|Welcome back, Michael Ryder. The Bruins might be able to use you in the playoffs||04.02.11 at 8:37 pm ET|
By his own admission, the last three weeks haven’t exactly been a joyride for Michael Ryder.
He is a player talented enough to serve the same capacity as Miroslav Satan did in last year’s playoffs. He is a veteran sniper who has playoff experience finishing his chances.
But, in the second half of this season, it’s been a different story. His penalty shot score to win Saturday’s game against Atlanta and clinch the Northeast title for the Bruins was his 18th goal but first since Feb. 27, a span of 12 games.
“Yeah, I’ve struggled to find goals lately,” Ryder said. “Last game goal post, then [Saturday] crossbar. Just got to try and stay with it. If I keep just working hard and shooting the puck, it’ll go in for me.”
In that stretch, he has been benched twice by coach Claude Julien, once last Saturday against the Rangers and once on March 10 against the Islanders.
“You want to be in the lineup, nobody wants to be out,” Ryder said. “It’s frustrating and I’ve been there before, so I kind of know what it takes to get back in. It’s just working hard and finding your game, and not letting the little things get to you. Just make sure when you get back in that you take advantage of the chances that you get.”
Sometimes you get a break and Ryder made his own break with just under eight minutes left when he forced a neutral zone turnover by the Thrashers and broke in alone. He was hooked from behind by Johnny Oduya and was awarded a penalty shot.
I was just trying to skate and get away from the guy behind me. I don’t really know what happened. Just fell down and they called a penalty shot. I was just trying to catch my breath, that’s it.
Thursday night, during the shootout, Ryder went up top and missed the net during Boston’s loss. This time, he made sure to get it on net. And when he went up top on Ondrej Pavelec, above his right shoulder, the crowd exploded. Ryder had finally snapped his goalless streak at 12 games.
“I was just excited to get the goal,” Ryder said. “I was tired on the penalty shot, so I didn’t know what I was going to do. Like I said, that was a big win for us. I knew if we got the lead and I scored there, it would get the team going and hopefully we could pull out the win. Last game I missed the net, [Saturday] I hit it. It was a big goal for us, we wanted to make sure we got the win, and I think we’ve played better games but as long as we get the two points that doesn’t mean anything.”
By benching him twice and putting him on the third and fourth lines, Julien wanted to give him time to think about what it will take to rediscover that touch in time for a Stanley Cup run in two weeks.
“I think it’s just a matter of it was nice to see him score that goal,” Julien said. “Obviously it turned out to be a big goal for us, but these are steps in the right direction. I think, you know, when he starts feeling confident about doing those things and doing them without over-thinking, he’s going to be a good player again.”
After scoring 21 goals and adding 19 assists in 72 games, Bruins winger Brad Marchand was honored as the 2010-11 Bruins “Seventh Player Award” given to the Bruins player who goes above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded expectations, as voted on by Bruins fans.
Marchand celebrated the honor by picking up his 20th assist on Boston’s first goal Saturday, a score by Mark Recchi.
Marchand is expected to receive consideration for the NHL’s Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie. The favorites are considered Carolina’s Jeff Skinner and San Jose’s Logan Couture.
After missing most of the season with a shoulder injury, defenseman Shane Hnidy has been cleared by coach Claude Julien to return to action today against the Thrashers in a matinee at TD Garden.
Hnidy suffered the injury during camp with the Coyotes in September and spent the first half of the season rehabbing it before signing as a free agent with the Bruins at the end of February.
This is Hnidy’s third stint with Bruins, racking up three goals and nine assists in 65 games two seasons ago. The 35-year-old Hnidy had a goal and four assists in 43 games in the 2007-08 season. To make room for Hnidy, Julien scratched rookie blueliner Steve Kampfer for the seventh time in eight games.
The well-traveled Hnidy broke in with Ottawa in the 2000-01 season and played his first three seasons with the Senators before being traded to Nashville in the middle of the 2003-04 season. Following the lockout, he came back and played two seasons with Atlanta before being signed by Anaheim in July 2007. He was traded to Boston in the middle of the 07-08 season, his first go-around with the Bruins.
Hnidy’s best season came in 2006-07 with the Thrashers, when he had five goals and seven assists in 72 games with a plus-minus of +15.
Hnidy played for Minnesota last season before getting a tryout with the Coyotes last September.
|Claude Julien would rather Brad Marchand not ‘cross a line’||04.01.11 at 9:49 am ET|
Maybe it’s because the emotions of Tuesday night are so raw or maybe it’s simply because he realizes it’s not a very professional move but Bruins coach Claude Julien made it pretty clear after Thursday’s 4-3 shootout loss that he wasn’t thrilled with Brad Marchand‘s friendly suggestion to the Leafs for offseason plans.
In case you missed it, following the second period – one in which he scored a short-handed goal to help his team to a 3-2 lead heading into the third – Marchand skated by the visitors’ bench and practiced his nine-iron swing. Clearly, he was not showing good form.
“I mean, it’s just, he’s been a good player for us and again, his emotions sometimes can be a positive, but sometimes you don’t want to cross the line and certainly you don’t like that when that happens. So it’s just a learning process,” Julien said.
His second period short-hander was his fifth this season, tying him for second this season in that category in all of the NHL.
And it was that goal, not his golf swing, that brought energy to the Bruins in the second period and brought them to within 20 minutes of clinching the Northeast Division before a third-period Joffrey Lupul goal set up Toronto’s shootout win.
“I think I just came off the bench and tried to take an angle and he passed it right on my stick,” Marchand said. “I wanted to drive, I knew there was forward coming back so I wanted to try and cut in. The puck kind of popped out there in the open and I just backhanded it. Especially in a situation where we’re on the penalty kill and they’re on the power play. It kind of takes their momentum out of the game and gives it to us. It was good timing, but a lucky goal.”
So, there. Brad Marchand is totally capable of showing humility. And it’s that humility, along with more specialty teams goals, the Bruins are looking for in the coming weeks and months.
“Come playoff time we can’t just flip the switch,” Marchand added. “If you’re going to play your best hockey, you have to have to play up to that, play up to that point. You have to build on it. It’s almost like you get momentum and you’ve got to feed off that. We want to get on a roll here, and make sure we’re playing our best hockey.”
|Hey Tim Thomas, what do you think of your Cup chances after another loss to Leafs?||03.31.11 at 11:44 pm ET|
Before the reporter could even get the question out of his mouth, you could see the smirk on the face of the man who will likely win the Vezina Trophy this year.
The question to Bruins goalie Tim Thomas? Seems like Toronto (now 4-2-0 against Boston this season) has a done pretty good job of handling you guys. How do you feel your [playoff] chances are going forward?
“They’re terrible. We have no chance in the playoffs, we lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs at home,” Thomas said, with sarcasm showing his playoff-ready intensity.
It wasn’t the best of nights for Thomas, who had his shutout streak snapped at 122 minutes, 21 seconds when Luke Schenn scored just over seven minutes into the game. And yes, the Bruins did lose for just the third time this season in 31 games when leading after two periods. And yes, they also fell to 2-6 this year in shootouts.
But after his brush with sarcasm, Thomas gave a more direct and heartfelt response.
“I mean Toronto has definitely had our number and they’ve played better than us when we’ve played against them this year. But they have a good team with a lot of speed and a lot of talent. I don’t get to watch them all year long, but if they played the same way every game this year like they played against us, I’d expect them to be in a better spot.”
Hmmmm. That could be taken two different ways. Toronto – with players like Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel – is talented. But they also have 82 points now, and still on the outside, looking in on the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Which brings us to the Bruins.
How important is it for the Bruins to get that momentum heading into the NHL’s second – and most important – season?
“I think it’s pretty good to take the same theory that you’re going to have to take in the playoffs, which is the same theory that you should have in the regular season, which is not too high and not too low. We’ve had some big wins here recently, beating Montreal, Philadelphia, Chicago, and now it’s kind of a tough loss to take. But in either case it should be not too high, not too low. Don’t think you’re too good if you get that win and don’t think you’re too bad if you get that loss.”
As for the goals the Leafs scored, Thomas said they were pretty similar to the ones they’ve scored all season against the Bruins.
“They’re typical Toronto goals,” Thomas said. “They’ve had a lot of those against us this year. Montreal had the same at one point, just seems to be the way it’s worked out.”
But to Thomas, it means nothing going foward.
|Are the Bruins this year’s Blackhawks? The Blackhawks can see the signs||03.30.11 at 10:54 am ET|
After a game like Tuesday’s, there is most certainly a temptation to look ahead to how far this Bruins team could be going in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s especially tempting when you consider the Bruins dismantled the team that won the Cup last June.
But Tim Thomas isn’t biting, not even after stopping all 32 shots in a 3-0 win over the Blackhawks.
“Haven’t thought about it at all, to be honest with you,” Thomas said after his career-best ninth shutout this season and 26th career. “I’m just focusing on each game-to-game, and even during the game just trying to play the same way for the whole 60 minutes no matter what the situation. We’re pretty good about not think about that kind of stuff lately, so I’d prefer not to start now, if you don’t mind.
“This was a good challenge for us. Chicago is a good team, I know they’re battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. But that’s a good thing because you know they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game, because those points mean a lot to them. It was a big test, and we responded very well. They’re a very fast team and we had our legs going right from the beginning of the game and were able to match them stride for stride.”
If the Bruins are headed for a deep run this spring, Thomas will be a good reason. He turned away every scoring chance in the first period, discouraging the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks so much that even their coach felt his team — battling for its playoff life — was discouraged.
“They were the harder working team tonight,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “They play hard. First 10 minutes, we are on our heels. We got back in the game and we didn’t do much after they scored first.” Read the rest of this entry »
The sight of his own blood was bad enough. So was the feeling as he was falling to the ice that he was about to go face-first into the back of the skate blade of Fernando Pisani and suffer 40 stitches on his forehead above his right eye.
But to have the opposition taunt you as you’re going off the ice was too much for even tough guy Shawn Thornton to take Tuesday night.
How bad was it? So bad that even referee Don Van Massenhoven was yelling at the Chicago bench to shut up as he was ushering Thornton off the ice to the Bruins’ bench and eventually dressing room.
“If I ever find who it was, I’ll deal with it my own way,” Thornton said. “Yeah something was said. Obviously I can’t swear when I talk to you guys. There was some stuff said that I am not happy about.”
Cameras showed Thornton shoving and nearly punching Van Massenhoven, who was actually trying to stand between Thornton and the Chicago bench.
“He heard it and he was [ticked],” Thornton said. “He was [ticked] too. He didn’t know who it was either. He actually yelled at their bench. I appreciate it. Those guys on their team chirp a lot. I don’t know if it is right when someone’s face is half across the other side of their face.
“But it is a tough game and people have to live with their actions. If you guys ever find out who it is don’t be afraid to send me a Christmas card.”
Thornton said he was prepared to return to the game with a visor but because the medical staff was concerned about a concussion and the 40 stitches opening up, he was held back and not permitted to return.
“I am fine,” Thornton said. “I guess I was lucky. It could have been worse. It could have been on eye. No headache, no concussion, no nothing. It was just throbbing a little bit from getting some stitches but nothing bad.”
Thornton said he was given great treatment immediately by the Bruins medical staff, led by Lars Richardson, who administered so many stitches he lost count.
“I didn’t ask,” Thornton said. “Someone else did and they said around 40. I don’t know, they lost count. I was told that was the reason I couldn’t come back. They had some fine stitches inside and they didn’t want those to pop out or I might look deformed afterwards.”
As for the play itself in the second period, Thornton nearly scored a great pass from Daniel Paille before heading back down ice to back check. He was chasing Pisani when he lost his balance.
“I went to go finish my hit,” Thornton said. “I don’t know if I tripped over a stick or some feet or whatever and fell on the back on his skate blade. It was accidental. It was something that happens when the game is moving so fast. If I had scored the goal right before that none of this would have happened. We would have been lining up at center.”
He could see the injury coming, which made it all the more gruesome in his mind.
“I kind of slowed down,” Thornton said. “I was fortunate to see it coming after I fell. It is easy to say now but I knew it was a bad cut. I didn’t see how bad it was they wouldn’t let me go look at it. I knew nothing else was hit other than my forehead.
“It had happened to me before and it doesn’t really hurt when it happens like that it just feels like you got banged in the head. I know how lucky I am. It could have been a little lower and I could have been in a lot of trouble.”
As for Thursday for Toronto, it’s wait-and-see for Thornton.
“I don’t know,” Thornton said. “I don’t think so but the doctors will look over it the next couple of days and make sure everything is where it needs to be. The good news is, I don’t know what is going to happen, we are in good position and if need be we have some extra bodies around anyways.”
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