|Bruins look to pick up third straight win as they face Steven Stamkos’ Lightning||12.28.10 at 5:14 am ET|
The Bruins, fresh off of jumping into first place in the Northeast division with their 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers on Monday, will take on the Lightning, who lead the Southeast division, on Tuesday night. It’s the second of five straight road games for the Bruins, and the second of three games in four days.
The last time the Bruins faced the Lightning, they won in blowout fashion, crushing Tampa Bay, 8-1, at TD Garden on Dec. 2. The two teams have split the season series thus far, as the Lightning grabbed a 3-1 win at St. Pete Times Forum on Nov. 22.
The Lightning have won six of their last seven games, while the Bruins are winners of their last two.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Lightning are 10-2-2 in Tampa and are a perfect 4-0-0 in home games this month.
– The Bruins are 10-5-1 on the road this season. Their shootout win on Monday was just their second road victory of the month, the first of which came on Dec. 1 in Philadelphia.
– Steven Stamkos is back on track following his statistical hiccup that lasted from late November into the beginning of the month. He has scored seven goals in his last eight games and has 28 on the season.
– Milan Lucic‘s scoreless streak has now reached four games and he has one point in the last six contests. Lucic had two points when the B’s faced the Lightning on Dec. 2.
– David Krejci and Michael Ryder starred in that 8-1 Bruins victory over the Lightning earlier this month with three points apiece. Both Krejci and Ryder had a pair of points in Monday’s win over the Panthers, and with their line with Blake Wheeler clicking, they’re certainly a couple of players worth keeping an eye on.
– After having three goals entering last Thursday’s game vs. the Rangers, Vincent Lecavalier has doubled that in his last two games. He has a pair of goals in Sunday night’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Thrashers.
– After Monday, it’s now been five straight games without a start for Rask. If Thomas starts against the the Thrashers on Thursday, Rask will have gone more than two weeks without seeing any playing time. Thomas has been stellar in his last two starts, so the Bruins face some serious difficulty in trying to get Rask game experience to keep him sharp.
STORLYLINES GOING IN
– The Lucic – Savard – Horton line has not produced a goal in either of the two game s since it came into being in last week’s line shuffle. In fact, of the four non-special-teams goals the team has scored in the last two contests, half have come from Krejci, with Shawn Thornton scoring the other two.
– Will this one go to overtime, too? Judging by the opponent, it wouldn’t be surprising. The Lightning’s last three games have been decided either in overtime or a shootout. They’re 2-0-1 in that stretch.
|Bruins at Panthers preview||12.27.10 at 4:46 am ET|
The Bruins are coming off perhaps their most monumental win of the season, a 4-1 victory over the Thrashers that featured the grit and emotion the team had lacked over its previous 1-3-1 stretch.
The B’s play the next five on the road, starting with Monday’s matchup with the Panthers. The Bruins have won both games against Florida this season, most recently grabbing a 3-1 victory at BankAtlantic Center behind two goals from Mark Recchi on Nov. 24.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Panthers are 7-6-0 at BankAtlantic Center this season, though they probably feel as though they don’t know the place anymore with the way their schedule has been. Nine of their last 12 games have been played on the road. They’re 2-4-0 in their last six home contests dating back to Nov. 22.
– The Bruins are 9-5-1 on the road and have dropped their last three away from the Garden.
– The Panthers are the only team in the NHL to not have an overtime loss this season. The Bruins have come away with the single point in four contests.
– Milan Lucic has gone without a point in three straight games for the first time this season. His last point came on Dec. 16 in Montreal, a third-period power play goal. Despite his mini-slump, he continues to lead the Bruins with 16 goals.
– Each of the Bruins goaltenders have put together impressive performances vs. the Panthers this season. Tuukka Rask grabbed a shutout on Nov. 18 at the Garden, while Tim Thomas allowed on goal on Nov. 24th. Florida is the only team that both Bruins goaltenders have beaten.
– The Bruins have allowed 35 shots or more in seven games in December. If David Booth comes close to the 14 shots he had against the Bruins on Nov. 18, they might be in for a high shots allowed total again.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– The biggest question for this Bruins team is how they can sustain what they did Thursday for an entire road trip, and then beyond that. They have Tampa Bay Tuesday, followed by a rematch against the Thrashers on Thursday. If the Bruins want to carry momentum from their victory last Thursday they will need to kick off the road trip with a win over the Panthers.
– The Bruins have not sat Tuukka Rask for five straight games yet this season. Tim Thomas has started the last four, and has had such a stretch only twice this season. It might make sense for Rask to get the nod against the lowly Panthers, which would avoid overwhelming Thomas with three starts in four days, but reports out of Florida suggest Thomas will be between the pipes.
– The Bruins benefit greatly from the fact that Lucic was not suspended for Monday’s game. This way, they can take their time with bringing Brad Marchand (soreness) back and not have to summon an extra forward while they’re away. Claude Julien told reporters Monday that Marchand will not play.
|Milan Lucic not suspended for punching Freddy Meyer, gesturing to Atlanta bench||12.26.10 at 1:19 pm ET|
Bruins left wing Milan Lucic will not be suspended after sucker punching Thrashers defenseman Freddy Meyer in the head and gesturing to the Atlanta bench in the third period of the B’s 4-1 victory at TD Garden on Thursday. He will instead receive fines totaling $3,500.
Lucic had received an intent to injure match penalty for punching Meyer after the Thrashers defenseman hit Lucic high, a hit deemed dirty by all Bruins skaters on the ice, as a line brawl broke out between the two teams. The match penalty carries with it an automatic suspension pending a review, and after Lucic met with NHL vice presidents of hockey operations Mike Murphy on Sunday, it was determined that he will not miss any time.
Following is the statement released by Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli:
‘The NHL has informed us that Milan will not be suspended as a result of the match penalty assessed to him during our game against the Thrashers last Thursday. He will be fined $2,500 for the punch thrown in the scrum and $1,000 for making an obscene gesture directed at the Thrashers bench. He will join the team on the flight to Florida and be available for Monday’s game against the Panthers.’
|Milan Lucic: With fans ‘calling for blood,’ players must execute||12.21.10 at 1:23 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins, losers of four of their last five games, find themselves searching for answers as they try to find a balance of both consistency and emotion. After Monday’s 3-0 loss to the Ducks showcased a glaringly lethargic team, the B’s find themselves in an unflattering light around town. Fans are questioning coach Claude Julien, while the lack of a full team effort has resulted in expected media scrutiny. Amidst all the negativity, forward Milan Lucic said the guys on the ice are the ones who ultimately have to produce if they want to right the ship.
“Everyone’s calling for blood, the media’s writing negative stuff about us, but we’ve got to have each other’s back and stick up for one another, and it’s all going to start from in here,” Lucic told WEEI.com Tuesday. “It’s got to be a team effort where all 20 guys are committed to putting in the work.”
Lucic said the team is aware of their struggles and that the effort is there to get the team in the right frame of mind come game time, but that there comes a point at which trying isn’t good enough.
“We try to do things to rally one another and pump each other up before the game. We’re saying the right things, it’s just a matter of going out there and doing them. That’s the main thing right now. Talk is cheap. You’ve got to go out there and do it.”
The 22-year-old leads the Bruins with 16 goals this season, but with the team struggling as badly as it has been, each of the top three lines saw major shakeups. Lucic, who had played with Nathan Horton and either David Krejci or Patrice Bergeron all season, will now skate with Horton and Marc Savard.
“I’ve played with Savvy before, and Savvy’s obviously excited to play with Horton for the first time here,” Lucic said, while adding that “we’ll see what happens next game.”
“Hopefully we can create some chances and get some results.”
The Bruins need the latter more than anything right now.
|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.
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.
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.