|Bruins-Sabres Live Blog: Headed to shootout||11.23.11 at 7:02 pm ET|
|Lindy Ruff: Lack of response ‘won’t happen again’||at 3:22 pm ET|
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff told reporters after Wednesday’s morning skate that the Sabres are more focused on playing a “hard game” than on providing an overdue response to Milan Lucic‘s hit on goaltender Ryan Miller earlier this month.
Asked if retaliation was on the Sabres’ minds, Ruff replied, “I don’t think [NHL disciplinarian Brendan] Shanahan would like to hear that.”
Though Ruff was brief with his answers, he did indicate that if something similar were to happen, he would expect more of a response from his team. Lucic hit Miller in the first period on Nov. 12, leaving the goaltender with a concussion.
“I’ll answer the question one more time,” Ruff said. “We were disappointed in our response, and that won’t happen again.”
The Bruins have won nine games in a row, and now have as many points (24) as the Sabres. With both teams two points behind the Maple Leafs and focused on moving up, Ruff steered away from talk of retaliation and said he’s more concerned with his team coming out hard.
“We have to play a real hard game,” he said. “That would be the message tonight.”
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance to discuss the surging Bruins, who are on a nine-game winning streak.
Boston faces the Sabres on Wednesday night in a game between two Northeast Division rivals. But the game is also notable because of what occurred the last two teams faced off. In the Bruins’ win over Buffalo on Nov. 12, winger Milan Lucic collided with Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who had left his crease to retrieve a loose puck. Some perceived it as a dirty hit by Lucic, but Buffalo did not react to it during the game. In Wednesday’s game, however, the Sabres are expected to seek out Lucic and exact revenge, and Brickley said that it could happen right away.
“I’m hoping that we get a look at it right from the opening puck drop,” Brickley said, adding: “It’s either going to be a bloodbath right from the start or it’s going to be a Wednesday night November game between two teams battling for first place or something in between. You never know what you’re going to get. But the anticipation is that the Buffalo Sabres are going to let the Bruins know that they’re going to man up and stand up from themselves and for one another.”
After the Sabres missed their first chance to respond, they received widespread criticism. Although both teams reportedly have been spoken to by NHL discipline boss Brendan Shanahan, Brickley said the Sabres can’t afford to let another opportunity pass.
“You never really get that same exact genuine opportunity that they had to respond when Lucic collided with Miller — or hit him or checked him or ran him, however you want to describe it. That opportunity has come and gone. And you never get that same opportunity back,” Brickley said. “But because these guys are division rivals and they’re both very good teams, they expect to see each other in the postseason, they have to respond. And if it means you sacrifice the two points tonight to send a certain message even though it’s really not part of their DNA, it’s not really how their team is made up, they do have to stand up for themselves tonight.”
Asked who he thought would be the one to fight Lucic, Brickley mentioned Sabres center Paul Gaustad. After the game on Nov. 12, Gaustad said that he was embarrassed by his team’s failure to respond to Lucic’s hit immediately.
“I expect Gaustad, he was kind of under the microscope, he had a lot of things to say following the game about how embarrassed they were,” Brickley said. “Pretty good-sized guy. He’s not on a short list on the toughest guys in the NHL, but he’s tough.”
|Andy Brickley on D&C: Not a good idea to challenge Bruins’ manhood||11.16.11 at 9:55 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance.
The Bruins defeated the Devils, 4-3, Tuesday night for their sixth straight win. It was a game that Boston had to work for all three periods to win, as opposed to the blowout victories the B’s had earlier in the winning streak.
“I think in this six-game winning streak this is the first game that when the Bruins pushed, there was a push back,” Brickley said. “Boston had to earn just about every inch of ice that they got. The good news was that Boston got better the deeper they got in that game. They had a strong third period and their will to win in the third period was clearly evident. A team that is feeling ultra-confident right now.”
The Bruins started the season 3-7, but they have drastically turned it around, winning all six games they’ve played in November. The team is averaging just under six goals per game this month. Brickley said that many people will point to the increased goal-scoring and improvement on the power play as the main factors in Boston’s winning streak, but he thinks the biggest change has come in the B’s’ own zone.
“They went back to being and reemphasizing a Bruins team that takes away the middle of the defensive zone and tries to keep everything to the perimeter to allow their goaltenders to get good looks at pucks and not allow second-chance opportunities,” Brickley said. “When they play that way, their counterattack game now really becomes more prominent.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
On Brad Marchand’s play against the Devils: “He took two offensive zone penalties, whether he agreed with the goaltender interference penalty, and then away from the puck really a meaningless roughing penalty that really served no purpose, and I know that’s part of his game. But listen, the second one’s a really bad penalty. You’re interested in winning the hockey game as well as playing to your strengths. Yeah, that was definitely a teaching moment, and I loved the fact that Claude sat him down. He got an opportunity probably to address his teammates in the locker room before the third period, saying, ‘My bad, that’s on me, I’m going to get it back.’ And to get it back the way he did on that set play right off the faceoff in the third period was a thing of beauty.”
|Milan Lucic: ‘That was the toughest battle we’ve had’||at 8:47 am ET|
The Bruins knew defending their Stanley Cup perch would be difficult.
But eventually, they also knew they would be up to the challenge.
And the challenge that came Tuesday night from a hard-working, big, strong and physical Devils squad was the toughest yet this season. At least, according to Milan Lucic.
“Yeah, definitely I have to say out of all the games so far through the season that was definitely the toughest battle that we’ve had,” Lucic said. “And we needed to dig real deep to get a win in this one and we definitely had to fight to the end. And we showed a lot of character, sticking to the game plan and finding a way. Obviously they came at us real hard and they’re a hard team to play against and we were able to find a way and get a good one here.”
The Bruins took the quick 2-1 lead six seconds into the third period, only to have the Devils come back two minutes later for the equalizer.
“This is definitely one that we had to earn and it was one that, when we get the lead they come back and score, it’s easy to get down and get discouraged,” Lucic said. “But we were able to find a way and keep pushing and keep finding a way to push for more and in that third period I think we had eighteen shots which goes to show that we really wanted to win this one.”
The Bruins have scored 34 goals in their six-game winning streak but Tuesday was the first one of the six they really had to sweat out in the end.
“I know this is one of the toughest wins that we’ve had,” Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. “Probably the toughest win out of the six games that we’ve had. They really tested us, they really worked hard, they really played a good game. We just stayed with it, and we were the ones that had the ability to turn it on the last ten minutes, and were able to pull out the win because of that.
“We’ve had a couple of games where everything went our way, kind of easier wins, and this was a good wake up call without having to pay the price because we were able to get out of it with the win. You know, this is the way it’s going to be the majority of the time, it’s not always going to be the way it has been the last three or four games. And so it’s a good experience for our team, I think.”
|Ryan Miller: ‘I didn’t know [Bruins] were all doctors’||11.15.11 at 3:06 pm ET|
Miller suffered a concussion Saturday night when Lucic hit him in the Sabres’ zone after the two were racing for the puck.
“I’m not as well as I’d like to be, but considering, I feel alright,” Miller said. “My neck is pretty sore. I’m trying to figure out if that’s more of a source of headaches or if what I’m really feeling was my head really started hurting.
“You always are concerned. Last year I thought I had a very simple ‘get your bell rung,’ and I missed five games. This, I don’t know how to put a timeline on it, but I am encouraged that my neck feels better. Once that really feels good, I can start to make my way back.”
Lucic said Monday that he was “surprised” to hear that Miller had a concussion because contact was never made with the head on the play. He added that Miller could have perhaps suffered the injury later in the period when Tyler Seguin crashed into the net. Miller isn’t the biggest Lucic fan out there, so he was rubbed the wrong way the remarks.
“The one thing I was disappointed with the assessment or what came out of Boston and some of what came out of the league was it wasn’t a head shot, so that was their conclusion to why the concussion maybe didn’t come from that,” he said. “I didn’t know they were all doctors. Concussions are caused by many things, one of them including a whiplash motion that sends your brain moving laterally or however you’re hit. It doesn’t need to be a direct impact. That fact alone, I’m rolling my eyes.”
The two teams will meet again a week from Wednesday.
When word came down Sunday night that Milan Lucic had been called to the proverbial principal’s office for his hit on Sabres’ goaltender Ryan Miller, there were different reactions from different places. It kept what’s been an interesting conversation going just a little bit longer, and while the conversation can stop for now, you have to imagine both teams have Nov. 23 circled.
While Bruins fans were surprised that Brendan Shanahan would consider suspending Lucic for the play, it seems non-Bruins fans were rooting for the B’s to get their comeuppance.
In the end, Shanahan opted against suspending Lucic, saying he found out all he needed to regarding intent on a play in which the two players were racing for a puck in the Sabres’ zone. The lack of suspension means the red-hot Bruins can breathe a sigh of relief, and it likely gives the Sabres all the more motivation to respond when the teams meet a week from Wednesday in Buffalo. Things figure to get more interesting than they already are.
The play itself remains a popular topic of debate. Lucic was chasing the puck after blocking a shot, but Miller came way out of his net to clear it before getting hit. One popular line of thinking among fans around the net was that Miller shouldn’t have come so far out of the net, as skating that far out makes him fair game.
The response to that, of course, is a simple, “um’¦ no.” As Rule 42.1 (charging) states, “a goalkeeper is not ‘fair game’ just because he is outside the goal crease area.” As such, Lucic was assessed the correct penalty when the refs sent him to the box for two minutes on a charging call.
Then there’s the picture that a disciplinary hearing paints for Lucic. The left wing prides himself on being a power forward who has no shortage of grit or offensive skill, but such hearings are never a good thing. While he is not a dirty player, this wasn’t the first time he found himself being criticized for an ill-advised play. The one suspension of Lucic’s career came in Game 2 of the first round against the Habs in 2009, when Lucic cross-checked Maxim Lapierre in the head. More recently, his punch to the head of then-Thrashers defenseman Freddy Meyer last season (which did follow a high hit from Meyer and got him a match penalty and an automatic hearing) last December and a sucker-punch to Lightning blueliner Victor Hedman in Game 1 of the conference finals a season ago provide Lucic-bashers with plenty of ammunition.
Claude Julien defended Lucic Monday, saying the 23-year-old goes hard at all times, so much so that he accidentally did the same thing to coach Geoff Ward in a practice last season, knocking Ward down much like he did to Miller.
As for the Sabres, it seems they can’t catch a break. With Miller out with a concussion, Jhonas Enroth started in his place Monday night and was knocked down when Habs defenseman Erik Cole hit him in the crease. Cole was assessed an interference minor, while the entire Sabres’ bench was likely scratching their heads over the luck of their netminders.
Regardless of who’s in net on the 23rd, things figure to be interesting. Tim Thomas admitted Saturday that he was on his toes following the Lucic hit, as he thought a Sabres player might take a run at him. After the Sabres failed to respond at all Saturday, one would think they’ll try to correct that in the next meeting.
For now, the book can be closed on the matter, but next Wednesday figures to be a different story.
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