|Bruins at Sabres preview||12.15.10 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.
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.
– 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.
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.”
“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?’ ”
|Bruins adjusting to life without Matt Hunwick||11.30.10 at 2:18 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Johnny Boychuk doesn’t find it polite to talk on the phone during dinner, so when he was out to dinner with Milan Lucic on Monday, he stood a good chance of being out of the loop when the team traded defenseman Matt Hunwick.
Yet thanks to text messaging, and his mother, the blueliner found out right after the trade broke.
“She messaged me or something like that. She’s always on that stuff,” Boyhcuk said. “It was before [we] even knew, so it was right away. Kind of weird.
When Lucic found out, it meant losing a teammate he’s known since he entered the organization as a second-round draft pick in 2006.
“I’ve known him from the very first development camp back then, and I’ve been able to kind of grow with him in this organization. He’s done well for himself. He’s a good player and I wish him all the best in Colorado.”
With Hunwick the defensive core will see some shaking up, as Adam McQuaid, who has been a healthy scratch since the return of Boychuk from his forearm injury, will return to the lineup. It also means the team will have to respond to the ugly stretch (5-6-2) they find themselves in without a guy who’s been there for them.
“It’s always tough to see one of your teammates go, especially a guy like Matt. He was such a great teammate, such a great guy in the locker room. We all wish him the best, but it’s part of the business. We realize the importance of this coming week. We haven’t performed as well as we should, so it’s going to be a big week. We have to respond somehow and get better results. ”
The coach, meanwhile, isn’t happy to see his top skating blueliner go, but like the rest of the team, understands that it was something that had to be done for the sake of being able to activate Marc Savard.
‘It was hard to let a guy go like that because he was our best skater back there, probably the guy that you leaned on the most to bring the puck up the ice,” Julien said. “‘¦ We had to make some room. Those are things that are done for the situation of liberating some cap space.’
|Tim Thomas, Bruins to take on Panthers Wednesday night||11.24.10 at 12:37 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was the first to leave the ice at the Bruins’ morning skate on Wednesday, indicating he will likely be between the pipes when the B’s take on the Panthers in Florida on Wednesday night. The Panthers will counter with Tomas Vokoun.
The Bruins are second in the Northeast Division with 24 points, the Panthers’ 18 points are fifth in the Southeast and third from worst in the conference.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Bruins are 7-2-0 on the road this season, dropping their most recent away game on Monday in Tampa, 3-1, and splitting their last four away from TD Garden.
– The Panthers are 5-3-0 at BankAtlantic Center and have won three of their last four home games.
– Three. That’s how many goals Lucic had against the Panthers last Friday and how many assists former Panther Nathan Horton had. It was Horton’s first regular-season game against his old club (for more on Horton and how he felt about playing for the Panthers, click here.)
– The Panthers have allowed nearly the same average of goals per game at home (2.50) as they have on the road (2.54).
– The Panthers are 17th in the league in goals per game with 2.7. Center Mike Santorelli leads them with six goals in 19 games. The Bruins, meanwhile, have scored 2.9 goals per game (15th in the league) and are led by Lucic with 10.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– Comparing how a team plays vs. the Lightning to how they fare against the Panthers won’t lead one to rock-solid conclusions, but it will be interesting to see if the team’s heavy practice on Tuesday got them in gear to play a full 60 minutes. It was the same old story on Monday, as they came out flat for two periods before turning it up in the third period (15 shots through two periods, 12 in the third).
– The Bruins score over a goal per game more in front of Thomas than they do in front of Tuukka Rask. They score a whopping 3.23 goals per game in front of Thomas, with Rask getting just 2.21 goals of support a night.
– It’s been a week since the Bruins allowed an opponent to score a power play goal, so here’s the reminder of how dominant the penalty kill has been. The B’s 90.3 penalty kill percentage is second only to Montreal’s 90.8.