|Tim Thomas is already thinking Stanley Cup playoffs||12.08.10 at 11:55 am ET|
The veterans on the Bruins who have been around the block a few times realize that Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime win against Buffalo was just another win in December. But they also realize that it’s significant for one very important reason.
When you get to April and May and the Stanley Cup playoffs, there are no shootouts and you need to find a way to win overtime games. Another satisfying aspect of this early-December win was the fact the Bruins trailed 2-1 against Ryan Miller – one of the best goalies in the sport – with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation. So before winning in overtime the Bruins had to force the extra period.
The Bruins took advantage of a turnover in front of the Buffalo net and Nathan Horton scored his second goal in as many games to tie the game, 2-2. Again, just like April and May, teams with Cup aspirations need to find a way to just force overtime when you’re down a goal.
“I mean just to come back being down two to one in the third period, but then to finish it off that's the key because I mean if… theoretically every game that you play in is a Stanley Cup run there are no shootouts in the Stanley Cup playoffs, you need to find a way to win that in overtime,” Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. “So that's what we did tonight and that's a good thing.”
And you need your goalie to make big saves in overtime – just like Thomas did on Derek Roy on the doorstep just 40 seconds into the overtime. And in the Stanley Cup playoffs, you get bizarre circumstances – like scoring the winning goal, only to have play continue for about a minute before a stoppage and video review confirmed Mark Recchi‘s game-winning deflection off Dennis Seidenberg‘s blast from the high slot.
“I don't know if I have ever been a part of a game like that,” Thomas said. “I've seen it on TV and stuff a couple times and actually by the time we actually got a whistle I'd forgotten about that goal. So, when I happened to glance up, I didn't get to see if the puck went in on the replay but the crowd was happy, so I just started celebrating hoping that the crowd was right.”
“It's been tough for us, I think, in that area. Number one, as you saw, we used three forwards and one D to try to get some more offense on that five-minute overtime, four-on-four,” Julien said. “Most of our offense has been coming from up front. At the same time, we haven't been very good in shootouts. We don't have a very good percentage as a group, so I guess, for the time being, you try to adjust and try and put the odds on your side. We went that way and ended up on the power play and were able to score.”
Recchi added final perspective on the significance of the December win.
“It's important,” Recchi said. “We'd like not to get [to overtime], but if we do get there then you've got to be good and you've got to be sharp. We use our bench very well, so guys are pretty fresh when it comes and we don't have over-tired people. It's good. Timmy [Thomas] came off a big save and then we were able to capitalize on the power play.”
|Sabres at Bruins preview||12.07.10 at 12:45 pm ET|
After falling to the Maple Leafs in a shootout on Saturday night, the Bruins are back at TD Garden, where they will face the Sabres. The B’s had no trouble handling handling Lindy Ruff’s squad in Buffalo on Nov. 3, scoring five goals against a backup cocktail of Jhonas Enroth and Patrick Lalime.
The groin injury that kept Ryan Miller out of that contest is a thing of the past, and the reigning Vezina winner is on fire. He’s coming off back-to-back shutouts, including a 1-0 shootout victory Saturday in Ottawa.
The Bruins held an optional morning skate on Tuesday. Tim Thomas and Mark Recchi were the only two to miss it, but given that Thomas is on a hot streak of his own (three goals allowed on 119 shots over the last three games), one would think he’d be between the pipes.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 5-5-2 in home games and are 5-4-2 in games played at TD Garden. They throttled the Lightning to the tune of an 8-1 victory last Thursday, their most recent home contest.
- Like the Bruins, the Sabres are a much better road team than they are a home team. They’ve compiled a 6-5-2 record away from Buffalo, while their 5-8-1 home record has a lot to do with why they’re currently fourth in the Northeast with 25 points.
- Thomas continues to lead the NHL in the three major goaltending statistics. His .956 save percentage, 1.46 goals against average, and five shutouts are tops in the league.
- Former Bruin Steve Montador is tied for second in the league with a plus-16. In 13 games for the Bruins in 2008-09, Montador a plus-3 and had two points. He added three more points and was a plus-5 in 11 playoff games.
- The Sabres are just about as bad offensively this year as the Bruins were last year. The B’s averaged a league-worst 2.39 goals per game last season, while Buffalo currently averages 2.4 a night, which is 25th in the league.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- Nathan Horton has shown signs of picking it up as of late, getting points in each of the last two games, including his first goal in 10 games Saturday. The sharpshooting winger still has just two points in his last eight games after registering 18 in the 17 prior.
- This will be the Bruins’ first game since sending Jordan Caron to Providence. Caron had been a healthy scratch in the last two games due to the return of Marc Savard, so geting the 20-year-old playing time is clearly in everyone’s best interest.
“It's never an easy decision because the guy has been here since the beginning of the year,” Claude Julien told reporters after the morning skate. “At the same time, he's a young player. I mean, David Krejci went back and forth and I don't think that it hurt his career, except that it probably helped him, so I think those decisions are always made with the right intentions. Management wants to see him play and at this stage of his career, he can be brought up and down as much as we want, so I don't think it's an issue there because there's no, he doesn't have to clear waivers or anything like that. We just want to see him progress and he's going to progress by playing.”
“With [Seguin's] speed and using Savvy as a left hand shot, it's a lot easier for him to pass to the right side. But we just kind of made that decision and all three guys are comfortable with that.”
|Bruins crush Lightning, 8-1||12.02.10 at 9:31 pm ET|
Twelve different Bruins had points and the B’s chased Tampa Bay starter Mike Smith from the net in a 8-1 victory at TD Garden.
In a contest that featured standout play from many a Bruin, David Krejci and Tim Thomas stole the show. Krejci, who hadn’t scored since Oct. 30, scored a pair of goals and added an assist en route to a plus-4 night.
Thomas improved to 13-2-1 on the season, having his shutout streak stopped at 107:22 by a Victor Hedman goal in the second period. Thomas had picked up his league-leading fifth shutout of the season a night before in Philadelphia.
With the victory, the Bruins improved to 14-8-2 on the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Lucic has now surpassed his point total from last season. In 50 games last season, Lucic had 20 points. Through 24 games this season, Lucic has 22 thanks to the assist he picked up on Krejci’s goal and his own second-period goal.
Not only is Lucic healthy, which is huge for him, but he’s played at a higher level and seems set to demolish the 20 goals he was hoping for entering the season (he has 12 thus far).
- It’s been beaten to death, yes, but as long as Thornton is outproducing Ilya Kovalchuk, it will receive attention. With his second-period tally, Thornton surpassed Kovalchuk with five goals to the Devils’ forward’s four.
- Thomas picked up his second assist of the season, getting the secondary helper on Thornton’s tally. The double-threat goaltender’s other point came on Seguin’s first career goal in Prague on Oct. 10.
- Ryder has assists in three straight games. The first assist he picked up on Thursday came on a goal that should have never been scored, but he’ll take it. Ryder was given the helper on Dennis Seidenberg’s goal, a shot from center ice that was misplayed by Smith.
Ryder also sniped one past Dan Ellis from the top of the circle in the third period to make it a 6-1 game. He added his third point of the night on Recchi’s power-play goal.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The idea of Seguin playing on a line with Savard is very intriguing, but the rookie wasn’t much of a factor on Thursday. Seguin registered one shot on goal and had two shots blocked on the night.
Getting pucks on net hasn’t been a struggle for Seguin has worn on, so the lack of shots isn’t exactly a sign of a slump. Seguin had three or more shots in his last four games entering Wednesday’s game with the Flyers. He scored his fifth goal of the season in the 3-0 win in Philadelphia.
- Nathan Horton had a better game and had a golden opportunity on Ellis in the third period, but he has now gone nine contests without a goal. He was, of course, a plus-4 with one assist on the night, so it would be hard for the Bruins to complain.
|Bruins lead Lightning, 4-1, after two||at 8:40 pm ET|
The Bruins added two and the Lightning finally got on the board, and after 40 minutes of play, the Bruins have a 4-1 lead.
Milan Lucic picked up his 12th goal of the season at 6:48, taking a feed from David Krejci on a 3-on-2 and beating Mike Smith. Lucic and Krejci have two points apiece on the night, while Nathan Horton grabbed his first point in seven games on the play.
Shawn Thornton scored his fifth goal of the season late in the period, with Brad Marchand and Thomas getting the assists. Thomas now has two assists on the season. He picked up his first on Tyler Seguin’s first career goal on Oct. 10 in Prague.
|Tim Thomas gets fifth shutout as Bruins beat Flyers||12.01.10 at 9:30 pm ET|
It didn’t advance them to the Eastern Conference finals, but the Bruins beat the Flyers, 3-0, in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin had goals in the first period, while Milan Lucic added an empty-netter to put the nail in the coffin. Tim Thomas turned in 41 saves for his league-leading fifth shutout of the season.
The Bruins won in a rather flashy manner, receiving sprawling saves from Thomas and Tyler Seguin’s latest eye-candy goal, a top-shelf tally on Flyers’ goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Thomas also stopped Flyers winger Scott Hartnell on a penalty shot in the second period.
With five shutouts, Thomas tied his career high, which he had reached in each of the last two seasons.
The Bruins will return to TD Garden on Thursday night, where they will face Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Bergeron’s goal marked the first time in five games that the Bruins have scored the first goal of the game. The team remains undefeated when scoring the first goal, and in the last four games, the team had been 1-3-1.
- Claude Julien said following the home opener on Oct. 21 that Tim Thomas had played so well that the only way he could have allowed a goal was if he caused it himself.
It was rather apparent early on in the second period Wednesday that Thomas was having that type of night once again. The 36-year-old stood on his head, making seemingly-impossible saves and recovering well when caught out of position. Unlike that home opener, where Thomas did pass a puck to Jason Chimera for the Capitals’ lone goal, there wasn’t a single error on Thomas’ part in his fifth shutout of the season.
- The special teams had a better statistical night after their recent slumps. The Bruins were 1-for-2 on the power play and stopped the Flyers on all four of their power plays.
The B’s penalty kill had allowed goals on four of their opponents’ last sic power plays entering the game.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins took a positive step with a win over one of the best teams in the league, but the slump continued for Nathan Horton. The winger has now gone eight games without a goal and has no points in his last six games.
The posts also continued to haunt Horton, as a third-period opportunity rang off the post of Bobrovsky.
- Here’s a case of sneaking a “what went right” into the “what went wrong” area: David Krejci was all over the place but had nothing to show for it until his assist on Lucic’s empty-netter. The center tied Blake Wheeler for the most shots among Bruins forwards, including an impressive between-the-legs bid in the second period.
|Bruins lead Flyers, 2-0, after two||at 8:39 pm ET|
Tim Thomas has been spellbinding, and after two periods, the Bruins are holding on to a 2-0 lead over the Flyers.
The Bruins’ netminder has 29 saves through 40 minutes of play, and he’s been especially tough on Scott Hartnell. Hartnell has four shots on goal and actually got hit in the face by Thomas after he was a little too persistent with trying to knock a puck out of Thomas’ possession. Both players received minor penalties, with Tyler Seguin serving Thomas’.
After serving his penalty, Hartnell came out of the box and had a breakaway foiled by Andrew Ference taking him down. The play resulted in a penalty shot, with Thomas once again besting the Flyers winger.
The Flyers are 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Bruins are 1-for-2. Sergei Bobrovsky has 22 saves on 24 shots.
|Bruins lead Flyers, 2-0, after one||at 7:46 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron did something the Bruins haven’t exactly done a lot lately: scored the first goal of the game. After 20 minutes, the Bruins hold a 2-0 lead over the Flyers.
Milan Lucic did some fancy weaving through a couple of defenders in front, only to get stopped by Sergei Bobrovsky. Old friend Seaon O’Donnell’s attempt at clearing the puck out left more to be desired, as he simply fired it to Patrice Bergeron, who quickly shot it high and into the net. It was the first time since Nov. 18 against the Panthers that the Bruins notched the game’s first tally.
The Bruins have not lost this season after scoring the first goal. It was Bergeron’s fourth goal of the season. Three of his goals have now come on the power play.
Tyler Seguin added his fifth goal of the season thanks to a tough pass from Michael Ryder on a 2-on-1. With Bobrovsky’s positioning forcing Seguin to beat him high, the rookie did just that, going top shelf to make it a 2-0 game.
Shawn Thornton and Jody Shelley danced in the period’s only fight. The Bruins were 1-for-1 on the power play, while the Flyers will still have 10 seconds remaining on their third power play when the second period opens.
Tim Thomas has stopped all 14 shots he’s seen, while Bobrovsky has allowed a pair of goals on 10 shots.
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