|Tim Thomas is already thinking Stanley Cup playoffs||12.08.10 at 11:55 am ET|
The veterans on the Bruins who have been around the block a few times realize that Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime win against Buffalo was just another win in December. But they also realize that it’s significant for one very important reason.
When you get to April and May and the Stanley Cup playoffs, there are no shootouts and you need to find a way to win overtime games. Another satisfying aspect of this early-December win was the fact the Bruins trailed 2-1 against Ryan Miller – one of the best goalies in the sport – with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation. So before winning in overtime the Bruins had to force the extra period.
The Bruins took advantage of a turnover in front of the Buffalo net and Nathan Horton scored his second goal in as many games to tie the game, 2-2. Again, just like April and May, teams with Cup aspirations need to find a way to just force overtime when you’re down a goal.
“I mean just to come back being down two to one in the third period, but then to finish it off that’s the key because I mean if… theoretically every game that you play in is a Stanley Cup run there are no shootouts in the Stanley Cup playoffs, you need to find a way to win that in overtime,” Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. “So that’s what we did tonight and that’s a good thing.”
And you need your goalie to make big saves in overtime – just like Thomas did on Derek Roy on the doorstep just 40 seconds into the overtime. And in the Stanley Cup playoffs, you get bizarre circumstances – like scoring the winning goal, only to have play continue for about a minute before a stoppage and video review confirmed Mark Recchi‘s game-winning deflection off Dennis Seidenberg‘s blast from the high slot.
“I don’t know if I have ever been a part of a game like that,” Thomas said. “I’ve seen it on TV and stuff a couple times and actually by the time we actually got a whistle I’d forgotten about that goal. So, when I happened to glance up, I didn’t get to see if the puck went in on the replay but the crowd was happy, so I just started celebrating hoping that the crowd was right.”
“It’s been tough for us, I think, in that area. Number one, as you saw, we used three forwards and one D to try to get some more offense on that five-minute overtime, four-on-four,” Julien said. “Most of our offense has been coming from up front. At the same time, we haven’t been very good in shootouts. We don’t have a very good percentage as a group, so I guess, for the time being, you try to adjust and try and put the odds on your side. We went that way and ended up on the power play and were able to score.”
Recchi added final perspective on the significance of the December win.
“It’s important,” Recchi said. “We’d like not to get [to overtime], but if we do get there then you’ve got to be good and you’ve got to be sharp. We use our bench very well, so guys are pretty fresh when it comes and we don’t have over-tired people. It’s good. Timmy [Thomas] came off a big save and then we were able to capitalize on the power play.”
|Mark Stuart to be evaluated for ‘upper body injury’||12.07.10 at 11:01 pm ET|
It’s the dreaded “upper body injury” for Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart.
Stuart played just four shifts in the first period Tuesday night before suffering an undisclosed ailment, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien.
“He’ll be evaluated and let you know [Wednesday],” Julien said. “We’ll give you more [Wednesday] and he needs to be evaluated. We need to give you the right information.”
The Bruins defenseman totaled three minutes, 56 seconds on the ice in the first period before being forced out of the game. The Bruins practice Wednesday in Wilmington before hosting the New York Islanders on Thursday night at TD Garden. Julien did not speculate on Stuart’s availability on Thursday or Saturday, when the Bruins host the Flyers.
|What the return of Marc Savard really means to the Bruins||12.03.10 at 11:08 am ET|
Less than an hour after the Bruins croaked the Tampa Bay Lightning, 8-1, at TD Garden, Bruins coach Claude Julien was asked if the team was given an emotional boost by the return of Marc Savard after a bout of post-concussion syndrome.
“Boy, you’re giving him a lot of credit, aren’t you?” Julien quipped in his classically wry sense of humor. “It’s nice to have him back, obviously everybody’s happy to have him back, but you know, I think our players, as a whole, even yesterday when he wasn’t in the lineup, decided that they were going to play hard and play well and they did. So he just added to that, I guess, fuel for tonight.”
Savard skated 21 shifts in 15 minutes and 45 seconds, taking one shot while winning 5-of-10 face-offs on the night. But his impact was felt early when he got into the fray early with a fore-check. He played on several combo lines and everyone thought he didn’t miss a beat.
“I mean, he brought a lot of offense today,” two-goal scorer David Krejci said. “He wasn’t on the score sheet but he had a lot of last minute chances. We have big depth now with him and all four lines can score goals and it’s hard for their top defensemen to defend our top guys. So, it’s good to have him back and it’s good to see him and hopefully we will keep doing the same thing we did tonight.”
And that can only help this Bruins offense. It certainly appeared that way Thursday night.
“I think that’s the first eight goals the team has scored that I haven’t had anything on it, but I kept telling Claude I was a presence tonight,” Savard said BEFORE Julien’s post-game observation. “I felt good, obviously had some shifts where I felt a little tired and as the battles wore on, I just stood in front of Timmy [Thomas], so hopefully he can stop it. It was great to be back. The fans were fantastic. I got a little emotional there. It was a little tough to go out on that shift there, but it was special.”
Tim Thomas set the tone for the night, stepping aside before leading the team on the ice for pre-game warm-ups. Instead, Savard had that honor against Tampa Bay.
“I didn’t know what he was doing there. I didn’t even realize. I just thought he was stepping aside, that’s maybe what he does now. I just kept skating, then I looked over and no one was there, so it was kind of nice of the guys, I think they did that on purpose, but it was funny.”
Still, for skating in a game for the first time since May, it was quite the adjustment for Savard.
“I mean, it’s been six months, so it’s been a long time,” Savard said. “Shaking off a bit of rust, but you know, I felt I made some good plays. I felt there’s some stuff I can build off of, some things I can work on still, obviously. Battles I had a little trouble as the shift wore on in our zone a couple times, but I felt good, I felt strong. I got in there a couple times, tried to bang around, didn’t really move anybody, but it was a lot of fun.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Dennis Seidenberg on Marco Sturm: ‘He agreed to waive’ no-trade||12.02.10 at 11:38 pm ET|
Just hours after multiple media reports had Bruins forward Marco Sturm waiving his no-trade clause and being traded to the Los Angeles Kings, the Bruins made a formal effort to put the brakes on the story. Immediately following Thursday’s win over Tampa, the team – through GM Peter Chiarelli – released a statement on the report that they had traded Sturm to the Los Angeles Kings.
“I am aware of the various media reports today regarding Marco Sturm,” said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. “I can confirm that I spoke to Marco about waiving his no trade clause and have had discussions regarding Marco with other teams. I can also confirm that there is no trade in place with Marco. At this time, Marco is a member of the Boston Bruins and will continue to train with our team.”
Seidenberg said he spoke with Sturm earlier in the day and said Sturm confirmed to him that he had waived the no-trade. Now, Seidenberg and the rest of the team await the next move as Sturm’s future with the team appears in limbo.
“It is very tough, everybody loves Marco here,” Seidenberg said following the 8-1 thrashing of the Lightning. “He’s been a big part of our organization and he’s a great guy and I think any time you see a guy leave, especially in an awkward situation right now, it’s just tough.”
Seidenberg said he spoke to Sturm before Thursday’s game and he was under the impression that Sturm had already accepted the deal to L.A.
“He told me he agreed to waive it,” Seidenberg said. “I don’t know what’s going on. I haven’t talked to him since.”
|Tim Thomas: ‘It’s time to start righting the ship’||11.15.10 at 11:40 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was happy to admit that his fourth shutout of the season was a collective effort. Thanks to the blocked shots of Dennis Seidenberg and captain Zdeno Chara effectively rubbing out Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Elias, Thomas faced just 28 shots and stopped them all in a 3-0 win over the Devils Monday night at TD Garden.
But that wasn’t the biggest story. The Bruins managed to put three pucks behind future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, one more than they scored during an unlikely three-game home ice losing skid.
“There was definitely a little urgency but it was a controlled urgency,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t a panicked urgency. It was more like, ‘Hey, it’s time to start righting the ship and tonight’s a good place to start.'”
The Bruins were just 2-4-1 on home ice this season.
“I personally approached it as a must-win and I think the team did too,” Thomas said. “We need to get back on track; we need to show some urgency. We faced a team that’s been playing better but has struggled this year, and we needed to come out with the win so that we could start building and getting back to the game that we were playing when we were having success.”
Thomas did face pressure at times, like late in the second period when the Devils fired the last six shots of the period.
“Yeah, that and the first couple minutes of the game there,” Thomas said. “Elias was very, very patient. You know, there was some times where we really controlled the play for long periods of time and there were other times where they made a push and I just had to be on my toes and the team had to be on their toes for the rebounds.”
The way it played out, Thomas weathered the storm at the start, and had pretty much clear sailing the rest of the way.
“I don’t know, well, you could look at it either way. Yeah, it could be tough, or looking back, it actually could help get me into the game,” Thomas said. “And it happened so quick that I didn’t have time to think about it. I didn’t have time to think, ‘Is this really happening in the first minute of the game?’ It was just like, ‘I got to find some way to stop this thing.’
“It’s a similar feeling to how I felt against Washington, probably early this year was the closest that I kind of felt like that. I just felt like they weren’t going to find a way to score.”
As the minutes wound down, he could sense he was closing in on his 21st career shutout, just 91 shy of his counterpart Monday night.
“The last several minutes you start to put some emphasis because you don’t want to work that hard and not get it,” Thomas said. “I used to not care about shutouts and I still don’t for the most part, but that was 21 and 25 is a milestone that few people reach in the NHL.”
|Is Tuukka Rask snake-bitten? It sure looks that way||11.12.10 at 10:19 am ET|
It must be hard for Tuukka Rask right now.
His Bruins teammates got off to a red-hot start and his fellow netminder one stall over in the dressing room was off to one of the best starts in team history.
But after Thursday night’s 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, Rask stands with an 0-4-1 record. How bad is it? He has more losses than games started.
When the Bruins came back to tie the Washington Capitals last Friday night, he came on in relief of Tim Thomas, only to allow the go-ahead goal and get charged with the loss. He has a 2.75 goals against average but his coach hasn’t lost faith because he believes Rask deserves a better fate.
“I don’t know if it’s at home, but I think it’s just overall,” Claude Julien said after Thursday’s latest setback. “It’s unfortunate, because so far, I don’t think we’ve played great in front of him. That first game in Prague, I think was our worst game ever so far this year. Tonight we weren’t a very good team in front of him. I thought he played well in St. Louis and took us into a shootout. But I don’t know that I would go after him and say that he’s not playing well. I think we need to help him out a little bit. When goalies find their groove, it’s because the team in front of him play maybe better than we have.”
He was respectable again on Thursday night, stopping 25-of-26 shots before a power play goal inside the first minute of the third period gave the Canadiens control.
Rask, who was the starter in the playoffs last year and figured to be this season after surgery to Tim Thomas, can’t seem to catch a break.
“Well, I think pros are pros and you can’t do everything for them,” Julien added. “That’s part of being a pro. You’ve got to be mentally strong, and you’ve got to fight through those things and the coach will always more or less always help them out, but he’s got to do his share to work through those things if confidence becomes an issue, but I don’t think he’s there.”
What does Rask think?
“That’s hockey, you know,” he said. “Try to do your best and save every puck and if you don’t get the bounce, you don’t, and if you do, just that’s great. Today there was more unlucky bounces again.”
Can’t blame him if it seems like he’s seen more than his fair share so far this season.
|Claude Julien: Bruins need to freshen up||11.11.10 at 11:56 pm ET|
Former Boston College and New Jersey Devils star Brian Gionta scored the go-ahead goal on the power play just 29 seconds into the third period as the Canadiens beat Tuukka Rask and the Bruins, 3-1, Thursday night at TD Garden. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara took an interference penalty in the final eight seconds of the second period to give the Canadiens the man-advantage to start the third.
On Wednesday in Pittsburgh, the Bruins trailed, 4-2, heading into the final period. This night, the Bruins were tied but had no jump in the final 20 minutes and it showed.
“Probably the first half of the first period, we were fine,” Julien said. “I think what happened tonight was totally different. We just, we ran out of legs. We just didn’t have the legs and progressively our game got worse. We looked more and more tired and got a fresh team waiting for you here at home in a divisional game.
“It’s a big game, they’re ready for us,” Julien said of the Canadiens. “I’m going to stand here and say our guys really wanted it bad enough, but when you don’t have your legs, the rest of your game kind of falls apart as well. A big part of your game looked bad. That’s what it is. You can try and push your players all you want, but if they don’t have the legs, they don’t have the legs. So that, to me, is what I saw happening tonight. You got a couple of tough penalties that we took, put us in trouble as well. And you know, sometimes when you’re tired, not only your legs, but your mind maybe doesn’t work as well.”
The Canadiens scored their first two goals on the power play and got an insurance tally from Scott Gomez midway through the third as the visitors peppered Rask with 41 shots on the night. Chara took a perfect pass from Milan Lucic and scored the only goal for the Bruins at 15:49 of the first to tie the game. It was his fourth of the season.
Rask, who was making his fourth start, remains winless this season with a record of 0-4-1. The win gave the Canadiens 21 points, four more than the second-place Bruins in the Northeast Division.