|Bruins at Canadiens preview||12.16.10 at 4:57 pm ET|
The Bruins are in Montreal Thursday to take on the Canadiens for the second time this season. They were handed a 3-1 loss on Nov. 11 at the Garden in a game started by Tuukka Rask, but it appears Thursday will feature a dream matchup between two of the league’s best goalies.
Tim Thomas, who will man the pipes for the Bruins, is first in nearly every statistical category. He’s tops in save percentage (.954), goals against average (1.51) and is tied with Henrik Lundqvist with five shutouts. Carey Price, meanwhile, is tied with Jimmy Howard with 17 wins, the most in the NHL.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Habs are 11-5-2 at home, most recently dropping a 5-3 decision to the to Flyers at the Bell Centre on Wednesday night.
- After the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo on Wednesday, the team is now 9-4-1 on the road. The Bruins are 2-2-1 in their last five road contests.
- Zdeno Chara had the Bruins’ lone goal the last time the B’s played the Habs. He hasn’t scored in the 16 games since, though he came close when he rang a shot off the post Wednesday in Buffalo.
With his four goals, Chara is on pace to pick up 11 this season. He scored seven goals last season after picking up a career-high 19 in 2008-09.
- After a slow start to the season, Habs captain and former Boston College standout Brian Gionta is tied for the team lead with 10 goals this season. He had eight shots on goal and scored one the Canadiens’ three goals in their loss to the Flyers on Wednesday.
- The Bruins lead the NHL is goals against (1.9 per game) while the Canadiens (2.1) are second in the league. If you’re a fan of goaltending duels, this is about as good as it gets.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- The Habs have struggled of late, as they’ve lost three in a row. Only the Islanders’ at six games have a longer current losing streak.
- This is a matchup of the top two teams in the Northeast division, as the Canadiens have 38 points to the Bruins’ 36. With a victory, the B’s can tie the Habs for the division lead despite having played two less games.
- Tyler Seguin could be handed his second consecutive healthy scratch and third straight game missed if he spends Thursday night in the press box with Doug Jarvis. It’s worth noting that Steven Stamkos was also a healthy scratch as a rookie and responded pretty well.
Habs defenseman P.K. Subban also missed three games as a healthy scratch this season. Bruins fans might remember him for scoring the first goal of the Nov. 3 game (and his career) by notching a power play tally against Tuukka Rask.
|Bruins fall to Sabres||12.15.10 at 9:36 pm ET|
Drew Stafford provided all the offense for Buffalo as the Sabres beat the Bruins, 3-2, on Wednesday.
Tuukka Rask made 32 saves on 35 shots and fell to 2-7-1 on the season. The B’s were forced to finish the game shorthanded due to a Milan Lucic unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 18:22, though they applied significant pressure, including a great opportunity from Patrice Bergeron with Miller down. A brawl broke out following the final horn after Miller took a shot at B’s captain Zdeno Chara in front of the net.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins weren’t exactly masters at holding a lead in the game, as they allowed game-tying goals to Drew Stafford shortly after scoring their first two goals. There was just 48 seconds of play between Krejci’s goal and Stafford’s first of the night, while Stafford picked up his second 32 seconds following Ryder’s tally.
- Penalties hurt the Bruins, notably Lucic’s in the third period. Likely not thrilled with his boarding penalty in the penalty, Lucic probably said something to a ref in the third, which was why he was sent from the bench to the box.
- Brad Marchand had a goal waved off in the third period due to goaltender interference on Thornton’s part. Marchand sent a bouncing rebound into the net but Miller was caught up with Thornton. Stafford scored the game-winning goal on the ensuing power play.
Thornton also had a pass intercepted in the third that led to Stafford’s goal. Thornton was hot and cold on the night, and despite getting shots on goal and drawing a key penalty, certainly had a couple of low moments.
- The Bruins have generally been able to get up to kick off these stretches of four games in three nights. Wednesday marked the first time they lost the first game in such a stretch. They were 4-0-0 in those games entering Wednesday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- David Krejci has been able to do damage against the Sabres this season. He entered the night with three points against them in two games and now has four points through three against Buffalo.
- The Bruins have faith in Steven Kampfer, and there isn’t much reason for them to not trust the 22-year-old. The latest example came in the first period when, after skating on the power play unit in Tuesday’s practice, he got significant time at the point on the man advantage.
The decision to give Kampfer time (4:19) on the power play paid off when he set up Ryder’s power play goal in the third. It was the rookie’s first career point.
- Shawn Thornton drew a penalty for the sixth time this season, which led to Ryder’s goal. Of course, his penalty in the third led to the Sabres’ game-winning goal, but Thornton, as well as his linemates, were among the most productive Bruins on Wednesday.
|Bruins remain tied with Sabres after two||12.15.10 at 8:37 pm ET|
The Bruins had their chance at regaining the lead, but they enter the third period tied, 1-1, with the Sabres.
Boston had a 5-on-3 when Tyler Myers sent the puck over the glass in his own zone with Jochen Hecht already in the box, but the B’s failed to convert. They are now 0-for-3 on the night.
Zdeno Chara had probably the Bruins’ best chance when his shot rang off Ryan Miller’s post early on in the period. Nathan Horton had a slap shot stopped by the reigning Vezina winner in the period’s final minutes.
Myers appeared to be setting up a Sabres goal when he sent a puck across the net in front of Tuukka Rask to Tyler Ennis. Though Ennis couldn’t handle the pass and allowed Rask time to get in position, Myers did draw a Patrice Bergeron hooking penalty on the play.
The Bruins outshot Buffalo, 12-9 in the period and are being outshot, 27-26, in the game.
|Bruins, Sabres tied after one||12.15.10 at 7:45 pm ET|
David Krejci and Drew Stafford each scored and the Bruins and Sabres are tied after 20 minutes of play.
Krejci got his fifth goal of the season and fourth point against the Sabres when he redirected a Dennis Siedenberg shot past Ryan Miller at 17:59.
With Milan Lucic in the box for boarding, Drew Stafford buried a third-chance opportunity at 18:41 to tie it at a goal apiece.
Andrew Ference took a big hit from Patrick Kaleta, who bounced off the B’s defender in the Bruins’ end. Ference responded by shoving Kaleta following the play and was headed off for roughing.
Less than a minute into the Sabres’ power play, David Krejci was attempting to catch a pass as he entered Buffalo’s end but was, slashed by Drew Stafford at the blueline.
Steven Kampfer saw time at the point on the Bruins’ power play after having just six seconds on the man advantage through two games.
The Sabres are outshooting the Bruins, 18-14.
|Tyler Seguin scratched vs. Sabres||12.15.10 at 6:53 pm ET|
The Bruins have indeed scratched rookie forward Tyler Seguin vs. the Sabres on Wednesday. It makes for Seguin’s first healthy scratch of his career after missing Saturday’s game with flu-like symptoms.
In Seguin’s place will be Daniel Paille, who was solid on Saturday despite having a minus-1 rating on the night.
Seguin has 10 points — five goals and five assists — this season, though he’s scored just two goals in his last 19 games.
|Tyler Seguin to sit vs. Sabres?||12.15.10 at 3:49 pm ET|
Claude Julien told reporters Wednesday morning that whether or not Tyler Seguin plays against the Sabres will be a game-time decision. Seguin sat out Saturday night with what the team called flu-like symptoms (he skated with the scratches that morning) and Daniel Paille, despite posting a minus-1 on the night, was solid, single-handedly saving a goal with Tim Thomas out of position following a rebound.
Yet Paille, for the most part, has been dreadful when he has played this season. His performance in the season-opener against the Coyotes made the decision to put Jordan Caron in the lineup a no-brainer. Still, he’s only played since then due to injury, so the opportunities to prove himself this season have been limited (10 games this season).
As for Seguin, people will have two questions should he be a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. No. 1, will it stunt his development, and No. 2, will he pout?
To answer the first one, missing one game (well, two if you count Saturday) won’t make his ceiling any lower, and he likely knows that. It might actually be good for him in the long-run. Seguin’s clearly been explosive through the neutral zone and is a huge asset in shootouts, but sitting might add some motivation for the rest of his game.
The time off can also let Seguin take a step back and reset, so to speak. He hasn’t been slow out there, but he certainly hasn’t been as in sync with Marc Savard as many would have expected, and a game or two off might help him clear his head.
Regarding whether he’ll be an unhappy camper, who knows? What we do know is that he’ll try not to show it. The 18-year-old didn’t answer a single question in training camp or the preseason without attaching “if I make the team” to it. He’s been very careful to not come across as a kid who’s taking things for granted, so one could expect a stock “whatever’s best for the team” answer when he’s asked about all this.
Seguin has four points in his last 15 games and has 10 points (five goals, five assists) on the season. He’s scored just two goals over his last 19 games. The second overall pick in last June’s draft, Seguin is viewed as one of the more talented young goal-scorers in the league and has been compared to the likes of Steven Stamkos. He’s clearly not anywhere near Stamkos’ level, but time will tell whether he becomes the elite right-handed center many project him to be.
|Bruins at Sabres preview||12.15.10 at 12:14 am ET|
The Bruins will take on the Sabres for the third time this season as the two teams face off in Buffalo on Wednesday night. The Bruins have points in their last six games (4-0-2) and have taken both of their meetings with the Sabres. Their most recent win over Buffalo came last Tuesday when Mark Recchi tipped a Dennis Seidenberg shot past Ryan Miller to give the B’s a 3-2 win in overtime.
Tuukka Rask was first off the ice for the Bruins, an indication he’ll be between the pipes come game time.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Sabres are a sub-.500 hockey team (12-14-4) because of their struggles at home. Nine of their 14 losses this season have come in Buffalo, as they’ve posted a 6-9-1 record at HSBC Arena. They are 3-3-0 in their last six home games.
- The Bruins remain a more dangerous team when playing away from TD Garden. They’ve posted a 9-3-1 road record. They took a shootout loss to the Maple Leafs in their last road game.
- Fighting majors aside, the Bruins have been avoiding the penalty box as of late. They had just one penalty in both Saturday’s game and last Tuesday’s Buffalo game, both of which contests went into overtime. The B’s are 15th in the league in penalty minutes per game (12.9), though that is helped by their 26 majors, a number that puts them fifth in the league despite tying seven teams for playing the least amount of games.
- Milan Lucic is on pace for 44 goals. Does anybody truly see him as a 40-goal-scorer? Variables such as empty netters and a couple softies have been on his side thus far, so while he may eventually slow down, he still figures the finish the season as the team’s top goal-scorer if he remains healthy.
- David Krejci has three points (all assists) against the Sabres this year. He’s only had three points against one other club, and he knocked that out in one game when he scored two goals and tallied an assist in the team’s 8-1 win over the Lightning. Krejci is also on a three-game point steak that began with his two assists last Saturday against the Sabres.
- Marc Savard and Tyler Seguin have combined for just two points — an assist apiece — since Savard made his return to the lineup on Dec. 2. One would have to assume the two will get going and that Seguin will eventually be big asset for Savard, but it simply hasn’t happened yet.
Savard’s ice time has generally been anywhere from 13:15 to 16:26, and he’s averaged 15:01 per night.
- Here’s a totally useless and hardly telling stat from the good ol’ WEEI.com stat truck: The Bruins have won the first game of a three-in-four stretch every time this year. In those games, they’ve grabbed wins in Buffalo (5-2 on Nov. 3), Pittsburgh (7-4 on Nov. 10), New York (3-2 over the Rangers on Nov. 17), and Philadelphia (3-0 on Dec. 1).
STORYLINES GOING IN
- Tim Thomas has started and won both of the team’s games against the Sabres thus far. It’s quite remarkable that Tuukka Rask is on pace for just 26 starts this season, but he’ll get his first crack at the Sabres Wednesday.
- Miller was dealing with a groin injury when the Bruins beat up on Jhonas Enroth and Patrick Lalime on Nov. 3, but he manned the pipes last Tuesday vs. the B’s. It wasn’t his best showing, as he allowed a bit of a softie to Lucic — letting a shot from a tough angle just sneak between his leg and the left post.
Miller is coming off a rough loss to the Penguins on Saturday. He allowed four goals on just 23 shots.
- It is up in the air whether the B’s will dress Tyler Seguin or Daniel Paille. Seguin didn’t play Saturday with what the team called flu-like symptoms, and Paille played well. Claude Julien told reporters that it would be a game-time decision.
- Adam McQuaid, who could have been badly injured on Jody Shelley‘s cheap shot Saturday, is also fine. Both players practiced Tuesday.
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