|Recchi to carry torch, Bruins look for confidence||01.27.10 at 1:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When the Bruins came out to skate at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday, veteran forward Mark Recchi was conspicuously missing from the ice at Ristuccia Arena. The first thought to come to mind was that coach Claude Julien and the training staff gave Recchi the practice off. Afterall, Recchi is 41-year old wingman has played 1,541 career NHL games and logged a lot of minutes this year, more than Julien figured he would be giving Recchi at the start of the season.
Instead of having an off day though, Recchi had a higher calling — he traveled to his hometown of Kamloops, British Columbia to carry the 2010 Vancouver Olympic torch and light the Olympic cauldron outside the city’s Hillside Stadium on Wednesday evening.
“It is a nice opportunity for him,” Julien said. “I think he has done a lot in his career to deserve that and also in the town where he is going to be running with it.”
Recchi played for Team Canada in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan where the team finished fourth. The torch passes through Kamloops on Day 90 of its tour through Canada and will finish its journey on February 12 in Vancouver to kick-start the 2010 Olympic games.
Leading scorer Marco Sturm did not skate at Wednesday’s practice and it is looking unlikely that he will be available for the games on Friday and Saturday. Other than Recchi and Sturm, the rest of the Bruins skated and had a vigorous practice that was a notch up from the lively skate the team had on Monday.
Miroslav Satan joined the top line in white practice sweaters with Milan Lucic and Mark Savard. 10 games into his Bruins career the tall Slovak has two goals and two assists and six penalty minutes. Satan said that he sees similarities between this Bruins team and the last team he played for — the 2009 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
“That is a good example,” Satan said. “It was the same thing. We slipped from the playoff position. At one point I think we were like the 11th spot. Then, all of a sudden things changed quickly and we had a good end to the year and a good end to the playoffs.”
Whereas the Penguins mid-season swoon last year was a product of the team quitting on its coach (who was fired and the team took off after that), Satan does not see it playing out like that this year in Boston.
“I don’t think that is the case here. I think it is more of injuries and mental mistakes that we do in the games,” Satan said. “We, the players, are responsible for it.”
Boston’s real problem right now is that it is stuck in its own head. The team has a lack of confidence which has created a vicious cycle. No confidence means the team has had trouble scoring goals (dead last in the NHL in scoring) and no scoring means the team is losing confidence.
“It is definitely in the head,” Satan said. “It seems like if it is late in a game we make a mistake and that creates another mistake . . . we have to learn to shake that off and know that if we make one it is not the end of the game.”
Patrice Bergeron agreed with the the assessment that part of the reason that the Bruins are having trouble lighting the lamp is because of a lack of confidence.
“It is pretty much about confidence right now,” Bergeron said. “When things are not going your way, the puck is not going your way, it is hitting skates that it is not supposed to. When you lose games like that, you know, confidence is getting away from yourself a little bit but we have to make sure as a team that we bring some emotion back and bring back some hard work. That is the only way we are going to get out it this.”
There are a couple examples of the Bruins getting snake-bitten with pucks off errant skates but the one Bergeron was probably referring to was last Saturday’s game against Ottawa when a goal was disallowed after going off Recchi and Senators goaltender Brian Elliot’s skates. Ottawa forward Jason Spezza ended up scoring the game winner a few minutes later.
Three out of four days into this long practice week, the Bruins are trying to get back into the right mental state of mind.
“We are looking forward to Friday,” Bergeron said. “We have had a good week of practice so far and we have worked hard and we know our game. Keep it simple and working through to get back in the winning column.”
Here is Wednesday’s practice participation by sweater color:
White – Satan, Savard, Lucic.
Grey – Michael Ryder, David Krejci, Blake Wheeler.
Yellow – Byron Bitz, Bergeron, Daniel Paille
Red – Shawn Thornton, Vladimir Sobotka, Trent Whitfield, Steve Begin
Defensemen – Zdeno Chara, Derek Morris, Mark Stuart, Dennis Wideman, Matt Hunwick, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid.
Goaltenders – Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask.
|Breaking Down the Bruins’ Classic Win||01.01.10 at 4:23 pm ET|
Here is a recap of the Bruins’ 2-1 win over the Flyers in Friday’s Winter Classic at Fenway Park (for game story, click here):
1. Bruins – Marco Sturm nets the game-winner 1:57 into overtime.
2. Bruins – Mark Recchi – The 41-year-old skated like a kid, keeping the puck alive and creating chances before crashing the net for a rebound goal to draw the Bruins even with 2:18 to play. He also played a stretch in the third with only one glove without lessening his resolve for the puck. That’s Winter Classic spirit.
3. Flyers – Danny Syvret – Recalled from the AHL earlier in the week, he scores his first NHL goal, giving the Flyers a second-period lead.
Turning Point – Trailing 1-0, the Bruins go on the power play late in the third period. Recchi scores a rebound goal tying the game and setting up the overtime heroics by Sturm.
Key stretch – With the Flyers already holding a 1-0 lead, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was whistled from tripping 10:16 into the second period. Philadelphia picked up its pressure against Tim Thomas, but the Bruins also started creating more chances. The game became more wide open, with several odd-man rushes for both teams.
|B’s searching for scoring against the Rags||11.01.09 at 4:54 pm ET|
Did you hear the one about the Bruins power play?
No, there’s no punchline. It’s just that Boston’s toothless man advantage is one of the biggest jokes currently running in the Eastern Conference. The Black and Gold power play unit squandered five different opportunities against a feisty New York Rangers defense and All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and the B’s fell by a 1-0 score to the Blueshirts Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
The Bruins outshot the Rags 14-6 in the third period and 29-23 over the course of 60 minutes, and outhit the Rangers by a 41-28 margin in a game where the Black and Gold clearly paid the price. The biggest difference between the two teams were glaring, however.
Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik provided the only goal of the game in the final minutes of the second period on a pure goal-scorer’s strike from the high slot, and the B’s just couldn’t capitalize on five frittered away power play chances. The biggest disappointment for the team is simply how well they’re playing in just about every other area of the game, but they just don’t have any elite goal-scorers.
Everything earned offensively is going to through gallons of sweat and hard work in front of the net. Goals simply aren’t going to sometimes come easily as they did last season when the B’s were the second-best offense in the NHL. The Bruins now sit 28th in the NHL with a power play that’s scoring only 12.2 percent of the time, and taking out their blowout against the Carolina Hurricanes makes things only more gruesome in these post-Halloween days.
It’s almost fitting that Boston’s scoring fits are coming in the same week that Phil Kessel is expected to make his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and give their woebegone franchise the scoring transfusion that the B’s seem to badly need after the season’s first month. Patrice Bergeron and Blake Wheeler share the B’s lead in goal-scoring with four apiece, and Boston needs to do much better if they hope to escape a .500 fate that seems all too realistic 13 games into the season.
YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND, NOTHING’S EVER GONNA KEEP YOU DOWN:Brad Marchand played a physical spark plug game for the Bruins, and finished with five shots on net and three registered hits in 17:18 of action. His open ice flying shoulder hit on fellow rookie Michael DelZotto was exactly what the B’s could use more of. Mark Recchi was also a strong presence around the net in the third period when Boston was trying to force overtime and secure a point.
GOAT HORNS:Ummm, power play anyone? No offense, but no offense. This is becoming a serious flaw within the hockey team, and one has to hope it’s not a fatal flaw for this season.
|Marchand ready to talk up his play||10.27.09 at 1:26 am ET|
WILMINGTON, Mass. — The gabby Brad Marchand finally got his “Welcome to the NHL” moment during Boston’s shootout loss to the Flyers last week.
The gritty B’s rookie has attempted to engage several opponents in some post-whistle “conversations”, but has found that both players and referees aren’t giving the youngster a very lengthy leash. That is until he bumped into another mouth that roared in the form of a hirsute Scott Hartnell skating for the Flyers. Philly’s greasy, grimy troublemaker took one look at the 5-foot-9 Marchand — and it’s more like a Dustin Pedroia 5-foot-9 than a legit height listing — and beat him to the war of barb-wired words.
Hartnell told Marchand to “Go back over the rainbow where he came from” in a surprisingly cultured “Wizard of Oz” reference. The Flyers bad guy was essentially calling the Bruins rookie a Lollipop kid from Munchkinville in the process of talking a bit of hockey smack. Marchand responded by calling the stringy-haired Hartnell “a poodle”, and things were officially off and running for the Black and Gold’s motor-mouthed youngster.
“That was a good one,” said Marchand of Hartnell’s barb. “I even laughed a little bit.”
It seems that little trash-talking exchange might just have been enough to let Marchand escape his cage after understandably holding back in his first few NHL games.
“It’s been a lot of fun. Things are a lot faster and the guys are a lot stronger, but things have been good,” said Marchand. “When I came up here it’s a lot different than the American League. There’s a lot less people [talking smack]. Up here there’s a lot more respect, and there’s less time that I’ve been doing it. The refs tell you to shut up and head for the bench.
“Now that I’m out there getting a little more confident and getting used to things, I’ll probably start [chirping] a lot more.”
B’s followers can expect that plenty of insult trades will be flowing from Marchand provided he continues working hard and building chemistry with linemates Patrice Bergeron and Michael Ryder — a combination that’s sparked production and loads of quality minutes since Marchand arrived on the scene three games ago. The Nova Scotia native brings boundless energy and a healthy amount of skill to the table, but still hasn’t brandished too much of that trademark edge just yet.
The work ethic has also allowed Marchand to slide right into a prime position on Boston’s revamped penalty kill unit alongside fellow newcomer Daniel Paille, and the results have been immediate. Boston hasn’t allowed a power play goal since Marchand arrived on the B’s scene, and the youngster has skaken up a comfortable, veteran roster full of players with a jolt of youthful energy and passion. Whether it’s because Marchand is a lucky charm or actual difference-maker, the Bruins are a perfect 8-for-8 in penalty kills since his arrival. The rookie has totalled slightly over 15 minutes per game in his three Bruins tilts, and logged a healthy three minutes of kill time in Saturday night’s comeback win against the Ottawa Senators.
“One of the things that [Paille and Marchand] have really brought is speed and we’re able to pressure the puck all the way up the ice,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “Paille was already a good penalty killer in Buffalo and we like him in that role. Just in that one day of practice Marchand was one of our best penalty killers in that power play/penalty kill [drill]. So we figured with that combination of speed and tenacity, he’d be a good addition to that. We’ve kind of minimized that [penalty kill] crew over the last few games.”
It’s probably not all that surprising that NHL referees aren’t familiar with Marchand’s chirpy ways on the ice or his uncanny ability to draw opponents into foolish penalties when the action intensifies. Julien has already reinforced within his young player that thriving with an edge and baiting opponents is something that originally earned Marchand his NHL promotion. It’s also part of the skill set that will keep the rookie in Boston.
There may be times when things won’t work out for a young guy adept at provoking a little rink rage, but Julien and Co. are more than willing to balance some growing pains with Marchand’s in-your-face style.
“At some point somebody has to start somewhere, and there’s some young guys — like [Matt] Duchene in Colorado — who are playing pretty well right now,” said Julien. “He’s got a year of pro under his belt and he’s a player that doesn’t get intimidated much.
“He’s got to be careful and make sure it’s the other guy going into the box — and not him. But I think he’s also got a lot of experience at that during his career, so he should be okay. If it’s an issue then there’s no doubt we would address it, but you don’t want to take away a guy’s strength. He can antagonize and draw other players into taking penalties. That’s just the way he plays. We’re not going to hold him back and take away from the things that brought him here. He brings energy, he’s in-your-face, he gets under other player’s skin and he can score goals too.”
Marchand could also afford to step up his aggression in the offensive end after flashing solid instincts during his first NHL game while setting up a sweet Michael Ryder goal against the Predators. The winger indicated that his first job is to get pucks in the hands of Bergeron and Ryder to make plays, but young Marchand can’t forget he’s got enough to skills to pay the bills. After all, the little bulldog of a hockey scrapper was tearing up the AHL with six goals in six minor league games prior to his first call to the NHL Big Show.
“I’m just trying to get the puck to Bergie and Ryder and let them do something with it,” said Marchand, who racked up 59 points as a 20-year-old with the P-Bruins last season. “I think it’s made it a lot easier for me skating with them. They’re two of the NHL’s best players and they’re always there supporting me and letting me know where they are. The biggest thing I do is get them the puck, and let them work it down low.
“I just forecheck hard and create turnovers so they can get opportunities. If I get the puck, then I’m trying to put it in the net.”
The Bruins’ 2006 third-round pick has already earned early respect from his veteran teammates for his tireless energy and unflagging work ethic. Perhaps that youthful exuberance was one of the few ingredients missing from the B’s dressing room. Mark Recchi, with 1,500 NHL games and plenty of teammates under his belt, is impressed with what he’s seen thus far out of Marchand, and buys into the notion of the rookie sparking his older teammates.
“He’s great. He’s a competitive kid and he got so much better as he went along in camp,” said Recchi. “He just works his bag off. That’s what you ask. Play with a little emotion and play with a little of that fire. That’s the kind of passion you want to see when the young kids come up.”
|Paille heads home for some clean clothes||10.26.09 at 12:59 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — After helping the Bruins penalty kill turn things around in their last three games, winger Daniel Paille was missing from Monday morning’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. No injury for the gritty former Buffalo Sabres forward, however, as Paille was allowed to travel back to his home in the Buffalo area to pick up his belongings and tie up the loose ends of life after last week’s trade.
“He just went back home to get his stuff,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “He came with a suitcase from Florida, so we thought we’d send him home to get his stuff.”
*A lot of talk about the Bruins simplifying their efforts during the last handful of games, and now the results are flowing for the B’s while taking five of their last six available points. Derek Morris got off to an inconsistent start, but he’s put things together during their recent stretch and now leads Bruins defensemen with a goal and 6 assists. The blueliner has looked very much like the puck-moving, offense-minded guy that Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli had in mind when the team inked him to a $3.3 million contract this summer.
“We all had a meeting and we talked about it. We said we can sit here and make excuses for why we’re losing games, but the fact of the matter is it’s not going to help us. We’re not going to have [Savard, Lucic] for at least a couple of weeks,” said Morris. “I think we’ve simplified our game a little bit, and we’ve worked harder and simpler because of it. We’ve been rewarded because of it.”
*Mark Recchi didn’t want to talk much about being named to the four-person NHLPA subcommittee charged with the task of investigating the Paul Kelly firing and the circumstances surrounding the exec director’s quick removal. Recchi has been one of the more vocal individual players against the hasty action by his union, and the 41-year-old said that things are player union dealings will be handled behind closed doors from this point going forward.
Recchi joins Rob Blake, Chris Chelios, and Nicklas Lidstrom on the four-person investigative body, and intends to roll up his sleeves and get the union headed in the correction direction after a tumultuous last few months.
“We’re going to have things to go over, but we’re really not going to comment on it,” said Recchi. “It’s going to be done quietly. We’ve got a lot to review and a lot to go over. The players have emplaced a lot of trust in us, and we intend to reward them for that. It’s a huge [responsibility]. This is an important time for our union, and we need to — for once and for all — get our things in order.”
|Recchi named to NHLPA investigative committee||10.22.09 at 6:39 pm ET|
Bruins forward Mark Recchi has been one of the players vocal about the process behind the dispatching of NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly last summer, according to a TSN report, and now he’ll be a member of a four-player committee set to conduct an investigation of the union’s internal operations.
In addition to the 41-year-old Recchi, the player reps voted by a 25-5 margin to conduct an internal investigation of the Kelly firing and the B’s forward will be joined by Chris Chelios, Rob Blake and Nicklas Lidstrom on the investigative committee. The four-player committee include interviews with current PA employees, discussions with former PA executives Paul Kelly and Glenn Healy, plus the possibility of an extensive look at email correspondence over the past several months.
|Bruins get the points in a much-needed victory||10.21.09 at 9:25 pm ET|
It wasn’t a puck masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but the Bruins managed to get two points in a 3-2 win they most definitely needed Wednesday night. With games against higher caliber competition coming Thursday night against the Flyers and Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators, a victory over the lowly, offensively challenged Preds — last in the NHL in scoring with 10 goals coming into the game – was a virtual must.
“We have to realize we have lots of room for improvement,” B’s coach Claude Julien said. “Our confidence isn’t where it should be right now, but I thought we gained in confidence as the game went on. We were better period by period.”
The B’s trailed through nearly the entire game before pulling ahead midway through the third period when the fourth line once again proved to be the dirty-faced savior. Steve Begin battled to keep the puck in the zone and then was rewarded when Daniel Paille wheeled around the net and found him wide open in the high slot. Begin put the hammer down on a one-timer past Preds goalie Dan Ellis, and the Bruins finally had sweet victory in their grasp. It was Begin’s first goal as a Bruin after thoroughly impressing everyone with his high-effort style through the team’s first eight games.
Things didn’t start out all that well as the Bruins didn’t pose even a threat in the first period while the new skaters settled in a collection of four reconfigured lines. The Predators took advantage of Boston’s transition phase in the first period, and Jerred Smithson scored Nashville’s first goal on pure grit and persistence around the Boston cage.
After a lifeless first 20 minutes, the B’s jumped on the Preds in the second and scored 26 seconds into the period. Rookie Brad Marchand, playing in his first NHL game, made a great tip pass to Michael Ryder on a 2-on-1 hustle play and Ryder flipped a backhanded bid top shelf for Boston’s first score.
Former BU skater Colin Wilson struck back for Nashville and potted his first career NHL goal to once again give the Preds a lead, but Boston fought back and finally showed a little ferocity. This time it was Patrice Bergeron. The 24-year-old center battled through traffic to attack the rebound of a Zdeno Chara blast, and his third effort finally squirted pads Ellis’ pads for the tying score. The line of Bergeron-Marchand-Ryder was clearly Boston’s best of the night and put consistent pressure on the Preds.
YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND AND NOTHING’S EVER GONNA KEEP YOU DOWN: Brad Marchand didn’t show a lot of his infamous rabble-rousing style in his debut, but he helped spark the Bruins by setting up Boston’s first goal of the game after a dreadful first period. It was appropriate that Marchand picked up a point in his first career NHL game, and his line was the most effective all night long for Julien. This also was the line that finished the night out for the Bruins during a frenetic final minute — the ultimate reward from the coaching staff for a job well done.
GOAT HORNS: The B’s power play. Still no life and not a ton of quality scoring chances for Bruins during their few attempts on the man-advantage. In fact, there were none. Zero shots on net in four minutes worth of power play time for the B’s in the win over the Predators. Why hasn’t Mark Recchi shown up much on the power play this season after being very effective last year?
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