|Ice Guru: ‘Good Lord couldn’t have done better’||01.01.10 at 12:22 pm ET|
When you play an outdoor hockey game on New Year’s Day in Boston, sometimes you need some divine intervention.
“Awesome,” NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig said of the ice. “The Good Lord couldn’t have done better for us right now.”
This isn’t the first time Craig has found religion for the sake of playing an outdoor hockey game.
“Buffalo for me, was very stressful,” he said of the 2008 classic between the Sabres and Penguins. “[I was] praying that we could have a good game. Chicago , with our new equipment, [I was] nervous but confident in our equipment and the crew and knowing we were going to have a good game, which we did. And today, it is a calm confidence that we are going to have an awesome, awesome day at the park.”
Many fans assume that the colder the better for the ice. Not necessarily. If it’s too cold, the ice gets too brittle. Last year at Wrigley Field the temperatures hovered in the low 20s. So the forecast for 38 degrees at face-off work well for Craig and the NHL.
“Today is different from Chicago, due to the weather and how warm it’s going to be,” Craig said. “My crew can monitor ice conditions as they’re happening on the field of play. I will be in tune with them and with the engineer on the truck because I have to make sure that the truck goes down slowly in temperature as the temperature rises outside.
“Right on target – within tenths of a degree of the target, which is 24 degrees. We’re right where we want to be.”
|Bruins show their true focus||12.31.09 at 1:39 am ET|
The Bruins head coach was more concerned with his team just finding consistency and focus – both of which have been lacking in a season after finishing atop the Eastern Conference.
But on Wednesday night at the Garden, Julien watched from behind the Bruins bench with a smile as his team executed a nearly flawless performance in a 4-0 win over the Atlanta Thrashers.
|Hard-earned break||12.24.09 at 11:11 am ET|
Thanks to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and its players, the Bruins won’t have to worry about stepping back onto the ice for the next couple of days.
And thanks to their power play on Wednesday night, they can take nice thoughts with them over the Christmas break.
The Bruins broke an 0-for-13 drought on the power play, scoring three times in five chances on Wednesday night in a 6-4 win against the Atlanta Thrashers at TD Garden – a team by the way they will face exactly one week later on the same sheet of ice.
The Bruins, now with 43 points, also finished up the break with two key wins against Ottawa and Atlanta, two teams that coming into the week, were neck-and-neck with the Bruins for 4th and 5th place in the Eastern Conference.
Here are some of the highlights from a happy locker room as the Bruins take a break before lacing them up again on Sunday in Florida against the Panthers and Monday in St. Pete against the Lightning.
|Julien: ‘We collapsed’ in third period meltdown||12.15.09 at 1:39 am ET|
Claude Julien expected more from his team on Monday night.
He thought after his Bruins killed a 5-on-3 Philadelphia power play in the first period, they would come out for the jugular.
He thought after they worked and worked and finally got a late second-period goal from Vladimir Sobokta on a lucky re-direct of a centering pass from Shawn Thornton, they would find a way to put away the Flyers in the third period. They were 9-0-0 before Monday night in similar situations this season.
And he thought, despite a Sobokta goal being disallowed earlier in the game, the Bruins would outwork the dispirited Flyers and come away with two points.
If Monday’s game were a multiple choice game, none of the above would be the correct answer as the Flyers scored three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes and came away with a much-needed, much deserved 3-1 win at TD Garden.
|Kesselmania over – we can get on with our lives||12.11.09 at 1:37 am ET|
Even Claude Julien had to take notice of the TV-generated hype over Phil Kessel’s return to Boston twice in the last five days.
Yes, he was a terrifically talented player who could score and strike the fear of hockey gods into the opposition if given space on ice to wheel and deal.
But the Bruins knew full well how to contain No. 81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He had two shots in 16 minutes in Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Boston. On Thursday, just five days later, Kessel’s line wasn’ t much prettier.
He had 22 shifts in over 18 minutes with just two shots, no goals and two face-off wins as the Bruins won again, 5-2. Not exactly what Toronto coach Ron Wilson had in mind but just what Claude Julien and the Bruins drew up in practice this week when discussing Kessel.
|Serving his team and country||12.11.09 at 1:23 am ET|
Mark Stuart was a very proud man on Thursday night.
Just before face-off, the Bruins defenseman had the privilege of accepting a Bruins flag that flew in Iraq with the U.S. Army Rangers.
He took a slap shot from the top of the slot that beat Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala between the pads for his second goal of the season, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
The he got into a shoving match two minutes into the second period with Jamal Mayers. As they came out of their respective penalty boxes, the two decided to come out swinging this time, both earning five minute majors.
The only thing missing from Mark Stuart’s night to remember was an assist. That would have given him the so-called Gordie Howe hat trick – A goal, an assist and a fight. Still, Stuart was clearly the most important player on the ice on Thursday during Boston’s 5-2 win over the Leafs at TD Garden.
Afterward, he shared his thoughts on the special night.
|Kessel: ‘there was pressure’||12.05.09 at 10:30 pm ET|
Here is Phil Kessel in his postgame chat with reporters following his two-shot, -3 performance against the Bruins in Boston’s 7-2 win.
Some other notable quotes from No. 81:
“There was pressure but that was probably the worst game I’ve played in a while. I’ve got to be better.” Kessel, with two shots, -3 rating and 16:28 of ice time.
“Yeah, you hear it but it doesn’t get to you. I just didn’t have a good game tonight and I have to be better.” Kessel on the boos and the chants of ‘Kessel, Kessel’ all night.
“You figure you come back and that’s what’s going to happen. It’s part of the game. Obviously, I didn’t play very well.” Kessel on the boos.
But maybe it was Toronto head coach Ron Wilson who put the game in perspective: ‘We stunk and we’ll move on. We were horrific defensively in Columbus. Joey [MacDonald] had a great game. And tonight, the same mistakes, the Bruins took advantage. The game was over halfway through the second period, so unfortunately we couldn’t do anything right.’
Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman was injured and is a question mark for the rematch with Toronto on Thursday in Boston.
“Hopefully minor injury. Call it upper body. Hopefully ready for Thursday,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien on Wideman injury.
Julien admitted he was fired up in his pregame speech to the team after a 5-1 debacle in Montreal 24 hours earlier.
“It would have been totally unacceptable for us to come out and not be ready to play.” Julien said. “We had to redeem ourselves and it was fortunate we had back-to-back games to do that.”
‘I guess, fired up, we needed that,” added Patrice Bergeron. “We needed that big effort we all knew before this game that we needed to bounce back. Last night was embarrassing and especially in front of our fans today we needed a big effort and we did it.’
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