|Chara, Bruins are ready for Ovechkin’s Capitals||10.01.09 at 12:21 pm ET|
It’s clear by the circumstances surrounding the Bruins season opener against the Washington Capitals that things have changed demonstrably for Boston in one season’s time. Big time.
The fact that the Black and Gold merit a national TV audience on Versus is one clue, and the marquee match-up against Alexander Ovechkin and the electric Caps is quite another. Milan Lucic was among the excited grouping of B’s forwards anxious to get things going in the B’s dressing room Thursday morning, and seemed poised to make a statement about Boston’s worthiness in the Eastern Conference scheme of things with millions of hockey eyeballs ready to bear witness.
“Everyone seems ready to go, and is pretty anxious for the puck to drop. Everybody can feel it in the air, and I think we’re all pretty excited to get things going,” said Lucic. “I see that we’re on Versus, so it’s big across the US and we want to start the season off right.
“When is the last time the Bruins had a chance to start at home? We’re excited to do that. We’ve obviously set the bar high for ourselves and we’re focused on being one of the top teams in the East this year. We need to just focus on ourselves and what we can do to get there this year.”
–The B’s have a couple of new mantras written on the walls within the Bruins dressing room that gives some insight into their goals for the upcoming season. Above the doorway from the dressing room to the hallway reads the painted slogan “Knowing is Not Enough: We Must Apply. Willing is Not Enough: We Must Do.” and above the lockers of goaltenders Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask reads a second painted sign that says: “We are What We Repeatedly Do. Excellence, Therefore, is Not an Act, But a Habit.”
–Confirmed with newly resigned B’s assistant general manager Jim Benning that Vladimir Sobotka does not have to clear through NHL waivers to rejoin Boston this season. Since the 22-year-old Czech Republic forward has been signed for less than three full years, he is exempt from re-entry waivers. It’s apparently an either/or scenario with the three years of service time or maximum of 70 games played as the ceiling, and Sobotka doesn’t have to fit into both criteria.
–Zdeno Chara always gets excited for the defensive challenge presented by high-powered offenses and NHL superstars like Alex Ovechkin, and the scoring threats don’t get any bigger than reigning Hart Trophy-winner Alexander the Great. The 32-year-old defenseman has learned not to get lulled into the one-on-one matchups against big time players like Ovechkin, but takes it as a personal challenge to bottle up the entire explosive Washington unit including Ovechkin, Mike Knuble, Alexander Semin and Mike Green among others.
“We know that [the Caps] have a skilled team and we have to be on top of our game. But it’s a team game and we have to play that way,” said Chara. “If you’re watching just one guy, then everybody else is getting the room. You have to play against them together as a team, and we know that we have to be disciplined as a unit especially when that first unit is on the ice.
“It’s good to have that challenging competition. You have to be on your best game, otherwise they’ll take advantage. That always brings the best out of me and the team. It’s not just me against Ovie, it’s our line against their line on the ice.”
–Claude Julien indicated that Steve Begin, Marco Sturm and David Krejci are all at full health for Thursday’s opener against the Caps and all will play — a scenario that became obvious when the B’s sent Vladimir Sobotka down to Providence on Wednesday afternoon. Begin will center a fouth line of Shawn Thornton and Byron Bitz, Krejci will center his customary line with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, and Sturm will ride the right wing on Boston’s top line alongside Marc Savard and Milan Lucic. No shock that any of the three are playing as they’ve been skating over the last three days leading up to Thursday afternoon.
|A resolution may be near for Kessel, Bruins||09.10.09 at 3:18 pm ET|
A fascinating multi-layered piece from Elliotte Friedman on his CBC blog on Wednesday afternoon appears to be a meaningful shot over the bow of Phil Kessel and agent Wade Arnott amid reports that Kessel has moved on from potential contract talks with the Bruins. According to a Boston.com account, hockey sources claim that Arnott has informed Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli that both player and agent are beginning to negotiate with the 29 other NHL teams holding potential interest in the restricted free agent.
Not much of a shock there as Kessel’s camp and the Bruins haven’t really spoken at all through an entire summer to negotiate a fair deal for the 21-year-old sniper. So now they’re moving on to teams that might be willing to pay the $4-5 million freight that Kessel’s market should likely bear on the free agent market. The B’s have roughly $1.7 million in cap space with training camp set to begin this weekend, and the two sides are looking at a contactual chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon. Tough to refute a lot of Friedman’s observations in a column culled from discussions with unnamed Bruins sources, but they are damning to Kessel nonetheless.
One thing should be added to Friedman’s revealing snapshot of Kessel from some eyes within the walls of Causeway Street. Kessel led the Bruins with 36 goals and was among the top 20 goal-scorers in the NHL last season while ranking 116th in the NHL in terms of power play ice time per game. That should give hockey followers an idea of how much higher his hockey production can rise. Kessel also missed a dozen games while fighting through mononucleosis and the late-season shoulder injury that resulted in off-season surgery, and would have easily cleared 40 goals had he remained healthy.
Among the interesting tidbits from Friedman are:
–Kessel wouldn’t play through a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder until teammates informed the young winger that fellow teammates were playing through much worse injuries.
–The talented winger is a gifted skater and shooter that enjoyed a breakout season in 2008-09, but much of Kessel’s production was attributed to Kessel’s pairing with Marc Savard last season. Kessel needs to skate witha gifted passer that can get him the puck in spots where he can utilize his blazing speed, but that could be said of just about every scorer worth their salt in the NHL. Without a crafty playmaking “piece” like Savard skating with him, Friedman wrote, a Kessel experiment would fail.
–Kessel is compared to hulking winger Milan Lucic in terms of work ethic and willingness to improve his strengthwith weight room dedication, and Kessel isn’t looked upon favorably. There’s been whispers throughout Kessel’s years in Boston that the youngster is averse to needed weight room work and is slow to absorb constructive criticism from the coaching staff and teammates. It’s part of the reason he’s been mentioned prominently in trade rumors in each of his three seasons with the Bruins, and it’s why the goal-scorer is again on the verge of being dealt away to another NHL destination.
One other hockey fact that rings true about the Kessel/Lucic comparison: Looch is going to be a cornerstone player for years to come with the Bruins, but the youngster doesn’t possess the hands, speed and shot to score 36 goals in a season.
Kessel is also compared with 23-year-old Krejci, and again the goal-scoring phenom isn’t cast in a favorable light. Krejci is more respected in the room for playing through a hip injury that required surgery without a complaint during the season, and he was awarded with a three-year, $3.75 million contract that is actually viewed as very club-friendly in many circles.
The Bruins set something of a ceiling for Kessel in their own minds with the $3.75 annual salary awarded to the playmaking Krejci, but goal-scoring players with Kessel’s skill-set always command more salary than their assist-happy, two-way playing brethren. An elite — or potentially elite — goal-scorer is the most rare and valuable commodity in today’s NHL. Kessel is the only skater on the Boston Bruins roster with that kind of potential, and nobody can match his blend of speed, skill and wrist shot on the roster.
–Kessel has had some fairly well-documented run-ins with B’s coach Claude Julien during their two years together in Boston, and culminated in Kessel getting benched three games in favor or Jeremy Reich for the 2007-08 playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens. Reportedly they’ve argued on things as trivial as the stick that Kessel is using in games and the youngster isn’t very receptive to criticism of any kind.
Apparently the Bruins have also required “good cops” in the Bruins locker room — teammates on the winger’s side that make sure Kessel has the proper support system in place within the B’s dressing room. Kessel would be extremely uncomfortable under the Toronto microscope if that’s where he were to eventually end up when he’s ready to play in mid-to-early November. That situation would be further exacerbated if Kessel doesn’t have the very-same support system in place with the stern Ron Wilson and blustery Brian Burke running the Maple Leafs Show.
One unnamed Bruins teammate referenced Kessel’s combination of youth and immaturity, and assumed that he’ll learn as he gains age and experience. That should be true, and his goal totals should also grow as he gains more power play time and enters his hockey-playing prime. Ruling out growth and improvement in an asset so skilled as Kessel would be unwise, but it appears that too much water has already traveled under the bridge between player and hockey team. How many times does a player have to hear his name involved with aborted trade proposals before he begins to believe that his own hockey team truly doesn’t want him on the roster anymore?
Two? Three? Maybe four?
A difficult free agency negotiation and countless trade rumors during Kessel’s career have taken their toll on the essential bond of trust between player and organization, and it appears that the end is in sight soon. All that remains is to see what hockey sweater Kessel will wear next season. Because it certainly doesn’t appear that it’ll be the Black and Gold of the Spoked ‘B’.
|Lucic invited, Savard snubbed for Team Canada camp||07.02.09 at 12:44 pm ET|
It was a dream come true for Milan Lucic when the 20-year-old hulking winger found out he was among the 46 names invited to the Team Canada Olympic orientation/tryout camp this summer. The Vancouver, B.C. native had a career-best 42 points in 72 games for the Bruins during his second season in the NHL during 2008-09, and made a name around the league with his punishing body checks and physical presence at such a tender young age.
Marc Savard, on the other hand, was a notable name omitted from the preliminary Olympic list after getting plenty of support for the team during the NHL season after continuing to develop his two-way game under B’s head coach Claude Julien. Team Canada is loaded with talented centers among the 46 invitees, but most hockey observers would be hard-pressed to explain how St. Louis Blues center Andy McDonald is more Olympics-worthy than a two-time All-Star in Savard. Savard has averaged 89 points a season over the last four years and was a career-best +25 with the Bruins during a breakout year for the team.
Team Canada’s camp is scheduled from August 24-27 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, and 46 players were identified Thursday morning as candidates for upcoming international events in the 2009-10 season: the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and 2010 IIHF World Championship.
The 46 invitees include: CANADA’S MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ORIENTATION CAMP ROSTER
Martin Brodeur (Montreal, Que./New Jersey, NHL), Marc-AndrÃ© Fleury
(Sorel, Que./Pittsburgh, NHL), Roberto Luongo (Montreal, Que./Vancouver,
NHL), Steve Mason (Oakville, Ont./Columbus, NHL), Cam Ward (Sherwood
Park, Alta./Carolina, NHL)
FranÃ§ois Beauchemin (Sorel, Que./Anaheim, NHL), Jay Bouwmeester
(Edmonton, Alta./Calgary, NHL), Dan Boyle (Ottawa, Ont./San Jose, NHL),
Brent Burns (Ajax, Ont./Minnesota, NHL), Drew Doughty (London, Ont./Los
Angeles, NHL), Mike Green (Calgary, Alta./Washington, NHL), Dan Hamhuis
(Smithers, B.C./Nashville, NHL), Duncan Keith (Penticton, B.C./Chicago,
NHL), Scott Niedermayer (Cranbrook, B.C./Anaheim, NHL), Dion Phaneuf
(Edmonton, Alta./Calgary, NHL), Chris Pronger (Dryden,
Ont./Philadelphia, NHL), Robyn Regehr (Rosthern, Sask./Calgary, NHL),
StÃ©phane Robidas (Sherbrooke, Que./Dallas, NHL), Brent Seabrook
(Tsawwassen, B.C./Chicago, NHL), Marc Staal (Thunder Bay, Ont./N.Y.
Rangers, NHL), Shea Weber (Sicamous, B.C./Nashville, NHL)
Jeff Carter (London, Ont./Philadelphia, NHL), Dan Cleary (Carboneau,
N.L./Detroit, NHL), Sidney Crosby (Cole Harbour, N.S./Pittsburgh, NHL),
Shane Doan (Halkirk, Alta./Phoenix, NHL), Simon GagnÃ© (Ste-Foy,
Que./Philadelphia, NHL) , Ryan Getzlaf (Regina, Sask./Anaheim, NHL), Dany
Heatley (Calgary, Alta./Ottawa, NHL), Jarome Iginla (St. Albert,
Alta./Calgary, NHL), Vincent Lecavalier (Ãle-Bizard, Que./Tampa Bay,
NHL), Milan Lucic (Vancouver, B.C./Boston, NHL), Patrick Marleau
(Aneroid, Sask./San Jose, NHL), Andy McDonald (Strathroy, Ont./St.
Louis, NHL), Brenden Morrow (Carlyle, Sask./Dallas, NHL), Rick Nash
(Brampton, Ont./Columbus, NHL), Corey Perry (Peterborough, Ont./Anaheim,
NHL), Michael Richards (Kenora, Ont./Philadelphia, NHL), Derek Roy
(Rockland, Ont./Buffalo, NHL), Joe Sakic (Burnaby, B.C./Colorado, NHL),
Patrick Sharp (Thunder Bay, Ont./Chicago, NHL), Ryan Smyth (Banff,
Alta./Colorado, NHL), Martin St-Louis (Laval, Que./Tampa Bay, NHL), Eric
Staal (Thunder Bay, Ont./Carolina, NHL), Jordan Staal (Thunder Bay,
Ont./Pittsburgh, NHL), Joe Thornton (St. Thomas, Ont./San Jose, NHL),
Jonathan Toews (Winnipeg, Man./Chicago, NHL)
|Savard and Kobasew bump the B’s back up to 4-1||05.12.09 at 8:03 pm ET|
RALEIGH — 19:35 Booming one-timer from Staal in the left facoff circle off a pass from Ray Whitney, but Thomas came up with the juggling save.
17:11: The Bruins have been playing with fire for the last few minutes and they finally got burned. Shane Hnidy was beat to a puck in the corner by Matt Cullen, peeled off him and allowed him to get the net after he passed the puck and then Scott Walker found him in front. Thomas poked the puck away, but Cullen recovered and flipped a backhand past Thomas.
There was a scrum minute or two after the goal, and PJ Axelsson looked a little shaken up afterward. Keep an eye on that.
Things just turned up a notch physically. Erik Cole dumped Chara back behind the play with the Bruins moving the puck up the ice.
12:37: The Bruins have settled things down a little. A nice sequence there where Montador and Wideman were having trouble getting the puck out of the zone with speed, so Bergeron came back to help the B’s move the puck swiftly through the neutral zone.
12:36: Great neutral zone pass by Byron Bitz to a rushing David Krejci, but the nifty centerman couldn’t control the puck and shake his defender for a shot.
11″07: That was a big time play. Milan Lucic picked up the puck around the blue line and dangled through Tuomo Ruuto, Jussi Jokinen and Joni Pitkanen before dishing to a wide open Marc Savard at the right faceoff dot. Savard banged it into the open net, and the B’s have answered the Canes challenge again.
9:00: Quick glove save on Scott Walker after a testing bid from the right faceoff dot.
5:49: Interference call on Pat Eaves when he dumped Axelsson in front of the Carolina net. First PP for the Bruins. The Cainiacs are sitting down with hands folded, and are pretty quiet right now.
5:30: Big time save by Thomas on Cullen during a short-handed rush when Wideman turned the puck over from the left point.
4:18: Big glove save by Ward on a Kessel snap shot on his trademark curl and drag move from the left side boards.
3:37: Wideman just hit a left post on a blast from the right faceoff circle after Kessel had rushed the puck up the ice. That was a full wind up and blast from Wideman that beat Ward cleanly.
1:57: Another score. Bergeron carried the puck down low in the Canes end and then fired a shot in front of the net just as Kobasew reached the post. Kobasew tucked the puck between Ward’s pads for his third goal of the playoffs.
00:33: Mick Colageo of the New Bedford Times keeps calling Byron Bitz a “Young Man’s Knuble” and I can’t disagree. Bitz draws a penalty behind the net as Anton Babchuk basically hog-tied him to get the puck away from him. Somehow I don’t see Blake Wheeler drawing a penalty like that behind the Boston net.
The Bruins are beating the Hurricanes by a 4-1 score after two full periods during Game 6 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.
|Bruins need speed burners for Game 6||05.11.09 at 6:14 pm ET|
WILMINGTON -With so much focus on the intensity and nastiness that has been cranked up as the result of Game 5 between the Bruins and Hurricanes, one small detail is getting overshadowed.
The Bruins finally found a way on Sunday to contain the speed of Carolina’s attack. Their reward was a plane flight Monday afternoon bound for Raleigh, where they play Game 6 on Tuesday night.
Duplicate Sunday’s effort on Tuesday and the Bruins will bring the series to a Game 7 back in Boston on Thursday night.
“I think our backs are still against the wall,” Milan Lucic said on Monday at the team’s practice facility at Ristuccia Arena. “They’re still up 3-2 going into their barn. There’s pressure in every game of the playoffs, it doesn’t matter what side of the fence you’re on. We’re the ones with our backs against it.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins know ‘how bad they want it’||at 12:45 am ET|
We want it as bad as you. It’s been the slogan of these Boston Bruins all season.
On Sunday night, the Bruins showed their electrified fans how badly they want to become the first team in franchise history to come all the way back from a 3-1 series hole.
Sunday night’s 4-0 shellacking of the Carolina Hurricanes was Step 1 in what they hope is a three-step journey to history.
“You can over systems as much as you want to but it really comes down to, ‘How bad do you want it?’ You’ve got to give Carolina credit,” Bruins hitman Milan Lucic said. “They’ve just shown all series long that they’ve wanted it real bad and, especially Games 2,3 and 4, they really didn’t give us nothing and were on us like crazy. Today we did a better job of keeping our composure and having that will to win.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Lucic suspended by NHL for ‘reckless and forceful blow’||04.19.09 at 6:02 pm ET|
Bruins winger Milan Lucic has been suspended by the NHL for Monday’s Game 3 of the best-of-seven series after delivering a blow to the head of Canadiens forward Maxim Lapierre in the third period of Game 2 on Saturday night. Lucic was assessed a match high-sticking penalty following the hit.
The Bruins contended Lucic hit Lapierre with his glove in self-defense as Lapierre approached him in front of the Canadiens’ net, but NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell ruled that Lucic’s hit was a “reckless and forceful blow” that merited both a match penalty and a one-game suspension.
“While it is unclear whether Lucic’s glove or stick makes contact with Lapierre, what is clear is that he delivered a reckless and forceful blow to the head of his opponent,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell.
It’s expected that big forward Byron Bitz will take Lucic’s spot in the lineup for Monday night’s Game 3 at the Bell Centre.
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