|First period summary: Bruins-Rangers||03.21.10 at 12:18 pm ET|
This is a big one.
In terms of playoff situations, this Sunday’s matinee may be the most important game the Bruins have played this year. The Rangers sit three points behind Boston for the eighth playoff spot and a win would put the Bruins five points ahead with 11 games to play. A New York win would make it a one point lead and make for some very interesting situations in the final two weeks of the regular season.
Boston started the game with some pop and emotion against a Rangers team that is known to be a bit of a physical nuisance. Brandon Prust and Steve Begin got into a scuffle near mid-ice at at 2:40, which was more instigated by Prust than Begin as the Bruins had outshot New York 6-0 at that point.
Zdeno Chara went for a roughing penalty at 4:34 as perpetual instigator Sean Avery was in the area and engaged in a staring match with Vladimir Sobotka who had dropped his stick but Avery deigned to drop his gloves. Less than a minute later the Rangers’ Vinny Prospal hit Mark Stuart hard into the boards behind Tuukka Rask. The Bruins did not like the hit (which sent Prospal for boarding) and a scrum ensued which ultimately sent Stuart to the box as well for roughing.
The referees whistle was busy after that. Mark Recchi (charging — 12:05), Chara (roughing — 12:43), Olli Jokinen (roughing — 12:43), Dennis Wideman (hooking — 13:54) and Artem Anisimov (hooking — 15:29), Jokinen again (hooking — 18:07) all made the march to the timeout corner. Though it all a few scoring chances were generated by each team but neither significant threats and whatever danger that occured near the crease was erased by the two solid goaltenders in Rask and Henrik Lundqvist.
Scoreless after the first period at TD Garden.
Shots through one:
Boston — 12
New York — 9
|Zdeno Chara press conference, 3/18||03.18.10 at 9:44 pm ET|
|Second period summary: Bruins-Penguins||at 7:47 pm ET|
The second period started with the Bruins holding on by a thread.
Vladimir Sobotka went to the penalty box at 2:22 for a hooking penalty. Out came one of the best penalty killing tandems in the league in the form of Daniel Paille and Steve Begin along with defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. Normally a team will role out two penalty killing units on a power play with the first unit the best killers and the second unit efficient killers who can create an odd-man break when given the opportunity.
Boston never got the second unit on the ice.
It was more like Pittsburgh never let them off the ice. The full two minutes was spent in Boston’s defensive zone as the Penguins rained shots on Tuukka Rask. The young goaltender was up to it and proved to be the best penalty killer the Bruins had on the shift even as Pittsburgh dumped 10 shots on net (to the Bruins zero) in the first five minutes of the period.
Boston got its third chance on the power play at 7:37 when Sergei Gonchar took at tripping call. Once again the Bruins mustered next to nothing.
The second fight of the night broke out at 11:53 when captain Zdeno Chara went toe-to-toe with center Michael Rupp right after a face off. Chara got the best of Rupp in the captain’s first official fight of the season.
Seven-seconds after Chara went to the box, fellow defenseman Mark Stuart joined him with a hooking penalty at 12:00. That left the Bruins without two of their top three defensemen for an extended period of time. Once again, Rask stepped up and killed the penalty for the Boston.
The third time was the charm though. Pittsburgh got another shot on the power play at 17:44 when Steve Begin went for “kneeing” (a trip, more or less). Pittsburgh went through the normal routine — set up camp in the Boston zone, cycle, shoot, rebound, cycle, shoot. Right after the penalty ended the puck ended up on the stick of Kris Letang at the top of the left circle. He shot and it was deflected five-hole through Rask by Alexei Ponikarovsky for the two-goal lead.
Shots through second (total):
Bruins — 5 (10)
Penguins 15 (20)
|First period summary: Bruins-Leafs||03.09.10 at 7:40 pm ET|
Without two of their best players the Bruins look . . .
The forecheck looks good, the penalty kill is clicking right along and even the offense chipped in.
Boston is without Marc Savard (concussion) and Zdeno Chara (lower body injury) but so far it has controlled the pace and tempo against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Granted, the Leafs have the second-to-last record in the league, but positive signs are encouraging nonetheless.
Mark Recchi Patrice Bergeron got the Bruins offense going right off the bat. Dennis Seidenberg hit a heavy slap shot from the point that banged off of Leafs’ goaltender Jonas Gustavsson chest protector directly back in front of the net while Gustavvsson was pulled to the left of the crease leaving the net wide open for Recchi to come in and sweep the puck in for the early lead at 2:47.
Boston then gave the Leafs a great chance to get that goal back when first Blake Wheeler (hooking) then Mark Stuart (tripping) went to the penalty box to give Toronto a 50-second two-man advantage. The Bruins have the best penalty kill in the league but without Zdeno Chara for the game (lower body injury), penalties could be problematic.
The Maple Leafs only managed one official shot with the two consecutive penalties and the Bruins recovered to dominate the on both ends of the ice throughout the period.
Boston gave the Leafs another opportunity on the power play when Milan Lucic went for hooking at 16:14 but the Bruins were able to kill it. Toronto is now 0-17 on the man-advantage against Boston this season.
Shots through the first period:
Boston — 10
Toronto — 5
UPDATE — There has been a scoring change and Patrice Bergeron will get credit for the goal as opposed to Recchi. Both players were right in front to bang on it and got to the puck at the same time. Recchi picks up an assist.
|Chara: ‘We know we have to be better’||03.02.10 at 10:45 pm ET|
For 40 minutes, it looked like Zdeno Chara and the Bruins had the Canadiens right where they wanted them.
They were playing solid defense, Tuukka Rask had turned away all 18 shots and run his shutout streak to 127 minutes, 15 seconds and they even converted a chance in front of the opposing goalie on the power play for a 1-0 lead.
All the Bruins had to do was keep it up for 20 more minutes and not only would they finally win at home, they would run their winning streak to five games and put some distance between themselves and the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
But as was the case before the break, the Bruins – especially on defense – picked a bad time to start skating backwards. And as a result – four unanswered Canadiens goals in the third – the Bruins had endured their 10th straight home loss.
“We know we have to be better, especially at home, especially at this time of year going into the end of the season and pushing to play in the playoffs. We know we need to be better. We have to take advantage of being at home, for sure,” Chara said.
Counting Thursday’s home match against Toronto before a seven-game road trip, the Bruins have just nine home games remaining.
“Those games we have left, we have to find a way. We have to make sure we win most of them,” Chara added.
|First period summary: Bruins-Canadiens||at 7:43 pm ET|
The first period of the first game back from the Olympic break for the Bruins featured solid goaltending, high energy skating and low-and-behold hard work in front of the net that paid off in a goal and a 1-0 Bruins lead after one.
With Montreal center Dominic Moore in the box for interference, Zdeno Chara let fly a shot from the high slot that caught Habs goalie Carey Price in the midsection. Price couldn’t control the rebound and Sturm fell over Price and one-handed the puck into the net behind Price.
Sturm leads the Bruins with 19 goals.
Tuukka Rask started in net and stopped all 10 Montreal shots on net, including a nice glove save on Roman Hamrlik midway through.
The Bruins had only seven shots on goal and ended the period on the penalty kill. Montreal will begin the second period with a 69-second power play after a slash on Vladimir Sobotka.
|Bruins breakdown: The top pair||02.25.10 at 2:00 pm ET|
The breakdown at the break continues and this time we are moving onto the men commissioned with keeping pucks away from the crease. Since Claude Julien took over behind the bench for Boston defense has been the name of the game in The Hub. Considering the Bruins scoring woes this year the only thing that has kept them in contention has been their ability to limit opponents chances.
Boston is fourth in the league in goals against with 2.42 and one of the reasons behind this is that its captain, Zdeno Chara, happens to be the reigning Norris Trophy winner. If a high tide raises all ships then a towering defenseman buoys all blue liners. We will also take a look at his partner, Derek Morris.
Note – Slight change in schedule. Will be doing the top defensive pairing Thursday then the other two pairings on Friday.
Chara — The questions about Chara are two-fold. One, how is he so good? Two, how do you quantify how good he actually is?
The first question has an easy answer — at 6-foot 9-inches and 255 pounds he is physically dominant on the ice. He skates well, has a long stick that he employs judiciously and, for the most part, has good positioning. Watch Chara play and it is easy to see why he is one of the best. Quantifying his play with advanced statistics is a little harder.