|Bruins aren’t only team coming off a big win as Blackhawks come to town||03.29.11 at 4:04 am ET|
This time of year, some teams are already eliminated or close to it, and getting two points on a particular night is no longer a top priority. That’s why the Bruins’ recent schedule has made for some very interesting hockey. The B’s last six games have been against teams either in the playoffs or competing for a spot. Tuesday should feature another very intriguing matchup, as both the B’s and Blackhawks are coming off big victories that teams try to build momentum off of, especially given that the playoffs are just a couple of weeks away.
The Blackhawks are coming off an overtime win against Detroit Monday night in which former Red Wing Marian Hossa buried the game-winner on the power play. Chicago is eighth in the Western Conference, so they have every reason to bring everything they can Tuesday.
The Bruins, of course, are coming off a 2-1 victory in Philadelphia that saw both the appearance of a successful power play (2-for-3) and the return of Brad Marchand‘s scoring, as he picked up the game-winner for his 20th goal of the season and first strike in 13 games.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Bruins are 18-12-5 at TD Garden this season, and it’s been a mixed bag for the B’s at home of late. After a huge 7-0 win over the Canadiens Thursday, the B’s struggled to get shots past Rangers bodies and on netminder Henrik Lundqvist Saturday.
– Chicago has won its last two road games after dropping the previous four. The Blackhawks haven’t been to the Garden since last season, when they took a 5-2 victory on Jan. 7.
If there’s one thing the Blackhawks are capable of, it is taking an opponent to overtime while playing on the road. The Blackhawks have gone into overtime 10 times on the road this season and have a league-high eight overtime/shootout losses on the road. Their overall record on the road is 18-11-8.
– The third line of Chris Kelly between Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley has looked good, but it has not produced. Seguin has just one goal in his last 14 games (dating back to before the line was in existence), while both Kelly and Peverley have totaled zero points and each have a minus-3 rating over their last five contests.
– The Blackhawks’ 3.13 goals per game on the road is second only to the Red Wings for tops in the NHL. The Red Wings certainly helped that number when they put six goals past Bruins goaltenders at TD Garden back on February 11, to the B’s will have to hope the Blackhawks don’t do the same.
– Tim Thomas has a bit more breathing room for the league lead in goals against average and save percentage. Thomas has led both categories since the second game of the season, but came one hundredth of a goal from being tied with Pekka Rinne after last Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs. After allowing just one goal over his last two starts, Thomas is now a tenth of a goal ahead of Rinne with a 2.00 GAA.
– Milan Lucic has zero shots on goal over the last two games, while his center in David Krejci has totaled one over the same span. Despite leading the Bruins with 30 goals, Lucic is fourth on the B’s in shots on goal with 160. He’s far enough behind the likes of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton that his three games missed don’t seem to play a huge factor in the statistic.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– Will Michael Ryder be a healthy scratch in consecutive games for the first time all season? Ryder watched Sunday’s game from the press box while Daniel Paille got in the lineup for the Bruins. If Ryder does return, it will likely be on Gregory Campbell‘s line.
-The Blackhawks know they need to keep the pedal to the medal after their win against Detroit. After Tuesday, the eighth-place Blackhawks will have played two more games than the Stars, who trail them by four points. This should mean the Bruins could see a very hungry team.
Not exactly a storyline related to this game, but if you have the NHL Center Ice package, it might be worth it to check out the Penguins-Flyers game during commercials. Despite a rut in February, the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin-less Penguins have been able to get the job done so well that a victory in regulation would give them as many points as the Flyers at 100. If the Penguins hope to take the division they’ll have to finish with more points than Philadelphia, as the Flyers hold the tiebreaker with less overtime/shootout wins.
|Shawn Thornton: Let up on the letdown theory||03.26.11 at 4:57 pm ET|
One look at the line score from Saturday’s snoozefest at the Garden would suggest the Bruins went through a pretty typical letdown game in a 1-0 loss to the Rangers, less than 48 hours after lighting up the Canadiens, 7-zip.
Not so fast, says Shawn Thornton.
“No, I wouldn’t put too much into it,” Thornton said. “I wouldn’t look too much into Thursday’s game and then tonight’s. This one could have went either way, it wasn’t like we laid an egg tonight. I thought for the most part we worked hard. I don’t look at shots too much, but anytime you outshoot a team 12-1 in the third period, you’d think that maybe you’d get rewarded with one. But they did a good job blocking shots, they did a good job of cleaning stuff out in front of the net. [Henrik Lundqvist] did a good job stopping the puck.”
Thornton makes a good point. The Bruins, who were outshot 9-0 to open the second, were hellbent on putting on a late rush on Lundqvist but to no avail.
Claude Julien agreed with Thornton’s assessment. A letdown explanation would be pretty lame.
“I think that would be a weak excuse,” Julien said. “We’re certainly not going to use that as an excuse. This is the time our year where you got to make sure that you’re able to push those games aside. There’s a lot of emotional games coming up in the future here, in the near future, and we’ve got to be able to respond night after night.
“It was more our team maybe not as good as the other team tonight as far as the will to win those battles early on and being heavy on the stick,” Julien said. “It’s unfortunate that the only goal that was scored may be a little bit of a controversial goal, but we had lots of opportunities to make up for it.”
It was also unfortunate Tuukka Rask allowed just one controversial goal and it ended up costing the Bruins.
“It’s disappointing to lose, obviously,” Rask said. “But I thought we put up a pretty good effort. Maybe it wasn’t a solid sixty-minute game, but we definitely came out hard in the third and got our chances, battled hard. A 1-0 loss is always tough to take when you don’t score a goal after you score seven. But it’s just a game and we just have to battle back [Sunday vs. Philadelphia].”
“Obviously, it sucks,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “We didn’t score a goal and we didn’t play our best.
Speaking of the Flyers, the fourth and final rematch of last year’s epic Eastern Conference semis is on the docket Sunday in Philly.
“That’s often a good thing,” Julien said. “We don’t have time to dwell on this one here. You got to turn the page. You win the big game tomorrow in Philadelphia, and you’ve had a pretty tough week against some pretty good hockey clubs. If you can come out of the there 3-1, with the week, it’s been a pretty good week. So that’s what we’ve got to focus on. Let’s turn the page on this one here and hopefully be a better team [Sunday].”
|Ray Bourque on M&M: Bruins ‘shouldn’t lose’ to Canadiens in potential playoff series||03.25.11 at 12:45 pm ET|
Bruins legend Ray Bourque appeared on the Mut & Merloni show Friday to talk about the NHL‘s crackdown on hits to the head, rookie Tyler Seguin and what to expect from the Bruins in the playoffs. To hear the interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Bourque said that not only are hits to the head more noticeable now because of the NHL‘s crackdown, but also because it seems like there are just more of them. ‘I think some of the stuff has changed,’ Bourque said. ‘You might’ve seen certain hits that were similar in our day, but it seems like there were less head shots.
‘Just flagrant elbows to the head, you’re seeing a lot more it seems like, like [Matt] Cooke a few times that he’s done,’ Bourque continued. ‘I don’t think you used to see that as much. I’m not sure why you’re seeing more of that now, if it’s lack of respect for each other out there or what. I’m happy that they’re really trying to cut it down.’
Bourque also discussed Mark Recchi‘s comments about the Canadiens embellishing the severity of Max Pacioretty‘s concussion after Zdeno Chara‘s hit on him. Bourque said that sometimes it’s necessary for a veteran leader to step up and take some pressure of a teammate.
‘That was a nice veteran move and great leadership in terms of taking a little of the pressure off and moving it on him and bringing some things up for question that were being talked about,’ he said.
The guys asked Bourque about Seguin and some of the challenges he’s facing as a rookie, particularly when it comes to the physical play in the NHL. ‘Well, I think that’s a big part of it, the physical part of the game,’ Bourque said. ‘But also, he’s such a young guy. You’ll look at this kid three years from now, in terms of maturity mentally and physically, he’s going to be in a different place. That’s what he has to gain and he has to grow.
‘And he’s in a different situation than Taylor Hall,’ Bourque added. ‘Taylor Hall, [the Oilers] can play him all they want. He can make mistakes and they can keep throwing him out there. That’s not the case with the Bruins. The Bruins are going for something here. Every shift is an important one for them.’
Boychuk scored 61 seconds into Thursday night’s game vs. the Canadiens, starting off the Bruins on a 7-0 rout.
There was a lot of hype leading up to Thursday’s game, but Boychuk said the team was able to focus on hockey. “We just wanted to put all the distractions away and worry about what we have to do on the ice, and we did that last night,” he said.
Asked if he was surprised a Canadien such as Ryan White didn’t make a run at Zdeno Chara in retaliation for the defenseman’s hit on Max Pacioretty earlier this month, Boychuk said White showed understandable restraint.
“I don’t think for him it would be the smartest decision to go after Zdeno, especially when [the 6-foot White] is 6, 7, 8 inches shorter and Zdeno is just a monster. That wouldn’t have been the best decision if he would have made that one.”
Based on his play of late, Chara hasn’t let the situation be a distraction for him. “After what happened, for him to block everything out and play the way he has been, that’s the way you want our captain to respond,” Boychuk said. “He’s doing a great job on the ice and off the ice as well.”
Boychuk said if the Canadiens did decide to mix it up, the Bruins were ready. “If they wanted to, we’ve got a lot of guys that could stick up for our teammates,” Boychuk said. “We weren’t too worried about that, because we have a great group of guys that can back up anything we say or do.”
|Andy Brickley on D&C: Thursday’s game more helpful to Bruins than damaging to Canadiens||at 10:00 am ET|
NESN analyst Andy Brickley appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Bruins’ 7-0 thrashing of the Canadiens on Thursday night. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The hosts suggested that the game was only a Shawn Thornton fight short of perfection.
‘I’m not sure that Shawn would ever have a dancing partner on that team,’ Brickley said. ‘I know that Ryan White did a pretty good job on Johnny Boychuk when we were up in Montreal, but outside of him and maybe Travis Moen, I don’t think there’s really anybody on that roster that’s in Shawn Thornton’s league. So that was not going to happen.’
Of course, there was an expectation of fisticuffs given Zdeno Chara‘s hit on Max Pacioretty in the teams’ last meeting and Mark Recchi‘s suggestion that Montreal embellished the severity of Pacioretty’s concussion.
‘I was just curious to see if Montreal would alter their game plan at all, relative to the way they play, if somebody was going to try and get in Chara’s face early in the game,’ Brickley said. ‘When I didn’t see that happen, I was pleased to see that it was just going to be a hockey game. I loved the way the Bruins responded and played their game.’
Recchi said after the game that he made his controversial comments in an attempt to take some pressure off Chara. Brickley said he thought that showed leadership on Recchi’s part and he thought there was some truth to what he said.
‘That carries a lot of weight when it comes from a guy like Mark Recchi who’s been around a long time and is so well respected in the league,’ he said. ‘But there is an element of truth to what he said, too. I think what he said, because it was inflammatory or whatever you want to describe it as, it takes the attention away from Zdeno Chara and he takes it on his shoulders, Mark Recchi. But I think what he said was true. I think a lot of players in that locker room and across the league feel that way.
‘Because the Bruins have a hands-on experience with Marc Savard, with Patrice Bergeron, they know just from observation what a severe concussion is. And the evidence suggests that this is not severe when you see the reports that Pacioretty was up and around and feeling good. It just leaves questions, and I think that’s what Mark Recchi was saying. And I think he speaks the truth.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Zdeno Chara proved he can still focus better than anyone||at 8:35 am ET|
It would’ve been completely understandable if Zdeno Chara didn’t look himself Thursday night.
There had been so much said and written about his hit on Max Pacioretty on March 8. There were so many league eyes on the rematch between the two rivals. And the Canadiens had every reason to come out and hit Chara and the Bruins hard.
The Bruins, however, weren’t biting and neither was Chara. And the result was a clinic on how to dismantle your opponent.
“We wanted to have a good, strong performance,” Chara said of the battle against the Canadiens, who came in just three points behind the B’s in the Northeast Division. “Montreal is playing well and obviously they’re a good team. But our focus was obviously on our game.
“We tried to obviously play our game and stay focused in our game plan. And every time you get away from that against a team like that, they’re going to make you pay. So like I said, we really tried to stay focused and tried to establish our game plan and play strong. And obviously we got ahead in the first twenty and from that point I thought we handled and controlled the game pretty well.”
Scoring in the first 61 seconds also did a great deal to take the edge off. So did leading 3-0 after 20 minutes. The Bruins systematically took apart the Canadiens on this night in a 7-0 rout.
“I think that just happens when you score obviously early goals,” Chara said of Johnny Boychuk‘s goal at 1:01, the first of three Chara would assist on during the blowout. “In the first 20 [minutes], we got a good lead but we never sat on it. We never tried to just protect the lead. We were obviously going after it and tried to score more goals and continue to play the game we were playing in the first 20 and second 20 and then, the third 20.
As for being tested mentally, Chara knew the Canadiens would hit him. And they did when Mathieu Darche belted Chara in the first period. But Chara took his time and only hit when it was appropriate. And when he did, it was devastatingly effective. Moments after the Darche hit, Chara dumped Travis Moen on the ice with a solid back check that sent the Bruins on a rush the other way.
“I don’t exactly remember the play, but like I said I’m not going to change,” Chara said. “I’m going to still play a physical game. That’s my game. And it’s part of the game to be hitting each other.”
Now, for the time being, Chara and the Bruins can move past the Canadiens and focus on a key stretch of three games coming up – Saturday against the Rangers, Sunday on the road against the Flyers and Tuesday back home against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
“That was the first step forward from the previous games,” Chara said. “And obviously now we have two games with a good solid effort. And obviously we know that next opponents we have, Rangers, Flyers, Chicago, is going to be a good challenge for us. So we just got to stay focused and not get too high or too low. We just got to stay nice and humble and get ready for next games.”
|Turns out Claude Julien knew ‘exactly’ what Mark Recchi was doing … and saying||03.24.11 at 11:09 pm ET|
You can count on one hand the number of times in his career Zdeno Chara has needed someone to stand up for him against the opposition.
But a 43-year-old winger who runs about foot shorter than the Bruins 6-foot-9 captain did just that this week and it paid huge dividends in a 7-0 Bruins rout of the Canadiens on Thursday at TD Garden. And he didn’t need to throw a punch, finish a check or swing a stick. Just open his mouth.
Mark Recchi acknowleged he made comments this week critical of Canandiens management and their medical staff to take pressure off Chara. Recchi told a Boston radio station Wednesday that the Canadiens “embellished a little bit” the hit on Max Pacioretty on Mar. 8 that resulted in a concussion for Pacioretty but no suspension for Chara.
“I have to be honest with you guys. I wanted to take the heat off Zee for a day and I’m a big boy,” Recchi said after the game. “I think anyone who knows me, knows that I have great respect for the Montreal organization, I played five years there. I have great respect for Doctor [David] Mulder, the medical staff there. … In 22 years, I’ve respected all my teammates, all the players I play against. My record has shown that.
“I have nothing but great things to say about the Montreal organization, I had five great years there. And it’s still an unfortunate situation it all happened. We all hope Max [Pacioretty] gets a full recovery here soon and we know he’s well on his way. And like I said, this is something that I believe in twenty-two years I’ve been very respectful to players and opponents throughout. So that should be the end of it really.”
Maybe in Boston but not Montreal, where the questions from the media kept coming.
“I’m a big boy and like I said, I’m sorry if it hurt some people, but at the same time, I think everyone knows my reputation for 22 years,” Recchi repeated. “I’m very respectful of teammates, players, organizations and that is not going to change. I felt a need to protect our captain and it’s important. That will be the end of it and you won’t hear anything said by me anymore.
“I took pressure off my captain for one day,” Recchi added. “He deserved it. He earned it.”
Chara certainly appreciated the gesture.
“I obviously don’t know exactly all the comments,” Chara said of Recchi’s radio comments. “But he’s such a great teammate and such a respected guy and leader. It’s a thrill to have him. We all learned so much from him. He’s obviously the next hall-of-famer and such a classy guy. Like I said, I can’t thank him enough to be my teammate and be part of this team, and helping all of us to be better.”
Recchi’s teammates all knew how important Thursday was to Chara.
“It’s been hard for us to sit here and see Zee,” said Gregory Campbell, who got into the only scrape of the night with Paul Mara. “Zee takes things personally, and he’s a good person. He doesn’t like to see anybody get injured. Behind the scenes, it’s a hard thing to handle, and he’s handled it extremely well.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he wasn’t surprised since he knows Recchi is a veteran and knows exactly what he’s doing.
“It says a lot because I know what kind of player he is,” Julien said. “I knew exactly what he was doing. You don’t have to speak. He’s 43 years old, he’s a big boy. He can answer for himself. I don’t think I need to coach him on any of that stuff.
“When you see a guy with that kind of experience say something like that, you know what he’s doing. So, there was nothing to be said. Their focus was on the game. He had to say what he had to say for whatever reason. That was something where I didn’t need to ask him that question because I knew exactly what he was doing.”