|Cam Neely: Cooke suspension ‘sent message’||03.23.11 at 5:44 pm ET|
Bruins president Cam Neely was a guest on The Big Show on Wednesday, and discussed a variety of topics, including the suspension of Matt Cooke and the progress of Tyler Seguin. But Neely was first asked what kind of team he feels he has with this Bruins squad. The Bruins had posted a 1-3-3 mark in the last seven games before Tuesday night’s 4-1 win over the Devils.
“What you see with our team is more the way we played last night and other games — I’m not going to say every game during that seven-game winning streak — but the Calgary game, the Vancouver game, a couple of other games, when we play as disciplined as we do, within our structure from our end out and get the goaltending we did those games that’s generally the makeup of our team,” said Neely. “Then when you see us play we have prior to last night I see it as not having the commitment and work ethic. We are a team that when we work really hard play really well.”
As for the seven-game struggle that preceded the win on Tuesday, Neely feels the large majority of blame must go to the players, and not the coaching staff.
“It falls on everybody, really, but mainly it falls on the players,” said Neely. “I’ve said this for a long time, said it when I played. You may not play well every night, but you can work hard every night. And if the work ethic isn’t there — not just in sports, but anything — the results aren’t going to be what you want. And the coach can talk, the captain can talk, but the players themselves have to be prepared to work hard. And we weren’t working as hard as we could, or should, to bring us success.
Tyler Seguin has been a healthy scratch six times this season, but his play has improved of late, even earning some time on the power play. Neely was asked if he’s been pleased with the performance of the second overall pick of the 2010 draft.
“You have to remember, this is a kid that dominated in the OHL,” Neely said of Seguin, who has 11 goals and 11 assists in 65 games this season. “The education process for him, to be able to watch the game and understand and see at the level that these guys are playing at, and how quick the game is and what you have to do to compete and battle for loose pucks. Those are all learning experiences. ‘¦ These are all things that Tyler had to learn and has learned, and will continue to learn. So it’s been nice to see his development over the last little while, now he’s shown he has the poise and patience and compete to be on the second unit of the power play. And with his hands, and skills, it’s something that we’ve hoped that he could get there and he has. He’s played much better the last couple of games and, quite frankly, the timing couldn’t be better for us.”
The NHL suspended Penguins forward Matt Cooke for the final 10 games of the regular season plus the entire first round of the playoffs on Monday, the fifth suspension in Cooke’s 12-year career. Neely felt the ruling from the NHL is a game changer when it comes to punishment for illegal hits.
“I’m not surprised at the length of suspension the league handed down,” Neely said. “Obviously Pittsburgh was one of the more vocal teams about trying to get this stuff out of the game. Cooke is a multiple offender for various things, and got suspended a number of times. Didn’t surprise me at all and I think it sent a clear message to the rest of the league that flagrant is not going to be tolerated and you are going to pay the price. The accidental hits are when you get into a gray area, but this particular hit you can tell wasn’t accidental.”
|Zdeno Chara reached out to Max Pacioretty after hit||03.23.11 at 2:35 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — To the surprise of nobody, both Boston and Montreal media surrounded Zdeno Chara‘s spot in the dressing room after Bruins’ practice Wednesday. With the B’s and Habs facing off Thursday for the first time since March 8’s 4-1 Canadiens win, the attention naturally turns to the Bruins captain, who was tossed from the game after hitting Habs forward Max Pacioretty into a stanchion.
Chara received major criticism from fans north of the border, and a criminal investigation was even launched into whether the play served as grounds for assault charges. Chara, who was not suspended for the hit, said there might not be a point in trying to change people’s minds.
“It’s tough to really address that,” Chara said. “I don’t know if I should even try. It’s one of those things where they probably are beleiving one thing, and it’s really hard to explain that it just happened.
“I can’t control how they talk about me, or what they say about me. I just try to focus on my game.”
After being initially diagnosed with a severe concussion and a fractured vertebrae, Pacioretty, who said he felt Chara intended to harm him, has not spoken to the Bruins’ captain.
“I made a few attempts,” Chara said. “I’m waiting for some kind of response back, but so far nothing.”
|Tuukka Rask: Don’t need to be a ‘rocket scientist’ to see Tim Thomas should start playoffs||03.23.11 at 1:26 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins president Cam Neely raised eyebrows recently on CBS radio when he said that the team’s goaltenders needed to “show us who’s ready to be the goalie for the playoffs.” Tim Thomas is the favorite to win the Vezina trophy after posting historic numbers in the first half of the season, while Tuukka Rask has seen improved play since getting more time in the second half of the season. Since the All-Star break, Rask has started nine of the B’s 22 games after starting 15 of the first 50.
Speaking to WEEI.com Wednesday, Rask offered his thoughts on whether the Bruins have a No. 1 guy for the playoffs.
“Well, you don’t have to be a [expletive] rocket scientist,” Rask said with a smile. “[Thomas] is playing every game.”
While Rask, who started every game of the playoffs last season, might not necessarily think there is an open competition over the final 10 games of the season, he does embrace being part of such a strong goaltending tandem and hopes it pays dividends in the postseason.
“We’ll see what happens,” Rask said. “Obviously to succeed you’re going to need two goalies to get going because you never know what’s going to happen in the playoffs. I like the thought that we have two No. 1 guys, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll both play.”
|Bruins get ready for Canadiens||03.23.11 at 11:50 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are coming off a 4-1 win over the Devils and are back at Ristuccia Arena Wednesday in antcipation of a big test vs. the Canadiens Thursday at the Garden. The practice lines were the same as they’d been in the previous two practices.
On another note, the Montreal media is here in full force. More to come following practice.
|Milan Lucic once again celebrates a milestone in style||03.22.11 at 11:54 pm ET|
What’s a Milan Lucic milestone without interesting postgame attire?
After recording his 30th goal of the season Tuesday night, Lucic entered the dressing room in an old, faded (and old) Bruins windbreaker from what appeared to be the early 1990s. Lucic conducted his entire session with reporters without making mention of it, but explained the fashion choice afterward.
“Andrew Ference found it, and he wanted to kind of pass it on between the guys,” Lucic said, “so I guess I’m the model for it.”
“It’s Cam [Neely]’s era,” Lucic said of the style with a laugh. “His team track suits.”
Devotees will remember that Lucic was sporting a fedora following his Nov. 18 hat trick. He said after that game that each player to pick up a hat trick would wear the fedora following the game. Since then, both Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara have celebrated hat tricks — sans headwear.
“I guess I’m the model of the team,” Lucic said of the fact that he starts trends that his teammates may or, more commonly, may not follow. “I have to fashion off all the new stuff.”
The jacket was entertaining, but it certainly wasn’t “new stuff.” It was old.
|Shawn Thornton: ‘If I kept pace with [Ilya Kovalchuk] something is wrong with this game’||03.22.11 at 11:38 pm ET|
Shawn Thornton broke a 19-game goal-less streak in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Devils, but like many others in the Bruins’ dressing room, was focused on the team getting a much-needed victory following the game. One topic that was visited in his post-game chat was the fact that he countered Ilya Kovalchuk‘s first-period tally with one of his own.
Thornton and Kovalchuk have a bit of a comical connection in that as late as December, Thornton had more goals than the $100 million man. The two have not kept pace, of course, as Kovalchuk now has 27 to Thornton’s nine. Thornton said after the game that he was just happy that his goal, a Dennis Seidenberg shot that deflected off him, went in.
“I didn’t even know I scored. It went off my pants and in. I thought I blocked it,” Thornton said. I was going to curse myself for getting in front of it, but it found a way.”
“If I kept pace with him, there is something wrong with this game,” he added with a laugh. “I will take it anytime our line can chip in with one I’m happy.”
|Tim Thomas returns to form following four straight losses||03.22.11 at 10:49 pm ET|
Tim Thomas entered Tuesday night in the midst of his worst stretch of the season. He hadn’t won a game in nearly three weeks, going 0-2-2 in his last four starts. It marked the first time all season he had gone four games without a win and the first time all season he had given up three or more goals in four straight.
Tuesday night, Thomas returned to form in the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Devils. He stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced to earn his 30th win of the season.
‘I think it was mutual for both, the team and Timmy,’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said of getting back in the win column. ‘I don’t think we have to worry about him. He’s been a good goaltender for us this year, so it certainly wasn’t a concern on our part more than our team play. And our team play was much better.’
Thomas was especially strong in the early going, as the Devils registered 12 of the game’s first 13 shots. New Jersey did manage to score during that span, but it came on a power-play one-timer by Ilya Kovalchuk that Thomas didn’t have much of a chance to stop.
‘I thought we were a little fragile there with what’s been happening,’ Julien said. ‘But we were able to resist and obviously Tim made some big saves early on just to keep us in there.’
Thomas said the key to turning around his recent lack of success was that his defensemen did a better job of allowing him to see the puck.
‘They had a few shots, they had a few good chances,’ Thomas said. ‘But they were also letting me see the puck a little bit more than we had in the last few games. ‘¦ I think that’s definitely a right step forward. We need to build off it and make sure we continue on. And we need to do the same things that gave us success tonight.’
Defenseman Tomas Kaberle said getting out of Thomas’ way is something the team has been focusing on in practice.
‘You want him to see the shot,’ Kaberle said. ‘You don’t want to tip the puck or something. You just want to box out in front of the net and hopefully he’ll make the big saves. Especially on the outside, he’s going to make the save every time. We talked about it before the game and in between the periods. He’s been a key to success for us this season and hopefully we keep it that way.’
After the slow start, Boston was able to take control of the game and relieve Thomas of some of the pressure. Following the early 12-1 shot deficit, the Bruins outshot the Devils 29-19 the rest of the way. They also drew five straight penalties at one point and were able to net four unanswered goals.
‘I think by the end of the first, or last half of the first period, we started to get our legs moving and that was the difference,’ Thomas said. ‘I think that’s what led to them taking the penalties in the second period, because we were moving our feet and that leads to penalties, drawn penalties. We were able to continue that throughout the game.’