|Shawn Thornton ‘can’t believe’ Tuukka Rask not a Vezina finalist||05.08.13 at 1:15 pm ET|
TORONTO — The three finalists for the Vezina Trophy were revealed Wednesday and the Bruins were surprised to hear that Tuukka Rask was not one of them.
Rask, who finished third in the league with a .929 save percentage and was tied for first with five shutouts in 36 games this season, was beat out by favorite Sergei Bobrovsky of the Blue Jackets as well as San Jose’s Antti Niemi and Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Rask’s 2.00 goals-against average ranked sixth in the NHL this season, while he played seven games less than both Niemi and Lundqvist.
While the Bruins say they’re focused more on the postseason than any individual awards, some admitted to being confused as to why Rask wasn’t a finalist for the award, which is voted on by the league’s general managers.
“I can’t believe he’s not nominated,” Shawn Thornton said. “I don’t know what the reason is. It’s the same as three years ago, when he started with us. If I’m not mistaken, he had the best save percentage, the best goals against in the league and he wasn’t even a question mark for the Calder or the Vezina.”
Rask’s numbers during the regular season are very similar to his stats from the aforementioned 2009-10 season, when, as Thornton pointed out, his 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage were tops in the league. Thornton thought he deserved more recognition then just like he thinks he deserves it now, and though he said that Rask “definitely” flies under the radar because Boston is known for being such a strong defensive team, he still thinks Rask’s numbers tell a lot of the story of Boston’s success. He isn’t alone in that line of thinking, either.
“From the first game this year, Tuukka has been the guy to go. He’s won some games for us in the season,” David Krejci said. “He’s been great for us in the playoffs. He had 47 shots against the last game and he kept us in the game last game and the first two games as well. It’s great to have somebody back there that you can rely on. He’s been so good for us the whole year. I just hope that he’s going to keep playing the way he is.”
Rask’s backup, Anton Khudobin, said he was surprised that Rask wasn’t a finalist either, saying the 26-year-old “put up good numbers and had a lot of shutouts.” While he understands that people may associate the Bruins as being a great defensive team because of players like Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, he doesn’t think that’s a reason for people to discount numbers like Rask’s.
“I don’t think any goalie has an easy job in this league,” Khudobin said. “I don’t think so. Of course we have great defensemen, there’s no doubt. Plus it’s a team sport, to win something, every piece has to be good.”
Thornton and Claude Julien both said that they don’t think Rask will lose too much sleep over being excluded, a quality they like about their netminder.
“I don’t know what the reason is,” he said. “I’m just glad we have him on our team. I know that the type of person he is, he doesn’t need the recognition. He’s going to continue to play no matter what, but it’s unfortunate because both years he’s been our starter he’s been unbelievable.”
On a less surprising note, Chara was not one of the top three vote-getters from writers for the Norris Trophy. The three finalists for the award are P.K. Subban, Ryan Suter and Kris Letang.
|Fourth line getting into postseason form for Bruins||04.26.13 at 12:55 am ET|
It’s getting to be the time of year when tight games are often decided by players like Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. As the Bruins wrapped up home ice in the first round of the playoffs with a 2-0 win over the Lightning on Thursday, their Merlot Line came through with a goal that solidified the victory, playing the way they’ll likely need to when the postseason begins.
Paille became a 10-goal scorer for the first time since 2009-10 at 13:31 of the second. Campbell found him open at the top of the right circle and sent the puck right into his wheelhouse, setting up Paille to fire a one-timer past Tampa Bay goalie Anders Lindback.
Paille had three shots and another that was blocked on Thursday, as many as any Bruin. Although they weren’t all over the scoresheet, the fourth line was one of the Bruins’ most energetic, creating chances with an aggressive forecheck and consistently maintaining possession in the Lightning’s zone.
‘We know, for our line, if we don’t score it’s not a big deal, but the main goal for us is to create as much energy as we can and it felt like we did that today,’ Paille said. ‘With [Thornton] taking the puck from a couple of guys, and [Campbell] as well, you know, I thought we all contributed in a positive way today, even if we didn’t score.’
Entering Thursday’s game, the trio had a combined 16 goals on the year. They’re not on the ice to score on every shift, but the Bruins will welcome any offensive contributions from them, especially with just two games left in the regular season. And although they haven’t been exempt from the Bruins’ recent line-shuffling, Paille acknowledged that the three of them do always seem to wind up back together.
‘We know we’re not going to play a ton of minutes, but we’re happy with who we play with,’ Paille said. ‘And I think that’s a big thing going on the last few years that we’ve been here.’
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he thought that line did its job on Thursday, overcoming some issues it had earlier in the year.
‘There’s some confidence there — you know, [Campbell] making that pass and Paille not hesitating, great shot, and the goaltender didn’t have much time to get across,’ Julien said. ‘So overall making the right plays and keeping pucks in down low and battling. And [Thornton], the same thing. Not only that, but they’ve had some challenges at times this year where they weren’t making good line changes and leaving the next line … hanging. But they were sharp in all those areas tonight, so I thought they were good.’
|Brad Marchand: ‘I was definitely fighting back tears’||04.18.13 at 11:19 am ET|
Bergeron hadn’t played since April 2, a span of six games. Marchand missed the last two games since being elbowed by Anton Volchenkov of the Devils.
Neither player figured in the scoring but both had a positive signs of bouncing back on a night the city of Boston looked to bounce back.
“They both played well and they both played hard,” their coach Claude Julien said after Boston’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Sabres. “You know, it’s unfortunate they didn’t get rewarded with anything tonight, but they had some great opportunities. And you’ve got to give their goaltender credit; he played extremely well for them tonight and allowed them to stay in that 2-1 game for a long time. I think had there been another goaltender it could have been a totally different story.”
Marchand, like everyone in the building, wasn’t thinking about himself but rather being part of something bigger during the national anthem.
Never were the emotions higher than during the national anthem for Marchand.
“It was extremely emotional. I was definitely fighting back tears,” he said. “To see again how everyone was reacting to that video, it obviously touched not only people who were here tonight but everyone at home, too, watching. It’s something that we’ll never forget. For everyone to show their respect and obviously give their thoughts and prayers for everyone, it’s great that everyone is kind of coming together at this time and helping each other out.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Karl Alzner on bully tactics: Bruins would never let that happen to Tyler Seguin||03.16.13 at 4:57 pm ET|
Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner says the Bruins were dirty and cheap in double teaming on a fight against Matt Hendricks in the third period of Boston’s 4-1 win over the Capitals Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Hendricks was cornered by Adam McQuaid and Shawn Thornton and eventually fought McQuaid at center ice.
“That’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen in my life, the fact that they let those guys corner a guy like that. For all they know, Henny has a broken hand and can’t fight. If we had done that to [Tyler] Seguin with [John] Erskine, you think they would’ve let that happen? Questionable, very questionable.”
Can the Capitals do anything to respond?
“Go after one of their guys, guess that the only thing you can do,” Alzner said. “But we’re probably not going to do that because we’re not that kind of team but that’s the only thing you can do.”
There’s a back story to the Hendricks’ fight.
Hendricks got into it with Nathan Horton late in the second period, when Horton took a stick the forehead, resulting in several stitches. That angered the mild-mannered but physically imposing Horton.
“I was yelling at him, like three times,” Horton said. “I yelled at him and he didn’t look at me. Then he just kind of sprinted at me and caught me with my gloves [down]. Maybe he did hear me. I just didn’t think he did because he wasn’t looking at me.”
As for the third period, when Thornton and McQuaid cornered him, “Nobody’s going to want to go with Thorty,” Horton said. “He’s pretty scary, but we’ve got a tough team. Everybody’s got each other’s back.”
|Business-like: Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask lead B’s to bounce-back win over Panthers||03.14.13 at 9:26 pm ET|
It was another milestone night at the Garden, this time for the Bruins. With the win, Claude Julien surpassed Milt Schmidt for second on the club’s all-time coaching wins list with victory No. 246. Art Ross (1924-1945) is far ahead in first, with 361 career wins for the Bruins. Now in his sixth season as Boston’s coach, Julien improved his record to 246-136-53 in 435 games.
The win improved the Bruins to 18-4-3 on the season and drew them to within one point of idle Montreal (40 points) for first place in the Eastern Conference standings, with two games in hand on the Canadiens.
Chara put the Bruins on top with a slap shot from the left point after a fluky bounce off the boards. The blast beat former Boston College goalie Scott Clemmensen and gave Boston a 1-0 lead 3:55 into the game.
The Bruins got three big saves from Rask in the first period, including a glove save on Jonathan Huberdeau midway through the period that protected Boston’s one-goal advantage.
Bergeron made it 2-0 when he took a perfect feed from Brad Marchand and one-timed the puck into the net vacated by Clemmensen on the right post. The Bruins appeared ready to take advantage of an injury-depleted Panthers team that has given up an NHL-worst 103 goals this season. But instead, the Bruins could not take advantage of several chances in the final two periods, including open nets for Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.
The Bruins gave one of the goals back by allowing a rare shorthanded goal by Florida’s Shawn Matthias at 3:10 of the second period. Matthias outworked Dougie Hamilton for the loose puck deep in the Boston zone and the Florida forward beat Rask for the unassisted goal. It was the first short-handed goal allowed by the Bruins this season in 74 power plays.
With momentum swinging against them, the Bruins’ NHL-leading penalty-killing unit killed off a pair of Florida power plays to hold onto the lead.
The Bruins finally finished a chance, with the help of a lucky bounce midway through the final period. Shawn Thornton centered a pass from a bad angle from the right circle. The puck bounced off the skate of Florida defenseman Colby Robak and back to the slot. Thornton circled behind the net and collected the loose puck and put it in the net for his third goal of the season at 12:43 of the third period.
Bergeron scored his second of the game and eighth of the season on an empty-net tally with 57.2 seconds left for the final score of the night. The Bruins are off Friday before hosting the Capitals at 1 p.m at the Garden in the first of a Bruins-Celtics day-night doubleheader on Causeway Street.
For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.
|Shawn Thornton mum on healthy scratch||03.03.13 at 11:51 am ET|
Shawn Thornton was a surprise healthy scratch Saturday when Claude Julien sat him for the first time since last postseason. Wanting to get Jay Pandolfo in the lineup for the sake of shuffling his bottom-six forwards to team Daniel Paille with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, Julien made the move to sit the veteran enforcer.
Speaking to WEEI.com Sunday morning, Thornton seemed less than thrilled with the healthy scratch. Asked Sunday if he was caught off guard by the benching, Thornton was uncharacteristically brief.
“It’s a tough question to answer,” Thornton said. “Actually I’m not going to answer it.”
Thornton did say the scratch was not explained to him, and that he was unsure of whether he would be back in the lineup Sunday against the Canadiens. Julien said that he’ll make that decision prior to the game, and said he doesn’t have to explain healthy scratches to players (for what it’s worth, Tyler Seguin said in 2011 that he was never given a reason for the team scratching him late in the season and into the postseason).
“You don’t want to baby players,” Julien said. “A lot of them, like Shawn, understand exactly what’s going on. He knows and he’s always had a great attitude. I told him just before we went out there when we got to the rink that I was contemplating maybe making a change, and I wasn’t sure and I was going to decide after the warmup. As long as he had a heads up instead of catching a guy like that, a veteran, at the last minute and telling them, ‘By the way you’re out.’ I do those kind of things, but I don’t have to to go into explanations. I don’t have time for that. Our guys know how we operate by now and there’s never been an issue with that.”
Julien had said entering the season that he was going to be quicker with roster decisions in the 48-game schedule, one in which wins are more important. Julien showed that by shaking up the top-six forwards last month against Montreal, and he showed it again Saturday when he wanted three lines capable of matching up with Tampa’s top-six forwards. He doesn’t feel he’s ruffled any feathers in the process.
“There’s no issues with Shawn,” Julien said. “He’s always been a team-first guy. That wasn’t an issue. We move guys around and we’re still team tough. We have other guys that can step up, as you saw yesterday. Those are things, in a tight schedule, you’re probably going to see more and more as we move forward here.”
|Physically, Bruins have little to prove vs. Sabres||02.10.13 at 10:38 am ET|
Sunday night marks the Bruins’ rematch with the wicked John Scott. The B’s can finally right the wrong that was done to them and serve justice to the terrible-spirited man who had the gall to fight someone willing to fight him.
In case you can’t sense the sarcasm, Scott has nothing to answer for. He doesn’t have to answer to Shawn Thornton, and he certainly doesn’t have to answer to Zdeno Chara. Maybe he will, but the line of thinking that the Bruins were wronged and failed to stand up for Thornton after Scott pulverized him on Jan. 31 makes absolutely zero sense. Both fighters consented and it didn’t work for Thornton against the 6-foot-8, 270-pounder.
This wasn’t Matt Cooke elbowing Marc Savard, nor was it Milan Lucic trucking Ryan Miller. Thornton suffered a concussion in the fight, but there was no foul play. Nobody needs to stand up for anyone because no wrong was done.
‘I don’t even know where that [expletive] comes from,’ Thornton said this week. ‘Listen, Zee’s our best player and arguably the best defenseman in the league. There’s no reason for him to have to fight my battles. I’ve done this for a long time and it’s on me.
‘Listen, if I knocked him out I wasn’t expecting somebody to come grab me the next shift. It’s part of it. We’re both men and it happens.’
None of the Sabres have anything to answer for anything with the exception of Drew Stafford, who elbowed Dougie Hamilton in the face in the third period with the game tied at four goals apiece. That infraction went unpunished, so perhaps Stafford, who has never had more than one fight in a season, will be challenged at some point Sunday night.
As for Scott, it’s understandable how Bruins fans can watch one of their beloved bruisers (and one who always has the back of his teammates) get clobbered and want some sort of vengeance, but that just isn’t the way things work when the fights are clean. If winning a fight meant having to fight another guy or two from the other team, the role of an enforcer would be absolutely unbearable.
Just look at Thornton’s linemate, Gregory Campbell. He isn’t the biggest guy in the world (6-foot-flat, 199 pounds), and he’s lost to guys bigger than him (Cody McCormick beat him pretty good in 2011). Yet Campbell has never thought after losing a fight that somebody else should stand up for him. These guys have pride, and you’d have to think the last thing they’d want is for someone to go out and fight someone because they couldn’t get the job done themselves.
‘I’ll be the first one to stick up for any of my players, but when you’re fighting, it’s your own battle, so to speak,’ Campbell said. ‘If I lose a fight, I don’t expect anybody else to handle my battles. On the other side of that, it’s not that we’re not supportive of Thorty — everybody is — but he would say the same thing. A fight is a fight and that’s pretty much it.’
The B’s should be focused on team defense Sunday, as that Jan. 31 contest resulted in a 7-4 loss in which Chara played his worst game of the season and Tuukka Rask was left dealing with odd man rush after odd man rush.
You can expect a physical game Sunday night between the Bruins and Sabres. Buffalo went out and got Scott and Steve Ott so they could hang with the Bruins in that regard, but the B’s don’t have anything to prove as far as that goes. They’re still one of the toughest teams in the league, and Buffalo has a ways to go before they can say the same.
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