Archive for January, 2011

Claude Julien has reason to believe Milan Lucic will continue to ‘come up big’

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Milan Lucic scored his 20th goal Wednesday night in the Bruins’ 2-1 win over Florida, and his coach is hoping to see more of that from the power forward in the post-All Star break portion of their schedule.

“I think what we’ve seen in the first half is what he’s capable of doing for us as we move on,” Claude Julien said. “He’s also one of those players that I think has always come up big in the big games, such as playoffs and all that stuff. He’s one of those guys who always rises to the occasion and you hope that continues as well.”

Lucic made it clear from Day 1 of camp that he had every intention of scoring at least 20 goals this season. Now that he’s reached the goal before the break, bigger and better things should be ahead.

“It’€™s obviously something that I talked about coming in, and that was a goal for myself and [to] reach it as quickly as I did, it’€™s a good step for me,” Lucic said. “I couldn’€™t be happier right now, but definitely not satisfied.”

Last season, the expectations for the 21-year-old star on the rise were the same but the results were not. He scored nine goals in 50 games during an injury-riddled season, with a plus-minus rating of minus-7.

“Yeah, a lot more, definitely,” Lucic said when asked if he might be enjoying this season a little more. “It was real tough going through what I went through. Being out for so long, and especially even when I came back, that high ankle sprain was still bugging me so to work as hard as I did this summer and to get rewarded for it thus far throughout the season is great. And definitely like I said before, I can’€™t stop here. I’€™ve got to keep pushing for more.”

A year later, he’s 22 and he’s already surpassed his career-best goal total from 2009 when he potted 17 and had 25 assists, raising those expectations that were there last season. (more…)

Tim Thomas helps Bruins head to All-Star break with win over Panthers

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Fans braved the weather on Wednesday night in traveling to TD Garden, and were rewarded with a 2-1 Bruins victory behind Tim Thomas‘ 24th win of the season.

Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic scored in the first and second period, respectively. Marchand is now fourth on the B’s with 13 goals, while Lucic improved his team-leading total to 20. Defenseman Bryan Allen scored the Panthers’ lone goal at 8:37 of the third period.

Thomas, now 24-5-6 on the season, is now tied with Canadiens’ netminder Carey Price for second in the NHL lead in wins. Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller leads the league with 25. Thomas sits atop the league in save percentage, goals against average, and is tied for the league lead in shutouts. He made 34 saves Wednesday night, with the B’s firing 35 shots on Tomas Vokoun.

The Bruins will now break for the All-Star weekend. The skills competition will take place Saturday, with the actual game being played Sunday in Raleigh, N.C. The B’s will will return to action Tuesday in that very city, taking on the Hurricanes in the fourth meeting between the teams this season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

-Milan Lucic reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career. Less than two minutes into the second, linemate David Krejci won a faceoff straight back to Lucic at the top of the left circle, and the 22-year-old winger didn’€™t waste any time firing a quick snap shot into the top right corner. Lucic now has four goals in his last six games. Coming into the season, he said getting 20 goals was one of his targets. Time to raise the bar a little higher.

– The Bruins didn’t see another center suffer an injury, which was certainly a concern when David Krejci was down on the ice after crashing into the boards following a hit from Panthers forward Rostislav Olesz. Trainer Don DelNegro came out to tend to him, and Krejci left the ice and went down the tunnel. Moments after the scare, Krejci was back on the bench and returned to the ice in short order, not missing any shifts in the process.

Krejci went on to play a huge role in Lucic’s second-period tally, winning the face-off clean in the Panthers’ zone early in the period and drawing it to Lucic, who fired a quick snapshot past Vokoun from high in the circle.

– Brad Marchand remains hot for the Bruins. The surprising offensive contributor now has 11 points (7 G, 4 A) in his last 11 games and has 13 goals thus far in his rookie year. He beat Vokoun on a wraparound in the first period for the game’s first goal. Linemate Patrice Bergeron picked up the primary assist and now has 15 points over his last 10 games.

– The Bruins stayed out of the box. The Bruins avoided the sin bin until the refs found Dennis Seidenberg guilty of a hold 5:37 into the third. The one infraction matched a season low for the B’€™s.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

Nathan Horton now has one goal over his last 20 games. His line had a much stronger effort on Wednesday than in the team’s 2-0 loss Monday in which he was demoted to a line with Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin.

– Thomas lost what would have been a league-leading eighth shutout of the season when Bryan Allen made it a 2-1 game at 8:37 of the third. Thomas remains tied with Henrik Lundqvist with seven blankings on the season.

The Panthers outshot the B’s, 16-9, in the third.

– With how well Marchand has been playing, you almost wish he didn’t have to take five days off for the All-Star break.

Scott McLaughlin contributed to this report.

Milan Lucic adds to Bruins lead in second period

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Milan Lucic is a 20-goal-scorer for the first time, and after two periods the Bruins lead the Panthers, 2-0.

David Krejci, who had an injury scare on the first period after crashing into the boards, made the second period memorable for a more positive reason. The pivot won a face-off clean in the Panthers zone and drew it back to Lucic, who scored on a snapshot at 1:52. Lucic’s career-high for goals in a season was 17, which he scored in 2008-09, a season in which he played 72 games.

There were no penalties in the period, and through two the only penalty came in the form of a first-period high-sticking call on Panthers forward Christopher Higgins.

The shutout remains intact for Tim Thomas, with the B’s outshooting the Panthers, 26-19.

Brad Marchand puts Bruins on top in first

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The Bruins lead the Panthers 1-0 after one thanks to the latest contribution from Brad Marchand.

The gritty rookie beat Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun on a wraparound for his 13th goal of the season at 13:31. The play was reviewed, but the replay showed the puck clearly cross the goal line. Marchand now has 11 points (7 G, 4 A) over his last 11 games.

There was another scary moment for the Bruins when David Krejci took a hit into the corner from Rostislav Olesz. Krejci stayed down on the ice, holding his left shoulder as trainer Don DelNegro tended to him. He skated off the ice and went down the tunnel, though he returned to the bench in short order and did not miss a shift.

Tim thomas has stopped all 11 shots he has faced. The Bruins are 0-for-1 on the power play.

Gameday Notes: Thomas expected to start

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Tim Thomas was the first Bruins goaltender off the ice at the team’s morning skate, an indication that he will be the starting goalie against the Panthers on Wednesday. Thomas, who was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week last week, took a 2-0 loss to the Kings Monday night in Los Angeles.

Thomas is 23-5-6 on the season and leads the league with a .945 save percentage, 1.83 goals against average. He is tied with Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist with seven shutouts.

While the goaltender for the night appears to be known, it isn’t so easy regarding Boston’s blue line. Mark Stuart has been a healthy scratch the last two games, and Claude Julien said following the skate that the team will make a game-time decision regarding who sits.

Here are some notes from the morning skate:

– The lines were similar to what they were Monday night:

Lucic-Krejci-Horton

Marchand-Bergeron-Recchi

Wheeler-Seguin-Ryder

Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Marc Savard returned home to Peterborough, Ontario to rest, with Julien saying “that’s all you can do when you’ve got a concussion.” There remains no timetable on when the center might be able to rejoin the B’s.

With Savard out, Julien doesn’t feel the Bruins necessarily need to call a player up from Providence.

“Right now we’€™ve got 12 forwards and a lot of that will depend on management and the salary cap and all that stuff and whether is makes sense or not. So that’€™s probably going to be dealt with as we move on here but as we’€™re speaking right now, it’€™s no.”

Some have wondered whether this could mean a promotion for a former first-rounder in Zach Hamill or Joe Colborne, but given the team’s stability with capable centers in Seguin and Wheeler, it doesn’t seem the call-up options should be limited to centers.

Steven Kampfer said he is not going to get surgery on his nose over the All-Star break after previously considering the procedure. Kampfer broke his nose last Saturday against the Penguins and has worn a full shield since. While his difficulty breathing had led to him considering surgery, he hopes that he will be able to lose the full shield when the team returns from the All-Star break next week.

Instead of surgery, the 22-year-old will return home to Michigan, where he plans on watching his alma mater take on Michigan St. at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday. He’ll be there with some other former Wolverines, including Kings defenseman Jack Johnson.

– While Kampfer is making a name for himself on the ice, but if anyone wants to keep up with him off it, they can do so, as Kampfer is on twitter. While it’s pretty rare to see the B’s on twitter, @SteveKampfer47 says he has fun with it while not going too crazy. Twitter has definitely been used as a sounding board of sorts for professional athletes across all the major sports. Coyotes forward Paul Bissonette is probably the NHL’s equivalent of Chad Ochocinco.

Brad Marchand, who has pretty much shocked the world (or greater Boston) with his 12 goals so far this season, earned the praise of teammates and his coach on Wednesday. Lucic noted that he saw his talents at the junior level and isn’t ultimately surprised by what he’s brought, while Julien is glad to see that the rookie has made offense a part of his game without the other areas suffering.

“I think he’€™s building confidence and knows that he can give a little bit more to his team as he gets more experience,” Julien said. “And I think the grit is there, it’€™s still there but yet productively he’€™s gotten better.”

– The Bruins All-Stars didn’t appear to be on the same page when it came to discussing the fantasy draft for the All-Star game. Tim Thomas said he’ll watch it from his hotel room — if his room gets VS. — while Zdeno Chara assumed the players had to be there.

Mike Milbury on D&H: Bruins will be very conservative with Marc Savard

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury gave his thoughts on the Marc Savard situation, after news broke Wednesday morning that Savard went home to Ontario to rest his head.

“With the two hits that he took recently, and now this reaction, I think long term is the way it’s going to be,” Milbury said. “Whether they do it officially or not is I guess another matter to discuss. Either way, they’re going to have to handle this one very delicately. We all know the concussion thing is a huge concern these days and a huge topic of discussion in the NHL. So, I think the Bruins will handle this one very conservatively.”

Milbury said people who want to remove the instigator penalty are barking up the wrong tree. “Does anybody really think that being able to go up and smack somebody in the head with his fist without the guy being ready is a really good thing for concussion prevention?” he said. “I just don’t get it when I hear the argument about the instigator penalty. You want to fight somebody, who cares about the two minutes? Just take the two minutes. But you’ve got to leave the instigator penalty in, and we can stop talking about it, in my opinion.”

When co-host Dale Arnold said he disagreed, Milbury deadpanned: “I know you disagree with me, but if I come up and smack you in the head, you might change your mind. And I’m likely to do it if you continue along this path.”

Milbury was asked his opinion of David Krejci. “He doesn’t look like he’s reacting as quickly as he has in the past,” Milbury said. “And I can’t tell that this is the reason why, but listen, he had a severe concussion last year. It took Patrice Bergeron a full year and then some to come back from that. It takes a lot of guys a full year to come back from an injury. That could be it. His timing seems to be OK, his vision seems to be OK, but he just doesn’t have that sharpness to his game that you like to see. But otherwise, it’s the same Krejci. It’s just the pace isn’t where I think it’s been at in the past.”

Milbury also opined on Michael Ryder: “They signed him to be a goal-scorer. He’s not. He’s going to be a 20-plus goal-scorer. He’s not a physical presence. He and [Blake] Wheeler are in the same boat, as far as I’m concerned. They put some effort into the game, I think there’s more there.”

As for Milan Lucic and his lack of physical play this season, Milbury said: “I firmly believe that if he doesn’t bring that [physical] element to his game, he sells himself short and his team short. He was, as you remember, in his rookie year, changing games not with scoring lots of goals but with momentum-changing hits and an occasional fight. Those are almost as important as scoring goals. And he doesn’t bring that that often anymore. I know he’s being dinged up a little bit. ‘€¦ I’d like to see it a whole lot more often. I’d like to see it from the Bruins in general more often.”

Milan Lucic says Marc Savard shouldn’t return this season if it ‘puts his life in jeopardy’

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Bruins forward Milan Lucic spoke with concern about teammate and friend Marc Savard on Wednesday. Savard suffered his second concussion in less than a year when he banged his head against the glass Saturday in Colorado following a hit from Matt Hunwick.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said Wednesday that Savard has since returned home to Ontario to rest. Lucic noted that it’s tough to project when a player might return from a concussion, he would rather Savard do what’s best for his health than rush back.

“We hope that we get to see him back this year, but you’ve got to think for his health number one,” Lucic said. “You’ve got to make sure he makes a full recovery and doesn’t make a mistake in coming back too early and puts his life in jeopardy.”

Savard missed the final 18 games of the 2009-10 season after suffering a concussion on March 7 on a hit from Penguins forward Matt Cooke. He returned for the second round of the playoffs but went on to miss the first 23 games of this season with post-concussion syndrome. In 25 games with the B’s this season, the 33-year-old has two goals and eight assists for 10 points and a minus-7 rating.