|Plenty to like about Sunday’s win over Rangers||04.02.12 at 12:26 am ET|
The Bruins became the first team in the Eastern Conference to clinch their division, wrapping up the Northeast with their 2-1 win over the Rangers Sunday evening. The division win means they will hold the No. 2 seed when they begin the playoffs on April 12.
For the Bruins, Sunday was obviously about way more than clinching the division. In fact, you could take your pick when it comes to the positives that emerged from their victory at Madison Square Garden.
They finally did what they have often been unable to do by beating Rangers goaltender and Vezina favorite Henrik Lundqvist. They only put two pucks past Lundqvist, but the win showed that when Tim Thomas is on, two can be enough.
Thomas made 33 saves in the victory, and both the numbers and the eyeball test are suggesting that he’s getting right where he needs to be for the postseason.
No. 30 was far from himself for a pretty lengthy stretch during the regular season. In an eight-game span from Dec. 31 to Jan. 22, he allowed four or more goals four times. In early March, he allowed four goals in four of seven games. The Bruins were struggling, and they didn’t have a dominant Thomas to bail them out. That seems to be in the past now for both the B’s and Thomas.
Over his last seven starts, Thomas has allowed two goals or less in each game, a span in which he’s gone 5-1-1. Though he was coming off a shootout loss to the Capitals Thursday (his first shootout loss of the season), Thomas had to have been feeling pretty good about the way he’d been playing.
Sunday’s win means Thomas has beaten the Rangers for the first time in three tries this season (Tuukka Rask got the other start). Thomas had allowed three goals in each of his two starts against the conference leaders this season (0-2-0), but on Sunday the reigning Vezina winner held Rangers to one goal on 34 shots.
|Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas lead Bruins past Kings||03.24.12 at 11:45 pm ET|
The Bruins maintained their two-point lead on the Senators Saturday night thanks to a 4-2 victory over the Kings in Los Angeles.
Patrice Bergeron scored a shorthanded goal 5:18 into the second period to give the B’s a 1-0 lead, but Colin Fraser‘s second goal of the season tied it later in the period. The Bruins would increase their lead to 3-1 thanks to goals from Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly, but a Slava Voynov goal with 5:14 left in regulation made it a one-goal game. The B’s would hang on to win after killing off a Jordan Caron penalty with 4:03 remaining in regulation. Brad Marchand scored an empty-netter in the final second of the game.
The Bruins’ victory broke a six-game winning streak for the Kings, who are fighting for one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Tim Thomas played in his 15th consecutive game for the Bruins and made 40 saves on 42 shots in the victory. The win was the Bruins and Thomas’ third in his last four games.
The B’s will finish their three-game west coast road trip when they face the Ducks Sunday night in Anaheim.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Another fine example of why the Bruins are still dangerous when on the penalty kill. Bergeron poked the puck away from Anze Kopitar, sending the puck into the neutral zone. When Drew Doughty tried to bring the puck back through the neutral zone and into the Bruins’ zone, Marchand picked off his pass to create a shorthanded break, the rebound of which was buried by Bergeron to give the Bruins’ the 1-0 lead.
- Bergeron’s goal was his first in 13 games. Because of everything he brings special-teams wise and just as one of the premier two-way forwards in the game, Bergeron can never be considered “slumping,” but his return to the goal column is a sign the Bruins will welcome. Bergeron has now scored 20 goals in back-to-back seasons and four of the six seasons in which he’s played 70 or more games.
- Thomas was once again big for the Bruins, and it’s starting to look like he’s finally busted out of his midseason malaise. The reigning Vezina winner is 3-1-0 in his last four games with six goals allowed and one shutout. Thomas came up with a big stop on Dustin Brown in the second period with the Bruins caught in the midst of a line change, but his best work came in the final minute of the game, rejecting an onslaught of bids from the Kings.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins could have really put the game out of reach with six minutes left in the game, but Jonathan Quick robbed David Krejci. Lucic created the play by bursting past multiple Kings players in the neutral zone, and he and Krejci broke into the Kings’ zone with a 2-on-1. Lucic fed Krejci, only to see Quick rob him and keep it a two-goal game. The Kings got within one less than a minute later.
- The Bruins couldn’t have picked a worse time to be killing a penalty, as Caron went off for high sticking with 4:03 remaining in the game. The Kings had momentum thanks to Voynov’s goal less than a minute earlier, but the B’s were able to kill off the man advantage as past of a big night for the team’s penalty kill.
- One game after mustering a season-low 17 shots on goal, the Bruins struggled with consistently getting pucks to the net. The B’s finished the night with 26 shots on goal, but had only eight and six shots on goal in the second and third periods, respectively.
|Seventh-place Bruins thinking corrections, not collapse||03.16.12 at 11:38 pm ET|
The Bruins fell into seventh place in the Eastern Conference Friday night, something that would have seemed impossible back in late December when the Bruins were dominating teams left and right.
Yet for as good as the Bruins were back in December (a nine-point lead in the Northeast Division and just three regulation losses over a two-month span), their horrid play of late has been enough to undo their good standing in both the division and the conference. The Senators haven’t needed to play well (10-10-3 over their last 23 games) to catch Boston, but they overtook the division Friday night with an overtime win over the Canadiens.
On Friday, the Bruins held an hour-long skate to try to get their legs going for Saturday’s game. They know that when they take on the Flyers, they won’t just be trying to break a season-worst four-game losing streak, but trying to get back in front of the Senators.
“If you ask anyone and [they say] they don’t know what the standings are, they’re lying to you,” Chris Kelly said after the practice. “Obviously, we know where we stand and where other teams stand. All we can do is focus on ourselves and the games we have coming up.”
It wasn’t too long ago that the Bruins were using the standings for motivation. They woke up on November 1 in last place in the Eastern Conference after a wretched October. The defending champs didn’t like it where they stood, so they did something about it by going 21-3-1 for the rest of 2011.
This slump is much worse than anything that happened in the first month of the season (3-7-0). This isn’t some ugly 10-game stretch to open the season, but a two-and-a-half-month-long collapse. They’ve given up five goals in three consecutive games, and have allowed six in their last two.
“To give up six goals in back-to-back games, that’s not the definition of this hockey team. I think we’re a good, sound hockey team, especially in our own end,” Kelly said. “That hasn’t shown in the last few games.”
The Bruins’ mistakes have been clear. Take the Panthers’ fifth goal Thursday for example. Kelly tried firing a pass across to Andrew Ference in the Bruins’ zone, but the pass went of Adam McQuaid‘s skate and bounced right to Tomas Kopecky in front to set up a Florida tally. The Bruins know what they’re doing wrong, but they can’t seem to keep from doing it. They’re running with just 12 games left in the regular season, they’re running out of time to figure it out.
“Obviously we’d like to [have fixed everything] after one game,” Patrice Bergeron said after Friday’s practice. “Right now it’s not happening. It’s about finding answers and not worrying about the four-game losing streak. It’s about us finding desperation and finding answers. It’s about us working hard and giving everything we’ve got on every shift and coming out on top on every shift. If we do that [every game] we’re going to be alright.”
Said Claude Julien: “You lose your identity when you lose the way [we] have been lately,” Julien said. “Any team that goes through a slump loses its identity. We understand that we have to work hard and win more battles and that comes again with the attitude. The breakdowns are kind of camouflaging the fact that we are still a pretty hard-working team, but when you don’t work smart, you don’t look like a hard-working team.”
If they don’t figure it out, the Senators will stay atop the division, while the Bruins would likely remain in seventh place, making for a regular-season collapse that would be considered unfathomable had some baseball team not just re-written the book on regular-season collapses.
The Bruins know they’re headed down a disappointing path unless they right the ship. Fixing it is their only option, assuming they can do so in time.
“It’s not really a thought right now,” Kelly said of losing the division. “We’re going to go play and see what happens.”
|Andy Brickley on D&C: David Krejci ‘hasn’t been good enough’||02.08.12 at 11:18 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning and talked about David Krecji being dropped to the third line, the evolution of Patrice Bergeron, and the tough road ahead for the Bruins.
Krecji, who usually plays on the first line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, saw his role changed when he was put on the third line. Brickley looked at the move as Bruins coach Claude Julien trying to ignite a spark under the veteran.
“You always have to be as measured as you can be as a coach in order to get the desired results,” Brickley said. “But I will guess that David Krecji going to the third line, things have happened prior to this move to try to get more from David Krejci. … From time to time these are the things you have to do to get his attention in order to get more out of him.”
Brickley said the move isn’t that much of a shock, based on how Krecji had been playing with Rich Peverly, who was a replacement on the line for the injured Nathan Horton.
“He’s affected by not having Nathan Horton on his right side, he’s real comfortable when he plays in between Lucic and Horton,” Brickley said. “Peverly gives you a totally different element on that right side. I don’t think he and David Krecji are a good mix, I think they’ve proven that, there’s a little bit of stretch where it hasn’t gone their way.
“But David Krecji is good enough to dictate how that line plays. He hasn’t been good enough, and Claude needs to figure out a way to get more out of him. And I’m sure he’s had conversations with him, I’m sure that they’ve made adjustments on how they want to move the puck and how they want to break it out and how they want to forecheck given the personnel that he’s playing with. And now it’s gotten to the point where I’m going to win hockey games by putting other lines together that I know what I’m going to get from, and David, you make your adjustments playing with these two other players.”
|Patrice Bergeron spent his break skating on ponds in Lake Placid||01.30.12 at 5:03 pm ET|
The Bruins admitted the All-Star break provided some needed time off. Brad Marchand went to Disney World and said he tried not to think about hockey. Milan Lucic took his talents to South Beach.
Then there was Patrice Bergeron, a player many would consider an All-Star snub. Bergeron, who is tied for the team lead with 43 points this season, decided to go somewhere rich in hockey history and, as of last season, Bruins history.
“I actually went to Lake Placid, and just relaxed over there,” he said. “It was a lot of fun.”
The average person will tell you that Lake Placid is where 1980′s Miracle on Ice occurred, when USA Men’s hockey defied the odds and won the gold in the Olympics.
But for the Bruins, Lake Placid is where the team went between Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens last season. The B’s bolted out of Montreal between the two games to find some peace and quiet as they tried to mount their comeback in a series they had trailed, 2-0. It was there that David Krejci played “Don’t Stop Believing” on a jukebox (by accident, he later claimed), and when the Bruins returned to Montreal after two days in Lake Placid, they evened the series thanks to heroics from Michael Ryder, and went on to win in seven games. The rest, as they say, is history.
Bergeron brought his skates along with him for his mini-vacation, but he didn’t step foot inside Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Facilities Center. The trip was about soaking up all that the city had to offer, so Bergeron took to a pond to do his skating.
The locals and children skating on the pond had no idea they were sharing the ice with a Stanley Cup champion and Gold Medal Olympic hockey player. Nobody spotted the Stanley Cup champion out on the ice, so Bergeron embraced the free skate with locals and kids from nearby. The B’s alternate captain has never been the type to beg for attention, so it proved to be the perfect vacation.
“I wouldn’t mind getting recognized, but I like just going about my business and just doing my stuff and having fun and relaxing,” he said. “It was great. People were real nice, real friendly. It was great.”
Bergeron got some pointers on what to do from trainer Don DelNegro, who lives there in the summer. Relaxation was the name of the game for Bergeron, who leads Bruins forwards in time on ice with his average of 18:35 minutes a game. While he got the biggest thing he had hoped for — rest — out of the trip, he admitted he’ll always have memories when he goes to Lake Placid.
“It is special,” Bergeron said. “Obviously, not as special as for Americans, but in some way it was special for us last year, just to come down there for two days in between the games in Montreal. It seemed like it helped us to stay focused. It was nice, but it was nice for me to enjoy what’s going on down there, just relax with the nature and all that. It was great.”
|Andrew Ference on D&C: Patrice Bergeron ‘got everybody fired up’ for comeback vs. Devils||01.20.12 at 12:28 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference checked in with Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to discuss Thursday night’s victory over the Devils. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bruins scored all four goals in the final period of the 4-1 victory, including two in the final 35 seconds.
“I think we snapped out of some frustration last night,” Ference said. The first two periods were kind of same old story. Guys almost trying too hard, trying to do too much and getting frustrated, throwing stuff around. Third period, [Patrice] Bergeron had some good words just to calm everybody down and get everybody back on track. Obviously, it helps to get an early goal and their team really deflated but we definitely picked up our game.”
Added Ference: “Bergy got everybody fired up. We’re mature enough and have an experienced enough team to know to do better than what we were doing, to let the frustration kind of use up all our energy. So, it was just a matter of instead of complaining about the reffing or complaining about this or that, just going out and doing our jobs and doing them well and taking pride in it. Nothing too complicated. But you have to kind of hit reset every once in a while and get everybody on the same page.”
The Bruins have a highly anticipated game against the Rangers this Saturday. The Rangers are leading the Eastern Conference with 62 points, with the Bruins in second with 61.
“They’re a really good team,” Ference said. “I think that they’re one of those teams that you have to respect the way they play and the way they approach the game. Obviously, they’re doing a great job this year.”
Ference also gave his prediction for Sunday’s AFC championship game between the Patriots and Ravens: “28-14, Patriots.” As for the NFC game between the 49ers and Giants: “I’m hoping for the 49ers,” he said, explaining: “I just don’t want a New York team in there.”
|Bruins crush Flames, 9-0, behind Tuukka Rask’s latest shutout||01.05.12 at 9:27 pm ET|
Since losing to the Stars on Saturday night, the Bruins may have developed a habit of blowing teams out of the water. They did so for the second straight night Thursday, crushing the Flames, 9-0, behind Tuukka Rask‘s third shutout of the season.
This one was never close following Tyler Seguin‘s tally 74 seconds into the game, and the Bruins weren’t afraid to pile it on once again. Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton each had two-goal nights, while the B’s also received goals from Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille.
The Bruins picked up the win without forward Brad Marchand, who was out with flu-like symptoms. The B’s certainly made due without the 23-year-old, as Bergeron’s line still produced three goals.
The Bruins will next play on Saturday when they host the Canucks in a rematch of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– No Marchand? No problem. Pouliot was superb in filling in for the ill winger on the second-line, getting four shots on goal and assisting Seguin and Bergeron’s goals. Benoit Pouliot did a nice job of stealing the puck in the neutral zone, feeding Seguin to set top Bergeron’s goal in the second period. He now has 13 points (seven goals and six assists) in 31 games this season. He got secondary assists on Seguin’s goal and Bergeron’s second tally.
The three assists for Pouliot matched a career-high, and it doubled his assist total this season.
– More of the same from Rask. The B’s backup lowered his league-best goals-against average and save percentage with the shutout, and has now allowed just one goal over his last five games. Scary to think that this is a guy who might not even get a start in the postseason.
- Good to see Paille score a shorthanded goal on the breakaway. Very quietly — a secret that’s been kept off the stat sheet for the most part — Paille has been putting together a heck of a season. He now has seven goals on the season, and if he had a better finishing touch he could easily have double that.
– Joe Corvo was a plus-4 on the night despite not picking up a point in the game with a game-high seven shots on goal. His plus/minus was best among the Bruins, while Flames defenseman Chris Butler was a horrific minus-7. In Butler’s case, Wednesday’s game could ruin him in that category for the season.
– Given how many goals the B’s scored on the night, of course it was another night in which the Bruins scored goals within a minute of each other. Bergeron’s first goal and Kelly’s tally came 47 seconds apart, marking the 13th time this season the B’s have scored two goals in less than a minute.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS