|Recchi to carry torch, Bruins look for confidence||01.27.10 at 1:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When the Bruins came out to skate at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday, veteran forward Mark Recchi was conspicuously missing from the ice at Ristuccia Arena. The first thought to come to mind was that coach Claude Julien and the training staff gave Recchi the practice off. Afterall, Recchi is 41-year old wingman has played 1,541 career NHL games and logged a lot of minutes this year, more than Julien figured he would be giving Recchi at the start of the season.
Instead of having an off day though, Recchi had a higher calling — he traveled to his hometown of Kamloops, British Columbia to carry the 2010 Vancouver Olympic torch and light the Olympic cauldron outside the city’s Hillside Stadium on Wednesday evening.
“It is a nice opportunity for him,” Julien said. “I think he has done a lot in his career to deserve that and also in the town where he is going to be running with it.”
Recchi played for Team Canada in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan where the team finished fourth. The torch passes through Kamloops on Day 90 of its tour through Canada and will finish its journey on February 12 in Vancouver to kick-start the 2010 Olympic games.
Leading scorer Marco Sturm did not skate at Wednesday’s practice and it is looking unlikely that he will be available for the games on Friday and Saturday. Other than Recchi and Sturm, the rest of the Bruins skated and had a vigorous practice that was a notch up from the lively skate the team had on Monday.
Miroslav Satan joined the top line in white practice sweaters with Milan Lucic and Mark Savard. 10 games into his Bruins career the tall Slovak has two goals and two assists and six penalty minutes. Satan said that he sees similarities between this Bruins team and the last team he played for — the 2009 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
“That is a good example,” Satan said. “It was the same thing. We slipped from the playoff position. At one point I think we were like the 11th spot. Then, all of a sudden things changed quickly and we had a good end to the year and a good end to the playoffs.”
Whereas the Penguins mid-season swoon last year was a product of the team quitting on its coach (who was fired and the team took off after that), Satan does not see it playing out like that this year in Boston.
“I don’t think that is the case here. I think it is more of injuries and mental mistakes that we do in the games,” Satan said. “We, the players, are responsible for it.”
Boston’s real problem right now is that it is stuck in its own head. The team has a lack of confidence which has created a vicious cycle. No confidence means the team has had trouble scoring goals (dead last in the NHL in scoring) and no scoring means the team is losing confidence.
“It is definitely in the head,” Satan said. “It seems like if it is late in a game we make a mistake and that creates another mistake . . . we have to learn to shake that off and know that if we make one it is not the end of the game.”
Patrice Bergeron agreed with the the assessment that part of the reason that the Bruins are having trouble lighting the lamp is because of a lack of confidence.
“It is pretty much about confidence right now,” Bergeron said. “When things are not going your way, the puck is not going your way, it is hitting skates that it is not supposed to. When you lose games like that, you know, confidence is getting away from yourself a little bit but we have to make sure as a team that we bring some emotion back and bring back some hard work. That is the only way we are going to get out it this.”
There are a couple examples of the Bruins getting snake-bitten with pucks off errant skates but the one Bergeron was probably referring to was last Saturday’s game against Ottawa when a goal was disallowed after going off Recchi and Senators goaltender Brian Elliot’s skates. Ottawa forward Jason Spezza ended up scoring the game winner a few minutes later.
Three out of four days into this long practice week, the Bruins are trying to get back into the right mental state of mind.
“We are looking forward to Friday,” Bergeron said. “We have had a good week of practice so far and we have worked hard and we know our game. Keep it simple and working through to get back in the winning column.”
Here is Wednesday’s practice participation by sweater color:
White – Satan, Savard, Lucic.
Yellow – Byron Bitz, Bergeron, Daniel Paille
Red – Shawn Thornton, Vladimir Sobotka, Trent Whitfield, Steve Begin
|Bruins postgame: Video from Ryder||01.22.10 at 1:55 am ET|
Patrice Bergeron scored his first goal since coming back from a broken right thumb. But his goal, which put the Bruins up, 2-1 after two, turned out to be little consolation as the Bruins suffered another third-period meltdown on TD Garden ice in a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jackets.
The other goal scorer from Thursday night, Michael Ryder, said there’s no panic but the Bruins are still a team searching for ways to finish teams off in the third period.
|Bruins cannot close out Blue Jackets||01.21.10 at 10:02 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins dropped a heartbreaker to the Columbus Blue Jackets, as they watched a 2-1, third-period lead disintegrate into a 3-2 loss in front of a packed house at the TD Garden. The Jackets’ R.J. Umberger tipped an Anton Stralman blast from the point past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask with a little more than a minute left in the game.
Michael Ryder struck the first blow in the game off an open-ice dish from Trent Whitfield to give the Bruins an early 1-0 advantage in the first. Columbus struck back later in the period when Raffi Torres intercepted a weak clearing pass from defenseman Dennis Wideman and crossed to Chris Clark, who beat Rask with a slap shot from the high slot.
Boston outplayed the Blue Jackets in the second period and took the lead when Patrice Bergeron split a pair of defenders with a shot that beat Steve Mason low on the glove side. It looked like the Bruins were going to make the goal stand until Antoine Vermette busted down Rask’s door in the middle of the third to tie the game.
Steve Mason — Outside of the Umberger game-winner, Mason was the difference for the Blue Jackets on the night. He showed flashes of his former self from the 2008-09 season and was pivotal in stopping a plethora of B’s scoring chances in the first and second period and finished the game with 32 saves on 34 shots.
Antoine Vermette — The Bruins were never safe or comfortable when the Jackets’ first-line center was on the ice. He scored the tying goal and had a power-play goal disallowed (kicking) in the second period.
Patrice Bergeron — The Bruins’ points leader played a good all-around game and gave the Bruins the lead in the second period. The goal was his 12th of the year and added to his team high 32 points on the year.
The play that set up the Umberger game-winner was a phantom double-minor high-sticking penalty on Milan Lucic at the 18:29 mark in the third. Lucic was driving from the corner to the net when he was called for the penalty, setting up the power play. Columbus scored 15 seconds later after a timeout to break the Bruins’ back.
Late in the second period, the Blue Jackets were on their first power play of the game when it appeared that Vermette had beaten Rask with with a dribbling puck when the goaltender was out of position. Rask immediately protested that the puck had gone off of Vermette’s skate and the officials reviewed the play. It turned out that Vermette had indeed kicked the puck into the goal with his back skate and the goal was disallowed because of the center’s “distinct kicking motion.” The Bruins would eventually lose the lead, but the play kept the advantage on their side until the final half of the third.
|Begin, Bitz and Sturm all out against Sens||01.18.10 at 12:46 pm ET|
Bergeron has been out for six games with a broken thumb while Wideman returns after an undisclosed injury.
“I think the doctors had a chat with him and he wants to give it a try,” head coach Claude Julien said pregame of Bergeron’s desire to return Monday. “He’s been practicing now for a week.”
As for Bitz, Julien was a little more cryptic.
“Actually, it’s something new,” the coach said. “We’re a little banged up, but we’re grinding through and again, don’t make excuses.”
|Bruins Dec. 2 Post Game||12.03.09 at 10:36 am ET|
|Bruins drop one to Devils in final minutes||10.29.09 at 9:30 pm ET|
It wasn’t pretty, but when is it ever against the New Jersey Devils?
The Bruins played an incredibly well-matched game against New Jersey in their second of back-to-back road games, but dropped a 2-1 decision in the final two minutes of Thursday night’s showdown with the Devils. Dainus Zubrus slammed home a loose puck behind Tim Thomas with 1:26 remaining to hand Boston their first regulation loss in four tries.
The B’s fell behind early when an errant puck bounced off the boards and got behind Shawn Thornton. The quick bounce of the puck allowed the Devils to break things out, and get in behind the B’s defense and a scrambling Thornton. Nicklas Bergfors carried the puck up the left side of the ice with speed, and unleashed a low liner at Thomas’ pads.
The puck sneaked between the B’s goaltender’s leg pads and trickled out into the painted area in front of the Boston goal. In a case of perfect timing, David Clarkson was crashing toward the cage from the right side and swept home the loose biscuit. It was a brief defensive lapse for the Black and Gold, however, as both Derek Morris and Zdeno Chara were able to prevent nearly certain goals later in the game with some very strong stick work in front of Thomas.
The Bruins finally tied things up in the second period immediately after time expired on their second power play of the game. Zdeno Chara leveled a bomb from the right point that whistled through traffic in front, and Devils’ goaltender Yann Danis kicked it off to the right. Marco Sturm corralled the rebound and shoveled a backhand shot toward the Devils net, but it ricocheted off sticks and skates before landing on Patrice Bergeron’s stick blade.
Bergeron flicked the puck into the vacated net, and the game was tied at 1-1. It was Bergeron’s fourth goal of the season, and his team-leading eighth point after enduring Tuesday’s two-year anniversary of his career-threatening concussion at the hands of Randy Jones. The scoring stayed that way until Zubrus’ gut-punch score with less than two minutes to go in the contest. To add insult to injury, Zdeno Chara had a deflection hit off the crossbar in the final seconds that could have tied the game and pushed things to overtime. In the end, the Devils were simply one bounce of the puck better than the hard-working Bruins.
YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND AND NOTHING’LL EVER KEEP YOU DOWN: Patrice Bergeron worked and persevered through last season when he clearly didn’t feel 100 percent, but it’s all paying off now. Bergeron tied the game in the second period, and is again developing that all-important nose for the goal. Bergeron trailed only Shawn Thornton with his four shots on net for a Bruins team that needs all the offense they can get right now.
GOAT HORNS: The first instinct was to go with Tim Thomas who was otherwise solid but allowed two pucks to squeeze through the goaltender’s pads — including the game-winner to Dainus Zubrus with less than 90 seconds to go in the game. The two goals were virtual carbon copies of each other, as Thomas slowed down each shot with his pads. But the reigning Vezina Trophy winner couldn’t quite close the sliver of an opening in time. In both instances, the puck slowed behind the B’s netminder and an attacking Jersey skater was able to bang home the loose puck. But the game-winner, it should be noted, was a tipped puck that changed direction before it hit the net.
The better choice for the horns is Boston’s still toothless power play that finished 0-for-2 tonight — although the B’s did score immediately following their second power play chance — and is sitting at a 14.3 percent efficiency for the season. That’s six goals in 42 chances. The B’s had plenty of good looks and chances against the Devils, but simply couldn’t finish. That’s beginning to become a pattern of concern.
|Bergeron emerging as a quiet Bruins leader||10.28.09 at 3:09 pm ET|
WILMINGTON, Mass. — A highly respected hockey voice recently stressed that the leadership of both Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi as two key pieces in the recent turnaround of the Bruins. It’s been those two players, along with captain Zdeno Chara, that have helped grease the wheels of Boston’s resurgence, but there’s also a growing measure of influence from the young voices within the dressing room.
The loss of players such as Stephane Yelle, P.J. Axelsson and Aaron Ward have no doubt left a vacancy in terms of veteran influence within the dressing room, but coach Claude Julien said he’s already convinced that those important breaches have been filled. Young players are stepping up, and emerging leaders are picking their spots to help push along the direction of the club.
To hear Julien explain it, Bergeron is something akin to those old E.F. Hutton financial commercials. When Bergeron speaks, everybody listens — and that’s only been amplified this season as the 24-year-old has again staked claim to his rightful place as one of the brightest spots on Boston’s roster. The Bruins have taken points in four of their last five games, and young skaters such as Bergeron have everything to do with that.
“We talked about the guys we lost in the last year: the Yelles, the Axellsons, the Wards. They were pretty good presences in the dressing room, but at the same time other guys have stepped up,” Julien said. “We’ve asked other guys to step up into those roles in the dressing room, and we had some guys that were ready to take over. It’s been good and getting better, and it’s a transition that needs to be made.
“There’s no point in naming one or two guys. For the most part, the young guys want to do their jobs. The older guys: Z and the Ferences and the Recchis have been there for a long time and they’re going to help out along the way. Bergie is a quiet leader and not necessarily the rah-rah type, but every once in a while he’ll speak. When he does, they listen because he doesn’t speak that often and he doesn’t speak for nothing. So you expect some kind of leadership from those guys, and Marco Sturm has also been a quiet leader. He speaks when it’s time to speak. What you see from them [in the media] and what we see behind closed doors might be a little different.”
The old Bergeron has appeared on the ice where he’s tied for tops in the team with seven points through the first 10 games, and that appears to also be shining through in Boston’s new leadership structure this season.
‘ Don’t expect Milan Lucic to begin dropping the gloves and transforming into the Incredible Looch when he returns from his broken right index finger. The hulking left winger has been working out and skating on his own, but said that it took at least “two months” for his finger to stabilize the last time he broke a knuckle/finger on his left hand.
That means Lucic won’t be slipping into fight mode for a minimum of several weeks, and probably longer, after the finger is healed enough to suit up again for the B’s.
“You’ve got to be smart about it, protect it a little bit and wait for [the finger] to solidify before you go back to everything you used to do before,” Lucic said. “I definitely didn’t fight right after I came back the last time, and it look a little bit before it was ready to go.”
Lucic had only the one fighting major came when he rearranged Jay Harrison’s facial structure in the blowout win over the Hurricanes in the B’s second game of the season. It may be quite some time before his next one, and there remains the question of how much Lucic will throw down given his value to the hockey team as a top line player and his value in dollars given his newly signed long-term contract.
‘ There’s been a lot of talk about the incoming Devils before they come into the TD Banknorth Garden Thursday night, and naturally most of the conversation centered around the trap and Martin Brodeur. Both coach and players paid tribute to the disciplined — albeit sleepy — trapping style that New Jersey has become synonymous with, and the legendary goaltender at the end of Jersey’s layered defense.
B’s goalie Tim Thomas called Brodeur’s hybrid style the “one-legged butterfly”, and said that he’s taken plenty from watching the four-time Vezina Trophy winner over the years. Just don’t ask Thomas if he ever watches Brodeur when he’s playing against him, because the reigning Vezina Trophy winner clearly doesn’t get caught up in the individual goalie matchups.
“The truth is he’s a great goalie that’s been fortunate enough to play with a good team in front of him for his entire career,” Thomas said. “You don’t win Vezinas without a good team in front of you, and the New Jersey Devils have been able to build up a strong core and keep them together the whole time through.
“If you don’t have the right team to play with, then it doesn’t matter what system you have. There’s nothing about his style. He just stops the puck. Everybody talks about my style, but he really has his own style, too. He has a way, way different style from everybody else than I do.”
How would Thomas describe Brodeur’s way different style of “stopping the puck?”
“One-legged butterfly. Half-butterfly. Watch him, he goes down on his right knee all the time. He goes into the butterfly, but that isn’t his first move,” Thomas said. “His first move is to go down halfway and then the butterfly is his second move. If you can do it and cover [the 5-hole] up enough enough, then it’s much easier to get up [tall] off one knee.”
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