|Capitals at Bruins preview||12.18.10 at 10:26 am ET|
A couple of teams in dire need of a win will hit the Garden ice on Saturday night as the Bruins (16-10-4), winless in their last three, take on the Capitals (18-11-4). Despite dropping their last seven games, Washington still leads the Southeast division with 40 points.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 7-5-3 in home games this season, a mark that was brought over .500 with a 2-0-1 showing in their most recent home-stand. Saturday marks the first of three home games in a row before they play seven of the following eight on the road.
- The Capitals are one of only three teams with 12 home wins (despite dropping their last five at the Verizon Center), but the road has been a different story. They’re 6-7-1 outside of the nation’s capital, and are looking for their first win as the away team since Dec. 1, when they picked up a 4-1 win in St. Louis. It remains the team’s only win this month.
- Milan Lucic is a goal away from tying his career-high of 17. The 22-year-old power forward hasn’t just led the Bruins in goals this season, he’s been cold-streak-proof. The longest stretch without a point this season for Lucic is two games, something he’s only done once (11/20 vs. LA, 11/22 at TB). Lucic scored his 16th goal of the season Thursday.
- In their seven-game winless streak, the Capitals have scored two goals just three times. They have been shutout twice in that span.
- I promise this is the last time that we’ll mention that Steven Kampfer has had 20-plus minutes of icetime twice despite being only four games into his NHL career, and that Matt Hunwick had two 20-minute nights in his 22 games for the B’s this season.
Playing with Zdeno Chara and seeing the time he’s seen of late on the power play helps, and Kampfer should continue to get big minutes as a result. It’s rather clear the B’s made the right choice in making Kampfer the guy when it came time to call someone up from Providence following the Mark Stuart injury.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- This will be the fourth and final meeting between the two teams. The Bruins won the first two before dropping a 5-3 decision on Nov. 5. In that game, the B’s climbed back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game at three. This came after a goaltending switch and Tuukka Rask‘s entrance into the game in the third period. The loss, in which Rask allowed just one goal, remains perhaps the best single representation of the luck the Finnish goaltender has fallen on this season.
- It’s a good thing the Bruins are getting all of their games with Washington out of the way so early, because Alexander Ovechkin is bound to bust out of his season-long goal-scoring slump (by his standards, anyway) eventually. Ovechkin has just 12 goals this season, which puts him on pace for a career-low 30 goals. His lowest total in a season is the 46 he scored in 2006-07, his sophomore campaign. It is the only season of his five in which he did not register at least 50 goals.
Over his last 15 games, the 25-year-old has scored just twice. Ovechkin has one goal against the Bruins in three games thus far, an empty netter in the Nov. 5 contest.
Although he hasn’t scored nearly as much as one would expect from the 6-foot-2 winger, Ovechkin is on pace for a career-high 60 assists. He had 59 a season ago.
- The Capitals’ leading goal-scorer this season, Alexander Semin, will not play vs. the B’s after not traveling with the team to Boston, according to the Washington Post. Semin is out with a lower-body injury.
Semin has 18 goals this season despite not notching one in his last seven games.
|Bruins fall to Sabres||12.15.10 at 9:36 pm ET|
Drew Stafford provided all the offense for Buffalo as the Sabres beat the Bruins, 3-2, on Wednesday.
The Bruins relinquished the lead twice in the game, as they went up in first and third periods, respectively, on goals from David Krejci and Michael Ryder.
Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Brad Marchand, who make up the popular “Merlot line” tied one another for the team lead with four shots apiece on reigning Vezina winner Ryan Miller.
Tuukka Rask made 32 saves on 35 shots and fell to 2-7-1 on the season. The B’s were forced to finish the game shorthanded due to a Milan Lucic unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 18:22, though they applied significant pressure, including a great opportunity from Patrice Bergeron with Miller down. A brawl broke out following the final horn after Miller took a shot at B’s captain Zdeno Chara in front of the net.
The game also marked the first time this season that second overall pick Tyler Seguin was a healthy scratch. Daniel Paille played in the rookie’s place.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins weren’t exactly masters at holding a lead in the game, as they allowed game-tying goals to Drew Stafford shortly after scoring their first two goals. There was just 48 seconds of play between Krejci’s goal and Stafford’s first of the night, while Stafford picked up his second 32 seconds following Ryder’s tally.
- Penalties hurt the Bruins, notably Lucic’s in the third period. Likely not thrilled with his boarding penalty in the penalty, Lucic probably said something to a ref in the third, which was why he was sent from the bench to the box.
- Brad Marchand had a goal waved off in the third period due to goaltender interference on Thornton’s part. Marchand sent a bouncing rebound into the net but Miller was caught up with Thornton. Stafford scored the game-winning goal on the ensuing power play.
Thornton also had a pass intercepted in the third that led to Stafford’s goal. Thornton was hot and cold on the night, and despite getting shots on goal and drawing a key penalty, certainly had a couple of low moments.
- The Bruins have generally been able to get up to kick off these stretches of four games in three nights. Wednesday marked the first time they lost the first game in such a stretch. They were 4-0-0 in those games entering Wednesday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- David Krejci has been able to do damage against the Sabres this season. He entered the night with three points against them in two games and now has four points through three against Buffalo.
- The Bruins have faith in Steven Kampfer, and there isn’t much reason for them to not trust the 22-year-old. The latest example came in the first period when, after skating on the power play unit in Tuesday’s practice, he got significant time at the point on the man advantage.
The decision to give Kampfer time (4:19) on the power play paid off when he set up Ryder’s power play goal in the third. It was the rookie’s first career point.
- Shawn Thornton drew a penalty for the sixth time this season, which led to Ryder’s goal. Of course, his penalty in the third led to the Sabres’ game-winning goal, but Thornton, as well as his linemates, were among the most productive Bruins on Wednesday.
|Bruins at Sabres preview||at 12:14 am ET|
The Bruins will take on the Sabres for the third time this season as the two teams face off in Buffalo on Wednesday night. The Bruins have points in their last six games (4-0-2) and have taken both of their meetings with the Sabres. Their most recent win over Buffalo came last Tuesday when Mark Recchi tipped a Dennis Seidenberg shot past Ryan Miller to give the B’s a 3-2 win in overtime.
Tuukka Rask was first off the ice for the Bruins, an indication he’ll be between the pipes come game time.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Sabres are a sub-.500 hockey team (12-14-4) because of their struggles at home. Nine of their 14 losses this season have come in Buffalo, as they’ve posted a 6-9-1 record at HSBC Arena. They are 3-3-0 in their last six home games.
- The Bruins remain a more dangerous team when playing away from TD Garden. They’ve posted a 9-3-1 road record. They took a shootout loss to the Maple Leafs in their last road game.
- Fighting majors aside, the Bruins have been avoiding the penalty box as of late. They had just one penalty in both Saturday’s game and last Tuesday’s Buffalo game, both of which contests went into overtime. The B’s are 15th in the league in penalty minutes per game (12.9), though that is helped by their 26 majors, a number that puts them fifth in the league despite tying seven teams for playing the least amount of games.
- Milan Lucic is on pace for 44 goals. Does anybody truly see him as a 40-goal-scorer? Variables such as empty netters and a couple softies have been on his side thus far, so while he may eventually slow down, he still figures the finish the season as the team’s top goal-scorer if he remains healthy.
- David Krejci has three points (all assists) against the Sabres this year. He’s only had three points against one other club, and he knocked that out in one game when he scored two goals and tallied an assist in the team’s 8-1 win over the Lightning. Krejci is also on a three-game point steak that began with his two assists last Saturday against the Sabres.
- Marc Savard and Tyler Seguin have combined for just two points — an assist apiece — since Savard made his return to the lineup on Dec. 2. One would have to assume the two will get going and that Seguin will eventually be big asset for Savard, but it simply hasn’t happened yet.
Savard’s ice time has generally been anywhere from 13:15 to 16:26, and he’s averaged 15:01 per night.
- Here’s a totally useless and hardly telling stat from the good ol’ WEEI.com stat truck: The Bruins have won the first game of a three-in-four stretch every time this year. In those games, they’ve grabbed wins in Buffalo (5-2 on Nov. 3), Pittsburgh (7-4 on Nov. 10), New York (3-2 over the Rangers on Nov. 17), and Philadelphia (3-0 on Dec. 1).
STORYLINES GOING IN
- Tim Thomas has started and won both of the team’s games against the Sabres thus far. It’s quite remarkable that Tuukka Rask is on pace for just 26 starts this season, but he’ll get his first crack at the Sabres Wednesday.
- Miller was dealing with a groin injury when the Bruins beat up on Jhonas Enroth and Patrick Lalime on Nov. 3, but he manned the pipes last Tuesday vs. the B’s. It wasn’t his best showing, as he allowed a bit of a softie to Lucic — letting a shot from a tough angle just sneak between his leg and the left post.
Miller is coming off a rough loss to the Penguins on Saturday. He allowed four goals on just 23 shots.
- It is up in the air whether the B’s will dress Tyler Seguin or Daniel Paille. Seguin didn’t play Saturday with what the team called flu-like symptoms, and Paille played well. Claude Julien told reporters that it would be a game-time decision.
- Adam McQuaid, who could have been badly injured on Jody Shelley‘s cheap shot Saturday, is also fine. Both players practiced Tuesday.
|Bruins lead Islanders, 1-0, after one||12.09.10 at 7:46 pm ET|
Milan Lucic scored his 14th goal of the season, a power play tally, and the Bruins lead the Islanders, 1-0, after a period.
It appeared that Lucic’s shot actually hit the right post, bounced of New York goalie Rick DiPietro and into the net. Marc Savard got the assist on the goal, registering his first point since his return from post-concussion symptoms.
DiPietro had the save of the period on Dennis Seidenberg. After giving up a big rebound off a shot from Nathan Horton, DiPietro had to lunge to stop Sedidenberg on the rebound.
The Bruins outshot the Islanders, 16-7, and Tuukka Rask didn’t really face much pressure. The Bruins are 1-for-2 on the power play, while the Islanders are 0-for-1. The Bruins will begin the second period on the man advatnage, as P.A. Parenteau went off for boarding with 10.2 seconds left in the period.
Adam McQuaid and Zenon Konopka squared off in the only fight of the period.
|Bruins lead Sabres after one period||12.07.10 at 8:15 pm ET|
Ryan Miller had his career-high shutout streak of 161:35 snapped when he let a Milan Lucic shot from the right circle sneak behind the left post. As a result, the B’s are leading the Sabres, 1-0, after 20 minutes of play at TD Garden.
- The Michael Ryder – Marc Savard – Tyler Seguin line has gotten its chances, but sloppiness has been the demise of their opportunities. Seguin couldn’t catch two of Savard’s passes, and when the rookie hit Ryder on a 3-on-2 in which Miller was focused on Savard, Ryder missed the net.
- Shawn Thornton took an Andrew Ference shot off the right hand/wrist area in front of the net. After a brief trip down the tunnel, Thornton returned to bench and later returned to the ice.
- Tim Thomas has been sharp, as he stuck a leg out to stone former Boston College center Nathan Gerbe and later nearly chased Tyler Ennis around the net to squash a scoring bid.
- Former Bruin Steve Montador did the twist with Johnny Boychuk at 14:04, the only fight of the period. Montador got a roughing minor in addition to his fighting major, with the B’s failing to convert on their only power play. The Sabres have yet to go on the man advantage.
- The Bruins are outshooting the Sabres, 11-8.
|Bruins lead Lightning, 4-1, after two||12.02.10 at 8:40 pm ET|
The Bruins added two and the Lightning finally got on the board, and after 40 minutes of play, the Bruins have a 4-1 lead.
Milan Lucic picked up his 12th goal of the season at 6:48, taking a feed from David Krejci on a 3-on-2 and beating Mike Smith. Lucic and Krejci have two points apiece on the night, while Nathan Horton grabbed his first point in seven games on the play.
Tim Thomas allowed his first goal in two games, getting beaten in front on a bang-bang play by Victor Hedman on a feed from Ryan Malone.
Shawn Thornton scored his fifth goal of the season late in the period, with Brad Marchand and Thomas getting the assists. Thomas now has two assists on the season. He picked up his first on Tyler Seguin’s first career goal on Oct. 10 in Prague.
|Mike Milbury on D&H: Milan Lucic ‘can’t lose that edge’||12.01.10 at 1:05 pm ET|
NESN, NBC and Hockey Night in Canada NHL analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, including Milbury talking about whether he would consider a return to coaching, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
With the Bruins struggling, Milbury was asked what the team needs to do to turn things around.
“I haven’t seen the intense forecheck, except when they get desperate,” he said. “That’s not a good thing. You want to get on the forecheck. You want to get in and create some havoc. And when you’re doing that, that means physical play. And if you’ve been watching the Bruins for the last five or six games, you’re not seeing a ton of that. And I’m not talking about fighting. I’m talking about in-fast, pressure forechecking, intimidating not only with your bodychecking, but with your speed and intensity to cut down the time the defenseman has to move the puck. They’re sort of blah. … The Bruins have to play at a far higher pace to be successful.”
Asked if Zdeno Chara needs to set the tone for the team, Milbury said he’d first like to see players such as Milan Lucic provide more of a physical presence.
“I think Lucic has to be more involved physically,” he said. “And I’m not talking about fighting from him. The 10 goals are well and good. But harken back to a couple of years ago when this kid made a mark on this city and this franchise. It was with his purposeful forechecking. It was like nonstop, Terry O’Reilly-type forechecking. I haven’t seen that. I know he’s going to mature and settle in and use his energy more efficiently and conservatively. But you can’t lose that edge. And right now, I don’t think he’s got it.
“Chara can take care of it in his own zone, and I think he needs to do a little bit better job of being on the edge and nasty in order to make sure people on his team see that, feel it, feel the intensity,” Milbury added. “That’s what’s missing. Those are two key players in the scheme of things. But you need it from [Brad] Marchand. You need it from [Gregory] Campbell. You need it from guys that can get there and pressure defensemen, and that’s their role. They’re not expected to be huge offensive contributors, but they set the tone. They set the passion level for this team.”
Milbury noted the Bruins’ lack of speed is an issue as well.
“I think they need quickness. I think they need some speed,” he said. “I don’t want to go back to the [Phil] Kessel deal in a big way, but they miss his speed, they miss his penetrating speed off the wing. … It’s the kind of speed that gets defensemen second-guessing themselves, thinking about, ‘Jeez, where is this guy? Where’s he going to go?’ ”
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