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Statistician’s research suggests Gregory Campbell, not Patrice Bergeron, is Bruins best defensive forward 01.13.11 at 3:59 pm ET
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Here’s an interesting one. Patrice Bergeron‘s strong statistical output of late (17 points over the last 13 games) has made him a popular candidate for this season’s Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is given to the league’s best defensive forward. One’s candidacy for the award, which is supposed to be focused on the defensive aspect of the game, is generally aided by good offensive numbers, making Bergeron, who is among the top two-way forwards in the game, a good fit.

Yet this piece from James Mirtle in today’s Globe and Mail (and feel free to form your own opinion of it) throws a bit of a monkey wrench at the system. Taking the quality of players faced and how many goals they are on the ice for in both even strength and shorthanded situations into, a bit of research from Behind the Net statistician Gabriel Desjardins suggests that Bergeron isn’t even the best defensive forward on his own team.

Desjardin’s research suggests that Gregory Campbell was the first half’s second-best defensive forward, ranking behind only Washington’s Brooks Laich. Bergeron ranks No. 24 on the list. Here’s a look:

Read More: Gregory Campbell, Patrice Bergeron,
Bruins won’t get carried away as they look for more consistency in second half 01.13.11 at 1:19 pm ET
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The Bruins made it through the first half of the season with some of everything. From other-worldly goaltending, to injuries, to special teams highs and lows, there wasn’t much the first 41 games of the season didn’t feature.

One of the things that has made the 2010-11 Bruins a tough squad to figure it out is their inconsistent play. Winning streaks quickly turned to droughts, while it seems they had a knack for following up “worst loss of the season” candidates with statement-making wins. Take the Anaheim loss at home on Dec. 21, for example. The B’s put on a lineup-wide clinic on the art of disappearance in a 3-0 Ducks win that had fans booing at their loudest. The next game, they beat up on the Thrashers, both figuratively and literally.

Then there was the blown 2-0 lead against the Canadiens in the third period on Saturday. The Habs came back to sink the B’s in overtime, and the Bruins followed it by scoring four goals in the final 3:23 against the Penguins two days later for a 4-2 win. It’s tough to find patterns with this team, and with the Bruins having won two in a row, it’s tricky to assume whether things are trending upward for the Northeast Division-leading B’s.

“Most of us have been around long enough to know that it’s a long season with a lot of ups and downs,” Shawn Thornton said Thursday. “‘€¦ Obviously there’s going to be a couple of blips there, but you can’t let it bother you too much.”

“It’s a long season. Every team goes through their highs and their lows, but the big thing, if you look around at teams that are at the top of the league, they’re consistent,” Adam McQuaid said. “Every team has their off night every once and a while, but I think the big thing is this league is consistency.

This season’s edition of the B’s is a confident bunch, and while they look to make strides in the second half, they aren’t going to take anything as a given or assume there won’t be more lows.

“You learn from your mistakes,” Thornton said. “There’s going to be downs, too. It’s not the end of the world when we lose, and don’t order the rings when you win a game.”

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Shawn Thornton,
Post-morning skate notes: Milan Lucic out, Tim Thomas off first, Mark Stuart takes another step 01.13.11 at 12:23 pm ET
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Tim Thomas was first off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate, so it looks like he’ll be rewarded with the start vs. the Flyers after shutting out the Senators on Tuesday. He faces a tougher challenge against Philadelphia, as the Flyers are third in the league with their 3.4 goals per game, while the Senators’ 2.2 goals per game rank 29th.

Forward Milan Lucic will be out for the second straight game, as the undisclosed injury (which seems to be going around these days) hasn’t healed to the point at which Claude Julien is comfortable putting the slumping winger back in the lineup.

“[He's feeling] better,” coach Claude Julien said following the skate. “Obviously he won’t be i tonight, but he’s getting better.”

Julien likened Lucic’s situation to that of Nathan Horton, who missed a pair of games with an undisclosed injury prior to returning in Tuesday’s 6-0 victory over the Senators.

“[He's] day-to-day,” Julien said. “It’s a lot like Horton. He’s dealing with the same kind of situation as far as day-to-day is concerned.”

When Lucic does return, he’ll be looking to both shake of rust and bust out of an 11-game goal drought. Lucic leads the Bruins with 16 goals this season.

While Lucic wasn’t on the ice for the morning skate, defenseman Mark Stuart was. Stuart has been out since suffering a fractured hand and dislocated finger on Dec. 7 and hopes to return to the lineup sometime next week.

Given the impressive play of Steven Kampfer, who was called up following Stuart’s injury, as well as Adam McQuaid‘s safe and solid play on the blueline, the B’s will have a decision to make when it comes to making room for Stuart. To Stuart, the fact that both have played so well tells him that the team is in good shape, and that he shouldn’t assume anything will be handed to him.

“This is the best position to be in, and it’s going to make me work even harder to get back and to play well,” Stuart said.

“It’s definitely the case,” he added regarding the competition he anticipates for his spot. “You have to earn your way back. I don’t care who you are. … Guys are playing well. It would probably be different if the team was on a downswing and they were looking to change things up.

“It’s good to see, though. That’s what you need. That’s what all good teams have. You look around the league at the good teams. They all have guys coming up, guys coming in and out. Everybody can play, everybody comes in and does the job. I think that’s what you’ve seen with us the last month or so.”

Julien noted that with Stuart still a week to 10 days away, he isn’t in any rush to make a quick decision on how things will unfold.

“It’€™s probably a little early to answer that question,” Julien said. “… [We have] lots of games and so sometimes you have to make those decisions, sometimes you don’€™t so I’€™ll give myself a little break on that one.”

Here are some other notes from the skate:

- The lines looked the same for the Bruins as they were on Tuesday against Ottawa.

Ryder-Savard-Horton

Marchand-Bergeron-Recchi

Wheeler-Krejci-Seguin

Paille-Campbell-Thornton

- McQuaid probably likes getting attention more from his play and his fighting rather than from perhaps the scariest moment of his career. With the Flyers in town, though, so too is Jody Shelley, who sent him head-first into the end boards on Dec. 11 when the two were chasing an iced puck.

The B’s blueliner wanted to move on from the play, which got Shelley suspended for two games, at the time, and as the spotlight returns with Flyers, he would rather not dwell on it.

“You never want to kind of see yourself going head-first into the boards at any point in time, but it’s not really something I’m thinking too much about,” McQuaid said. “I’ve moved on, moved past it, and just want to be focused for tonight.”

- Horton wasn’t around following Tuesday’s game or during Thursday morning’s media availability, so it’s tough to gauge exactly how comfortable the winger feels since returning from his undisclosed injury. Julien liked what he saw from the winger on Tuesday, but on Thursday didn’t know if Horton’s feeling completely better.

“Let’€™s put it this way: he’€™s well enough to play,” Julien said. “I don’€™t know that I’€™d say he’€™s 100 percent, because you don’€™t come back from missing games and all of a sudden you’€™re 100 percent.

“[He was] close enough that the risk factor was kind of pushed aside, and they’€™re minimal, and that he was able to give us what we wanted and well enough to play.”

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Jody Shelley, Mark Stuart, Milan Lucic
Bruins look for third straight win as they take on Flyers 01.12.11 at 11:19 pm ET
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Fresh off a 6-0 trouncing of the Senators on Tuesday, the Bruins (23-12-7) will will play their second of four consecutive home games when they host the Flyers (27-10-5) on Thursday. The two teams have split the season series thus far, with the Bruins grabbing a 3-0 win in Philadelphia on Dec. 1 and the Flyers returning the favor with a 2-1 overtime victory at TD Garden on Dec. 11.

The Flyers sit atop the Eastern Conference with 59 points in 42 games and are currently riding a four-game winning streak. With the Canadiens falling to the Penguins, 5-2, on Wednesday, the Bruins have an opportunity to expand their lead in the Northeast Division to four points. Tim Thomas will get the nod for the B’s.

WHERE IT’S AT

- The Bruins are 10-7-3 in home games this season. They’ve gone 3-2-0 over their last five contests at the Garden dating back to their 3-2 win over the Capitals on Dec. 18.

- The Flyers are 14-4-3 outside of Wells Fargo Center, and their 31 road points on the road put them in a tie with the Rangers for the most in the NHL. They’ve gone 3-2-0 in their last five road contests, most recently beating Buffalo, 5-2.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

- The Flyers are one of only two teams in the Eastern Conference to have a better goal differential than the Bruins. The B’s are a plus-30 on the season, while both the Flyers and Penguins are a plus-33. The Canucks lead the league with a plus-42 differential.

- Patrice Bergeron has two things going for him entering the game, as he’s scored one of the Bruins’ four goals against the Flyers this season and is riding hot streak consisting of 17 points in his last 13 games. Bergeron recorded his first career hat trick on Tuesday night.

Tyler Seguin, who also scored in that Dec. 1 game, is coming off a two-point night Tuesday.

- Since scoring the Bruins’ only goal against Philadelphia on Dec. 1, Nathan Horton has just one tally, a second-period strike against the Maple Leafs on Jan. 3. That’s a span of 12 games with just one goal. Horton has 12 on the season.

- The Bruins have scored 10 goals without allowing one dating back to the third period of their 4-2 win over the Penguins on Monday night. Those numbers are of course helped a bit by the fact that the majority of them came against the lowly Senators.

STORLYINES GOING IN

- It seems there have been a lot of instances of wondering whether a player hindered by an undisclosed injury will be able to go. This time, it’s Milan Lucic. The Bruins’ leading goal-scorer was kept out of Tuesday night’s game, with Claude Julien saying that the injury is “hopefully a day-to-day situation.” [UPDATE: Lucic will not play.]

- The last time the Flyers were in town, Jody Shelley became a villain to Boston when he shoved B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid into the end boards while the two were racing for an iced puck. McQuaid was shaken up a bit, while Shelley was suspended for two games.

- That Dec. 11 was a forgettable one for Marc Savard. It was his turnover that led to Mike Richards‘ game-winner in overtime. It was Savard’s fifth game since returning from post-concussion syndrome.

In 19 games this season, Savard has six points (2 G, 2 A) and a team-worst minus-8 rating.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Jody Shelley, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron
Bruins throttle Senators behind Patrice Bergeron’s first career hat trick 01.11.11 at 9:37 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron notched his first-career hat trick Tuesday night, as the Bruins blasted their way past the Senators, 6-0, at TD Garden.

Bergeron had what was the game-winning goal when he opened the scoring at 3:33 of the first, and added goals in the second and third period. Blake Wheeler, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin netted the Bruins’ other three goals. David Krejci also had a two-point night.

Tim Thomas made 31 saves in the victory, recording his league-leading sixth shutout of the season.

With the Canadiens winning on Tuesday, the Bruins held onto their two-point lead in the Northeast Division.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Tim Thomas has now set a career high for shutouts in a season — just one game into the second half of the season. Thomas, who began his season with a shutout in Prague, had gone 12 starts without blanking a team, his longest stretch of the season.

With six shutouts, Thomas now holds the league lead all to himself, while also leading the NHL in goals against average and save percentage. He’s the easy mid-season choice for Vezina.

- Bergeron continued the torrid pace he is on. With his three goals on Tuesday night, Bergeron now has 17 points over the last 13 games. He’s been rather balanced in going about it as well, as he has eight goals and nine assists in that stretch.

- Seguin has struggled to produce in home games, as he had just four points at the Garden prior to Tuesday night. He turned that trend around by having his first multi-point game at the Garden (his second multi-point game of the season, as he had a goal and an assist on Jan. 1 in Buffalo).

- That’s two straight games with a goal for Brad Marchand. His value to this team can’t be stressed enough, as he’s effective both as an energy guy and as a bigger contributor when called upon to play on the the second line.

Marchand has three points over his last three games. He leads Bruins rookies with eight goals this season.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Two brave souls tossed tossed their hats onto the ice after Marchand’s goal, believing it to be Bergeron’s hat-trick-notching tally. Before one could even commend their daring nature, the entire ice was filled with the hats thrown for the wrong reason.

The question is whether the folks who went to the pro shop in between periods to restock were the same ones who tossed hats once Bergeron actually got the hat trick.

- Not that the Bruins need it, but they get their first power play of the night until 6:58 of the third period. Drawing penalties has been a struggle for the B’s at times this year, and considering they’re not a safe bet to win by six every night, it remains an area that needs improvement.

The B’s ended up with two more power plays late in regulation thanks to a Matt Carkner roughing call and a delay of game. The Bruins were 0-for-3 on the power play.

- While the game was a blowout, it was hardly a triumph. The Senators were equally as bad as the bruins were on the night, as Ottawa seemed to pride itself in turning the puck over in the their zone throughout the night.

Read More: Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas,
One and done: Bruins assign Matt Bartkowski to Providence 01.11.11 at 7:59 pm ET
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The Bruins announced prior to the second period of Monday night’s game vs. the Senators that they have assigned defenseman Matt Bartkowski to Providence. Bartkowski, 22, was recalled on an emergency basis Sunday night and made his NHL debut Monday in place of the injured Adam McQuaid.

McQuaid was suffering an undisclosed injury, though he made his return to the lineup on Monday, logging 5:45 of ice time in the first period.

In 34 games in Providence this season, Bartkowski has four goals and eight assists for a total of 12 points.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski,
Patrice Bergeron, Blake Wheeler score in first to give Bruins 2-0 lead 01.11.11 at 7:41 pm ET
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Goals from Patrice Bergeron and Blake Wheeler have the Bruins enjoying a 2-0 lead over the Senators Tuesday at TD Garden.

With the Senators trying to break out of their own end, Mike Fisher couldn’t control a pass from Chris Campoli from behind the net. Bergeron got a hold of the puck near the bottom the circle and fired a wrist shot over the glove of Senators netminder Brian Elliot.

At 9:47, Wheeler scored his 10th goal of the season when Tyler Seguin hit him in front of the net with a pass from the face-off dot. Wheeler, who wasn’t exactly challenged by Chris Phillips‘ presence in front of the net, simply tapped it bast Elliot. It as Seguin’s ninth assist of the season.

Seguin took the only penalty of the period, going off for a high-sticking minor when the shaft of his stick hit Matt Carkner after the Senators defensman checked the rookie along the boards.

Tim Thomas has stopped all nine shots he’s seen, while the B’s have fired 10 shots on Elliot.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin
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