|Claude Julien hopes his team is ‘heading in the direction’ of the Red Wings||12.04.11 at 12:36 pm ET|
For all the talk of a Stanley Cup “hangover” following a 3-7-0 start, the Bruins are in the midst of one of the best early-season runs any defending champ has had in recent memory.
The numbers are remarkable.
A 10-game winning streak, points in 14 straight games, and a 13-0-1 mark in those 14 contests.
They dispatched of their division rival Maple Leafs, 4-1, on Saturday at the Garden, sweeping the home-and-home series. They have manhandled the Leafs, 24-6, in winning all four games this season.
What’s next for this powerhouse?
How about doing it year-after-year? That’s what Claude Julien is thinking, just like the Red Wings, the only team to beat the Bruins in this remarkable stretch, the day after Thanksgiving.
“As a coach you are always afraid you’re going to peak to early and then when things start going bad, it will take a while to get yourself back on track But I feel differently about this because of the, I guess the sentiment in the room and the feeling is we’re not taking anything for granted,” Julien said. “We’re staying poised, we’re not getting cocky, we’re not getting complacent, we’re still focused and that’s the part I like. And again, that’s probably from experience and we’ve seen other teams in the past and we talk about the Red Wings and every year they come back strong and maybe we are a team heading in that direction.”
But the Bruins don’t have to wait until possible rematch with the Red Wings in the Cup finals for their next big test. That’ll be Monday night in Pittsburgh against the East-leading Penguins with a now-healthy Sidney Crosby back and powering his team.
|Claude Julien would rather Brad Marchand not ‘cross a line’||04.01.11 at 9:49 am ET|
Maybe it’s because the emotions of Tuesday night are so raw or maybe it’s simply because he realizes it’s not a very professional move but Bruins coach Claude Julien made it pretty clear after Thursday’s 4-3 shootout loss that he wasn’t thrilled with Brad Marchand‘s friendly suggestion to the Leafs for offseason plans.
In case you missed it, following the second period – one in which he scored a short-handed goal to help his team to a 3-2 lead heading into the third – Marchand skated by the visitors’ bench and practiced his nine-iron swing. Clearly, he was not showing good form.
“I mean, it’s just, he’s been a good player for us and again, his emotions sometimes can be a positive, but sometimes you don’t want to cross the line and certainly you don’t like that when that happens. So it’s just a learning process,” Julien said.
His second period short-hander was his fifth this season, tying him for second this season in that category in all of the NHL.
And it was that goal, not his golf swing, that brought energy to the Bruins in the second period and brought them to within 20 minutes of clinching the Northeast Division before a third-period Joffrey Lupul goal set up Toronto’s shootout win.
“I think I just came off the bench and tried to take an angle and he passed it right on my stick,” Marchand said. “I wanted to drive, I knew there was forward coming back so I wanted to try and cut in. The puck kind of popped out there in the open and I just backhanded it. Especially in a situation where we’re on the penalty kill and they’re on the power play. It kind of takes their momentum out of the game and gives it to us. It was good timing, but a lucky goal.”
So, there. Brad Marchand is totally capable of showing humility. And it’s that humility, along with more specialty teams goals, the Bruins are looking for in the coming weeks and months.
“Come playoff time we can’t just flip the switch,” Marchand added. “If you’re going to play your best hockey, you have to have to play up to that, play up to that point. You have to build on it. It’s almost like you get momentum and you’ve got to feed off that. We want to get on a roll here, and make sure we’re playing our best hockey.”
|Hey Tim Thomas, what do you think of your Cup chances after another loss to Leafs?||03.31.11 at 11:44 pm ET|
Before the reporter could even get the question out of his mouth, you could see the smirk on the face of the man who will likely win the Vezina Trophy this year.
The question to Bruins goalie Tim Thomas? Seems like Toronto (now 4-2-0 against Boston this season) has a done pretty good job of handling you guys. How do you feel your [playoff] chances are going forward?
“They’re terrible. We have no chance in the playoffs, we lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs at home,” Thomas said, with sarcasm showing his playoff-ready intensity.
It wasn’t the best of nights for Thomas, who had his shutout streak snapped at 122 minutes, 21 seconds when Luke Schenn scored just over seven minutes into the game. And yes, the Bruins did lose for just the third time this season in 31 games when leading after two periods. And yes, they also fell to 2-6 this year in shootouts.
But after his brush with sarcasm, Thomas gave a more direct and heartfelt response.
“I mean Toronto has definitely had our number and they’ve played better than us when we’ve played against them this year. But they have a good team with a lot of speed and a lot of talent. I don’t get to watch them all year long, but if they played the same way every game this year like they played against us, I’d expect them to be in a better spot.”
Hmmmm. That could be taken two different ways. Toronto – with players like Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel – is talented. But they also have 82 points now, and still on the outside, looking in on the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Which brings us to the Bruins.
How important is it for the Bruins to get that momentum heading into the NHL’s second – and most important – season?
“I think it’s pretty good to take the same theory that you’re going to have to take in the playoffs, which is the same theory that you should have in the regular season, which is not too high and not too low. We’ve had some big wins here recently, beating Montreal, Philadelphia, Chicago, and now it’s kind of a tough loss to take. But in either case it should be not too high, not too low. Don’t think you’re too good if you get that win and don’t think you’re too bad if you get that loss.”
As for the goals the Leafs scored, Thomas said they were pretty similar to the ones they’ve scored all season against the Bruins.
“They’re typical Toronto goals,” Thomas said. “They’ve had a lot of those against us this year. Montreal had the same at one point, just seems to be the way it’s worked out.”
But to Thomas, it means nothing going foward.
|Peter Chiarelli’s willingness to trade Maple Leafs pick makes things interesting||02.08.11 at 3:59 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, making an appearance on Dale & Holley on Tuesday, fired the proverbial gun to kick off trade speculation with the NHL’s deadline just 20 days away. While he reiterated his preference to add a defenseman and potentially a forward, he shed light on the team’s financial situation as it moves toward the trade deadline (something he generally refers people to capgeek.com for), but that isn’t the real news. The GM said that, unlike last year, he is willing to put the Maple Leafs’ first-round pick, which has had “top five” written all over it for quite some time, in play.
“Yeah, I’d look at it, sure. I would,” Chiarelli said. “I’ve had discussions involving that pick. I certainly would look at it. We’ve got a lot of assets, so that alone allows us to be creative also, but I would look at it.”
Already having opened a big door, Michael Holley asked Chiarelli to elaborate on how Toronto’s first rounder, one of two received in the Phil Kessel deal in September of 2009, has come up in trade talks.
“There’s been one [deal] that we’ve thrown around here internally. I don’t know that I would do it, but it’s something that warrants further discussion,” Chiarelli said.
The fact that Chiarelli is willing to consider dealing the Maple Leafs’ selection ‘ on pace to be fifth overall in a draft in which he admitted there being “uncertainty as to what the order of the top five is” ‘ gives the Bruins a leg up on other contending teams. Sellers want top prospects or the ability to obtain top prospects, and the Bruins are the only team with two first-rounders this year, let alone a potential top five pick.
Plus, with Marc Savard being shut down and thus placed on long-term injury reserve, the team has cap space (seemingly enough to add a player with a cap hit in excess of $4.5 million without removing anyone from its own roster) to add a top player.
“Basically you can replace [Savard’s] salary, that cap number,” Chiarelli said. “So that’s [$4 million] and a little bit of change [$4,007,143 to be exact]. We’ve got about $500,000 in cap space, so with Savard on LTI you have the ability to replace that player with a number of players up to an amount of $4 million. That’s not cap space, that’s actual salary. We’ve got some good flexibility right now.”
While the Bruins have been able to make deadline deals in recent seasons to land them major contributors including Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Recchi, the team has not made a blockbuster at the deadline since perhaps 2004, when the old regime gave up first and second round picks as well as Shaone Morrisonn for Sergei Gonchar. If the team is willing to see how far that Toronto pick can take them on the trade market, Chiarelli might be able to pull off something of similar magnitude.
While you can count out guys like Brad Richards (possessing a no-trade clause and playing on a third-place team in the West) or Jarome Iginla (no-trade clause and captain of a playoff team) the Bruins might not be kidding around when it comes to more realistic options. A top-five pick can go a long way, especially if it’s sent to a team that will need young stars to anchor a rebuilding effort.
This isn’t to say that Chiarelli will blindly toss the chip of all chips up for grabs blindly. It is, to borrow a term from the GM, an asset that franchises throughout the league would take considerable steps to acquire. And now, it seems an asset that could land the Bruins the major piece they’re hoping for without having to announce it at a podium in Minnesota.
Chiarelli said that he would “bet” the Bruins make a trade before the deadline. After Tuesday, how big a deal it is seems to be the only thing in question.
|Nathan Horton, Marc Savard come up big in front of Tuukka Rask as Bruins defeat Maple Leafs||01.03.11 at 9:30 pm ET|
Horton, who had not scored a goal in nine games entering the night, beat Leafs goaltender James Reimer from the high slot at 7:56 of the second period and set up a Savard one-timer later in the period. Mikhail Grabovski got the Leafs on the board in the first period, but his breakaway goal was the extent of the Leafs’ scoring.
Rask made 36 saves in improving to 3-7-1 on the season. The Bruins have now wrapped up their five-game road trip and will return to the Garden to face the Wild on Thursday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– As good as it is to see Horton get on the scoring sheet, ultimately the breakout was by his entire line. Since Claude Julien put the Milan Lucic-Savard-Horton line together following the team’s Dec. 20 loss to the Ducks, the line hadn’t produced a single goal. Two from the line on Monday was a good sign that Julien was wise in not blowing up the line after earlier, quieter showings.
– If Rask’s confidence was in question, he can leave Monday night’s game knowing that he came up big in Toronto. Rask got sharper throughout the night, stopping an onslaught of from the Leafs early in the third that consisted of two quick shots from Phil Kessel and a follow-up bid from Tyler Bozak at 15:44. He later came up huge against Colby Armstrong with just over 11 minutes remaining.
– Tyler Seguin had only two shots on goal and was a minus-1 (it was his shot that Luke Schenn blocked and sent up to Grabovski), but the youngster is playing a more confident game of late. Perhaps even more apparent than it was in Saturday’s two-point performance, Seguin doesn’t look like a rookie overly concerned with limiting mistakes. Confidence undoubtedly will yield improved stats.
– The Bruins have not lost in regulation since the aforementioned Dec. 20 game. They took eight of 10 points on their five-game road trip after beating the Thrashers at home on Dec. 23.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Mark Recchi got caught in a line change on Grabovski’s goal, though the play was the result of many players being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The defense, assuming Seguin’s shot would go through, wasn’t anticipating the play going the other way, and with Grabovski streaking, it was a perfect storm for the Leafs.
– The Bruins had only one power play on the night, the result of a first-period interference call on Mike Komiserik, and went 0-for-1 with the man advantage. Over the last three games, the B’s have gone 0-for-6 on the power play.
– Who knew Canada was more out of touch with North American rock music than the Czech Republic? Metallica’s “I Disappear” could be heard late in the third period coming from the Air Canada Centre speakers. O2 Arena in Prague was a little closer to relevant rock with their painful Nirvana overkill.
|Milt Schmidt meant more to Tim Thomas than Phil Kessel||10.29.10 at 1:14 am ET|
It’s just that on this night – one to honor a man with 75 years of history with the Boston Bruins – it was more important for the goalie to focus on getting the win, not the lightning rod of the Hub’s hockey fans.
And focus is exactly what Thomas did, turning away all 20 shots over 60 minutes in posting his 19th career shutout – a 2-0 dispatch of the Toronto Maple Leafs before a fired-up TD Garden sellout crowd.
“Yeah, you know, it being Milt Schmidt night, the best thing we could do for him I think was to get a win, and so we were trying hard to get a good result,” Thomas said. “I mean, just listening to the accomplishments, that that man has had as part of the Bruins organization, and he deserved the win tonight, so we were focusing on that.
“Now as far as Phil Kessel goes, the other side of that coin there the you’re talking about, we’re not thinking about that We’re thinking about the two points. We needed the win. Especially we needed to bounce back after a loss, so we’re not thinking about individuals like that. At least, I’m not.”
That doesn’t mean Kessel didn’t have his chances. He had six shots on net, including one point-blank in the second period when Kessel came up the slot and took possession of a loose puck in front of Thomas.
“Oh, was it? On the other side? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I remember that,” Thomas recalled.
When you’re stopping players like Phil Kessel point blank, you’re likely putting up great numbers. And that’s what Thomas has been doing, ever since getting the start in the season’s second game.
He has two shutouts, including Thursday’s 2-0 win. He is a perfect 5-0 with a 0.60 goals against average. His save percentage is a near-perfect .980.
Is the best start he’s ever had?
“Well, probably statistically? I feel obviously that I’m playing good. The team is playing very well in front of me. They’re really helping me out with rebounds, screens, blocking in the screens, I mean. [Dennis] Seidenberg had as many saves as I did tonight, and that’s making it very helpful.”
The five straight wins to start a season is the best by a Boston goalie since Tiny Thompson went 6-0-0 in his first six games of the 1937-38 season.
Added coach Claude Julien, “Solid again. I think we can’t say enough about the way he’s played. What I liked about his game too, you know, they had some shots from the point and he did a great job of not giving any rebounds. He kept those inside of him. I thought he did a great job of smothering those loose pucks and just solid challenging and confident.”
|Going camping: a look at the rivals||09.18.10 at 5:02 pm ET|
The Bruins have opened training camp with yesterday’s fitness testing and two on-ice sessions on Saturday. Tyler Seguin figures to be the center of attention around the Garden for the time being as he adjusts to playing with NHL veterans, but the Bruins aren’t the only ones to kick things off. Here’s a quick roundup of what the Northeast division rivals have been up to.
Sabres (100 points in 2009-10)
Perhaps the biggest change in how the 2010-11 Sabres will look will be in the most literal sense of the word. The team unveiled their new jerseys for the coming season, with the overall theme encapsulating a very classic feel.
While the Bruins got their festivities started a bit early with two rookie exhibitions at the Garden this past week and a used equipment sale on Saturday, the Sabres held “Puck Drop 2010″ to mark the opening of the team’s camp. The event consisted of a street hockey game, season ticket holders picking up their tickets for the coming season, and of course, fans getting their hands on the team’s new sweaters at .
Things aren’t so joyful in Ottawa, where defenseman Filip Kuba is out after suffering a leg injury, the extent of which is being determined. Kuba played in 53 games last season and missed the final 11 of the regular season and the entire playoffs with a lower body injury.
Saturday’s injury reportedly came as a result of Kuba’s skate getting caught while on the ice for the team’s second session. The biggest injury news in the division likely remains Friday’s development regarding Marc Savard being held out by the reoccurrence of post-concussion symptoms.
Pat Hickey at the Montreal Gazette takes a look at an impressive showing early on from Ryan Russell, who picked up two points in the team’s camp-opening scrimmage. The 23-year-old forward has spent the last three seasons in the AHL and entered camp a longshot to make the Habs.
Hickey notes other players who grabbed attention, including Maxim Lapierre, who with three goals in the playoffs last season scored nearly half as many postseason goals as he did in 76 regular season games.
Maple Leafs (74)
The Maple Leafs couldn’t wait until the exhibition games to drop the gloves, as Michael Liambas, who last October was suspended for the remainder of the OHL season after a dirty hit on an opposing defenseman, squared off with Jay Rosehill. According to this report, coach Ron Wilson said that Liambas, 21, is a “very long shot” to make the team.