|Tim Thomas on shootout win: ‘We needed that immensely’||03.17.12 at 9:44 pm ET|
All eyes were on Tim Thomas on Saturday.
Of all the Bruins with plenty to prove entering the St. Patrick’s Day matinee against the Flyers, the Bruins goalie was at the top of the list.
So, when he turned away Danny Briere on the shot of the shootout, earning the Bruins a 3-2 win before an electric TD Garden house, he raised his arms out of celebration and relief.
“Yeah, I think it was very important, we needed that immensely,” Thomas said. “We needed to show up and have a good game at home. Things haven’t been going our way. That’s a polite way of saying it lately. To battle out tonight and come up with a good, solid strong game at home and pull out with two points, is hopefully very big for us moving down the road.”
The Bruins stuggles of the last two months have been well documented. They were manhandled in all three losses on the road this week, outscored 17-5 in losses in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Florida. Overall, they had lost four straight coming in. Thomas started three of those four games and was pulled in the loss in Pittsburgh.
Saturday, he was a different goalie. He stopped Eric Wellwood on a shorthanded blast midway through the first. Moments later he denied superstar Jaromir Jagr with his right pad, as he tried to beat Thomas to the far side. Then, in the final 30 seconds of regulation, with the Flyers sensing a dramatic come-from-behind win in regulation, Thomas battened down the hatches as Philly unloaded cannon shot after cannon shot.
Thomas said his confidence wasn’t shaken this week but the saves early, especially on Jagr, didn’t hurt.
“I wasn’t feeling unconfident going into it, I know there was that first bouncy shot at the beginning of the game, but heck I don’t trust the bounces right now,” Thomas said. “That’s natural I think. But the save on Jagr, it did help to boost my confidence more than it already was.”
Speaking of bounces, that all that beat Thomas on Saturday in regulation as Matt Read and Jakub Voracek redirected shots that Thomas had little-to-no chance of stopping. Then came the last 30 seconds.
“I wasn’t sure of the clock exactly, I knew we were getting down towards the end of the game,” he said. “I just didn’t want bad luck to strike again, and at that point we’re just playing for one point to make it to overtime. You don’t want a real good effort like that to go to waste. So, I was just focused on making it through the end, I didn’t know if there were 30 seconds or a minute left.”
Thomas said his mindset didn’t change in the shootout either.
“I was actually too focused on trying to figure out what my approach was going to be to the shootout,” said Thomas, who allowed goals to Read and Claude Giroux before stopping Briere in the shootout. “I played Jagr a certain way on the breakaway during the game so my plan going into the shootout was to go out and play the other guys like that. But that didn’t work, but it was great to see ours keep going in. After the second one, I kind of changed up what I do and I came way out to [Danny] Briere, I think I went all the way out to the hash marks to try and give him a different look and try to make him think what the heck’s he doing.”
Anyone in attendance Saturday could most certainly sense the urgency from the Bruins from the opening puck drop with the Flyers. The Bruins have slumped big time in the last two months, falling out of first place in the Northeast Division, heading into their game against Philly. A win would put them a point back ahead of Ottawa, at least for the time being.
But the unfortunate part for the Bruins is that it had to come to this.
“Unfortunately, every game is big for us now,” Gregory Campbell said after the Bruins survived in a 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers. “We’ve gotten ourselves into a situation where we’re battling for position with Ottawa now, and a couple of other different teams. We want that home-ice advantage. With 11 games left, we’re unfortunately in a situation where every game is important. And I think you can look at that as a positive because we have to be at our best now, and going into the playoffs, that’s something that’s going to benefit our team.
“Tonight was big for us but one game at a time is our motto right now.”
There was a lot of talk afterward about maintaining the intensity the Bruins showed Saturday for the remaining 11 regular season games so that they have the right chemistry and momentum. The question is: Do the Bruins have enough steam to fulfill that mission and have enough left for another playoff grind?
“There’s a lot of leadership in this room,” Campbell said. “Everybody knows how to win. This team has been in some corners before and we’ve gotten out of them. It hasn’t been easy all year. And we gained a lot of experience and confidence from last year in the things we went through. We’re just going to have to do it the hard way again, take it one game at a time and one period at a time.”
|Bruins taking ‘baby steps’ in right direction toward playoffs||03.09.12 at 11:49 am ET|
The mere suggestion by the toughest Bruin evokes laughter.
But when Shawn Thornton said the Bruins are starting to take “baby steps” in the right direction following the team’s 3-1 win over the Sabres Thursday night, he was making no joke.
“I’m more concerned about how we are playing,” Thornton said. “I think that Rangers game we could have very easily won. I think the way we have been playing for the last week or so is the style of play you’re used to seeing from us. As long as we keep putting up efforts and everyone is showing up every night, the wins will come with those performances.”
The inability to win back-to-back games had become a sort of unintentional comedic relief for the Bruins as they grind toward the playoffs, wondering how they’re going to cope without Tuukka Rask for at least a month and how they’re going to position themselves as they get ready for a title defense.
“It seems to be for a lot of people, and I think it’s the same for us,” Claude Julien said after the 3-1 win over the Sabres, giving the Bruins consecutive wins for the first time since early January. “We’ve been obviously battling with our consistency, and even though this is our first back-to-back win in a long time, I think the fact I was encouraged by our play in New York and it’s just kept coming along in the next game.
“Obviously winning, and then again tonight a pretty decent effort. I think that’s what we’re looking for now as more a consistent effort and hopefully they turn into wins. When you got the amount of injuries you have, you take every win for what they are and [Thursday] was a good win for us.”
Now, with the playoff race in the East tightening, the Bruins realize they need to stop messing around and get in playoff mode.
“Well, we have to, right? We’ve been forced into it by apparently not winning back-to-back games since January 10th through 12th, or whatever it was, and also, just the standings are getting tighter so we’re getting forced into a playoff mode, which is probably a good thing for us,” Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said.
The Bruins have 83 points, which is good for first in the Northeast. But, consider that point total would tie them for third in the Atlantic with No. 5 seed Philadelphia and you see Thomas’ point. Ottawa, which has played three more games, is only three points behind. Win the division and the Bruins almost certainly will be the No. 2 seed behind the Rangers. Finish second and the B’s could wind up anywhere from fifth through seventh.
“It is a baby step, for sure,” David Krejci said of Thursday’s win. “We finally won two in a row. It’s been a while. It feels good. I feel like, especially the last three games, it started in New York, we played really good hockey. We keep playing the way we have, the wins will come.”
|Johnny Boychuk helps Bruins find their jam||at 9:53 am ET|
In the midst of a 1-1 game in the third period, the Sabres and Bruins appeared for all the world to be heading for overtime.
Then with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third – BANG – Johnny Boychuk delivers.
No, it wasn’t his go-ahead blast from the right point with seven minutes remaining. It was something just as electric and woke everyone up in the building. Boychuk cleanly leveled Sabres star Thomas Vanek at Buffalo’s blue line and the tempo had been set for the rest of the game.
“I saw a guy coming back so I could pinch down and I could see [Vanek] wasn’t really paying attention too much ‘ I just wanted to make sure it was a clean hit,” Boychuk said. “The fans gave us a little boost and we took it from there.”
Shawn Thornton knows a thing or two about physical play and loved what he saw from the hit. To Thornton, the Bruins were playing a solid game and Boychuk’s hit just raised the level.
“Yeah, he’s a very physical player,” Thornton said. “I thought we played a pretty good game so I thought the momentum might have been amped up a little bit more. I thought we were pretty solid most of the night as it was.”
There’s an expression in hockey for what the Bruins had Thursday night – jam. It’s the energy to make things happen on the ice.
Two minutes after Boychuk’s wake-up call – just about 15 feet in closer from where he delivered his hit on Vanek – he unloaded one of his characteristic “Johnny Rockets” past Jhonas Enroth and the Bruins had the lead for good in a 3-1 win over the Sabres at TD Garden.
“It was just like a scramble play and I saw the puck coming through and I just decided I’ll go down and try to rip it home,” Boychuk said. “It’s just, you see the play developing and I know [Patrice Bergeron] is good defensively, so if I go down and get that puck I know he’s going to be backing me up.”
Boychuk was asked if he were actually aiming the puck to an open spot above Enroth’s shoulder, the mere suggestion of which made Boychuk laugh.
“Well, I was aiming of course,” Boychuk laughed. “I hit him in the belly a couple of times and one went through him so you know, try to just put it on top.”
|David Krejci: ‘You just can’t turn it on when the playoffs come’||03.02.12 at 8:46 am ET|
David Krejci knew full well what his February was like. Like his whole season to this point, it had been very up and down and inconsistent.
That all changed Thursday when the calendar flipped to March. The center-turned-winger was back at center and he netted his second career hat trick, finishing it off with an overtime goal that propelled the Bruins past the Devils, 4-3, in overtime.
Krejci had been in a huge slump coming in, just 13 goals, including two in 13 games in the month of February. His assist totals are also way off. He hasn’t had a helper since Jan. 31 and has 28 for the season, one reason why Julien moved him from center to wing.
But Thursday night with Tyler Seguin on his wing, Krejci was back at center. He looked reenergized and fresh, and most importantly, ready to contribute in a big way down the stretch as the Bruins try to regain their momentum for another spring title run.
“Yeah, I wasn’t thinking about it, I had two goals in the month of February,” Krejci said of his struggles in February. “But, you know, I just take it game by game. I want to do my best every game and I was feeling really good before the game and I got Segs on my line so I was excited about it. We click well together with Looch [Milan Lucic] and him and it was a good game for us. I know we had a little sloppy second period but we came back hard in the third and won the game. That was the most important thing.”
His coach has noticed an improvement of late.
“I think he’s really, he looks more comfortable right now,” Claude Julien said of Krejci. “As I’ve often said, he puts a lot of pressure on himself. He’s probably his worst enemy when things aren’t going well, and because of that, it doesn’t help him in the long run. You try and take some of that pressure off and say, ‘Listen, you’ve just got to go out there and play.’ So, when he feels good about his game, you see a big difference, and that’s what we’ve seen here.”
Like his previous two goals, his overtime goal came as the result of finding space in front of Martin Brodeur. And like his first two goals of the night his timing and positioning in front paid off.
“A little lucky that one, I guess. I was at the end of my shift, I was tired and, you know, Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] made a good play,” he said. “I kind of sensed it that he was going to throw it in front of the net and Z [Zdeno Chara] tried to jam it and I was just at the right time at the right place. I saw Brodeur was down so first thought was go upstairs and it worked that time.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Andy Brickley on D&C: ‘Too much inconsistency in the Bruins’ game right now’||02.01.12 at 10:33 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ first game since the All-Star break, the fans’ reaction to Tim Thomas and the Super Bowl.
Despite a sloppy start to Tuesday’s game, the Bruins’ first game in almost a week, the B’s impressed Brickley with their resolve by putting the pieces together in the third period for a 4-3 win.
“When the game was on the line and they had to take their intensity to a different level they did it in the third period,” Brickley said. “Third periods have been great for them all year. Now, if you look at the first 40, it looked like a team that had had five days off. That’s a lot of time.”
Added Brickley: “There’s still just too much inconsistency in the Bruins’ game right now.”
Tim Thomas received an ovation from the TD Garden crowd before the game, ending speculation that fans might turn on him following the White House controversy.
“If there were any boo-birds in the building, they were certainly going to get drowned out,” Brickley said, adding: “Nobody’s going to boo him. Even if his perception has changed with the Bruins fans, it’s not worthy of being booed. Absolutely not.”
As for Thomas’ play in the game, Brickley said: “He looked just like the rest of the team. He had his moments of real good play and then he had some inconsistent moments, some rebounds maybe he’d like to have back. But once again, that ultracompetitiveness takes over when the game’s on the line and he made the saves he had to make.”
|Andy Brickley on D&C: ‘I really don’t see a whole lot of challenge from anyone else in the conference’||12.28.11 at 12:10 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley talked with Dennis & Callahan guest hosts Tom Caron and Chris Mannix on Wednesday morning to discuss the Bruins’ busy second-half schedule, which teams provide the biggest challenge to the B’s in the Eastern Conference, and NHL First Star of the Week Brad Marchand.
Last week, Marchand scored a goal in the 3-2 victory over the Canadiens and capped off the week with a hat trick and two assists in the Bruins’ 8-0 dismantling of the Panthers.
“I think we should be a little surprised to the degree that he’s playing as well as he’s playing,” Brickley said. “I think any good team and any good young player that fits into a real good hockey club that’s deep and balanced like Boston, you expect those young players to get better from their rookie seasons and you’ve certainly seen that from both [Tyler] Seguin and Marchand. To think that he would be this good this early — this productive and this reliable — is a little bit of a surprise. But keep in mind both of those young players bring a nice element of speed along with their skill set to the Bruins.”
Brickley has been just as impressed by the play of Patrice Bergeron, who is on pace to have his most productive season and has lifted Marchand and Seguin.
“They play with a guy in the middle like Bergeron and that’s a huge benefit to them,” Brickley said. “It allows them to play to their strengths, have a little bit more freedom offensively because Bergeron will distribute the puck, he’ll take care of all three zones, and he’ll win his puck battles, and he’s so reliable and dependable yet he’s got an offensive flair himself. So to have that kind of centerman in the middle — that kind of experience, that kind of talent — is a huge benefit for those two guys.”