|When it mattered most, Tim Thomas turned back the clock to 2011||04.13.12 at 8:25 am ET|
For two periods, rookie goalie Braden Holtby stole the show.
Then Tim Thomas reminded him, the Capitals and everyone else that he is still one of the best clutch goalies in the game.
For two periods, Tim Thomas saw a grand total of seven shots. The second period was especially dull. He didn’t face a shot on net for the first 10 minutes of the period as the Bruins outshot the Caps, 17-2, for the stanza.
But then the Capitals came out for the third. They were a different group, intent on showing they can actually get a shot on net.
“More often than not, when your team outshoots the other team heavily for a couple of periods, whether you score or not, there’s usually a time period in the game where the tables turn, and I knew they were going to get their bursts sooner or later. So I was mentally prepared for that going into the third period.”
Just four minutes in, Thomas had to be ready as the Capitals were on a power play and Alex Ovechkin was in the low left circle when he skated in and fired a wrister on Thomas.
“It was a toe save,” Thomas said of his left foot save. “I know he likes that spot, generally, over there, but he’s been changing it up and going to different spots. I didn’t even think about Ovechkin until the pass happened. I was focusing on who made the pass, the left-handed guy who made the pass. I was trying to get to my angle to make sure that he couldn’t score. But when I did see the pass released in that direction, I very quickly realized where it was going and who it was going to, so I’d better get over there very fast, and fortunately it hit my toe.”
“When a goaltender doesn’t get a ton of shots, it becomes a challenge for him to mentally stay in the game, and even physically,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You know, you don’t want to stiffen up; you want to stay warmed up, and sometimes goaltenders thrive on the more shots they get, the more they’re into the game. So I thought Tim did a great job of staying focused and staying sharp, and when he had to make those big saves, he made them, and that was nice to see, and that’s Tim. With the experience he’s had over the course of his career now, those things are starting to really show, and I thought he did a great job. It wasn’t an easy task for him tonight, and the shutout, although he had 17 shots, was well deserved because he stayed focused through the whole game.”
Then came his biggest save. Naturally, it came in overtime where any little mistake means game over. Just about a minute in, Marcus Johansson came down the left wing with only defenseman Greg Zanon in position to defend. Zanon did his job, giving Thomas a chance to see Johansson and make the game-saving stop. Read the rest of this entry »
|The new Jacket: Bruins hope Chain keeps them together||at 1:14 am ET|
Chris Kelly looked like rapper Lil Jon after he won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals with his goal in overtime.
Kelly was the first to sport what will likely be referred to as The Chain, Andrew Ference‘s latest token of team spirit he’s given to the Bruins in the postseason.
Last year it was The Jacket. Ference had purchased on old Bruins windbreaker on eBay that players took turns wearing. The Jacket was given to that game’s best player, and it was fittingly given to Mark Recchi as a retirement gift.
This season, it’s a chain. Kelly was the easy choice to wear it first.
It’s something kind of like last year with The Jacket,” Kelly explained as he wore the gigantic chain with a lock and Bruins logo on it. “Andrew made something that symbolizes a team, a chain. Try not to be that weak link, and it’s one of those things that you pass out after a game. It’s one of those things that’s all in good fun.”
Tim Thomas chimed in, noting that Kelly “wasn’t the weak link tonight.”
The Jacket became a pretty big thing with the Bruins and in Boston last season. The Chain’s popularity will simply depend on how long the B’s are in the postseason to wear it.
|Bruins need to do the dirty work to score in these playoffs||04.12.12 at 12:23 pm ET|
As much as Tim Thomas was amazing under pressure, justifiably winning the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Bruins offense was as explosive as any team in the playoffs last season.
The Bruins scored 81 goals in 25 playoff games, including games of eight, seven and six tallies as they scored when they needed to when Thomas wasn’t – well – Thomas. By comparison, the high-flying Canucks in their 25 playoff games scored just 58.
David Krejci scored 12 goals. Brad Marchand set a Bruins rookie playoff record with 11. Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder had eight apiece. Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi each had five. Count them up and that’s 21 of the 81 goals the Bruins scored that are missing to start these playoffs.
“I think it’s just playing the system properly,” Kelly said. “The minute you start thinking about scoring goals and lots of goals, that doesn’t happen. We capitalized on our opportunities last year, and hopefully we do the same this year. But by no means are we heading into these playoffs we’re going to be a big-scoring team. We take care of our own end first and work our way out.”
Funny thing, it didn’t start that well for the Bruins as they scored just once in losing their first two games at home to Montreal. Read the rest of this entry »
|Chris Kelly thinks 82 ain’t nothing but a number||04.05.12 at 2:32 pm ET|
Claude Julien and the Bruins have shown that when the end of the regular season rolls around, they are far more concerned about getting ready for the playoffs than wrapping up personal accomplishments. They don’t care about the number of games played, as long as they play a lot of them in the postseason.
Take Dennis Seidenberg last year, for example. The defenseman had often missed time in previous seasons due to injury, but was finally on pace for an 82-game season in 2010-11. It didn’t end up happening, as the Bruins gave him the 81st game off to get him some rest.
After the team left Patrice Bergeron, who is one of two Bruins to play the first 80 games of the season, back with Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara for Thursday’s game against the Senators, Chris Kelly will be the only Bruin left to play in each game this season. The team could give him Saturday off, or they could play him and give him his fourth career 82-game season. Never one to worry about his accomplishments, Kelly says he’ll let the team make the choice for him.
“Whatever they decide, whatever’s best,” Kelly said. “I’m easy either way. Eighty, or 82 or 81, it doesn’t really matter, to be honest. Whatever they feel is best for the team.”
Kelly’s other 82-game seasons came with the Senators, with the most recent one coming in 2008-09. His only game missed last season was the result of a visa issue following his trade to Boston.
“It’s your job to play,” he said. “Sometimes certain circumstances don’t let you play all 82. Injuries, the flu, personal issues, visas don’t allow you too. I think at the end of the day, it’s your job to play unless you’re told different.”
While Kelly may or may not play 82 games, there’s no disputing that this had been a career-year for the 31-year-old. He’s scored 20 goals for the first time in his career, and his 39 points are also a personal best. Fan voting allowed Tyler Seguin to win the Seventh Player award this week, but even Seguin hinted that Kelly may have been robbed.
Not surprisingly, Kelly responded to that by singing Seguin’s praises and pointing to others for his success.
“Obviously it’s nice to score goals and contribute offensively. I’ve been really lucky to play with some great linemates in my time here — last year and this year,” he said. “Ziggy’s a really deserving player of that award. Obviously he’s leading our team in goals, points, he’s up there in plus-minus. That’s a rare thing to see, a young player [with a good] plus-minus. So it’s a great choice, and I think it’s that much more special when the fans decide on it.”
|Andy Brickley on D&C: Johnny Boychuk injury ‘didn’t look good’||04.04.12 at 9:45 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to discuss the state of the team heading into the playoffs, the injury to defenseman Johnny Boychuk, as well as the embellishment rule, among other things.
In the Bruins’ 5-3 loss to the Penguins Tuesday night, Boychuk went down on the ice and had to be helped off by teammates without being able to put any weight on his injured left leg. Boychuk is scheduled to be re-evaluated Wednesday, but Brickley said that the injury might very well be a costly one.
“I have some experience with bad knee injuries and I didn’t like the way that one looked,” Brickley said. “I’m hoping that he’s young enough and he’s durable enough that he can withstand it and that it’s not a long-term injury. It didn’t look good.”
With only a handful of games remaining before the regular season comes to an end, it can be hard for some playoff-bound teams to maintain their focus on their final games. Brickley said that regardless of the circumstances, teams like the Bruins just have to keep playing hard.
“The intention is in the final three games when you know you’re not changing slots as far as who you play in the first round, you’ve still got to play the game at 100 percent, you’ve got to play it hard and you’ve got to play it in the right way,” Brickley said. “The minute you start taking short cuts or you don’t play at 100 percent, real bad things happen.”
The Bruins are a team that’s not unfamiliar with facing opposing players that dive, and they experienced it Tuesday night as Penguins defenseman Kris Letang acted as if he were hit the face with a stick from a Bruins player. However, the embellishment rule, which penalizes players for for diving, was not called in that instance, something Brickley thought was a mistake.
“Anytime a player snaps his head back like that as if he got a stick in the face when it’s not even close, it’s akin to taking a dive when somebody tries a very subtle poke,” Brickley said. “You see guys put one hand on their stick, put it in the midsection of a player and the player flops. There was a time when they really started cracking down on the diving penalties and that’s basically embellishment and that’s what you saw last night except it was the snap of the neck by Letang.
“It goes to the integrity of the game and the integrity of the player. It’s a man’s game played by men, and you hate to see when players do that.”
|Seventh-place Bruins thinking corrections, not collapse||03.16.12 at 11:38 pm ET|
The Bruins fell into seventh place in the Eastern Conference Friday night, something that would have seemed impossible back in late December when the Bruins were dominating teams left and right.
Yet for as good as the Bruins were back in December (a nine-point lead in the Northeast Division and just three regulation losses over a two-month span), their horrid play of late has been enough to undo their good standing in both the division and the conference. The Senators haven’t needed to play well (10-10-3 over their last 23 games) to catch Boston, but they overtook the division Friday night with an overtime win over the Canadiens.
On Friday, the Bruins held an hour-long skate to try to get their legs going for Saturday’s game. They know that when they take on the Flyers, they won’t just be trying to break a season-worst four-game losing streak, but trying to get back in front of the Senators.
“If you ask anyone and [they say] they don’t know what the standings are, they’re lying to you,” Chris Kelly said after the practice. “Obviously, we know where we stand and where other teams stand. All we can do is focus on ourselves and the games we have coming up.”
It wasn’t too long ago that the Bruins were using the standings for motivation. They woke up on November 1 in last place in the Eastern Conference after a wretched October. The defending champs didn’t like it where they stood, so they did something about it by going 21-3-1 for the rest of 2011.
This slump is much worse than anything that happened in the first month of the season (3-7-0). This isn’t some ugly 10-game stretch to open the season, but a two-and-a-half-month-long collapse. They’ve given up five goals in three consecutive games, and have allowed six in their last two.
“To give up six goals in back-to-back games, that’s not the definition of this hockey team. I think we’re a good, sound hockey team, especially in our own end,” Kelly said. “That hasn’t shown in the last few games.”
The Bruins’ mistakes have been clear. Take the Panthers’ fifth goal Thursday for example. Kelly tried firing a pass across to Andrew Ference in the Bruins’ zone, but the pass went of Adam McQuaid‘s skate and bounced right to Tomas Kopecky in front to set up a Florida tally. The Bruins know what they’re doing wrong, but they can’t seem to keep from doing it. They’re running with just 12 games left in the regular season, they’re running out of time to figure it out.
“Obviously we’d like to [have fixed everything] after one game,” Patrice Bergeron said after Friday’s practice. “Right now it’s not happening. It’s about finding answers and not worrying about the four-game losing streak. It’s about us finding desperation and finding answers. It’s about us working hard and giving everything we’ve got on every shift and coming out on top on every shift. If we do that [every game] we’re going to be alright.”
Said Claude Julien: “You lose your identity when you lose the way [we] have been lately,” Julien said. “Any team that goes through a slump loses its identity. We understand that we have to work hard and win more battles and that comes again with the attitude. The breakdowns are kind of camouflaging the fact that we are still a pretty hard-working team, but when you don’t work smart, you don’t look like a hard-working team.”
If they don’t figure it out, the Senators will stay atop the division, while the Bruins would likely remain in seventh place, making for a regular-season collapse that would be considered unfathomable had some baseball team not just re-written the book on regular-season collapses.
The Bruins know they’re headed down a disappointing path unless they right the ship. Fixing it is their only option, assuming they can do so in time.
“It’s not really a thought right now,” Kelly said of losing the division. “We’re going to go play and see what happens.”
|Bruins looking forward to second meeting with Rangers||02.13.12 at 6:38 pm ET|
After grinding out a hard-fought win Saturday in a shootout against the Predators, the Bruins will need to bring another complete effort if they want two points Tuesday night against the Rangers.
Yet when it comes to facing the Rangers, the B’s have more to gain than just two points. A win against John Tortorella‘s club in their second meeting can prove that the Bruins can hang with the squad that’s been the best team in the Eastern conference this season.
The Bruins were able to hang with the Rangers last time around, but lost, 3-2, in overtime after Andrew Ference was ejected for shoving Ryan McDonagh into the end boards, making way for a Marian Gaborik power-play goal to give the Rangers the win. It was an ugly way to end it for the B’s, but they’re determined to bring another strong effort to the table against New York Tuesday.
“We’re a good team. We’re a confident group,” Chris Kelly said after Monday’s practice. “This is a great challenge, a great opportunity for us to play another good team.”
This season, the Rangers have been more than just a good team. They boast a conference-best 77 points and are second in the league in goals-against against (the Bruins are fourth). The B’s average a league-best 3.4 goals per game, and the Rangers are 10th with 2.8.
The Bruins and Rangers have their similarities and differences — both teams get outstanding goaltending from the best netminders in the league, while the Rangers block far more shots than the Bruins — but the biggest difference between the two teams this season is consistency. After both teams got off to slow starts, the B’s caught fire for two months and began slumping, while the Rangers really haven’t slowed down since heating up. They’ve won five of their last six games.
The Bruins have played one less game than the Rangers this season (53 to New York’s 54) and trail them by seven points for the conference lead. Should the race come down to wire late in the regular season, the Bruins will be hurt by the fact that they’ve gotten six of their wins in the shootout this season, while the Rangers have won only three in the shootout. When teams finish the season tied in points, the tie-breaker is ROW, or regulation and overtime wins. The Rangers currently have 33 such victories, tops in the NHL, while the B’s have 28. For that reason, it’s likely that the Bruins will simply need to finish the regular season with more points in order to secure the top seed. A regulation win over the Rangers Tuesday would go a long way in helping their cause.
“It’s a very big game,” Brad Marchand said Monday. “They’re obviously at the top of the conference right now and we want to try and catch them. They’re playing very good hockey right now. We have to make sure we’re prepared for that and out out best game on the ice.
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