Archive for February, 2013

Physically, Bruins have little to prove vs. Sabres

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

John Scott beat Shawn Thornton decidedly last month. (AP)

Sunday night marks the Bruins’ rematch with the wicked John Scott. The B’s can finally right the wrong that was done to them and serve justice to the terrible-spirited man who had the gall to fight someone willing to fight him.

In case you can’t sense the sarcasm, Scott has nothing to answer for. He doesn’t have to answer to Shawn Thornton, and he certainly doesn’t have to answer to Zdeno Chara. Maybe he will, but the line of thinking that the Bruins were wronged and failed to stand up for Thornton after Scott pulverized him on Jan. 31 makes absolutely zero sense. Both fighters consented and it didn’t work for Thornton against the 6-foot-8, 270-pounder.

This wasn’t Matt Cooke elbowing Marc Savard, nor was it Milan Lucic trucking Ryan Miller. Thornton suffered a concussion in the fight, but there was no foul play. Nobody needs to stand up for anyone because no wrong was done.

“I don’t even know where that [expletive] comes from,” Thornton said this week. “Listen, Zee’s our best player and arguably the best defenseman in the league. There’s no reason for him to have to fight my battles. I’ve done this for a long time and it’s on me.

“Listen, if I knocked him out I wasn’t expecting somebody to come grab me the next shift. It’s part of it. We’re both men and it happens.”

None of the Sabres have anything to answer for anything with the exception of Drew Stafford, who elbowed Dougie Hamilton in the face in the third period with the game tied at four goals apiece. That infraction went unpunished, so perhaps Stafford, who has never had more than one fight in a season, will be challenged at some point Sunday night.

As for Scott, it’s understandable how Bruins fans can watch one of their beloved bruisers (and one who always has the back of his teammates) get clobbered and want some sort of vengeance, but that just isn’t the way things work when the fights are clean. If winning a fight meant having to fight another guy or two from the other team, the role of an enforcer would be absolutely unbearable.

Just look at Thornton’s linemate, Gregory Campbell. He isn’t the biggest guy in the world (6-foot-flat, 199 pounds), and he’s lost to guys bigger than him (Cody McCormick beat him pretty good in 2011). Yet Campbell has never thought after losing a fight that somebody else should stand up for him. These guys have pride, and you’d have to think the last thing they’d want is for someone to go out and fight someone because they couldn’t get the job done themselves.

“I’ll be the first one to stick up for any of my players, but when you’re fighting, it’s your own battle, so to speak,” Campbell said. “If I lose a fight, I don’t expect anybody else to handle my battles. On the other side of that, it’s not that we’re not supportive of Thorty — everybody is — but he would say the same thing. A fight is a fight and that’s pretty much it.”

The B’s should be focused on team defense Sunday, as that Jan. 31 contest resulted in a 7-4 loss in which Chara played his worst game of the season and Tuukka Rask was left dealing with odd man rush after odd man rush.

You can expect a physical game Sunday night between the Bruins and Sabres. Buffalo went out and got Scott and Steve Ott so they could hang with the Bruins in that regard, but the B’s don’t have anything to prove as far as that goes. They’re still one of the toughest teams in the league, and Buffalo has a ways to go before they can say the same.

Bruins-Lightning postponed due to weather

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Saturday night’s Bruins/Lightning game has been postponed, the NHL announced Saturday afternoon.

The game was originally scheduled to be played at 1 p.m. and was rescheduled to 7 p.m. by the NHL on Friday. It is unknown when the makeup date will be.

From the Bruins’ press release:

“Although both Clubs and the assigned on-ice officials are in Boston, travel conditions remain too hazardous for fans, security personnel and TD Garden staff to get to the arena.”

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Bruins-Lightning pushed back to 7 p.m.

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Due to the weather, the NHL announced Friday that Saturday’s Bruins-Lightning game at TD Garden has been moved back to 7 p.m. The game had been scheduled for 1 p.m.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Peter Chiarelli still doesn’t expect Tim Thomas to play this season

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Speaking to the media on a conference call following the trade of Tim Thomas to the Islanders, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that based on his discussions with agent Bill Zito, he does not expect Thomas to play for the Islanders this season.

“Nothing would suggest to me that he’s coming back this season, no, in my discussions with the agent,” Chiarelli said.

Thomas is in the final year of his deal, and Thursday’s trade would net the Bruins a draft pick in 2014 or 2015 if Thomas plays a game.

“Without getting into specifics, the condition [of the pick] is basically if he plays,” Chiarelli said. “There’s a bunch of different ways how to couch how he plays or where he plays or when he plays, but it’s if he plays.”

Chiarelli said at the open of training camp that Thomas still planned on playing next season, but said that talks with Zito led him to believe he “misstated” that information.

Said Chiarelli: “It’s better stated, coming from Bill, that he’s still contemplating playing next year.”

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Bruins trade Tim Thomas to Islanders

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

The Bruins have traded goaltender Tim Thomas to the Islanders in exchange for a conditional second-round pick in 2014 or 2015.

Thomas, 38, is in the final year of his contract but is not playing this season. His contract calls for a $3 million salary but his cap hit is $5 million (Thomas had salaries of $6 million in each of the first two years of the four-year, $20 million deal). Thomas reportedly still does not intend to play this season, as the move was made by the Islanders in order to get over the salary cap floor by Friday and thus be compliant with the salary cap.

The pick sent to the Bruins is conditional on Thomas playing one game for the Islanders, meaning they will not receive it if Thomas sticks to his plan of sitting out the season.

Thomas, a ninth round pick of the Nordiques in 1994, signed with the Bruins prior to the 2002-03 season and eventually established himself as one of the greatest goaltenders in league history. He won the Vezina Trophy in both 2008-09 and 2010-11 and led the B’s to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 as the Conn Smythe winner.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Shawn Thornton doesn’t want Zdeno Chara to fight his battles vs. John Scott

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Shawn Thornton doesn't want anyone else fighting his battles for him. (AP)

WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Shawn Thornton skated with a group of teammates Thursday at Ristuccia Arena as he continued working his way back from a concussion suffered a week earlier in a fight with Sabres enforcer John Scott. Daniel Paille (upper-body) also took the ice, while Brad Marchand (shoulder) did not practice as he was examined by team doctors. Claude Julien would not rule out any of the three players for Saturday’s game against the Lightning.

Thornton, who has missed the last two games, said that he is “cleared for practice, cleared for contact,” and hasn’t been told whether he’ll play this weekend against Tampa Bay or Buffalo (Sunday).

Much has been made of the aftermath of the short-lived bout between Thornton and Scott. Thornton failed to get a punch in as the 6-foot-8, 270-pound Scott beat him convincingly, leading to some speculation from talk radio callers and select media members that Bruins captain Zdeno Chara should fight Scott on Sunday.

Thornton emphasized that he didn’t think there is anything for the B’s to avenge, as it was simply a fight that didn’t go in his favor. He especially stressed that he is against the idea of Chara fighting Scott as a result of it.

“I don’t even know where that [expletive] comes from,” Thornton said. “Listen, Zee’s our best player and arguably the best defenseman in the league. There’s no reason for him to have to fight my battles. I’ve done this for a long time and it’s on me.

“Listen, if I knocked him out I wasn’t expecting somebody to come grab me the next shift. It’s part of it. We’re both men and it happens.”

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Bruins come back in third period to beat Canadiens

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

David Krejci

The Bruins got back on top of the Eastern Conference and gained some much-needed breathing room in the Northeast Division with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Canadiens Wednesday night.

With the B’s trailing 1-0 after 40 minutes of play, Claude Julien switched Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin on the top two lines and saw immediate results. David Krejci‘s line produced goals from Seguin and Krejci in their first two shifts of the third period, giving the B’s a lead from which they wouldn’t look back.

The Habs took a 1-0 lead in the second period thanks to a power-play goal from P.K. Subban. The 23-year-old fired a snap shot from the point that went off Rich Peverley‘s stick and sailed past Tuukka Rask.

The win improved the B’s to 7-1-1 with a conference-best 15 points. The Canadiens fell to 6-3-0 with 12 points.

The Bruins will take Thursday and Friday to prepare for an upcoming back-to-back as they’ll host the Lightning Saturday afternoon at TD Garden before traveling to Buffalo to face the Sabres.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

• Rask was sensational, as the Habs could have easily had three or four goals over the first two periods. Rask stoned Lars Eller on a breakaway in the first period and came up with a number of other key stops early on.

The Habs also failed to capitalize on plenty of chances. Colby Armstrong missed an easy-tip-in just over a minute into the game, while Tomas Plekanec lost the puck while trying to deke on a breakaway. The veteran center tried to go forehand-to-backhand, but instead lost the puck on what essentially looked a pass into the corner.

• Good on Julien for shaking up his top six forwards in the third period. Julien switched Horton and Seguin on the top two lines, and it paid off 14 seconds into the period when Krejci hit Seguin in front to produce the game-tying goal. Krejci gave the B’s the lead on the line’s next shift.

• Seguin found a good time to score his first real goal of the season. Entering the game, Seguin, who led the Bruins with 29 goals a season ago, had only scored one empty-net goal through eight games. He was also quiet in the first two periods periods, failing to register a shot on goal.

• Speaking of lines, Julien wasn’t afraid to use the “Providence” line of Ryan Spooner between Lane MacDermid and Jamie Tardif. Spooner, who was making his NHL debut, was given significant time on the power play, and Julien trusted the line out there in the third period of a one-goal game.

• Playing on Patrice Bergeron‘s line in place of the injured Brad Marchand, Gregory Campbell had a strong showing. In addition to his two shots on goal and special teams contributions (he even played on the power play), Campbell came up with a critical pass breakup when he got a stick on a pass intended for Brandon Prust down low with all sorts of open net in the second period.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

Milan Lucic took a pair of penalties in the second period, one of which yielded Subban’s power-play goal. Both penalties were drawn by Andrei Markov, with Lucic high-sticking the Montreal blueliner at 8:56 and going off for an unnecessary slash in the offensive zone at 14:09.

Lucic wasn’t the only culprit of a bad offensive zone stick penalty. Chris Kelly went off in the third period for hooking Francis Bouillon in the Habs’ zone with the B’s clinging to a 2-1 lead. The Canadiens would have been able to tie the game on the power play had Max Pacioretty not fanned on a feed from Erik Cole right in front.

• The ice seemed pretty tilted in the Habs’ favor in the first period. Though the teams went into the first intermission, Montreal outshot Boston 11-4, with the Bruins not getting a shot on goal until Campbell fired a slap shot on Price with 8:35 remaining in the opening period.