|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.
|Bruins hold off Lighting for third straight||02.11.10 at 10:16 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins scored four first period goals en route to a 5-4 victory over the streaking Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa Bay on Thursday. Michael Ryder had two goals and an assist in the first and Milan Lucic added to tip-in goals to pace the Bruins attack. Tuukka Rask won his third straight game for Boston with 30 saves and now has earned points in five straight. The Lightning came back on Boston with two second period goals and another in two in the third before the Bruins were able to put the game away.
Antero Niittymaki let in the four first period goals on 21 shots before being pulled for Mike Smith to start the second.
Ryder almost had a natural hat trick in the first. He got an assist on Lucic’s first goal with a shot from the point that the big forward deflected on its way passed Niitymaki. Ryder scored twice later in the period with the first coming courtesy of a give-and-go on the rush with Blake Wheeler and then another on the power play off a shot from Marc Savard to make it 4-0.
Lucic was credited for his second of the game in the second period when the Bruins made it 5-0. Lucic tipped a shot off a turn-and-blast from Zdeno Chara in the high slot that found its way through Smith’s pads.
The Lightning came back late in the second on the power play when Martin St. Louis picked up two goals in the final four minutes as the Bruins picked up a couple questionable penalties. Steve Downie scored the third and fourth goals for Tampa Bay in the third period.
Michael Ryder — The Bruins winger had his 15th career three-point game and has eight goals in nine career games against Niittymaki. His two goals give him 15 on the season.
Milan Lucic — The big bodied Bruin got credit for two goals on the night with deflections in front of the Lightning net. Lucic now has five goals on the year.
Martin St. Louis — Tampa Bay’s veteran forward had two second period goals and now has seven in the Lightnings’ last six games.
Boston’s third goal of the game was one of the best of the year for the Bruins. Ryder tipped a backhand tip pass to Wheeler who immediately gave it back to catch Niitymaki completely out of position. Ryder rammed the puck home and followed it with a trip/dive into the net to give the Bruins the 3-0 lead. Boston had taken 2-0 leads in its past four games but this was the first time in a long time that the Bruins were able to take a three-goal advantage in the first period.
Lucic scored his second of the game on a tip in the second period to make it 5-0. The goal become important as the Lighting would score four straight through the end of the second period into the third to make it a one-goal game with 8:51 left before the Bruins were able to put it away.
|Ryder and Bruins jump on Lightning||at 8:29 pm ET|
The Bruins have not been able to score four goals in a game for a while. Let alone four in a period.
The Bruins took a first period lead when Miroslav Satan beat Antero Niittymaki with helpers from Derek Morris and Marc Savard at 4:24. Satan took advantage of defenseless Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman who had lost his stick up the ice and was unable to support Niittymaki in front of the net. The Bruins have scored the first goal in five straight games dating back to last Tuesday against the Capitals. That streak includes four straight 2-0 leads starting last Thursday against Montreal.
Make it five.
Milan Lucic gave the Bruins the two-goal advantage at 11:21 when he may (or may not have) tipped a Michael Ryder shot from the point that was just enough to make it passed Niitmaki. Ryder’s shot went through both Lucic and Lightning defenseman Matt Smaby and it was not clear if Lucic actually got a stick on it though it definitely touched Smaby. At this point the officials are crediting Lucic with the goal, his fourth of the year.
Ryder would make up for it on one of the nicest looking goals of the year when he went give-and-go with Blake Wheeler in front of Niittymaki. Ryder had a backhand pass to Wheeler on the dot who returned it immediately for the easy one-timer into the net. Ryder followed the puck and climbed out of the goal with a fist pump and a three goal lead.
Ryder would make it 4-0 1:35 later on the power play (Steve Downie four-minute roughing 16:41). Savard skated from the left half wall and put a wrist shot on Niittymaki that the goaltender deflected to the back wall. It bounced back up for Ryder who deposited it in the top corner for the Bruins first four goal game in about a month. Ryder now has 15 goals on the year.
The Lightning would not get a shot on Rask for the final 13 minutes of the period and the Bruins head to the locker room with a sizable shots margin.
Shot through first:
Bruins — 21
Lightning — 13
|Power play puts Bruins ahead||02.06.10 at 1:51 pm ET|
The Canucks have come to visit Boston on the fourth of a NHL record 14 game road trip as they are being displaced because of the Olympics which start after next week. For their part, the Bruins have not played the welcoming hosts.
The Bruins got on the power play early when Canucks forward Tanner Glass took a boarding penalty 38-seconds into the game. Boston wasted no time in turning it into an one goal lead when Marc Savard cycled the puck to Marco Sturm in the corner who sent it across the crease Zdeno Chara. Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo did not shift back in time and Chara, who made a perfect pinch from the point, slammed it home at 1:56. Activating Chara from the point was a play that worked often last season but has been missing from the Bruins game this year.
A few minutes later Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton got to fisticuffs with Darcy Hordichuk immediately after a faceoff at 4:27. Thornton took a couple punches and held Hordichuk’s sweater and eventually wrestled him to the ground. Thornton was a healthy scratch last game and the Bruins have not had many fights in the nine-game losing streak so Thornton getting back to his bruising ways was a welcome sight to the fans at TD Garden.
A scary moment occurred at 8:22 when Canucks forward Mikael Samuelsson let go of a wild slap shot from the left point that struck Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk in the temple right in front of the goal. Boychuk went down in a heap and bled in the crease. He was treated on the ice for several minutes and helped off the ice. His return is doubtful.
The Bruins struck again on the power play at 14:20 off an interference call to Rick Rypien. Savard crept along the blue line and let a wrist shot at Luongo that Michael Ryder redirected with his stick just enough to find the back of the net. It is the 10th time this year that the Bruins have scored multiple goals on the power play.
2-0 Boston heading into the second period.
|Bruins cannot close out Blue Jackets||01.21.10 at 10:02 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins dropped a heartbreaker to the Columbus Blue Jackets, as they watched a 2-1, third-period lead disintegrate into a 3-2 loss in front of a packed house at the TD Garden. The Jackets’ R.J. Umberger tipped an Anton Stralman blast from the point past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask with a little more than a minute left in the game.
Michael Ryder struck the first blow in the game off an open-ice dish from Trent Whitfield to give the Bruins an early 1-0 advantage in the first. Columbus struck back later in the period when Raffi Torres intercepted a weak clearing pass from defenseman Dennis Wideman and crossed to Chris Clark, who beat Rask with a slap shot from the high slot.
Boston outplayed the Blue Jackets in the second period and took the lead when Patrice Bergeron split a pair of defenders with a shot that beat Steve Mason low on the glove side. It looked like the Bruins were going to make the goal stand until Antoine Vermette busted down Rask’s door in the middle of the third to tie the game.
Steve Mason — Outside of the Umberger game-winner, Mason was the difference for the Blue Jackets on the night. He showed flashes of his former self from the 2008-09 season and was pivotal in stopping a plethora of B’s scoring chances in the first and second period and finished the game with 32 saves on 34 shots.
Antoine Vermette — The Bruins were never safe or comfortable when the Jackets’ first-line center was on the ice. He scored the tying goal and had a power-play goal disallowed (kicking) in the second period.
Patrice Bergeron — The Bruins’ points leader played a good all-around game and gave the Bruins the lead in the second period. The goal was his 12th of the year and added to his team high 32 points on the year.
The play that set up the Umberger game-winner was a phantom double-minor high-sticking penalty on Milan Lucic at the 18:29 mark in the third. Lucic was driving from the corner to the net when he was called for the penalty, setting up the power play. Columbus scored 15 seconds later after a timeout to break the Bruins’ back.
Late in the second period, the Blue Jackets were on their first power play of the game when it appeared that Vermette had beaten Rask with with a dribbling puck when the goaltender was out of position. Rask immediately protested that the puck had gone off of Vermette’s skate and the officials reviewed the play. It turned out that Vermette had indeed kicked the puck into the goal with his back skate and the goal was disallowed because of the center’s “distinct kicking motion.” The Bruins would eventually lose the lead, but the play kept the advantage on their side until the final half of the third.
|Slumping Bruins look for a spark||01.20.10 at 7:35 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — There is a white board in the entrance hallway to the Bruins locker room in Ristuccia Arena where the NHL standings are updated in black marker every morning after practice. A few Bruins players watched as staff members filled out the Eastern Conference board, where Boston starts the day in seventh place with, two points ahead of the last playoff spot and three away from falling below the demarcation line for those who will be playing extended Spring hockey and those that won’t.
Much has been made of the fact that the Bruins have had an inordinate amount of injuries have derailed Boston this year after last year’s team was the Eastern Conference powerhouse throughout the regular season. The top line from last year is basically been non-existent this year with Phil Kessel in Toronto, Milan Lucic missing most of the first half of the season and Marc Savard out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury. But the Bruins struggles have not been all about injuries and schedule quirks. There are a couple players on the roster who have not been playing well of late, players who are important for Boston to put pucks in the net.
Two that immediately come to mind are Dennis Wideman and Michael Ryder. Wideman and the coaching staff know that he needs to bring up his intensity, his compete-level as they call it, if he is going to return to prior form as a productive member of the team.
“We are almost 50 games in now and you have to take charge of the situation and bring you intensity level up,” head coach Claude Julien said. “Because if you are going to play like a (number) five or six then that is the ice time you are going to get ice time wise. It is pretty simple. We have to do the right things for our hockey club and he needs to pick up his game. He knows it, he wants to, but he has got to understand that his intensity and his compete-level have to be higher.”
For the normally sharp-shooting defenseman, it may be his head that is getting in the way.
“It is probably more mental than anything,” Wideman said. “I have got to start practicing a little better and hopefully I carry if over into the game . . . I have been in slumps when I have not been scoring or playing this well, but never this long. It is tough to be confident you are playing that way.”
Wideman has 14 points on the year and has no reasonable shot of matching his career-high 50 points from last season, even if he does turn on the light and become a point-a-game player for the remainder of the season. His plus/minus of – 8 is tied for the worst on the team (Byron Bitz).
“When you are tied for the lead in the minus department of you hockey club you have to look at yourself and ask ‘is that really me?'” Julien said.
For a guy who averages around 23:00 minutes of ice time per game, that is a number that is not acceptable. Especially from a guy who should be the number two defenseman on the roster behind captain Zdeno Chara.
On the other hand is Ryder, who has 19 points (11 goals, 8 assists) and has been having trouble not just finding the net but also finding the puck to shoot. He has been held shot-less in two of the last four games.
‘It is always tough when you are supposed to score and you are not producing and you definitely take it upon your self where you just have to start doing it,’ Ryder said. ‘I’ve got to make sure that I play better.’
Ryder had 27 goals and 53 points last year and he will also be hard pressed to even approach those totals the rest of this season.
The Bruins have the potential on the roster to turn from where they are at now, a mediocre hockey club searching for a spark, to something more like what they were last year. If Ryder and Wideman can find their grooves and combine that with players returning from the infirmary, it would be a start in the right direction. Yet, as Julien said, the whole team needs to bring its compete level up.
“It is one of those things that, if you bring your compete level up, you have a chance,” Julien said. “We have a lot of guys out of our lineup but you have to hope that they guys that you have in your lineup, that their compete level is where it should be. We should make a game out of it. We didn’t make a game out of it last game and we look to rebound from that.”