|Pre-game notes: Shawn Thornton says cool it with the 1972 comparisons||03.03.11 at 1:18 pm ET|
No time for celebration, as the Bruins, fresh off a 6-0-0 road trip, are back at the Garden for a huge game with the Lightning on Thursday. The teams are tied with 81 points apiece through 63 games, with the B’s holding the tie-breaker for second place given that they’ve won less games via shootout.
It will be Tim Thomas between the pipes, as he’ll put his 28-8-6 record on the line after last playing Saturday night in Vancouver. Tuukka Rask started the Bruins’ last two, earning victories over the Oilers and Senators.
Thomas is 2-0-0 in two starts against Tampa Bay, allowing four goals with a .944 save percentage.
While the Bruins have won their last six, the Lightning have gone 3-2-1 in the same span. They lost a 2-1 contest to the red-hot Devils on Wednesday.
Here are some pre-game notes:
– Comparisons are nice, but even Roger Clemens would say people are beating references to 1972’s perfect six-game road trip with a dead horse.
“I don’t look at it at all,” Shawn Thornton said after the morning skate. “I honestly don’t. It’s purely a coincidence as far as I’m concerned.
“We’ve got a six game thing going here, and it doesn’t matter about anything else. We’re just trying to get seven in a row and then eight in a row. We’ll take it one at time here.”
“He got examined yesterday by our doctors and things are going extremely well for him,” Julien said. “We hope to see him back on the ice the beginning of next week. That could be as early as Sunday if things keep going well.”
– No Vincent Lecavalier for the Lightning. He’s out with a mid-body injury on which the Lightning haven’t elaborated much.
– The three new guys in Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly will play in the Garden as Bruins for the first time Thursday. Kaberle and Kelly have played five games for the B’s since being acquired via trade, while Peverley has four under his belt.
While Bruins fans will welcome all three to the Garden, the focus will likely be on Kaberle, who was the big fish of trade season. Neither of the newcomers have lost a game as a member of the Bruins, and after years of limited team success in Toronto, that’s something Kaberle welcomes.
“My first six years I played in the playoffs every year. The last five, it wasn’t there. It’s tough to always answer the questions to the media of ‘why not,'” Kaberle said after the morning skate. “Hopefully we’ll have a good rest of the season and prepare for the playoffs.”
Kaberle said he is feeling more and more comfortable as he familiarizes himself with the Bruins way.
“I feel good. Obviously it’s a great team. Every line’s got something on the ice, and everybody can score. It’s nice to see that, and with two goalies behind us, we feel pretty comfortable.”
– Kaberle is undoubtedly the biggest name the team added when the moves were made, but Kelly and Peverley are fitting in very nicely on the third line. Both were among the leagues better faceoff men at the time they were acquired, and having both taking draws and killing penalties is something Julien likes to see.
“Right now, you’ve got to be extremely pleased with first of all [Peverley’s] faceoffs, how dominant he’s been on draws,” Julien said. “With that line you’ve got a guy taking him on the strong side, and Kelly, a lefty and a righty, so you’ve got to be comfortable with that situation.”
“At the same time I think both Kelly and Peverley have seemed to have built some pretty quick chemistry there on the penalty kill as well. They seem to read off each other extremely well.”
– Thornton doesn’t want the new guys’ ability to come in and contribute immediately to go unnoticed. All three players have wound up on the scoring sheet since joining the B’s.
“They’re a big part of it too. These guys came in and stepped in seamlessly,” Thornton said. “It’s been a really easy transition for us and them.”
– How about this one from the stat truck? Over the last 10 games, Tyler Seguin has more goals than Steven Stamkos. Take that, development.
Well, not exactly. By Stamkos’ standards, the Tampa Bay star is in a slump as far as goals go. He has just two over the last 10 games (Seguin has three), but continues to lead the league with 41. Seguin has no points over his last four games.
|Rich Peverley: ‘I want to get better’||02.20.11 at 1:33 pm ET|
Newly acquired Bruins forward Rich Peverley put on a Bruins sweater for the first time Sunday as he practiced with his teammates at Ristuccia Arena. After the skate, he reflected on the trade.
“It was a bit of a surprise, but [Thrashers coach] Craig Ramsey told me this was a team that has a chance to win,” Peverley said. “It’s a big thrill to be a part of a really historic organization and come into a team that has a chance to go pretty far in the playoffs.”
Coach Claude Julien said after practice that he will try the 28-year-old at wing on a line centered by Chris Kelly with Michael Ryder on the other wing. Peverley said he is more comfortable at center, but that he has no problem playing anywhere.
“That’s for the coach to decide. I could play either or,” Peverley said. “I’ve been playing center most of my career. I can play the wing, it’s not a problem. I played it in Nashville and Atlanta. Wherever he wants me to fit in, I’ll try to do that. There’s a lot of good offensive players here with tremendous talent, so I’m just going to try to work and create some chemistry with somebody.”
Peverley had 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points with Atlanta prior to the trade. With the way he spoke of his season to this point, he figures to hold higher hopes for his days in Boston.
“I was OK,” he said. “To be honest, it was kind of an up and down year. I wasn’t too pleased with my overall production on both ends of the rink. I was kind of hoping that the team would do a little bit better, but I’ve moved on and I’m glad to be here now.
“You always want to get better. You never want to cap yourself or put a ceiling [on your production]. I want to get better, and I’m looking at this as an opportunity to get better. Hopefully I can build on past years.”
Peverley wore No. 47 in Atlanta, but will wear No. 49 with the Bruins. He said he did not approach Steven Kampfer about the rookie potentially giving him his number.
“I’m not going to try to steal any numbers from anybody,” Peverley said. “I’m the new guy coming in. I just want to fit in.”
|Claude Julien: We still need Tuukka Rask||02.11.11 at 10:28 pm ET|
But to be honest, he didn’t exactly need to be The Amazing Kreskin to figure out what the Bruins coach was thinking when he yanked Rask after the second period of Friday’s 6-1 dud against the Red Wings before a displeased Garden crowd.
“I’m not going to start analyzing that,” Rask said. “I thought I deserved to get pulled. I didn’t play to my level today.”
That’s one way of putting it.
Rask admitted he did not have one of his finer performances of the year and that he deserved to get pulled after allowing five goals on 18 shots in two periods. Rask, who fell to 5-11-1, said he had no criticism of coach Julien, who started Tim Thomas in goal to start the third.
Julien said he has not lost confidence in Rask, who allowed goals on the first two shots he faced as the Bruins fell behind 2-0 in the first three minutes and never recovered. The last time Rask was pulled was on New Year’s Day in Buffalo when Rask allowed three in the first, despite the Bruins leading, 4-3.
Julien started him in the next game and Rask was very good in a 2-1 at Toronto.
“We didn’t feel he was as sharp as we needed him to be, that was number one,” Julien said of Rask. “He still made some good saves. I don’t think we didn’t recognize that as well, but he just wasn’t as sharp tonight and after discussing the situation, we just felt that the right thing to do was to give Timmy the third period.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Chara: Bruins need to do ‘everything’ better Sunday||at 10:19 pm ET|
It isn’t surprising that after the 6-1 beatdown the B’s took from the Red Wings on Friday, they’re expecting a little more on Sunday when they face Detroit for the second time in three days. Coach Claude Julien understandably didn’t like what he saw from his team, as the Bruins came out flat against a highly skilled Detroit club with great puck-moving ability, and the Wings dominated throughout the night as a result.
“We weren’t skating tonight. We were second on the puck. Even when they had the puck, I just felt they had lots of time to make plays,” Julien said, adding, “it just seemed that nothing was going to go our way.”
The game left Julien looking to see what type of effort the B’s can give against the Red Wings Sunday in Detroit. The Bruins have won four of their last six games, but it’s games against top teams like the Red Wings (second place in the Western Conference) that will show whether the Bruins can hang with the best the league has to offer.
“We’re a much better team than we showed,” Julien said. “We have another shot and we can see where we stand with teams like Detroit.”
When it comes to tailoring their approach, captain Zdeno Chara says the difference on Sunday will have to be sticking to their game-plan, something that went out the window in the first 1:10 of the game on Todd Bertuzzi‘s first goal of the night.
“I think overall our game has to be better [Sunday],” Chara said. “Everything about it. We were losing battles, we didn’t skate with them, pretty much everything. We were just flat all around.”
The B’s will face the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena Sunday 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
|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.