|First period summary: Bruins-Maple Leafs||03.04.10 at 7:51 pm ET|
The game is tied 1-1 after 20 minutes with the Bruins holding a 9-8 shots lead.
The Bruins again came out with good energy in the first period and appeared to grab the lead 63 seconds into the game when Steve Begin came around the net behind J-S Giguere and centered a pass that went off Michael Ryder’s left skate.
After a review by the booth, it was deemed that Ryder kicked the puck into the net and the goal was disallowed..
But the Bruins kept up the pace and finally were rewarded when Miroslav Satan snapped a wrister from the left circle and beat Giguere five-hole at 9:36.
The Leafs regained some momentum when Viktor Stalberg beat Tim Thomas to the short side with just under five minutes left..
Thomas, who hasn’t started a game of any kind since Feb. 2 against Washington, redeemed himself big-time when he stoned Phil Kessel in the final 30 seconds of the period on a rush up the right boards.
|Kesselmania over – we can get on with our lives||12.11.09 at 1:37 am ET|
Even Claude Julien had to take notice of the TV-generated hype over Phil Kessel’s return to Boston twice in the last five days.
Yes, he was a terrifically talented player who could score and strike the fear of hockey gods into the opposition if given space on ice to wheel and deal.
But the Bruins knew full well how to contain No. 81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He had two shots in 16 minutes in Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Boston. On Thursday, just five days later, Kessel’s line wasn’ t much prettier.
He had 22 shifts in over 18 minutes with just two shots, no goals and two face-off wins as the Bruins won again, 5-2. Not exactly what Toronto coach Ron Wilson had in mind but just what Claude Julien and the Bruins drew up in practice this week when discussing Kessel.
|Kessel: ‘there was pressure’||12.05.09 at 10:30 pm ET|
Here is Phil Kessel in his postgame chat with reporters following his two-shot, -3 performance against the Bruins in Boston’s 7-2 win.
Some other notable quotes from No. 81:
“There was pressure but that was probably the worst game I’ve played in a while. I’ve got to be better.” Kessel, with two shots, -3 rating and 16:28 of ice time.
“Yeah, you hear it but it doesn’t get to you. I just didn’t have a good game tonight and I have to be better.” Kessel on the boos and the chants of ‘Kessel, Kessel’ all night.
“You figure you come back and that’s what’s going to happen. It’s part of the game. Obviously, I didn’t play very well.” Kessel on the boos.
But maybe it was Toronto head coach Ron Wilson who put the game in perspective: ‘We stunk and we’ll move on. We were horrific defensively in Columbus. Joey [MacDonald] had a great game. And tonight, the same mistakes, the Bruins took advantage. The game was over halfway through the second period, so unfortunately we couldn’t do anything right.’
Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman was injured and is a question mark for the rematch with Toronto on Thursday in Boston.
“Hopefully minor injury. Call it upper body. Hopefully ready for Thursday,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien on Wideman injury.
Julien admitted he was fired up in his pregame speech to the team after a 5-1 debacle in Montreal 24 hours earlier.
“It would have been totally unacceptable for us to come out and not be ready to play.” Julien said. “We had to redeem ourselves and it was fortunate we had back-to-back games to do that.”
‘I guess, fired up, we needed that,” added Patrice Bergeron. “We needed that big effort we all knew before this game that we needed to bounce back. Last night was embarrassing and especially in front of our fans today we needed a big effort and we did it.’
|Bruins continue to come up short on offense||11.03.09 at 11:26 pm ET|
The timing is simply too coated in irony to ignore.
The Bruins dropped another game to the Detroit Red Wings by a 2-0 score and lost two straight games for the first time this season in the process, and haven’t scored a goal in exactly 132:58 and counting. Once again they completely whiffed with an 0-for-3 on the power play — which drops them to 0-for-their-last-17 power play chances — and couldn’t muster up any notable offense over the course of the game aside from a pair of early Marco Sturm opportunities and a few post-worthy bids.
The B’s are averaging 1.85 goals per game in the seven contests since Savard landed on long term injured reserve with a broken left foot, and that isn’t going to win a lot of hockey games.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, Phil Kessel played his first game for the Maple Leafs coming off shoulder surgery and fired a career-high 10 shots on net while playing 23:50 of ice time in the overtime loss — a good two minutes more than the ice time logged for any member of the Bruins in their listless loss to the Wings. Kessel was buzzing around the net all night and showing the kind of dynamic offensive presence that Boston is sorely lacking. The Black and Gold have to work ridiculously hard for their offense right now, and things aren’t getting any better.
The B’s are playing solid enough defense (exactly 2 goals per game in their last seven), getting pretty decent goaltending and playing with effort and grit in most instances, but they simply have no finish to their game. David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron can both give the Bruins quality play at the center spot, but they don’t have wingers capable of finishing with anything approaching a flourish. Bergeron led the B’s with four shots attempted on net Tuesday night, and the Black and Gold simply don’t have that one game-changing force able to lift them out of the goal-scoring doldrums.
YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND, NOTHING’S EVER GONNA BRING YOU DOWN: Got to give it Kessel. He didn’t score and finished a minus-1 for the game, but he squeezed off a game-high 10 shots and showed more offensive dominance in one game than many of the Boston forwards have all season. He showed some toughness shaking off a Matthias Ohland hit in the first period that bloodied his lip, and gave Toronto fans a preview of the explosive skill set the 22-year-old brought to the table for three seasons with the Spoked B. Give Shawn Thornton full marks for skating the entire game as if his pants were on fire. The fourth-line tough guy finished with a game-high nine hits, but he couldn’t spark a genuinely lifeless Bruins bunch.
GOAT HORNS: The power play might be taking permanent residence in this spot soon enough. The B’s have put up a pungent 0-for-17 on the PP, and went 0-for-3 with two cruddy shots on goal for the entire night. The B’s are 1-for-20 on the PP without Marc Savard and sit at a miserable 11.5 percent success rate. That’s 6-for-52 on the season, and a 2-for-44 mark without counting their four power play goals against the Carolina Hurricanes in the second game of the season.
|Kessel set to suit up for the Maple Leafs||at 1:06 pm ET|
It’s clear now that it was first and foremost all about the money for Phil Kessel, and secondly about some measure of respect he didn’t feel from the organization while constantly hearing his name bandied about in trade rumors through three strangely turbulent years with the Boston Bruins.
Phil the Thrill got his wish to escape from Boston and the Spoked B way of doing things, and the 22-year-old scorer savant informed reporters Tuesday afternoon that he will indeed play his first game for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. Kessel will be riding shotgun with veteran center Matt Stajan and Jason Blake. That’s not exactly the same as skating alongside Marc Savard, but it’s the best that Toronto can muster at this point.
It’s exactly six months since Kessel went under the knife for rotator cuff and labrum surgery in his left shoulder, and the sniper returned a solid 7-10 days prior to previous expectations and timetables.
It’s not the miraculous early return that allowed cetner David Krejci to play Bruins’ Opening Night after undergoing surgery on his right hip, but it also doesn’t sound like a slow, deliberate recovery by a player viewed by those in and around the Boston organization as being “soft” in terms of focus, work ethic and play on the ice. The arrows were released against the 36-goal scorer last summer when it became apparent the big money in Toronto was too good to pass up, but there’s one thing that isn’t under dispute about Kessel’s game: the kid can score.
Kessel is the age of many players either playing or just leaving the college hockey ranks in the United States, and — as one scout said about Kessel when things were heating up — “he’s just a young pup” in terms of hockey development. Former BU defenseman and current New York Rangers rookie Matt Gilroy is one of the heralded youngsters in the league this season, and he is three years older than Kessel. That’s something that seems to escape most people in the Kessel argument. There is a high ceiling for a player that finished 12th in the NHL in goals scorer last season, but the B’s have gambled that No. 81 will never reach a consistent ceiling of 40-50 goals per season.
He won’t be a savior this year for a Maple Leafs team that already appears to be running headlong into a lost season, and it’s not likely he’ll light up the Tampa Bay Lightning in his first game back since the Stanley Cup semi-finals against the Carolina Hurricanes last May.
But Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was never able to properly replace Kessel’s playmaking abilities, and supply the team with the simple threat of throwing a natural goal-scorer on the ice. The B’s have a collection of nice 20-30 goal-scorers, but they don’t have a single skater that strikes fear into a goaltender with their combination of speed and pinpoint shooting.
Perhaps the treasure trove of draft picks shuffled off to Boston in exchange for Kessel will bring another elite scorer into the B’s fold beginning next season, but right now Boston isn’t able to absorb Kessel’s defection with heightened play from Marco Sturm, Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler among others — and that’s been underscored even more with the loss of Marc Savard and Milan Lucic to injury.
The Bruins have scored 10 goals in their last five games and allowed 10 goals in their last five games, and have been mired dead smack dab in the middle for the entire season. Good enough to avoid any long losing streaks, but just middling enough that they can’t string even two wins together through the first 13 games. That will only get worse should — as unlikely as it may seem — Kessel burst off to a fast offensive start with the Leafs despite missing all of training camp and the first month of the season.
Unfair as it might be, Kessel’s gain would only stir up the masses to begin chanting that familiar New England refrain: “Why can’t we get players like that?”
|B’s searching for scoring against the Rags||11.01.09 at 4:54 pm ET|
Did you hear the one about the Bruins power play?
No, there’s no punchline. It’s just that Boston’s toothless man advantage is one of the biggest jokes currently running in the Eastern Conference. The Black and Gold power play unit squandered five different opportunities against a feisty New York Rangers defense and All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and the B’s fell by a 1-0 score to the Blueshirts Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
The Bruins outshot the Rags 14-6 in the third period and 29-23 over the course of 60 minutes, and outhit the Rangers by a 41-28 margin in a game where the Black and Gold clearly paid the price. The biggest difference between the two teams were glaring, however.
Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik provided the only goal of the game in the final minutes of the second period on a pure goal-scorer’s strike from the high slot, and the B’s just couldn’t capitalize on five frittered away power play chances. The biggest disappointment for the team is simply how well they’re playing in just about every other area of the game, but they just don’t have any elite goal-scorers.
Everything earned offensively is going to through gallons of sweat and hard work in front of the net. Goals simply aren’t going to sometimes come easily as they did last season when the B’s were the second-best offense in the NHL. The Bruins now sit 28th in the NHL with a power play that’s scoring only 12.2 percent of the time, and taking out their blowout against the Carolina Hurricanes makes things only more gruesome in these post-Halloween days.
It’s almost fitting that Boston’s scoring fits are coming in the same week that Phil Kessel is expected to make his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and give their woebegone franchise the scoring transfusion that the B’s seem to badly need after the season’s first month. Patrice Bergeron and Blake Wheeler share the B’s lead in goal-scoring with four apiece, and Boston needs to do much better if they hope to escape a .500 fate that seems all too realistic 13 games into the season.
YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND, NOTHING’S EVER GONNA KEEP YOU DOWN:Brad Marchand played a physical spark plug game for the Bruins, and finished with five shots on net and three registered hits in 17:18 of action. His open ice flying shoulder hit on fellow rookie Michael DelZotto was exactly what the B’s could use more of. Mark Recchi was also a strong presence around the net in the third period when Boston was trying to force overtime and secure a point.
GOAT HORNS:Ummm, power play anyone? No offense, but no offense. This is becoming a serious flaw within the hockey team, and one has to hope it’s not a fatal flaw for this season.
|Cherry on Kessel: ‘I feel sorry for this kid when he comes back’||10.19.09 at 9:30 am ET|
There was a little bit of Bruins talk during Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner segment on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada last weekend, and it centered on Phil Kessel and Marc Savard. Grapes talked a bit about the growing groundswell of pressure loading up on the 21-year-old Kessel with the Toronto Maple Leafs struggling badly out of the gate. With each loss the 2010 first-round pick traded to the B’s for Kessel gets higher in value, and the expectations increase on a young player coming back from shoulder surgery with a mid-November return date.
Cherry also tossed a few attaboys at Savard while decrying his Olympic snub by Team Canada, and painted some other invitees are skating around “with minus-15’s” already this season. Good stuff as always from Dandy Don. Here’s the video courtesy of youtube with the Bruins-related stuff coming up around the 3:15 mark.