|Mike Milbury on D&H: Problems loom for B’s if first line cannot improve||01.19.11 at 12:49 pm ET|
NESN and NBC Sports NHL analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Milbury said this is the best he’s seen Patrice Bergeron play. “[He’s] seeing the ice, quick to the puck, totally unafraid, does all the little things right, good on the draws, goes to the front of the net, sees the ice well ‘ there’s nothing to not like about his game,” Milbury said.
The lack of production from the first line is a concern to Milbury. “[Nathan] Horton, [Marc] Savard and [Milan] Lucic have got to find a way to put points on the board,” he said. “They’ve been winning a whole bunch of games without a lot of support from those three guys. Listen, there’s no getting around, it’s their top line. And if your top line isn’t producing the way you expect it to, you’re going to run into problems sooner or later.
“The flip side of that is, because of the balance that they now have, they’re able to do it while the first line finds their rhythm.”
Of Horton, Milbury said. “He’s yet to get fully engaged in the game on a regular basis. By that I mean hustle to loose pucks, work really hard to get there. I’ve seen him fight and he can really go, so I know he’s not afraid. But the point is ‘ and this is the common catchword ‘ there’s got to be more urgency to his game. He’s got to want it more. He’s got to fight for loose pucks a little bit more. He’s got to be a little bit more reckless in his game. Until he gets that, his progress is going to be checked, in my opinion.”
Meanwhile, Milbury likes what he’s seeing from the fourth line. “The Bruins have as good a fourth line as there is in the game right now with [Brad] Marchand, [Gregory] Campbell and Shawn Thornton,” Milbury said. “[Campbell] plays hard every night. He’s a coach’s dream, because you know what you’re going to get shift after shift.”
As for Marchand, Milbury said: “He uses his assets, which are his feet, and a little bit of grit to get where he needs to go. ‘¦ We talk about Horton and engaging and getting the most out of what you’ve got. Well, this kid is getting all of what he can give and then some.”
Looking at the Eastern Conference, Milbury said, “I still think Pittsburgh is the team to beat, and Philly second.”
As for the Bruins, “It’s still a team that I think has yet to hit its full stride,” Milbury said. “But things have changed now for the Bruins. [Tuukka] Rask is back in the picture, [Tim] Thomas is still playing incredibly well, the defense is starting to act like it can jump into the offense or produce when it comes to getting shots on goal, and you’ve got three lines, at least right now, that are playing I think well enough to win on most nights ‘ and they are winning on most nights. If they can ever get that first line humming, they’ve got to be be a strong candidate to come out of the Eastern Conference.”
|Tim Thomas helps Bruins past Hurricanes again||01.18.11 at 9:37 pm ET|
The Bruins beat the Hurricanes, 3-2, Tuesday night to grab their second win over Carolina in as many days.
Milan Lucic took a pass from Mark Recchi on the power play at 11:49 of the third period with the game tied at two and sent a wrist-shot past Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward to secure the game-winning goal. The Bruins also got goals from Johnny Boychuk and Brad Marchand in the first and third periods, respectively.
Tim Thomas made a season-high 43 saves as the Hurricanes put 45 shots on goal. Carolina got goals from Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu.
The Bruins went 2-for-5 on the power play while killing off four of their five penalties. They will return to the Garden to face the Sabres on Thursday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Thomas carried the Bruins throughout the night, but the second period stood out for the Vezina favorite. The Hurricanes outshot the B’s, 19-9 in the second, and on the night, Thomas made a season-high 43 saves. Thirty-seven were made in the first two periods.
– After initially being credited, having the goal taken away, and being credited once again, Boychuk finally has his first goal of the season in his 36th game. Boychuk had five in 51 games for the B’s last season.
– Lucic scored his first goal in the last 13 games when he put the B’s up, 3-2, on the power play. He continues to lead the Bruins with 17 goals.
– The members of the Wheeler-Campbell-Thornton were strong for the B’s, as Wheeler drew an elbowing penalty from Tuomo Ruutu and the line’s pressure late in the second period forced the Hurricanes to flip it over the glass in their own zone for a delay of game penalty.
– The Bruins weren’t handed too many opportunities in the second period, so they took advantage when handed one in the third. Following an icing by the Hurricanes, Mark Recchi won the face-off and Zdeno Chara threw a shot on Ward from the point, with Marchand scoring on the rebound.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Despite Marchand scoring and drawing a gift penalty from Eric Staal, he had a regrettable hooking penalty in the first period. With the B’s leading, 1-0, Marchand whiffed on a puck from right around the hashmarks, and as the play went the other way, he hooked Ian White to put the Hurricanes on the man advantage. It was on his power play that Jokinen tied it up at one.
– Nathan Horton still has just one goal over his last 16 games, as he was robbed in the second period when Ward picked his wrist-shot from the slot.
Horton, who has struggled to consistently get pucks on net, tied for the Bruins’ lead with four shots on goal on Tuesday. He had just one on Monday.
|Post-morning skate notes: Milan Lucic out, Tim Thomas off first, Mark Stuart takes another step||01.13.11 at 12:23 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was first off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate, so it looks like he’ll be rewarded with the start vs. the Flyers after shutting out the Senators on Tuesday. He faces a tougher challenge against Philadelphia, as the Flyers are third in the league with their 3.4 goals per game, while the Senators’ 2.2 goals per game rank 29th.
Forward Milan Lucic will be out for the second straight game, as the undisclosed injury (which seems to be going around these days) hasn’t healed to the point at which Claude Julien is comfortable putting the slumping winger back in the lineup.
“[He’s feeling] better,” coach Claude Julien said following the skate. “Obviously he won’t be i tonight, but he’s getting better.”
Julien likened Lucic’s situation to that of Nathan Horton, who missed a pair of games with an undisclosed injury prior to returning in Tuesday’s 6-0 victory over the Senators.
“[He’s] day-to-day,” Julien said. “It’s a lot like Horton. He’s dealing with the same kind of situation as far as day-to-day is concerned.”
When Lucic does return, he’ll be looking to both shake of rust and bust out of an 11-game goal drought. Lucic leads the Bruins with 16 goals this season.
While Lucic wasn’t on the ice for the morning skate, defenseman Mark Stuart was. Stuart has been out since suffering a fractured hand and dislocated finger on Dec. 7 and hopes to return to the lineup sometime next week.
Given the impressive play of Steven Kampfer, who was called up following Stuart’s injury, as well as Adam McQuaid‘s safe and solid play on the blueline, the B’s will have a decision to make when it comes to making room for Stuart. To Stuart, the fact that both have played so well tells him that the team is in good shape, and that he shouldn’t assume anything will be handed to him.
“This is the best position to be in, and it’s going to make me work even harder to get back and to play well,” Stuart said.
“It’s definitely the case,” he added regarding the competition he anticipates for his spot. “You have to earn your way back. I don’t care who you are. … Guys are playing well. It would probably be different if the team was on a downswing and they were looking to change things up.
“It’s good to see, though. That’s what you need. That’s what all good teams have. You look around the league at the good teams. They all have guys coming up, guys coming in and out. Everybody can play, everybody comes in and does the job. I think that’s what you’ve seen with us the last month or so.”
Julien noted that with Stuart still a week to 10 days away, he isn’t in any rush to make a quick decision on how things will unfold.
“It’s probably a little early to answer that question,” Julien said. “… [We have] lots of games and so sometimes you have to make those decisions, sometimes you don’t so I’ll give myself a little break on that one.”
Here are some other notes from the skate:
– The lines looked the same for the Bruins as they were on Tuesday against Ottawa.
– McQuaid probably likes getting attention more from his play and his fighting rather than from perhaps the scariest moment of his career. With the Flyers in town, though, so too is Jody Shelley, who sent him head-first into the end boards on Dec. 11 when the two were chasing an iced puck.
The B’s blueliner wanted to move on from the play, which got Shelley suspended for two games, at the time, and as the spotlight returns with Flyers, he would rather not dwell on it.
“You never want to kind of see yourself going head-first into the boards at any point in time, but it’s not really something I’m thinking too much about,” McQuaid said. “I’ve moved on, moved past it, and just want to be focused for tonight.”
– Horton wasn’t around following Tuesday’s game or during Thursday morning’s media availability, so it’s tough to gauge exactly how comfortable the winger feels since returning from his undisclosed injury. Julien liked what he saw from the winger on Tuesday, but on Thursday didn’t know if Horton’s feeling completely better.
“Let’s put it this way: he’s well enough to play,” Julien said. “I don’t know that I’d say he’s 100 percent, because you don’t come back from missing games and all of a sudden you’re 100 percent.
“[He was] close enough that the risk factor was kind of pushed aside, and they’re minimal, and that he was able to give us what we wanted and well enough to play.”
|Milbury on D&H: Patrice Bergeron didn’t score three goals||01.12.11 at 2:05 pm ET|
Mike Milbury of NESN, NBC Sports, and Hockey Night in Canada made his weekly appearance on Dale & Holley on Wednesday, discussing all things Bruins and his feelings on the NHL All-Star game.
Milbury was quite direct in speaking about Patrice Bergeron‘s first career hat trick, which he scored in Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Senators. Blake Wheeler appeared to have scored what was ruled Bergeron’s second goal, and Milbury wasn’t happy with how it was credited.
“The guys that do the scoring have the responsibility to get it right. They have to do everything to get it right. Do they fudge a little on [an assist] once in a while? I bet they do, and I think that’s OK, but they’ve got to be honest and true to it,” Milbury said. “Somebody’s got to tell me there’s a different angle that showed Bergeron scoring the goal, because I watched it several times, and pretty clearly, Blake Wheeler with a backhand [scored]. ‘¦ I didn’t think there was any question whose goal that was.”
Milbury said that given the fans throwing their hats twice — Brad Marchand‘s second-period goal was initially credited to Bergeron, which at the time would have been his third goal of the game — the Bruins and Bergeron are better off leaving the matter alone rather than giving Wheeler his due credit.
“It would be tough to do that after the three or four times they showered him with hats,” Milbury said, adding that Bergeron should just “take the damn hat trick.”
As for the state of the Bruins, who have been a Jekyll and Hyde team all season with their ups and downs, Milbury said it’s difficult to gauge what type of team the Bruins are given their inconsistent nature. The Bruins have won their last two games after blowing a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 overtime loss to the rival Canadiens on Saturday.
“This is a hard team to pin down right now. I’m trying to figure out, what are they? ‘¦ I’d just like to see this team hit on all cylinders so I can figure out how good they are,” Milbury said. “Now, they’re a good team, not a great team. They’re going to have to rely on some great goaltending and solid defense. ‘¦ I’m still not sure just how good this group is.”
Since returning from post-concussion syndrome, center Marc Savard, who is in the first year of a seven-year deal, has struggled to regain the form that made him one of the league’s elite playmakers. He has made costly mistakes and has been benched by Claude Julien in multiple situations. Milbury said the Bruins will need him to get back to where he was for the team to be competitive late in the season and in the playoffs.
“It’s going to be critical to their success to have Savard finding the way back to his game,” Milbury said. “Most guys who have injuries of big magnitude, of some sort of significance, take a long time. ‘¦ Hopefully by the end of the year, Savard will have found his rhythm and they find the right match for him with linemates.”
Milbury has been one of Nathan Horton‘s biggest critics since the Bruins acquired the forward from the Panthers over the summer. He said that Horton’s play “troubles” him, and that he’s unsure of why the talented winger is so prone to disappearing in games.
“I don’t know if it’s focus, or if it’s his level of competitiveness, but this guy form a tools standpoint has a hell of a lot more to offer on a regular basis,” Milbury said.
“You have got to be involved. You’ve got to be involved on the forecheck, and hopefully you’re involved in the physical side. He’s not afraid, but it doesn’t come naturally to him.”
“Think of the players. They don’t want to be there,” Milbury said. “Except for the guys that just got named to their first or second All-Star team and want to be in the elite group — I can understand what an honor that’s got to be — but once you’re through that thrill, if it’s not in your city, it’s got to be [tiring].
“They’re going to be escorted around all these nonsensical events ‘¦ and then play a half-assed game, and then they’ll go home tired,” he added. “Good idea.”
“I know it’s a celebration of the sport, but for me it’s not celebrating the sport. It’s denigrating the sport.”
|Milan Lucic out for Bruins, Nathan Horton to return to lineup||01.11.11 at 6:11 pm ET|
Bruins forward Milan Lucic will not play Tuesday night against the Senators at TD Garden due to an undisclosed injury suffered Monday night in the team’s 4-2 victory over the Penguins. It will be Lucic’s first missed game in a season in which he’s led the Bruins with 16 goals through 41 games.
“He’s going to be a scratch for tonight,” coach Claude Julien said prior to the game, “and hopefully it’s a day-to-day situation.
Nathan Horton will make his return to the lineup after missing the last two games with what Julien would only describe as “discomfort.” Defenseman Adam McQuaid, who also missed Monday’s game with an undisclosed injury, is a game-time decision.
“He skated this morning and felt pretty good, so we’re going to make that decision after the warmup,” Julien said.
If McQuaid is unable to go, rookie Matt Bartkowski will be in the lineup in his place. Bartkowski made his NHL debut on Monday.
|Bruins look to rebound from loss to Canadiens as they take on Penguins in Pittsburgh||01.10.11 at 2:03 am ET|
The Bruins (21-12-7) are in the midst of a rather tough stretch in their schedule, and it continues Monday night against the Penguins (26-13-4) in Pittsburgh. While the Penguins, whose 56 points are the second-most in the Eastern Conference, are looking for their first win without Sidney Crosby (concussion), the Bruins are simply looking for anything that can make people forget about their collapse against the Canadiens Saturday night in a 3-2 overtime loss.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Penguins are 14-8-1 at CONSOL Energy Center, and only the Capitals and Canadiens have more home points this season. On Saturday, they dropped a 4-0 contest to the Wild at home.
– Despite getting one point in a game in which they should have had two in Montreal, the B’s continue to rack up the points on the road. They are 12-5-4 in away games and haven’t lost a road contest in regulation since Dec. 16.
– Zero. That’s how many shots Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, and David Krejci combined for on Saturday. Especially in Lucic’s case, that’s about as inexcusable as it gets for a leading goal-scorer, and as we pointed out after the game, it’s something that has happened eight times this season.
– Kris Letang, one of four Penguins voted into the All-Star game in the fan-balloting process, is fourth among defensemen with 36 points. That’s already a career-high for the 23-year old, and he’s on pace to finish his fourth season with 69 points. Letang leads the Penguins with a plus-21 rating.
– If you’re a fan of power play goals, you might want to watch a different game. Over the last nine games, the Penguins are 3-for-32 on the man advantage, while the B’s are 3-for-27. The Bruins have gone five games without a power play goal.
To make matters worse for each team’s power play, they’ll be going against stiff competition. The Penguins and Bruins’ penalty kills rank first and seventh in the league, respectively.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– What will the Bruins’ blueline look like? The Bruins recalled Matt Bartkowski on an emergency basis Sunday, and reports indicate he’ll take the place of Adam McQuaid in the lineup. The Bruins have been mum on what ails McQuaid. Maybe he caught the “discomfort” that’s going around.
Speaking of which, whether or not Nathan Horton makes his way back into the lineup is another thing to keep an eye on. “Discomfort” is the only word of information the B’s will divulge regarding why the 25-year-old missed Saturday’s game.
Regardless of who the B’s have out, they won’t have the right to complain while in Pittsburgh. Crosby, who still leads the league with 32 goals and 66 points, has been out for the last two games, with the team going 0-1-1 in his absence.
– The Bruins pulled off a memorable one vs. Penguins last time they were in town. The B’s came back from a 4-2 deficit with five third-period goals and took a 7-4 victory behind a three-point night from Mark Recchi on Nov. 10.
– Will the Lucic-Savard-Ryder line live to see another day? With the way it performed on Saturday (two shots on goal, both of which were from Michael Ryder), Bruins fans should hope not. Savard just isn’t himself, and his presence on a top line isn’t helping the B’s quest for offense right now.
– While on the subject of Savard, Monday will be the center’s first trip back to Pittsburgh since suffering his concussion on a hit from Matt Cooke last March 7.
– This will be the first of two match-ups between the two teams over the next week. After the B’s leave Pittsburgh, they will return to the Garden, where they will face the Senators and Flyers this week before hosting the Penguins on Saturday. After Saturday, the two teams won’t meet again until they close out their season series on March 5.
|Update: Nathan Horton out vs. Canadiens||01.08.11 at 4:27 pm ET|
Nathan Horton is out of the Bruins’ lineup as the team takes on the Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday night. Coach Claude Julien had told reporters earlier in the day that the forward was unlikely to play with an undisclosed ailment that Julien would only describe as “discomfort.”
Horton has not missed a game this season. In 39 games, he has 12 goals and 14 assists, though he has just four goals over his last 23 contests.