|First period summary: Bruins-Thrashers||03.23.10 at 7:41 pm ET|
Tuesday’s contest basically amounts to a playoff game between the Bruins and the Thrashers in Atlanta. The Thrashers start the night one point behind the Bruins for the final playoff and an outright win would see them jump Boston in the standings.
Boston is doing its best to make sure that does not happen.
After a slow start Boston broke for the first goal when a Bruins shot got caught in traffic through the crease in front of Thrashers’ goaltender Johan Hedberg. Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder started banging around on the puck causing it to bounce to the far side of the crease where David Krejci snuck in from behind the goal line to pound it home for the goal advantage at 9:25.
After that the Bruins started gaining more opportunities and taking the momentum away from the Thrashers in their home at Phillips Arena. To try and stop that momentum the Thrashers forward Eric Boulton signaled Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton for a fight at 11:00. Boulton got his arm caught in his sleeve to start the fight and Thornton got a couple of shots in before the pair skated at center ice in a draw before Thornton tugged Boulton’s sweater over his head to end it.
Overall the compete level for each team is relatively high, as it should be at this juncture in the season but Boston leads 1-0 heading into the second.
Shots through first:
Boston – 10
Atlanta – 7
|Bruins wary of Thrashers||03.22.10 at 1:42 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Question: Where the heck did the Thrashers come from?
All of a sudden the hockey team from Atlanta is a point behind the Bruins for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a chance to jump Boston if it can win on home ice Tuesday night. This from a team that just about everybody had counted out after they traded one of the best goal scorers in the league in the form of Ilya Kovalchuk to the Devils on Feb. 4.
“Well they picked up some pretty good players along the way,” coach Claude Julien said. “[Clark] Macarthur from Buffalo and obviously in the New Jersey deal they got a pretty good defenseman out of it (Johnny Oduya) who I think is underrated. They have got a pretty good team, they are getting good goaltender right now and I thin they are pretty confident. It is a good challenge for us tomorrow … we know that when we play well and how we can, we are capable of beating any team.”
After losing five our of six to start the month of March, the Thrashers have caught fire of late with four straight wins over Phoenix, Buffalo, Ottawa and Philadelphia. One could say that the Trashers wins over the Flyers and Senators were favors to the Bruins (both teams are three points ahead of Boston with 79 points) but it is a paradox that fans in the Hub would preferably not explore — have a team behind them get hot and take points from the teams ahead only to come and steal their playoff spot.
The win over the Rangers was good for the psyche of the Bruins. Their practice on Monday morning was lively and boisterous, which has not always been the case at Ristuccia in 2010. That being said, New York is not exactly a team burning down the barn.
“Atlanta is more dangerous because Atlanta is playing good,” Tim Thomas said. “New York is just hanging in there and Atlanta has been charging from behind. I think Atlanta will be the bigger test. It is always in our hands we just got to get timely goals like we did against New York and try to keep them off the board as much as possible.”
The Bruins looked like a much different team on Sunday against the Rangers than they did last Thursday in the grudge match verse the Penguins. The mood around the team was quite different from game to game whereas Boston seemed a little tight with all the scrutiny around the Pittsburgh game that was not as present against New York.
“I think Pittsburgh was a little bit of a wake up call,” Johnny Boychuk said. “You got to come out and play. You can’t take any day off especially since we are battling for the playoffs. Last night everybody came to play and we battled and stood up for each other. We just wanted it. That was the difference between both games.”
Thomas admitted that the flu bug was a problem on Thursday and Boychuk said that it had a tough 24-hour effect on a bunch of members of the team.
“We knew they were both important games and we came up big in one and not in the other,” Thomas said. “We had a lot of guys sick against Pittsburgh. You hate to say that plays into it, but it does. Let’s face it, Pittsburgh and New York are two different teams.”
— Patrice Bergeron is going out of his way to get in touch with Matt Brown, the Norwood High hockey player who broke his neck in a hockey game in January. Brown is in Atlanta at the Shepard Center for Rehabilitation undergoing treatment.
“I have been through similar stuff and I know it is tough to sometimes stay positive,” Bergeron said. “You get frustrated. It is something that I want to share with him and I am excited to go see him, him and his family. We prepared a little bag of stuff to remind him about Boston a little bit. Some movies, some stuff different professional teams in Boston, some clam chowder and stuff like that. I hope he is going to like it and it is going to be fun to first meet him and see how he is doing.”
Here is the practice participation by sweater color:
White — Milan Lucic, Miroslav Satan, Vladimir Sobotka
Goaltenders — Tuukka Rask, Tim Thomas
|Bruins gain separation in playoff race by besting Rangers||03.21.10 at 2:08 pm ET|
Summary — In a battle that will go a long way in determining the bottom of the Eastern Conference’s playoff standings, the Bruins prevailed over the Rangers (2-0) in front of a sold out crowd at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon. Tuukka Rask got his 17th win for Boston by making 22 saves while Henrik Lundqvist was the loser for New York with 29 stops. The win puts Boston five points ahead of the Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference with 11 games (10 for the Rangers) to go in the regular season.
The teams played a contentious, though scoreless, majority of the first two periods. The first forty minutes of the game saw a combined 14 penalties for 36 minutes (eight for 21 for Boston, six for 15 by New York) as the teams that are jostling for the final spot in the Eastern Conference took their bumping and pushing to the ice. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had eight penalty minutes, including a four-minute double minor for high-sticking in the second period.
Olli Jokinen, who took three penalties himself in the first two periods, nearly handed the Bruins a goal (or saved the Rangers, depending on your perspective) when he spun/tackled Boston forward Daniel Paille on a break at 16:13 in the second. Paille was awarded a penalty shot and skated straight down on Lundqvist only to see his wrist shot from the slot turned away harmlessly by the goaltenders left pad.
Miroslav Satan broke 104:09 of scoreless ice time for the Bruins at 16:36 of the second period when he one-timed a through the crease from Andrew Ference. The defenseman skated down the left wing and centered the puck quickly enough to get it on Satan’s stick before Lundqvist could make the cross and Satan put it top shelf from one knee for the 1-0 lead.
Dennis Wideman made it a two-goal lead in the third period when he took a feed from Vladimir Sobotka and spun a nifty backhand wrist shot from the slot up over Lundqvist’s glove side at 10:20.
The Rangers cut the lead in half at 16:56 when defenseman Michael Del Zotta powered a slap shot from the point past Rask through traffic. The Bruins would hold on in the final three minutes for the win.
Miroslav Satan — The tall Slovak gave the Bruins the lead in the second period with his fifth goal as a Bruin.
Tuukka Rask — The most important penalty killer on the ice is often the goaltender and Rask was good behind his stout defense in holding the Rangers 0-6 on the man-advantage.
Dennis Wideman — The prettiest play of the day was Wideman’s backhand winner from the slot. It was kind of a spinning backhand wrist shot that he elevated off a pass from Vladimir Sobotka. The puck went high over Lundqvist’s glove for the two-goal advantage midway through the third period. It was Wideman’s fourth goal of the season with his last coming against the Rangers on Jan. 9, a span of 25 games.
Turning Point — With the game still scoreless in the second period the Rangers were given a great opportunity to take the lead when the Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, took a double minor, high-sticking penalty at 8:30. With Boston’s top defender off the ice for an extended period of time it would have been the best time for New York to strike. The Bruins, who have the No. 1 penalty kill in the league, did not allow the Rangers to have a shot in the stretch and would not have a better power play opportunity for the rest of the game.
Key Play — Rask came up big in the early part of the third with a little help from Paille. Brandon Dubinsky looked like he had time and space to make an arcing cross in front of the Bruins netminder before Paille got in between the Rangers’ center and the puck to thwart a shot attempt. Dubinsky recovered and got the puck to Dan Girardi at the face off circle for a one-time chance point blank on Rask. The Boston goaltender left the crease to aggressively challenge the shot and caught it on the spoked-B of his sweater to retire the chance.
|Second period summary: Bruins-Rangers||03.21.10 at 1:17 pm ET|
If there is one thing that the Bruins are good at, it is the penalty kill.
Boston’s captain, Zdeno Chara, is not doing his team any favors on Sunday afternoon. He has gone to the box three times through the first two periods with the most recent violation at four-minute high-sticking violation at 8:30 in the period.
The No. 1 penalty kill in the NHL took care of business though, and then some. The Rangers, who are almost as ineffective in the goal scoring department as the Bruins (23rd in league at 2.58), could not manage to register and official shot on Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins were given a chance at 16:13 when Artem Anisimov spun/tackled Daniel Paille on a breakaway at 16:13. Paille was awarded a rare regular-time penalty shot and skated in on Henrik Lundqvist before taking s wrist shot from the slot that the Rangers’ goalie turned away with is left pad.
Boston was able to get on the board less than a minute later when Andrew Ference skated down the right wing and cross the puck across the crease to the waiting one-timing stick of Miroslav Satan camped on the other side of Lundqvist. Satan went high from one knee and the Bruins had their first goal (and lead) in 104:09 of ice time (last goal at the 12:27 mark in the third period Tuesday against Carolina).
In the final minute of the period Satan took an interference penalty when he hit former Boston University star Chris Drury coming out of the defensive zone at 19:33. Olli Jokinen gave the majority of the power play back with a roughing penalty after Steve Begin knock Vinny Prospal on his backside with seconds remaining in the period. Jokinen went to the box for roughing with 00.1 left on the clock and the teams will start the third on a 4-on-4.
End of second period: Boston 1 New York 0
Shots through second (total):
Bruins — 7 (19)
Rangers — 6 (15)
|First period summary: Bruins-Rangers||03.21.10 at 12:18 pm ET|
This is a big one.
In terms of playoff situations, this Sunday’s matinee may be the most important game the Bruins have played this year. The Rangers sit three points behind Boston for the eighth playoff spot and a win would put the Bruins five points ahead with 11 games to play. A New York win would make it a one point lead and make for some very interesting situations in the final two weeks of the regular season.
Boston started the game with some pop and emotion against a Rangers team that is known to be a bit of a physical nuisance. Brandon Prust and Steve Begin got into a scuffle near mid-ice at at 2:40, which was more instigated by Prust than Begin as the Bruins had outshot New York 6-0 at that point.
Zdeno Chara went for a roughing penalty at 4:34 as perpetual instigator Sean Avery was in the area and engaged in a staring match with Vladimir Sobotka who had dropped his stick but Avery deigned to drop his gloves. Less than a minute later the Rangers’ Vinny Prospal hit Mark Stuart hard into the boards behind Tuukka Rask. The Bruins did not like the hit (which sent Prospal for boarding) and a scrum ensued which ultimately sent Stuart to the box as well for roughing.
The referees whistle was busy after that. Mark Recchi (charging — 12:05), Chara (roughing — 12:43), Olli Jokinen (roughing — 12:43), Dennis Wideman (hooking — 13:54) and Artem Anisimov (hooking — 15:29), Jokinen again (hooking — 18:07) all made the march to the timeout corner. Though it all a few scoring chances were generated by each team but neither significant threats and whatever danger that occured near the crease was erased by the two solid goaltenders in Rask and Henrik Lundqvist.
Scoreless after the first period at TD Garden.
Shots through one:
Boston — 12
New York — 9
|Bruins blanked by Penguins||03.18.10 at 8:33 pm ET|
Summary — In one of the most anticipated games of the season, the Bruins got their revenge but ended up losing the contest as the Penguins beat Boston 3-0 at TD Garden on Thursday. Tuukka Rask started and took the loss for the Bruins with 28 saves while Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 33rd win of the year by stopping 17 pucks.
Boston got the dramatic bits out of the way early when Shawn Thornton threw down the gloves against Matt Cooke on Cooke’s first shift of the game at 1:58 in the first period. The retribution by Thornton was the Bruins initial response for Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard on March 7 that left the center with a Grade 2 concussion. Savard will miss the rest of the year.
After that, it was time to play hockey.
Tyler Kennedy got the Penguins on the board first when he took the puck on the rush down the right wing and beat Rask high for the early goal advantage. It was Kennedy’s 10th goal of the year with the helpers coming from Ruslan Fedotenko and Brooks Orpik at 8:34.
Boston took three penalties in the second period and were able to kill them all but the momentum shifted in the direction of the Penguins who outshot the Bruins 15-5 in the frame. Pittsburgh broke through with an even-strength goal by Alexei Ponikarovsky with 14.1 seconds left to take a two-goal advantage into the third period.
Pittsburgh made it 3-0 when Michael Rupp beat Rask far side at 5:14 in the third to put the Bruins away for good.
Marc-Andre Fleury — The Penguins goaltender did not need to stop many pucks against the Bruins, but he ended up stopping enough to his his 33rd victory of the year.
Alexei Ponikarovsky — Pittsburgh acquired the scoring forward at the trade deadline and he scored the separation goal for the Penguins with his 21st in the second period.
Michael Rupp — The center got in a fight with Zdeno Chara and scored the Penguins third goal of the game in the third period to seal the Bruins fate.
Turning Point — The ways things go for the Bruins offense, the first goal that Rask allowed was the one that broke their back. The emotion of Thornton’s fight against Cooke had worn off and when regular hockey activities commenced Boston found itself outmatched. Kennedy got the strike with a rush down the right wing that was fed by Fedotenko. Rask could not follow the quick shot that Kennedy let go and the Penguins had the lead and never looked back.
Key Play — It may not have been the key play to the game, but Thornton tracking down Cooke for the retribution fight on Cooke’s first shift of the game was essential for Boston’s reputation with its fans and within the NHL. Cooke jumped the boards for his shift at 1:56 in the first period and Thornton had his glove off and ready for the fisticuffs by 1:58, showing that he was going to waste no time in getting the matter over with. Cooke got the first few punches in on Thornton but the Bruins enforcer scored the next couple of hits and pulled Cooke’s sweater over his head that brought the forward to his knees. Thornton took the fighting major as well as a 10-minute misconduct.
|Second period summary: Bruins-Penguins||03.18.10 at 7:47 pm ET|
The second period started with the Bruins holding on by a thread.
Vladimir Sobotka went to the penalty box at 2:22 for a hooking penalty. Out came one of the best penalty killing tandems in the league in the form of Daniel Paille and Steve Begin along with defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. Normally a team will role out two penalty killing units on a power play with the first unit the best killers and the second unit efficient killers who can create an odd-man break when given the opportunity.
Boston never got the second unit on the ice.
It was more like Pittsburgh never let them off the ice. The full two minutes was spent in Boston’s defensive zone as the Penguins rained shots on Tuukka Rask. The young goaltender was up to it and proved to be the best penalty killer the Bruins had on the shift even as Pittsburgh dumped 10 shots on net (to the Bruins zero) in the first five minutes of the period.
Boston got its third chance on the power play at 7:37 when Sergei Gonchar took at tripping call. Once again the Bruins mustered next to nothing.
The second fight of the night broke out at 11:53 when captain Zdeno Chara went toe-to-toe with center Michael Rupp right after a face off. Chara got the best of Rupp in the captain’s first official fight of the season.
Seven-seconds after Chara went to the box, fellow defenseman Mark Stuart joined him with a hooking penalty at 12:00. That left the Bruins without two of their top three defensemen for an extended period of time. Once again, Rask stepped up and killed the penalty for the Boston.
The third time was the charm though. Pittsburgh got another shot on the power play at 17:44 when Steve Begin went for “kneeing” (a trip, more or less). Pittsburgh went through the normal routine — set up camp in the Boston zone, cycle, shoot, rebound, cycle, shoot. Right after the penalty ended the puck ended up on the stick of Kris Letang at the top of the left circle. He shot and it was deflected five-hole through Rask by Alexei Ponikarovsky for the two-goal lead.
Shots through second (total):
Bruins — 5 (10)
Penguins 15 (20)