|Bruins-Penguins Live blog: Slumping B’s looking to right the ship||02.04.12 at 12:59 pm ET|
|Cam Ward blanks Bruins, whose struggles continue||02.02.12 at 9:27 pm ET|
The Bruins turned in their latest poor showing and as Carolina took a 3-0 contest and swept the four-game season series between the teams for the first time in franchise history.
The Hurricanes got goals from Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu in the first and second periods, respectively. Picking up the shutout for Carolina was Cam Ward, who won all four games against the Bruins this season. Tuukka Rask took the loss.
The Bruins came out and outshot Carolina, 22-8, in the first period, but Staal’s first-period tally and stronger second and third-period efforts propelled the Hurricanes, who entered Thursday last in the Eastern Conference, past the B’s.
With the loss, the Bruins’ are now 4-4-1 over their last nine games, their worst such stretch since the first month of the season. They will return to action Saturday when they host the Penguins at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins have now allowed three or more goals in five consecutive games. Prior to the current stretch the team is currently on, the longest stretch of games in which they allowed three or more goals was two. If the 4-4-1 record of late doesn’t say it enough, the Bruins have been well off the mark lately.
– A sensationally horrific stat pointed out by the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont, Thursday marked the ninth consecutive game in which the Bruins entered the hire period without the lead. Boston has been the league’s best third-period team this season, but they have to know that they can’t count on a big effort in the final 20 minutes to get them two points each time out.
Speaking of the third period, the Hurricanes outscored the Bruins, 8-4, in the third period in the four-game season series. That’s saying something.
– In too many ways, the game was reminiscent of the teams’ second meeting this season on Oct. 18, when the Bruins lost their cool late in the game and lost, 4-1. The Hurricanes had David Krejci outnumbered in front of Ward a little more than halfway through the third period, but that’s no excuse for Milan Lucic to show up late to the party grabbing Stall from behind and taking a roughing penalty. The Bruins are a tough, passionate team, but the passion that comes out when they know defeat is near is the wrong kind.
– For the second consecutive game, Patrice Bergeron’s line was a minus-2. Tyler Seguin still leads the NHL with a plus-32 rating, but that will go away fast if his line continues to allow goals at their recent clip.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– While Thursday’s showing (once again) was not a 60-minute effort, the B’s at least came out with a better start than they had in games past. The team’s 22 shots on goal in the first (though they came with very few scoring opportunities) period was the most the team ties the third period of Jan. 10’s game against the Jets for the most shot they’ve had in a single period this year.
– The Bruins survived an injury scare. Johnny Boychuk’s stick went into his midsection after taking a hit from Tuomo Ruutu in the seconds that led up to Staal’s goal. Boychuk left the ice in pain and went down the tunnel following the goal. He did not return to the bench for the rest of the period, but he was present at the start of the second period.
– Rask kept them in the game. Ruutu’s goal wasn’t Rask’s finest moment, but the Finnish goaltender kept the contest close in the second period when the Bruins couldn’t keep up with the Hurricanes. Some of Rask’s brightest moments came when he went post-to-post to stop Eric Staal late in the period and when he made a sharp glove save on a Patrick Dwyer shot from the slot.
|Bruins-Hurricanes Live Blog: Tuomo Ruutu makes it 2-0||02.02.12 at 7:10 pm ET|
|Nathan Horton still not working out after concussion||02.02.12 at 12:01 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the team’s morning skate Thursday that forward Nathan Horton has not progressed this week in his recovery from his latest concussion, and still is not riding the stationary bike.
“He’s still where he was a few days ago,” Julien said. “Feeling better, but not well enough right now to get to that stage of working out.”
Horton suffered the injury on Jan. 22, when he was hit by Flyers forward Tom Sestito. The play was not reviewed by the league, and Sestito was not fined or suspended for the hit.
The concussion is Horton’s second since June. Horton was famously blindsided by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome in the first period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals last season. He missed the rest of the postseason with the concussion.
|Adam McQuaid feeling better, expected to be in Bruins’ lineup vs. Hurricanes||02.02.12 at 11:55 am ET|
After missing Wednesday’s practice with a lower-body injury, Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid was on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate and hopes to play Thursday night against the Hurricanes at TD Garden.
“I felt good this morning,” McQuaid said after the skate. “I’m not sure exactly if there’s been a decision made, but I felt good this morning.”
Said coach Claude Julien: “As far as we know, he should be ready to go, but we’ll probably leave it at game-time decision. He looked good this morning, and we anticipate he’s going to play.”
McQuaid caught his skate in a rut late in the third period against the Senators on Tuesday, and said that though a part of him was concerned he may have suffered something more severe, he’s feeling better now.
“There’s always a little bit of that concern,” McQuaid said. “You’re not sure how your body will react to different things, but I’m pretty happy with how I felt today.”
McQuaid will also see the return of his defense partner in Andrew Ference, who will return from a three-game suspension Thursday night.
|Andrew Ference ready to return from suspension||02.01.12 at 6:12 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Andrew Ference has always prided himself on being a clean player, so is he worried his reputation has been tarnished after his three-game suspension for his hit on Rangers forward Ryan McDonagh?
“I don’t have to register in my neighborhood, so’¦ I still think it’s alright,” Ference said after Wednesday’s practice.
Ference finished serving the suspension, the first of his career, Tuesday night against the Senators. He likened sitting the games out to being an injured player, as he was anxious to get back on the ice but was forced to watch the games from the press box. After plenty of time off (because the All-Star break came in the middle of the suspension, Ference might have a bit more rust after going 11 days without game action), but he’s done the typical things — mainly extra work in practice — to stay sharp.
Ference was suspended by league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan for pushing McDonagh into the end boards when the two were chasing the puck in the Rangers’ zone in overtime on Jan. 21. Ference has repeatedly expressed regret over how the play unfolded, but maintains that he wouldn’t approach a similar play differently.
“I mean, there’s not a whole lot of options,” Ference said. “The thing about that play is — and I kind of, just for my own amusement watched the games — and that type of play happens a lot in the game. It doesn’t usually result in a guy falling. It’s usually a little slower speed, but that situation happens all the time and situations where guys can fall awkwardly. It’s a common thing, it just doesn’t happen that often because guys have good balance and stay up. Next time I’ll get the puck and score I guess.
“Every situation is different, but honestly, if that situation happens, you try to let up and you try to do what I did. You don’t plant them into the boards, you try to let up as much as possible and hope things work out.”
|Why can’t the Bruins beat the Hurricanes?||02.01.12 at 4:22 pm ET|
They say that in order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. The Bruins’ problem this season is that they can’t beat the worst.
The Hurricanes will enter the Garden Thursday night with just 45 points on the season, which puts them dead last in the Eastern Conference, but they’ll also come in having won all three previous meetings against the Bruins this season.
For one reason or another, the Hurricanes have given the Bruins, who are a point out of first place in the conference, fits. Whether it was on Oct. 18, when Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic lost their cool on Tim Gleason late in the third period, or in their last meeting, when the B’s blew a third-period lead and saw Carolina score three unanswered goals, the Bruins simply haven’t been up to the challenge against perhaps the least challenging opponent in the East.
“To be honest, I don’t think we’ve played well against them,” Gregory Campbell said after Wednesday’s practice. “That’s no discredit to them. The first two losses came within a week, and that was probably when we were playing some of our poorest hockey of the season. I thought the last time we were in there, they played an awesome game. They were hard on us, and we weren’t prepared for that. We weren’t prepared to skate, and they were all over us. They basically smothered us, and they deserved to win that game.”
If there’s been one certainty with the Bruins this season, it’s been their dominant third-period play. They have a plus-66 goal differential in the third period this season, but the Hurricanes have even beaten them there. Only three Bruins opponents have outscored them in the third period this season: the Avalanche (who scored their only goal of the game in teams’ lone meeting), the Canadiens (who have scored four goals against the B’s in the third compared to Boston’s three) and the Hurricanes. Of those teams, the Hurricanes have the best third-period differential against the Bruins, as they’ve outscored Boston, 7-4, in the third period when the teams have met this season.
The Hurricanes recently locked up Gleason with a four-year, $16 million deal, meaning perhaps the best defensive option for the trade deadline has been taken off the market. It also means the Hurricanes will remain equipped to continue to bring it to the B’s as they continue to face them.
But for the Bruins and their struggles against the Hurricanes, they aren’t thinking about the opponent. They’re focused on the way they’ve played the opponent, and it hasn’t been up to par.
“I think it’s not really about us focusing on what they’re doing to beat us,” Campbell said. “It’s more so us focusing on brining our game and seeing what that presents.”
If the Bruins can win, perhaps they can use it as a springboard to get them back to where they were prior to their current stretch of sloppy play. The B’s are 4-3-1 in their last eight games, and failed to show up in the first 40 minutes before beating the Senators Tuesday with a third-period comeback.
“Things have slipped. It’s no secret in here,” Campbell said. “Claude [Julien] has been realistic with us. We’re not playing up to the potential we’re capable of. They’ve done their job. Our job as players is to get back to that, and it’s no secret. We just have to play our game like we did in November and December, and that’s a formula that brings success for us.”
Between their previous inability to beat the conference’s worst team and a desire to get back to the level of play they found during their 21-3-1 stretch, a lot of things can change for the Bruins Thursday night.
Said Campbell: “Good teams find a way to be consistent. That’s our issue right now.”