|Bruins struggle on power play in loss to Sharks||02.05.11 at 4:59 pm ET|
On the Bruins’ first power play of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Sharks, Milan Lucic had a golden opportunity to tie the game up. A Zdeno Chara one-timer led to a rebound at the left side of the net and gave Lucic a brief look at an open cage. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Lucic’s bid went wide right.
That was the closest the Bruins would get on the power play, as they ultimately finished the game 0-for-4 on the man advantage. Not only did they fail to get another great look on their final three power plays, but they struggled to even get set up in the offensive zone.
“Our power play tonight had a tough time,” said coach Claude Julien. “Tonight was probably one of the tougher times we’ve had at getting the puck in. When we did get it in, we weren’t winning those battles for loose pucks and they kept shooting it back down the ice. That was probably, to me, the biggest difference in tonight’s game.”
The Bruins have now gone 0-for-12 on the power play over their last five games and 1-for-19 over their last seven. Julien said Saturday’s problems with getting organized and maintaining possession don’t really reflect how the power play has performed lately, though.
“I think the other night against Dallas, even though we didn’t score, our power play was good,” Julien said. “We moved the puck well and we had some chances and we didn’t score. … So we really felt our power play had taken a stride in the right direction. Tonight was a totally different case. We weren’t good enough in that area. This is our best players having to be at their best.”
Julien credited the Sharks with doing a good job on the penalty kill, but he also said his players could’ve made better decisions with the puck to try and overcome that.
“They were here the other night watching us, obviously, and they made some adjustments with their PK,” Julien said. “At the same time, we still have other options, and I don’t think our guys always took the best options. Consequently, we weren’t getting in clean.”
As much as the power play struggled, David Krejci said he liked some of the chances the Bruins generated on it in the first period. He also said he thinks it has looked pretty good lately despite the dearth of goals.
He pointed out that if Lucic’s rebound bid had gone in instead of going wide, he probably wouldn’t have to answer questions about the power play’s struggles.
“If that goes in,” Krejci said, “it would be a different game and we wouldn’t be talking about how the power play was bad tonight.”
|David Krejci stuck with wrong sticks||at 4:38 pm ET|
David Krejci knows that after the B’s were shut out Saturday, it’s in his hands to keep the top line producing. Right now, he just doesn’t like what’s in his hands.
Krejci, who has a contract with Bauer, has been in a bit of an unusual spot over the last couple of games. An issue with manufacturing the stick he uses each night has left him using a stick he’s had trouble getting a feel for.
“This stick sucks, and that’s all I’ve got,” Krejci, in his usual calm demeanor, said after Saturday’s game. “You can put it up on TV or in the papers. I don’t care. This stick sucks.”
The irony in the situation, of course, is that Krejci is a happy user of Bauer and loves the stick that he usually plays with. The problem is that the factory that manufactures his stick, for whatever reason, will not be able to produce his model of choice again until Feb. 11, and as a result, he’s left with the type he used to use earlier in his career.
“We ordered the sticks, my guy said they were coming [when] he ordered them,” the center said. “The trainers called them again because they didn’t come in the mail and they said, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve closed the factory and we’re going to open it up again. We’re not making any sticks until Feb. 11,’ so they sent me the sticks that I used to use a long time ago.”
Krejci fell out of love with the stick when he used them earlier in his career, but it seems he’ll have to get used to them over the next few games.
“That was the reason why I changed from those sticks to the new ones I’m using, because I don’t like these ones,” he said. “I changed them because I didn’t like them anymore, but [now] it’s the only thing I can have.”
Krejci hasn’t scored in 19 games, though he has five assists over his last six games. The center, who is accountable when it comes to his game, stressed that he wasn’t talking about his own performance or suggesting that his unhappiness with the stick has hurt his play.
“I’m not making excuses for my game,” Krejci said. “I just don’t like that stick. That’s all it is.”
This isn’t the first time a Bruins player has had a peculiar hangup regarding equipment. Blake Wheeler had issues with his skates last season before switching to CCM for this season.
|Only soreness for David Krejci after injury scare||01.27.11 at 1:06 am ET|
The Bruins aren’t exactly in a position to lose a skill center. Given Marc Savard‘s latest concussion, the team can play the “been there, done that” card with regard to such a scenario.
That’s why when David Krejci took a hit from Rostislav Olesz, crashed into the boards and remained down for a few minutes before leaving and making toward the tunnel in the first period, it was a clear-cut case of something the Bruins didn’t need.
“When he first went down, the last thing you want to see is [him] not come back,” coach Claude Julien said after the game. “We’re already minus one pretty good centerman so you certainly don’t want to lose that second one.”
Yet Krejci, who appeared to be in shoulder pain while down on the ice, didn’t end up missing a shift for the B’s. He was back on the bench shortly after the play and knew he was good to go.
“It wasn’t my shoulder, it was like my whole arm getting tweaked going for position and it was a little uncomfortable for a few seconds, so I stayed on the ice,” Krejci said. “It got a little better so it’s sore but obviously nothing major.
“I waited on the ice a long time and when I was skating off it felt a little better. I didn’t know if it was the shoulder or something. But when I was skating off the ice I knew the shoulder was fine so I was pretty sure I would come back.”
Krejci returned to make a huge play for the B’s, winning the faceoff that set up Milan Lucic’s second-period goal, the tally that proved to be the game-winner when all was said and done.
If any of the soreness lingers for Krejci, it couldn’t come at a better time. Teams now break for All-Star weekend, and the center and most of his teammates will have the next five days to rest up.
“There’s no doubt these next five days will be good for him and probably a lot of the other players too that are playing a little banged up,” Julien said. “It is, I guess, a break that we needed. We certainly didn’t need him going down and not getting him back.”
|Milan Lucic adds to Bruins lead in second period||01.26.11 at 8:37 pm ET|
Milan Lucic is a 20-goal-scorer for the first time, and after two periods the Bruins lead the Panthers, 2-0.
David Krejci, who had an injury scare on the first period after crashing into the boards, made the second period memorable for a more positive reason. The pivot won a face-off clean in the Panthers zone and drew it back to Lucic, who scored on a snapshot at 1:52. Lucic’s career-high for goals in a season was 17, which he scored in 2008-09, a season in which he played 72 games.
There were no penalties in the period, and through two the only penalty came in the form of a first-period high-sticking call on Panthers forward Christopher Higgins.
The shutout remains intact for Tim Thomas, with the B’s outshooting the Panthers, 26-19.
NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Milbury gave his thoughts on the Marc Savard situation, after news broke Wednesday morning that Savard went home to Ontario to rest his head.
“With the two hits that he took recently, and now this reaction, I think long term is the way it’s going to be,” Milbury said. “Whether they do it officially or not is I guess another matter to discuss. Either way, they’re going to have to handle this one very delicately. We all know the concussion thing is a huge concern these days and a huge topic of discussion in the NHL. So, I think the Bruins will handle this one very conservatively.”
Milbury said people who want to remove the instigator penalty are barking up the wrong tree. “Does anybody really think that being able to go up and smack somebody in the head with his fist without the guy being ready is a really good thing for concussion prevention?” he said. “I just don’t get it when I hear the argument about the instigator penalty. You want to fight somebody, who cares about the two minutes? Just take the two minutes. But you’ve got to leave the instigator penalty in, and we can stop talking about it, in my opinion.”
When co-host Dale Arnold said he disagreed, Milbury deadpanned: “I know you disagree with me, but if I come up and smack you in the head, you might change your mind. And I’m likely to do it if you continue along this path.”
Milbury was asked his opinion of David Krejci. “He doesn’t look like he’s reacting as quickly as he has in the past,” Milbury said. “And I can’t tell that this is the reason why, but listen, he had a severe concussion last year. It took Patrice Bergeron a full year and then some to come back from that. It takes a lot of guys a full year to come back from an injury. That could be it. His timing seems to be OK, his vision seems to be OK, but he just doesn’t have that sharpness to his game that you like to see. But otherwise, it’s the same Krejci. It’s just the pace isn’t where I think it’s been at in the past.”
Milbury also opined on Michael Ryder: “They signed him to be a goal-scorer. He’s not. He’s going to be a 20-plus goal-scorer. He’s not a physical presence. He and [Blake] Wheeler are in the same boat, as far as I’m concerned. They put some effort into the game, I think there’s more there.”
As for Milan Lucic and his lack of physical play this season, Milbury said: “I firmly believe that if he doesn’t bring that [physical] element to his game, he sells himself short and his team short. He was, as you remember, in his rookie year, changing games not with scoring lots of goals but with momentum-changing hits and an occasional fight. Those are almost as important as scoring goals. And he doesn’t bring that that often anymore. I know he’s being dinged up a little bit. … I’d like to see it a whole lot more often. I’d like to see it from the Bruins in general more often.”
|Three the magic number (again) for Bruins in win over Penguins||01.10.11 at 10:06 pm ET|
The Bruins once again proved a third-period terror against the Penguins, scoring four unanswered goals en route to a 4-2 victory at CONSOL Energy Center.
With the Penguins leading, 2-0, on second-period goals from Mike Rupp and Kris Letang, the B’s scored four goals in the final 3:23 of regulation. Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand got it started by scoring goals 12 seconds apart, while Mark Recchi potted the game-winner on the power play at 19:10 and Gregory Campbell sealed it with an empty netter.
The B’s scored their first two power play goals in six games. Tuukka Rask made 23 saves on 25 shots in the victory.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Did the Bruins watch so much tape of what the Habs did to them Saturday that they couldn’t help but do the same thing? The B’s didn’t have to wait for overtime to get a huge road win. With their five-goal third period on Nov. 10, they have now scored nine third-period goals vs. the Penguins and allowed none.
- Chara’s goal was his second in the last five games, clearly a good way to follow up his 23 games without a goal prior to last Saturday’s game in Buffalo.
- Tyler Seguin and David Krejci haven’t produced while skating on the same line the last two games, but the two seem to be a good fit. Seguin tied linemate Blake Wheeler with three shots, while Krejci set up the 18-year-old beautifully in the third period before Fleury robbed the rookie.
While Krejci and Wheeler obviously work well together and the Czech center’s skill set is appropriate for a line with Seguin, Krejci had zero shots on goal for the second straight game. He has two goals over his last five contests.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Penguins’ power play had been bad, but the B’s didn’t need to push the matter. The Bruins handed the Penguins five power plays, one of which Letang scored on to make it a two-goal game. Both teams entered the game with three power play goals over their last nine contests, and the B’s gave Pittsburgh plenty of chances to improve the number, which the Penguins did.
- Pittsburgh native Matt Bartkowski was set to have a memorable NHL debut for the Bruins, but he ended up doing so for the wrong reasons. First, he was beaten by Mike Rupp in the second period on the Penguins’ first goal. Bartkowski then took a hooking penalty with the Bruins playing from behind with less than 10 minutes remaining.
- Eleven games without a goal for Milan Lucic. The slumping winger followed his zero-shot performance by throwing three shots on Marc-Andre Fleury. As the Bruins continue to search from offensive consistency, they need a lot more from their leading scorer.
|Tuukka Rask gets first start since Dec. 15 as Bruins take on Sabres||01.01.11 at 3:01 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask will get his first start since Dec. 15th when the Bruins (20-11-5) take on the Sabres (15-18-4) in a New Years Day matchup at HSBC Arena.
Rask, who is 2-7-1 this season, hasn’t been able to rack up the starts given Tim Thomas‘ success (1.74 goals against average, .947 save percentage), though that Dec. 15 start did come against the Sabres, a 3-2 loss.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Sabres are 8-10-1 at home and have had just two games at HSBC since hosting the Bruins last month. In those games they defeated the Ducks and fell to the Panthers.
- The B’s are 11-5-2 in away games, most recently falling to the Thrashers Thursday in a shootout. They have been very successful so far on their current road trip, grabbing five of a possible six points. Buffalo is the second-to-last stop on the five-game road trip, as they will wrap it up Monday in Tortonto.
- Just one point — an assist Tuesday — for Nathan Horton over his last eight games. The top line of Lucic-Savard-Horton isn’t showing up the stat sheet much, but they had a very encouraging showing against the Thrashers.
- David Krejci has four points — one goal and three assists — against the Sabres this season. Michael Ryder has a pair of goals and an assist vs. Buffalo. The two, along with Blake Wheeler, have made up the Bruins’ best line of late. Given their individual success against the Sabres thus far, it will be interesting how they perform together, something they’ve done very well.
- Though Ryan Miller made 29 saves on 31 shots in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Oilers, he hasn’t been tearing it up of late. In his two previous starts, he allowed four and five goals to the Panthers and Flames, respectively. Miller is 13-12-3 on the season with a 2.62 goals against average and .911 save percentage.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- The new year has come and Rask is unbelievably making just his 10th start of the season (he played one his previous nine in relief of Thomas and took the loss vs. Washington, thus explaining his 10 decisions). Thomas had seven straight starts following the team’s 3-2 loss to the Sabres with Rask in net, the longest streak for any Bruins goaltender this season.
Rask has not gotten back-to-back starts all season. With Thomas clearly this team’s No. 1 goaltender, it will be interesting to see if a sound performance on Saturday gets the Finnish netminder another go on Monday vs. the Maple Leafs, who have lost five of their last six.
- The Sabres lost center Derek Roy during their 4-3 loss to the Panthers last Thursday. Roy took a hit from Panthers blueliner Dmitry Kulikov early in the game and is now done for the season with a torn quad tendon. In the Sabres’ two games since losing Roy, who was leading the team in both goals (13) and assists (25), Buffalo has lost to Calgary and defeated Edmonton.