|Hat trick: Statement made?||03.30.10 at 11:05 pm ET|
Goaltending ‘ and a relentlessly irritating Bruins offense ‘ took center stage Tuesday night as Patrice Bergeron notched the game-winner in the final minute of overtime to give the Bruins a 1-0 win over New Jersey. The way Brodeur was giving up rebounds and the way the Bruins seemed to just miss capitalizing on them time and time again, it was perfectly fitting that the game ended in the Bruins’ assistant captain collecting the change on a Mark Stuart shot from the point to give Boston a very important two points.
While the Bruins only got on the board once, their peppering of Brodeur (34 shots on goal) provided all the offense necessary to get past one of the game’s all-time greats.
Coming off the win, the Bruins remain in possession of the eighth and final playoff bid in the Eastern Conference. With a game in hand on the Thrashers, a playoff berth is the Bruins’ to lose. Just as interestingly, having played as many games with as many points (76 GP, 82 points), as the Canadiens and Flyers, a sixth seed and potential matchup with the Sabers rather than the Capitals remains in their grasp.
Here is the hat trick of lessons learned in a well-deserved win in which the Bruins defense allowed just 21 shots on goal in nearly 65 minutes:
|Bruin’s shutout extinguishes Flames||03.27.10 at 3:33 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins found their stroke on Saturday with a 5-0 victory over Calgary at a sold out matinee game at TD Garden. Tim Thomas got the start and the win with his fifth shutout of the year by stopping 31 shots. Miikka Kiprusoff took the loss for the Flames by allowing five goals on 29 shots before giving way to backup Vesa Toskala in the third period.
Boston broke out of its power play funk in a big way after entering the game on an 0-for-22 streak with its last man-advantage goal coming on a Marco Sturm strike against the Maple Leafs on March 9. Dennis Seidenberg got the credit for snapping the streak at 14:08 in the first period after a Craig Conroy hooking call when he hit a one-timer from the high slot that had eyes to the top of the net for a 1-0 Bruins lead.
In the second period Boston had its way on the power play again. Conroy went back to the box for hooking at :31 which set up David Krejci for a wrist shot from the left circle at 1:29 that got through traffic and beat Kiprusoff high. Zdeno Chara got in on the mix after Rene Bourque took a goaltender interference call when he plowed through Thomas at 4:34. Chara activated on the next series and took a feed from Krejci in the slot in front of Kiprusoff with enough time and space to choose the location of his wrist shot, high over the stick-side shoulder for the 3-0 lead.
Patrice Bergeron recorded his 17th goal of the season at 4:24 in the third period when he used Conroy as a deflector shield with a shot from the goal line that he put off the center’s knees to beat Kiprusoff. Mark Recchi would match Bergeron with his 17th of the year 1:31 later at 5:51 when he dove for a Sturm rebound to beat Kiprusoff and end the netminder’s night as Toskala came in to replace him.
Bruins’ defenseman Johnny Boychuk received a five-minute elbowing major and a game misconduct at 7:21 in the third when he went in for a hit on in the corner against Rene Bourque with his forearm/elbow raised high enough to catch the Flames’ forward flush across the face.
David Krejci — The center has been on fire of late with eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last five games. Scored the second power play goal and helped set up the third.
Zdeno Chara — The captain had his first multi-point game since a three-point effort on Dec. 23 against Atlanta with a power play goal and an assist. Chara now has six multi-point games for the season.
Tim Thomas — The reigning Vezina Trophey winner was solid for Boston in picking up his 16th win of the year with his fifth shutout.
Turning Point — Chara’s goal was the one that sent the Bruins on their way to a victory without looking back over their shoulders for pursuing Flames. He was set up on the power play by Milan Lucic and Krejci to the point where he could skate down the slot with space straight at Kiprusoff and pick his target for the 3-0 lead.
Key Play — Seidenberg’s strike in the first period broke what was basically and 0-for-March power play for the Bruins. He combined with to make Team Dennis with fellow defenseman Dennis Wideman as they shuffled the puck along the point in the first period to the point that Seidenberg had enough space to pull off a one-timer from the high slot at 14:08 that was heavy and had eyes to the back of the net.
|Julien, Bergeron react to new blindside rule||03.25.10 at 3:11 pm ET|
The NHL finalized a new blindside hit rule on Thursday that will ban blindside hits to the head, effective immediately. The rule is intended to prohibit “a lateral, back-pressure or blind-side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact.”
“I don’t think there are too many people who are going to argue against it,” coach Claude Julien said. “I think the players want a little bit of security when it comes to that and what I personally like about the rule is that there is responsibility for both sides. You can’t expect the player carrying the puck to be able to see what is behind him in a way where there is what is called blindside hits but at the same time also puts the responsibility for the puck carrier. If you are going to put your head down and you get hit head on it becomes your responsibility. They are not taking hits out of the game and they are putting the responsibility, and the right responsibility, on both players.”
Julien said that coaches were shown a video of the type of hits the league is talking about but, to be sure, the rule was sped through the system after the brouhaha of Matt Cooke’s hit to Marc Savard on March 7. The Flyers’ Mike Richards hit to Florida’s David Booth earlier this season was also impetus to implement the rule. Booth missed 45 games after the hit.
The rule initially calls for a suspension for blindside hits with no in-game penalty this season though it is likely that an in-game penalty will be instituted by the start of the 2010-11 season.
“Personally, I think it is pretty black and white,” Julien said. “A blindside hit or a head on hit. We are talking about hits to the head. You can hit from the side, as long as you are not hitting the head … To me it is pretty clear the way it has been explained and if they want to put it into play anytime I am for it because it doesn’t take practice, it takes common sense.”
Patrice Bergeron, no stranger to concussions after questionable hits, completely agreed with Julien that the rule is more common sense than any type of game changer.
“For me it is a rule that is kind of common sense,” Bergeron said. “It is a rule that should have been in place and now that it is I hope everyone’s going to think about it … I don’t think it is going to change the game, I think it is still going to be a physical game. There will still be some good hits but those hits, direct to the head are careless and there is no need for it and I am just happy that there is a rule in place now.”
Ultimately, Bergeron said, it is up to the players to do the right thing on the ice.
“I think in between the players we need to be responsible, we need to think about the actions before we do it,” Bergeron said. “Kids are watching, it’s something important but first and foremost it is the players.”
|Bruins wary of Thrashers||03.22.10 at 1:42 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Question: Where the heck did the Thrashers come from?
All of a sudden the hockey team from Atlanta is a point behind the Bruins for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a chance to jump Boston if it can win on home ice Tuesday night. This from a team that just about everybody had counted out after they traded one of the best goal scorers in the league in the form of Ilya Kovalchuk to the Devils on Feb. 4.
“Well they picked up some pretty good players along the way,” coach Claude Julien said. “[Clark] Macarthur from Buffalo and obviously in the New Jersey deal they got a pretty good defenseman out of it (Johnny Oduya) who I think is underrated. They have got a pretty good team, they are getting good goaltender right now and I thin they are pretty confident. It is a good challenge for us tomorrow … we know that when we play well and how we can, we are capable of beating any team.”
After losing five our of six to start the month of March, the Thrashers have caught fire of late with four straight wins over Phoenix, Buffalo, Ottawa and Philadelphia. One could say that the Trashers wins over the Flyers and Senators were favors to the Bruins (both teams are three points ahead of Boston with 79 points) but it is a paradox that fans in the Hub would preferably not explore — have a team behind them get hot and take points from the teams ahead only to come and steal their playoff spot.
The win over the Rangers was good for the psyche of the Bruins. Their practice on Monday morning was lively and boisterous, which has not always been the case at Ristuccia in 2010. That being said, New York is not exactly a team burning down the barn.
“Atlanta is more dangerous because Atlanta is playing good,” Tim Thomas said. “New York is just hanging in there and Atlanta has been charging from behind. I think Atlanta will be the bigger test. It is always in our hands we just got to get timely goals like we did against New York and try to keep them off the board as much as possible.”
The Bruins looked like a much different team on Sunday against the Rangers than they did last Thursday in the grudge match verse the Penguins. The mood around the team was quite different from game to game whereas Boston seemed a little tight with all the scrutiny around the Pittsburgh game that was not as present against New York.
“I think Pittsburgh was a little bit of a wake up call,” Johnny Boychuk said. “You got to come out and play. You can’t take any day off especially since we are battling for the playoffs. Last night everybody came to play and we battled and stood up for each other. We just wanted it. That was the difference between both games.”
Thomas admitted that the flu bug was a problem on Thursday and Boychuk said that it had a tough 24-hour effect on a bunch of members of the team.
“We knew they were both important games and we came up big in one and not in the other,” Thomas said. “We had a lot of guys sick against Pittsburgh. You hate to say that plays into it, but it does. Let’s face it, Pittsburgh and New York are two different teams.”
— Patrice Bergeron is going out of his way to get in touch with Matt Brown, the Norwood High hockey player who broke his neck in a hockey game in January. Brown is in Atlanta at the Shepard Center for Rehabilitation undergoing treatment.
“I have been through similar stuff and I know it is tough to sometimes stay positive,” Bergeron said. “You get frustrated. It is something that I want to share with him and I am excited to go see him, him and his family. We prepared a little bag of stuff to remind him about Boston a little bit. Some movies, some stuff different professional teams in Boston, some clam chowder and stuff like that. I hope he is going to like it and it is going to be fun to first meet him and see how he is doing.”
Here is the practice participation by sweater color:
White — Milan Lucic, Miroslav Satan, Vladimir Sobotka
Goaltenders — Tuukka Rask, Tim Thomas
|Bruins soar over Flyers||03.11.10 at 9:31 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins are chasing the Flyers in the playoff standings and did themselves a big favor on Thursday night by breaking down Philadelphia for a 5-1 win at the Wachovia Center. Tuukka Rask got the start for the Bruins and earned his 15th victory with 31 of saves. Michael Leighton started for the Flyers and allowed four goals on 25 shots and left the game in the second period in favor of Brian Boucher.
Boston used a three-goal second period to separate themselves from the Flyers. With the score tied at one, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi got together at 4:37. Bergeron took a feed off the wall from defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and flipped the puck to Recchi rushing close to Leighton on the left wing. Leighton went down, Recchi went high and it was 2-1 Boston. Bergeron then made it 3-1 by returning a puck to the net after a Matt Hunwick shot from the point that bounced off Leighton’s chest. The fourth came courtesy of David Krejci who was the recipent of a good string of passes from Blake Wheeler to Michael Ryder to Krejci in front of the net who turn, hesitated and beat Leighton at 11:16 for the three-goal advantage.
Boston forward Blake Wheeler got Boston on the board to lead off the scoring in the first period when he took a feed from center David Krejci on a 3-on-2 break at 13:15. Wheeler side-stepped defender Lukas Krajicek and deposited a backhander past Leighton for the goal advantage.
The Flyers tied it on the power play early in the second period (Seidenberg — boarding) when Jeff Carter hit a one-timer from the dot that Rask did not have much a chance on to tie it before the Bruins broke out.
Marco Sturm scored a goal in the third period to account for the final score.
Miroslav Satan did not play for the Bruins with what has been reported as as groin injury. Captain Zdeno Chara returned to the lineup after missing one game with a lower body injury.
Patrice Bergeron — It would be much easier to just give the Bergeron’s whole line a single, large star for the week and be done with it. Bergeron had a goal and an assist to continue his hot streak with two goals and two assists in the last two games.
David Krejci — Krejci set up the first goal with a hustle play and score the fourth with good presence in front of the net and looks like he may be finally rounding into form the Bruins have been expecting all year.
Blake Wheeler — The ying to Krejci’s yang on the night also had a goal and an assist to help spur the Bruins effort.
Turning Point — The Bruins do not see a lot of two-goal leads these days. On Tuesday they had three separate one-goal leads and eventually blew every one of them and then the game. Not so on Thursday against the Flyers. The third goal of the night gave the Bruins a lead they could be comfortable with. Hunwick hit a slap shot from the left point that got tied up in front of the net and popped onto the stick of Bergeron who flipped it back at Leighton and in.
Key Play — Two-goal leads? How about three-goal leads? The Bruins have not scored more than three goals in a game since they had five against Tampa Bay before the Olympic break. Boston has spent a lot of practice time in the last few months working on creating goals in front of the net through deflections, rebounds and overall aggressive play in the crease. Krejci did just that when he took a pass from Ryder and skated around Leighton for the fourth goal of the game.
|Second period summary: Bruins-Flyers||at 8:40 pm ET|
The pattern continues …
Or does it?
The Flyers did not waste anytime mounting their comeback from a goal back. Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg went to the box 40 seconds into the second period for boarding. The ensuing faceoff came in Boston’s zone and Flyers’ sharp shooter Jeff Carter found the puck on the left circle for a one-timer that beat Tuukka Rask at :44.
The Bruins went back up, just like they did numerous times against Toronto on Tuesday. Patrice Bergeron found Mark Recchi closing in on Michael Leighton from the left wing on the rush. Leighton went down for the shot, Recchi went up and it was 2-1 at 4:37.
This is where the pattern breaks.
Whereas in against the Maple Leafs the Bruins kept on letting Toronto come back, the Bruins are burying Leighton and the Flyers heading into the third. The lead burgeoned from one to three by the 11:16 mark when David Krejci got his second point of the night after a feed from Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder.
Really, the equation has looked simple. Get in front of Leighton and try to make a play. The third goal was a rebound put back by Patrice Bergeron off a heavy shot from the point by Matt Hunwick at 10:30. Krejci’s goal was a matter of sitting in front of Leighton, getting the puck, waiting a half-second to let Leighton get himself out of position and depositing the puck to the scoring bank.
The game heads to the third with a 4-1 score in Boston’s favor.
Shots through second period (total):
Bruins — 14 (27)
Flyers -16 (23)
|Bruins cannot hold leads, fall to Maple Leafs||03.09.10 at 9:42 pm ET|
Summary — Without two of their biggest stars the Bruins struggled to put the Maple Leafs away on Tuesday and ultimately fell to Toronto 4-3 in overtime. Nikolai Kulemin had the game-winner for the Leafs with 49-seconds left in the extra frame. Tim Thomas started for the Bruins and took the decision with 26 saves. The Leafs went with Jonas Gustavsson who was shaky but effective in stopping 26 of shots in the winning effort.
Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara was scratched for the game with a lower body injury. Center Marc Savard missed his first game after sustaining a grade two concussion after a hit from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on Sunday.
Mark Recchi scored his 13th goal of the year in the first period when he caught the rebound off a Dennis Seidenberg shot from the point and banged it back into the net with Gustavsson out of position to the left of the crease. The Bruins killed three penalties in the period (one a 50-second 5-on-3) to stymy the Leafs chances heading into the second period.
The Leafs tied it in the middle of the second when Wayne Primeau found himself on an odd-man rush and beat Thomas five hole for Toronto’s first strike of the game. Boston went back ahead with on the power play during a two-man advantage when Dennis Wideman hit a slap shot from the point that deflected off Recchi’s stick straight on to that of Marco Sturm who banged it passed Gustavsson to make it 2-1 at the 13:49.
Once again, it would not last.
The Leafs Carl Gunnarsson broke back with his second goal of the season on a shot from the top of the circle that deflected off a Bruins’ player to make its way through Thomas to send send the game to the third tied at two.
The back and forth theme continued in the third. Patrice Bergeron scored a go-ahead goal on a rebound early in the period only to watch the Leafs come back when Luca Caputi swept a bouncing puck passed Thomas at 7:13. It was the third time in the game the Bruins went ahead by a goal only to have the Leafs tie it.
Mark Recchi — The veteran forward had a goal and two assists to help pace the Bruins.
Luke Schenn — The Leafs defenseman picked up two assists to give him 10 for the season.
Marco Sturm — Sturm scored his team-high 20th of the season and added an assist. It is the seventh time in his career that Sturm has registered a 20-goal season.
Turning Point — Caputi battled in the crease with Thomas and Boston defenseman Mark Stuart for a loose puck seven minutes into the third period. Thomas could not corral the bouncing puck and Stuart was a step to slow in trying to clear it and Caputi swept back into the play to push it passed Thomas and tie the game at three.
Key Play — Toronto center Mikhail Grabovski raced down the left wing in overtime and had enough time and space to pick out Kulemin on a parallel rush down the center towards Thomas. Grabovski made a good pass, Kulemin took a step to his left and beat Thomas for the game winner.