|Devils at Bruins preview, 11/15/10||11.15.10 at 5:14 pm ET|
Martin Brodeur did not participate in the Devils’ optional morning skate on Monday, but he is expected to get the start in net on Monday night when the Devils take on the Bruins. Tim Thomas was first off the ice in the Bruins’ morning skate, making a Brodeur-Thomas matchup likely. Thomas and the Bruins beat the Devils, 4-1, on Oct. 16 in New Jersey.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 2-4-1 in home games, and 2-3-1 at the Garden. They’ve scored just two goals over their last three home games, a span in which they have gone 0-2-1.
- The Devils are 4-5-0 on the road this season and 2-4-0 in their last six road games.
- Here’s one that hasn’t been repeated over and over: Shawn Thornton, at three goals this season, has just one less than $100 million man, Ilya Kovalchuk. Beat that dead horse!
- Monday night will be Claude Julien’s 499th career game. He’s coached the majority of them (260) for the Bruins.
- In three home starts this season, Thomas has allowed three goals: two on Saturday against the Senators, and one in the home opener. He is 2-1-0 at home, including a shutout vs. the Maple Leafs on Oct. 28.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- Expect a bit of line shuffling for the Bruins. The merlot line/energy line/Shawn-Thornton-has-three-goals line was tinkered with, and the tweaked result is now the third line. Michael Ryder replaces Thornton on the right wing, and the third line now appears to be Gregory Campbell between Brad Marchand and Ryder.
The move also allows Tyler Seguin to resume the role of the fourth line center, though Julien said Monday that he’s not afraid to use him late in games in which the team needs a goal given his natural ability. Here are what the lines could look like:
Lucic – Bergeron – Horton
Caron – Wheeler – Recchi
Marchand – Campbell – Ryder
Paille – Seguin – Thornton
Chara – Ference
Hunwick – Seidenberg
Stuart – McQuaid
The move, at face value at least, also makes things worse on Seguin given that he and Ryder had a very apparent chemistry on the ice, seemingly always connecting on gutsy passes.
- It is Military Appreciation Night here at the Garden. Both Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler have purchased $5,000 in tickets to the game, which will be given to troops. It is Stuart’s second straight year of buying tickets for the troops.
- Until the Bruins prove capable of winning at home, the attention is going to be on their play at the Garden. Nathan Horton, despite playing one of his best games in a Bruins uniform against St. Louis, hasn’t picked up a point in any of the B’s last four games at the Garden.
|Fourth line a source of energy for Bruins||10.23.10 at 1:53 pm ET|
If you think very highly of the Bruins’ fourth line after its most recent example of high-energy play on Thursday, you’re not alone. The combination of youngster Brad Marchand, newcomer Gregory Campbell and fan favorite Shawn Thornton has made for a line that has impressed many on the young season, including the guy who determines their minutes.
“That’s as good as I think we’ve seen our fourth line here in the years that I’ve been here as far as what they do, I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to start these guys,” Claude Julien said following Saturday’s game. “They’re reliable enough that if the other team puts their top line in, they know, and what’s good about them is that they don’t question what they’re going to do. They put pucks in deep and they’re going to work and they work hard and they seem to be in sync with the fore-check, but they seem to set the stage and the tempo for the game early on.”
The line can expect about 10 minutes of ice time a game, with Campbell and Marchand both seeing time on the penalty kill. Thornton and Campbell both have a plus-one rating, while Marchand’s is even. There’s a lot to like, and the members of the fourth line are taking pride in it.
“We work hard,” Gregory Campbell said following Saturday’s morning skate. “The coaching staff has given us a lot of confidence and that helps out a lot as a player. [They've] kind of expected us to do more than just be a responsible checking line. That’s something that we have to take pride in, to be an energy line and to be responsible and to be hard to play against. On the flip side of that, we have to try to create things, and that helps a lot when we have three good lines that are playing before us, and for us to go out there at key times in the game and provide that energy and wear the other teams down. It helps over the course of a game and the season.”
The players undoubtedly appreciate the minutes that they’ve been given each night. Marchand knows that if they are to continue getting as much ice time as they’ve gotten, they’ll need to prove capable of passing each test they face. Going against Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals’ top line on Thursday was the most recent example of them doing so, and perhaps a big reason for Julien’s postgame praise. Marchand hopes that as the games pile up, the fourth line continues to handle whichever line they’re up against.
“I think that the main thing as that we want to take advantage of the other teams’ fourth lines,” Marchand said on Saturday. “We just want to get it deep in the other team’s end and try to take as many pucks to the net as we can. We want to be defensive and be accountable in our end. It’s nice of [Julien] to trust us against other team’s top lines. We played against Ovechkin’s line there the other night, and I think we held our own, so it’s nice that they trust us and they know we’re accountable out there.”
|Brad Marchand and the ‘give it to Thornton’ Bruins offense||10.18.10 at 8:31 pm ET|
Sometimes it’s hard to argue with a player’s logic. Monday was not one of those days.
After going from player to player discussing how one prepares for a player like Alexander Ovechkin, a stop by Brad Marchand‘s locker in the Bruins’ dressing room brought about a most peculiar discussion. Reporters were talking about the undersized winger and how he and Gregory Campbell go about setting up Shawn Thornton, who on Saturday notched his first goal in over a calendar year in the Bruins’ 4-1 victory over the Devils.
“I think he’s really underestimated, and we always talk about it in the [dressing] room: Just give it to Thornton, go in front of the net, and he’s going to put it in,” Marchand said as reporters laughed. “That’s what our game plan is.”
Upon his suggestion that the team would enter a game planning on feeding Thornton, who, in all fairness, did have as many shots on goal Saturday (three) as all three second-liners combined, reporters noted that such logic would apply more to the likes of Ovechkin. Fifty-goal scorer or one-goal scorer, Marchand still trusted the plan of getting it to their enforcer, and joked that the coaches agree.
“Yeah, they pulled us in and they were like, ‘Listen guys, your whole game plan is to give it to Thornton, and you guys just skate around and make him look pretty,” Marchand said.
|Tying up loose ends in Belfast||10.02.10 at 10:10 pm ET|
BELFAST — The first leg of the overseas Bruins trip is unfortunately done with, as the Big Bad Blog departs Belfast but will continue to bring all the unfathomably good stuff from Prague over the next week.
There was a lot of stuff to blog in the three days that I’ve been here, so naturally some tidbits I came away with fell through the cracks. Here are a couple:
- Meet Wayne Hardman. He covers the Giants and loves the crap out of hockey. He’s a real die-hard for the sport over in Northern Ireland, something I was not sure existed. He’s so committed that he commutes two hours every day to do what he calls more of a “passion” than a job.
- Speaking of that name, an enforcer in Belfast is referred to as a “hard man.” Gross.
- People use expressions we’d be familiar with, such as “how are you?” and the other basics, but when it comes to the really informal, youthful way of asking someone how they are, throw “sup” out the window. Instead they say, “What’s the crack?” Gross.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
It’s tough to pick. There were a few good ones each day, but in the end Shawn Thornton and Tyler Seguin may have ended up tying one another with their quips following Saturday’s game:
- “I guess like that?” – Seguin, after a reporter with a very heavy accent asked him how he’d been handling the Northern Irish accents. Seguin apologized several times for not understanding him (he wasn’t alone — the media scrum was just as confused), and when he finally realized what he was asking, it was the only logical answer.
- “I definitely wanted one, but oh well. Me wanting a goal and [not] getting one is pretty much my life story.” — Thornton when asked if he was content with not scoring a goal in front of his family (he had two assists).
|Bruins react to an honest scare||at 5:53 pm ET|
BELFAST — The Bruins went into Belfast, beat the best squad the Elite League could put together by a four-goal margin (5-1), and Boston fans have two more Tyler Seguin goals to ogle over. So what’s the problem?
The problem is that they didn’t beat the Giants select team as handily as the score might suggest, as the Belfast squad played them very tight through the first period and and half. Though the team reacted to falling behind, 1-0, in the second period by firing off three quick goals and adding two more in the third, they admittedly were given a run for their money on Saturday night.
So what went into the jittery play out of the gate? For starters, the Odyssey Arena crowd — which holds 7,100 people — may have given the TD Garden (17,565) a run for its money when it came to decibles before the game. When the Bruins — scratch that, “Legendary Boston Bruins” — were announced, the place went nuts, and the fans seemed to know their stuff. The biggest cheers went to Zdeno Chara and Mark Recchi, but all of the players were showered with support.
“It was really loud,” Milan Lucic, who scored the Bruins’ fourth goal, said after the game. “I got a little bit of goosebumps there at the start of the game. I’ll be honest, it was a little nerve-racking to start the game.”
And did that carry over once the puck was dropped?
“It kind of looked like we were nervous, too. It almost looked like we were trying to do too much and they were just playing simple and kind of just getting the puck out every chance they got,” he said. “Obviously, they gave us a little scare by scoring that first goal, but I think it was a good finish to that second period and we were able to play more consistent in the third period.”
At the end of the first period, it seemed almost comical that the Bruins could find themselves in such a tight game with an opponent of such a lesser league. The Giants, who got their lone goal in the second period from Jade Galbraith, actually had the two best scoring opportunities of the period.
“They did, for sure,” Tuukka Rask said of the Giants having solid opportunities on him. “Right in front, but you could tell that they didn’t have the patience that maybe the NHL guys would have to hold onto that puck and find the extra corner to put the puck in. They definitely had some chances, and they really deserved them too.”
Once the Bruins got things going — it all started with Seguin and Michael Ryder crashing the net to produce the rookie’s first of the game — there was no looking back. It was clear they were the better team, and even when the Giants outplayed them for stretches early, the clear difference in talent remained apparent. Even so, it seemed to take the Belfast goal being scored to act as the splash of water to the face that the Bruins needed.
“I try to just keep the game tight all the time, and I think the guys woke up after their first goal and realized that we can’t afford to lose this game, because the skill level should be on our side for us to win that game,” Rask said. “They got the first goal, got some energy, but then the skill level came up. We scored three goals in like a minute or so, but give credit to them. They really battled and they wanted to win that game.”
All in all, the Bruins made no lie about what they ended up going against, whether or not they were expecting it. Shawn Thornton, who had two helpers in the game, didn’t see why the Giants wouldn’t have played as well as they did.
“This isn’t taking anything away from them, but a lot of those guys have never had the chance to play in the NHL or get an NHL game, and this is probably as close as they’re going to get, so I knew they’d be giving it all they had,” Thornton said. “I’ve played with a number of those guys, I’ve played against them and I know they character of them. A few years ago I was in the same shoes as them, not thinking I’d ever get a game. When you get a chance to show what you have, you’re definitely going to show what you have.”
Nobody should be surprised with how hard the Giants came out playing on Saturday night. From Claude Julien to every player asked about it in the locker room, the Bruins have said time and time again that they were expecting the best game of the Elite League players’ lives. Even so, it sure was interesting to see it last as long as it did.
|Five scratched for Belfast game||at 8:48 am ET|
BELFAST — The day has arrived on which the Bruins will wrap up their Northern Ireland trip with a game against a squad made up both Belfast Giants and Elite League all-stars. Here are the projected forward lines for the Bruins.
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Recchi – Bergeron – Caron
Ryder – Seguin – Wheeler
Marchand – Campbell – Thornton
The Bruins blueliners will be Zdeno Chara, Matt Hunwick, Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, Adam McQuaid, and Mark Stuart.
Tuukka Rask gets the start in net, with Tim Thomas backing him up.
Five players won’t take the ice for the B’s: Matt Bartkowski, Johnny Boychuk, Brian McGrattan, Daniel Paille, and Nolan Schaefer.
|Apple doesn’t fall far from tree for Thornton||10.01.10 at 9:32 am ET|
BELFAST — Shawn Thornton has a reputation on the ice as a guy who is in his element when his hands are bare. In the locker room, he’s got a reputation as the nicest guy you’d meet, and with such a sense of humor that taking his words literally could confuse the common man (an Irish cameraman almost tried placating him Thursday when he sarcastically complimented him on having the brightest lights ever).
In spending some time with Thornton’s mother, Christine, who is visiting Belfast for the first time since she was four years old, it’s quite clear where he gets his sense of humor from. In fact, she said time and time again Friday while watching the Bruins practice at Odyssey Arena that, “now you see where he gets his sense of humor from.”
There were quite a few members of the Mills (Christine’s maiden name) in attendance on Friday, with Thornton’s mother often standing up to take a picture of her son and jokingly venting frustration over Thornton’s not looking at the camera. Here’s a snapshot of the family members in attendance (Christine is second in from the left). To clear up any confusion that may be caused by the picture, Thornton is not related to any NESN or Boston Herald employees.
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