|Preview: Bruins prepare to take on Kings without Marc Savard||01.24.11 at 3:10 am ET|
As the Bruins (21-14-7) await word on the status of Marc Savard, they will look to sweep their two-game road trip when they take on the Kings (25-22-1) at the Staples Center. The B’s and Kings last met at the Garden on Nov. 20, with the Kings winning, 4-3, in a shootout.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Kings are 15-9-1 at home this season, and are 3-6-0 over their last nine home contests.
– The Bruins are 15-5-4 in away games this season. They have gotten at least one point in each of their road games since the Dec. 27 win over the Panthers, and are 6-0-3 over that stretch. Their last regulation road loss came on Dec. 16 vs. the Canadiens.
– The Bruins have averaged 4.0 goals a game since their 7-6 shootout loss to the Sabres on New Years Day. They had averaged 2.83 goals a night in the first 36 games of the season. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have seven goals apiece this month, while Zdeno Chara has six.
-Thornton’s 15 consecutive games without a goal is his longest such stretch of the season. It’s quite remarkable considering he went 72 straight games without a tally a season ago.
Thornton’s seven goals are a career-high, and he’s on pace for 12 this season.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– This road trip could have meant a visit with both of the Bruins’ cap causalities this season in Matt Hunwick (Colorado) and Marco Sturm (Los Angeles), but the B’s will have to settle with having seen Hunwick on Saturday. Knee tendinitis has Sturm on injured reserve, retroactive to Jan. 18.
The B’s traded the German winger to Los Angeles on Dec. 11 in a deal that landed them nothing in return, though the true prize of the trade was the freedom to proceed with the activation of Savard without having to worry about cap strife. In 15 games with the Kings this season, Sturm has four goals and four assists for eight points. He had 106 goals in parts of four seasons with the B’s after being acquired in the Joe Thornton trade.
– The Bruins have two games in hand when it comes to their race with the Lightning for the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference, but Tampa Bay grabbed another two points Sunday with a 7-1 win over the Thrashers. They have 65 points to the Bruins’ 61, while the B’s lead the Canadiens by two points in the Northeast Division.
– Should Thomas get the nod in net, he will have the opportunity to grab a piece of the league lead in wins, a category he hasn’t led since the beginning of the season. Jonas Hiller and Carey Price each have 24 victories this season, and with both the Ducks and Canadiens off Monday, Thomas (23-4-6) could make it a three-way tie. Thomas already leads the league in goals against average (1.83), save percentage (.945) and is tied with Henrik Lundqvist for a league-leading seven shutouts.
Thomas has not lost a game in regulation since Dec. 20. He is 8-0-3 in 11 games (10 starts) since then.
|Marchand’s four points lead Bruins past Avalanche||01.22.11 at 5:35 pm ET|
Four Bruins goals in the first two periods both chased Colorado netminder Craig Anderson from the game and helped the team to a 6-2 victory on Saturday.
Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi had four and three-point showings, respectively, while linemate Patrice Bergeron also scored and had an assist. Milan Lucic had two goals for the B’s, and with David Krejci‘s two assists on the day, five different Bruins had multi-point showings.
The Avalanche jumped out to a 1-0 lead behind an odd Paul Stastny goal at 2:00 of the first that bounced off of Dennis Seidenberg, but the B’s scored four unanswered goals to end Anderson’s day after 40 minutes. Peter Budaj took over in the third, allowing Bergeron’s goal.
Marc Savard took a hit from former Bruin Matt Hunwick in the corner in the second period and left the game with a head injury. He held a towel to his face as he skated off the ice.
Tim Thomas improved to 23-4-6 on the season with the win. He made 32 saves in the victory.
The Bruins will travel to Los Angeles, where they will face the Kings on Monday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Marchand continued to prove he’s been the best of an impressive bunch of Bruins’ rookies. He held his own with Avalanche defenseman Ryan O’Byrne in front of the net on his first-period goal, and drew Anderson so far out of his net on a 2-on-1 in the second period that the rookie was able to simply slide it to Mark Recchi for an easy one-timer goal.
His second goal of the game was an empty-though it came with Seidenberg in the bench and made for his fourth shorthanded goal of the season. Marchand now has 12 goals and 12 assists on the season.
– Recchi scored his 10th goal of the season, making him the eighth Bruins player with at least 10 goals this season. Last year, the B’s had eight players reach double-digits in goals, and it appears they will expand on that number given that four different Bruins have seven goals on the season.
– Lucic set a career-high in goals in a season with his first period goal and added to the number in the second period. With 19 goals thus far, Lucic is one strike away from the 20 he set as a pre-season goal.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Marc Savard had his second injury scare in the last Saturday’s game against the Penguins, but unlike the hit he took in that game from Deryk Engelland, his hit from former teammate Hunwick knocked him out of the game.
Savard appeared to be bleeding as he left the ice following the second-period hit. After missing the first 23 games of the season due to post-concussion syndrome, any time the center (who is in the first year of a seven-year deal) leaves the ice holding his head is greatly concerning.
– Nathan Horton is still searching for that goal to break him out of his slump. He had two shots on goal and had an interesting chance when he swung at a bouncing puck in the second period, but now has just one goal over his last 18 games.
– Former Boston University Terrier Kevin Shattenkirk was a thorn in the Bruins’ side, getting the primary assist on Stastny’s goal and making it a two-goal game with a goal of his own early in the third.
|Bruins try to keep momentum going as they host Sabres||01.19.11 at 10:29 pm ET|
After sweeping a home-and-home with the Hurricanes on Monday and Tuesday, the Bruins will return to the Garden Thursday to face the Sabres for the fifth time this season. Thus far, they’ve gone 2-1-1 against the Sabres, with the most recent meeting resulting in a 7-6 shootout loss on Jan. 1.
That New Years Day game was a memorable one, as Tuukka Rask was yanked after three first-period goals, while Drew Stafford had a hat trick and scored one of the Sabres’ three shootout goals. Luckily for the Bruins, Stafford is not expected to play Thursday due to a groing injury.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Bruins are 12-8-3 in home games this season. They’ve gone 3-2-0 at the Garden since the New Year, and have received a pair of Tim Thomas shutouts over their last four home games. Only one of the four meetings between the two teams this season has been at the Garden, with the B’s taking a 3-2 shootout win on Dec. 7.
– The Sabres are 9-9-4 on the road this season and have gone 2-1-1 away from HSBC Arena in 2011. In their most recent road contest, they took a 5-3 loss to the Islanders on Saturday.
– Four different Bruins’ defenseman scored in the Jan. 1 game, as the B’s got first-period goals from Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara in the first, as well as third-period tally from Steven Kampfer. The defense wasn’t exactly overwhelming in their own end, as the B’s blew three different leads in the game.
– Ryan Miller has started 22 games dating back to Nov. 26. And people were worried about Thomas’ eight in a row last month’¦
– The Bruins have the second-best goal differential in the Eastern Conference at plus-39. The Sabres have a minus-9 differential.
– Mark Recchi has four multi-point games in the Bruins’ last 12. Linemate Patrice Bergeron has five multi-point games in that stretch.There’s no doubting that their line with Brad Marchand has been one of the most consistent of late.
– Johnny Boychuk scored his first goal of the season Tuesday in Carolina. He was initially credited with the goal, a blast from the point, before credit was given to Marc Savard. A second change to call gave the goal to Boychuk for good.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– The Sabres are eight points out of a playoff spot, and have played less games than every team currently in line for a trip to the postseason. Given how they’ve fared against the B’s thus far and the fact that they’re coming off a win over the Canadiens, this is a big game for the Sabres. The Bruins have played 46 games to the Sabres’ 45, though the eighth-place Thrashers have played 48. Buffalo isn’t counting this season as a lost one, and even without Derek Roy, who had 35 points in 35 games before a left quadriceps tear ended his season in December.
– Ference was again kept out of Tuesday’s game, with Claude Julien saying he could have played in a pinch. Ultimately, both Kampfer and Adam McQuaid have filled in admirably for the B’s and the team doesn’t feel pressured to rush Ference back at the risk of the upper-body injury that’s ailed him. Ference has missed the last three games for the Bruins.
NESN and NBC Sports NHL analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Milbury said this is the best he’s seen Patrice Bergeron play. “[He’s] seeing the ice, quick to the puck, totally unafraid, does all the little things right, good on the draws, goes to the front of the net, sees the ice well ‘ there’s nothing to not like about his game,” Milbury said.
The lack of production from the first line is a concern to Milbury. “[Nathan] Horton, [Marc] Savard and [Milan] Lucic have got to find a way to put points on the board,” he said. “They’ve been winning a whole bunch of games without a lot of support from those three guys. Listen, there’s no getting around, it’s their top line. And if your top line isn’t producing the way you expect it to, you’re going to run into problems sooner or later.
“The flip side of that is, because of the balance that they now have, they’re able to do it while the first line finds their rhythm.”
Of Horton, Milbury said. “He’s yet to get fully engaged in the game on a regular basis. By that I mean hustle to loose pucks, work really hard to get there. I’ve seen him fight and he can really go, so I know he’s not afraid. But the point is ‘ and this is the common catchword ‘ there’s got to be more urgency to his game. He’s got to want it more. He’s got to fight for loose pucks a little bit more. He’s got to be a little bit more reckless in his game. Until he gets that, his progress is going to be checked, in my opinion.”
Meanwhile, Milbury likes what he’s seeing from the fourth line. “The Bruins have as good a fourth line as there is in the game right now with [Brad] Marchand, [Gregory] Campbell and Shawn Thornton,” Milbury said. “[Campbell] plays hard every night. He’s a coach’s dream, because you know what you’re going to get shift after shift.”
As for Marchand, Milbury said: “He uses his assets, which are his feet, and a little bit of grit to get where he needs to go. ‘¦ We talk about Horton and engaging and getting the most out of what you’ve got. Well, this kid is getting all of what he can give and then some.”
Looking at the Eastern Conference, Milbury said, “I still think Pittsburgh is the team to beat, and Philly second.”
As for the Bruins, “It’s still a team that I think has yet to hit its full stride,” Milbury said. “But things have changed now for the Bruins. [Tuukka] Rask is back in the picture, [Tim] Thomas is still playing incredibly well, the defense is starting to act like it can jump into the offense or produce when it comes to getting shots on goal, and you’ve got three lines, at least right now, that are playing I think well enough to win on most nights ‘ and they are winning on most nights. If they can ever get that first line humming, they’ve got to be be a strong candidate to come out of the Eastern Conference.”
|Patrice Bergeron named No. 2 star of the week||01.17.11 at 12:40 pm ET|
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was named the No. 2 star of the week for the week ending on Jan. 16. The 25-year-old was runner-up to Hurricanes winger Jussi Jokinen, who had four goals and three assists in three games for Carolina during the week.
Bergeron also had seven points during the week, scoring four goals and adding three assists over a four-game stretch in which the B’s went 3-1-0. On the season, Bergeron has 14 goals and 20 assists for a team-leading 34 points in 44 games.
Coyotes netminder Ilya Bryzgalov was named the third star.
|Steven Kampfer the hero as Bruins win wild one over Flyers||01.13.11 at 9:37 pm ET|
Steven Kampfer saw to it that the Bruins had the last laugh in a back-and-forth affair, scoring with just 1:34 remaining in regulation to give the B’s a 7-5 win over the Flyers at TD Garden.
The rookie scored his fourth goal of his career in dramatic fashion, capping a game that featured five lead changes between the two teams. Gregoy Campbell added an exclamation point with an empty net goal with 6.8 seconds left.
The Bruins came up with three third-period goals, getting timely tallies from Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder, and Brad Marchand. Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron also scored for the Bruins. It was Chara’s second goal in three games, while Bergeron has now scored six over his last four.
Tim Thomas earned the victory, allowing five five goals on 35 shots.
The Bruins will face the Penguins in a matinee on Saturday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins scored goals in the first 45 seconds of both the seconds. Bergeron redirected a Steven Kampfer shot past Boucher at 0:45 of the second, while Recchi tied it up just 38 seconds into the third.
Recchi got a very lucky bounce on his goal. With Boucher going to behind the net to play a puck that had been dumped in the zone, the puck bounced right off the end boards and in front of the net, where Recchi easily sent it into an empty goal.
– It was good to see Shawn Thornton challenge Jody Shelley in the first period. Thursday marked Shelley’s first game at the Garden since his shove from behind on Adam McQuaid that got him suspended for two games. The B’s didn’t have their chance to get back at Shelley after the play on Dec. 11, as he was tossed, but Thornton sent a good message with fisticuffs on Thursday.
– This can be a game that gives Marc Savard some confidence that he desperately needs. He was the star of the team’s 5-on-3 that led to Chara’s goal in the first period. He nearly scored himself in front of the net on the two-man advantage, but the puck was blocked by Recchi’s skate.
– Marchand has had success on the Merlot Line and second line this season, and it seems he can handle any sort of mix-and-match situation he’s thrown in. Greogory Campbell and Blake Wheeler contributed to the undersized winger’s ninth goal of the season.
– Nathan Horton is crawling back to being the asset he’s capable of being. He still has just one goal in his last 13 games, but he had three shots on Boucher through the first two periods and got a helper on Ryder’s tally. It still is Horton’s second game back from missing two contests with an undisclosed injury, but he’s back to playing strong games and just needs to see more production.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins squandered two leads in the game, one of which came in the third period. All in all there were five lead changes on the night, with neither team leading by more than one goal until Campbell’s empty netter.
– The five goals that Thomas allowed are the most he’s given up this season. The Vezina wasn’t at is top form, but he had to deal with lots of odd man rushes given up by the B’s.
The good news for Thomas was that he picked up his third assist of the season on Recchi’s goal. He now has three helpers on the season.
– Andrew Ference missed the third period, though it’s unclear what kept him from playing. We smell an undisclosed injury.
– Chara had a bad turnover in the second period that led to the Flyers tying it at two in the second. With the B’s up, 2-1, following a Bergeron’s goal, the captain took a shot from the point that was blocked and sent up to Nikolay Zherdev, who beat Thomas on a breakaway.
|Statistician’s research suggests Gregory Campbell, not Patrice Bergeron, is Bruins best defensive forward||at 3:59 pm ET|
Here’s an interesting one. Patrice Bergeron‘s strong statistical output of late (17 points over the last 13 games) has made him a popular candidate for this season’s Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is given to the league’s best defensive forward. One’s candidacy for the award, which is supposed to be focused on the defensive aspect of the game, is generally aided by good offensive numbers, making Bergeron, who is among the top two-way forwards in the game, a good fit.
Yet this piece from James Mirtle in today’s Globe and Mail (and feel free to form your own opinion of it) throws a bit of a monkey wrench at the system. Taking the quality of players faced and how many goals they are on the ice for in both even strength and shorthanded situations into, a bit of research from Behind the Net statistician Gabriel Desjardins suggests that Bergeron isn’t even the best defensive forward on his own team.
Desjardin’s research suggests that Gregory Campbell was the first half’s second-best defensive forward, ranking behind only Washington’s Brooks Laich. Bergeron ranks No. 24 on the list. Here’s a look: