|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.”
|Shawn Thornton: Let up on the letdown theory||03.26.11 at 4:57 pm ET|
One look at the line score from Saturday’s snoozefest at the Garden would suggest the Bruins went through a pretty typical letdown game in a 1-0 loss to the Rangers, less than 48 hours after lighting up the Canadiens, 7-zip.
Not so fast, says Shawn Thornton.
“No, I wouldn’t put too much into it,” Thornton said. “I wouldn’t look too much into Thursday’s game and then tonight’s. This one could have went either way, it wasn’t like we laid an egg tonight. I thought for the most part we worked hard. I don’t look at shots too much, but anytime you outshoot a team 12-1 in the third period, you’d think that maybe you’d get rewarded with one. But they did a good job blocking shots, they did a good job of cleaning stuff out in front of the net. [Henrik Lundqvist] did a good job stopping the puck.”
Thornton makes a good point. The Bruins, who were outshot 9-0 to open the second, were hellbent on putting on a late rush on Lundqvist but to no avail.
Claude Julien agreed with Thornton’s assessment. A letdown explanation would be pretty lame.
“I think that would be a weak excuse,” Julien said. “We’re certainly not going to use that as an excuse. This is the time our year where you got to make sure that you’re able to push those games aside. There’s a lot of emotional games coming up in the future here, in the near future, and we’ve got to be able to respond night after night.
“It was more our team maybe not as good as the other team tonight as far as the will to win those battles early on and being heavy on the stick,” Julien said. “It’s unfortunate that the only goal that was scored may be a little bit of a controversial goal, but we had lots of opportunities to make up for it.”
It was also unfortunate Tuukka Rask allowed just one controversial goal and it ended up costing the Bruins.
“It’s disappointing to lose, obviously,” Rask said. “But I thought we put up a pretty good effort. Maybe it wasn’t a solid sixty-minute game, but we definitely came out hard in the third and got our chances, battled hard. A 1-0 loss is always tough to take when you don’t score a goal after you score seven. But it’s just a game and we just have to battle back [Sunday vs. Philadelphia].”
“Obviously, it sucks,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “We didn’t score a goal and we didn’t play our best.
Speaking of the Flyers, the fourth and final rematch of last year’s epic Eastern Conference semis is on the docket Sunday in Philly.
“That’s often a good thing,” Julien said. “We don’t have time to dwell on this one here. You got to turn the page. You win the big game tomorrow in Philadelphia, and you’ve had a pretty tough week against some pretty good hockey clubs. If you can come out of the there 3-1, with the week, it’s been a pretty good week. So that’s what we’ve got to focus on. Let’s turn the page on this one here and hopefully be a better team [Sunday].”
|Turns out Claude Julien knew ‘exactly’ what Mark Recchi was doing … and saying||03.24.11 at 11:09 pm ET|
You can count on one hand the number of times in his career Zdeno Chara has needed someone to stand up for him against the opposition.
But a 43-year-old winger who runs about foot shorter than the Bruins 6-foot-9 captain did just that this week and it paid huge dividends in a 7-0 Bruins rout of the Canadiens on Thursday at TD Garden. And he didn’t need to throw a punch, finish a check or swing a stick. Just open his mouth.
Mark Recchi acknowleged he made comments this week critical of Canandiens management and their medical staff to take pressure off Chara. Recchi told a Boston radio station Wednesday that the Canadiens “embellished a little bit” the hit on Max Pacioretty on Mar. 8 that resulted in a concussion for Pacioretty but no suspension for Chara.
“I have to be honest with you guys. I wanted to take the heat off Zee for a day and I’m a big boy,” Recchi said after the game. “I think anyone who knows me, knows that I have great respect for the Montreal organization, I played five years there. I have great respect for Doctor [David] Mulder, the medical staff there. … In 22 years, I’ve respected all my teammates, all the players I play against. My record has shown that.
“I have nothing but great things to say about the Montreal organization, I had five great years there. And it’s still an unfortunate situation it all happened. We all hope Max [Pacioretty] gets a full recovery here soon and we know he’s well on his way. And like I said, this is something that I believe in twenty-two years I’ve been very respectful to players and opponents throughout. So that should be the end of it really.”
Maybe in Boston but not Montreal, where the questions from the media kept coming.
“I’m a big boy and like I said, I’m sorry if it hurt some people, but at the same time, I think everyone knows my reputation for 22 years,” Recchi repeated. “I’m very respectful of teammates, players, organizations and that is not going to change. I felt a need to protect our captain and it’s important. That will be the end of it and you won’t hear anything said by me anymore.
“I took pressure off my captain for one day,” Recchi added. “He deserved it. He earned it.”
Chara certainly appreciated the gesture.
“I obviously don’t know exactly all the comments,” Chara said of Recchi’s radio comments. “But he’s such a great teammate and such a respected guy and leader. It’s a thrill to have him. We all learned so much from him. He’s obviously the next hall-of-famer and such a classy guy. Like I said, I can’t thank him enough to be my teammate and be part of this team, and helping all of us to be better.”
Recchi’s teammates all knew how important Thursday was to Chara.
“It’s been hard for us to sit here and see Zee,” said Gregory Campbell, who got into the only scrape of the night with Paul Mara. “Zee takes things personally, and he’s a good person. He doesn’t like to see anybody get injured. Behind the scenes, it’s a hard thing to handle, and he’s handled it extremely well.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he wasn’t surprised since he knows Recchi is a veteran and knows exactly what he’s doing.
“It says a lot because I know what kind of player he is,” Julien said. “I knew exactly what he was doing. You don’t have to speak. He’s 43 years old, he’s a big boy. He can answer for himself. I don’t think I need to coach him on any of that stuff.
“When you see a guy with that kind of experience say something like that, you know what he’s doing. So, there was nothing to be said. Their focus was on the game. He had to say what he had to say for whatever reason. That was something where I didn’t need to ask him that question because I knew exactly what he was doing.”