|Milan Lucic muscles up so Nathan Horton can finally do his thing||02.10.11 at 10:21 am ET|
They both clicked Wednesday night and as a result, the impact on the Bruins’ offense was dramatic – as in eight goals dramatic.
Lucic added to his team lead in goals with tallies Nos. 22 and 23 and Horton – with a goal and four assists – had his most productive night of his career in an 8-6 knock-down, drag-out KO of the Habs.
“We are just happy that we were able to get that win,” Lucic said. “They have been a tough opponent for us. We lost last time but not [this time]. Most of all we are happy to get those two points and to keep moving up in the standings.”
Indeed, for all the excitement over the pugilistic debut of Tim Thomas against Carey Price, this game was a huge one in the standings. The Bruins increased their lead to four points over the Habs, with a game in hand, still.
As for his line of center David Kreji and Horton, it was on fire.
“I mean I felt like that ever since we were put back together lately we have been ok, I mean we have had no goal here, one goal there,” Lucic said. “We knew we could be a threat every time we went on the ice and that is what we have kind of talked about as a line yesterday we wanted to be that threat and you know get in there and play with that emotion. Be the guys that Coach counts on, and so its definitely great that we had a game the way we did we have to keep pushing it and keep getting more.”
Horton’s struggles have been well-chronicled. Even coach Claude Julien has pointed to Horton’s struggles often in the last two months. Wednesday night, Julien admitted that the Bruins have been waiting for this breakout ever since Horton started the season with eight goals and 10 assists in the first 17 games of the season.
“Well, that’s what we have wanted from him for a while now, so it happened tonight,” Julien said after Horton’s career game. “We are certainly happen with that. Now it’s a matter of hopefully him continuing to do that for our team, he was a big help for us.”
“It’s nice,” Horton said in the understatement of the night. “Obviously, it helps me a little bit with my confidence. It is nice but it’s nice to get the points, it’s a big game for us. It was a four-point game, and we won.
“It was just working hard. I think we were ready to go. We talked about it as a line, before the game, we need to start playing and start contributing. I think we did that tonight but it’s only one game and hopefully we can continue to keep bringing it.”
But nothing means more than to have the support of a fellow teammate and linemate.
“It seemed like he was getting really hard on himself getting really down on himself but it these last few games you can see he is on his game again and its all starting to find his game again,” Lucic said of Horton. “It all starts with him skating, using his speed, his body, and you know he had a big night tonight and hopefully he continues with his confidence.”
It was almost like fighting your brother. You know deep down you don’t want to but as a matter of pride – and territory – you need to.
So Tim, what happened?
“Which part? I mean’¦well he was jumping in,” Thomas said of Price’s actions when Brad Marchand drilled James Wisniewski on an icing touch-up. “I went off the blue line and he backed into his crease. And then so I’m like okay, and then he went in again and you just can’t let it be an outnumbered situation and so that’s what I was thinking when I went down there. He was more than willing to fight. And I had this big old plan. I was going to grab his right and I was going to throw lefts because I know he’s bigger and taller and has a reach on me.
“I thought I could do a better job throwing lefts in him and when I went to grab he got a good hold on my right arm and I got nothing. So then I was like, oh now what do I do? Because I know he’s got a big right cocked and ready to come so I tried to switch arms and get my right free and I grabbed him by the back of the shirt and when he threw the right I pulled on’¦I was trying to pull him off-balance and his shirt came off his head and then I fell and’¦actually as I was falling my left arm came free and but then it was over. He fought with the fighter’s manners as far as not hitting when you’re down.”
Fighter’s manners. There’s a new one. Fighter’s manners apparently included patting each other on the shouler and backside after it was over, after only 15 seconds of grabbing and tugging.
“We’re on opposing teams but we spent some time together at hockey camp a few summers ago and we were just at the All-Star game together,” Thomas said. “We’re on friendly terms. It was business. But once business is done, it’s done.”
“Well, I know Timmy pretty well,” Price added. “I think we were just out there play-fighting more than anything. Neither one of us really wanted to get hurt, but we are out there doing whatever we had to do, I guess.”
Price was surprised when he saw Thomas skating right for him but in the end, he didn’t think the wrestling match was going to amount to much and certainly not like the fight between the Islanders’ Rick DiPietro and Pittsburgh’s Brent Johnson that ended when Johnson knocked out DiPietro, breaking the orbital bone of his face with a punch.
“Yeah, we didn’t really know what is going on, but really there is not much to get thrown out about,” Price said. “The biggest thing is that we didn’t back down. Our guys stood behind each other. I think these are good games to play in. I think they are good character builders.”
What was also new to Thomas was the idea of fighting the opposing goalie.
“I’ve been playing a long time and it’s just never a situation where it’s worked out like that but tonight it did,” he said.
Bruins coach Claude Julien sounded a much more serious but still, understanding tone.
“It’s not something you like to see,” Julien said. “I don’t think, you never like to see your goaltenders get into those kinds of things but, certainly not sitting here and condemning him for doing that, it’s the heat of the game. They were both willing combatants and you live with that.”
|Tyler Seguin scratched vs. Canadiens, Tim Thomas to start for Bruins||02.09.11 at 11:47 am ET|
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was the first to leave the ice in Thursday’s morning skate, an indication that he will be in goal when the B’s host the Canadiens at 7 p.m. Thomas, 25-6-6 this season, has a 1.80 goals against average and a .945 save percentage, both of which lead the league.
Tyler Seguin, meanwhile, will be a healthy scratch for the Bruins, with fellow rookies Zach Hamill and Jordan Caron cracking the lineup for the B’s. Coach Claude Julien said it’s more of a numbers game regarding why the second overall pick will find himself in the press box for the third time this season.
“I know who he is, and I know where he was drafted and all that stuff,” the coach said, adding that Seguin’s recent struggles don’t “change the outlook of what we think of him.”
In 51 games this season, Seguin has eight goals and nine assists for 17 points and a plus-1 rating. He has averaged 12:18 of ice time, though he has played less than 10 minutes of the last four games.
|Bruins struggle on power play in loss to Sharks||02.05.11 at 4:59 pm ET|
On the Bruins’ first power play of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Sharks, Milan Lucic had a golden opportunity to tie the game up. A Zdeno Chara one-timer led to a rebound at the left side of the net and gave Lucic a brief look at an open cage. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Lucic’s bid went wide right.
That was the closest the Bruins would get on the power play, as they ultimately finished the game 0-for-4 on the man advantage. Not only did they fail to get another great look on their final three power plays, but they struggled to even get set up in the offensive zone.
‘Our power play tonight had a tough time,’ said coach Claude Julien. ‘Tonight was probably one of the tougher times we’ve had at getting the puck in. When we did get it in, we weren’t winning those battles for loose pucks and they kept shooting it back down the ice. That was probably, to me, the biggest difference in tonight’s game.’
The Bruins have now gone 0-for-12 on the power play over their last five games and 1-for-19 over their last seven. Julien said Saturday’s problems with getting organized and maintaining possession don’t really reflect how the power play has performed lately, though.
‘I think the other night against Dallas, even though we didn’t score, our power play was good,’ Julien said. ‘We moved the puck well and we had some chances and we didn’t score. ‘¦ So we really felt our power play had taken a stride in the right direction. Tonight was a totally different case. We weren’t good enough in that area. This is our best players having to be at their best.’
Julien credited the Sharks with doing a good job on the penalty kill, but he also said his players could’ve made better decisions with the puck to try and overcome that.
‘They were here the other night watching us, obviously, and they made some adjustments with their PK,’ Julien said. ‘At the same time, we still have other options, and I don’t think our guys always took the best options. Consequently, we weren’t getting in clean.’
As much as the power play struggled, David Krejci said he liked some of the chances the Bruins generated on it in the first period. He also said he thinks it has looked pretty good lately despite the dearth of goals.
He pointed out that if Lucic’s rebound bid had gone in instead of going wide, he probably wouldn’t have to answer questions about the power play’s struggles.
‘If that goes in,’ Krejci said, ‘it would be a different game and we wouldn’t be talking about how the power play was bad tonight.’
|How the Bruins have become Team Unity, and why it matters||02.04.11 at 8:57 am ET|
Just four minutes into Thursday’s slugfest at the Garden, Stars forward Adam Burish came in on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and fired a shot several seconds after the whistle had clearly blown, stopping play.
That is a big hockey no-no.
And Andrew Ference made sure Burish paid the penalty. The Bruins defenseman came over to enforce the hockey the law, eventually drawing Burish into a fight ‘ which Ference clearly won ‘ and a message had been sent. Don’t mess with these Bruins or you pay the price, especially on Boston’s home ice.
“We’re a tight group,” said Patrice Bergeron, who scored twice and assisted on an empty-netter. “We’ve always said that and we all know that. We’re ‘¦ we get along real well off the ice and we try to bring that on the ice. I think that Ference fight is the best example just by showing that he took a shot after the whistle on Tuukka and Andy responded right away. So I think it’s ‘¦ it showed our unity, and we’ve got to keep going.”
As for Ference himself, he said Thursday’s win showed how the Bruins can get back to being the right mix of talent and toughness, just like 2008-09, when they were the top seed in the East and a favorite to get to the Stanley Cup finals.
“One of the good things we did in that year, and something we’ve established over the last few is, when our team is emotionally and physically involved, we’re a very good team,” Ference said. “We’ve proven that the other way around, too. When it’s not there, we lose games. You know, go back to the Carolina series a couple years ago. I think that’s what almost all of us pointed our fingers at, it was missing. We know that that has to be there for us to be successful, and it was good [against Dallas].”
Bruins coach Claude Julien certainly had no problem with it.
“It was an opportunity for us to step up for each other, and we did and I thought it certainly played in our favor,” Julien said of the four fights in four minutes ‘ three in the opening four seconds. “We’re a team that can handle that and guys seem to be ready for it and certainly that part of it was good. Those two quick goals also were proof that we were ready to play.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Gameday notes: It’s a tradeoff!||02.03.11 at 1:51 pm ET|
Former Calder Trophy-winning Bruins netminder Andrew Raycroft will get the start in net for the Stars on Thursday, making it the first time he faces the man he was traded for in Tuukka Rask. After shining in his rookie year in 2003-04 and struggling in the season following the lockout, Raycroft was traded to the Leafs for Rask in June of 2006.
Raycroft has continued to struggle since leaving Boston, as he became a bit of a journeyman, making stops in Colorado and Vancouver following two years in Toronto. He has picked it up a bit with the Stars in his first season in Dallas, posting a .920 save percentage and 2.42 goals against average that is mostly inflated by an ugly start Jan. 21 in which he allowed seven goals in a loss to the Flames.
With the Bruins clearly having won the trade involving the two goaltenders they now look to win Thursday night’s game. The B’s haven’t turned in steady play in front of Rask, and it shows with the 23-year-old’s 4-10-1 record despite his .923 save percentage.
“I think we have a good goaltender in Tuukka and we know his statistics are good. The only negative thing is the win-loss column right now, and I have a feeling that’s going to turn around,” coach Claude Julien said after the team’s morning skate. “Tuukka’s a good goaltender and we have to use him and he has to give us some games and he got to give us some wins and he’s got to give us the performance we know he’s capable of.”
Here are some other notes from the Garden:
– If it weren’t for the world needing a bunch of useless information about music, today is a today that I could consider hanging up my twitter skates. The internet has gone crazy saying tonight’s matchup is overhyped, but there are simply too many reasons as to why this game is very important for the Bruins to win.
First of all, there’s the aspect of Rask being in net. The Finnish netminder was essentially victimized by his team’s play in front of him prior to the All-Star break, and the team can really make a statement by playing well enough for him to earn a win against a very good Stars team.
Then there’s the “very good Stars team” part. Dallas, despite losing three of it’s last four games, is currently third in the Western Conference and went 8-2-1 in January. The Bruins have struggled against Western Conference teams this season (2-4-2) and have been especially bad when they have hosted the (0-2-2). When you consider that the Sharks are in town on Saturday and that the B’s have a pair of games against the Red Wings coming up, there are just too many reasons as to why this a very important game for the Bruins.
– As previously noted, Mark Stuart will be a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game. Given the play of Adam McQuaid and Steven Kampfer, it isn’t too shocking, but the fact that Julien admitted it isn’t even at the point where it’s a game-time decision anymore is a bit telling.
“I’m not going to mix anything up right now,” Julien said. “It is what it is and we keep talking about that almost everyday as well, is that we’ve got a guy in Stuey that so far has had a great attitude towards not disrupting the team and understanding how tough it is to play.
“At the same time, our six D’s are doing a great job so you don’t punish other guys for that kind of stuff. Things always work out and Stuey knows that and has been a real, I guess helpful player in regards to that, at not disrupting the team. He’s still working hard, and when he gets his chance he’ll be ready.”
– Julien was asked Thursday morning if he feels Tim Thomas, who leads the NHL with a .945 save percentage (on pace to be the best ever), 1.82 goals against average, seven shutouts (tied with Henrik Lundqvist) and 25 wins (tied with three others), is the best goaltender in the league. The answer wasn’t very surprising.
“I’m going to back that up 100 percent,” Julien said. ” The way he’s played for us definitely a great goaltender and the thing with Timmy that helps this hockey club is we play well in front of him, but when we do break down he’s there to keep us in the game at those key times. And that’s what’s important for our team. And again we may give up a certain amount of shots, at the end of the night we say ‘how many scoring chances did we give up?’ and some of those scoring chances we may not give up a ton but they’re real good scoring chances and Timmy comes up big. That’s what makes a difference and that’s why Timmy’s a good goaltender.”
|Marc Savard expected back in Boston on Thursday||at 12:06 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday morning that center Marc Savard is en route to Boston after returning home to Peterborough, Ontario following the diagnosis of his fourth concussion. Savard, who missed the first 23 games of the season with post-concussion syndrome, suffered his second concussion in just over 10 months on a routine hit from Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick on Jan. 22.
Upon Savard’s return to Boston, he will receive further evaluation from the team doctors.
“Savvy is due in today, but I don’t think we’re going to get an answer today, and people are all waiting for an answer here,” Julien said. “He still has to see the medical staff. Again, that doesn’t mean the decision will be made tomorrow or the day after.”
Julien added that while he can understand why updates on Savard are so heavily sought, he doesn’t know when the answer regarding what the center’s short-term and long-term future holds.
“Right now, I know he’s on his way back,” Julien said. “From there on [out], it’s kind of out of my hands. It’s out doctors and our medical people and our trainers that are going to be dealing with him.
“With concussions, as you know, it could be a matter of saying, ‘Well, we’re going to give it another week and see how he feels,’ but we don’t know when that answer’s going to come. That’s where we’re at right now with Savvy. How’s that going to impact the team? I think we’ll only be able to find that out when we do have that answer that everybody’s looking for.”
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