|03.05.09 at 9:13 pm ET|
It’s been such an eventful third period that even the notorious TD Banknorth Garden “Dancing Man” — with his customary mustache and train conductor hat — was caught napping when the camera panned on him during the Romantics’ “What I like about you”. He finally got up and did a quick hand jive move after about 10 seconds staring off into space, but that’s a pretty good indicator of the energy Boston’s new look hockey club is giving off here in the third period.
3:05: Big flurry by Boston over the last few minutes with the Lucic/Savard/Kessel line reunited and putting some pressure on Bryzgalov and the Phoenix defense. The Coyotes goalie just smothered a loose puck in front — from a Lucic backhander — a second before Michael Ryder could pounce on it.
1:38: Great job by Shawn Thornton baiting rookie Viktor Tikhonov into an elbowing penalty in the waning minutes of the game. B’s will end the game on the power play, and have a great chance to tie it up.
The Coyotes lead the Bruins by a 2-1 score with 00:35.4 to go in the third period.
|03.05.09 at 8:15 pm ET|
12:08: Steve Reinprecht migrated to the front of the net in perfect receiving position for a Nigel Dawes dish from the sideboards, and ripped a quick shot up and over Tim Thomas to give the Coyotes a one-goal lead.
Seconds later Milan Lucic delivered a punishing hit to an unsuspecting Coyotes skater in their defensive zone. The Looch was moved back to a fourth line spot with Shawn Thornton and Stephane Yelle, and appears to be taking out some frustration on the ‘Yotes.
4:30: A series of solid saves by Thomas with Andrew Ference in the penalty box. Thomas made a quick reaction save on a Peter Mueller shot that was tipped in front of the net by Aaron Ward, and then Thomas hopped back into position to make stops on Steve Reinprecht and Nigel Dawes.
2:10: Milan Lucic just missed up and to the left of the net with a high redirect of a Patrice Bergeron wrist shot.
00:10: Clever little shot by Marc Savard from a carom off the back boards. Savard was at a bad angle, but threw the puck toward the bodies at the front of the net. The puck hit defenseman Kurt Sauer, but took a bad bounce away from the net rather than back toward the goal.
The Desert Dogs lead the Bruins by a 2-1 score after two full periods of play at the TD Banknorth Garden.
|03.05.09 at 7:29 pm ET|
Chuck Kobasew put the Bruins up first with a slap shot from the high slot that — aided by a screaming P.J. Axelsson crashing the net — squeezed between Ilya Bryzgalov’s pads and trickled into the back of the net.
Minutes later Mark Recchi — skating on the top line with Marc Savard and Phil Kessel — camped out at his familiar spot by the post and redirected a Dennis Wideman shot that hit the crossbar and then deflected high up into the netting.
9:58: Zdeno Chara doled out the biggest hit of the net when he caught Coyotes forward Enver Lisin with his head down and crumpled the ‘Yotes winger into a heap. Several Phoenix forwards came after Chara following the hit, and Chara was called for interference.
7:59: Scottie Upshall can score against the Bruins — whether he’s a member of the Flyers or the Coyotes after getting traded yesterday. Joakim Lindstrom picked Dennis Wideman’s pocket behind the B’s net and fed Upshall for a backhanded bid that beat Tim Thomas for the power play score.
The B’s and Coyotes are tied 1-1 after one full period the TD Banknorth Garden.
|03.05.09 at 1:33 pm ET|
One thing that has made Claude Julien so popular among his players is his ability to clearly define roles for his team.
He was clear with them – don’t try to do too much too soon. Just play your game.
“They’ve been around,” Julien said. “We’ve already had our one-on-one meetings. I even tried to not give them too much information because I don’t want them going out there and over-thinking. Just go out there and play. We think you’re a good player and that’s why we got you. If there’s some adjustments to make along the way, we can make those. They got the basic crash course. Now it’s just go out there and play.”
Julien was one of those watching Wednesday’s trade deadline with great enthusiasm.
“Well, hopefully our whole team can give us the energy we need but those two guys are certainly bringing some life to our hockey club,” he said. “By the time 3 o’clock rolled around, we were a better team than we were at 9 o’clock, just with the addition of those guys.”
He could notice a jump in his team’s collective step on Thursday morning. They could use one after the performance they gave against the Flyers on Tuesday night, giving up three in the third as Philly captured a 4-2 decision.
He also could tell that some players were relieved that they weren’t the ones dealt out of town from a first-place contender just to shake up the team.
“There’s no doubt that that the guys this morning were pretty excited this morning, not only for still being here but for the additions,” Julien said. “We’re pretty pleased with what’s happened and looking forward to taking another step in the right direction.” Read the rest of this entry »
|03.05.09 at 11:54 am ET|
New trade acquisitions Mark Recchi and Steve Montador will both be in tonight’s Bruins lineup against the Phoenix Coyotes, and bruising left winger Milan Lucic will also be back in the hockey swing after missing two games with an “upper body injury” believed to be a concussion.
Julien preached patience with some new elements being introduced to the lineup, but it was clear that a message has been sent to the team by the number of players on the ice for a voluntary practice. Play with 100 intensity and tenacity and a spot will be dusted off in the lineup, but slackers and soft hockey players might just be headed for a healthy scratch or two in the future.
In short, it’s the kind of depth that can be a coach’s dream when a player’s most prized possession, ice time, hangs in the balance.
“Hopefully our whole team can give us the energy we need, but we think those two guys can bring some life to our hockey club,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “Now we’ve got competition. It’s important for the guys to understand that we’re at a stage where it’s going to be who is playing best.”
Recchi also revealed that he’ll be manning the post down low opposite play maker Marc Savard on the first power play unit — ostensibly supplanting P.J. Axelsson in the left-handed shooting role — and the 41-year-old will be able to utilize some of the skills that allowed him to pile up 19 PP points for the Tampa Bay Lightning this season.
“I’m not sure who I’m playing with yet, but I’m ready to play with and do whatever role they put me in,” said Recchi. “I do know that I’m playing with Savvy on the power play down low. I’m excited to be on that unit. I’ve played down low and on the point most of my career. I’ll be playing down low because we’ve got some great guys here on the point, and I’ve been playing down low by the post for most of my career on a traditional power play.
“When you’ve got a guy like Savvy you’ve got to be ready for him to pass the puck at all times, so that’s going to be neat for me,” added Recchi. “You get to the front of the net, and hopefully I’ll get some ugly goals.”
Byron Bitz expressed a level of disappointment with the assumption that Recchi’s arrival may relegate him to a healthy scratch status tonight, but Bitz — along with Shane Hnidy and Matt Hunwick — was saying all the right things after playing such effective hockey lately.
For all the uniform afficianados out there, Recchi will be wearing #28 and Montador #23 for the Spoked B tonight.
|03.05.09 at 2:55 am ET|
Bruins Vice-President Cam Neely said that a much-rumored trade with the Anaheim Ducks — that would have sent a package including 21-year-old sniper Phil Kessel, defenseman Mark Stuart, first round pick Joe Colborne and a draft pick to the Ducks in exchange for defenseman Chris Pronger — was “not on the the table” prior to Wednesday’s trade deadline.
“We couldn’t gut our lineup to add a player that we thought was going to help us, and then take away in another area it was going to hurt us,” said Neely during a Wednesday interview with the Big Show. “It didn’t make sense. We have a very young group of players. Even though we feel like we have a good opportunity this year, we feel like we have good opportunities next year and the year after with our core group of guys. We were very cautious about the players that we weren’t going to give up.
“We understand other teams. We’d ask and it makes sense for other teams to ask for our best players in return,” added Neely.
|03.04.09 at 9:15 pm ET|
The Bruins straggled into the NHL trade deadline with two very easily definable needs (a depth defenseman and a left-handed shot capable of taking shifts on the first power play unit) and they emerge from the other side of Rumor-O-Rama with a pair of gritty, dependable veterans armed with Cup-loads of playoff experience.
It wasn’t the home run “Wow” acquisition like Anaheim’s Chris Pronger or St. Louis winger Keith Tkachuk might have been, but the arrival of the other Anaheim D-man, Steve Montador, and Tampa Bay Lightning winger Mark Recchi supplies the Bruins with exactly what they longed for.
“(Recchi and Montador)” were on our lists, and our lists weren’t that long,” said Chiarelli.
“I like our depth, I really do,” added Chiarelli. “And I expect our players to respond because they’re really going to have to compete for ice time. I think that’s healthy.”
Instead the Bruins gave up virtually nothing from their current core group of players to fill team needs, and shipped off minor leaguers Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums along with roughneck fourth liner Petteri Nokelainen for a valuable 2010 second round pick and two needed rental players.
Both players really weren’t linked with the team at all in previous trade rumors, which tells you one of two things: either the Bruins settled for players that weren’t all that expensive on the open market or Chiarelli and co. did a pretty solid job of keeping their desired targets under the radar.
I’m betting it’s much more of the latter than the former.
Montador is a big, beefy defenseman that can play a capable offensive game, but that’s not his biggest strength. The former Flames, Panthers and Ducks defenseman is also a veteran that’s been through the playoff wars, and is willing to both drop the gloves and play the sandpaper game that Chiarelli requires and Claude Julien covets.
He’s also a player that’s hopped back and forth between forward and defenseman over his career, and can provide the kind of in-a-pinch versatility that rookie Matt Hunwick has given the Bruins for much of this season — with a really noticeable contribution up front during Milan Lucic’s recent injury.
“Montador is a good story,” said Chiarelli. “He was signed as a free agent out of juniors and he has really worked his way into the NHL. First and foremost he’s gritty and he’s a thick kid — about 6-foot-2 and 210 (pounds) and that’s pretty thick for a kid that size. He’s got a good stick. He’s a versatile guy and I really like his compete level.
“He’ll do anything to win, and he’s a battler and a warrior,” added Chiarelli, using the kind of complimentary terms that hockey people don’t exactly throw around like candy.
The 29-year-old defenseman had an idea he was going to be dealt when the Ducks didn’t approach him with a contract extension during his season’s walk year, and he said that he’s been filled in on plenty of Bruins stories from his agent, former Bruins player and coach Steve Kasper. Montador will serve as insurance in case any member of the blueline corps suffers an injury during the final months of the season, but should easily fit into the reincarnation of the Big, Bad Bruins that’s ticketed for the playoffs.
“I like to keep things simple for the most part,” said Montador. “I like to play a simple game with quick first passes and I like to bring a lot of energy. I certainly don’t consider myself a fighter, but when something needs to be done then I’ll certainly (drop the gloves). I certainly don’t like taking fists to the head, but if I have to mix it up, I’ll do that.”
Recchi, on the other hand, brings a steady, veteran hand capable of giving Boston more offensive oomph on the power play — and potentially still a dangerous wing man on Boston’s third line. Recchi has 45 overall points — which places him fourth on the Bruins behind only Marc Savard, Phil Kessel and David Krejci — and 19 big points on the power play this season (2 goals and 17 assists).
Along with the production at an age when most hockey players are already working on their handicap, Recchi brings a boatload of NHL experience through a run to the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-06 and 19 seasons of pounding in pro hockey.
Upon hearing about the trade this morning, Recchi’s first reaction was a desire “to bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston.” Exactly what the long-suffering members of Bruins Nation would like to hear after seeing the team plateau a bit over the last three weeks.
“The experience factor was big and that went a long way in our decision-making process,” said Chiarelli. “He’ played in the league a long time, he’s a very resilient player and he’s a thick-bodied man too. He’s a durable player and you need that in this stretch and the playoffs, and then you look at the Stanley Cup experience which is invaluable.”
Recchi has already played the rental player roles with the ‘Canes in 2005-06 and again last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the grizzled vet understands what it means to enter the flow of another team mid-stream and assimilate quickly.
He’ll likely relegate impressive rookie Byron Bitz to the press box at the beginning of his stint in Boston, but Recchi’s arrival will also give Julien the ability to use a quick hook when a particular forward isn’t giving 100 percent. Recchi will also bump P.J. Axelsson from the first PP unit — a development that probably had the biggest impact in the mind of Bruins’ executives.
“I’m looking forward to being a piece of the puzzle to make this team successful,” said Recchi. “I want to try to add some leadership and some of that ability that (Boston) already has. I don’t have any illusions that I’m going to go in there and change anything there. Wherever they want to play me: left wing, right wing, power play, penalty kill. Whatever they want me to do to help them win games, I’m going to do.
“I’m going to have a job to do and I’m going to go out there and do it well,” added Recchi.
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