|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 »
|How the Bruins have become Team Unity, and why it matters||02.04.11 at 8:57 am ET|
Just four minutes into Thursday’s slugfest at the Garden, Stars forward Adam Burish came in on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and fired a shot several seconds after the whistle had clearly blown, stopping play.
That is a big hockey no-no.
And Andrew Ference made sure Burish paid the penalty. The Bruins defenseman came over to enforce the hockey the law, eventually drawing Burish into a fight ‘ which Ference clearly won ‘ and a message had been sent. Don’t mess with these Bruins or you pay the price, especially on Boston’s home ice.
“We’re a tight group,” said Patrice Bergeron, who scored twice and assisted on an empty-netter. “We’ve always said that and we all know that. We’re ‘¦ we get along real well off the ice and we try to bring that on the ice. I think that Ference fight is the best example just by showing that he took a shot after the whistle on Tuukka and Andy responded right away. So I think it’s ‘¦ it showed our unity, and we’ve got to keep going.”
As for Ference himself, he said Thursday’s win showed how the Bruins can get back to being the right mix of talent and toughness, just like 2008-09, when they were the top seed in the East and a favorite to get to the Stanley Cup finals.
“One of the good things we did in that year, and something we’ve established over the last few is, when our team is emotionally and physically involved, we’re a very good team,” Ference said. “We’ve proven that the other way around, too. When it’s not there, we lose games. You know, go back to the Carolina series a couple years ago. I think that’s what almost all of us pointed our fingers at, it was missing. We know that that has to be there for us to be successful, and it was good [against Dallas].”
Bruins coach Claude Julien certainly had no problem with it.
“It was an opportunity for us to step up for each other, and we did and I thought it certainly played in our favor,” Julien said of the four fights in four minutes ‘ three in the opening four seconds. “We’re a team that can handle that and guys seem to be ready for it and certainly that part of it was good. Those two quick goals also were proof that we were ready to play.” Read the rest of this entry »
|There will be plenty of time for Tim Thomas to focus… after the All-Star break||01.27.11 at 4:49 pm ET|
There will be plenty of time for Tim Thomas to focus on what’s at stake in the final 32 games of the regular season and hopefully, long after that. He reminded reporters of that following Wednesday night’s win when asked about the second half of the season that starts following this weekend’s All-Star game.
“Man, we just started the break five minutes ago,” Thomas said. “I’m just going to focus on the break. Otherwise, we don’t get that mental break we’re talking about.”
Fair enough. Thomas has earned the right to reflect on what has been a first half filled with superlatives worthy of a Vezina and Hart trophy winner. Thomas has been that good.
– He came within 11 minutes and 23 seconds of his NHL-leading eighth shutout on Wednesday night against the Panthers.
– He leads the NHL in goals against at 1.81.
– He leads the NHL in save percentage at .945.
– He is tied for second in wins with 24 behind Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller.
– His teammates believe they will win every time he takes the ice.
That last one is the most subjective but also the most important. Thomas has recovered from summer hip surgery to become the backbone of their Bruins team. So, after the 2-1 Wednesday Thomas admitted he’ll take some time to savor the winning feeling heading into the break before gearing up physically and mentally for the final 32.
“I was thinking win, feel the good feeling,” Thomas said. “Then you can really savor the feeling for a couple of days because usually we travel or get ready for another game. So yeah I thought about it.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Claude Julien has reason to believe Milan Lucic will continue to ‘come up big’||01.26.11 at 10:46 pm ET|
Milan Lucic scored his 20th goal Wednesday night in the Bruins’ 2-1 win over Florida, and his coach is hoping to see more of that from the power forward in the post-All Star break portion of their schedule.
“I think what we’ve seen in the first half is what he’s capable of doing for us as we move on,” Claude Julien said. “He’s also one of those players that I think has always come up big in the big games, such as playoffs and all that stuff. He’s one of those guys who always rises to the occasion and you hope that continues as well.”
Lucic made it clear from Day 1 of camp that he had every intention of scoring at least 20 goals this season. Now that he’s reached the goal before the break, bigger and better things should be ahead.
“It’s obviously something that I talked about coming in, and that was a goal for myself and [to] reach it as quickly as I did, it’s a good step for me,” Lucic said. “I couldn’t be happier right now, but definitely not satisfied.”
Last season, the expectations for the 21-year-old star on the rise were the same but the results were not. He scored nine goals in 50 games during an injury-riddled season, with a plus-minus rating of minus-7.
“Yeah, a lot more, definitely,” Lucic said when asked if he might be enjoying this season a little more. “It was real tough going through what I went through. Being out for so long, and especially even when I came back, that high ankle sprain was still bugging me so to work as hard as I did this summer and to get rewarded for it thus far throughout the season is great. And definitely like I said before, I can’t stop here. I’ve got to keep pushing for more.”
A year later, he’s 22 and he’s already surpassed his career-best goal total from 2009 when he potted 17 and had 25 assists, raising those expectations that were there last season. Read the rest of this entry »
|Mark Recchi hears Claude Julien loud and clear: ‘That’s what happens when you don’t have everyone going’||01.21.11 at 1:16 pm ET|
Following another head-scratching performance Thursday ‘ when the Bruins blew a pair of one-goal leads on home ice and lost, 4-2, to the Sabres ‘ venerable B’s spokesman Mark Recchi again called out his teammates for not giving it their all.
“We didn’t have everybody going, and that’s what happens when you don’t have everybody going. And when we’ve got 20 people going, we’re just really tough to play against,” Recchi opined. “We don’t have everybody going [on] all cylinders and competing at the level we should you know it just makes it hard for us. And I think we know that and we’ve been a lot better at it lately and more consistent and we just have to keep learning from these ones that when we do have these, that there’s reasons why.”
There was a very good reason for Recchi’s post-game ego check following a week that saw them score a pair of seven-goal wins. They also had a pair of losses in which they managed two goals apiece. The Bruins need more consistency all around if they’re going to make April and May truly meaningful.
He believes they can and so does coach Claude Julien, who matched Recchi’s sentiment almost word for word
“Well there’s no doubt,” Julien began. “I don’t think from start to finish, I don’t think there’s much to say here except that we were totally flat, from the first player to the last. So it’s not about pointing to one or pointing to the other, we came out flat tonight and never seemed to find our game. Even in the third period, you are coming in there tied and you got an opportunity, twenty minutes again, to seal your fate and it just wasn’t happening tonight
“We were flat. I’m not saying guys were bad, I’m saying we were flat tonight so that’s the thing that I, you know, we kind of talked about after the game, is that from the first player to the last, just didn’t have it.”
The Bruins did put 40 shots on U.S. Olympic goalie Ryan Miller but only two got through, none in the third period when the Sabres took over.
“He made some lucky ones, he made some great saves,” Recchi said. “We had a lot of traffic. You know he’s a good goalie. But he made the saves he had to make and a couple snuck behind him and he got some help but that’s what happens when you’re a goalie, you make those saves.”
Recchi said the 40 shots were nice but not good enough.
“It wasn’t our game, no it wasn’t what we’re capable of doing,” Recchi said. “And we’ll just have to regroup. We’ve got a tough trip ahead of us and we’re a pretty good road team so we have to again learn that consistency is going to be a big part of us being a very ‘¦ a great team instead of just a real good team, and we’re getting there and we gotta keep pushing along here.”
That push continues Saturday in Colorado and Monday in Los Angeles against the Kings ‘ perhaps with just a little more purpose behind it.
The TD Garden ice has always been kind to Nathan Gerbe.
It was again on Thursday night as the list of former Boston College players coming back to Boston and providing nightmare after nightmare to the Bruins continues to grow.
There’s Brian Leetch with the Rangers. There’s David Emma, Brian Gionta and Bill Guerin with the Devils. There’s Patrick Eaves of the Hurricanes. Now, add Nathan Gerbe to that list.
With Bruins holding a precarious 2-1 lead midway through the second period, Gerbe fired a shot from the left circle past Tuukka Rask for the game-tying goal on the power play. It changed the momentum and set the stage for Thomas Vanek to take over the game in the third in Buffalo’s 4-2 win Thursday night at the Garden.
Gerbe – not lacking confidence despite his 5-foot-5 frame – was the latest from The Heights to make life miserable for the Bruins as he mixed it up with B’s captain Zdeno Chara and then lit the lamp.
“I’m a little frustrating player to play against,” Gerbe said. “I am a little pest there, so I just tried to get under their skin a little bit. It is all in fun. He is a big guy, and I don’t think I would win in a battle but it was definitely one to enjoy. I tired to hold my ground as much as possible. Just stand there and don’t fall. He is so strong and such a good D man. It is fun to compete against him.”
He certainly was a pest to the Black and Gold Thursday night.
“Those Boston College guys did a good job for us tonight,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff added. “I thought [Tyler] Myers made a great play, great look to feed it to him. Nathan, on the heels of playing a real strong game for us the other night, playing a excellent game for us tonight.”
Gerbe, of course, was excellent during his three seasons at Boston College, capped off in 2008 when he scored five goals in the final two games of the Frozen Four, leading the Eagles to the national championship. He earned a place at the table as a Hobey Baker finalist as one of the very top players in all of college hockey with 68 points in 43 games. He led the Eagles to the Beapot and Hockey East titles that year, too – on the same Garden ice.
“Yeah you always get a lot of good memories here and a lot of good feelings,” Gerbe said. “You get chills up your body, but it is a different league and you try to do as well as you can every night.”
He scored last year in the playoffs against the Bruins in Game 6 but the Sabres lost, 4-3, as the Bruins moved onto the second round.
Now, he is helping to turn around a Sabres ship that was sinking just two weeks ago. The Sabres have beaten the two teams – Montreal and Boston – ahead of them in back-to-back games and are showing signs of moving up from 10th in the East.
‘Very, very satisfying to score here,” Gerbe said. “Even more satisfying to get the win and get the two points. It was huge for us. Hopefully we can keep rolling.”
|Marc Savard hasn’t forgotten about Matt Cooke||01.15.11 at 5:22 pm ET|
Savard did come back and appeared in the playoffs, scoring the game-winning overtime goal against the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis. But still, he was not the same.
On Saturday, Matt Cooke returned to Boston with the Penguins and was booed lustily by the Bruins crowd each time he touched the puck. The Bruins Johnny Boychuk even tried to engage him long enough to drop the gloves. No luck.
“He won’t do a thing,” Savard said. “Johnny [Boychuk] has tried him last few games and he just skates away. He’ll get you from different areas but he won’t get you head on, obviously.”
But on Saturday, it wasn’t Cooke but rather defenseman Deryk Engelland that leveled him with a clean hit along the far boards in the third period, knocking him off-balance and into the boards.
“A little woozy, to be honest with you,” Savard said. “But we’ll see how I feel the rest of the day here tonight and stuff, because’¦ I don’t know I haven’t seen the replay, it felt like he just got my head, so I don’t know. But a little woozy.”
Savard, as was the case in Pittsburgh last March 8, was caught off-guard.
“Yeah, I think I was looking kind of behind me for a pass to make, and I think he closed me off,” Savard said. “I felt okay, I felt a little bit’¦ a little winded king of thing. Nothing bad right now.
“All I wanted to do, is make sure I gathered my thoughts, you know, and everything came back together ‘¦ fine so, I’ll monitor it and watch the rest of the day here, see how I feel a little bit ‘¦ I was a little bit shaken up.”
He is just hoping he’ll be okay to skate with the team during it’s Sunday practice in advance of Monday’s matinee with the Hurricanes.
“Just a little dazed,” Savard said. “I haven’t gotten a headache yet or anything like that. Just a little dazed and just getting your bell rung a bit. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about right now.”