|Seidenberg ties it up at 1-1 in the first period||05.14.09 at 8:12 pm ET|
19:40: Quick shot from Joni Pitkanen at the left point on Tim Thomas. Glove save with some pushing and shoving afterward. The crowd is appropriately crazy tonight.
18:15: Couple of quick shots by Dennis Wideman from the right point, and a nifty little curl-and-drag move by David Krejci after he shook of a check behind the net. Krejci looks sharp tonight.
17:05: Solid defense by Aaron Ward during a potential one-on-one between him and Eric Staal coming down the left side. Ward didn’t back off and Staal’s shot bounced off his right skate and away from danger.
14:57: Tuomo Ruutu with another tester from well beyond the left faceoff dot with Ryan Bayda bearing down on Tim Thomas. Tank made the save cleanly before Bayda could get to the cage. The Canes are pushing a constant flow of bodies at the Boston net in the early going. The early flow of this game has a Carolina advantage to it.
12:18: This place just went nut. Byron Bitz with his first career playoff goal. A Dennis Wideman blast from the high slot missed wide left of the net and then caromed back out in front. Krejci missed the puck as he went for it at the left post, but Bitz picked the puck clean out of the traffic and fired the shot into the open net. Bitz followed the goal with a Stanley Cup primal roar that any Bruin would be proud of.
9:25: Scott Walker yacking at Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi or anybody else that will listen following a Tim Thomas cover-up for a whistle. He’s determined to play the bad guy in the series, but the Bruins aren’t listening – or more importantly, responding – at this point.
BTW, there was definitely a Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake sighting in the TD Banknorth Garden press box tonight. He’s wearing his trademark white Underarmor T-Shirt and his arms are roughly the size of Kansas from end-to-end.
7:58: Hooking penalty on P.J. Axelsson for going after Eric Staal as he crashed into Tim Thomas. No call on Staal as he came crashing toward threand a hook for P.J.
6:01: The Canes tie it up with score in front of the net from the Ultimate Warrior, Rod Brind’Amour. With one second left on the Carolina PP, Dennis Seidenberg wound up from the high slot and blasted away with Brind’Amour redirecting the puck in front of the net. Edit: Check that, Seidenberg got credit for the goal for his shot up top, but a good screen job from Brind’Amour in front.
3:59: Milan Lucic just missed on the tip of a Dennis Wideman blast from the right point. The puck trickled just to the left of the net after Big Looch camped out in front.
3:08: Two minutes in the sin bin for Tuomo Ruutu for slashing. First PP for Boston.
1:45: Best bid of a disjointed PP came when Phil Kessel worked the puck in from the point to the right faceoff circle and fired a shot at Cam Ward. Ward made the initial stop, and Chuck Kobasew had two good whacks at it in front of the net. The second shot hit Ward’s pads and then bounced right out past the left post. Nobody there to blast it home, though.
00:00: A hit on Marc Savard there at the end that looked as if it hobbled the center a little bit. He bent over and then limped a bit as he skated off the ice.
The Bruins and Hurricanes are tied at a a 1-1 score after one full period in the decisive Game 7 at the TD Banknorth Garden.
|Recchi, Montador have Bruins up 2-0 after first period||05.12.09 at 7:12 pm ET|
RALEIGH — 19:26: Patrice Bergeron knifes through the Carolina defense and levels a shot at Cam Ward from the right faceoff circle.
18:48: Big heavy shot by Dennis Seidenberg from the right point that Tim Thomas kicked out harmlessly to the right.
17:59: Bruins score that immediately silences that crowd. Bergeron again rushed the puck up the right side of the all by himself, cut through the Hurricanes defense and then dished to a wide open Mark Recchi as Anton Babchuk took out Cam Ward at the net and knocked the post off the moorings. It looked liked the puck got through before the post came unhinged, but it’s under review.
Call on the ice stands. It’s a goal.
17:33: A bad Carolina turnever in their own end leads to another Michael Ryder snap shot from the slot. The Canes look sloppy in this one early.
14:56: Wow. Great behind the back tip pass from David Krejci in the high slot to Steve Montador at the right left point, and Montador beats Ward up high with a slap shot blast. The Carolina crowd’s silence is deafening.
12:06: Big pad save by Thomas on a Tim Gleason bomb from the right point. The Canes look as if everything is coming from the outside in the early going.
Just like I wrote in this piece, it looks like the Bruins players have made a little bit of an adjustment and are sometimes just lugging the puck all the way up the ice with speed rather than passing around too much and letting the forecheck hem them in their own zone.
8:14: Phil Kessel fired a shot from the slot and then just couldn’t corral the rebound in a prime shooting spot in front of the net.
7:40: Best save of the night for Thomas as he was falling forward on a doorstep bid by Eric Staal and basically leapt forward at the puck to block the shot in tight.
5:55: Great job by Patrice Bergeron of forechecking and stealing a puck out of mid-air and then battling with Chad LaRose for a potential one-on-one bid with Ward. Bergeron couldn’t quite get past LaRose, though, and just pushed a diving forehand bid to the right of the goal.
The B’s are putting heavy pressure on Ward in this period from very close to the night.
5:04: Good job by Thomas of blocking a Matt Cullen shot and then directing it toward the side of the net.
4:05: That was Thomas’ best save of the net. Sergei Samsonov rifled a shot from the left faceoff circle and Thomas kicked it to Jussi Jokinen in the slot. Jokinen fired but Thomas able to deflect the shot and avert a really messy situation in close to the B’s cage.
00:30.1: The Hurricanes have really started turning up the pressure, and the Staal, Cole, Whitney line kept the puck in the B’s zone for at least a minute with some really rapid fire puck movement. The possession resulted in Zdeno Chara blasting Eric Staal behind the net and holding him down behind the cage while his teammates tried to get the puck out of the zone. First PP for the Canes.
Big for the B’s to hold off the Canes and sustain their two-goal lead after getting hit with a pretty good shot by Carolina there at the end.
The Bruins have taken a 2-0 lead after one full period of play during Game 6 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.
|Don Cherry giving some big B’s love on HNIC||05.03.09 at 4:51 pm ET|
Good Boston Bruins material from Don Cherry from ‘Coach’s Room’ on Hockey Night in Canada over the last couple of weeks. Cherry has never shied away from showing some big, big love for his former team, and he fires off a few good rounds over the last few weeks of TV time.
The first CC is a walk down memory lane with the Lunchpail AC team he helped mold behind the Boston bench, and a comparison between B’s goaltender Tim Thomas and Hall of Famer Gump Worsley given their similarly athletic, frenetic goaltending styles. There’s no denying that some of the old school grainy Gump footage looks like a heck of a lot like Thomas when things get a little hectic around the Boston cage.
Here’s another round of CBC’s Coach’s Corner from this weekend with Cherry continuing his long-standing hockey love affair with Marc Savard. Cherry also features what looks like a Bruins beanie baby on the HNIC desk while he and HNIC host Ron MacLean breeze their way through the intermission show. He starts it all by pronouncing “I’m on the (Bruins) bandwagon”, and then lauds Savard for everything from his playmaking to the understated way he celebrates goals in Game 1 against the Hurricanes. Love the Scott Stevens “crazy eyes” shot as well.
|Savard scores a pair in sweet Game 1 victory for B’s||05.01.09 at 8:29 pm ET|
19:30: Ryan Whitney had a nice redirect of a Tim Gleason shot from the right point, but Tim Thomas was able to kick out a right pad and knock the puck away. Through two periods, Thomas has been the better of the two goaltenders in this Game 1 matchup. One of the biggest keys to the series.
17:31: Slashing penalty on Erik Cole. His second time in the sin bin tonight.
16:48: Chuck Kobasew took a late swipe at the puck handled by Cam Ward, and Dennis Seidenberg took exception with a hard slam to Kobasew against the back boards behind the Carolina net.
14:20: That was vintage Vezina Timmy. Whitney cut through P.J. Axelsson and Aaron Ward and feathered a backhand pass to Staal at the left post. Thomas stretched out his left pad and stoned Staal cold on the point blank shot in front of the net. A huge third period save right there.
12:39: And that’s the dagger. The Bruins and Canes traded the puck back and forth in rushes up and down the ice, but Kessel, Savard and Lucic finally broke through. Kessel carried the puck into the offensive zone on the left side, and then threw a perfect drop-down pass to Savard at the right faceoff circle. Savard reared and fired a missile from the right dot that beat Ward blocker-side.
The Bruins have been relentless, and Ward has not looked all that good between the Carolina pipes tonight.
6:50: Another great reaction save by Thomas on a Ruutu tip of a Corvo long shot attempt from the right point.
5:57: Chara off for hooking. First PP of the night for the Hurricanes.
The Bruins torched the Hurricanes by a convincing 4-1 score during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup semifinals at the TD Banknorth Garden.
|“It’s about time” for playoff-ready Bruins||04.30.09 at 12:43 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — With nine days off headed into Friday night’s Game 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes, B’s coach Claude Julien is just as anxious as anybody else to get this puck show going again. Once again the B’s scrimmaged for roughly 45 minutes on Thursday morning with plenty of vigorous skating in preparation for a speedy, hard forechecking Canes unit looking to try and force Boston’s defense into mistakes.
“As they say ‘It’s about time,” said Julien. “I think everybody feels that way and the guys are pretty excited about tomorrow. There’s new life in the room and some excitement, which is what you want. Now it’s time to do our job and produce.”
The Canes fast and furious style should be a pretty good challenge for a Boston hockey club that’s been gathering rust and barnacles since finishing off the Canadiens in Montreal last Wednesday. The layoff combined with the swift Carolina personnel and elite goaltending will make things a far tougher this time around.
“We’ve worked hard all week and I can’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be ready to play tomorrow,” added Julien. “These are the cards that we’ve been dealt. This is the opportunity that we’ve earned: to get some rest and get our players back to 100 percent. Let’s take advantage of it. We haven’t played in nine days, and they’ve had two days off from a seven-game series. There are pros and cons to both. They haven’t had a chance to rest, but they’re also in the groove. Will a long series pay off for us or pay off for them? There’s so much that plays into it.”
–Bruins blueliner Andrew Ference missed the entire first round of the playoffs with a “lower body injury”, but will be a game-day decision for the Bruins against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup semifinals. Ference hasn’t played since an April 4 win against the New York Rangers, and has missed Boston’s last eight games.
“We’re going to make a game-day decision with (Ference),” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “There’s no reason to say ‘yeah’ or ‘nay’ now. We’re going to give him another day and come in at 100 percent, and nothing less. We’ve got a healthy crew and he seems pretty good. If he’s 100 percent tomorrow then he’s going to be in.”
–Many will try to make the Bruins/Canes series into a contest of elite goaltenders at both ends of the ice. Tim Thomas is a Vezina Trophy favorite while Cam Ward boasts a ridiculously overstuffed puck resume at the ripe old age of 25 years old — a body of hockey work that includes a Conn-Smythe Trophy following Carolina’s run to the Cup in 2005-06. The man teammates call “Tank” doesn’t look at it as a feat of goaltending strength, however, and says he learned that lesson early in his career after sometimes measuring his own play against the opposing goaltender.
In 30 playoff games in his young career, Ward is 19-10-1 with three shutouts, a 2.13 goals against average and a .925 save percentage – and his last time in the postseason was the magical Conn-Smythe-worthy rookie season. Thomas isn’t about to get caught up in trying to go save-for-save with the Hurricanes youngster.
“I don’t do that. I play against the other team because I have to,” said Thomas. “The contest I have with myself is to see if I can play to the best of my ability. Any time I did it when I was younger it didn’t work to my advantage. I found that wasn’t the way that I should approach it.”
–Erik Staal was held scoreless in four games and finished with a bogus -6 against the Boston Bruins this season. Considering that he was a 40-goal scorer this year and a 100-point scorer in the 2005-06 Stanley Cup season for the Hurricanes, that’s a pretty good lockdown job by Zdeno Chara and the rest of the B’s defense. Staal had Chara and Co. on the mind today when he met with the media on Thursday morning.
“I don’t think I played my best games against them this year,” said Staal. “I’ve had success against Boston in the past. I like playing in their building. It’s about being ready to play in this series. That’s what it’s about now. The regular season doesn’t really matter at this time of year. We’ll be ready to go.
“It’s a challenge,” added Staal. “He’s a big man. He’s obviously got a great reach and is real strong in the corners. I’ve got to make sure I rely on my speed and my legs. Try and get him turning and twisting and doing thing he’s not comfortable with. Rely on maybe a little more quickness than power. Keep it simple. It’s going to be competitive. He’s a competitive guy. So am I. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
|Tim Thomas named a finalist for Vezina Trophy||04.27.09 at 12:18 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — In another high point during an already-inspiring run with the Boston Bruins, goaltender Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins are the three finalists for the 2008-09 Vezina Trophy, which is awarded “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position,” the National Hockey League announced today.
“He’s obviously earned it, I think he deserves it and I hope he gets it,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “It’s one of those things that he’s done enough for this team, and he certainly deserves the recognition. Hopefully people that vote will see this way.”
The one thing that stands out in Julien’s mind when asked about the rise of Thomas over the years: a story from practice last season when the goal-challenged B’s were looking for a little confidence. Julien was running three-on-zero breakaway rushes where the same line keeps skating and shooting until they score.
The problems were twofold: the B’s couldn’t put the puck in the ocean and Thomas wasn’t taking it easy during the practice. Thomas’ teammates have come to learn that the 35-year-old netminder never takes it easy in practice, and that’s why he’s the odds-on favorite to win the Vezina Trophy this season.
“I know that what really stood out to me in the first month I was here (at practice) and we’re running 3-on-0′s and most of the time the goaltender will make a save, but then they end up putting the empty,” added Julien. “I still remember that one day (last season) when we were trying to get the team to score more, and we did those 3-on-0′s and you had to stay till you scored. At one point I had to blow the whistle because Timmy wasn’t letting them score. I called uncle and we had the next three guys going, but that just showed me his competitiveness. He was diving everywhere and he was determined not to let them score.”
The general managers of the 30 NHL clubs submitted ballots for the Vezina Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Thursday, June 18, during the 2009 NHL Awards that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada.
Following are the finalists for the Vezina Trophy, in alphabetical order:
Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild
After nine seasons honing his craft in Europe and two earning increased playing time in the NHL, Backstrom established himself as the Wild’s go-to goalie this season, appearing in 71 games. He ranked among the League’s top five goaltenders in goals against average (2.33, third), save percentage (.923, fourth) and shutouts (eight, third) and his 37 wins were a franchise record in addition to being the NHL’s fifth-highest total. Backstrom established a club record with 149:19 of consecutive shutout goaltending Dec. 31-Jan. 8.
Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets
Mason began his NHL career by winning his first three starts, Nov. 5, 7 and 8, seizing the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 goaltender role. Named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for both November and December, he posted a club-record three straight shutouts in late December. Mason finished strong, going 8-2-4 from Mar. 7-Apr.8 as Columbus captured the first playoff berth in franchise history. His 10 shutouts led the League and his 2.29 goals against average ranked second to Tim Thomas’ 2.10 for Boston.
Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
Thomas took his game to a different level this season while backstopping the Bruins to their highest victory (53) and points (116) totals since 1971-72. He led the NHL in goals against average (2.10) and save percentage (.933) while posting a career-high 36 wins. He won a career-best seven straight decisions from Dec. 4-30 and closed the regular season by winning his last six starts. Thomas and Boston teammate Manny Fernandez are the winners of the William Jennings Trophy as the Bruins allowed a League-low 196 goals this season.
Leo Dandurand, Louis Letourneau and Joe Cattarinich, former owners of the Montreal Canadiens, presented the trophy to the National Hockey League in 1926-27 in memory of Georges Vezina, the outstanding Canadiens goaltender who collapsed during an NHL game on Nov. 28, 1925, and died of tuberculosis a few months later. Until the 1981-82 season, the goaltender(s) of the team allowing the fewest number of goals during the regular season were awarded the Vezina Trophy.
The NHL will announce the three finalists for each of its awards daily. The remaining announcement schedule:
Tue., April 28: Frank J. Selke Trophy (top defensive forward)
Wed., Apr. 29: Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP)
Thur., Apr. 30: Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (perseverance and dedication to hockey)
Fri., May 1 Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year)
Mon., May 4 NHL Foundation Player Award(contributions to charitable causes)
Previously Announced Trophy Finalists
Calder Trophy (outstanding rookie):
Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets
Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks
Kris Versteeg, Chicago Blackhawks
Norris Trophy (outstanding defenseman):
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
Mike Green, Washington Capitals
Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
Lady Byng Trophy (skill, sportsmanship):
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
|Bear beware||04.15.09 at 1:44 pm ET|
As colleague Joe Haggerty pointed out Tuesday in his five-point plan for taking down the Habs, Bruins netminder Tim Thomas will definitely play a big role in the upcoming Bruins-Canadiens series.
Thomas heads into this series knowing full well all eyes will be on him and how he handles the anticipated traffic in front as Montreal tries to disrupt him. He also knows the the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs when a No. 1 can go down in flames when a No. 8 team gets hot — like last year, when the Bruins nearly pulled it off against the Habs.
It happened in 1982 when Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers were beaten by the Los Angeles Kings in round 1 in the Miracle on Manchester. And it happened in 2000 when the St. Louis Blues, with 114 points, were ousted by San Jose. And while the Bruins were a No. 2 seed in 2004, they lost to the underdog Canadiens in seven games.
“A lot of it is because teams are so close,” Thomas said in offering his explanation. “The difference between one and eight in this league isn’t very much. The difference between five and 11 isn’t very much. There are no easy teams on any given night, depending on how teams are playing and how the momentum has been going for that team, any team can beat any other team and I think that’s why you see the results you see.”
What’s even more intriguing is listening to Thomas talk about the intensity level of this series, and what he learned from last year’s seven-game battle that ended in heartbreak for the B’s in Montreal.
“I had the NHL playoffs described to me before the playoffs last year and I was thinking to myself, ‘Okay, I’ve been to the (Frozen) Four in college, I’ve won a championship in Finland, I’ve been to the World Championships, it can’t be that much different than anything I’ve experienced.’ And I was wrong. It was all more emotional and adrenaline-rushed than anything I could have imagined,” said Thomas, who played at Vermont and went to the Frozen Four in 1996, losing in double-OT to Colorado College.
Thomas doesn’t have to go back that far to remember last week’s hour-long second period, where the Bruins-Canadiens resembled a UFC steel-cage death match.
“I think it’ll increase, if anything,” Thomas said of the intensity. “I’m expecting both teams to obviously be more disciplined. But as far as that type of game, with all-out competing, every man competing up and down the bench, yeah, that’s what I expect.”
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