Archive for November, 2011

Bruins wrap up impressive November with win over Leafs

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

The Bruins took over first place in the Northeast Division with a 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre Wednesday. The win wrapped up an impressive month of November in which they went 12-0-1.

David Krejci had a three-point night, with Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara and Nathan Horton contributing two points apiece in the win.

The Leafs got on the board first with a power play goal from Mikhail Grabovski in the first period, but the B’s responded with a power play goal of their own thanks to Lucic’s ninth of the season. Krejci gave Boston its first lead of the night at 3:33 of the second period, but former Bruin Phil Kessel set up a Joffrey Lupul goal to tie it. The B’s then got goals from Chara and Pouliot to give them a 4-2 lead before Tim Thomas surrendered a soft goal to Matt Fratin. Lucic provided the B’s some insurance with his second goal of the night at 15:21. Brad Marchand sealed it with an empty-netter.

Thomas collected the win for the B’s, his 12th of the season. He made 34 saves in the victory.

The B’s have now collected 25 of a possible 26 points over the last 13 games and lead the division with 31 points. They will host the Leafs Saturday at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Chara remains red-hot. His two-point night put him at 15 points (5 G, 9 A) over his last 14 games. Points aren’t necessarily what make a defenseman great, but Chara is on pace for his best statistical season since his Norris Trophy-winning 2008-09 campaign.

Though he led the B’s with six shots on goal, it wasn’t a perfect night for Chara. Kessel blew past him in the neutral zone to give he and Lupul a 2-on-1 that led to Lupul’s goal.

- Good to see the first line producing like a first line. The Lucic-Krejci- Horton trio has generally been hit or miss this season, but all three brought it Wednesday night. Krejci’s goal was his first since Nov. 7 and just his fourth of the season, while Lucic’s goal, his ninth, was his first since Nov. 10. Horton had helpers on Krejci and Chara’s goals.

- As hard as it may be to believe, Pouliot has proven to be a statistically clutch player. Two of his three goals, including Wednesday’s, have been of the game-winning variety, and he also won the B’s last Wednesday’s game against Buffalo in the shootout.

- The Bruins once again allowed the first goal and went on to win. With Wednesday’s victory, the B’s are now 9-5-1 when allowing the first goal. They are 9-7-1 in games in which they trailed.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Adam McQuaid was a team-worst minus-2 on the night. He was the lone defenseman back on Kessel and Lupul’s 2-on-1 in the second period, and was also on the ice for Frattin’s goal.

- Speaking of Frattin’s goal, Thomas didn’t respect Frattin enough on the play, leaving the Leafs forward just enough space to beat him at a wretched angle from the corner to make it a one-goal game. Thomas was obviously expecting Frattin to dish the puck from such a bad angle, but the result was an uncharacteristically weak.

- Tyler Seguin picked up the primary helper on Lucic’s goal thanks to some sharp passing between he, Lucic and Chara, but the 19-year-old’s slowed goal-scoring pace continues. He now has just one goal in his last eight games after scoring seven in his previous four.

Bruins-Maple Leafs Live Blog: Milan Lucic scores second of the night

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Bruins-Maple Leafs Live Blog

Andy Brickley D&C: Phil Kessel ‘was just a really immature kid’

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

NESN analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan for his weekly appearance to discuss the Bruins’ upcoming two-game series with the Maple Leafs that starts on Wednesday night in Toronto. The teams will square off in Boston in the second game on Saturday.

The Leafs lead the Northeast division with 30 points, while the Bruins are right on their heels with 29 points in second place. Boston is already 2-0 against the Leafs this season, though, winning the latest game on Nov. 5 in blowout fashion, 7-0. Brickley explained that the Bruins match up well with the Maple Leafs.

“I like the match-ups. I think Boston matches up pretty good against Toronto,” Brickley said. “It’ll be a little bit more difficult here in Toronto because of the change situation so you’ll see a little bit of chess match tonight trying to get [Zdeno] Chara basically and his partner out there tonight against Phil Kessel and his line. I think that if you’re able to keep that line, especially Phil Kessel off the scoreboard, and then you match up the three forward lines against each other’s D-pairings, it favors Boston. That’s generally the way it goes and I think Boston has a huge advantage in goal.”

As Brickley pointed out, the Bruins will need to contain Kessel, who leads the NHL in both points (31) and goals (16). The former Bruin has flourished in Toronto since being traded from Boston in 2009, while the B’s drafted Tyler Seguin with one of the picks they received from the Leafs. Brickley said that Kessel had maturity issues during his team in Boston and that he wanted more money than the Bruins were willing to pay.

“I think he was just a really immature kid,” Brickley said. “He had some baggage, personal baggage when the Bruins first drafted him and they were well aware of that. The immaturity factor, expectation level, not only by the Bruins organization but from Phil himself. I don’t think he was prepared for that. Could not handle criticism. Could not handle you have to earn your ice time.

“When you add a breakout year when he scored a bunch of goals, you saw how much money everybody was making across the league. Based on those numbers, and he wanted that money right then and there, and the Bruins weren’t prepared to pay him.”

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Former Bruins prospect Joe Colborne eager to prove B’s wrong

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Every time the Bruins play the Maple Leafs, there will always be talk of the forwards the teams have swapped, but beginning Wednesday, that conversation will be about more than just Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin.

Center Joe Colborne, the Bruins’ first-round pick (16th overall) in 2008 draft and the centerpiece of the package the B’s sent to Leafs in February for Tomas Kaberle, has played the last five games in the NHL and is already producing.

The 21-year-old Colborne has been skating on the third line for the Leafs, and has registered four points (1 G, 3 A) in his five NHL games this season. Now that he’s facing the B’s, he’s got plenty of motivation to prove them wrong.

‘€œAnybody, who says they don’€™t want to do well against your old team would be lying,’€ Colborne told the Toronto Star Tuesday. ‘€œI hope I can show what I can and contribute to the Leafs.’€

Colborne was in his first AHL season when he was shipped to Toronto, but said that he was in the organization long enough to know what the Bruins were all about.

‘€œI understand the hard work they went through to win the Stanley Cup ‘€” after getting rid of me,’€ he jokingly told reporters. ‘€œIt’€™s going to be interesting. I’€™m looking forward to it.’€

While playing for Providence, Colborne had 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 goals in 55 games. The 6-foot-5, 213-pound forward added eight points and eight assists for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL last season following the trade. Count Claude Julien among those happy to see him in the NHL and playing well.

“I think it would have been a matter of time, probably with us as well,” Julien said Tuesday of Colborne playing in the NHL. I liked him. I liked his skill level. Obviously his size, [he's] a big strong centerman and stuff like that.

“I don’t think anybody wishes him not to do well. I’m one of those guys that really liked him personally. He’s a great individual, and to see him get an opportunity to play in the NHL is always nice. Unfortunately you can’t always be with the same team, but at least the guys that deserve it get to play in the NHL. He’s certainly one of those players that I think deserves it.”

While the Kessel trade will never be in question from Boston’s end because it landed the B’s Seguin, Dougie Hamilton and Jared Knight, the Kaberle trade is somewhat of a different case. In addition to Colborne, the B’s sent their 2011 first-round pick and a 2012 second-rounder to Toronto in exchange for the defenseman, who had a generally dreadful stay in Boston. Still, it all ended with him hoisting the Stanley Cup, so it’s hard to criticize the trade, regardless of the fact that the Maple Leafs will likely have gotten the better players, and for far more service time (Kaberle was not re-signed following his four-month stint with the Bruins).

The B’s are happy to see Colborne doing well, but now that they’ll be seeing a lot of him for a long time, that may soon change.

Bruins know Maple Leafs don’t want to be embarrassed again

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

WILMINGTON — The next two games will have a big impact on the standings, as the Bruins enter this week’s home and home with the Maple Leafs trailing Toronto by one point for the Northeast division lead. The B’s have crushed the Maple Leafs twice this season, and they now have an opportunity to grab four points and leapfrog them in the standings.

Yet with so much at stake, the Bruins aren’t thinking about four points any more than they are thinking about getting two points twice. The first challenge will come Wednesday in Toronto.

“That’s all you can really do, is focus on the first game,” Gregory Campbell said after Tuesday’s practice. “We’ve done well against them thus far this season. Whether that’s motivation for them or not, it’s going to be anther hard one for us. We have to go in there and play good hockey. Wins will come if we play well. We’ve been playing well so far, so we have to continue that.”

The last time the Bruins were in Toronto, they gave the Leafs a 7-0 beating, with Tyler Seguin recording his first career hat trick. The Leafs went on to lose four of their next five, but have now won three games in a row and are coming off a 3-1-0 road trip. The Bruins know they’re facing a hot team that doesn’t need any help being motivated against a team that embarrassed them in their own building.

“It’s not something you forget when you’re on the receiving side, so I don’t think it’s going to be a hard game for them to be motivated for,” Claude Julien said. “We’ve just got to be ready for that.”

Air Canada Centre isn’t the only opponent’s building in which the B’s have found success. They’re 5-2-0 on the road this season, and have won their last four road games.

“I think our style of game is such that we’re just kind of a simple north-south team,” Campbell said. “On the road we just kind of go to work and play our game. We’re not out to impress anybody or to do anything that’s uncharacteristic of our team. We’re just trying to get two points, and everybody says this and it’s kind of cliche, but you just want to play a good, solid, smart road game. It’s usually simple hockey, but it’s usually the most effective for us.”

Claude Julien: Max Pacioretty hit ‘almost identical’ to Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

WILMINGTON — Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Tuesday’s practice that Habs forward Max Pacioretty’s hit on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang resembled Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard in March of 2010.

Pacioretty was suspended for three games Monday for the hit in which he targeted the head of Letang.

“To me, it resembled a little bit the hit that Savard took from Cooke a few years ago,” Julien said when asked about the play. “It was almost identical, but that’s the league’s decision to make.”

Savard is not playing this season due to post-concussion syndrome. He played in only 25 games last season before suffering his most recent concussion.

Pacioretty might be known best for the shove into a stanchion he took last season from Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. While there was a criminal investigation on the play, Chara was not suspended.

“[It] certainly doesn’t have any links to what happened to him last year,” Julien said of Pacioretty. “That’s two totally different things. He was on the receiving end of one and was on the giving end of another. The league chose to make the rule on that, and that’s where it ends.”

Andrew Ference returns to practice

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

WILMINGTON — As Claude Julien suggested Monday, Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference returned to practice Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.

Ference, who missed two games earlier this month with a lower-body injury, was given a maintenance day on Monday. All other players were present Tuesday, with the color-coded lines remaining the same.

The B’s are preparing for the first game of a home-and-home with the Maple Leafs, which begins Wednesday in Toronto.