Archive for December, 2011

Rich Peverley to return to Bruins lineup

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Bruins forward Rich Peverley will return to the lineup Saturday night against the Stars, coach Claude Julien confirmed to reporters following the team’s morning skate. Tim Thomas was first netminder off the ice in the morning skate and is expected to get the start in goal.

Peverley missed the team’s last two games with an undisclosed injury that Julien said was helped by rest. The team kept him out of the lineup last Friday agaisnt the Panthers and this Wednesday against the Coyotes. With Peverley’s return to the lineup, Zach Hamill will be a healthy scratch.

In 30 games this season, Peverley has six goals and 19 assists for 25 points.

Tuukka Rask takes over lead in GAA, save percentage

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Want proof that the Bruins truly have two No. 1 goalies? Head over to NHL.com, where you’ll see that the “backup” is the No. 1 goalie in the league right now.

After Wednesday’s win over the Coyotes in which he made 21 saves on 22 shots, Tuukka Rask now leads the NHL in both save percentage (.945) and goals against average (1.61). The Finnish netminder is 8-4-1 this season, and has allowed just one goal over his last four appearances.

Tim Thomas is second in the league with a .943 save percentage, and his 1.84 GAA is third-best in the NHL. Either Thomas or Rask has led both categories in each of the last three seasons.

Dennis Seidenberg the OT hero as Bruins beat Coyotes, move into first place

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Dennis Seidenberg put the Bruins in first place Wednesday night in Phoenix, netting the game-winner in overtime and giving the Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Coyotes in Phoenix.

Benoit Pouliot set up by the play with some solid work behind Jason LaBarbera’s net. The third-line winger sent the puck in front, and when Chris Kelly fanned on his bid, Seidenberg got to the puck and fired it off Derek Morris and in. The victory gave the Bruins 49 points on the season, putting them in first place in the Eastern Conference.

David Krejci got the Bruins on the board when he finished off a play that Brad Marchand created by intercepting a pass in the neutral zone. With the B’s holding a 1-0 lead, veteran forward Ray Whitney executed a self-pass around Zdeno Chara, splitting two Bruins defensemen before beating Rask to tie it.

Whitney’s goal ended Rask’s shutout streak at 170:26, as the Finnish goaltender was coming off back-to-back shutouts for Boston.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Krejci has quietly put together a four-game point streak. The Czech center has two goals and two assists over that span, and with Wednesday’s tally now has seven goals this season. Krejci had just two points (both assists on Dec. 10) in his six games prior to this recent stretch, so perhaps Krejci, who has had issues with consistency, may be stringing something together.

– Rask was fantastic for the Bruins once again. It didn’t look as though he expected Whitney to get a shot off on his goal (the forward has two people, including Zdeno Chara, to beat), but aside from that goal, the red-hot netminder turned in another fine performance. He stopped Whitney on a breakaway in the second period, stuffing the forward with a left pad save. Rask made 21 saves in regulation.

– Good to see Adam McQuaid deliver an old-school beatdown. While the Bruins have plenty of willing fighters on their roster, McQuaid is far and away the most maniacal in the heat of battle. McQuaid went after Raffi Torres after the Phoenix winger delivered a questionable elbow to Andrew Ference. In addition to taking the decision, McQuaid left Torres cut above the left eye.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins didn’t have a ton of premium opportunities in the game, and LaBarbera came up big when they did. The Phoenix netminder denied Zach Hamill’s bid for his first career NHL goal when he tried to bury a rebound in the final minute of the second period, but LaBarbera got a leg on it. Early in the third period, Marchand had plenty of space going to the net after taking a feed from Tyler Seguin in the Coyotes’ zone, but LaBarbera robbed the Bruins’ leader in goals when Marchand tried to go high glove side. LaBarbera made 26 saves in regulation.

– The Bruins were wretched in their own zone in the final seconds of the game, and it looked at times like they wouldn’t be making it to overtime. Rask came up with the stops, and the B’s kept the puck out of the net to get the point that put them in first place.

Tuukka Rask gets the start vs. Coyotes

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

It appears Tim Thomas‘ will extend until Saturday, as the Bruins will ride the hot hand and give Wednesday’s start to Tuukka Rask.

Rask, who has picked up shutouts in his last two starts, was first off the ice at Wednesday’s morning skate, suggesting he’ll be between the pipes against the Coyotes. The Finnish netminder’s shutout streak is currently at 155:10, as he did not allow a goal on Dec. 10 when he played the third period in relief of Thomas against Columbus.

Rask is 7-4-1 this season with a 1.66 goals against average and a league-best .944 save percentage.

Andy Brickley on D&C: ‘I really don’t see a whole lot of challenge from anyone else in the conference’

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley talked with Dennis & Callahan guest hosts Tom Caron and Chris Mannix on Wednesday morning to discuss the Bruins’ busy second-half schedule, which teams provide the biggest challenge to the B’s in the Eastern Conference, and NHL First Star of the Week Brad Marchand.

Last week, Marchand scored a goal in the 3-2 victory over the Canadiens and capped off the week with a hat trick and two assists in the Bruins’ 8-0 dismantling of the Panthers.

“I think we should be a little surprised to the degree that he’€™s playing as well as he’€™s playing,” Brickley said. “I think any good team and any good young player that fits into a real good hockey club that’€™s deep and balanced like Boston, you expect those young players to get better from their rookie seasons and you’€™ve certainly seen that from both [Tyler] Seguin and Marchand. To think that he would be this good this early — this productive and this reliable — is a little bit of a surprise. But keep in mind both of those young players bring a nice element of speed along with their skill set to the Bruins.”

Brickley has been just as impressed by the play of Patrice Bergeron, who is on pace to have his most productive season and has lifted Marchand and Seguin.

“They play with a guy in the middle like Bergeron and that’€™s a huge benefit to them,” Brickley said. “It allows them to play to their strengths, have a little bit more freedom offensively because Bergeron will distribute the puck, he’€™ll take care of all three zones, and he’€™ll win his puck battles, and he’€™s so reliable and dependable yet he’€™s got an offensive flair himself. So to have that kind of centerman in the middle — that kind of experience, that kind of talent — is a huge benefit for those two guys.”

(more…)

Rich Peverley skates, but Bruins not rushing him back

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

It seems the Bruins aren’t quite ready to throw Rich Peverley back into their lineup just yet, choosing instead to give him another night off Wednesday.

The Bruins’ plan was to give Peverley last Friday’s game off, so he would have eight days off between his last game (last Monday against the Canadiens) and his next one, but it seems the B’s have changed that plan. Coach Claude Julien told reporters after Tuesday’s practice in Phoenix that the team doesn’t expect to have the third-line winger in the lineup Wednesday.

Peverley, who has six goals and 19 assists for 25 points in 30 games this season, has been dealing with an undisclosed nagging injury that Julien has said is helped by rest. The winger had a full week of time off the ice, and returned to it Tuesday when he did some skating after the team’s practice. Julien said the winger will participate in Wednesday’s morning skate and will then return to practicing with the team normally.

If Peverley doesn’t play Wednesday and instead returns to the lineup on Saturday against the Stars, he will have gone 11 days between games.

“He’s still on schedule, and everything is going when we figured it would be,” Julien told reporters, adding that the team “certainly” expects him to play Saturday.

Considering that it’s the 34th game of the season, giving Peverley the night off won’t hurt the Bruins now as much as it might end up helping them down the road. The Bruins have been bitten by the injury bug at times this season, but thus far it hasn’t been bad enough to give the team any question marks regarding where they’ll stand come spring time. The priority is obviously to have everyone ready then, so there’s no harm in being extra careful with a guy like Peverley now.

With Peverley out, one of this season’s pleasant surprises will get another chance to play. It’s hard to imagine anybody saw it coming, but Zach Hamill has been a strong bottom-six winger for the Bruins in his limited time in the NHL. He’s proven capable of handling minutes as a penalty killer and has worked on the power play, bringing such a complete game that it was Jordan Caron who the B’s sent to Providence last Friday.

Once Peverley is back and at full strength, it will be interesting to see if he and his line with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot pick up where they left off. Peverley had set up Pouliot for the game’s first goal in his last two games before taking last Friday off, and both Peverley and Kelly were finding success in the faceoff circle. The Bruins are likely eager to see if he can continue to be a big part of what’s been a pretty consistent line of late, but it’s clear that they aren’t going to rush Peverley back. Even the craziest of Boston fans couldn’t disagree with the logic behind that.

Patrice Bergeron to be profiled on ‘NHL 36′

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

All access series NHL 36 will profile Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, the league announced Tuesday.

The show, which follows players for 36 hours, began following Bergeron at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and will air the episode on Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Sports. Peter Coyote will provide narration.

In a statement about the episode, executive producer Ross Greenburg cited Bergeron’s championships in the NHL, the Olympics and World Junior Championship, calling him “one of the league’s most underrated superstars.”

Bergeron has seven goals and 21 assists this season for 28 points and is on pace for his first 70-point season since 2006-07.

For Bruins fans, this should be must-see TV. Bergeron, who is as polite and humble as they come, doesn’t go out of his way to stick his head in the spotlight. Teammates describe him as an increasingly vocal leader, so it will be interesting to see how much of that is captured.