|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.”
Tuukka Rask was first off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate, an indication that he will get the start in goal when the Bruins take on the Stars at TD Garden.
Rask last started on Jan. 20 against the Sabres, making 29 saves on 33 shots in a 4-2 loss. He is 4-10-1 with a 2.67 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.
Coach Claude Julien said after the skate that Mark Stuart will be a healthy scratch once again for the Bruins, and that it’s “not really” a matter of him being a game-time decision at this point. He noted that with six defensemen playing well, he doesn’t want to “punish” any of them by disrupting the success they’ve had. Stuart has been a healthy scratch for the last four games.
|Claude Julien says Marc Savard ‘still has symptoms’||01.31.11 at 4:13 pm ET|
Bruins center Marc Savard is still back home in Peterborough, Ontario, as he continues to be out with his second concussion in just over 10 months. Savard suffered a concussion on Jan. 22 after he was hit into the boards by Colorado defenseman Matt Hunwick. Coach Claude Julien, in saying there is no update on how the center feels, said Savard will return to Massachusetts in the coming days.
“He’s going to be back [in Boston] tomorrow or the day after, I think, and he’s going to be re-evaluated, but ‘¦ he still has some symptoms,” Julien said. “That hasn’t totally disappeared, so we’ll let the medical people deal with him when he gets back here.
“Hopefully for his sake — not for the team’s sake, but more for his sake — he gets better. I think it’s important for the individual here, for a guy that’s gone through that, that he is taking care of himself. I think this organization — the medical staff, upper management, everybody — has always done the right thing as far as that’s concerned, and that won’t change.”
Savard missed the first 23 games of the season with post-concussion syndrome, the result of last March 17’s hit to the head from Penguins forward Matt Cooke. In 25 games this season, Savard has two goals and eight assists for 10 points. He has a minus-7 rating on the season.
WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Nathan Horton left Monday’s practice with what he called a “stinger” on his right knee. The 25-year old skated off with trainers, though there is no concern on his or the Bruins’ part for his playing status.
“He’s fine,” Claude Julien said following practice. “It was just a precaution. ‘¦ By the time he was ready to come back, we were done [with practice].”
Horton is currently in a scoring slump that has seen him produce just one goal over the last 20 games. So far, he has 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points in his first season in Boston.
|There will be plenty of time for Tim Thomas to focus… after the All-Star break||01.27.11 at 4:49 pm ET|
There will be plenty of time for Tim Thomas to focus on what’s at stake in the final 32 games of the regular season and hopefully, long after that. He reminded reporters of that following Wednesday night’s win when asked about the second half of the season that starts following this weekend’s All-Star game.
“Man, we just started the break five minutes ago,” Thomas said. “I’m just going to focus on the break. Otherwise, we don’t get that mental break we’re talking about.”
Fair enough. Thomas has earned the right to reflect on what has been a first half filled with superlatives worthy of a Vezina and Hart trophy winner. Thomas has been that good.
– He came within 11 minutes and 23 seconds of his NHL-leading eighth shutout on Wednesday night against the Panthers.
– He leads the NHL in goals against at 1.81.
– He leads the NHL in save percentage at .945.
– He is tied for second in wins with 24 behind Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller.
– His teammates believe they will win every time he takes the ice.
That last one is the most subjective but also the most important. Thomas has recovered from summer hip surgery to become the backbone of their Bruins team. So, after the 2-1 Wednesday Thomas admitted he’ll take some time to savor the winning feeling heading into the break before gearing up physically and mentally for the final 32.
“I was thinking win, feel the good feeling,” Thomas said. “Then you can really savor the feeling for a couple of days because usually we travel or get ready for another game. So yeah I thought about it.” Read the rest of this entry »