|Pre-game notes: Shawn Thornton says cool it with the 1972 comparisons||03.03.11 at 1:18 pm ET|
No time for celebration, as the Bruins, fresh off a 6-0-0 road trip, are back at the Garden for a huge game with the Lightning on Thursday. The teams are tied with 81 points apiece through 63 games, with the B’s holding the tie-breaker for second place given that they’ve won less games via shootout.
It will be Tim Thomas between the pipes, as he’ll put his 28-8-6 record on the line after last playing Saturday night in Vancouver. Tuukka Rask started the Bruins’ last two, earning victories over the Oilers and Senators.
Thomas is 2-0-0 in two starts against Tampa Bay, allowing four goals with a .944 save percentage.
While the Bruins have won their last six, the Lightning have gone 3-2-1 in the same span. They lost a 2-1 contest to the red-hot Devils on Wednesday.
Here are some pre-game notes:
- Comparisons are nice, but even Roger Clemens would say people are beating references to 1972′s perfect six-game road trip with a dead horse.
“I don’t look at it at all,” Shawn Thornton said after the morning skate. “I honestly don’t. It’s purely a coincidence as far as I’m concerned.
“We’ve got a six game thing going here, and it doesn’t matter about anything else. We’re just trying to get seven in a row and then eight in a row. We’ll take it one at time here.”
“He got examined yesterday by our doctors and things are going extremely well for him,” Julien said. “We hope to see him back on the ice the beginning of next week. That could be as early as Sunday if things keep going well.”
- No Vincent Lecavalier for the Lightning. He’s out with a mid-body injury on which the Lightning haven’t elaborated much.
- The three new guys in Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly will play in the Garden as Bruins for the first time Thursday. Kaberle and Kelly have played five games for the B’s since being acquired via trade, while Peverley has four under his belt.
While Bruins fans will welcome all three to the Garden, the focus will likely be on Kaberle, who was the big fish of trade season. Neither of the newcomers have lost a game as a member of the Bruins, and after years of limited team success in Toronto, that’s something Kaberle welcomes.
“My first six years I played in the playoffs every year. The last five, it wasn’t there. It’s tough to always answer the questions to the media of ‘why not,’” Kaberle said after the morning skate. “Hopefully we’ll have a good rest of the season and prepare for the playoffs.”
Kaberle said he is feeling more and more comfortable as he familiarizes himself with the Bruins way.
“I feel good. Obviously it’s a great team. Every line’s got something on the ice, and everybody can score. It’s nice to see that, and with two goalies behind us, we feel pretty comfortable.”
- Kaberle is undoubtedly the biggest name the team added when the moves were made, but Kelly and Peverley are fitting in very nicely on the third line. Both were among the leagues better faceoff men at the time they were acquired, and having both taking draws and killing penalties is something Julien likes to see.
“Right now, you’ve got to be extremely pleased with first of all [Peverley's] faceoffs, how dominant he’s been on draws,” Julien said. “With that line you’ve got a guy taking him on the strong side, and Kelly, a lefty and a righty, so you’ve got to be comfortable with that situation.”
“At the same time I think both Kelly and Peverley have seemed to have built some pretty quick chemistry there on the penalty kill as well. They seem to read off each other extremely well.”
- Thornton doesn’t want the new guys’ ability to come in and contribute immediately to go unnoticed. All three players have wound up on the scoring sheet since joining the B’s.
“They’re a big part of it too. These guys came in and stepped in seamlessly,” Thornton said. “It’s been a really easy transition for us and them.”
- How about this one from the stat truck? Over the last 10 games, Tyler Seguin has more goals than Steven Stamkos. Take that, development.
Well, not exactly. By Stamkos’ standards, the Tampa Bay star is in a slump as far as goals go. He has just two over the last 10 games (Seguin has three), but continues to lead the league with 41. Seguin has no points over his last four games.
|Seguin elaborates a bit more on expectations, playing time to Montreal Gazette||03.01.11 at 4:30 pm ET|
Bruins forward Tyler Seguin has had an up-and-down rookie season, and as a result his minutes have predictably gone up and down. It can’t be an easy thing for an 18-turned-19-year old to deal with, especially one who has dominated every level at which he has played previously.
Yet to Seguin’s credit, as unhappy with his ice time as he may be at times, he hasn’t let it seep its way onto the public record. He told me recently that he had previously been “blaming the wrong people” for a cut in ice time that included healthy scratches, but that he was done doing so. If he was more unhappy about it, he kept it to himself.
Yet in talking to the Montreal Gazette recently, he touched on a couple of the same subjects he’s been approached about over and over, and this time he elaborated a bit more.
“It’s hard to meet those expectations, whether it’s points or your individual bonuses in your contract when you get less opportunity and less ice,” Seguin told the Gazette. “But the coaches know what they’re doing to help me as a person and as a player.”
Seguin and Taylor Hall were as 1-and-1a as it gets in a given draft year, and the Oilers opted for Hall, the No. 2 prospect in the draft according to NHL Central Scouting. After a rough start, Hall has come into his own for an Oilers team that is on pace to finish last in the league for a second year. Seguin, despite some encouraging signs over the last couple of weeks, still has yet to hit his stride. He has 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points this season, which puts him 17th amongst rookies. Hall’s 40 points (21 G, 19 A) puts him third, behind only Jeff Skinner (chosen after both players at seventh overall by the Hurricanes) and San Jose’s Logan Couture.
Seguin knew before last year’s draft that this could be the case if he came to Boston. Because they had Toronto’s first-round pick, the team that made it to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference semifinals would be able to add a type of player that generally would be given room to develop as a rookie.
‘In the end it’s still the NHL so I’m happy to go to either team,’ Seguin said in a conversation with WEEI.com prior to the draft. ‘I don’t have a preference. Edmonton is a Canadian city so they have a great fan base and they are a bit of a weaker team so there might be more opportunity there. With that being said, Boston’s already a contender. You can hop in the NHL and get a run for the Stanley Cup.’
Now, he’s experiencing just that.
“That’s one of the things with coming to a top team,” Seguin told the Gazette. “The young guys aren’t going to get as many opportunities on this type of team as maybe a guy like Taylor Hall in Edmonton. Not taking anything away from him, he’s had a great year so far and I know he’s going to finish off strong, he always does. And I’m going to be going into the playoffs, and that’s where my head is at.”
|Bruins snap skid with win over Islanders||02.17.11 at 9:27 pm ET|
The Bruins broke a three-game losing streak by turning on the offense against a pair of Islanders goaltenders in a 6-3 victory at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night.
Tyler Seguin had his third multi-point game of the season, as he set up Blake Wheeler‘s goal to open the scoring 55 seconds into the game and added his 10th goal of the season in the second period. Wheeler and David Krejci also had multi-point nights with a goal and an assist apiece. Mark Recchi, Gregory Campbell and Milan Lucic also scored for the Bruins. Lucic now has 24 goals on the season, which leads the team.
After the team jumped out to a 4-0 lead, John Tavares scored the first of his two goals on the game in a back-and-forth second period. Josh Bailey scored the other Islanders’ goal.
Islanders starter Nathan Lawson was scored after Seguin’s goal made it 5-1, and Al Montoya made 13 saves on 14 shots. Tuukka Rask improved to 6-11-1 on the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Some have been too quick to give Seguin credit where it isn’t due, but it’s safe to say that Seguin was bringing everything Thursday night that he needs to. The 19-year-old was every bit as engaged as the Bruins are hoping for him to be down the stretch. This was highlighted in the second period, where he was persistent enough score his 10th of the season while losing his balance. Later in the period, he dove at the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Seguin’s performances weren’t anything special in his first two games following last week’s healthy scratches (in the case of Sunday, it was detrimental in Detroit), but Thursday’s was the type of performance that suggests the youngster is starting to get it.
- As hectic as things were in the second period, it’s good to see Rask turn in a solid performance in the victory. The third goal was preventable, but but considering that he was pulled after two periods and five goals last Friday against the Red Wings, encouraging signs are welcomed for a guy who you have to assume will get more time between now and the end of the season.
- All three lines scored for the Bruins, and their six goals equaled the number they scored in their losing streak. More nights like Thursday would be a welcomed sign for a team that had been outscored 14-6 over their last three.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Michael Ryder‘s minus-1 made him the lone Bruins player with a negative rating on the game. Now at a minus-5 on the season, Ryder is the only Bruin currently on the roster with a negative rating on the year.
- The Bruins went from dominating the first period to playing in a closely contested second period, and that speaks to both the Islanders waking up and the B’s not keeping the pedal to the metal. They still scored three in the second period, but the Islanders’ opportunities against Rask were far more frequent, as the Bruins were outshot, 22-12, in the second.
- Tavares simply did damage. In addition to his two goals, the former first overall pick could have had a hat trick if it weren’t for a third-period bid behind Rask sliding across the crease.
|Wrong place, wrong time for Phil Kessel as he brings slump to Boston||02.14.11 at 11:38 pm ET|
When it comes to Phil Kessel, “draft” is a popular word. The fifth overall draft pick in 2006, Kessel was traded for critical draft picks in September 2009 and, in his second season in Toronto, was the last pick of the NHL All-Star fantasy draft.
Selections aside, it’s hard to imagine anyone could have drafted such a lousy script for the 23-year-old of late. The former 36-goal scorer for the Bruins has been freezing for the Maple Leafs over the last month, racking up a grand total of zero goals in his last 14 games.
With Kessel’s luck, he is ‘ of course ‘ going to be in town Tuesday to potentially extend that streak to 15 games, the longest stretch of games without a goal for Kessel since his rookie year in Boston. In that 2006-07 campaign, Kessel failed to score from Jan. 18 to Feb. 20, though the combination of adjusting to the league as a rookie and coming off surgery for cancer is probably the toughest thing a player could face.
Incidentally, he also went 14 games without a goal during the 2008-09 season, and that stretch also occurred around the same part of the season, lasting from Jan. 6 to Feb. 21. The months of January and February have not been nice to Kessel, and as he’ll surely be reminded of Tuesday, neither has the Garden crowd when he and his Maple Leafs have rolled into town.
While Bruins scorers have also had their slumps (Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton have had goal-less streaks of 12 and 10, respectively, at points this season, while Blake Wheeler‘s 14-game goal slump matches Kessel’s), here’s a fun stat to play off of Kessel’s current drought: Entering Tuesday, only one Bruins player has a longer streak of games without a goal than Kessel ‘ defenseman Andrew Ference, who has gone 16 games. Not surprisingly, nobody will be getting on the blueliner any time soon for that.
While Bruins fans will enjoy every moment of Kessel’s struggles (especially if Tyler Seguin scores, which will be the cue for a certain chant), Toronto fans have been nearly as relentless in their treatment of the player their team traded three high picks to acquire. Check out this picture from Puck Daddy, a great hockey blog on Yahoo! Sports:
That’s just cruel. Kessel will be at TD Garden on Tuesday, but whether he is once again ‘missing’ for the Maple Leafs remains to be seen. Things haven’t been rosy for Kessel and the Leafs, as the team has 52 points (fifth-worst in the NHL as of Monday night) and said earlier in his drought that it “might not be working out here” before backpedaling. Kessel will be skating on a line with Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak.
NAME THAT QUOTE
As noted above, the Bruins and Leafs have each had their scorers face slumps this season. Below are two quotes, one of which is Claude Julien on a Bruins player at some point this season. The other is Leafs coach Ron Wilson on Kessel.
‘There’s been a lot of talk about [player] not scoring goals. Well, I can stand here tonight and when I see the effort that [player] puts in the game, I can live with that. Obviously I would like to see him score and I think everybody would. You’ve got to recognize when a guy is not scoring goals, but you also have to recognize some of the good things he does.”
‘[He] is the one who has to work his way out of this. There is only so much you can do to help him in terms of playing with different people. He has to go earn his chances and dig in and help in other ways until the puck goes in the net.’
|Bruins drop second straight to Red Wings||02.13.11 at 2:58 pm ET|
The Bruins dropped a 4-2 decision to the Red Wings on Sunday and have now lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since Dec. 15 and 16, when they dropped contests to the Sabres and Canadiens in succession.
Todd Bertuzzi had two goals for the second straight game against the Bruins, with Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper also beating Tim Thomas. Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand provided the scoring for the B’s.
Jimmy Howard, who played his college puck at Maine, improved his record to 28-10-3, giving him the most wins in the NHL. He made 23 saves on 25 shots.
Thomas on the other hand, saw his record fall to 26-7-6. Steven Kampfer, who grew up in Ann Arbor and played his college hockey at the University of Michigan, was a healthy scratch for the game.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton had minimal impact on the game. That can’t happen down the stretch, and it certainly can’t happen in the playoffs. Krejci and Lucic had two shots apiece, which was more than could be said for Horton’s one. With Horton having no shots on goal Friday, he has just one over the last two games.
- Brad Marchand was second in the NHL with a plus-25 rating entering Friday’s game, but he’s been a minus-5 over the two contests since. After a minus-3 rating on Friday, he was on the ice for two of the four Detroit goals Sunday.
Marchand had a particularly costly turnover in the first period, as he sent a blind pass right to Bertuzzi in front of the net in the first period. Bertuzzi turned the play into his third goal against the B’s in two games, and second gift goal. He capitalized on blunder made by Tuukka Rask while playing the puck on Friday night.
- Tyler Seguin turned a very encouraging first game back from back-to-back healthy scratch into further proof as to why Claude Julien has been taking it easy with the rookie. After scoring the Bruins’ first goal by staring involved in the play in front and sending a rebound off a Blake Wheeler wraparound past Howard in the first period, he played a large role in the game-winning goal for the Red Wings. The second overall pick didn’t stick with Kris Draper, and the right winger scored the go-ahead goal in the second period off a saucer pass from Patrick Eaves.
- Tim Thomas has allowed 11 goals over his last seven periods. That might be a Hart-breaker for the Vezina shoo-in.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Lucic was fine after getting hit square on the front of his right skate with a shot from the point. Trainer Don DelNegro came to the ice to tend to him, and the 22-year-old winger left the ice slowly, but under his own power. He returned to the bench moments later.
- After going five straight games without a power play goal, the B’s have been able to convert with a man advantage in each of the last two games. Krejci had the Bruins’ lone power play tally on Friday, a night in which the B’s went 1-for-3, and Marchand scored on the first of three Bruins’ power plays on Sunday.
- Michael Ryder had his second multi-point performance in the last three contests. After scoring twice against the Canadiens on Wednesday, he had a pair of assists Sunday. The original scoring of Seguin’s goal gave Wheeler credit for the goal, with Seguin getting the lone assist, but upon correction, Wheeler and Ryder were each credited with a helper. Ryder made a beautiful pass to set up Marchand’s goal on the power play.
|Red Wings take lead in second period||at 2:06 pm ET|
The Bruuins relinquished the lead in the second period on Sunday, and will have to overcome a 3-2 defect to avoid a home and home sweep at the hands ot the Red Wings.
Pavel Datsyuk tied the game 3:54 into the period, sending it in following a Tim Thomas collision with Adam McQuaid in front of the net. McQuaid’s collision wouldn’t prove to be the only rookie blunder, as Tyler Seguin, who scored the Bruins’ first goal, gave a reminder as to why he had been a healthy scratch the last two games. He didn’t stick with his man in Kris Draper at the blue line, and with Draper coming into the zone unattended to, Patrick Eaves hit him with nice saucer pass in front of Tim Thomas.
The Bruins had only six shots on goal in the second period, and through two are being outshot, 29-15.
The Bruins have a 2-1 lead after a period at Joe Louis Arena, which is a big step up after never leading in Friday’s 6-1 loss.
Tyler Seguin, playing for the first time in three games, got the Bruins on the board when he banged home a Jimmy Howard rebound off a Blake Wheeler wraparound at 1:29. The goal was credited to Wheeler, with Seguin getting the assist, but a review should clarify that it was Seguin’s goal. Should he rightfully be given credit, it will be his last three games.
UPDATE: The scoring was indeed changed to give Seguin the goal. Wheeler and Michael Ryder got assists.
Brad Marchand had an up and down first period for the Bruins. He made a blind pass in front of the Bruins’ net with only he and Todd Bertuzzi in the zone. Bertuzzi gained possession in front of Tim Thomas, took his time, and beat the B’s netminder for his third goal against Boston in two games.
Marchand would make up for his blunder, as he gave the B’s a 2-1 lead by scoring his 16th of the season off a beautiful pass from Ryder. The Wings will begin the second on the power play, as Ryder has 1:06 remaining on a roughing minor he took late in the period.
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