|Bruins try to keep focus||02.05.10 at 1:43 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — After Thursday’s disappointing loss to the Canadiens, the Bruins talked a lot of about getting good traffic, screens and rebounds in front of the net. It is the equivalent of “small ball,” but a quintessential way to score in the NHL — get the dirty goals when the goaltender is obstructed or out of position. Mark Recchi has made a good living doing it for years. This is how most of the league scores and how the Bruins are forced to play without a top-notch goal scorer who creates his own offense like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby or Ilya Kovalchuk.
Concerning Kovalchuk, if the Bruins players are crestfallen that he is now a member of the New Jersey Devils after Thursday’s trade, they are hiding it well.
“He is a great player and it would have been a nice addition but you are not going to lose sleep over it,” center Marc Savard said. “It would have been nice to get him but that is over with so you move on.”
Forward Milan Lucic did not want any part of the conversation.
“Obviously he could not get a deal done in Atlanta, he’s been a part of them for a long time. Good on New Jersey, looks like they got another lead scorer on their team and we will see what happens,” Lucic said. When asked if the players are looking for the front office to make a move, Lucic was noncommittal. “That is the least of my worries, it is nothing that I can control. Management does what they do and whatever they do, as a player, we have to be happy with their decision.”
Away from what has been happening in the rest of the NHL, the Bruins are focused entirely on themselves. Most of the work at Ristuccia Arena was focused on creating opportunities. The Bruins brought out shooting pads to elevate the puck off the ice and contain rebounds in screen drills. There was not a lot of contact but rather there will be some bruises where players took pucks off the body while standing in front of the goaltender as defensemen whipped shots from the blue line. Overall it was a day that the Bruins wanted to maintain a good work ethic and demeanor heading into Saturday’s matinee against Vancouver.
“It is kind of the way it has been going,” Savard said. ” We worked on the power play this morning, get some chop work and gets some shots.”
In terms of the goal drought in Boston, Savard said that he has never been a part of anything like it.
“For the amount of shots we put up and the scoring opportunities, I am not sure how many but I am sure it has been a lot over the past few games,” Savard said.
He was informed by a reporter that the Bruins have had 45 scoring opportunities in the last two games, good for one goal every 15 chances. “So, I don’t know what to say.”
Defenseman Andrew Ference skated with the team again and said that he “is making steps” towards a return from groin injury. He sounded doubtful that he would return next week but said that he was definite for after the Olympic break.
“Just keep taking steps. Stops and starts. Just another baby step,” Ference said. “I don’t know if it is going to get well enough before the break. Everyday I try to push it and see how it feels the next morning. You can only push it so fast so, honestly, I do not know. It has been going well so far so hopefully something before the break but I won’t know until I get to that day where I am taking full contact and full speed starts and stops.”
Here is the practice participation by sweater color:
White — Miroslav Satan, Marc Savard, Milan Lucic.
Red — Shawn Thornton, Steve Begin, Vladimir Sobotka, Byron Bitz.
|Canadiens set to invade TD Garden||02.04.10 at 1:27 pm ET|
If there was ever a game for the Bruins to get back to their winning ways, Thursday night against archrival Montreal Canadiens would be it. Boston has fallen from fifth to 12th in the Eastern Conference standings during its eight game losing streak and has watched division opponents like the Habs leapfrog them in the standings.
Over the past three games the Bruins have played with good energy and decent emotion but have not seen the results on the scoreboard. The team has not had a positive seminal moment during the season, a game that defines the squad and sets the pace for winning hockey. With the Canadiens in town and all the fanfare that comes along with them, Thursday could be a good time to turn things around.
“There is a lot of history in it, the crowd always gets into it. It is kind of cool when they have all those Montreal Canadiens fans in the crowd. It always gets us excited every time we play these guys,” Milan Lucic said.
Yes, there is history between these two Original Six hockey clubs, but recent history between the players on each roster is not worth much going into Thurday’s contest. Last year Boston and Montreal hooked up for a memorable, fight filled battle in the Bruins last home game of the regular season and tensions and between the two were high during the Boston’s three game, first round sweep in the playoffs. Yet, significant agitators on last year’s Habs roster such as Mike Komisarek (Toronto), Saku Koivu (Anaheim), Georges Laraque (released late January) and Andrei Kostitsyn (knee injury, out till after Olympics) are not around as are several players from last year’s Bruins roster. Hence, there are not many hard feelings carried over between the players going into Thursday’s contest.
“I wish [there was carry over] but they have kind of revamped their lineup so a lot of those guys who we had the big rivalries with in the last three years are gone. I would not mind creating new ones, I suppose,” Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton said. “We don’t like each other, we haven’t for years. I think it will be a fun game to play in, I think everybody will be up for it. So, I hope we will turn it around, yeah.”
The Bruins roster turmoil has had some effect on their goal output recently as they strive for chemistry on newly formed lines with the roster turnover or players returning from injury. As players such as Marco Sturm and Marc Savard get their health and timing back, the hope is that Boston can start generating more goals and find a way to win some games.
“We have not helped ourselves either with all the different line combinations but we are not the only team going through that and we are not going to make excuses but we have not had the same lines,” coach Claude Julien said. “The chemistry with injuries and the lines, it is a challenge and kind of have to fight through that and hopefully as we are getting a little healthier hopefully that comes back.”
At the same time, the Bruins goaltenders would do the rest of the team a big favor if they could completely shutdown an opposing team. Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice after Thursday’s morning skate and will likely get the start against the Canadiens. He said that both him and Tim Thomas are always approach games with the notion that the goaltender might be able to steal a win for the team.
“We got to have that state of mind before every game. The past few games have been like that, we can’t let in any weak goals. We approach games that way that we are going to steal them and hopefully it is going to happen soon,” Rask said. “We really feel that we have been playing better and better here just without the results but I am trying to get the win here today.”
10 Bruins forwards participated in the morning skate with Mark Recchi, Savard, Sturm and Michael Ryder the missing men. On the blue line Boston had six skaters with Andrew Ference taking the ice and Dennis Wideman absent. Ference has missed the last 12 games with a groin injury. Mark Stuart will still be sidelined with a broken finger he sustained against the Kings last Saturday and is expected to be out until after the Olympics at the very least. It remains doubtful that Ference will play against the Canadiens which probably means that Adam McQuaid and Wideman will be on the rink when the puck drops barring a last minute change of plans.
|Bruins use power play to gain momentum||02.02.10 at 7:46 pm ET|
The Capitals are giving the Bruins some power play chances early. For once, Boston has been able to capitalize.
The Bruins got on the power play early when Washington center Nicklas Backstrom went to the box for a hold at 1:04. It was for naught though as the Bruins’ Blake Wheeler gave the man-advantage back with an interference call at 2:16. The Bruins may have lost the opportunity but were able to kill the rest of Wheeler’s penalty to get back to even strength.
Minutes later, the Bruins found themselves with a golden opportunity to jump on the best team in the Eastern Conference. Capitals’ forward Matt Bradley went to the box for a hold and was joined 1:12 later by Alexander Semin on a high stick. Boston wasted no time with the two-man advantage as seconds later Marc Savard crossed the puck across the crease to David Krejci on the baseline. Krejci bent his knees and torqued a shot back across Washington goalie Jose Theodore’s pads to the back of the net for a 1-0 Boston advantage.
The Bruins are doing what they need to do — putting pucks in front of the net, keeping the pressure on and limiting the explosive Capitals chances. It has resulted in a significant shot advantage and, most importantly, a one goal lead heading into the second period.
Bruins – 13
Capitals – 5
|Thornton, Sobotka make way for Sturm, Begin||01.30.10 at 7:49 pm ET|
He missed the last six games with a leg injury, taking his 15 goals with him.
Steve Begin also returned after missing the last five games with a lower body injury. Shawn Thornton and Vladimir Sobotka were healthy scratches to make room on the 20-man game roster.
Thornton, with just one goal in 50 games, and Sobotka (4g, 3a in 43 games) have been very disappointing in their production as forwards and the Bruins are in desperate need of a jump-start to their offense. Entering Saturday, they had an NHL-low 128 goals.
“Patrice has been good for us all year,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “It hasn’t been an issue at all with him. He’s been our most reliable player from day one.”
To Julien’s point, the Bruins are 15-5-3 when Bergeron scores or records an assist. Bergeron entered Saturday with 21 assists, second on the team to Zdeno Chara’s 25.
Savard returned on Friday after missing eight games with a knee injury. He had an assist in the 2-1 loss at Buffalo. The team is 11-3-1 when he records a point in a game. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins ready to bounce back against Buffalo||01.28.10 at 1:44 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — After a week of practice to get healthy and screw their heads on straight, the Bruins will travel to Buffalo on Friday to take on the Northeast Division leading Sabres. It is an interesting challenge for Boston as the Buffalo is 15 points ahead of the Bruins in the standings but has been in a bit of a funk for the last week, going 1-3-1 in its last five games. The Sabres did snap a three game skid by beating the Devils 2-1 in a shootout on Wednesday night in New Jersey and remain a very dangerous team in the Eastern Conference.
“They are a pretty good team, they are playing well,” coach Claude Julien said. “I saw them play yesterday against New Jersey. They are playing with lots of confidence, they got great goaltender which keeps them in the game. They gave up 40 shots last night and only gave up a goal. We are already challenged a little bit in the goal scoring department so we are going to have to work just that much harder to get past this guy.”
The Sabres goaltender is Ryan Miller who is expected to be the starting net-minder for Team USA in the Vancouver Olympics and is second in the NHL with a 2.06 goals-against average. As Julien said, with the Bruins scoring woes, it will indeed be a challenge. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins hit practice with help on the way||01.25.10 at 2:01 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — A Bruins fan taped a sign to the bleachers at the Bruins practice facility at Ristuccia Arena Monday morning that read: “Success is how high you bounce when you hit rock bottom,” ‘ General George Patton. Monday’s practice was spirited from the get-go, with coach Claude Julien running full ice drills early as he tries to keep his team focused through this extended slump during which time Boston has dropped from the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference to the ninth.
The B’s hope that when they take to the ice for Friday’s game in Buffalo that the team will have a couple of key forwards back in the fold. With three more full practices before then, the Bruins have some housekeeping to take care of as they try to bounce back from this horrendous stretch of losses.
“Today was just things you have to do, things that you have to work on,” defenseman Derek Morris said. “It is going to be a long week of practice. We have to forget about those ones behind us and worry about the ones coming up. Win three, four, five games in a row and we are back up there in fifth moving our way back up. Everybody is kind of counting us out. We are not out yet and we are getting some guys back, we are getting healthy and we just have to worry about the next one.”
Speaking of getting healthy, Marc Savard was slotted into a line with Miroslav Satan and Daniel Paille. It was the first time since he sustained his injury that he has participated in full practice activities with linemates. He is still wearing a brace on his injured knee but says that he does not think about it much.
“It was a good test for it, got a little tired towards the end, but other than that, it felt strong,” Savard said. “Did everything, did the battle drills toward the end, felt good skating, hands felt good. Hopefully this time around I can be more of a presence when I get back.”
Savard said it definitely has been frustrating to watch his teammates and not be able to help out. At the same time, he is making sure that when he does come back that he will be an effective member of the team.
“It seems like when it rains, it pours. It is an old saying, but it seems that is what is happening right now,” Savard said. “Perhaps we just have to get the first goal in a game. We have a good week of preparation this week and we will keep on working until Friday.”
Byron Bitz rejoined practice for the first time since the Bruins came back from their three-game California trip.
“Feel good, full practice today. Stayed out the whole time. Hopefully it keeps progressing,” Bitz said. Bitz now has skated three days in a row and is shooting for Friday as his return date. “Third day in a row now on the ice, [the stamina] is coming back. Only had a week off so you don’t lose too much in that time, and we have three more practices to recover.”
Marco Sturm and Steve Begin, both who have been listed as day-to-day for the last week, did not skate and continue to be on the watch list. Julien does not know when to expect them on the ice and says that he can only go off what the training staff tells him.
“Just to clarify things, we have had players who we were saying were day-to-day, and those guys were day-to-day,” Julien said. “Sometimes day-to-day becomes a week situation. If I had known they would have been out for a week, I would have told you. Right now, Marco is still day-to-day but the hope is that he is going to start skating this week. That is all I can tell you right now.”
Here is the list of participation by sweater color:
White – Satan, Savard, Paille.
Red — Shawn Thornton (left early), Vladimir Sobotka, Bitz.
Bright Red — Drew Larman, Trent Whitfield.
|Savard Joins Full Practice||01.22.10 at 12:21 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are working on some power play drills and some from the corner 2-on-1 drills today at Ristuccia as they try to forget Thursday’s painful upset at the hands of the Blue Jackets. Marc Savard is on the ice wearing a red sweater and lightly participating in the session after a solo workout this morning.
“I felt great today,” Savard said. “I was only going to go out for a bit and ended up staying the whole way . . . We haven’t talked about [playing this weekend.] For now it is still next Friday. It is going to be up to the coaching staff and the training staff and how comfortable they are with it. I don’t have any pain and that is a good sign. I have the brace and felt solid out there.”
Other than that, the lines look like they are the same as last night. Marco Sturm, Steve Begin and Byron Bitz are not on the ice and Drew Larman is sticking around with the big club for at least one more day. Defenseman Andrew Ference is also still on the inactive list.
“Just going day-by-day,” Larman said before the Columbus game. “I am looking to bring my best to the ice.”
For those who may not be familiar with Larman, this is how he describes his game: “Strong two-way player, very solid in the defensive zone and reliable. Strong on face offs, strong on the penalty kill, getting in the right lanes, having and active stick, chipping in offensively with the right timing of a goal,” Larman said.
Larman had seven shifts with 5:29 of ice time on Thursday and recorded one shot.
– Here are the lines by sweater color:
White: Michael Ryder, Trent Whitfield, Miroslav Satan
Red: Larman, Vladimir Sobotoka, Shawn Thornton, Savard
– The Bruins will wear their Winter Classic sweaters tomorrow for their matinee rematch against Ottawa. This will be the second of four times that Boston will wear the sweaters this year.
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