|Andy Brickley on M&M: Tim Thomas ‘looks healthy and ready to go’||10.17.13 at 3:51 pm ET|
NESN commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the Bruins’ Thursday night game against the Panthers and former Boston goaltender Tim Thomas, as well as Jarome Iginla‘s scoring drought and Brad Marchand‘s demotion to the third line.
Thursday’s game will be the first time that the Bruins will face off against Thomas, who played in Boston for eight seasons and won two Vezina Trophies (2009, 2011) as the league’s best goaltender during his tenure with the team. Thomas is best remembered for his incredible play in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy after posting a .967 save percentage in the Stanley Cup finals against the Canucks.
After the Bruins were eliminated in the first round of the 2012 playoffs by the Capitals, Thomas announced that he was going to sit out the 2012-13 season. Still under contract with the Bruins during his hiatus, Thomas was traded to the Islanders on Feb. 7, 2013. The 39-year-old goalie then signed a contract with the Panthers on Sept. 26.
Brickey said that Thursday’s game certainly will be interesting, adding that the Bruins are motivated to hand their old teammate another loss on the young season.
“If anything you can [see] from the morning skate, [Thomas] looked good, he looked healthy, he looked pretty focused,” Brickley said. “He looks healthy and ready to go. Those numbers are a little inflated obviously with a little rust from taking the year off and then having to deal with an injury, but you know him and his competitiveness, he’ll be ready to go tonight.
“I don’t know if I would term [the Bruins’ mood towards Thomas] as animosity. The general sense that I get from being around the guys and certainly this morning is that this is a game that they want to win, but whatever personal reasons or whatever feelings they have for Tim Thomas, this is not a love-in. … This is a guy and a team that we want to beat, and want to beat real bad.”
|Jarome Iginla on his slow start to season: ‘I’ve been here many times’||10.15.13 at 1:57 pm ET|
The numbers are not pretty for 36-year-old Jarome Iginla to start the Boston portion of his career.
No goals, one assist in five games on 19 shots.
The effort is there, like the rest of the team. But like the rest of the Bruins, the finishing touch has yet to be put on his work. After failing to get the right winger at the trade deadline last spring, the Bruins signed him to a one-year, $6 million deal in the summer with the hopes of successfully replacing Nathan Horton and giving another right wing – 22-year-old Jordan Caron – more time to mature.
Last season, he had one goal in his first 16 games before finishing with 14 between Calgary and Pittsburgh. In 2011-12, he opened with two goals in his first 10 games and four in his first 15. The year before? Two goals in his first 17 games, before breaking out with a hat trick in Game No. 18.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been here many times,” Iginla said Monday. “It’s all part of the game and you just try to work hard and keep going and keep getting the chances and always keep saying that the next one is going to go in.”
Iginla is getting his chances with David Krejci and Milan Lucic and the general consensus is that he looks more in tune with with his linemates in his first five games than fellow newcomer Loui Eriksson on the second line with Patrice Bergeron with Brad Marchand line.
“Krech and Looch have been playing great and working hard and I’m trying to work hard with them and like I’ve said I’ve had really good chances for a number of games,” Iginla said. “Whenever you win you never feel as bad, you just shrug it off and say next time. But whenever you lose by a goal it always feels a lot worse when you know that one of those could have made a difference. But keep going and like I said I’ve been here before and you just keep working through it and stay positive and keep trying to get open and like I say, keep believing the next one goes in.”
In an attempt to get Iginla some momentum, Claude Julien placed Iginla on Boston’s 5-on-3 power play unit. Good chances, a couple of missed shots but still no dice.
“I think I had a few of them but two were good ones, one I just missed probably by a couple inches the top right corner, one I missed by a mile and that was just trying to hard and too excited and just missed it,” Iginla said. “But I thought ‘ when you’re feeling it those go in and unfortunately they didn’t. It was an important time of the game, it could have been a big difference. And you get out there in those situations and you definitely want to help the team and feel responsibility, all of us out there. So when you don’t score when you have a two minute one it stings but at the same time I think the guys did a great job and just keep going almost to that last second and really we almost found a way to get it to over time there.
Claude Julien isn’t about to panic about his team’s lack of finish to start the season.
After all, the Bruins have been through this before in the last several seasons and eventually found their touch when it mattered most late in the season.
Still, Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Red Wings stung because the Bruins not only have five power play chances but a 5-on-3 for nearly a full two minutes and had good puck possession time in the offensive end but couldn’t get one past Jonas Gustavsson. The Bruins have just 12 goals in five games. Only Buffalo and Ottawa have scored fewer in the new eight-team Atlantic Division.
“We’re really struggling with our finish lately,” Julien said. “It looks like we’re feeling the pressure of scoring goals and they’re not coming easy. So it’s been like that. Even the game in Columbus, took us a while to get going there, obviously Colorado. So I think our goal scoring confidence is probably not where we’d like it to be right now but you have to work through those things.”
As for the experience of having gone through this before, Julien says there are similar tendencies he seen over the years.
“We go through that it seems like every year at some point,” Julien added. “You’re seeing guys either fanning or shooting over the net. There were some scrambles there today where everybody thought the puck was going in the net and whether the goalie stops it or pucks are bouncing it doesn’t matter; the confidence isn’t there right now. So wait on that when the confidence comes back; you’re going to see us score some goals because we feel we have some guys that can score goals on this team.”
The only player who seems to be gripping the stick tighter than anyone right now – by his own admission – is Jarome Iginla. The star forward is still looking for his first goal in a Bruins uniform. He had five more shots on goal on Monday and 19 for the season in five games and still nothing.
“I had some great looks,” Iginla said. “I’ve had great looks for a few games. And pretty much I’ve been getting more chances and you get to a five on three you get chances like that you want to score. I think I missed the net on a couple goals, I think it’s probably just being a little too anxious. Just lifting my head up and you want to get that goal for the team and just get one and get feeling it. At times you squeeze a little too hard, its all those clichÃ©s, sayings you hear, you try to swing a little too hard and lift my head a little bit. And just not in a grove there where you just want to kind of will it in the net as opposed to let it happen.”
“I think he can shoot the puck a lot better than we’ve seen him because we know he’s a good shooter,” Julien said. “So, whether that’s pressing or whether that’s circumstances I don’t know. But he’s been around the league long enough, he’s going to find his way and he’s going to score some goals for us and he’s going to be the player that we thought he would be for our hockey club. So right now it just isn’t there and I see maybe a little hesitation in shooting where, when a player has confidence, their release is a little quicker too.”
|Peter Chiarelli: Defensemen like Dennis Seidenberg ‘are hard to find’||10.03.13 at 10:18 pm ET|
NESN commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the Bruins’ new players and the team’s chances at another long playoff run this season.
Brickley said the team looks ready for another great season, despite only getting a 13-week offseason.
“I think they’ve looked good. … With the turnover that they did have during those 13 weeks, there was a healthy sense of competition, but there was also that feeling of unfinished business from a year ago, given the way that Game 6 ended,” Brickley said. “They feel like they’re built for the playoffs. I think there’s some normalcy getting back to an 82-game regular season, and I think that preparation has been where it should be for training camp.”
Brickley added that the Bruins have the chance to be even better than they were during the 2012-13 season, but he will hold off picking the better team until he sees how the third line pans out.
“I think they have the potential to be [better],” Brickley said. “I certainly would not say that, day one, that they’re better than a year ago, although I didn’t like their malaise or their ‘When we had a chance to win the division and didn’t get it done’ attitude towards the final stages of last season, as unique as it was with the 48 games compressed. But I like the team going into the postseason. That’s why I said at the beginning of this conversation, they feel they are built for the postseason. That I agree with.
“That’s why I like this team. To say that they’re better than they were a year go, that might be a stretch right now, it all depends on … what’s that third line going to look like? Go back to 2011, the third and fourth lines of the Boston Bruins were such a mismatch for other teams across the league that your top six were great players, as far as forwards, but it was forwards seven through 12 that were real difference-makers during the regular season and the postseason. Without that, you don’t win the Stanley Cup, and until I see that from the third line this year, I’m not ready to dub them a better team yet.”
On whether he is surprised that Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug are all on the roster: “I think Torey Krug is the leader in the clubhouse because of the need for a more meaningful power play. … They’re looking for a more offensive hockey sense, hockey opportunity, that will carry the puck if you give him the ice, and Krug is at the top of the list as far as those three players are concerned, so he’s going to be in the top six automatically, just based on his skill set and what he showed you at training camp. … If it just went on merit alone, I would think it would be Krug and Bartkowski in the top six, with Hamilton being the extra guy to start the season, but all three bring what the Bruins are looking for the change on what they’re trying to get done on the back end.”
On what he has seen from the team’s new players so far: “[Jarome] Iginla, as advertised. This guy, I think he got a lesson firsthand on what it’s like to play against the Boston Bruins. I don’t think he had a real concept of what the Bruins were all about, being in Calgary all of those years. He got that in the postseason last year playing for Pittsburgh. But he’s a Bruin, prototypical player. Plays hard, does everything hard, goes to the net hard. … So, he is as advertised. I think he’ll be a terrific addition. … Loui Eriksson, haven’t seen as much of him. … I had to rely on conversations with coaches and just an education on what this player is all about. He’ll be a terrific player.”
On whether he likes the way the Bruins are situated in the new-look Atlantic Division: “I love it, just on competition alone. I’m excited for this Bruins season and even though I’m not saying they’re a better team than a year ago, I am saying this is a really good team built for the postseason. I expect Pittsburgh and Boston to be the two division winners when all is said and done at the end of the year. But I like this division in the sense of competition. Four of the Original Six, Detroit, you get them four times. … I like the idea that you have to win the division. … What I don’t like is the fact that you have 16 teams in the East and 14 teams in the West. I don’t like that. Just on numbers alone, it’s more difficult to make the postseason if you’re in the East.”
|Patrice Bergeron still has ‘lingering issues’ from his injuries||09.11.13 at 5:19 pm ET|
No one could’ve expected Patrice Bergeron to be back at 100 percent so soon.
As it turns out, Bergeron himself admitted Wednesday that he’s still dealing with some aches and pains from the multitude of injuries he sustained in order to help the Bruins try to win the Stanley Cup in late June.
He was back in front of his locker Wednesday for the start of training camp and even passed the conditioning test that allows him to take part in full practices with his team.
To recap, Bergeron suffered a separated shoulder, broken rib, torn rib cage cartilage and, most serious of all, a punctured lung between Games 5 and 6 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Blackhawks.
To see him back on Wednesday for the start of training camp was a great sign but as Claude Julien cautioned later, he still hasn’t been cleared for preseason games.
“If I feel fine in the first couple of practices, and I feel like I can bang around and play physical in the 1-on-1 stuff on the ice, I’ll pretty much feel like I’ll be ready to get going and move forward,” Bergeron said, before acknowledging that he still has to be cautious early on in camp. “I guess the next couple of days will really tell me where I stand with the lingering issues.”
This summer, Bergeron spent most of his time rehabbing instead of traditional training.
“Honestly, I’ve been able to do most of my workouts,” Bergeron said. “It just took me more time to start that and get that going. So, I was doing a lot of rehab early on and after that it was more issues with core and reaching out on my sides too much so I’m not doing too many core exercises and stay away from that as much as possible but otherwise, I was able to do pretty much everything.”
And when he wasn’t rehabbing, he was busy getting married to his longtime girlfriend Stephanie Bertrand.
“It went well,” Bergeron said. “It was a fun day and everything went well.”
Bergeron and Gregory Campbell became icons for Boston sports in the spring when both played through remarkable pain to help the Bruins in the playoffs. Bergeron heard a lot of praise over the summer and offered perspective on it on Wednesday.
“I’ve been told that a few times and to be honest, I’ve talked to Soupy a couple of times already about it,” Bergeron said. “We don’t feel like it was anything special, anything extraordinary to be honest with you. We felt like we were just trying to do our job. Same thing for me, I was just trying to be out there and help the team as much as possible on the ice. I’m 100 percent positive that all the guys would’ve done the same thing, especially late in the season in the finals like that. You want to be out there, helping your teammates out.”
|Claude Julien: Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell ‘cleared’ for practice, not games yet||at 1:02 pm ET|
On the first day of training camp, Bruins coach Claude Julien announced what would likely be considered good news by all Bruins followers.
Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell both passed their conditioning drills and have been cleared for full practice with the team. Bergeron suffered a punctured lung, a broken rib, a separated shoulder and damaged cartilage at the end of the Stanley Cup finals in late June. Campbell suffered a broken right leg blocking a slap shot from Evgeni Malkin in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
“They’re going to practice with us, they’re going to be on the ice,” Julien announced Wednesday afternoon during his first full press conference of camp. “When it comes time to play those exhibition games, it’ll be obviously a conversation again with our trainers, making sure that if they’re going to play, there’s not a risk factor.”
The Bruins open their seven-game preseason next Monday night in Montreal against the Canadiens, and it’s unlikely either player would be ready to play, though Julien did leave some wiggle room on Wednesday.
“Right now, I would tell you that they would not be cleared to play a game if we started today but that might chance in the upcoming day or in a week from now,” Julien said. “They can practice with the team. It’s just about playing in an exhibition game.”
Julien also confirmed that everyone who took the conditioning test on Wednesday passed. Julien said he took the excellent conditioning of his team as a sign of where they’re at as a group.
“I don’t think I’m going to need time in camp to assess [conditioning or mentality],” Julien said. “I feel it right now. I think our group is in the right place. I like the feeling of our hockey club right now. These tests today just kind of solidified what I thought. Guys are in great shape. It would’ve been easy guys, after finishing so late, to just kind of shut ‘er down for the summer. But they’ve kept themselves in great and they look excited to get off to a new start here.”
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