|Ryder and Bruins jump on Lightning||02.11.10 at 8:29 pm ET|
The Bruins have not been able to score four goals in a game for a while. Let alone four in a period.
The Bruins took a first period lead when Miroslav Satan beat Antero Niittymaki with helpers from Derek Morris and Marc Savard at 4:24. Satan took advantage of defenseless Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman who had lost his stick up the ice and was unable to support Niittymaki in front of the net. The Bruins have scored the first goal in five straight games dating back to last Tuesday against the Capitals. That streak includes four straight 2-0 leads starting last Thursday against Montreal.
Make it five.
Milan Lucic gave the Bruins the two-goal advantage at 11:21 when he may (or may not have) tipped a Michael Ryder shot from the point that was just enough to make it passed Niitmaki. Ryder’s shot went through both Lucic and Lightning defenseman Matt Smaby and it was not clear if Lucic actually got a stick on it though it definitely touched Smaby. At this point the officials are crediting Lucic with the goal, his fourth of the year.
Ryder would make up for it on one of the nicest looking goals of the year when he went give-and-go with Blake Wheeler in front of Niittymaki. Ryder had a backhand pass to Wheeler on the dot who returned it immediately for the easy one-timer into the net. Ryder followed the puck and climbed out of the goal with a fist pump and a three goal lead.
Ryder would make it 4-0 1:35 later on the power play (Steve Downie four-minute roughing 16:41). Savard skated from the left half wall and put a wrist shot on Niittymaki that the goaltender deflected to the back wall. It bounced back up for Ryder who deposited it in the top corner for the Bruins first four goal game in about a month. Ryder now has 15 goals on the year.
The Lightning would not get a shot on Rask for the final 13 minutes of the period and the Bruins head to the locker room with a sizable shots margin.
Shot through first:
Bruins — 21
Lightning — 13
|Bruins look to cool Lightning||at 11:14 am ET|
The Bruins know the recipe that will take to climb back into solid playoff contention — goal scorers doing their job, streaky shooting and a hot goaltender to carry the load. It is an easy formula that can propel a team on long streaks that eventually lead to extended spring hockey.
For an example, the Bruins only need to look across to the other bench on Thursday to the Lightning. Tampa Bay has won four in a row and is 10-1-2 in its last 13 games to pull itself out of the Eastern Conference basement to be tied for the seventh and eighth playoff spots with Philadelphia. With 63 points the Lightning stand two ahead of the ninth-place Bruins.
Antero Niittymaki is on fire. The Tampa goaltender is 7-0-1 in his last eight games with a 1.09 goals against average and a .965 save percentage. Thought Tuukka Rask was playing well for the Bruins? Rask is 2-0-2 on his current point streak and and his 2.01 goals against for the season is second in the NHL but Niittymaki has been the best goaltender in the NHL over the last month.
On the offensive end, the Lightning have been putting up some points behind Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. The duo has propelled Tampa over the last nine games, scoring 16 of its last 22 goals. Stamkos in particular looks impressive. The first overall pick in the 2008 draft already has 33 goals through 58 games this year and another 30 assists on top of that. For a second year player to be able to put up those kind of numbers makes scouts heads turn and gives the denizens of the Tampa area dreams of a superstar in the St. Petersburg Times Forum for years to come. Stamkos has five goals in his last five games.
St. Louis, the wily veteran southpaw forward, also has five goals in the last five games and has 20 goals and 46 assists for the season. His six game-winning goals are good for fifth in the NHL.
Look for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara to be near every time that Stamkos touches a skate to the ice at the Forum on Thursday. Yet, the fun does not stop there. The Lightning are deep with threats on their first two lines with Vincent LeCavalier, Ryan Malone and Alex Tanguay all in the mix. LeCavalier is third on the team in points with 55 (15 goals, 40 assists) and Malone has 21 goals to trail only Stamkos in that department. For a comparison, the lowly Bruins offense has no player with more than 36 points (Patrice Bergeron) or 18 goals (Marco Sturm).
If the Bruins want to really get back into the mess that is the Eastern Conference playoff race, they will have to win games against the teams ahead of them and right now that means cooling down the Lightning. If Boston can claim a regulation two-point victory (something it has only done twice since Jan. 5) it will create a three-way tie for the final spot in the conference and set the Bruins up to rise above the demarcation line if they can claim points against the Panthers on Saturday.
|A look back at the Recchi deadline deal||at 9:56 am ET|
The trade rumors are flying thick across the NHL. Will Peter Chiarelli trade Tim Thomas? Does the general manager make a move for a move’s sake to shake things up? Whatever happens during the Olympic break, there will be no shortage of ink spilled what may, or may not, happen by the March 3 deadline.
The Bruins are in Tampa for Thursday’s game against the Lightning and it is worth taking a look at last year’s deadline deal that brought a Lightning player to Boston to spark the Bruins during the stretch run.
That player, of course, is veteran forward Mark Recchi.
Chiarelli brought Recchi and a 2010 second round pick to Boston last year for prospect forward Martins Karsums and defenseman Matt Lashoff.
Recchi was a cannonball for the Bruins through 18 regular season games last year. He had 10 goals and six assists down the stretch and provided a good model for the young players on the roster as he played smart with the puck and had the experience and timing to camp out in from of the goal and create chances on just about every shift. When asked about the nature of Recchi’s game heading into the playoffs former Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward laughed and said, “what can you say? He’s the ‘Recch-ing Ball.’”
Recchi added another three goals and three assists in the Bruins 11 playoff games even though it was reported that he was dealing with kidney stones towards the end of the playoff series against Carolina.
This season Recchi is not setting the world on fire with 11 goals and 18 assists through 58 games but is productive enough to justify putting him on the third line with Patrice Bergeron and (usually) Daniel Paille. At $1.7 million cap hit Recchi is not a drain on the Bruins salary cap and his stability during a season that has seen Milan Lucic and Marc Savard miss significant time with injuries has been a boon to the Boston roster.
Given Recchi’s production, was it worth giving up the two prospects and a draft pick for a year-and-a-quarter of the veteran’s presence?
Indisputably, the answer is yes.
The consensus at the time of the trade was that Lashoff, once the top blue liner in the Bruins system, had been jumped on the depth chart by Matt Hunwick and would soon be eclipsed by Johnny Boychuk. The thinking proved prescient as both Hunwick and Boychuk are reasonably productive members of Boston’s defensive corps and Lashoff is languishing in the AHL with the Norfolk Admirals.
Even on that level Lashoff has not performed well with five goals and eight assists for 13 points and an astonishing plus/minus of -20 through 46 games. Throw in 63 penalty minutes and it does not look like Lashoff will be breaking down the door in Tampa in the foreseeable future.
Karsums has been disappointing as well. Through 36 games with Norfolk he tallied four goals and 12 assists and a plus/minus of 1. On Jan. 14 he was assigned from Norfolk to HC MVD Balashikha of the Kontinental Hockey League. So, now that Karsums is plying his wares in Russia, a return to the NHL anytime soon does not look likely. Good news for the forward? He was named to Team Latvia for the upcoming Olympic games.
The bonus is the second round draft pick this summer. With the Lightning’s pick the Bruins have picks to burn through the next two years. If you consider Lashoff and Karsums extra pieces from the Bruins organization that were essentially a wash then the ability to bring in Recchi and a draft pick looks like a steal in both the short term and the long term.
UPDATE — The commenter is right. The 2010 second round draft pick indeed does go to the Bruins and not the other way around. The story has been changed accordingly.
|Lawton: Lecavalier is not being traded||01.15.09 at 5:42 pm ET|
Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton met with the assembled hockey media in Florida today to debunk the Vinny Lecavalier trade rumors, including pie-in-the-sky speculation that he might be sent to Boston for a bevy of young players.
“There’s been a lot of speculation floating around and it has all been completely unfounded,” said Lawton, who added that he received a grand total of zero phone calls from the Montreal media to confirm or deny potential trade talks with the Canadiens. “Vinny Lecavalier is not being shopped by the Tampa Bay Lightning…(We told him) he wasn’t being traded. He wasn’t being shopped around. He’s not being traded today, he’s not being traded tomorrow and he’s not going to be traded anytime soon.”
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