|A statistical look at the Bruins’ win over the Devils||10.17.10 at 10:34 am ET|
The Bruins went into Newark and beat the Devils with a well-balanced offensive attack and impressive goaltending from 36-year-old Tim Thomas in a 4-1 win. Each line contributed a goal — Milan Lucic, Jordan Caron, Michael Ryder, and Shawn Thornton represented lines one through four on the scoring sheet — and Thomas’ 31 saves helped him outduel Martin Brodeur in a battle of Vezina-winning netminders. Here’s a closer statistical look at the victory.
- Nathan Horton led the Bruins with five shots on goal, and after three games, Zdeno Chara has the most on the team with 13. Offensively, here’s how many shots on Brodeur each line produced (naturally, this stat doesn’t take into account special teams bids, but it still gives you a good idea. Defensemen are not included).
First line (11): Lucic (2, G) – Krejci (4, A) – Horton (5, A)
Second line (3): Caron (1, G) – Bergeron (2) – Wheeler (0)
Third line (6): Recchi (1, A) – Seguin (1, A) – Ryder (4, G)
Fourth line (6): Marchand (3, A) – Campbell (0, A) – Thornton (3, G)
The most alarming number that should come from this is that the fourth line had twice as many shots on goal as the second line. With his goose egg on Saturday, Blake Wheeler now has just two shots on goal in his last two games. His play throughout the preseason and to this point has been much improved from where it was a year ago, but he’ll need to focus more on putting pucks on net, as he did five times in the season-opener.
- After going 0-for-3 with a man advantage, the Bruins’ power play is now 1-for-11 on the season, good for a 9.1 power play percentage, which is 24th in the league. Killing off four penalties effectively helped the Bruins push their penalty kill percentage up 85.7, good for 13th in the NHL.
- The first line has been consistently productive on the young season, with Lucic, David Krejci, and Horton all registering points in each game. Horton leads with the team with three goals and Krejci leads the B’s with four assists.
- Not to overreact to a two-game sample size, but this is statistically the best start Thomas has gotten off to in such a short stretch. He leads the league in broth goals against average (0.50) and save percentage (.984). Fellow Hockey East product Jonathan Quick of the Kings (0.97) is the only other goalie in the league with a sub-1.00 GAA. The problem, of course, is that Thomas is splitting time with the guy who led both categories last season in Tuukka Rask.
- Caron’s minutes certainly appear to be on the upswing, as the rookie followed up last Sunday’s 9:42 of ice time with 13:01 on Saturday.
|Bruins beat Devils, 4-1||10.16.10 at 9:18 pm ET|
For the second straight game, it took until the second period for the Bruins to come alive offensively, but once they did, it was substantial enough to seal a victory. The B’s responded to a 1-0 Devils lead with four unanswered goals — one from each line — in the second off Martin Brodeur and hung on for a 4-1 victory at the Prudential Center.
Notable individual feats were accomplished for the Bruins, as Jordan Caron picked up his first NHL goal, Tyler Seguin had his first career assist, and Nathan Horton picked up his 300th career point in assisting Milan Lucic‘s tally.
Tim Thomas earned the victory for the Bruins, following up a shutout last Sunday with a 31-save effort.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- It was good to see Caron get his first career goal out of the way. The 19-year-old struggled with confidence and over-thinking things as the preseason wore on, and was a scratch in the season-opener as a result. After Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron took notice, Bergeron, who has served as a mentor for the rookie, took Caron out for dinner and Prague to remind him that he’d be fine if he stuck to his game. The two have been linemates since Sunday’s 3-0 victory and the jitters seem to be a thing of the past.
- There weren’t any real struggles for Seguin in the preseason, but it’s still greatly encouraging to see the rookie center do more than his specialty in scoring. Seguin’s pass to set up Michael Ryder‘s go-ahead goal in the second provided proof of two things: that the second overall pick is already making a big impact and that the chemistry between Seguin and Ryder, who had a down year last season, is something that could very well take off.
- It won’t be every game that the Brad Marchand - Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton line puts together a well-executed goal on Martin Brodeur, so let’s give credit where credit is due. It was Thornton’s first goal since the second game of last season, a 7-2 win over the Hurricanes at home.
- It will be very interesting to see how Claude Julien handles the decision of who starts in net for Tuesday, because Tim Thomas continued to prove on Saturday that he is no backup goalie. The 2008-09 Vezina winner stood on his head at various points of the night and kept it a close game in the early going.
Thomas made 31 saves on the night, doing so six days after stopping all 29 shots he faced in last Sunday’s 3-0 shutout over the Coyotes. Dainius Zubrus scored the lone Devils goal on a rebound in the second period.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Yes, it is but three games into the season, but the power play in its small sample size has not provided much to write home about. With the team’s 0-for-3 showing with the man advantage on Saturday, the Bruins are now 1-for-11 on the season, with Nathan Horton’s power-play goal in the third period of last Saturday’s 5-2 loss their lone saving grace.
To stick with special teams, the penalty kill was quite impressive, with Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and Johnny Boychuk looking very sharp in killing off a 5-on-3 to end the first period.
- After having just two last Sunday, Blake Wheeler went all of Saturday without a shot on net. Wheeler didn’t exactly have a poor showing on Saturday, but he’ll need to read a certain Wayne Gretzky quote if he wants to improve on his 18-goal mark from last season.
|Bruins up 4-1 after two||10.16.10 at 8:32 pm ET|
How does four unanswered goals sound? Good enough for the Bruins to have blown the game open in the second.
Jordan Caron scored his first career goal by crashing the net and burying a rebound past Martin Brodeur, while Tyler Seguin got rid of the puck just before getting crushed on the boards and setting up a bang-bang Michael Ryder goal in the process. Shawn Thorton and Milan Lucic also put pucks past Brodeur, and with Dainius Zubrus registering a his first goal of the season for the Devils, it’s a 4-1 game after two periods.
Neither team drew a penalty in the period, though the Bruins began the period shorthanded as they killed off the final two seconds Blake Wheeler and Brad Marchand’s first-period penalties for holding and kneeing, respectively. One play that stood out for the shorthanded Bruins was when a bid from Blake Wheeler and David Krejci led to a 3-on-1 for the Devils that was silenced when Tim Thomas stoned Ilya Kovalchuk.
|Bruins and Devils scoreless after one||10.16.10 at 7:40 pm ET|
The Bruins and Devils both treaded water in the first period of what one would expect to be a low-shooting and low-scoring game. As such, the shots are 11-8 in favor of the Devils in a scoreless game.
The Devils were comically clumsy in the offensive zone, but that’s not to say that they didn’t have their chances. Tim Thomas twice had to make sprawling saves reminiscent of his Vezina days to keep it scoreless.
The Bruins took three penalties in the period, with Blake Wheeler (holding) and Brad Marchand (kneeing) penalties overlapping for a period-ending 5-on-3. Marchand was called for a questionable knee-on-knee hit on Dainius Zubrus. The Bruins went 0-for-1 on the power play, with a Tyler Seguin wrister off the glove of Martin Brodeur perhaps the closest they came to getting on the board.
David Krejci and Michael Ryder had two goals apiece in the first period, with Andrew Ference batting at a floating rebound from a Krejci shot and unable to make solid contact.
|Daniel Paille, Adam McQuaid, and Brian McGrattan scratched vs. Devils||10.16.10 at 6:54 pm ET|
Brian McGrattan is a scratch for his first potential game as a member of the Bruins. McGrattan was on a tryout with the team during the team’s two games in Prague before being inked to a one-year deal on Monday.
Forward Daniel Paille and defenseman Adam McQuaid will also take in Saturday night’s game vs. the Devils from the stands. McQuaid was scratched for both Prague games, while a poor showing in last Saturday’s 5-2 season-opening loss to the Coyotes led to his being scratched on Sunday. Based on practice this week, the following lines can be expected.
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Caron – Bergeron – Wheeler
Recchi – Seguin – Ryder
Marchand – Campbell – Thornton
Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk were paired on Friday, with Dennis Seidenberg/Mark Stuart and Andrew Ference/Matt Hunwick making up the other pairings. Tim Thomas is starting in goal.
|Thomas to start Saturday||10.16.10 at 11:56 am ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters Saturday that Tim Thomas, who is coming off a shutout in his season debut last Sunday, will be the starting goaltender when the Bruins take on the Devils on Saturday night.
Thomas, 36, made 29 saves against the Coyotes in the 3-0 victory in Prague, his 18th career shutout. Tuukka Rask, meanwhile, allowed four goals in the team’s season-opening 5-2 loss.
The game will be the Bruins first since returning from Prague, where they picked up two points in the two-game set with Phoenix. The Devils, on the other hand, have just three points in five games and lost on Friday night to the Avalanche.
|Matt Hunwick hopes to build on a solid Sunday||10.15.10 at 4:02 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The differences between the Bruins’ first two games were telling enough without having to dive into the box score. The shots on Sunday were there as they had been the night before (37 after a 42 shot effort in Saturday’s 5-2 loss), but the team was more consistent offensively in addition to recovering from a very sloppy defensive night. The turnovers that doomed the team in the season-opener disappeared on Sunday while poor individual performances were made a thing of the past by stronger efforts.
One of the players who experienced a night-and-day weekend was defenseman Matt Hunwick. After posting a team-worst minus-3 plus/minus on Sunday and having his pairing with Dennis Seidenberg separated mid-game, Hunwick was one of the better ice in the team’s second game. Hunwick had three shots on goal and tied for a team-high plus-two.
Yet while many of the players who saw improved performances from one day to the next in Prague, it was Hunwick’s effort that could end up meaning more to the Bruins as the season goes on. To the casual observer, you couldn’t notice him in his own end — a good sign — while he also showed strong signs of being the puck-moving defenseman the team lost in the Dennis Wideman trade.
“I think it’s funny. You look at the stat sheet after, and you don’t really think you did too much different from game to game, but sometimes you get the bounces and you get the pucks, and the assists. Sometimes you don’t,” Hunwick told WEEI.com recently. “That’s kind of how the game works, but collectively we obviously played a lot better in the third period on Saturday and carried that right into Sunday and played three good periods. That’s the idea of where we want to be.”
Hunwick displayed impressive vision on the ice and was one of the players who stood out on the power play. While he figures to continue to see time on the man advantage, the hope with the 26-year-old is that his contributions aren’t limited to how he can help the team offensively.
“First of all, I have to be good in my own end, that’s where it starts,” Hunwick said when asked about what he expects from himself in his fourth season. “Especially for a team like this. I think my role is expanding a little bit.
“I’ve been playing on the power play, and I feel like I have to be a facilitator on that unit and also learn to shoot the puck and create opportunities for the other guys that are out there. That’s a lot bigger role than I had last year. I think I started doing that in the playoffs, and now this year that will hopefully be a role that I have all season long.”
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