|Ference: Time to go to war||02.25.10 at 7:04 pm ET|
Tying up the loose ends from practice. Andrew Ference is ready for the stretch run, Milan Lucic got to take in the festivities in downtown Vancouver and Claude Julien gives his thoughts on the break and the Olympics.
Ference was not sure if he was going to be able to play before the break but with Johnny Boychuk taking a puck to the face before the four-game road trip, he was pressed into duty sooner than he had envisioned. It took him a game or so to get back into the swing of things but said that he was ready to go.
“It was good. We didn’t have any back-to-back games, which was good. Had a chance to recover the next day and everything was good. Plus, we won, which makes a big difference,” Ference said.
Ference said his body held up well and it was just a matter of regaining his timing.
“They definitely had me ready to play. It wasn’t a situation where it made anything worse. It was just a matter of regaining the timing but everything worked,” Ference said “The first game I was pretty conservative. Just made sure that I didn’t get into any bad situations. Just the reaction time and being a little slower but just getting that first game out of the way and getting back to normal.”
The Bruins are as healthy now as they have been all season which will be a big benefit in the frenetic pace that will be the final month-and-a-half of the regular season. Ference said that it is not a time to hold back.
“I don’t think anybody is feeling sorry because it is going to be the same for every single guy in the league,” Ference said. ” We knew that going into this year, you know, everything Olympic year is tight,” Ference said. “That whole playoff run, so, you obviously have to take care of yourself and keep yourself in good health. Other than that you just have to go to war. You can’t try to conserve yourself or stay out of trouble during the game. You have to go full on, it’s a battle and on the rest days you rest. You rest hard.”
|Bruins rain shots, do not get wet||02.04.10 at 11:27 pm ET|
It is raining shots in Boston.
This is not a weekend bender at The Fours but rather a deluge from the Boston Bruins of pucks on opposing goaltenders. Yet, like a large man with a penchant for good whiskey, the shots are having little effect.
In Thursday’s loss to the Canadiens the Bruins dumped 47 shots on Jaroslav Halak and came away with two goals in the 3-2 shootout loss. Add to that the 42 shots Boston had against Washington on Tuesday and the totals comes to 89 shots in two games with only three goals to show for it. The stat is hard to believe, especially if you are the Bruins who know they have significantly outplayed their opponents in the last two contests.
|With a lack of offense, Julien gets defensive||at 10:55 pm ET|
Claude Julien just watched his team take 47 shots on net and score twice in 65 minutes, including a 4-on-3 power play in overtime and a scoreless shootout. All of this on top of 42 shots on Tuesday night that resulted in just one goal in a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.
The Bruins coach was had seen enough. And when he was asked whether three goals in 89 shots and nine straight losses means his team was no better than average, Julien responded.
“We believe we have a better-than-average hockey team,” Julien said. “I think our team was pretty good tonight. I’m not going to stand here and say we’re a bad team. Absolutely not.”
Click here to hear Julien’s response in Thursday’s postgame presser following a 3-2 shootout loss to Montreal.
|Julien has had enough||11.16.09 at 11:12 pm ET|
Claude Julien has had enough.
The Bruins head coach, who won the Jack Adams Award last year as the NHL’s best coach, has had enough of his team not coming out hungry. He’s had enough of his team feeling frustrated for hitting posts and crossbars. He’s had enough of injuries and weak power players. And, of course, he’s had enough of losing games.
But maybe most telling following Monday’s 4-1 lackluster loss to a hungrier, tougher Islanders team on Monday night, Julien had enough of answering for his players.
|Julien: ‘[Chara] can be better’||10.30.09 at 12:20 pm ET|
WILMINGTON, Mass. — Full practice at Ristuccia Arena on Friday morning with everybody seemingly healthy and accounted for, and all lines as they were in Thursday night’s loss to the New Jersey Devils.
The Bruins are working on tip drills and battles in front of the net, which factored heavily into just about all of the scoring between the offensively-challenged Devils and Bruins clubs in a 2-1 decision. A lot of focus on jamming the puck beyond the goaltender, and conversely getting the defensemen in the painted area to swat loose pucks away. More after practice as the Bruins prepare for a grueling fives games in eight days schedule that begins with Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Edmonton Oilers.
–During the battle drills in front of the net Tuukka Rask let a shot slide by him into the goal, and immediately exploded with a fit of goaltender pique. Rask screamed at himself in Finnish and then slammed his paddle hard against the crossbar, and created a violent enough collision that he knocked his Gatorade water bottle off the top of the net. Temper, temper Tuukka.
–Zdeno Chara has been inconsistent through 11 games this season and certainly isn’t living completely up to his Norris Trophy standards while putting up six assists for the Black and Gold. The 32-year-old has had his “up” moments such as his 29:38 masterpiece against the New York Islanders when he notched an assist and a pair of shots on goal, but he hasn’t been able to sustain his play over a long stretch.
The blueliner was out working on his game before and after practice last week, and taking extra shots from the point positions while attempting to get a higher volume of shots toward the cage during the power play. When asked about his captain’s play after practice, B’s coach Claude Julien didn’t pull any punches and said that Chara needs to find his “happy zone” just like the rest of the team.
“[Chara] has been good, but can be better. He knows that,” said Julien. “He’s been good and there are some games where we’ve seen him be dominant like in the past. But we haven’t seen him be dominant night in, night out like he has been. He’s frustrated a little bit too. You saw him working on his shots, and he’d like to get his shots through a little better. But the thing that we like about players is when we see them trying to do something about it.
“That’s what he’s been doing. He’s been working on his shot and trying to find those seams. Eventually it’ll come, but he’s in that stage where he wants to be better — and he can better. I think his whole game has been, at times, up and down a little bit. Let’s put it this way: he’s never been terrible but there are some nights when he’s just been okay. When you talk about Z and having success, we’d like to see him where he was last year when he was a stellar defenseman and stingy. A defenseman that every team hated to play against. This is a game of momentum. Sometimes things fall right into place and sometimes it takes some time. Our whole team is working through that and trying to find that momentum, and I think he’s in that equation as well.”
|Krejci finally getting things up to speed||10.27.09 at 4:33 pm ET|
David Krejci always has acted as his own harshest critic, so who knows what was going through the Czech Republic native’s mind after mustering up a scoresheet doughnut in the Bruins‘ first four games. There were, of course, ready-made excuses after the 23-year-old underwent right hip surgery to repair an impingement last summer and missed the entire preseason.
He was instead dropped into the lineup on opening night after receiving a clean bill of health, and has been slowly kicking the rust of his game during the season.
It took a few games, but the playmaking pivot finally snapped out of his scoreless funk against the Avalanche with a pair of helpers. He’s been getting closer to the nearly point-per-game Krejci of old ever since that Oct. 12 loss. In fact, Krejci has a goal and four assists and sits at plus-5 in six games since the loss to the Avs — and finally smashed through with a clutch game-tying score in Saturday’s shootout win over the Senators.
“We all know that our guys got hurt and now it’s everybody’s job to step and be in the right spot,” Krejci said. “I think the last few games I’ve been feeling much more comfortable. We’re trying to play hard and make it hard for the other team. Keep it simple.”
The goal was Krejci’s first tally in 10 games this season and would seem to act as the final weight lifted off the young center’s shoulders as he reconnects with his game. But appearances can be deceiving. Krejci said he wasn’t even thinking of that score in terms of his first individual goal of the season, and he was instead looking at its importance in the grand scheme of all things team.
“All six of us did a great job [in the final minute against Ottawa] and I was in the right place at the right time,” Krejci said. “It could have been anybody else. I didn’t really take it as my first goal of the season. I took as it the tying goal in a game, and it was pretty exciting.”
The youngster is adjusting to his new role as center on the top line with Marco Sturm and Mark Recchi riding shotgun, and Krejci ticked off resurrecting the power play as the next order of business on the docket.
“It’s been tough because they’re so fast and I’m just trying to keep up with them, but it’s getting better and better every game,” Krejci said. “They’re different players [than Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder]. We’ll see how it goes as we keep playing for each other. We’re going in the right direction now, and it’s about continuing to go in that right direction.”
Krejci is the Bruins player most similar to Marc Savard in both skill set and ability to elevate his teammates around him, but hasn’t worked much with the top power-play unit heading into Thursday night’s tilt against the Devils. He ranks well behind many of his teammates in terms of power-play ice time and is 10th on the B’s with an average of 2:15 of ice time per game on Boston’s man advantage.
Krejci may or may not see an increase in power-play time as his production continues to rise during the month of October, but his teammates are beginning to see the same old Krejci that flourished during last year’s breakout season. That’s just what the hockey doctor ordered with Savard on the shelf and all offensive hands needed on deck for the Black and Gold.
|Marchand ready to talk up his play||at 1:26 am ET|
The gritty B’s rookie has attempted to engage several opponents in some post-whistle “conversations”, but has found that both players and referees aren’t giving the youngster a very lengthy leash. That is until he bumped into another mouth that roared in the form of a hirsute Scott Hartnell skating for the Flyers. Philly’s greasy, grimy troublemaker took one look at the 5-foot-9 Marchand — and it’s more like a Dustin Pedroia 5-foot-9 than a legit height listing — and beat him to the war of barb-wired words.
Hartnell told Marchand to “Go back over the rainbow where he came from” in a surprisingly cultured “Wizard of Oz” reference. The Flyers bad guy was essentially calling the Bruins rookie a Lollipop kid from Munchkinville in the process of talking a bit of hockey smack. Marchand responded by calling the stringy-haired Hartnell “a poodle”, and things were officially off and running for the Black and Gold’s motor-mouthed youngster.
“That was a good one,” said Marchand of Hartnell’s barb. “I even laughed a little bit.”
It seems that little trash-talking exchange might just have been enough to let Marchand escape his cage after understandably holding back in his first few NHL games.
“It’s been a lot of fun. Things are a lot faster and the guys are a lot stronger, but things have been good,” said Marchand. “When I came up here it’s a lot different than the American League. There’s a lot less people [talking smack]. Up here there’s a lot more respect, and there’s less time that I’ve been doing it. The refs tell you to shut up and head for the bench.
“Now that I’m out there getting a little more confident and getting used to things, I’ll probably start [chirping] a lot more.”
B’s followers can expect that plenty of insult trades will be flowing from Marchand provided he continues working hard and building chemistry with linemates Patrice Bergeron and Michael Ryder — a combination that’s sparked production and loads of quality minutes since Marchand arrived on the scene three games ago. The Nova Scotia native brings boundless energy and a healthy amount of skill to the table, but still hasn’t brandished too much of that trademark edge just yet.
The work ethic has also allowed Marchand to slide right into a prime position on Boston’s revamped penalty kill unit alongside fellow newcomer Daniel Paille, and the results have been immediate. Boston hasn’t allowed a power play goal since Marchand arrived on the B’s scene, and the youngster has skaken up a comfortable, veteran roster full of players with a jolt of youthful energy and passion. Whether it’s because Marchand is a lucky charm or actual difference-maker, the Bruins are a perfect 8-for-8 in penalty kills since his arrival. The rookie has totalled slightly over 15 minutes per game in his three Bruins tilts, and logged a healthy three minutes of kill time in Saturday night’s comeback win against the Ottawa Senators.
“One of the things that [Paille and Marchand] have really brought is speed and we’re able to pressure the puck all the way up the ice,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “Paille was already a good penalty killer in Buffalo and we like him in that role. Just in that one day of practice Marchand was one of our best penalty killers in that power play/penalty kill [drill]. So we figured with that combination of speed and tenacity, he’d be a good addition to that. We’ve kind of minimized that [penalty kill] crew over the last few games.”
It’s probably not all that surprising that NHL referees aren’t familiar with Marchand’s chirpy ways on the ice or his uncanny ability to draw opponents into foolish penalties when the action intensifies. Julien has already reinforced within his young player that thriving with an edge and baiting opponents is something that originally earned Marchand his NHL promotion. It’s also part of the skill set that will keep the rookie in Boston.
There may be times when things won’t work out for a young guy adept at provoking a little rink rage, but Julien and Co. are more than willing to balance some growing pains with Marchand’s in-your-face style.
“At some point somebody has to start somewhere, and there’s some young guys — like [Matt] Duchene in Colorado — who are playing pretty well right now,” said Julien. “He’s got a year of pro under his belt and he’s a player that doesn’t get intimidated much.
“He’s got to be careful and make sure it’s the other guy going into the box — and not him. But I think he’s also got a lot of experience at that during his career, so he should be okay. If it’s an issue then there’s no doubt we would address it, but you don’t want to take away a guy’s strength. He can antagonize and draw other players into taking penalties. That’s just the way he plays. We’re not going to hold him back and take away from the things that brought him here. He brings energy, he’s in-your-face, he gets under other player’s skin and he can score goals too.”
Marchand could also afford to step up his aggression in the offensive end after flashing solid instincts during his first NHL game while setting up a sweet Michael Ryder goal against the Predators. The winger indicated that his first job is to get pucks in the hands of Bergeron and Ryder to make plays, but young Marchand can’t forget he’s got enough to skills to pay the bills. After all, the little bulldog of a hockey scrapper was tearing up the AHL with six goals in six minor league games prior to his first call to the NHL Big Show.
“I’m just trying to get the puck to Bergie and Ryder and let them do something with it,” said Marchand, who racked up 59 points as a 20-year-old with the P-Bruins last season. “I think it’s made it a lot easier for me skating with them. They’re two of the NHL’s best players and they’re always there supporting me and letting me know where they are. The biggest thing I do is get them the puck, and let them work it down low.
“I just forecheck hard and create turnovers so they can get opportunities. If I get the puck, then I’m trying to put it in the net.”
The Bruins’ 2006 third-round pick has already earned early respect from his veteran teammates for his tireless energy and unflagging work ethic. Perhaps that youthful exuberance was one of the few ingredients missing from the B’s dressing room. Mark Recchi, with 1,500 NHL games and plenty of teammates under his belt, is impressed with what he’s seen thus far out of Marchand, and buys into the notion of the rookie sparking his older teammates.
“He’s great. He’s a competitive kid and he got so much better as he went along in camp,” said Recchi. “He just works his bag off. That’s what you ask. Play with a little emotion and play with a little of that fire. That’s the kind of passion you want to see when the young kids come up.”
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