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Bruins wary of Thrashers 03.22.10 at 1:42 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Question: Where the heck did the Thrashers come from?

All of a sudden the hockey team from Atlanta is a point behind the Bruins for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a chance to jump Boston if it can win on home ice Tuesday night. This from a team that just about everybody had counted out after they traded one of the best goal scorers in the league in the form of Ilya Kovalchuk to the Devils on Feb. 4.

“Well they picked up some pretty good players along the way,” coach Claude Julien said. “[Clark] Macarthur from Buffalo and obviously in the New Jersey deal they got a pretty good defenseman out of it (Johnny Oduya) who I think is underrated. They have got a pretty good team, they are getting good goaltender right now and I thin they are pretty confident. It is a good challenge for us tomorrow … we know that when we play well and how we can, we are capable of beating any team.”

After losing five our of six to start the month of March, the Thrashers have caught fire of late with four straight wins over Phoenix, Buffalo, Ottawa and Philadelphia. One could say that the Trashers wins over the Flyers and Senators were favors to the Bruins (both teams are three points ahead of Boston with 79 points) but it is a paradox that fans in the Hub would preferably not explore — have a team behind them get hot and take points from the teams ahead only to come and steal their playoff spot.

The win over the Rangers was good for the psyche of the Bruins. Their practice on Monday morning was lively and boisterous, which has not always been the case at Ristuccia in 2010. That being said, New York is not exactly a team burning down the barn.

“Atlanta is more dangerous because Atlanta is playing good,” Tim Thomas said. “New York is just hanging in there and Atlanta has been charging from behind. I think Atlanta will be the bigger test. It is always in our hands we just got to get timely goals like we did against New York and try to keep them off the board as much as possible.”

The Bruins looked like a much different team on Sunday against the Rangers than they did last Thursday in the grudge match verse the Penguins. The mood around the team was quite different from game to game whereas Boston seemed a little tight with all the scrutiny around the Pittsburgh game that was not as present against New York.

“I think Pittsburgh was a little bit of a wake up call,” Johnny Boychuk said. “You got to come out and play. You can’t take any day off especially since we are battling for the playoffs. Last night everybody came to play and we battled and stood up for each other. We just wanted it. That was the difference between both games.”

Thomas admitted that the flu bug was a problem on Thursday and Boychuk said that it had a tough 24-hour effect on a bunch of members of the team.

“We knew they were both important games and we came up big in one and not in the other,” Thomas said. “We had a lot of guys sick against Pittsburgh. You hate to say that plays into it, but it does. Let’s face it, Pittsburgh and New York are two different teams.”

– Patrice Bergeron is going out of his way to get in touch with Matt Brown, the Norwood High hockey player who broke his neck in a hockey game in January. Brown is in Atlanta at the Shepard Center for Rehabilitation undergoing treatment.

“I have been through similar stuff and I know it is tough to sometimes stay positive,” Bergeron said. “You get frustrated. It is something that I want to share with him and I am excited to go see him, him and his family. We prepared a little bag of stuff to remind him about Boston a little bit. Some movies, some stuff different professional teams in Boston, some clam chowder and stuff like that. I hope he is going to like it and it is going to be fun to first meet him and see how he is doing.”

Here is the practice participation by sweater color:

White — Milan Lucic, Miroslav Satan, Vladimir Sobotka

Grey — Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, Michael Ryder

Yellow — Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi, Marco Sturm

Red — Daniel Paille, Steve Begin, Shawn Thornton, Brad Marchand

Defense — Dennis Wideman, Andrew Ference, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Mark Stuart, Matt Hunwick, Johnny Boychuk

Goaltenders — Tuukka Rask, Tim Thomas

Read More: Claude Julien, Johnny Boychuk, Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas
Boychuk admits ‘Oh, no’ feeling first game back 03.05.10 at 3:52 pm ET
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It’s rare when a hockey player admits the slightest amount of fear on the ice. It’s that lack of fear that separates those in the sport from many others.

But on Thursday at TD Garden, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk acknowledged that he had a few scary flashbacks to Feb. 6 on the same ice when Mikael Samuelsson’s slapshot hit him just to the side of his left eye, causing him to miss the final four games before the Olympic break and Tuesday’s game with Montreal.

But those fears were calmed somewhat when he let loose one of his own booming slapshots in the second period, beating J-S Giguere and giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead over Toronto.

“If felt good, actually,” Boychuk said of his return. “There was a couple of times where I just have to get back into things, I guess. Just little things, I guess, but overall it felt great.”

“It felt better if there was a slap shot coming from the point that I had a visor on. There were a couple of times when somebody wound up and I was like, ‘Oh, no’ and a flashback of that shot hitting me in the eye or side of the head so it’s just nice having that little extra protection.”

Boychuk said the piece of mind was more than worth the minor inconvenience of extra eye protection.

“I just have to wipe it down every once and a while from all the sweat,” he said. “That’s about it.”

It was that cannon of a slapper that earned Boychuk a place on the Bruins roster and possible future offensive force on the B’s blueline.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Canucks, Johnny Boychuk, NHL
Bruins top Leafs in shootout 03.04.10 at 9:58 pm ET
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Summary — Familiar foes faced off at on Thursday evening as the Maple Leafs gave the Bruins all they could handle before falling in a shootout 3-2 in front of a sold out crowd at TD Garden. Miroslav Satan scored the game-winning goal in the shootout. Tim Thomas got the start for Boston for the first time since Groundhogs Day (Feb. 2) and grabbed a win with 24 saves. Jean-Sebastian Giguere was the loss for Toronto with 29 saves. The Bruins announced earlier on Thursday that goaltender Tuukka Rask would sit with a lower body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

In his first game back since taking a puck to his temple against Vancouver on Feb. 6 Johnny Boychuk scored to brake a 1-1 tie at 15:24 in the second period with a blast from right wing that beat Giguere over his shoulder far-side. The goal was Boychuk’s third of the season and his career and the Bruins entered the third period with a goal advantage.

Once again Boston could not hold a third period lead as Tyler Bozak crashed the net in front of Thomas and rammed home a centering pass by Nikolai Kulemin at 3:58 in the third period.

The Bruins lit the lamp first as Satan scored his second goal in three games (though almost three weeks apart because of the Olympic break)when Shawn Thornton found him streaking down the center for an unchallenged break. Satan pulled up and hit a slap shot from the top of the left circle that beat Giguere through the five hole at 9:36 in the first period.

Then the teams got nasty. Milan Lucic dropped the gloves with notorious fighter Colton Orr and fought him to a standstill with both players taking significant blows. In the ensuing face off, Shawn Thornton went at it with Wayne Primeau as exactly one second ticked away on the game clock. Thornton handled Primeau. It was third time this season that Lucic and Thorton fought in the same game.

Boston could not hold Toronto off the board as Viktor Stalberg beat Thomas short side to tie the game at one at 15:27 in the first period in a 4-on-4 situation as Marco Sturm and Dion Phaneuf were in the penalty box.

Three Stars

Tim Thomas – The Bruins goaltender was solid in holding the Leafs down including multiple breakaway chances and stoned them in the shootout for the victory.

Miroslav Satan — Satan scored the first and last goal of the game to propel the Bruins to the win.

Tyler Bozak — The young Leafs forward picked up the fourth goal of his career that tied the game at two in the third period.

Turning Point — Shortly after the Leafs killed off a penalty in the third period Kulemin found the puck on the baseline after a scramble and centered it front of Thomas, who could not handle it cleanly in the crease. Bozak crashed the net and jarred the puck loose to tie the game and eventually send it to the shootout.

Key Play — With the third round of the shootout tied at zero, Satan skated in on Giguere, did a stick flip fake and went backhand to put the puck in the net. Thomas stuffed Bozak in the final shot to seal the victory.

Read More: Jean-Sebastian Giguere, Johnny Boychuk, Miroslav Satan, Tim Thomas
Bruins breakdown: The big boppers 02.27.10 at 7:59 pm ET
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The compliment to the puck moving defensemen are the boys who patrol the blue line and deliver more bruises than points. Size is an important quality to have in a NHL defender corps and in that department Mark Stuart and Johnny Boychuk deliver.

Stuart — The 2003 Bruins first round draft pick has been a model of consistency since breaking into the NHL full time in the 2007-08 season. He has played in all 82 games two years in a row and delivered solid, though not spectacular numbers.

Stuart falls into line with what late first round picks are usually supposed to do — become steady professionals and productive members of their teams. He spent three years at Colorado College picking up polish before making his Bruins debut in the 2005-06 season and after a two seasons spent on the highway between Providence and Boston finally cracked in as a regular.

Stuart is solid and at this point in his career could probably fit into any defensive second pair in the league. That was not the case until recently though as last year it was hard to judge whether he was a third defenseman or rather a fourth or fifth. At times he played like each. Before breaking his finger when he caught his finger in Wayne Simmonds jersey on Jan. 31, he was playing much more like a third defenseman than ever before in his career.

“I thought he was playing some of his best hockey,” coach Claude Juliens said of Stuart on Saturday. “Whether it was coincidence or whether we moved him up and given him more minutes. We really wanted to see how he would react to that and he did a great job of it and we needed that at the time. It was unfortunate, I thought he was playing some of his best hockey the last three or four games before he got injured.”

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Read More: Johnny Boychuk, Mark Stuart,
Boychuck, Stuart and Bruins back to work 02.25.10 at 12:40 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Most of the Bruins have had two weeks to get healthy and clear their heads during the Olympic break before the final stretch of that will determine whether there will be spring hockey in The Hub. The players were happy to get back to hockey related activities on Thursday at Ristuccia Arena and are gearing up for the stretch run into April. When the regular season resumes on March 2 the Bruins will be on a furious pace as the final 22 games will be played in 41 days with only one break longer than one day between games.

“I can’t think of a better way to get back into it than to just jump in and play a bunch of games,” Mark Stuart said. “Looking at our schedule, it is every other day. But, it is going to be fun. It is going to be a month-and-a-half long Olympic tournament it seems like. Just playing every other day. But, the position we are in, we have to win a lot of games. It is going to feel like the playoffs, I think and that is always fun when it feels like that. We are looking forward to it.

Defenseman Johnny Boychuk was back at practice for the first time since breaking his orbital bone when he took a puck to the face in the Bruins’ last home game before the break against Vancouver. He wore a visor and participated in the full workout. Fellow blue liner Stuart also skated for the first time since breaking a finger in a fight with the Kings’ Wayne Simmonds on Jan. 30 which required surgery on Feb. 1.

“I got the cast off on Tuesday, so that was a good feeling,” Stuart said. “It is just a matter of getting some of the stiffness out. I have got to get the hands and stuff going and I am not going to push the shooting too much right away. I will probably give it a couple of days, and passing and stuff like that was good.”

Stuart said the the break was not due to an impact of his hand on Simmonds or the ice but rather that he grabbed the jersey and torqued the finger in during the fight. He said that he will probably wear protective gear on the hand “for a bit” but does not seem overly concerned about his prospects for the rest of the season.

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Read More: Johnny Boychuk, Mark Stuart,
Sluggish start dooms B’s on Columbus Day matinee 10.12.09 at 3:27 pm ET
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Once again the Boston Bruins underwhelmed on home ice. It was a lackadaisical start for the home team Bruins during their Columbus Day Monday matinee, and it took almost 30 minutes of hockey for the B’s to finally wake up. It was a case of “too little, too late” in Boston’s 4-3 loss to the Avalanche on the TD Garden ice. Perhaps it’ll be good for the B’s to get on the road for a while as they’ll do after competing a five-game homestand on Monday afternoon.

After spotting Colorado a 2-0 lead following a sleepy first period, the B’s stopped and started their way back into the game in the second period. Mark Recchi scored his first goal of the 2009-10 season and Blake Wheeler added an athletic score to get Boston back in the game, but the B’s let down again following their game-tying efforts.

Defensive breakdowns and soft play in their own zone helped the Avalanche pile on two more goals in the second, including a David Jones breakaway score after Andrew Ference made the elementary mistake of playing the body instead of the puck. Perhaps okay to do in certain situations, but not when that player — Ference in this case – represents Boston’s last line of defense during a sequence of 4-on-4 play.

Michael Ryder scored midway through the third period to give Boston a shot at tying the game, but the B’s sluggish started ended up proving too big a hill to scale this time. The defeat saddled them with a 1-3-1 homestand to start the season. Not exactly what anybody had in mind for a hockey built on so much promise headed into the NHL regular season.

“I think it’s one of those things were everyone realizes that things that worked for us in the past, things that we were comfortable doing and being successful at aren’t necessarily working for us right now,” said Wheeler, who scored one of Boston’s goals in the middling loss. “It’s one thing getting beat 2-1 or 1-0. We pride ourselves on defense and we are giving up quite a few goals here. It’s not the goalie’s fault at all.”

YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND, AND NOTHING’S GONNA EVER KEEP YOU DOWN: Johnny Boychuk. The AHL refugee has been waiting patiently for his shot with the Bruins, and he finally got it when Dennis Wideman went down with a left shoulder injury. Boychuck played with a Bruins-sized chip on his shoulder and didn’t allow himself to get bogged down in Boston’s end. He led Boston with three official hits and was a plus-2 on a night the B’s allowed four goals. David Krejci also played a pretty strong game for the Bruins and put his first two marks on the season tally with a pair of assists.

GOAT HORNS: Andrew Ference. The B’s defenseman hasn’t gotten off to a very good start this season and that continued Monday afternoon against the Avs. He did register one shot on net and a pair of hits, but his gaffe ended up leading to Colorado’s game-winning score. Ference also finished at a minus-1 for the evening. He was ineffective as a quarterback to the second power play unit and his breakout passes weren’t of the crisp tape-to-tape variety as well. Ference needs to turn things around and give Boston something better on the ir second defenseman pairing.

The veteran defenseman said following the game that he mistook Matt Hunwick for David Krejci on the ice, and the mistake prompted him to leave his position guarding Boston’s end. Not pretty.

Boston’s power play unit could very well get tossed in here as well as they are — in the words of Joe Namath — “struggaling.” The B’s man advantage is fruitless in their last 17 attempts, and is just 4-for-29 on the season good for a 13.8 percent success rate. Marco Sturm and Marc Savard were also both minus-2 for the Bruins in a loss that could best be termed as mediocre.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Blake Wheeler, Johnny Boychuk,
Wideman out for Monday matinee against Avalanche at 12:31 pm ET
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Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman will miss Monday afternoon’s game with a left shoulder injury sustained during Saturday night’s game against the New York Islanders. Wideman hit the boards awkwardly in the third period of the shootout win over the Isles, and B’s head coach Claude Julien termed the blueliner “day-to-day” prior to Monday’s matinee against the Colorado Avalanche. Johnny Boychuk was a healthy scratch for the first four games of the season, but will dress and play in Wideman’s place in Monday’s lineup.

“It’s not a long-term injury and it’s being evaluated every day,” said Julien. “If he practices then it’s a good sign for Friday, so we’re going to evaluate him as we move on here. It’s nothing more than a day-to-day situation.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Dennis Wideman, Johnny Boychuk,
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