|Marty Turco appreciates ‘tremendous’ time in Boston||04.04.12 at 10:40 am ET|
Marty Turco did Tuesday night what he’s always done in his long NHL career – stem the tide.
The powerful Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a couple of fluky goals in the first period.
The 35-year-old in those unmistakable gold pads and blockers then held the fort until the Bruins could muster the strength to tie the game. What happened late in the second period he had little control of as he became a shooting range target during a 5-on-3 power play that yielded two goals and the game was essentially over, as the Penguins prevailed, 5-3.
“I think by the end of the night [with] the chances, the amount of chances, that we had you feel like you deserve to win a hockey game. Those power play goals really ended up costing us, with those calls. But there’s a lot to be taken from this game. For me, it’s the end of the line as far as the regular season goes and these guys, you know, they battle to be down twice like that and even though we went down 5-2 in the third, there was no give up in this bunch,” Turco said.
“And that’s, I think that’s a huge thing for these guys to build on. They’ve been a tremendous third period team, everyone knows that real well. But to see them pour it on at the end and give us a chance was also a good sign too. But at the end of the day it’s disappointing to lose anytime, never mind against a team like that.”
Turco has had quite the career, including with Dallas in 2002-03 when he set a new NHL record with a 1.72 goals against mark. He won the NCAA title with Michigan twice, including in Boston in 1998. He signed with the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in the summer of 2010.
But to find what Turco means to this Bruins team you have to look back to March 3. That’s when Tuukka Rask injured his groin against the Islanders and was essentially lost for the rest of the regular season. Two days later, the Bruins signed Turco, who in December 2011 signed a deal with the EC Red Bull Salzburg of the Erste Bank Hockey League in Austria. He cleared waivers on March 7 and joined the Black and Gold. Since he was signed after the NHL trade deadline, he is not playoff eligible. But that does not diminish his presence over the last four weeks in the Bruins dressing room, and their impact on him.
“It’s been tremendous, really,” Turco said. “I’ve been around for a bit; can’t say that disappointments have been much a part of my time here. I’ve been fortunate to have an opportunity and I’m truly grateful, for my family and I, for [what] the Boston Bruins gave me when things seemed pretty bleak. You want to play great and you want to show them, never mind anyone else, and for the most part – days, game and practice, and being a good team man – I’ve felt pretty proud of my time here so far. Between Tampa and a little bit tonight, those two games – part of them anyway – are pretty disappointing but at the end of the day I’ll continue to hold my head high like I have all year to be ready in this position and still want to play some. So, we’ll see what happens.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Are the Bruins this year’s Blackhawks? The Blackhawks can see the signs||03.30.11 at 10:54 am ET|
After a game like Tuesday’s, there is most certainly a temptation to look ahead to how far this Bruins team could be going in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s especially tempting when you consider the Bruins dismantled the team that won the Cup last June.
But Tim Thomas isn’t biting, not even after stopping all 32 shots in a 3-0 win over the Blackhawks.
“Haven’t thought about it at all, to be honest with you,” Thomas said after his career-best ninth shutout this season and 26th career. “I’m just focusing on each game-to-game, and even during the game just trying to play the same way for the whole 60 minutes no matter what the situation. We’re pretty good about not think about that kind of stuff lately, so I’d prefer not to start now, if you don’t mind.
“This was a good challenge for us. Chicago is a good team, I know they’re battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. But that’s a good thing because you know they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game, because those points mean a lot to them. It was a big test, and we responded very well. They’re a very fast team and we had our legs going right from the beginning of the game and were able to match them stride for stride.”
If the Bruins are headed for a deep run this spring, Thomas will be a good reason. He turned away every scoring chance in the first period, discouraging the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks so much that even their coach felt his team — battling for its playoff life — was discouraged.
“They were the harder working team tonight,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “They play hard. First 10 minutes, we are on our heels. We got back in the game and we didn’t do much after they scored first.” Read the rest of this entry »
The sight of his own blood was bad enough. So was the feeling as he was falling to the ice that he was about to go face-first into the back of the skate blade of Fernando Pisani and suffer 40 stitches on his forehead above his right eye.
But to have the opposition taunt you as you’re going off the ice was too much for even tough guy Shawn Thornton to take Tuesday night.
How bad was it? So bad that even referee Don Van Massenhoven was yelling at the Chicago bench to shut up as he was ushering Thornton off the ice to the Bruins’ bench and eventually dressing room.
“If I ever find who it was, I’ll deal with it my own way,” Thornton said. “Yeah something was said. Obviously I can’t swear when I talk to you guys. There was some stuff said that I am not happy about.”
Cameras showed Thornton shoving and nearly punching Van Massenhoven, who was actually trying to stand between Thornton and the Chicago bench.
“He heard it and he was [ticked],” Thornton said. “He was [ticked] too. He didn’t know who it was either. He actually yelled at their bench. I appreciate it. Those guys on their team chirp a lot. I don’t know if it is right when someone’s face is half across the other side of their face.
“But it is a tough game and people have to live with their actions. If you guys ever find out who it is don’t be afraid to send me a Christmas card.”
Thornton said he was prepared to return to the game with a visor but because the medical staff was concerned about a concussion and the 40 stitches opening up, he was held back and not permitted to return.
“I am fine,” Thornton said. “I guess I was lucky. It could have been worse. It could have been on eye. No headache, no concussion, no nothing. It was just throbbing a little bit from getting some stitches but nothing bad.”
Thornton said he was given great treatment immediately by the Bruins medical staff, led by Lars Richardson, who administered so many stitches he lost count.
“I didn’t ask,” Thornton said. “Someone else did and they said around 40. I don’t know, they lost count. I was told that was the reason I couldn’t come back. They had some fine stitches inside and they didn’t want those to pop out or I might look deformed afterwards.”
As for the play itself in the second period, Thornton nearly scored a great pass from Daniel Paille before heading back down ice to back check. He was chasing Pisani when he lost his balance.
“I went to go finish my hit,” Thornton said. “I don’t know if I tripped over a stick or some feet or whatever and fell on the back on his skate blade. It was accidental. It was something that happens when the game is moving so fast. If I had scored the goal right before that none of this would have happened. We would have been lining up at center.”
He could see the injury coming, which made it all the more gruesome in his mind.
“I kind of slowed down,” Thornton said. “I was fortunate to see it coming after I fell. It is easy to say now but I knew it was a bad cut. I didn’t see how bad it was they wouldn’t let me go look at it. I knew nothing else was hit other than my forehead.
“It had happened to me before and it doesn’t really hurt when it happens like that it just feels like you got banged in the head. I know how lucky I am. It could have been a little lower and I could have been in a lot of trouble.”
As for Thursday for Toronto, it’s wait-and-see for Thornton.
“I don’t know,” Thornton said. “I don’t think so but the doctors will look over it the next couple of days and make sure everything is where it needs to be. The good news is, I don’t know what is going to happen, we are in good position and if need be we have some extra bodies around anyways.”
|Bruins get back to basics in victory over Blackhawks||03.07.09 at 6:06 pm ET|
With Blake Wheeler relegated to being a healthy scratch for the Bruins lineup for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon, the message was sent out loud and clear to the entire team that those deserving ice time on merrit – and spots reserved in the 18 skaters sent out for each and every game from here on out – will be getting it regardless of salary, pedigree or reputation.
It’s a point that B’s coach Claude Julien made with Milan Lucic last season at certain points in his rookie season, and something he did in Montreal while coaching Michael Ryder as a rookie amid a group of veterans Canadiens skaters. Julien is hoping that the breather can reinvigorate Wheeler as much as it seemed to help energize the entire hockey club. on Saturday afternoon in a pivotal “show me” game.
“Players in their first year sometimes they get to a point where they hit a wall. Everything seems to be overwhelming and heavy on them. Everything we did for him today was for the best for Wheels,” said Julien following the victory. “He’s going to take a step back. He had an opportunity to watch the game tonight with [Assistant Coach Doug] Houda upstairs (in the press box) and chat about what he was seeing.
“There’s no doubt that’s going to benefit him. I thought it was important to him at this stage to do that, and he’s too good of a player to keep out of the line-up for a very long time. It was something that I think is certainly going to benefit him in the long run.”
The move — made possible with the addition of the versatile, offensively gifted Mark Recchi to the Bruins lineup this week – clearly paid immediate dividends as it sparked the Bruins offense to 39 shots and five goals in a 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon at the TD Banknorth Garden.
The B’s had previously been working and fighting their way through a listless 3-6-2 stretch over their last 11 games, but many of the traits they’d been shying away from returned in a fiercely lunch-pail opening two periods against an explosive Chicago team.
It was a nod to the Big, Bad hockey game that this young and powerful team featured so many times over the first half of the year: sending willing and able bodies crashing to the net, crushing hits waiting in the corners and for any opposing skater brave or foolish enough to retrieve pucks or invade Boston’s defensive zone, and the kind of skill that can pick a team apart once they’ve been properly loosened by the on-ice B’s battering rams up and down Boston’s roster.
The “back to B’s basics” couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It comes at a very important time because we need to get back on track,” said goalie Tim Thomas. “You can look at our record after January and look at our record the past 10 games and we need to start putting some wins together, whether they are ugly, pretty or hard-worked-for like tonight.”
As it wont to happen with a struggling hockey club seeking to climb out of doldrums, the Black and Gold skaters kept it simple and furiously threw pucks and bodies at the net. Recchi lived to his “Wrecking Ball” moniker by camping out in front of the net and jamming the puck between Crystobal Huet’s pads for the first score, and then tipped a shot through a sliver of an opening for Boston’s third goal.
The Blackhawks skaters tied it up at 1-1 a short time after Recchi’s first strike – just as the Phoenix Coyotes had done only two nights prior — but this time the Bruins didn’t break, bend or fold under the small-ish bit of adversity. Instead, David Krejci followed Recchi’s lead and absorbed an Andrew Ference shot in the gut by the post, and then quickly blasted the loose puck into a crack on the short side of Chicago’s net.
Recchi followed with the second score in tight around the Chicago net that made it 3-1, and the Bruins attack was off and running. The mistake-inducing forecheck and pinpoint pinball passing led to a perfect Marc Savard setup for Phil Kessel in the right faceoff circle, and Kessel — who had fumbled away a similarly picture-perfect dish from Savard in the first period — buried his second chance at scored his team-leading 27th goal of the season. It was a great game overall for Kessel, Lucic and Savard and continued the momentum they began to build up when they were reunited in the third period of their loss to the Coyotes.
It was one of eight shots on goal for the dangerous Kessel, who seemed to take heart to the “earn your ice time” philosophy that Julien was imploring following the offensively-challenged effort against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night: get rubber to the net and good things are going to happen for both the player and the team.
“Every night you watch highlights on TV, and there’s always a few of those (gritty) goals going in. So why not put pucks on net?” said Julien. “I think we need to do that as much as we can. We lost a game a week ago in here on a shot from outside the blue line. Those things happen in this game, so it’s important we don’t try and be too cute.”
Injury Ward: Stephane Yelle sustained an injury in the second period after falling backwards into the boards, and won’t be making the trip to New York for Sunday’s matinee against the New York Rangers. Julien said after the game that his veteran center will be evaluated on Sunday, and he’s not sure if Yelle will meet them for Tuesday’s game in Columbus.
Player of the Game: Phil Kessel. The young winger seemed energized in a matchup against Chicago’s fellow young guns like Jonathan Toews and Pat Kane, and fired off eight shots on net — including the eventual game-winner for the B’s in the third period
Goat Horns: Brian Campbell and Marty Havlat both finished with -3s for the Blackhawks, and were among several Chicago players overpowered by Recchi down low throughout the game. Havlat was dominant at points, but took some very bad angle, low percentage shots at the cage.
Turning Point: The game wasn’t truly won until the Bruins responded to Chicago’s best roundhouse right in the third period, and P.J. Axelsson turned into a one-man forechecking machine in the closing minute. Axelsson appropriately ended up with the open net score for all his hard work, and the game was placed securely in the W column. It’s moment like these when it’s clear why Axelsson is such a valued member of the Bruins.
|Versteeg is the one that got away||11.11.08 at 1:48 pm ET|
Sometimes the deals that stand out like a blinking neon marquee in the minds of NHL executives across the NHL landscape are the ones that simply got away from them. A potentially successful deal that was passed over due to prohibitive cost or concerns about how much an older player still has in his career tank, or frittering away a young asset on the verge of development into a bone fide NHL maker of plays.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has stayed the course with the vast majority of young players that are now flourishing within a rising Boston Bruins organization, but Chicago Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg easily qualifies as “the one that got away” for a B’s GM that’s been coming up aces lately. The 22-year-old Versteeg was the Bruins prospect sacrificed in a forgettable deal — along with a draft pick – for minor league journeyman Brandon Bochenski, who totalled 11 goals and 17 assists in 51 games over two seasons for the Bruins before plummeting off the Black and Gold landscape. At the time of the trade, Versteeg — a B’s fifth round pick in the 2004 draft – had 22 goals and 27 assists in 41 games for the Baby B’s and was another in a long and winding line of bright light B’s talent that’s now filling up the roster in the Hub.
Ultimatelly Bochenski was spun off to the Anaheim Ducks for “Sheriff” Shane Hnidy and a sixth round draft pick last season, so currently Hnidy stands as the only remaining remnant from a trade that netted the Blackhawks one of the top rookies in the NHL this season.
Bochenski appears more and more like a career AHL player with each passing period while Versteeg enters Thursday night’s game among the NHL rookie scoring leaders with 3 goals and 9 assists through Chicago’s first 13 games — a stretch that’s also seen him earn PK minutes and impress the Chicago coaching staff with all-around game.
“Kris has got a ton of skill and its always been National Hockey League level,” said Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland between periods of Sunday night’s Blackhawks/Flames telecast. “The other parts of the game I really had to get through to him…turning pucks over and when not to turn pucks. He’s playing with some real skill guys and he’s a skill guy. He’s getting a chance to show what he can and he’s a competitive kid. I think he’s really matured on and off the ice.”
Former P-Bruins teammates Mark Stuart and David Krejci each remember Versteeg as a crafty, slick offensive playmaker that was among the youngest players in the AHL during his time in Providence, and he’s only grown more dangerous since getting paired with fellow ”Young Guns” skaters Pat Kane and Jonathan Toews in Chicago.
“He’s a good player and when I heard that he had a chance to play with Kane and Toews I knew he was going to make it,” said Krejci, who lit up the P-Bruins scoreboard in 2006-07 when they both skated on the same line together. “We had a good time. On the ice and off the ice he was a good guy. We played most of the year together. He was actually kind of like me as a player: he can handle the puck and he was patient with it to make plays, and he could shoot it. He’s good.
“I guess it was good for him to be able to go out to Chicago and make the team,” added Versteeg.
Stuart qualifies as a willingly physical member of a B’s blueline corps that will be under a good deal of heavy pressure from a young, skilled Chicago attack. Its expected Stuart and Co. will up the physical ante against the young ‘Hawks to slow down the skating speedsters racing up and down the United Center ice before a packed house.
“I’ve heard he’s doing pretty well,” said Stuart. “But I’m not very surprised at what he’s doing. He’s a really young guy and he’s skilled enough to play with anybody. They definitely have the talent there for him to play with some highly skilled guys.
“He’s able to find guys [out on the ice], he’s got really good hands and is good with the puck and he’s also very shifty,” added Stuart. “He’s good around the net too, so we’ll try to slow him down a little bit and shut him down. Off the ice he’s a nice kid. He was a young kid [during his time in Providence] and he still is…really fun to be around too.”
Apparently he’s also got a devastating singing voice somewhere between Fergie and Jesus…an ear-piercing gift that his teammates in Chicago recently discovered. Here’s the damning video evidence:
–Shane Hnidy skated at practice on Tuesday morning for the first time since suffering a lower body injury against the Dallas Stars 10 days ago, but head coach Claude Julien cautioned that the veteran D-man likely wouldn’t return to the lineup until Thursday night’s much-anticipated home tilt with the Canadiens.
“I don’t think I’m going to dress him [Wednesday night] because it’s been a while, but is he a possibility for Thursday? Yeah,” said Julien.
Speaking of the Habs, Thursday night’s game against the Canadiens at the Garden represents the first of three different Habs/Bruins matchups this season taking place in the second game of back-to-back efforts for the B’s. Thursday night at the Garden is the first, a Nov. 22 Saturday night game at the Bell Centre after a Friday night game against the Florida Panthers is the second and a Feb. 1 Sunday matinee in Montreal following a Saturday afternoon game against the Rangers pulls off the scheduling hat trick.
For the consiracy theorists out there, the first two aforementioned games between the two Northeast Division rivals also allows the Habs to enjoy a full day off against a potentially weary B’s team fighting through back-to-back games.
Julien apparently doesn’t believe in the grassy knoll or Area 51, and definitely doesn’t believe that “The Truth is Out There.”
“I guess unfortunately we don’t have much control over the schedule and it’s ironic that its always [Montreal] waiting for us at home, but so be it,” said Julien. “I think the best way to handle it is to have all 19 of your guys going and being able to stretch your bench as much as you can to get the results you want. Then try to get home as quick as possible and get your rest for the following night.”