|What the return of Marc Savard really means to the Bruins||12.03.10 at 11:08 am ET|
Less than an hour after the Bruins croaked the Tampa Bay Lightning, 8-1, at TD Garden, Bruins coach Claude Julien was asked if the team was given an emotional boost by the return of Marc Savard after a bout of post-concussion syndrome.
“Boy, you’re giving him a lot of credit, aren’t you?” Julien quipped in his classically wry sense of humor. “It’s nice to have him back, obviously everybody’s happy to have him back, but you know, I think our players, as a whole, even yesterday when he wasn’t in the lineup, decided that they were going to play hard and play well and they did. So he just added to that, I guess, fuel for tonight.”
Savard skated 21 shifts in 15 minutes and 45 seconds, taking one shot while winning 5-of-10 face-offs on the night. But his impact was felt early when he got into the fray early with a fore-check. He played on several combo lines and everyone thought he didn’t miss a beat.
“I mean, he brought a lot of offense today,” two-goal scorer David Krejci said. “He wasn’t on the score sheet but he had a lot of last minute chances. We have big depth now with him and all four lines can score goals and it’s hard for their top defensemen to defend our top guys. So, it’s good to have him back and it’s good to see him and hopefully we will keep doing the same thing we did tonight.”
And that can only help this Bruins offense. It certainly appeared that way Thursday night.
“I think that’s the first eight goals the team has scored that I haven’t had anything on it, but I kept telling Claude I was a presence tonight,” Savard said BEFORE Julien’s post-game observation. “I felt good, obviously had some shifts where I felt a little tired and as the battles wore on, I just stood in front of Timmy [Thomas], so hopefully he can stop it. It was great to be back. The fans were fantastic. I got a little emotional there. It was a little tough to go out on that shift there, but it was special.”
Tim Thomas set the tone for the night, stepping aside before leading the team on the ice for pre-game warm-ups. Instead, Savard had that honor against Tampa Bay.
“I didn’t know what he was doing there. I didn’t even realize. I just thought he was stepping aside, that’s maybe what he does now. I just kept skating, then I looked over and no one was there, so it was kind of nice of the guys, I think they did that on purpose, but it was funny.”
Still, for skating in a game for the first time since May, it was quite the adjustment for Savard.
“I mean, it’s been six months, so it’s been a long time,” Savard said. “Shaking off a bit of rust, but you know, I felt I made some good plays. I felt there’s some stuff I can build off of, some things I can work on still, obviously. Battles I had a little trouble as the shift wore on in our zone a couple times, but I felt good, I felt strong. I got in there a couple times, tried to bang around, didn’t really move anybody, but it was a lot of fun.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Mike Milbury on D&H: Milan Lucic ‘can’t lose that edge’||12.01.10 at 1:05 pm ET|
NESN, NBC and Hockey Night in Canada NHL analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, including Milbury talking about whether he would consider a return to coaching, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
With the Bruins struggling, Milbury was asked what the team needs to do to turn things around.
“I haven’t seen the intense forecheck, except when they get desperate,” he said. “That’s not a good thing. You want to get on the forecheck. You want to get in and create some havoc. And when you’re doing that, that means physical play. And if you’ve been watching the Bruins for the last five or six games, you’re not seeing a ton of that. And I’m not talking about fighting. I’m talking about in-fast, pressure forechecking, intimidating not only with your bodychecking, but with your speed and intensity to cut down the time the defenseman has to move the puck. They’re sort of blah. … The Bruins have to play at a far higher pace to be successful.”
Asked if Zdeno Chara needs to set the tone for the team, Milbury said he’d first like to see players such as Milan Lucic provide more of a physical presence.
“I think Lucic has to be more involved physically,” he said. “And I’m not talking about fighting from him. The 10 goals are well and good. But harken back to a couple of years ago when this kid made a mark on this city and this franchise. It was with his purposeful forechecking. It was like nonstop, Terry O’Reilly-type forechecking. I haven’t seen that. I know he’s going to mature and settle in and use his energy more efficiently and conservatively. But you can’t lose that edge. And right now, I don’t think he’s got it.
“Chara can take care of it in his own zone, and I think he needs to do a little bit better job of being on the edge and nasty in order to make sure people on his team see that, feel it, feel the intensity,” Milbury added. “That’s what’s missing. Those are two key players in the scheme of things. But you need it from [Brad] Marchand. You need it from [Gregory] Campbell. You need it from guys that can get there and pressure defensemen, and that’s their role. They’re not expected to be huge offensive contributors, but they set the tone. They set the passion level for this team.”
Milbury noted the Bruins’ lack of speed is an issue as well.
“I think they need quickness. I think they need some speed,” he said. “I don’t want to go back to the [Phil] Kessel deal in a big way, but they miss his speed, they miss his penetrating speed off the wing. … It’s the kind of speed that gets defensemen second-guessing themselves, thinking about, ‘Jeez, where is this guy? Where’s he going to go?’ ”
|Tim Thomas third among goalies in NHL All-Star voting||11.23.10 at 3:27 pm ET|
The NHL released the results of All-Star voting by the fans thus far, and the Bruins are far from well-represented. This means Boston fans either didn’t vote, or they, like everybody else, voted for Sidney Crosby.
Crosby leads all vote-getters with 118,755 votes, while no Bruins are currently on pace to get in via the fan vote. Patrice Bergeron is 35th among forwards with 15,020 votes, while Zdeno Chara‘s 41,081 votes are 10th among defensemen.
The most popular Bruins on the ballot is Tim Thomas, who is third among goaltenders with 47,646 votes. The odd part is that the two goalies he trails, Carey Price (71,199) and Sergei Bobrovsky (58,101), were both write-ins. Should Thomas not get in through the fan vote, which ends Jan. 3, he can still be selected in the new fantasy draft format.
Thomas leads the league in goals against average (1.49), save percentage (.954), and is tied for the league lead with four shutouts.
|Tim Thomas: ‘It’s time to start righting the ship’||11.15.10 at 11:40 pm ET|
Tim Thomas was happy to admit that his fourth shutout of the season was a collective effort. Thanks to the blocked shots of Dennis Seidenberg and captain Zdeno Chara effectively rubbing out Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Elias, Thomas faced just 28 shots and stopped them all in a 3-0 win over the Devils Monday night at TD Garden.
But that wasn’t the biggest story. The Bruins managed to put three pucks behind future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, one more than they scored during an unlikely three-game home ice losing skid.
“There was definitely a little urgency but it was a controlled urgency,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t a panicked urgency. It was more like, ‘Hey, it’s time to start righting the ship and tonight’s a good place to start.’”
The Bruins were just 2-4-1 on home ice this season.
“I personally approached it as a must-win and I think the team did too,” Thomas said. “We need to get back on track; we need to show some urgency. We faced a team that’s been playing better but has struggled this year, and we needed to come out with the win so that we could start building and getting back to the game that we were playing when we were having success.”
Thomas did face pressure at times, like late in the second period when the Devils fired the last six shots of the period.
“Yeah, that and the first couple minutes of the game there,” Thomas said. “Elias was very, very patient. You know, there was some times where we really controlled the play for long periods of time and there were other times where they made a push and I just had to be on my toes and the team had to be on their toes for the rebounds.”
The way it played out, Thomas weathered the storm at the start, and had pretty much clear sailing the rest of the way.
“I don’t know, well, you could look at it either way. Yeah, it could be tough, or looking back, it actually could help get me into the game,” Thomas said. “And it happened so quick that I didn’t have time to think about it. I didn’t have time to think, “Is this really happening in the first minute of the game?” It was just like, “I got to find some way to stop this thing.”
“It’s a similar feeling to how I felt against Washington, probably early this year was the closest that I kind of felt like that. I just felt like they weren’t going to find a way to score.”
As the minutes wound down, he could sense he was closing in on his 21st career shutout, just 91 shy of his counterpart Monday night.
“The last several minutes you start to put some emphasis because you don’t want to work that hard and not get it,” Thomas said. “I used to not care about shutouts and I still don’t for the most part, but that was 21 and 25 is a milestone that few people reach in the NHL.”
|Bruins set for bout with Maple Leafs||10.28.10 at 6:23 pm ET|
The Bruins are set to face off against the Maple Leafs, who are off to a 5-2-1 start to the season. The biggest difference in Thursday night’s lineup for the B’s will naturally be the presence of Adam McQuaid, who has been called upon to dress after Johnny Boychuk suffered fractured forearm on Saturday. McQuaid has been a healthy scratch for the first six games of the season.
McQuaid has skated on the third pairing with Matt Hunwick in practice this week, with Andrew Ference jumping up to the top pairing with Zdeno Chara. Claude Julien cautioned against expecting the pairings to stick throughout the games, as the Bruins have had no problems with switching them up over the course of a game.
“I think you’ve seen enough games by now that we don’t really stick with pairs. We mix and match,” Julien said Thursday.
With that being said, here is the anticipated lineup for Thursday:
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Jordan Caron – Patrice Bergeron – Blake Wheeler
Mark Recchi – Tyler Seguin – Michael Ryder
Brad Marchand – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara – Andrew Ference
Mark Stuart – Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Hunwick – Adam McQuaid
|Mike Milbury on D&C: ‘Don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now’||10.27.10 at 2:31 pm ET|
NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday for his weekly hockey update and discussion of other hot topics regarding the Bruins. Milbury also talked about the latest debate, which has been the goaltender situation thus far in the season.
“It’s how to handle both of them, not just Tuukka [Rask],” Milbury said. “I don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now just because [Tim] Thomas has had a good start. It looks like they’re going to battle for the top spot, and I think one of the things … is the schedule. I mean, they go overseas, they play two games, they get basically a full week off, they played three more and then they get four days off. There’s no rhythm for any of their players, not just the goaltenders.”
Following are highlights from the conversation. To hear the entire interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Can we assume the hype we saw last night in Boston won’t be matched, but will at least be evident as Phil Kessel returns to the Garden with the Maple Leafs tomorrow night?
Yeah, it’ll be fun, and the Maple Leafs are winning their share of games, so it should be competitive. They’re not trading on the back end. I mean, they’re supposed to be strong on the blue line, but they’ll, they cough it up regularly, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to score. [Jean-Sebastien] Giguere‘s been backstopping the goals against, so it’s been OK, but they’re a vulnerable team, but at least they’re playing with some vinegar, and so it should be a pretty good matchup.
If each goaltender starts roughly 40 games, what’s the best way to handle two goaltenders, and Tuukka, who’s been shaky lately?
That’s a great question. I mean, it’s how to handle both of them, not just Tuukka. I don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now just because Thomas has had a good start. It looks like they’re going to battle for the top spot, and I think one of the things, before I try to answer that question, that has conspired against Rask and Thomas is the schedule. I mean, they go overseas, they play two games, they get basically a full week off, they played three more and then they get four days off. There’s no rhythm for any of their players, not just the goaltenders.
But once they get into the need of their schedule, you know, I think there’s plenty of room to let a guy run two, three or even four games in a row. But if you really want to keep the party going in terms of competition, once you get into five and six games in a row for one guy, you’re asking much from the other guy to just bounce back and be excellent in his first start.
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|Even when injured, Marco Sturm’s impact felt by Bruins||10.26.10 at 1:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Marco Sturm hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to health. Major injuries to each of his knees have cost him playing time over the last two seasons, the most recent of which has landed him on long-term injured reserve to open the 2010-11 campaign as he works his way back from a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee.
At face value, the Bruins received some positive news on Tuesday when Sturm did some light skating on his own prior to the team’s practice. Sturm took shots on an empty net by himself, saying that though he felt weak on the ice, he was encouraged by the session. Though Claude Julien said there is no timetable for Sturm’s return and the winger himself admitted it would be “tough” to return by late November, as initially expected, his captain noted that Sturm doesn’t need to be in the lineup for the B’s to feel his positive impact.
An upbeat Sturm could be seen around the Bruins throughout preseason and on the team’s season-opening trip to Europe, and despite not being able to take part in workouts or on-ice sessions with the team, he’s kept a grin on his face and the attitude of a guy who’s getting 20 minutes a night.
“[He's been] absolutely tremendous and supportive,” Zdeno Chara said of Sturm. “You don’t even notice that a guy like that is being affected by injuries. He’s always in a good mood, always helpful to young players, to all of us. It’s just a huge boost for us to see a guy like that always having positive attitude and bringing that energy in the room.”
It’s only natural that a player spending an extended period of time off of the ice and out of the lineup could get the sense of not being quite involved with the team as he normally is. Given the team’s dynamic, however, Sturm said one would be hard-pressed to find that with this Bruins’ club.
“I think especially on this team, it’s never been an issue,” Sturm said. “For the last few years, the guys are always really happy when injured guys are around. Like today, guys were really happy because I was on the ice for the first time. We can tell. It’s a tight group and we’re one team and we just want to be the best.”
It’s no surprise that Chara agrees with Sturm’s assessment, whiling also noting that involvement that Sturm and the other players have made a point to maintain hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“We don’t have to do much,” Chara said. “Those guys are always a big part of our team, no matter what’s going on with them as far as injuries. They’re always included, they’re always a part of the programs that we all have to go through on a daily basis. To have a guy like [Sturm] coming back and see him skating, it’s awesome. It’s been a long road for him, and eventually it’s getting shorter and shorter for him. It’s nice.”
Sturm led the Bruins in goals last year, scoring 22 in 76 games last season. He is set to become a free agent at season’s end. Until then, and especially once he returns to the lineup, the Bruins can expect more positive things, both in production and in morale.
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