Archive for November, 2009

Turn up the volume: ‘We deserved two points’

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Last season, as the Bruins were on their way to 53 regular season wins and first place in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs, things couldn’t have been much better in the month of November. They went 11-1-1, racking up 23 of a possible 26 points in the month.

What a difference a year makes. This year the Bruins are 2-2-2 in six November games. Tim Thomas recorded his second straight shutout on Thursday night but it wasn’t good enough for a win. The Bruins were beaten in a shootout, 1-0, by a Florida Panthers team that was 5-9-1 coming in.

It was their third shutout loss and the eighth time they have scored fewer than two goals in a contest. Amazing they are even approaching .500 with an 8-8-2 mark.

How bad are things right now? They Bruins not only didn’t score in the 60 minutes of regulation, outshooting Florida 19-1 alone in the second period, they were held scoreless in the five-minute overtime. They failed to light the lamp in their first three shootout chances. And when Thomas gave them another chance by stopping the first three shootout attempts himself, he had reason or hope to think the Bruins would break through.

Not quite. After Blake Wheeler, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara missed in the first three rounds, Michael Ryder had his chance in the fourth and extra round. Not even an extended shootout could help the Bruins find the back of the net on this night.

Afterward, the Bruins talked about their hard work and frustration on a night that yielded just one point for the overtime loss.

Coach Claude Julien thought his team deserved better but they were outdone by Tomas Vokoun.

Julien said the B’s just have to find ways to score.

Zdeno Chara said the 19-1 shots advantage in the second period just didn’t pay off.

Chara said the Bruins worked incredibly hard on this night and it didn’t pan out.

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas simply looked at this game as a tie.

Bruins forward Shawn Thornton felt bad they couldn’t get the win for Thomas.

Panthers take 1-0 shootout win over B’s

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Corey Stillman scored the shootout game winner as the Florida Panthers took a 1-0 victory over the Bruins Thursday.

Stillman whisked a backhand shot past Tim Thomas in the fourth round of the shootout. Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun made 40 saves for his third shutout of the season.

Thomas made 23 saves during regulation and overtime. He is also credited with his third shutout of the season despite the shootout setback. He has now posted back-to-back shutouts and has not allowed goal since the first period of a Nov. 5 contest against the Montreal Canadiens, a stretch of 173 minutes and 28 seconds of hockey.

The Bruins completed a four-game home stand with a 2-0-2 mark.

***

Boston  shut down three Florida power plays and has killed 31 of the last 32 opposition power play chances during the past five games.

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With the Panthers working on an extended five-on-three advantage in the opening period, Thomas made a sprawling stick save to stuff a goal-mouth shot by Nathan Horton.

Later in the same Florida power play, Thomas made a pair of slick poke checks with his goal stick to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard.

***

The Bruins allowed Florida just one shot in the second period, a season-low by an opponent. Boston had limited the Penguins to just two shots in the opening period of Tuesday’s 3-0 win.

Despite outshooting the Panthers 19-1 in the second, the game remained scoreless as the Bruins failed to convert on two power play chances.

***

Boston’s second line, with David Krejci centering for Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, showed signs of a pulse in the middle period. The trio pinned the Panthers in the Florida zone for a full shift, generating several scoring chances before changing on the fly, to spirited applause from the restless crowd.

Minutes later, Krejci also drew a tripping call on Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard.

***

Bruins winger Shawn Thornton tangled with Florida defenseman Bryan Allen in the second-period. No decision.

Player of the Game – Vokoun was perfect in regulation, overtime and the shootout.

Turning Point – After being outshot 19-1 in the second, the Panthers found their game, taking a 14-8 shot advantage over the Bruins in the third.

Bruins Ready for More From Krejci

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Getting past the swine flu maybe the easy part of David Krejci’s week. Now the third-year center needs to get his offensive game back in order.

Krejci returned to lineup in Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Pittsburgh. With him having not been able to skate for five days while recovering from the HINI virus, it was not surprising that his game was slightly off.

“I felt my legs were a little out of shape,” Krejci said after getting in some extra skating at the conclusion of practice in Wilmington Wednesday.

Centering a line with Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler on the wings, Krejci logged just over 17 minutes of ice time against the Penguins, generating two shots on goal.

“We had some good chances, but I didn’t feel that great all game. My legs weren’t there,” Krejci said. “I was thinking too much. What to do with the puck, it should just be [instinct]. Tomorrow, I’ll do everything I can to make it work.”

It certainly would be a good time for Krejci to jump start his game.

After finishing as the Bruins’ second-leading scorer last season (73 points), Krejci inked a three-year, $11.25 million contract extension this summer. He has just five points (1 goal, 4 assists) in 15 games this season.

Bruins coach Claude Julien was quick to stress Wednesday that Krejci needs to raise his game.

“His game is certainly not where it should be,” Julien said. “That’s up to him to work through it. He’s at that stage where he needs to find his game and work through the glitches that he seems to have right now.”

Added Julien: “There’s no doubt he’s pressing. Sometimes when guys press they don’t take the right approach to get themselves out of it. My approach is always to work hard, work through it, things will turn around.”

For his part, Krejci seems ready to help lead the Bruins offense.

“That was my plan coming into the season, things didn’t go the way I wanted but you have to start somewhere. It’s not too late,” he said. “I’m trying to stay positive about being able to develop my game.”

***

Defenseman Derek Morris was held out of practice after coming down with the flu Tuesday.

“We just gave him the day off,” Julien said.

Morris Not Skating at B’s Practice

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Defenseman Derek Morris is not on the ice as the Bruins make their way through practice this morning.

Turn up the volume: Breaking points

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Just a few weeks earlier, Matt Hunwick’s backhander hits the crossbar instead of finding the space between the goalie’s shoulder and the top of the net.

A few weeks earlier Alex Goligoski’s third period weird angle shot off the end boards careens off the right post and angles itself into a net vacated by Tim Thomas.

And a few weeks earlier, instead of an empty net goal, Patrice Bergeron misfires on an oddly bouncing puck and Pittsburgh collects it and scores in the last 30 seconds on an empty net power play.

But all three of those breaks went for the Bruins and not against them on Tuesday night as they beat the defending Stanley Cup champs, 3-0, at TD Garden, giving the Bruins consecutive wins for the first time this season.

Here’s an audio sample from a happy/relieved Bruins dressing room.

Tim Thomas said back-to-back wins feels great finally.

Thomas said the Bruins’ defense has been solid in the last two weeks.

Thomas said the team is focused on a getting a winning rhythm.

Thomas said the B’s deserved some good luck on the puck that scooted across the goal.

Daniel Paille said it was great to contribute to the win with his first goal. (more…)

The Hat Trick: Defense gets Bruins back on track

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009
Michael Ryder and goalie Tim Thomas celebrate the Bruins' 3-0 win over the Penguins Tuesday night. (AP)

Michael Ryder congratulates goalie Tim Thomas at the conclusion of the Bruins' 3-0 win over the Penguins Tuesday night. (AP)

It was sort of a frozen version of the tortoise and the hare.

While the Bruins meandered through the early season looking to build something resembling momentum, the Penguins swiftly began defense of their Stanley Cup championship by winning 11 of their first 13 games.

As the Bruins struggled to score goals and secure victories, the Pens were clicking and posting seven straight road wins to start the season.

But which team seems to be heading in the right direction now?

The Bruins’ 3-0 victory over the defending Cup champs Tuesday night marked the seventh straight game Boston has held the opposition to two goals or less.

With Tim Thomas making 27 saves — and his teammates blocking 22 more Pittsburgh shots — Boston was able to build on Saturday’s 4-2 win over Buffalo by shutting out the Penguins and securing its first back-to-back wins this season.

“It’s too bad it happened for the first time after 18 games, but tonight we showed if we play like we are right now, we can play extremely well,” said captain Zdeno Chara.

(more…)

Bruins take a shutout win over Penguins

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Armed with a mission to win two games in a row for the first time after more than a month of hockey, the Bruins parlayed tight defensive hockey, good goaltending and some opportunism all the way to victory.

That it came with a 3-0 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins only added extra icing to the hockey cake for the Black and Gold. The B’s will now attempt to parlay their winning ways into a multi-game win streak to get a little momentum going into a final stretch of games before names like Milan Lucic and Marc Savard begin appearing in the lineup.

A big heap of credit goes to the Patrice Bergeron/Marco Sturm/Mark Recchi line for not only applying offensive pressure, but also putting the wraps on Sidney Crosby. Sid the Kid managed only one shot on net and wasn’t much of a factor in a Penguins attack that clearly misses Sergei Gonchar, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin, and had to make due without Brooks Orpik when he went down with a lower body injury in the first period.

Boston’s only goal came in the second period as a byproduct of a Matt Hunwick rush into the offensive zone that finished with a shot at the Pittsburgh net. Steve Begin caught the deflected puck in front of the net and made good with a rebound attempt, and Hunwick again found the puck by the left post and fired a backhander under the crossbar.

The puck immediately caromed right back out of the net, and played resumed with a goal call from the refs despite the goal horn sounding once. Minutes later Vladimir Sobotka pressured for a whistle and replays clearly showed the puck whistle under the crossbar before hitting the net and shooting back toward the ice.

Bill McCreary got the goal call from Toronto and the Bruins had their slim lead.

A Daniel Paille breakaway goal in the third period gave the Bruins an insurance marker and sealed Pittsburgh’s fate. The whole score was set up when Derek Morris dropped to his belly on the ice and blocked a shot that set the breakaway in motion.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Matt Hunwick scored the only goal, but Tim Thomas was stellar in net when he had to be and solid throughout the game. The victory over the Pens marked Thomas’ first win since he backstopped the B’s to a comeback victory over the Senators on Oct. 24. In total the Tank stopped 29 shots, but 14 of those attempts came in the third period. Thomas was at his best in the third period when he turned away tight rebound attempts by Jordan Staal and Bill Guerin just before Boston scored their second goal.

TIME TO STEP IT UP: Blake Wheeler had a shot on net and was skating hard, but there was zero physical presence to his game and several times he carelessly tossed away pucks when he couldn’t make connections with teammates. One turnover lead to a Penguins going the other way when it appeared Boston might be poised to score a second goal.

BY THE NUMBERS: 900 – The number of career assists for Mark Recchi after setting up Daniel Paille’s first career goal as a Boston Bruins in the second period. It was a beauty of a pass that freed up Paille for a breakaway and caught the Penguins defenders – Alex Goligoski and Jay McKee, take a bow – with their hockey pants down.