|Post-morning skate notes: Milan Lucic out, Tim Thomas off first, Mark Stuart takes another step||01.13.11 at 12:23 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was first off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate, so it looks like he’ll be rewarded with the start vs. the Flyers after shutting out the Senators on Tuesday. He faces a tougher challenge against Philadelphia, as the Flyers are third in the league with their 3.4 goals per game, while the Senators’ 2.2 goals per game rank 29th.
Forward Milan Lucic will be out for the second straight game, as the undisclosed injury (which seems to be going around these days) hasn’t healed to the point at which Claude Julien is comfortable putting the slumping winger back in the lineup.
“[He's feeling] better,” coach Claude Julien said following the skate. “Obviously he won’t be i tonight, but he’s getting better.”
Julien likened Lucic’s situation to that of Nathan Horton, who missed a pair of games with an undisclosed injury prior to returning in Tuesday’s 6-0 victory over the Senators.
“[He's] day-to-day,” Julien said. “It’s a lot like Horton. He’s dealing with the same kind of situation as far as day-to-day is concerned.”
When Lucic does return, he’ll be looking to both shake of rust and bust out of an 11-game goal drought. Lucic leads the Bruins with 16 goals this season.
While Lucic wasn’t on the ice for the morning skate, defenseman Mark Stuart was. Stuart has been out since suffering a fractured hand and dislocated finger on Dec. 7 and hopes to return to the lineup sometime next week.
Given the impressive play of Steven Kampfer, who was called up following Stuart’s injury, as well as Adam McQuaid‘s safe and solid play on the blueline, the B’s will have a decision to make when it comes to making room for Stuart. To Stuart, the fact that both have played so well tells him that the team is in good shape, and that he shouldn’t assume anything will be handed to him.
“This is the best position to be in, and it’s going to make me work even harder to get back and to play well,” Stuart said.
“It’s definitely the case,” he added regarding the competition he anticipates for his spot. “You have to earn your way back. I don’t care who you are. … Guys are playing well. It would probably be different if the team was on a downswing and they were looking to change things up.
“It’s good to see, though. That’s what you need. That’s what all good teams have. You look around the league at the good teams. They all have guys coming up, guys coming in and out. Everybody can play, everybody comes in and does the job. I think that’s what you’ve seen with us the last month or so.”
Julien noted that with Stuart still a week to 10 days away, he isn’t in any rush to make a quick decision on how things will unfold.
“It’s probably a little early to answer that question,” Julien said. “… [We have] lots of games and so sometimes you have to make those decisions, sometimes you don’t so I’ll give myself a little break on that one.”
Here are some other notes from the skate:
– The lines looked the same for the Bruins as they were on Tuesday against Ottawa.
– McQuaid probably likes getting attention more from his play and his fighting rather than from perhaps the scariest moment of his career. With the Flyers in town, though, so too is Jody Shelley, who sent him head-first into the end boards on Dec. 11 when the two were chasing an iced puck.
The B’s blueliner wanted to move on from the play, which got Shelley suspended for two games, at the time, and as the spotlight returns with Flyers, he would rather not dwell on it.
“You never want to kind of see yourself going head-first into the boards at any point in time, but it’s not really something I’m thinking too much about,” McQuaid said. “I’ve moved on, moved past it, and just want to be focused for tonight.”
– Horton wasn’t around following Tuesday’s game or during Thursday morning’s media availability, so it’s tough to gauge exactly how comfortable the winger feels since returning from his undisclosed injury. Julien liked what he saw from the winger on Tuesday, but on Thursday didn’t know if Horton’s feeling completely better.
“Let’s put it this way: he’s well enough to play,” Julien said. “I don’t know that I’d say he’s 100 percent, because you don’t come back from missing games and all of a sudden you’re 100 percent.
“[He was] close enough that the risk factor was kind of pushed aside, and they’re minimal, and that he was able to give us what we wanted and well enough to play.”
|Zdeno Chara and the Bruins didn’t want to ‘ruin’ the good vibes from Pittsburgh||01.12.11 at 2:55 pm ET|
As much talk as there was following Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Senators about Patrice Bergeron and his first career hat trick, there was just as much about the impressive way the Bruins followed up their dramatic win in Pittsburgh 24 hours earlier.
“It’s huge,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “You want to follow up with a good performance. You don’t want to have obviously a nice comeback game and then come back and just ruin it. I mean that’s totally something you don’t want to do.”
The Bruins showed what they call in hockey “good jump” in getting up 2-0 after one and 5-0 after two periods. But for Chara to consider the night a truly good one, the B’s would have to finish the job.
“Even after the first 20 or 40 minutes of tonight’s game, you don’t want to, at the end of the night, count regrets that you played well for 40 and bad for 20,” he added. “You just want to have a good feeling after the game that you really played a solid 60 minutes.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien agreed. It was a good night from what he could see from behind the bench.
“I like the way we skated. I thought we had some good jump right off the start and we had some good clean breakouts and it allowed us to have some good speed through the neutral zone,” Julien said. “We got pucks behind their D and took advantage of it. I thought our guys were well-focused tonight. It was important to build on last night and not sit on it.”
It’s rare for a team to show such good energy on the back-end of a back-to-back in mid-January like the Bruins did but Tim Thomas wasn’t complaining, as he posted his career-best sixth shutout of the season.
“We looked like we had really good legs tonight on a back-to-back with the heavy schedule that we’ve had and that’s a good sign too,” Thomas said. “A lot of things went our way tonight.”
And, of course, leading the way was Bergeron with his first career hat trick.
“We’ve talked about it, after the game in Pittsburgh, to just carry what happened in the last three minutes, you know, and carry that over to tonight, and I think we did that, you know, all game, the 60 minutes that’s what we needed.”
What the Bruins needed and got on Wednesday was the day off to stay inside and avoid the blizzard outside. They’ll need their rest with the Flyers and Penguins coming to town on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Just another two games to test how far these Bruins have come in turning around their season.
|Bruins throttle Senators behind Patrice Bergeron’s first career hat trick||01.11.11 at 9:37 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron notched his first-career hat trick Tuesday night, as the Bruins blasted their way past the Senators, 6-0, at TD Garden.
Bergeron had what was the game-winning goal when he opened the scoring at 3:33 of the first, and added goals in the second and third period. Blake Wheeler, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin netted the Bruins’ other three goals. David Krejci also had a two-point night.
Tim Thomas made 31 saves in the victory, recording his league-leading sixth shutout of the season.
With the Canadiens winning on Tuesday, the Bruins held onto their two-point lead in the Northeast Division.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Tim Thomas has now set a career high for shutouts in a season — just one game into the second half of the season. Thomas, who began his season with a shutout in Prague, had gone 12 starts without blanking a team, his longest stretch of the season.
With six shutouts, Thomas now holds the league lead all to himself, while also leading the NHL in goals against average and save percentage. He’s the easy mid-season choice for Vezina.
– Bergeron continued the torrid pace he is on. With his three goals on Tuesday night, Bergeron now has 17 points over the last 13 games. He’s been rather balanced in going about it as well, as he has eight goals and nine assists in that stretch.
– Seguin has struggled to produce in home games, as he had just four points at the Garden prior to Tuesday night. He turned that trend around by having his first multi-point game at the Garden (his second multi-point game of the season, as he had a goal and an assist on Jan. 1 in Buffalo).
– That’s two straight games with a goal for Brad Marchand. His value to this team can’t be stressed enough, as he’s effective both as an energy guy and as a bigger contributor when called upon to play on the the second line.
Marchand has three points over his last three games. He leads Bruins rookies with eight goals this season.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Two brave souls tossed tossed their hats onto the ice after Marchand’s goal, believing it to be Bergeron’s hat-trick-notching tally. Before one could even commend their daring nature, the entire ice was filled with the hats thrown for the wrong reason.
The question is whether the folks who went to the pro shop in between periods to restock were the same ones who tossed hats once Bergeron actually got the hat trick.
– Not that the Bruins need it, but they get their first power play of the night until 6:58 of the third period. Drawing penalties has been a struggle for the B’s at times this year, and considering they’re not a safe bet to win by six every night, it remains an area that needs improvement.
The B’s ended up with two more power plays late in regulation thanks to a Matt Carkner roughing call and a delay of game. The Bruins were 0-for-3 on the power play.
– While the game was a blowout, it was hardly a triumph. The Senators were equally as bad as the bruins were on the night, as Ottawa seemed to pride itself in turning the puck over in the their zone throughout the night.
The Bruins opened up a 5-0 goal lead in the second period with some scoring, some fighting, and hundreds of hats thrown prematurely.
Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin all scored in the period. Bergeron’s second goal of the game came when he banged one past Brian Elliot point-blank at 2:50. He was believed to have recorded the third goal of his perceived hat trick at 14:07, but after fans showered the ice with hats and the play was reviewed, it was determined that the puck went off Sergei Gonchar’s skate and it was credited to Marchand. Seguin picked up his seventh goal of the season just over a minute later.
The period also featured a couple of fights. Nathan Horton dropped the gloves with Jesse Winchester and the two seemed to still have words from each others’ respective penalty box. Shawn Thornton went with Matt Carnker at 10:26.
Andrew Ference has the only minor penalty of the period, and through two periods, the Bruins have not had a power play. The Bruins are outshooting Ottawa, 27-22. The shutout remains intact for Tim Thomas.
With the Senators trying to break out of their own end, Mike Fisher couldn’t control a pass from Chris Campoli from behind the net. Bergeron got a hold of the puck near the bottom the circle and fired a wrist shot over the glove of Senators netminder Brian Elliot.
At 9:47, Wheeler scored his 10th goal of the season when Tyler Seguin hit him in front of the net with a pass from the face-off dot. Wheeler, who wasn’t exactly challenged by Chris Phillips‘ presence in front of the net, simply tapped it bast Elliot. It as Seguin’s ninth assist of the season.
Seguin took the only penalty of the period, going off for a high-sticking minor when the shaft of his stick hit Matt Carkner after the Senators defensman checked the rookie along the boards.
Tim Thomas has stopped all nine shots he’s seen, while the B’s have fired 10 shots on Elliot.
|Tim Thomas honored to be an All-Star, willing to shut down Zdeno Chara if opportunity arises||at 5:21 pm ET|
The Bruins received perhaps the least surprising news they could get on Tuesday when they were informed that Tim Thomas was named an All-Star. Thomas is putting together the best year of any goaltender over the last five years, and as such, it is no shock that he’s earned the honor of joining the league’s best for the third time in his career.
“It’s always an honor,” Thomas said of the distinction prior to the B’s game against the Senators on Tuesday. “It’s a feather in your cap, so I’m very happy.”
Thomas has played in 29 of the Bruins’ first 41 games, compiling an 18-4-6 record and leading the league with a 1.84 goals against average and a .944 save percentage. His five shutouts tie his career-high and put him in a tie for the league lead.
Yet given all the time he’s played, it is expected that the Bruins could use Tuukka Rask a bit more just to keep Thomas from being overworked. The same line of thinking might apply when wondering whether the 36-year-old could use the All-Star to get some rest rather than work more. Thomas’ reaction to that idea is simle.
“Everybody wants down time, but having said that, for most people — myself included — you don’t make the All-Star [game] that often,” Thomas said. “It’s an honor worth giving up a couple of days rest for.”
Thomas will join teammates Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin in Raleigh, N.C., for the All-Star festivities, as Chara also earned the distinction, while Seguin will participate in the rookie skills competition a day prior to the game.
Because of the new fantasy draft used to determine the All-Star teams, Thomas and Chara won’t necessarily be teammates in the game, as it is no longer a contest of the Eastern conference vs. the Western conference. As odd it would be to see Chara go up against his own goaltender, Thomas was quick in predicting what would happen in such a scenario.
“I win, he loses.”
|Bruins blow two-goal lead, fall to Canadiens in overtime||01.08.11 at 9:59 pm ET|
Thomas lost what would have been his sixth shutout of the season with 2:22 remaining in regulation when he failed to get a stick on a Scott Gomez shot with the Canadiens on the power play. One minute and 34 seconds later, former Boston College star Brian Gionta redirected a James Wisniewski shot past Thomas to cap the Habs’ comeback.
The Bruins got a pair of goals from Patrice Bergeron, who scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season in the second period.
The Habs outshot the Bruins, 25-8 in the third period and overtime combined, and finished the night with 42 shots on Thomas. Carey Price made 27 saves for the Canadiens on 29 shots.
With the overtime loss, the Bruins remain in first in the Northeast division with 49 points. The B’s have played two games less than the Habs thus far this season.
From Montreal, the Bruins will travel to Pittsburgh, where they will take on the Penguins. Two of their next four games come against the Penguins, with the other two being played against the Senators and Flyers.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– An 0-for-3 showing on the power play means the Bruins have now gone five games without a power play goal. The last time the B’s scored on a man advantage was back on Dec. 28 when Mark Recchi scored the game-winner against the Lightning with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.
– Michael Ryder’s penalty for tripping Wisniewski came back to bite the B’s, as it led to Gomez’ goal and Thomas losing his shutout.
– P.K. Subban didn’t seem interested in obliging Shawn Thornton, as the B’s enforcer/semi-sniper had plenty to say to the rookie defenseman as he skated away from an invitation. Subban is responsible for the huge (and clean) hit on Brad Marchand last month that cost Marchand three games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Though it was Bergeron’s first two-goal game of the season, it also made for yet another productive night in a very productive stretch. Bergeron now has 12 points over his last 11 games. Though Bergeron has had his offensive lulls this season (two different scoreless streaks of four games, including one to kick off the season), he has been one of the Bruins’ top offensive performers since mid-December.
– When Mathieu Darche whacked a puck past Thomas with a stick that was right around crossbar height, the B’s were undoubtedly aided when, after a few seconds, it was called no-goal on the ice. The play was very close, and it seemed whatever the call on the ice was would stand given that the video evidence wasn’t overwhelming one way or another.
– Wheeler falls in both categories. He took two penalties in the game, but he also drew one and broke a three-game scoreless streak when he assisted Bergeron’s first goal. His three games without a point made for his coldest streak since going five games without a point in early December. Wheeler has 16 points on the season.
The 24-year-old winger had an opportunity to give the B’s a three-goal lead in the third when he intercepted an attempted clear from Price. He took a split-second too long with it, as Price, who was out of his net, was able to get back in time to glove Wheeler’s attempt.
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