|Bruins taking ‘baby steps’ in right direction toward playoffs||03.09.12 at 11:49 am ET|
The mere suggestion by the toughest Bruin evokes laughter.
But when Shawn Thornton said the Bruins are starting to take “baby steps” in the right direction following the team’s 3-1 win over the Sabres Thursday night, he was making no joke.
“I'm more concerned about how we are playing,” Thornton said. “I think that Rangers game we could have very easily won. I think the way we have been playing for the last week or so is the style of play you're used to seeing from us. As long as we keep putting up efforts and everyone is showing up every night, the wins will come with those performances.”
The inability to win back-to-back games had become a sort of unintentional comedic relief for the Bruins as they grind toward the playoffs, wondering how they’re going to cope without Tuukka Rask for at least a month and how they’re going to position themselves as they get ready for a title defense.
“It seems to be for a lot of people, and I think it's the same for us,” Claude Julien said after the 3-1 win over the Sabres, giving the Bruins consecutive wins for the first time since early January. “We've been obviously battling with our consistency, and even though this is our first back-to-back win in a long time, I think the fact I was encouraged by our play in New York and it's just kept coming along in the next game.
“Obviously winning, and then again tonight a pretty decent effort. I think that's what we're looking for now as more a consistent effort and hopefully they turn into wins. When you got the amount of injuries you have, you take every win for what they are and [Thursday] was a good win for us.”
Now, with the playoff race in the East tightening, the Bruins realize they need to stop messing around and get in playoff mode.
“Well, we have to, right? We’ve been forced into it by apparently not winning back-to-back games since January 10th through 12th, or whatever it was, and also, just the standings are getting tighter so we’re getting forced into a playoff mode, which is probably a good thing for us,” Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said.
The Bruins have 83 points, which is good for first in the Northeast. But, consider that point total would tie them for third in the Atlantic with No. 5 seed Philadelphia and you see Thomas’ point. Ottawa, which has played three more games, is only three points behind. Win the division and the Bruins almost certainly will be the No. 2 seed behind the Rangers. Finish second and the B’s could wind up anywhere from fifth through seventh.
“It is a baby step, for sure,” David Krejci said of Thursday’s win. “We finally won two in a row. It’s been a while. It feels good. I feel like, especially the last three games, it started in New York, we played really good hockey. We keep playing the way we have, the wins will come.”
|Johnny Boychuk helps Bruins find their jam||03.09.12 at 9:53 am ET|
In the midst of a 1-1 game in the third period, the Sabres and Bruins appeared for all the world to be heading for overtime.
Then with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third – BANG – Johnny Boychuk delivers.
No, it wasn’t his go-ahead blast from the right point with seven minutes remaining. It was something just as electric and woke everyone up in the building. Boychuk cleanly leveled Sabres star Thomas Vanek at Buffalo’s blue line and the tempo had been set for the rest of the game.
“I saw a guy coming back so I could pinch down and I could see [Vanek] wasn't really paying attention too much ' I just wanted to make sure it was a clean hit,” Boychuk said. “The fans gave us a little boost and we took it from there.”
Shawn Thornton knows a thing or two about physical play and loved what he saw from the hit. To Thornton, the Bruins were playing a solid game and Boychuk’s hit just raised the level.
“Yeah, he's a very physical player,” Thornton said. “I thought we played a pretty good game so I thought the momentum might have been amped up a little bit more. I thought we were pretty solid most of the night as it was.”
There’s an expression in hockey for what the Bruins had Thursday night – jam. It’s the energy to make things happen on the ice.
Two minutes after Boychuk’s wake-up call – just about 15 feet in closer from where he delivered his hit on Vanek – he unloaded one of his characteristic “Johnny Rockets” past Jhonas Enroth and the Bruins had the lead for good in a 3-1 win over the Sabres at TD Garden.
“It was just like a scramble play and I saw the puck coming through and I just decided I'll go down and try to rip it home,” Boychuk said. “It's just, you see the play developing and I know [Patrice Bergeron] is good defensively, so if I go down and get that puck I know he's going to be backing me up.”
Boychuk was asked if he were actually aiming the puck to an open spot above Enroth’s shoulder, the mere suggestion of which made Boychuk laugh.
“Well, I was aiming of course,” Boychuk laughed. “I hit him in the belly a couple of times and one went through him so you know, try to just put it on top.”
|David Krejci: ‘You just can’t turn it on when the playoffs come’||03.02.12 at 8:46 am ET|
David Krejci knew full well what his February was like. Like his whole season to this point, it had been very up and down and inconsistent.
That all changed Thursday when the calendar flipped to March. The center-turned-winger was back at center and he netted his second career hat trick, finishing it off with an overtime goal that propelled the Bruins past the Devils, 4-3, in overtime.
Krejci had been in a huge slump coming in, just 13 goals, including two in 13 games in the month of February. His assist totals are also way off. He hasn’t had a helper since Jan. 31 and has 28 for the season, one reason why Julien moved him from center to wing.
But Thursday night with Tyler Seguin on his wing, Krejci was back at center. He looked reenergized and fresh, and most importantly, ready to contribute in a big way down the stretch as the Bruins try to regain their momentum for another spring title run.
“Yeah, I wasn't thinking about it, I had two goals in the month of February,” Krejci said of his struggles in February. “But, you know, I just take it game by game. I want to do my best every game and I was feeling really good before the game and I got Segs on my line so I was excited about it. We click well together with Looch [Milan Lucic] and him and it was a good game for us. I know we had a little sloppy second period but we came back hard in the third and won the game. That was the most important thing.”
His coach has noticed an improvement of late.
“I think he's really, he looks more comfortable right now,” Claude Julien said of Krejci. “As I've often said, he puts a lot of pressure on himself. He's probably his worst enemy when things aren't going well, and because of that, it doesn't help him in the long run. You try and take some of that pressure off and say, 'Listen, you've just got to go out there and play.' So, when he feels good about his game, you see a big difference, and that's what we've seen here.”
Like his previous two goals, his overtime goal came as the result of finding space in front of Martin Brodeur. And like his first two goals of the night his timing and positioning in front paid off.
“A little lucky that one, I guess. I was at the end of my shift, I was tired and, you know, Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] made a good play,” he said. “I kind of sensed it that he was going to throw it in front of the net and Z [Zdeno Chara] tried to jam it and I was just at the right time at the right place. I saw Brodeur was down so first thought was go upstairs and it worked that time.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Brad Marchand: Sensational and significant||12.20.11 at 10:32 am ET|
There are highlight reel goals. And, there are game-winning goals.
On rare occasions, you get both in one. Monday night, Brad Marchand gave Bruins fans a 2-for-1 holiday special with his deke-to-backhander that beat Montreal’s Carey Price with just over five minutes remaining to put the Bruins up, 3-1. It turned out to be the difference when Erik Cole scored with 1:14 left as the Bruins hung on for a 3-2 win.
“Once I got my head up, he was already in the motion of poke checking, and I just pulled it around him, and luckily it went in,” Marchand said.
Marchand was quick to thank linemate Tyler Seguin for his vision to see Marchand breaking down the slot for the goal.
“Well, once Segs got it, I saw [the defenseman] decided to go to him, and I was all alone, so I was hoping he’d get it through and he made the play to get it done,” Marchand said.
All of this for a team know for scoring “dirty work” goals, fighting along the boards and finding a way to finish. On this night, the finish by Marchand was spectacular.
“I think sometimes people underestimate our team for the amount of skill we have, but, you know, we have a lot of guys who make great plays, and every now and then we get a nice goal,” Marchand said. Read the rest of this entry »
|Peter Chiarelli: ‘If I could find another Milan Lucic, I’d be very pleased’||12.19.11 at 8:49 pm ET|
Bruins fans can rest easy.
The team’s general manager made it clear Monday night he’s not about to change the way he builds his roster based on a one-game suspension of one of his higher profile players.
Peter Chiarelli said Monday he understands what Brendan Shanahan was doing by handing out a one-game suspension for Milan Lucic for the hit-from-behind on Zac Rinaldo on Saturday in Philadelphia. There’s a history there with Lucic and the Bruins have skated from possible suspensions on transgressions from Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid in the last two weeks.
But not this time.
Still, Chiarelli wants to be clear. The Bruins will still be big and bad.
“It's one game, for one thing, so I'm not going to react to that,” Chiarelli said minutes before the game Lucic missed with the Canadiens. “We went into the year with the new rule changes thinking that we were going to be a little more heavily scrutinized. We might have even played a heavier game in the playoffs, and, again, people were clamoring that we got away with stuff, and maybe we did, maybe we didn't. But that's the way we built the team, and I'm going to continue to build it that way.
“I mean, hey, if I could find another Milan Lucic, I'd be very pleased. I think everyone in the league would want a player like that. No, we won't stray from how we built it, and we'll continue to put the pieces in that have some character and have some toughness.
Chiarelli said he spoke with the top judge in the NHL operations office on Monday, getting the full explanation of the discipline.
“I talked to Brendan Shanahan today following his sanction on Milan, the one-game suspension, and what was explained to me was that when there have been incidents before with a player, they look at the whole body of work,” Chiarelli said. “I don't know if it's as strong as being a repeat offender, but he's done stuff in the past, according to hockey ops, that go to his character reference when they're looking at putting up punishment. Brendan didn't say this, but if it was his first incident, I would think maybe he wouldn't have been suspended. Brendan didn't say that, but that's my take on the whole thing.
“If you go back and see what Milan has done, to me, it's pretty unremarkable, but they obviously look at everything.”
But Chiarelli, to his credit, did itemize the list of misdeeds that led up to Monday’s suspension.
“I think he got a suspension against [Maxim] Lapierre, he got the fine against Freddy Meyer, he got a warning on [Ryan] Miller, and this,” Chiarelli said. “I might have been missing one, but he didn't get any other warnings. You wouldn't know of warnings because, short of a fine, they don't publicize that. I agree with the global objective of addressing player safety, and if the body of work means that now he's in that, again, not 'repeat offender,' but the 'repeat concerns,' I guess, however you want to characterize it, then if that's what it is, that's what it is. Obviously I support the league's attempt at addressing player safety.
“And I think Milan might have explained to you, and he actually, if you look at it closely, I feel that he has, he did change his game, so to speak, on that check. I thought he stopped skating. If you looked at his left arm going in, I thought he tried to lever him so that he could hit him in the crest, and I don't think he hit him as hard as he normally does. Milan's a guy who's led our team in hits, I think, since he's been here, and he's very rarely been penalized with boarding, hit from behind ' the roughing stuff. He's a clean player, and that's what the law is now, so we'll abide by it.”
|Tuukka Rask: ‘Just try to save every puck’||12.14.11 at 9:58 am ET|
There were several chances for Tuukka Rask to blink in the third period Tuesday and lose his first shutout of the season.
But the Bruins goalie, on the heels of replacing Tim Thomas on Saturday in Columbus, didn’t flinch. He turned away all 20 shots in the third period, and all 41 for the game as the Bruins beat the Kings, 3-0.
“I just tried to save every puck,” Rask said of his ninth career shutout. “You don't want to think about shutouts because you might chase yourself but ' couple tough chances in the end but that was it.
“You just try to protect your lead and we hopefully get that third goal. They came out hard so got some pretty good chances but were able to keep them off the scoreboard and then Marchy [Brad Marchand] got a nice goal there to extend the lead so that was good to see.”
“[Brown] pretty much didn't have anything else and just tried to shoot it upstairs, don't know if he actually shot it low or something but it was some kind of misplay there and Johnny was just taking back door and he left the guy there for me and ' hit something,” Rask said.
Rask said he wasn’t looking at the shots accumulating on the scoreboard during the final 20 minutes.
“I don't think you have time to watch the shot clock or anything but you definitely feel the momentum changing at times and today they had a lot of chances in the third,” he said. “And maybe we weren't at our sharpest but they came at us pretty hard too.
So, on a night the Bruins didn’t have captain Zdeno Chara for the first time this season, the Bruins needed Rask to be the true last line of defense.
“Probably some part of that is Z missing but I think we also need to tighten up,” Rask said. “We weren't that bad we didn't give too many second chances and lots of shots came from the outside and stuff. But it's just one of those games where you get lots of shots against and I don't think it's because of [Chara] missing.
“You need some luck to have some shutouts too. They had a couple of posts today. And I think it's definitely tougher to have a shutout than to play one period.”
Now, Claude Julien has a decision to make. Will he ride the hot hand tonight in Ottawa with Rask or will he go back to his No. 1 in Tim Thomas? No matter the answer, Rask showed Tuesday that the Bruins now have two dependable netminders as they hit the road to take on the Senators and Flyers this week.
“He was good tonight, arguably our best player tonight,” Julien said. “He stood tall and they threw a lot of shots at him, certainly not easy shots to stop. There was a lot of traffic in front of the net'screens. He had the quick feet going, made the saves on close-range and was probably our best player. So he got better as the game went on and I thought he did a good job the other night coming in and kind of settling himself in in the third period and then he just carried that into tonight.”
|Right or wrong, Shawn Thornton sticks up for his teammate Daniel Paille||12.09.11 at 1:04 am ET|
Yet in another example of how NHL players are different than any other sport, Shawn Thornton stood up and admitted Thursday – after battling with Krys Barch of the Florida Panthers – that he was just fighting to stick up for his teammate and nothing else.
Midway through the first period, with the Bruins and Daniel Paille on the puck in their own defensive zone, Barch came over to the far corner boards to the left of Tim Thomas and drilled Paille up against the wall.
The force of the two heads colliding was so great that both went to the ice in a daze. When Barch got up, there waiting was Thornton to fight the Panthers forward, who had the nerve to lay what Claude Julien said was a “clean hit” on Paille. Truth be told, Barch did get two minutes for elbowing at the time but replays shows it was a shoulder hit and nothing more.
“I didn’t see it,” Thornton admitted. “I really didn’t, I still haven’t seen it. I just saw Paisey [Paille] laying there and obviously the type of team we are, I’m going to air on the side of sticking up for him. I mean, if it was a clean hit, then it was a clean hit but if it wasn’t, I’m glad we got in there. I mean for, especially guys like me and Soupy [Gregory Campbell] aren’t going to- we’re definitely going to step up if one of our teammates is laying there.
Campbell, indeed, was also ready to fight for Paille, having already dropped his gloves when Paille was drilled by Barch.
“Yeah, that’s my job- it’s both our jobs, I guess,” Thornton said. “Soupy [Gregory Caampbell] is a very, very character guy that, I mean, I’m very fortunate to play with a guy like that but I was trying to get over there at the same time and I think, I mean me and Mr. Barch [Krystofer Barch] have a history anyway so it’s, I take that upon myself, but I commend Soupy for getting in there right away too.
“We’re definitely, I mean especially for me and him I mean, that’s the type of players we are. I think we’re not going to let liberties be taken while were out there, that’s for sure. I was more focused on what I was doing and then I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it after, so wind out of the sails thing, I was on the other side of the rink so wrong guy to ask, I guess.”
Thornton did say the team felt better when they saw Paille in between periods, though they knew right away with a head injury, Paille was done for the night.
‘Well, I saw him in between periods so I think, a little bit of relief there, we were talking, so a little bit of relief there,” Thornton said. “I haven’t gotten an update on him but at least I had a conversation with him so that’s a little easier to take.”
Paille was sent to an area hospital after the game for tests to determine the severity of the injury and whether or not he suffered a concussion.