|03.09.10 at 7:40 pm ET|
Without two of their best players the Bruins look . . .
The forecheck looks good, the penalty kill is clicking right along and even the offense chipped in.
Boston is without Marc Savard (concussion) and Zdeno Chara (lower body injury) but so far it has controlled the pace and tempo against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Granted, the Leafs have the second-to-last record in the league, but positive signs are encouraging nonetheless.
Mark Recchi Patrice Bergeron got the Bruins offense going right off the bat. Dennis Seidenberg hit a heavy slap shot from the point that banged off of Leafs’ goaltender Jonas Gustavsson chest protector directly back in front of the net while Gustavvsson was pulled to the left of the crease leaving the net wide open for Recchi to come in and sweep the puck in for the early lead at 2:47.
Boston then gave the Leafs a great chance to get that goal back when first Blake Wheeler (hooking) then Mark Stuart (tripping) went to the penalty box to give Toronto a 50-second two-man advantage. The Bruins have the best penalty kill in the league but without Zdeno Chara for the game (lower body injury), penalties could be problematic.
The Maple Leafs only managed one official shot with the two consecutive penalties and the Bruins recovered to dominate the on both ends of the ice throughout the period.
Boston gave the Leafs another opportunity on the power play when Milan Lucic went for hooking at 16:14 but the Bruins were able to kill it. Toronto is now 0-17 on the man-advantage against Boston this season.
Shots through the first period:
Boston — 10
Toronto — 5
UPDATE — There has been a scoring change and Patrice Bergeron will get credit for the goal as opposed to Recchi. Both players were right in front to bang on it and got to the puck at the same time. Recchi picks up an assist.
|03.09.10 at 12:09 pm ET|
NESN analyst Mike Milbury was a guest of the Dale & Holley show Tuesday morning to talk about the Bruins and the Marc Savard controversy (listen to the interview here). Asked whether Penguins forward Matt Cooke should be suspended for his hit to the head that gave Savard a concussion, Milbury said he need to take another look at the play, but: “Given the rules of the game today, I don’t think it’s a suspendable offense.”
Milbury offered an explanation and defense for Cooke. Said Milbury: “The word predatory does come to mind. And you know, I don’t have any trouble with that. When you’re playing hockey, you’re supposed to finish your checks. I don’t think he meant to give him a Grade 2 concussion. That’s Matt Cooke’s game. He’s supposed to be a guy that finishes his checks, that agitates a little bit, that can play a little bit of hockey. He’s not a slug, But he’s no Sidney Crosby. His job is to make sure he punishes people when he gets the opportunity. Intent to injure? I don’t know. That’s a hard one to pin on anybody. Certainly, ready to finish his check with authority.”
Milbury said the Bruins’ lack of a response after the check was disheartening. “Your best offensive player goes down with a resounding check ‘ borderline check under any circumstances, maybe cheap, maybe intentional. It requires a direct response immediately,” he said, adding. “I blame the players who were on the ice at that time. You have to take accountability for the guys who are on the ice. … The guys that are there have to recognize that there’s been a code violation, if you will. … They should have gone right after the perpetrator or even gone after anyone else that was on the ice to rattle the cage. You can’t be taken advantage of that way. The players on the ice have to look in the mirror after this is over and say, ‘Dammit, we should have done something. We should have done it right away.’ And the coach has to back them up on that.”
However, Milbury cautioned about overreacting. “I think we got caught up here in Grapes [Don Cherry] mania. Like, you’ve got to die in order to satisfy the blood lust in the stands,” he said. “That’s not my schtick.” The former B’s coach said he was disgusted to hear people saying the Bruins should have attempted to cause a serious injury to Pittsburgh’s star players in retaliation. “That’s just ridiculous,” he said. “Are we that demented? Is that the way we have to approach this sport? I don’t think so.” Added Milbury: “To say that because your best player went down you have to immediately turn around and go after vigilante justice is Neanderthal. We’ve got to get past that.”
Added Milbury: “I think they should have had a quick and immediate response, especially to go after Cooke and then continue to play the damn game with the kind of authority that they should have gone into the game playing with. That’s my point. But to think we have to go back to, ‘They hurt one of our best players, so now we’re going to go take out Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby by giving them cheap shots in the back of the head,’ that’s Philadelphia Flyers hockey in the ’70s. We’re past that. We should be past that, and if we ever revert to that, it’s the day I stop watching the damn game. Because that isn’t right. It’s just not right.”
Asked whether captain Zdeno Chara needs to be more of a physical presence for the Bruins, Milbury said: “Because he’s 6-foot-8, we’re asking him to be 30 minutes a game, fight, physical ‘ we’re asking a lot of this guy. And last year he delivered. But it doesn’t come naturally to him. He’s got to force it. But the team needs him to be more physical, yes. They need him to occasionally fight.”
Asked whether the Bruins are too soft, Milbury said yes. “They played a much more physical game last year up and down the roster,” he said. “And I think when they do find their way back to it, they’ll be a better team offensively.”
|03.07.10 at 5:40 pm ET|
Summary — For the last time ever in the regular season the Bruins travelled to Pittsburgh to play in Mellon Arena against the Penguins and came away losers by a 2-1 score in a Sunday matinee. Tim Thomas got his third straight start for Boston and took the loss with 27 of saves. The Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury took the decision with 15 stops. The loss snaps the Bruins five-game road winning streak.
The Penguins jumped all over Boston in the third but Thomas stood tall in the losing effort after getting peppered through most of the period. Thomas did give up the game-winner early in the final frame to superstar Evgeni Malkin on a dump shot through a screen down the right wing.
After a scoreless first period the Bruins struck first on the power play when Blake Wheeler was able to sweep a loose puck out from under Fleury at 3:12 in the second. The Penguins came back about five minutes later when Pascal Dupuis put the puck in a scrum in the crease in front of Thomas and banged on it until it trickled passed for the equalizer at 8:57.
Bruins’ center Marc Savard took a hit and elbow to the head late in the third period by Penguins’ forward Matt Cooke. He was carted off the ice on a stretcher. No word on the type or severity of the injury but a concussion would seem likely. Cooke was not issued a penalty for the hit.
Patrice Bergeron played his first game since the Olympic break after sitting the previous three with a groin injury. Tuukka Rask is still listed as day-to-day with a minor knee injury and did not dress.
Marc-Andre Fleury — The Penguins goaltender picked up his 31st win of the year with steady play and a solid defensive effort in front of him.
Evgeni Malkin — The “other” superstar in Pittsburgh scored the go-ahead goal for his 23rd strike of the year early in the third period.
Blake Wheeler — The sophomore forward scored the first goal of the game for only his second strike in 17 games when he tallied on the power play in the second period. The goal was his 14th of the year.
Turning Point — The start of the third period was where the Penguins turned on the heat. Malkin scored the go-ahead goal early in the period and the Bruins could not slow Pittsburgh down the rest of the game as the Penguins dominated the positional play in the final frame.
Key Play — The Penguins new addition of Alexei Ponikarovsky at Wednesday’s trade deadline paid dividends in the third period. Malkin came down the right wing on the rush and threw a dump shot on Thomas that passed through a moving screen by Ponikarovsky on its way to the back of the net. Pittsburgh turned on the heat after that and pressured the Bruins for the rest of the third on its way to the victory.
|03.07.10 at 4:35 pm ET|
With the Penguins handing the Bruins multiple opportunities with penalties, it was just a matter of time before Boston broke through.
Evgeni Malkin won the dubious distinction of being the man who committed the penalty (hooking – 2:15) that helped get the Bruins on the board. David Krejci put the puck in the crease and banged on it to the point that Marc-Andre Fleury fell flat on his stomach though not quite on top of the puck. Blake Wheeler then snuck in and swept the puck out from under the goaltender for his 14th goal of the season that gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 3:12.
The Penguins came back in 5-0n-5 at 8:57 in a similar scenario to Wheeler’s goal. Pascal Dupuis swept around the goal only to be semi-stuffed by Tim Thomas but the forward stayed on the puck and it trickled passed Thomas to tie the game at one apiece.
Michael Ryder took a slashing penalty at 3:43 in the period but Boston was able to kill it off. In the middle of the period the teams played two-minutes of 4-on-4 as Ruslan Fedotenko and Mark Stuart got in a tangle in the crease in front of Thomas that led to matching roughing penalties.
Shots in period (total):
Boston — 8 (11)
Pittsburgh — 11 (21)
|03.07.10 at 3:45 pm ET|
Tim Thomas got his third straight start for the Bruins as Tuukka Rask is still listed as day-to-day with a knee injury he suffered last Tuesday against Montreal. Thomas has a tough task against the explosive and deep Penguins who feature Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal down the center positions. Thomas has been up to the task so far with 10 saves in a scoreless period.
The Bruins got the first power play opportunity at 5:29 on a tripping call to Brooks Orpik but could not convert. The Penguins gave Boston another chance at 11:05 on a high-stick by Mark Eaton but the Bruins could not even muster a shot against the aggressive penalty kill. The Bruins are now 2-11 on the man-advantage since the Olympic break. Pittsburgh has been killed all 12 shorthand scenarios it has faced in the same period.
A third penalty in the period was called against Ruslan Fedotenko at 18:42 and the Bruins will start on the man-advantage for the first 42-seconds of the second period.
Through it all Boston only has three shots on goal and have not seriously threatened Penguins’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Patrice Bergeron is back in action for Boston after missing the first three games after the Olympic break with a groin injury
Scoreless after one at Mellon Arena.
Shots on goal:
Bruins — 3
Penguins — 10
|03.06.10 at 6:31 pm ET|
The Bruins came out flying against the Islanders Saturday at Nassau Coliseum, and though they ended up beating the East’s third-worst team by just one goal, Claude Julien will take it. Considering the team has won six of their last seven, yet at 69 points could be two losses (and two Rangers/Canadiens wins) away from going from seventh to out of the playoffs, he’ll take anything he can get.
The 3-2 win wasn’t necessarily pretty, and, as evidenced by Marc Savard‘s disgustingly lucky second-period goal and Michael Ryder‘s game misconduct, neither was the scoring sheet. Still, on a day where the Islanders swarmed Tim Thomas for the final two periods but still couldn’t break the Bruins’ impressive penalty kill, there was enough good to go around in the Bruins win.
There was plenty to take away from a win that the team will need to build upon if they want any chance at defeating Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Sunday. For starters, the dynamic between Miroslav Satan and David Krejci truly is a beautiful thing to watch. After his second period goal Krejci told NESN that the two Europeans complement each other so well because the similarities in their style of play lead to a predictability as to what the other will do. They certainly kept if from Dwaye Roloson well.
Also, the Bruins continued to show their nack for scoring the first goal. Milan Lucic‘s goal at 18:26 of the first, his sixth of the season, marked the ninth time in the Bruins’ last 10 games that they scored the game’s first goal.
Here are the other intriguing storylines that stemmed from the victory:
WHO’S IN NET?
Two days after leading the Bruins to a shootout victory against the Maple Leafs, Tim Thomas made 37 saves to secure the victory in Saturday’s matinee. All of this, of course, has taken place while Tuukka Rask has been nursing a knee injury.
So how quick should Claude Julien be to dust off the Vezina and give most of the remaining starts to Thomas? After all, with the Bruins having won six of their last seven, Rask was between the pipes for the first four (and perhaps the only real difficult opponent in Buffalo).
The statistical edge would go to the 22-year old Rask, who has just eight losses on the season and has the lower GAA (a league-best 2.14) and save percentage (.926). He’s also lost just eight games to Thomas’ 15, though that will happen when you play around 400 minutes less than the other guy.
Still, even with the numbers leaning in the Rask’s favor, the last time the Bruins went into the playoffs riding the regular-season success of a young goaltender, they failed to escape the first round behind Calder Trophy-winning Andrew Raycroft.
Whoever the Bruins, who with 162 goals against have given up the third-least amount of goals in the East, elect to go with as their No. 1 goaltender, time is running out to settle on who the man will potentially be come the playoffs. In order for the Bruins to avoid the fate of the Flyers with Hextall/Snow, Wild with Fernandez/Roloson, and other teams whose goaltending carousel failed their playoff expectations, Julien needs to make up his mind.
SAVARD’S SCORING TOUCH IS BACK, KIND OF
It had been 18 games since Marc Savard had scored for the Bruins, and he used an oddity of Nassau Coliseum to his advantage to finally do so on Saturday. A goal’s a goal any way you slice it, and nobody said they have to be pretty. And if what happened Saturday will help him make up for missed time with a little more scoring, that’s just fine.
A missed slapshot from Patrice Bergeron while the Bruins were on the power play in the second period seemed harmless enough to Islanders goaltender and Rick-Depietro-replacement-of-the-year Dwane Roloson, but the funny bounce it took off of the glass to the right of the Islanders net helped it squirt back in front to Savard, who seemed to be the only one on the ice still following the puck. He used his skate to kick it over to his stick and effortlessly backhanded it into the empty net for his tenth goal of the season.
Again: pretty? Certainly not. Game-winning goal and maybe a momentum-shifter? Sure, why not? The Bruins have had a need for more scoring all season, so who is anyone to turn their nose at any added (albeit ugly) offensive output from their high-profile playmaker?
PENALTY KILL BENDS BUT WON’T BREAK
While the Bruins await word from the NHL regarding whether they will have Michael Ryder in their lineup in future games, the five minutes following his frightening hit from behind on Islanders winger Blake Comeau is what kept the Bruins from losing their grip on against the Islanders on Saturday.
The five-minute major came in a second period during which the Islanders fired 22 shots on Tim Thomas, so the idea of being shorthanded when the Islanders had found more life than they had perhaps in the entire game was certainly not an appetizing thought for the Bruins. Especially with the added bonus that they would open the third period down a man.
Though the Bruins allowed a rare power-play goal to Josh Bailey at 2:18 earlier in the period, it was what they did on the five-minute major that sent the message. With a 2-1 lead Tim Thomas and the Bruins stopped the Islanders and their six shots, reminding Scott Gordon and the rest of the league that though they certainly have their flaws, the Bruins are perhaps at their best when down a man.
The Bruins remain the league’s best penalty-killing team and it clearly gave them an edge in which they were unexpectedly peppered for the second and third periods. With the goaltending starting to take better shape with the improved play of Thomas and the eventual return of Rask, it will be a huge asset should the Bruins secure a playoff spot.
|03.06.10 at 4:55 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins began their seven-game road trip in fine fashion, beating the Islanders, 3-2, at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
Shots came early and often from the Bruins, and by the time the Islanders caught up to (and eventually surpassed) their pace, it was Tim Thomas who proved to be heroic once again for the Bruins.
Marc Savard scored for the first time in 19 games and it wouldn’t have come without some help. After a Patrice Bergeron slapshot from the point missed Dwayne Roloson’s net stickside, the puck took a funny bounce while Roloson was out of position. Savard corraled it and slid it in on the backhand for the powerplay goal. It was the Bruins’ final goal of the game and proved to be the game-winner.
Though the Bruins came out on top and scored two of their three goals after the first period, the balance of the game changed dramatically in the second period. After outscoring the Islanders, 15-4, in the first period, Claude Julien’s club added just 19 more shots the rest of the game while the Islanders had 34 shots in the final two periods.
Things were so lopsided in the first period that it appeared that the Bruins could fall victim of a low-scoring game despite tons of offensive pressure applied. That changed when Milan Lucic scored his sixth of the season from the circle at 18:26. David Krejci added his 12th goal of the season at 14:56 of the second period.
The Bruins needed to put the league’s best penalty kill after a scary moment late in teh second period. With 3:54 remaining Michael Ryder was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting Blake Comeau from behind in the corner. Comeau remained on the ice as Ryder skated to the locker room, and after the Islanders winger returned to his feet the Bruins killed the penalty, which carried over into the third period.
Tim Thomas — Though it appeared the Bruins goaltender could have used an iPod in an uneventful first period, he survived 39 Islanders shots and secured the win by allowing only two past him.
Mark Stuart — The defenseman was a +2 and helped orchestrate the Krejci goal.
Matt Moulson — Were it not for Daniel Seidenberg, Moulson would have had two goals. Still, his third-period tally made it a game again.
Turning point — Ryder’s five-minute major led to an effective penalty right as the Islanders were hitting their stride offensively. Though they were able to get on the board in the third period, the Bruins were able to silence a buzzing Islanders offense when they were pestering Thomas the most they had all game.
Key Play — Savard’s goal in the second period. It proved to mean more than just a tally on the scoreboard when Josh Bailey was stopped by Thomas on a very similar play in the final minute of the second period. The two plays gave evidence to the fact that on where shots were abundant, the Bruins got the bounces that the Islanders didn’t get.