|Milan Lucic turns disappointment from last season into fast start||10.20.10 at 6:39 pm ET|
Milan Lucic missed almost a third of the Bruins’ 2009-10 season because of an ankle injury, and scored only nine goals in 50 games played. Now that he’s starting this new season completely healthy, Lucic feels like he may have something to prove.
“Obviously I’m disappointed with how things went last year,” Lucic said after practice Wednesday. “Your main focus of the summer is just to get back and kind of regain that identity I created for myself and, you know, have a little bit of redemption going into the season.”
Off to a pretty good start, Lucic has scored a goal in each of the last three games, a streak he’s achieved for only the second time in his career. The first occurrence was back on Dec. 8-12, 2008.
“I think for me, thus far, I’ve just done a good job getting myself into scoring areas,” he said. “And also a big thing for me …is when I’m moving my feet and skating well, I think that’s what’s creating the most chances for myself.”
Lucic, of course, refused to take full credit for his successes so far this season. “Obviously playing with a great center like [David] Krejci and a scoring threat like [Nathan] Horton makes it easier for myself,” he said. “We’ve been able to find some chemistry here early on in the season, but I think the main thing is we just have fun playing with one another. You know, we just have to go out there and keep performing every night.”
It seems to be no coincidence that with the top line clicking like it has, the Bruins have won their last three straight games and outscored their opponents, 10-2.
“All 20 guys are doing their part to help the team get some offense,” Lucic said. “Everyone’s doing a good job back checking and having good sticks and taking away lanes. And I think that’s what’s causing a lot of turnovers for us and we’ve been able to go on the attack.”
The next challenge for the Bruins (3-1) will be translating their road success into their home opener. Lucic says there is definitely excitement to come back home and play in front of home fans, which can sometimes lead to temptation to try and put on a show for the crowd. The key for a home victory, according to Lucic, will be to “just keep doing what we’ve been doing – and that’s keeping things simple and making strong plays.”
Last season, over half of the Bruins’ losses took place on their home ice, which is “inexcusable” to Lucic.
“You play at home 41 times a year,” he said. “You’ve got to make that a hard building to play against. You want teams coming in being like, ‘you know what, I don’t like playing in the Garden.’ And that’s what every team around the league wants to do. They want to establish their building as hard to play against. That’s definitely what we want to get back to doing this year.”
The Bruins will have their first opportunity to do just that in a rematch against the Capitals Thursday night. The puck is set to drop at 7 pm.
|A statistical look at the Bruins’ win over the Devils||10.17.10 at 10:34 am ET|
The Bruins went into Newark and beat the Devils with a well-balanced offensive attack and impressive goaltending from 36-year-old Tim Thomas in a 4-1 win. Each line contributed a goal — Milan Lucic, Jordan Caron, Michael Ryder, and Shawn Thornton represented lines one through four on the scoring sheet — and Thomas’ 31 saves helped him outduel Martin Brodeur in a battle of Vezina-winning netminders. Here’s a closer statistical look at the victory.
– Nathan Horton led the Bruins with five shots on goal, and after three games, Zdeno Chara has the most on the team with 13. Offensively, here’s how many shots on Brodeur each line produced (naturally, this stat doesn’t take into account special teams bids, but it still gives you a good idea. Defensemen are not included).
First line (11): Lucic (2, G) – Krejci (4, A) – Horton (5, A)
Second line (3): Caron (1, G) – Bergeron (2) – Wheeler (0)
Third line (6): Recchi (1, A) – Seguin (1, A) – Ryder (4, G)
Fourth line (6): Marchand (3, A) – Campbell (0, A) – Thornton (3, G)
The most alarming number that should come from this is that the fourth line had twice as many shots on goal as the second line. With his goose egg on Saturday, Blake Wheeler now has just two shots on goal in his last two games. His play throughout the preseason and to this point has been much improved from where it was a year ago, but he’ll need to focus more on putting pucks on net, as he did five times in the season-opener.
– After going 0-for-3 with a man advantage, the Bruins’ power play is now 1-for-11 on the season, good for a 9.1 power play percentage, which is 24th in the league. Killing off four penalties effectively helped the Bruins push their penalty kill percentage up 85.7, good for 13th in the NHL.
– The first line has been consistently productive on the young season, with Lucic, David Krejci, and Horton all registering points in each game. Horton leads with the team with three goals and Krejci leads the B’s with four assists.
– Not to overreact to a two-game sample size, but this is statistically the best start Thomas has gotten off to in such a short stretch. He leads the league in broth goals against average (0.50) and save percentage (.984). Fellow Hockey East product Jonathan Quick of the Kings (0.97) is the only other goalie in the league with a sub-1.00 GAA. The problem, of course, is that Thomas is splitting time with the guy who led both categories last season in Tuukka Rask.
– Caron’s minutes certainly appear to be on the upswing, as the rookie followed up last Sunday’s 9:42 of ice time with 13:01 on Saturday.
|Krejci reflects on leaving Czech Republic as youngster||10.04.10 at 3:36 pm ET|
PRAGUE — Bruins center David Krejci is excited to be in the Czech Republic with his teammates, but on Monday the 24-year-old spoke of what it was like to leave his native town of Sternberk for the QMJHL when he was 18.
“I had a new family I didn’t know, a different language I didn’t know, new country, new culture, everything. It was really tough, but there’s a point at three or four months, if you get past it, you kind of get used to it,” Krejci said on Monday. “You start learning the language, and you mature much faster than if you’d stay here.
“I think that’s helped me a lot with my hockey, too. I was training my body and myself that I was playing professional hockey already when I was in juniors. I had no friends, no family, so I was preparing myself for every practice, for every game, and I believe it helped me a lot.”
For the entire story on Krejci, click here. In the meantime, enjoy some pictures of the Bruins from Monday’s practice at Tesla Arena.
|Media gathering to Czech on Krejci and Chara||at 12:00 pm ET|
PRAGUE — Here are some shots of Zdeno Chara and David Krejci talking to the Czech media. The cameras have come out in full force, for the players, both of whom were born in what was at the time Czechoslovakia. The majority of the media attention’s attention has been on Krejci, whose hometown, Sternberk is still a part of the Czech Republic, with Chara’s native Trencin falling in Slovakia.
|Welcome to Prague||10.03.10 at 1:12 pm ET|
PRAGUE — After a wonderful three days in Belfast, the Big Bad Blog is now in Prague for the week (the Bruins came, too). The team flew out at noon Belfast time and arrive just a couple hours ago, picking up one hour in the time zone change. We’re now a quarter of a day ahead of you guys, so expect to wake up each morning with a heaping plate of news ready for you. Here are some pictures from the trip from Belfast to Prague, including some of the Czech media going batty for David Krejci (from Czech) and Zdeno Chara (Slovakia).
The Bruins will be playing three games while in the Czech Republic. They’ll have an exhibition game on Tuesday in Liberec before opening the regular season at 02 Arena with a pair of games against the Coyotes on Saturday and Sunday.
|Top line feels it’s still a work in progress||10.01.10 at 11:30 am ET|
BELFAST — The offensive lines, for all intents and purposes, seem to be just about set for when the Bruins begin the season next weekend against the Coyotes. Assuming nothing changes, the top line will be David Krejci between Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, the second will feature Patrice Bergeron in the middle of Mark Recchi and Jordan Caron, Tyler Seguin will likely be in the middle of Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler on the third line, and Gregory Campbell will center Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton, with Brian McGrattan likely the 13th forward.
Time is running out for these lines to hit their stride and for players to get comfortable with one another. In Seguin’s case, he’s still picking up the little things needed to round out his game in his own end, plus there’s the adjustment to a couple of new linemates in a new league.
Considering that each of the team’s four lines has a newcomer on it, the line that has impressed most thus far in training camp has been that top line of Krejci, Lucic, and Horton. The former Panther in Horton has picked up a pair of goals so far in the preseason, and Krejci seems ready to shine as a No. 1 center. Factor in Lucic’s aspirations to score at least 20 goals this season without losing his physical mentality, and the makings seem to be there for something special. Even with the promise shown, nobody is satisfied yet.
“I don’t think we click together very well yet,” Krejci said Friday. “I think we’ve had some good shifts, some good chemistry on some shifts, but I don’t think we’ve brought it every shift. I believe that there is something and we’re going to try to find it in each shift when we go out there.”
Horton agreed. Though Seguin and Caron might not have gigantic expectations because of their age, Horton, 25, is expected to put up career numbers in his first season in Boston.
“I think we’re getting better,” Horton said. “Obviously, we need to get better, but we’re just trying to work on things, getting used to each other’s games. It will come, I think. We’ve got two more games to get ready for the regular season.”
Asked if players can get by on talent alone in the preseason before having to show more cohesion with linemates when it counts, Krecji didn’t feel the difference between an exhibition and a regular season game was substantial enough.
“It’s not really much different than the [regular season] games,” Krejci said. “Everybody works so hard, does the same things, but you’ve got to know how to use experience and buy some time. That’s what happened when Horton scored that goal against Florida at home, so little things like that could help, and hopefully that’s going to help us tomorrow and the first exhibition game in Czech. Then, hopefully we can carry it into regular season games.”
|Wide ice an overseas obstacle||at 10:04 am ET|
BELFAST — Sprints from side to side along the blue lines and center ice at the Odyssey Arena appears to be a bit more of a tiring affair than usual for the Bruins, and it’s not because of jet lag. Because the Bruins are playing in Europe, they will have to get used to European ice, which is wider and thus makes for a more offensive game.
“You have to really adjust your defensive game,” captain Zdeno Chara said Friday. “You know that the opponent has way more ice to take. You can’t be running out of your position. You’ve got to play more as far as dots on the ice. You can’t get too carries away running to the boards.
“There’s probably an extra 10 feet on each side, so there’s going to be way more room for forwards. As a defenseman, you still have to play that structure and tight defensively.”
Though the defensemen have to be much more careful to prevent a high-scoring game, David Krejci and the forwards have enjoyed how spacious playing in the offensive zone is.
“There’s so much room,” Krejci said. “We did some drills today in the corners. Back in Boston, it’s so tight, you don’t have much room. Here, you’ve got so much room and a little more time, too. It’s going to take a little more time to get used to, so you don’t have to move [the puck] too quick. You can hold it a little bit longer — not too long — but a little longer and make some smarter plays.”
As for getting used to new ice, a new time zone, and not falling apart in the process, Nathan Horton doesn’t think the team has lost any steam since arriving at around 10:30 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. EST).
“I think everyone felt better today,” Horton, who slept for two hours on the plane but joked that “you can’t doze off” when films such as The A-Team and the Jaden Smith remake of The Karate Kid were being shown. “I think it was a better practice overall, and I think we’re getting better every day.”