Archive for March, 2012

Chemistry, Class: Gregory Campbell happy to see Shawn Thornton sticking around

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Defensemen have defensive partners and forwards have linemates, but if there was such a term as “offensive partner,” it would describe Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton‘s roles.

Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton have played together since Campbell arrived in Boston. (AP)

Thornton, who was given a two-year contract extension over the weekend, has certainly left his mark on Campbell’s career, and Campbell knows it. The veteran center came to Boston as part of the Nathan Horton trade after playing the first six seasons of his career with the Panthers. He played on different lines in his time in Florida, but when he came to Boston, he established something with Thornton that has kept the two together from Day 1. He’d never been essentially tied to another player the way he is with Thornton, and he’s proud to be one third of one of the best fourth lines in the NHL. To him, Thornton makes that possible.

“No. I mean, no,” Campbell said when asked whether he had played with anyone in Florida as much as he’s played with Thornton. “I played with Radek Dvorak I think maybe for two years, but not as constantly as almost on a shift-by-shift basis with Thorty.

“It’s a role that I’m happy to play and he’s happy to play, as part of the depth on this team. It’s not too often that you throw out four lines, and obviously he’s a big part of the fourth line, and his role is interchanging all the time. I think that that position, that … combination in the league is not very common any more, where you have a guy that’s obviously very physical and can fight, but that can play. That’s why he’s valued so much.”

Likely due to the fact that his extension has yet to be announced by the team, the always-accessible Thornton was not available to the media. With Thornton not present to speak, it’s no surprise Campbell was happy to share his delight with the news that the veteran enforcer will be sticking around for two more seasons.

“When your play against Thorty, it’s evident to see that he’s a hard-working guy, but once you’re on his team, you realize how important he is to the team, not only on the ice but off the ice [with] the leadership that he brings and the professionalism that he has every day. He has a hard job,” Campbell said. “I mean, there’s not too many guys in the league that can do what he does physically and also contribute not he score sheet once in a while. He’s a good player. I think he’s a real big part of this team, and it obviously shows with them giving him [a new contract].”

The Merlot Line, as Thornton dubbed it based on its burgundy-colored practice jerseys, has consisted of Thornton, Campbell and someone else for the last two seasons. Brad Marchand started on the trio before moving on to bigger and better things with Patrice Bergeron, and Daniel Paille took over from there.

While many teams don’t give significant minutes to fourth-liners, it was the Merlot Line that changed the momentum of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, as the trio of Campbell, Thornton and Paille turned in a big shift that broke up a much stronger start from the Canucks.

When Paille was hurt earlier this month against the Islanders, the B’s had to play defenseman Mike Mottau with Campbell and Thornton. The chemistry developed between the two is so strong that almost anyone could play on that other wing and it will work.

“I think we take pride in our job and our role,” Campbell said. “Sometimes it changes, depending on the game or whatever it may be. I think Thorty and I just have to be a reliable pair, whether there’s injuries or whatnot, we’ve been fortunate enough to be in the lineup for this long, and not being injured or whatever. I think it’s important for us to be that solid pair that can be relied up upon by the coaches and play different roles.”

As the Bruins have slowly shortened their list of free-agents to be, Campbell has seen his teammates get their new deals one by one. Whether or not his comes next remains to be seen, but Campbell doesn’t want to leave.

“Of course it’s where I want to be,” he said with a laugh as if to dismiss the notion of anything else. “This is a great place to play, a great organization and a successful one. Every player wants to play where they’ve had success and there’s more success to come. The important thing now for us, it’s really nice to see those guys get those extensions … but the important thing is focusing on playing and not the other stuff.”

Joe Corvo a healthy scratch vs. Maple Leafs

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Bruins coach Claude Julien said following the team’s morning skate that defenseman Joe Corvo will be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game when the B’s host the Maple Leafs Monday at TD Garden. The coach said that Corvo is “banged up,” but able to play.

“Joe is not going to be playing tonight,” Julien said of Corvo. “I said [Saturday] he was a healthy scratch, but he’s also a little banged up. What that means is if we really needed him he’d be available, but right now we’re going to stick with the same lineup of healthy guys.”

Mike Mottau will be the other healthy scratch on the blue line.

Rich Peverley joins morning skate, now considered day-to-day

Monday, March 19th, 2012

The Bruins got an encouraging sign Monday morning when forward Rich Peverley, who is coming back from a sprained right knee, took part in the team’s morning skate. It was Peverley’s first time participating in a practice with teammates since suffering his injury on Feb. 15, and he could be closing in on a return to the lineup.

“Day-to-day,” coach Claude Julien said of Peverley’s status. “There’s no exact time for when he’s going to start playing again, but he’s looking better every day.”

Peverley began skating on his own last Wednesday. Morning skates are non-contact practices, so taking contact will be the next step in the forward’s recovery.

“He’s progressed since [Wednesday],” Julien said. “When you’ve been off that long, you don’t just come back overnight, so we’re going to give him a chance and wait for our doctors to clear him.”

In 49 games this season, Peverley has nine goals and 29 assists for 38 points.

Tim Thomas on shootout win: ‘We needed that immensely’

Saturday, March 17th, 2012


All eyes were on Tim Thomas on Saturday.

Of all the Bruins with plenty to prove entering the St. Patrick’s Day matinee against the Flyers, the Bruins goalie was at the top of the list.
So, when he turned away Danny Briere on the shot of the shootout, earning the Bruins a 3-2 win before an electric TD Garden house, he raised his arms out of celebration and relief.

“Yeah, I think it was very important, we needed that immensely,” Thomas said. “We needed to show up and have a good game at home. Things haven’t been going our way. That’s a polite way of saying it lately. To battle out tonight and come up with a good, solid strong game at home and pull out with two points, is hopefully very big for us moving down the road.”

The Bruins stuggles of the last two months have been well documented. They were manhandled in all three losses on the road this week, outscored 17-5 in losses in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Florida. Overall, they had lost four straight coming in. Thomas started three of those four games and was pulled in the loss in Pittsburgh.

Saturday, he was a different goalie. He stopped Eric Wellwood on a shorthanded blast midway through the first. Moments later he denied superstar Jaromir Jagr with his right pad, as he tried to beat Thomas to the far side. Then, in the final 30 seconds of regulation, with the Flyers sensing a dramatic come-from-behind win in regulation, Thomas battened down the hatches as Philly unloaded cannon shot after cannon shot.

Thomas said his confidence wasn’t shaken this week but the saves early, especially on Jagr, didn’t hurt.

“I wasn’t feeling unconfident going into it, I know there was that first bouncy shot at the beginning of the game, but heck I don’t trust the bounces right now,” Thomas said. “That’s natural I think. But the save on Jagr, it did help to boost my confidence more than it already was.”

Speaking of bounces, that all that beat Thomas on Saturday in regulation as Matt Read and Jakub Voracek redirected shots that Thomas had little-to-no chance of stopping. Then came the last 30 seconds.

“I wasn’t sure of the clock exactly, I knew we were getting down towards the end of the game,” he said. “I just didn’t want bad luck to strike again, and at that point we’re just playing for one point to make it to overtime. You don’t want a real good effort like that to go to waste. So, I was just focused on making it through the end, I didn’t know if there were 30 seconds or a minute left.”

Thomas said his mindset didn’t change in the shootout either.

“I was actually too focused on trying to figure out what my approach was going to be to the shootout,” said Thomas, who allowed goals to Read and Claude Giroux before stopping Briere in the shootout. “I played Jagr a certain way on the breakaway during the game so my plan going into the shootout was to go out and play the other guys like that. But that didn’t work, but it was great to see ours keep going in. After the second one, I kind of changed up what I do and I came way out to [Danny] Briere, I think I went all the way out to the hash marks to try and give him a different look and try to make him think what the heck’s he doing.”

Gregory Campbell: ‘We’re just going to have to do it the hard way again’

Saturday, March 17th, 2012


Anyone in attendance Saturday could most certainly sense the urgency from the Bruins from the opening puck drop with the Flyers. The Bruins have slumped big time in the last two months, falling out of first place in the Northeast Division, heading into their game against Philly. A win would put them a point back ahead of Ottawa, at least for the time being.

But the unfortunate part for the Bruins is that it had to come to this.

“Unfortunately, every game is big for us now,” Gregory Campbell said after the Bruins survived in a 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers. “We’ve gotten ourselves into a situation where we’re battling for position with Ottawa now, and a couple of other different teams. We want that home-ice advantage. With 11 games left, we’re unfortunately in a situation where every game is important. And I think you can look at that as a positive because we have to be at our best now, and going into the playoffs, that’s something that’s going to benefit our team.

“Tonight was big for us but one game at a time is our motto right now.”

There was a lot of talk afterward about maintaining the intensity the Bruins showed Saturday for the remaining 11 regular season games so that they have the right chemistry and momentum. The question is: Do the Bruins have enough steam to fulfill that mission and have enough left for another playoff grind?

“There’s a lot of leadership in this room,” Campbell said. “Everybody knows how to win. This team has been in some corners before and we’ve gotten out of them. It hasn’t been easy all year. And we gained a lot of experience and confidence from last year in the things we went through. We’re just going to have to do it the hard way again, take it one game at a time and one period at a time.”

Bruins end losing streak with shootout win over Flyers

Saturday, March 17th, 2012


The Bruins blew a two-goal lead Saturday but finally saw their losing streak end thanks to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Flyers.

Tim Thomas stopped Danny Briere and the B’s got shootout goals from David Krejci, Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron to secure the victory, their first in five games.

With the win, the Bruins improved to 85 points on the season, which puts them one point ahead of the Senators for the Northeast Division lead.

After spotting teams two-goal leads in their previous four games, the B’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to goals from Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin. The Flyers got a power play goal from Matt Read in the second period before Jakub Voracek tied the game with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.

Joe Corvo was a healthy scratch for the Bruins, marking the first time this season he was not in the team’s lineup. Chris Kelly, Patrice Bergeron and Dennis Seidenberg are the only Bruins who have played in each game this season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins’ had been having a terrible time in the first period, spotting teams the first two goals in their previous four games, but they turned that trend around by jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. The Bruins didn’t even allow a shot on goal until 9:35 into the game, so the improvement in the game’s first 20 minutes was apparent.

- The Bruins have been able to break out of slumps in the past by playing a more physical game, and the B’s certainly brought that Saturday. Gregory Campbell fought Zac Rinaldo in a wild first-period bout, while Johnny Boychuk dropped Maxime Talbot in a matter of seconds in a short-lived second-period fight.

- For the first time since joining the Bruins, Greg Zanon had a positive rating (plus-2). He was in front for Read’s goal, but Zanon was also on the ice for both of the Bruins’ first-period goals. The former Wild defenseman will take encouraging signs where he can get them, and after being a minus-5 over his last five games and being a healthy scratch Thursday, Saturday would have to be considered an encouraging sign.

- The B’s needed a better showing out of Thomas, and they got one Saturday. The reigning Vezina-winner ended his streak of three straight starts with three or more goals allowed and came up especially big by sticking his right leg out to stop a first-period Jaromir Jagr breakaway. Thomas came up with huge saves in the final minute of regulation, as the B’s were actually fortunate to get to overtime with how hard the Flyers were attacking.

- A rare big defensive play from Seguin came with just over six minutes remaining. The Flyers were on a 2-on-2, with both Jagr and Seguin trailing behind. A Philadelphia player tried to drop the puck off for Jagr, but Seguin dove to break up the play. The second-year player obviously isn’t known for his work in his own zone, but he came up big to protect the lead Saturday.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Shawn Thornton was furious as he skated to the penalty box after being called for goaltender interference with 8:56 remaining in the game. Thornton was driving to the net with the puck and was tried to slow up after Erik Gustafsson pushed him in towards Ilya Bryzgalov. The call itself was bad enough, but the timing was terrible for a team trying to hold onto a one-goal lead in a game they badly needed to win. The B’s killed off the penalty, but a bad call with under 10 minutes left isn’t what they were looking for.

Bruins-Flyers Live Blog: B’s make Joe Corvo a healthy scratch

Saturday, March 17th, 2012