|Bruins try to keep momentum going as they host Sabres||01.19.11 at 10:29 pm ET|
After sweeping a home-and-home with the Hurricanes on Monday and Tuesday, the Bruins will return to the Garden Thursday to face the Sabres for the fifth time this season. Thus far, they’ve gone 2-1-1 against the Sabres, with the most recent meeting resulting in a 7-6 shootout loss on Jan. 1.
That New Years Day game was a memorable one, as Tuukka Rask was yanked after three first-period goals, while Drew Stafford had a hat trick and scored one of the Sabres’ three shootout goals. Luckily for the Bruins, Stafford is not expected to play Thursday due to a groing injury.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 12-8-3 in home games this season. They’ve gone 3-2-0 at the Garden since the New Year, and have received a pair of Tim Thomas shutouts over their last four home games. Only one of the four meetings between the two teams this season has been at the Garden, with the B’s taking a 3-2 shootout win on Dec. 7.
- The Sabres are 9-9-4 on the road this season and have gone 2-1-1 away from HSBC Arena in 2011. In their most recent road contest, they took a 5-3 loss to the Islanders on Saturday.
- Four different Bruins’ defenseman scored in the Jan. 1 game, as the B’s got first-period goals from Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara in the first, as well as third-period tally from Steven Kampfer. The defense wasn’t exactly overwhelming in their own end, as the B’s blew three different leads in the game.
- Ryan Miller has started 22 games dating back to Nov. 26. And people were worried about Thomas’ eight in a row last month’¦
- The Bruins have the second-best goal differential in the Eastern Conference at plus-39. The Sabres have a minus-9 differential.
- Mark Recchi has four multi-point games in the Bruins’ last 12. Linemate Patrice Bergeron has five multi-point games in that stretch.There’s no doubting that their line with Brad Marchand has been one of the most consistent of late.
- Johnny Boychuk scored his first goal of the season Tuesday in Carolina. He was initially credited with the goal, a blast from the point, before credit was given to Marc Savard. A second change to call gave the goal to Boychuk for good.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- The Sabres are eight points out of a playoff spot, and have played less games than every team currently in line for a trip to the postseason. Given how they’ve fared against the B’s thus far and the fact that they’re coming off a win over the Canadiens, this is a big game for the Sabres. The Bruins have played 46 games to the Sabres’ 45, though the eighth-place Thrashers have played 48. Buffalo isn’t counting this season as a lost one, and even without Derek Roy, who had 35 points in 35 games before a left quadriceps tear ended his season in December.
- Ference was again kept out of Tuesday’s game, with Claude Julien saying he could have played in a pinch. Ultimately, both Kampfer and Adam McQuaid have filled in admirably for the B’s and the team doesn’t feel pressured to rush Ference back at the risk of the upper-body injury that’s ailed him. Ference has missed the last three games for the Bruins.
|Bruins look to make it two wins in two days vs. Hurricanes||01.18.11 at 12:05 pm ET|
The Bruins and Hurricanes have taken turns shutting one another out this season, and on Tuesday, the Canes will look to avenge a 7-0 beatdown the B’s delivered on Monday. Tim Thomas had his seventh shutout, while Zdeno Chara notched his first career hat trick.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Hurricanes are 11-7-2 at the RBC Center this season. They’ve won their last three home games, the most recent of which was a 6-4 win over the Lightning on Saturday.
- The Bruins are 13-5-4 in road games this season. They have picked up points in each of their last seven away games (4-0-3). It’s been over a week since they’ve played outside of the Garden, with the B’s scoring four goals in the final 3:23 against the Penguins in a 4-3 victory in Pittsburgh last Monday.
- Only two of Thomas’ seven shutouts have come against teams that would have a playoff spot if the season were to end today, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s leading the league in the category and both the other major goaltending categories (GAA and save percentage). Claude Julien has given Thomas the next start following each of his shutouts this season.
- Despite not picking up any points on Monday, Carolina rookie Jeff Skinner still has eight (5 G, 3 A) over his last six games. The seventh overall pick has 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points. His point total leads all rookies, with Brad Marchand‘s 19 points putting him 10th and Tyler Seguin‘s 16 putting him 14th.
- After going 0-for-13 on the power play from Dec. 30 to Jan. 8, the Bruins have picked it up on the man advantage, going 5-for-22 in five games since. They are still just 19th in the league with a 17.5 power play percentage, though their fourth-ranked penalty kill hasn’t allowed a goal in four games.
- Milan Lucic has gone 12 goals without a game, though he did shoot a puck past a goaltender who tried saving it, if that counts for anything, on Monday. Lucic still leads the B’s with 16 goals on the season.
- Adam McQuaid, Marc Savard, and Mark Stuart tied for a game-high plus-3 rating on Monday. McQuaid was one of four Bruins to have a multi-point game in the matinee. Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci also had multiple points on the day.
STORYLINES GOING IN
Julien had said Monday that he was a possibility for Tuesday’s game, and that it would be a tough decision regarding which guy to sit. While that likely won’t pertain to Tuesday, it’s still a question worth exploring. Both Steven Kampfer and McQuaid have played very well, and both have four points over their last four games. Kampfer brings the Bruins more of what they need with his abilities as a puck-moving defenseman, but the B’s might also want McQuaid in there in case it’s a more physical game following the B’s beatdown of the Canes Monday.
- The Bruins chased Cam Ward from Monday’s game in less than 12 minutes, though Paul Maurice said following the contest that he expects Ward to start Tuesday. Justin Peters wasn’t much of an improvement over Ward, as he allowed five goals over the rest of the game and racked up four penalty minutes.
|Tuukka Rask to start for vs. Penguins; Milan Lucic, Andrew Ference out||01.15.11 at 12:10 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters prior to Saturday’s game against the Penguins that Tuukka Rask will start for the B’s. Rask’s last start came against the Penguins, as he earned a win in the Bruins’ 4-2 come-from-behind victory in Pittsburgh on Monday.
Milan Lucic will miss his third straight game with an undisclosed injury, while Andrew Ference will miss his first game of the season due to an upper-body injury. Ference, who played in the team’s first 43 games, left Thursday’s 7-5 victory over Philadelphia after the second period. Rookie Matt Bartkowski, who was called up from Providence on an emergency basis Friday, is expected to play in his place.
Bartkowski made his NHL debut on Monday in Pittsburgh, posting a minus-1 in 9:53 of ice time. He was filling in for Adam McQuaid and was returned to Providence the following day.
|Claude Julien: Andrew Ference ‘very questionable’ vs. Penguins||01.14.11 at 3:39 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters on Friday that defenseman Andrew Ference is dealing with an upper-body injury, explaining his absence in the third period of Thursday night’s 7-5 win over the Flyers.
Julien said that Ference is “very questionable” for Saturday’s game against the Penguins.
“We’re hoping it’s minor enough that we’ll see him back soon,” Julien said.
Given Ference’s status, the Bruins on Friday morning called up Matt Bartkowski on an emergency basis from Providence.
|Bruins lead Sabres, 4-3, after one||01.01.11 at 8:13 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask probably wasn’t planning on allowing three goals in the first period, but he’s got a 4-3 lead to play with as the Bruins and Sabres enter the second period.
Just 1:29 into the contest, Marc Savard won a face-off to set up an Andrew Ference goal from the point. After Ference’s streak of 99 games without a goal ended last month, the blueliner saw to it that there would only be five games between occurrences of him scoring.
With the Sabres on a 2-on-1, Thomas Vanek appared to trip Ference when going for the puck, but when no penalty was called, Vanek beat Rask to make it a 3-2 game. To make matters worse, Savard was called for a questionable slash four seconds later.
The penalty would prove to be a blessing in disguise. With the B’s on the penalty kill. Mark Recchi got the puck up to Patrice Bergeron to create a 2-on-1, and Bergeron slid it across to Zdeno Chara, who put sent it past Ryan Miller for a shorthanded goal. It was Chara’s first goal in 24 games.
With less than a minute remaining in the period, Rask was unable to hold onto a puck long enough to get a whistle, and Drew Stafford knocked it in to make it 4-3.
The Sabres have outshot the Bruins, 16-11.
|Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Blake Wheeler contribute to early Bruins lead||12.18.10 at 7:44 pm ET|
On a 2-on-2, Wheeler attracted the attention of both Washington defenders and dropped the puck off to Bergeron, who beat Michal Neuvirth at 3:27 for his sixth goal of the season. Ference then scored his first goal in 99 games by sending one past Neuvirth from the point.
Bergeron returned the favor in setting up Wheeler’s eighth of the season, and suddenly that second line is looking awfully good of late.
Following the Ference goal. Matt Bradley tried to swing the momentum in Washington’s favor by dropping the gloves with Adam McQuaid. Unfortunately for Bradley, the Garden only got louder as McQuaid unequivocally pummeled the Capitals winger.
Tim Thomas saw only five shots, stopping them all.
|Bruins know they can’t erase playoff collapse in regular season grudge matches||12.11.10 at 1:21 pm ET|
The Bruins know that Saturday marks the Flyers’ first game back at TD Garden since completing a historic comeback from being down three games to none with 4-3 Game 7 victory that left the B’s dumfounded, confused, and utterly stunned.
They also know that nothing that happens on Saturday will change the past.
The B’s won the first grudge match (if you can call it that) by grabbing a 3-0 win in Philadelphia on Dec. 1, but nothing the team does prior to late April can make up for their postseason collapse. The players see that.
“I think people here are good enough hockey fans to know that redemption comes in the form of the playoffs,” Andrew Ference said. “Obviously, during the season you want to stick it to a team, but it’s a long road and I think people here want to see us play good hockey, want to see us put on a good performance and play to our level.”
Fans will pack the Garden with revenge on their minds Saturday night, and the Bruins are well aware as to why. The players have done everything they could with that Easter Conference semifinals failure: discussed it, tried to forget about it, sought out a lesson in there, etc. The only thing that actually matters is whether they can respond to it.
The idea of responding was discussed plenty in training camp, as Peter Chiarelli, Claude Julien, and the players saw it as the only appropriate — and productive — thing to do. As a result, Saturday night won’t be about conquering the Flyers and calling it even.
“You’re never going to make up for that by beating them in the regular season, but that was the past,” Blake Wheeler said. “We can’t do anything about that now. The only thing we can control is how we play now. If we play well tonight in front of our home crowd and do the things we’re supposed to do in front of them, I think they’re going to appreciate it. That’s all we can control now, is what we do today, tomorrow, and in the future.”
Regardless of what happens in the team’s second meeting of the season, each side will have their memories of what happened when it really mattered.
“I think that if you come away with a win during the regular season, it doesn’t redeem feelings from last year or anything like that,” Ference said. “I think that it should be par for the course that when Philly’s in town, it’s usually a pretty good game.”
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