|Nathan Horton feels good on first day of camp||09.17.11 at 12:58 pm ET|
Nathan Horton skated on the TD Garden ice Saturday for the first time since Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, when he suffered a concussion and was carted off on a stretcher. After two hours of practice, he said he felt just fine.
“It definitely feels good,” Horton said. “It feels nice to not have any setbacks, especially today. The first day is always the hardest. I feel good right now, and hopefully I continue to feel good.”
Horton, who was also recovering from a separated shoulder, first returned to the ice last Friday during veterans practice in Wilmington. He said Saturday that he doesn’t have any lingering effects from either injury.
“I wasn't worried at all,” Horton said. “I just feel like it's in the past. I haven't even thought about it. When I'm on the ice or I do the fitness testing, it doesn't even cross my mind. I just try and do as well as I can and don't worry about headaches or anything like that.”
This offseason was different for Horton not just because he was recovering from those injuries, but also because it was much shorter than the offseasons he had in Florida, where he never made the playoffs in six seasons.
“It's fun coming in every year knowing you have a chance to win the Stanley Cup,” Horton said. “That's what excites me, and I think everyone's just excited to be back and go for another chance. When you get in the playoffs, like everyone says, it's a taste you just want to keep getting more of. It was the best experience of my life, obviously, and it was a lot of fun. I just can't wait to work towards getting back there.”
|Bruins take Russian forward Alex Khokhlachev in second round||06.25.11 at 11:45 am ET|
After taking defenseman Dougie Hamilton in the first round, the Bruins went offense in the second when they selected forward Alex Khokhlachev with the 40th overall pick. A native of Moscow, Russia, Khokhlachev spent last season with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, where he registered 34 goals and 42 assists in 67 games.
The 5-foot-10 Khokhlachev, who won’t turn 18 until September, is a left-handed shot who can play both wing and center. Scouts praise him for his grit, work ethic and hockey IQ, as well as his quick release and accurate shot. The biggest knock on Khokhlachev is that he is an average skater and doesn’t possess an elite skill set. TSN notes that he “gets most of his points through hard work and hustle.”
|Roberto Luongo can’t explain poor performances in Boston, ready to move on||06.14.11 at 12:47 am ET|
Roberto Luongo never saw it coming. No, that’s not a reference to the Bruins’ third goal Monday night, an Andrew Ference shot from the point that found its way through a Mark Recchi screen. Luongo never envisioned himself having another bad game in Boston, his third of the series.
“Honestly, I had a good feeling all day,” Luongo said after Game 6, a game in which he lasted just 8:35 before being pulled. “There were no extra nerves or anything like that. I was excited to play. I mean, we had a chance to win the Cup.”
And yet there he was, heading to the bench after allowing three goals on eight shots. Although Luongo was blinded on the Bruins’ third goal, the first two were definitely stoppable. Brad Marchand scored on the Bruins’ first shot of the game with a wrister from the right circle that found the top right corner. No doubt it was a great shot by Marchand, but Luongo said he could’ve had it.
“I mean, I was there,” Luongo said. “It was a good shot, but at the same time, I got to make that save. He put it where he wanted, but I got to make a save there.”
Thirty-five seconds later, Milan Lucic managed to sneak a shot through Luongo’s five-hole that ended up trickling over the line.
Luongo said he didn’t have any explanation for why he has struggled so much in Boston during this series — he’s given up 15 goals in three games here and has been pulled twice — and that this wasn’t the time to start trying to explain it.
“I’ve had success on the road all year,” Luongo said. “I know that before the series even started, I enjoyed playing in this building. So I’m not going to make any excuses. It just didn’t happen for me obviously, in all three games.
“I’m just going to move on right now,” Luongo continued. “We have one game at home to win a Stanley Cup. … You can’t hang your head now and feel sorry for yourself. That would be the worst thing I could do.”
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said after the game that Luongo will be back in net to start Game 7, and he said he fully expects Luongo to bounce back, just like he did in Game 5 when he picked up a shutout.
“I don’t have to say anything to him,” Vigneault said. “He’s a professional. His preparation is beyond reproach, and he’s going to be ready for Game 7.”
Luongo said he isn’t worrying about how he’ll perform in Game 7, either.
“I mean, I got to believe in myself, right? That’s a big component of bouncing back and playing a good game,” Luongo said. “We’re going to put what happened tonight behind us as soon as possible and get ready for what is going to be a dream as far as playing in Game 7 in a Stanley Cup Final.”
The rest of the Canucks players deflected criticism away from Luongo and turned their attention to Wednesday night.
“He’s done it before and he’s going to do it again,” Daniel Sedin of Luongo bouncing back from bad games. “We’re not blaming individual guys when we lose. We lose as a team and we win as a team. We’re excited going into Game 7. It’s going to be awesome.”
|Bruins’ power play problems are with execution, not personnel||06.13.11 at 1:33 pm ET|
The Bruins’ power play appeared to finally be coming around earlier this series, as it went 3-for-13 (23.1 percent) in the first three games. It has taken a step back since then, however, going 0-for-8 in the last two contests.
Claude Julien tried something new in Game 5 when he put Gregory Campbell in front of the net on the Bruins’ first couple man advantages, hoping that the fourth-line grinder would create some traffic and get some deflections. While much of the talk has been about the decision to use Campbell on the power play, the struggles had more to do with execution than personnel. Julien said after Game 5 that the Campbell-in-front plan never materialized because the Bruins never got the looks at the net that they wanted.
On Monday, Michael Ryder — who has been on the second power-play unit most of the playoffs — agreed that the problem isn’t with who’s on the ice.
“I think it's all about our breakouts and the way we enter the zone,” Ryder said. “It seemed like last game, we couldn't really get set up. And when we did, [Roberto] Luongo made some big saves. It's just a matter of us establishing traffic in front and getting our breakout all on the same page with that first pass.”
Better entries into the zone would obviously make it much easier for the Bruins to get some of those setups that Julien said were absent in Game 5. Ryder added that once they’re in the zone, the Bruins will need to work harder and not overthink plays.
“Sometimes we have a tendency in the zone to look for plays that aren't there instead of taking what Vancouver gives us,” Ryder said. “I think tonight we have to make sure that if we get the chance to take that shot, we take it and get the traffic in front. And we have to outwork their penalty kill. I think that's one of the biggest issues. If we outwork their PK, we'll have success on the power play.”
Julien hasn’t said if he plans to use Campbell on the power play again — he wasn’t on the Bruins’ last two man advantages in Game 5. It won’t matter who’s out there, though, if the execution and work ethic aren’t out there with them.
|David Krejci: Revolving door at RW makes it ‘hard to get the chemistry going’||06.13.11 at 1:02 pm ET|
Everyone knew the loss of Nathan Horton was going to be a big blow for the Bruins. But after Rich Peverley scored two goals while playing on the top line in Game 4, some of the questions about how the Bruins were going to replace Horton subsided. Then they rose right back to the surface after the top line — along with the rest of the offense — was shut down in Game 5.
Although Peverley is the one who has scored on the first line that includes mainstays David Krejci and Milan Lucic, he hasn’t been a permanent fixture there. Michael Ryder and Tyler Seguin have also seen time there in the two-plus games since Horton went down. Krejci admitted Monday that it has been tough playing with new right wings after having Horton on his flank pretty much all season.
“As a line, me and Looch have basically played every time with a different guy, so it’s hard to get the chemistry going,” Krejci said. “Obviously you like to have your linemates and stick with them so you can get chemistry going, but it's kind of hard to do. With the power plays and PKs, it's tough to get us there together.”
Krejci said he was hoping that being at home Monday night and having the last change would help stabilize the lines a little bit, but Claude Julien said that isn’t necessarily something he’s trying to do.
“It’s been by design,” Julien said when asked about the revolving door. “We talked about that when Horton went down. I had to use different players, so that’s exactly what I’ve done.”
Although Lucic agreed with Krejci about the adjustment not being easy, he said they’re not going to use it as an excuse for anything.
“It’s tough because we’re obviously used to Nathan being there on our right side, and the same game you have Peverley, Ryder and Seguin on the right side,” Lucic said. “But you don’t want to make excuses. Everybody has to do their part when we’re out there. We still have to play the same way we always do. Not much is going to change tonight, so we’re going to have to find a way.”
|Canucks trying not to get too excited about being one win away||06.12.11 at 4:48 pm ET|
The Canucks are trying to stay as level-headed as possible leading up to Monday’s Game 6, but they know it’s going to be difficult given the fact that they’re one win away from hoisting the Stanley Cup.
“I think it’s natural to be excited,” captain Henrik Sedin said. “We’re in a great spot. We’re one win away from winning it, so we’re excited. But we know if we get out of our comfort zone and start getting overly excited, it’s going to take away from our game. That’s a key for us, to come in here tomorrow and play the way we have all year.”
Forward Christopher Higgins said it will be crucial for the Canucks to strike a balance between thinking about the Cup while also focusing on the game at hand.
“I think you have to think about it,” Higgins said when asked about the possibility of lifting the Cup. “That's what you're playing the game for. But there's a lot of hard work, and you still have to play the game. You still have to do the right, little things out there.”
Three of the Canucks’ top players — the Sedin twins and goalie Roberto Luongo — have won an Olympic gold medal (the Sedins in 2006 with Sweden and Luongo in 2010 with Canada), but they all said winning the Cup would be even bigger.
“Both Louie and us played in the Olympic finals and that’s obviously a big game, too, but as a hockey player, this is what you want to win,” Daniel Sedin said. “It’s the toughest thing you can win. You work so hard with your friends and teammates to get to this point. We’re going to enjoy it. Hopefully we can put a better game on the ice tomorrow and we’ll be fine.”
“They’re both unbelievable, but very different,” Luongo added. “The Olympics is a very short tournament. This is a two-month grind, probably one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. In the end, if you come out on top, it’s the most rewarding thing that you can probably do as an athlete.”
|Roberto Luongo doesn’t want to talk about Tim Thomas anymore||06.12.11 at 2:57 pm ET|
Roberto Luongo has certainly created quite the buzz these last few days. After the Canucks’ 1-0 win in Game 5, he took a jab at Tim Thomas by saying Maxim Lapierre‘s game-winning goal would’ve been an easy save for him because he would’ve been in his crease. Then on Saturday, Luongo complained that Thomas hasn’t said anything nice about him while he’s been pumping Thomas’ tires all series.
Maybe Luongo got bored with all the back-and-forth, or perhaps someone told him it was best not to say anything else, because on Sunday Luongo said he was done talking about his comments on Thomas.
“I know we’re in the Stanley Cup Final and everything is under the microscope and going to get blown out of proportion,” Luongo said when asked if he regretted making those comments. “My whole comment, I don’t think was a negative comment.
“But at the end of the day, I’m one win away from winning the Stanley Cup, and that’s all I really care about right now. All that other stuff is noise to me and doesn’t really affect what’s going to take place for me tomorrow night. To be honest with you, I don’t really care.”
Canucks forward Christopher Higgins agreed with Luongo that the media has made too much of everyone’s comments.
“Certain little things are blown way, way out of proportion and way over-analyzed,” Higgins said. “I think that’s been the case for a lot of things that have gone on this series.”
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