|Tim Thomas honored to be an All-Star, willing to shut down Zdeno Chara if opportunity arises||01.11.11 at 5:21 pm ET|
The Bruins received perhaps the least surprising news they could get on Tuesday when they were informed that Tim Thomas was named an All-Star. Thomas is putting together the best year of any goaltender over the last five years, and as such, it is no shock that he’s earned the honor of joining the league’s best for the third time in his career.
“It’s always an honor,” Thomas said of the distinction prior to the B’s game against the Senators on Tuesday. “It’s a feather in your cap, so I’m very happy.”
Thomas has played in 29 of the Bruins’ first 41 games, compiling an 18-4-6 record and leading the league with a 1.84 goals against average and a .944 save percentage. His five shutouts tie his career-high and put him in a tie for the league lead.
Yet given all the time he’s played, it is expected that the Bruins could use Tuukka Rask a bit more just to keep Thomas from being overworked. The same line of thinking might apply when wondering whether the 36-year-old could use the All-Star to get some rest rather than work more. Thomas’ reaction to that idea is simle.
“Everybody wants down time, but having said that, for most people — myself included — you don’t make the All-Star [game] that often,” Thomas said. “It’s an honor worth giving up a couple of days rest for.”
Thomas will join teammates Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin in Raleigh, N.C., for the All-Star festivities, as Chara also earned the distinction, while Seguin will participate in the rookie skills competition a day prior to the game.
Because of the new fantasy draft used to determine the All-Star teams, Thomas and Chara won’t necessarily be teammates in the game, as it is no longer a contest of the Eastern conference vs. the Western conference. As odd it would be to see Chara go up against his own goaltender, Thomas was quick in predicting what would happen in such a scenario.
“I win, he loses.”
|Three the magic number (again) for Bruins in win over Penguins||01.10.11 at 10:06 pm ET|
The Bruins once again proved a third-period terror against the Penguins, scoring four unanswered goals en route to a 4-2 victory at CONSOL Energy Center.
With the Penguins leading, 2-0, on second-period goals from Mike Rupp and Kris Letang, the B’s scored four goals in the final 3:23 of regulation. Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand got it started by scoring goals 12 seconds apart, while Mark Recchi potted the game-winner on the power play at 19:10 and Gregory Campbell sealed it with an empty netter.
The B’s scored their first two power play goals in six games. Tuukka Rask made 23 saves on 25 shots in the victory.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Did the Bruins watch so much tape of what the Habs did to them Saturday that they couldn’t help but do the same thing? The B’s didn’t have to wait for overtime to get a huge road win. With their five-goal third period on Nov. 10, they have now scored nine third-period goals vs. the Penguins and allowed none.
– Chara’s goal was his second in the last five games, clearly a good way to follow up his 23 games without a goal prior to last Saturday’s game in Buffalo.
– Tyler Seguin and David Krejci haven’t produced while skating on the same line the last two games, but the two seem to be a good fit. Seguin tied linemate Blake Wheeler with three shots, while Krejci set up the 18-year-old beautifully in the third period before Fleury robbed the rookie.
While Krejci and Wheeler obviously work well together and the Czech center’s skill set is appropriate for a line with Seguin, Krejci had zero shots on goal for the second straight game. He has two goals over his last five contests.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Penguins’ power play had been bad, but the B’s didn’t need to push the matter. The Bruins handed the Penguins five power plays, one of which Letang scored on to make it a two-goal game. Both teams entered the game with three power play goals over their last nine contests, and the B’s gave Pittsburgh plenty of chances to improve the number, which the Penguins did.
– Pittsburgh native Matt Bartkowski was set to have a memorable NHL debut for the Bruins, but he ended up doing so for the wrong reasons. First, he was beaten by Mike Rupp in the second period on the Penguins’ first goal. Bartkowski then took a hooking penalty with the Bruins playing from behind with less than 10 minutes remaining.
– Eleven games without a goal for Milan Lucic. The slumping winger followed his zero-shot performance by throwing three shots on Marc-Andre Fleury. As the Bruins continue to search from offensive consistency, they need a lot more from their leading scorer.
|Bruins, Penguins scoreless after one||at 8:16 pm ET|
The Bruins and Penguins skated to a scoreless first period on Monday night, with the B’s getting only six shots on Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins have managed to get 14 shots on Tuukka Rask.
After an 0-for-2 showing on the man advantage, the Bruins have now gone 16 periods without a power play goal. Their last power play goal came on Dec. 28 against the Lightning.
Marc Savard was the only Bruin sent to the box in the period, as he went off at 18:41 for slashing Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins will begin the second period a man up.
Tyler Seguin led the Bruins with two shots on goal in the period.
|Bruins can keep looking to the future (and thank the Maple Leafs) as Central Scouting releases midterm rankings||at 4:55 pm ET|
NHL Central Scouting has released its midterm rankings for players in the 2011 NHL Draft. A year ago, Plymouth Whalers (OHL) center Tyler Seguin was the No. 2 prospect at the midway point before surpassing fellow Windsor Spitfires winger Taylor Hall in the final rankings. The rest, as they say, is history, as the Oilers went for Hall over Seguin at with the top pick, and the B’s grabbed Seguin second overall.
The Bruins had that pick of course, from the Maple Leafs, who gave the B’s a pair of first round picks as part of their package for Phil Kessel.
Now, as the midterm rankings are released, the Bruins and their fans can think a bit more about the next major piece they’ll get to add thanks to the Kessel deal. The Leafs were expected to be an improved team this season, and they are — two whole spots.
If the draft lottery were to take place today, the B’s would be fourth in line given that the Leafs’ 36 points ranks 26th in the NHL. Who might their prize be? Judging by Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire’s comments to NHL.com, the Bruins wouldn’t be in bad shape if the Leafs’ pick wound up being the fourth overall choice.
McGuire suggested that this will not be a draft class like last year, which featured two concrete elite players in Hall and Seguin and then a bit of a dropoff.
“I would say at this point, with the number of viewings our scouts have had, as many as eight players could be taken first,” McGuire told NHL.com in the story. “The depth goes right through this draft. A cynic or somebody who’s characterizing this as a non-Sidney Crosby draft year only needs to know that whoever emerges in April at No. 5 on our list (Central Scouting’s final rankings), and in St. Paul as the No. 5 pick, could eventually be a better NHL player than No. 1. That said, this isn’t a Crosby draft year.”
Here are the best of both the North American and European skaters:
1. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Kitchener (OHL), 6-foot-0, 207 pounds
– 25 goals in 32 OHL games this season; currently out with a high ankle sprain
2. Sean Couterier, C, Drummondville (QMJHL), 6-foor-4, 195 pounds
– Has 16+37=53 totals this season at Drummondville
3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer (WHL), 6-foot-0, 170 pounds
– Has 50 points in 39 games after totaling 65 in 67 contests last season
4. Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Saint John (QMJHL), 6-foot-1, 168 pounds
– Has nearly doubled his 35 points from last season, as he has 65 in 40 games this year.
5. Tyler Biggs, RW, USA U-18 (USHL), 6-foot-2, 210 pounds
– Cincinnati native has four goals in 11 games
6. Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland (WHL), 5-foot-10, 175 pounds
7. Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara (OHL), 6-foot-1, 6-foot-4, 193 pounds
8. Brandon Saad, LW, Saginaw (OHL), 6-foot-1, 208 pounds
9. Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL), 6-foot-2, 185 pounds
10. Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener, 5-foot-10, 176 pounds
1. Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (Sweden), 6-foot-3, 200 pounds
– Believed by one scout to be a better prospect now than Victor Hedman was two years ago
2. Joel Armia, RW, Assat (Finland), 6-foot-3, 191 pounds
3. Mike Zibanejad, C, Djurgarden Jr. (Sweden Jr.) 6-foot-1, 191 pounds
4. Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestad (Sweden), 6-foot-1, 165 pounds
5. Dmitri Jaskin, F, Slavia Jr. (Czech Jr.), 6-foot-1, 196 pounds
|Michael Ryder gets bumped up to top line in Bruins practice||01.07.11 at 12:11 pm ET|
After Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the Wild, Bruins coach Claude Julien did a bit of tinkering with the lines in practice on Friday. According to multiple reports out of Wilmington, here is how the lines looked:
Horton reportedly left practice with an unknown ailment, and Claude Julien told reporters that he considers the winger day-to-day.
Though he has gone four games without a point, Ryder has been one of the Bruins’ best offensive threats this season and is having a bounce-back year after scoring only 18 goals a season ago. The free-agent-to-be has 11 goals and 12 assists this season for 23 points. He is on pace for 23 goals.
Horton has been hot and cold throughout the season, and though his statistics may not reflect it, he has shown improved play over the team’s last four games. He has 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points.
Neither winger would face too major of an adjustment to their new line, as both Horton and Ryder have worked with David Krejci and Marc Savard, their new respective centers. Horton began the season on a line with Krejci and Milan Lucic before recently playing with Savard in the middle of his line with Lucic. Ryder was on Savard’s line when he returned from post-concussion symptoms last month before playing on his familiar line with Krejci and Blake Wheeler.
|Tyler Seguin getting used to going back and forth between positions||01.06.11 at 2:02 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin has said it countless times: he doesn’t care what position he plays, as long as he’s playing and helping the team. A stock quote? Sure, but the 18-year-old truly doesn’t seem to have a preference, and he has seemed equally capable in both roles.
A natural center, Seguin was rumored to be in line for a temporary move to the wing from the moment the time the Bruins drafted him second overall. The most success he had with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL came when he played as a pivot, but given that the Bruins already had what they thought would be a healthy Marc Savard, as well as David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and newcomer Gregory Campbell, it seemed to make more sense to start Seguin out on the wing.
Of course, that didn’t immediately come to be, as Savard’s setback late in the offseason due to post-concussion symptoms kept him out for the first 24 games of the season. Seguin would start the season centering the third line before seeing occasional time on the wing. With Savard’s return, Seguin stayed at wing, and after the offense-wide shakeup two weeks ago, the rookie wound up on the left wing of a line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi.
On Monday, though, Seguin started out centering Campbell and Shawn Thornton before Claude Julien moved him back to his normal line, but with the rookie playing more center. Bergeron, who played the wing as a rookie, saw more time on left wing as the two players swapped positions on the line throughout the night.
Seguin said he can handle going back and forth between wing and center throughout the night, though he didn’t see it entirely as smooth sailing.
“Me and Bergy got a little mixed up out there,” Seguin admitted. “We didn’t know who was playing center. Sometimes we’d go out there, and one guy would be taking the draw when it was supposed to be another guy.
“Stuff like that is just going to take a game to get used to. Tonight, if we’re still together, we know where we’re playing.”
Much has been made of the impact playing with a guy like Recchi could have on a rookie, but in Bergeron, Seguin gets to not only skate with a textbook two-way center, but someone who has succeeded in both roles. Seguin should have the opportunity to continue learning from Bergeron, as the three skates on the same line in Wednesday’s practice.
Through 36 games this season, Seguin has six goals and seven assists.
|Post-(optional) morning skate notes: Tuukka Rask first off the ice, for what it’s worth||at 12:19 pm ET|
The Bruins held an optional morning skate in anticipation of Thursday night’s tilt with the Wild at TD Garden. The following players participated:
Rask was first off the ice for the B’s in the skate, though given the combination of the fact that it was an optional skate and the trickery these guys have pulled in the past, it isn’t worth putting too much stock into. Rask made 36 saves in the B’s 3-1 victory over the Maple Leafs on Monday, while Thomas played in eight straight games prior to getting the night off in Toronto.
Here are a few notes from after the skate:
– Claude Julien isn’t happy with the way the power play has been performing of late. The team has been on the man advantage only six times over the last three games and hasn’t scored on any of them.
“I think it’s got to get better,” Julien said. “We talked about that this morning and again the month of December actually was a decent month for our power play, but so far in January … it hasn’t been good enough for us and needs to generate some goals. So it’s a challenge for a power play right now to kind of turn that around and bring it up a notch.”
– Given that the Bruins are coming off a successful road trip (3-0-2) and are gearing up for a tough stretch that includes games against the Canadiens, Penguins, and Flyers, a home game against Minnesota is a pretty good candidate for a potential trap game. That’s not the way Julien sees it.
“I don’t know if I’ll call it a trap game, but it’s certainly a game that is going to represent a challenge for us, and most games do anyways,” Julien said. “I think it’s important for us to be well prepared and focus properly and come up with a solid effort tonight and give yourselves a chance to win a hockey game and build yourself up in a positive way for this next segment.
– Former Boston College and Bruins forward Chuck Kobasew is back in Boston for the first time since being traded to Minnesota seven games into last season. In parts of four seasons (158 games) with the Bruins, Kobasew had 44 goals and 39 assists.
This season, Kobasew has six goals and an assist in 25 games for the Wild. His former coach had nothing but nice things to say about him.
“Chuck, to me, was always a true professional,” Julien said of Kobasew. “He came in and I mean that in the sense where everything he did was related to the game, he came in and it was all business when it was at the rink. Very good individual, good person, and it wasn’t easy to let him go.”
“I don’t think anybody’s looking ahead here,” he added. “We’re at a stage of the season where every game means a lot, and you really have to focus on the game that’s in front of you, not the ones that are a few days away, or a week away. I think our guys are pretty focused on the task at hand.”
– Tyler Seguin‘s mother and sisters will be in attendance tonight, as they’re in town visiting the 18-year-old. Seguin’s mother was at the home-opener vs. the Capitals on Oct. 21, and though his sisters haven’t seen him play in Boston, this isn’t their first trip to the Garden. The Seguin family took in the Celtics game last night before going back to watch World Junior Championship final between Canada and Russia, a game Russia took, 5-3, via five unanswered goals.
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