|Milan Lucic turns disappointment from last season into fast start||10.20.10 at 6:39 pm ET|
Milan Lucic missed almost a third of the Bruins’ 2009-10 season because of an ankle injury, and scored only nine goals in 50 games played. Now that he’s starting this new season completely healthy, Lucic feels like he may have something to prove.
“Obviously I’m disappointed with how things went last year,” Lucic said after practice Wednesday. “Your main focus of the summer is just to get back and kind of regain that identity I created for myself and, you know, have a little bit of redemption going into the season.”
Off to a pretty good start, Lucic has scored a goal in each of the last three games, a streak he’s achieved for only the second time in his career. The first occurrence was back on Dec. 8-12, 2008.
“I think for me, thus far, I’ve just done a good job getting myself into scoring areas,” he said. “And also a big thing for me …is when I’m moving my feet and skating well, I think that’s what’s creating the most chances for myself.”
Lucic, of course, refused to take full credit for his successes so far this season. “Obviously playing with a great center like [David] Krejci and a scoring threat like [Nathan] Horton makes it easier for myself,” he said. “We’ve been able to find some chemistry here early on in the season, but I think the main thing is we just have fun playing with one another. You know, we just have to go out there and keep performing every night.”
It seems to be no coincidence that with the top line clicking like it has, the Bruins have won their last three straight games and outscored their opponents, 10-2.
“All 20 guys are doing their part to help the team get some offense,” Lucic said. “Everyone’s doing a good job back checking and having good sticks and taking away lanes. And I think that’s what’s causing a lot of turnovers for us and we’ve been able to go on the attack.”
The next challenge for the Bruins (3-1) will be translating their road success into their home opener. Lucic says there is definitely excitement to come back home and play in front of home fans, which can sometimes lead to temptation to try and put on a show for the crowd. The key for a home victory, according to Lucic, will be to “just keep doing what we’ve been doing – and that’s keeping things simple and making strong plays.”
Last season, over half of the Bruins’ losses took place on their home ice, which is “inexcusable” to Lucic.
“You play at home 41 times a year,” he said. “You’ve got to make that a hard building to play against. You want teams coming in being like, ‘you know what, I don’t like playing in the Garden.’ And that’s what every team around the league wants to do. They want to establish their building as hard to play against. That’s definitely what we want to get back to doing this year.”
The Bruins will have their first opportunity to do just that in a rematch against the Capitals Thursday night. The puck is set to drop at 7 pm.
|Video: Claude Julien, 10/14/10||10.14.10 at 8:19 pm ET|
Nathan Horton has three goals through two games, but what makes the feat more interesting is the fact that he took just five shots total between the two Prague contests. On Thursday, that stat was brought up to Claude Julien, who noted that if people look hard enough at the good, they can generally “find things that aren’t good enough.”
“If he can score three goals on every five shots, I’ll take it,” Julien said with a smile. “That’s my positive way of looking at it.’
Here’s the video of the Bruins coach’s session with the media on Thursday.
|Welcome back to Wilmington||10.13.10 at 10:28 am ET|
WILMINGTON — It sure isn’t as visually pleasing as Prague’s O2 Arena, but it’s good to be back at Ristuccia Arena for the Bruins’ first practice since returning from Europe.
Prior to the team’s 10:30 skate commencing, there was a bit of an on-ice meeting with 10 Bruins consisting of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Tuukka Rask.
Despite skating with the aforementioned first, smaller group, Ference did not skate with the team in practice. Judging by the team’s multi-colored sweaters, here are the forward lines.
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Jordan Caron – Patrice Bergeron – Blake Wheeler
Dennis Seidenberg left the ice after about half an hour, so Thornton tossed a black jersey on to balance out the defense. Chara was paired with Boychuk, Hunwick was with Mark Stuart, and Thornton skated with Adam McQuaid.
|A Great Trip for Nathan Horton||10.10.10 at 1:57 pm ET|
PRAGUE ‘ Eastern Europe was good to Nathan Horton.
The Bruins right winger, who was acquired in a June 22 trade with the Florida Panthers, scored the only two goals in Boston’s Saturday loss to Phoenix, and struck again on Sunday with his third goal of the short-lived season and an assist to Milan Lucic.
Horton will certainly return to Boston as the center of attention after his spectacular performance overseas, but he doesn’t seem to care much. He’s just excited about heading back and returning to the fans at home.
“It’s a hockey city, Boston,” Horton said. “It’s hockey and it’s sports, and it’s fun to play there and be a Boston Bruin.”
More remarks from the locker room:
On playing on the first line with Lucic and David Krejci, Horton said:
“Every day is getting better. We try not to be too fancy sometimes. I think that’s where we get into trouble, and getting some pucks to the net. I think if you try to work little plays, give and gos, and just have fun out there. Just relax and try to work to gather. They’re great players, so it’s just get them the puck and things happen.”
On first round-pick Tyler Seguin’s first NHL goal (Horton himself was the third overall pick in the 2003 draft):
“Good for him. He’s such a skilled player. He’s confident, and he knows he’s good and he’s going to score. It’s great for him to score and get it out of the way. There’s going to be a lot more in the NHL for him to come. “
|Tim Thomas, Nathan Horton lead Bruins in shutout win||at 12:34 pm ET|
PRAGUE — The newcomers made most of the offensive noise, but it was an old face in Tim Thomas who was the story as the Bruins picked up their first win of the season, a 3-0 shutout over the Coyotes at the O2 Arena in Prague.
A night after Tuukka Rask looked impressive despite allowing four goals, Thomas got the start and recorded his 18th career shutout. Additionally, the defense looked far more responsible in shutting down any of Phoenix’ offensive attempts throughout the night.
Former third overall pick Nathan Horton picked up two more points in the game, including his third goal of the season. Rookie Tyler Seguin took a pass from Michael Ryder in the third period and converted it into a breakaway goal, the first of his NHL career.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Nathan Horton’s first two games with the Bruins could not have gone better. After getting the primary assist on Lucic’s goal and potting one of his own from the slot in the second period, he has now been on the scoring sheet for four of the Bruins’ five goals this season.
Bruins fans shouldn’t get too carried away — Horton’s scored 30 goals in his six-year career just once — but it could be time for this writer to rethink the 33-goals he predicted for the 25-year-old. Motivation was a question for Horton while he played for the Panthers, and both he, his teammates, and management have spotted a rejuvenated player in him. It’s pretty clear at this point that the Bruins won’t need Tyler Seguin to overachieve in order to have a top pick light up the stat sheet.
Horton said prior to the game that he and his linemates continue to get more comfortable with one another with each practice and each game, but the three of them have looked terrific to this point. The dynamic between he and Lucic is something to keep an eye on, as their styles of play are very similar and the two have moved the puck to one another well to this point.
- Unforced errors and turnovers grabbed headlines following Saturday’s game, but the cautious and responsible style of play that the Bruins have become known for in recent years made its return on Sunday. The Coyotes’ offense struggled to get going for long stretches at a time, particularly in the second period, when it took Phoenix about 15 minutes to get their second shot on goal of the period.
- The new third line, with Tyler Seguin skating between Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder, looks intriguing, but not for the reason one would think. Though Seguin had his first career goal on a breakaway that once again suggested his talents as a scorer will be too much to allow him to hit too big of a rookie wall, Ryder turning the corner from a down year last season could also help the Bruins big. Ryder sent Seguin a hail mary pass on the rookie’s goal.
- That would indeed be Mr. Tim Thomas with the shutout for your Boston Bruins. Thomas wasn’t spectacular, and at times could have been caught out of position, but the bottom line was that he made timely saves. As was mentioned above, the Phoenix offense had its fair share of lulls, but Thomas was ready for the spurts of pressure when they came.
In total Thomas, made 29 saves in the game, his first win of the season and his 18th career shutout.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The defense was strong for the Bruins, but it can’t be an encouraging sign that the team has shuffled its pairings regularly throughout the first two games. Such was the case in the preseason, but it appears that Claude Julien needs to be careful with who he pairs with Matt Hunwick, who despite playing better on Sunday than he’ll probably be noticed, is a bit of a liability as he comes into his own.
|Lucic, Horton have the Bruins leading after two||at 11:40 am ET|
PRAGUE — Sure, there have been some things not to like about the Bruins so far in their young season, but that first line still looks awfully good. Milan Lucic, admittedly on a quest for his first 20-goal season, got one out of the way courtesy of a Nathan Horton feed. Horton later scored yet another goal on a wrist shot from in front of the net, ant the first line has now produced all four of the Bruins’ goals this season. Horton has been on scoring sheet for each of them after a two-goal performance Saturday.
The Bruins were sloppy in every area of the ice on Sunday, so they’ll they have plenty of reason to be excited by the solid neutral zone play displayed through the first 40 minutes of the game. Horton set up Lucic’s goal at the red line, hitting his streaking linemate in stride, and Lucic took it into the offensive zone and rifled a powerful slapshot past Bryzgalov from behind the circle at 12:12.
The Coyotes essentially gave Tim Thomas the first 15 minutes of the period off, producing just one shot on goal for the majority of the period. They finished the period strong with eight, and the shots on goal are now 27-16 in favor of the Bruins.
|Bruins lose opener, 5-2||10.09.10 at 2:38 pm ET|
PRAGUE — The Bruins are, quite clearly, one of the NHL’s elite teams on paper. They did everything they could for the first two periods of Saturday’s season-opener to suggest otherwise, and the glimpses of promise they did show in the third period proved to be too little, too late. The team showed all sorts of offensive and defensive weaknesses as they dropped the opener in Prague, 5-2, to the Coyotes.
Though he did allow four goals in the game, Tuukka Rask didn’t exactly struggle, as one of Phoenix’ goals came on the flukiest of plays and another came on a breakaway caused by a Daniel Paille gaffe.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Matt Hunwick. To those on twitter during the game, the poor guy was the subject of about 80 percent of the tweets from either Bruins or fans, and for good reason. Beginning the game paired with Dennis Seidenberg, Hunwick was on the ice for all of the Coyotes’ first three tallies of the game, giving him a headstart on a terrible plus/minus.
- General sloppy play was the norm from the Bruins in all three areas on Saturday. Players up and down the roster, from Hunwick, to Blake Wheeler, to Paille, to newly re-signed captain Zdeno Chara, killed chances at offensive opportunities by either squandering the puck or holding onto it too long.
- The power play was unproductive, but when a team gets shut out it’s to be expected that they didn’t produce on the man advantage. At any rate, the team went 0-3 on the power play through the first two periods (they’d later get Nathan Horton’s second goal of the game on a man advantage in the third) and gave up a couple of real scoring opportunities to the shorthanded Coyotes.
The team, as is well documented, was the worst in the league when it came to burying the biscuit (2.39 goals per game), and their power play wasn’t much better. The Bruins finished the season with a 16.6 power play percentage, good for 23rd in the NHL. The additions of Seguin and Horton should improve both categories, but there wasn’t much from the team on the night to suggest it.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- These are going to be a bit redundant because Nathan Horton was so clearly the Bruins’ most valuable player for the Bruins on Saturday. Here’s the separate one dedicated just to Horton: He can’t be beat from in front of the net. He missed early on in the game by firing one wide at the gloveside of Ilya Bryzgalov, but beat the Phoenix goaltender with his lethal wrist shot on the next two chances. He tried to downplay the possibility of him being a 40-goal-scorer this year, but he’s the complete package.
- The first line showed what it’s made of. In addition to Milan Lucic’s physicality and David Krejci’s craftiness (he embarrassed Adrian Aucoin early in the third period at the blueline with a move that dropped the defenseman to the ice based on pure confusion), but Nathan Horton was allowed to do what he does best: fire off a wrister from the hashmark. Lucic hit him from behind the net to set up the team’s only goal of the game at 3:33 of the game.
- Gregory Campbell is going to be a difficult player for Bruins fans not to like. Following Horton’s first goal, he gave the Bruins a little more momentum in the third period by dropping the gloves with Coyotes center Vernon Fiddler. He took a bad slashing penalty with less than 10 minutes to go and his team trailing by two, but aside from that he came as advertised — a solid bottom-six forward who despite not having major strengths, has no major weaknesses.
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