|Bruins-Capitals Live Blog: Tim Thomas in net for eighth straight game||03.10.12 at 12:48 pm ET|
|Still adjusting, Greg Zanon reacts to healthy scratch||03.09.12 at 2:05 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When the Bruins traded for Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau at the trade deadline, it created a situation in which they would have multiple veteran defensemen battling for playing time. After all, when everyone is healthy, the B’s will have eight defensemen. That would likely leave the likes of Mottau, Zanon and perhaps Joe Corvo competing for one spot.
After putting forth a strong showing in his Bruins debut last Thursday, Zanon appeared to be a good candidate to stick as one of the six blueliners in the B’s lineup each night. In the games that followed, however, he took a few strides backward, knocking a puck into the net Sunday against the Rangers and screening Tim Thomas on a Maple Leafs goal. He was a minus-4 over a three-game stretch, and was made a healthy scratch Thursday against the Sabres in favor of Mottau.
“I don’t make those decisions, so I just come,” Zanon said of being scratched. “I prepare the same every day. I prepare like I’m playing, and then when you find out if you’re in or you’re not in, that’s the way it goes. That’s the staff, that’s the management’s choice. All I can do is make sure that I’m ready for Saturday’s game, whether I play or not play, and just make sure my body’s ready to go at all times.”
If there was any message delivered by Claude Julien Thursday, Zanon prefers to keep it between him and the coach. Julien had said after Thursday’s morning skate that he had liked the way Zanon was playing, yet he still opted to sit the 31-year-old against Buffalo.
“It was [Julien’s] decision,” Zanon said. “I don’t ask questions about it. It was, you know, ‘You’re not going tonight.’ He said I’d been playing well. It’s just, I wasn’t going.”
After Friday’s optional practice (in which Zanon took part) at Ristuccia Arena, Julien said the move was more about getting Mottau into a game. The 33-year-old hadn’t played since making his Bruins debut last Tuesday against the Senators, so Julien wanted to make sure he kept the Quincy native fresh.
“It was an opportunity to put Mike Mottau in,” Julien said of the decision. “We’re trying to do a little bit of what we did with [Shane] Hnidy last year, trying to keep everybody I guess as fresh and as sharp as we can. Every once in a while, you pull a guy out, you put another guy in. When Ference is back, we’ve got eight D, so we’ve just got to kind of monitor that in a way that we’re going to try to do the best we can, so that guys don’t sit around too too long.”
Added Julien: “I didn’t mind [Mottau’s] game last night. He’s a smart player, he makes smart plays, good decisions. He finishes his checks when he has to. I thought he was good last night. I really did. You say that because he’s been sitting around for a while, watching some games, and he gets back in the lineup and plays the way he did. That’s exactly what we need from the players that aren’t playing every night. When you come in, remain sharp.”
As for Zanon, the former Wild blueliner says he is still getting adjusted to how the Bruins handle rushes, and that a lot of the acclimation process is getting used to the other defensemen and their positioning. Known as a safe defenseman capable of blocking a lot of shots, he doesn’t feel the flubs in his own end led to him spending Thursday night’s game in the press box.
“The D zone thing, I don’t think it’s been the issue,” he said. “You’d have to ask [Julien]. I don’t know what it was. Obviously, any time you can watch from up top, it’s a lot slower. It’s a way different game when you watch from up top. Obviously, when you’re on the ice, you base everything more on reaction and what you see on the time. It helps a little bit to be up there, but you also want to be in the game.”
|Andrew Ference, Daniel Paille still day-to-day as Bruins hold optional practice||03.09.12 at 11:58 am ET|
WILMINGTON — On the day before a busy weekend that will feature games against the Capitals and Penguins, the Bruins took to the ice at Ristuccia Arena.
There were nine forwards, six defensemen and one goalie on the ice for the B’s for an optional skate. Missing from the skate were Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas and coach Claude Julien.
After the skate, coach Claude Julien said that both Paille and Ference remain day-to-day.
“To be honest with you, [I’m] not sure,” Julien said of their statuses. “I know that they’re day-to-day. ‘¦ I would still have to look at where they are tomorrow morning and decide whether to put them out in the warmup and make that decision or now.”
Marchand, who woozily skated back to bench in the third period Thursday after taking a hit from Tyler Myers, is fine, according to the coach.
|Bruins finally win two in a row, defeat Sabres||03.08.12 at 9:29 pm ET|
It took the Bruins long enough, but they finally won their second game in a row thanks to Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Sabres. The victory marked the first time in 26 games that the B’s have won back-to-back contests.
Jason Pominville gave the Sabres the lead in the first period when he beat Tim Thomas with a rocket over the veteran netminder’s glove. Gregory Campbell tied the game in the second, redirecting a Shawn Thornton slap shot past Buffalo starter Jhonas Enroth. Johnny Boychuk gave the B’s the lead in the third period with his fourth goal of the season, with David Krejci providing insurance at 15:52.
Thomas made 19 saves on 20 shots faced. The game was the seventh consecutive contest in which Thomas has played.
The Bruins will host the Capitals Saturday as they go for their — get this — third straight win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
— Claude Julien called for more secondary scoring after Saturday’s loss to the Islanders, and for the third straight game since, he got it. After Jordan Caron dominated Sunday and Tuesday as a third-liner (three goals, two assists over the two games), it was the fourth line that chipped in with the equalizer in the second period. A Buffalo turnover left the puck waiting for Thornton to fire on not, and Campbell got a piece of it to tie the game. The goal was Campbell’s seventh of the season.
— Speaking of Caron, Julien switched Caron and Brian Rolston, putting Caron with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the second line and Rolston with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot. Rolston hasn’t made enough of a statement to earn top-six minutes since coming over in a trade from the Islanders last week, and it’s good for Julien to reward Caron for his improved play of late.
In picking up the assist on Boychuk’s goal, Caron extended his point streak to three games. The 21-year-old has three goals and three assists over his last three contests.
— The B’s new top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin has produced at least one goal in all five games since Julien put the trio together. Krejci has five goals over the last five games, while Seguin has four and Lucic has one. Some quick arithmetic shows that the members of the line have totaled 10 goals over their last five contests.
— The Bruins outscored their opponent in the second period for the third consecutive game. As has been well-documented, the Bruins have not been a good second-period team over the difficult stretch they’ve found themselves in since mid-January, but they have outscored their opponents 6-2 in the second over the last three games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
— Greg Zanon was made a healthy scratch for the first time since debuting with the B’s last week. Julien spoke highly of Zanon Thursday morning, calling him “sturdy” for the Bruins in his first four games with the Bruins, but the truth is that Zanon’s had a rough go of it since his debut. Zanon impressed in his first game with the B’s last Thursday, handling everything that was thrown his way and adapting to new partners as the team twice went to a five-man rotation. Since then, he’s had a rough time for the Bruins, having multiple flubs in front of Tim Thomas‘ net, knocking a puck in and posting a minus-4 rating over his last three games. He was one of just two Bruins (Thornton being the other) to have a minus rating (minus-1) in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs.
Mike Mottau played in Zanon’s place, skating on pairing with Adam McQuaid.
— Bergeron and Marchand have both gone the last six games without a goal. The second line is one that’s effective for its prowess in all three zones, but the B’s need two of their better forwards in Bergeron and Marchand to get going.
|Bruins-Sabres Live Blog: B’s go for second straight||03.08.12 at 6:54 pm ET|
|Bruins aim to finally win two in a row||03.08.12 at 12:30 pm ET|
When it comes to the Bruins, the last two months have been the definition of mediocrity. They were shut out five times in February and they’ve gone 11-12-2 over their last 25 games. Their scoring has dropped off and they’ve been allowing goals at a greater rate.
Perhaps the most alarming bit about their sluggish stretch is that they have not managed to win back-to-back games over their lsat 25 contests. It’s been since Jan. 10 and Jan. 12, and on Thursday they will have their latest chance to string together two victories.
The Bruins have obviously been banged up, but even the talent that’s left on the roster is capable of more. They’ve certainly been better over their last few games, but ultimately they can’t put their finger on what’s made it so difficult to win two in a row.
“I don’t know. We’ve been playing better of late,” Shawn Thornton said Thursday morning. “I think New York, we deserved to win [vs. the Rangers, a 4-3 loss]. I think we played well in Toronto. I think our game’s getting back to wear it needs to be. As long as we stay consistent with the way we’re playing, I’m happy.”
Last season, the Bruins were also struggling around this point of the season. On March 8, the B’s dropped what would be the second of four straight games (0-2-2) as part of a 1-3-3 stretch. The B’s found a way to pick up over the last few weeks, going 7-3-1 over their last 11 games.
Obviously, that didn’t solve all of the Bruins’ problems at the time. The B’s dropped the first two games of the Eastern conference quarterfinals to the Canadiens before coming alive and winning the series in seven games. Not letting the losses get you down is a mindset preached in the Bruins’ room, and it’s one that helped them then and eventually helped them win the Stanley Cup.
“We said it a lot last year. We didn’t let the highs get too high and the lows get too low,” Thornton said. “I know it’s cliche, but it’s true. We kind of just go about our business and focus on the next game. I think we’ve been pretty good at that this year, too. I think the experience has helped, but that was a big key in our success last year, just not worrying about what just happened, whether it was a big win or a big loss. [It was about] focusing on what’s coming up.”
On Thursday, the challenge to win two straight will come in the form of the Sabres, a squad that’s beaten the B’s in their last two meetings. Winning two straight hasn’t been easy for the Bruins of late, and it certainly won’t be easy given Buffalo’s situation. The Sabres are two points out of a playoff spot and have picked up their game, picking up points in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-2).
“They might be desperate, but they’re also playing great hockey, so it’s a combination of both,” Claude Julien said of the Sabres.
Two of the Bruins’ losses following wins over their last 25 games have come against the Sabres, so the B’s will be looking to change that trend Thursday night at the Garden. They feel they’ve been playing well enough recently (nine goals over their last two games) to pick up back-to-back wins for the first time in a long time. Frankly, they’re overdue.
“Our attitude in this room has never been a problem, but I think that we’re playing better of late,” Thornton said. “If we continue to be consistent playing that way, then we’re going to be good.”
|Benoit Pouliot expected back for Bruins, Daniel Paille and Andrew Ference remain out||03.08.12 at 11:51 am ET|
Claude Julien said after Thursday’s optional morning skate that forward Benoit Pouliot is expected to be in the lineup Thursday night against the Sabres. Pouliot took only two shifts in the second period Tuesday against the Maple Leafs before leaving and not returning.
“Looks good, looks fine,” Julien said of Pouliot. “[He] told us he’s ready to go.”
Forward Daniel Paille and defenseman Andrew Ference will not play for the B’s on Thursday. Both players are considered day-to-day. Paille has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, while Ference has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. Paille, Ference and Pouliot all skated Thursday morning.