|Tim Thomas: ‘It’s time to start righting the ship’||11.15.10 at 11:40 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was happy to admit that his fourth shutout of the season was a collective effort. Thanks to the blocked shots of Dennis Seidenberg and captain Zdeno Chara effectively rubbing out Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Elias, Thomas faced just 28 shots and stopped them all in a 3-0 win over the Devils Monday night at TD Garden.
But that wasn’t the biggest story. The Bruins managed to put three pucks behind future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, one more than they scored during an unlikely three-game home ice losing skid.
“There was definitely a little urgency but it was a controlled urgency,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t a panicked urgency. It was more like, ‘Hey, it’s time to start righting the ship and tonight’s a good place to start.’”
The Bruins were just 2-4-1 on home ice this season.
“I personally approached it as a must-win and I think the team did too,” Thomas said. “We need to get back on track; we need to show some urgency. We faced a team that’s been playing better but has struggled this year, and we needed to come out with the win so that we could start building and getting back to the game that we were playing when we were having success.”
Thomas did face pressure at times, like late in the second period when the Devils fired the last six shots of the period.
“Yeah, that and the first couple minutes of the game there,” Thomas said. “Elias was very, very patient. You know, there was some times where we really controlled the play for long periods of time and there were other times where they made a push and I just had to be on my toes and the team had to be on their toes for the rebounds.”
The way it played out, Thomas weathered the storm at the start, and had pretty much clear sailing the rest of the way.
“I don’t know, well, you could look at it either way. Yeah, it could be tough, or looking back, it actually could help get me into the game,” Thomas said. “And it happened so quick that I didn’t have time to think about it. I didn’t have time to think, “Is this really happening in the first minute of the game?” It was just like, “I got to find some way to stop this thing.”
“It’s a similar feeling to how I felt against Washington, probably early this year was the closest that I kind of felt like that. I just felt like they weren’t going to find a way to score.”
As the minutes wound down, he could sense he was closing in on his 21st career shutout, just 91 shy of his counterpart Monday night.
“The last several minutes you start to put some emphasis because you don’t want to work that hard and not get it,” Thomas said. “I used to not care about shutouts and I still don’t for the most part, but that was 21 and 25 is a milestone that few people reach in the NHL.”
|Tim Thomas shuts out Devils as Bruins win||at 9:24 pm ET|
Tim Thomas picked up his fourth shutout of the season as the 36-year-old blanked the Devils in front of a sold out crowd at TD Garden on Monday night, leading the Bruins to a 3-0 win. Thomas stopped all 28 of the shots he saw, as he improved to 9-1-0 on the season.
Michael Ryder, Nathan Horton and Blake Wheeler scored for the Bruins in the first, second, and third periods, respectively. Horton leads the team with eight goals, while Ryder picked up his fifth goal and Wheeler scored his third.
The Bruins will travel to New York to face the Rangers on Wednesday in Claude Julien’s 500th game as a coach.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- All three of the Bruins’ scorers had either a bit of intrigue or relief accompany their goals Horton had cooled off a bit at home, so getting on the board at the Garden is huge for the Bruins as they aim to get some offense going in front of the home crowd this year.
Ryder, meanwhile, continues to make it harder for the Bruins to send him to Providence when Marco Sturm and Marc Savard return from long term injury reserve. Ryder has a $4 million cap hit, but he’s third on the team in goals and is on pace to surpass his 18-goal total of a year ago.
Wheeler, who like teammate Mark Stuart donated $5,000 worth of tickets to local military troops, was due for a goal. He both created plays on Saturday night and had them fall apart, getting the wrath of the fans when he knocked one in the Senators’ net hit his glove.
- The woes continue for the $100 million man, Ilya Kovalchuk, and the Devils. The Bruins held the sniper to just two shots on goal, and Kovalchuk finished the night a minus-one. Through 17 games, Kovalchuk has nine goals and is a minus-nine.
- On November 15, Tim Thomas is just one shutout away from tying his career-high of five, a feat he has been accomplish in the last two seasons.
- Mark Recchi now leads the Bruins with 10 assists. He entered the game tied with David Krejci for the team lead with eight, and picked up helpers on the goals by Ryder and Wheeler.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Tyler Seguin has just one point in his last seven games. The Bruins don’t need him to be the star he’s expected to become right away, but with Krejci out there was certainly opportunity for him to showcase his talents and get a little more playing time. He continues to hover in the 12:00-13:00 range as far as ice time goes, and with Ryder no longer on his line, he may have a harder time keeping the point total up. Patience is the key, and this scribe isn’t ready to go back on his 23-goal prediction for Seguin in his rookie year.
- Ryder’s seen a bit of a spike in penalty minutes these last couple of games. He entered the Senators game on Saturday with just two on the season and, after going off for a dive on Saturday, was called for tripping at 1:35 of the third. He did, of course draw a Mattias Tedenby double-minor in the second period, negating the four minutes he’s compiled over the last two games.
|Nathan Horton adds to Bruins’ lead in second period||at 8:46 pm ET|
Apologies for some technical difficulties making this a couple of minutes late…
The Bruins added to their lead in the second period, and it sure was a welcomed sight.
The Bruins had just two goals over their previous three home games at the Garden, and Nathan Horton, the team’s top scorer, had zero points in his last four home games. That changed when he beat Martin Brodeur with a wrister 43 seconds into the second period. Horton has just one shot on goal in the game, but he’s made it count.
Through two periods, Tim Thomas has saved all 14 shots he’s seen. The Bruins are outshooting the Devils, 17-14.
|Devils at Bruins preview, 11/15/10||at 5:14 pm ET|
Martin Brodeur did not participate in the Devils’ optional morning skate on Monday, but he is expected to get the start in net on Monday night when the Devils take on the Bruins. Tim Thomas was first off the ice in the Bruins’ morning skate, making a Brodeur-Thomas matchup likely. Thomas and the Bruins beat the Devils, 4-1, on Oct. 16 in New Jersey.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 2-4-1 in home games, and 2-3-1 at the Garden. They’ve scored just two goals over their last three home games, a span in which they have gone 0-2-1.
- The Devils are 4-5-0 on the road this season and 2-4-0 in their last six road games.
- Here’s one that hasn’t been repeated over and over: Shawn Thornton, at three goals this season, has just one less than $100 million man, Ilya Kovalchuk. Beat that dead horse!
- Monday night will be Claude Julien’s 499th career game. He’s coached the majority of them (260) for the Bruins.
- In three home starts this season, Thomas has allowed three goals: two on Saturday against the Senators, and one in the home opener. He is 2-1-0 at home, including a shutout vs. the Maple Leafs on Oct. 28.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- Expect a bit of line shuffling for the Bruins. The merlot line/energy line/Shawn-Thornton-has-three-goals line was tinkered with, and the tweaked result is now the third line. Michael Ryder replaces Thornton on the right wing, and the third line now appears to be Gregory Campbell between Brad Marchand and Ryder.
The move also allows Tyler Seguin to resume the role of the fourth line center, though Julien said Monday that he’s not afraid to use him late in games in which the team needs a goal given his natural ability. Here are what the lines could look like:
Lucic – Bergeron – Horton
Caron – Wheeler – Recchi
Marchand – Campbell – Ryder
Paille – Seguin – Thornton
Chara – Ference
Hunwick – Seidenberg
Stuart – McQuaid
The move, at face value at least, also makes things worse on Seguin given that he and Ryder had a very apparent chemistry on the ice, seemingly always connecting on gutsy passes.
- It is Military Appreciation Night here at the Garden. Both Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler have purchased $5,000 in tickets to the game, which will be given to troops. It is Stuart’s second straight year of buying tickets for the troops.
- Until the Bruins prove capable of winning at home, the attention is going to be on their play at the Garden. Nathan Horton, despite playing one of his best games in a Bruins uniform against St. Louis, hasn’t picked up a point in any of the B’s last four games at the Garden.
|Senators defeat Bruins, 2-0||11.13.10 at 9:35 pm ET|
Tim Thomas suffered his first loss of the season as the Senators defeated the Bruins, 2-0, at TD Garden on Saturday night behind a shutout from Brian Elliot. With the loss, Thomas is now 8-1-0 in 10 starts this season.
Erik Karlsson scored for the Senators in the first period, getting the puck off a face-off won by Ottawa center Chris Kelly and firing a wrist shot past Tim Thomas. Daniel Alfredsson picked up his seventh goal of the season and made it 2-0 at 4:15 of the third when he took a pass from Milan Michalek and beat Thomas from the bottom of the circle on a bang-bang play.
Patrice Bergeron nearly had the Bruins on the board in the second period with the B’s on the power play. A high shot from Bergeron took a funny bounce off Elliot and nearly crossed the goal line. Blake Wheeler dove to tip it in, but accidentally got a glove on it, and the play was called no goal.
The loss dropped the Bruins’ record in home games to 2-4-1, with their Garden record falling to 2-3-1. The Bruins have not won a home game since Oct. 28, when the B’s defeated the Maple Leafs, 2-0.
The Bruins will try to remedy their home woes when they host the Devils on Monday night.
|Senators at Bruins preview, 11/13||at 12:29 pm ET|
The Bruins are set to take on the Senators on Saturday night at TD Garden. Tim Thomas was first off the ice for the Bruins in their morning skate, with Cory Clouston telling reporters following the Senators’ skate that he will start Brian Elliot, who is 8-4 with a 2.81 goals against average and a .911 save percentage in 12 games this season. Both teams have 17 points on the young season, though the Senators, who are 8-7-1, have played three more contests than the 8-4-1 Bruins.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Bruins are 2-3-1 as the home team this season, and 2-2-1 when playing at the Garden. They’ve gone 0-2-1 in their last three home games, the most recent of which was a 3-1 loss to the Canadiens on Thursday night.
- The Senators are 3-3-1 on the road this season, though they have won their last two contests away from Ottawa and beat the Canadiens in Montreal last Saturday.
- Thomas has started just two games at home this season, and the only goal he allowed in the six periods was one he gave away to Jason Chimera of the Capitals. Overall, the 36-year-old is 8-0-0 with a 1.39 goals against average and an NHL-best .959 save percentage in nine starts. He shut out the Senators on Oct. 30th, one of three shutouts he’s picked up this season.
- Old friend Sergei Gonchar is a minus-nine for the Senators in his first season with the club. Yeesh.
- Even Nathan Horton has seen a dip in production at the Garden as of late. Since picking up a goal and an assist in the B’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Oct. 23, he’s been held off the scoring sheet in three contests in Boston. Such a statistic should be taken with a grain of salt, however, as the Bruins have been able to score just four goals over their last three games at the Garden.
Horton still leads the Bruins with four goals in home games this season, though two of them came in Prague.
- Only three Bruins have positive plus/minus ratings in home games this season: Gregory Campbell, Milan Lucic, and Brad Marchand, all of whom are a plus-one. Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler are at the opposite end of the spectrum, as each are a minus-four in home games.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- There are two things the Bruins are dealing with: injuries and struggles at home. One is beyond their control, and the other remains a growing problem. They’ve faced good teams at the Garden this season, but they’ve had no trouble beating top teams on the road. Stay tuned as more develops.
- Filip Kuba will make his season debut for the Senators, with Clouston indicating he will be paired with Erik Karlsson. The 33-year-old has been out with a fractured fibula. In 61 games last season, the Czech-born defenseman had three goals and 25 assists.
- When the Bruins last faced the Senators, Ottawa was sitting at 4-5-1, but they’ve picked it up since. The Senators are 4-1-0 since that Oct. 30th contest, though the loss came in their most recent game, an ugly showing in which the Canucks handled them in 6-2 fashion.
|Is Tuukka Rask snake-bitten? It sure looks that way||11.12.10 at 10:19 am ET|
It must be hard for Tuukka Rask right now.
His Bruins teammates got off to a red-hot start and his fellow netminder one stall over in the dressing room was off to one of the best starts in team history.
But after Thursday night’s 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, Rask stands with an 0-4-1 record. How bad is it? He has more losses than games started.
When the Bruins came back to tie the Washington Capitals last Friday night, he came on in relief of Tim Thomas, only to allow the go-ahead goal and get charged with the loss. He has a 2.75 goals against average but his coach hasn’t lost faith because he believes Rask deserves a better fate.
“I don’t know if it’s at home, but I think it’s just overall,” Claude Julien said after Thursday’s latest setback. “It’s unfortunate, because so far, I don’t think we’ve played great in front of him. That first game in Prague, I think was our worst game ever so far this year. Tonight we weren’t a very good team in front of him. I thought he played well in St. Louis and took us into a shootout. But I don’t know that I would go after him and say that he’s not playing well. I think we need to help him out a little bit. When goalies find their groove, it’s because the team in front of him play maybe better than we have.”
He was respectable again on Thursday night, stopping 25-of-26 shots before a power play goal inside the first minute of the third period gave the Canadiens control.
Rask, who was the starter in the playoffs last year and figured to be this season after surgery to Tim Thomas, can’t seem to catch a break.
“Well, I think pros are pros and you can’t do everything for them,” Julien added. “That’s part of being a pro. You’ve got to be mentally strong, and you’ve got to fight through those things and the coach will always more or less always help them out, but he’s got to do his share to work through those things if confidence becomes an issue, but I don’t think he’s there.”
What does Rask think?
“That’s hockey, you know,” he said. “Try to do your best and save every puck and if you don’t get the bounce, you don’t, and if you do, just that’s great. Today there was more unlucky bounces again.”
Can’t blame him if it seems like he’s seen more than his fair share so far this season.
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