|Milan Lucic: With fans ‘calling for blood,’ players must execute||12.21.10 at 1:23 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins, losers of four of their last five games, find themselves searching for answers as they try to find a balance of both consistency and emotion. After Monday’s 3-0 loss to the Ducks showcased a glaringly lethargic team, the B’s find themselves in an unflattering light around town. Fans are questioning coach Claude Julien, while the lack of a full team effort has resulted in expected media scrutiny. Amidst all the negativity, forward Milan Lucic said the guys on the ice are the ones who ultimately have to produce if they want to right the ship.
“Everyone’s calling for blood, the media’s writing negative stuff about us, but we’ve got to have each other’s back and stick up for one another, and it’s all going to start from in here,” Lucic told WEEI.com Tuesday. “It’s got to be a team effort where all 20 guys are committed to putting in the work.”
Lucic said the team is aware of their struggles and that the effort is there to get the team in the right frame of mind come game time, but that there comes a point at which trying isn’t good enough.
“We try to do things to rally one another and pump each other up before the game. We’re saying the right things, it’s just a matter of going out there and doing them. That’s the main thing right now. Talk is cheap. You’ve got to go out there and do it.”
The 22-year-old leads the Bruins with 16 goals this season, but with the team struggling as badly as it has been, each of the top three lines saw major shakeups. Lucic, who had played with Nathan Horton and either David Krejci or Patrice Bergeron all season, will now skate with Horton and Marc Savard.
“I’ve played with Savvy before, and Savvy’s obviously excited to play with Horton for the first time here,” Lucic said, while adding that “we’ll see what happens next game.”
“Hopefully we can create some chances and get some results.”
The Bruins need the latter more than anything right now.
|Bruins shake lines up following ugly loss||at 11:34 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Nobody could have been happy following the B’s 3-0 loss to the Ducks on Monday, and Claude Julien responded by shaking up the offensive lines in practice on Tuesday. Brad Marchand remains out, so the lines were as follows:
Lucic – Savard – Horton
Recchi - Bergeron – Seguin
Wheeler – Krejci – Ryder
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
A couple of quick thoughts to consider:
- Looks like that generation-spanning line might finally get some serious time. The Recchi – Bergeron – Seguin line looked good in training camp but has never been a fixture in the regular season.
- Nathan Horton finally gets Marc Savard to set him up. This could mean improved offensive production, but Horton’s entire game needs a shot of energy.
- There was a bit a brief exchange between Savard and Bergeron at one point in the skate, with the two exchanging cross-checks. It didn’t seem serious or something that lasted throughout the practice, but it’s good to see some fire from a squad that’s been lethargic.
|Bruins vs. Ducks preview||12.20.10 at 10:39 am ET|
Two teams with 38 points will face off on Monday when the Bruins (17-10-4) take on the Ducks (17-15-4). The B’s will see an Anaheim team that aside from a six-game win streak to begin November has struggled to find consistency. The Ducks enter Monday night having lost two straight, while the Bruins broke a three-game skid on Saturday by beating the Capitals, 3-2. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, as the B’s had to fend off a swarming Washington offense in the third period after holding a 3-0 lead in the first.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 8-4-3 at the Garden (8-5-3 in home games including the Prague opener) and have turned their luck at the Garden around since entering December as a 4-4-2 home team. The Bruins have come away with a point in all five home contests this month, posting a 4-0-1 record.
- The Ducks have been a fine home team, but their 6-9-3 road record is what finds them in third place in in the Pacific division despite having played three more games than the first-place Stars (43 points) and second-place Sharks (39). The Ducks have lost their last two games, both of which were on the road, and are 2-2-1 in their last five road contests.
- Blake Wheeler has points in consecutive games for just the third time this season, while he has scored in back-to-back contests for the first time all year. Things are starting to pick up production-wise between the 24-year-old winger and linemate Patrice Bergeron (four points in the last two games), so whether the second line can keep up their new-found means of success is worth keeping an eye on.
- The number of shots allowed recently has been alarming. Tim Thomas saw 40 or more shots just once in 15 starts through the first two months of the season. This month, however, Thomas has seen at least 40 in four of his seven starts.
Saturday was the most blatant case of the shots-on-goal problem. The B’s were outshot 26-2 in the third period. Those 26 shots for the Capitals in the final 20 minutes were five more than the 21 the B’s had all game.
- Anaheim right wing Corey Perry enters Monday night’s game fifth in the NHL with 38 points. The 25-year-old has eight points in his last four games, including an impressive showing Dec. 12 against the Wild in which he picked up his first hat trick and tied a career-high with five points.
Ryan Getzlaf also finds himself top 10 in the league in points with 35. The former first-rounder scored both of Anaheim’s goals in Saturday night’s 4-2 loss to the Hurricanes.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- The Bruins may have broken their losing streak, but their struggles are still evident. Fortunately for them, they are no longer the woeful home team they were last season and for the majority of this season. This seems to be the right setting for them to get the convincing win they haven’t had since perhaps the Tampa Bay game or the Buffalo contest. Wins over the Islanders don’t count.
- Despite the sub-par play over their last four games, the B’s, currently with 12 points in December, are a win away from tying the 14 points they had in November, their most successful month this season. Including Monday, the Bruins have five games let this month.
- The inconsistency for Nathan Horton is back, and with three shots on goal (and zero points) in his last three games, he’s got to shoot more and be more physical to avoid confirming the reputation he had coming in as a player who disappears.
|Bruins hope days off pay off||12.14.10 at 2:15 pm ET|
The Bruins had a rare two-day break from the ice after Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Flyers. The players’ time was their own on Sunday, while they spent Monday at Target in Woburn Christmas shopping for children who have to spend the holidays in the hospital.
On Tuesday, they returned to Ristuccia Arena, working on the power play and practicing for over an hour.
“The two days [off] is definitely nice,” Nathan Horton said. “I think we’re overall rejuvenated, and everybody’s ready to go. Everyone was excited to get back after two days. It’s been a while, and it’s nice to have a couple of days off.”
The B’s were preparing for their upcoming stretch of three games in four days beginning on Wednesday in Buffalo. After their bout with the Sabres, they’ll travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Thursday before returning home against the Capitals on Saturday.
Given how heavy the schedule has been, Claude Julien saw Sunday and Monday as a good opportunity to let the B’s rest up and let any aches players may be feeling work themselves out.
“I think so,” Julien said when asked if the time off was necessary. “It’s been a pretty heavy schedule for a lot of teams around the league. It’s an opportunity for us to keep them off the ice here for a little bit.”
With the return to the ice, Julien liked what he saw out of his guys. The break, which he hoped would allow them to “clear their heads a little bit and get ready for a big week,” seemingly paid off with a good practice.
“I think they looked like they had lots of energy,” Julien said. “Sometimes a couple of days off it good for you. When you say a couple of days off, I don’t think they really had days off. They were busy doing other things. It’s one of the few times that we’re able to help them out in a way where they can get their rest and get away from practice.”
|Bruins use Monday to knock off Christmas shopping||at 9:38 am ET|
WOBURN — Christmas shopping is crazy enough, but it’s a little crazier when professional athletes are doing the same, easily identifiable by their jerseys and Santa Clause hats.
That was the scene at Woburn’s Target store on Monday as the B’s did their annual Holiday Toy Shopping to pick up presents for local hospitalized children.
“It’s always nice, especially when you know it’s going to kids that won’t have a chance to be home for Christmas,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “At least this way, we want t make it really easy and comfortable for them. Hopefully they’re going to enjoy it.”
This was no case of grabbing the first things you can find and calling it a day. Players were given checklists, shopping carts and Target employees as they went through the store. Nathan Horton, a father who admittedly is learned on the popular gifts, had no trouble filling shopping carts with toys and even iPods.
It wasn’t long ago that 18-year-old Tyler Seguin was getting giddy over Christmas presents. The youngest player on the team, Seguin said he enjoyed Power Rangers toys as a child. As he picked presents on Tuesday, he was careful and deliberate in taking a good look at each gift before tossing it in the cart.
“This is a lot of fun,” Seguin said as he inspected the toys. “Any time you get to give back to the community and fans, it’s always a nice feeling. I get to tell my family all the good stuff and good causes we’re supporting.”
The B’s have been picking up presents for hospitalized children since the days of Ray Bourque. After Bourque was sent Colorado, Concord-born Hal Gill took over the operation, with P.J. Axelsson succeeding Gill. Patrice Bergeron, the longest-tenured current Bruins player, runs the show now.
“I liked doing it when Hal was here, and then P.J. took care of it,” Bergeron said Monday. “Once they left, I told [Director of Community Relations] Kerry [Collins] I wanted to take over because it’s something that I like and I think it’s something that the kids enjoy. It’s something that’s very important for the community.”
The next step of the process is actually delivering the gifts, which players noted is the best part.
“Today, it’s fun. You’re throwing a bunch of toys and stuff in the cart, but the big thing is when we drop them off at the hospitals,” Mark Stuart said. “It’s good to actually meet the kids and actually know where it’s going. That’s important with any charity.”
|Bruins at Flyers preview||12.01.10 at 5:41 pm ET|
The Bruins are in Philadelphia to take on the Flyers for the first time since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last May.
The team did not have a full morning skate, with just rehabbing players and a healthy scratch — Marc Savard, Marco Sturm and Daniel Paille — as well as Tuukka Rask, taking the ice. With Rask skating this morning, it is anticipated that Tim Thomas will start for the B’s.
WHERE IT’S AT
The Flyers are 9-4-1 at home this season, though they’re 1-1-1 in their last three games in Philadelphia.
The Bruins, on the other hand, continue to be a far better road team than they are a home team. Their away record stands at 8-3-0 compared to their 4-5-2 mark in home games. Still, the Bruins are slumping, and it’s hit them no matter where they’ve been playing. They’ve dropped two of their last three games away from TD Garden, the most recent of which was a 4-1 pounding from the Thrashers in Atlanta on Sunday.
- It’s almost time to send a search party out for Nathan Horton. The sharpshooting winger has gone seven games without a goal and is a minus-2 with zero points over his last five contests.
- Wednesday marks the 100th game of James van Riemsdyk‘s career. The 21-year-old forward spent two years at UNH before making the jump to the NHL last season. The former second overall pick has three goals in his last four games, which is a good sign for the Flyers when considering his benching last month. Of course, the three goals are his only three of the season. In 21 games this season, JVR has three goals and seven assists for 10 points.
- The Flyers have scored on just two of their last 34 power plays. The B’s penalty kill has been slumping, allowing four power play goals in their opponent’s last six opportunities. The majority of the damage was done last Friday, of course, when Carolina went 3-for-3.
- Thomas still leads the league in save percentage (.951) and goals against average (1.56) and is tied with Carey Price for the NHL lead with four shutouts. He is coming off what is one of his worst starts of the season statistically, though much like Rask could have in the season-opener, he can blame the numbers (three goals on 21 shots) on bad bounces and Daniel Paille.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- Storylines in this game? Hard to think of any… When the B’s last left Philadelphia, they had let the Flyers tie the series at three games apiece after leading it, 3-0. The Flyers took Game 7 in Boston, 4-3, to win the series and shock the NHL.
- It’s been bad for the Bruins of late. They’re 5-6-2 in their last 13 games, so what better motivation to turn things around than facing the team that embarrassed them last May?
- Adam McQuaid will play his 11th game of the season, but first since the trade of Matt Hunwick. With Hunwick now gone, the physical right-handed-shooting blueliner finally has a full-time job after going back and forth between dressing and sitting as a healthy scratch.
|Tim Thomas, Bruins to take on Panthers Wednesday night||11.24.10 at 12:37 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was the first to leave the ice at the Bruins’ morning skate on Wednesday, indicating he will likely be between the pipes when the B’s take on the Panthers in Florida on Wednesday night. The Panthers will counter with Tomas Vokoun.
The Panthers were in town last Friday, with the Bruins taking a 4-0 game behind a shutout from Tuukka Rask and a hat trick from Milan Lucic.
The Bruins are second in the Northeast Division with 24 points, the Panthers’ 18 points are fifth in the Southeast and third from worst in the conference.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 7-2-0 on the road this season, dropping their most recent away game on Monday in Tampa, 3-1, and splitting their last four away from TD Garden.
- The Panthers are 5-3-0 at BankAtlantic Center and have won three of their last four home games.
- Three. That’s how many goals Lucic had against the Panthers last Friday and how many assists former Panther Nathan Horton had. It was Horton’s first regular-season game against his old club (for more on Horton and how he felt about playing for the Panthers, click here.)
- The Panthers have allowed nearly the same average of goals per game at home (2.50) as they have on the road (2.54).
- The Panthers are 17th in the league in goals per game with 2.7. Center Mike Santorelli leads them with six goals in 19 games. The Bruins, meanwhile, have scored 2.9 goals per game (15th in the league) and are led by Lucic with 10.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- Comparing how a team plays vs. the Lightning to how they fare against the Panthers won’t lead one to rock-solid conclusions, but it will be interesting to see if the team’s heavy practice on Tuesday got them in gear to play a full 60 minutes. It was the same old story on Monday, as they came out flat for two periods before turning it up in the third period (15 shots through two periods, 12 in the third).
- The Bruins score over a goal per game more in front of Thomas than they do in front of Tuukka Rask. They score a whopping 3.23 goals per game in front of Thomas, with Rask getting just 2.21 goals of support a night.
- It’s been a week since the Bruins allowed an opponent to score a power play goal, so here’s the reminder of how dominant the penalty kill has been. The B’s 90.3 penalty kill percentage is second only to Montreal’s 90.8.