|Slumping Bruins look for a spark||01.20.10 at 7:35 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — There is a white board in the entrance hallway to the Bruins locker room in Ristuccia Arena where the NHL standings are updated in black marker every morning after practice. A few Bruins players watched as staff members filled out the Eastern Conference board, where Boston starts the day in seventh place with, two points ahead of the last playoff spot and three away from falling below the demarcation line for those who will be playing extended Spring hockey and those that won’t.
Much has been made of the fact that the Bruins have had an inordinate amount of injuries have derailed Boston this year after last year’s team was the Eastern Conference powerhouse throughout the regular season. The top line from last year is basically been non-existent this year with Phil Kessel in Toronto, Milan Lucic missing most of the first half of the season and Marc Savard out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury. But the Bruins struggles have not been all about injuries and schedule quirks. There are a couple players on the roster who have not been playing well of late, players who are important for Boston to put pucks in the net.
Two that immediately come to mind are Dennis Wideman and Michael Ryder. Wideman and the coaching staff know that he needs to bring up his intensity, his compete-level as they call it, if he is going to return to prior form as a productive member of the team.
“We are almost 50 games in now and you have to take charge of the situation and bring you intensity level up,” head coach Claude Julien said. “Because if you are going to play like a (number) five or six then that is the ice time you are going to get ice time wise. It is pretty simple. We have to do the right things for our hockey club and he needs to pick up his game. He knows it, he wants to, but he has got to understand that his intensity and his compete-level have to be higher.”
For the normally sharp-shooting defenseman, it may be his head that is getting in the way.
“It is probably more mental than anything,” Wideman said. “I have got to start practicing a little better and hopefully I carry if over into the game . . . I have been in slumps when I have not been scoring or playing this well, but never this long. It is tough to be confident you are playing that way.”
Wideman has 14 points on the year and has no reasonable shot of matching his career-high 50 points from last season, even if he does turn on the light and become a point-a-game player for the remainder of the season. His plus/minus of – 8 is tied for the worst on the team (Byron Bitz).
“When you are tied for the lead in the minus department of you hockey club you have to look at yourself and ask ‘is that really me?’” Julien said.
For a guy who averages around 23:00 minutes of ice time per game, that is a number that is not acceptable. Especially from a guy who should be the number two defenseman on the roster behind captain Zdeno Chara.
On the other hand is Ryder, who has 19 points (11 goals, 8 assists) and has been having trouble not just finding the net but also finding the puck to shoot. He has been held shot-less in two of the last four games.
'It is always tough when you are supposed to score and you are not producing and you definitely take it upon your self where you just have to start doing it,' Ryder said. 'I've got to make sure that I play better.'
Ryder had 27 goals and 53 points last year and he will also be hard pressed to even approach those totals the rest of this season.
The Bruins have the potential on the roster to turn from where they are at now, a mediocre hockey club searching for a spark, to something more like what they were last year. If Ryder and Wideman can find their grooves and combine that with players returning from the infirmary, it would be a start in the right direction. Yet, as Julien said, the whole team needs to bring its compete level up.
“It is one of those things that, if you bring your compete level up, you have a chance,” Julien said. “We have a lot of guys out of our lineup but you have to hope that they guys that you have in your lineup, that their compete level is where it should be. We should make a game out of it. We didn’t make a game out of it last game and we look to rebound from that.”
|Sturm Practices – McQuaid Recalled||01.20.10 at 11:29 am ET|
WILMINGTON — A little rest can do a body good.
The Bruins resumed hockey activities this morning at Ristuccia Arena after taking Tuesday off to rest and recover after their grinding California road trip and quick turn-around Monday Martin Luther King, Jr. Day matinee loss to Ottawa. Wingman and leading scorer Marco Sturm was back on the ice after missing the Senators game but forwards Byron Bitz and Steve Begin were missing once again.
Sturm skated with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi in yellow practice sweaters. The other lines for the day were: David Krejci, Blake Wheeler, Miroslav Satan (grey), Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic and Vladimir Sobotka (red) and Daniel Paille, Trent Whitfield and Michael Ryder (white).
Adam McQuaid was recalled from Providence and was the seventh defenseman on the rink. The 23-year-old has skated in eight games for the Bruins this season without a goal or an assist with 14 penalty minutes.
UPDATE — Sturm ended up leaving the practice rink early. Head coach Claude Julien said that he will be questionable for tomorrow night’s game against Columbus.
|NHL Power Rankings, 1/20||01.20.10 at 7:03 am ET|
Hey, all you Joe Thornton bashers, look at it this way: The longer the Sharks stay at the top of our Power Rankings, the bigger their chance for another playoff letdown. But for now, they are at top of their game and once again the top of the rankings.
1. (1) 33-10-8 Even with a 2-1 shootout setback to the Bruins, in which they outshot Boston by a 41-31 margin, the Sharks went 3-0-1 on the week and continue to circle atop the NHL waters.
3. (5) 31-12-6 The Capitals rallied to beat Detroit Tuesday and have won four straight.
5. (4) 30-12-6 After an impressive 7-2 win vs. Phoenix Monday, the Sabres gave up four goals in the first period of a 5-4 loss in Anaheim Tuesday. That’s a strange bit of inconsistency for highly consistent and efficient team.
8. (11) 28-18-2 A lopsided 6-2 win over the Penguins Saturday could get the Canucks back on track. The victory ended a three-game losing steak.
9 . (10) 31-19-1 Hmm, rest of the league please take note: Sidney Crosby had SIX points (2 goals, 4 assists) and Evgeni Malkin had a hat trick in the Penguins’ 6-4 win Tuesday over the previously very hot Islanders. A frozen giant may be waking up.
|B’s no match for Sens||01.18.10 at 3:31 pm ET|
Summary ' Daniel Alfredsson recorded a hat trick and Mike Fisher added three assists as the Ottawa Senators handled the Bruins, 5-1, in the MLK Day matinee at TD Garden. While Patrice Bergeron [thumb] and Dennis Wideman returned from injuries, the Bruins were forced to play without forwards Byron Bitz, Steve Begin and Marco Sturm. Those three are in addition to Marc Savard and Andrew Ference, both already on the injured list. The Bruins broke through five minutes into the third on Daniel Paille’s sixth goal of the season. The Senators beat the Bruins for the first time in five meetings this season.
Daniel Alfredsson ' Recorded a hat trick in his second game back from a left shoulder injury that forced him to miss 11 games over three weeks. He has four goals and two assists in his return.
Mike Fisher ' His play-making was evident throughout. He assisted on the first three Ottawa goals.
Filip Kuba ' He tallied two assists and played a terrific two-way game, never allowing the short-handed Bruins to get any momentum going.
Blake Wheeler, playing the role of San Diego Chargers kicker Nick Kaeding, fired wide left in the first period, setting a rush the other way for the Senators. That rush resulted in the game’s first goal at 7:39 of the first by Alex Kovalev. The Bruins never seemed the same after.
With Alfredsson on the doorstep to the right of Tim Thomas, Kuba found Alfredsson with a beautiful pass from the right point and the goal turned a 2-0 game into a 3-0 affair in the second period. It marked the end of the day for Thomas after six saves on nine shots and 30 minutes of play and the end of any realistic chance the Bruins had on the day.
|Julien: ‘We’re not going the other way’||01.18.10 at 2:46 pm ET|
Monday was a day that America took time to remember one of the great speeches ever delivered in U.S. history.
And while Claude Julien was trying to repeat Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ address, he did take time before the Bruins’ MLK Day matinee with Ottawa to remind everyone that his team won’t let nagging injuries get them down.
Even before his short-handed team took the ice Monday afternoon without Steve Begin, Marco Sturm, Marc Savard, Andrew Ference and Byron Bitz and got smoked by Ottawa, Julien sounded a hopeful if not optimistic tone.
“We’ll go out there and play hard and hopefully get good results,” Julien said in the moments before Monday’s debacle.
Julien did want to make one thing clear. He’s not blaming the injuries on the training staff.
“None of injuries are related to conditioning,” he said. “It’s really about the injuries banged up because of contact with different things. It’s got nothing to do with the conditioning. At the same time, it’s definitely not from being fatigued or tired because we’re really trying to give those guys some rest whenever we can.
“I don’t know if you want to call it bad luck but every year is different. Some years you go through a whole season and you’re fortunate to stay away from those injuries. Other years, you get more and we’re just one of many teams that are going through that right now.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Begin, Bitz and Sturm all out against Sens||01.18.10 at 12:46 pm ET|
Bergeron has been out for six games with a broken thumb while Wideman returns after an undisclosed injury.
“I think the doctors had a chat with him and he wants to give it a try,” head coach Claude Julien said pregame of Bergeron’s desire to return Monday. ”He’s been practicing now for a week.”
As for Bitz, Julien was a little more cryptic.
“Actually, it’s something new,” the coach said. “We’re a little banged up, but we’re grinding through and again, don’t make excuses.”
|Sturm won’t play against Kings||01.16.10 at 3:53 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES ' Bruins leading goal scorer Marco Sturm will not play in this afternoon's contest against the Kings. 'He's got a leg injury so he won't be able to play,' Bruins coach Claude Julien said. 'It's a little bit of creeping up to the point that he's not able to go today.' The leg injury is considered day-to-day.
The B's are looking to have defenseman Mark Stuart and center David Krejci back for the contest. '[Stuart] is going to do the warm up, if everything goes well he should be in the lineup,' Julien said. 'Krejci will also be in the warm up and if everything goes well there, he should be able to play.'
Tim Thomas will start in goal as Boston looks to close out a three-game road trip, building on a 2-1 victory in San Jose Thursday.
- Fresh Links: Up the River Edition
- Grand Theft Czechoslovakia. Bruins win 3-2
- Loui Eriksson concussed; Chris Kelly, Shawn Thornton will not travel on...
- Video: Don Cherry talks about the Thornton and Orpik incident
- Public Skate Third Period: Bruins 1, Penguins 2
- Orpik hit on Eriksson and the Thornton hit on Orpik: Both are terrible