|Bruins aren’t only team coming off a big win as Blackhawks come to town||03.29.11 at 4:04 am ET|
This time of year, some teams are already eliminated or close to it, and getting two points on a particular night is no longer a top priority. That’s why the Bruins’ recent schedule has made for some very interesting hockey. The B’s last six games have been against teams either in the playoffs or competing for a spot. Tuesday should feature another very intriguing matchup, as both the B’s and Blackhawks are coming off big victories that teams try to build momentum off of, especially given that the playoffs are just a couple of weeks away.
The Blackhawks are coming off an overtime win against Detroit Monday night in which former Red Wing Marian Hossa buried the game-winner on the power play. Chicago is eighth in the Western Conference, so they have every reason to bring everything they can Tuesday.
The Bruins, of course, are coming off a 2-1 victory in Philadelphia that saw both the appearance of a successful power play (2-for-3) and the return of Brad Marchand’s scoring, as he picked up the game-winner for his 20th goal of the season and first strike in 13 games.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 18-12-5 at TD Garden this season, and it’s been a mixed bag for the B’s at home of late. After a huge 7-0 win over the Canadiens Thursday, the B’s struggled to get shots past Rangers bodies and on netminder Henrik Lundqvist Saturday.
- Chicago has won its last two road games after dropping the previous four. The Blackhawks haven’t been to the Garden since last season, when they took a 5-2 victory on Jan. 7.
If there’s one thing the Blackhawks are capable of, it is taking an opponent to overtime while playing on the road. The Blackhawks have gone into overtime 10 times on the road this season and have a league-high eight overtime/shootout losses on the road. Their overall record on the road is 18-11-8.
- The third line of Chris Kelly between Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley has looked good, but it has not produced. Seguin has just one goal in his last 14 games (dating back to before the line was in existence), while both Kelly and Peverley have totaled zero points and each have a minus-3 rating over their last five contests.
- The Blackhawks’ 3.13 goals per game on the road is second only to the Red Wings for tops in the NHL. The Red Wings certainly helped that number when they put six goals past Bruins goaltenders at TD Garden back on February 11, to the B’s will have to hope the Blackhawks don’t do the same.
- Tim Thomas has a bit more breathing room for the league lead in goals against average and save percentage. Thomas has led both categories since the second game of the season, but came one hundredth of a goal from being tied with Pekka Rinne after last Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs. After allowing just one goal over his last two starts, Thomas is now a tenth of a goal ahead of Rinne with a 2.00 GAA.
- Milan Lucic has zero shots on goal over the last two games, while his center in David Krejci has totaled one over the same span. Despite leading the Bruins with 30 goals, Lucic is fourth on the B’s in shots on goal with 160. He’s far enough behind the likes of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton that his three games missed don’t seem to play a huge factor in the statistic.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- Will Michael Ryder be a healthy scratch in consecutive games for the first time all season? Ryder watched Sunday’s game from the press box while Daniel Paille got in the lineup for the Bruins. If Ryder does return, it will likely be on Gregory Campbell’s line.
-The Blackhawks know they need to keep the pedal to the medal after their win against Detroit. After Tuesday, the eighth-place Blackhawks will have played two more games than the Stars, who trail them by four points. This should mean the Bruins could see a very hungry team.
Not exactly a storyline related to this game, but if you have the NHL Center Ice package, it might be worth it to check out the Penguins-Flyers game during commercials. Despite a rut in February, the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin-less Penguins have been able to get the job done so well that a victory in regulation would give them as many points as the Flyers at 100. If the Penguins hope to take the division they’ll have to finish with more points than Philadelphia, as the Flyers hold the tiebreaker with less overtime/shootout wins.
|Don Cherry on D&C: Matt Cooke is ‘a little rat,’ Mario Lemieux ‘one of the biggest phonies’||03.22.11 at 9:20 am ET|
CBC hockey commentator Don Cherry joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the Matt Cooke suspension, what could happen the next time Zdeno Chara travels to Montreal and the recent slide of the Bruins.
After a seven-game winning streak that seemed to announce the Bruins as serious Stanley Cup contenders, the club has struggled, posting a 1-3-3 mark in its last seven games. Cherry was asked if the Bruins were built for a deep postseason run.
“There’s something wrong there,” said Cherry, who coached the Bruins from 1974-79. “Right now, there’s something wrong with that team. When they came into Toronto, and they were absolutely awful. But if you’re going to take a swoon, this is the time to do it. I would like to see [Shawn] Thornton play. He hasn’t played that much since [Chris] Kelly came to Boston. … I would play Thornton a regular shift because he’s the Bruins for sure.”
The NHL suspended Penguins forward Cooke for the final 10 games of the regular season plus the entire first round of the playoffs on Monday, the fifth suspension in Cooke’s 12-year career. Cooke, of course, was not suspended for the elbow to the head of Marc Savard last year, which directly caused what might turn out to be a career-ending concussion for the Bruins center. Cherry feels if Cooke had been properly disciplined for the Savard hit it might have prevented the elbow to Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh that led to Cooke’s suspension.
“He should have been tossed for what happened to Savard, but they said they didn’t have a rule,” Cherry said. “The guy never even got four minutes or anything for that. If he had got [suspended for] 20 games then, maybe he would have been straightened out. He should have been suspended for what he did to Savard and he got his comeuppance. … They should have given him 20-30 games back then and it might have straightened the little rat out.”
Cherry added that Mario Lemieux, who complained about dirty play following last month’s game against the Islanders, is “one of the biggest phonies I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“He says, ‘we have to get ride of headshots,’ and the [president], Dave Morehouse, says ‘we have to get rid of headshots,’ and [general manager] Ray Shero, who I really like, says the same thing. What happens? They’ve got the [biggest] headshot guy of all time, they’re paying his paychecks. What a bunch of hypocrites, I’ll tell you.”
Chara was not suspended for his March 8 hit of Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, who suffered a concussion and a non-displaced fracture of cervical vertebrae. This led to outrage throughout Montreal, and Montreal police did open a criminal investigation against Chara. Cherry was asked if the Boston defenseman has reason to be concerned about future trips to Montreal.
“Who’s going to arrest him? That’s not going to happen. And the Canadiens have really have nobody to do anything to him,” Cherry said. “Who would? And if the game is close, nothing is going to happen. He’s too big, too strong. … There’s no way he did that to that guy [on purpose], he was just taking that guy out. And I really give it to the owners — the Molsons — they didn’t have enough padding on that turnbuckle. It should have been padded, the kid would have bounced right off.”
To hear the interview, click here.
|Milan Lucic plays hero in win over Lightning||03.03.11 at 9:28 pm ET|
Milan Lucic kept up his recent hot streak and improved the Bruins’ win streak to seven games by scoring the game-winning goal at 16:18 of the third in a 2-1 victory over the Lightning at TD Garden.
Lucic, who had eight points over the B’s recent six-game road trip, fired a wrist shot past both a mess of bodies and Lightning goaltender Mike Smith at an odd angle to give him his 28th goal of the season and the Bruins a big victory. With the win, the Bruins now lead the Lightning by two points for second place in the Eastern Conference.
Eric Brewer opened the scoring in the game, beating Tim Thomas at 4:04 of the second for his ninth goal of the season. Steven Kampfer responded with his his fifth of the season at 6:06. Kampfer would later take a big hit in the corner from Mattias Ritola and not return to the game.
Thomas made 27 saves and picked up the victory, improving to 29-8-6 on the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Kampfer did a good job of both redeeming himself and scoring his first goal in quite a while. After his turnover in the Bruins’ zone led to Brewer’s goal, he responded in short order by beating Smith with a snapshot from the point to tie the score at one. It was Kampfer’s fifth goal of the season, and first since Jan. 13. His status after leaving the game, however, is unclear.
- It was a good home debut for Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, both of whom have been able to strike up good chemistry on their line with Michael Ryder. Both Kelly and Peverley, donning home sweaters for the first time at TD Garden, were credited with a helper on Kampfer’s goal and were a plus-1 on the night.
- Johnny Boychuk was crushing people. He laid a huge hip check on Nate Thompson in the third and followed it up with a big hit in the corner on Blair Jones.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- When things get chippy between the Bruins and their opponents, the obvious way to settle it is by dropping the gloves. The Lightning aren’t that kind of team (they’re 27th in the league in major penalties while the B’s are 4th), and it seemed the only way the B’s could find a fight was to wind up shorthanded. That was the case in the second period, when a Nathan Horton trip and Lucic roughing penalty resulted in Lucic dropping the gloves with Brewer. The B’s wound up having to kill a 5-on-3, but they did so successfully.
- Once again, the power play looked very good despite the fact that it didn’t get results. Still, sooner or later, results are how that facet must be judged. The B’s were 0-for-3 on the man advantage Thursday, and they’re now 1-for-16 since acquiring Tomas Kaberle, who looked good in keeping the puck in during Brewer’s high sticking penalty but also sent the puck out with a blind pass. Still, the unit appeared to be vastly improved, and it’s hard to imagine results not coming in the near future.
- Smith entered the game with a 3.20 goals against average, but he sure didn’t play like it. The Lightning netminder came up with huge saves throughout the night, robbing Patrice Bergeron in the first, Horton on a breakaway in the second and Brad Marchand in the slot in the third.
No time for celebration, as the Bruins, fresh off a 6-0-0 road trip, are back at the Garden for a huge game with the Lightning on Thursday. The teams are tied with 81 points apiece through 63 games, with the B’s holding the tie-breaker for second place given that they’ve won less games via shootout.
It will be Tim Thomas between the pipes, as he’ll put his 28-8-6 record on the line after last playing Saturday night in Vancouver. Tuukka Rask started the Bruins’ last two, earning victories over the Oilers and Senators.
Thomas is 2-0-0 in two starts against Tampa Bay, allowing four goals with a .944 save percentage.
While the Bruins have won their last six, the Lightning have gone 3-2-1 in the same span. They lost a 2-1 contest to the red-hot Devils on Wednesday.
Here are some pre-game notes:
- Comparisons are nice, but even Roger Clemens would say people are beating references to 1972′s perfect six-game road trip with a dead horse.
“I don’t look at it at all,” Shawn Thornton said after the morning skate. “I honestly don’t. It’s purely a coincidence as far as I’m concerned.
“We’ve got a six game thing going here, and it doesn’t matter about anything else. We’re just trying to get seven in a row and then eight in a row. We’ll take it one at time here.”
- Claude Julien offered an update on Andrew Ference, who is out with a lower body injury.
“He got examined yesterday by our doctors and things are going extremely well for him,” Julien said. “We hope to see him back on the ice the beginning of next week. That could be as early as Sunday if things keep going well.”
- No Vincent Lecavalier for the Lightning. He’s out with a mid-body injury on which the Lightning haven’t elaborated much.
- The three new guys in Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly will play in the Garden as Bruins for the first time Thursday. Kaberle and Kelly have played five games for the B’s since being acquired via trade, while Peverley has four under his belt.
While Bruins fans will welcome all three to the Garden, the focus will likely be on Kaberle, who was the big fish of trade season. Neither of the newcomers have lost a game as a member of the Bruins, and after years of limited team success in Toronto, that’s something Kaberle welcomes.
“My first six years I played in the playoffs every year. The last five, it wasn’t there. It’s tough to always answer the questions to the media of ‘why not,’” Kaberle said after the morning skate. “Hopefully we’ll have a good rest of the season and prepare for the playoffs.”
Kaberle said he is feeling more and more comfortable as he familiarizes himself with the Bruins way.
“I feel good. Obviously it’s a great team. Every line’s got something on the ice, and everybody can score. It’s nice to see that, and with two goalies behind us, we feel pretty comfortable.”
- Kaberle is undoubtedly the biggest name the team added when the moves were made, but Kelly and Peverley are fitting in very nicely on the third line. Both were among the leagues better faceoff men at the time they were acquired, and having both taking draws and killing penalties is something Julien likes to see.
“Right now, you’ve got to be extremely pleased with first of all [Peverley's] faceoffs, how dominant he’s been on draws,” Julien said. “With that line you’ve got a guy taking him on the strong side, and Kelly, a lefty and a righty, so you’ve got to be comfortable with that situation.”
“At the same time I think both Kelly and Peverley have seemed to have built some pretty quick chemistry there on the penalty kill as well. They seem to read off each other extremely well.”
- Thornton doesn’t want the new guys’ ability to come in and contribute immediately to go unnoticed. All three players have wound up on the scoring sheet since joining the B’s.
“They’re a big part of it too. These guys came in and stepped in seamlessly,” Thornton said. “It’s been a really easy transition for us and them.”
- How about this one from the stat truck? Over the last 10 games, Tyler Seguin has more goals than Steven Stamkos. Take that, development.
Well, not exactly. By Stamkos’ standards, the Tampa Bay star is in a slump as far as goals go. He has just two over the last 10 games (Seguin has three), but continues to lead the league with 41. Seguin has no points over his last four games.
|Shawn Thornton on D&H: Tomas Kaberle ‘one of the best defensemen in the league’||02.21.11 at 12:55 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, while on his way to the airport for the Bruins’ road trip that starts with a game Tuesday in Calgary, checked in with the Dale & Holley show Monday and talked about the team’s recent roster changes. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Asked if there was any tension around the team last week, Thornton acknowledged that there was. “There always is this time of year,” he said. “The media obviously reports it. I think it gets worse these days, with —I’m not bad-mouthing anybody, but — countless blogs and stuff that nobody really has to [be accountable]. You can just throw stuff against the wall and hope it sticks. There’s a lot of names being thrown around nowadays. I think everybody’s hoping that they get one right. So, yeah, there’s a little bit of tension. I think the best thing to do is not try to pay too much attention to it.”
Thornton had high praise for new Bruins Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. “I’ve known Tomas for a long time,” he said. “We were in the minors together for a little bit, actually. The way he moves the puck and the way he sees the ice when he has the puck — even without it — he’s such a smart player. He’s one of the best defensemen in the league, and I think we’re very, very fortunate to have him.”
Of Kelly, Thornton said: “He can skate, he can shoot, he competes really hard. I think he’s a good pickup for us.”
Thornton said the adjustment period for the new Bruins shouldn’t be long, especially considering their age and the fact that Peverley comes from Atlanta, where first-year Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay is using a style similar to the one used when Ramsay was an assistant in Boston the past three seasons. “I think it should be pretty seamless, being that they’re older guys,” Thornton said. “Kelly, Peverly, Kaberle — they’ve all been around the league a bunch. … The fact that Kelly’s been in the league for six, seven years makes it a little easier than being maybe 20 or 21.”
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas challenged Canadiens netminder Carey Price to a fight when the teams met in Boston earlier this month. While it didn’t go so well for Thomas, Thornton was impressed with the effort and strategy. “His game plan was pretty good for a guy fighting somebody a lot bigger,” Thornton said. “I’ve actually used his game plan before. But when you miss your grab on the way in, sometimes it goes all out the window. And it did for him. But you know what? He did a good job. He protected himself well.
“He’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t much of a fight. But that was the loudest I’ve heard the Garden I think in a long time, when those two squared off. It was pretty fun.”
|Sunday scrimmage for Bruins||02.20.11 at 11:54 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Tomas Kaberle isn’t in town, but those packing the stands at Ristuccia in Wilmington get to see Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley for the first time. While that’s all fine and dandy, the real question of how these lines will shake out remains unanswered. Rather than wearing their traditional color-coded practice sweaters to indicate lines, the B’s wore black and white uniforms for a skate that included a scrimmage.
Unfortunately the scrimmage was of 4-on-4 variety, so the lines for the B’s with Peverley in the mix remain unknown. Check back for more following practice.
|Chris Kelly won’t join Bruins until Friday||02.17.11 at 3:26 pm ET|
Bruins forward Chris Kelly, acquired Tuesday night in a trade with the Senators, will not be available to play Thursday night against the Islanders due to immigration issues. Kelly, a Canadian citizen previously employed in Canada, will remain in Ottawa, where he will join the team Friday.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli issued the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“At this time we have not received the proper immigration approval necessary for Chris to play in tonight’s game against the New York Islanders. This is the normal operating procedure for a non-immigrant to legally work in the United States. Chris will meet the team in Ottawa tomorrow and will be available to play in tomorrow’s game against the Senators.”
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