|Tuukka Rask says he wasn’t as angry as he looked during apparent meltdown||11.17.11 at 12:22 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask is among the most relaxed and courteous players you’ll find on the Bruins, so on the rare occasion that he gets upset, it’s a must-see moment.
The Finnish goaltender provided one of those moments in Wednesday’s practice, when Patrice Bergeron scored on him during a special teams drill. A suddenly furious Rask swung his stick four times over his head as he attempted to break it over the crossbar. When he had no luck doing so, he skated over to the gate, forced it open, and threw his stick off the ice.
“We were just joking around, or I was just joking around,” Rask explained to WEEI.com Thursday. “I was half-mad. It was a penalty-killing [drill], so I was just joking around, trying to break my stick. I couldn’t break it.”
Rask, who became a YouTube sensation when he threw milk crates onto the ice after a shootout in Providence back in 2009, knew his mini-meltdown would get plenty of attention. As such, he wasn’t surprised when it became the biggest story of Wednesday’s practice.
“Obviously you guys [expletive] jump on it right away,” he said with a laugh.
Coach Claude Julien said after the practice Wednesday that “Tuukka has a temper,” but that the B’s don’t mind it. In fact, Rask’s teammates have had fun on the rare occasions that the mild-mannered Rask gets frustrated. Last season, Rask stormed off the ice late in practice, with Michael Ryder firing a slapshot through the door that hit him in the rear end as he left the ice. Wednesday saw more of that, as players got a kick out of his attempt to break his stick.
“We were practicing the power play and Tuuks couldn’t stop a beach ball. He decided to take it out on his stick,” Brad Marchand said Wednesday on Mut and Merloni. “It was funny, though, because he couldn’t break it. So, he ended up getting madder and madder. He was breaking his stick over the post and it wouldn’t break. The boys just kept laughing at him. It was pretty funny.”
Rask said Thursday that he didn’t mind the laughter, and that it establishes that such tirades are nothing too serious.
“We were just [joking] around. Guys were laughing,” he said. “It was real good.”
Who knows if and Rask will lose his cool again. Whenever it is, he can bet on it being both a big deal and a good source of light-hearted amusement for his teammates.
|Johnny Boychuk questionable, Andrew Ference and Daniel Paille may return||11.17.11 at 11:58 am ET|
The Bruins may be down a defenseman Thursday, but they might get one back quicker than they thought.
Johnny Boychuk is considered questionable for Thursday night’s game against the Blue Jackets after he missed the team’s morning skate with flu-like symptoms.
With Boychuk potentially out, Andrew Ference may make a quicker return to the lineup than initially expected. If Ference is unable to go, the Bruins would need to make a call-up in order to ice six defensemen.
“Right now [Ference] is fine, and unless that changes over the course of the next few hours, we don’t anticipate calling anybody up. He felt good this morning, and that was something that we had to look at with Johnny’s situation,” Claude Julien said. “Had he not been, we would have probably been more cautious and called somebody up.”
Forward Daniel Paille is also considered a game-time decision for Thursday night’s game. He has been practicing with the team and wearing a full cage due to the slapshot he took to the face last Monday against the Islanders.
|Bruins not satisfied with win streak as long as they’re out of top-eight||11.16.11 at 4:11 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins’ 3-7-0 start to the season brought many words to mind: surprising, unacceptable, even the overused “hangover.”
Based on history, what should have come to mind would be more along the lines of “screwed.”
The Bruins found themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference when they had just six points through 10 games. If Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets were to be played two weeks ago, it would have been a matchup of cellar-dwellars. Instead, the B’s have rattled off six straight wins that’s seen balanced scoring from all four lines.
“We’re very confident in the group we have,” Shawn Thornton said Wednesday. “We dug ourselves a bit of a hole, yes, but we knew we were right there. I think the guys did a good job of just sticking with it and working through it to get to where we need to be.”
The win-streak has brought the Bruins all the way up to ninth in the conference, just one point behind the Senators for eighth with three games in hand. Year after year, good teams get off to bad starts and are never able to recover due to the difficulty of climbing the standings with three-point games. After all, over two teams in the last two years who weren’t in the top eight on Nov. 1 ended up making the playoffs.
There are two ways of looking at what the Bruins have done here. One thing to take from it is that it’s proof that moving up in this league isn’t easy. The Bruins have been hotter than any team in the league, and the fact that it hasn’t catapulted them into the top eight shows that there’s still work to be done.
“Ninth still doesn’t put us in a playoff position. Our goal is to keep climbing, and you see how tough it is. We’ve won six games in a row and we’re still not in a playoff position,” Gregory Campbell said. “It’s a feather in our cap to have done what we’ve done, but for us to have so many losses early on, we can ill afford to get comfortable and rest on our streak so far.”
After the Bruins play the Blue Jackets and Islanders on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, they will have one of their biggest two-game stretches of the young season. Monday will see them square off with the Habs in Montreal and Wednesday will take them to Buffalo. The B’s currently trail the Sabres by four points in the Northeast division. If the B’s can grab four easy points against the struggling Blue Jackets and Islanders, they could be sitting pretty to move up even further and not only vie for a top-eight spot, but for the division lead.
“We’re just trying to maintain our intensity, our solid play structurally, and continue climbing,” Campbell said. “We have two huge division games coming up next week, so in order to set ourselves up to make another jump [in the standings], we have to win these next two games.”
For the streaking Bruins, there doesn’t seem to be a hint of satisfaction. They’ve made it hard on their opponents over the last six contests, but anybody in their dressing room will tell you the goal isn’t to win six in a row. The goal to correct the bizarro standings of two weeks ago, and get their names right around the top.
“For us, we’ve been down below too long,” Claude Julien said. “It’s been a month and a half. The season’s been going, and we’re still in ninth of today, not in a playoff spot. We feel we’re a much better team than that. I think that there’s an opportunity here in this next week and a half to really, I guess, move up in the standings as long as we can continue to win games and play as well as we have.
“It’s one of those things where we don’t want to be relying on other teams to do our job. It’s up to us to continue to play well and win hockey games. I think if we can keep playing the way we have lately, this next week and a half is going to really be telling for our hockey club.”
Added Campbell: “No matter who you are or what team you are, how good you are, this league is full of good teams,” Campbell said. “Things change quickly, as you’ve seen. We have to stay focused on the task here and set ourselves up. We’re in a good spot now, but teams ahead of us keep winning. It’s up to us to do the same.”
|Claude Julien: Andrew Ference not yet a game-time decision, Tuukka Rask ‘has a temper’||11.16.11 at 1:33 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — After practicing for the first time since his lower-body injury, Bruins defenseman said that he is “still day-to-day,” but the Bruins doubt he will play Thursday against the Blue Jackets.
“I don’t think we’re even at that stage yet for Andrew where it’s a game-time decision,” Claude Julien said. “I don’t even know if he’s been assessed well enough to make that comment, but maybe that will change tomorrow morning.”
Perhaps the most interesting moment of Wednesday’s practice came when an enraged Tuukka Rask banged his stick on the cross-bar four times and threw his stick through the door and off the ice following a goal from Patrice Bergeron‘s line.
“Tuukka has a temper,” Julien said. “It’s not the first time he’s exhibited that. He gets mad and he’s competitive. It’s never a bad thing as long as it’s for the right reasons.”
|Andrew Ference returns to Bruins practice||11.16.11 at 11:53 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins a returned to practice in anticipation of Thursday night’s tilt with the Blue Jackets.
Andrew Ference, who suffered a lower-body injury last Thursday against the Oilers, skated with the team, marking the second straight day he’s skated and his first practice since the injury. He is considered day-to-day.
All other players were present as well, with Daniel Paille the guy to watch for a potential return to the lineup Thursday. The guess here is that they might wait another game, especially with Benoit Pouliot coming off a big night Tuesday.
|Benoit Pouliot the hero as Bruins win sixth straight||11.15.11 at 9:35 pm ET|
The Bruins needed someone to play hero late in the third period Tuesday. If you thought that would be Benoit Pouliot, you’re a liar. Pouliot, who was a healthy scratch Saturday, banged home a rebound from a Joe Corvo shot, beating Devils netminder Johan Hedberg and giving the B’s a 4-3 victory at TD Garden, their six straight.
David Clarkson got the Devils on the board with a 5-on-3 goal in the second period, with Chris Kelly responding late in the period. Brad Marchand, who had an up-and-down night thanks to a bad penalty he took in the second period (see below) scored six seconds into the third period to give the B’s a 2-1 lead, but Nick Palmieri scored the first of his two on the night to tie it when he tipped a shot from Andy Greene past Tim Thomas. Shawn Thornton then scored his first of the season to give the B’s another lead, but Palmieri answered back yet again.
The Bruins will host the Blue Jackets Thursday, the final game of their five-game home-stand.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– It was a big night for Gregory Campbell, who contributed assists on goals by Kelly and Thornton. Campbell entered the game with a goal and an assist on the season, so Tuesday’s effort saw him double his points total for the year. Campbell got some shifts with Kelly and Rich Peverley in both the second and third periods.
– Marchand increased his points streak to six games and did it emphatically. After being benched for much of the second half of the second period, he started the third period and scored just six seconds in to give the B’s a 2-1 lead. He had additional chances, like when he couldn’t handle a nice feed in front from Seguin in the second period, but Marchand made sure that his contributions on the score sheet outweighed any of the low points.
– Patrice Bergeron has always been good on face-offs, and he was outstanding at the dot on Tuesday. He won 21 of his first 26 draws and finished the night 24 of 33.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– There was good and bad with Marchand on Tuesday, so here’s the bad: he wound up in Claude Julien‘s doghouse in the second period. Marchand, who took a goaltender interference penalty in the first period, wanted a piece of Adam Henrique punched the center, landing him in the bin for roughing at 9:07 of the second.
Clarkson’s goal came when he was in the box, a Johnny Boychuk delay of game penalty gave the Devils a 39-second 5-on-3. Marchand played just two more shifts in the period, with Pouliot playing left wing on the top line in his place. He was also sat during the Bruins’ power play after Zach Parise tripped Corvo with Kelly took his spot.
– The Bruins blew two leads in the third period. While they outshot the Devils by a large margin in the period and carried much of the offensive play, letting leads slip is not a habit the B’s want to develop.
– They came pretty close, but for the first time in six games, the Bruins did not score at least five goals. One probably could have guessed that entering the game given the fact that they were playing the Devils, but the face that the Bruins were still able to produce offensively against a team that has allowed five goals just twice the season shows that the hot-scoring B’s haven’t lost their touch.
|Bruins-Devils Live Blog: Nick Palmieri ties it at 3||11.15.11 at 6:38 pm ET|