|First period summary: Bruins vs. Captials||04.05.10 at 7:53 pm ET|
Considering the Bruins are facing the top-scoring team in the NHL on their home ice and without a top-four defenseman, being tied, 1-1, with Washington is not all bad. As a matter of fact, it’s downright remarkable.
And they were just mere millimeters away from a one-goal lead after a 20 minutes.
Niklas Backstrom’s shot trickled by Tuukka Rask at 7:36 of the first period. Dennis Wideman came to the rescue but just a half-second late as the puck was ruled to have cleared the goal line for a 1-0 Capitals lead. Alex Ovechkin fed Backstrom across the slot to set up the score.
Before that, the Bruins had managed to contain the high-powered Caps without defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who skated before the game but could not play after suffering a gash in his left wrist that required 15 stitches.
The scoring chances were again plentiful for the Bruins and it seemed for the first 19 minutes, 58.4 seconds of the opening period, they would be frustrated again.
But with 1.6 seconds left, it was Wideman of all people, who blasted a slap shot past Jose Theodore to tie the game.
Prior to that goal, the Bruins spent the final 60 seconds of the first period in the Washington zone, peppering Theodore.
And just after Backstrom’s goal, Michael Ryder had three great chances from close in but couldn’t finish.
The Bruins outshot the Caps, 12-7.
|Julien vs. Ryder: Two takes on same problem||04.02.10 at 11:33 am ET|
Claude Julien was pulling no punches following Thursday’s 1-0 head-scratching loss to the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.
“There’s no doubt we have some players who could’ve been much better for us,” the Bruins coach said. “And a lot of those players are the players we need to help us get through this. You can’t stand here and say, ‘We were outstanding.’ We just lost the game. If everyone were as good as they could be, we would have won this game.”
And if punches equate to shots on net, Michael Ryder wasn’t throwing any.
And therein lies the fundamental problem Julien had with his team and the player he considers his best shooter on the team.
“Ryder is probably our best shooter and ends up with zero shots,” Julien said. “Those are the things we needed from those players.” Julien. “I thought Ryder played a much better game in New Jersey and we needed more out of him [Thursday] as well.
“He’s one of a few more that we needed more out of.”
But Julien made it a point to say that Ryder was hardly alone. There’s Blake Wheeler, without a goal in nine games.
“The chances… Wheeler goes on the 2-on-1 and doesn’t get shot.” Julien on Wheeler’s short-handed chance in third period.
But Ryder said the effort is still there.
“If I had an answer maybe we could figure it out,” Ryder said. “It’s definitely disappointing when you’re supposed to have the advantage at home and you can’t find a way to put wins together. We have one more game left here, I think, and it’s a big game. We have to make sure we get a win there. Right now every point counts and we are on the road for Toronto and Washington. Two big games and we have to find ways to put the puck in the net.”
Ryder has just one goal in his last 18 games.
“It has been a tough year overall for us scoring goals,” Ryder said. “We got that time of year where you have to find ways [to score]. It’s getting into the grind with only five games left. We need to start getting some wins and getting ourselves some space. But we did a lot of good things tonight that we can look at. It’s just a matter of us still throwing pucks at the net and maybe getting more traffic or maybe bearing down a little bit more.”
|Always believe in BC||at 11:09 am ET|
In one week, Scott Clemmensen will be wrapping up his NHL season as the back-up goalie to Tomas Vokoun with the Florida Panthers.
His season will end on the same weekend his alma mater will be looking for its second NCAA hockey championship in three years as the Boston College Eagles take on the Miami Redhawks in the national semifinals on Thursday in Detroit.
It was in 2001, Clemmensen’s senior year at the Heights, when he led the Eagles to their first NCAA hockey title in 52 years.
Drafted by the Devils in 1997, Clemmensen had a successful career at BC before becoming the first player born in Iowa to play in the NHL.
He played his first NHL game in 2004 and spent parts of several seasons with the Devils and Maple Leafs before signing on as a free agent last summer with Florida.
On Thursday night, he turned away all 36 Bruins shots for a 1-0 win, his first shutout of the season.
“I was hoping I got my first shut out before April,” Clemmensen quipped. “Better late than never.
“They came at us pretty good. We killed penalties really well. I got kind of lucky on some saves here and there. I know they are a little bit of a snake bitten team right now and that played to my advantage. A couple of those saves I got pretty lucky.”
To do what he did on Thursday took on added significance because of the building he was in.
“I will always have a special place in my heart for Boston,” he said. “I love this city and obviously BC alumni here in this building. I have a lot of good memories in this building as well. A couple bad ones too, so I am trying to stock pile as many as I can. While I’m still playing that is the time to do it.”
He even took time to look up in the rafters for some of the banners he’s responsible for.
“Absolutely. I looked at both sides of the scoreboard during the national anthem,” he said with a proud smile. “Both sides have it; Beanpot champs and Hockey East champs. I expect it every year really.”
As for the current edition of the Eagles, he’ll find time to pay attention next weekend.
“I hope BC wins it,” Clemmensen said. “I wish they played this weekend but they do not want to compete with basketball. We are going to have to wait and I wish coach [Jerry] York nothing but the best.”
|Recchi doesn’t see everybody there||at 9:50 am ET|
After another frustrating home loss and the Bruins’ second straight game without a regulation goal, B’s coach Claude Julien and team leader Mark Recchi openly questioned the team’s desire and heart.
“We have to find ways to win these games,” Recchi said. “We did in New Jersey because we had everyone in. Tonight, we didn’t have everybody there, so the results are there.”
Julien added that he was frustrated to see the team’s best shooter, Michael Ryder, finish with zero shots on goal. “There’s no doubt we have some players who could’ve been much better for us tonight,” Julien said. “Ryder is probably our best shooter and ends up with zero shots. Those are the things we needed from those players.”
After the game, Julien said the ‘push’ has to come from within the dressing room.
And at 42 years young, it was Recchi pushing the hardest.
“We had a lot of good chances and we just didn’t score,” Recchi said. “I mean, we can’t ask for much more, effort-wise. I still don’t think we had 20 guys tonight, but you know, the guys that were going were generating a lot of opportunities and you got to put those in. We need – like I said, this time of year, you need 20 guys, regardless, so that’s a little bit of a disappointment, but we definitely controlled the game and played the right way and we should have won this one.”
Recchi saw a Florida Panthers team that, while not in the playoff chase, would come in and play a conservative, hard-checking style. And, when the visitors went up, 1-0, in the first period, that’s exactly what the Bruins got.
“They played hard,” Recchi said. “We knew they were going to play hard. I mean, we’ve had some tough games against them this year and, you know, if anybody watches the games and I don’t know, I’m not sure how many guys do, but they play hard. They compete. They haven’t quit. They’ve got some young players that want to play well and you know, they’ve got some, obviously some leaders over there who are not letting those young guys quit and I don’t know if we underestimated them or not, but this time of year, I don’t think you should underestimate anybody.
“I’ve been on the other end where you’re spoiling opportunities and there’s nothing more enjoyable when you know you’re five games away from the end of the season and if you can hurt somebody’s chances of making the playoffs, that’s what you play for and that’s what those guys are playing for right now.”
Recchi was trying so hard on the ice, he thought he was rewarded midway through the second period when he re-directed a shot and raised his stick a bit prematurely, almost willing the puck in the net when nothing else was working.
“Yeah, I thought it went in, but obviously, it didn’t, but yeah, I thought it went in,” Recchi admitted. “We had a lot of good opportunities. Their goalie [Scott Clemmensen] made some good saves. You’ve got to give him some credit too, but, you know, a lot of pucks – he’s a big kid and he played big, and a lot of pucks hit him and we weren’t able to capitalize.”
But again, it comes down to having everyone in and Recchi made it clear Thursday night that, with just five games left, that’s something he expects.
“In a game like this, if you have 20 guys, we don’t lose, and we still miss,” he said. “[In] New Jersey, we had 20 guys, and we win. It’s no secret this time of year. The teams that have guys that are – and we talked about this after the last game – you might not feel good, but this time of year, chances are you don’t feel great but, you know, you have to dig deep down and do it for your teammates, do it for yourself. You have to find ways.
“If you’re a goal scorer and you’re not scoring goals, you got to be physical; and you got to play great defensively, and if you’re a physical guy, then you know, you got to chip in at times, so there’s a whole bunch of factors that play into this and I think we have to, with five games remaining, I think we shouldn’t have to be talking about it, but the results are there. [If] we don’t have 20 guys, we don’t win, and [if] we do, we win.”
|Second period summary: Bruins vs. Panthers||04.01.10 at 8:35 pm ET|
If the Bruins somehow miss the playoffs, it would be appropriate that they do so by one point.
After all, this has been the year of the near-miss for the Bruins offense. The Bruins trail 1-0 after 40 minutes on Keith Ballard’s first-period goal.
Just watching the second period, fans witnessed a microcosm of what has been missing this season – the finishing touch.
Twice in the second period, Bruins began to raise their sticks in expectation of a goal, only to discover their shots were near-misses. Mark Recchi re-directed a shot in front of Scott Clemmensen midway through the second and felt confident it was past the Florida netminder as he raised his stick. The puck deflected wide.
With just five minutes left in the period, Milan Lucic had an even better chance and wristed it just high and wide when he thought it was in. Lucic wasn’t the only one fooled as one of the on-ice officials saw the water bottle on the net behind Clemmensen twitch and thought the puck might have gone in and out.
At the next stoppage – several minutes later – the play was reviewed and it was revealed that Clemmenson’s stick handle was the culprit.
The Bruins applied constant pressure throughout the period, spending most of the period in the Florida zone and outshooting Florida, 17-10.
|First period summary: Bruins vs. Panthers||at 7:47 pm ET|
Another Thursday night and another inexplicably flat first period against a non-playoff bound team from Florida.
This time, it was the Florida Panthers who grabbed the 1-0 lead after 20 minutes thanks to a shaky goal off the stick of defenseman Keith Ballard at 7:15 of the first period.
Ballard pinched up the slot and didn’t appear to get all of the puck but enough that it changed directions on Tuukka Rask and fluttered by as Patrice Bergeron was standing by helplessly watching it go in.
The goal ended Rask’s impressive shutout streak at 121 minutes, 42 seconds. Before the game, Rask was honored with the ‘Seventh Player Award’ for the Bruins player who ‘goes above and beyond’ the expectations of fans.
The only highlight for the Bruins came when Johnny Boychuk laid out Victor Oreskovich along the left corner boards just moments after the Panthers’ goal.
The Bruins held a 10-8 shots advantage in the first.
|Miller on Thomas: ‘It’s unfortunate’||03.30.10 at 1:45 am ET|
Don’t for a second think that Ryan Miller wasn’t happy when Tim Kennedy’s flukey wrist shot floated and fluttered past Tim Thomas at 6:08 of the second period to put the Sabres up, 3-1 against the Bruins.
But that doesn’t mean Miller couldn’t have at least a little compassion for a fellow goalie, with whom he came within an eyelash of winning a gold medal against Team Canada in Vancouver.
Tim Thomas was the goalie to allow that Kennedy score and it was Thomas who had to listen to the boos of fans as he skated off the ice, past the Bruins bench and down the hallway to take out his frustration on the cement walls on either side with his goalie stick which was betraying him on this night.
“I think it is unfortunate,” Miller said of the boos Thomas received. “It has been a tough season and fans in this town are tough. It’s the same as it is in Buffalo. We have had some tough seasons and I have left the ice under duress a few times. It is part of being a goaltender. You are not always going to have things go your way. You have to hang with it and be a good teammate. I know Timmy is doing the right stuff. He is a battler and it is just not going the way he wants it to right now.”
It was the sixth time this season and the sixth time in 28 starts that Thomas has been replaced in the middle of a game, which is one of the loneliest feelings any athlete in any sport can experience.
“You don’t like to see it,” Miller added. “We are competitive to a certain degree. I know he is a little frustrated but I don’t know if there was a whole lot he could do on at least two of those goals. I think if you asked him about the second one he would want to control the rebound differently.”
The first goal Thomas allowed – by Tyler Myers – was through a heavy screen, and he didn’t see the puck until it changed direction through Dennis Wideman and went past him for the tying goal. The second goal was the result of a bad rebound that Wideman failed to clear, which was picked up by Paul Gaustad and backhanded past Thomas to give the Sabres the lead for good.
“Again I think that was Tyler making a hard shot cross body. Tyler has a hard shot; he’s a big kid. Knocking down one of his wrist shots is all about you can do.”
The last straw came at 6:08 of the second when Tim Kennedy collected a loose puck to the left of Thomas and flicked it toward the net. Thomas appeared to get fooled by the lack of strength behind the shot, overplayed it and allowed it to flutter past him for a 3-1 Sabres lead.
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