|Bruins looking for fourth straight win as they take on Thrashers||12.30.10 at 7:00 am ET|
Last Thursday, the Bruins grabbed their most monumental victory of the season when they beat (and beat up) the Thrashers, 4-1, at TD Garden. While the B’s (20-11-4) have won their two games since then, the Thrashers (19-14-6) stumbled, dropping both of their post-Christmas contests.
The tables have turned a bit, and now it’s the Thrashers looking to re-establish momentum as they host the B’s Thursday night at Philips Arena.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Thrashers are 10-7-3 in Atlanta this season, but are 1-2-2 in their last five home games. In their most recent home contest, they fell to the Lightning, 3-2, in a shootout.
– The Bruins have been a very good road team all season, as their 11-5-1 record away from the Garden (excluding the first Prague “home” game) would suggest. Thursday night marks the third game of their current five-game road trip. They are looking to make it three in a row on the road (four in a row overall).
– The Bruins have to Dustin Byfuglien‘s opponent of choice. In two games vs. the B’s this season, the former Blackhawk has two goals and three assists, both of which are the most he has against any club. He’s also had five points in his last five games. To say the Bruins need to keep an eye on him is an understatement.
– Michael Ryder is riding a three-game point streak that has featured a pair of goals and a pair of assists. His line with David Krejci and Blake Wheeler has unquestionably been the Bruins’ best PRLS (post-Rancournament line shuffle — think it won’t catch on?) and he’s picked up an assist in both games vs. the Thrashers this season.
– One. That’s how many goals the Bruins have won each of their two games this week. They’ve been cutting it close, but you get two points no matter how you win. Perhaps they’ll be a bit more offensively potent when the top two lines hit their stride.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– The Bruins’ loss to the Thrashers last month was an ugly one, but it was also a rare occurrence. The B’s have won 11 of their last 12 against Atlanta.
– Last week it was about the Bruins making a statement as a team. This time the city is awaiting a statement from an individual in the form of one Nathan Horton. The 25-year-old is freezing cold, as he hasn’t scored in seven games and was one of three Bruins forwards benched for a large chunk of the third period Tuesday night in Tampa. Horton didn’t register a shot on goal, marking the 12th game he’s had either one or zero shots on net this season.
The problem with Horton is that he let the cat out of the bag from the get-go in the preseason: He can be physical, and he can be the best player on the ice. That’s why nobody’s ridiculing Peter Chiarelli for trading for him. Everybody knows how good he is, but he needs to give reminders far more frequently.
– It will be Tim Thomas between the pipes for a seventh straight game. He allowed one goal on 27 shots last Thursday vs. Atlanta, while the Thrashers put four past Tuukka Rask last month on 26 shots. Thomas has won his last five vs. Atlanta.
|Mark Recchi scores game-winning goal in final 20 seconds to lead Bruins past Lightning||12.28.10 at 10:12 pm ET|
Mark Recchi sent a wrist shot past Dan Ellis with 19.7 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Bruins a 4-3 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday night in Tampa.
Recchi’s goal was the B’s second power play tally of the night, as the Bruins were on the man advantage late in the contest thanks to a Steven Stamkos boarding call for a hit on Gregory Campbell.
Michael Ryder, Steven Kampfer, and Brad Marchand scored in the first, second, and third periods, respectively to give the Bruins leads in each period. Kampfer’s second-period tally was his first career NHL goal, while Marc Savard got his 700th point in assisting it.
The Lightning were able to tie the game following each of the B’s first three goals, getting tallies from Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.
Tim Thomas made 31 saves on the night and improved to 18-4-3 on the season. The Bruins will travel to Atlanta to face the Thrashers on Thursday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Kampfer’s goal was the latest reminder that he has been just what the Bruins needed when they traded Matt Hunwick. Monday night’s blunder that led to David Booth‘s was the only time the 22-year-old’s style of play has cost the B’s, and he remains their best (and only) puck-moving D-man.
– The Bruins got Brad Marchand back. After missing three games with soreness caused by the crushing hit he took from P.K. Subban. Daniel Paille filled in admirably, but Marchand’s return to the lineup saw him grab his fifth goal, giving him as many as Tyler Seguin.
– The Bruins were able to draw penalties early on the penalty kill twice. With Milan Lucic in the box for hooking in the first, the Lightning power play lasted just five seconds before Stamkos went off for tripping Zdeno Chara.
In the second period, Blake Wheeler went off for high-sticking Dominic Moore, but Teddy Purcell was in the box 16 seconds later for holding. On the night, the B’s were 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Lightning went 1-for-5.
From the WEEI.com Stat Truck: In firing the shot that’s rebound led to Marchand’s goal, Shawn Thornton picked up his second assist of the season. That ties him with Thomas, who also has a pair of helpers.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Milan Lucic has now gone five games without a point. Prior to this stretch, which began Dec. 18 against the Capitals, Lucic had only gone two games without a point once. Lucic is a minus-2 throughout the streak. His linemate isn’t faring much better, as Nathan Horton had a season-low 11:36 of ice time, including a 3:09 first period.
– While a couple of rookies shined in Kampfer and Marchand, Seguin has been very quiet. He failed to get a shot on goal, and has now gone 10 games without a goal. He has just two points in those games.
– The B’s blew three leads in the game. The game featured plenty of back-and-forth, but the Bruins had the opportunity to close it out following Marchand’s goal in the third and failed to do so until the Stamkos penalty.
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.
|Bruins at Panthers preview||12.27.10 at 4:46 am ET|
The Bruins are coming off perhaps their most monumental win of the season, a 4-1 victory over the Thrashers that featured the grit and emotion the team had lacked over its previous 1-3-1 stretch.
The B’s play the next five on the road, starting with Monday’s matchup with the Panthers. The Bruins have won both games against Florida this season, most recently grabbing a 3-1 victory at BankAtlantic Center behind two goals from Mark Recchi on Nov. 24.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Panthers are 7-6-0 at BankAtlantic Center this season, though they probably feel as though they don’t know the place anymore with the way their schedule has been. Nine of their last 12 games have been played on the road. They’re 2-4-0 in their last six home contests dating back to Nov. 22.
– The Bruins are 9-5-1 on the road and have dropped their last three away from the Garden.
– The Panthers are the only team in the NHL to not have an overtime loss this season. The Bruins have come away with the single point in four contests.
– Milan Lucic has gone without a point in three straight games for the first time this season. His last point came on Dec. 16 in Montreal, a third-period power play goal. Despite his mini-slump, he continues to lead the Bruins with 16 goals.
– Each of the Bruins goaltenders have put together impressive performances vs. the Panthers this season. Tuukka Rask grabbed a shutout on Nov. 18 at the Garden, while Tim Thomas allowed on goal on Nov. 24th. Florida is the only team that both Bruins goaltenders have beaten.
– The Bruins have allowed 35 shots or more in seven games in December. If David Booth comes close to the 14 shots he had against the Bruins on Nov. 18, they might be in for a high shots allowed total again.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– The biggest question for this Bruins team is how they can sustain what they did Thursday for an entire road trip, and then beyond that. They have Tampa Bay Tuesday, followed by a rematch against the Thrashers on Thursday. If the Bruins want to carry momentum from their victory last Thursday they will need to kick off the road trip with a win over the Panthers.
– The Bruins have not sat Tuukka Rask for five straight games yet this season. Tim Thomas has started the last four, and has had such a stretch only twice this season. It might make sense for Rask to get the nod against the lowly Panthers, which would avoid overwhelming Thomas with three starts in four days, but reports out of Florida suggest Thomas will be between the pipes.
– The Bruins benefit greatly from the fact that Lucic was not suspended for Monday’s game. This way, they can take their time with bringing Brad Marchand (soreness) back and not have to summon an extra forward while they’re away. Claude Julien told reporters Monday that Marchand will not play.
|Post-morning-skate odds and ends: Tim Thomas in net, Brad Marchand out||12.20.10 at 12:02 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was first off the ice on Monday morning, so it’s safe to assume he’ll be in net vs. the Ducks at 7:30 p.m. Thomas bailed the Bruins out on Saturday night when he made 25 saves in the the third period against the Capitals in a 3-2 victory. Here are some other notes following morning skate:
– Brad Marchand wasn’t on the ice and is not expected to play against the Ducks. Coach Claude Julien reiterated following the skate that the energetic winger is day-to-day, adding that he is “still stiff” from a hit he took on Saturday against the Capitals. Of course, Marchand also took a crushing hit from P.K. Subban in Thursday’s game in Montreal, so it seems he just needs some time to recover from a beating he took over the last couple of games.
In Marchand’s place will be Daniel Paille, who said he was told by assistant coaches that he should expect to play. Aside from the season-opener, Paille has only seen time due to another player being either injured or scratched.
– When asked about what the B’s are facing in the Ducks, Julien called them a “big strong team” who plays “heavy game.” The Bruins coach likened the Ducks to a team like the Flyers and said their style of play is similar to “what we’re trying to do here.”
– In facing the Ducks, Shawn Thornton will be facing the team with which he got his first real chance. Thornton spent the 2006-07 season with the Ducks and on Monday will go against former teammates including George Parros, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Teemu Selanne.
Thornton spoke highly of his time in Anaheim, though he said Parros is the only one he still keeps in touch with.
– It’s never too early to begin looking at the playoff picture. Milan Lucic had the standings in mind when assessing the matchup of the Bruins and Ducks.
“They’re eighth in the West, and they’re eighth in the East,” the Bruins’ leading goal-scorer said. “We have a chance to move up here and move up in the standings and be tied with Montreal for first in the division. We know it’s a big game for us and we want to [leave] things off the right way going into the Christmas break here.”
– Last but not least, Rene Rancournament night has finally arrived. The Bruins will be giving out complimentary ornaments of National Anthem singer and cult hero Rene Rancourt to fans in attendance. There’s been quite a buzz about it from fans and media alike. Personally, I’lll consider it a letdown if the ornament doesn’t fist-pump and point correctly.
|Bruins vs. Ducks preview||at 10:39 am ET|
Two teams with 38 points will face off on Monday when the Bruins (17-10-4) take on the Ducks (17-15-4). The B’s will see an Anaheim team that aside from a six-game win streak to begin November has struggled to find consistency. The Ducks enter Monday night having lost two straight, while the Bruins broke a three-game skid on Saturday by beating the Capitals, 3-2. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, as the B’s had to fend off a swarming Washington offense in the third period after holding a 3-0 lead in the first.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Bruins are 8-4-3 at the Garden (8-5-3 in home games including the Prague opener) and have turned their luck at the Garden around since entering December as a 4-4-2 home team. The Bruins have come away with a point in all five home contests this month, posting a 4-0-1 record.
– The Ducks have been a fine home team, but their 6-9-3 road record is what finds them in third place in in the Pacific division despite having played three more games than the first-place Stars (43 points) and second-place Sharks (39). The Ducks have lost their last two games, both of which were on the road, and are 2-2-1 in their last five road contests.
– Blake Wheeler has points in consecutive games for just the third time this season, while he has scored in back-to-back contests for the first time all year. Things are starting to pick up production-wise between the 24-year-old winger and linemate Patrice Bergeron (four points in the last two games), so whether the second line can keep up their new-found means of success is worth keeping an eye on.
– The number of shots allowed recently has been alarming. Tim Thomas saw 40 or more shots just once in 15 starts through the first two months of the season. This month, however, Thomas has seen at least 40 in four of his seven starts.
Saturday was the most blatant case of the shots-on-goal problem. The B’s were outshot 26-2 in the third period. Those 26 shots for the Capitals in the final 20 minutes were five more than the 21 the B’s had all game.
– Anaheim right wing Corey Perry enters Monday night’s game fifth in the NHL with 38 points. The 25-year-old has eight points in his last four games, including an impressive showing Dec. 12 against the Wild in which he picked up his first hat trick and tied a career-high with five points.
Ryan Getzlaf also finds himself top 10 in the league in points with 35. The former first-rounder scored both of Anaheim’s goals in Saturday night’s 4-2 loss to the Hurricanes.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– The Bruins may have broken their losing streak, but their struggles are still evident. Fortunately for them, they are no longer the woeful home team they were last season and for the majority of this season. This seems to be the right setting for them to get the convincing win they haven’t had since perhaps the Tampa Bay game or the Buffalo contest. Wins over the Islanders don’t count.
– Despite the sub-par play over their last four games, the B’s, currently with 12 points in December, are a win away from tying the 14 points they had in November, their most successful month this season. Including Monday, the Bruins have five games let this month.
– The inconsistency for Nathan Horton is back, and with three shots on goal (and zero points) in his last three games, he’s got to shoot more and be more physical to avoid confirming the reputation he had coming in as a player who disappears.