|What Zdeno Chara and the Bruins learned Saturday night||03.07.11 at 10:11 am ET|
One loss following a very impressive seven-game winning streak is hardly cause for alarm. And that’s especially true since the Bruins managed a point Saturday night when they didn’t play their best game and found a way to tie it with 32.5 seconds left in regulation.
But there was a lesson to be learned. Just asked Zdeno Chara. If you don’t skate hard against a hungry team, you’ll likely wind up on the losing end.
The captain gave the Bruins the lead, 1-0, just under eight minutes into the second period. But from then on, the B’s seem to take a collective breath and relax as the Pens picked up their intensity and took it to them in every way.
They took more shots, delivered more hits and until the final 33 seconds, scored more goals.
“We didn’t have our best game, that’s for sure,” Chara said. “We were just, we had heavy legs, we didn’t skate well, we didn’t move the puck well. On the other side Pittsburgh played extremely well. They put a lot of pressure on us. They took away space and time and we couldn’t create much.”
All of this from a Penguins team that came in losing 6-of-7 and had lost in overtime 24 hours earlier in New Jersey.
“I think it was mostly us, we weren’t moving our feet at all,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We were second to the puck. At the same time, you couldn’t establish a physical game because you never got there on time. So they were on the puck and we were doing a lot of watching, I thought in the second period and they just took the game away from us at that point.”
“They even they had back to back games,” Chara added. “They had pretty good jump and energy. It almost felt like we were the team who played last night. But it’s going to happen. You’re going to have games like this where we were just slow and not moving the puck as well as we used to. But we worked extremely hard in the third and earned that point. That’s the positive. Obviously we’d like to get two but it happens.”
But now, following the end of the winning streak, the Bruins know they have to pick it back up with a big division game Tuesday night in Montreal. The Canadiens have won four straight and 5-of-6. They trail the Bruins by just five points in the Northeast.
No reason for the Bruins not to have their legs under them for this one.
|Pens show Bruins they’re a lot more than just Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin||03.05.11 at 11:10 pm ET|
Without superstars Sidney Crosby [concussion] and Evgeni Malkin [right knee], the Penguins got two goals from HBO “24/7″ star Dustin Jeffrey, including the game winner less than two minutes into overtime to come away with a 3-2 win over the Bruins, snapping Boston’s seven-game winning streak.
Crosby or no Crosby, Malkin or no Malkin, the Penguins played exactly the kind of hockey that wins in the playoffs. It’s not superstar hockey, it’s team hockey. What exactly is that?
“They’re a lot more hard-working,” Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “Their hard work takes over [for] their skill. When they have those other guys in, there’s a lot of skill in there and they still work hard, but they try to make different plays than they would if they had those guys in the lineup. They just got the [puck] in deep and just tried to keep as much time in our zone as possible.”
B’s coach Claude Julien had his own take.
“Obviously, they’re missing some star players,” Julien noted. “We thought one of our best forwards tonight was missing, too. You have to adjust to those kinds of things and what it boils down to is the team play. And that’s what they did tonight, they played a good team game.
“They were forechecking hard, they were on top of us. Even when we got the puck in the neutral zone, they didn’t give us much time. They really skated hard and took away our time and space and they did a good job of that. I think that’s where their success came from tonight. When you work hard enough, eventually you get rewarded, and they got a break there at the end and were able to score in OT.”
|Claude Julien: We still need Tuukka Rask||02.11.11 at 10:28 pm ET|
But to be honest, he didn’t exactly need to be The Amazing Kreskin to figure out what the Bruins coach was thinking when he yanked Rask after the second period of Friday’s 6-1 dud against the Red Wings before a displeased Garden crowd.
“I’m not going to start analyzing that,” Rask said. “I thought I deserved to get pulled. I didn’t play to my level today.”
That’s one way of putting it.
Rask admitted he did not have one of his finer performances of the year and that he deserved to get pulled after allowing five goals on 18 shots in two periods. Rask, who fell to 5-11-1, said he had no criticism of coach Julien, who started Tim Thomas in goal to start the third.
Julien said he has not lost confidence in Rask, who allowed goals on the first two shots he faced as the Bruins fell behind 2-0 in the first three minutes and never recovered. The last time Rask was pulled was on New Year’s Day in Buffalo when Rask allowed three in the first, despite the Bruins leading, 4-3.
Julien started him in the next game and Rask was very good in a 2-1 at Toronto.
“We didn’t feel he was as sharp as we needed him to be, that was number one,” Julien said of Rask. “He still made some good saves. I don’t think we didn’t recognize that as well, but he just wasn’t as sharp tonight and after discussing the situation, we just felt that the right thing to do was to give Timmy the third period.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Tuukka Rask, Bruins knocked out cold by Red Wings, 6-1||at 9:32 pm ET|
Maybe the Bruins should petition the league against any more home games on Fridays.
The last three haven’t turned out so great. They were blanked 3-0 in a clunker against the Hurricanes on Nov. 26. The time before that was even more painful. Last May 14 fell on a Friday, and so did the Bruins when the Flyers came from behind to eliminate the Bruins with a 4-3 decision in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semis.
The latest Friday night fright was nowhere near as important as the defeat that ended the B’s season, but it was still a mighty punch in the gut – especially if you’re Tuukka Rask, who had the misfortune of playing in both.
With “The Fighter” Mickey Ward on hand for the ceremonial puck drop, Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and two assists and Todd Bertuzzi added a pair of goals as the Red Wings rocked Rask and the Bruins, 6-1, Friday night at TD Garden. The two teams will conclude their home-and-home series in a rematch on Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings, leaders in the Central Division, wasted little time seizing control of the game and making life miserable on Rask. Bertuzzi ripped a shot from the top of the left circle that beat Rask far side just 70 seconds into the first. Danny Cleary made it 2-0 exactly two minutes later when he flipped a shot past Rask from between the circles.
The Bruins rebounded with 2:07 left in the first when David Krejci snapped a 20-game goal drought with his eighth of the season. But the Red Wings put the game away with three goals in the second, capped off by Bertuzzi’s second of the night when Rask misplayed a puck to his right and the forward flipped it off the back of his pads and into the net. The crowd booed Rask early and often as the back-up goalie fell to 4-11-1.
Rask made just 13 saves on 18 shots in 40 minutes before being pulled for Tim Thomas to start the third. University of Maine product Jimmy Howard stopped 25-of-26 shots to improve to 27-10-3 on the season.
|Milan Lucic muscles up so Nathan Horton can finally do his thing||02.10.11 at 10:21 am ET|
They both clicked Wednesday night and as a result, the impact on the Bruins’ offense was dramatic – as in eight goals dramatic.
Lucic added to his team lead in goals with tallies Nos. 22 and 23 and Horton – with a goal and four assists – had his most productive night of his career in an 8-6 knock-down, drag-out KO of the Habs.
“We are just happy that we were able to get that win,” Lucic said. “They have been a tough opponent for us. We lost last time but not [this time]. Most of all we are happy to get those two points and to keep moving up in the standings.”
Indeed, for all the excitement over the pugilistic debut of Tim Thomas against Carey Price, this game was a huge one in the standings. The Bruins increased their lead to four points over the Habs, with a game in hand, still.
As for his line of center David Kreji and Horton, it was on fire.
“I mean I felt like that ever since we were put back together lately we have been ok, I mean we have had no goal here, one goal there,” Lucic said. “We knew we could be a threat every time we went on the ice and that is what we have kind of talked about as a line yesterday we wanted to be that threat and you know get in there and play with that emotion. Be the guys that Coach counts on, and so its definitely great that we had a game the way we did we have to keep pushing it and keep getting more.”
Horton’s struggles have been well-chronicled. Even coach Claude Julien has pointed to Horton’s struggles often in the last two months. Wednesday night, Julien admitted that the Bruins have been waiting for this breakout ever since Horton started the season with eight goals and 10 assists in the first 17 games of the season.
“Well, that’s what we have wanted from him for a while now, so it happened tonight,” Julien said after Horton’s career game. “We are certainly happen with that. Now it’s a matter of hopefully him continuing to do that for our team, he was a big help for us.”
“It’s nice,” Horton said in the understatement of the night. “Obviously, it helps me a little bit with my confidence. It is nice but it’s nice to get the points, it’s a big game for us. It was a four-point game, and we won.
“It was just working hard. I think we were ready to go. We talked about it as a line, before the game, we need to start playing and start contributing. I think we did that tonight but it’s only one game and hopefully we can continue to keep bringing it.”
But nothing means more than to have the support of a fellow teammate and linemate.
“It seemed like he was getting really hard on himself getting really down on himself but it these last few games you can see he is on his game again and its all starting to find his game again,” Lucic said of Horton. “It all starts with him skating, using his speed, his body, and you know he had a big night tonight and hopefully he continues with his confidence.”
It was almost like fighting your brother. You know deep down you don’t want to but as a matter of pride – and territory – you need to.
So Tim, what happened?
“Which part? I mean’¦well he was jumping in,” Thomas said of Price’s actions when Brad Marchand drilled James Wisniewski on an icing touch-up. “I went off the blue line and he backed into his crease. And then so I’m like okay, and then he went in again and you just can’t let it be an outnumbered situation and so that’s what I was thinking when I went down there. He was more than willing to fight. And I had this big old plan. I was going to grab his right and I was going to throw lefts because I know he’s bigger and taller and has a reach on me.
“I thought I could do a better job throwing lefts in him and when I went to grab he got a good hold on my right arm and I got nothing. So then I was like, oh now what do I do? Because I know he’s got a big right cocked and ready to come so I tried to switch arms and get my right free and I grabbed him by the back of the shirt and when he threw the right I pulled on’¦I was trying to pull him off-balance and his shirt came off his head and then I fell and’¦actually as I was falling my left arm came free and but then it was over. He fought with the fighter’s manners as far as not hitting when you’re down.”
Fighter’s manners. There’s a new one. Fighter’s manners apparently included patting each other on the shouler and backside after it was over, after only 15 seconds of grabbing and tugging.
“We’re on opposing teams but we spent some time together at hockey camp a few summers ago and we were just at the All-Star game together,” Thomas said. “We’re on friendly terms. It was business. But once business is done, it’s done.”
“Well, I know Timmy pretty well,” Price added. “I think we were just out there play-fighting more than anything. Neither one of us really wanted to get hurt, but we are out there doing whatever we had to do, I guess.”
Price was surprised when he saw Thomas skating right for him but in the end, he didn’t think the wrestling match was going to amount to much and certainly not like the fight between the Islanders’ Rick DiPietro and Pittsburgh’s Brent Johnson that ended when Johnson knocked out DiPietro, breaking the orbital bone of his face with a punch.
“Yeah, we didn’t really know what is going on, but really there is not much to get thrown out about,” Price said. “The biggest thing is that we didn’t back down. Our guys stood behind each other. I think these are good games to play in. I think they are good character builders.”
What was also new to Thomas was the idea of fighting the opposing goalie.
“I’ve been playing a long time and it’s just never a situation where it’s worked out like that but tonight it did,” he said.
Bruins coach Claude Julien sounded a much more serious but still, understanding tone.
“It’s not something you like to see,” Julien said. “I don’t think, you never like to see your goaltenders get into those kinds of things but, certainly not sitting here and condemning him for doing that, it’s the heat of the game. They were both willing combatants and you live with that.”
|Logan Couture ‘most complete player’ Joe Thornton has ever seen||02.05.11 at 7:05 pm ET|
All things are relative, but ask Joe Thornton and he’ll tell you that red-hot rookie center Logan Couture is not just the best player for his age that’s he’s ever played with, but the player he’s seen with so little NHL experience.
How little? The ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft is still just 21 years old. Saturday marked his 75th game in the league but just his 50th this season, and he is still considered a rookie in the eyes of the NHL.
With his game-winning power-play backhander past Tim Thomas in the first period on Saturday, Couture has 23 goals and 11 assists in 50 games. And to think the Bruins could have had him in that 2007 draft.
Instead, with the eighth pick, the Bruins selected Zach Hamill, the same Zach Hamill who was playing just his second NHL game on Saturday, first this season.
“Actually, it almost felt like my first game but at the same time I got into the speed of it the guys in the room helped me out a little bit to calm me down but it was good,” Hamill said.
It’s Couture who has been going at full tilt for the entire season, leading all NHL rookies in goals at 23. And since Couture only played in 25 regular season games at the NHL level last year, he’s still eligible for Calder Trophy consideration.
‘He’s the most complete player that I’ve seen at that age,” Thornton said. “He penalty kills, he plays power play and plays all the important minutes. By far, the Calder winner so far this year.’ Read the rest of this entry »
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