Archive for March, 2011

How far do Vezina winners take their teams in the playoffs?

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Everyone knows that goaltending plays a major role in the postseason. It isn’€™t always about who has the best goalie, but who has the hotter goalie.

This season, the Bruins have the best goalie, as Tim Thomas seems to have all but sewn up the Vezina. So, if Thomas is awarded the trophy this summer in Las Vegas, will he receive it having recently won the Stanley Cup? We take a look at how far goaltenders’ teams have gone in the playoffs in their Vezina-winning seasons.

First, here are some quick numbers on Thomas if he is to win the Vezina this year:

– He will become the first Bruins goaltender to win it since some guy named Tim Thomas way back in 2008-09.

– He will become the fifth goalie to win multiple Vezinas since the adoption of its current criteria in 1982 (it had previously been awarded to the goalie who played the majority of the games for whichever team allowed allowed the fewest goals). He would join an elite class of all-time greats, as Dominik Hasek (six), Martin Brodeur (four), Patrick Roy (three) and Ed Belfour (two) have also won the trophy multiple times since then.

– Since 1982, only Thomas and Pete Peeters (1983) have won the Vezina while playing for the Bruins.

– Thomas would become the third Bruins goaltender to win multiple Vezinas, joining Tiny Thompson (four) and Frank Brimsek (two). He would join Thompson as the only Boston goaltenders to win two Vezinas over the span of three seasons. Thompson won it in 1936 and 1938, and also won in 1930 and 1933.

Now here’€™s a look at how the teams of goalies that won the Vezina recently fared in the playoffs that season:

2010: Ryan Miller ‘€“ Sabres eliminated in first round
2009: Tim Thomas ‘€“ Bruins eliminated in second round
2008: Martin Brodeur ‘€“ Devils eliminated in first round
2007: Martin Brodeur ‘€“ Devils eliminated in second round
2006: Miikka Kiprusoff ‘€“ Flames eliminated in first round
2005: Season cancelled due to lockout
2004: Martin Brodeur ‘€“ Devils eliminated in first round
2003: Martin Brodeur ‘€“ Devils won Stanley Cup
2002: Jose Theodore ‘€“ Canadiens eliminated in second round
2001: Dominik Hasek ‘€“ Sabres eliminated in second round
2000: Olaf Kolzig ‘€“ Capitals eliminated in first round

Note that only Brodeur in 2003 even led his team past the second round. Since 1988, only two teams with Vezina winners have won the Cup that season. The Bruins are trying to prove they can make it to the Eastern Conference finals after knocking on the door, the past two seasons, so judging by these numbers, they might have to hope that history doesn’€™t repeat itself.

Are the Bruins this year’s Blackhawks? The Blackhawks can see the signs

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

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After a game like Tuesday’s, there is most certainly a temptation to look ahead to how far this Bruins team could be going in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s especially tempting when you consider the Bruins dismantled the team that won the Cup last June.

But Tim Thomas isn’t biting, not even after stopping all 32 shots in a 3-0 win over the Blackhawks.

“Haven’€™t thought about it at all, to be honest with you,” Thomas said after his career-best ninth shutout this season and 26th career. “I’€™m just focusing on each game-to-game, and even during the game just trying to play the same way for the whole 60 minutes no matter what the situation. We’€™re pretty good about not think about that kind of stuff lately, so I’€™d prefer not to start now, if you don’€™t mind.

“This was a good challenge for us. Chicago is a good team, I know they’€™re battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. But that’€™s a good thing because you know they’€™re going to bring their ‘A’ game, because those points mean a lot to them. It was a big test, and we responded very well. They’€™re a very fast team and we had our legs going right from the beginning of the game and were able to match them stride for stride.”

If the Bruins are headed for a deep run this spring, Thomas will be a good reason. He turned away every scoring chance in the first period, discouraging the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks so much that even their coach felt his team — battling for its playoff life — was discouraged.

“They were the harder working team tonight,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “They play hard. First 10 minutes, we are on our heels. We got back in the game and we didn’€™t do much after they scored first.” (more…)

Shawn Thornton will handle the Blackhawks ‘chirping’ his own way after nasty injury

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

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The sight of his own blood was bad enough. So was the feeling as he was falling to the ice that he was about to go face-first into the back of the skate blade of Fernando Pisani and suffer 40 stitches on his forehead above his right eye.

But to have the opposition taunt you as you’re going off the ice was too much for even tough guy Shawn Thornton to take Tuesday night.

How bad was it? So bad that even referee Don Van Massenhoven was yelling at the Chicago bench to shut up as he was ushering Thornton off the ice to the Bruins’ bench and eventually dressing room.

“If I ever find who it was, I’ll deal with it my own way,” Thornton said. “Yeah something was said. Obviously I can’€™t swear when I talk to you guys. There was some stuff said that I am not happy about.”

Cameras showed Thornton shoving and nearly punching Van Massenhoven, who was actually trying to stand between Thornton and the Chicago bench.

“He heard it and he was [ticked],” Thornton said. “He was [ticked] too. He didn’€™t know who it was either. He actually yelled at their bench. I appreciate it. Those guys on their team chirp a lot. I don’€™t know if it is right when someone’€™s face is half across the other side of their face.

“But it is a tough game and people have to live with their actions. If you guys ever find out who it is don’€™t be afraid to send me a Christmas card.”

Thornton said he was prepared to return to the game with a visor but because the medical staff was concerned about a concussion and the 40 stitches opening up, he was held back and not permitted to return.

“I am fine,” Thornton said. “I guess I was lucky. It could have been worse. It could have been on eye. No headache, no concussion, no nothing. It was just throbbing a little bit from getting some stitches but nothing bad.”

Thornton said he was given great treatment immediately by the Bruins medical staff, led by Lars Richardson, who administered so many stitches he lost count.

“I didn’€™t ask,” Thornton said. “Someone else did and they said around 40. I don’€™t know, they lost count. I was told that was the reason I couldn’€™t come back. They had some fine stitches inside and they didn’€™t want those to pop out or I might look deformed afterwards.”

As for the play itself in the second period, Thornton nearly scored a great pass from Daniel Paille before heading back down ice to back check. He was chasing Pisani when he lost his balance.

“I went to go finish my hit,” Thornton said. “I don’€™t know if I tripped over a stick or some feet or whatever and fell on the back on his skate blade. It was accidental. It was something that happens when the game is moving so fast. If I had scored the goal right before that none of this would have happened. We would have been lining up at center.”

He could see the injury coming, which made it all the more gruesome in his mind.

“I kind of slowed down,” Thornton said. “I was fortunate to see it coming after I fell. It is easy to say now but I knew it was a bad cut. I didn’€™t see how bad it was they wouldn’€™t let me go look at it. I knew nothing else was hit other than my forehead.

“It had happened to me before and it doesn’€™t really hurt when it happens like that it just feels like you got banged in the head. I know how lucky I am. It could have been a little lower and I could have been in a lot of trouble.”

As for Thursday for Toronto, it’s wait-and-see for Thornton.

“I don’€™t know,” Thornton said. “I don’€™t think so but the doctors will look over it the next couple of days and make sure everything is where it needs to be. The good news is, I don’€™t know what is going to happen, we are in good position and if need be we have some extra bodies around anyways.”

Mark Recchi intends to retire if Bruins win Stanley Cup this season

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Bruins forward Mark Recchi, who passed Paul Coffey for 12th all time in regular season points Tuesday, said after the game that he intends to retire if the Bruins win the Stanley Cup this season.

“If we win a championship, I’€™m gone,” Recchi said.

Recchi has won the Stanley Cup twice in his career, hoisting the coveted trophy as a member of the Penguins and Hurricanes. He said that he likes the idea of winning it with an Original Six team, and that if the Bruins don’t win this season, he could consider coming back.

“We’€™ll see,” Recchi said. “We’€™ll see if I can recover. Obviously take three weeks, a month, see if my body and my head is ready to get back in the grind physically doing the stuff I need to do to get ready for next year.”

Tim Thomas blanks Blackhawks for ninth shutout

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Tim Thomas picked up his ninth shutout of the season Tuesday night as the Bruins blanked the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, 3-0, at TD Garden.

Thomas made 32 saves on the night, improving his record to 33-10-8.

After a scoreless first period, the B’s got second-period tallies from Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk. Nathan Horton provided the Bruins with some extra breathing room in the third period when he beat Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford his 24th of the season.

The win brought the B’s within three points of the Capitals for second place in the Eastern Conference, as Washington lost in a shootout Tuesday. The B’s have played 76 games to the Capitals’ 77. Should the teams end up finishing the season with the same point total, the Bruins would likely hold the tie-breaker, as they currently have more wins in games determined in regulation.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

Mark Recchi now has 12th place on the list of career points all to himself. His assist on Johnny Boychuk’s goal gave him 1,532 points, breaking his tie with Paul Coffey. Recchi would need to play another season to get to Ray Bourque‘s 1579.

– Thomas was in danger of giving up the league lead in goals against average a couple of weeks ago, but his play of late has given him some separation from Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne. Thomas has allowed just one goal over his last three starts, the second time he has had such a three-game stretch. The Bruins did an excellent job of clearing loose pucks in front of the net from the get-go Tuesday, greatly helping Thomas’ cause.

– The interesting story line of Michael Ryder‘s healthy scratches could continue, as Paille has made good use of his spot in the lineup the last two games. Paille picked up a helper on Horton’s goal, getting the puck in front from behind the net.

– Don’t look now, but Johnny Boychuk has two goals in his last four games. Of course, he had just one goal on the season prior to his goal against the Canadiens last Thursday, so the chances anyone worries about his scoring touch aren’t very big.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins did not have a power play the entire game. It was the eighth game that they have had one or zero power plays. Interestingly enough, they are 7-0-1 in those games.

Shawn Thornton left the game in the second period after getting cut above the eye and did not return. Bleeding from the face, Thornton shoved referee Don VanMassenhoven as he was passing the Chicago bench on his way off the ice, seemingly because Blackhawks were chirping from the bench.

– Another night of solid play but no production from the third line. Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly had an opportunity on Crawford in the first period, but Seguin’s pass in front of the net was just out of Kelly’s reach. Seguin has just one goal over his last 15 games.

Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk give Bruins 2-0 lead

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

The defensemen came through for the Bruins in the second period, as the B’s lead the Blackhawks, 2-0, on goals from Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk.

Chara fired a wrist shot at a crowded net, and the puck deflected off Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell before sailing past Corey Crawford at 12:02 for his 14th on the season. Just 2:20 later, Mark Recchi dropped a puck off for Boychuk, who beat Crawford from the point. Boychuk now has three goals on the season.

With the assist on Boychuk’s goal, Recchi surpassed Paul Coffey for 12th place in career regular season points with 1,532. Recchi is now 12th all-time.

Shawn Thornton left the ice after being cut above the eye with a skate. He was visibly furious, shoving referee Don VanMassenhoven in an attempt to get to players chirping from the Chicago bench as he skated off.

The Bruins are outshooting the Blackhawks by a 30-17 margin.

Bruins, Blackhawks skate to scoreless first period

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

The Bruins and Blackhawks skated to a scoreless first period at TD Garden, but both teams have come out with energy Tuesday night.

The Bruins had scoring opportunities from Brad Marchand, who was stopped by Corey Crawford, as well as the third line. There was only one penalty in the period, as Milan Lucic went off for holding.

The Bruins are playing a responsible defensive game thus far, as they have done a good job of getting back and have cleared out the loose pucks in front of Tim Thomas. As a result, the Blackhawks have only five shots on goal. The B’s had 12 in the first.