|Bruins-killer Simon Gagne: ‘They’re on a mission’||05.14.11 at 12:57 pm ET|
Simon Gagne should be used to facing the Bruins in the playoffs by now. A season ago, he was arguably the man that sunk them in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
With the Bruins holding a 3-0 series lead over Philadelphia, Gagne, then a Flyer, returned to the lineup for Game 4 after a broken toe suffered in the first round vs. the Devils kept him out of the beginning of the series. Gagne scored the game-winning goal in overtime to keep the Flyers alive in the series, and added a pair of goals three days later in a 4-0 Phialdelphia win in Game 5. His most crucial goal of the series would come in Game 7, when he notched the go-ahead tally in the third period following a costly too-many-ice penalty taken by the Bruins. The goal was the game-winner, and it capped the Flyers’ comeback from trailing, 3-0, in both the series and Game 7.
Now, Gagne is once again returning from a playoff absence (this time a head injury suffered in the second round) to face the Bruins, but it’s as a member of the Lightning following an offseason trade. Gagne watched the last series between his old mates and the Bruins, and he said Saturday that he sees a difference from a season ago.
“It’s a different team from last year,” Gagne said. “They got some new guys, Thomas is in net now, so it’s a different team than last year. It looks like this year, they’re on a mission, and that’s the way it felt when I saw them play against Philly. Philly’s a good team, and they beat them in four games. That means they’re a really good team.”
Including guys who played sparingly last year in rookies Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid, eight of the Bruins’ regulars as they enter Game 1 of the conference finals were newcomers to the lineup this year. Yet while the emergence of guys like Marchand and the addition of Nathan Horton have been massive for the B’s, the biggest change for them involves a guy who was around last year in Thomas. At least that’s the way Gagne sees it.
“Last year, Tuukka Rask was actually playing really, really good for them,” Gagne said of the youngster who started every game between the pipes for the Bruins last postseason. “Everybody thought that he was going to be the goalie for the future for Boston. I think he’s still their goalie of the future — I don’t think he’s going to go anywhere — but to see Thomas coming back after a tough season last year with injuries, to see him play like that surprised a lot of people, but at the same time, he was good before he got hurt. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see him playing that good.”
The Bruins and Thomas will hope to continue their “mission” Saturday night, while Gagne just hopes he can continue to feed his reputation of postseason Bruins-killer.
|Bruins fall to Devils in regular season finale||04.10.11 at 5:20 pm ET|
The Bruins finished their regular season schedule Sunday, taking a 3-2 loss to the Devils in New Jersey.
Tuukka Rask took the loss for the B’s, getting the start after Tim Thomas sealed the single-season save percentage record in his final start Saturday. Rask allowed goals to Patrik Elias, Vladimir Zharkov and Alexander Urbom.
Rich Peverley scored the first goal for the Bruins, beating Johan Hedberg for his 18th goal of the year. A Dennis Seidenberg shot with less than four seconds remaining also yielded a Boston goal. Mark Recchi and Zdeno Chara did not play for the Bruins, as they stayed in Boston after playing the first 81 games of the season.
The Bruins finished the regular season with a 46-25-11 record and 103 points. They will be the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed when they go against the Canadiens in the playoffs begin next week.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The game didn’t mean anything, but the B’s shouldn’t have shown it the way they did in the second period. They had just one shot on the goal in the second, while the Devils had 10.
– The one injury scare came for rookie Tyler Seguin, who took a high stick in the second period and left the bench, though it did not appear serious and he returned to the game in the third period.
– Dennis Seidenberg was on the ice for the first two Devils goals. He took the shot that led to the the final goal, but his minus-1 rating on the game means he finishes the season with a plus-3, worst among Bruins defensemen this season.
– Nathan Horton did not register a shot on goal Sunday, making it the 10th game this season in which he had zero shots on goal. Horton has picked it up of late (six goals over the final 10 games), but he needs to put pucks on net if he wants them to go in.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Nobody was hurt, and that’s the biggest thing the Bruins could have been hoping for in a meaningless regular-season-ending game.
More importantly, Tuukka Rask did not get injured or yanked in the game. He made the save of the game on David Clarkson in the second period. Plus, imagine all the re-adjusting of the Tim Thomas record stories.
– Peverley scored for the second time in as many games. The Bruins need to have both the David Krejci line and the Patrice Bergeron line going at the same time once the playoffs start, but it’s good to see that they are finally getting something out of Chris Kelly’s line.
|Bruins hold final regular season practice||04.08.11 at 11:10 am ET|
WILMINGTON — With two weekend games on the horizon, the Bruins took the ice Friday morning at Ristuccia Arena for their final practice of the regular season. Prior to the skate, Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci and Nathan Horton shot on Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas.
The color-coded jerseys are the same, as they look as follows:
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
|Shawn Thornton shows again why he’s not just the toughest Bruin, he’s their funniest, too||04.06.11 at 11:24 pm ET|
Forget the fact that he is regarded by many as their toughest player, if everyone on the Bruins had Shawn Thornton‘s energy, the team would never be accused of taking nights off. Thornton is trying to make sure that the Bruins are fired up for the playoffs that start next week.
His goal at the latest possible moment (19:59.9) of the first period got the Bruins going in his first game back and helped the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Islanders at TD Garden. The Bruins have 101 points now but to Thornton, the more important mission in the final two games is to keep focus.
“Just keeping that rhythm I think,” Thornton said. “Keeping our confidence. Keeping the fun going into the playoffs. This is the best time of the year. The weather is getting nice. You have to want to come to the rink this time of year. For me that’s the biggest thing: to stay upbeat, confident and play our game.
As their coach Claude Julien pointed out afterward, the Bruins did not look sharp in the win as there were defensive breakdowns that allowed the Islanders back in the game, two days after blowing a 3-0 lead to the Rangers in New York.
“I mean there were some lapses,” Thornton said. “We just have to play our game and not worry who we’re playing against. When we’re playing our style of game we’re a really, really good team. When we get away from that, we’ve seen it through the years what happens there. As long as we continue to play our game plan we’ll be a pretty good team.”
As for who they’ll be playing in the first round, Thornton said it doesn’t matter to him since he’s not even paying attention to the standing right now.
“You’re talking to the wrong guy,” Thornton said. “I don’t ever pay attention to the standings. No I don’t know what is going on. Maybe the other guys are different, but I just kind of focus on what’s going on today and don’t worry about the rest.”
After scoring his 10th goal of the season in his first game back since a nasty injury to his forehead, Thornton was also quick to give credit to his assistant coaches and back-up goalie Tuukka Rask after Wednesday’s win. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins and Thrashers tied at two after two||04.02.11 at 2:35 pm ET|
The Bruins and Thrashers each added another goal in the second period and are tied, 2-2, at the second intermission.
The Thrashers grabbed their first lead of the game when Evander Kane fired a loose puck past Tuukka Rask as the B’s netminder was trying to get back in position at 1:37. Daniel Paille tied the game about five minutes later, causing a turnover in the Thrashers’ zone while on the penalty kill and firing a wrister past Ondrej Pavelec for the Bruins’ 11th shorthanded goal of the season.
After two periods, the B’s hold a 17-15 advantage in shots on goal.
|Bruins tied with Thrashers after one||at 1:43 pm ET|
The name of the game was easy goals in the first period Saturday, and thanks to a softy allowed by each team, the Bruins and Thrashers are tied at one.
Mark Recchi scored his 14th of the season when a shot from Patrice Bergeron trickled through the legs of Ondrej Pavelec and needed just a tap-in to make it 1-0. The Thrashers tied it up when Tuukka Rask took a delay of game penalty and let a Dustin Byfuglen shot bounce off him and in. The Thrashers are 1-for-2 on the power play, while the B’s are 0-for-1.
The Bruins are outshooting the Thrashers, 6-4.
|Bruins hold optional morning skate in anticipation of Blackhawks||03.29.11 at 11:23 am ET|
The sounds of pucks hitting boards and skates cutting ice were drowned out by a game of hallway soccer, as the Bruins held an optional skate Thursday in anticipation of their game against the Blackhawks. Tuukka Rask, Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder, Tyler Seguin, Gregory Campbell, Shane Hnidy, Steven Kampfer and Adam McQuaid skated for the B’s. Expect Tim Thomas to start with Rask the only goaltender to skate in the optional.
Given that Ryder also skated in the optional and that Claude Julien expressed a desire to stick with the same lineup that won them Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, it is probable that Ryder will be a healthy scratch once again.
Here are some notes from the morning:
– Julien said that he doesn’t feel a need to talk about last year’s playoffs with his team as they prepare for the postseason this time around. The B’s blew a 3-0 series and Game 7 lead in the second round last year against the Flyers.
“I think for us right now it’s just focusing on the moment. From here on in, we’ve still got to maintain our play, our level of play that we’ve had lately and continue to try and even improve that. There’s no room for complacency right now, and we have lots of players. If we’re going to move some players in and out from here on in it’s not because we’re taking it easy, but because we want everybody ready to go. That’s kind of the message that we gave the players. So for us, I think we need to make sure we maintain our level of play from here on in.”
– Much was made in training camp of the new situation that former Panthers Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton found themselves in. Having never been to the playoffs in their careers, it seemed the postseason would be extra special for them. Campbell spoke about what it means to him to finally know he’s headed for the playoffs.
“I’m excited. It’s been a long time. That was the first thing I thought of when I got traded to Boston, was that I was going to get a chance to play in the playoffs,” Campbell said. “For me, at this point in my career, the most meaningful thing is to get a chance to win. I know this organization’s excited about the opportunity to get back to the playoffs again.”
– While Julien said that the recent scratches “probably” won’t get in the lineup Tuesday, he will get them in the lineup over the next two weeks to both rest those playing and keep everybody fresh.
“We’ve got to remember the guys were going to put in are good players. It’s not like you’re putting in a bad player,” Julien said of the players serving as healthy scratches. “It’s that you’ve got a 20-man roster for the game, but you’ve got 22-23 guys here. We’re going to put some guys in, pull some guys out, but certainly not to say, well this is a game that we’re going to take it easy, we’re going to pull so-and-so out. We’ve got to stay on top of our game, and that’s what I’ve been talking about, sliding guys in that can go in there and stay sharp so that if, come playoff time, we need somebody, they haven’t been sitting around for a month.”
– Julien spoke highly of David Krejci, who has 28 points in the 27 games since Marc Savard went down with his latest concussion. The coach said it’s been more a result of improved play than increased opportunity.
“He’s elevated his play, there’s no doubt,” Julien said. “He’s become a better player in the second half of the season. I think we’re starting to see more of the David Krejci we know. I think he had a bit of a slow start this year and wasn’t skating as well as we had seen him in the past. And was trying to make those plays, but when you don’t use your speed it’s pretty hard to make those plays in this league. So I think his skating has gotten better, his intensity has gotten better, and because of that he’s making some plays.”
– The coach said that as far as fine-tuning things go prior to the playoffs, special teams will be the focus. After an ugly stretch, the power play has scored four goals in the last four games, while the penalty kill has allowed one goal over the last five.
“[Power play] is an area we’ve got to get better at,” Julien said. “Even our penalty kill had been pretty good all year, then we hit that funk there for about three weeks that really made us slide down in the [rankings] in regards to that. We’ve got to get that back to where we feel it should be. I think our special teams are going to be important from here on in, and those are part of the things we need to work on.
“What I liked about the last game is that we were playing a really good team, it was a tight checking game and we stuck with it and found a way to win. You’ve got to be able to be patient with those types of games that are tight checking games. In the playoffs, that’s what you’re going to get, and I think our guys did a great job in the third period of not creating some bad mistakes or turnovers, and eventually they broke, took a penalty, and we took advantage of it. It’s those little details when you get near the end of the year. You want your team to be composed and in control of their game plan.”