|Claude Julien defends goaltender switch, saying Bruins ‘needed some bigger saves’||01.01.11 at 10:37 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask, making his first start since Dec. 15, was pulled from the game after allowing three goals on 16 shots in the first period. The B’s led, 4-3, at the time, and went on to lose, 7-6, to the Sabres in a shootout.
Following the game, coach Claude Julien defended the decision in his post-game interview on NESN.
“We felt that we needed some bigger saves,” Julien said. “He hasn’t played in a while, but still, we needed to win this hockey game, so we thought it was important to make that change.”
Rask is 2-7-1 this season.
In a game that could appropriately be summarized as a “shootout,” the Bruins fell, 7-6, to the Sabres Saturday in a shootout.
After Drew Stafford and Michael Ryder each scored in the first round of the shootout, Thomas Vanek and Tyler Seguin followed their teammates’ leads. Tyler Ennis then beat Tim Thomas, who came on in relief of Tuukka Rask in the second period, before Zdeno Chara missed.
The Bruins relinquished three leads and Stafford had his second hat trick vs. the B’s this season. Sabres’ netminder Ryan Miller allowed six goals on 40 shots, marking the third time in four games he’s allowed at least four goals.
The Bruins got first period goals from Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg, Brad Marchand, and Zdeno Chara, but Tuukkka Rask allowed three goals on 16 shots and was pulled following the period. After Thomas relinquished the lead, the Bruins faced a 5-4 deficit in the third period.
The team made yet another third-period comeback, with Tyler Seguin tying the game and assisting Steven Kampfer’s go-ahead goal. Stafford would go on to tie the game with 27.8 seconds remaining in the game with the extra attacker on.
With the shootout loss, the Bruins have picked up six of eight points so far on their current road trip, which they will round out when they face the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Monday night.
Thomas’ record now stands at 18-4-5. He has now played in eight straight games and has lost back-to-back games in shootout fashion.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The decision to pull Tuukka Rask was highly questionable. By not letting Rask play more than a period of his first start since Dec. 15, the B’s failed at both keeping Rask fresh and giving Tim Thomas — who had started the team’s last seven games — a day off.
To those wondering whether Claude Julien would have done the same thing if Thomas were in the situation, the answer (based on this season, at least) is no. Thomas allowed three goals on 17 shots Dec. 16 vs. the Canadiens. Julien left Thomas in as the B’s lost, 4-3.
– Blake Wheeler has found the penalty box in the last three games without drawing a penalty. He was a minus-1 on the night.
– Drew Stafford has haunted the Bruins all season. Both of his hat tricks have come against the B’s, meaning six of his 13 goals this season have come against the Bruins.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Tyler Seguin played one of his best games this season and was clutch down the stretch. In the third period, he scored his first goal in 12 games on a nice one-timer orchestrated by Daniel Paille. He then assisted Steven Kampfer’s second goal of the season, which put the B’s up, 6-5. Seguin now has 13 points this season.
– The Bruins’ defense was instrumental in the team’s offensive success throughout the game. Four different defensemen scored for the B’s and Marchand scored his goal by redirecting a shot from Johnny Boychuk. It was the first time in team history that four defenseman scored for the Bruins.
The second overall pick still isn’t getting the ice time he was earlier in the season, but he led the B’s with six shots on goal in regulation.
– Chara’s goal, a power-play strike was his first in 24 games. The captain now has five goals and 11 assists on the season. Despite his two points, he had a minus-1 on the night.
– Give Nathan Horton credit where credit is due. He isn’t scoring, but he is (finally) getting shots on goal. He had five Saturday.
|Bruins lead Sabres, 4-3, after one||at 8:13 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask probably wasn’t planning on allowing three goals in the first period, but he’s got a 4-3 lead to play with as the Bruins and Sabres enter the second period.
Just 1:29 into the contest, Marc Savard won a face-off to set up an Andrew Ference goal from the point. After Ference’s streak of 99 games without a goal ended last month, the blueliner saw to it that there would only be five games between occurrences of him scoring.
With the Sabres on a 2-on-1, Thomas Vanek appared to trip Ference when going for the puck, but when no penalty was called, Vanek beat Rask to make it a 3-2 game. To make matters worse, Savard was called for a questionable slash four seconds later.
The penalty would prove to be a blessing in disguise. With the B’s on the penalty kill. Mark Recchi got the puck up to Patrice Bergeron to create a 2-on-1, and Bergeron slid it across to Zdeno Chara, who put sent it past Ryan Miller for a shorthanded goal. It was Chara’s first goal in 24 games.
With less than a minute remaining in the period, Rask was unable to hold onto a puck long enough to get a whistle, and Drew Stafford knocked it in to make it 4-3.
The Sabres have outshot the Bruins, 16-11.
Tuukka Rask will get his first start since Dec. 15th when the Bruins (20-11-5) take on the Sabres (15-18-4) in a New Years Day matchup at HSBC Arena.
Rask, who is 2-7-1 this season, hasn’t been able to rack up the starts given Tim Thomas‘ success (1.74 goals against average, .947 save percentage), though that Dec. 15 start did come against the Sabres, a 3-2 loss.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Sabres are 8-10-1 at home and have had just two games at HSBC since hosting the Bruins last month. In those games they defeated the Ducks and fell to the Panthers.
– The B’s are 11-5-2 in away games, most recently falling to the Thrashers Thursday in a shootout. They have been very successful so far on their current road trip, grabbing five of a possible six points. Buffalo is the second-to-last stop on the five-game road trip, as they will wrap it up Monday in Tortonto.
– Just one point — an assist Tuesday — for Nathan Horton over his last eight games. The top line of Lucic-Savard-Horton isn’t showing up the stat sheet much, but they had a very encouraging showing against the Thrashers.
– David Krejci has four points — one goal and three assists — against the Sabres this season. Michael Ryder has a pair of goals and an assist vs. Buffalo. The two, along with Blake Wheeler, have made up the Bruins’ best line of late. Given their individual success against the Sabres thus far, it will be interesting how they perform together, something they’ve done very well.
– Though Ryan Miller made 29 saves on 31 shots in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Oilers, he hasn’t been tearing it up of late. In his two previous starts, he allowed four and five goals to the Panthers and Flames, respectively. Miller is 13-12-3 on the season with a 2.62 goals against average and .911 save percentage.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– The new year has come and Rask is unbelievably making just his 10th start of the season (he played one his previous nine in relief of Thomas and took the loss vs. Washington, thus explaining his 10 decisions). Thomas had seven straight starts following the team’s 3-2 loss to the Sabres with Rask in net, the longest streak for any Bruins goaltender this season.
Rask has not gotten back-to-back starts all season. With Thomas clearly this team’s No. 1 goaltender, it will be interesting to see if a sound performance on Saturday gets the Finnish netminder another go on Monday vs. the Maple Leafs, who have lost five of their last six.
– The Sabres lost center Derek Roy during their 4-3 loss to the Panthers last Thursday. Roy took a hit from Panthers blueliner Dmitry Kulikov early in the game and is now done for the season with a torn quad tendon. In the Sabres’ two games since losing Roy, who was leading the team in both goals (13) and assists (25), Buffalo has lost to Calgary and defeated Edmonton.
|Bruins looking for fourth straight win as they take on Thrashers||12.30.10 at 7:00 am ET|
Last Thursday, the Bruins grabbed their most monumental victory of the season when they beat (and beat up) the Thrashers, 4-1, at TD Garden. While the B’s (20-11-4) have won their two games since then, the Thrashers (19-14-6) stumbled, dropping both of their post-Christmas contests.
The tables have turned a bit, and now it’s the Thrashers looking to re-establish momentum as they host the B’s Thursday night at Philips Arena.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Thrashers are 10-7-3 in Atlanta this season, but are 1-2-2 in their last five home games. In their most recent home contest, they fell to the Lightning, 3-2, in a shootout.
– The Bruins have been a very good road team all season, as their 11-5-1 record away from the Garden (excluding the first Prague “home” game) would suggest. Thursday night marks the third game of their current five-game road trip. They are looking to make it three in a row on the road (four in a row overall).
– The Bruins have to Dustin Byfuglien‘s opponent of choice. In two games vs. the B’s this season, the former Blackhawk has two goals and three assists, both of which are the most he has against any club. He’s also had five points in his last five games. To say the Bruins need to keep an eye on him is an understatement.
– Michael Ryder is riding a three-game point streak that has featured a pair of goals and a pair of assists. His line with David Krejci and Blake Wheeler has unquestionably been the Bruins’ best PRLS (post-Rancournament line shuffle — think it won’t catch on?) and he’s picked up an assist in both games vs. the Thrashers this season.
– One. That’s how many goals the Bruins have won each of their two games this week. They’ve been cutting it close, but you get two points no matter how you win. Perhaps they’ll be a bit more offensively potent when the top two lines hit their stride.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– The Bruins’ loss to the Thrashers last month was an ugly one, but it was also a rare occurrence. The B’s have won 11 of their last 12 against Atlanta.
– Last week it was about the Bruins making a statement as a team. This time the city is awaiting a statement from an individual in the form of one Nathan Horton. The 25-year-old is freezing cold, as he hasn’t scored in seven games and was one of three Bruins forwards benched for a large chunk of the third period Tuesday night in Tampa. Horton didn’t register a shot on goal, marking the 12th game he’s had either one or zero shots on net this season.
The problem with Horton is that he let the cat out of the bag from the get-go in the preseason: He can be physical, and he can be the best player on the ice. That’s why nobody’s ridiculing Peter Chiarelli for trading for him. Everybody knows how good he is, but he needs to give reminders far more frequently.
– It will be Tim Thomas between the pipes for a seventh straight game. He allowed one goal on 27 shots last Thursday vs. Atlanta, while the Thrashers put four past Tuukka Rask last month on 26 shots. Thomas has won his last five vs. Atlanta.
|Bruins look to pick up third straight win as they face Steven Stamkos’ Lightning||12.28.10 at 5:14 am ET|
The Bruins, fresh off of jumping into first place in the Northeast division with their 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers on Monday, will take on the Lightning, who lead the Southeast division, on Tuesday night. It’s the second of five straight road games for the Bruins, and the second of three games in four days.
The last time the Bruins faced the Lightning, they won in blowout fashion, crushing Tampa Bay, 8-1, at TD Garden on Dec. 2. The two teams have split the season series thus far, as the Lightning grabbed a 3-1 win at St. Pete Times Forum on Nov. 22.
The Lightning have won six of their last seven games, while the Bruins are winners of their last two.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Lightning are 10-2-2 in Tampa and are a perfect 4-0-0 in home games this month.
– The Bruins are 10-5-1 on the road this season. Their shootout win on Monday was just their second road victory of the month, the first of which came on Dec. 1 in Philadelphia.
– Steven Stamkos is back on track following his statistical hiccup that lasted from late November into the beginning of the month. He has scored seven goals in his last eight games and has 28 on the season.
– Milan Lucic‘s scoreless streak has now reached four games and he has one point in the last six contests. Lucic had two points when the B’s faced the Lightning on Dec. 2.
– David Krejci and Michael Ryder starred in that 8-1 Bruins victory over the Lightning earlier this month with three points apiece. Both Krejci and Ryder had a pair of points in Monday’s win over the Panthers, and with their line with Blake Wheeler clicking, they’re certainly a couple of players worth keeping an eye on.
– After having three goals entering last Thursday’s game vs. the Rangers, Vincent Lecavalier has doubled that in his last two games. He has a pair of goals in Sunday night’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Thrashers.
– After Monday, it’s now been five straight games without a start for Rask. If Thomas starts against the the Thrashers on Thursday, Rask will have gone more than two weeks without seeing any playing time. Thomas has been stellar in his last two starts, so the Bruins face some serious difficulty in trying to get Rask game experience to keep him sharp.
STORLYLINES GOING IN
– The Lucic – Savard – Horton line has not produced a goal in either of the two game s since it came into being in last week’s line shuffle. In fact, of the four non-special-teams goals the team has scored in the last two contests, half have come from Krejci, with Shawn Thornton scoring the other two.
– Will this one go to overtime, too? Judging by the opponent, it wouldn’t be surprising. The Lightning’s last three games have been decided either in overtime or a shootout. They’re 2-0-1 in that stretch.
|Bruins at Panthers preview||12.27.10 at 4:46 am ET|
The Bruins are coming off perhaps their most monumental win of the season, a 4-1 victory over the Thrashers that featured the grit and emotion the team had lacked over its previous 1-3-1 stretch.
The B’s play the next five on the road, starting with Monday’s matchup with the Panthers. The Bruins have won both games against Florida this season, most recently grabbing a 3-1 victory at BankAtlantic Center behind two goals from Mark Recchi on Nov. 24.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Panthers are 7-6-0 at BankAtlantic Center this season, though they probably feel as though they don’t know the place anymore with the way their schedule has been. Nine of their last 12 games have been played on the road. They’re 2-4-0 in their last six home contests dating back to Nov. 22.
– The Bruins are 9-5-1 on the road and have dropped their last three away from the Garden.
– The Panthers are the only team in the NHL to not have an overtime loss this season. The Bruins have come away with the single point in four contests.
– Milan Lucic has gone without a point in three straight games for the first time this season. His last point came on Dec. 16 in Montreal, a third-period power play goal. Despite his mini-slump, he continues to lead the Bruins with 16 goals.
– Each of the Bruins goaltenders have put together impressive performances vs. the Panthers this season. Tuukka Rask grabbed a shutout on Nov. 18 at the Garden, while Tim Thomas allowed on goal on Nov. 24th. Florida is the only team that both Bruins goaltenders have beaten.
– The Bruins have allowed 35 shots or more in seven games in December. If David Booth comes close to the 14 shots he had against the Bruins on Nov. 18, they might be in for a high shots allowed total again.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– The biggest question for this Bruins team is how they can sustain what they did Thursday for an entire road trip, and then beyond that. They have Tampa Bay Tuesday, followed by a rematch against the Thrashers on Thursday. If the Bruins want to carry momentum from their victory last Thursday they will need to kick off the road trip with a win over the Panthers.
– The Bruins have not sat Tuukka Rask for five straight games yet this season. Tim Thomas has started the last four, and has had such a stretch only twice this season. It might make sense for Rask to get the nod against the lowly Panthers, which would avoid overwhelming Thomas with three starts in four days, but reports out of Florida suggest Thomas will be between the pipes.
– The Bruins benefit greatly from the fact that Lucic was not suspended for Monday’s game. This way, they can take their time with bringing Brad Marchand (soreness) back and not have to summon an extra forward while they’re away. Claude Julien told reporters Monday that Marchand will not play.