|When it comes to the Bruins’ recent stretch, top line has been tops||03.07.11 at 6:53 pm ET|
As has been well-documented, the Bruins have had plenty of success lately, earning at least one point in each of their last eight games (7-0-1). The stretch has brought them within two points of the top spot in the Eastern Conference and has made believers out of whatever non-believers still existed.
There may be no one factor that has helped the team more over their last eight than the fact that the top line is really clicking, and has been producing to their potential for the last few weeks.
Since the beginning of the season, the line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton has had its ups and downs. Individual players have gone on tears, while others have remained a few degrees away from heating up. Horton had a stretch of 20 games in which he scored just one goal. Lucic went 12 games straight without burying one. Krejci saw a stretch in which he had one point over seven games. There was a boom-or-bust nature to the line, but it’s been booming of late.
Both Krejci and Lucic, the latter of whom leads the Bruins with a career-high 28 goals, have 11 points over their last eight games. Horton has averaged a point per game over the last eight, scoring four goals in the process. Plus, the line has been producing tallies that count. Horton provided the only goal of the game in last Tuesday’s 1-0 win over the Senators. Lucic scored the game-winner Thursday against the Lightning in the third period, while Krejci tied Saturday’s game against the Penguins with 32.5 seconds remaining in regulation. Things haven’t always gone right for the top line, but they are now.
‘I think the main thing is that we’re having fun again,’ Lucic said Monday. ‘It seemed like there was a time there where things weren’t really going our way and we were kind of fighting the puck, but since after the All-Star break, it seems like we’ve found that chemistry once again. We’re having fun and playing with confidence too.
‘Every time we get the puck on our stick, we know where the other guy is and you know that if the guy sees you, he’s going to make that play and put the puck on your stick. I think that’s why we’re having success thus far.’
Whether or not the top line can sustain their output may prove to be critical to the team’s postseason success. Their offense has produced consistently this season, but no line has the ability to wear down the opposition like the highly skilled Krejci line. The Bruins saw what happened when Krejci went down in the Philadelphia series last year, and Claude Julien has intimated throughout the season that he holds the 24-year-old pivot to a very high standard. He hopes that their recent success can remind them of how big an impact they can have.
‘I think right now they’re feeling pretty good about their game,’ Julien said Monday. ‘The fact that every one of them is competing is extremely hard had certainly been a key to their success. Right now, they’re reaping the benefits.
‘Once you see what you can get out of those kind of efforts, you want to keep doing it. They like what they see, they like what’s happening to them, and hopefully they’ll want to keep it going.’
|Bruins, Penguins scoreless after one||03.05.11 at 7:43 pm ET|
The Bruins and Penguins remain scoreless after the first period, with Pittsburgh outshooting the B’s, 14-9.
The Bruins’ lone power play of period came at 13:08, when Ben Lovejoy went off for holding. The B’s failed to convert and are now 1-for-17 on the power play since acquiring Tomas Kaberle.
The period also featured fisticuffs, as Michael Rupp appeared victorious in a bout with Shawn Thornton at 2:59. Later in the period, Nathan Horton beat down Craig Adams when the two got into it at 18:31.
Nathan Horton had a couple of close-range opportunities on Marc-Andre Fleury but was stopped by the goaltender on one and saw his shot get blocked a Penguins skate on the other. Michael Ryder also had a great opportunity on Fleury but held the puck too long in an attempt to deke the Penguins’ goaltender.
|Mike Milbury on midday show: ‘I like that trend’ of physical play from B’s||03.02.11 at 12:57 pm ET|
NESN and NBC Sports analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the WEEI midday show Wednesday to talk about the red-hot Bruins. To hear the interview, go to the WEEI audio on demand page.
“The sign that was great for me was Nathan Horton doing something to make a difference,” Milbury said. “Because Horton and Ryder on the right side have to be active and productive. They’ve been uneven all year long. I think it’s important that they stay this way. The fight [Horton] had against Theo Peckham in Edmonton was a brawl. He came out clearly on top. This guy is tough. If he can get the fuse lit for him, the Bruins are going to be a very dangerous team to beat.
“The same is true of Ryder, who I actually think has skated much better along the road trip, and even prior to the road trip, than he has at any time since I’ve seen him. The puck’s not going in as regularly as I think he’d like, but you can see that he’s getting things done.”
Tomas Kaberle, acquired from the Maple Leafs last month, is not signed past this season. Asked if it would be worth it to the Bruins to only have the defenseman for a third of a season, Milbury said: “When you have a chance to make a run for the roses, you’ve got to take it. You’ve got to take advantage of it.”
|Bruins improve to 5-0-0 on road trip with 3-2 win over Edmonton||02.27.11 at 10:48 pm ET|
The Bruins gave up a season-low 17 shots en route to a 3-2 win in Edmonton on Sunday night. The B’s improved to 5-0-0 on their current road trip, which wraps up Tuesday in Ottawa, giving them their first five-game winning streak of the season.
Ales Hemsky put the Oilers on the board first when he fired a rebound inside the left post just 1:05 into the game. The Bruins picked up the pace as the first period went on, though, and ended up taking a 2-1 lead into the break.
Michael Ryder registered Boston’s first goal with 4:30 left in the first when he collected a rebound in the slot and waited out goalie Devan Dubnyk (37 saves) before lifting a shot under the crossbar.
Rich Peverley netted his first goal as a Bruin to make it 3-1 with 52 seconds left in the second. He took a pass from Ryder in the lower left circle and cut across the front of the net before beating Dubnyk.
The Oilers made things interesting 3:14 into the third when Gilbert Brule beat Tuukka Rask (15 saves) glove-side with a slapper from the left half-wall. But the Bruins were able to hang on down the stretch and get the win.
Rask improved to 8-11-1 on the season, and he is now 5-0-0 in his last five road games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
-Horton continued his recent stretch of solid play with his third goal in the last four games. He also dropped the gloves with Theo Peckham in the first period and took the Oiler down with a hard right. Horton once again was a presence in the offensive zone all night, as he tied for the team lead with five shots on goal.
-After being held scoreless in its first two games together, the new third line of Ryder, Peverley and Chris Kelly broke out with two goals Sunday night. Ryder netted the Bruins’ first goal and then set up Peverley for what proved to be the game-winner. The trio combined for a plus-4 rating on the night.
-The Bruins got off to a bit of a slow start against the worst team in the NHL, but they really turned up the heat in the final 10 minutes of the first. They ended up outshooting the Oilers, 15-5, in the opening frame and netted the two late goals to head into the locker room with the lead. The momentum carried over into the second, during which the B’s outshot Edmonton, 17-7.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
-The Bruins opened the game with a bad first couple shifts and paid for it when Hemsky scored a little more than a minute in. It seemed like they were just standing around waiting for something to happen. As mentioned above, that certainly changed as the period went on.
-Despite completely dominating in terms of shots and puck possession, the Bruins struggled to slam the door shut and let Edmonton hang around. The Oilers managed to pull within one early in the third on Brule’s goal and had a few chances to tie it up down the stretch. Dubnyk was the biggest reason the score was as close as it was, as he played great for the Oilers, but the B’s still should’ve won by a more convincing margin.
-The fourth line of Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin and Shawn Thornton combined for a minus-3 rating and just four shots on goal. Campbell and Seguin also combined for five of the Bruins’ 15 turnovers in the game.
Milan Lucic scored what proved to be the game-winning goal and added two assists to lead the Bruins to a 3-1 win over the Western Conference-leading Canucks on Saturday night.
With the game tied, 1-1, Lucic scored his team-leading 27th goal of the season with 4:38 left in the game. David Krejci created the chance by weaving through a slew of Vancouver defenders before circling behind the net and finding Dennis Seidenberg at the point. Roberto Luongo (22 saves) stopped Seidenberg’s shot, but Lucic was there to bang home the rebound.
Vancouver’s Manny Malhotra opened the scoring 16:58 into the first when he buried a rebound past Tim Thomas (27 saves). Nathan Horton tied it up midway through the second when he took a pass from Lucic and beat Luongo from the low slot. Patrice Bergeron sealed the win with a late empty-netter.
The loss was the Canucks’ first of the season in a game in which they scored first, and just their sixth at home. The Bruins are now 4-0-0 on their current road trip.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
-It was certainly a nice homecoming for Lucic. Friday night, he was inducted into the “Ring of Honour” for the Vancouver Giants, his junior team. Saturday night, he registered a game-winning goal and two assists against his hometown NHL team. Lucic now has four goals in four games on this road trip.
-The Canucks came into the game with the NHL‘s best power play, converting 25.1 percent of such opportunities. But the Bruins held Vancouver’s man advantage scoreless in three attempts Saturday. They did a great job of making it difficult for the Canucks to get set up, and actually held them to zero shots on their first power play of the night.
-After going three games without a point, Horton now has four in his last four games. More importantly, he had five shots on goal and was buzzing around the offensive zone all night. The Bruins need Horton to be a scorer down the stretch, and it looks like he’s starting to become just that.
–Tomas Kaberle registered his first point as a Bruin with the second assist on Horton’s goal. He played well in his first two games with the B’s and the power play has been moving the puck well with him as the quarterback, but he had been held off the score sheet until Saturday night.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
–Andrew Ference left the game in the first period with a lower body injury and did not return. Saturday’s signing of Shane Hnidy looked smart no matter what, but it could look even smarter if the injury to Ference turns out to be anything serious. Ference is currently tied with Adam McQuaid for the team lead in plus/minus at plus-24.
-You can probably count on one hand how many times Brad Marchand has been mentioned under this section. But Saturday night, he took two penalties and posted a minus-1 rating. It marked the fourth time this season Marchand has made two visits to the sin bin in one game. Luckily for him, the Bruins’ penalty kill was able to bail him out.
-The third line of Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder is now scoreless in two games together. It’s certainly nothing to panic about, and obviously it’s going to take some time for them to develop chemistry since none of them has ever played together before, but the Bruins will need them to be productive.
|Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask lead Bruins past Senators||02.18.11 at 10:07 pm ET|
The new-look Bruins didn’t get off to the prettiest of starts, but they finished strong to earn a 4-2 victory over the Senators at Scotiabank Place on Friday night.
Brad Marchand had a pair of goals, while Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton and David Krejci also multi-point performances. Krejci now has 11 points over his last 10 contests. Dennis Seidenberg also scored for the B’s.
Marlborough native and former University of New Hampshire Wildcat Bobby Butler provided the Senators with their first tally, beating Tuukka Rask at 2:50 of the second period for his third goal in three games. Butler’s strike opened the game’s scoring, but Marchand’s goal from Tyler Seguin and Ference pulled the B’s even. After Horton gave them the lead at 9:47 of the third, the B’s never looked back. Alexei Kovalev scored for the Senators with 1:30 remaining in the game.
Rask made 32 saves in the game, improving to 7-11-1 on the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Almost unbelievably, Rask has won back-to-back games for the first time all season. The 23-year-old netminder hasn’t really gotten many opportunities to string together much success, but with Claude Julien clearly willing to give him more starts down the stretch, Rask’s performances Thursday and Friday are good for both the confidence of the Finland native and the B’s.
– Friday was about a couple of veterans making their Bruins debuts, but it was the rookies who once again came up big for the B’s. Seguin took a pass from Ference to set up Marchand’s 17th goal of the year, and considering how he’s played the last two nights, it will be hard for the Bruins to scratch the second overall pick when the team returns to action Tuesday in Calgary. With Marchand’s two tallies, he now has 18 on the season.
– On a night in which it appeared Horton may be regressing back to the point where he was back to slumping, the 25-year-old came up big. He entered the night with just one point over his last four games, but he fired a beautiful wrester past Robin Lehner off a nice pass from Krejci at 9:47 of the third. He also drew a holding penalty on holding penalty on Erik Karlsson in the second period, though he went off for holding Milan Michalek at 11:38 of the third.
– The team showed how their power play will be able to operate with Tomas Kaberle, as the newcomer helped orchestrate Seidenberg’s goal. On the night, the B’s power play went 1-for-5.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins came out in the first period like a team that had spent the day selling off assets, and not gaining them. They played with very little energy in the first, getting outshot 12-5. Rask came up big throughout the period, which is the silver lining in a surprisingly flat start by the Bruins.
The Bruins did pick it up after their sluggish period, grabbing a 13-8 advantage in shots in the second period and sustaining that increased energy through the third.
– Johnny Boychuk was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. With Kaberle now in the fold, Boychuk could be the guy that is a regular healthy scratch, with Adam McQuaid and Steven Kampfer also candidates.
|Bruins set to play the first of two vs. Red Wings||02.11.11 at 1:33 am ET|
Winners of four of their last five, the Bruins (69 points) will host the Red Wings (70 points) at TD Garden on Friday. It will be the first of two the teams will play against one another in three days, as the Bruins will travel to Detroit to face the Wings for a Sunday matinee.
Starting for Detroit will be former University of Maine goaltender Jimmy Howard, who is one of five goaltenders with 26 wins this season. He was pulled halfway through Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Predators after allowing all four Nashville goals. Expect Tuukka Rask to start for the B’s after he didn’t participate in Friday’s optional skate.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Bruins are 15-10-3 in home games (14-10-3 at TD Garden) and have won three of their last four at the Garden. Their most recent was Wednesday’s high-scoring penalty fest against the Canadiens, an 8-6 victory.
– The Red Wings are 16-8-2 on the road this season. They lost their most recent road game, getting blanked, 3-0, in Nashville on Feb. 5.
– Nathan Horton is coming off the first five-point night of his career, as he had a goal and four assists Wednesday vs. the Habs. His five points were more than he had in his previous 13 contests.
– Brad Marchand has a plus-25 rating on the season, putting him behind only Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros for the league lead. The only other forward in the top five is Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler, whose plus-23 puts him in a tie for fifth.
– The Bruins got a power-play goal from Michael Ryder on Wednesday, but their power play is still struggling to produce. Ryder’s tally was the first strike with a man advantage for the Bruins in six games, and also the first since Marc Savard went down on Jan. 22 in Colorado.
STORLYINES GOING IN
– Despite being second in the Western Conference, the Red Wings haven’t exactly been tearing it up of late. They have lost three of their last four contests and are 5-6-1 over their last 12 games.
– The last three games and the coming two against the Red Wings have made for the Bruins’ most difficult five-game stretch in their schedule, and so far they have to be pleased with how they’ve fared. With slugfest wins over the Stars and Canadiens and a tough 1-0 loss to the Sharks, they are 2-1-0 so far.
– After a lot of fighting on Wednesday, Micky Ward will drop a ceremonial first puck prior to Friday’s game. In other pre-game news, we’ll keep an eye (or ear) on whether the revamped hip-hop warmup music selected by Johnny Boychuk sticks. The team skated out to Wiz Khalifa’s ‘Black and Yellow’ rather than Metallica’s cover of ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ on Wednesday.