|Zdeno Chara and the Bruins didn’t want to ‘ruin’ the good vibes from Pittsburgh||01.12.11 at 2:55 pm ET|
As much talk as there was following Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Senators about Patrice Bergeron and his first career hat trick, there was just as much about the impressive way the Bruins followed up their dramatic win in Pittsburgh 24 hours earlier.
“It’s huge,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “You want to follow up with a good performance. You don’t want to have obviously a nice comeback game and then come back and just ruin it. I mean that’s totally something you don’t want to do.”
The Bruins showed what they call in hockey “good jump” in getting up 2-0 after one and 5-0 after two periods. But for Chara to consider the night a truly good one, the B’s would have to finish the job.
“Even after the first 20 or 40 minutes of tonight’s game, you don’t want to, at the end of the night, count regrets that you played well for 40 and bad for 20,” he added. “You just want to have a good feeling after the game that you really played a solid 60 minutes.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien agreed. It was a good night from what he could see from behind the bench.
“I like the way we skated. I thought we had some good jump right off the start and we had some good clean breakouts and it allowed us to have some good speed through the neutral zone,” Julien said. “We got pucks behind their D and took advantage of it. I thought our guys were well-focused tonight. It was important to build on last night and not sit on it.”
It’s rare for a team to show such good energy on the back-end of a back-to-back in mid-January like the Bruins did but Tim Thomas wasn’t complaining, as he posted his career-best sixth shutout of the season.
“We looked like we had really good legs tonight on a back-to-back with the heavy schedule that we’ve had and that’s a good sign too,” Thomas said. “A lot of things went our way tonight.”
And, of course, leading the way was Bergeron with his first career hat trick.
“We’ve talked about it, after the game in Pittsburgh, to just carry what happened in the last three minutes, you know, and carry that over to tonight, and I think we did that, you know, all game, the 60 minutes that’s what we needed.”
What the Bruins needed and got on Wednesday was the day off to stay inside and avoid the blizzard outside. They’ll need their rest with the Flyers and Penguins coming to town on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Just another two games to test how far these Bruins have come in turning around their season.
It was only fitting that Patrice Bergeron had to record his first career hat trick twice.
After all, when you’ve waited seven years and 418 games, what’s another 10 minutes and 57 seconds? When the puck deflected off Sergei Gonchar‘s skate and past Brian Elliot at 14:07 of the second period, everyone assumed it was Bergeron who tipped it home. It was actually Brad Marchand who took the centering shot and it hit off Gonchar’s skate, never reaching Bergeron before it slid past Elliot.
“To be honest, I know we were both battling in front and it hit something, for sure, a skate, and Marchy told me it hit my skate so I thought I had it, but to be honest I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure.”
Still, it was announced in the building as Bergeron and the hats came raining down. Then, as fans were making their way out of their seats at the end of the second period, it was announced that the goal was changed to Marchand, meaning Bergy stood at two goals on the evening.
“It was funny, because, after the second, everyone was congratulating me about the hat trick, then it came back and, you know, ‘Hey it’s not yours, it’s Marchy’s’, and everyone was saying that ‘It’s only your first one?’, since I’ve played, so, I guess I wanted to get the last goal,” Bergeron said with a smile.
So, as the Bruins were cruising to a 6-0 romp over the Senators, Marchand made good on a promise to find him in the third period to make good and finally get Bergeron his first three-goal game in the NHL and his first since Juniors.
“It was disappointing that they took that goal away from him,” Marchand said. “I think there was a 2-on-1 there I tried to get it to him also. It is great he finally got there with a beautiful shot.”
Marchand came down the left wing and found Bergeron in the corner. Bergeron came out to the bottom of the circle and fired a shot that beat back-up goalie Mike Brodeur – in his second NHL appearance – and Bergeron finally had his hat trick.
“Everyone’s leaving the building with no hats on, so yeah, I guess I wanted to get it, because I guess everyone threw their hats on the ice. To be honest, I never really thought about it. You know, I don’t really stop and think about those kind of individual goals, but it’s always nice to have it out of the way.
Bergeron is one of the hottest players in the NHL, with five goals in his last three games and 17 points in his last 13 games.
“Our forecheck has been a lot better, we’re in sync as a line a little but more,” Bergeron said. “You know, I thought we were doing good things, also, before, but it’s just I think the puck wasn’t going in and now it is, so you know, obviously, you’ve got to take it, and go with it.
“But obviously, I’m trying to bring as much as I can for our team to win, you know, and if we get some success as a team, so, now we have a stretch here before the All-Star break, you know, and we obviously want to get some points.”
|Why the Bruins feel so bad for Tuukka Rask||01.06.11 at 11:54 pm ET|
Thornton called out the rest of the team for non-support of goalie Tuukka Rask. The Bruins netminder made several athletic saves, including a spectacular one on Martin Havlat to keep the Bruins tied. But the save was for naught as the Bruins fell, 3-1, Thursday night to the Minnesota Wild.
“Tuukka was awesome again,” Thornton said. “I think its awful that that kid plays so good for us all the time and we don’t get the wins for him its’¦we care about him and we should probably show it in a better way, he stood on his head for us pretty much every night and I don’t know his save percentage is .940 or something stupid like that.
“That should be good enough to win a lot of hockey games so we have to look ourselves in the mirror as far as that goes.”
Not that anyone is nit-picking at this point, but his save percentage is .928 after stopping 31-of-33 shots he faced, not including the empty-netter by Mikko Koivu with less than a minute to go that sealed Boston’s fate.
“It has been disappointing for him all season,” B’s benched center Marc Savard added. “He comes in and gives us a solid effort. We can’t seem to score at all when he is in there. I feel bad for him. He is one of the best goaltenders in the league.”
What about the man himself?
“I always try to have a good feeling, you know?” Rask said. “We definitely’¦ we talked about playing better after the second period and, you know, digging deep but, an awful’¦ an awful mistake there went in and cost us the game. I don’t even know what happened, it’s just, I guess we just lost our focus.”
As frustrated as he gets, Rask said he is doing everything in his power to stay upbeat – though the stat sheet shows otherwise, at least in terms of wins and losses.
“Yeah, you know I try to feel good about myself everyday and think positive, and you know, the past couple games have been solid,” Rask said. “Tough to lose like this, it’s kind of frustrating but you always try to feel good about yourself, but the last three games have been a step in the right direction.”
Rask has stopped 67-of-70 shots in his last two games, showing Claude Julien that he might just be ready to pick it up for the second half of the season. There was no better example of that than his save on Martin Havlat late in the second period to keep the game tied, 1-1. From his stomach, he put his left hand up at the last moment to rob the man who already had beaten Rask for the first goal of the game.
“I saw him at the last second, and I just dove there, and I guess the puck was bouncing a bit for him too, and he didn’t get enough wood on it,” Rask said. “But, you know, it’s’¦ you got to be lucky to make those saves, too, but, I guess, half luck, half skill.”
In just his 13th game – and 12th start – Rask fell to 3-8-1 despite a 2.58 goals against average, a record neither Thornton nor their coach – Julien feels Rask even remotely deserves.
“This is a goaltender tonight that was outstanding for us, deserving a better fate and gave us a chance to win,” Julien lamented. “And so I feel bad for him because he deserves probably to be in the win column tonight, not in the loss column.”
|Marc Savard knows there’s nothing worse than being stale during the holidays||12.21.10 at 10:44 am ET|
It was supposed to be a festive night, featuring Rene Rancournaments handed out to 10,000 fans, the Bruins wearing their white home jerseys and the Bruins and Ducks on national TV.
Instead, it turnout out to be one big dud, filled with nothing for Boston hockey fans except the proverbial lump of coal in their stockings – and stale coal at that – which could never light a fire under the Bruins.
The Bruins got 45 shots on Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller but none of them found the back of the net. The Bruins were done in by the Jonas smother.
“You can say we had forty-something shots, but a lot of them were one shot and out,” B’s center Marc Savard said. “We’ve got to dig down. I think the intensity level was lacking tonight on a lot of us and coach switched the lines there for the third. We seemed to have some more jump a bit, just to try and get some energy on the team because like I said, we were getting stale there a little bit.
“We created chances, but bottom line is that you’ve got to come to the rink and want results and I think, including myself, I’m probably top of the list right now I’m not getting any and then therefore, that’s not helping the team at all. So we’ve all got to look in the mirrors here. We’ve got one more before Christmas, it’s huge, and we need it.”
While their coach was ripping them moments later, Savard acknowledged that Claude Julien can’t do much more screaming at them.
“Claude is trying,” Savard added. “I mean, he can’t yell at us every single night. It gets long on him too, so it comes with the guys in the room here to pick up the slack and right now, that’s what we’ve got to do. Like I said, this one more before Christmas here, we’ve got to have a huge effort.”
Savard agreed with Mark Recchi, who told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning that Thursday’s home finale before Christmas has turned into a must-win for the fragile psyche of the team.
Savard said he has no answers right now but knows they better appear Thursday against Atlanta.
“Well, yeah, I mean, I don’t have the answer for it,” Savard said. We’ve all just got to be that much more intense. Like I said, this one before Christmas is huge. We need it.”
Many people have been wondering about the near-term fate of Julien. But just as many – if not more – have wondered if the lineup and roster need a shake-up.
“No, I don’t think the lineup needs a shakeup,” Savard said. “We’ve got a good hockey club. We’ve just got to get it going here and work together as a unit and we’ll be fine. Our goalies are battling for us every night back there and we’ve just got to give them some support.”
|Claude Julien shows the desire he wishes he’d get from his team||12.20.10 at 11:19 pm ET|
Claude Julien had seen enough.
There was the back-to-back losses last week in Buffalo and Montreal. There was Saturday night when he watched his team get outshot on home ice, 38-10, after taking a 3-0 lead over Washington, barely holding on for a 3-2 win.
The Bruins were outshot by an amazing 26-2 in the third period and it was clear from Julien’s tone Saturday night that he felt his team was fortunate – if not lucky – to win. On Monday, there was no such luck. The Bruins fell behind 2-0 before having a breakdown on the power play in front of Tim Thomas, allowing a short-handed goal that all but cooked their goose in a 3-0 loss to the Ducks at TD Garden. Julien needed to let loose and let his team have the what-for.
“Our compete level needed to be better,” Julien began. “I’m disappointed. I’m really disappointed in our effort tonight and it’s not something we should be proud of and we should be willing to try to redeem ourselves next game and find some more emotion and more intensity in our game.”
That next game is the game before Christmas, Thursday night at home against Atlanta. In the meantime, there’ll be a pair of practices which should test the quality of the practice ice in Wilmington.
Julien said while it was good that his team put 45 shots on Jonas Hiller, he said his players “need to bury those chances.”
Julien even used a classic hockey expression to express his displeasure of the lack of desire from his team, particularly his forwards.
“It’s starts with the forecheck,” Julien said. “We had a lot of guys playing at the end of of their sticks. When you’re trying to move up five spots [in the standings], that’s unacceptable.”
The Bruins coach said he’s noticed a lack of emotion and energy in his team in the last week.
“Through the course of the season, certain things will creep into your game,” Julien said. “And that’s crept into our game and we’ve got to get rid of that. We have to get that emotion again, give yourself a chance to win. And we didn’t do that tonight.”
The Bruins entered the game with the same number of points (38) as their opponent but it wasn’t the Ducks they were chasing in the standings. With a win, the Bruins could have jumped from eight in the conference to tied for third, as they would have 40 points, matching the Canadiens.
“We had all the reasons in the world to want to compete tonight, an opportunity to move up five spots [in Eastern Conference] and we didn’t have enough guys going tonight, there’s no doubt there,” Julien said.
|Tim Thomas saved the sleepwalking Bruins||12.19.10 at 1:21 am ET|
There was a great deal of irony in the words of Tim Thomas following his latest Houdini act on Saturday night at TD Garden.
The Bruins held on for a 3-2 win over the slumping Capitals, a win that snapped Boston’s three-game losing streak while extending Washington’s to an almost unbelievable eight.
But that hardly tells the story.
Thomas noticed early on the Capitals were asleep at the wheel. But it was the Bruins who nearly blew the game by sleepwalking through the final 20 minutes.
The Bruins ran the Capitals off the ice in the opening 20 minutes. They got goals from Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Blake Wheeler and Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was in the midst of another breakdown for HBO’s “24/7 The Road to the NHL Winter Classic.” But Thomas figured it was too good to last.
“I didn’t know what we were going to get,” Thomas said. “They turned it up for a while in the second there and then they kind of went back to sleep a little bit and I didn’t know if… They looked like a tired team for the first two periods and I was hoping that was the case, but it turned out not to be.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Tim Thomas is already thinking Stanley Cup playoffs||12.08.10 at 11:55 am ET|
The veterans on the Bruins who have been around the block a few times realize that Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime win against Buffalo was just another win in December. But they also realize that it’s significant for one very important reason.
When you get to April and May and the Stanley Cup playoffs, there are no shootouts and you need to find a way to win overtime games. Another satisfying aspect of this early-December win was the fact the Bruins trailed 2-1 against Ryan Miller – one of the best goalies in the sport – with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation. So before winning in overtime the Bruins had to force the extra period.
The Bruins took advantage of a turnover in front of the Buffalo net and Nathan Horton scored his second goal in as many games to tie the game, 2-2. Again, just like April and May, teams with Cup aspirations need to find a way to just force overtime when you’re down a goal.
“I mean just to come back being down two to one in the third period, but then to finish it off that’s the key because I mean if… theoretically every game that you play in is a Stanley Cup run there are no shootouts in the Stanley Cup playoffs, you need to find a way to win that in overtime,” Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. “So that’s what we did tonight and that’s a good thing.”
And you need your goalie to make big saves in overtime – just like Thomas did on Derek Roy on the doorstep just 40 seconds into the overtime. And in the Stanley Cup playoffs, you get bizarre circumstances – like scoring the winning goal, only to have play continue for about a minute before a stoppage and video review confirmed Mark Recchi‘s game-winning deflection off Dennis Seidenberg‘s blast from the high slot.
“I don’t know if I have ever been a part of a game like that,” Thomas said. “I’ve seen it on TV and stuff a couple times and actually by the time we actually got a whistle I’d forgotten about that goal. So, when I happened to glance up, I didn’t get to see if the puck went in on the replay but the crowd was happy, so I just started celebrating hoping that the crowd was right.”
“It’s been tough for us, I think, in that area. Number one, as you saw, we used three forwards and one D to try to get some more offense on that five-minute overtime, four-on-four,” Julien said. “Most of our offense has been coming from up front. At the same time, we haven’t been very good in shootouts. We don’t have a very good percentage as a group, so I guess, for the time being, you try to adjust and try and put the odds on your side. We went that way and ended up on the power play and were able to score.”
Recchi added final perspective on the significance of the December win.
“It’s important,” Recchi said. “We’d like not to get [to overtime], but if we do get there then you’ve got to be good and you’ve got to be sharp. We use our bench very well, so guys are pretty fresh when it comes and we don’t have over-tired people. It’s good. Timmy [Thomas] came off a big save and then we were able to capitalize on the power play.”
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