|Not surprised to see Roberto Luongo sitting vs. Bruins||01.06.12 at 3:07 pm ET|
Canucks goaltender and Marblehead native Cory Schneider told reporters Friday that he, not Roberto Luongo, will be the team’s starting goalie when Vancouver faces the Bruins Saturday in a rematch of the teams in last season Stanley Cup finals.
Luongo is coming off a shutout Wednesday against the Wild, but he had a very difficult time playing in Boston in the postseason. In three starts in Boston in the finals, he allowed 15 goals and was chased from both Games 4 and 6. He allowed five goals in the other four games at Rogers Arena.
This season, Luongo is 17-8-3 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. Schneider, who played his college hockey at Boston College, is 8-5-0 with a 2.16 GAA and a .931 save percentage.
It ultimately isn’t surprising for Luongo to sit Saturday vs. the B’s. He got off to a rocky start this season, but has turned things around. If anything could shake him right now, it’s the idea of playing in Boston again.
Things went downhill for Luongo following the Canucks’ 1-0 win in Game 5 of the finals. Following the win, Luongo criticized Tim Thomas‘ style of play, saying the game-winning goal he allowed to Maxim Lapierre would have been an easy save for him. Luongo was chased jsut 8:35 into the next game after allowing three early goals and went on to allow three goals in the Bruins’ 4-0 Cup-clinching Game 7.
Thomas told WEEI.com recently that Luongo’s remarks gave him confidence, as he realized that Luongo was distracted.
‘As far as Luongo goes, actually, all that did was give me confidence that his head was in the wrong place, because I was focused on stopping the puck and he was thinking about my style,’ Thomas said on Dec. 21 as he reflected on the now infamous comment.
‘I realized that I had an advantage over him,’ Thomas added. ‘’¦ The challenge on my end was to keep that advantage.’
The Bruins starter is currently unknown, though Tuukka Rask has allowed just one goal over his last four starts and is coming off his third shutout this season. Just this writer’s opinion, but it might be wise for Julien to continue to ride the hot hand and stick with Rask for Saturday’s game. That way the B’s can go back to Thomas, who beat Winnipeg in November, when the Jets come to town Tuesday. Rask was in net for the Bruins’ Dec. 6 loss to the Jets.
|Nathan Horton: Canucks rematch ‘just another game’||01.05.12 at 10:21 pm ET|
Nathan Horton had a rare session with reporters following Thursday’s 9-0 blowout win over the Flames. The forward, who had two goals in the win, was asked his thoughts about Saturday’s meeting with the Canucks.
The game figures to be an emotional one, perhaps even more so for Horton. The power forward was blindsided by Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, giving him a concussion and knocking him out for the rest of the finals.
“I think everyone’s just thinking it’s another game, but we did play them in the finals,” Horton said. “They’re still a good team, and we’re still a good team, and it’s going to be a good game. I’m not really thinking too much about what happened, but just getting excited for the game.”
Rome will not be in the lineup for the Canucks, as he is out with a hand injury.
After Thursday’s three-point performance, Horton has 12 goals and 14 assists this season for 26 points.
|Bruins crush Flames, 9-0, behind Tuukka Rask’s latest shutout||01.05.12 at 9:27 pm ET|
Since losing to the Stars on Saturday night, the Bruins may have developed a habit of blowing teams out of the water. They did so for the second straight night Thursday, crushing the Flames, 9-0, behind Tuukka Rask‘s third shutout of the season.
This one was never close following Tyler Seguin‘s tally 74 seconds into the game, and the Bruins weren’t afraid to pile it on once again. Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton each had two-goal nights, while the B’s also received goals from Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille.
The Bruins picked up the win without forward Brad Marchand, who was out with flu-like symptoms. The B’s certainly made due without the 23-year-old, as Bergeron’s line still produced three goals.
The Bruins will next play on Saturday when they host the Canucks in a rematch of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
— No Marchand? No problem. Pouliot was superb in filling in for the ill winger on the second-line, getting four shots on goal and assisting Seguin and Bergeron’s goals. Benoit Pouliot did a nice job of stealing the puck in the neutral zone, feeding Seguin to set top Bergeron’s goal in the second period. He now has 13 points (seven goals and six assists) in 31 games this season. He got secondary assists on Seguin’s goal and Bergeron’s second tally.
The three assists for Pouliot matched a career-high, and it doubled his assist total this season.
— More of the same from Rask. The B’s backup lowered his league-best goals-against average and save percentage with the shutout, and has now allowed just one goal over his last five games. Scary to think that this is a guy who might not even get a start in the postseason.
– Good to see Paille score a shorthanded goal on the breakaway. Very quietly — a secret that’s been kept off the stat sheet for the most part — Paille has been putting together a heck of a season. He now has seven goals on the season, and if he had a better finishing touch he could easily have double that.
— Joe Corvo was a plus-4 on the night despite not picking up a point in the game with a game-high seven shots on goal. His plus/minus was best among the Bruins, while Flames defenseman Chris Butler was a horrific minus-7. In Butler’s case, Wednesday’s game could ruin him in that category for the season.
— Given how many goals the B’s scored on the night, of course it was another night in which the Bruins scored goals within a minute of each other. Bergeron’s first goal and Kelly’s tally came 47 seconds apart, marking the 13th time this season the B’s have scored two goals in less than a minute.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
|Bruins-Flames Live Blog: Daniel Paille makes it 9-0||01.05.12 at 7:01 pm ET|
|Tim Thomas among the first six players voted to All-Star Game||01.05.12 at 11:17 am ET|
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was the top vote-getter in the fan voting portion of the All-Star Game selection process, meaning he will play in the game for the fourth consecutive time.
Thomas received 626,540 votes, which placed him more than 120,000 ahead of Toronto goalie James Reimer.
The 37-year-old Thomas is currently second in the NHL in save percentage, behind teammate Tuukka Rask. Thomas has a .940 save percentage and a 1.90 goals against average, the latter of which ranks third in the league. Rask leads the league with a 1.61 GAA.
Thomas was named the All-Star Game in 2008, 2009 and 2011. There was no All-Star Game in 2010 due to the Winter Olympics.
The Bruins’ goaltender was one of the first six players selected to the All-Star Game. Senators Erik Karlsson, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf were the are the other five. Later this month, 36 more players will be chosen and the teams will be determined by a fantasy draft.
|Bruins crush Devils behind Patrice Bergeron’s big night||01.04.12 at 9:56 pm ET|
The Bruins began the 2012 part of their schedule by doing what they did plenty of in 2011: winning.
David Clarkson opened the scoring for the Devils in the first period, beating Thomas after taking a feed from Zach Parise, but it was all Bruins after that. Gregory Campbell scored his fourth of the season, and Nathan Horton added his 10th to give the B’s a 2-1 lead after the first period.
Patrice Bergeron scored an unassisted breakaway goal following a Devils’ power play in the second, and the B’s added three more in the third, as they received Bergeron’s second of the night and tallies from David Krejci and Shawn Thornton.
The Bruins will return to the Garden Thursday to face the Flames.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Krejci extended his point streak to six games. His goal, his eighth of the season, was his third in the aforementioned span. Krejci has seven points (three goals, four assists) over the last six contests, and that’s a very good sign for the 25 year-old center, who has struggled with consistency at times.
– Speaking of consistency, good to see Horton picking it up as well. Wednesday’s goal was just his second in his last eight games, but it made for his third point in the last two contests. Horton has a tendency to disappear when he’s not scoring, so if he can pick it up, the Bruins will be in better shape. The 26-year-old entered the game with a team-worst minus-2 rating on the season, but his plus-2 Wednesday pulled him to even.
– Thornton came an assist away from a Gordie Howe hat trick. The fourth-line winger tangoes with Cam Janssen in the first period, and gave the B’s their sixth goal of the night late in the third period.
Last season, Thornton scored a career-high 10 goals for the B’s and also had a career-best 10 assists. Wednesday’s goal was just the third of the season for Thornton, and while he may not be scoring as much, he continues to give the Bruins both a spark and plenty of grit when he’s on the ice.
– Thomas made 30 saves on the night. The numbers haven’t been updated, but he may have leapfrogged Tuukka Rask for the league lead in save percentage. That back-and-forth just may be what the rest of the season is going to be.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Well, considering the Bruins only allowed, we’ll focus on that. Adam McQuaid couldn’t keep the puck in the offensive zone, and when Parise caught up with it, all he had to do was send the puck over and away from Andrew Ference to Clarkson, who beat Thomas and made it 1-0.
|Better late than never, Zach Hamill earns extended stay||01.03.12 at 1:15 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Zach Hamill has made himself relevant again.
The eighth overall pick in the 2007 draft, Hamill failed to make significant strides in his first three full seasons in the organization, so much so that if you were to google his name, the word “bust” would be the second option on auto-complete.
Now, Hamill has turned things around, making a home for himself in Boston with strong play in place of injured forwards at various points this season. With Tuesday’s move that sent 2009 first-rounder Jordan Caron back to Providence, the 23-year-old Hamill has now established himself as the team’s extra forward.
There’s a bit of irony in that, as Providence coach Bruce Cassidy actually called Hamill out this summer, referencing the fact that younger players (Caron is 20) were making the team over him, and that he had yet to meet expectations.
“At the end of the day, when you’re in your fourth year in the same organization, it falls upon yourself just to push people,” Cassidy said of Hamill. “I think the individual has to recognize what’s going on around him. A few people have passed him and it’s time for him to start passing a couple of younger guys that have come in the last couple of years. And whether he’s ready to do that, we’ll find out in September.”
Hamill didn’t need to hear Cassidy’s words to realize the situation. He was well aware of it when Caron made the team out of camp last season, while Hamill didn’t even make the trip to Europe.
“I’m a smart enough person that I can see that,” Hamill said of the fact that he was being surpassed by younger players. “I see those kind of things, but at the same time you don’t want to look too much into it. The more you look into it, the more you drive yourself crazy. ‘¦ There’s been encouraging words along the way, but there are obviously ups and downs, so every day it’s different, but you try to keep an even keel.”
Hamill doesn’t like to think of it as a competition between he and Caron, but he does admit to watching Caron make the team over him as motivation. Factor in that each year without Hamill on the roster meant more chatter that the Bruins’ may have missed on such a high pick, and there were plenty of things to motivate the youngster.
“Obviously that motivation sometimes pushes you,” Hamill said. “Sometimes there are words that you don’t like, but at the same time, you can’t think too much of it. There obviously were times where I’ve been doing something, and I know in the back of my mind that it’s there. It’s definitely something that I don’t forget, but I try not to focus on it too much.”
Coach Claude Julien said after Tuesday’s practice that the team feels comfortable with Hamill as its 13th forward given how much time he’s put in in the minors. In eight games for the B’s this season, Hamill has two assists, and has seen time on both the power play and penalty kill. Though he figures to be a healthy scratch for the time being, it’s quite surprising that he’s able to claw his way onto the roster. When the Bruins, who were known for their depth, signed Benoit Pouliot, had Chris Clark in for a tryout and had Caron vying for a bigger role, Hamill didn’t worry about how he’d end up where he is now. Instead he focused on waiting for the opportunity and turning it into a bigger opportunity.
Said Hamill of his mindset: “A lot of good todays end up with good tomorrows.”
While Hamill’s yesterdays had people writing him off, his todays have gotten him to the NHL for an extended stay.