|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘I think everybody wants [fighting] in the game’||12.04.13 at 9:49 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday for his weekly discussion, as the B’s prepare for a Thursday night game in Montreal against the Canadiens.
Thornton said players who join the Bruins should know how heated this rivalry can be before stepping onto the ice.
“You are expected to, but it probably took a game or three for me to actually really understand it,” he said. “Now I fully embrace it.”
Added Thornton: “You just get an appreciation for the deep-rooted history of hatred for each other. Being in that building and then coming into our building, there’s an energy level that you don’t really know about until you’re involved in it. I’m excited for our new guys to actually get a taste of it here.”
Despite the nastiness that sometimes has surrounded the rivalry, Thornton said he feels comfortable mingling with the locals while in the city.
“They’re very knowledgeable fans up there. They’re very passionate, obviously,” he said. “For the most part, they’re hockey fans. Even if they don’t like us, there might be some chirping and stuff, but no [more than that].”
There has been a movement to curtail fighting in hockey, but Thornton said he does not believe it will be banned from the game while he is playing.
“I think they want it in the game. I think everybody wants it in the game,” Thornton said. “But they’re kind of at a stage now with all the [concussion] stuff going on that the league’s been put in a position that they have to cover their own [butts] about it. I think that’s the biggest reason that you feel this sort of push towards I guess it being phased out a little. But I think it’s more about covering their own [butts] than anything else.”
|Reilly Smith is just trying to ‘keep the ball rolling’||11.23.13 at 8:22 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien looks on the ice and sees the skill of Reilly Smith. Then he has to remind himself and others that he is just 22 years of age.
On Saturday, he saw a sure-fire sign that Smith is fully capable of handling the load at the NHL level. With 6:29 left in the second period of a 1-1 game, Smith broke in on Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward and had the puck on his backhand. Earlier in the season, Smith’s eyes might have gotten too big and he might have felt the pressure to rush the shot. But not Saturday. He waited.
Smith took a pass from Carl Soderberg in the low slot between the circles, skated across the crease and flipped the puck just hard enough that Ward couldn’t control it, providing the go-ahead goal, already the fourth of the season with his new team.
“Kells [Chris Kelly] was tied up in front so he kind of set up a good pick, I didn’t want to force it right through and I thought I might have a little more net going to my backhand,” Smith explained. “Cam [Ward] still almost had it so I was kind of lucky that it snuck through.”
Does Saturday’s patience on the goal show he’s getting more comfortable?
“Absolutely, just little things like that where probably a few weeks or a month ago I probably wouldn’t have done that, I probably would have tried to get it on net right away,” Smith said. “With every day, you build confidence.
“Every day gets a little bit easier. When you stay with the same linemates, for a few weeks or a month, everyday gets easier, chemistry builds every day so just take it day by day but I think everything is going pretty well right now, just try to keep the ball rolling.”
With Kelly and Carl Soderberg on the third line, the young winger acquired along with Loui Eriksson from Dallas for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley is looking more and more ready to fit in on a regular basis.
“They just feel better more and more about playing together,” Julien said. “They’re reading off of each other extremely well; I said that earlier in an interview about how they’re just reading off each other, they’re anticipating, so they’re always on top of the puck. We still have some lines right now that are kind of waiting to see what the puck carrier is going to do with it and you hope that with time we can get that same level as that third line is right now of anticipating well. They know exactly where they want to go and where they’re going to put the puck so they’re on top of it all the time and the last few games they’ve had a lot of chances and a lot of offensive zone time.
“Again, we’re talking about a young player here. I keep saying it all the time, we always seem to overlook his age and he’s a young player. And the way I think he’s handled himself in pressure situations and handling the puck a little bit better and holding onto it. And at the same time, I thought tonight he shot the puck a little bit more; he had a little bit better of a nose for the net and before, looking to make plays versus shooting the puck. So he’s really turned a corner and is really coming along well for a young player.”
It’s not just Julien either. Smith is winning over veteran teammates at the same time.
“I didn’t know much about him before he got traded,” David Krejci said. “I know he’s a great player, he’s still young, but he’s playing like a ten year vet [veteran]. It’s good to see him doing well; hopefully he can keep it up.”
|Bruins’ preseason third line finally takes shape||11.05.13 at 1:02 pm ET|
While it’s probably the 50th thing of the list of interesting things about Tuesday night’s Bruins-Stars game, the Bruins will use the third line they were expecting to have when the season began.
In the last week of training camp, the Bruins began using a line of Chris Kelly between Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith in anticipation of using the trio as their third line when the season began. However, an ankle injury to Soderberg forced him to miss the start of the season, and though Soderberg has played the last seven games, different circumstances have kept the trio from playing together.
The B’s opened the season with a third line of Kelly between Jordan Caron and Smith, with Smith being promoted to the second line for the third period of the fourth game of the season and stayed their the last nine games.
The recent recall of Ryan Spooner also gave the third line a different look, and through 13 games, the Bruins have used five different third lines: Kelly between Caron and Smith, Kelly between Brad Marchand and Caron, Kelly between Soderberg and Marchand, Kelly between Soderberg and Caron and Spooner between Kelly and Soderberg.
Now, with Loui Eriksson set to return from his concussion and Marchand remaining on the second line, the B’s will finally use what they had initially believed to be their third line.
“You’re trying to get some stability with your lines — a little bit of it anyways,” Claude Julien said. “That’s not always easy – you need guys to play well in their positions and their spots. So that line was good for us I thought in the preseason and it gave us some hope that our third line would be a little bit more productive than it had been the year before. So we’ll see where that takes us and reuniting those three guys.”
|Bruins review: Good week for Reilly Smith, Shawn Thornton’s hands||10.20.13 at 6:00 am ET|
Reviewing the week that was in Bruins land.
Welcome to a new thing we’re going to do here each Sunday on the Big Bad Blog. As the name and italicized words suggest, it will take a look back at the week for the Bruins, who’s playing well, who isn’t and what’s going on in Providence.
The Bruins won two of three this week and stand third in the Atlantic Division with 10 points, two behind the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. Both Detroit and Toronto have played nine games to Boston’s seven, however.
Red Wings beat Bruins, 3-2, on 10/14 (recap)
Bruins beat Panthers, 3-2, on 10/17 (recap)
Tim Thomas told his side of the story, putting some blame on the Bruins
David Krejci said that nobody knew what was going on with Thomas two years ago
We tried to make sense of all that
Tuukka Rask shut out the Lightning on 10/19 (recap)
Carl Soderberg returned to the lineup
IT WAS A GOOD WEEK FOR…
Reilly Smith: Though he wasn’t even a sidebar when the Bruins swing their trade with the Stars, Smith was a player Peter Chiarelli specifically wanted, and the 22-year-old has shown why. Smith has gone from competing for a third-line job to playing on the second-line and power play. His first goal as a Bruin was the game-winner Thursday against Thomas, and he had the primary assist on the team’s third goal Saturday with a nice pass to Patrice Bergeron. Only issue thus far: He passes too much.
Carl Soderberg: Soderberg made his season debut Saturday and looked good. He skated well and showed what could be top-six skill. The question is whether Jordan Caron will sit for long.
Shawn Thornton’s hands: After fighting in three of the first four games of the season, Thornton kept his gloves on this week. He nearly scored in Thursday’s win over the Panthers off a nice pass from Paille in front, but was stopped by Thomas.
Daniel Paille: The Merlot Line got its first goal of the season Thursday thanks to Paille. Thornton got the second on Saturday.
The Bruins’ penalty kill: The Bruins were a perfect 5-for-5 on the PK for the week.
IT WAS A BAD WEEK FOR…
Brad Marchand: A potential 30-goal-scorer, Marchand spent the entire week on the third line as he tries to get out of his season-opening funk. He was particularly bad Thursday against the Panthers, turning lots of pucks over in what’s been an ugly trend this season. Perhaps Soderberg’s presence on the third line will help him, as the line produced a goal Saturday.
Zdeno Chara: Two 5-on-5 goals were scored this week that could have been prevented by Chara. Pavel Datsyuk went around him to set up Henrik Zetterberg‘s goal Monday, while Chara couldn’t get the puck out in front prior to Jesse Winchester‘s goal.
Jarome Iginla’s goal total: Notice the phrasing there, as plain old “Jarome Iginla” wouldn’t be accurate. Iginla was good in all zones Saturday and provided the screen in front on Adam McQuaid’s second-period goal, but seven games without is a goal is something few saw coming from the future Hall-of-Famer.
MEANWHILE, IN PROVIDENCE…
The P-Bruins lost both of their games this week. Malcolm Subban allowed four goals in a 5-2 loss to Springfield Friday night, while Niklas Svedberg gave up four of his own on Saturday in a 5-4 loss to Manchester. Matt Fraser had a goal in each game, while the rest of the scoring came from Craig Cunningham, Seth Griffith, Justin Florek and Kevan Miller.
Fraser, who scored more goals in the AHL than anybody over the past two seasons, is tied with Nick Johnson for the team lead with three goals through six games this season. Ryan Spooner has two goals and three assists for five points but has a minus-2 rating.
|Reilly Smith making quick progress with Bruins||10.16.13 at 6:02 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — When the Bruins made their blockbuster trade with the Stars on July 4, Loui Eriksson appeared to be the only top-six forward they were getting in return. Five games into the season, Reilly Smith would beg to differ.
While the move is probably viewed more as a Brad Marchand demotion than a Smith promotion, Claude Julien has moved Marchand to the third line and Smith up to Patrice Bergeron‘s line in the third period Saturday against Columbus, giving the 22-year-old a lot more responsibility in the process. Julien has trusted Smith with some important minutes the last two games, most notably when Smith and Bergeron’s line played against Pavel Datsyuk‘s line on Monday. The lines were unchanged Wednesday, meaning you can expect Smith to stick on the second line for at least another game.
“He’s a young player, and what I see in this player is he seems to be getting better all the time with confidence,” Julien said Wednesday of Smith. “You see his skill level is pretty good. His hockey sense and his vision is also pretty good. I think we’re going to discover that this guy’s only going to get better as he progresses and gets more experience.
“I think he’s got the ability to possibly be a guy that can move up there, whether it’s permanently or at times. He’s got that skill level. No matter what, he’s a good player and I like the way he plays. He’s conscientious and very reliable for a player that has more or less limited experience in this league.”
The move also reunites Smith with Eriksson, with whom he played last season in Dallas, as the two were linemates for a couple of weeks last season. In fact, Eriksson assisted Smith’s first career goal. Smith returned the favor Saturday in Columbus, when, in his first period playing with him this season, he assisted Eriksson’s first goal as a Bruin.
Smith recalls his time as Eriksson’s linemate last season fondly, saying that Eriksson’s a very easy linemate to have. It hasn’t been perfect so far — Smith should have broken up Datsyuk’s pass to Henrik Zetterberg on Detroit’s first goal Saturday, but the offensive results have been, as Eriksson has scored in both games. Though the Bruins probably don’t have long-term designs of Marchand being a third-line player, the Smith-Eriksson combo is at least something they know can work for them.
“They know each other well,” Julien said. “It’s obvious that they’ve been together before and that they know each other a little bit better than we know them.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins’ power play ‘a work in progress’||10.09.13 at 2:11 pm ET|
NESN’s Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ hot start to the season.
Boston posted a pair of home victories last week. On Thursday, the Bruins beat the Lightning, 3-1, then they took down the Red Wings, 4-1.
One area Boston needed improving on following its Stanley Cup runner-up season is the power play. The Bruins ranked dead last in the NHL in power-play goals last season with 18. But they’ve already notched two man-advantage goals through two games.
“It’s still a work in progress, and will be for a while, they’ll continue to experiment, and continue to try [Zdeno] Chara at the front of the net with one power-play unit,” Brickley said. “You’ve got different weapons this year, [Jarome] Iginla’s a great finisher with the man advantage, [Loui] Eriksson’s a real good power-play guy.”
Aside from the power play, Boston also must fill the void left by playmakers Tyler Seguin, who was traded to Dallas, and Nathan Horton, signed as a free agent by Columbus.
The Bruins hope Eriksson, who came over from the Stars for Seguin, can fill that void. Eriksson has not entered the point column yet as a Bruin.
“He came in as the centerpiece of that deal, with Seguin going the other way down to Dallas, and I think the expectations are that he’s going to be a 70-point guy, and he’s off to a slow start as far as the offense is concerned,” Brickley said. “I think the reason why is he, too, is playing with a little bit of a conservative attitude, trying to fit in with the system.
“But he had a couple of really good scoring opportunities last game.”
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning and discussed the heartbreak of last season’s Stanley Cup finals, the optimism he has for this year and his relationship with Red Sox players.
Boston began the regular season 2-0 with a pair of victories at home last week. The Bruins beat the Lightning 3-1 last Thursday, then the Red Wings 4-1 last Saturday.
“It’s only been two games, but you can tell the personalities in the room, that guys are built not to take a night off,” Thornton said. “We might not be at our best every night, but I think that guys get in there wanting to show up and play every night. That might sound like it’s easy to do and you should do it, but not everyone’s built like that. But I think that the guys we brought in, and the guys who were already here, and the guys we kept are definitely built that way.”
Looking back at last season’s Cup finals, the Bruins blew a 2-1 lead with just over a minute remaining in the third period of Game 6 vs. the Blackhawks on June 24, a loss that still stings for Thornton.
“No, it’ll never be over,” Thornton said when asked when the hangover from the postseason ends. “I’ll be thinking about it for years to come, but it’s more of a motivator than a hangover, you get that close and it stings.”
Less than three months removed from its gut-wrenching loss to Chicago, Boston made significant changes to its lineup. Forwards Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton are gone, replaced by former Penguin Jerome Iginla and former Star Loui Eriksson, while youngsters Reilly Smith — acquired via trade from Dallas along with Erikkson this offseason — and Jordan Caron have taken on elevated roles.
“We’ve got a group of guys that have been around for seven or eight years, and we know how important that is to make people feel welcome. So, coming into our room, you’d probably have to ask them, but I’d like to think that it’s a fairly easy transition, you come in with open arms,” said Thornton.
The NHL implemented a new rule regarding fighting this season. Any player who removes his helmet before the start of a fight will receive a two-minute penalty in addition to the five-minute penalty for fighting.
“I’m not a fan, I’m really not,” said Thornton, Boston’s enforcer. “Obviously I’m a little biased, but it’s seven minutes for fighting now if a guy has a visor because everyone’s going to take their helmet off. And I think when you take the helmet off you take away from the player safety that everyone’s preaching, so I think it’s counterproductive.”
The Red Sox beat the Rays on Tuesday night and moved on to the ALCS where they’ll face either the Tigers or Athletics.
“We’re big supporters of the Sox, pretty much any local sports team I guess,” Thornton said. “You get to meet a lot of those guys when you’re out and about in town so there’s a lot of crossover, they support us, we support them. I’ve been here for seven years, kind of turned me from a Jays fan to a Sox fans, I’m not going to lie.”