|Former Bruins Blake Wheeler, Mark Stuart well-traveled, but happy to be Jets||11.26.11 at 12:53 pm ET|
“It was a weird feeling,” Stuart, who was traded along with Wheeler to Atlanta last February in the Rich Peverley deal, said of watching the playoffs. “Happy for those guys, happy when they won, and it’s also tough. It’s really tough to watch, because you want to be there and you want to be part of it.”
Said Wheeler: “It was gratifying, but it was hard at the same time. You want to be a part of it, but you certainly take something out of it, just watching the guys that you played with for a few years. That was the hardest part of getting traded. Stewie and I both knew it was a very real possibility that that was going to happen. To see it come true was certainly a mixed bag of emotions for sure. Definitely happy for all the guys. They certainly work harder than anyone, and they deserved it.”
The two have now settled in with the Jets, as the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg over the summer. All that moving kept the players busy, but they didn’t mind having to move twice.
“I think it’s been easier for me than some of these guys,” Stuart said. “I wasn’t in Atlanta for too long, so it wasn’t really like I got settled in there. I stayed in a hotel there, so when we moved to Winnipeg, it was almost like Boston to Winnipeg in a sense because I didn’t really have enough time to get settled in Atlanta.”
Winnipeg has 22 points on the season, good for fourth in the Southeast conference, but they’re just three points out of being in the top eight. Stuart has two goals and four assists for six points this season, while Wheeler has just one goal and 10 assists for 11 points.
“Mark Stuart is a guy that plays with a lot of bite for us, and his aggressive nature,” Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said Saturday morning. “He’s a guy that plays with his heart more than on his sleeve, he plays with his heart, period. It shows on our team. He’s part of our leadership group, a big part of it. He exemplifies a lot of what our team needs to be, and that’s just a hard-working group that plays hard and plays for the team. He’s been really good for us. He’s been really excellent for us.
“Blake got off to a little frustrating start. He didn’t score a whole lot, so he’s been trying to find his game to a degree. He’s been way better over the last four or five games. He’s got really good speed. He can really take pucks to the net. He’s a guy that can create offense, and he’s been good as well, especially lately he’s been really good. He’s found a little bit more of a niche in our lineup. For us he’s an offensive guy that we can rely on.”
The Jets certainly don’t have the star power of the Bruins, but the players hope they’re trending upwards. They both have experience playing on a rising team, as Stuart, the team’s first-round pick in the 2003 draft, played with the team in the dark, non-playoff days of 2005-06 and 2006-07. Wheeler came in following the team’s first playoff appearance in three years and saw the B’s become a more serious contender in each of his three seasons in Boston. He hopes the same can happen in Winnipeg.
“Just being in that organization, you know what it takes,” Wheeler said of Boston. “They do everything right, and when you go to a new organization, you kind of try to bring some of that with you, kind of knowing what it takes to go all the way. Just making the playoffs is a huge first step for us. Just a few years ago, [Boston] was kind of in the same boat, trying to bring itself up, make the playoffs. They did it a few years in a row, and look at them now.”
|Tim Thomas off first, expected to start vs. Jets||11.26.11 at 12:20 pm ET|
To the surprised of no one, Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice in Saturday’s morning skate, indicating he will get the start against the Jets a day after Tuukka Rask manned the pipes against the Red Wings.
Saturday marks the Jets’ first trip to Boston since they were the Thrashers. Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart, both of whom were traded to Atlanta last February in the Rich Peverley deal, will be in the lineup for Winnipeg. The Jets are fourth in the Southeast division with 22 points, but have picked up points in seven of their last 10 games (4-3-3).
|Bruins’ winning streak ends in a shootout||11.25.11 at 3:57 pm ET|
The Bruins’ winning streak was halted by the Red Wings Friday, as the B’s fell to Detroit, 3-2, in a matinee decided by a shootout. The Bruins had won their previous 10 games.
Though the Bruins dominated early, Valtteri Filppula gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead on a give-and-go with Henrik Zetterberg. Daniel Paille tied it in the second period, but Pavel Datsyuk answered back when he beat Tuukka Rask 35 seconds later to give Detroit the lead back.
Patrice Bergeron tied the game once again for the Bruins in the third period when he picked Zetterberg’s pocket in front and beat Jimmy Howard with a powerful wrist shot to knot the game at two.
The Bruins will return to action Saturday, when they host the Jets for the first time since the Thrashers’ relocation.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Remember during the playoffs when Pierre McGuire compared David Krejci to Datsyuk? Just as it seemed at the time when Krejci was leading the Bruins in scoring, that’s proven to be a bit of an exaggeration. Datsyuk showed off his other-worldly skill set when he kicked the puck to himself in front of Rask to set up his goal, his sixth of the season.
It was an off-day for Krejci, meanwhile. Though he had a pair of takeaways, he did not have a shot on goal the entire day was was won just two of 12 face-offs. He also took a hooking penalty to negate what would have been an abbreviated power play for the Bruins in the second period. Krejci’s been hot of late (two goals and six assists for eight points over the previous nine games), Friday wasn’t his day.
– Johnny Boychuk was a minus-2, as he was the only Bruin on the ice for both of Detroit’s goals. The Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo pairing was out there for both Bruins goals.
– He’s still far and away the Bruins’ best option on the power play, but Tyler Seguin is now 1-for-4 in shootouts this season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Another strong showing from Rask. The 24-year-old net minder, who was coming off three straight victories, didn’t have much of a chance on either of the Red Wings’ goals. Detroit’s first goal was a work of art, a beautiful give-and-go that saw Zetterberg feed Filppula to get the Wings on the board, while few goalies could be counted on to stop Datsyuk’s wizardry on his goal (see below). Rask lucked out when Danny Cleary hit the post with around seven minutes remaining in a tie game.
– No first goal? No problem. As Michael Berger pointed out on Twitter, the Bruins had allowed the first goal in five of the previous 10 games despite winning them all. This time around, it took a second consecutive third-period comeback, though Friday’s matchup provided far more of a challenge than Wednesday’s bout in Buffalo.
In general the Bruins came out with more pep in their step than had been seen in recent matinee games, and their 13-6 shots on goal advantage through 20 minutes. Though the Red Wings seemed to have seized control of the game in the second period, the Garden was an absolute mad house in the final 20 minutes.
– It was clear right off the bat that Chris Kelly was once again sharp as a tack Friday. The third-line center had two takeaways and won a face-off on his first shift, and later drew an interference call on Jonathan Ericsson to give the B’s their first power play of the day. Though Kelly did not register a point Friday, he has five goals and four assists
for nine points this month.
– Paille had his first point since he was hit in the face with a Steve Staios slap shot on Nov. 7. Nathan Horton picked off a puck from Howard behind the net, feeding it to Paille, who beat the scrambling Howard with a back-hander. It was Paille’s first point since donning the cage he is wearing to protect his healing face.
|Bruins-Red Wings Live Blog: Going to overtime||11.25.11 at 12:53 pm ET|
|Benoit Pouliot wins it for Bruins… of course||11.23.11 at 10:00 pm ET|
Benoit Pouliot wasn’t the Bruins’ first choice in the shootout Wednesday night, but he proved to be the only one who could score as he extended the Bruins’ winning streak to 10 games with a 4-3 victory over the Sabres Wednesday at First Niagara Center.
Whether Pouliot would even play Wednesday was in question after he racked up six unnecessary penalty minutes Monday against Montreal, but after Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who entered the night undefeated in five shootouts, stopped Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, Claude Julien went with Pouliot in what proved to be a game-winning decision.
The Sabres were seeking vengeance after Milan Lucic‘s hit on Ryan Miller on Nov. 12 left the Buffalo goaltender concussed on a play that saw no response from his teammates. Paul Gaustad did his best at responding Wednesday, dropping the gloves on Lucic’s first shift but falling to the Bruins’ left wing in Lucic’s first fight in his last 25 regular season games.
Though the Sabres didn’t completely get back at Lucic, they did get on the board first. With Lucic in the box on a questionable roughing call, Christian Ehrhoff beat Tim Thomas on the power play to make it 1-0.
Minutes later, Bruins killer Thomas Vanek did his latest damage on the power play, giving the Sabres a 2-0 lead that they held until Seguin beat Enroth on a one-timer in the second period to get the Bruins on the board. T.J. Brennan, who was playing in his first career NHL game, picked up his goal at 11:02 of the second to make it 3-1, but goals from Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara wiped out Buffalo’s lead.
The Bruins will next play Friday, when they host the Red Wings at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– After not registering a point in the Bruins’ first six games, Chara has three goals and 12 assists for 15 points over the last 14 games. He’s on a better pace this season than he was a season ago, as the giant defenseman had 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) over his first 20 games last season. Chara was an assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick.
– The Bruins successfully executed a massive penalty kill late in regulation and early in overtime after David Krejci took a hooking penalty with 1:03 remaining in the third period. Julien used Chris Kelly, Chara, Gregory Campbell and Dennis Seidenberg for the 5-on-4, with Chara and Campbell both blocking shots. Chara, Bergeron, and Seidenberg then played the first 57 seconds of overtime to kill off the 4-on-3.
– Seguin now has more goals this season (12) than he did as a rookie. It’s taken the 19-year-old just 20 games to do what he did in 74 games last season, so if for some reason you needed to be convinced that the young forward has made huge strides this season, that should do it.
Seguin’s goal, which got the Bruins on the board in the second period, was an absolute laser that the second-year player took upon receiving the feed from Patrice Bergeron. The fact that he was placed in the hardest shot competition in last year’s All-Star game festivities raised some eyebrows at the time, but just as he did last season in Carolina with a 97.1 mile-an-hour bomb, Seguin showed his slapshot shouldn’t be taken lightly.
– The Bruins responded Wednesday in a way the Sabres simply didn’t on Nov. 12. After Brad Marchand threw a big hit on Nathan Gerbe, Gaustad came in and took a run at the second-year forward in the corner of the Sabres’ zone. Marchand’s teammates came to his defense, creating a big scrum that led to a fight between Chara and Robyn Regehr.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Ehrhoff’s goal ended Thomas’ shutout streak at 145:00, and Wednesday marked the fifth time this season that the defending Vezina winner has allowed three goals in a game. He didn’t have much of a chance on Brennan’s goal, and may have been screened on Ehrhoff’s shot, but the fact that the 37-year-old has yet to turn in a bad game this season is a very good sign. Thomas made a gigantic save on Roy with the B’s shorthanded in overtime and stopped Gerbe with about a minute remaining in OT. He stopped Vanek, Gerbe, Pominville, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford.
– Some iffy officiating in the first period. Lucic was sent off for roughing halfway through the period when he finished his check along the boards on Jason Pominville. Both that penalty and a Seidenberg hooking call led to Sabres’ power play goals. On the scrum that followed Guastad’s hit on Marchand, the Bruins surprisingly wound up shorthanded, giving the Sabres yet another power play (they had four in the period). It was clear heading into Wednesday that the league was going to keep on eye on the two teams, but the B’s took the brunt of it in the first 20 minutes.
– More of the same from Vanek against Boston. With five goals and three assists, Vanek now has eight points in his last five games against the Bruins.
|Bruins-Sabres Live Blog: Headed to shootout||11.23.11 at 7:02 pm ET|
|Lindy Ruff: Lack of response ‘won’t happen again’||11.23.11 at 3:22 pm ET|
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff told reporters after Wednesday’s morning skate that the Sabres are more focused on playing a “hard game” than on providing an overdue response to Milan Lucic‘s hit on goaltender Ryan Miller earlier this month.
Asked if retaliation was on the Sabres’ minds, Ruff replied, “I don’t think [NHL disciplinarian Brendan] Shanahan would like to hear that.”
Though Ruff was brief with his answers, he did indicate that if something similar were to happen, he would expect more of a response from his team. Lucic hit Miller in the first period on Nov. 12, leaving the goaltender with a concussion.
“I’ll answer the question one more time,” Ruff said. “We were disappointed in our response, and that won’t happen again.”
The Bruins have won nine games in a row, and now have as many points (24) as the Sabres. With both teams two points behind the Maple Leafs and focused on moving up, Ruff steered away from talk of retaliation and said he’s more concerned with his team coming out hard.
“We have to play a real hard game,” he said. “That would be the message tonight.”