|Pre-game notes: Shawn Thornton says cool it with the 1972 comparisons||03.03.11 at 1:18 pm ET|
No time for celebration, as the Bruins, fresh off a 6-0-0 road trip, are back at the Garden for a huge game with the Lightning on Thursday. The teams are tied with 81 points apiece through 63 games, with the B’s holding the tie-breaker for second place given that they’ve won less games via shootout.
It will be Tim Thomas between the pipes, as he’ll put his 28-8-6 record on the line after last playing Saturday night in Vancouver. Tuukka Rask started the Bruins’ last two, earning victories over the Oilers and Senators.
Thomas is 2-0-0 in two starts against Tampa Bay, allowing four goals with a .944 save percentage.
While the Bruins have won their last six, the Lightning have gone 3-2-1 in the same span. They lost a 2-1 contest to the red-hot Devils on Wednesday.
Here are some pre-game notes:
– Comparisons are nice, but even Roger Clemens would say people are beating references to 1972’s perfect six-game road trip with a dead horse.
“I don’t look at it at all,” Shawn Thornton said after the morning skate. “I honestly don’t. It’s purely a coincidence as far as I’m concerned.
“We’ve got a six game thing going here, and it doesn’t matter about anything else. We’re just trying to get seven in a row and then eight in a row. We’ll take it one at time here.”
“He got examined yesterday by our doctors and things are going extremely well for him,” Julien said. “We hope to see him back on the ice the beginning of next week. That could be as early as Sunday if things keep going well.”
– No Vincent Lecavalier for the Lightning. He’s out with a mid-body injury on which the Lightning haven’t elaborated much.
– The three new guys in Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly will play in the Garden as Bruins for the first time Thursday. Kaberle and Kelly have played five games for the B’s since being acquired via trade, while Peverley has four under his belt.
While Bruins fans will welcome all three to the Garden, the focus will likely be on Kaberle, who was the big fish of trade season. Neither of the newcomers have lost a game as a member of the Bruins, and after years of limited team success in Toronto, that’s something Kaberle welcomes.
“My first six years I played in the playoffs every year. The last five, it wasn’t there. It’s tough to always answer the questions to the media of ‘why not,'” Kaberle said after the morning skate. “Hopefully we’ll have a good rest of the season and prepare for the playoffs.”
Kaberle said he is feeling more and more comfortable as he familiarizes himself with the Bruins way.
“I feel good. Obviously it’s a great team. Every line’s got something on the ice, and everybody can score. It’s nice to see that, and with two goalies behind us, we feel pretty comfortable.”
– Kaberle is undoubtedly the biggest name the team added when the moves were made, but Kelly and Peverley are fitting in very nicely on the third line. Both were among the leagues better faceoff men at the time they were acquired, and having both taking draws and killing penalties is something Julien likes to see.
“Right now, you’ve got to be extremely pleased with first of all [Peverley’s] faceoffs, how dominant he’s been on draws,” Julien said. “With that line you’ve got a guy taking him on the strong side, and Kelly, a lefty and a righty, so you’ve got to be comfortable with that situation.”
“At the same time I think both Kelly and Peverley have seemed to have built some pretty quick chemistry there on the penalty kill as well. They seem to read off each other extremely well.”
– Thornton doesn’t want the new guys’ ability to come in and contribute immediately to go unnoticed. All three players have wound up on the scoring sheet since joining the B’s.
“They’re a big part of it too. These guys came in and stepped in seamlessly,” Thornton said. “It’s been a really easy transition for us and them.”
– How about this one from the stat truck? Over the last 10 games, Tyler Seguin has more goals than Steven Stamkos. Take that, development.
Well, not exactly. By Stamkos’ standards, the Tampa Bay star is in a slump as far as goals go. He has just two over the last 10 games (Seguin has three), but continues to lead the league with 41. Seguin has no points over his last four games.
|Having made their moves, B’s making noise on the ice, stay quiet on deadline day||03.01.11 at 2:44 am ET|
It was a generally quiet couple of days leading up the NHL trade deadline throughout the league, but with the way the Bruins have been going, they may not have been a team that needed much more via trade.
The B’s had their biggest day in that department 10 days prior to the deadline. Seemingly in an effort to both upgrade the roster quickly and avoid taking chances at the last second, general manager Peter Chiarelli made a couple of big deals on Feb. 18, reeling in Tomas Kaberle from Toronto and a package of Rich Peverley and (less notably) Boris Valabik from Atlanta. With the team having already acquired center Chris Kelly from the Senators earlier in that week, Chiarelli hinted at the post-Kaberle trade press conference that he was done making big deals.
With less than $1 million in cap space, you probably should have seen that coming.
Even so, the trade deadline passed, and the B’s moves leading up to it consisted of the following:
– Signing Shane Hnidy
– Trading Brian McGrattan and Sean Zimmerman to the Ducks for David Laliberte and Stefan Chaput, a deal that involved only AHL players.
– Trading Jeff Penner and Mikko Lehtonen‘s rights to the Wild for Swedish goaltender Anton Khudobin.
Not exactly moves that scream “difference-maker,” huh? Well, they don’t have to when they also scream “the team’s already made its moves.”
With Kaberle, Peverley, and Kelly already in the fold, the Bruins were able to use the days leading up to the deadline as a bonding experience while on a Canadian road-trip. While other teams were adding pieces, the Bruins’ new pieces were already contributing. Boston has won five straight, including all four since Kaberle came on board.
While much of the discussion following the trade deadline is on how a team with improvements in tow will fare in the offseason, the moves or lack of moves also mean big things for the stretch run of the regular season. It seems that’s another area in which the B’s might be aided. Already with a six-point lead over the Canadiens in the division despite having played one game less than the Habs this season, the fact that the Canadiens were also quiet over the last couple of days is also encouraging for the B’s. The Habs made their biggest deal when they brought in James Wisniewski from the Islanders earlier in the season, and their lack of activity at the deadline is something the B’s will take.
|Bruins improve to 5-0-0 on road trip with 3-2 win over Edmonton||02.27.11 at 10:48 pm ET|
The Bruins gave up a season-low 17 shots en route to a 3-2 win in Edmonton on Sunday night. The B’s improved to 5-0-0 on their current road trip, which wraps up Tuesday in Ottawa, giving them their first five-game winning streak of the season.
Ales Hemsky put the Oilers on the board first when he fired a rebound inside the left post just 1:05 into the game. The Bruins picked up the pace as the first period went on, though, and ended up taking a 2-1 lead into the break.
Michael Ryder registered Boston’s first goal with 4:30 left in the first when he collected a rebound in the slot and waited out goalie Devan Dubnyk (37 saves) before lifting a shot under the crossbar.
Rich Peverley netted his first goal as a Bruin to make it 3-1 with 52 seconds left in the second. He took a pass from Ryder in the lower left circle and cut across the front of the net before beating Dubnyk.
The Oilers made things interesting 3:14 into the third when Gilbert Brule beat Tuukka Rask (15 saves) glove-side with a slapper from the left half-wall. But the Bruins were able to hang on down the stretch and get the win.
Rask improved to 8-11-1 on the season, and he is now 5-0-0 in his last five road games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
-Horton continued his recent stretch of solid play with his third goal in the last four games. He also dropped the gloves with Theo Peckham in the first period and took the Oiler down with a hard right. Horton once again was a presence in the offensive zone all night, as he tied for the team lead with five shots on goal.
-After being held scoreless in its first two games together, the new third line of Ryder, Peverley and Chris Kelly broke out with two goals Sunday night. Ryder netted the Bruins’ first goal and then set up Peverley for what proved to be the game-winner. The trio combined for a plus-4 rating on the night.
-The Bruins got off to a bit of a slow start against the worst team in the NHL, but they really turned up the heat in the final 10 minutes of the first. They ended up outshooting the Oilers, 15-5, in the opening frame and netted the two late goals to head into the locker room with the lead. The momentum carried over into the second, during which the B’s outshot Edmonton, 17-7.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
-The Bruins opened the game with a bad first couple shifts and paid for it when Hemsky scored a little more than a minute in. It seemed like they were just standing around waiting for something to happen. As mentioned above, that certainly changed as the period went on.
-Despite completely dominating in terms of shots and puck possession, the Bruins struggled to slam the door shut and let Edmonton hang around. The Oilers managed to pull within one early in the third on Brule’s goal and had a few chances to tie it up down the stretch. Dubnyk was the biggest reason the score was as close as it was, as he played great for the Oilers, but the B’s still should’ve won by a more convincing margin.
-The fourth line of Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin and Shawn Thornton combined for a minus-3 rating and just four shots on goal. Campbell and Seguin also combined for five of the Bruins’ 15 turnovers in the game.
|Shawn Thornton on D&H: Tomas Kaberle ‘one of the best defensemen in the league’||02.21.11 at 12:55 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, while on his way to the airport for the Bruins’ road trip that starts with a game Tuesday in Calgary, checked in with the Dale & Holley show Monday and talked about the team’s recent roster changes. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Asked if there was any tension around the team last week, Thornton acknowledged that there was. “There always is this time of year,” he said. “The media obviously reports it. I think it gets worse these days, with ‘I’m not bad-mouthing anybody, but ‘ countless blogs and stuff that nobody really has to [be accountable]. You can just throw stuff against the wall and hope it sticks. There’s a lot of names being thrown around nowadays. I think everybody’s hoping that they get one right. So, yeah, there’s a little bit of tension. I think the best thing to do is not try to pay too much attention to it.”
Thornton had high praise for new Bruins Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. “I’ve known Tomas for a long time,” he said. “We were in the minors together for a little bit, actually. The way he moves the puck and the way he sees the ice when he has the puck ‘ even without it ‘ he’s such a smart player. He’s one of the best defensemen in the league, and I think we’re very, very fortunate to have him.”
Of Kelly, Thornton said: “He can skate, he can shoot, he competes really hard. I think he’s a good pickup for us.”
Thornton said the adjustment period for the new Bruins shouldn’t be long, especially considering their age and the fact that Peverley comes from Atlanta, where first-year Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay is using a style similar to the one used when Ramsay was an assistant in Boston the past three seasons. “I think it should be pretty seamless, being that they’re older guys,” Thornton said. “Kelly, Peverly, Kaberle ‘ they’ve all been around the league a bunch. ‘¦ The fact that Kelly’s been in the league for six, seven years makes it a little easier than being maybe 20 or 21.”
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas challenged Canadiens netminder Carey Price to a fight when the teams met in Boston earlier this month. While it didn’t go so well for Thomas, Thornton was impressed with the effort and strategy. “His game plan was pretty good for a guy fighting somebody a lot bigger,” Thornton said. “I’ve actually used his game plan before. But when you miss your grab on the way in, sometimes it goes all out the window. And it did for him. But you know what? He did a good job. He protected himself well.
“He’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t much of a fight. But that was the loudest I’ve heard the Garden I think in a long time, when those two squared off. It was pretty fun.”
|The cult-hero appeal of Rich Peverley||02.20.11 at 1:49 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Many are excited to see what newly acquired Bruins forward Rich Peverley brings to the Bruins on the ice, but what they may not know is that the once undrafted free agent was a bit of a cult hero in Atlanta.
Fans in Atlanta dressed in overalls (and the one in this video even furthered his game of dress-up) to support the 28-year-old, referring to themselves as the “Peverley Hillbillies.” Check out the video below (courtesy of the Thrashers’ official website) for a better look.
As for whether the guy featured in this video could potentially follow Peverley to Boston, the forward laughed.
“No,” he said. “I don’t think so.”
Looks like Bruins die-hards may have a new task.
|Rich Peverley: ‘I want to get better’||at 1:33 pm ET|
Newly acquired Bruins forward Rich Peverley put on a Bruins sweater for the first time Sunday as he practiced with his teammates at Ristuccia Arena. After the skate, he reflected on the trade.
“It was a bit of a surprise, but [Thrashers coach] Craig Ramsey told me this was a team that has a chance to win,” Peverley said. “It’s a big thrill to be a part of a really historic organization and come into a team that has a chance to go pretty far in the playoffs.”
Coach Claude Julien said after practice that he will try the 28-year-old at wing on a line centered by Chris Kelly with Michael Ryder on the other wing. Peverley said he is more comfortable at center, but that he has no problem playing anywhere.
“That’s for the coach to decide. I could play either or,” Peverley said. “I’ve been playing center most of my career. I can play the wing, it’s not a problem. I played it in Nashville and Atlanta. Wherever he wants me to fit in, I’ll try to do that. There’s a lot of good offensive players here with tremendous talent, so I’m just going to try to work and create some chemistry with somebody.”
Peverley had 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points with Atlanta prior to the trade. With the way he spoke of his season to this point, he figures to hold higher hopes for his days in Boston.
“I was OK,” he said. “To be honest, it was kind of an up and down year. I wasn’t too pleased with my overall production on both ends of the rink. I was kind of hoping that the team would do a little bit better, but I’ve moved on and I’m glad to be here now.
“You always want to get better. You never want to cap yourself or put a ceiling [on your production]. I want to get better, and I’m looking at this as an opportunity to get better. Hopefully I can build on past years.”
Peverley wore No. 47 in Atlanta, but will wear No. 49 with the Bruins. He said he did not approach Steven Kampfer about the rookie potentially giving him his number.
“I’m not going to try to steal any numbers from anybody,” Peverley said. “I’m the new guy coming in. I just want to fit in.”
|Sunday scrimmage for Bruins||at 11:54 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Tomas Kaberle isn’t in town, but those packing the stands at Ristuccia in Wilmington get to see Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley for the first time. While that’s all fine and dandy, the real question of how these lines will shake out remains unanswered. Rather than wearing their traditional color-coded practice sweaters to indicate lines, the B’s wore black and white uniforms for a skate that included a scrimmage.
Unfortunately the scrimmage was of 4-on-4 variety, so the lines for the B’s with Peverley in the mix remain unknown. Check back for more following practice.