|Bruins answer the call with convincing 4-1 win over Thrashers||12.23.10 at 9:38 pm ET|
The Bruins spent the past two days dealing with backlash from both fans and the media over their recent struggles. They responded in a big way Thursday, playing one of their better games of the season in defeating the Thrashers, 4-1, at TD Garden.
Though Patrice Bergeron got the B’s on the board with a shorthanded goal in the first and Michael Ryder tallied what proved to be the deciding goal, Shawn Thornton was the offensive hero for the 17,565 to pack the Garden seats. The energy line winger had a big night, beating Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec for two goals.
Tim Thomas improved his record to 15-4-3 on the season.
The Bruins will have two days off before returning to practice on Sunday. From there, they will embark on a five-game road trip before returning home to the Garden on Jan. 6.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Shawn Thornton came an assist away from a Gordie Howe hat trick and a goal away from a real one. His fight with Eric Boulton off the opening the face-off helped ignite everybody in attendance, while his two goals brought his season total to a career-high seven.
– The Bruins responded to the call for more passion and motivation. They were more offensively persistent and sustained energy throughout the night. Additionally, they did it against a very good Thrashers team. This game was looked at by some (including your’s truly) as a game the team could use to establish more of an identity. Now that they’ve shown they can respond to losses as ugly as Monday night’s, the next step is seeing to it that there aren’t any more like their embarrassment vs. the Ducks.
The fans undoubtedly left the house satisfied, as an all-out brawl broke out with 4:06 remaining in the game following a Freddy Meyer hit to Milan Lucic’s head. Lucic, Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference, and Marc Savard dropped the gloves for the B’s.
– Thornton wasn’t the only one to show up on the stat sheet multiple times. Patrice Bergeron (G, A) and Daniel Paille (2 A) also had two points on the night. With Brad Marchand still out due to soreness stemming from the P.K. Subban hit, it’s good for Paille to have a game that can give him some confidence should he stick in the lineup for another game or two.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– With the match penalty that Lucic received for punching Freddy Meyer in the helmet, he now faces a suspension, pending review. It was clearly intent to injure on Lucic’s part and it’s hard to believe anybody will view it as anything but.
– Of course, Dustin Byfuglien scored the Thrashers’ lone goal. Byfuglien had a goal and three assists when the Thrashers beat the B’s last month, so his tally on Thursday gave him his fifth point against the Bruins this season.
– Tyler Seguin and Steve Kampfer were the the lone Bruins players to have a negative rating. After his minus-1 on Thursday, Seguin is a plus-1 on the season.
– The Canadiens were held on for a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes after scoring twice in the final 3:03 of the second period. The B’s remain two points behind the Habs for the division lead.
|Patrice Bergeron has Bruins leading Thrashers after one||at 7:45 pm ET|
The Bruins wanted to make some noise right off the bat, and after doing so they lead the Thrashers, 1-0.
With Claude Julien putting the energy line out to start the game, Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves with Atlanta winger Eric Boulton. The fight, which was the sixth between the two, energized both the B’s and the Garden crowd, but Patrice Bergeron would give them more to cheer about three minutes later.
Just 13 seconds into a Zdeno Chara hooking penalty, Bergeron put the B’s on the board by deking Ondrej Pavelec and putting it in low on the forehand. It was Bergeron’s 300th career point and the fifth Bruins shorthanded goal of the season.
The two teams have played one another tight this far, with each squad registering 10 shots on goal. There were five minor penalties handed out in the period between the two teams, with the B’s going 0-for-3 on the power play.
|Mike Milbury on D&H: Bruins ‘need some passion’||12.22.10 at 1:02 pm ET|
NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show to give his opinions about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Asked if the Bruins might consider a change behind the bench, Milbury said it’s too early for Claude Julien‘s job to be in jeopardy. “I don’t think so, no,” he said. “This team has shown remarkable resiliency. When they get down, you think that the wheels are falling of the wagon, they pull it together. And I think they’ll pull it together for Claude again.”
Added Milbury: “They need to loosen the screws a little bit offensively. Go after it, make some mistakes, try some things, do some things differently. Do I think they’re ready to knock on Claude Julien’s door? Absolutely not. I don’t think that’s a consideration right now. Tell me 10 games from now when they’ve won one, and it’s a different story.”
Milbury said there are plenty of other people who need to answer the critics before the coach. “[Marc] Savard hasn’t quite hit the plateau that he wants to be at,” he said. “[Patrice] Bergeron has not had a great year offensively. [Milan] Lucic is not doing what he’s supposed to do in terms of being an explosive chemistry set ‘ just get in there and create some mayhem. That’s important to that team, and it’s been lacking. I’m on [Blake] Wheeler and [Michael] Ryder all the time for that. These are pretty smart players and gifted players. But the games needs passion. And the Bruins more than anything right now need some passion.”
Milbury said there are individuals showing that passion, but the team’s marquee players need to step it up. “The guy that leads the most for me in terms of effort is Shawn Thornton,” he said. “And he does it on a regular basis. He’s a really important part of this team. [Zdeno] Chara needs to pick it up physically. Just because he’s playing 30 minutes [a game], it doesn’t mean he can’t whack and bang and play with some sort of Kevin Garnett-like attitude once in a while ‘ more in-your-face. All these guys. Savard, when he’s playing well, he’s a bouncy, in-your-face guy. Bergeron in his own quiet way will get there and be in the way and get in the way.
“I don’t know what’s ailing them, but I’m not going to pin it on young guys/old guys, I’m going to pin it on the team and the coach, that somehow have got to refocus their priorities ‘ not to forget about defense, but to make sure they know that the way they’re going to score goals is causing turnovers. And doing that means ‘ dammit, there’s not a better word than hustle.”
|Daniel Paille ready to fill in for another injury||12.20.10 at 2:10 pm ET|
Another injury, another opportunity for Daniel Paille.
That’s how the season has been for the Bruins winger and nightly assumed healthy scratch, but with Brad Marchand out Monday, he’ll once again see the good that comes of the undesirable role.
Since the second game of the season, Paille has been out of the lineup unless another forward has been injured, or, as was the case with Tyler Seguin last week, a healthy scratch. He’s played 11 games this season, with one assist and a minus-2 rating.
The idea of only playing when another guy is hurt is less than ideal from his perspective as both a teammate and an individual, but Paille is simply working with what he’s got.
“I’ve got to make the best of the opportunity every game,” Paille said Monday. “At this point, [an injury] is the only way I’m going to get into a game until I can prove otherwise.”
Marchand will miss Monday’s game vs. the Ducks due to a hit he took Saturday night. Claude Julien noted that the winger remains day-to-day and that his injury — which remains undisclosed — is not long-term. Even so, Paille figures to take Marchand’s place on the energy line with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.
Paille, who played in 74 games for the B’s last season after being acquired from the Sabres, has experience playing with Thornton. Still, the merlot line of Marchand – Campbell – Thornton has been one of the most consistent fixtures of this Bruins squad. Whether it can operate as efficiently without one of its parts remains to be seen.
“I know what to expect with Thornton and the effort he gives every night. I played with Campbell a little bit in the preseason — I really enjoyed playing with him as well,” Paille said. “He and I, I feel that we play almost similar. I think I can adjust to his game very well.
“They just bring that energy type of game,” Paille added of the line. It’s just something I’m looking to get into tonight and get a chance to play with them.”
Paille admitted that though his mind has been fresh all season, the time out of the lineup has made it “a bit harder to get in the same shape” as his teammates who play each game. He did say that John Whitesides has worked with him to make up for it so that he’s “physically ready” when he does get the call.
As for Marchand, Thornton isn’t worried about the mindset of the undersized winger, whose status is uncertain among the media given how few details have been divulged.
“Nobody likes to miss a game,” Thornton said when asked about Marchand. “He’s a competitor and he wants to play, but these things happen during the course of a long season. He’s always in a good mood, that kid.”
Though the Bruins will be missing one of their more fiery players and top penalty killers, Thornton is confident in what Paille will bring should he be inserted into both roles.
“I’ve played with [Paille] enough games to know what he brings. If he’s on our line, we’ll do the same thing,” Thornton said. “Get pucks in deep, work down low, and be strong on pucks. ‘¦They bring a lot of the same stuff to the table, so it should be a fairly easy transition.”
Tim Thomas was first off the ice on Monday morning, so it’s safe to assume he’ll be in net vs. the Ducks at 7:30 p.m. Thomas bailed the Bruins out on Saturday night when he made 25 saves in the the third period against the Capitals in a 3-2 victory. Here are some other notes following morning skate:
- Brad Marchand wasn’t on the ice and is not expected to play against the Ducks. Coach Claude Julien reiterated following the skate that the energetic winger is day-to-day, adding that he is “still stiff” from a hit he took on Saturday against the Capitals. Of course, Marchand also took a crushing hit from P.K. Subban in Thursday’s game in Montreal, so it seems he just needs some time to recover from a beating he took over the last couple of games.
In Marchand’s place will be Daniel Paille, who said he was told by assistant coaches that he should expect to play. Aside from the season-opener, Paille has only seen time due to another player being either injured or scratched.
– When asked about what the B’s are facing in the Ducks, Julien called them a “big strong team” who plays “heavy game.” The Bruins coach likened the Ducks to a team like the Flyers and said their style of play is similar to “what we’re trying to do here.”
– In facing the Ducks, Shawn Thornton will be facing the team with which he got his first real chance. Thornton spent the 2006-07 season with the Ducks and on Monday will go against former teammates including George Parros, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Teemu Selanne.
Thornton spoke highly of his time in Anaheim, though he said Parros is the only one he still keeps in touch with.
– It’s never too early to begin looking at the playoff picture. Milan Lucic had the standings in mind when assessing the matchup of the Bruins and Ducks.
“They’re eighth in the West, and they’re eighth in the East,” the Bruins’ leading goal-scorer said. “We have a chance to move up here and move up in the standings and be tied with Montreal for first in the division. We know it’s a big game for us and we want to [leave] things off the right way going into the Christmas break here.”
– Last but not least, Rene Rancournament night has finally arrived. The Bruins will be giving out complimentary ornaments of National Anthem singer and cult hero Rene Rancourt to fans in attendance. There’s been quite a buzz about it from fans and media alike. Personally, I’lll consider it a letdown if the ornament doesn’t fist-pump and point correctly.
|Bruins lead Lightning, 4-1, after two||12.02.10 at 8:40 pm ET|
The Bruins added two and the Lightning finally got on the board, and after 40 minutes of play, the Bruins have a 4-1 lead.
Milan Lucic picked up his 12th goal of the season at 6:48, taking a feed from David Krejci on a 3-on-2 and beating Mike Smith. Lucic and Krejci have two points apiece on the night, while Nathan Horton grabbed his first point in seven games on the play.
Shawn Thornton scored his fifth goal of the season late in the period, with Brad Marchand and Thomas getting the assists. Thomas now has two assists on the season. He picked up his first on Tyler Seguin’s first career goal on Oct. 10 in Prague.
|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.
– 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.
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