|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.”
|Shawn Thornton ‘doubtful’ vs. Rangers||04.04.11 at 2:41 pm ET|
Claude Julien told reporters prior to Monday’s game in New York that Shawn Thornton (stitches) would be able to go if it were the playoffs. Since it isn’t the playoffs, the B’s are being careful with Thornton and likely going without the forward vs. the Rangers.
“Doubtful,” Julien said Tuesday. “He’s skating this morning but he still has the visor. I don’t think we’re 100 percent comfortable right now medically. As long as they’re not comfortable, I guess we have that luxury of being a little more cautious.”
Thornton was cut above the eye last week by a skate against the Blackhawks. He received approximately 40 stitches, some of which were on the inside and could potentially break from much contact.
“I think if we’re in the playoffs today and he had to play, there’s no doubt he’d be in there,” Julien said, adding that the medical staff feels it’s “a lot safer if we take the cautious route.”
Thornton has appeared in 76 games this season, totaling nine goals and nine assists for a career-high 18 points.
|Welcome back, Michael Ryder. The Bruins might be able to use you in the playoffs||04.02.11 at 8:37 pm ET|
By his own admission, the last three weeks haven’t exactly been a joyride for Michael Ryder.
He is a player talented enough to serve the same capacity as Miroslav Satan did in last year’s playoffs. He is a veteran sniper who has playoff experience finishing his chances.
But, in the second half of this season, it’s been a different story. His penalty shot score to win Saturday’s game against Atlanta and clinch the Northeast title for the Bruins was his 18th goal but first since Feb. 27, a span of 12 games.
“Yeah, I’ve struggled to find goals lately,” Ryder said. “Last game goal post, then [Saturday] crossbar. Just got to try and stay with it. If I keep just working hard and shooting the puck, it’ll go in for me.”
In that stretch, he has been benched twice by coach Claude Julien, once last Saturday against the Rangers and once on March 10 against the Islanders.
“You want to be in the lineup, nobody wants to be out,” Ryder said. “It’s frustrating and I’ve been there before, so I kind of know what it takes to get back in. It’s just working hard and finding your game, and not letting the little things get to you. Just make sure when you get back in that you take advantage of the chances that you get.”
Sometimes you get a break and Ryder made his own break with just under eight minutes left when he forced a neutral zone turnover by the Thrashers and broke in alone. He was hooked from behind by Johnny Oduya and was awarded a penalty shot.
I was just trying to skate and get away from the guy behind me. I don’t really know what happened. Just fell down and they called a penalty shot. I was just trying to catch my breath, that’s it.
Thursday night, during the shootout, Ryder went up top and missed the net during Boston’s loss. This time, he made sure to get it on net. And when he went up top on Ondrej Pavelec, above his right shoulder, the crowd exploded. Ryder had finally snapped his goalless streak at 12 games.
“I was just excited to get the goal,” Ryder said. “I was tired on the penalty shot, so I didn’t know what I was going to do. Like I said, that was a big win for us. I knew if we got the lead and I scored there, it would get the team going and hopefully we could pull out the win. Last game I missed the net, [Saturday] I hit it. It was a big goal for us, we wanted to make sure we got the win, and I think we’ve played better games but as long as we get the two points that doesn’t mean anything.”
By benching him twice and putting him on the third and fourth lines, Julien wanted to give him time to think about what it will take to rediscover that touch in time for a Stanley Cup run in two weeks.
“I think it’s just a matter of it was nice to see him score that goal,” Julien said. “Obviously it turned out to be a big goal for us, but these are steps in the right direction. I think, you know, when he starts feeling confident about doing those things and doing them without over-thinking, he’s going to be a good player again.”
After missing most of the season with a shoulder injury, defenseman Shane Hnidy has been cleared by coach Claude Julien to return to action today against the Thrashers in a matinee at TD Garden.
Hnidy suffered the injury during camp with the Coyotes in September and spent the first half of the season rehabbing it before signing as a free agent with the Bruins at the end of February.
This is Hnidy’s third stint with Bruins, racking up three goals and nine assists in 65 games two seasons ago. The 35-year-old Hnidy had a goal and four assists in 43 games in the 2007-08 season. To make room for Hnidy, Julien scratched rookie blueliner Steve Kampfer for the seventh time in eight games.
The well-traveled Hnidy broke in with Ottawa in the 2000-01 season and played his first three seasons with the Senators before being traded to Nashville in the middle of the 2003-04 season. Following the lockout, he came back and played two seasons with Atlanta before being signed by Anaheim in July 2007. He was traded to Boston in the middle of the 07-08 season, his first go-around with the Bruins.
Hnidy’s best season came in 2006-07 with the Thrashers, when he had five goals and seven assists in 72 games with a plus-minus of +15.
Hnidy played for Minnesota last season before getting a tryout with the Coyotes last September.
|Claude Julien would rather Brad Marchand not ‘cross a line’||04.01.11 at 9:49 am ET|
Maybe it’s because the emotions of Tuesday night are so raw or maybe it’s simply because he realizes it’s not a very professional move but Bruins coach Claude Julien made it pretty clear after Thursday’s 4-3 shootout loss that he wasn’t thrilled with Brad Marchand‘s friendly suggestion to the Leafs for offseason plans.
In case you missed it, following the second period – one in which he scored a short-handed goal to help his team to a 3-2 lead heading into the third – Marchand skated by the visitors’ bench and practiced his nine-iron swing. Clearly, he was not showing good form.
“I mean, it’s just, he’s been a good player for us and again, his emotions sometimes can be a positive, but sometimes you don’t want to cross the line and certainly you don’t like that when that happens. So it’s just a learning process,” Julien said.
His second period short-hander was his fifth this season, tying him for second this season in that category in all of the NHL.
And it was that goal, not his golf swing, that brought energy to the Bruins in the second period and brought them to within 20 minutes of clinching the Northeast Division before a third-period Joffrey Lupul goal set up Toronto’s shootout win.
“I think I just came off the bench and tried to take an angle and he passed it right on my stick,” Marchand said. “I wanted to drive, I knew there was forward coming back so I wanted to try and cut in. The puck kind of popped out there in the open and I just backhanded it. Especially in a situation where we’re on the penalty kill and they’re on the power play. It kind of takes their momentum out of the game and gives it to us. It was good timing, but a lucky goal.”
So, there. Brad Marchand is totally capable of showing humility. And it’s that humility, along with more specialty teams goals, the Bruins are looking for in the coming weeks and months.
“Come playoff time we can’t just flip the switch,” Marchand added. “If you’re going to play your best hockey, you have to have to play up to that, play up to that point. You have to build on it. It’s almost like you get momentum and you’ve got to feed off that. We want to get on a roll here, and make sure we’re playing our best hockey.”
|Brad Marchand happy to be scoring again, has no complaints about Mark Recchi taking his puck||03.29.11 at 12:05 pm ET|
Bruins forward Brad Marchand was itching to get his 20th goal of the season and his career, and though he called his recent span of 12 games without a goal a “frustrating” experience, was able to put things in context.
Prior to his goal-scoring drought, which he ended with the game winner Sunday and Philadelphia, the longest Marchand went this season without a goal was the first eight games of the season. Comparing the two stretches, Marchand can look at how he’s gone from a rookie struggling to score his first goal to one of four 20-goal-scorers on the B’s.
“That did creep in my mind a little bit,” Marchand said of remembering the beginning of the season. “I knew if I kept pressing and kept doing the little things right, it was going to come.”
Marchand, who remembers when cracking the lineup was his biggest obstacle prior to the season, said he wasn’t concerned about potentially being a healthy scratch during his recent skid. He was suspended a game for his hit on R.J. Umberger, but he never thought about Claude Julien extending his time off the ice.
“Every time you step on the ice, you go out and do your job,” Marchand said. “That’s all you can ask for. You can’t really worry about that stuff. When you start letting that stuff creep in your head, it might affect your head.
“I never really thought about [being a healthy scratch]. It never crossed my mind, I just wanted to go out and do my job every night. If I happened to be in the stands, then that’s how it goes.”
As for now being a 20-goal scorer, Marchand was not given the puck from the play. Instead, the puck went to teammate Mark Recchi, who put up a more impressive number. In assisting Marchand’s power-play tally, Recchi picked up his 1,531st point. He is now tied with Paul Coffey for 12th all-time.
Marchand is no stranger to sarcastic chirping, but he said there was no argument put up over where the puck went.
“I’ll just go buy a puck. I don’t really care,” he said with a laugh. “I’d probably lose the puck anyway.”
The sounds of pucks hitting boards and skates cutting ice were drowned out by a game of hallway soccer, as the Bruins held an optional skate Thursday in anticipation of their game against the Blackhawks. Tuukka Rask, Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder, Tyler Seguin, Gregory Campbell, Shane Hnidy, Steven Kampfer and Adam McQuaid skated for the B’s. Expect Tim Thomas to start with Rask the only goaltender to skate in the optional.
Given that Ryder also skated in the optional and that Claude Julien expressed a desire to stick with the same lineup that won them Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, it is probable that Ryder will be a healthy scratch once again.
Here are some notes from the morning:
- Julien said that he doesn’t feel a need to talk about last year’s playoffs with his team as they prepare for the postseason this time around. The B’s blew a 3-0 series and Game 7 lead in the second round last year against the Flyers.
“I think for us right now it’s just focusing on the moment. From here on in, we’ve still got to maintain our play, our level of play that we’ve had lately and continue to try and even improve that. There’s no room for complacency right now, and we have lots of players. If we’re going to move some players in and out from here on in it’s not because we’re taking it easy, but because we want everybody ready to go. That’s kind of the message that we gave the players. So for us, I think we need to make sure we maintain our level of play from here on in.”
- Much was made in training camp of the new situation that former Panthers Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton found themselves in. Having never been to the playoffs in their careers, it seemed the postseason would be extra special for them. Campbell spoke about what it means to him to finally know he’s headed for the playoffs.
“I’m excited. It’s been a long time. That was the first thing I thought of when I got traded to Boston, was that I was going to get a chance to play in the playoffs,” Campbell said. “For me, at this point in my career, the most meaningful thing is to get a chance to win. I know this organization’s excited about the opportunity to get back to the playoffs again.”
- While Julien said that the recent scratches “probably” won’t get in the lineup Tuesday, he will get them in the lineup over the next two weeks to both rest those playing and keep everybody fresh.
“We’ve got to remember the guys were going to put in are good players. It’s not like you’re putting in a bad player,” Julien said of the players serving as healthy scratches. “It’s that you’ve got a 20-man roster for the game, but you’ve got 22-23 guys here. We’re going to put some guys in, pull some guys out, but certainly not to say, well this is a game that we’re going to take it easy, we’re going to pull so-and-so out. We’ve got to stay on top of our game, and that’s what I’ve been talking about, sliding guys in that can go in there and stay sharp so that if, come playoff time, we need somebody, they haven’t been sitting around for a month.”
- Julien spoke highly of David Krejci, who has 28 points in the 27 games since Marc Savard went down with his latest concussion. The coach said it’s been more a result of improved play than increased opportunity.
“He’s elevated his play, there’s no doubt,” Julien said. “He’s become a better player in the second half of the season. I think we’re starting to see more of the David Krejci we know. I think he had a bit of a slow start this year and wasn’t skating as well as we had seen him in the past. And was trying to make those plays, but when you don’t use your speed it’s pretty hard to make those plays in this league. So I think his skating has gotten better, his intensity has gotten better, and because of that he’s making some plays.”
- The coach said that as far as fine-tuning things go prior to the playoffs, special teams will be the focus. After an ugly stretch, the power play has scored four goals in the last four games, while the penalty kill has allowed one goal over the last five.
“[Power play] is an area we’ve got to get better at,” Julien said. “Even our penalty kill had been pretty good all year, then we hit that funk there for about three weeks that really made us slide down in the [rankings] in regards to that. We’ve got to get that back to where we feel it should be. I think our special teams are going to be important from here on in, and those are part of the things we need to work on.
“What I liked about the last game is that we were playing a really good team, it was a tight checking game and we stuck with it and found a way to win. You’ve got to be able to be patient with those types of games that are tight checking games. In the playoffs, that’s what you’re going to get, and I think our guys did a great job in the third period of not creating some bad mistakes or turnovers, and eventually they broke, took a penalty, and we took advantage of it. It’s those little details when you get near the end of the year. You want your team to be composed and in control of their game plan.”
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