|A first taste…||12.14.08 at 10:24 am ET|
Martins Karsums made his NHL debut on Saturday night, playing with Vladimir Sobotka and Shawn Thornton on the Bruins fourth line. He was Boston’s second round pick in 2004. In the Juniors, he was a star for the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL (see the highlight clips below).
The 22-year-old right wing played eight minutes, 52 seconds, 10 shifts while blocking a shot and doling out two hits. But he did enough to impress coach Claude Julien on Saturday before being sent back down to Providence after the game.
“I thought he was good tonight. To me, he almost had a couple of goals there. He had two real good chances to score,” Julien said.
Julien was asked if the team was sending him back down immediately.
“Have they announced that yet? Whether we’re going to keep him or not? Well, he’s going back. That’s the official announcement from the coach,” Julien said.
But don’t be surprised if Karsums get another chance in the not-too-distant future.
|Sounds of the game… Bruins 4, Thrashers 2||12.14.08 at 9:38 am ET|
The Bruins made it 11 straight home wins with a 4-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night at the Garden. The Bruins roll into four straight off days as the club with the second-highest point total in the NHL. Only San Jose, with a remarkable 24-3-2 record and 50 points, can boast a better mark than Boston’s 21-5-4 mark. With Phil Kessel collecting his 19th goal and Michael Ryder scoring twice, David Krejci continues to fly under the radar of some. But he won’t for long if he continues to pile up the points like he did on Saturday. Three more assists give him a team-leading 21 helpers.
|Chara to the rescue…||12.13.08 at 8:58 pm ET|
One thing a captain does is stand up for his teammates, under any and all circumstances. When Boris Valabik tried to intimidate Phil Kessel in front of the Thrashers net in the second period Saturday night, Zdeno Chara came in like a raging bull and made sure that his countryman knew that wasn’t acceptable.
“It's the number one thing to be playing as a team and stick up for each other,” Chara explained. “That's one of the main things on this team, to stick up for each other.”
Kessel certainly appreciated it.
“I just think it says a lot about him, coming to my defense like that,” Kessel said. “He’s a great captain, a great guy and shows what type of team guy he really is.”
Chara may have taken 17 minutes in penalties, but coach Claude Julien didn’t just give Chara a pass, he applauded the message he delivered.
'It was the right thing to do. It was for the right reasons,” Julien said.
“That was good by Z,” added David Krejci, who aided the Bruins cause with three assists on the night. “I was actually pretty surprised because Valabik, I’m pretty sure they know each other from Slovakia. It was nice to see Z stick up for Phil.”
That’s what happens when your team is 21-5-4, winners of 11 straight on home ice.
|Bruins 4, Thrashers 2, Final||12.13.08 at 5:26 pm ET|
Best battle of the night with 3:46 left in the third when 6’9″ Zdeno Chara went up against Atlanta’s Boris Valabik, who stands 6’7″, with Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting roaring over the loudspeakers. Valabik grew up in Chara’s homeland of Slovakia, styling his game after Chara.
Full disclosure, neither pugilist landed any significant blows.
But Dennis Wideman did when he connected for his second power play goal of the night, beating Johan Hedberg at 18:16 of the second period.
Phil Kessel collected his own rebound on a power play shot on Atlanta’s Johan Hedberg. The Thrashers goalie stopped the first but not the second at 6:00 of the first as Kessel lit the lamp for the 19th time this season.
Not only does that figure far and away lead the team, it already matches his career best set last season and extends his point streak to 15 games.
Michael Ryder added his ninth of the season at 13:43 even strength, a weak backhand that was mishandled by Hedberg.
The Bruins had a golden chance to break open the game but Hedberg came up big on a five-on-three Boston power play for one minute, 37 seconds.
The Thrashers turned that momentum into a goal when Nathan Oystrick fired a slap shot from the left point through a mass of bodies infront of Manny Fernandez, cutting Boston’s lead in half.
Some notes at the end of one…
The Bruins are 9-2-1 when they lead after one this season.
The Thrashers are 1-10-1 when they trail after one.
The Bruins have outscored their opponents 66-37 in the second and third periods this season.
|Warding off worry… B’s blue liner returns||12.09.08 at 3:08 pm ET|
While he didn’t take part in any contact drills on Tuesday, Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward felt good about returning to the ice after a left leg injury that has forced him to miss the last three games.
“That’s the approach now,” Ward said before joining the team on its sojourn to Washington for Wednesday’s game against the Capitals. “Only have taken seven days off, I can’t have lost a whole lot. To touch a puck and to play around with it rather than sit out three weeks and miss it, that’s why I’m taking the road trip, hopefully start skating a little bit more aggressively and hopefully go from there. But there doesn’t seem to be much of a need right now. I can take my time.
“It’s just the pace of the game, getting your head up and playing with the puck, especially this team, so much more demanded from a defenseman in terms of putting the puck in the right place and reading the play and understand where you’re supposed to be. That’s the essential part of it all,” he said.
While Ward is having fun watching the team continue to roll along, there is some tension knowing that other younger players are coming up and could make an even better impression.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Ward said. “You don’t want to be supplanted from where you feel where you might add to the team.”
One of those younger players is Vladimir Sobotka, who was recalled on an emergency basis following Monday’s game after Stephane Yelle collided with a linesman and suffered a minor rib injury.
“I was on the first line in Providence, playing on the power play some,” Sobotka explained Tuesday. “Here I’ll be on the fourth line. I admit I’ll be a little nervous before the game (on Wednesday).”
As for Ward, he said he doesn’t expect to return on Wednesday.
If I were a wagering man, I’d say no. But again, (Wednesday) is another step in the recovery process,” Ward said.
“How happy Plaxico Burress is that Avery shot his mouth off and now no one knows who Plaxico is,” Ward said.
And props to Matt Kalman of The Bruins Blog, who didn’t miss a beat responding, “Maybe in the hockey world, but I’m pretty sure the rest of the world (does).”
Don’t have to look very far for confirmation of that, Matt.
|It’s all good… Bruins ready for two-city trip||12.09.08 at 12:40 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien worked his team through an energetic practice this morning at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, with the emphasis being on how to handle success… namely don’t get cute when you have the lead.
The Bruins led after one period Monday night, 3-0, but allowed Tampa Bay to make a charge at them, closing to within 4-3 with 19.0 seconds remaining before P.J. Axelsson salted the game away with an empty netter.
Some other morsels from Tuesday morning’s skate.
X-rays on Stephane Yelle’s ribs were negative after he collided with linesman Mark Shewchyk on Monday night.
Aaron Ward skated at center ice while the team worked on drills. But don’t expect him to rush back to action for Wednesday in Washington. “If I were a betting man, I’d say ‘no’ (to playing),” Ward said.
Marco Sturm is making progress and is getting closer to a return from concussion-like symptoms.
All three made the trip to Washington and are considered day-to-day by coach Julien. “All encouraging news,” Juilen said.
The 19-4-4 Bruins play the Capitals on Wednesday in Washington and the Thrashers in Atlanta on Friday before returning home for a date with Atlanta on Saturday at the Garden.
|Sounds of the game… Bruins 5, Lightning 3||12.09.08 at 7:32 am ET|
You know you’re a good hockey team when your coach says, “We’re getting used to wins, and that’s nice. But we’re at the stage now where we’re really looking at how we’re winning hockey games.” Claude Julien didn’t have to say anything to his team following its 5-3 dispatching of the woebegone Tampa Bay Lightning at the Garden. He left them to think about how a 3-0 first period lead turned into a nail-biter in the final minute of regulation. All of which leads to this, when you are a good team you learn from your wins just as much as your losses and that was the case last night. The Bruins are still in phenomenal shape at 19-4-4, with 42 points and atop the Eastern Conference. Only the unconscious San Jose Sharks have more points in the NHL.
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