|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.
|Michael Ryder, Steven Stamkos have Bruins and Lightning tied after one||12.28.10 at 8:21 pm ET|
The Bruins and Lightning traded power play goals in the first period, and the teams are tied at one goal apiece after 20 minutes of play.
Brad Marchand (who made his return to the lineup after battling soreness from the P.K. Subban hit earlier this month) and Sean Bergenheim got tangled up in the early going, and Bergenheim got minors for roughing and cross-checking, while Marchand only got went off for cross-checking. With the B’s on the early man advantage, Michael Ryder scored his 11th goal of the season 28 seconds into the game.
Steven Stamkos countered with his 29th goal of the year at 7:10. With Adam McQuaid in the box for high-stickingm Tim Thomas was able to knock down a Ryan Malone bid, but in doing so swatted it to Stamkos, who put it in to make it a tie game.
There were six minor penalties assessed (three apiece) between the two teams in the first period. Five seconds into a Lightning power play with Milan Lucic in the box, Steven Stamkos went off for tripping Zdeno Chara, making for 1:55 of four-on-four play.
The Bruins, fresh off of jumping into first place in the Northeast division with their 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers on Monday, will take on the Lightning, who lead the Southeast division, on Tuesday night. It’s the second of five straight road games for the Bruins, and the second of three games in four days.
The last time the Bruins faced the Lightning, they won in blowout fashion, crushing Tampa Bay, 8-1, at TD Garden on Dec. 2. The two teams have split the season series thus far, as the Lightning grabbed a 3-1 win at St. Pete Times Forum on Nov. 22.
The Lightning have won six of their last seven games, while the Bruins are winners of their last two.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Lightning are 10-2-2 in Tampa and are a perfect 4-0-0 in home games this month.
– The Bruins are 10-5-1 on the road this season. Their shootout win on Monday was just their second road victory of the month, the first of which came on Dec. 1 in Philadelphia.
– Steven Stamkos is back on track following his statistical hiccup that lasted from late November into the beginning of the month. He has scored seven goals in his last eight games and has 28 on the season.
– Milan Lucic‘s scoreless streak has now reached four games and he has one point in the last six contests. Lucic had two points when the B’s faced the Lightning on Dec. 2.
– David Krejci and Michael Ryder starred in that 8-1 Bruins victory over the Lightning earlier this month with three points apiece. Both Krejci and Ryder had a pair of points in Monday’s win over the Panthers, and with their line with Blake Wheeler clicking, they’re certainly a couple of players worth keeping an eye on.
– After having three goals entering last Thursday’s game vs. the Rangers, Vincent Lecavalier has doubled that in his last two games. He has a pair of goals in Sunday night’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Thrashers.
– After Monday, it’s now been five straight games without a start for Rask. If Thomas starts against the the Thrashers on Thursday, Rask will have gone more than two weeks without seeing any playing time. Thomas has been stellar in his last two starts, so the Bruins face some serious difficulty in trying to get Rask game experience to keep him sharp.
STORLYLINES GOING IN
– The Lucic – Savard – Horton line has not produced a goal in either of the two game s since it came into being in last week’s line shuffle. In fact, of the four non-special-teams goals the team has scored in the last two contests, half have come from Krejci, with Shawn Thornton scoring the other two.
– Will this one go to overtime, too? Judging by the opponent, it wouldn’t be surprising. The Lightning’s last three games have been decided either in overtime or a shootout. They’re 2-0-1 in that stretch.
|Tyler Seguin still working to ‘figure this league out’||12.18.10 at 1:22 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin knows that he’s been able to produce in the face of adversity. He’s done it since he’s been on the radar of hockey fans, but it might be a bit different at this level. That’s why he doesn’t want himself — or anyone else — to assume he’ll embark on a career-defining hot streak after being a healthy scratch earlier this week. Observe the following exchange.
WEEI.com: Obviously in juniors after that coaching change, and then when you didn’t make the World Juniors team last year, these things have seemed to spark a —
Seguin: Don’t. Don’t jinx it. Don’t keep going.
[A bit of background information: Seguin, who was taken ninth overall by the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL draft in 2008, wasn’t producing like a top-10 pick out of the gate. He had just one goal in his first 17 games, and after coach Greg Stefan left to take a scouting gig with the Carolina Hurricanes, Seguin finished the season with 21 goals despite his slow start. This came after Mike Vellucci, who took over as coach, sat the then-16-year-old down and told him he expected him to produce regardless of age.
Last season, Seguin, the ninth-ranked prospect in the NHL draft, didn’t make the World Junior Championship team and used it as motivation as he went on to lead the OHL with 48 goals and take over as the top-ranked prospect.]
Fast forward to mid-December.
Whether he liked it or not, Seguin was forced to take in Wednesday’s game against the Sabres from the press box, observing the pace of a game he’s still learning at a professional level. He sat alongside Doug Jarvis as the Bruins fell to the Sabres, 3-2.
“I got to sit up top and look at it from a different perspective, and that’s how the coach and GM wanted me to spend the game,” Seguin, seemingly understanding of the decision, said.
The 18-year-old followed the scratch with an encouraging showing in Montreal, making a nice play to get the puck to Andrew Ference to set up Marc Savard‘s first goal of the season. Seguin has just three points in his last 10 games, so he’ll look to build on whatever forward steps he can take after being kept out of the lineup.
“I always try to turn a negative into a positive,” Seguin said. “All it is is adversity. You’ll face it a million times in your hockey career, so it was just another experience of it. I wanted to come out with a strong game in Montreal, and I think I did that. I just want to stay consistent.”
As the second overall pick still gets his bearings and finds different ways to adjust to the NHL, top pick Taylor Hall has seemed to hit his stride, scoring 10 goals thus far. Still, Seguin knows that how a player performs in the early going of his rookie year does not exactly set the pace for one’s career production.
One of the players to whom he most often compared in Steven Stamkos (flip a coin on the frequency of comparisons of Seguin to Stamkos or Steve Yzerman) was also a healthy scratch at times as a rookie. Seguin, who has five goals thus far, kiddingly noted that Stamkos had four before Christmas prior to lighting it up with 20 goals after the holiday. In fact, Stamkos — the same guy who has 24 goals this season — only had three before Dec. 25. Regardless of the solace he may take in knowing he isn’t the first to deal with such adjustment to the NHL, Seguin isn’t trying to follow anyone’s path or try to be somebody he’s not.
“I just want to be Tyler right now,” Seguin said. “I want to find my own identity and figure this league out.”
|Tyler Seguin hopes to continue to following Steven Stamkos’ path||12.02.10 at 3:01 pm ET|
If there’s anybody a young scorer would want to be compared to this season, it’s Steven Stamkos. The Lightning center already has 21 goals this season and is on pace for 69. It’s remarkable production considering Stamkos is just 20 years of age.
In the case of Tyler Seguin, the comparisons he has received to Stamkos are undoubtedly cases of high praise, but the measurables seem to warrant them.
Both players were both highly coveted right-handed centers in their respective drafts, as Stamkos went first overall in 2008 and Seguin was taken second overall in 2010. They both had dominant OHL careers as well, with Stamkos potting 58 goals in 2007-08 with the Sarnia Sting, and Seguin winning the Red Tilson award for the OHL’s most outstanding player with 48 goals last year for the Plymouth Whalers. They’ve also got similar body types (Seguin is 6-foot-1, 186 pounds while Stamkos is 6-foot-0, 176 pounds). Finally, Stamkos’ hometown of Markham, Ontario is a 45-minute drive from Seguin’s native Brampton.
Stamkos has established himself as one of the league’s most explosive players at a very young age, and Seguin — the same guy who doesn’t like to “over-respect” his opponents before a game — would love if his billing as the next Stamkos proves to be true.
“I try to [play like Stamkos],” Seguin said Thursday. “He’s definitely doing really good right now.”
Seguin has five goals this season through 23 games. He is on pace for 18 goals, which would be less than Stamkos’ 23 as a rookie, but Seguin seems to be right where the Tampa Bay star was two years ago. Through 23 games, Stamkos actually had just three goals on the season. He didn’t really kick things into high gear until February, and he hasn’t stopped scoring since.
“He adapted to the league [and] I think it took him probably half a season in his rookie year,” Seguin said of Stamkos. “I’ll probably be around there hopefully and just keep on going.”
The two players met over the summer at the increasingly legendary Atlantic City Bauer campaign. It was there that Seguin also met and got to know Phil Kessel.
|Steven Stamkos, Lightning beat Bruins in Tampa||11.22.10 at 9:58 pm ET|
The Bruins became the most recent team to fall victim to Steven Stamkos and the Lightning as they fell to Tampa Bay, 3-1, on Monday night.
Michael Ryder scored the lone Bruins’ goal at 10:38 of the third, with Tampa Bay getting goals from Dana Tyrell, Stamkos, and Teddy Purcell in the second period.
Though the notable lineup news for the B’s entering the game was Tyler Seguin‘s promotion to the second line, it was the first line that got attention for all the wrong reasons. Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton failed to registered just one shot on Lightning goaltender Mike Smith, who made26 saves to improve to 7-3-0 on the season.
Tuukka Rask relived the season opener once again, as the Bruins stalled in front of him for two periods before attempting a comeback that didn’t prove to be good enough. Rask make 33 saves on 36 shots. With the loss, Rask is now 1-5-1 on the season despite entering the game second third in the league in save percentage.
From Tampa the Bruins will travel to Florida, where they will face the Panthers on Wednesday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The top line went wrong for the Bruins. Claude Julien doesn’t like to identify his lines in the first, second, third, fourth manner, and on Monday, he wouldn’t be able to if he wanted to.
The lack of shooting this season on Nathan Horton’s part has been well-documented, but on Monday it was his entirely line that failed to get the puck on net. The line got just one shot on goal, which Krejci contributed late in the third period.
– Nothing derails a comeback attempt like a penalty in the third period. After failing to capitalize on a hooking penalty assessed to Steve Downie at 1:28, the B’s were caught with too many men on the ice at 4:20, rendering them down a man and postponing a shot at a comeback for a couple of minutes. Luckily for the Bruins, the Lightning returned the favor shortly after with a too-many-men call of their own.
– Momentum, or lack thereof, was once again the story of the first two periods. No gloves were dropped after either of Tampa Bay’s three goals in the second period, and it’s something that could have aided the Bruins.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Seguin responded well to being moved to the second line, shooting more (four shots on goal) and drawing a key hooking penalty on Downie early on in the third.
– Patrice Bergeron had a team-high five shots on goal, which tied his high on the season. Bergeron also had five shots against the Capitals on Oct. 21.
– Ryder and Jordan Caron really battled to set up the Blake Wheeler shot that led to Ryder’s goal. The two had to outmuscle Lighting skaters to bring the puck up and get it to Wheeler in the offensive zone, with Ryder tipping it past Smith.
|Lightning lead Bruins after two||at 9:04 pm ET|
The Bruins are down, 3-0, after two periods, and yes, Steven Stamkos has something to do with it.
Randy Jones threw a shot on net from the point, and with Adam Hall and Dana Tyrell in front, Andrew Ference tended to Hall. This left Tyrell to tip it up and past Rask, who was likely still trying to track the puck at 3:26.
It wasn’t shortly after that the B’s worst fear was realized. Game-planning against the Lightning probably starts with stopping Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, but the two got on the score sheet when St. Louis picked up his 19th assist of the season on Stamkos’ 20th goal at 5:15. Teddy Purcell added on at 11:36, grabbing a rebound off the boards and tipping it in.
Through two periods, the Lightning are outshooting the B’s, 28-15. Tyler Seguin leads the Bruins with three shots on goal.