|Pre-game notes: Shawn Thornton says cool it with the 1972 comparisons||03.03.11 at 1:18 pm ET|
No time for celebration, as the Bruins, fresh off a 6-0-0 road trip, are back at the Garden for a huge game with the Lightning on Thursday. The teams are tied with 81 points apiece through 63 games, with the B’s holding the tie-breaker for second place given that they’ve won less games via shootout.
It will be Tim Thomas between the pipes, as he’ll put his 28-8-6 record on the line after last playing Saturday night in Vancouver. Tuukka Rask started the Bruins’ last two, earning victories over the Oilers and Senators.
Thomas is 2-0-0 in two starts against Tampa Bay, allowing four goals with a .944 save percentage.
While the Bruins have won their last six, the Lightning have gone 3-2-1 in the same span. They lost a 2-1 contest to the red-hot Devils on Wednesday.
Here are some pre-game notes:
- Comparisons are nice, but even Roger Clemens would say people are beating references to 1972′s perfect six-game road trip with a dead horse.
“I don’t look at it at all,” Shawn Thornton said after the morning skate. “I honestly don’t. It’s purely a coincidence as far as I’m concerned.
“We’ve got a six game thing going here, and it doesn’t matter about anything else. We’re just trying to get seven in a row and then eight in a row. We’ll take it one at time here.”
- Claude Julien offered an update on Andrew Ference, who is out with a lower body injury.
“He got examined yesterday by our doctors and things are going extremely well for him,” Julien said. “We hope to see him back on the ice the beginning of next week. That could be as early as Sunday if things keep going well.”
- No Vincent Lecavalier for the Lightning. He’s out with a mid-body injury on which the Lightning haven’t elaborated much.
- The three new guys in Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly will play in the Garden as Bruins for the first time Thursday. Kaberle and Kelly have played five games for the B’s since being acquired via trade, while Peverley has four under his belt.
While Bruins fans will welcome all three to the Garden, the focus will likely be on Kaberle, who was the big fish of trade season. Neither of the newcomers have lost a game as a member of the Bruins, and after years of limited team success in Toronto, that’s something Kaberle welcomes.
“My first six years I played in the playoffs every year. The last five, it wasn’t there. It’s tough to always answer the questions to the media of ‘why not,’” Kaberle said after the morning skate. “Hopefully we’ll have a good rest of the season and prepare for the playoffs.”
Kaberle said he is feeling more and more comfortable as he familiarizes himself with the Bruins way.
“I feel good. Obviously it’s a great team. Every line’s got something on the ice, and everybody can score. It’s nice to see that, and with two goalies behind us, we feel pretty comfortable.”
- Kaberle is undoubtedly the biggest name the team added when the moves were made, but Kelly and Peverley are fitting in very nicely on the third line. Both were among the leagues better faceoff men at the time they were acquired, and having both taking draws and killing penalties is something Julien likes to see.
“Right now, you’ve got to be extremely pleased with first of all [Peverley's] faceoffs, how dominant he’s been on draws,” Julien said. “With that line you’ve got a guy taking him on the strong side, and Kelly, a lefty and a righty, so you’ve got to be comfortable with that situation.”
“At the same time I think both Kelly and Peverley have seemed to have built some pretty quick chemistry there on the penalty kill as well. They seem to read off each other extremely well.”
- Thornton doesn’t want the new guys’ ability to come in and contribute immediately to go unnoticed. All three players have wound up on the scoring sheet since joining the B’s.
“They’re a big part of it too. These guys came in and stepped in seamlessly,” Thornton said. “It’s been a really easy transition for us and them.”
- How about this one from the stat truck? Over the last 10 games, Tyler Seguin has more goals than Steven Stamkos. Take that, development.
Well, not exactly. By Stamkos’ standards, the Tampa Bay star is in a slump as far as goals go. He has just two over the last 10 games (Seguin has three), but continues to lead the league with 41. Seguin has no points over his last four games.
|Mike Milbury on midday show: ‘I like that trend’ of physical play from B’s||03.02.11 at 12:57 pm ET|
NESN and NBC Sports analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the WEEI midday show Wednesday to talk about the red-hot Bruins. To hear the interview, go to the WEEI audio on demand page.
The B’s completed a perfect six-game road trip with a 1-0 victory over the Senators on Tuesday night. Milbury said the resurgence of Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder was a key from the trip.
“The sign that was great for me was Nathan Horton doing something to make a difference,” Milbury said. “Because Horton and Ryder on the right side have to be active and productive. They’ve been uneven all year long. I think it’s important that they stay this way. The fight [Horton] had against Theo Peckham in Edmonton was a brawl. He came out clearly on top. This guy is tough. If he can get the fuse lit for him, the Bruins are going to be a very dangerous team to beat.
“The same is true of Ryder, who I actually think has skated much better along the road trip, and even prior to the road trip, than he has at any time since I’ve seen him. The puck’s not going in as regularly as I think he’d like, but you can see that he’s getting things done.”
Tomas Kaberle, acquired from the Maple Leafs last month, is not signed past this season. Asked if it would be worth it to the Bruins to only have the defenseman for a third of a season, Milbury said: “When you have a chance to make a run for the roses, you’ve got to take it. You’ve got to take advantage of it.”
|Having made their moves, B’s making noise on the ice, stay quiet on deadline day||03.01.11 at 2:44 am ET|
It was a generally quiet couple of days leading up the NHL trade deadline throughout the league, but with the way the Bruins have been going, they may not have been a team that needed much more via trade.
The B’s had their biggest day in that department 10 days prior to the deadline. Seemingly in an effort to both upgrade the roster quickly and avoid taking chances at the last second, general manager Peter Chiarelli made a couple of big deals on Feb. 18, reeling in Tomas Kaberle from Toronto and a package of Rich Peverley and (less notably) Boris Valabik from Atlanta. With the team having already acquired center Chris Kelly from the Senators earlier in that week, Chiarelli hinted at the post-Kaberle trade press conference that he was done making big deals.
With less than $1 million in cap space, you probably should have seen that coming.
Even so, the trade deadline passed, and the B’s moves leading up to it consisted of the following:
- Signing Shane Hnidy
- Trading Brian McGrattan and Sean Zimmerman to the Ducks for David Laliberte and Stefan Chaput, a deal that involved only AHL players.
- Trading Jeff Penner and Mikko Lehtonen‘s rights to the Wild for Swedish goaltender Anton Khudobin.
Not exactly moves that scream “difference-maker,” huh? Well, they don’t have to when they also scream “the team’s already made its moves.”
With Kaberle, Peverley, and Kelly already in the fold, the Bruins were able to use the days leading up to the deadline as a bonding experience while on a Canadian road-trip. While other teams were adding pieces, the Bruins’ new pieces were already contributing. Boston has won five straight, including all four since Kaberle came on board.
While much of the discussion following the trade deadline is on how a team with improvements in tow will fare in the offseason, the moves or lack of moves also mean big things for the stretch run of the regular season. It seems that’s another area in which the B’s might be aided. Already with a six-point lead over the Canadiens in the division despite having played one game less than the Habs this season, the fact that the Canadiens were also quiet over the last couple of days is also encouraging for the B’s. The Habs made their biggest deal when they brought in James Wisniewski from the Islanders earlier in the season, and their lack of activity at the deadline is something the B’s will take.
|Milan Lucic tallies goal and two assists as Bruins beat Canucks, 3-1||02.27.11 at 1:01 am ET|
Milan Lucic scored what proved to be the game-winning goal and added two assists to lead the Bruins to a 3-1 win over the Western Conference-leading Canucks on Saturday night.
With the game tied, 1-1, Lucic scored his team-leading 27th goal of the season with 4:38 left in the game. David Krejci created the chance by weaving through a slew of Vancouver defenders before circling behind the net and finding Dennis Seidenberg at the point. Roberto Luongo (22 saves) stopped Seidenberg’s shot, but Lucic was there to bang home the rebound.
Vancouver’s Manny Malhotra opened the scoring 16:58 into the first when he buried a rebound past Tim Thomas (27 saves). Nathan Horton tied it up midway through the second when he took a pass from Lucic and beat Luongo from the low slot. Patrice Bergeron sealed the win with a late empty-netter.
The loss was the Canucks’ first of the season in a game in which they scored first, and just their sixth at home. The Bruins are now 4-0-0 on their current road trip.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
-It was certainly a nice homecoming for Lucic. Friday night, he was inducted into the “Ring of Honour” for the Vancouver Giants, his junior team. Saturday night, he registered a game-winning goal and two assists against his hometown NHL team. Lucic now has four goals in four games on this road trip.
-The Canucks came into the game with the NHL’s best power play, converting 25.1 percent of such opportunities. But the Bruins held Vancouver’s man advantage scoreless in three attempts Saturday. They did a great job of making it difficult for the Canucks to get set up, and actually held them to zero shots on their first power play of the night.
-After going three games without a point, Horton now has four in his last four games. More importantly, he had five shots on goal and was buzzing around the offensive zone all night. The Bruins need Horton to be a scorer down the stretch, and it looks like he’s starting to become just that.
-Tomas Kaberle registered his first point as a Bruin with the second assist on Horton’s goal. He played well in his first two games with the B’s and the power play has been moving the puck well with him as the quarterback, but he had been held off the score sheet until Saturday night.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
-Andrew Ference left the game in the first period with a lower body injury and did not return. Saturday’s signing of Shane Hnidy looked smart no matter what, but it could look even smarter if the injury to Ference turns out to be anything serious. Ference is currently tied with Adam McQuaid for the team lead in plus/minus at plus-24.
-You can probably count on one hand how many times Brad Marchand has been mentioned under this section. But Saturday night, he took two penalties and posted a minus-1 rating. It marked the fourth time this season Marchand has made two visits to the sin bin in one game. Luckily for him, the Bruins’ penalty kill was able to bail him out.
-The third line of Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder is now scoreless in two games together. It’s certainly nothing to panic about, and obviously it’s going to take some time for them to develop chemistry since none of them has ever played together before, but the Bruins will need them to be productive.
|Shawn Thornton on D&H: Tomas Kaberle ‘one of the best defensemen in the league’||02.21.11 at 12:55 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, while on his way to the airport for the Bruins’ road trip that starts with a game Tuesday in Calgary, checked in with the Dale & Holley show Monday and talked about the team’s recent roster changes. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Asked if there was any tension around the team last week, Thornton acknowledged that there was. “There always is this time of year,” he said. “The media obviously reports it. I think it gets worse these days, with —I’m not bad-mouthing anybody, but — countless blogs and stuff that nobody really has to [be accountable]. You can just throw stuff against the wall and hope it sticks. There’s a lot of names being thrown around nowadays. I think everybody’s hoping that they get one right. So, yeah, there’s a little bit of tension. I think the best thing to do is not try to pay too much attention to it.”
Thornton had high praise for new Bruins Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. “I’ve known Tomas for a long time,” he said. “We were in the minors together for a little bit, actually. The way he moves the puck and the way he sees the ice when he has the puck — even without it — he’s such a smart player. He’s one of the best defensemen in the league, and I think we’re very, very fortunate to have him.”
Of Kelly, Thornton said: “He can skate, he can shoot, he competes really hard. I think he’s a good pickup for us.”
Thornton said the adjustment period for the new Bruins shouldn’t be long, especially considering their age and the fact that Peverley comes from Atlanta, where first-year Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay is using a style similar to the one used when Ramsay was an assistant in Boston the past three seasons. “I think it should be pretty seamless, being that they’re older guys,” Thornton said. “Kelly, Peverly, Kaberle — they’ve all been around the league a bunch. … The fact that Kelly’s been in the league for six, seven years makes it a little easier than being maybe 20 or 21.”
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas challenged Canadiens netminder Carey Price to a fight when the teams met in Boston earlier this month. While it didn’t go so well for Thomas, Thornton was impressed with the effort and strategy. “His game plan was pretty good for a guy fighting somebody a lot bigger,” Thornton said. “I’ve actually used his game plan before. But when you miss your grab on the way in, sometimes it goes all out the window. And it did for him. But you know what? He did a good job. He protected himself well.
“He’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t much of a fight. But that was the loudest I’ve heard the Garden I think in a long time, when those two squared off. It was pretty fun.”
|Brian Burke clears up ‘misinformation’ in post-trade presser||02.19.11 at 3:55 am ET|
Great stuff from Brian Burke‘s presser on Friday. The Maple Leafs general manager went out of his way to clear up what he called “misinformation” this week surrounding the dealings between he and Tomas Kaberle‘s camp. Here’s what he had to say (video below):
“The player did not want to leave. I want to be clear on that. He asked for an extension several times, and I didn’t feel we were in a position to meet what I thought his demands would be. I said to him, ‘You’ve got to work with us to get something if you want to, and if not we’ll go from there.’
“He came back and he said that he would like us to start with the Boston Bruins. I said, ‘OK, that makes sense. We’ll try to get [Kaberle] there, but we’re not accepting a one team list from any agent or any player. We set our price, which was a first-round pick and a prospect off our list, not their list. I said, ‘If Boston meets that, we’ll make the deal, and if they don’t, we want two more teams. And if we [can't make it work with those teams], we want two more teams after that.’”
Here’s Burke talking about his team’s chances of still making the playoffs, and why he didn’t feel it was worth keeping Kaberle if it meant they’d be a No. 8 seed and get their rears kicked in the first round. It’s clearly not something he wants to talk about at length, as the second video shows.
|Tomas Kaberle transcript||02.18.11 at 7:24 pm ET|
Courtesy of the Bruins, here is the transcript of new Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle‘s comments to Bruins.com writer John Bishop:
On his reaction to the deal…
It was one of those things, I found out after practice today. My reaction was mixed feelings.
Obviously, you know here 13 years and playing for the Leafs. It’s sad to leave but at the same
time happy to go to Boston. Original Six, it’s a really good team, good organization. Hopefully I
have a chance to play in the playoffs.
On how he would describe himself as a player…
Yeah, I think so, offensive-minded, puck mover, skate and pass mentality, just try to keep it
simple. Hopefully I’ll help out the power play and offensive guys on the team.
On his excitement to play with Zdeno Chara and David Krejci…
Yeah obviously like I said, in the past, especially the last couple years, there was a lot of talk
about moving out from Toronto. Boston always come up in the media and stuff. I was kind of
glad about Boston because of the history and stuff like that. It’s such an honor to join and spend
time with a new challenge for me.
On his conversation with Mark Recchi this afternoon…
It was actually unbelievable. Mark texted me first, congratulating me on the trade, he was happy
about it, and wishing good luck and hopefully I can make it tonight, and anytime I need
something I can call him or text him, and he would be more than helpful to show me around, and
help me out in Boston.
On his impression of the Bruins…
Obviously a tough team to play against. Start with the goalies, you know they’re always tough to
beat. Seems like a good defensive team and at the same time they’ve got a lot of scoring, like
guys up front, which is great. I’m looking forward to it.
On how he can help the Bruins in all three zones…
I’m just going to try to fit to the team first. Today’s a busy day, with traveling, and the game.
Like I said, a lot of mixed feelings, excitement at the same time. Hopefully we’ll have to keep it
simple tonight. Obviously the first couple practices are gonna tell more about the system and
everything. Hopefully I’ll jump right into it and fit well.
On waiving his no-trade clause…
Like I said, I was always thinking Boston would be nice to play for. Honestly growing up, it was
my team because Raymond Bourque was playing for the team. I always looked up to him, he
was like my hero when I was a kid. Now I get the chance to play for the team, so it’s kind of
special, and you know, last year, there were a few teams on the list. This year we kind of decided
to try and keep it away from media and stuff. Hopefully the Boston fit-in could be good for both
sides. For me and Boston as well.
On his impression of the city of Boston…
I think it’s a great sports city, and hockey city. Because you know New England, Boston Red
Sox and Boston Bruins. I know I always liked the fans and inside the stadium they’ve been loud
and always when we played them, it was such a good atmosphere