Archive for March, 2010

First period summary: Bruins-Flames

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

The Black and Gold faithful have not seen that in a while.

Boston broke its power play funk at 14:08 into the game with its first chance on the man-advantage. The penalty was set up by Mark Recchi who had a point-blank chance on Flames’ goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and was hooked to the ground in the process by Craig Conroy. On the ensuing power play the Bruins cycled from the corner to the blue line where the double Dennis tandem of Seidenberg and Wideman exchanged the puck with Wideman turning it back to Seidenberg in the high slot for a one-time slap shot that had eyes all the way to the back of the net at 14:08.

The strike breaks the Bruins scoreless power play streak at 0-for-22. Their last man-advantage goal was a Marco Sturm second period strike on March 9 against the Maple Leafs.

Tim Thomas got the nod for the Bruins and was solid in the first period in shutting down the Flames 12 shots on goal. The Bruins have the edge in the shot department heading into the second with 14 total on Kiprusoff.

Defenseman Mark Stuart sustained some type of injury to his face in the final minute of the period and skated off the ice straight into the tunnel and the dressing room.

Savard: ‘I have no interest in talking’ to Cooke

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Speaking publicly for the first time since taking a hit to the head from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on March 7, Bruins center Marc Savard said he believed “there was intent to injure,” adding he was “very unhappy with what happened and it could have been avoided.”

Savard said he has had trouble sleeping since the hit and has had a mixture of good days and bad.

“I’m not feeling myself quite yet still,” Savard said. “I still don’t have any recollection of the hit. Obviously, I’ve seen it. That’s the only recollection of it is when I see it. I don’t remember any of it.”

Savard acknowledged that Cooke tried reaching out to him on March 18 when the Penguins returned but he declined through the team.

“I guess he’s tried to get my phone number,” Savard said. “From what happened, I really don’t, at the moment, have any interest in talking to him. I’m not feeling any better so I’d rather not talk to him.”

Sobotka cleared to return

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

After missing Thursday’s game with a neck strain and mild concussion, Vladimir Sobotka said Saturday morning he was cleared to return to action against the Calgary Flames. The center suffered the injury when he was hit during the game in Atlanta on Tuesday night.

“It’s been evident in the last couple of games, we’ve been successful just being hard on the puck and getting there on the forecheck,” linemate Milan Lucic said. “Having him back, he’s a fast player and he’s really strong on the puck, he’s going to help being back in the lineup.”

Julien: ‘It’s our own fault’

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Just 49 seconds into the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien had a classic ‘I can’t believe what I just saw’ look on his face.

He couldn’t believe Steven Stamkos, one of the most skilled goal-scorers in the game, was spotted a good two strides offsides into the Bruins zone without being whistled for the infraction. That break allowed him to take a near-perfect pass from Steve Downie and beat Tuukka Rask for an early 1-0 lead.

But afterward, as much as he wanted to blame the missed offsides for costing them the first goal of the game and some valuable early momentum, he just couldn’t bring himself to also overlook the responsibility his team bears for coming up flat on home ice at an extremely inopportune time.

“It was, yeah, I don’€™t want to say it was just one of those nights, but, like I said, certainly with every little thing that happened, they found a way,” Julien said. “The first one, again is an offside goal. But it still doesn’€™t mean there’€™s something we could have done about it, we could have reacted better. So you got to blame yourself for those kind of things.

“We didn’€™t have a good start tonight,” Julien said. “The opportunities that we gave them, they capitalized on. Defensively, I didn’€™t think we were as sharp as we have been. When you spot the type of players that scored for them tonight some opportunities, they certainly will make the best of it. So it’€™s our own fault for not being sharp without the puck, sharper [without the puck].”

As a result of Thursday’s letdown game, the Bruins missed a golden opportunity to move up in the standings as Philadelphia lost in overtime to Minnesota. The Flyers now stand two points ahead of the Bruins for 7th in the East.

“Your number one concern is your team,” Julien said. “It doesn’€™t mean you don’€™t look at the scoreboard after it’€™s all said and done, but right now our concern is we need to bounce back and we need to win the next hockey game. When the next hockey game happens to be in your home building, where we got to get better as well. So that’€™s probably the most important concern right now.”

Bruins cannot bottle Lightning in loss

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Summary — The Bruins could not bottle up the Lightning at TD Garden en route to a 5-3 loss on Thursday night. Tuukka Rask took the loss by allowing five goals on 18 shots after coming into the game the NHL leader in goals against average at 2.02. Antero Niittmaki shut down a Bruins attack that mustered an astounding 50  shots but only the three goals.

Tampa Bay came out of the gates hot. Just 49-seconds into the game  Steve Downie fed Steve Stamkos coming down the slot right at Rask. Downie put it right on Stamkos’s tape and it was any easy goal. There was a mild controversy if Stamkos was offsides on the rush but no ruling was made. The Lightning would go up two ate in the first period when Dennis Seidenberg botched a pass to Michael Ryder rolling up the right wing that turn Vincent Lecavalier instantly turned for a break the other way. Lecavalier would shoot/pass from the wing to a rushing Martin St. Louis. The puck and St. Louis reached Rask at the same time and the forward won the battle and slipped the puck into the net at 18:05.

Boston would gain one of those goals back with 26.8 seconds left in the first period. David Krejci battled on the half-wall to win the puck and passed the puck in front of Niittymaki onto the stick of Zdeno Chara who deflected it through the crease to cut the Lightning lead in half.

Tampa pushed its advantage back to two in the front half of the second period when Paul Szcezchura spotted the puck on a turnover in the Bruins zone on the right circle and sent a shot on Rask that was stopped but slipped through the crease somehow to make it 3-1 at 6:50.

Johnny Boychuk got the goal back for Boston at 10:42 in the second when he beat Niittymaki through a stretching, far side five hole for his fifth of the season.

Stamkos struck again within a minute of the end of the second period on the power play when he fired a one-time rocket from the top of the left circle that streaked through traffic and passed Rask to make the score 4-2.

Szczechura got his second of the game at 3:00 in the third on the power play when he took a feed from St. Louis in the slot in front of Rask and beat the goalie high glove side to make it a three goal Tampa advantage. Boston closed it to two at 11:50 when Mark Recchi scored his 16th of the season by banging the puck into the net from the within the crease.

Three Stars

Steven Stamkos — An impressive effort by the 20-year-old former No.1 overall pick. He was a constant thorn in the Bruins side en route to a two goal performance that gave him 45 for the season.

Paul Szczechura — The Lightning center scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in his 48th game of the year for Tampa.

David Krejci — The Bruins center looked a lot like his 2008-09 self as he set up the Bruins first two goals and was active with the puck all game long.

Turning Point — Stamkos’ second goal at the end of the second period stopped any chance of a comeback that the Bruins may have had as it increased the Lightning lead back to two goals. The Bruins are 3-22-0 (including Thursday) this season when they trail by two goalsl at any time during a game.

Key Play — The the Bruins biggest breakdown of the game cost them on what turned out to be Szczechura’s first of the game in the second period. The Lightning chased the puck into the Bruins zone and maintained a forecheck that ended up with Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference attempting to clear the puck from behind the goal line that ended up right on the stick of a charging Szchechura. All the center needed to do was wind up and fire. Rask stopped it initially but the shot’s momentum carried it through the crease.

Second period summary: Bruins vs. Lightning

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

The Steven Stamkos show continued late in the second period as his power play blast beat Tuukka Rask for his 45th goal of the season. Not only did the goal with 25.8 seconds left in the period put Tampa Bay up, 4-2 after two periods, it tied the unsung star with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead.

Johnny Boychuk and Zdeno Chara are having similar nights. The two defensemen have been downright offensive.

Chara had a couple of bad giveaways in his own zone in the first period but scored Boston’s first goal with an aggressive pinch up the slot with 26.8 seconds left.

Then, in the second period, Boychuk lost control of the puck behind Tuukka Rask. It was stolen by Paul Szczechura, who put it past the unsuspecting Bruins netminder for a 3-1 Tampa lead.

But Boychuk, like Chara, redeemed himself with a nifty shot from the low right point. Boychuk used the screen in front of Antero Niittymaki beautifully and when the puck went through the five-hole, the Bruins had closed the gap again to one at the 10:22 mark.

In the opening two minutes, there was an ironic moment as Shawn Thornton took out Kurtis Foster on the corner boards to the right of Niittymaki. The check close to the head of Foster could be the first instance of discipline from the new NHL ‘Blindshot Headshot’ rule enacted earlier in the day.

It was exactly one week ago when Thornton exacted his revenge on Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke for a hit on Feb. 7 on Marc Savard that left the Bruins center out indefinitely with a concussion.

Bruins are more-than-doubling up Tampa Bay on the shot clock, 31-15, after 40 minutes.

First period summary: Bruins vs. Lightning

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

The Bruins carried play for most of the first, outshooting Tampa Bay, 19-8, but some breakdowns in front of Tuukka Rask led to two Tampa Bay goals and a 2-1 Lightning lead after one.

The NHL’s leading goal scorer not named Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin put the visitors on top just 49 seconds into the game.

Steven Stamkos, streaking down the slot, took a feed from Steve Downie and redirected a pretty shot past Tuukka Rask for a 1-0 Lightning lead. Replays showed Stamkos appeared to be clearly offsides, which is what Bruins coach Claude Julien argued in vein from the bench.

Stamkos has 44 goals this season. Only Crosby and Ovechkin – each with 45 – have more.

Vincent Lecavalier faked a slap shot from the top of the left circle only to pass to a rushing Martin St. Louis, who beat Rask with just under two minutes left in the first for a 2-0 lead.

The Bruins finally responded with 26.8 seconds remaining on a 4-on-4 when David Krejci fed a pinching Zdeno Chara in front of Niittymaki. Chara put it past the Tampa netminder and the Bruins finally had some life.

The Bruins didn’t let the early goal slow them down. They carried play for much of the first 15 minutes, outshooting Tampa, 11-3.

Marco Sturm had a mini-breakaway in from the Lightning blue line with five minutes left but Niittymaki again came up big.