|What Zdeno Chara and the Bruins learned Saturday night||03.07.11 at 10:11 am ET|
One loss following a very impressive seven-game winning streak is hardly cause for alarm. And that’s especially true since the Bruins managed a point Saturday night when they didn’t play their best game and found a way to tie it with 32.5 seconds left in regulation.
But there was a lesson to be learned. Just asked Zdeno Chara. If you don’t skate hard against a hungry team, you’ll likely wind up on the losing end.
The captain gave the Bruins the lead, 1-0, just under eight minutes into the second period. But from then on, the B’s seem to take a collective breath and relax as the Pens picked up their intensity and took it to them in every way.
They took more shots, delivered more hits and until the final 33 seconds, scored more goals.
“We didn’t have our best game, that’s for sure,” Chara said. “We were just, we had heavy legs, we didn’t skate well, we didn’t move the puck well. On the other side Pittsburgh played extremely well. They put a lot of pressure on us. They took away space and time and we couldn’t create much.”
All of this from a Penguins team that came in losing 6-of-7 and had lost in overtime 24 hours earlier in New Jersey.
“I think it was mostly us, we weren’t moving our feet at all,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We were second to the puck. At the same time, you couldn’t establish a physical game because you never got there on time. So they were on the puck and we were doing a lot of watching, I thought in the second period and they just took the game away from us at that point.”
“They even they had back to back games,” Chara added. “They had pretty good jump and energy. It almost felt like we were the team who played last night. But it’s going to happen. You’re going to have games like this where we were just slow and not moving the puck as well as we used to. But we worked extremely hard in the third and earned that point. That’s the positive. Obviously we’d like to get two but it happens.”
But now, following the end of the winning streak, the Bruins know they have to pick it back up with a big division game Tuesday night in Montreal. The Canadiens have won four straight and 5-of-6. They trail the Bruins by just five points in the Northeast.
No reason for the Bruins not to have their legs under them for this one.
|Pens show Bruins they’re a lot more than just Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin||03.05.11 at 11:10 pm ET|
If the Bruins somehow wind up playing the Penguins in the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring they should take a very close look at the video from Saturday night’s game at TD Garden.
Without superstars Sidney Crosby [concussion] and Evgeni Malkin [right knee], the Penguins got two goals from HBO “24/7″ star Dustin Jeffrey, including the game winner less than two minutes into overtime to come away with a 3-2 win over the Bruins, snapping Boston’s seven-game winning streak.
Crosby or no Crosby, Malkin or no Malkin, the Penguins played exactly the kind of hockey that wins in the playoffs. It’s not superstar hockey, it’s team hockey. What exactly is that?
“They’re a lot more hard-working,” Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “Their hard work takes over [for] their skill. When they have those other guys in, there’s a lot of skill in there and they still work hard, but they try to make different plays than they would if they had those guys in the lineup. They just got the [puck] in deep and just tried to keep as much time in our zone as possible.”
B’s coach Claude Julien had his own take.
“Obviously, they’re missing some star players,” Julien noted. “We thought one of our best forwards tonight was missing, too. You have to adjust to those kinds of things and what it boils down to is the team play. And that’s what they did tonight, they played a good team game.
“They were forechecking hard, they were on top of us. Even when we got the puck in the neutral zone, they didn’t give us much time. They really skated hard and took away our time and space and they did a good job of that. I think that’s where their success came from tonight. When you work hard enough, eventually you get rewarded, and they got a break there at the end and were able to score in OT.”
|Claude Julien: We still need Tuukka Rask||02.11.11 at 10:28 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask has enough on his plate. He’s not about to try and read Claude Julien‘s mind on coaching decisions.
But to be honest, he didn’t exactly need to be The Amazing Kreskin to figure out what the Bruins coach was thinking when he yanked Rask after the second period of Friday’s 6-1 dud against the Red Wings before a displeased Garden crowd.
“I’m not going to start analyzing that,” Rask said. “I thought I deserved to get pulled. I didn’t play to my level today.”
That’s one way of putting it.
Rask admitted he did not have one of his finer performances of the year and that he deserved to get pulled after allowing five goals on 18 shots in two periods. Rask, who fell to 5-11-1, said he had no criticism of coach Julien, who started Tim Thomas in goal to start the third.
Julien said he has not lost confidence in Rask, who allowed goals on the first two shots he faced as the Bruins fell behind 2-0 in the first three minutes and never recovered. The last time Rask was pulled was on New Year’s Day in Buffalo when Rask allowed three in the first, despite the Bruins leading, 4-3.
Julien started him in the next game and Rask was very good in a 2-1 at Toronto.
“We didn’t feel he was as sharp as we needed him to be, that was number one,” Julien said of Rask. “He still made some good saves. I don’t think we didn’t recognize that as well, but he just wasn’t as sharp tonight and after discussing the situation, we just felt that the right thing to do was to give Timmy the third period.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Tuukka Rask, Bruins knocked out cold by Red Wings, 6-1||at 9:32 pm ET|
Maybe the Bruins should petition the league against any more home games on Fridays.
The last three haven’t turned out so great. They were blanked 3-0 in a clunker against the Hurricanes on Nov. 26. The time before that was even more painful. Last May 14 fell on a Friday, and so did the Bruins when the Flyers came from behind to eliminate the Bruins with a 4-3 decision in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semis.
The latest Friday night fright was nowhere near as important as the defeat that ended the B’s season, but it was still a mighty punch in the gut – especially if you’re Tuukka Rask, who had the misfortune of playing in both.
With “The Fighter” Mickey Ward on hand for the ceremonial puck drop, Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and two assists and Todd Bertuzzi added a pair of goals as the Red Wings rocked Rask and the Bruins, 6-1, Friday night at TD Garden. The two teams will conclude their home-and-home series in a rematch on Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings, leaders in the Central Division, wasted little time seizing control of the game and making life miserable on Rask. Bertuzzi ripped a shot from the top of the left circle that beat Rask far side just 70 seconds into the first. Danny Cleary made it 2-0 exactly two minutes later when he flipped a shot past Rask from between the circles.
The Bruins rebounded with 2:07 left in the first when David Krejci snapped a 20-game goal drought with his eighth of the season. But the Red Wings put the game away with three goals in the second, capped off by Bertuzzi’s second of the night when Rask misplayed a puck to his right and the forward flipped it off the back of his pads and into the net. The crowd booed Rask early and often as the back-up goalie fell to 4-11-1.
Rask made just 13 saves on 18 shots in 40 minutes before being pulled for Tim Thomas to start the third. University of Maine product Jimmy Howard stopped 25-of-26 shots to improve to 27-10-3 on the season.
|Milan Lucic muscles up so Nathan Horton can finally do his thing||02.10.11 at 10:21 am ET|
Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton are big, big men on the ice, cut from the same mold. But while it’s been a great year for Lucic, it’s been an up-and-down one for Horton, in his first season in Boston.
They both clicked Wednesday night and as a result, the impact on the Bruins’ offense was dramatic – as in eight goals dramatic.
Lucic added to his team lead in goals with tallies Nos. 22 and 23 and Horton – with a goal and four assists – had his most productive night of his career in an 8-6 knock-down, drag-out KO of the Habs.
“We are just happy that we were able to get that win,” Lucic said. “They have been a tough opponent for us. We lost last time but not [this time]. Most of all we are happy to get those two points and to keep moving up in the standings.”
Indeed, for all the excitement over the pugilistic debut of Tim Thomas against Carey Price, this game was a huge one in the standings. The Bruins increased their lead to four points over the Habs, with a game in hand, still.
As for his line of center David Kreji and Horton, it was on fire.
“I mean I felt like that ever since we were put back together lately we have been ok, I mean we have had no goal here, one goal there,” Lucic said. “We knew we could be a threat every time we went on the ice and that is what we have kind of talked about as a line yesterday we wanted to be that threat and you know get in there and play with that emotion. Be the guys that Coach counts on, and so its definitely great that we had a game the way we did we have to keep pushing it and keep getting more.”
Horton’s struggles have been well-chronicled. Even coach Claude Julien has pointed to Horton’s struggles often in the last two months. Wednesday night, Julien admitted that the Bruins have been waiting for this breakout ever since Horton started the season with eight goals and 10 assists in the first 17 games of the season.
“Well, that’s what we have wanted from him for a while now, so it happened tonight,” Julien said after Horton’s career game. “We are certainly happen with that. Now it’s a matter of hopefully him continuing to do that for our team, he was a big help for us.”
“It’s nice,” Horton said in the understatement of the night. “Obviously, it helps me a little bit with my confidence. It is nice but it’s nice to get the points, it’s a big game for us. It was a four-point game, and we won.
“It was just working hard. I think we were ready to go. We talked about it as a line, before the game, we need to start playing and start contributing. I think we did that tonight but it’s only one game and hopefully we can continue to keep bringing it.”
But nothing means more than to have the support of a fellow teammate and linemate.
“It seemed like he was getting really hard on himself getting really down on himself but it these last few games you can see he is on his game again and its all starting to find his game again,” Lucic said of Horton. “It all starts with him skating, using his speed, his body, and you know he had a big night tonight and hopefully he continues with his confidence.”
|Logan Couture ‘most complete player’ Joe Thornton has ever seen||02.05.11 at 7:05 pm ET|
All things are relative, but ask Joe Thornton and he’ll tell you that red-hot rookie center Logan Couture is not just the best player for his age that’s he’s ever played with, but the player he’s seen with so little NHL experience.
How little? The ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft is still just 21 years old. Saturday marked his 75th game in the league but just his 50th this season, and he is still considered a rookie in the eyes of the NHL.
With his game-winning power-play backhander past Tim Thomas in the first period on Saturday, Couture has 23 goals and 11 assists in 50 games. And to think the Bruins could have had him in that 2007 draft.
Instead, with the eighth pick, the Bruins selected Zach Hamill, the same Zach Hamill who was playing just his second NHL game on Saturday, first this season.
“Actually, it almost felt like my first game but at the same time I got into the speed of it the guys in the room helped me out a little bit to calm me down but it was good,” Hamill said.
It’s Couture who has been going at full tilt for the entire season, leading all NHL rookies in goals at 23. And since Couture only played in 25 regular season games at the NHL level last year, he’s still eligible for Calder Trophy consideration.
“He’s the most complete player that I’ve seen at that age,” Thornton said. “He penalty kills, he plays power play and plays all the important minutes. By far, the Calder winner so far this year.” Read the rest of this entry »
|How the Bruins have become Team Unity, and why it matters||02.04.11 at 8:57 am ET|
Just four minutes into Thursday’s slugfest at the Garden, Stars forward Adam Burish came in on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and fired a shot several seconds after the whistle had clearly blown, stopping play.
That is a big hockey no-no.
And Andrew Ference made sure Burish paid the penalty. The Bruins defenseman came over to enforce the hockey the law, eventually drawing Burish into a fight — which Ference clearly won — and a message had been sent. Don’t mess with these Bruins or you pay the price, especially on Boston’s home ice.
“We’re a tight group,” said Patrice Bergeron, who scored twice and assisted on an empty-netter. “We’ve always said that and we all know that. We’re … we get along real well off the ice and we try to bring that on the ice. I think that Ference fight is the best example just by showing that he took a shot after the whistle on Tuukka and Andy responded right away. So I think it’s … it showed our unity, and we’ve got to keep going.”
As for Ference himself, he said Thursday’s win showed how the Bruins can get back to being the right mix of talent and toughness, just like 2008-09, when they were the top seed in the East and a favorite to get to the Stanley Cup finals.
“One of the good things we did in that year, and something we’ve established over the last few is, when our team is emotionally and physically involved, we’re a very good team,” Ference said. “We’ve proven that the other way around, too. When it’s not there, we lose games. You know, go back to the Carolina series a couple years ago. I think that’s what almost all of us pointed our fingers at, it was missing. We know that that has to be there for us to be successful, and it was good [against Dallas].”
Bruins coach Claude Julien certainly had no problem with it.
“It was an opportunity for us to step up for each other, and we did and I thought it certainly played in our favor,” Julien said of the four fights in four minutes — three in the opening four seconds. “We’re a team that can handle that and guys seem to be ready for it and certainly that part of it was good. Those two quick goals also were proof that we were ready to play.” Read the rest of this entry »
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