|Bruins trying not to get discouraged by power play||02.11.13 at 6:07 pm ET|
The power play has been so much of a challenge for the Bruins this season that it wasn’t much of a surprise to see them struggle to put the puck in the net when working on the man advantage in Monday’s practice.
Making the power play work has long been an issue for assistant coach Geoff Ward and the Bruins, but for the past three seasons they have been able to win without one.
On the season, the Bruins are 4-for-39 on the man advantage, with one of the goals coming in the form of a Tyler Seguin empty-netter against the Hurricanes. They are 1-for-18 on the power play over their last five games, but those ugly numbers have been accompanied by a pretty record. With the 4-for-39 mark comes an Eastern Conference-best 8-1-1 record, and with the 1-for-18 clip comes a 4-1-0 record.
The Bruins have managed to be able to be the best team in the Eastern Conferece (they trail the Devils by two points for the top spot, but they’ve played 10 games to New Jersey’s 12) despite not manufacturing power play goals. Recent history shows that you technically don’t need a great power play in order to win the Stanley Cup ‘ the B’s were a respectable 5-for-27 against the Canucks in 2011, but they were 0-for-21 against the Habs in the first round, 2-for-16 against the Flyers and 3-for-24 against the Lightning. That made for an underwhelming 11.4 power play percentage for the postseason, which ranked 14th among the 16 teams in the playoffs.
Last season, the Kings followed the Bruins’ lead, putting up a 12.8 clip on the power play but winning the Cup and losing just four games all postseason.
Still, while there’s strong evidence that you can win a lot of games without a good power play, there’s no denying any team would be better if it would take advantage of other teams’ infractions. The Bruins finally did that on Sunday to break an 0-for-17 stretch when Patrice Bergeron got to a puck in front that had bounced off the end boards on a shot from Chris Bourque and sent it past Ryan Miller. Not only was the goal the game-winner in the team’s 3-1 win over Buffalo, it provided a bit of relief in a rather stressful area.
Prior to that goal, the B’s were 0-for-4 in the game. The power play actually proved disruptive to a strong 5-on-5 game the B’s had been playing. The second unit, which now features Bourque at the point with Zdeno Chara, with Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley up front, saw to it that the team wouldn’t have its fifth straight game without a power play goal.
‘We’ve got to work on it,’ Bergeron said Monday. ‘We’ve got to make sure we get better. If you get discouraged, we’re obviously not going to improve. That’s the whole point, is to do the job and create some momentum and obviously score some goals.’
With Seguin getting Monday off for maintenance, the B’s moved David Krejci up and put Dennis Seidenberg on the point with Dougie Hamilton on the point on the first configuration. That likely won’t stick, but with the way the B’s have struggled on the power play as a whole, perhaps shuffling more personnel could be in the cards. The B’s have found a way to win without clicking on the man advantage, but if they ever could they would be even scarier.
|Bruins-Lightning rescheduled for April 25||02.11.13 at 5:39 pm ET|
The NHL announced Monday that the Bruins-Lightning game that was postponed this weekend has been rescheduled for Thursday, April 25 at TD Garden.
The game, which was scheduled to be played at the Garden on Saturday, was delayed from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. before being postponed due to weather. The makeup game will be played at 7:30 and will now be the B’s last home game of the regular season. The B’s will wrap up their schedule on the road against the Capitals on April 27.
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|Tyler Seguin given maintenance day||02.11.13 at 3:09 pm ET|
Seguin wasn’t the only absence, as Aaron Johnson is with Providence to get some game action, while Lane MacDermid was also sent down on a conditioning loan. Jamie Tardif was sent to Providence the old fashioned way and isn’t expected back for the time being unless injuries occur.
With Seguin out, the lines looked like this:
Chris Bourque – Chris Kelly – Jay Pandolfo
|Bruins win third straight, beat Sabres in Buffalo||02.10.13 at 9:39 pm ET|
The Bruins avenged last month’s loss to the Sabres with a 3-1 win over Buffalo Sunday night at First Niagara Center.
Making his return from a shoulder injury, Brad Marchand got the Bruins on the board and scored his team-leading sixth goal in nine games this season when he took a feed from Andrew Ference and beat Ryan Miller from the top of the left circle. in the second period with Nathan Horton in front. The Sabres would tie it up on a goal from Tyler Ennis following a Bruins power play and a defensive breakdown in the Boston zone. With Dougie Hamilton stuck behind the net, Ennis was wide open in front to take a pass and deke before beating Anton Khudobin.
Though the ineffective power play halted the Bruins’ momentum throughout the first two periods, the B’s finally clicked on the man advantage in the third period to take the lead. Chris Bourque’s wrist shot from the point hit somebody’s leg and went wide off the end boards and bounced in front. With Miller focused on Brad Marchand in front, Patrice Bergeron raced to the puck and sent it in for the his second goal of the season. Milan Lucic added an empty-netter with 48.6 seconds remaining.
With the win, the B’s improved to 8-1-1 on the season with 17 points, their best start through 10 games in history. Their point total puts them two behind the Devils Devils, who beat the Penguins Sunday night to give them 19 through 12 games. Khudobin, who made 24 saves on 25 shots, improved to 2-0-0 on the season.
The Bruins will return to the Garden to face the Rangers on Tuesday night.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– With the shuffling of the top six forwards, it was easy to focus more on how the Milan-Lucic-David Krejci-Tyler Seguin line would fare, but Nathan Horton proved that he’s going to have an impact no matter where he’s playing. The line of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Horton was absolutely buzzing in the first period. One chance for the line came midway through the period Horton was denied on a shot from the high slot before racing to the front of the net to be his usual disruptive self. The final minute of the period also saw the trio pepper Ryan Miller with the Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid pairing contributing as well.
– There was nowhere to go but up, but the B’s had a better defensive showing than they did when the teams last met on Jan. 31. Zdeno Chara had his worst game of the season in that 7-4 loss, but was his usual self Sunday, even getting a shorthanded breakaway that came as the result of a 2-on-1 with Chris Kelly. Miller stopped him on a stickside wrist shot, but Chara wasn’t the only Bruin denied by Miller Sunday night.
– Credit Lucic for forcing pressure on Mike Weber to send the puck out in the Sabres’ zone in the third period, resulting in they delay of game penalty that yielded Bergeron’s goal. The Krejci line didn’t look as impressive as the Bergeron line Sunday night, but that play helped give the B’s the lead in a game that shouldn’t have been as close as it was.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Miller was even better than usual and was the difference between the close game it was and the blowout it could have been. The veteran netminder robbed the Bruins on a number of occasions, perhaps most notably with a glove save on Marchand in front after the Bruins’ forward intercepted a pass from Thomas Vanek. He also robbed Bergeron late in the third period with an acrobatic kick save.
– The B’s went 0-for-3 on the power play in the second period (including an unsucessful 5-on-3), thus eating time off what was otherwise a strong period for the B’s offensively. The Sabres’ lone goal came with the Bruins’ power play unit still on the ice.
– Not necessarily something that went right or wrong, but Shawn Thornton and John Scott can get along after all. The two didn’t have a run-in when first on the ice together early in the first, and when there was a scrum in front of the Bruins’ net following a shot from Scott, Thornton held Scott back as the situation was diffused amicably. The only thing to come from that first-period scrum was a bit of shoving between Daniel Paille and Patrick Kaleta, but there wasn’t a fight until Gregory Campbell and Kaleta dropped the gloves later in the period.
– Speaking of that fight, Campbell didn’t exactly win, but he did lose decidedly. Campbell challenged Kaleta after the Buffalo forward finished his hit a bit late on Dennis Seidenberg in the neutral zone. That led to a fight that saw many punches landed on both sides, but the Sabres got the better of it, both because Kaleta landed more and because Campbell was assessed an instigator penalty to put Buffalo on the man advantage.
|Physically, Bruins have little to prove vs. Sabres||02.10.13 at 10:38 am ET|
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||02.09.13 at 3:01 pm ET|
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.”
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|Bruins-Lightning pushed back to 7 p.m.||02.08.13 at 1:55 pm ET|