|First period summary: Bruins vs. Maple Leafs||04.03.10 at 7:51 pm ET|
If there was ever a must-win game, Saturday at Air Canada Centre in Toronto is that kind of game for the Bruins.
The results will be twofold. Foremost, the Bruins are only a point ahead of the Thrashers and tied with Flyers for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Secondly, if Boston wants to get a top two pick in the NHL Entry Draft this summer, they have to beat the team whose pick they own to keep them down in the standings.
So, you would think that the Bruins would be motivated and jump on the division rival Leafs early, right?
Not so much.
Toronto took the early lead at 5:10 into the game when Colton Orr, much more known for his bruising than goal scoring, pushed a rebound off a Dion Phaneuf shot pased Tuukka Rask to open the scoring.
Four minutes later the Leafs would have a big chance to make it a two-goal advantage when Michael Ryder went to the penalty box for hooking at 9:15. He was followed there 23-seconds later by Dennis Seidenberg who took a boarding call to set up 1:37 of two-man advantage ice time for Toronto.
The Bruins registered the kill and came back down the ice to put pressure on Leafs’ goaltender Jonas Gustavsson but a shot hit the cross bar and bounced back out of the crease to end the threat.
During Seidenberg’s penalty he had to leave the box with a cut on his forearm that needed medical attention. Defenseman Mark Stuart is not with the team after getting sent back to Boston with cellulitis, a skin infection, in his hand. Andrew Bodnarchuk has been recalled from Providence on an emergency basis.
Toronto has been the better team through the first 20 minutes and lead the Bruins in shots by nine, 14 to five.
|Ryder, Wheeler among prominent line changes||04.02.10 at 1:57 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — There was a little bit of a new look to the lines at Bruins practice at Ristuccia on Friday.
The normal line groupings by sweater color were blown up by coach Claude Julien. Instead of the normal David Krejci, Blake Wheeler, Michael Ryder line wearing grey, Krejci was joined by Marco Sturm and Miroslav Satan in white sweaters to make the All-European line. Wheeler still skated in grey just this time with Vladimir Sobotka and Brad Marchand. Milan Lucic took Sturm’s spot on the line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi.
That left the normal red, checking, line — Steve Begin, Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille and Trent Whitfield.
Oh yeah. And Ryder.
“Whoever plays together I think we can definitely play together and get shots on net,” Ryder said by the way of a non-committal response when asked if he saw the red sweater as a demotion.
Julien admitted that the shake up was definitely part of a wake up call that the coaching staff is giving to certain players, like Ryder, Wheeler, Sturm and Lucic, who have been pretty stale of late.
“You saw it today, making some changes, we have got to find some ways of making consistency here,” Julien said. “There is a lot of stuff being done to get those guys going but at the same time we have to make changes on the ice. We are struggling to score goals and, you know, you got certain guys who just aren’t going while and you hope that making changes will either spark them, wake them up or at least give some different lines some better opportunities.”
The situation is getting serious for Ryder. He has one goal since Feb. 13 and has been held without a shot in three of his last four games. For a guy who is supposed to be the sniper, that is not the way things are supposed to work. He admitted that it was in his mind that the demotion to the red sweater could further lead to a demotion where he has no sweater, red, grey or Black and Gold.
“Definitely, it could happen,” Ryder said. “When you are looked at to score goals and you’re not scoring it is definitely in mind but I just have to keep working hard right now and step it up even another notch.”
For Ryder, he would have to step up a first notch before “stepping it up even another,” which he said twice in his five-minute scrum with reporters. He also said that he has been focused on battling though shooting the puck has not been his top priority.
“It makes a difference when everybody on your line is shooting the puck, getting chances and getting more opportunities you have a better chance of scoring,” Ryder said. “I was not thinking about shooting a lot. Sometimes you just have to pound those areas and if you get out of position you don’t get that shot. Now it is just about battling hard and trying to get to those areas and get pucks on net.”
Wheeler was also held without a shot last night and is now on a line with two young players who have been on the fringe of the roster (or in Providence) for most of the year.
“Well, you know, it is sometimes good, almost refreshing to see new faces, play with new guys. Changes like that are always welcome,” Wheeler said. “Anytime you go the majority of two games and zeroes goals, one at the end of the Devils game, change is probably a good thing.”
Wheeler had the Bruins best opportunity with a short-handed 2-on-1 break with Krejci as his trailer but let the opportunity fizzle out in front of him without putting the puck on net. He explained the play Friday morning.
“It is disappointing,” Wheeler said. “It was a play in the game that could have made it different and obviously you expect more out of yourself and I just didn’t make the play, that is all there is to it.”
After Recchi called out some of his teammates for not giving their best effort Thursday night and two games with only one goal, changes to the lines in some way or form were to be expected on Friday. In the dogfight that the Bruins find themselves, it will definitely take all 20 skaters to make sure their last five games are not their last of the season.
“In a way it is not that complicated, if guys work their butts off things will happen, no matter who they play with,” Julien said.
|Julien vs. Ryder: Two takes on same problem||at 11:33 am ET|
Claude Julien was pulling no punches following Thursday’s 1-0 head-scratching loss to the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.
“There’s no doubt we have some players who could’ve been much better for us,” the Bruins coach said. “And a lot of those players are the players we need to help us get through this. You can’t stand here and say, ‘We were outstanding.’ We just lost the game. If everyone were as good as they could be, we would have won this game.”
And if punches equate to shots on net, Michael Ryder wasn’t throwing any.
And therein lies the fundamental problem Julien had with his team and the player he considers his best shooter on the team.
“Ryder is probably our best shooter and ends up with zero shots,” Julien said. “Those are the things we needed from those players.” Julien. “I thought Ryder played a much better game in New Jersey and we needed more out of him [Thursday] as well.
“He’s one of a few more that we needed more out of.”
But Julien made it a point to say that Ryder was hardly alone. There’s Blake Wheeler, without a goal in nine games.
“The chances… Wheeler goes on the 2-on-1 and doesn’t get shot.” Julien on Wheeler’s short-handed chance in third period.
But Ryder said the effort is still there.
“If I had an answer maybe we could figure it out,” Ryder said. “It’s definitely disappointing when you’re supposed to have the advantage at home and you can’t find a way to put wins together. We have one more game left here, I think, and it’s a big game. We have to make sure we get a win there. Right now every point counts and we are on the road for Toronto and Washington. Two big games and we have to find ways to put the puck in the net.”
Ryder has just one goal in his last 18 games.
“It has been a tough year overall for us scoring goals,” Ryder said. “We got that time of year where you have to find ways [to score]. It’s getting into the grind with only five games left. We need to start getting some wins and getting ourselves some space. But we did a lot of good things tonight that we can look at. It’s just a matter of us still throwing pucks at the net and maybe getting more traffic or maybe bearing down a little bit more.”
|Second period summary: Bruins-Canadiens||03.13.10 at 8:50 pm ET|
The second period started off much better for fans of the Black and Gold.
The Bruins cut the 2-0 lead in half within the first two minutes of the frame. David Krejci started an odd-man break by feeding a rushing Michael Ryder who flew down the left wing and waited just long enough on his way to the goal line to that when he sent a backhand pass back at the crease that Blake Wheeler got an easy tip passed Jaroslav Halak to make it 2-1 at 1:12.
The Bruins did their best to give the Habs back the momentum with two penalties through through eight-minutes of the period. Marco Sturm took the first at 3:40 with an inadvertent elbow to the head right in front of the Boston bench. The next penalty was an interference call on Mark Stuart, his second penalty of the game, with an interference call at 9:32. Unlike Stuart’s first penalty, the Habs were not able to score due to some quality goaltending by Tuukka Rask and the smart killing of forwards Daniel Paille and Steve Begin.
The teams played two minutes of 4-on-4 after Canadiens’ forward Andrei Kostitsyn had an interference penalty with a little bit of late hit that Milan Lucic took exception to and went after Kostitsyn after the play, washing a glove in his face to take a roughing penalty at 2:36. With nine-seconds left in the 4-on-4 the Habs Josh Gorges took a hooking penalty against Vladimir Sobotka on the rush. It was not much of a penalty but tempers started to rise late in the period between the longtime rivals and the refs look to keep control.
Shots through second (total):
Boston — 5 (11)
Montreal — 9 (16)
|Second period summary: Bruins-Flyers||03.11.10 at 8:40 pm ET|
The pattern continues …
Or does it?
The Flyers did not waste anytime mounting their comeback from a goal back. Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg went to the box 40 seconds into the second period for boarding. The ensuing faceoff came in Boston’s zone and Flyers’ sharp shooter Jeff Carter found the puck on the left circle for a one-timer that beat Tuukka Rask at :44.
The Bruins went back up, just like they did numerous times against Toronto on Tuesday. Patrice Bergeron found Mark Recchi closing in on Michael Leighton from the left wing on the rush. Leighton went down for the shot, Recchi went up and it was 2-1 at 4:37.
This is where the pattern breaks.
Whereas in against the Maple Leafs the Bruins kept on letting Toronto come back, the Bruins are burying Leighton and the Flyers heading into the third. The lead burgeoned from one to three by the 11:16 mark when David Krejci got his second point of the night after a feed from Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder.
Really, the equation has looked simple. Get in front of Leighton and try to make a play. The third goal was a rebound put back by Patrice Bergeron off a heavy shot from the point by Matt Hunwick at 10:30. Krejci’s goal was a matter of sitting in front of Leighton, getting the puck, waiting a half-second to let Leighton get himself out of position and depositing the puck to the scoring bank.
The game heads to the third with a 4-1 score in Boston’s favor.
Shots through second period (total):
Bruins — 14 (27)
Flyers -16 (23)
|Second period summary: Bruins-Penguins||03.07.10 at 4:35 pm ET|
With the Penguins handing the Bruins multiple opportunities with penalties, it was just a matter of time before Boston broke through.
Evgeni Malkin won the dubious distinction of being the man who committed the penalty (hooking – 2:15) that helped get the Bruins on the board. David Krejci put the puck in the crease and banged on it to the point that Marc-Andre Fleury fell flat on his stomach though not quite on top of the puck. Blake Wheeler then snuck in and swept the puck out from under the goaltender for his 14th goal of the season that gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 3:12.
The Penguins came back in 5-0n-5 at 8:57 in a similar scenario to Wheeler’s goal. Pascal Dupuis swept around the goal only to be semi-stuffed by Tim Thomas but the forward stayed on the puck and it trickled passed Thomas to tie the game at one apiece.
Michael Ryder took a slashing penalty at 3:43 in the period but Boston was able to kill it off. In the middle of the period the teams played two-minutes of 4-on-4 as Ruslan Fedotenko and Mark Stuart got in a tangle in the crease in front of Thomas that led to matching roughing penalties.
Shots in period (total):
Boston — 8 (11)
Pittsburgh — 11 (21)
|Bruins breakdown: Riding shotgun||02.23.10 at 12:33 pm ET|
On Monday we took a closer look at the Bruins centers, Tuesday is time for the men riding shotgun — the right wingmen.
This group of forwards includes Blake Wheeler, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder, Miroslav Satan and Byron Bitz. Note that for the sake of breakdown this group is demarcated by official roster designation, not where the player always plays on the ice. For instance, when Wheeler and Ryder are on the same line, as they often are, it will usually be Wheeler who jumps to the left side.
So, let’s take a look at what is cooking on the right side of the aisle. On Wednesday we will look at their left wing counterparts.
Ryder — Is there any other player on the Bruins roster (outside of Tim Thomas currently) who is more persona non grata than Ryder? He was a productive player in Montreal but ended up in Guy Carbonneau’s doghouse and his production suffered. He then came to Boston to reunite with Claude Julien with the hope of regaining his spark. It is not the first time that a player has jumped from Hab to Hub (or vice versa) but, really, two Original Six teams with rabid, unforgiving fan bases one right after the other? No pressure there.
There are a few factors that are always sure to set fans off regarding particular players. One is being a high paid player who does not produce. Another is being a top six forward who in a scoring slump. The third, and most pertinent in this case, is not living up to expectations.
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