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Claude Julien watches his Bruins implode due to ‘self-inflicted’ sloppiness 01.01.14 at 1:26 am ET
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There were bad bounces Tuesday night. There were highly questionable calls that went against them in the second and third periods.

But in the end, the real reason the Bruins blew a 3-1 lead to the bottom-feeding Islanders on Tuesday evening was a lack of discipline. The Bruins took penalty after penalty, and on Tuesday night, their penalty kill couldn’t erase the mistakes. They allowed four power play goals in eight New York chances in a 5-3 loss to the Islanders at TD Garden.

“I think when we took the 3-1 lead [in second period] we kind of relaxed and they came back hard and they kind of got the momentum back and we couldn’€™t regain it,” Claude Julien said. “They made their own breaks and they made their breaks by getting some good bounces and got themselves back in the game but in the third period, they were the better team, again. We lost because I think it was, like you said, probably self-inflicted. We took a lot of ill-advised penalties that at one point caught up to us and I didn’€™t think our penalty kill obviously was very good tonight.

“A lot of things I didn’€™t like tonight. Obviously our penalty kill wasn’€™t very good, some of the decision making, even again, we talked about our forecheck ‘€“ we were late, we weren’€™t winning battles, they dominated the battle area ‘€“ and when you start losing those kind of things, to our team it’€™s certainly not a good sign.”

What did he see from the penalty kill that made it so ineffective?

“Sloppiness,” Julien said. “You guys got your answer.

Then the subject turned to Tuukka Rask, the victim of shoddy penalty-killing Tuesday. Rask, it was pointed out to Julien, has allowed eight goals in his last two games.

“I don’€™t evaluate players just to ‘€“ you guys can evaluate him the way you want,” a curt Julien said. “All I know is that he’€™s been a real great goaltender for us and players sometimes have good games, they have so-so games, and I’€™m certainly not going to throw him under the bus with everything he’€™s done for us so I’€™ll leave it at that.

“Bad PK tonight. I’€™m not going to start analyzing the game here guys. You guys can do that. I have enough of that to do on my own.”

What caused the high amount of penalties?

“Well I mean if we’€™re going to talk penalties here you’€™re going to have to be specific. What I mean is that, some of them I thought were really bad penalties on our part. Other ones, I don’€™t agree with the [Milan] Lucic penalty at the end.

“To me that’€™s a battle, to me that’€™s a battle and that’€™s what I mean. We can discuss that. To me, I don’€™t agree with those calls. They were made but there were some that, again, Lucic’€™s penalty at center ice and [Brad] Marchand‘€™s, some of those penalties are penalties that ended up hurting us a lot on the road so we have to take ownership of that.”

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Late charge: Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron lift Bruins to win over Islanders 01.25.13 at 9:35 pm ET
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Daniel Paille decks Islanders defenseman Brian Strait as the Bruins and Islanders battled at the Garden. (AP)

Zdeno Chara fired a wrist shot past Rick DiPietro with just under 13 minutes left in the third period to break a 2-2 tie, as the Bruins bounced back from their first loss of the season with a 4-2 win over the Islanders Friday night at TD Garden. Rookie sensation Dougie Hamilton added two assists and set up Boston’s fourth goal with a pretty outlet pass as the Garden crowd began to chant his name.

The Bruins overcame a two-goal night from Waltham and Chelmsford, Mass. native Keith Aucoin to improve to 3-0-1 in the young season. With seven points on the season, they also have gained a point in all four games.

Tuukka Rask has started all four games and stopped 24 of 26 shots on the night to record his third win.

The Bruins jumped on top just under five minutes into the game when Shawn Thornton collected a loose puck and put it past DiPietro. Hamilton set up the goal when he took a shot from the right point that deflected off the stick of Daniel Paille. DiPietro couldn’t control the shot and Thornton was in the right spot on the doorstep for his first goal of the season and Hamilton’s second NHL point.

The Islanders tied it six minutes later when the red-hot Aucoin took a pass from Colin McDonald from the side of the net and put it past Rask.

The first period featured a fight between Milan Lucic in which the Bruins leveled Matt Carkner with a right cross, getting the Friday night Garden crowd into the game.

The Islanders opened the second period on the power play. While they couldn’t score, they used the advantage to gain momentum of the game. That proved productive when Rask and the Bruins allowed a loose puck to bounce uncontrolled to the high slot. Aucoin was in the right spot at the right time again and blasted a slap shot past Rask at 9:50 of the period for an unassisted goal, his second of the game and third in two nights.

The Bruins used good fortune to gain the equalizer four minutes later when David Krejci threw a puck on net from the far boards. The puck glanced off the skate of Islanders defenseman Joe Finley and onto the stick of Gregory Campell, who put it past DiPietro to make it 2-2 after 40 minutes.

With just under 13 minutes left, the Bruins regained the lead when Lucic took a pass from Nathan Horton and fired a pass from the right circle to the tape of Chara. The Bruins captain snapped a wrist shot from the slot past DiPietro to give the Bruins the lead with 12:53 remaining. It was his first goal of the season and he pumped both hands in the air in relief after the goal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brian Rolston is finally over ‘whatever happened in Long Island’ 03.28.12 at 12:33 pm ET
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February 27 was a day of liberation for Brian Rolston.

He was traded from the hapless New York Islanders with no chance of making the playoffs back to the Bruins, who are still among the favorites to reach another Stanley Cup final.

Rolston has certainly been inspired.

In his current seven-game scoring streak, he has three goals and nine assists, already matching his productivity in 49 games with the Islanders this season. The Bruins have won three in a row for the first time in over 40 games.

“Just been given a great opportunity, the coaches have shown a lot of confidence in me in certain situations that gives me confidence as a player, and obviously playing with two great players helps out a lot as well,” Rolston said after Tuesday’s 5-2 triumph over Tampa Bay. “I think we just have good chemistry together, that’s about it. I’ve produced over my career and you know whatever happened in Long Island happened in Long Island and it’s past that now.”

What happened on Long Island was four goals and five assists in 49 games for the team that has served as the perennial doormat of the Eastern Conference for the last decade.

Rolston has tasted success from the Stanley Cup before, winning it all with the 1995 New Jersey Devils. He sees these Bruins picking up momentum at just the right time.

“Well, you know obviously we had two real tough games on the road that we won, those were huge games for us,” Rolston said. “Just to get confidence, when you win you get confidence. This team is so good structurally that it’s just a matter of time before you do put it together, but this is a good time to put it together for sure and it’s a good team in here, great team.”

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Tyler Seguin is tearing it up, even if he feels he should’ve had another hat trick 11.08.11 at 12:53 am ET
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The numbers speak for themselves.

A team-leading eight goals; points in 10 of 13 games played. Three goals in his first career hat trick on Saturday night in Toronto. Still only 19 years of age.

Any way you break them down, all of them indicate that Tyler Seguin is on the cusp of reaching his true potential as an NHL superstar.

Seguin scored his eighth goal Monday in the first period of a 6-2 win over the Islanders. Truth be told, he could’ve had two more in the second period alone but ironically, he couldn’t find the finishing touch that had been on display for the last week.

“Yeah, there were definitely some plays where I got to grip my stick a bit harder and finish those off,” Seguin said with a smile. “But I’m glad a lot of guys stepped up tonight and scored some big goals.

“I think were starting to string a couple games here together now and staying consistent with the full sixty. And that’s definitely great to see. But the one thing we don’t want to do is fall right back into that basement with a loss in our own barn. We want to have a nice homestand here at home.”

Another habit the Bruins are developing is scoring in rapid-fire succession. Twice Monday they scored two goals inside of a minute span, including goals by Nathan Horton and Seguin in a 29-second span in the first period that put Boston up, 3-1.

“That’s a big thing for us, is definitely that shift after a goal,” Seguin said. “It’s huge and I think Krech’s [David Krejci] line did it tonight back-to-back. That’s one of the biggest shifts in hockey. So right now we’re doing a good job at capitalizing on it.

“I don’t know if we really look for it. Again, consistency is a huge thing for us right now. Especially this early in the year, we can’t have bad habits creeping up on us. So it’s nice to play a full sixty again.”

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Shawn Thornton shows again why he’s not just the toughest Bruin, he’s their funniest, too 04.06.11 at 11:24 pm ET
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Forget the fact that he is regarded by many as their toughest player, if everyone on the Bruins had Shawn Thornton‘s energy, the team would never be accused of taking nights off. Thornton is trying to make sure that the Bruins are fired up for the playoffs that start next week.

His goal at the latest possible moment (19:59.9) of the first period got the Bruins going in his first game back and helped the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Islanders at TD Garden. The Bruins have 101 points now but to Thornton, the more important mission in the final two games is to keep focus.

“Just keeping that rhythm I think,” Thornton said. “Keeping our confidence. Keeping the fun going into the playoffs. This is the best time of the year. The weather is getting nice. You have to want to come to the rink this time of year. For me that’s the biggest thing: to stay upbeat, confident and play our game.

As their coach Claude Julien pointed out afterward, the Bruins did not look sharp in the win as there were defensive breakdowns that allowed the Islanders back in the game, two days after blowing a 3-0 lead to the Rangers in New York.

“I mean there were some lapses,” Thornton said. “We just have to play our game and not worry who we’re playing against. When we’re playing our style of game we’re a really, really good team. When we get away from that, we’ve seen it through the years what happens there. As long as we continue to play our game plan we’ll be a pretty good team.”

As for who they’ll be playing in the first round, Thornton said it doesn’t matter to him since he’s not even paying attention to the standing right now.

“You’re talking to the wrong guy,” Thornton said. “I don’t ever pay attention to the standings. No I don’t know what is going on. Maybe the other guys are different, but I just kind of focus on what’s going on today and don’t worry about the rest.”

After scoring his 10th goal of the season in his first game back since a nasty injury to his forehead, Thornton was also quick to give credit to his assistant coaches and back-up goalie Tuukka Rask after Wednesday’s win. Read the rest of this entry »

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Johnny Boychuk and the Bruins know it’ll be a bruising fight to the finish 03.11.11 at 11:59 am ET
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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?”

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Fresh Thomas locks Islanders down 01.15.09 at 11:24 pm ET
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Tim the goal man has been very well-rested this season

Tim the goal man has been very well-rested this season

Tim Thomas didn’t earn the shutout last night when he coughed up a goal off David Krejci’s skate late in the third period, but he looked as fresh as he has all season in the 2-1 win over the Islanders.

There’s a good reason for that.

B’s coach Claude Julien has done a masterful job of sharing the workload between his two thirtysomething goalies, and it’s allowed them to become the best goaltending tandem in the NHL this season. In season’s past, the energetic and athletic style employed by Thomas would cause him to wear down over the grind of a long season — a situation worsened without a ton notch partner between the pipes.

The 34-year-old appeared in 66 games during the 06-07 season when injuries and the stunning collapse of the SS Raycroft pushed him into an extreme workload, and it was something that even Thomas himself acknowledges might have been a few too many games jammed into one regular season. Last year’s brief Manny Fernandez appearance along with some great support work done by Alex Auld allowed Thomas to scale back nine games and — coupled with an excellent defensive system installed by Claude Julien and his coaching staff — resulted in career-highs in save percentage and GAA.

At this point last season Thomas had appeared in 29 games and the B’s have slackened that pace even more this season with Man-Fern in the wings — as last night was his 25th appearance of the season. The fresh-as-a-daisy tender turned away 40 shots on a night when the Black and Gold clearly weren’t at their best against the mucking, scrapping Isles, and is on pace to appear in 47 games this season — the lowest games played total for him since surfacing from the Providence Baby B’s to play in 36 games way back in 2005-05.

“I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to have had good relationships with lots of goaltenders that I played with. I’ve actually played kind of in tandem like this with Raycroft in Providence, where we both pretty much played half and half,” said Thomas during a recent NHL conference call. ”I did get used to it then. For a few years I haven’t played in a goaltending tandem like that.

“Last year we had Alex Auld. He was great, took a lot of the pressure off of me. But I still played more games percentage-wise than I’m playing this year,” added Thomas. “The good thing about playing with Manny this year is we’re pretty much the same age with pretty much the same experience level. We’ve been able to help each other out. Through a season, players don’t always have their A games. When that happens, I think as goaltenders we can see it in each other. We either settle each other down if that needs to be or kind of try to fire each other up if that’s what needs to happen. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that this year.”

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