|Johnny Boychuk and the Bruins know it’ll be a bruising fight to the finish||03.11.11 at 11:59 am ET|
One look at the face of Johnny Boychuk tells you all you need to know about what kind ending is in store for the Bruins in the last month of the regular season.
A fight to the finish to be sure.
While all the focus was on Zdeno Chara and the firestorm of controversy over his hit on Max Pacioretty, Boychuk was playing his first game since suffering quite the shiner below his left eye in a fight with Montreal’s Ryan White a period earlier. Boychuk echoed the sentiment of the Bruins when he said he was happy to see Chara drill Jason Pominville with a clean hit early in the first period.
“He’s not going to change the way he’s going to play,” Boychuk said. “He’s a big man and he’s our team leader. You wouldn’t want him to change his game because I like seeing the physicalness in his game.”
On Thursday, Boychuk and the Bruins found themselves in a different sort of battle – one with the officials.
The Bruins killed off the first four penalties against them but Buffalo capitalized on two of the next three to help erase a 2-0 Bruins lead early.
“It’s kind of tough to give a 60-minute effort when we’re always killing penalties like that,” Boychuk said. “I don’t know if they’re good calls or bad calls but it definitely takes a toll on some guys in the dressing room when you’ve got guys killing penalties all the time. And some of those guys are also play power play so they’re going to be out there more than others and by the end of the game, they’re going to be tired.”
The other concern of late – during the three-game losing streak – is the lack of discipline and focus over 60 minutes.
“I think that we had that when we were on that winning streak,” fellow B’s blueliner Adam McQuaid said. “For the most part we had sixty-minute effort. The last few games there have been very highs and very lows, so I think the biggest thing is to get back to that sixty- minute effort.”
Seven different minor penalties were called on the B’s, including two with the Bruins already a man down that created 5-on-3 chances for the Sabres. The Bruins killed off the first but weren’t so lucky the second time in the third period as the Sabres tied the game and won it in overtime.
Boychuk knew going into the game with the Sabres Thursday night that they would be facing a desperate team.
“We did play them in the playoffs last year and they’re fighting for their playoff spot so we didn’t expect them to roll over and die on us,” Boychuk said.
That will be the same approach the Bruins can expect from just about every team they play from here on out.
Even the Islanders, who are out of the playoff picture in the East, could play spoiler when they take on the Bruins tonight in Nassau County on Long Island.
Before dropping their third straight Thursday, the Bruins started their seven-game win streak against the Islanders on Feb. 17 on Long Island.
“Might as well start another one,” Boychuk said. “Why not?”
|Zdeno Chara appreciates the ‘nice gesture’ of Max Pacioretty||03.10.11 at 11:27 pm ET|
On Wednesday night, Pacioretty said he was ‘disgusted’ that Chara wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit on Tuesday night that gave him a severe concussion and broke a vertebrae in his back.
Then Thursday, Pacioretty showed his support of a fellow NHL combatant by publicly denouncing any effort by Montreal authorities to criminally prosecute Chara for a hit that happened in the course of a game.
Following Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Sabres, Chara said he was relieved to be back playing and appreciated the words earlier in the day from Pacioretty.
“It’s obviously a nice gesture,” Chara said. “It’s something that, for sure, shouldn’t go that far. It’s something, like I said, very unfortuante. I keep repeating that. You feel bad about it. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt and especially, in that case, upper body, and most likely, neck and head.”
Word came on Thursday that Montreal authorities plan an investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against Chara, whose hit into the turnbuckle at center ice gave Pacioretty a severe concussion and fractured a vertabrae in his back.
“We all feel bad about it,” Chara said. “It doesn’t matter, rivalry or no rivalry, we all want to see the guy recover and obviously, I’m going to try and reach out to him and talk to him either over the phone or try to see him in person. But I totally understand and respect that now he probably needs time and space and to be around his closest family. I’m sure when the time is right, I’ll probably reach out and talk and somehow connect.”
For Chara, he was just glad to be back on the ice, focusing on hockey, not hearings.
“That’s obviously one of those things I’d love to do,” Chara said. “Playing hockey is obviously my most important thing. To be on the ice that’s for sure the most important.”
It was a home crowd that chanted his name during his first shift in the opening minute.
“For sure, it’s something I very much appreciated and I’m very thankful for that. It feels for sure great to be home and to get that support from the fans,” he added.
He even showed in the first period that he’s not going to change his physical play because of Tuesday when he drilled Jason Pominville into the corner boards on a very clean but hard hit.
“I don’t see any reason to change my game or my style of play,” Chara said. “I’m going to continue to play physical and play hard. That’s my game and I don’t see any reason to change.”
|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.”