Archive for March, 2011

Brad Marchand happy to be scoring again, has no complaints about Mark Recchi taking his puck

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Bruins forward Brad Marchand was itching to get his 20th goal of the season and his career, and though he called his recent span of 12 games without a goal a “frustrating” experience, was able to put things in context.

Prior to his goal-scoring drought, which he ended with the game winner Sunday and Philadelphia, the longest Marchand went this season without a goal was the first eight games of the season. Comparing the two stretches, Marchand can look at how he’s gone from a rookie struggling to score his first goal to one of four 20-goal-scorers on the B’s.

“That did creep in my mind a little bit,” Marchand said of remembering the beginning of the season. “I knew if I kept pressing and kept doing the little things right, it was going to come.”

Marchand, who remembers when cracking the lineup was his biggest obstacle prior to the season, said he wasn’t concerned about potentially being a healthy scratch during his recent skid. He was suspended a game for his hit on R.J. Umberger, but he never thought about Claude Julien extending his time off the ice.

“Every time you step on the ice, you go out and do your job,” Marchand said. “That’s all you can ask for. You can’t really worry about that stuff. When you start letting that stuff creep in your head, it might affect your head.

“I never really thought about [being a healthy scratch]. It never crossed my mind, I just wanted to go out and do my job every night. If I happened to be in the stands, then that’s how it goes.”

As for now being a 20-goal scorer, Marchand was not given the puck from the play. Instead, the puck went to teammate Mark Recchi, who put up a more impressive number. In assisting Marchand’s power-play tally, Recchi picked up his 1,531st point. He is now tied with Paul Coffey for 12th all-time.

Marchand is no stranger to sarcastic chirping, but he said there was no argument put up over where the puck went.

“I’ll just go buy a puck. I don’t really care,” he said with a laugh. “I’d probably lose the puck anyway.”

Bruins hold optional morning skate in anticipation of Blackhawks

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

The sounds of pucks hitting boards and skates cutting ice were drowned out by a game of hallway soccer, as the Bruins held an optional skate Thursday in anticipation of their game against the Blackhawks. Tuukka Rask, Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder, Tyler Seguin, Gregory Campbell, Shane Hnidy, Steven Kampfer and Adam McQuaid skated for the B’s. Expect Tim Thomas to start with Rask the only goaltender to skate in the optional.

Given that Ryder also skated in the optional and that Claude Julien expressed a desire to stick with the same lineup that won them Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, it is probable that Ryder will be a healthy scratch once again.

Here are some notes from the morning:

- Julien said that he doesn’t feel a need to talk about last year’s playoffs with his team as they prepare for the postseason this time around. The B’s blew a 3-0 series and Game 7 lead in the second round last year against the Flyers.

“I think for us right now it’€™s just focusing on the moment. From here on in, we’ve still got to maintain our play, our level of play that we’€™ve had lately and continue to try and even improve that. There’€™s no room for complacency right now, and we have lots of players. If we’€™re going to move some players in and out from here on in it’€™s not because we’€™re taking it easy, but because we want everybody ready to go. That’€™s kind of the message that we gave the players. So for us, I think we need to make sure we maintain our level of play from here on in.”

- Much was made in training camp of the new situation that former Panthers Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton found themselves in. Having never been to the playoffs in their careers, it seemed the postseason would be extra special for them. Campbell spoke about what it means to him to finally know he’s headed for the playoffs.

“I’m excited. It’s been a long time. That was the first thing I thought of when I got traded to Boston, was that I was going to get a chance to play in the playoffs,” Campbell said. “For me, at this point in my career, the most meaningful thing is to get a chance to win. I know this organization’s excited about the opportunity to get back to the playoffs again.”

- While Julien said that the recent scratches “probably” won’t get in the lineup Tuesday, he will get them in the lineup over the next two weeks to both rest those playing and keep everybody fresh.

“We’€™ve got to remember the guys were going to put in are good players. It’€™s not like you’€™re putting in a bad player,” Julien said of the players serving as healthy scratches. “It’€™s that you’€™ve got a 20-man roster for the game, but you’€™ve got 22-23 guys here. We’€™re going to put some guys in, pull some guys out, but certainly not to say, well this is a game that we’€™re going to take it easy, we’€™re going to pull so-and-so out. We’€™ve got to stay on top of our game, and that’€™s what I’€™ve been talking about, sliding guys in that can go in there and stay sharp so that if, come playoff time, we need somebody, they haven’€™t been sitting around for a month.”

- Julien spoke highly of David Krejci, who has 28 points in the 27 games since Marc Savard went down with his latest concussion. The coach said it’s been more a result of improved play than increased opportunity.

“He’€™s elevated his play, there’€™s no doubt,” Julien said. “He’€™s become a better player in the second half of the season. I think we’€™re starting to see more of the David Krejci we know. I think he had a bit of a slow start this year and wasn’€™t skating as well as we had seen him in the past. And was trying to make those plays, but when you don’€™t use your speed it’€™s pretty hard to make those plays in this league. So I think his skating has gotten better, his intensity has gotten better, and because of that he’€™s making some plays.”

- The coach said that as far as fine-tuning things go prior to the playoffs, special teams will be the focus. After an ugly stretch, the power play has scored four goals in the last four games, while the penalty kill has allowed one goal over the last five.

“[Power play] is an area we’€™ve got to get better at,” Julien said. “Even our penalty kill had been pretty good all year, then we hit that funk there for about three weeks that really made us slide down in the [rankings] in regards to that. We’€™ve got to get that back to where we feel it should be. I think our special teams are going to be important from here on in, and those are part of the things we need to work on.

“What I liked about the last game is that we were playing a really good team, it was a tight checking game and we stuck with it and found a way to win. You’€™ve got to be able to  be patient with those types of games that are tight checking games. In the playoffs, that’€™s what you’€™re going to get, and I think our guys did a great job in the third period of not creating some bad mistakes or turnovers, and eventually they broke, took a penalty, and we took advantage of it. It’€™s those little details when you get near the end of the year. You want your team to be composed and in control of their game plan.”

Bruins aren’t only team coming off a big win as Blackhawks come to town

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

This time of year, some teams are already eliminated or close to it, and getting two points on a particular night is no longer a top priority. That’€™s why the Bruins’€™ recent schedule has made for some very interesting hockey. The B’€™s last six games have been against teams either in the playoffs or competing for a spot. Tuesday should feature another very intriguing matchup, as both the B’€™s and Blackhawks are coming off big victories that teams try to build momentum off of, especially given that the playoffs are just a couple of weeks away.

The Blackhawks are coming off an overtime win against Detroit Monday night in which former Red Wing Marian Hossa buried the game-winner on the power play. Chicago is eighth in the Western Conference, so they have every reason to bring everything they can Tuesday.

The Bruins, of course, are coming off a 2-1 victory in Philadelphia that saw both the appearance of a successful power play (2-for-3) and the return of Brad Marchand‘€™s scoring, as he picked up the game-winner for his 20th goal of the season and first strike in 13 games.

WHERE IT’€™S AT

- The Bruins are 18-12-5 at TD Garden this season, and it’€™s been a mixed bag for the B’€™s at home of late. After a huge 7-0 win over the Canadiens Thursday, the B’€™s struggled to get shots past Rangers bodies and on netminder Henrik Lundqvist Saturday.

- Chicago has won its last two road games after dropping the previous four. The Blackhawks haven’€™t been to the Garden since last season, when they took a 5-2 victory on Jan. 7.

If there’€™s one thing the Blackhawks are capable of, it is taking an opponent to overtime while playing on the road. The Blackhawks have gone into overtime 10 times on the road this season and have a league-high eight overtime/shootout losses on the road. Their overall record on the road is 18-11-8.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

- The third line of Chris Kelly between Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley has looked good, but it has not produced. Seguin has just one goal in his last 14 games (dating back to before the line was in existence), while both Kelly and Peverley have totaled zero points and each have a minus-3 rating over their last five contests.

- The Blackhawks’€™ 3.13 goals per game on the road is second only to the Red Wings for tops in the NHL. The Red Wings certainly helped that number when they put six goals past Bruins goaltenders at TD Garden back on February 11, to the B’€™s will have to hope the Blackhawks don’€™t do the same.

- Tim Thomas has a bit more breathing room for the league lead in goals against average and save percentage. Thomas has led both categories since the second game of the season, but came one hundredth of a goal from being tied with Pekka Rinne after last Saturday’€™s loss to the Maple Leafs. After allowing just one goal over his last two starts, Thomas is now a tenth of a goal ahead of Rinne with a 2.00 GAA.

- Milan Lucic has zero shots on goal over the last two games, while his center in David Krejci has totaled one over the same span. Despite leading the Bruins with 30 goals, Lucic is fourth on the B’€™s in shots on goal with 160. He’€™s far enough behind the likes of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton that his three games missed don’€™t seem to play a huge factor in the statistic.

STORYLINES GOING IN

- Will Michael Ryder be a healthy scratch in consecutive games for the first time all season? Ryder watched Sunday’€™s game from the press box while Daniel Paille got in the lineup for the Bruins. If Ryder does return, it will likely be on Gregory Campbell‘€™s line.

-The Blackhawks know they need to keep the pedal to the medal after their win against Detroit. After Tuesday, the eighth-place Blackhawks will have played two more games than the Stars, who trail them by four points. This should mean the Bruins could see a very hungry team.
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Not exactly a storyline related to this game, but if you have the NHL Center Ice package, it might be worth it to check out the Penguins-Flyers game during commercials. Despite a rut in February, the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin-less Penguins have been able to get the job done so well that a victory in regulation would give them as many points as the Flyers at 100. If the Penguins hope to take the division they’€™ll have to finish with more points than Philadelphia, as the Flyers hold the tiebreaker with less overtime/shootout wins.

Brad Marchand lifts Bruins past Flyers, 2-1

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Brad Marchand made his 20th goal of the season count, as he broke a late tie to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead over the Flyers in Philadelphia Sunday night. With the win, Boston clinches a playoff spot.

Marchand’s tally was his first in 13 games, as he banged home a rebound past Flyers netminder Brian Boucher on the power play at 16:17 of the third period. Both Bruins’ goals came on the man advantage, as Nathan Horton scored his 23rd goal of the season with the B’s on the power play in the second period. Kris Versteeg opened the game’s scoring with a tally for the Flyers in the first period.

Picking up the victory for the Bruins was Tim Thomas, who won his third game in a row and improved his record on the season to 32-10-8.

Report: Memory problems plague Marc Savard

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

A source has told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun that Bruins center Marc Savard is dealing with “real memory problems and he’s quite worried about it.”

Savard, who was placed on long-term injured reserve in February with his second concussion in less than a year, was last injured on Jan. 22 when he sustained a concussion after being checked into the boards by Matt Hunwick. The injury came after he missed the first 23 games of the 2010-11 season due to post-concussion symptoms stemming from a concussion suffered on March 7, 2010 thanks to a hit from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke.

Savard said in February that he didn’t know what his future held.

“I’m not going to make any decision about my future until I get some more medical stuff done,” he said. “I’ve just got to be patient going forward.”

Shawn Thornton: Let up on the letdown theory

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

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One look at the line score from Saturday’s snoozefest at the Garden would suggest the Bruins went through a pretty typical letdown game in a 1-0 loss to the Rangers, less than 48 hours after lighting up the Canadiens, 7-zip.

Not so fast, says Shawn Thornton.

“No, I wouldn’€™t put too much into it,” Thornton said. “I wouldn’€™t look too much into Thursday’€™s game and then tonight’€™s. This one could have went either way, it wasn’€™t like we laid an egg tonight. I thought for the most part we worked hard. I don’€™t look at shots too much, but anytime you outshoot a team 12-1 in the third period, you’€™d think that maybe you’€™d get rewarded with one. But they did a good job blocking shots, they did a good job of cleaning stuff out in front of the net. [Henrik Lundqvist] did a good job stopping the puck.”

Thornton makes a good point. The Bruins, who were outshot 9-0 to open the second, were hellbent on putting on a late rush on Lundqvist but to no avail.

Claude Julien agreed with Thornton’s assessment. A letdown explanation would be pretty lame.

“I think that would be a weak excuse,” Julien said. “We’€™re certainly not going to use that as an excuse. This is the time our year where you got to make sure that you’€™re able to push those games aside. There’€™s a lot of emotional games coming up in the future here, in the near future, and we’€™ve got to be able to respond night after night.

“It was more our team maybe not as good as the other team tonight as far as the will to win those battles early on and being heavy on the stick,” Julien said. “It’€™s unfortunate that the only goal that was scored may be a little bit of a controversial goal, but we had lots of opportunities to make up for it.”

It was also unfortunate Tuukka Rask allowed just one controversial goal and it ended up costing the Bruins.

“It’€™s disappointing to lose, obviously,” Rask said. “But I thought we put up a pretty good effort. Maybe it wasn’€™t a solid sixty-minute game, but we definitely came out hard in the third and got our chances, battled hard. A 1-0 loss is always tough to take when you don’€™t score a goal after you score seven. But it’€™s just a game and we just have to battle back [Sunday vs. Philadelphia].”

“Obviously, it sucks,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “We didn’€™t score a goal and we didn’€™t play our best.

Speaking of the Flyers, the fourth and final rematch of last year’s epic Eastern Conference semis is on the docket Sunday in Philly.

“That’€™s often a good thing,” Julien said. “We don’€™t have time to dwell on this one here. You got to turn the page. You win the big game tomorrow in Philadelphia, and you’€™ve had a pretty tough week against some pretty good hockey clubs. If you can come out of the there 3-1, with the week, it’€™s been a pretty good week. So that’€™s what we’€™ve got to focus on. Let’€™s turn the page on this one here and hopefully be a better team [Sunday].”

Henrik Lundqvist blanks Bruins

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

The Bruins failed to keep up the momentum from Thursday night’s win over the Canadiens, as they dropped a 1-0 game to the Rangers Saturday at TD Garden.

Derek Stepan redirected a Michael Sauer shot past Tuukka Rask at 6:39 of the first period to give the Rangers the only goal they would need. In taking the loss, Rask fell to 10-13-2 on the season.

Henrik Lundqvist picked up the victory for the Rangers, improving his league-leading shutout total to 11.

From Boston, the Bruins will travel to Philadelphia to face the Flyers on Sunday. Philadelphia is currently the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The refs missed a pretty obvious offsides call prior to Stepan’s goal, and it proved to be the difference when all was said and done. Claude Julien was furious on the bench, and rightfully so.

- The Bruins had only two power plays in the game, but the second came with less than 21 seconds remaining.The B’s have had six games this season with one power play or less, and have surprisingly gone 6-0-1 in such contests.

- These matinees at TD Garden simply have not been good to the Bruins this season. With Saturday’s loss, the B’s are now 1-3-0 in such games this season, taking losses to the Hurricanes, Penguins, Sharks and now Rangers.

- Brad Marchand had a golden opportunity to both tie the game and get to 20 goals with a point-blank opportunity with plenty of open net in the final eight minutes of the game. He missed the net, however, in a play that generally summarized the Bruins’ day.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Despite that the Bruins could never really get any momentum going, the penalty kill came up all four times they were asked to in the game. Chris Kelly might not bring anything special to the table, but he has been solid on the PK since arriving.

- Rask was sound for the B’s in a game in which few of his teammates were. There’s been a season-long trend of the B’s not playing well, and it could be coming back up. Rask has won only one of his last four starts, though he allowed four goals in two of the contests.

- The improved play without production continues for Tyler Seguin. The rookie led all Bruins forwards with four shots on goal. The face that he and Dennis Seidenberg (5 SOG) were the only Bruins with more than three on the day shows that this might belong in the “What went wrong” section.