Archive for February, 2009

Black and Gold regain their groove against not-so-mighty Ducks

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

The Bruins found their rugged, rough-and-tumble, tough-to-play-against team personality amid a fight-filled grudge match with Sean Avery and the Dallas Stars at the Garden way back on Nov. 1.

There were musclebound sentences and breathy paragraphs devoted to the return of the Big, Bad Bruins, and tributes were penned to a squad that had finally once again captured the imagination of a dormant hockey franchise’s loyal followers.

Like any real fiery pique of puck passion, however, the emotion and tenacity proved difficult to maintain at its highest levels throughout the ebb and flow of a long season. The Black and Gold might have lost their way momentarily in the middle of the grinding 82-game seasonal gauntlet, but the Big, Bad B’s clearly regained their groove by both shedding the gloves and lighting the lamp in a 6-0 thrashing of the Anaheim Ducks at the Garden Thursday night.

The sweet combination of brawling and Bruins is the holy hockey alliance that baptized this particular team before a frenzied Boston hockey crowd back on that night in November. It should also be the galvanizing force that allows the Bruins to finish out the schedule’s final 20 games with the thunderous force of a big “Looch” body check.

The skilled and shifty forwards were flying up the frozen sheet with a quick, fastbreak-style outlet and transition game reminiscent of the first four months of the season. The forwards, in turn, enjoyed engaged and aggressive play from the defenseman hopping up into the play with the kind of symbiotic support that marked the first few months of the season.

Matt Hunwick showed the telltale controlled, timely aggression when he kicked it into turbo and beat Mike Brown to a loose puck in the offensive zone and rifled a high wrist shot past Jean-Sebastien Giguere to give Boston their first score. The goal kicked off a two point night for Hunwick in his first game back after a quick one-game refresher with the Providence Bruins — a move made necessary when the young defenseman had suited up only three times since late January.

It was just another of example of things going right again for the Spoked B after enduring a period where they simply didn’t work hard enough for the bounces. After a sluggish few weeks, the Bruins renewed their commitment to jumping in front of the net and working the oft-dangerous corners for loose pucks, and again the fists were flying when teams began taking too many physical liberties on the ice.

“We’re not there yet (completely) where we want to be, but we’re certainly moving in the right direction,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “We’ve scored 12 goals in the last couple of games, and I think, overall, our game has started to come back. But we need to be hard on ourselves in order to have our game where we want it to be — and not get satisfied.

“We talked about putting some emotion in our game when we were sliding a little bit,” he added. “We weren’t finishing our checks, we didn’t play with the same kind of emotion and we obviously weren’t scoring much. I think putting some emotion in the game, and putting some jam and grit into it allowed us to score some goals as well. Both are great for our team right now.”

It might have come at a short term price as both Milan Lucic and Marc Savard — two of the three players that dropped the gloves in the donnybrook-filled victory — didn’t return after the second-period fisticuffs with what Julien described as “upper body injuries.” But it was a jolting reminder to the Ducks players, the 17,565 in attendance and to, yes, even the assembled media contingent that the current Bruins team — with or without the benefit of a deadline deal — is going to be a handful to play against as long as they’re properly motivated and playing with furious passion and gusto.

“We have to go back to the game we played before. If you’re up in a game after one or two periods then you’ve got to go out there and show a killer instinct. Don’t sit back,” said Bruins center David Krejci, who notched an assist and a +3 on the night and had himself a great hockey game. “That’s our team. That’s how we play and who we are. We’re a tough team to play against.”

Savard hadn’t dropped the gloves or thrown a punch in anger since that fateful game when Avery crunched Lucic from behind, and it’s no coincidence that the playmaking center again hopped into the fray in another character building win for B’s. Shawn Thornton started things off with Anaheim tough guy George Parros early in the second period, and Lucic followed with a fists of rage act against Ducks forward Mike Brown after getting jumped by half the Anaheim team.

Savard and Scott Niedermayer followed with a rare scuffle for each of them — a go-round that was actually called roughing on both players — and Thornton was left to wonder what would have happened had the B’s truly indulged their nasty side and released the “monster from the cage.”

“We’ve got a tough team here obviously,” Thornton said. “You look around the room and we’re not going to get pushed around here by anybody. We didn’t get the monster, [Zdeno Chara] wasn’t even involved. We didn’t let him out of the cage. Guys stand up for each other. We have a close locker room and we’ll go to bat for each other. So, that’s not ever going to change.”

Injury Ward: Both Lucic and Savard tangled with Ducks players in second-period fights, and then didn’t return to the ice again following their respective scraps. Julien termed both “upper body injuries” that will be evaluated on Friday.

Player of the Game: Michael Ryder was greatly missed when he was out of the lineup with multiple facial fractures, and has totaled 3 goals and 2 assists in two games since returning to the Bruins lineup. Ryder’s ability to finish around the net and his physical style are two things that the B’s badly need from him on a nightly basis. Last night he delivered. Tim Thomas earns a nod as well for stopping 35 shots en route to the shutout, including a handful of stunning stops in the first 35 minutes of the game.

Goat Horns: Look across the board at all of Anaheim’s best players, including Giguere. With the Ducks on the outside of the playoff picture, they all played horribly in an important game. For a team with so much talent and Stanley Cup experience, they looked completely lost Thursday night.

Turning Point: Steve Montador and Parros each took penalties in the closing minutes of the second period, and both Ryder and Chuck Kobasew cashed in on power play goals that pushed the game out of reach. The Ducks seemed to lose their composure a bit following the Looch’s Incredible Hulk act in the second period — a predictable reaction after getting jumped by a pair of Ducks skaters in front of Anaheim’s net.

Bruins take a 6-0 lead on Bitz’s third in two games

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Byron  Bitz capped things off with a great individual rush down the right side that ended with the big rookie roofing a shot past Jonas Hiller to make it a 6-0 blowout. It’s been a relatively conflict-free third period, and the B’s lead 6-0 with 2:30 to go

Bruins take a 5-0 lead in a chippy contest

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Scores by Phil Kessel and another by Chuck Kobasew have given the Black and Gold a 5-0 lead at the end of the two periods. The Kessel score may eventually go to Michael Ryder, as it didn’t appear during replays that Kessel touched the puck, and it instead if deflected off Ducks defenseman Brendan Mikkelson.

It could be a chippy third period between the two teams, but it finally appears that the Bruins have got their groove back.

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

All hell has broken loose in the second period of the Bruins/Ducks game as a fiery scrap between Mike Brown and Milan Lucic ended with the Looch pounding away at the back of Brown’s head when he was already down on the ice.  The fight turned into a team-wide donnybrook between the Ducks and Bruins with an instigator penalty for Brown and a third man in penalty for Sheldon Brookbank.

After watching the replays a series of three Ducks players seemed to be going after Lucic in front of the Anaheim net, and then both Brown and Lucic screamed and pointed at each other from the opposing penalty boxes.

Later Scott Niedermayer and Marc Savard dropped the gloves in a quick scrap between superstars after Niedermayer kept jabbing at the B’s center with the butt end of his stick.

The Big, Bad B’s still lead the Ducks by a 3-0 score with 2:27 to go in the first period.

Familiar-looking Bruins take a commanding 3-0 lead

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

In a flashback to the first 40 games of the season, the Blake Wheeler/Michael Ryder/David Krejci line has reverted back to dominant form, and make it 2-0 with a great Krejci look to Ryder in the right faceoff circle. The trio turned transition hockey into a wicked Ryder wrist shot that beat Giguere to make it 2-0.

Chuck Kobasew followed with a another sizzling wrist shot that gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead and knocked Giguere from the game.

The B’s lead the Ducks by a 3-0 score with 9:19 to go in the second period.

Matt Hunwick gives Bruins a 1-0 lead

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Matt Hunwick was sent down to Providence to play in an AHL game Tuesday night and knock the rust off, and it appears to have worked. The rookie blueliner followed a play in front of the net, beat Ducks forward Mike Brown to the puck and blasted a high wrist shot past Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

The B’s lead the Ducks by a 1-0 score after one full period of play.

Ducks and Bruins still scoreless in the third period

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Energetic beginning to the Ducks/Bruins tilt at the Garden. Perhaps some players on either side of the benches think they could be playing for the other team before the March 4 deadline. No shame in attempting to impress. 

Stephane Yelle drew the first penalty of the game mid-way through the first period on a wraparound bid followed by a rebound attempt that hit the right and left post. The B’s weren’t able to do any damage on the ensuing power play, but there was an outstanding Tim Thomas save on a Todd Marchant backhand bid while the Ducks were short-handed.

Blueliner Aaron Ward was a late scratch from the lineup due to an illness, so Matt Hunwick is in for the Black and Gold. Petteri Nokelainen and Martins Karsums were the other late scratches.

The B’s and Ducks are scoreless with 5:36 to go in the first period.