|Shawn Thornton: Senators ‘not sneaking up on anyone anymore’||01.31.12 at 12:38 pm ET|
The standings are deceiving. The Bruins are running away with the Northeast division.
While the Senators (27-19-6, 60 points) currently sit just four points behind the B’s (31-14-2, 65 points), Ottawa has played 52 games this season to Boston’s 47. That means the time to worry about losing the division won’t be coming soon, but it doesn’t mean the Bruins shouldn’t be mindful of the only other team in their division that’s currently in line for a playoff spot.
The Senators should enter Tuesday night’s game with a full head of steam. No, they haven’t played well of late (see below), but they should be on a hockey high after hosting the All-Star game this weekend. They weren’t expected to compete as well as they have this season, but they’ve certainly gotten the Bruins’ attention.
“[They’re] a hard-working team that’s pretty well coached with a goalie that’s fairly hot this year,” Shawn Thornton said following the Bruins’ morning skate. “I played with him in the minors, and when he’s on, he’s on. They’re definitely not sneaking up on anybody anymore. ‘¦ It will be a good game for us coming out of the break.”
While Thornton is right in saying the Senators have registered on Boston’s radar, he may have been a little generous with his praise of goaltender Craig Anderson. One thing that has remained constant this season has been the Senators’ porous work in their own end. Ottawa is 27th in goals against with an average of three goals allowed per game, and though Anderson has been a workhorse for them (he has started 19 consecutive games and will be between the pipes for his 20th straight on Tuesday), he is currently rocking a 2.90 goals-against average, which is 37th in the league.
Though the Senators might be coming into Boston on a high following the weekend’s festivities, they, like the Bruins, are looking to make up for a rough stretch prior to the break. While the Bruins went 3-3-1 over their last seven games, the Senators went 3-4-0, including dropping three straight games on the west coast going into the break.
Still, if the Bruins don’t wake up from their pre-break slumber, they’ll have trouble on their hands Tuesday night. Jason Spezza has 50 points on the season (20 goals, 30 assists), while 21-year-old defenseman Erik Karlsson has 47 points (tops among NHL blueliners). The Senators average 2.9 goals per game, which is eighth in the league.
“They’re a really good team,” Brad Marchand said of Ottawa. “They have a lot of skill over there, and a lot of young guys who are working really hard. Those are always tough teams to play against, and they’re playing really good hockey right now.”
|Bruins hope to shake sloppy play as they return from All-Star break||01.30.12 at 9:04 pm ET|
The Bruins are ready to jump back into their busy schedule, and they’re hoping that they’ll look more ready for their games than they did prior to the break.
The B’s were red-hot in November and December, but they limped into the All-Star break with uncharacteristically sloppy games, and a seven game stretch that saw them go 3-3-1. in their last three games prior to the break, the Bruins allowed three or more goals in three straight contests for the first time this season.
Now that the break is over, the Bruins are embracing the fresh start that comes with diving back into game action, and they’re hoping that whatever was plaguing them in past weeks is gone.
“It’s almost a blessing in disguise that we got to shut it off and reload and refocus after a couple crazy games and uncharacteristic games,” Milan Lucic said Monday. “That’s probably the best way to describe it. We’re aware of what we need to get back to doing well.
“The feeling for me coming off this break is that I wanted to get back and be around the boys and start playing again. Hopefully everyone else has got that same feeling, and that’s what’s going to help us be at our best.”
The B’s will be without both Andrew Ference (serving the last game of his three-game suspension) and Nathan Horton (concussion) Tuesday against the Senators, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come out with a better effort Tuesday. The B’s may have peaked in November, but that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of returning to the level of play that saw them go on a 21-2-1 earlier in the season.
“We enjoy winning, and we enjoy playing the way we were in November and the early part of December,” Brad Marchand said. “It’s a little frustrating when you’re not playing your best, and you know you can be better, but that’s how hockey goes. You’re not going to be your best every night. We know that.
“There’s always ups and downs during the season. The thing that you have to be bale to do is make sure you don’t get too high and don’t get too low, and hopefully we’ll be able to bounce back here.”
|Patrice Bergeron spent his break skating on ponds in Lake Placid||01.30.12 at 5:03 pm ET|
Then there was Patrice Bergeron, a player many would consider an All-Star snub. Bergeron, who is tied for the team lead with 43 points this season, decided to go somewhere rich in hockey history and, as of last season, Bruins history.
“I actually went to Lake Placid, and just relaxed over there,” he said. “It was a lot of fun.”
The average person will tell you that Lake Placid is where 1980’s Miracle on Ice occurred, when USA Men’s hockey defied the odds and won the gold in the Olympics.
But for the Bruins, Lake Placid is where the team went between Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens last season. The B’s bolted out of Montreal between the two games to find some peace and quiet as they tried to mount their comeback in a series they had trailed, 2-0. It was there that David Krejci played “Don’t Stop Believing” on a jukebox (by accident, he later claimed), and when the Bruins returned to Montreal after two days in Lake Placid, they evened the series thanks to heroics from Michael Ryder, and went on to win in seven games. The rest, as they say, is history.
Bergeron brought his skates along with him for his mini-vacation, but he didn’t step foot inside Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Facilities Center. The trip was about soaking up all that the city had to offer, so Bergeron took to a pond to do his skating.
The locals and children skating on the pond had no idea they were sharing the ice with a Stanley Cup champion and Gold Medal Olympic hockey player. Nobody spotted the Stanley Cup champion out on the ice, so Bergeron embraced the free skate with locals and kids from nearby. The B’s alternate captain has never been the type to beg for attention, so it proved to be the perfect vacation.
“I wouldn’t mind getting recognized, but I like just going about my business and just doing my stuff and having fun and relaxing,” he said. “It was great. People were real nice, real friendly. It was great.”
Bergeron got some pointers on what to do from trainer Don DelNegro, who lives there in the summer. Relaxation was the name of the game for Bergeron, who leads Bruins forwards in time on ice with his average of 18:35 minutes a game. While he got the biggest thing he had hoped for — rest — out of the trip, he admitted he’ll always have memories when he goes to Lake Placid.
“It is special,” Bergeron said. “Obviously, not as special as for Americans, but in some way it was special for us last year, just to come down there for two days in between the games in Montreal. It seemed like it helped us to stay focused. It was nice, but it was nice for me to enjoy what’s going on down there, just relax with the nature and all that. It was great.”
|Nathan Horton (concussion) misses practice, won’t play vs. Senators||01.30.12 at 4:19 pm ET|
Bruins forward Nathan Horton was not on the ice as the team returned from the All-Star break Monday. Horton has been dealing with his second concussion since June after taking a hit to the head from Flyers’ forward Tom Sestito on Jan. 22.
Coach Claude Julien said that Horton is still experiencing symptoms, and that the team doesn’t expect the symptoms to subside for at least three days, meaning he will not play Tuesday against the Senators, and will likely also miss Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes.
“He is getting better, but so we can save you guys a lot of trouble of asking every day, at least not for three days. ‘¦ He’s still at the point where he hasn’t ridden the bike yet, but he is getting better.”
In 46 games played this season, Horton has 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points and an even rating.
|History repeats itself: Zdeno Chara breaks his own hardest shot record with 108.8 mph blast||01.28.12 at 9:30 pm ET|
Another year, another new record.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara broke his own record for the NHL’s hardest shot, blasting a 108.8 mile-per-hour bomb on his second attempt in the hardest shot contest Saturday night in Ottawa.
Chara won the contest for a fifth straight year, defeating Shea Weber, amongst others. The previous record, which Chara had set last year, was 105.9 mph. He broke that on his first attempt Saturday with a 106.2 mph shot, before registering the all-time best 108.8 mph. His last two attempts clocked in at 106.9 mph and 107 mph.
Tyler Seguin, who competed in the accuracy shooting competition, struggled and did not complete the drill in 30 seconds. Dallas’ Jamie Benn won the competition.
|Zdeno Chara looks to keep hardest shot title for fifth straight year||01.28.12 at 3:11 am ET|
The All-Star captains picked participants for Saturday night’s skills competition, and it’s no surprise that Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber will once again square off in the hardest shot contest.
Chara, who has won the competition for the last four years (he broke his own record with a 105.9 mile per hour blast last year), will be joined by Dennis Wideman, Dion Phaneuf and rookie Luke Adams on Team Chara. Team Alfredsson’s group for the competition includes Weber, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and rookie Justin Faulk. Chara will also participate in the skills challenge relay.
Tyler Seguin will represent Team Chara in the accuracy shooting competition. He will be joined by Jamie Benn, Marian Hossa and rookie Cody Hodgson. Representing Team Alfreddson will be Spezza, Steven Stamkos, Daniel Sedin and rookie Matt Read. Both Seguin and Tim Thomas will participate in the elimination shootout.
|Zdeno Chara drafts Tim Thomas, Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin||01.26.12 at 9:28 pm ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara held the first overall pick in the fantasy draft to determine teams for the 2012 NHL All-Star game Thursday night and selected Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk with the top pick. Chara then drafted teammate Tim Thomas in the second round.
The other Bruin in the player pool, Tyler Seguin, had to wait quite a while for his name to be called. After picking the likes of Carey Price, Phil Kessel and Dennis Wideman, Chara selected Seguin in the 19th round.
Upon being selected, Thomas was asked about his controversial decision to not attend the White House Monday for political reasons.
“I followed my conscience,” Thomas said of his decision. “I’m extremely grateful for all the support I’ve gotten from my teammates, my friends and my fans.”
Here are the results of the draft:
TEAM CHARA TEAM ALFREDSSON
1. Pavel Datsyuk Erik Karlsson
2. Tim Thomas Jason Spezza
3. Evgeni Malkin Jonathan Quick
4. Marian Hossa Claude Giroux
5. Kimmo Timonen Kris Letang
6. Corey Perry Steven Stamkos
7. Carey Price Brian Elliot
8. Phil Kessel Shea Weber
9. Ryan Suter Daniel Sedin
10. Jimmy Howard Dan Girardi
11. Brian Campbell Keith Yandle
12. Patrick Kane Milan Michalek
13. Dion Phaneuf Henrik Sedin
14. Jarome Iginla James Neil
16. Dennis Wideman Alex Edler
17. Marian aborik John Tavares
18. Jordan Eberle Scott Hartnell
19. Tyler Seguin Jason Pominville
20. Jamie Benn Logan Couture