|Canadiens set to invade TD Garden||02.04.10 at 1:27 pm ET|
If there was ever a game for the Bruins to get back to their winning ways, Thursday night against archrival Montreal Canadiens would be it. Boston has fallen from fifth to 12th in the Eastern Conference standings during its eight game losing streak and has watched division opponents like the Habs leapfrog them in the standings.
Over the past three games the Bruins have played with good energy and decent emotion but have not seen the results on the scoreboard. The team has not had a positive seminal moment during the season, a game that defines the squad and sets the pace for winning hockey. With the Canadiens in town and all the fanfare that comes along with them, Thursday could be a good time to turn things around.
“There is a lot of history in it, the crowd always gets into it. It is kind of cool when they have all those Montreal Canadiens fans in the crowd. It always gets us excited every time we play these guys,” Milan Lucic said.
Yes, there is history between these two Original Six hockey clubs, but recent history between the players on each roster is not worth much going into Thurday’s contest. Last year Boston and Montreal hooked up for a memorable, fight filled battle in the Bruins last home game of the regular season and tensions and between the two were high during the Boston’s three game, first round sweep in the playoffs. Yet, significant agitators on last year’s Habs roster such as Mike Komisarek (Toronto), Saku Koivu (Anaheim), Georges Laraque (released late January) and Andrei Kostitsyn (knee injury, out till after Olympics) are not around as are several players from last year’s Bruins roster. Hence, there are not many hard feelings carried over between the players going into Thursday’s contest.
“I wish [there was carry over] but they have kind of revamped their lineup so a lot of those guys who we had the big rivalries with in the last three years are gone. I would not mind creating new ones, I suppose,” Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton said. “We don’t like each other, we haven’t for years. I think it will be a fun game to play in, I think everybody will be up for it. So, I hope we will turn it around, yeah.”
The Bruins roster turmoil has had some effect on their goal output recently as they strive for chemistry on newly formed lines with the roster turnover or players returning from injury. As players such as Marco Sturm and Marc Savard get their health and timing back, the hope is that Boston can start generating more goals and find a way to win some games.
“We have not helped ourselves either with all the different line combinations but we are not the only team going through that and we are not going to make excuses but we have not had the same lines,” coach Claude Julien said. “The chemistry with injuries and the lines, it is a challenge and kind of have to fight through that and hopefully as we are getting a little healthier hopefully that comes back.”
At the same time, the Bruins goaltenders would do the rest of the team a big favor if they could completely shutdown an opposing team. Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice after Thursday’s morning skate and will likely get the start against the Canadiens. He said that both him and Tim Thomas are always approach games with the notion that the goaltender might be able to steal a win for the team.
“We got to have that state of mind before every game. The past few games have been like that, we can’t let in any weak goals. We approach games that way that we are going to steal them and hopefully it is going to happen soon,” Rask said. “We really feel that we have been playing better and better here just without the results but I am trying to get the win here today.”
10 Bruins forwards participated in the morning skate with Mark Recchi, Savard, Sturm and Michael Ryder the missing men. On the blue line Boston had six skaters with Andrew Ference taking the ice and Dennis Wideman absent. Ference has missed the last 12 games with a groin injury. Mark Stuart will still be sidelined with a broken finger he sustained against the Kings last Saturday and is expected to be out until after the Olympics at the very least. It remains doubtful that Ference will play against the Canadiens which probably means that Adam McQuaid and Wideman will be on the rink when the puck drops barring a last minute change of plans.
|Bears looking for their bite||01.26.10 at 12:43 pm ET|
WILMINGTON ‘ The Bruins had a workout day at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday, and the only players to take the ice were those returning from injury ‘ Marc Savard, Byron Bitz and Steve Begin. The three were put through drills by assistant coach Doug Houda that included precision passing and shooting exercises, while the rest of the team went through “dry land” conditioning with meetings that coach Claude Julien said included watching some video.
“We did some other things besides for dry land. You make sure that your days are constructive. We’ve played quite a few games and had a good practice yesterday,” Julien said. “Today was about working in a different direction and kind of build up towards the weekend.”
Part of what has been lacking in the Bruins game during during the month of January has been the physical spark that has spurred previous Bruins teams. Bitz, one of the bigger bodies on the team, was not sure how that aspect of the Bruins game went missing.
“There are a lot of things in our game, including that physical aspect, that we have gotten away from, the staples of what makes us a good team,” Bitz said. “I don’t know why. It is a good question and there is no easy answer. If we knew we would remedy it as quick as we can. It is something we are addressing and we know we have to be better at and we will.”
Part of the lack of physicality has been the lack of the presence of Milan Lucic. The hulking forward has only suited up for 19 games this year and is still looking for his timing in what will be his 10th game back from injury in Buffalo on Friday.
“There is no doubt that when your timing is off, you are getting there a little late or not at all,” Julien said of Lucic. “It is part of his game that you have to be patient with as a coach, because he has hardly played this year. I have said that before, when a guy doesn’t really start the season and comes in halfway though it is a big hurdle to jump over and catch the rest of the players in the league.”
Lucic did pick a fight last Thursday against Columbus forward Jared Boll, but overall, there has not been a lot of bite to these bears of late.
The Bruins need a significant moment soon, or the rest of the season will be lost to the fog in which they currently find themselves. Whether it be a big fight (or series of fights), a big performance or just a night when they break out of their goal-scoring funk and light the lamp with regularity. To this point in the season it has not happened and Bitz said the team might not realize it at the time when (if) it does.
“You know, I guess at the end of the year we will be able to look back and say that ‘Yeah, that game was a defining moment,’ but right now, I guess you never know when that moment is going to come,” Bitz said. “I think you will just have a role and job on the team and I think individually you have to worry about doing that and everything will take care of itself.”
|Lucic back in black||01.07.10 at 7:39 pm ET|
Lucic had returned and played just four games before suffering his second significant injury of the season. he had two goals and three assists in 10 games this season.
|Chiarelli: ‘Looks like a challenge all year’||11.27.09 at 1:31 pm ET|
It’s hard to blame Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli for feeling ‘woe is me’ when it comes to the mounting injuries of his club.
Savard made his return on Wednesday and Lucic had been back four games and the Bruins appeared to be hitting their stride with a four-game winning streak. But you never know when you’re going to catch an edge at the wrong time.
Just ask Lucic, who caught the tip of his left skate in the ice in Minnesota on Wednesday and fell awkwardly to the ice. The diagnosis – out at least a month with a left high ankle sprain.
“It is consistent with the rest of the year,” bemoaned Chiarelli before Friday’s matinee. “It looks like it is going to be a challenge all year. All teams have their challenges but this is pretty consistent.”
Asked if he feared the worst, Chiarelli was philosophical.
“You do that by nature as a general manager,” he said. “You also learn to wait. Usually the report on the injury initially is really, really bad. That applies every time. You learn to wait until the next morning, then the following morning. As is the case, it got better this morning.”
But it’s coach Claude Julien who has to deal with shuffling the lines, which included slotting in Vladimir Sobokta on Friday afternoon.
“Well, it’s something we’ve been dealing with since the beginning of the year and injuries are part of the game,” Julien said. “We just go forward with what we’ve got. That’s always been the case and that’s what we have to deal with right now. Obviously, you lose a pretty good player who has a pretty good impact on games at times so we’ve been without him for a month and we’ll have to deal with it for a little longer now.”
|Looch out a month||at 12:13 pm ET|
Bruins power forward Milan Lucic will miss up to a month with a high left ankle sprain. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli made the announcement Friday morning before the Bruins matinee contest with New Jersey.
Lucic was back just four games before injuring his ankle on Wednesday night in Minnesota. Lucic caught his left skate in the ice and fell back awkwardly.
‘Certainly when I saw the injury happen, you look at the stress on the lower knee and the ankle, I certainly expected worse,” Chiarelli said. ‘I think that if you look at it real close, he broke the fall with his hand. That probably took some stress off of the knee.’
Lucic missed 14 games with a fractured finger on Oct. 16 in Dallas. He has been limited to just 10 games this season, with two goals and three assists.
‘I am sure he disappointed. We get him back for three or four games, now he is gone for a month.’
|Milan Lucic on D&H||11.24.09 at 2:44 pm ET|
Bruins forward Milan Lucic, who returned to the ice last week after missing roughly a month with a broken finger, joined the Dale & Holley Show on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the recent improved play of the Bruins, the impact of Marc Savard’s return and his decision to sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.
A transcript of highlights is below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.
The Bruins are starting to look a little better. Are you guys happy with the effort the last few games?
Yeah, definitely. We were able to get on a little bit of a roll here, especially on the road, it’s a lot tougher winning on the road than it is winning at home, so for myself it’s just nice to get back in the lineup, get some wins, and move up in the standings a bit.
When you guys were struggling, did it ever cross your mind that effort was a problem? Would you simplify it and say yes, we just weren’t trying hard enough, was that the issue?
I think it was a consistency and ever since I’ve been back here the last few games I think that’s what we’ve improved on, giving a consistent work ethic throughout the game. We’ve been able to apply a full 60 minutes of playing hard, and sticking to the game plan, I think that’s what’s made us successful, and that’s what made us get the ball rolling again and get some wins.
How hard is it to come back off a long term injury and how long it takes to knock the rust off? Savard admitted he was a little rusty last night, you slipped right back into scoring goals when you came back into the lineup. Did you feel rusty?
I felt pretty good when I came back in. Me and Savard, our injuries were a little bit different. I was still able to skate, I had the broken finger there so my conditioning was still good and all that type of stuff. They did a really good job keeping me in shape ‘ the trainers, and whoever I was working with ‘ so when I came back, my conditioning wouldn’t be a problem. I’ve been able to fit back in nicely with that, and for myself when you’re not in the lineup for a long time, you’re just really excited and anxious to get back and I think that’s what I’m doing, playing with a lot of excitement and having a lot of fun.
Anybody who has ever played with Marc Savard is usually very happy about it, those numbers go up when Marc Savard is on your side. What does he do that maybe a lot of us don’t see or that you have to know by playing with him?
Firstly, he wants the puck. He’s a guy that’s a puck possession guy and he wants it all the time. So he’s a guy that’s very demanding of himself and his line-mates that he wants results and he wants to go out there and contribute every night getting goals and assists, and the thing about him is he’s got eyes all around his head, it’s funny if you get open for him, he’ll find you even when you’re not looking at him. That’s what makes him such a great player, and for myself I was happy to play with him and have such a successful year with him last year.
Is it kind of like that off the ice too? If you’re walking somewhere and Savard is not looking, do you always feel like he cans see you? Does he always have that kind of vision?
Yeah, he’s always aware of his surroundings, that’s for sure.
This year was the last year of your entry level contract, and you made a commitment to this team. You signed a three-year contract extension with the Bruins through 2012-2013, why was it important to you to make the commitment and stay here?
It was an easy decision for me, I really wanted to stick around in Boston, I really liked how things were going and I really did like the organization and all the people around it. It’s a great city, it’s a great sports town and the fans are really another huge reason why I wanted to stay. They’ve been real great to us and to me since I’ve been with the Bruins, and it was just an easy decision to want to stay in Boston.
|Bergeron emerging as a quiet Bruins leader||10.28.09 at 3:09 pm ET|
WILMINGTON, Mass. — A highly respected hockey voice recently stressed that the leadership of both Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi as two key pieces in the recent turnaround of the Bruins. It’s been those two players, along with captain Zdeno Chara, that have helped grease the wheels of Boston’s resurgence, but there’s also a growing measure of influence from the young voices within the dressing room.
The loss of players such as Stephane Yelle, P.J. Axelsson and Aaron Ward have no doubt left a vacancy in terms of veteran influence within the dressing room, but coach Claude Julien said he’s already convinced that those important breaches have been filled. Young players are stepping up, and emerging leaders are picking their spots to help push along the direction of the club.
To hear Julien explain it, Bergeron is something akin to those old E.F. Hutton financial commercials. When Bergeron speaks, everybody listens — and that’s only been amplified this season as the 24-year-old has again staked claim to his rightful place as one of the brightest spots on Boston’s roster. The Bruins have taken points in four of their last five games, and young skaters such as Bergeron have everything to do with that.
“We talked about the guys we lost in the last year: the Yelles, the Axellsons, the Wards. They were pretty good presences in the dressing room, but at the same time other guys have stepped up,” Julien said. “We’ve asked other guys to step up into those roles in the dressing room, and we had some guys that were ready to take over. It’s been good and getting better, and it’s a transition that needs to be made.
“There’s no point in naming one or two guys. For the most part, the young guys want to do their jobs. The older guys: Z and the Ferences and the Recchis have been there for a long time and they’re going to help out along the way. Bergie is a quiet leader and not necessarily the rah-rah type, but every once in a while he’ll speak. When he does, they listen because he doesn’t speak that often and he doesn’t speak for nothing. So you expect some kind of leadership from those guys, and Marco Sturm has also been a quiet leader. He speaks when it’s time to speak. What you see from them [in the media] and what we see behind closed doors might be a little different.”
The old Bergeron has appeared on the ice where he’s tied for tops in the team with seven points through the first 10 games, and that appears to also be shining through in Boston’s new leadership structure this season.
‘ Don’t expect Milan Lucic to begin dropping the gloves and transforming into the Incredible Looch when he returns from his broken right index finger. The hulking left winger has been working out and skating on his own, but said that it took at least “two months” for his finger to stabilize the last time he broke a knuckle/finger on his left hand.
That means Lucic won’t be slipping into fight mode for a minimum of several weeks, and probably longer, after the finger is healed enough to suit up again for the B’s.
“You’ve got to be smart about it, protect it a little bit and wait for [the finger] to solidify before you go back to everything you used to do before,” Lucic said. “I definitely didn’t fight right after I came back the last time, and it look a little bit before it was ready to go.”
Lucic had only the one fighting major came when he rearranged Jay Harrison’s facial structure in the blowout win over the Hurricanes in the B’s second game of the season. It may be quite some time before his next one, and there remains the question of how much Lucic will throw down given his value to the hockey team as a top line player and his value in dollars given his newly signed long-term contract.
‘ There’s been a lot of talk about the incoming Devils before they come into the TD Banknorth Garden Thursday night, and naturally most of the conversation centered around the trap and Martin Brodeur. Both coach and players paid tribute to the disciplined — albeit sleepy — trapping style that New Jersey has become synonymous with, and the legendary goaltender at the end of Jersey’s layered defense.
B’s goalie Tim Thomas called Brodeur’s hybrid style the “one-legged butterfly”, and said that he’s taken plenty from watching the four-time Vezina Trophy winner over the years. Just don’t ask Thomas if he ever watches Brodeur when he’s playing against him, because the reigning Vezina Trophy winner clearly doesn’t get caught up in the individual goalie matchups.
“The truth is he’s a great goalie that’s been fortunate enough to play with a good team in front of him for his entire career,” Thomas said. “You don’t win Vezinas without a good team in front of you, and the New Jersey Devils have been able to build up a strong core and keep them together the whole time through.
“If you don’t have the right team to play with, then it doesn’t matter what system you have. There’s nothing about his style. He just stops the puck. Everybody talks about my style, but he really has his own style, too. He has a way, way different style from everybody else than I do.”
How would Thomas describe Brodeur’s way different style of “stopping the puck?”
“One-legged butterfly. Half-butterfly. Watch him, he goes down on his right knee all the time. He goes into the butterfly, but that isn’t his first move,” Thomas said. “His first move is to go down halfway and then the butterfly is his second move. If you can do it and cover [the 5-hole] up enough enough, then it’s much easier to get up [tall] off one knee.”
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