|Patrice Bergeron, Blake Wheeler propel Bruins to 3-2 win over Capitals||12.18.10 at 9:31 pm ET|
Despite nearly blowing a three-goal lead, the Bruins rode a hot start and the continued recent success of their second line to victory on Saturday, defeating the Captials, 3-2. In taking the fourth and final matchup between the two teams this season, the Bruins finished their season series at a 3-1 advantage.
Tim Thomas allowed a second-period goal to Matt Bradley and a third-period strike from Karl Alzner. He improved his record to 15-3-3 on the season.
The B’s will next face the Ducks at the Garden on Monday night. It will be the team’s second game of a three-game homestand.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Ference’s first-period goal was his first in 99 games. He had last scored on Feb. 22 in Tampa Bay. According to the Bruins, his goal drought was the longest of any player in tonight’s game.
- Wheeler and Bergeron have both picked it up of late. Wheeler orchestrated Bergeron’s tally by drawing in both Washington defenders on a 2-on-2 and dropping the puck back to the 25-year-old center.
Both players had multi-point nights, as Bergeron picked up the primary assist on Wheeler’s goal.
- Four games against the Capitals this season are in the books, and the B’s have allowed two assists and an empty netter to Alexander Ovechkin. Of his three points, one proved to make a difference. This season has been a struggle goal-wise for Ovechkin, but the Bruins will take those results any day of the week.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Boston’s momentum from the first period didn’t stick. The Capitals began to work their way out of it in the second period, but they exploded in the third, outshooting the B’s 26-2.
It had seemed like the Capitals were going to be in for a long night after Wheeler scored the B’s third goal of the game, but the Boston offensive attack slowed considerably, while the passing was also off in the second period.
The Capitals, who are simply playing dreadful hockey over their last eight games (0-6-2), very well could have climbed their way back into the game, as they had opportunities with Thomas out of position in the each of the first two periods.
- Brad Marchand left the game with an unspecified injury, and should his injury keep him out in the future, the B’s might be looking at the return of Jordan Caron. The B’s sent Caron down to Providence last Monday, with the 20-year-old winger picking up two assists and a minus-1 rating in five AHL contests.
- Why Tyler Seguin is deking until his only option to stuff it in on a breakaway, as was the case in the second period, is a little confusing. He’s been able to make goalies look foolish by going top-shelf on the back-hand in the past, so the rookie should use his skill to his advantage.
|Matt Bradley cuts into Bruins lead||12.18.10 at 8:37 pm ET|
The Bruins slowed down a bit in the second period, while Matt Bradley potted his third goal of the season. After two, the Bruins lead the Capitals, 3-1.
Tyler Seguin had perhaps the best scoring opportunity for the Bruins when he waited too long on a breakaway and had no room to stove it in glove-side on Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
After being outshot, 9-5, in the first period, the Capitals had the shots-on-goal advantage in the second, 10-8. Through two, the B’s have 19 shots the Washingon’s 15.
|Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Blake Wheeler contribute to early Bruins lead||12.18.10 at 7:44 pm ET|
On a 2-on-2, Wheeler attracted the attention of both Washington defenders and dropped the puck off to Bergeron, who beat Michal Neuvirth at 3:27 for his sixth goal of the season. Ference then scored his first goal in 99 games by sending one past Neuvirth from the point.
Bergeron returned the favor in setting up Wheeler’s eighth of the season, and suddenly that second line is looking awfully good of late.
Following the Ference goal. Matt Bradley tried to swing the momentum in Washington’s favor by dropping the gloves with Adam McQuaid. Unfortunately for Bradley, the Garden only got louder as McQuaid unequivocally pummeled the Capitals winger.
Tim Thomas saw only five shots, stopping them all.
|Tyler Seguin still working to ‘figure this league out’||12.18.10 at 1:22 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin knows that he’s been able to produce in the face of adversity. He’s done it since he’s been on the radar of hockey fans, but it might be a bit different at this level. That’s why he doesn’t want himself — or anyone else — to assume he’ll embark on a career-defining hot streak after being a healthy scratch earlier this week. Observe the following exchange.
WEEI.com: Obviously in juniors after that coaching change, and then when you didn’t make the World Juniors team last year, these things have seemed to spark a –
Seguin: Don’t. Don’t jinx it. Don’t keep going.
[A bit of background information: Seguin, who was taken ninth overall by the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL draft in 2008, wasn't producing like a top-10 pick out of the gate. He had just one goal in his first 17 games, and after coach Greg Stefan left to take a scouting gig with the Carolina Hurricanes, Seguin finished the season with 21 goals despite his slow start. This came after Mike Vellucci, who took over as coach, sat the then-16-year-old down and told him he expected him to produce regardless of age.
Last season, Seguin, the ninth-ranked prospect in the NHL draft, didn't make the World Junior Championship team and used it as motivation as he went on to lead the OHL with 48 goals and take over as the top-ranked prospect.]
Fast forward to mid-December.
Whether he liked it or not, Seguin was forced to take in Wednesday’s game against the Sabres from the press box, observing the pace of a game he’s still learning at a professional level. He sat alongside Doug Jarvis as the Bruins fell to the Sabres, 3-2.
“I got to sit up top and look at it from a different perspective, and that’s how the coach and GM wanted me to spend the game,” Seguin, seemingly understanding of the decision, said.
The 18-year-old followed the scratch with an encouraging showing in Montreal, making a nice play to get the puck to Andrew Ference to set up Marc Savard‘s first goal of the season. Seguin has just three points in his last 10 games, so he’ll look to build on whatever forward steps he can take after being kept out of the lineup.
“I always try to turn a negative into a positive,” Seguin said. “All it is is adversity. You’ll face it a million times in your hockey career, so it was just another experience of it. I wanted to come out with a strong game in Montreal, and I think I did that. I just want to stay consistent.”
As the second overall pick still gets his bearings and finds different ways to adjust to the NHL, top pick Taylor Hall has seemed to hit his stride, scoring 10 goals thus far. Still, Seguin knows that how a player performs in the early going of his rookie year does not exactly set the pace for one’s career production.
One of the players to whom he most often compared in Steven Stamkos (flip a coin on the frequency of comparisons of Seguin to Stamkos or Steve Yzerman) was also a healthy scratch at times as a rookie. Seguin, who has five goals thus far, kiddingly noted that Stamkos had four before Christmas prior to lighting it up with 20 goals after the holiday. In fact, Stamkos — the same guy who has 24 goals this season — only had three before Dec. 25. Regardless of the solace he may take in knowing he isn’t the first to deal with such adjustment to the NHL, Seguin isn’t trying to follow anyone’s path or try to be somebody he’s not.
“I just want to be Tyler right now,” Seguin said. “I want to find my own identity and figure this league out.”
|Post-morning skate odds and ends||12.18.10 at 12:07 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was first off the ice for the Bruins following their morning skate, an indication that he’ll be in net when the B’s face the Capitals tonight. In three starts against the Capitals this season, Thomas is 2-0-0 with five goals allowed and a shutout. He was pulled from the team’s 5-3 loss on Nov. 5 after allowing three goals through two periods.
The Capitals aren’t exactly jonesing to face the early Vezina favorite in Thomas. Coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday that “you just have to play really perfect hockey to beat [the Bruins] and then you have to play more perfect hockey to beat Thomas.
- If you’re surprised by how many minutes Steven Kampfer has been getting, you’re not along. Asked if he expected to play as much as he has, Kampfer honestly replied, “Uh, no. I definitely didn’t think I’d be getting that many, but I’m just trying to play well, trying to play simple and help the team get a couple of wins here.”
Kampfer said patience has been the biggest thing he’s picked up at the NHL level, which is quite interesting and a good explanation as to why he’s handled the callup and the minutes so well. Young players often try to counter the quick pace of the NHL game by hurrying things more than they need to, but it hasn’t seemed to be the case with Kampfer — at least not much.
- Claude Julien knows the Capitals have been winless over their last seven, but he’s worried about his own guys, who have gone three without a W. Julien addressed the slump by saying “we’ve got to show some determination and resilience.”
- The Capitals have been followed by HBO cameras for the NHL 24/7 show that’s sweeping the nation. Have to admit I haven’t been able to see it (or this season of Eastbound and Down) due to my lack of owning HBO, but the hockey world has been going nuts over this show. One of the draws of the show is the prolific use of a four-letter word beginning in “F” by Boudreau.
“That goes on in every dressing room, in every team, in every sport at this level,” Boudreau said, noting that the team is so comfortable with having the camera around that it has become “second nature.”
Boudreau is by no means taking pride in the language aspect of it, but he said such talk “just comes out of your mouth when you’re mad,” adding, “my mom talked to me about it, so I’ll be OK.”
- Stay tuned for what came of an interesting chat with Tyler Seguin about Christmas, being a healthy scratch, and once again having something in common with Steven Stamkos. More to come later.
|Capitals at Bruins preview||12.18.10 at 10:26 am ET|
A couple of teams in dire need of a win will hit the Garden ice on Saturday night as the Bruins (16-10-4), winless in their last three, take on the Capitals (18-11-4). Despite dropping their last seven games, Washington still leads the Southeast division with 40 points.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 7-5-3 in home games this season, a mark that was brought over .500 with a 2-0-1 showing in their most recent home-stand. Saturday marks the first of three home games in a row before they play seven of the following eight on the road.
- The Capitals are one of only three teams with 12 home wins (despite dropping their last five at the Verizon Center), but the road has been a different story. They’re 6-7-1 outside of the nation’s capital, and are looking for their first win as the away team since Dec. 1, when they picked up a 4-1 win in St. Louis. It remains the team’s only win this month.
- Milan Lucic is a goal away from tying his career-high of 17. The 22-year-old power forward hasn’t just led the Bruins in goals this season, he’s been cold-streak-proof. The longest stretch without a point this season for Lucic is two games, something he’s only done once (11/20 vs. LA, 11/22 at TB). Lucic scored his 16th goal of the season Thursday.
- In their seven-game winless streak, the Capitals have scored two goals just three times. They have been shutout twice in that span.
- I promise this is the last time that we’ll mention that Steven Kampfer has had 20-plus minutes of icetime twice despite being only four games into his NHL career, and that Matt Hunwick had two 20-minute nights in his 22 games for the B’s this season.
Playing with Zdeno Chara and seeing the time he’s seen of late on the power play helps, and Kampfer should continue to get big minutes as a result. It’s rather clear the B’s made the right choice in making Kampfer the guy when it came time to call someone up from Providence following the Mark Stuart injury.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- This will be the fourth and final meeting between the two teams. The Bruins won the first two before dropping a 5-3 decision on Nov. 5. In that game, the B’s climbed back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game at three. This came after a goaltending switch and Tuukka Rask‘s entrance into the game in the third period. The loss, in which Rask allowed just one goal, remains perhaps the best single representation of the luck the Finnish goaltender has fallen on this season.
- It’s a good thing the Bruins are getting all of their games with Washington out of the way so early, because Alexander Ovechkin is bound to bust out of his season-long goal-scoring slump (by his standards, anyway) eventually. Ovechkin has just 12 goals this season, which puts him on pace for a career-low 30 goals. His lowest total in a season is the 46 he scored in 2006-07, his sophomore campaign. It is the only season of his five in which he did not register at least 50 goals.
Over his last 15 games, the 25-year-old has scored just twice. Ovechkin has one goal against the Bruins in three games thus far, an empty netter in the Nov. 5 contest.
Although he hasn’t scored nearly as much as one would expect from the 6-foot-2 winger, Ovechkin is on pace for a career-high 60 assists. He had 59 a season ago.
- The Capitals’ leading goal-scorer this season, Alexander Semin, will not play vs. the B’s after not traveling with the team to Boston, according to the Washington Post. Semin is out with a lower-body injury.
Semin has 18 goals this season despite not notching one in his last seven games.
|NHLPA appoints Donald Fehr as executive director||12.18.10 at 10:17 am ET|
The NHL Players Association announced Saturday morning that they have voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of appointing former MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr to the same position in the NHLPA.
Now 62, Fehr served as an advisor for the NHLPA last year. In his time as head of the MLBPA, he led them through the 1994-95 baseball strike, sued the owners for $280 million over collusion, and took rookie salaries from $30,000 to $400,000 over.
Here is the press release:
TORONTO, ON (December 18, 2010) ‘ The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) announced today that the full membership of the NHLPA has voted overwhelmingly to appoint Don Fehr as the new NHLPA Executive Director, following the Executive Board’s endorsement.
Fehr, 62, is the former Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) where he worked for the players for 33 years, serving as Executive Director from 1983 until 2009.
‘I am both humbled and honored by the expression of confidence that the players’ vote reflects,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director. “I’m looking forward to working closely with the membership and the Executive Board.”
On September 8, 2010, the Search Committee, made up of Ryan Getzlaf, Jamie Langenbrunner, Brian Rafalski, Brian Rolston and Mathieu Schneider, recommended to the Executive Board that Fehr be hired as Executive Director. This was endorsed by the Executive Board which then directed the matter be put to a full vote of the NHLPA membership.
The NHLPA also announces today that the membership has voted overwhelmingly to accept amendments that were put forward by the Constitution Committee, consisting of Steve Montador, Dominic Moore, Tim Thomas and Marty Turco, and endorsed by the Executive Board.
These amendments add clarity to, and simplify, the new Constitution as well as the Association’s decision-making process, allowing for more efficient and timely decision-making and encouraging cohesion. The new Constitution is now in effect and is available on nhlpa.com.
Fehr will start in his new position immediately.
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