 pm ET|
It seemed very innocent and obvious when Bruins coach Claude Julien gave his team credit for battling the hottest and best team in the NHL to a 1-1 draw after two periods. After watching his team surrender three in the third, it became nothing more than another in a string of eight straight losses, 4-1 to Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
In short, Julien said they deserved the win on Tuesday night “if we had scored some goals.” Julien believed his team could have been up, 4-1, after two instead of tied.
And of course, deserving the win and earning the win is a bridge these struggling Bruins have yet to cross.
Here is what Julien had to say for his troops following Tuesday’s setback, an eighth straight loss that gave them their longest losing skid in 54 seasons.
|02.02.10 at 9:33 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins hung tough with the best team in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday but ultimately could not hang with the Capitals as they dropped their eighth straight game 4-1 in front of a sold out TD Garden. Brooks Laich had the game-winner for Washington early in the third period off a feed from Alexander Semin and Boyd Gordon added a goal later to break a 1-1 tie to start the final frame. Tim Thomas took the loss for the Bruins with 21 saves while Jose Theodore stood on his head at times stopping 41 Bruins shots. The eight game losing streak is tied for the second longest in Bruins history and longest since Dec. 22, 1955 to Jan. 12, 1956.
The Bruins struck in the first by taking advantage of a 5-on-3 power play at 6:58 when Marc Savard cross the puck to David Krejci on the baseline. Krejci bent his knee and whipped a shot back across Theodore’s pads for the early lead. The score was Krejci’s 10th of the year. The Bruins were able to keep the pressure on most of the period and outshot the Capitals 12-5 heading into the second.
It would not take long for Washington to come back. At 2:04 in the second Tom Poti broke deep down the left wing and crossed a pass to a crashing Mike Knuble who was able to beat Thomas out of position for the game-tying goal.
Then something happened that you do not see in regulation NHL hockey all that often — a penalty shot awarded on a shorthanded breakaway. With Marco Sturm in the box for holding, David Krejci found himself alone with the puck facing down Capitals goaltender Jose Theodore. Knuble caught Krejci from behind and hooked him a couple of times and Krejci missed the ensuing shot. The officials gave Krejci a penalty shot, which he subsequently missed wide right to end the unusual drama. It was the Bruins second shorthanded penalty shot of the season after Marco Sturm was unsuccessful against the Rangers Henrik Lundqvist on Jan. 9.
Brooks Laich — The Washington center scored the game-winner with his 17th of the year in the third period off a feed from Alexander Semin.
David Krejci — The Bruins second line center now has a two game point streak after his first period goal and though he was unsuccessful on the penalty shot he was able to put himself in position for the play and helped kill Boston’s penalties on the night.
Tom Poti — The Capitals defenseman assisted on Washington’s first and third goals of the night and now has two goals and 17 assists for the season.
The Bruins best chance of getting on top of Washington came in the second period when Blake Wheeler and Krejci had near open net chances against Theodore but were unable to slam the puck home. Wheeler had two points blank chances and Krejci missed on the follow up and the Capitals cleared the puck to end the threat. The Bruins would never really threaten Theodore for the rest of the game.
Semin was able to redeem himself after taking three penalties through the first two periods when he founds the puck in space off the half wall in the offensive end and flipped it through the circle to Laich in front of Thomas. Laich let go of a wrist shot that beat the Bruins goaltender on the stick side for the game-winner at 5:04 in the third.
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