Archive for November, 2009

Quick hits: B’s-Pens

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Tim Thomas made 27 saves as the Bruins blanked the Penguins, 3-0, at TD Garden, winning consecutive games for the first time this season. It Thomas’ second shutout this season and 14th career.

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Matt Hunwick gathered a rebound of his own shot after sharply cutting to the net from the right point to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead early in the second period.

The goal was Hunwick’€™s fourth of the season, but just his first point in seven games.  Fellow defender Dennis Wideman picked up his first point in over a month, assisting on the goal.

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Mark Recchi earned his 900th career assist, sending Daniel Paille in on a breakaway 3:34 into the third period. Paille gave Boston a 2-0 advantage, beating Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stick side for his first goal and first point of the season.

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David Krejci returned to the lineup after missing two games with the H1NI virus (swine flu).  Krejci took his usual spot centering a line with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder on the wings.

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The defending Stanley Cup champs look like they are ready to get home. After opening the season with seven straight road wins, Pittsburgh suffered a 5-2 loss in LA last Thursday and a 5-0 drubbing by San Jose Saturday. The Pens, who are skating without Evgeni Malkin, Maxime Talbot, and Sergei Gonchar, finished the first period with two shots, a season low for a Bruins opponent.

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Penguins forward Chris Bourque, the 23-year-old son of Bruins legend Ray Bourque, is skating at the TD Garden for first time in a regular season NHL game. The third-year NHL forward has generated just one assist in nine games in his first season with Pittsburgh. He has played NHL preseason contests in Boston before.

Star of the Game ‘€“ Still looking for players to step up offensively, Matt Hunwick launched an impromptu offensive attack in the second period. Bolting from the right point with little hesitation, Hunwick got the Bruins offense in gear.

Turning Point ‘€“ The Penguins has started to gather momentum and appeared poised to tie contest when Marc Recci hit Daniel Paille with a breakaway pass setting up an insurance goal for Boston in the third period.

Bourque Back on Garden Ice

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Penguins forward Chris Bourque, the 23-year-old son of Bruins legend Ray Bourque, is skating at the TD Garden for first time in a regular season NHL game. The third-year NHL forward has generated just one assist in nine games in his first season with Pittsburgh. He has played NHL preseason contests in Boston before while with the Capitals.

Marchand Takes Seat

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

With David Krejci back in the Bruins lineup, center Brad Marchand is out as a healthy scratch.

Krejci set to return for B’s

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Tim Thomas gets the call in net tonight for the Bruins while the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins counter with Marc-Andre Fleury.

Center David Krejci is taking part in warmups and is expected to make his return after missing the last two games with H1N1 virus.

After missing practice on Monday, Michael Ryder is available tonight for the B’s.

‘Under the weather’ Ryder misses practice

Monday, November 9th, 2009

WILMINGTON, Mass. ‘€“ David Krejci returned to practice Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena, but it appears that right wing Michael Ryder has taken the center’€™s place in Boston’€™s revolving sick bay unit.

B’€™s coach Claude Julien termed Ryder, who missed practice and had Vladimir Sobotka instead skating in his place with Krejci and winger Blake Wheeler, as ‘€œunder the weather’€. Julien also added that he didn’€™t anticipate Ryder’€™s illness being another B’€™s player succumbing to the N1N1 virus, though the B’€™s coach also clearly didn’€™t stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

‘€œHe’€™s a little under the weather,’€ said Julien. ‘€œThere are no H1N1 symptoms if that’€™s the thing that people want to know. But then again I’€™m not a doctor. Every time somebody is under the weather we’€™re going to play it safe and get it checked out. But there’€™s nothing indicating that it’€™s got anything to do with [swine flu].’€

With Ryder out for precautionary reasons on Monday, it’€™s too early to determine whether Ryder might be out for Tuesday night’€™s big game against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ryder has been battling through a cold streak on the ice as well, and hasn’€™t cracked the score sheet in eight games with only one goal in his last 11 games.

Wheeler said that there was minimal adjustment time to get used to Sobotka on the wing rather than skating beside him at center, and they’€™d be perfectly comfortable as a trio should Ryder be unable to answer the bell against the Pens.

‘€œIt’€™s all the same. As long as you are comfortable playing with players, it doesn’€™t even really matter where they are out on the ice,’€ said Wheeler. ‘€œHow many times in a game do you actually end on the right side of the ice? Where you are on the back check is where you’€™re going to end up on the ice.

‘€œAs long as you have a comfort level with the guys on the ice it shouldn’€™t matter, and Vladdy and I have had a comfort level for a bit. It’€™s also great to have Krejci back.’€

–Krejci was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus last Thursday, and he’€™s back on the ice practicing with his teammates this morning after a full recovery from the swine flu. He’€™s taking part in all battle drills after missing three days of games or practices with the illness, and appears to be ready for game action Tuesday night against the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins.

Krejci was paired Wheeler on the left side and obotka on the right, and Michael Ryder appears to be missing from practice.

Here are the forward lines from practice:

Mark Recchi ‘€“ Patrice Bergeron ‘€“ Marco Sturm
Blake Wheeler ‘€“ David Krejci ‘€“ Vladimir Sobotka
Daniel Paille ‘€“ Trent Whitfield ‘€“ Brad Marchand
Shawn Thornton ‘€“ Steve Begin ‘€“ Byron Bitz

Bruins Find the Mark Against Sabres

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Finally tired of putting in a full effort and culling no results, the Bruins got their offense and power play on track while potting a whopping (for them anyway) four goals in a 4-2 win over the first-place Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden.

The convincing win ‘€“ which saw the B’€™s snap off 37 shots on net ‘€“ ceased a three-game losing streak and gave Boston the same offensive output they had posted in the last five games combined. It also marked a return of the Big Bad Bruins snarl as Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves twice, and Mark Stuart engaged in a brawl at the tail end of the third period. This could be the start of a good rivalry between the Bruins and a hard-nosed Sabres bunch this season.

“Of course we’re looking for scoring and making goals, and it’s no secret you have to shoot the puck to get it in the net,” said Steve Begin, who was wearing the “A” on his sweater for the first time in Saturday night’s win. “That’s what we did tonight. The whole team put out a great effort, so that’s all I can say.

“Everything you saw tonight, that’s what we need to do. Great work from everybody. It’s easy when you stick with the game plan. You win games and it’s easy.

Perhaps it was a Bruins team simply getting ‘€œup’€ for the first-place team in its division. Maybe it was the opportunity to torment a rookie goaltender, Jhonas Enroth, in his first NHL start. Regardless, the B’€™s managed to throw all kinds of offense at a Buffalo team that’€™s losing significant steam as of late after a solid first month.

The Bruins snapped an 0-for-20 rut on the power play with a pair of first-period strikes from Mark Recchi and Zdeno Chara to jump out to an early lead. Both Byron Bitz and Marco Sturm added to the lead in the second period with goals of their own, and the third period became the main card in Fight Night at the Garden.

The Sturm score was set up by Patrice Bergeron‘€™s mix of brawn and on-ice awareness, as the pivot dished back for a prototypical strike for the German forward. Sturm fired a laser past the 21-year-old Enroth, and snapped a 12-game scoreless streak for the left wing.

“A lot of guys were [breaking out of slumps], and it was nice to see this happening,” said Sturm. “We’ve waited a long time for this, so we were happy. But we still need to focus on the tough challenges.”

It was amazing how different the Bruins forward group looked breaking out of their end and bombarding the Buffalo attack zone with speed and aggression. That ideal combo showed in their offensive output, both when skating 5-on-5 and on special teams, where the B’s notched two power-play goals along with a handful of short-handed threats. The resurgent attack totaled 28 shots on goal after two periods, and generally looked like the team people thought they’€™d be when the season began.

Chara’€™s power-play goal also marked his first strike of the season in his 15th game after potting 19 goals last season. Chara’s strike on a long bomb from the right point stands as a positive sign that the man advantage is beginning to gain some traction after struggling so mightily over the last few weeks without Marc Savard.

YOU’€™RE THE BEST AROUND, NOTHING’€™S EVER GONNA GET YOU DOWN: The Bruins penalty kill has been off the charts since Claude Julien made some adjustments and inserted forwards like Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille. They did allow one power play goal in seven Buffalo opportunities on the night, but have killed 24 out of 26 penalties over the last nine games.

Special credit also goes out to cagey 41-year-old veteran Recchi for helping breathe life back into the power play with a tip of a Derek Morris shot for Boston’€™s first goal. Recchi’€™s willingness to mix it up in front of the cage between Buffalo defenders helped break the seal and kick-start the B’€™s offense.

GOAT HORNS: Buffalo didn’t show much life for a team attempting to make a statement within the division. The Sabre’€™s reckless style of pinching defensemen and going for broke opened up plenty of scoring chances for the Bruins, and the rookie goaltender took a few minutes to settle down. It adds to games in which the Sabres have been buried by the Islanders and Flyers as of late. Full credit goes to the Bruins for taking a solid win, but the Sabres receive demerits for their game Saturday night.

Turn up the volume: A special win for the B’s

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

The Bruins finally broke through on the power play on Saturday and not coincidentally, so did Zdeno Chara.

Mark Recchi redirected a Derek Morris shot from the right point on Boston’s first power play of the night at 3:18 of the first period. That snapped an 0-for-20 on the power play.

Then, later in the same period, Zdeno Chara got off the snide. After scoring 17 goals in his first season in Boston and another 19 last year with the Bruins, Chara entered Saturday night still having yet to find the back of the net.

But that ended 13 minutes later when Chara’s blast from the high slot got past 21-year-old rookie Jhonas Enroth.

Between killing all seven Buffalo power plays and scoring on 2-of-3 man-advantage chances, the Bruins special teams shone on this night.

Afterward, the Bruins talked about getting the monkey off their backs.

Shawn Thornton, with an assist and a motivational first-period fight with Steve Montador on the night, said it was a relief the Bruins finally scored on the power play.

Chara admitted it was a relief to finally get his first goal of the season.

Chara said it was great that the special teams came through.

Coach Claude Julien said it was evident the Bruins had the power play clicking early.

Julien said it was a good night overall for the special teams.