|When it comes to the Bruins’ recent stretch, top line has been tops||03.07.11 at 6:53 pm ET|
As has been well-documented, the Bruins have had plenty of success lately, earning at least one point in each of their last eight games (7-0-1). The stretch has brought them within two points of the top spot in the Eastern Conference and has made believers out of whatever non-believers still existed.
There may be no one factor that has helped the team more over their last eight than the fact that the top line is really clicking, and has been producing to their potential for the last few weeks.
Since the beginning of the season, the line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton has had its ups and downs. Individual players have gone on tears, while others have remained a few degrees away from heating up. Horton had a stretch of 20 games in which he scored just one goal. Lucic went 12 games straight without burying one. Krejci saw a stretch in which he had one point over seven games. There was a boom-or-bust nature to the line, but it’s been booming of late.
Both Krejci and Lucic, the latter of whom leads the Bruins with a career-high 28 goals, have 11 points over their last eight games. Horton has averaged a point per game over the last eight, scoring four goals in the process. Plus, the line has been producing tallies that count. Horton provided the only goal of the game in last Tuesday’s 1-0 win over the Senators. Lucic scored the game-winner Thursday against the Lightning in the third period, while Krejci tied Saturday’s game against the Penguins with 32.5 seconds remaining in regulation. Things haven’t always gone right for the top line, but they are now.
‘I think the main thing is that we’re having fun again,’ Lucic said Monday. ‘It seemed like there was a time there where things weren’t really going our way and we were kind of fighting the puck, but since after the All-Star break, it seems like we’ve found that chemistry once again. We’re having fun and playing with confidence too.
‘Every time we get the puck on our stick, we know where the other guy is and you know that if the guy sees you, he’s going to make that play and put the puck on your stick. I think that’s why we’re having success thus far.’
Whether or not the top line can sustain their output may prove to be critical to the team’s postseason success. Their offense has produced consistently this season, but no line has the ability to wear down the opposition like the highly skilled Krejci line. The Bruins saw what happened when Krejci went down in the Philadelphia series last year, and Claude Julien has intimated throughout the season that he holds the 24-year-old pivot to a very high standard. He hopes that their recent success can remind them of how big an impact they can have.
‘I think right now they’re feeling pretty good about their game,’ Julien said Monday. ‘The fact that every one of them is competing is extremely hard had certainly been a key to their success. Right now, they’re reaping the benefits.
‘Once you see what you can get out of those kind of efforts, you want to keep doing it. They like what they see, they like what’s happening to them, and hopefully they’ll want to keep it going.’
|Bruins come back but lose to Penguins in overtime||03.05.11 at 9:35 pm ET|
The Bruins fell to the Penguins, 3-2, in overtime Saturday night, stopping their winning streak at seven games.
The Penguins, who have been without star forwards Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, picked up just their second victory in their last eight games, largely on the strength of two tallies from Dustin Jeffreys, the last of which decided the game at 1:52 of overtime.
Of course, in some ways, the Bruins were fortunate to get a single point. With the Bruins trailing, 2-1, and Tim Thomas pulled, Tomas Kaberle blocked a shot from Boston nemesis Matt Cooke the B’s moved the puck up the ice and attacked the Pittsburgh goal, with David Krejci scoring with 32.5 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Zdeno Chara opened the game’s scoring, taking a pass from Krejci and firing a wrist shot past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for his 11th goal of the season. Chara’s goal came at 7:26 of the second period, though a Penguins 2-on-1 less than three minutes later would result in a Jordan Staal goal to tie it up at 10:09. The Penguins would take the lead at 11:19 on Jeffreys’ sixth goal of the season.
Thomas took the loss for the Bruins, falling to 29-8-7 on the season. The Bruins will next play on Tuesday, when they travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens for the fifth time this season.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– There may not be a more frustrating penalty for a team to take than too-many-men on the ice, and the Bruins did just that in the first minute of the second period. Milan Lucic served the bench minor at 0:53, though the Penguins did not capitalize on the power play.
That wasn’t the extent of the frustrating penalties for the Bruins, as Lucic would go off for hooking at 14:49 of the third with the B’s trailing by a goal. Like the too-many-men penalty, it didn’t end up proving costly on the scoreboard, though it chopped two minutes off a comeback bid.
– The infusion of Kaberle into the power play still hasn’t led to the results the Bruins need. The B’s found themselves with a man advantage just once on the night, and in failing to convert have now gone 1-for-17 on the power play since acquiring Kaberle. Again, it isn’t a case of the power play looking necessarily bad, as Kaberle’s passes have made him appear as advertised. The lack of finishing touch, however, remains a big problem for the unit.
– The winning streak wasn’t going to last forever, but the Bruins had a chance to come within a point of the Flyers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers lost to the Sabres, 5-3, on Saturday and have dropped their last three game. They’ve gone 2-4-1 in their last seven, so the Bruins have been able to gain on them significantly of late.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– In begin credited with the assists on Chara’s goal and contributing the equalizer, Krejci and Lucic each have 11 points over their last eight games. Krejci, who hit Chara with a nice pass at the blue line, has two goals and nine assists over the span, while Lucic has scored five and gotten six helpers.
– Remember Chara’s fun Peter Bondra-inspired celebration when he picked up a hat trick against the Hurricanes on Jan. 17? That was the last time he had scored until Saturday. Chara broke a 19-game goal-less streak with his wrister from the high slot.
– The Bruins, who have battled back in the third period many a time this season, did so again. After the Penguins outshot Boston by a 29-10 count through two periods, the Bruins put more pucks on the net than Pittsburgh in the third. Matt Cooke had the opportunity to bury the game with an empty-netter, but his bid was blocked.
|Bruins trail Penguins entering third||at 8:36 pm ET|
The Bruins got on the board first, but they trail the Penguins, 2-1, after two periods of play. The Penguins are outshooting the B’s, 29-20.
The Bruins opened the scoring when David Krejci hit Zdeno Chara in the high slot, where the captain fired off a wrist shot that beat Marc-Andre Fluery. It was Chara’s first goal in 20 games, with his last coming on Jan. 17 vs. the Hurricane (Chara had a hat trick in the 7-0 win).
The Penguins took less than three minutes to respond, as a good opportunity from the third line turned into a 2-on-1 for the Penguins when Johnny Boychuk failed to keep the puck in the zone. Jordan Staal scored on the 2-on-1, his seventh of the season.
Dustin Jeffrey made it 2-1 at 11:19 when he slid one past Thomas from the hahmarks.
|Bruins, Lightning scoreless after one||03.03.11 at 7:42 pm ET|
The Bruins and Lightning are as close as it gets in the standings. It seems that has translated to Thursday’s game, as the two teams are scoreless after a period of play at the Garden.
The Lightning outshot the Bruins, 10-8, in the period. After an ill-advised maneuver by Tim Thomas behind his net early on, he had to rush back to make a kick-save on Teddy Purcell. Thomas later robbed Mattias Ritola in front with just over 12 minutes left in the period, but the Milan Lucic went to the box afterwards for a clear-as-day cross-check.
Simon Gagne had a great opportunity on the power play, but went the puck across the crease. With 25 seconds remaining on the penalty, Steven Stamos beat Thomas with a wrist-shot but clanked it off the post.
Adam Hall drew the Lightning’s only penalty, going off for hooking David Krejci at 10:47. The Bruins are now 1-for-14 on the power play since Tomas Kaberle entered the fold, though they’re getting their chances.
|Milan Lucic scores twice as Bruins top Flames||02.22.11 at 11:41 pm ET|
Lucic opened the scoring just 59 seconds into the game when he went hard to the net and redirected David Krejci‘s centering pass by Calgary netminder Miikka Kiprusoff (26 saves) for his team-leading 25th goal of the season.
Brad Marchand added some insurance 5:55 into the third when he gathered the puck in the right circle and wristed it under the crossbar for his 19th goal.
Curtis Glencross made things interesting with a power-play goal that cut the lead in half with 2:33 to go, but Lucic sealed the win with an empty-netter with 47 seconds remaining.
Thomas improved to 27-8-6 with the win and he continues to lead the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
-The Flames were hot coming in, having won three in a row and 11 of their last 14, but the B’s were able to pour some water on them and quiet the crowd early on. They got on the board less than a minute in when they caught Calgary in a line change. Adam McQuaid moved the puck up to Krejci to create an odd-man rush and Krejci faked a shot before centering for Lucic.
-Krejci continued his stretch of hot play, as he assisted on both of Lucic’s goals to give him six points in his last three games and 13 in his last 11. He had a goal and an assist in Thursday’s win over the Islanders and followed that up with two more assists in Friday’s win against the Senators.
-Marchand added to his impressive rookie season with his third goal in his last two games. The marker came as the result of hard work from the entire second line. Patrice Bergeron forced a turnover with a hard check in the corner and then went to the net to redirect Andrew Ference‘s shot right to Marchand, who was left with an open cage to shoot at.
-It seemed like there were bodies and pucks zipping around the front of the Boston net all night, but Thomas stood tall between the pipes. His biggest save came with a little more than four minutes left in the game when he flashed the leather and snagged Olli Jokinen‘s one-timer from the slot. It turned out to be even bigger than it appeared at the time given the fact the Flames scored less than two minutes later.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
-Despite jumping out to a 1-0 lead, the B’s were outplayed for much of the first half of the game. The Flames were able possess the puck in the offensive zone for long stretches of play and maintain steady pressure on the B’s. They outshot Boston, 13-7, in the first period and built the lead to 21-12 by the middle of the second before the B’s picked it up and recorded five of the final six shots in the period.
-The B’s had a four-minute power play starting late in the second and carrying over to the third, but failed to score. It was a golden opportunity to up the lead to two and although the B’s created a few good chances, they couldn’t capitalize. It marked the first time in seven games Boston failed to score at least one power-play goal.
-With 3:04 to go, one of the last guys the B’s wanted in the penalty box was Bergeron, their top penalty-killing forward. But that’s exactly where he ended up after being called for a slash while pursuing the puck behind the Calgary net. The penalty ultimately cost Thomas his would-be league-leading eighth shutout.
|Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask lead Bruins past Senators||02.18.11 at 10:07 pm ET|
The new-look Bruins didn’t get off to the prettiest of starts, but they finished strong to earn a 4-2 victory over the Senators at Scotiabank Place on Friday night.
Brad Marchand had a pair of goals, while Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton and David Krejci also multi-point performances. Krejci now has 11 points over his last 10 contests. Dennis Seidenberg also scored for the B’s.
Marlborough native and former University of New Hampshire Wildcat Bobby Butler provided the Senators with their first tally, beating Tuukka Rask at 2:50 of the second period for his third goal in three games. Butler’s strike opened the game’s scoring, but Marchand’s goal from Tyler Seguin and Ference pulled the B’s even. After Horton gave them the lead at 9:47 of the third, the B’s never looked back. Alexei Kovalev scored for the Senators with 1:30 remaining in the game.
Rask made 32 saves in the game, improving to 7-11-1 on the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Almost unbelievably, Rask has won back-to-back games for the first time all season. The 23-year-old netminder hasn’t really gotten many opportunities to string together much success, but with Claude Julien clearly willing to give him more starts down the stretch, Rask’s performances Thursday and Friday are good for both the confidence of the Finland native and the B’s.
– Friday was about a couple of veterans making their Bruins debuts, but it was the rookies who once again came up big for the B’s. Seguin took a pass from Ference to set up Marchand’s 17th goal of the year, and considering how he’s played the last two nights, it will be hard for the Bruins to scratch the second overall pick when the team returns to action Tuesday in Calgary. With Marchand’s two tallies, he now has 18 on the season.
– On a night in which it appeared Horton may be regressing back to the point where he was back to slumping, the 25-year-old came up big. He entered the night with just one point over his last four games, but he fired a beautiful wrester past Robin Lehner off a nice pass from Krejci at 9:47 of the third. He also drew a holding penalty on holding penalty on Erik Karlsson in the second period, though he went off for holding Milan Michalek at 11:38 of the third.
– The team showed how their power play will be able to operate with Tomas Kaberle, as the newcomer helped orchestrate Seidenberg’s goal. On the night, the B’s power play went 1-for-5.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins came out in the first period like a team that had spent the day selling off assets, and not gaining them. They played with very little energy in the first, getting outshot 12-5. Rask came up big throughout the period, which is the silver lining in a surprisingly flat start by the Bruins.
The Bruins did pick it up after their sluggish period, grabbing a 13-8 advantage in shots in the second period and sustaining that increased energy through the third.
– Johnny Boychuk was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. With Kaberle now in the fold, Boychuk could be the guy that is a regular healthy scratch, with Adam McQuaid and Steven Kampfer also candidates.
|Bruins snap skid with win over Islanders||02.17.11 at 9:27 pm ET|
The Bruins broke a three-game losing streak by turning on the offense against a pair of Islanders goaltenders in a 6-3 victory at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night.
Tyler Seguin had his third multi-point game of the season, as he set up Blake Wheeler‘s goal to open the scoring 55 seconds into the game and added his 10th goal of the season in the second period. Wheeler and David Krejci also had multi-point nights with a goal and an assist apiece. Mark Recchi, Gregory Campbell and Milan Lucic also scored for the Bruins. Lucic now has 24 goals on the season, which leads the team.
After the team jumped out to a 4-0 lead, John Tavares scored the first of his two goals on the game in a back-and-forth second period. Josh Bailey scored the other Islanders’ goal.
Islanders starter Nathan Lawson was scored after Seguin’s goal made it 5-1, and Al Montoya made 13 saves on 14 shots. Tuukka Rask improved to 6-11-1 on the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Some have been too quick to give Seguin credit where it isn’t due, but it’s safe to say that Seguin was bringing everything Thursday night that he needs to. The 19-year-old was every bit as engaged as the Bruins are hoping for him to be down the stretch. This was highlighted in the second period, where he was persistent enough score his 10th of the season while losing his balance. Later in the period, he dove at the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Seguin’s performances weren’t anything special in his first two games following last week’s healthy scratches (in the case of Sunday, it was detrimental in Detroit), but Thursday’s was the type of performance that suggests the youngster is starting to get it.
– As hectic as things were in the second period, it’s good to see Rask turn in a solid performance in the victory. The third goal was preventable, but but considering that he was pulled after two periods and five goals last Friday against the Red Wings, encouraging signs are welcomed for a guy who you have to assume will get more time between now and the end of the season.
– All three lines scored for the Bruins, and their six goals equaled the number they scored in their losing streak. More nights like Thursday would be a welcomed sign for a team that had been outscored 14-6 over their last three.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Michael Ryder‘s minus-1 made him the lone Bruins player with a negative rating on the game. Now at a minus-5 on the season, Ryder is the only Bruin currently on the roster with a negative rating on the year.
– The Bruins went from dominating the first period to playing in a closely contested second period, and that speaks to both the Islanders waking up and the B’s not keeping the pedal to the metal. They still scored three in the second period, but the Islanders’ opportunities against Rask were far more frequent, as the Bruins were outshot, 22-12, in the second.
– Tavares simply did damage. In addition to his two goals, the former first overall pick could have had a hat trick if it weren’t for a third-period bid behind Rask sliding across the crease.