|Chemistry, Class: Gregory Campbell happy to see Shawn Thornton sticking around||03.19.12 at 2:33 pm ET|
Thornton, who was given a two-year contract extension over the weekend, has certainly left his mark on Campbell’s career, and Campbell knows it. The veteran center came to Boston as part of the Nathan Horton trade after playing the first six seasons of his career with the Panthers. He played on different lines in his time in Florida, but when he came to Boston, he established something with Thornton that has kept the two together from Day 1. He’d never been essentially tied to another player the way he is with Thornton, and he’s proud to be one third of one of the best fourth lines in the NHL. To him, Thornton makes that possible.
“No. I mean, no,” Campbell said when asked whether he had played with anyone in Florida as much as he’s played with Thornton. “I played with Radek Dvorak I think maybe for two years, but not as constantly as almost on a shift-by-shift basis with Thorty.
“It’s a role that I’m happy to play and he’s happy to play, as part of the depth on this team. It’s not too often that you throw out four lines, and obviously he’s a big part of the fourth line, and his role is interchanging all the time. I think that that position, that ‘¦ combination in the league is not very common any more, where you have a guy that’s obviously very physical and can fight, but that can play. That’s why he’s valued so much.”
Likely due to the fact that his extension has yet to be announced by the team, the always-accessible Thornton was not available to the media. With Thornton not present to speak, it’s no surprise Campbell was happy to share his delight with the news that the veteran enforcer will be sticking around for two more seasons.
“When your play against Thorty, it’s evident to see that he’s a hard-working guy, but once you’re on his team, you realize how important he is to the team, not only on the ice but off the ice [with] the leadership that he brings and the professionalism that he has every day. He has a hard job,” Campbell said. “I mean, there’s not too many guys in the league that can do what he does physically and also contribute not he score sheet once in a while. He’s a good player. I think he’s a real big part of this team, and it obviously shows with them giving him [a new contract].”
The Merlot Line, as Thornton dubbed it based on its burgundy-colored practice jerseys, has consisted of Thornton, Campbell and someone else for the last two seasons. Brad Marchand started on the trio before moving on to bigger and better things with Patrice Bergeron, and Daniel Paille took over from there.
While many teams don’t give significant minutes to fourth-liners, it was the Merlot Line that changed the momentum of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, as the trio of Campbell, Thornton and Paille turned in a big shift that broke up a much stronger start from the Canucks.
When Paille was hurt earlier this month against the Islanders, the B’s had to play defenseman Mike Mottau with Campbell and Thornton. The chemistry developed between the two is so strong that almost anyone could play on that other wing and it will work.
“I think we take pride in our job and our role,” Campbell said. “Sometimes it changes, depending on the game or whatever it may be. I think Thorty and I just have to be a reliable pair, whether there’s injuries or whatnot, we’ve been fortunate enough to be in the lineup for this long, and not being injured or whatever. I think it’s important for us to be that solid pair that can be relied up upon by the coaches and play different roles.”
As the Bruins have slowly shortened their list of free-agents to be, Campbell has seen his teammates get their new deals one by one. Whether or not his comes next remains to be seen, but Campbell doesn’t want to leave.
“Of course it’s where I want to be,” he said with a laugh as if to dismiss the notion of anything else. “This is a great place to play, a great organization and a successful one. Every player wants to play where they’ve had success and there’s more success to come. The important thing now for us, it’s really nice to see those guys get those extensions ‘¦ but the important thing is focusing on playing and not the other stuff.”
|Joe Corvo a healthy scratch vs. Maple Leafs||03.19.12 at 12:38 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien said following the team’s morning skate that defenseman Joe Corvo will be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game when the B’s host the Maple Leafs Monday at TD Garden. The coach said that Corvo is “banged up,” but able to play.
“Joe is not going to be playing tonight,” Julien said of Corvo. “I said [Saturday] he was a healthy scratch, but he’s also a little banged up. What that means is if we really needed him he’d be available, but right now we’re going to stick with the same lineup of healthy guys.”
Mike Mottau will be the other healthy scratch on the blue line.
|Rich Peverley joins morning skate, now considered day-to-day||03.19.12 at 12:08 pm ET|
The Bruins got an encouraging sign Monday morning when forward Rich Peverley, who is coming back from a sprained right knee, took part in the team’s morning skate. It was Peverley’s first time participating in a practice with teammates since suffering his injury on Feb. 15, and he could be closing in on a return to the lineup.
“Day-to-day,” coach Claude Julien said of Peverley’s status. “There’s no exact time for when he’s going to start playing again, but he’s looking better every day.”
Peverley began skating on his own last Wednesday. Morning skates are non-contact practices, so taking contact will be the next step in the forward’s recovery.
“He’s progressed since [Wednesday],” Julien said. “When you’ve been off that long, you don’t just come back overnight, so we’re going to give him a chance and wait for our doctors to clear him.”
In 49 games this season, Peverley has nine goals and 29 assists for 38 points.
|Bruins end losing streak with shootout win over Flyers||03.17.12 at 3:41 pm ET|
The Bruins blew a two-goal lead Saturday but finally saw their losing streak end thanks to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Flyers.
With the win, the Bruins improved to 85 points on the season, which puts them one point ahead of the Senators for the Northeast Division lead.
After spotting teams two-goal leads in their previous four games, the B’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to goals from Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin. The Flyers got a power play goal from Matt Read in the second period before Jakub Voracek tied the game with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.
Joe Corvo was a healthy scratch for the Bruins, marking the first time this season he was not in the team’s lineup. Chris Kelly, Patrice Bergeron and Dennis Seidenberg are the only Bruins who have played in each game this season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins’ had been having a terrible time in the first period, spotting teams the first two goals in their previous four games, but they turned that trend around by jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. The Bruins didn’t even allow a shot on goal until 9:35 into the game, so the improvement in the game’s first 20 minutes was apparent.
– The Bruins have been able to break out of slumps in the past by playing a more physical game, and the B’s certainly brought that Saturday. Gregory Campbell fought Zac Rinaldo in a wild first-period bout, while Johnny Boychuk dropped Maxime Talbot in a matter of seconds in a short-lived second-period fight.
– For the first time since joining the Bruins, Greg Zanon had a positive rating (plus-2). He was in front for Read’s goal, but Zanon was also on the ice for both of the Bruins’ first-period goals. The former Wild defenseman will take encouraging signs where he can get them, and after being a minus-5 over his last five games and being a healthy scratch Thursday, Saturday would have to be considered an encouraging sign.
– The B’s needed a better showing out of Thomas, and they got one Saturday. The reigning Vezina-winner ended his streak of three straight starts with three or more goals allowed and came up especially big by sticking his right leg out to stop a first-period Jaromir Jagr breakaway. Thomas came up with huge saves in the final minute of regulation, as the B’s were actually fortunate to get to overtime with how hard the Flyers were attacking.
– A rare big defensive play from Seguin came with just over six minutes remaining. The Flyers were on a 2-on-2, with both Jagr and Seguin trailing behind. A Philadelphia player tried to drop the puck off for Jagr, but Seguin dove to break up the play. The second-year player obviously isn’t known for his work in his own zone, but he came up big to protect the lead Saturday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Shawn Thornton was furious as he skated to the penalty box after being called for goaltender interference with 8:56 remaining in the game. Thornton was driving to the net with the puck and was tried to slow up after Erik Gustafsson pushed him in towards Ilya Bryzgalov. The call itself was bad enough, but the timing was terrible for a team trying to hold onto a one-goal lead in a game they badly needed to win. The B’s killed off the penalty, but a bad call with under 10 minutes left isn’t what they were looking for.
|Bruins-Flyers Live Blog: B’s make Joe Corvo a healthy scratch||03.17.12 at 12:56 pm ET|
|Seventh-place Bruins thinking corrections, not collapse||03.16.12 at 11:38 pm ET|
The Bruins fell into seventh place in the Eastern Conference Friday night, something that would have seemed impossible back in late December when the Bruins were dominating teams left and right.
Yet for as good as the Bruins were back in December (a nine-point lead in the Northeast Division and just three regulation losses over a two-month span), their horrid play of late has been enough to undo their good standing in both the division and the conference. The Senators haven’t needed to play well (10-10-3 over their last 23 games) to catch Boston, but they overtook the division Friday night with an overtime win over the Canadiens.
On Friday, the Bruins held an hour-long skate to try to get their legs going for Saturday’s game. They know that when they take on the Flyers, they won’t just be trying to break a season-worst four-game losing streak, but trying to get back in front of the Senators.
“If you ask anyone and [they say] they don’t know what the standings are, they’re lying to you,” Chris Kelly said after the practice. “Obviously, we know where we stand and where other teams stand. All we can do is focus on ourselves and the games we have coming up.”
It wasn’t too long ago that the Bruins were using the standings for motivation. They woke up on November 1 in last place in the Eastern Conference after a wretched October. The defending champs didn’t like it where they stood, so they did something about it by going 21-3-1 for the rest of 2011.
This slump is much worse than anything that happened in the first month of the season (3-7-0). This isn’t some ugly 10-game stretch to open the season, but a two-and-a-half-month-long collapse. They’ve given up five goals in three consecutive games, and have allowed six in their last two.
“To give up six goals in back-to-back games, that’s not the definition of this hockey team. I think we’re a good, sound hockey team, especially in our own end,” Kelly said. “That hasn’t shown in the last few games.”
The Bruins’ mistakes have been clear. Take the Panthers’ fifth goal Thursday for example. Kelly tried firing a pass across to Andrew Ference in the Bruins’ zone, but the pass went of Adam McQuaid‘s skate and bounced right to Tomas Kopecky in front to set up a Florida tally. The Bruins know what they’re doing wrong, but they can’t seem to keep from doing it. They’re running with just 12 games left in the regular season, they’re running out of time to figure it out.
“Obviously we’d like to [have fixed everything] after one game,” Patrice Bergeron said after Friday’s practice. “Right now it’s not happening. It’s about finding answers and not worrying about the four-game losing streak. It’s about us finding desperation and finding answers. It’s about us working hard and giving everything we’ve got on every shift and coming out on top on every shift. If we do that [every game] we’re going to be alright.”
Said Claude Julien: “You lose your identity when you lose the way [we] have been lately,” Julien said. “Any team that goes through a slump loses its identity. We understand that we have to work hard and win more battles and that comes again with the attitude. The breakdowns are kind of camouflaging the fact that we are still a pretty hard-working team, but when you don’t work smart, you don’t look like a hard-working team.”
If they don’t figure it out, the Senators will stay atop the division, while the Bruins would likely remain in seventh place, making for a regular-season collapse that would be considered unfathomable had some baseball team not just re-written the book on regular-season collapses.
The Bruins know they’re headed down a disappointing path unless they right the ship. Fixing it is their only option, assuming they can do so in time.
“It’s not really a thought right now,” Kelly said of losing the division. “We’re going to go play and see what happens.”
|Rich Peverley skates again, hopes to return to Bruins before playoffs||03.16.12 at 4:47 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Rich Peverley skated for the third straight day Friday at Ristuccia Arena. The veteran winger then spoke to the media for the first time since suffering his knee injury last month.
Peverley has been out since Feb. 15, when a knee-on-knee hit from then-Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill left him with a sprained MCL in his right knee.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I’ve been skating for a couple of days, and it’s getting better every day.”
Added Peverley: “The first couple of days were kind of just getting back into it, and then today was a little bit harder, a little longer. I felt pretty good on the ice. It’s just about taking gradual steps.”
Peverley has yet to practice with teammates and said that there is currently no timetable for when that will happen. At the time of his injury, the Bruins estimated that he would miss 4-6 weeks. He hopes to make a return to the lineup before the end of the regular season.
“I think it would be tough to just go right into the playoffs,” he said. “I’d like to get in [before then], but I’m taking it day-by-day right now and [will] see where it goes.”
The 29-year-old had also been dealing with a nagging injury prior to suffering his knee injury. The team had given him practices and games off in December and January to accommodate the injury, and Peverley estimated in January that the injury might pester him throughout the season. He said Friday that the injury had gone away prior to his knee injury, and that it is no longer bothering him.
“It went away when I was still playing, so I dealt with it in different areas, and it was a lot better,” he said. “It wasn’t bothering me at all.”
Peverley added that it’s been difficult to watch the Bruins, who have lost four straight.
“It’s tough,” he said. “You want to win games even if you’re not playing — you’re part of a team. Every team has its ups and downs during the year. It’s no different. Hopefully we can get out of this slump soon.”