|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.
|Milan Lucic scores twice as Bruins top Flames||02.22.11 at 11:41 pm ET|
Lucic opened the scoring just 59 seconds into the game when he went hard to the net and redirected David Krejci‘s centering pass by Calgary netminder Miikka Kiprusoff (26 saves) for his team-leading 25th goal of the season.
Brad Marchand added some insurance 5:55 into the third when he gathered the puck in the right circle and wristed it under the crossbar for his 19th goal.
Curtis Glencross made things interesting with a power-play goal that cut the lead in half with 2:33 to go, but Lucic sealed the win with an empty-netter with 47 seconds remaining.
Thomas improved to 27-8-6 with the win and he continues to lead the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
-The Flames were hot coming in, having won three in a row and 11 of their last 14, but the B’s were able to pour some water on them and quiet the crowd early on. They got on the board less than a minute in when they caught Calgary in a line change. Adam McQuaid moved the puck up to Krejci to create an odd-man rush and Krejci faked a shot before centering for Lucic.
-Krejci continued his stretch of hot play, as he assisted on both of Lucic’s goals to give him six points in his last three games and 13 in his last 11. He had a goal and an assist in Thursday’s win over the Islanders and followed that up with two more assists in Friday’s win against the Senators.
-Marchand added to his impressive rookie season with his third goal in his last two games. The marker came as the result of hard work from the entire second line. Patrice Bergeron forced a turnover with a hard check in the corner and then went to the net to redirect Andrew Ference‘s shot right to Marchand, who was left with an open cage to shoot at.
-It seemed like there were bodies and pucks zipping around the front of the Boston net all night, but Thomas stood tall between the pipes. His biggest save came with a little more than four minutes left in the game when he flashed the leather and snagged Olli Jokinen‘s one-timer from the slot. It turned out to be even bigger than it appeared at the time given the fact the Flames scored less than two minutes later.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
-Despite jumping out to a 1-0 lead, the B’s were outplayed for much of the first half of the game. The Flames were able possess the puck in the offensive zone for long stretches of play and maintain steady pressure on the B’s. They outshot Boston, 13-7, in the first period and built the lead to 21-12 by the middle of the second before the B’s picked it up and recorded five of the final six shots in the period.
-The B’s had a four-minute power play starting late in the second and carrying over to the third, but failed to score. It was a golden opportunity to up the lead to two and although the B’s created a few good chances, they couldn’t capitalize. It marked the first time in seven games Boston failed to score at least one power-play goal.
-With 3:04 to go, one of the last guys the B’s wanted in the penalty box was Bergeron, their top penalty-killing forward. But that’s exactly where he ended up after being called for a slash while pursuing the puck behind the Calgary net. The penalty ultimately cost Thomas his would-be league-leading eighth shutout.
|Shawn Thornton on D&H: Tomas Kaberle ‘one of the best defensemen in the league’||02.21.11 at 12:55 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, while on his way to the airport for the Bruins’ road trip that starts with a game Tuesday in Calgary, checked in with the Dale & Holley show Monday and talked about the team’s recent roster changes. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Asked if there was any tension around the team last week, Thornton acknowledged that there was. “There always is this time of year,” he said. “The media obviously reports it. I think it gets worse these days, with ‘I’m not bad-mouthing anybody, but ‘ countless blogs and stuff that nobody really has to [be accountable]. You can just throw stuff against the wall and hope it sticks. There’s a lot of names being thrown around nowadays. I think everybody’s hoping that they get one right. So, yeah, there’s a little bit of tension. I think the best thing to do is not try to pay too much attention to it.”
Thornton had high praise for new Bruins Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. “I’ve known Tomas for a long time,” he said. “We were in the minors together for a little bit, actually. The way he moves the puck and the way he sees the ice when he has the puck ‘ even without it ‘ he’s such a smart player. He’s one of the best defensemen in the league, and I think we’re very, very fortunate to have him.”
Of Kelly, Thornton said: “He can skate, he can shoot, he competes really hard. I think he’s a good pickup for us.”
Thornton said the adjustment period for the new Bruins shouldn’t be long, especially considering their age and the fact that Peverley comes from Atlanta, where first-year Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay is using a style similar to the one used when Ramsay was an assistant in Boston the past three seasons. “I think it should be pretty seamless, being that they’re older guys,” Thornton said. “Kelly, Peverly, Kaberle ‘ they’ve all been around the league a bunch. ‘¦ The fact that Kelly’s been in the league for six, seven years makes it a little easier than being maybe 20 or 21.”
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas challenged Canadiens netminder Carey Price to a fight when the teams met in Boston earlier this month. While it didn’t go so well for Thomas, Thornton was impressed with the effort and strategy. “His game plan was pretty good for a guy fighting somebody a lot bigger,” Thornton said. “I’ve actually used his game plan before. But when you miss your grab on the way in, sometimes it goes all out the window. And it did for him. But you know what? He did a good job. He protected himself well.
“He’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t much of a fight. But that was the loudest I’ve heard the Garden I think in a long time, when those two squared off. It was pretty fun.”
|Bruins drop second straight to Red Wings||02.13.11 at 2:58 pm ET|
The Bruins dropped a 4-2 decision to the Red Wings on Sunday and have now lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since Dec. 15 and 16, when they dropped contests to the Sabres and Canadiens in succession.
Todd Bertuzzi had two goals for the second straight game against the Bruins, with Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper also beating Tim Thomas. Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand provided the scoring for the B’s.
Jimmy Howard, who played his college puck at Maine, improved his record to 28-10-3, giving him the most wins in the NHL. He made 23 saves on 25 shots.
Thomas on the other hand, saw his record fall to 26-7-6. Steven Kampfer, who grew up in Ann Arbor and played his college hockey at the University of Michigan, was a healthy scratch for the game.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton had minimal impact on the game. That can’t happen down the stretch, and it certainly can’t happen in the playoffs. Krejci and Lucic had two shots apiece, which was more than could be said for Horton’s one. With Horton having no shots on goal Friday, he has just one over the last two games.
– Brad Marchand was second in the NHL with a plus-25 rating entering Friday’s game, but he’s been a minus-5 over the two contests since. After a minus-3 rating on Friday, he was on the ice for two of the four Detroit goals Sunday.
Marchand had a particularly costly turnover in the first period, as he sent a blind pass right to Bertuzzi in front of the net in the first period. Bertuzzi turned the play into his third goal against the B’s in two games, and second gift goal. He capitalized on blunder made by Tuukka Rask while playing the puck on Friday night.
– Tyler Seguin turned a very encouraging first game back from back-to-back healthy scratch into further proof as to why Claude Julien has been taking it easy with the rookie. After scoring the Bruins’ first goal by staring involved in the play in front and sending a rebound off a Blake Wheeler wraparound past Howard in the first period, he played a large role in the game-winning goal for the Red Wings. The second overall pick didn’t stick with Kris Draper, and the right winger scored the go-ahead goal in the second period off a saucer pass from Patrick Eaves.
– Tim Thomas has allowed 11 goals over his last seven periods. That might be a Hart-breaker for the Vezina shoo-in.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Lucic was fine after getting hit square on the front of his right skate with a shot from the point. Trainer Don DelNegro came to the ice to tend to him, and the 22-year-old winger left the ice slowly, but under his own power. He returned to the bench moments later.
– After going five straight games without a power play goal, the B’s have been able to convert with a man advantage in each of the last two games. Krejci had the Bruins’ lone power play tally on Friday, a night in which the B’s went 1-for-3, and Marchand scored on the first of three Bruins’ power plays on Sunday.
– Michael Ryder had his second multi-point performance in the last three contests. After scoring twice against the Canadiens on Wednesday, he had a pair of assists Sunday. The original scoring of Seguin’s goal gave Wheeler credit for the goal, with Seguin getting the lone assist, but upon correction, Wheeler and Ryder were each credited with a helper. Ryder made a beautiful pass to set up Marchand’s goal on the power play.
The Bruins have a 2-1 lead after a period at Joe Louis Arena, which is a big step up after never leading in Friday’s 6-1 loss.
Tyler Seguin, playing for the first time in three games, got the Bruins on the board when he banged home a Jimmy Howard rebound off a Blake Wheeler wraparound at 1:29. The goal was credited to Wheeler, with Seguin getting the assist, but a review should clarify that it was Seguin’s goal. Should he rightfully be given credit, it will be his last three games.
UPDATE: The scoring was indeed changed to give Seguin the goal. Wheeler and Michael Ryder got assists.
Brad Marchand had an up and down first period for the Bruins. He made a blind pass in front of the Bruins’ net with only he and Todd Bertuzzi in the zone. Bertuzzi gained possession in front of Tim Thomas, took his time, and beat the B’s netminder for his third goal against Boston in two games.
Marchand would make up for his blunder, as he gave the B’s a 2-1 lead by scoring his 16th of the season off a beautiful pass from Ryder. The Wings will begin the second on the power play, as Ryder has 1:06 remaining on a roughing minor he took late in the period.
|Claude Julien: We still need Tuukka Rask||02.11.11 at 10:28 pm ET|
But to be honest, he didn’t exactly need to be The Amazing Kreskin to figure out what the Bruins coach was thinking when he yanked Rask after the second period of Friday’s 6-1 dud against the Red Wings before a displeased Garden crowd.
“I’m not going to start analyzing that,” Rask said. “I thought I deserved to get pulled. I didn’t play to my level today.”
That’s one way of putting it.
Rask admitted he did not have one of his finer performances of the year and that he deserved to get pulled after allowing five goals on 18 shots in two periods. Rask, who fell to 5-11-1, said he had no criticism of coach Julien, who started Tim Thomas in goal to start the third.
Julien said he has not lost confidence in Rask, who allowed goals on the first two shots he faced as the Bruins fell behind 2-0 in the first three minutes and never recovered. The last time Rask was pulled was on New Year’s Day in Buffalo when Rask allowed three in the first, despite the Bruins leading, 4-3.
Julien started him in the next game and Rask was very good in a 2-1 at Toronto.
“We didn’t feel he was as sharp as we needed him to be, that was number one,” Julien said of Rask. “He still made some good saves. I don’t think we didn’t recognize that as well, but he just wasn’t as sharp tonight and after discussing the situation, we just felt that the right thing to do was to give Timmy the third period.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Tuukka Rask, Bruins knocked out cold by Red Wings, 6-1||at 9:32 pm ET|
Maybe the Bruins should petition the league against any more home games on Fridays.
The last three haven’t turned out so great. They were blanked 3-0 in a clunker against the Hurricanes on Nov. 26. The time before that was even more painful. Last May 14 fell on a Friday, and so did the Bruins when the Flyers came from behind to eliminate the Bruins with a 4-3 decision in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semis.
The latest Friday night fright was nowhere near as important as the defeat that ended the B’s season, but it was still a mighty punch in the gut – especially if you’re Tuukka Rask, who had the misfortune of playing in both.
With “The Fighter” Mickey Ward on hand for the ceremonial puck drop, Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and two assists and Todd Bertuzzi added a pair of goals as the Red Wings rocked Rask and the Bruins, 6-1, Friday night at TD Garden. The two teams will conclude their home-and-home series in a rematch on Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings, leaders in the Central Division, wasted little time seizing control of the game and making life miserable on Rask. Bertuzzi ripped a shot from the top of the left circle that beat Rask far side just 70 seconds into the first. Danny Cleary made it 2-0 exactly two minutes later when he flipped a shot past Rask from between the circles.
The Bruins rebounded with 2:07 left in the first when David Krejci snapped a 20-game goal drought with his eighth of the season. But the Red Wings put the game away with three goals in the second, capped off by Bertuzzi’s second of the night when Rask misplayed a puck to his right and the forward flipped it off the back of his pads and into the net. The crowd booed Rask early and often as the back-up goalie fell to 4-11-1.
Rask made just 13 saves on 18 shots in 40 minutes before being pulled for Tim Thomas to start the third. University of Maine product Jimmy Howard stopped 25-of-26 shots to improve to 27-10-3 on the season.