|Ryan Spooner to center Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton vs. Jets||03.19.13 at 2:09 pm ET|
Ryan Spooner has only played one career NHL game, but it appears his second one will carry a ton of responsibility.
Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters in Winnipeg Tuesday that Spooner, who was called up Monday on an emergency basis from Providence, will start on Boston’s top line Tuesday against the Jets, centering Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton in place of the injured David Krejci. Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe noted during Tuesday’s morning skate that Spooner was also working with the Bruins’ top power play unit with Lucic, Horton, Dougie Hamilton and Tyler Seguin.
Spooner played 5:29 in his NHL debut last month against the Canadiens.
|Bruins hope they can get and hold leads this time vs. Capitals, Penguins||03.15.13 at 2:10 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins haven’t been thrilled with their level of play of late, so what two better opponents to face this weekend than two of the clubs against whom the B’s have had their most embarrassing moments?
The Bruins will host the Capitals on Saturday before traveling to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins on Sunday. The B’s have blown third-period leads to both teams recently in what both resulted in unflattering losses.
Boston jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period against Washington on March 5 before the Capitals stormed back to tie it with a pair of goals in the second and the equalizer in the third. They won on an Eric Fehr goal in overtime.
While that was a leading candidate for the Bruins’ ugliest loss of the season at the time, at least they got a point out of it. The B’s squandered a 2-0 lead late against the Penguins Tuesday when Pittsburgh scored three goals in the final 6:18 to beat Boston in regulation.
So as the B’s look to improve their level of play after a mediocre showing against the Penguins Thursday night, this weekend should at least provide them plenty of motivation to keep their intensity up.
“Obviously we all know what happened in Washington, which is basically the same thing that happened in Pittsburgh on Tuesday,” David Krejci said Friday. “We all know what happened, so we definitely want to have a good start and have a great 60-minute effort. We need points just like they do. We need them as bad as they do. Obviously we didn’t forget what happened in those games, but it’s a new game starting 0-0.”
The Bruins were 32-0-0 last season when leading entering the third period. This season, they’ve gone 7-3-1 in such games.
“We’ve addressed [wanting] to put together a complete game, a full 60 minutes,” Milan Lucic said. “Last year we didn’t blow a lead in the third period, and this year we’ve managed to blow three. There’s definitely some cracks in our game that we’re trying to fix. There’s a big learning process going through the season and trying to solidify your game and get it to where you want to be to achieve your goal.”
WILMINGTON — One of the most glaring issues on a Bruins team that is winning games despite not firing on all cylinders is the lack of production from their two power forwards in Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.
The pair has struggled mightily to find the back of the net of late, with Lucic having now gone 10 games without a goal and Horton goal-less in his last eight.
They both got more chances Thursday night against the Panthers, and as they struggle to find the back of the net, their focus is on capitalizing on those chances rather than dwelling on the slump.
“You want to do everything you can to get chances, but you want to get results as well,” Lucic said after Friday’s practice. “For myself especially, it’s been a little frustrating lately to not be able to get a goal here, but you’ve just got to stick with it.”
While Lucic and Horton have had difficulty finding the back of the net, their center in David Krejci finds himself in the midst of one of his most consistent seasons in the NHL. Krejci is third on the B’s with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists), and the longest stretch without a point for him is two games, which has only happened once.
Now it’s just a matter of that success and consistency spreading throughout his line, and Krejci is confident his linemates will find their scoring touch sooner rather than later.
“I think they’re getting chances,” Krejci said. “Maybe Horty’s gotten more chances the last couple games than Looch did, but that means Looch is creating those chances. I think if we’re just playing our game and not trying to be too cute out there, it’s going to come. I think we’ve got good chemistry. It doesn’t just go away forever. I think it’s going to come back and we’re going to put the puck in the net consistently. I’m pretty sure of it. We’ve just got to stick with it, believe that we can do it again. I’m pretty sure it’s coming.”
|Dougie Hamilton might look like Beaker, but he’s no Muppets buff||02.27.13 at 2:47 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Dougie Hamilton is a smart guy. He knows the game of hockey well, and he was a superb student before his NHL career, winning the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year in 2011.
There is one thing he doesn’t know, however, and that’s the Muppets.
A photoshopped picture of Hamilton, done by the website bostonbruinsfan.com, made the rounds on Tuesday night. The image had a frowning Hamilton next to a picture of Beaker in a Bruins uniform. The Bruins saw it on the bus after their 4-1 win over the Islanders last night and had a good laugh over it.
The picture was hilarious to teammates, but though Hamilton said he found it funny, he didn’t get the joke as well as the rest of the team.
“I don’t know who Beaker is,” he admitted Thursday.
That didn’t sit well with Milan Lucic.
“Looch was really upset about that,” Brad Marchand said. “Looch asked every person on the plane last night if they knew who the Muppets were after Dougie said he didn’t know. We had some fun about that one. I hope Looch has settled down a little bit about that one.”
Often the target of jokes from teammates and opponents himself, Marchand is glad to see the Hamilton — a very business-like player for a rookie — get involved with the good-natured ribbing.
“Everyone gets it from day to day,” Marchand. “It’s funny to see Dougie react to things like that. He’s new and young and guys like to have fun with it. He’s good about it, he takes it in stride.”
|Shawn Thornton undergoing evaluation, update expected Friday||02.01.13 at 12:35 am ET|
Thornton was handed a rare beating in a bout with Buffalo’s John Scott three minutes into a 7-4 loss to the Sabres Thursday night at TD Garden.
After serving his five-minute fighting major in the penalty box, Thornton skated across the ice and immediately to the Bruins dressing room. He did not return.
“We’ll know more [Friday],” Julien said immediately after the game. “He’s being evaluated, until we get a definite answer, nothing more.”
Julien said Thornton’s loss in the fight had little to do with his team’s defenseless loss to the Sabres, a game in which they allowed seven goals in the final two periods.
“I mean you know that’s just part of the game, and you know Scott did his job that his job for them and Shawn did his job for us,” Julien said. “And those things happen you win some you lose some. But at the same time I don’t think it deflated our team. We were in the lead 3-1 there half way through the second so it didn’t do anything in that way. I think again you know, we keep looking for other reasons than the one I gave you guys ‘ we were just terrible defensively. And you know the other part is – give them credit they played a really good game tonight. And I’m not saying that just to say, they really did play a good solid game tonight and they were the better team at the end of the night.”
“I think it’s what happens, it’s a square-off between the two tough guys in the building,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “Somebody said they were talking in warm-ups, I didn’t really anticipate what was going to happen. I think John has provided us some team toughness, and it’s spilled off onto other guys. He did a nice job for us and I thought the rest of the game was just a hard fought game.”
As for the Bruins’ players, they reacted in different ways to the Thornton loss.
“He’s been a great team guy here for the last six years, and he takes a lot of pride in what he does, sticking up for himself and his teammates,” Milan Lucic said. “He’s a great team guy, and he’s an important person to this hockey club. It was unfortunate that he missed the rest of the game after that, but knowing him, he’s a tough guy and he’ll try to get back as soon as he can.”
“I wasn’t too sure if Thorty was gonna fight him, but that’s the type of guy he is, make sure no one else had to do the job and you know, did it,” added Tyler Seguin. “I came in and saw him, he looked like he was doing fine.
“Obviously Thorty can fight and he’s a tough guy, but you’ve still got to look at that Scott guy, he’s not a small guy and Thorty has a ton of passion, and will do anything it takes for this team. Whether it’s fighting a giant just to get the boys going, win or lose, that’s what he’s gonna do.”
|First line focused on burying chances||01.22.13 at 5:44 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — There were few questions surrounding the Bruins (less than other teams, anyway) entering the season, but one of them surrounded the first line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. So far the answers have been pretty convincing.
The trio hadn’t played together since Horton went down with a concussion last season on a hit from Flyers forward Tom Sestito on Jan. 22, exactly a year ago. With Horton coming off two straight season-ending concussions and Lucic not playing during the lockout, it was easy to question how the Krejci trio would fare.
Nobody would have been surprised if the two power forwards came out sluggish as they got their legs back, but it’s been the opposite. The whole line has been flying, while Horton and Lucic have been their usual physical selves. Claude Julien sang their praises after Monday’s win over the Jets, but Krejci and Lucic said Tuesday that though they’re happy with their start, they haven’t buried their chances.
“It’s been basically a year going back to when Nathan got hurt in Philadelphia, since we played together in a threesome, and it’s obviously great that we’ve been able to click as well as we have, but in saying that, we’ve only been able to produce one goal,” Lucic said. “A big thing in the NHL is you’ve got to push yourself to get results. Right now it’s coming, but I think we definitely need to keep going until we get those results.”
Lucic was a wrecking ball on Monday (10 hits), while Horton and Krejci sniffed around several scoring opportunities, one of which came on their first shift when Krejci’s backhand bid was denied by Ondrej Pavelec.
“We had one right away the first shift,” Krejci said. “Those are the worst, on the first shift and you don’t score when you have a great chance. It’s not really a good feeling, but I think our game’s getting back to where we’d like it to be. The main thing for us is to keep our feet moving, with the puck or without the puck.”
Though Krejci has probably been the line’s best player through three games, the first line has undoubtedly been boosted by the return of Horton. The 27-year-old was cleared for contact over the summer and would have been ready for the start of the season had it began in October, and despite choosing not to play anywhere during the lockout, he clearly spent the time well. He looks bigger and stronger, while showing the skill that made him the third overall pick back in 2003.
His absence was felt when he went down last season. With Horton in the lineup, Lucic scored 17 goals in 45 games, while Krejci had 27 assists in 43 games. Without Horton, Lucic had just nine goals and Krejci had 14 assists in 43 games (including the playoffs).
With Horton back, the duo of he and Lucic has skated hard and used their big bodies (they stand at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3, respectively, and both weigh over 225 pounds) to wear down opposing top lines and create scoring opportunity.
“That’s how they get in the game, those two, with their physical play,” Krejci said. “I think they’ve done a pretty good job at it, and as a line I think we’ve created so many chances.
Said Lucic: “I think if you look at when I’ve been most successful in my career, it’s been when it’s been straight-line hockey. I’ve been able to do that the last two games, and I need to continue doing that. It’s no secret it makes me more successful than any other way of playing.
“If I’m trying to stick-handle and make moves and all that type of stuff, it doesn’t work as well. Keeping it simple works the best for my game and it has since my junior days, so why change now?”
The line has not been on the ice for a goal against this season. That’s a positive, but at the end of the day, its members know they should be on the ice for quite a few Bruins’ goals.
“I think the chemistry’s getting back there,” Krejci said of the line’s work. “Too bad we didn’t score [Monday]. We had so many chances, but the good thing is that we’re getting chances, we keep our feet moving and that’s a good sign. We’re the top line, so everyone expects for us to produce. We’re going to have to do that.”
|Bruins open season with win over Rangers||01.19.13 at 9:42 pm ET|
The Bruins started things off right Saturday, opening the 48-game season with a 3-1 win over the Rangers at TD Garden.
Milan Lucic got the Bruins on the board in the first period thanks to a nice play that was started by Andrew Ference. The veteran blueliner hit David Krejci with a pass at the Rangers’ blue line, and Krejci fired a snapshot that yielded a kick save from Henrik Lundqvist that bounced right to Lucic. The 24-year-old buried the rebound to give the B’s a 1-0 lead.
Daniel Paille made it 2-0 in the second period, sending a pass to Gregory Campbell in the neutral zone and hustling to the net to deflect Campbell’s shot past Lundqvist. That goal woke the Rangers up, however, as New York picked up its play and cashed in on a Brad Richards wristshot from outside the right circle that went through a crowd and beat Tuukka Rask top shelf stick-side.
As usual, the Bruins sent the fourth line out following the goal, and both Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell tried to help the Bruins regain momentum by dropping the gloves with Mike Rupp and Stu Bickel, respectively. The fights occurred three seconds apart from one another.
The B’s managed to add to the lead in the third period thanks to Johnny Boychuk, who was celebrating his 29th birthday Saturday. Boychuk threw a wristshot toward the net that went off a Rangers player and the seemingly the stick of Patrice Bergeron before finding its way past Lundqvist. The goal was credited to Boychuk, though to the naked eye it appeared Bergeron may have gotten a piece of it.
The B’s will return to action Monday when they host Blake Wheeler and the Jets in a matinee at TD Garden. They’ll face the Rangers again Wednesday in New York.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– It was good to see Lucic get off to a good start, as the power forward entered the season surrounded by questions of what kind of shape he kept himself in during the lockout. Lucic went without a goal in the first six games last season and hadn’t scored in a season opener in the first four years of his career.
– The B’s came through with a huge five-on-three penalty kill in a one-goal game in the third period. Thirty seconds after Lucic went off for boarding Carl Hagelin, Patrice Bergeron was caught in the Rangers’ zone and Rick Nash sped through the Bruins’ zone and split Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. Chara hooked Nash, giving the Rangers 1:30 of five-on-three play without the Bruins’ best defenseman on the ice. Seidenberg, Bergeron, Chris Kelly, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid and Andrew Ference did a masterful job limiting the Rangers, and Ference eventually drew a hooking call on Nash with 20 seconds remaining in the Chara penalty.
– Dougie Hamilton did what the Bruins wanted him to do: Play smart hockey and limit mistakes. The 19-year-old played the first shift of his NHL career on the power play thanks to a Carl Hagelin interference penalty 19 seconds into the game.
Hamilton was paired with Dennis Seidenberg and was credited with two shots on goal and three hits on the night.
– The Rangers took a too-many-men penalty with 58 seconds remaining and Lundqvist pulled, effectively ending any shot at a two-goal comeback in the final minute.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Henrik Lundvist turned in an easy candidate for save of the year when he snagged a David Krejci who into a wide open net just before it crossed the line with the B’s on the power play in the third. The goal appeared to be such a sure thing that the spotlight actually came on for a second to celebrate the goal, but the reigning Vezina winner was quick to turn it off. The play was reviewed and upheld.
– Speaking of interference penalties, there were three such calls between the two teams, and there were four in the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia game. Looks like the calls will be a bit tighter, at least early on in the season.
– Ference had a bit of bad luck, as he made the long pass to Krejci that led to Lucic’s goal, but he got off the ice for a change before Lucic put the puck in the net. He was then on the ice for Richards’ goal, so he had a minus-1 rating despite having played a major hand in Boston’s first goal.
– In the what-else-is-new department, the Bruins’ power play struggled and went 0-for-7 on the night. It was particularly sloppy in the first period and got better looks as the game went on, but the good news is that the B’s also kept the Rangers without a goal on their five power plays.