|Shots, as far as the eye can see||12.29.10 at 5:34 pm ET|
Nathan Horton‘s been a popular guy lately for all the wrong reasons, as Tuesday’s no-show was the latest example of a contest that, if made into a movie, would not have a part for the winger.
Matt Kalman had an interesting post at the Bruins Blog today pointing out that Horton has had one shot or less in 12 games this season. I was astonished last night when seeing that he’s actually third on the team in shots despite how frequent these duds seem to come. With that in mind, here’s a quick breakdown of each line and its players shots on goal. Of course, the lines are listed just for organization’s sake, as the current lines have only existed for three games this season.
* Savard has played in 12 games,
** Seguin has played in 33 games.
^ Krejci has played in 28 games.
^^ Marchand has played in 32 games.
Moral of the story? As good as Thornton is at getting pucks to the net and creating rebounds, he shouldn’t be nipping at Horton’s heals — and that’s not a plea for Thornton to shoot less.
|Bruins answer the call with convincing 4-1 win over Thrashers||12.23.10 at 9:38 pm ET|
The Bruins spent the past two days dealing with backlash from both fans and the media over their recent struggles. They responded in a big way Thursday, playing one of their better games of the season in defeating the Thrashers, 4-1, at TD Garden.
Though Patrice Bergeron got the B’s on the board with a shorthanded goal in the first and Michael Ryder tallied what proved to be the deciding goal, Shawn Thornton was the offensive hero for the 17,565 to pack the Garden seats. The energy line winger had a big night, beating Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec for two goals.
Tim Thomas improved his record to 15-4-3 on the season.
The Bruins will have two days off before returning to practice on Sunday. From there, they will embark on a five-game road trip before returning home to the Garden on Jan. 6.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Shawn Thornton came an assist away from a Gordie Howe hat trick and a goal away from a real one. His fight with Eric Boulton off the opening the face-off helped ignite everybody in attendance, while his two goals brought his season total to a career-high seven.
– The Bruins responded to the call for more passion and motivation. They were more offensively persistent and sustained energy throughout the night. Additionally, they did it against a very good Thrashers team. This game was looked at by some (including your’s truly) as a game the team could use to establish more of an identity. Now that they’ve shown they can respond to losses as ugly as Monday night’s, the next step is seeing to it that there aren’t any more like their embarrassment vs. the Ducks.
The fans undoubtedly left the house satisfied, as an all-out brawl broke out with 4:06 remaining in the game following a Freddy Meyer hit to Milan Lucic’s head. Lucic, Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference, and Marc Savard dropped the gloves for the B’s.
– Thornton wasn’t the only one to show up on the stat sheet multiple times. Patrice Bergeron (G, A) and Daniel Paille (2 A) also had two points on the night. With Brad Marchand still out due to soreness stemming from the P.K. Subban hit, it’s good for Paille to have a game that can give him some confidence should he stick in the lineup for another game or two.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– With the match penalty that Lucic received for punching Freddy Meyer in the helmet, he now faces a suspension, pending review. It was clearly intent to injure on Lucic’s part and it’s hard to believe anybody will view it as anything but.
– Of course, Dustin Byfuglien scored the Thrashers’ lone goal. Byfuglien had a goal and three assists when the Thrashers beat the B’s last month, so his tally on Thursday gave him his fifth point against the Bruins this season.
– Tyler Seguin and Steve Kampfer were the the lone Bruins players to have a negative rating. After his minus-1 on Thursday, Seguin is a plus-1 on the season.
– The Canadiens were held on for a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes after scoring twice in the final 3:03 of the second period. The B’s remain two points behind the Habs for the division lead.
|Patrice Bergeron has Bruins leading Thrashers after one||at 7:45 pm ET|
The Bruins wanted to make some noise right off the bat, and after doing so they lead the Thrashers, 1-0.
With Claude Julien putting the energy line out to start the game, Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves with Atlanta winger Eric Boulton. The fight, which was the sixth between the two, energized both the B’s and the Garden crowd, but Patrice Bergeron would give them more to cheer about three minutes later.
Just 13 seconds into a Zdeno Chara hooking penalty, Bergeron put the B’s on the board by deking Ondrej Pavelec and putting it in low on the forehand. It was Bergeron’s 300th career point and the fifth Bruins shorthanded goal of the season.
The two teams have played one another tight this far, with each squad registering 10 shots on goal. There were five minor penalties handed out in the period between the two teams, with the B’s going 0-for-3 on the power play.
After a lackluster effort on Monday night (a 3-0 loss to the Ducks at the Garden), the Bruins were given two days to figure things out. While the rest of the town (foolishly) talked about whether Claude Julien should begin frequenting Monster.com, the B’s buckled down and did what they deemed necessary to help them regain the promise shown at the beginning of the season. They did so with two gritty, high-energy, high-intensity practices, and as they prepare to face Atlanta on Thursday — a “must-win” game by multiple players’ accounts — they hope the hard work will have paid off.
“The last two days have been very good,” Patrice Bergeron. “Practice has been very hard with lot’s of battle and lots of emotion, and I think that’s what we need to bring in games.”
The B’s didn’t hold a morning skate on Thursday, but the players in the dressing room exuded a confidence that suggested they know they’ve put the work in, and now they need to put it to good use.
“As long as we learn from it — and we do — we’re fine,” Mark Recchi said Thursday of the team’s two days following perhaps their worst loss of the season. “We have a good group of guys who care and want to get better. The tempo was great in practice. ‘¦ We don’t get the opportunity to practice like that for a couple of days, especially with the schedule. To get that opportunity now is good.”
The Atlanta game is monumental for the young season for multiple reasons. In addition to the fact that the Thrashers beat the B’s, 4-1 last month, the Bruins will play five consecutive road games after Thursday. Given how much the team has struggled (1-3-1, 1.8 goals per game over their last five), the team also needs to show angry fans — who booed the team mightily on Monday — that the high expectations placed on them this offseason weren’t unwarranted.
A big part of the team’s struggles has been a difficulty to string 60-minute efforts together, with the forecheck and physically cutting in and out throughout the night. Recchi, who has spoken throughout the season of how difficult a team to play against the Bruins could be, knows the team has yet to reach that point, but that hope is not lost.
“We’re progressing. We’re getting there. We know when we do the right things, we’re a miserable team to play against, and we’re getting there, but it’s a process,” Recchi said. “It takes all year. … We’ve had our ups and downs, but I think the guys understand that it’s not easy being like that every night, but at the same time, it’s pretty rewarding.”
The Bruins can use Thursday, a game in which the town will be watching to see what the squad’s made of, to unveil new lines, and a new mindset for the B’s who with a win and a Canadiens loss could suddenly find themselves third in the Eastern conference. If they do, and the team does find a way to turn it around, this week could be one that’s looked back on as a turning point in the season.
“I think we needed some practices to get back on track and talk about our system a little bit more,” Bergeron said. “‘¦ I think it was good to re-focus and re-set ourselves to be back on track.”
|Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Blake Wheeler contribute to early Bruins lead||12.18.10 at 7:44 pm ET|
On a 2-on-2, Wheeler attracted the attention of both Washington defenders and dropped the puck off to Bergeron, who beat Michal Neuvirth at 3:27 for his sixth goal of the season. Ference then scored his first goal in 99 games by sending one past Neuvirth from the point.
Bergeron returned the favor in setting up Wheeler’s eighth of the season, and suddenly that second line is looking awfully good of late.
Following the Ference goal. Matt Bradley tried to swing the momentum in Washington’s favor by dropping the gloves with Adam McQuaid. Unfortunately for Bradley, the Garden only got louder as McQuaid unequivocally pummeled the Capitals winger.
Tim Thomas saw only five shots, stopping them all.
|Bruins lead Islanders, 2-1, after two||12.09.10 at 8:41 pm ET|
A shorthanded goal from each team, including Brad Marchand’s third shorthanded strike of the season, has the Bruins leading the Islanders, 2-1, after two periods.
The Bruins fell victim to the old shorthanded penalty shot by Frans Nielsen. The Islanders center had a shorthanded breakaway but was tripped by Patrice Bergeron. A penalty shot was awarded, and Nielsen beat Tuukka Rask with a top-shelf backhander to tie the game at 3:41.
Then, with the Bruins shorthanded due to a David Krejci hooking penalty, Brad Marchand and Rick DiPietro both came chased after a puck at the top of the circle. DiPietro won the race, but Marchand blocked his bid, chasing after the puck to grab it behind the net and score with ease at 14:41. He’s now tied for thirst in the NHL with three shorthanded goals.
The Bruins are outshooting the Islanders, 25-24.
|What the return of Marc Savard really means to the Bruins||12.03.10 at 11:08 am ET|
Less than an hour after the Bruins croaked the Tampa Bay Lightning, 8-1, at TD Garden, Bruins coach Claude Julien was asked if the team was given an emotional boost by the return of Marc Savard after a bout of post-concussion syndrome.
“Boy, you’re giving him a lot of credit, aren’t you?” Julien quipped in his classically wry sense of humor. “It’s nice to have him back, obviously everybody’s happy to have him back, but you know, I think our players, as a whole, even yesterday when he wasn’t in the lineup, decided that they were going to play hard and play well and they did. So he just added to that, I guess, fuel for tonight.”
Savard skated 21 shifts in 15 minutes and 45 seconds, taking one shot while winning 5-of-10 face-offs on the night. But his impact was felt early when he got into the fray early with a fore-check. He played on several combo lines and everyone thought he didn’t miss a beat.
“I mean, he brought a lot of offense today,” two-goal scorer David Krejci said. “He wasn’t on the score sheet but he had a lot of last minute chances. We have big depth now with him and all four lines can score goals and it’s hard for their top defensemen to defend our top guys. So, it’s good to have him back and it’s good to see him and hopefully we will keep doing the same thing we did tonight.”
And that can only help this Bruins offense. It certainly appeared that way Thursday night.
“I think that’s the first eight goals the team has scored that I haven’t had anything on it, but I kept telling Claude I was a presence tonight,” Savard said BEFORE Julien’s post-game observation. “I felt good, obviously had some shifts where I felt a little tired and as the battles wore on, I just stood in front of Timmy [Thomas], so hopefully he can stop it. It was great to be back. The fans were fantastic. I got a little emotional there. It was a little tough to go out on that shift there, but it was special.”
Tim Thomas set the tone for the night, stepping aside before leading the team on the ice for pre-game warm-ups. Instead, Savard had that honor against Tampa Bay.
“I didn’t know what he was doing there. I didn’t even realize. I just thought he was stepping aside, that’s maybe what he does now. I just kept skating, then I looked over and no one was there, so it was kind of nice of the guys, I think they did that on purpose, but it was funny.”
Still, for skating in a game for the first time since May, it was quite the adjustment for Savard.
“I mean, it’s been six months, so it’s been a long time,” Savard said. “Shaking off a bit of rust, but you know, I felt I made some good plays. I felt there’s some stuff I can build off of, some things I can work on still, obviously. Battles I had a little trouble as the shift wore on in our zone a couple times, but I felt good, I felt strong. I got in there a couple times, tried to bang around, didn’t really move anybody, but it was a lot of fun.” Read the rest of this entry »