|Tim Thomas honored to be an All-Star, willing to shut down Zdeno Chara if opportunity arises||01.11.11 at 5:21 pm ET|
The Bruins received perhaps the least surprising news they could get on Tuesday when they were informed that Tim Thomas was named an All-Star. Thomas is putting together the best year of any goaltender over the last five years, and as such, it is no shock that he’s earned the honor of joining the league’s best for the third time in his career.
“It’s always an honor,” Thomas said of the distinction prior to the B’s game against the Senators on Tuesday. “It’s a feather in your cap, so I’m very happy.”
Thomas has played in 29 of the Bruins’ first 41 games, compiling an 18-4-6 record and leading the league with a 1.84 goals against average and a .944 save percentage. His five shutouts tie his career-high and put him in a tie for the league lead.
Yet given all the time he’s played, it is expected that the Bruins could use Tuukka Rask a bit more just to keep Thomas from being overworked. The same line of thinking might apply when wondering whether the 36-year-old could use the All-Star to get some rest rather than work more. Thomas’ reaction to that idea is simle.
“Everybody wants down time, but having said that, for most people — myself included — you don’t make the All-Star [game] that often,” Thomas said. “It’s an honor worth giving up a couple of days rest for.”
Thomas will join teammates Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin in Raleigh, N.C., for the All-Star festivities, as Chara also earned the distinction, while Seguin will participate in the rookie skills competition a day prior to the game.
Because of the new fantasy draft used to determine the All-Star teams, Thomas and Chara won’t necessarily be teammates in the game, as it is no longer a contest of the Eastern conference vs. the Western conference. As odd it would be to see Chara go up against his own goaltender, Thomas was quick in predicting what would happen in such a scenario.
“I win, he loses.”
|Three the magic number (again) for Bruins in win over Penguins||01.10.11 at 10:06 pm ET|
The Bruins once again proved a third-period terror against the Penguins, scoring four unanswered goals en route to a 4-2 victory at CONSOL Energy Center.
With the Penguins leading, 2-0, on second-period goals from Mike Rupp and Kris Letang, the B’s scored four goals in the final 3:23 of regulation. Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand got it started by scoring goals 12 seconds apart, while Mark Recchi potted the game-winner on the power play at 19:10 and Gregory Campbell sealed it with an empty netter.
The B’s scored their first two power play goals in six games. Tuukka Rask made 23 saves on 25 shots in the victory.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Did the Bruins watch so much tape of what the Habs did to them Saturday that they couldn’t help but do the same thing? The B’s didn’t have to wait for overtime to get a huge road win. With their five-goal third period on Nov. 10, they have now scored nine third-period goals vs. the Penguins and allowed none.
- Chara’s goal was his second in the last five games, clearly a good way to follow up his 23 games without a goal prior to last Saturday’s game in Buffalo.
- Tyler Seguin and David Krejci haven’t produced while skating on the same line the last two games, but the two seem to be a good fit. Seguin tied linemate Blake Wheeler with three shots, while Krejci set up the 18-year-old beautifully in the third period before Fleury robbed the rookie.
While Krejci and Wheeler obviously work well together and the Czech center’s skill set is appropriate for a line with Seguin, Krejci had zero shots on goal for the second straight game. He has two goals over his last five contests.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Penguins’ power play had been bad, but the B’s didn’t need to push the matter. The Bruins handed the Penguins five power plays, one of which Letang scored on to make it a two-goal game. Both teams entered the game with three power play goals over their last nine contests, and the B’s gave Pittsburgh plenty of chances to improve the number, which the Penguins did.
- Pittsburgh native Matt Bartkowski was set to have a memorable NHL debut for the Bruins, but he ended up doing so for the wrong reasons. First, he was beaten by Mike Rupp in the second period on the Penguins’ first goal. Bartkowski then took a hooking penalty with the Bruins playing from behind with less than 10 minutes remaining.
- Eleven games without a goal for Milan Lucic. The slumping winger followed his zero-shot performance by throwing three shots on Marc-Andre Fleury. As the Bruins continue to search from offensive consistency, they need a lot more from their leading scorer.
|Mike Rupp, Kris Letang score for Penguins in second period||01.10.11 at 9:10 pm ET|
Goals from Mike Rupp and Kris Letang have the Penguins leading the Bruins, 2-0, after two periods at CONSOL Energy Center.
Rupp made Matt Bartkowski look like a kid making his NHL debut when he took the puck past Bartkowski and into the Bruins’ zone, went all the way to the bottom of the circle and backhanded one over the shoulder of Tuukka Rask from an odd angle. It was a save Rask should have made, but a shot that shouldn’t have been taken. Bartkowski ended up playing just three minutes in the period.
The Penguins, meanwhile, became the first of two struggling power play units to produce a goal. With Mark Recchi in the box for tripping Letang, the All-Star defenseman beat Rask with a shot from the point to make it a 2-0 game.
The Penguins are outshooting the B’s, 23-20.
|Bruins, Penguins scoreless after one||01.10.11 at 8:16 pm ET|
The Bruins and Penguins skated to a scoreless first period on Monday night, with the B’s getting only six shots on Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins have managed to get 14 shots on Tuukka Rask.
After an 0-for-2 showing on the man advantage, the Bruins have now gone 16 periods without a power play goal. Their last power play goal came on Dec. 28 against the Lightning.
Marc Savard was the only Bruin sent to the box in the period, as he went off at 18:41 for slashing Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins will begin the second period a man up.
Tyler Seguin led the Bruins with two shots on goal in the period.
|Bruins can keep looking to the future (and thank the Maple Leafs) as Central Scouting releases midterm rankings||01.10.11 at 4:55 pm ET|
NHL Central Scouting has released its midterm rankings for players in the 2011 NHL Draft. A year ago, Plymouth Whalers (OHL) center Tyler Seguin was the No. 2 prospect at the midway point before surpassing fellow Windsor Spitfires winger Taylor Hall in the final rankings. The rest, as they say, is history, as the Oilers went for Hall over Seguin at with the top pick, and the B’s grabbed Seguin second overall.
The Bruins had that pick of course, from the Maple Leafs, who gave the B’s a pair of first round picks as part of their package for Phil Kessel.
Now, as the midterm rankings are released, the Bruins and their fans can think a bit more about the next major piece they’ll get to add thanks to the Kessel deal. The Leafs were expected to be an improved team this season, and they are — two whole spots.
If the draft lottery were to take place today, the B’s would be fourth in line given that the Leafs’ 36 points ranks 26th in the NHL. Who might their prize be? Judging by Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire’s comments to NHL.com, the Bruins wouldn’t be in bad shape if the Leafs’ pick wound up being the fourth overall choice.
McGuire suggested that this will not be a draft class like last year, which featured two concrete elite players in Hall and Seguin and then a bit of a dropoff.
“I would say at this point, with the number of viewings our scouts have had, as many as eight players could be taken first,” McGuire told NHL.com in the story. “The depth goes right through this draft. A cynic or somebody who’s characterizing this as a non-Sidney Crosby draft year only needs to know that whoever emerges in April at No. 5 on our list (Central Scouting’s final rankings), and in St. Paul as the No. 5 pick, could eventually be a better NHL player than No. 1. That said, this isn’t a Crosby draft year.”
Here are the best of both the North American and European skaters:
1. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Kitchener (OHL), 6-foot-0, 207 pounds
- 25 goals in 32 OHL games this season; currently out with a high ankle sprain
2. Sean Couterier, C, Drummondville (QMJHL), 6-foor-4, 195 pounds
- Has 16+37=53 totals this season at Drummondville
3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer (WHL), 6-foot-0, 170 pounds
- Has 50 points in 39 games after totaling 65 in 67 contests last season
4. Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Saint John (QMJHL), 6-foot-1, 168 pounds
- Has nearly doubled his 35 points from last season, as he has 65 in 40 games this year.
5. Tyler Biggs, RW, USA U-18 (USHL), 6-foot-2, 210 pounds
- Cincinnati native has four goals in 11 games
6. Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland (WHL), 5-foot-10, 175 pounds
7. Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara (OHL), 6-foot-1, 6-foot-4, 193 pounds
8. Brandon Saad, LW, Saginaw (OHL), 6-foot-1, 208 pounds
9. Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL), 6-foot-2, 185 pounds
10. Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener, 5-foot-10, 176 pounds
1. Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (Sweden), 6-foot-3, 200 pounds
- Believed by one scout to be a better prospect now than Victor Hedman was two years ago
2. Joel Armia, RW, Assat (Finland), 6-foot-3, 191 pounds
3. Mike Zibanejad, C, Djurgarden Jr. (Sweden Jr.) 6-foot-1, 191 pounds
4. Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestad (Sweden), 6-foot-1, 165 pounds
5. Dmitri Jaskin, F, Slavia Jr. (Czech Jr.), 6-foot-1, 196 pounds
|Matt Bartkowski expected to play for Bruins with Adam McQuaid out||01.10.11 at 12:50 pm ET|
Bruins defensemen Adam McQuaid (unknown injury or ailment) did not skate with the Bruins for a second straight day on Monday, and according to reports out of Pittsburgh, he will not play for the B’s as they take on the Penguins.
Filling in for McQuaid will be Matt Bartkowski, whom the team called up on an emergency basis from Providence on Sunday night. The 22-year-old Ohio State product has four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 34 AHL games this year.
The Bruins’ morning skate was an optional one, though Tuukka Rask was reportedly the first goaltender off the ice. If he were to get the start in Pittsburgh, it would be his fourth start of the last five games. Nathan Horton reportedly skated, though the chances of him playing could be dented by the fact that he stayed out on the ice following the skate with Doug Houda, according to the Boston Globe.
|Bruins look to rebound from loss to Canadiens as they take on Penguins in Pittsburgh||01.10.11 at 2:03 am ET|
The Bruins (21-12-7) are in the midst of a rather tough stretch in their schedule, and it continues Monday night against the Penguins (26-13-4) in Pittsburgh. While the Penguins, whose 56 points are the second-most in the Eastern Conference, are looking for their first win without Sidney Crosby (concussion), the Bruins are simply looking for anything that can make people forget about their collapse against the Canadiens Saturday night in a 3-2 overtime loss.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Penguins are 14-8-1 at CONSOL Energy Center, and only the Capitals and Canadiens have more home points this season. On Saturday, they dropped a 4-0 contest to the Wild at home.
- Despite getting one point in a game in which they should have had two in Montreal, the B’s continue to rack up the points on the road. They are 12-5-4 in away games and haven’t lost a road contest in regulation since Dec. 16.
- Zero. That’s how many shots Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, and David Krejci combined for on Saturday. Especially in Lucic’s case, that’s about as inexcusable as it gets for a leading goal-scorer, and as we pointed out after the game, it’s something that has happened eight times this season.
- Kris Letang, one of four Penguins voted into the All-Star game in the fan-balloting process, is fourth among defensemen with 36 points. That’s already a career-high for the 23-year old, and he’s on pace to finish his fourth season with 69 points. Letang leads the Penguins with a plus-21 rating.
- If you’re a fan of power play goals, you might want to watch a different game. Over the last nine games, the Penguins are 3-for-32 on the man advantage, while the B’s are 3-for-27. The Bruins have gone five games without a power play goal.
To make matters worse for each team’s power play, they’ll be going against stiff competition. The Penguins and Bruins’ penalty kills rank first and seventh in the league, respectively.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- What will the Bruins’ blueline look like? The Bruins recalled Matt Bartkowski on an emergency basis Sunday, and reports indicate he’ll take the place of Adam McQuaid in the lineup. The Bruins have been mum on what ails McQuaid. Maybe he caught the “discomfort” that’s going around.
Speaking of which, whether or not Nathan Horton makes his way back into the lineup is another thing to keep an eye on. “Discomfort” is the only word of information the B’s will divulge regarding why the 25-year-old missed Saturday’s game.
Regardless of who the B’s have out, they won’t have the right to complain while in Pittsburgh. Crosby, who still leads the league with 32 goals and 66 points, has been out for the last two games, with the team going 0-1-1 in his absence.
- The Bruins pulled off a memorable one vs. Penguins last time they were in town. The B’s came back from a 4-2 deficit with five third-period goals and took a 7-4 victory behind a three-point night from Mark Recchi on Nov. 10.
- Will the Lucic-Savard-Ryder line live to see another day? With the way it performed on Saturday (two shots on goal, both of which were from Michael Ryder), Bruins fans should hope not. Savard just isn’t himself, and his presence on a top line isn’t helping the B’s quest for offense right now.
- While on the subject of Savard, Monday will be the center’s first trip back to Pittsburgh since suffering his concussion on a hit from Matt Cooke last March 7.
- This will be the first of two match-ups between the two teams over the next week. After the B’s leave Pittsburgh, they will return to the Garden, where they will face the Senators and Flyers this week before hosting the Penguins on Saturday. After Saturday, the two teams won’t meet again until they close out their season series on March 5.