|Michael Ryder: ‘I know what I have to do’||04.12.11 at 2:35 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — All things considered, Michael Ryder stunk it up down the stretch for the Bruins in the regular season. Playing out the third season of a three-year, $12 million deal Ryder scored just one goal over his last 17 games en route to wrapping up a second consecutive 18-goal campaign.
Through his struggles, the hope for the Bruins was that Ryder could pick it up in the playoffs. Given his 13 points in 11 games in the 2009 playoffs, it wouldn’t seem so inconceivable. It’s far from a sure thing, as the signs of life from the forward seemed minimal at times over the final two months of the season (two goals over 25 games). Ryder had only five points in 13 playoff games last year, but he can understand why fans might expect him to elevate his game come the postseason.
“Playoff time is pretty easy to get pumped up for,” Ryder said in his usual reserved demeanor. “This is what we play for. It’s the most exciting time of the year, and if you can’t have fun and can’t get excited to play, the I think there’s something wrong. I enjoy the playoffs, and I want to make sure I get off to a good start and try to help this team go as far as we can.”
Given his laid-back attitude, it’s no surprise that Ryder rarely shows frustration with any individual struggles. Even prior to the season, Ryder never got too low on the fact that he had a tough year in 2009-10. Yet just as he rarely shows frustration, Ryder is not the type of player to get carried away when things are going right. It seems it isn’t so much a lack of emotion as it is keeping a level head.
“Through my career, I’ve been through everything,” Ryder said. “I’ve been a healthy scratch here and there and I’ve been through tough seasons. I’ve learned a lot from everything. For me, when I stay calm, I know what I have to do. I’ve been in the league long enough, and I know what I have to do to be successful to do things.
“When things go bad, I kind of [have to] calm myself down, even though I don’t show it sometimes,” he admitted. “It takes a toll on you when you don’t score and you’re supposed to score. I just try to stay calm and try to find my way. I guess everyone has their own way of getting out of things.”
The Bruins can only hope that Ryder can find his way out of his funk. Coach Claude Julien, who hasn’t been afraid to make Ryder watch games in the press box as a healthy scratch, is simply trying to look ahead rather than in the past.
“Where [his game] it at doesn’t really matter right now,” Julien said after Tuesday’s practice. “Where it’s going to be when the playoffs start is what should matter. That’s what we’re going to wait and see.
“It’s a new season, it’s a new start, and our worry right now is where we’re going to be as a team.”
WILMINGTON — Bruins coach Claude Julien has led the B’s to the playoffs in four straight seasons since coming aboard in 2007. He has yet to take the team past the second round, as the past two seasons have ended with the Bruins being eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Given that last year’s ending, an elimination at the hands of the Flyers after the B’s led both the series and Game 7 by a 3-0 count, there has been speculation that a longer playoff run could be required for Julien to keep his job. Speaking after Tuesday’s practice, the coach shot down the idea that he could be worried about potentially being let go.
“Not at all,” Julien said when asked whether he felt he was coaching for his job. “It hasn’t changed. I’m coach like like very other year. That part of it doesn’t change at all. You don’t come in here worried about yourself. In the playoffs, you come here worrying about winning the Stanley Cup. Certainly, it’s not even in the back of my mind.”
Julien also noted that not all of the responsibility falls on the coach in the playoffs, and that ultimately the players must execute for the team to get desired results.
“It’s not all about the coach, let me put it this way,” he said. “You have to expect that your players are professional enough that they know what’s at stake and they prepare. As a coach, all you can do is make that preparation as good as you can get it. At the end of the day, when the puck is dropped, they’re going to be the ones performing.”
|Tim Thomas gets start Saturday, aims for record||04.09.11 at 12:23 pm ET|
In what will likely be his final start of the regular season, Tim Thomas looks to break the NHL’s single-season save percentage record Saturday afternoon against the Senators. Through 56 games thus far, Thomas’ save percentage stands at .9376, .001 ahead of Dominik Hasek‘s record-setting mark of .9366 in 1998-99.
Before Saturday’s game, coach Claude Julien said he’s focused more on just making sure Thomas is ready for the playoffs than he is on the record.
“He seems to be feeling good,” Julien said. “He’s realized that he’s forced his game a little bit, especially the game in New York [on Monday], but other than that, I think he’s been pretty steady for us all year. He feels well-rested, he feels good and he feels ready to get into the playoffs.”
Julien made a couple changes to the lineup for Saturday’s game, giving both Patrice Bergeron and Dennis Seidenberg the day off. This will be the first game Seidenberg has missed all season. Tyler Seguin will take Bergeron’s place as the second-line center, while Shane Hnidy will fill in for Seidenberg on the blue line.
|Claude Julien: You’ll see the lineup in the playoffs when it comes||04.08.11 at 6:39 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien cringes at the thought of someone wanting to know his starting goaltender before a game, so it’s understandable that he’s divulging zip when it comes to his playoff lineup.
“We’re going to have two or three extra players, guys, so I guess when the time comes, we’ll make those decisions,” Julien said after Friday’s practice. “Even if I had or we had made our decisions, I don’t think I’d be here speaking about it. We’ve got a couple of games left to play, and we’ve got to go out there and play them.
“A lot of things will also depend on what’s going to happen here tonight, and which certain teams are playing and everything else. We’ll see where we stand after tonight. It’s a day-to-day process on decision making. At this stage of the year, it’s not just the coach, but the organization trying to look at what direction they want to take with these next few games.”
Julien noted that he likes to think the entire season will be more of a determining factor than the final two game, as he said he wants to “rely on the big package rather than the small package.”
As for Tyler Seguin, who at this point figures to be the healthy scratch come next week, Julien isn’t ready to agree with the public’s line of thinking.
“I think that’s a lot of speculating. Guys are speculating that he’s fighting for it, whether he’s in or he’s out, and understandably,” Julien said. “For me, those are tough questions to answer, because you guys are all looking for, ‘what is my possible scenario?’ I’m going back to the same thing again. We don’t know what’s going to happen until Monday, and we’ll find out Monday where he stands and the rest of the team stands. A lot of things can happen from here until then.”
|Record watch continues for Tim Thomas||at 1:12 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is trying not to think about the fact that he’s very close to setting the record for best save percentage in a single season.
So much for trying.
Seemingly with just one start left in the regular season, Thomas’ .938 save percentage this season would just barely edge Dominik Hasek‘s .937 mark from the 1998-99 season. Thomas’ save percentage didn’t move last game, when he allowed two goals on 32 shots.
“I know that [my next game] will be my 57th game, I think,” Thomas said. “The more games you play, the harder it is to impact it one way or the other. I plan playing well so that I don’t even have to worry about it, but hopefully I have a little bit of a buffer.”
Given that he holds the edge by .001%, it seems it will take a performance with just one, two or perhaps three goals allowed (depending on how many shots he faces) to finish ahead of Hasek’s mark. Told that he could potentially allow as many of three goals and not see his save percentage change, he replied, “I don’t know [if it would move it] either. I’d hope eight doesn’t move it.”
Claude Julien, meanwhile, is not willing to divulge whether he plans to use Thomas in the next two games at all.
“He might,” Julien said with a grin before adding, “is the record more important than the team?”
Thomas has led the NHL in both save percentage and GAA since his first start of the season back on Oct. 10 in Prague, a shutout against the Coyotes.
|Claude Julien on motivating his team for playoffs: ‘I’m only a coach’||04.07.11 at 11:58 am ET|
This is a very, very difficult time of the year for NHL coaches who know their teams are already in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They have to balance fighting for playoff position with fighting complacency.
Sometimes, the task can become quite frustrating, if not overwhelming, to manage.
Just ask Claude Julien. With his team already assured of home ice in the first round by virtue of their Northeast Division crown, Julien watched on Monday night as his team blew a 3-0 lead to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in an ugly 5-3 loss.
Then on Wednesday, at home to the lowly Islanders, he watched his top two lines go through the motions, only to get great games from his “energy line” in a 3-2 escape at TD Garden. Shawn Thornton had a goal in his return and Gregory Campbell had a goal and an assist.
Afterward, a reporter at Julien’s press conference opened by asking if that’s the kind of effort he was looking for after the Monday meltdown in New York.
“Are you serious with that question?” Julien chirped. “No, certainly not the kind of game you want to see from your team and I think the execution wasn’t very good tonight. We weren’t very sharp. Our best players certainly didn’t make a difference and who made a difference was our fourth line and the Campbell line was very good for us tonight and the goaltender made some good saves for us.
“But, it’s one of those games where you try and motivate your team to play hard and play well and I think there’s a challenge there. You know, you can say what you want and you can preach what you want, but there’s a lot of players I think that are looking forward to the next season and so those are the challenges that we have at this time of year.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Gameday notes: Shawn Thornton returns, Bruins hope they’ve learned their lesson from Rangers game||04.06.11 at 12:53 pm ET|
The Bruins’ morning skate was of the optional variety, so though Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice, don’t be surprised to see either guy in net against the Islanders Wednesday. One would think Thomas figures to get the start in two of the Bruins’ three remaining games.
As for Shawn Thornton‘s return to the lineup, it will be interesting to see who ends up watching the game from the press box. Daniel Paille has made a real strong case to stay in the lineup, while Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder have not of late. Claude Julien noted that the team has “a couple” of decisions to make for Wednesday’s lineup, so how exactly it shakes out remains to be seen.
Here are some other notes from Wednesday:
- Julien said that the team has stopped talking about Monday’s ugly loss to the Rangers. The B’s blew a 3-0 lead, falling by a 5-3 score in a game that Julien hopes taught the team a lesson.
“When you blow a three nothing lead, especially after playing so well in the first half of the game, there’s a pretty good message there sent to your hockey club,” Julien said. “You hope that it’s utilized as a learning tool. There’s a lot of things that could have ended up a lot better had we respected the game plan and for the whole 60. I think we would have won that game. But something that sometimes you need to live through in order to get better. And those are lessons through the course of a season that teams go through and we’re no different.”
- The Islanders are 1-4-0 over their last five games, and that’s good news for a Bruins team that might be better off trying to win these final games after all. The Flyers lost on Tuesday night, so a win Tuesday would put the B’s within two points of second place with two games remaining for each team. It’s a bit of a pick-your-poison situation for the Bruins, as third place would currently match them up with the Canadiens, while second place would give them the Sabres.
Julien noted that given the team’s place in the standings, he might not focus so much on giving certain guys rest, stating that if you “look around the league, not too many players that have been given nights off” and that “depending on what’s going on in the standings and everything else, we can adjust accordingly.”
- Julien had an interesting answer when asked how he feels about his team heading into the playoffs, even pointing out the struggles of the Flyers.
“Everybody body looks for perfection and every little thing that doesn’t go well is going to be scrutinized and criticized. But you look around the league, I mean Vancouver has lost two games now to Edmonton, is there a panic there? Philadelphia is having a tough time,” he said. “I think once the playoffs start, the good teams are going to be ready to go, and we plan on being one of those.”
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