|Bruins hold optional morning skate in anticipation of Blackhawks||03.29.11 at 11:23 am ET|
The sounds of pucks hitting boards and skates cutting ice were drowned out by a game of hallway soccer, as the Bruins held an optional skate Thursday in anticipation of their game against the Blackhawks. Tuukka Rask, Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder, Tyler Seguin, Gregory Campbell, Shane Hnidy, Steven Kampfer and Adam McQuaid skated for the B’s. Expect Tim Thomas to start with Rask the only goaltender to skate in the optional.
Given that Ryder also skated in the optional and that Claude Julien expressed a desire to stick with the same lineup that won them Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, it is probable that Ryder will be a healthy scratch once again.
Here are some notes from the morning:
– Julien said that he doesn’t feel a need to talk about last year’s playoffs with his team as they prepare for the postseason this time around. The B’s blew a 3-0 series and Game 7 lead in the second round last year against the Flyers.
“I think for us right now it’s just focusing on the moment. From here on in, we’ve still got to maintain our play, our level of play that we’ve had lately and continue to try and even improve that. There’s no room for complacency right now, and we have lots of players. If we’re going to move some players in and out from here on in it’s not because we’re taking it easy, but because we want everybody ready to go. That’s kind of the message that we gave the players. So for us, I think we need to make sure we maintain our level of play from here on in.”
– Much was made in training camp of the new situation that former Panthers Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton found themselves in. Having never been to the playoffs in their careers, it seemed the postseason would be extra special for them. Campbell spoke about what it means to him to finally know he’s headed for the playoffs.
“I’m excited. It’s been a long time. That was the first thing I thought of when I got traded to Boston, was that I was going to get a chance to play in the playoffs,” Campbell said. “For me, at this point in my career, the most meaningful thing is to get a chance to win. I know this organization’s excited about the opportunity to get back to the playoffs again.”
– While Julien said that the recent scratches “probably” won’t get in the lineup Tuesday, he will get them in the lineup over the next two weeks to both rest those playing and keep everybody fresh.
“We’ve got to remember the guys were going to put in are good players. It’s not like you’re putting in a bad player,” Julien said of the players serving as healthy scratches. “It’s that you’ve got a 20-man roster for the game, but you’ve got 22-23 guys here. We’re going to put some guys in, pull some guys out, but certainly not to say, well this is a game that we’re going to take it easy, we’re going to pull so-and-so out. We’ve got to stay on top of our game, and that’s what I’ve been talking about, sliding guys in that can go in there and stay sharp so that if, come playoff time, we need somebody, they haven’t been sitting around for a month.”
– Julien spoke highly of David Krejci, who has 28 points in the 27 games since Marc Savard went down with his latest concussion. The coach said it’s been more a result of improved play than increased opportunity.
“He’s elevated his play, there’s no doubt,” Julien said. “He’s become a better player in the second half of the season. I think we’re starting to see more of the David Krejci we know. I think he had a bit of a slow start this year and wasn’t skating as well as we had seen him in the past. And was trying to make those plays, but when you don’t use your speed it’s pretty hard to make those plays in this league. So I think his skating has gotten better, his intensity has gotten better, and because of that he’s making some plays.”
– The coach said that as far as fine-tuning things go prior to the playoffs, special teams will be the focus. After an ugly stretch, the power play has scored four goals in the last four games, while the penalty kill has allowed one goal over the last five.
“[Power play] is an area we’ve got to get better at,” Julien said. “Even our penalty kill had been pretty good all year, then we hit that funk there for about three weeks that really made us slide down in the [rankings] in regards to that. We’ve got to get that back to where we feel it should be. I think our special teams are going to be important from here on in, and those are part of the things we need to work on.
“What I liked about the last game is that we were playing a really good team, it was a tight checking game and we stuck with it and found a way to win. You’ve got to be able to be patient with those types of games that are tight checking games. In the playoffs, that’s what you’re going to get, and I think our guys did a great job in the third period of not creating some bad mistakes or turnovers, and eventually they broke, took a penalty, and we took advantage of it. It’s those little details when you get near the end of the year. You want your team to be composed and in control of their game plan.”
|Bruins get ready for Canadiens||03.23.11 at 11:50 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are coming off a 4-1 win over the Devils and are back at Ristuccia Arena Wednesday in antcipation of a big test vs. the Canadiens Thursday at the Garden. The practice lines were the same as they’d been in the previous two practices.
On another note, the Montreal media is here in full force. More to come following practice.
|Bruins hold optional skate||03.22.11 at 11:20 am ET|
After two days of high-energy practices, Claude Julien elected to make Tuesday’s morning skate optional. Just about everyone on the team agreed with this logic, as only Tuukka Rask and Daniel Paille took the ice.
Reading into things, this could mean that Paille might be the healthy scratch among the forwards. Brad Marchand is eligible to return vs. the Devils after a two-game suspension, while Tyler Seguin‘s recent play has made him hard to sit. The last two practices have featured both Marchand and Michael Ryder on the wing opposite Mark Recchi, so if Paille is the scratch, Marchand could be a candidate to reunite with the Merlot line.
|Bruins prepare for Devils||03.21.11 at 10:38 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are practicing at Ristuccia Arena Monday for the second straight day, hoping to work towards improving their play of late. The lines looked the same Monday as they did Sunday, with the Patrice Bergeron line carrying the extra man.
Milan Lucic ‘ David Krejci ‘ Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand/Michael Ryder ‘ Patrice Bergeron ‘ Mark Recchi
Rich Peverley ‘ Chris Kelly ‘ Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille ‘ Gregory Campbell ‘ Shawn Thornton
|Bruins take the ice for Sunday practice||03.20.11 at 11:21 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Ah, the rare Sunday practice. After an ugly 5-2 loss in Toronto Saturday, the B’s took the ice here at Ristuccia Arena in attempt to work out the issues that have made them losers of six of their last seven games (1-3-3).
|Tuukka Rask, Bruins beat Blue Jackets in shootout to snap skid||03.15.11 at 9:47 pm ET|
The Bruins fell behind in the final minute of the first period when Grant Clitsome sent a blast from the blue line past Rask, but a Zdeno Chara shot that went off David Krejci would tie it in the second. With the Bruins trailing in the third period and Nathan Horton in the box for holding the stick, Rich Peverley scored the B’s eighth shorthanded goal of the season, beating Steve Mason for his 16th goal of the season.
Rask, who had 32 saves in regulation, made timely saves in the third period in stopping Jakub Voracek, Antoine Vermette, Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett on key Blue Jackets opportunities. He followed that by stopping Rick Nash and Fedor Tyutin in the shootout.
The Bruins will head to Nashville to face the Predators on Thursday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– While benching Michael Ryder may have opened some eyes, there’s no debating that the Bruins are in better shape for a shootout with Seguin in the lineup. The rookie has struggled to pin down the NHL game physically, but when it comes to skating down the ice untouched, talent trumps all.
– The Bruins may have not seen much time on the power play, but they scored more than Columbus on Blue Jackets power plays. The B’s killed off all six penalties they took, with Peverley scoring the timely short-handed goal.
– Either Milan Lucic or Krejci were bound to see their point streaks continue due to the B’s first goal, and after a scoring change it proved to be Krejci. Lucic hit Johnny Boychuk with a pass in the offensive zone, with Boychuk setting up a Chara blast that went off Krejci before sailing past Steve Mason. Though Lucic didn’t get an assist on the play, he still has six points (2 G, 4 A) in his last six games. Krejci now has at least one point in each of his last six games, and eight points (2 G, 6 A) over the span.
– Good to see Rask play the role of stopper, as he picked up the Bruins’ first win in five games. The Bruins’ four-game skid was the ninth time this season the team had lost at least two games in a row. Of the previous eight occurrences, Tim Thomas had gotten the win that followed the first five losing streaks, with Rask now serving as the stopper in the last four. That’s a combination of both coincidence and the fact that Claude Julien is giving his young goaltender more time down the stretch.
– Mark Recchi continues the climb up the list for most games played. Tuesday, he surpassed former Bruin Dave Andreychuk, and at 1,640 games, Recchi is now fifth all-time.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins had just one power play in the game, and it lasted all of five seconds. Patrice Bergeron took an interference penalty following the face-off that began an Antione Vermette hooking minor. The team’s power play struggles have been well-documented (just one power play goal since Feb. 28), and having just five seconds on the man advantage isn’t exactly the right way to remedy them.
– Scottie Upshall continues to haunt Rask. Nice puck-movement by his line drew Rask way out of his net with less than eight minutes to go, and Upshall easily put his 20th of the season into an unoccupied net. The goal was his third goal against Rask in three games facing him.
– That’s now two games in a row in which Nathan Horton has taken a penalty in the final seven minutes of the game with the Bruins trailing. Horton was called for interference at 13:12 of the third period against the Islanders on Saturday, and he went off at 13:06 for holding the stick. Of course, the Bruins ended up tying the game with Horton in the box, but it certainly isn’t the type of habit the B’s want to develop. Krejci would later be called for a cross-check with 4:34 remaining.
Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters Tuesday morning that defenseman Steven Kampfer will make his return to the lineup against the Blue Jackets after being out with a concussion. The team brought Kampfer, as well as fellow injured defensemen Andrew Ference and Shane Hnidy, with them for their current road trip.
“Kampfer is playing tonight,” Julien said. “Andrew is touch-and-go. He’s very very close, and we’ll be make decisions on him for the next few days, but tonight he’ll sit this one out. He’s very close to being able go as well.”
While Kampfer will be in the lineup, Julien can’t necessarily say the same for slumping scorer Michael Ryder. The 30-year-old has just one goal over his last 14 games, and three points over his last 11. As a result, it will come down to Ryder and Tyler Seguin for who will play on the third line, and who will be scratched.
“Michael is a streaky player as well,” Julien said when asked to compare the winger’s struggles to those of Nathan Horton earlier in the season. “In his case, he’s here to score goals. He’s been known to score goals, but at the same time, when those things don’t come, players always have to give an effort in other areas as well.
“In his case, the last three games, that’s why we’re going to be making a decision tonight on who [will play] moving forward. At this stage, we want some accountability. I think the message has to be clear that everybody has to step their game up, and that’s what we expect. When things aren’t going well, you’v got to be able to bring something else to the table. Effort is always a big part of it.”