|Bruins get ready for Canadiens||03.23.11 at 11:50 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are coming off a 4-1 win over the Devils and are back at Ristuccia Arena Wednesday in antcipation of a big test vs. the Canadiens Thursday at the Garden. The practice lines were the same as they’d been in the previous two practices.
On another note, the Montreal media is here in full force. More to come following practice.
|Johnny Boychuk and the Bruins know it’ll be a bruising fight to the finish||03.11.11 at 11:59 am ET|
One look at the face of Johnny Boychuk tells you all you need to know about what kind ending is in store for the Bruins in the last month of the regular season.
A fight to the finish to be sure.
While all the focus was on Zdeno Chara and the firestorm of controversy over his hit on Max Pacioretty, Boychuk was playing his first game since suffering quite the shiner below his left eye in a fight with Montreal’s Ryan White a period earlier. Boychuk echoed the sentiment of the Bruins when he said he was happy to see Chara drill Jason Pominville with a clean hit early in the first period.
“He’s not going to change the way he’s going to play,” Boychuk said. “He’s a big man and he’s our team leader. You wouldn’t want him to change his game because I like seeing the physicalness in his game.”
On Thursday, Boychuk and the Bruins found themselves in a different sort of battle – one with the officials.
The Bruins killed off the first four penalties against them but Buffalo capitalized on two of the next three to help erase a 2-0 Bruins lead early.
“It’s kind of tough to give a 60-minute effort when we’re always killing penalties like that,” Boychuk said. “I don’t know if they’re good calls or bad calls but it definitely takes a toll on some guys in the dressing room when you’ve got guys killing penalties all the time. And some of those guys are also play power play so they’re going to be out there more than others and by the end of the game, they’re going to be tired.”
The other concern of late – during the three-game losing streak – is the lack of discipline and focus over 60 minutes.
“I think that we had that when we were on that winning streak,” fellow B’s blueliner Adam McQuaid said. “For the most part we had sixty-minute effort. The last few games there have been very highs and very lows, so I think the biggest thing is to get back to that sixty- minute effort.”
Seven different minor penalties were called on the B’s, including two with the Bruins already a man down that created 5-on-3 chances for the Sabres. The Bruins killed off the first but weren’t so lucky the second time in the third period as the Sabres tied the game and won it in overtime.
Boychuk knew going into the game with the Sabres Thursday night that they would be facing a desperate team.
“We did play them in the playoffs last year and they’re fighting for their playoff spot so we didn’t expect them to roll over and die on us,” Boychuk said.
That will be the same approach the Bruins can expect from just about every team they play from here on out.
Even the Islanders, who are out of the playoff picture in the East, could play spoiler when they take on the Bruins tonight in Nassau County on Long Island.
Before dropping their third straight Thursday, the Bruins started their seven-game win streak against the Islanders on Feb. 17 on Long Island.
“Might as well start another one,” Boychuk said. “Why not?”
|Zdeno Chara appreciates the ‘nice gesture’ of Max Pacioretty||03.10.11 at 11:27 pm ET|
On Wednesday night, Pacioretty said he was ‘disgusted’ that Chara wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit on Tuesday night that gave him a severe concussion and broke a vertebrae in his back.
Then Thursday, Pacioretty showed his support of a fellow NHL combatant by publicly denouncing any effort by Montreal authorities to criminally prosecute Chara for a hit that happened in the course of a game.
Following Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Sabres, Chara said he was relieved to be back playing and appreciated the words earlier in the day from Pacioretty.
“It’s obviously a nice gesture,” Chara said. “It’s something that, for sure, shouldn’t go that far. It’s something, like I said, very unfortuante. I keep repeating that. You feel bad about it. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt and especially, in that case, upper body, and most likely, neck and head.”
Word came on Thursday that Montreal authorities plan an investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against Chara, whose hit into the turnbuckle at center ice gave Pacioretty a severe concussion and fractured a vertabrae in his back.
“We all feel bad about it,” Chara said. “It doesn’t matter, rivalry or no rivalry, we all want to see the guy recover and obviously, I’m going to try and reach out to him and talk to him either over the phone or try to see him in person. But I totally understand and respect that now he probably needs time and space and to be around his closest family. I’m sure when the time is right, I’ll probably reach out and talk and somehow connect.”
For Chara, he was just glad to be back on the ice, focusing on hockey, not hearings.
“That’s obviously one of those things I’d love to do,” Chara said. “Playing hockey is obviously my most important thing. To be on the ice that’s for sure the most important.”
It was a home crowd that chanted his name during his first shift in the opening minute.
“For sure, it’s something I very much appreciated and I’m very thankful for that. It feels for sure great to be home and to get that support from the fans,” he added.
He even showed in the first period that he’s not going to change his physical play because of Tuesday when he drilled Jason Pominville into the corner boards on a very clean but hard hit.
“I don’t see any reason to change my game or my style of play,” Chara said. “I’m going to continue to play physical and play hard. That’s my game and I don’t see any reason to change.”
|Milan Lucic muscles up so Nathan Horton can finally do his thing||02.10.11 at 10:21 am ET|
They both clicked Wednesday night and as a result, the impact on the Bruins’ offense was dramatic – as in eight goals dramatic.
Lucic added to his team lead in goals with tallies Nos. 22 and 23 and Horton – with a goal and four assists – had his most productive night of his career in an 8-6 knock-down, drag-out KO of the Habs.
“We are just happy that we were able to get that win,” Lucic said. “They have been a tough opponent for us. We lost last time but not [this time]. Most of all we are happy to get those two points and to keep moving up in the standings.”
Indeed, for all the excitement over the pugilistic debut of Tim Thomas against Carey Price, this game was a huge one in the standings. The Bruins increased their lead to four points over the Habs, with a game in hand, still.
As for his line of center David Kreji and Horton, it was on fire.
“I mean I felt like that ever since we were put back together lately we have been ok, I mean we have had no goal here, one goal there,” Lucic said. “We knew we could be a threat every time we went on the ice and that is what we have kind of talked about as a line yesterday we wanted to be that threat and you know get in there and play with that emotion. Be the guys that Coach counts on, and so its definitely great that we had a game the way we did we have to keep pushing it and keep getting more.”
Horton’s struggles have been well-chronicled. Even coach Claude Julien has pointed to Horton’s struggles often in the last two months. Wednesday night, Julien admitted that the Bruins have been waiting for this breakout ever since Horton started the season with eight goals and 10 assists in the first 17 games of the season.
“Well, that’s what we have wanted from him for a while now, so it happened tonight,” Julien said after Horton’s career game. “We are certainly happen with that. Now it’s a matter of hopefully him continuing to do that for our team, he was a big help for us.”
“It’s nice,” Horton said in the understatement of the night. “Obviously, it helps me a little bit with my confidence. It is nice but it’s nice to get the points, it’s a big game for us. It was a four-point game, and we won.
“It was just working hard. I think we were ready to go. We talked about it as a line, before the game, we need to start playing and start contributing. I think we did that tonight but it’s only one game and hopefully we can continue to keep bringing it.”
But nothing means more than to have the support of a fellow teammate and linemate.
“It seemed like he was getting really hard on himself getting really down on himself but it these last few games you can see he is on his game again and its all starting to find his game again,” Lucic said of Horton. “It all starts with him skating, using his speed, his body, and you know he had a big night tonight and hopefully he continues with his confidence.”
It was almost like fighting your brother. You know deep down you don’t want to but as a matter of pride – and territory – you need to.
So Tim, what happened?
“Which part? I mean’¦well he was jumping in,” Thomas said of Price’s actions when Brad Marchand drilled James Wisniewski on an icing touch-up. “I went off the blue line and he backed into his crease. And then so I’m like okay, and then he went in again and you just can’t let it be an outnumbered situation and so that’s what I was thinking when I went down there. He was more than willing to fight. And I had this big old plan. I was going to grab his right and I was going to throw lefts because I know he’s bigger and taller and has a reach on me.
“I thought I could do a better job throwing lefts in him and when I went to grab he got a good hold on my right arm and I got nothing. So then I was like, oh now what do I do? Because I know he’s got a big right cocked and ready to come so I tried to switch arms and get my right free and I grabbed him by the back of the shirt and when he threw the right I pulled on’¦I was trying to pull him off-balance and his shirt came off his head and then I fell and’¦actually as I was falling my left arm came free and but then it was over. He fought with the fighter’s manners as far as not hitting when you’re down.”
Fighter’s manners. There’s a new one. Fighter’s manners apparently included patting each other on the shouler and backside after it was over, after only 15 seconds of grabbing and tugging.
“We’re on opposing teams but we spent some time together at hockey camp a few summers ago and we were just at the All-Star game together,” Thomas said. “We’re on friendly terms. It was business. But once business is done, it’s done.”
“Well, I know Timmy pretty well,” Price added. “I think we were just out there play-fighting more than anything. Neither one of us really wanted to get hurt, but we are out there doing whatever we had to do, I guess.”
Price was surprised when he saw Thomas skating right for him but in the end, he didn’t think the wrestling match was going to amount to much and certainly not like the fight between the Islanders’ Rick DiPietro and Pittsburgh’s Brent Johnson that ended when Johnson knocked out DiPietro, breaking the orbital bone of his face with a punch.
“Yeah, we didn’t really know what is going on, but really there is not much to get thrown out about,” Price said. “The biggest thing is that we didn’t back down. Our guys stood behind each other. I think these are good games to play in. I think they are good character builders.”
What was also new to Thomas was the idea of fighting the opposing goalie.
“I’ve been playing a long time and it’s just never a situation where it’s worked out like that but tonight it did,” he said.
Bruins coach Claude Julien sounded a much more serious but still, understanding tone.
“It’s not something you like to see,” Julien said. “I don’t think, you never like to see your goaltenders get into those kinds of things but, certainly not sitting here and condemning him for doing that, it’s the heat of the game. They were both willing combatants and you live with that.”
|Claude Julien shows the desire he wishes he’d get from his team||12.20.10 at 11:19 pm ET|
Claude Julien had seen enough.
There was the back-to-back losses last week in Buffalo and Montreal. There was Saturday night when he watched his team get outshot on home ice, 38-10, after taking a 3-0 lead over Washington, barely holding on for a 3-2 win.
The Bruins were outshot by an amazing 26-2 in the third period and it was clear from Julien’s tone Saturday night that he felt his team was fortunate – if not lucky – to win. On Monday, there was no such luck. The Bruins fell behind 2-0 before having a breakdown on the power play in front of Tim Thomas, allowing a short-handed goal that all but cooked their goose in a 3-0 loss to the Ducks at TD Garden. Julien needed to let loose and let his team have the what-for.
“Our compete level needed to be better,” Julien began. “I’m disappointed. I’m really disappointed in our effort tonight and it’s not something we should be proud of and we should be willing to try to redeem ourselves next game and find some more emotion and more intensity in our game.”
That next game is the game before Christmas, Thursday night at home against Atlanta. In the meantime, there’ll be a pair of practices which should test the quality of the practice ice in Wilmington.
Julien said while it was good that his team put 45 shots on Jonas Hiller, he said his players “need to bury those chances.”
Julien even used a classic hockey expression to express his displeasure of the lack of desire from his team, particularly his forwards.
“It’s starts with the forecheck,” Julien said. “We had a lot of guys playing at the end of of their sticks. When you’re trying to move up five spots [in the standings], that’s unacceptable.”
The Bruins coach said he’s noticed a lack of emotion and energy in his team in the last week.
“Through the course of the season, certain things will creep into your game,” Julien said. “And that’s crept into our game and we’ve got to get rid of that. We have to get that emotion again, give yourself a chance to win. And we didn’t do that tonight.”
The Bruins entered the game with the same number of points (38) as their opponent but it wasn’t the Ducks they were chasing in the standings. With a win, the Bruins could have jumped from eight in the conference to tied for third, as they would have 40 points, matching the Canadiens.
“We had all the reasons in the world to want to compete tonight, an opportunity to move up five spots [in Eastern Conference] and we didn’t have enough guys going tonight, there’s no doubt there,” Julien said.
|Is Tuukka Rask snake-bitten? It sure looks that way||11.12.10 at 10:19 am ET|
It must be hard for Tuukka Rask right now.
His Bruins teammates got off to a red-hot start and his fellow netminder one stall over in the dressing room was off to one of the best starts in team history.
But after Thursday night’s 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, Rask stands with an 0-4-1 record. How bad is it? He has more losses than games started.
When the Bruins came back to tie the Washington Capitals last Friday night, he came on in relief of Tim Thomas, only to allow the go-ahead goal and get charged with the loss. He has a 2.75 goals against average but his coach hasn’t lost faith because he believes Rask deserves a better fate.
“I don’t know if it’s at home, but I think it’s just overall,” Claude Julien said after Thursday’s latest setback. “It’s unfortunate, because so far, I don’t think we’ve played great in front of him. That first game in Prague, I think was our worst game ever so far this year. Tonight we weren’t a very good team in front of him. I thought he played well in St. Louis and took us into a shootout. But I don’t know that I would go after him and say that he’s not playing well. I think we need to help him out a little bit. When goalies find their groove, it’s because the team in front of him play maybe better than we have.”
He was respectable again on Thursday night, stopping 25-of-26 shots before a power play goal inside the first minute of the third period gave the Canadiens control.
Rask, who was the starter in the playoffs last year and figured to be this season after surgery to Tim Thomas, can’t seem to catch a break.
“Well, I think pros are pros and you can’t do everything for them,” Julien added. “That’s part of being a pro. You’ve got to be mentally strong, and you’ve got to fight through those things and the coach will always more or less always help them out, but he’s got to do his share to work through those things if confidence becomes an issue, but I don’t think he’s there.”
What does Rask think?
“That’s hockey, you know,” he said. “Try to do your best and save every puck and if you don’t get the bounce, you don’t, and if you do, just that’s great. Today there was more unlucky bounces again.”
Can’t blame him if it seems like he’s seen more than his fair share so far this season.
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