|Tim Thomas saved the sleepwalking Bruins||12.19.10 at 1:21 am ET|
There was a great deal of irony in the words of Tim Thomas following his latest Houdini act on Saturday night at TD Garden.
The Bruins held on for a 3-2 win over the slumping Capitals, a win that snapped Boston’s three-game losing streak while extending Washington’s to an almost unbelievable eight.
But that hardly tells the story.
Thomas noticed early on the Capitals were asleep at the wheel. But it was the Bruins who nearly blew the game by sleepwalking through the final 20 minutes.
The Bruins ran the Capitals off the ice in the opening 20 minutes. They got goals from Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Blake Wheeler and Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was in the midst of another breakdown for HBO’s “24/7 The Road to the NHL Winter Classic.” But Thomas figured it was too good to last.
“I didn’t know what we were going to get,” Thomas said. “They turned it up for a while in the second there and then they kind of went back to sleep a little bit and I didn’t know if… They looked like a tired team for the first two periods and I was hoping that was the case, but it turned out not to be.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Post-morning skate odds and ends||12.18.10 at 12:07 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was first off the ice for the Bruins following their morning skate, an indication that he’ll be in net when the B’s face the Capitals tonight. In three starts against the Capitals this season, Thomas is 2-0-0 with five goals allowed and a shutout. He was pulled from the team’s 5-3 loss on Nov. 5 after allowing three goals through two periods.
The Capitals aren’t exactly jonesing to face the early Vezina favorite in Thomas. Coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday that “you just have to play really perfect hockey to beat [the Bruins] and then you have to play more perfect hockey to beat Thomas.
– If you’re surprised by how many minutes Steven Kampfer has been getting, you’re not along. Asked if he expected to play as much as he has, Kampfer honestly replied, “Uh, no. I definitely didn’t think I’d be getting that many, but I’m just trying to play well, trying to play simple and help the team get a couple of wins here.”
Kampfer said patience has been the biggest thing he’s picked up at the NHL level, which is quite interesting and a good explanation as to why he’s handled the callup and the minutes so well. Young players often try to counter the quick pace of the NHL game by hurrying things more than they need to, but it hasn’t seemed to be the case with Kampfer — at least not much.
– Claude Julien knows the Capitals have been winless over their last seven, but he’s worried about his own guys, who have gone three without a W. Julien addressed the slump by saying “we’ve got to show some determination and resilience.”
– The Capitals have been followed by HBO cameras for the NHL 24/7 show that’s sweeping the nation. Have to admit I haven’t been able to see it (or this season of Eastbound and Down) due to my lack of owning HBO, but the hockey world has been going nuts over this show. One of the draws of the show is the prolific use of a four-letter word beginning in “F” by Boudreau.
“That goes on in every dressing room, in every team, in every sport at this level,” Boudreau said, noting that the team is so comfortable with having the camera around that it has become “second nature.”
Boudreau is by no means taking pride in the language aspect of it, but he said such talk “just comes out of your mouth when you’re mad,” adding, “my mom talked to me about it, so I’ll be OK.”
– Stay tuned for what came of an interesting chat with Tyler Seguin about Christmas, being a healthy scratch, and once again having something in common with Steven Stamkos. More to come later.
|Claude Julien doesn’t think players will get too comfortable now that cap is sorted||12.14.10 at 2:57 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins players can rest easy now that the team has trade Marco Sturm to the Kings. With the deal, which they made on Saturday, the team could go the rest of the season with it’s current squad and not have to worry about the salary cap, as they’re a little less than $300,000 under the cap.
Rumors swirled throughout the beginning of the season regarding the likes of Matt Hunwick, Michael Ryder, and Blake Wheeler. Of the three, only Hunwick was dealt, and the rest of the team can now breathe easy. Still, Claude Julien doesn’t see it as reason for complacency.
“I think for a player, it certainly has to give them a little bit of relief as far as saying ‘all these question marks have been answered,”’ Julien said Tuesday. “At the same time, I think players have to realize that just because we’re there now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to stay there if we don’t get the results we want.
“You’re always fighting for a spot in the lineup, you’re always fighting to keep your job, and you’re always fighting to stay on the team. I think that part should stay the same time, what’s been lingering over their heads now has more or less been taken care of.”
MCQUAID FEELING IT A BIT, PRACTICES
Julien seemed to suppress any opinions when commenting on the league’s decision to suspend Flyers forward Jody Shelley for two games. The league made the decision on Monday, and Shelley will lose nearly $12,000 in salary over the two contests.
“They obviously took it seriously enough to suspend him, and you’ve got to respect that,” Julien said.
The B’s coach was glad to have Adam McQuaid, the recipient of the suspension-inducing shove from behind Saturday, on the ice with the team as they skated Tuesday. McQuaid said on Monday that he was still sore, but his coach noted that he wasn’t limited in practice after simply having the wind out of him Saturday.
“He’s still a litte stiff, but not stiff enough to keep him out of the lineup or keep him out of practice,” Julien said. “I think he still feels the effect of that hit, but he’s a tough individual. He’s battling through it to the point where I don’t think it’s going to be a factor as far as affecting his game.”
POWER PLAY FOR KAMPFER?
If Steven Kampfer ends up seeing time on the power play, as he did on Tuesday, you can bet he’ll be in for even more comparisons for former Michigan teammate Matt Hunwick.
Kampfer has essentially stepped in to replace the skill-set of Hunwick since last week’s injury to Mark Stuart. He’s been compared to the now-Avalanche defenseman quite a bit, but he’s had a hardly robust six seconds on the power play in his two games since being called up.
The 22-year-old was told by the Bruins to watch film on Hunwick and study the types of things he does. Kampfer says he is flattered by the comparisons but feels that he is not yet the skater Hunwick is. He remains the Bruins’ best puck-moving option.
|Bruins hope days off pay off||at 2:15 pm ET|
The Bruins had a rare two-day break from the ice after Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Flyers. The players’ time was their own on Sunday, while they spent Monday at Target in Woburn Christmas shopping for children who have to spend the holidays in the hospital.
On Tuesday, they returned to Ristuccia Arena, working on the power play and practicing for over an hour.
“The two days [off] is definitely nice,” Nathan Horton said. “I think we’re overall rejuvenated, and everybody’s ready to go. Everyone was excited to get back after two days. It’s been a while, and it’s nice to have a couple of days off.”
The B’s were preparing for their upcoming stretch of three games in four days beginning on Wednesday in Buffalo. After their bout with the Sabres, they’ll travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Thursday before returning home against the Capitals on Saturday.
Given how heavy the schedule has been, Claude Julien saw Sunday and Monday as a good opportunity to let the B’s rest up and let any aches players may be feeling work themselves out.
“I think so,” Julien said when asked if the time off was necessary. “It’s been a pretty heavy schedule for a lot of teams around the league. It’s an opportunity for us to keep them off the ice here for a little bit.”
With the return to the ice, Julien liked what he saw out of his guys. The break, which he hoped would allow them to “clear their heads a little bit and get ready for a big week,” seemingly paid off with a good practice.
“I think they looked like they had lots of energy,” Julien said. “Sometimes a couple of days off it good for you. When you say a couple of days off, I don’t think they really had days off. They were busy doing other things. It’s one of the few times that we’re able to help them out in a way where they can get their rest and get away from practice.”
|Claude Julien, Adam McQuaid not fans of Jody Shelley hit||12.11.10 at 10:55 pm ET|
In his postgame press conference, Bruins coach Claude Julien called Jody Shelley’s hit from behind on Adam McQuaid “definitely uncalled for” and that he didn’t know what the intent of the play was. McQuaid and Shelley were racing after an iced puck when Shelley pushed the B’s defenseman. The momentum carried McQuaid into the boards head-first, and the 24-year-old blueliner remained on the ice as play was stopped.
“I looked at it again and personally, I didn’t think there was any need for it,” Julien said. “I don’t know what [Shelley’s] intention was, but certainly, there was no need for that at all and I think that’s one of the things we’re trying to get out of game.
“I know [Jody] Shelley a little bit from a long time ago and he’s actually a good person and, to me, he’s a tough guy. I don’t know that he’s purposely gone out there to injure people like that so I found that a little bit strange that he would do that. It’s unfortunate. … Hopefully the League deals with it the proper way and we’ll go from there.”
McQuaid said that he could hear Shelley saying he didn’t mean it while he was on the ice, but regardless of intent, McQuaid wasn’t a fan of the play.
“I mean, I didn’t go in on my own,” McQuaid said when asked if he felt it was a reckless play. “I felt like I got pushed.”
McQuaid said he got the wind knocked out of him, and after undergoing a few tests was allowed to return to the ice later in the period.
|Mark Stuart to be evaluated for ‘upper body injury’||12.07.10 at 11:01 pm ET|
It’s the dreaded “upper body injury” for Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart.
Stuart played just four shifts in the first period Tuesday night before suffering an undisclosed ailment, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien.
“He’ll be evaluated and let you know [Wednesday],” Julien said. “We’ll give you more [Wednesday] and he needs to be evaluated. We need to give you the right information.”
The Bruins defenseman totaled three minutes, 56 seconds on the ice in the first period before being forced out of the game. The Bruins practice Wednesday in Wilmington before hosting the New York Islanders on Thursday night at TD Garden. Julien did not speculate on Stuart’s availability on Thursday or Saturday, when the Bruins host the Flyers.
|Claude Julien grateful and honored to follow Pat Burns’ career path||11.20.10 at 1:10 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien took a few minutes to reflect on the late Pat Burns, who died on Friday after a lengthy battle with cancer. The three-time Jack Adams award winner and Stanley Cup Champion in 2003 was 58.
Julien knew Burns while Julien was still playing in the AHL and Burns was coaching, but it wasn’t until the two were both “in the same coaching fraternity” that they got to know one another best.
“The one thing everybody knows about Pat was he was sincere and direct and there was no beating around the bush with him, but the part that people didn’t always see was that away from all of that was that he was a really good guy. I know that I was fortunate enough to kind of follow his path. It certainly wasn’t done purposely, but I was fortunate enough to follow his path and maybe part of that has helped me become a better coach because I had some big shoes to fill along the way.
“When Pat leaves somewhere, he’s obviously left his print. As I said, when I won the Jack Adams I was so honored to receive it from him because I consider him a friend and at the same time, my comment was ‘if I could even accomplish what you’ve accomplished, I’ll be a really happy coach.’ I mean he’s got three Jack Adams, he’s got a Stanley Cup, you know, he’s done so much.”
A former police officer, Burns was a fiery coach whom Julien said had a touch for turning teams into contenders by getting everything out of his players, no matter what the cost.
“He was a guy that didn’t always get along with every player, but every player liked him and respected him. Even the guys that he had his little run-ins with, I think eventually they came around to understand where he was coming from and that’s what you do as a coach, you do what you think is best for the player, whether it makes you popular or not.
“Sometimes it might take a player five, 10 years to realize what he was trying to do, but eventually they do and as a coach like him, all he could do was ‘I could live with the situation for now, as long as at the end it’s understood that what I was trying to do was the best for the players.’ That to me is what Pat was all about.”
Many fans who once rooted for Burns later found themselves rooting for Julien. Burns had coached all three teams Julien has coached in his career: the Canadiens, Devils, and Bruins. Julien said that his employment with former Burns’ teams isn’t as much a coincidence as one may think, as Burns esteemed Julien wherever he went.
“At one point, Pat, when he was here [in Boston], I think they were looking for a coach in Providence and Pat asked them to interview me,” Julien said. “I think Pat always had a good word. I went to New Jersey and there’s no doubt that Lou [Lamoriello] talked to him at some point, and so I had Pat’s support, obviously. He always had a good word to say about me, which certainly helped to make me follow his path, to a certain extent, so that’s why I guess, I’m grateful to him. I think, at the same time, I’m grateful to him also for leaving such big shoes to fill to push me to be the best coach I can be.”