|Bruins beat Capitals, 4-1, in home opener||10.21.10 at 9:31 pm ET|
Michael Ryder, Jordan Caron, Nathan Horton and Zdeno Chara all scored for the Bruins and Tim Thomas turned in his latest stellar performance as the B’s beat the Capitals, 4-1, in their home opener Thursday night.
Ryder, Horton, and Chara saw their goals come on the power play, an impressive sight given that the team had converted on just one of 15 opportunities entering the night.
Thomas was nothing short of outstanding, allowing one fluky goal (see below) on 39 shots faced. Thomas has now started four games in a row for the Bruins and has won them all. The B’s are now 4-1 on the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- That clever little trick Tuukka Rask and Claude Julien pulled on the media can be appreciated given how outstanding Thomas once again was. Rask came off the ice in the morning skate first and with a grin spoke of his excitement to get a start. Of course, the Bruins sat Rask for the fourth-straight game, giving the Thomas the start and fooling reporters in the process.
While Rask’s sense of humor was a bright spot of the day, Thomas stole the show for the fourth straight game. He made many a highlight reel save and recovered tremendously each time the Capitals had a chance at catching the 36-year-old goaltender out of position.
There were many “if they didn’t score there, they just won’t score tonight for the moments,” on the night prior to the Caps’ lone goal, with a couple of huge saves on old friend Mike Knuble standing out in particular. Thomas has now allowed just three goals in four starts this season.
- The power play is mentioned in the “What went right” category! The Bruins scored on three of four power plays thanks to tallies from Ryder, Horton and Chara.
Improving the power play to 4-for-19 on the season was no small task against a Capitals team that entered the night having not allowed a power play goal in 25 chances. The Capitals themselves were 0-for-4 on the power play.
- The Bruins won this game in many areas, but let’s not let their neutral zone play go unnoticed. The Bruins created turnovers throughout the night, especially early on, in between the blue lines, creating many plenty of offensive opportunities for themselves and limiting whatever damage the Capitals could attempt on Thomas.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The shutout bid ended at 9:27 of the third period in rather ugly fashion. Thomas came out of his net to send a puck back up from the hashmarks, but Jason Chimera entered the zone and intercepted it, picking up his second goal of the season with ease and ending preventing Thomas from getting his second shutout of the season.
- This should be indicative of just how good a night it was for the Bruins. Semyon Varlamov or bad bounces prevented the two rookies — who both had very good games in their first regular season sample of the Garden — from putting scoring YouTube-bound goals. Tyler Seguin, who had an assist on Ryder’s goal, fooled the Washington defense handily by faking a dump-and-change in the first period before losing control, while Caron squandered a bid for his second goal later in the game. Boy, what a terrible night it is when you can’t win, 5-1…
- Don’t quite get all the sneering at anthem singer Steven Tyler. Nobody expected the guy to hit a note, and he hit them all. Sneering unjustified.
|Jordan Caron, Nathan Horton add to Bruins’ lead in the second period||10.21.10 at 8:37 pm ET|
Nathan Horton said on Wednesday that the Bruins’ power play would be better. He backed up that talk by boosting the team’s power play stats, beating Semyon Varlamov with a snapshot from the top of the circle with a snapshot through traffic to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead after two periods of play.
With Horton’s goal, the Bruins are 2-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-18 on the season. The Capitals, who hadn’t allowed a power play goal before Michael Ryder’s first period strike, have now allowed two power play goals in 28 chances.
Jordan Caron picked up his second goal of the season to put the Bruins up 2-0 at 2:22 of the period, taking a beautiful feed from a behind-the-net Patrice Bergeron and beating Varlamov top shelf.
Tim Thomas continues to dazzle in net, as he’s stopped all 26 shots he’s faced, including what seemed like a Mike Knuble freebie off a big bounce off the boards late in the period. The two teams are dead even with shots on goal at 26 apiece, though the Bruins outshot the Capitals, 18-13, in the second.
Tyler Seguin makes headlines with his scoring and passing, but his hand-eye coordination is remarkable for an 18-year-old. Seguin, with his back to the play and in the neutral zone, knocked down a pass above waist level from Michael Ryder coming out of his own end and was able to control it quickly enough to feed it right back to Ryder as the winger entered the offensive zone.
|Bruins up 1-0 on Ryder’s PP goal||10.21.10 at 7:50 pm ET|
Michael Ryder has the Bruins on top 1-0 after one period, as he picked up the team’s second power play goal in 16 chances on the season. The Bruins had other opportunities as well, as they looked impressive in turning neutral zone turnovers into scoring chances. Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin each made bids, but it was Ryder’s power play goal with 27.5 seconds left in the period, assisted by Patrice Bergeron and Seguin that had those on hand at the home opener satisfied after one.
Regarding the goaltending, it was another period and another handful of terrific saves from Tim Thomas. The 36-year-old, playing in his fourth straight game, robbed the Capitals forwards on multiple occasions, with Brooks Laich and Alexander Ovechkin a couple of notable victims. The Captials outshot the Bruins, 13-8, in the period. Ryder’s goal was also the first power play goal the Capitals have allowed this season.
You’ve got to love this Bruins fourth line and the energy it can bring. Shawn Thornton outmuscled his way around the offensive zone, tossing two shots on Varlamov and doing a terrific job of keeping the puck in. Additionally, Gregory Campbell had a point-blank bid on a rebound right in front of Varlamov with about six minutes remaining in the period but was stoned by the Washington netminder.
There were two penalties called in the period, a boarding call against Andrew Ference and a tripping call against Matt Hendricks.
|UPDATE: Thomas to start for Bruins||10.21.10 at 6:37 pm ET|
While the media tries to figure out just why such mixed signals were sent Thursday morning, Tim Thomas was the first onto the ice for the Bruins in warmups, meaning he’ll get the nod in net for the B’s, his fourth straight start.
Rask was the first off the ice in practice and spoke to the media after practice about his excitement to get the start. Claude Julien, meanwhile, told the media that, “you’ll see at 7.” Thomas has started the last three games for the Bruins, allowing two goals over a span in which the B’s picked up three straight wins.
Expect the same lines for the Bruins:
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Jordan Caron – Patrice Bergeron – Blake Wheeler
Mark Recchi – Tyler Seguin – Michael Ryder
Brad Marchand – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara – Johnny Boychuk
Mark Stuart – Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Hunwick – Andrew Ference
|The last time the Garden will look like this for a while||10.21.10 at 6:15 pm ET|
…Well, figuratively, anyway. Here’s a shot of an empty Garden just seconds before fans started filing in. From the insane flashing lights they were testing during the day, the opening festivities should be quite the spectacle. Plus, Steven Tyler’s going to be there. What’s not to like?
|Blake Wheeler wants to give fans a win, not a ‘show’||10.21.10 at 12:42 pm ET|
“It’s always special. There’s always that excitement of playing that first game at home in front of your own fans,” Zdeno Chara said. “You always get the butterflies going and the excitement that you only get once a year.”
Count second line winger Blake Wheeler among the players excited for Thursday night’s home opener against the Capitals. He enjoys the fanfare and whatever hoopla comes with the night, but once the puck is dropped, he knows the Bruins have a job to do.
“We can’t really be focused on putting on a show,” Wheeler said Thursday. “We’ve just got to play hard and do the things that have made us successful. That’s what the fans appreciate, so it’s almost like less is more.”
The team has been off to a hot start, following up an ugly season-opening loss in Prague with three straight victories on the road. The offense has clicked, the goaltending’s been outstanding, and the B’s have six points in the last three games.
Preseason aside, Bruins fans last saw their beloved black and gold blow a 3-0 series and Game 7 lead to the Flyers. Thursday the team can officially unveil their revamped roster that has seen the addition of Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, Jordan Caron and Gregory Campbell. New faces aren’t the only difference for the Bruins, who look to improve their win streak Thursday.
“I think guys have confidence. I think guys are playing with a lot of confidence, and playing well. I think for the most part guys are feeling good. We just want to maintain that momentum and just keep playing hard and not change anything.”
|Butterflies a thing of the past for Tyler Seguin||10.21.10 at 12:22 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin knows that he’s a rookie. He knows that on any given night, chances are he’s the youngest guy on the ice. As such, he’s not going to act like he owns the place when it comes to adjusting to the NHL. Case in point: he answered one question on Thursday morning about the team’s recent play by saying, “I haven’t been around the league long enough” to comment on how good the B’s or other teams are. He’s a high-profile player, but he doesn’t want to take any liberties.
Unlike your average rookie, Seguin doesn’t get flustered or nervous when the attention’s on him. Thursday night he’ll get his first taste of the regular season in Boston. He’s got four games under his belt, but the preseason and his imagination are the only things that could prepare him for playing to a packed Garden.
Is he nervous? Predictably with Seguin, he isn’t. He’s been able to take everything the NHL has thrown at him in stride, and as he knocks off the firsts — game, goal, assist, etc. — he just keeps looking ahead.
“I think the main ones are kind of out of the way now,” Seguin said. “Now I’m just staying focused on improving the little things I need to improve on.”
Seguin admitted that he was nervous prior to his first preseason game against the Canadiens given that it was his first time going up against NHL competition. He had two words to sum up whether the butterflies have lingered and if he still gets nervous: “Not anymore.”
“Everybody is different when it comes to that, and I’ve seen a lot of players that have butterflies before games that are very good players and that’s the way they prepare the best,” Claude Julien said. “Other guys are just not nervous by nature, and hopefully it works to his advantage. [Seguin] has been through a lot, I think, with the draft, and then where he was ranked and all the attention he got, so at the end of the day, this is just another thing going through his program.”
The second overall pick in June’s draft, Seguin has two points — a goal and an assist — and a minus-one rating through four games.
Seguin had a comment last week about not “over-respecting” the competition when a reporter asked him about facing a legend in Martin Brodeur. Maybe it’s because Alexander Ovechkin was a top pick and is a scoring machine like him that Seguin had no problem saying the Russian is in a class he’d one day like to join.
“I mean Ovechkin’s Ovechkin, right? He’s a pretty phenomenal player,” Seguin said. “You want to be the best, and he’s definitely up there, so [having an impact like him] is definitely something you’d want to do in the future.”