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Bruins exact revenge on Canadiens, record ninth-straight win 11.21.11 at 10:28 pm ET
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Throughout much of the Bruins’ current nine-game win streak, Boston grabbed victories by blowing out opponents. On Monday night, the Bruins proved they could win the close, low-scoring games as well when they shut out the Canadiens, 1-0, in Montreal.

The win moved the Bruins into second place behind the Penguins in the Eastern Conference and into first in the Northeast Division after residing in the basement of both the conference and division just 16 days ago. The last Bruins loss came at the hands of the Canadiens on Oct. 29 at the Bell Centre.

Tim Thomas made 32 saves to earn his second consecutive shutout, both of which came on the road. Defenseman Andrew Ference scored the only goal of the game on a wrister 15:41 into the first period. Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly recorded assists on the tally.

The Bruins will attempt to carry their win streak into double digits when they return to the ice on Wednesday in Buffalo.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Ference ended Carey Price’s six-period shutout streak 15:41 into the game with a goal on a cross-ice feed from Rich Peverley that Ference roofed over Price’s glove. The goal was Ference’s second in as many games. It came on a delayed penalty against Montreal, but the extra-attacker had yet to reach the zone.

- Thomas was outstanding in net on Monday night. He saw the puck extremely well and was in perfect position all night. Thomas made quite a few spectacular saves, including one at the end of the second period when he robbed Mike Camalleri on a power-play jam attempt. He proved how well he was tracking the puck when he snagged a Scott Gomez tip of a Camalleri shot that changed direction at the last moment.

- The Bruins penalty kill had to step up in big moments on Monday. They were tasked with stopping the Canadiens on a four-minute kill that bridged the second and third periods, and then, with Price getting pulled in the waning moments of the game, had to kill off a 6-on-4 for the final 1:39 of the game. The saying goes that a good penalty kill starts with strong goaltending, and although Thomas was strong in net, the Bruins defenders did an admirable job clearing out pucks and pinning plays against the boards. At the end of the second period, Daniel Paille proved the Bruins commitment to the penalty kill when he dove to clear out a puck despite being fresh off surgery for a broken nose.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Former Canadien Benoit Pouliot put the Bruins’ lead in peril with six penalty minutes off of stick penalties in the second period. Pouliot’s second penalty, a four-minute double minor for high sticking, came less than three minutes after the end of his first. Bruins coach Claude Julien made Pouliot pay in the third by benching him for all but 13 seconds of the period.

- The Bruins were unable to sustain much offensive pressure throughout the game, and the top two lines were quiet for most of the night. Brad Marchand and David Krejci failed to put any shots on net. The Bruins in all barely tested Price, putting up 18 shots on the night. They were outshot 14-5 in the third period.

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Milan Lucic: ‘That was the toughest battle we’ve had’ 11.16.11 at 8:47 am ET
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The Bruins knew defending their Stanley Cup perch would be difficult.

But eventually, they also knew they would be up to the challenge.

And the challenge that came Tuesday night from a hard-working, big, strong and physical Devils squad was the toughest yet this season. At least, according to Milan Lucic.

“Yeah, definitely I have to say out of all the games so far through the season that was definitely the toughest battle that we’ve had,” Lucic said. “And we needed to dig real deep to get a win in this one and we definitely had to fight to the end. And we showed a lot of character, sticking to the game plan and finding a way. Obviously they came at us real hard and they’re a hard team to play against and we were able to find a way and get a good one here.”

The Bruins took the quick 2-1 lead six seconds into the third period, only to have the Devils come back two minutes later for the equalizer.

“This is definitely one that we had to earn and it was one that, when we get the lead they come back and score, it’s easy to get down and get discouraged,” Lucic said. “But we were able to find a way and keep pushing and keep finding a way to push for more and in that third period I think we had eighteen shots which goes to show that we really wanted to win this one.”

The Bruins have scored 34 goals in their six-game winning streak but Tuesday was the first one of the six they really had to sweat out in the end.

“I know this is one of the toughest wins that we’ve had,” Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. “Probably the toughest win out of the six games that we’ve had. They really tested us, they really worked hard, they really played a good game. We just stayed with it, and we were the ones that had the ability to turn it on the last ten minutes, and were able to pull out the win because of that.

“We’ve had a couple of games where everything went our way, kind of easier wins, and this was a good wake up call without having to pay the price because we were able to get out of it with the win. You know, this is the way it’s going to be the majority of the time, it’s not always going to be the way it has been the last three or four games. And so it’s a good experience for our team, I think.”

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Ryan Miller thinks Milan Lucic is a ‘piece of [expletive]‘ and Tim Thomas can see why he was surprised by hit 11.12.11 at 11:14 pm ET
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Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was asked following Saturday night’s 6-2 loss to the Bruins whether he was injured when B’s left wing Milan Lucic charged him in the first period, but he wasn’t interested in talking about himself. He was interested in expressing his thoughts on Lucic and the dirty hit.

“I’m not going to really get into that,” Miller said of his physical condition. “I just stuck around because I just want to say what a piece of [expletive] I think Lucic is. Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that. It’s unbelievable. Everyone in this city sees him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he played. That was gutless. Gutless, piece of [expletive].”

Lucic blocked a shot and was chasing a puck into the Sabres’ zone when Miller darted out of his net to clear the puck. Upon Miller getting there first and sending the puck aside, Lucic didn’t stop in time, barreling over the netminder and sending his helmet off. Lucic was given a charging minor for the play.

“Well I blocked a shot, and it’s a race for a puck, and I mean I just put my head down and tried to get to it first,” Lucic said. “And next thing I looked up he was out of his net and it was a collision. So I mean obviously going into a situation like that I’m going to brace myself. And I was going full speed so it was pretty hard for me to put on the brakes. So that’s basically it.”

While he didn’t seem nearly as upset with the play as Miller, Tim Thomas did seem to understand Miller’s unhappiness with the play.

“I will say that as a goalie, you’re not really prepared for people to hit you in a situation like that,” Thomas said. “You’ve been trained over the course of your whole career [to believe] you’re not going to get hit in situations like that. It must have taken him by surprise.”

There was no retaliation on Lucic, so Thomas was prepared for the possibility of the Sabres going after him.

“Basically, from my perspective, after that happened, [I was] just trying to make sure I was on my toes,” Thomas said. “I didn’t know if there would be kind of a retribution hit. That’s kind of the old school way.”

If there were to be a hit on Thomas, Lucic said he and the Bruins would have reacted much more than the Sabres did.

“Definitely. You know, we wouldn’t accept anything like that,” Lucic said. “We would have [taken] care of business. But we’re a different team than they are.”

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Bruins don’t hang their heads and get rewarded 11.02.11 at 10:35 am ET
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Tim Thomas is usually the center of attention whenever he plays and the Bruins win a game.

But this has hardly been a usual season so far and Tuesday was hardly a typical game.

“Yeah, I was waiting around my locker when you guys came in but no one came over,” he told reporters with a good-natured smile after Boston’s 5-3 win over Ottawa. “But I wasn’t the story tonight.”

Thomas – as is usually the case – was right on the money. The story Tuesday was the rediscovered tenacity of a Bruins team that rode its determined style to a Stanley Cup title four months earlier.

That tenacity was tested when the team fell behind 2-1 after one period to the Senators and blew a 3-2 lead early in the third period. That was hardly what the Bruins – losers of three straight and seven of 10 to start the season – needed for confidence.

But instead of hanging their heads, they found success in the form of two goals 37 seconds apart from Johnny Boychuk and Daniel Paille.

“I think we were trying to maintain that 60-minute focus in our game,” head coach Claude Julien said. “I thought maybe in the beginning of the third, after that power play, we seemed to get a little bit sloppy, and of course, they tied the game up. But I think everybody was on the same page tonight as far as, don’t hang your heads, let’s go out there, let’s get the next goal, and let’s find a way to win this game. Determination was a lot better tonight and positive, I guess, thoughts, more than hanging our head and saying, ‘Here we go again.’”

“I thought we had the momentum all night and it was one of those games where we felt confident we could do it and come back,” added Patrice Bergeron. “And playing like that, that’s how we come back in games and show character and stay consistent and keep going at them. And I thought tonight was the perfect example that when we put the puck in deep and work at it, we’re a tough team to beat.”

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Andy Brickley on D&C: ‘I expect moves to be made’ by Bruins at 9:31 am ET
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Andy Brickley

Bruins color analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance to discuss the Bruins’ 5-3 win over the Senators Tuesday night.

Boston broke a 3-3 deadlock in the third period with goals from Johnny Boychuk and Daniel Paille just 37 seconds apart. Brickley said that it is a big boost for a team when the fourth line is able to score.

“It’s huge. That fourth line isn’t necessarily a line you look for to score, even though they did last year,” Brickley said. “You look at the momentum changes, you already brought up the Thornton fight, that’s a significant contribution from those guys. Paille’s a really good penalty-killer, as is [Gregory] Campbell. Campbell wins faceoffs, Campbell gets in people’s faces. That’s the kind of thing you’re looking for. They may start a period, they may start a game, they may set a tempo, but when they’re actually putting pucks in the net, that’s huge for the entire locker room and the bench, everybody gets a really lift from that.”

Brickley was also impressed with the Bruins defensive play, despite the three goals allowed. Boston allowed just 26 shots on Tim Thomas, as opposed to the 41 shots the Bruins put on Senators goaltender Craig Anderson.

“I liked a lot of what they did, especially defensively getting back to the very foundation of what they are and trying to reestablish their identity,” Brickley said. “I thought they played pretty well against Toronto, but I thought from a defensive standpoint, that was probably their best effort last night.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Tim Thomas is in a pretty weird commercial 11.01.11 at 12:53 pm ET
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Stick-tap to the people from the Days of Y’Orr blog for tweeting this Tuesday morning. Check out this Discover commercial starring none other than Tim Thomas.

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Should Tuukka Rask be playing more? 10.25.11 at 8:44 pm ET
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An interesting point was raised regarding Bruins goaltending during Peter Chiarelli‘s conference call with the media Tuesday. Remember when the Bruins said their intention was to play Tuukka Rask more than last season, especially early on?

Rask has started just two games this season, allowing one goal to Avalanche in the B’s 1-0 loss in the third game of the season, and allowing four goals last Tuesday against the Hurricanes. As was the case last season, Tim Thomas has been the No. 1 guy by a large margin as far as starts goes.

“In fairness to Tuukka, he probably should have gotten another start here or there, but you see Tim, how he’s playing, and you want him to recapture some of the stuff that he had last year,” Chiarelli said. “… What I see and observe is we’ve had had discussions on the goaltender situation. I think in the end you’ll see it go into line with what he originally put out there.”

The upcoming home-and-home with the Canadiens should be interesting when it comes to splitting up goaltending duties, should they go in that direction. If Rask starts Thursday and Thomas starts Saturday, Thomas will have gone a week without playing. Rask has gone a week since his last start as it is, and his last game in Montreal wasn’t pretty for anyone, perhaps with the exception of Lars Eller.

Rask started 27 games last season, posting an 11-14-2 record, 2.67 goals against average, and .918 save percentage. Thomas started the rest of the games, going 35-11-9 in his second Vezina-winning season. He had a 2.00 GAA set the NHL single-season record with a .938 save percentage.

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