|12.21.10 at 10:44 am ET|
It was supposed to be a festive night, featuring Rene Rancournaments handed out to 10,000 fans, the Bruins wearing their white home jerseys and the Bruins and Ducks on national TV.
Instead, it turnout out to be one big dud, filled with nothing for Boston hockey fans except the proverbial lump of coal in their stockings – and stale coal at that – which could never light a fire under the Bruins.
The Bruins got 45 shots on Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller but none of them found the back of the net. The Bruins were done in by the Jonas smother.
“You can say we had forty-something shots, but a lot of them were one shot and out,” B’s center Marc Savard said. “We’ve got to dig down. I think the intensity level was lacking tonight on a lot of us and coach switched the lines there for the third. We seemed to have some more jump a bit, just to try and get some energy on the team because like I said, we were getting stale there a little bit.
“We created chances, but bottom line is that you’ve got to come to the rink and want results and I think, including myself, I’m probably top of the list right now I’m not getting any and then therefore, that’s not helping the team at all. So we’ve all got to look in the mirrors here. We’ve got one more before Christmas, it’s huge, and we need it.”
While their coach was ripping them moments later, Savard acknowledged that Claude Julien can’t do much more screaming at them.
“Claude is trying,” Savard added. “I mean, he can’t yell at us every single night. It gets long on him too, so it comes with the guys in the room here to pick up the slack and right now, that’s what we’ve got to do. Like I said, this one more before Christmas here, we’ve got to have a huge effort.”
Savard agreed with Mark Recchi, who told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning that Thursday’s home finale before Christmas has turned into a must-win for the fragile psyche of the team.
Savard said he has no answers right now but knows they better appear Thursday against Atlanta.
“Well, yeah, I mean, I don’t have the answer for it,” Savard said. We’ve all just got to be that much more intense. Like I said, this one before Christmas is huge. We need it.”
Many people have been wondering about the near-term fate of Julien. But just as many – if not more – have wondered if the lineup and roster need a shake-up.
“No, I don’t think the lineup needs a shakeup,” Savard said. “We’ve got a good hockey club. We’ve just got to get it going here and work together as a unit and we’ll be fine. Our goalies are battling for us every night back there and we’ve just got to give them some support.”
|12.20.10 at 11:19 pm ET|
Claude Julien had seen enough.
There was the back-to-back losses last week in Buffalo and Montreal. There was Saturday night when he watched his team get outshot on home ice, 38-10, after taking a 3-0 lead over Washington, barely holding on for a 3-2 win.
The Bruins were outshot by an amazing 26-2 in the third period and it was clear from Julien’s tone Saturday night that he felt his team was fortunate – if not lucky – to win. On Monday, there was no such luck. The Bruins fell behind 2-0 before having a breakdown on the power play in front of Tim Thomas, allowing a short-handed goal that all but cooked their goose in a 3-0 loss to the Ducks at TD Garden. Julien needed to let loose and let his team have the what-for.
“Our compete level needed to be better,” Julien began. “I’m disappointed. I’m really disappointed in our effort tonight and it’s not something we should be proud of and we should be willing to try to redeem ourselves next game and find some more emotion and more intensity in our game.”
That next game is the game before Christmas, Thursday night at home against Atlanta. In the meantime, there’ll be a pair of practices which should test the quality of the practice ice in Wilmington.
Julien said while it was good that his team put 45 shots on Jonas Hiller, he said his players “need to bury those chances.”
Julien even used a classic hockey expression to express his displeasure of the lack of desire from his team, particularly his forwards.
“It’s starts with the forecheck,” Julien said. “We had a lot of guys playing at the end of of their sticks. When you’re trying to move up five spots [in the standings], that’s unacceptable.”
The Bruins coach said he’s noticed a lack of emotion and energy in his team in the last week.
“Through the course of the season, certain things will creep into your game,” Julien said. “And that’s crept into our game and we’ve got to get rid of that. We have to get that emotion again, give yourself a chance to win. And we didn’t do that tonight.”
The Bruins entered the game with the same number of points (38) as their opponent but it wasn’t the Ducks they were chasing in the standings. With a win, the Bruins could have jumped from eight in the conference to tied for third, as they would have 40 points, matching the Canadiens.
“We had all the reasons in the world to want to compete tonight, an opportunity to move up five spots [in Eastern Conference] and we didn’t have enough guys going tonight, there’s no doubt there,” Julien said.
|12.20.10 at 10:00 pm ET|
The Garden was loud as ever to begin Rancournament night on Monday, but the fans likely weren’t a promotional giveaway to be the only positive of their experience. That’s what they got, as the B’s rode a lackluster performance to a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Ducks.
The Ducks got goals from Brandon McMillan, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Corey Perry, while the Bruins struggled mightily against Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller.
With the Bruins getting plenty of pucks to the net but failing to bury them, Claude Julien changed up the lines in the third period. He pulled Nathan Horton off the top line and replaced him with Blake Wheeler. Tyler Seguin took Wheeler’s spot on Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi’s line, while Horton moved to the Marc Savard and Michael Ryder’s line.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins didn’t have a power play in Saturday’s game against the Capitals, and given the way things transpired on Monday, it seems they would rather go another night without the man advantage. The B’s failed to convert, while they allowed their third shorthanded goal of the season. Luckily for them they’re still far behind Tampa Bay in the undesirable category, as the Lightning have allowed a whopping seven shorthanded tallies this season.
– As much as all these 40-plus-shots-against games have helped Tim Thomas‘ league-leading save percentage, his performance worked against that on Monday, as he allowed had allowed three goals on 15 shots by the end of the second period. Thomas ended up facing 24 shots on the night.
– For just the second time this season, Milan Lucic is without a point in two straight games. His only other such stretch occurred when he failed to register a point on Nov. 20 and 22 against the Kings and Lightning, respectively.
– As poorly as the Bruins played overall, they weren’t helped by the fact that Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller was very good in net for the Ducks. The B’s got a respect a season-high 45 shots on net, but Hiller was equally sharp on all of them, challenging or otherwise.
Hiller had perhaps the save of the night when he robbed Tyler Seguin in the slot at 12:10 of the third period. He came up with another big stop on a Mark Recchi shot at 16:57.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins seemingly don’t have to worry about the health of Steven Kampfer. The rookie blue-liner took a shove from Teemu Selanne in the second period that helped him go headfirst into the boards in a scene slightly resembling Jody Shelley’s hit on Adam McQuaid.
The difference between the two plays was that Selanne gave more of a light shove and didn’t seem malicious, while Shelley used two hands to push McQuaid. Kampfer was helped off the ice by trainer Don Delnegro and returned to the ice later in the period. Selanne was given a minor for boarding.
– Patrice Bergeron, despite being a minus-1, continued to be one of the better players on the ice. Of course, given the team’s slow and sloppy showing, there weren’t many candidates for that distinction. Bergeron single-handedly prevented the Ducks from scoring a shorthanded goal on B’s first power play when he swept a puck out of the crease as it was about to cross the goal line after making its way past Thomas.
|12.20.10 at 9:08 pm ET|
The Bruins have some recent experience with nearly blowing a three-goal lead. Now, they’ll have to see if they can come back from one as they trail the Ducks, 3-0, after two.
Tim Thomas has allowed the three Ducks goals on just 15 shots, while Jonas Hiller has been an absolute wall on the other end.
The Bruins were 0-for-2 on the power play in the period, the first of which came when Teemu Selanne went off for boarding after he gave Steve Kampfer a soft shove that led the B’s defenseman headfirst into the boards. The play did not seem malicious and Kampfer, after being helped off by Don Delnegro, returned to the ice.
|12.20.10 at 8:16 pm ET|
The Bruins will enter the second period trailing the Ducks, 1-0, after Brandon McMillan put Anaheim on the board early on in the first.
McMillan scored his second goal of the season when a Luca Sbisa shot from the point hit McMillan in front of the net. The 20-year-old center corralled the puck and sent it past Tim Thomas at 5:57.
–David Krejci had the lone penalty of the period, a goaltender interference minor at 1:08. The Ducks got two shots on Thomas on the power play, neither of which did any damage.
– Kudos to our man Mike Petraglia on the following stat: Since jumping out to a 3-0 lead in Saturday’s game against the Capitals, the Bruins have been outshot by a 45-19 margin. The B’s had just nine shots on Jonas Hiller in the first period. The Ducks didn’t rack up the shots either, as they got just seven on Thomas.
– Nice touch by the Bruins PR people to dedicate WEEI.com colleague Graig Woodburn‘s seat in the press box to him for the rest of the season. Graig passed away at age 50 on Sunday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. I had the pleasure of working with Graig — albeit on a limited basis — but it didn’t take much time to see that he was a great hockey writer and a great guy. There’s definitely a learning curve for younger writers, but fortunately for myself I’ve had lots of great people to learn from. Graig was one of those people and he’ll be missed.
|12.20.10 at 2:10 pm ET|
Another injury, another opportunity for Daniel Paille.
That’s how the season has been for the Bruins winger and nightly assumed healthy scratch, but with Brad Marchand out Monday, he’ll once again see the good that comes of the undesirable role.
Since the second game of the season, Paille has been out of the lineup unless another forward has been injured, or, as was the case with Tyler Seguin last week, a healthy scratch. He’s played 11 games this season, with one assist and a minus-2 rating.
The idea of only playing when another guy is hurt is less than ideal from his perspective as both a teammate and an individual, but Paille is simply working with what he’s got.
“I’ve got to make the best of the opportunity every game,” Paille said Monday. “At this point, [an injury] is the only way I’m going to get into a game until I can prove otherwise.”
Marchand will miss Monday’s game vs. the Ducks due to a hit he took Saturday night. Claude Julien noted that the winger remains day-to-day and that his injury — which remains undisclosed — is not long-term. Even so, Paille figures to take Marchand’s place on the energy line with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.
Paille, who played in 74 games for the B’s last season after being acquired from the Sabres, has experience playing with Thornton. Still, the merlot line of Marchand – Campbell – Thornton has been one of the most consistent fixtures of this Bruins squad. Whether it can operate as efficiently without one of its parts remains to be seen.
“I know what to expect with Thornton and the effort he gives every night. I played with Campbell a little bit in the preseason — I really enjoyed playing with him as well,” Paille said. “He and I, I feel that we play almost similar. I think I can adjust to his game very well.
“They just bring that energy type of game,” Paille added of the line. It’s just something I’m looking to get into tonight and get a chance to play with them.”
Paille admitted that though his mind has been fresh all season, the time out of the lineup has made it “a bit harder to get in the same shape” as his teammates who play each game. He did say that John Whitesides has worked with him to make up for it so that he’s “physically ready” when he does get the call.
As for Marchand, Thornton isn’t worried about the mindset of the undersized winger, whose status is uncertain among the media given how few details have been divulged.
“Nobody likes to miss a game,” Thornton said when asked about Marchand. “He’s a competitor and he wants to play, but these things happen during the course of a long season. He’s always in a good mood, that kid.”
Though the Bruins will be missing one of their more fiery players and top penalty killers, Thornton is confident in what Paille will bring should he be inserted into both roles.
“I’ve played with [Paille] enough games to know what he brings. If he’s on our line, we’ll do the same thing,” Thornton said. “Get pucks in deep, work down low, and be strong on pucks. ‘¦They bring a lot of the same stuff to the table, so it should be a fairly easy transition.”
|12.20.10 at 12:02 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was first off the ice on Monday morning, so it’s safe to assume he’ll be in net vs. the Ducks at 7:30 p.m. Thomas bailed the Bruins out on Saturday night when he made 25 saves in the the third period against the Capitals in a 3-2 victory. Here are some other notes following morning skate:
– Brad Marchand wasn’t on the ice and is not expected to play against the Ducks. Coach Claude Julien reiterated following the skate that the energetic winger is day-to-day, adding that he is “still stiff” from a hit he took on Saturday against the Capitals. Of course, Marchand also took a crushing hit from P.K. Subban in Thursday’s game in Montreal, so it seems he just needs some time to recover from a beating he took over the last couple of games.
In Marchand’s place will be Daniel Paille, who said he was told by assistant coaches that he should expect to play. Aside from the season-opener, Paille has only seen time due to another player being either injured or scratched.
– When asked about what the B’s are facing in the Ducks, Julien called them a “big strong team” who plays “heavy game.” The Bruins coach likened the Ducks to a team like the Flyers and said their style of play is similar to “what we’re trying to do here.”
– In facing the Ducks, Shawn Thornton will be facing the team with which he got his first real chance. Thornton spent the 2006-07 season with the Ducks and on Monday will go against former teammates including George Parros, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Teemu Selanne.
Thornton spoke highly of his time in Anaheim, though he said Parros is the only one he still keeps in touch with.
– It’s never too early to begin looking at the playoff picture. Milan Lucic had the standings in mind when assessing the matchup of the Bruins and Ducks.
“They’re eighth in the West, and they’re eighth in the East,” the Bruins’ leading goal-scorer said. “We have a chance to move up here and move up in the standings and be tied with Montreal for first in the division. We know it’s a big game for us and we want to [leave] things off the right way going into the Christmas break here.”
– Last but not least, Rene Rancournament night has finally arrived. The Bruins will be giving out complimentary ornaments of National Anthem singer and cult hero Rene Rancourt to fans in attendance. There’s been quite a buzz about it from fans and media alike. Personally, I’lll consider it a letdown if the ornament doesn’t fist-pump and point correctly.