|Scheduled day off for Marco Sturm; Tuukka Rask to start||12.09.10 at 12:19 pm ET|
Marco Sturm was missing from the Bruins’ morning skate on Thursday morning. Following the skate, the team’s media relations folks said it was a scheduled day off for the rehabbing winger. Of course, one would have to assume the team is still looking to trade him to avoid the salary cap mess that would coincide with his activation.
Sturm said Wednesday that he isn’t sure whether he’ll be traded, but that he is not pleased with his situation. He waived his no-trade clause to facilitate a deal to the Kings last week, but the trade fell through.
Tuukka Rask was first off the ice Thursday morning, an indication that he’ll be between the pipes against the lowly Islanders. Rask took a 4-1 loss last Sunday against the Thrashers and is 1-6-1 on the season with a 2.59 GAA and .926 save percentage.
|Tuukka Rask expected to start for Bruins in first matchup of Tyler Seguin and Steven Stamkos||11.22.10 at 2:39 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask was first off the ice on Monday, indicating he’ll be between the pipes when the Bruins take on Mike Smith and the Lightning in Tampa Bay. Guy Boucher‘s club is currently riding a three-game win streak.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The B’s are 7-1-0 on the road, with their lone loss coming on Nov. 5 in Washington. They have 10 goals in their last two road games, seven of which came in their come-from-behind victory over the Penguins on Nov. 10.
– The Lightning are 4-2-1 at home, and 2-2-1 in their last five home games.
– Michael Ryder saw a dip in his playing time on Saturday. Ryder entered the contest averaging 14:01 a night, but got just 9:50 of ice time. It was the first time all season that Ryder played less than 12 minutes, let alone 10.
– Between the two starting goalies tonight, just one goal has been allowed in their last starts. Rask blanked the Panthers in Boston while Smith allowed one goal on 30 shots against the Sabers in Buffalo.
– Steven Stamkos is out of his mind. He’s got 19 goals this season, with Sidney Crosby and Alexander Semin a distant five goals behind him for the lead league.
Stamkos had 23 goals as a rookie, and given all the parallels between he and Tyler Seguin, this scribe is holding firm on the projection that Seguin finishes the season in that ballpark. Seguin is on pace for 18.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– After one game of having Seguin as a third line winger, Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports that Seguin will swap spots with Jordan Caron and jump up to the second line. The initial reaction is that this is a great move for multiple reasons. For starters, it returns Seguin to the generation-spanning line that looked so intriguing in the preseason and puts the young scorer on a line with two of the top-three guys on the team in assists. Mark Recchi leads the B’s will 11, while Patrice Bergeron is tied for second with Nathan Horton (10).
This move will also be good for the team in that it gets a slumping Caron off the second line. He hasn’t scored in 10 games, picking up just two assists over that period.
Expect the lines to look like this:
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Seguin – Bergeron – Recchi
Caron – Wheeler – Ryder
Marchand – Campbell – Thornton
– It should be interesting to see how Rask, who is tied for third in the league with a .939 save percentage, fares against an offense as productive as Tampa Bay’s. Rask had a 41-save shutout the last time out against the Panthers, but the Tampa Bay is averaging 3.1 goals per game (5th in the NHL) and have totaled 14 goals in their three-game winning streak.
– Special teams could be key in this game, as it matches the third-best power play in the league (Tampa Bay scores on 24.4 of its power plays) against the Bruins’s 89.9 penalty kill percentage, which is second in the league.
|Kings at Bruins preview||11.20.10 at 10:33 am ET|
With the Bruins heating up at home, they will face a test against a very good Kings team that has been cooling off of late. Tim Thomas was first off the ice for the Bruins, an indication that he will likely be between the pipes for the B’s against UMass product Jonathan Quick.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Bruins are 4-4-1 in home games this season, but are 4-3-1 in games played at TD Garden given that the first game was actually in Prague. Things are looking up for them in Boston, though, as they have won their last two home games, shutting out both the Senators and Panthers.
– The Kings are a dominant home team, but the same can’t be said for they’re road play. They’re 4-5-0 outside of Los Angeles and have dropped their last two road games.
– Ten. That’s how many victories both Tim Thomas and Quick have been able to attain in just 12 starts this season. Thomas is 10-1-0, with Quick entering the game at 10-2-0. Thomas has four shutouts to Quick’s one.
Despite the impressive play and 1.73 goals against average for Quick, he’s coming off a rough game Wednesday in which he allowed four goals to the Blue Jackets on just 25 shots.
– Thomas leads the NHL in save percentage (.959), but one might be surprised that Tuukka Rask is third in the league in the category with a .939 clip, ahead of Quick and many others. Not bad for a guy with a 1-4-1 record, eh?
– This might be the only time one could point out that Milan Lucic is on pace for 48 goals, so why the hell not? His career high is 17, though he’s never had an 82-game season in his career.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– This is a battle of two teams that have been at opposite ends of the spectrum recently. The Bruins are winners of their last three, while the Kings have lost three in a row after a 12-3-0 start to the season.
– The last time these teams faced one another, it was an interesting one. It wasn’t until the sixth round of the shootout that Jarret Stoll sealed a 3-2 Kings victory in Boston. The game was the Bruins’ seventh of their 10-game losing streak that stretched from Jan. 16 (another loss to the Kings) to Feb. 16.
|Bruins beat Panthers behind Milan Lucic hat trick and Tuukka Rask shutout||11.18.10 at 9:30 pm ET|
Lucic and the first line provided the majority of the offense for the Bruins, beating Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun on a goal assisted by former Panthers third overall pick Nathan Horton. He added another from virtually the same spot in the third and made it a hat trick seconds later, stuffing in a rebound to make it 3-0. With the game, Lucic reached 10 goals, surpassing Horton (8) for the team lead. Shawn Thornton added his fourth of the season at 16:04.
Tuukka Rask hadn’t been getting consistent play in front of him to begin the season, so he made it a little easier on teammates, shutting out the Panthers. It was his first victory of the season. Rask stopped all 41 shots he saw, frustrating a busy Panthers offense and improving his record to 1-4-1.
“You know, you play five, six games and you feel like you are playing good and the puck is not bouncing our way,” Rask said after the game. “That’s all it is and that’s what I said before, just keep working hard and good things will happen and today they did.”
The victory improved the Bruins’ record to 11-5-1. They are now 4-4-1 in home games and 4-3-1 in games played at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Uh, Lucic. Lucic. And Lucic again.
– It took much longer than one would have expected on, say, Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. Prague Time, but Rask finally got his first win of the season. Entering the night, Rask was 0-4-1 in five games, but he had played well enough to win on a few occasions, notably the team’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Blues on Nov. 6.
– Brad Marchand may be a pest to other trash-talking players, but on Thursday he was even more of a pest to Vokoun. The third-line winger led the B’s with five shots on goal. The total tied his career high, which he reached last season on Nov. 1 against the Rangers.
– A top line missing its center is like a rock band losing its lead singer — you just assume it won’t be the same. Yet with David Krejci out, Patrice Bergeron has channeled his inner Sammy Hagar/Ronnie James Dio and proven that the first line can be fantastic with him in the middle.
For the second straight game, the line was able to manufacture a well-executed goal on the opening tally. Of course, Vokoun should have been able to stop Lucic’s first one, which he took after receiving a drop pass from Horton, but it was the latest example of how well these three are starting to play together.
– Once again, the penalty kill came up big for the Bruins. A night after killing off a 5-on-3 late in a one-goal game in New York, the Bruins kept the Panthers off the board despite being shorthanded five times throughout the night.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The power play only got two chances, and it didn’t see anything come of them. Bryan McCabe went off for unsportsmanlike conduct in the second and Cory Stillman was called for interference at 5:08 of the third. In not converting, the Bruins now have just one power play goal in their last five games.They’ve had 18 opportunities. Hard to think they’re not missing Krejci in that respect.
– Rask was sensational, but that didn’t mean he had to face as many shots as he did. David Booth usually gets a lot of pucks on net, but he had 11 shots through the first two periods. All in all, the Panthers put 41 shots on Rask, 12 of which came off the stick of Booth.
|Bruins lead Panthers after one||at 7:42 pm ET|
Milan Lucic scored his eighth goal of the season at 15:37 of the first period, and it’s a 1-0 Bruins lead after 20 minutes.
The Panthers came awfully close twice in the middle of the period, with a David Booth shot trickling off Rask’s glove but falling wide of the net, and Jason Garrison firing one that hit the post. Later in the period, Booth took a pass in front from Rostislav Olesz, with Rask getting in position and making a fantastic save.
Shawn Thornton and Darcy Hordichuk provided the fighting for the period, squaring off at 16:31 in a twist that left Thornton with a bloody nose. The lone injury scare of the period when Patrice Bergeron took a Dennis Wideman shot off the foot, but he returned to the ice.
Florida is outshooting the Bruins, 16-11. The Panthers are 0-for-1 on the power play, with 13.2 seconds remaining on a high sticking on a high stick call on on Blake Wheeler.
|Johnny Boychuk in for Bruins||at 7:04 pm ET|
Johnny Boychuk is making his return to the Bruins’ lineup as the B’s take on the Panthers on Thursday night. Based on warmups, the defensive pairings were as follows:
Ference – Chara
Hunwick – Seidenberg
Stuart – Boychuk
Boychuk had been out since Oct. 23 with a fractured forearm. Tuukka Rask is in net for the Bruins.
|Is Tuukka Rask snake-bitten? It sure looks that way||11.12.10 at 10:19 am ET|
It must be hard for Tuukka Rask right now.
His Bruins teammates got off to a red-hot start and his fellow netminder one stall over in the dressing room was off to one of the best starts in team history.
But after Thursday night’s 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, Rask stands with an 0-4-1 record. How bad is it? He has more losses than games started.
When the Bruins came back to tie the Washington Capitals last Friday night, he came on in relief of Tim Thomas, only to allow the go-ahead goal and get charged with the loss. He has a 2.75 goals against average but his coach hasn’t lost faith because he believes Rask deserves a better fate.
“I don’t know if it’s at home, but I think it’s just overall,” Claude Julien said after Thursday’s latest setback. “It’s unfortunate, because so far, I don’t think we’ve played great in front of him. That first game in Prague, I think was our worst game ever so far this year. Tonight we weren’t a very good team in front of him. I thought he played well in St. Louis and took us into a shootout. But I don’t know that I would go after him and say that he’s not playing well. I think we need to help him out a little bit. When goalies find their groove, it’s because the team in front of him play maybe better than we have.”
He was respectable again on Thursday night, stopping 25-of-26 shots before a power play goal inside the first minute of the third period gave the Canadiens control.
Rask, who was the starter in the playoffs last year and figured to be this season after surgery to Tim Thomas, can’t seem to catch a break.
“Well, I think pros are pros and you can’t do everything for them,” Julien added. “That’s part of being a pro. You’ve got to be mentally strong, and you’ve got to fight through those things and the coach will always more or less always help them out, but he’s got to do his share to work through those things if confidence becomes an issue, but I don’t think he’s there.”
What does Rask think?
“That’s hockey, you know,” he said. “Try to do your best and save every puck and if you don’t get the bounce, you don’t, and if you do, just that’s great. Today there was more unlucky bounces again.”
Can’t blame him if it seems like he’s seen more than his fair share so far this season.