|Bruins not satisfied with win streak as long as they’re out of top-eight||11.16.11 at 4:11 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins’ 3-7-0 start to the season brought many words to mind: surprising, unacceptable, even the overused “hangover.”
Based on history, what should have come to mind would be more along the lines of “screwed.”
The Bruins found themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference when they had just six points through 10 games. If Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets were to be played two weeks ago, it would have been a matchup of cellar-dwellars. Instead, the B’s have rattled off six straight wins that’s seen balanced scoring from all four lines.
“We’re very confident in the group we have,” Shawn Thornton said Wednesday. “We dug ourselves a bit of a hole, yes, but we knew we were right there. I think the guys did a good job of just sticking with it and working through it to get to where we need to be.”
The win-streak has brought the Bruins all the way up to ninth in the conference, just one point behind the Senators for eighth with three games in hand. Year after year, good teams get off to bad starts and are never able to recover due to the difficulty of climbing the standings with three-point games. After all, over two teams in the last two years who weren’t in the top eight on Nov. 1 ended up making the playoffs.
There are two ways of looking at what the Bruins have done here. One thing to take from it is that it’s proof that moving up in this league isn’t easy. The Bruins have been hotter than any team in the league, and the fact that it hasn’t catapulted them into the top eight shows that there’s still work to be done.
“Ninth still doesn’t put us in a playoff position. Our goal is to keep climbing, and you see how tough it is. We’ve won six games in a row and we’re still not in a playoff position,” Gregory Campbell said. “It’s a feather in our cap to have done what we’ve done, but for us to have so many losses early on, we can ill afford to get comfortable and rest on our streak so far.”
After the Bruins play the Blue Jackets and Islanders on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, they will have one of their biggest two-game stretches of the young season. Monday will see them square off with the Habs in Montreal and Wednesday will take them to Buffalo. The B’s currently trail the Sabres by four points in the Northeast division. If the B’s can grab four easy points against the struggling Blue Jackets and Islanders, they could be sitting pretty to move up even further and not only vie for a top-eight spot, but for the division lead.
“We’re just trying to maintain our intensity, our solid play structurally, and continue climbing,” Campbell said. “We have two huge division games coming up next week, so in order to set ourselves up to make another jump [in the standings], we have to win these next two games.”
For the streaking Bruins, there doesn’t seem to be a hint of satisfaction. They’ve made it hard on their opponents over the last six contests, but anybody in their dressing room will tell you the goal isn’t to win six in a row. The goal to correct the bizarro standings of two weeks ago, and get their names right around the top.
“For us, we’ve been down below too long,” Claude Julien said. “It’s been a month and a half. The season’s been going, and we’re still in ninth of today, not in a playoff spot. We feel we’re a much better team than that. I think that there’s an opportunity here in this next week and a half to really, I guess, move up in the standings as long as we can continue to win games and play as well as we have.
“It’s one of those things where we don’t want to be relying on other teams to do our job. It’s up to us to continue to play well and win hockey games. I think if we can keep playing the way we have lately, this next week and a half is going to really be telling for our hockey club.”
Added Campbell: “No matter who you are or what team you are, how good you are, this league is full of good teams,” Campbell said. “Things change quickly, as you’ve seen. We have to stay focused on the task here and set ourselves up. We’re in a good spot now, but teams ahead of us keep winning. It’s up to us to do the same.”
|Andrew Ference on D&C: ‘We needed a little shakeup’||10.21.11 at 10:47 am ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning for his weekly appearance. After the Bruins’ dominating 6-2 victory over the Maple Leafs Thursday night, Ference talked about Boston’s line changes and improvement on the power play.
“It’s one of those things, the power play was actually working pretty good, we were getting the puck around, we just weren’t putting it in,” Ference said. “We were working towards larger things on the power play and we felt that it was doing a lot of good things, so it was a matter of time.”
The Bruins scored twice on the power play against Toronto, with Ference assisting on one of those goals. In addition to better play from special teams, the Bruins also benefited from some line changes made by coach Claude Julien in recent days. The top line of Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin was particularly effective against the Maple Leafs. Ference said that the line changes helped the Bruins get back to focusing on the simple parts of the game.
“I think it helped, it energized guys I think a bit, just to give them a little kick in the pants,” Ference said. “I think when you change linemates, you get out of your comfort zone a bit. You really just concentrate on doing simple things, like skating hard, getting to the net, throwing pucks at the net.
‘ª”It was a good move. We needed a little shakeup. Guys were a little bit stale with the old lines and you can always go back to them, but I think just letting guys concentrate on the simple things really helps.”‘¬
Ference also talked about emotions running high in the Bruins’ loss to the Hurricanes on Tuesday and forward Shawn Thornton‘s value to the team.
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
On Boston’s penalty-filled loss to the Hurricanes: “I think that game, the emotion was a byproduct of the frustration. When our team’s good, the emotion’s just a part of our game. It’s not forced, it’s just there. I think that I mentioned after the game, the game of hockey within its rules allows us to be very physical, allows us to be emotional without hitting the box all night. When our team’s playing well, sure there are fights here and there, but we’re just a physical team all the time. We’re always hitting, always forechecking, always giving teams no room. … In a game where there’s a bunch of fights and a bunch of penalties and it’s just kind of chaotic with the physical stuff, that’s going to happen once in a while but that stuff’s definitely not something that we define ourselves as.”
|Hangover? It’s only a movie to the Bruins as they’re ready to defend title||10.04.11 at 5:59 pm ET|
As the players spoke one after another at media day Tuesday, they all sounded like they knew it was coming. How are the Bruins going to deal with wearing the crown in 2011?
Some teams have handled it very well, like the 2009 Red Wings, who made it back to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals the next year before losing to Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on home ice. Some others have had a lot more difficulty. The 2010 Cup champs – the Blackhawks – had to back in to the playoffs last year on the last day when the Stars lost to Minnesota.
The Blackhawks seemed doomed in the first round before battling back from 3-0 down, only to lose in OT in Game 7 to Vancouver. Those close to the team publicly expressed a fatigue in the first two months of the season as the Blackhawks tried to get their legs back under them.
So, how are the Bruins prepared to handle success starting Thursday night against the Flyers?
“I don’t know about all that hangover stuff or whatever, I just know we are ready for the season to begin,” chirped Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton, who won his first Cup with the Ducks in 2007. “I literally don’t know. This is my second one. All I know, when you get that first one, all you want to do is win another one. You win two, all you want is to do is win three.
“Listen, there’ll be times in the this season where we’ll be down and I’m sure you guys [media] will jump all over the fact because it’s something to write about. There’s ups and downs throughout a whole season and as long as we keep it even keel and continue to have a steady climb, getting ready for wherever we’re going to go, I think that’s the most important thing. That’s what we were so good at last year, not letting the highs get too high and the lows get too low.”
|Shawn Thornton speaks out against those ‘exploiting’ deaths of Rick Rypien, Wade Belak||09.12.11 at 11:37 am ET|
BOLTON — Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said Monday at the team’s annual golf tournament that he doesn’t care much for the connections some have made between hits to the head (including those sustained in fights) and the suicides of NHL players Rick Rypien and Wade Belak, as well as the death — an accidental overdose — of Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard.
“It kind of [expletive] pisses me off that people take this opportunity to try and exploit a certain part of the game,” Thornton said. “I think those are very, very sad instances, but I don’t think taking it as an opportunity to exploit part of the game is the way to go. Remember the people, the men they were, not what they did for a living.”
Both Rypien and Belak had been battling depression prior to their deaths. Belak was recently retired, but was found dead late last month after hanging himself. Since then, the risks of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (something players suffering multiple blows to the head are subject to) has been brought up by those wondering whether there could be a connection between blows to the head and eventual depression.
Last season, Thornton led the Bruins with 122 penalty minutes.
|Shawn Thornton says he doesn’t need an ‘A’||08.08.11 at 3:13 pm ET|
MIDDLETON — On Friday, we kicked around the discussion of which Bruin should receive the second “A” now that alternate captain Mark Recchi has retired. While the opinion here is that it should go to defenseman Andrew Ference, the Stanley Cup champions are deep with candidates.
The two other most deserving candidates in this scribe’s opinion are forwards Shawn Thornton and Milan Lucic. We asked Thornton about the idea of potentially wearing an “A” for the first time in his career prior to Monday’s “Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s” golf tournament at the Ferncroft Country Club, and his response seemingly echoed everything his reputation would suggest: that he doesn’t need anything extra on his jersey to be one of the most respected guys in the Bruins’ dressing room.
“It’s tough to talk about because I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t get talked to about that stuff, so if it happened to be me, the recognition or even the consideration for that is an honor in itself. I haven’t had one in the NHL ever, so it doesn’t stop you from doing your job.
“It’s tough to talk about,” he continued. “Would I like to have it? I guess everybody would, it’s an honor. Do I need it? No, probably not. Whatever the decision is, it will be for the best of the team. There’s a lot of leaders on the team. There’s a lot, a lot of leaders on the team and a lot of guys deserving of it.”
One thing that might prevent Thornton from getting the distinction is the fact that healthy scratches could keep him out of the lineup, as they did once Patrice Bergeron returned in the Eastern Conference finals. Still, Thornton’s selflessness and leadership should definitely have him in the discussion.
|Bruins year in review: Top rookie||06.22.11 at 3:09 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. So far, we’ve looked at the goal of the year, fight of the year and save of the year. Up today is the Bruins’ rookie of the year, a no-brainer for anyone who followed the championship season.
BRUINS’ TOP ROOKIE
Brad Marchand: 21 G, 20 A, 41 points (regular season); 11 G, 8 A, 19 points (postseason)
“I was impressed with with Marchy from the moment I saw him play. I obviously wasn’t too familiar with him, but having seen him early in training camp’¦ then just build his way up and keep getting better and better, to be honest with you, he was so important to our team. When we were successful, usually Marchy had a big game or played well.
“Playing with Marchy, I enjoyed it a lot’¦ He deserves everything that he’s gotten. He’s worked for it. He had the opportunity. He made the team and he started with us and worked for his ice time. Rightfully so, he’s an important part of this team. To even do what he did in the playoffs, that’s even more important, and says more about him as a player that he can step up in those big games.”
At the beginning of training camp, Tyler Seguin was a household name in Boston. He was perhaps the only Bruins rookie a Bostonian could pick out of the very lineup Seguin assured he had yet to crack. By the end of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run, people were talking about a few Boston rookies. Seguin’s goals got him the hype and Adam McQuaid‘s mullet got him the cult following and customized t-shirts from Andrew Ference, but no Bruins rookie came close to bringing it the way Brad Marchand did.
When the B’s opened the regular season in Prague, Marchand was a fourth-liner who got around 10 minutes of ice time. When the season ended, he had assisted the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and scored two of his own. When all was said and done, Marchand hoisted the Cup having scored 11 goals in the postseason, one behind David Krejci for the postseason lead. He worked his way from being a famed member of the Merlot Line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton to forming perhaps the team’s most consistent line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, and aside from missing time after being rocked on a beautiful P.K. Subban hip check in December, the 5-foot-9 Marchand looked invincible in the process.
The story of Marchand’s preseason confidence has been well-documented. He told both Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien that he would score 20 goals (the very number Milan Lucic was optimistically aiming for prior to the season) in his first full season. Chiarelli told him to think about what he was saying. While thinking may never be Marchand’s game, he certainly backed up his words by popping 21 in the regular season.
The downside with Marchand is that with the good, you must take the bad, but depending on how you look at it, the bad isn’t all that bad. He crosses the line often, whether it be with his on-ice actions or words. He was suspended for elbowing R.J. Umberger in the head, but at the end of the day he’s a far cry from a dirty player. He’s one of the Bruins who have been guilty of embellishment, but with Marchand, it’s nowhere near the point of some of the players the B’s saw in Montreal and Vancouver. If anyone wants to deem Marchand’s feistiness a problem, it’s a problem every team in the league would love to have. He’s a special type of player, and the B’s are fortunate to have someone who’s just as good in all three areas of the ice and at killing penalties as he is at getting under opponents’ skin and scoring goals.
Now, after a rookie year in which he became a hero in Boston, Marchand will get paid. A restricted free agent, Marchand couldn’t have asked for a better time to be due a raise, as it should be a big one. He had a salary cap hit of $821,667 last season and could now get upwards of $3 million.
Just a note before we get to the honorable mention section: While McQuaid was a far more mature player in his rookie campaign and provided far more stability than Seguin did (it’s an apples and oranges comparison anyway given the difference in age and position), the argument could be made that the B’s could have won the Stanley Cup without him. In this scribe’s opinion, the Bruins would not have won the Cup were it not for Tyler Seguin. The youngster may have singlehandedly changed the Eastern Conference finals with his performance in the second period of Game 2. As a result, if we had to make this thing a list, Seguin would be the runner up to Marchand.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tyler Seguin, Adam McQuaid
|Shawn Thornton on The Big Show: Bruins used Canucks’ comments as motivation||06.20.11 at 6:28 pm ET|
Bruins forward and two-time Stanley Cup winner Shawn Thornton joined The Big Show Monday to review the Stanley Cup finals and the entire Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, check out The Big Show audio on demand page.
Following Game 7, rookie forward Brad Marchand said that he hated the Canucks given how “cocky” they were throughout the series. Thornton wouldn’t use Marchand’s words, but he did share the same feelings.
‘No, I mean I don’t want to talk bad about them and be a sore winner, but I will say some of the comments that were made and kind of the way everyone had us dialed in,’ he said. ‘They were planning the parade on Monday and they hadn’t even won the game yet. Stuff like that motivates the other team. We did a good job of toeing the line and not letting anything get out into the open. Even though we were a confident bunch as a group we weren’t out there talking about it as much.’
Even though Thornton’s line, the fourth line did not score much during the playoff run, Thornton knew what their role was and how it changed from series to series.
‘Our line, when we played over a certain amount we did a good job getting the puck deep, and creating energy,’ he said. ‘That’s our role. In different series’ our line was used in different ways. The Montreal series not as much, they are run and gun, the Philadelphia series we were used a little more and Tampa not as much again because they are built a little different, but that Vancouver series the first couple games they came out and were really physical, so our line did the same thing and we wanted to push that and be physical.’
Thornton did not play in the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals, but was inserted into the lineup for Game 3.
‘Right before warm up I found out,’ Thornton said. ‘That was tough, I’m not going to lie. I thought he [Claude Julien] was going to make the change, but you are never 100 percent. I was ecstatic. I prepared like I was playing, but it’s different when you’re not sure. You’d rather know, but I guess it was a last minute decision and it worked out just fine.’
After going down dropping the first two games in Vancouver the Bruins knew that they weren’t out of it.
‘We knew we were in them, we were a goal away in each game,’ Thornton said. ‘We knew if we got back playing the way we needed to play we could win. We did a good job all year of not letting the highs get too high and the lows too low, and we did a really good job after that game of just focusing on the next game and the game after that. That was our main focus going into those games.’ Read the rest of this entry »
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