|Tuukka Rask, Bruins blank Lightning to lock up home ice in first round||04.25.13 at 10:05 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask made all the timely saves a coach could ask for as the Bruins clinched home ice in the first round of the playoffs with a 2-0 win over the Lightning at home on Thursday.
Rask earned his fifth shutout of the season, tying a career high set in the 2009-10 season. Dennis Seidenberg chipped in with his third goal of the year, a slap shot through traffic from the point, and while the Bruins didn’t have a particularly inspiring start to the game, they finished strong, holding off a late Lightning onslaught for the win.
Here’s a look at what went right and wrong for the Bruins on Thursday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– Rask was sharp from the start and ultimately made 30 saves. Perhaps his most memorable stop came in the second, when he robbed Steven Stamkos on an odd-man rush for the Lightning, sliding across the crease to snatch Stamkos’ wrister out of the air. Shortly afterward, he drew chants of his name from the Garden crowd when he made two impressive kick saves in rapid succession.
Late in the third, with the Bruins maintaining a 2-0 lead, Rask shut down another Lightning rush, stopping Tampa leading scorer Martin St. Louis.
Rask also kept the Bruins in the game when they were being outshot and outworked early in the first period, stopping a number of quality chances from close range. He effectively put his brief but unspectacular outing in Philadelphia, in which he allowed three goals on 13 shots in relief of Anton Khudobin, behind him.
|Dougie Hamilton wins Bruins’ Seventh Player Award||at 7:45 pm ET|
In what could be the first of many individual honors, Dougie Hamilton received his first Thursday night.
The Bruins announced that the 19-year-old defenseman is the winner of the NESN Seventh Player Award. Voted on by Bruins fans, the Seventh Player Award is an annual award presented to the Bruin who went above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded the expectations of Bruins fans during the season.
Ironically, Hamilton was a healthy scratch Thursday night against the Lightning as the team gives him a rest before the start of the playoffs next week.
In his first season with the Bruins, Hamilton has notched five goals and 11 assists in 42 games with a plus-6 rating. The rookie ranks second among Bruins defensemen in points (16) and goals (5).
Hamilton is tied for third in the NHL among rookie blueliners in points (16), third in assists (11) and tied for third in goals (5).
Hamilton started the season with the Niagra IceDogs (Ontario Hockey League), skating in 32 games, notching eight goals and 33 assists for 41 points. Last year, he was named the Canadian Major Junior Defenseman of the Year.
The 6-foot-5, 199-pound native of Toronto was drafted by the Bruins in the first round (9th overall) of the 2011 NHL draft.
In addition to the Seventh Player Award trophy, Hamilton will receive $5,000 to donate to the charity of his choice.
The Seventh Player Award sweepstakes winner was Scott Martioski of Orange, Mass. Martioski wins a three-year lease on a 2014 Kia Sorento courtesy of Central Auto Team of Norwood and Raynham.
|Claude Julien mum on postseason goaltending plans||04.22.13 at 2:49 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Claude Julien operates a certain way and he rarely strays from it, but might this shortened season change the circumstances?
The Bruins have made the playoffs in each of the six seasons Julien has been in Boston, with this season being the sixth. Julien has used only one goalie in every postseason, with the backup never seeing the ice. In the first two seasons it was Tim Thomas, followed by Tuukka Rask in 2010 and then Thomas again in each of the last two postseasons.
Rask has started 31 games this season, with Anton Khudobin getting 13 starts, which has made for a 70-30 split in Rask’s favor. Yet with the postseason scheduling figuring to be just as condensed as the regular season schedule, the B’s could find themselves in a position where they don’t want to overwork Rask.
Asked about this season altering his strategy come playoff time, Julien was mum.
“We’re not there yet,” Julien said. “I think a lot of it has to do with if the goalie’s playing extremely well, you ride your goaltender,” he said. “If you need to make a change for whatever reason, you make a change, but it’s hard for me to answer that right now.”
Over the past two postseasons, the Bruins have had two sets of back-to-backs in a total of five series. Both came in Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals (against the Canadiens in 2011 and against the Capitals last year), with Thomas starting both games each time.
This past weekend, Rask started games on back-to-back games for the first time this season. The last time he had started games on consecutive days was on Feb. 17 and 18 of the 2011 season. The B’s did not have back-to-back games in the 2010 postseason in which Rask went the whole way against the Sabres and Flyers.
|Tuukka Rask blanks Panthers as Bruins end skid||04.21.13 at 3:01 pm ET|
The Bruins snapped their longest losing streak of the season and positioned them to control their destiny in the final four games of the season by beating the Panthers, 3-0, Sunday at TD Garden.
With the victory, Boston’s first in five games (0-3-1 in four games entering Sunday), the B’s pulled themselves even with the Canadiens atop the Northeast Divison with 59 points — though the B’s have played 44 games to Montreal’s 45.
Carl Soderberg got his first career NHL point, picking up a rather liberal assist on a play in which Jaromir Jagr recovered a puck along the boards and fired a wrist shot past Jacob Markstrom to open the scoring for the B’s. Dougie Hamilton, playing in place of the injured Adam McQuaid, scored in the second period to make it 2-0. The B’s made it 3-0 with 1:22 remaining in the game on an empty-netter from Brad Marchand.
Tuukka Rask made 28 saves for his fourth shutout of the season. Rask’s career-high for shutouts in a single season is five, which he accomplished in the 2009-10 season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Claude Julien essentially called Rask out following Saturday’s game, saying that the Bruins needed timely saves. The Bruins went back with Rask again on Sunday, and he came through with a very timely save in the first period to preserve the Bruins’ lead by robbing Drew Shore on a play in front. Shore, who was battling with Wade Redden in front, took a feed from a teammate and had the whole right side of the net to work with, but Rask was able to slide over to block him with the left pad.
– For the fourth consecutive game, the Bruins scored the game’s first goal. For the first consecutive game, they won.
– Hamilton had a nice return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch on Saturday (and in three of the Bruins’ previous four games entering Sunday). Paired with Zdeno Chara, Hamilton had five shots on goal and scored from the point on a slapshot in the second period for his fifth goal of the season, which will certainly help his case to stick in the lineup come playoff time.
– Patrice Bergeron had a season-high seven shots on goal Sunday, and he’s really hit the ground running since returning from his concussion. In his three games since coming back, Bergeron has 17 shots on goal.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins were playing without both McQuaid (lower-body) and Nathan Horton (upper-body). Both players were out with injuries sustained in Saturday’s loss to the Penguins, as Horton appeared to hurt his left wrist while fighting Jarome Iginla and McQuaid was slow to get back to the bench after a hit from Matt Cooke.
– Milan Lucic made his return to the lineup Sunday after being a healthy scratch on Saturday. He was more active than in previous games, as he finished with three shots on goal. His wrist shot on Markstrom in the second period marked his first shot on goal in over a week, as he had last put a puck on net last Saturday against the Hurricanes. Lucic was denied on a rebound bid following a David Krejci shot in the second period and still has just two goals over his last 28 games.
|Bruins know Tuukka Rask can do only so much to save the D||04.09.13 at 11:20 am ET|
Tuukka Rask can only do so much.
He’s been outstanding in the last week, turning away 40 shots in a 1-0 shutout last Thursday over the Devils and making another 40 saves Monday night in a 6-2 win over the Hurricanes.
And in some ways, Monday’s performance in what looked like a blowout on paper was more impressive than the shutout.
The Hurricanes opened the game with a five-minute flurry of action in front of Rask, trying to get that all-important first goal to set the tempo for the game. Rask turned away the first eight shots and allowed the Bruins to find their scoring touch.
Boston scored twice in the first eight minutes and took the spirit out of Carolina. After Monday’s 40-save effort, Rask was asked if all the action is sharpening him up for the playoffs that start in just over two weeks.
“I don’t know,” Rask said. “I’ve felt sharp throughout the year, trying to be calm and just poised out there. It’s been good the past three games so I’m just trying to work on that and keep that up.
“I think defensively we’ve been pretty good, if you look at the goals against. I don’t think we’re the best we can be in that area. Especially today, a couple let downs there. Still we’ve been pretty solid defensively, that’s our bread and butter, as you know, it was good to see that offense get going. Every team goes through phases like that. I don’t blame the guys because they’re trying and sometimes you just don’t have it. It was good to see.”
While defenseman Dennis Seidenberg had three assists, he remains concerned about the team’s defensive approach – or lack thereof.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’re getting into that phase of the season that we have to get sharp for the playoffs, and we only have I think 10 games left now, and it comes down to the wire for us to get into playing playoff hockey, and just playing that style of hockey makes you successful going into the postseason.
“If [Rask] doesn’t stop the puck we’re behind in the game, and you know how the game changes once the team is up. They sit back, so we got lucky in the first. Obviously we converted on those chances, but if we had fallen behind it would have been tough to come back from. It’s been a few games now that we haven’t been sharp in the first period. I don’t know how many games we’ve given up the first goal and had to battle back or try to come from behind, but tonight Tuukka saved us, kept us 0-0, and we luckily scored.”
Rask knows how very important these next two weeks will be in establishing the right defensive trend for postseason.
“Yeah I think so,” he said. “I think we kind of have to build that momentum in the last 10 games or whatever we have left. Build it off of the defense and try to get that offense going like we can. Sometimes it feels like we are trading those chances and I get a lot of shots, it plays into my advantage, but I don’t think in the long run that would be a good idea.
“I mean there’s always room to improve. I think sticking with the structure and not getting caught running around and stuff like that. Keeping our heads up and protecting that net front, I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Claude Julien wants to see a defensive urgency in front of Rask in the final two weeks.
“There’s no doubt, we need to see that urgency to get ourselves better,” Julien said. “Although defensively we weren’t very good, it was a step in the right direction, as far as being a little bit better offensively. We’ve got to carry that into the next game, where it’s going to be even tougher, against a Devils team that doesn’t give much. But at the same time, hopefully we’re better defensively as well.”
Rask isn’t nearly as hard on the defense in front of him as fans and his own teammates are. Read the rest of this entry »
|Canadiens best Bruins in Montreal, take season series||04.06.13 at 9:50 pm ET|
The Canadiens stayed ahead of the Bruins in the standings with a 2-1 win over the B’s Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
With the win, the Canadiens (38 games played) have 55 points to the Bruins’s 52 through 37 games. Saturday marked the fourth and final meeting between the two teams in the regular season, with the Canadiens taking three wins vs. Boston.
Montreal jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Alex Galchenyuk and Michael Ryder, with Daniel Paille scoring the Bruins’ only goal in the second period. Carey Price made 26 saves, with Tuukka Rask stopping 27 shots in the losing effort.
Here’s what went right and wrong for the Bruins in the loss:
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– After some really promising showings of late, Matt Bartkowski had a rather rough first period. Bartkowski didn’t look to see if there were any Bruins on his side of the ice as he tried to break the puck out, and the result was a turnover as he sent the puck to P.K. Subban at the point. Subban fired the puck on net, eventually leading to Galchenyuk’s first-period goal.
– Claude Julien shuffled his bottom three lines midway through the first period, leaving only the Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton line intact. The changes saw Tyler Seguin moved back to right wing on the second line, with Rich Peverley centering the line and Jaromir Jagr being teamed with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille for the third line. Jay Pandolfo, Kaspars Daugavins and Shawn Thornton served as the fourth line.
– The Bruins were outshot, 10-4, in the first period and got no shots on goal from their forwards in the first 20 minutes. Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand combined for zero shots on goal in the game. That’s unacceptable.
– With Ryder’s second-period goal, he now has three goals in three games against the Bruins this season since rejoining the Canadiens. Ryder had two goals last Wednesday against the B’s, and he gave the Habs a 2-0 lead Saturday by redirecting a shot from Subban on the power play. The puck also went off Dennis Seidenberg’s stick before floating past Rask.
– Nathan Horton missed the net on an opportunity in front in the second period, as Josh Gorges was on him when Lucic sent a pass his way with plenty of open net to work with. Price had committed to Lucic on the other side of the net, but when Lucic fed Horton the right wing jammed the puck wide left on a forehand bid. It wasn’t the first such occurrence of late, as he also failed to finish chances in front against the Devils Thursday and the Flyers last Saturday.
– Good note from Mike Salk, who noted during the game that for a team that got Jaromir Jagr in hopes of fixing its power play, the Bruins haven’t been drawing a ton of penalties. The B’s got their first and only man advantage of the game in the final minute of the game and didn’t get a single shot on goal during it. The Canadiens scored on their only power play after Milan Lucic went off for cross-checking Tomas Plekanec, who took a whack at Lucic to get him to retaliate.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– In what has probably been his best season as a Bruin, Daniel Paille won a big faceoff to set up the Bruins’ second-period goal. With Gregory Campbell tossed out of the circle, Paille won the faceoff and sent the puck back to Johnny Boychuk, whose shot went off Paille and past Carey Price in a fluttering fashion.
– The scoring chances continued for the Canadiens after they took a 2-0 lead, so give Rask credit for keeping it close by denying Montreal bids. Rask made 10 saves on 11 shots in the second period.
|Claude Julien on allowing 87 shots in 2 games: Bad habits have ‘crept into our game’||04.05.13 at 2:20 am ET|
Claude Julien can read the shot board on the TD Garden scoreboards like anyone else.
He knows full well that the Bruins gave up 47 shots on Tuesday night and escaped with a 3-2 win over the Senators thanks to the play of back-up goalie Anton Khudobin.
He knows full well the Bruins allowed Tuukka Rask to face 40 shots Thursday night against New Jersey, only to have their rear ends saved by the fact their goalie turned away all 40 in a 1-0 squeaker over the Devils.
“Well, he was good,” Julien said in his best understated voice. “You know, he was one of the reasons we won, obviously. He made the big saves when he had to and kept us in the lead at times when they could have gotten themselves back into the game. He was good for us tonight, and sometimes a little bit of rest and a little bit of work with the goalie coach is what goaltenders need.”
Rask wasn’t complaining afterward. Actually, he was happy to see so many pucks early, as the Bruins were outshot 17-6 in the opening 20 minutes after he had the last two games off.
“Yeah, I was saying to Doby [Anton Khudobin] in the first intermission that I would rather take 17 shots, then three or four shots to just get kind of get going and even though they had 17 shots there were a lot of shots from the outsides so it was good to get that feeling. Feel for the puck and stuff like that, so good effort.
“I’d just rather go out there and just get my mind right during the game. Doby played great in Buffalo, played great against Ottawa so I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself sitting out there. I was feeling good for him. He’s kind of in that groove and he’s playing really good so it was good to watch him for a couple of outings there and I felt good out there.”
Is Julien concerned about the shot totals and the way his team is playing defensively? Read the rest of this entry »