|Hat trick: A point made in loss||04.06.10 at 12:18 am ET|
All season long the Bruins have had their doubters, especially when it concerned matters of the heart. Specifically, do they have the intestinal fortitude to get the job done when the odds are against them?
On Monday night, during a 3-2 overtime loss to Washington (click here for the full recap) ‘ the most dominant team in the NHL this season ‘ the Bruins may have shown they do want to play into the second season.
With Adam McQuaid playing nine minutes and Andrew Bodnarchuk playing just six, and their regular rotation of defensemen shortened to four because of 15 stitches in Dennis Seidenberg’s left wrist, the Bruins managed to hang punch-for-punch with Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and the team that has the President’s Trophy wrapped up.
Here are three things we learned:
THE BRUINS SHOW HEART
When Niklas Backstrom’s shot trickled by Tuukka Rask at 7:36 of the first period, the Bruins had to wait nearly seven minutes through a painfully slow video review, only to have the goal upheld.
But following that goal, the Bruins picked up their skating and forechecking.
The scoring chances were again plentiful for Boston, and it seemed for the first 19 minutes, 58.4 seconds of the opening period, they would be frustrated again.
While the Bruins were frustrated on the power play again ‘ going 0-for-3 ‘ they did their best to put pressure on Theodore.
Maybe most importantly, the Bruins showed they weren’t intimidated by the Captials, even when they fell behind 1-0 on Backstrom’s goal. If the two teams meet in the first round, the Bruins coaching staff is likely to show the team a tape of this game and show them why and how they can win.
DENNIS WIDEMAN PICKS UP HIS PLAY
It’s no secret that Dennis Wideman has been the whipping boy for all that ails the Bruins this year. Every time there has seemed to be a critical turnover or penalty, it’s been Wideman at the center of the storm.
And true to form, Wideman was again in the middle of things when he was whistled for a high sticking penalty 24 seconds into overtime. The Capitals made the Bruins pay with the game-winning goal off the stick of Brooks Laich 20 seconds later.
But long before that, Wideman had been doing his best to help the cause.
Just before Backstrom’s shot slipped by Rask at 7:36 of the first period. Wideman came to the rescue but just a half-second late as the puck was ruled to have cleared the goal line for a 1-0 Capitals lead. Alex Ovechkin fed Backstrom across the slot to set up the score.
The Capitals had carried the pace of play. But with 1.6 seconds left, it was Wideman of all people, who blasted a slap shot past Jose Theodore to tie the game and shift the momentum.
EYE ON THE BOTTOM LINE
As a result of Monday night’s outcome, the Bruins gained a point, giving them 85 and a one-point leg up on the Flyers for seventh in the East. Boston is now just one point behind Montreal for sixth. Monday was the game-in-hand the Bruins had on the Flyers and Canadiens. The Rangers are just two points behind the Flyers, and those two teams play each other in a home-and-home on Friday and Saturday.
Now, the Bruins play Buffalo and Carolina at home on Thursday and Saturday before returning to Washington on Sunday with the season possibly on the line against the best team in the NHL.
But if the Bruins win on Thursday and Saturday, they could make life a lot easier on themselves.
|Savard: ‘Just trying to feel normal again’||03.27.10 at 2:09 pm ET|
Marc Savard is taking walks, getting some fresh air and trying to regain his full wits.
On Saturday, he spoke publicly about the hit from Matt Cooke on March 7 in Pittsburgh and how it’s affected him.
Thanks to the Bruins media relations department, here is the full transcript:
On how he is feeling and if he remembers the hit:
I am not feeling myself quite yet, still. I still don’t have any recollection of the hit. Obviously, I have seen it but that’s the only recollection I have, when I see it. I just don’t remember any of it.
On if he has any close calls with similar types of hits before this particular one:
No, none of that nature, I guess. I have obviously seen them but, I haven’t come close to getting hit like that ever.
On his reaction to the hit:
Well, I have obviously viewed it a couple of times and I think it was a play that didn’t need to happen, obviously. To me it wasn’t a shoulder and I watched the [Mike] Richards on [David] Booth hit. I think that was a shoulder. I think mine was more of an elbow, so I think there was an attempt to injure there. I was, obviously, very unhappy with what happened and I think it could have been avoided very easily. Read the rest of this entry »
|Savard: ‘I have no interest in talking’ to Cooke||at 1:04 pm ET|
Speaking publicly for the first time since taking a hit to the head from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on March 7, Bruins center Marc Savard said he believed “there was intent to injure,” adding he was “very unhappy with what happened and it could have been avoided.”
Savard said he has had trouble sleeping since the hit and has had a mixture of good days and bad.
“I’m not feeling myself quite yet still,” Savard said. “I still don’t have any recollection of the hit. Obviously, I’ve seen it. That’s the only recollection of it is when I see it. I don’t remember any of it.”
Savard acknowledged that Cooke tried reaching out to him on March 18 when the Penguins returned but he declined through the team.
“I guess he’s tried to get my phone number,” Savard said. “From what happened, I really don’t, at the moment, have any interest in talking to him. I’m not feeling any better so I’d rather not talk to him.”
|The Hat Trick: Bruins can’t save the work for the third||03.15.10 at 10:43 pm ET|
Before we go any further into the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Devils on Monday night, let’s get one thing straight: This wasn’t a Jacques Lemaire or Pat Burns-coached team that the Bruins fell to Monday night. It wasn’t a fall-behind-by-one-and-the-game’s-over scenario, as many who have followed the Bruins have grown accustomed to when it comes to playing the Devils. And while the Devils are a very viable Cup contender this year, this wasn’t a throwback to the mid-’90s-on torture that the black and gold have fallen victim to.
This was a struggling team going against a struggling team (the Devils, currently fourth in the conference, entered the evening 4-5-1 over their last 10 games) and struggling.
On Monday night we saw plenty of the Bruins’ flaws highlighted. Whether it was the painful uncertainty in net that led to Tim Thomas being yanked after 20 minutes of decent play accompanied by bad luck and big rebounds (for what it’s worth, only Zach Parise’s goal can be blamed on Thomas ‘ Scott Niedermayer’s was the result of a screen and David Clarkson’s a breakaway), a missed opportunity at physically setting the tone (Milan Lucic’s dasher to the face) or the lack of consistent offense, it was all there in a rough night for Claude Julien and the gang.
The Bruins are still hanging onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by just one point, with their 72 points narrowly edging the Rangers’ 71. Still, in a prospective matchup with the top-seeded Capitals (who are 2-0 against Boston this year and have outscored the Bruins by a margin of 8-2 in their two meetings), the playoffs might just be a formality ‘ a quick stop on the way to yet another offseason filled with questions of how the Bruins can return to prominence for good.
It wasn’t all bad, though. The offense, aside from being snakebitten when it comes to getting multiple tallies in the third (see below), peppered New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur with 15 shots in the final 20 minutes, and after being outshot 22-21 through two periods, ended the game having outshot the Devils, 36-28. Here is the hat trick of lessons learned in close-but-not-close-enough match at the Prudential Center.
|Second period summary: Bruins-Devils||at 7:45 pm ET|
The presence of Tuuka Rask changed the tone of the game Monday night. That, of course, and the presence of scoring.
Mark Stuart, pinching in the offensive zone, threw the puck on net at an odd angle that was tipped by Blake Wheeler and slipped past the leg of Martin Brodeur just 43 seconds into the second period to bring the Bruins within two goals in a 3-1 game.
Stuart nearly had one of his own on the following drive when his shot from the point lanced off of Brodeur’s glove.
A close call came at 8:53 when Rob Neidermayer, positioned in front of Rask, redirected a shot from the point past Rask for what appeared to be the Devils’ fourth goal. The goal was waved off immediately and was confirmed seconds later.
Shawn Thornton and Pierre-Luc Letornee-Leblond participated in somewhat of a balet recital at 2:47 in a fight that never really got off the ground. Still, with the highly anticipated bout with the Penguins on tap, Bruins fans may be willing to take any sneak preview they can get.
A troubling play came when Milan Lucic, following a biffed attempt at hitting Andy Green, went face-first into the dasher in the middle of the period. He left for the locker room following the play but later returned.
The Bruins kept up the pressure late in the second period, including a drive that featured a couple of close plays involving Dennis Seidenberg. A 3-on-1 in the period’s last minute also looked promising but went for naught. Even so, the Bruins wrapped up the period playing with far more energy than they ever were in the first period.
Each team had 10 shots and through two the Devils are outshooting the Bruins, 22-21.
|First period summary: Bruins-Devils||at 6:57 pm ET|
One would think that one team outshooting the other by just one might dictate a close game. Not tonight, as the rout may be on early in Newark, with the Devils leading the Bruins 3-0 after the first period.
After a run of eight consectuive shots from the Bruins, the Devils applied a ton of pressure in the period’s 10th minute that culminated in a goal from Rob Neidermayer at 9:58. The goal came as a result of a tip from a David Clarkson shot. Patrik Elias likely would have made it 2-0 seconds later were it not for his wrister going wide of Thomas’ net. Though the stat sheet would be filled with penalty minutes for much of of the time after, smart goaltending got the Devils back on the board.
David Clarkson took a long pass from Martin Brodeur at center ice and raced up the ice untouched for a breakaway goal at 17:23. It was Brodeur’s third assist of the season.
Seconds later, Parise took a rebound from a Mike Mottau shot and put it past Thomas to give the Devils a 3-0 lead.
But enough about the Bruins’ inability to compete at the moment. With the Penguins in town Thursday, much of the focus is on the physical aspect. After Blake Wheeler went off just 52 seconds into the game for hooking, the Bruins’ penalty kill, which entered the night third in the NHL, went to work and effectively killed off a Devils power play that consisted of two shots. The highlight of the penalty kill came when Tim Thomas made a nice save through a screen on a shot from the stick of Travis Zajac.
A few minutes later, Dennis Seidenberg stapled Zach Parise in the corner and was retaliated upon by Jamie Langenbrunner, who went off for unsportsmanlike conduct at 5:34. After a shorthanded bid from the Devils, poor puckwork deraliled what dew opportunities the Bruins were able to muster on the power play.
Shortly thereafter Vladimir Sobotka has one of the best opportunities of the period when he was stuffed by Martin Brodeur on a wraparound.
Mark Stuart crushed Jamie Langenbrunner with about six and a half minutes remaining in the period and seconds later was squaring off with Rod Pelley at the blue line. Both went off for fighting at 13:50.
The Devils outshot the Bruins 12-11.
|Boychuk admits ‘Oh, no’ feeling first game back||03.05.10 at 3:52 pm ET|
It’s rare when a hockey player admits the slightest amount of fear on the ice. It’s that lack of fear that separates those in the sport from many others.
But on Thursday at TD Garden, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk acknowledged that he had a few scary flashbacks to Feb. 6 on the same ice when Mikael Samuelsson’s slapshot hit him just to the side of his left eye, causing him to miss the final four games before the Olympic break and Tuesday’s game with Montreal.
But those fears were calmed somewhat when he let loose one of his own booming slapshots in the second period, beating J-S Giguere and giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead over Toronto.
“If felt good, actually,” Boychuk said of his return. “There was a couple of times where I just have to get back into things, I guess. Just little things, I guess, but overall it felt great.”
“It felt better if there was a slap shot coming from the point that I had a visor on. There were a couple of times when somebody wound up and I was like, ‘Oh, no’ and a flashback of that shot hitting me in the eye or side of the head so it’s just nice having that little extra protection.”
Boychuk said the piece of mind was more than worth the minor inconvenience of extra eye protection.
“I just have to wipe it down every once and a while from all the sweat,” he said. “That’s about it.”
It was that cannon of a slapper that earned Boychuk a place on the Bruins roster and possible future offensive force on the B’s blueline.