There was a stretch of time coming out of the Olympic break where the Boston Bruins penalty kill was in a funk, but that time is now in the past.
During their seven-game win streak, the Bruins have killed off 19 of their last 20 penalties including the five penalties suffered Thursday night versus the Phoenix Coyotes who rank third in the National Hockey League on the power-play.
At times players preached that they weren't “sticking to the system”, but it is evident now that they are making it a priority that they trust the system that has been so successful under Claude Julien’s tenure.
Since the Washington Capitals exposed their penalty kill in early March, the Black and Gold have been flawless on the penalty kill. It helps that Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara are two of the best defensive players in the NHL and their goaltender Tuukka Rask has been dominant as of late, but this goes further. The entire team is buying into the system, blocking shots and showing commitment to stellar defense.
Julien is very satisfied on how the B’s have stabilized their penalty kill over their seven-game win streak.
“It’s just some small adjustments,” Julien said after winning his 300th game behind the B’s bench Thursday night. “When I came back from Sochi, we sat down again and went through our whole team. Our coach did a great job of going through our whole system while I was away, to just kind of do a refresher kind of practice about all the situations. Then, when I came back, we talked about our power-play and penalty kill."
"I had just felt that we had just a couple of small adjustments, which we all agreed on. Again, I think your goaltender is your best penalty killer, but I think overall our guys did a great job of really making it hard for them to come into our end easily, which they've done a pretty good job of in the past.”
The defense has been juggled around lately due to the arrival of Andrej Meszaros which is no easy feat for players. Players such as Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug have been taking healthy scratches to let Meszaros get his feet wet and learn the system as they can afford to do it.
The team hasn't missed a beat, however. Hamilton was back in the lineup Thursday night and he was extremely happy with the team's performance on the penalty kill against a Coyotes team that was ranked third on the power play coming into the contest.
“They guys were really working hard and blocking shots and stuff,” Hamilton said. “We knew that they’re I guess a good power play and really skilled and stuff. So, I think we did a really good job and like I said blocked shots and obviously Tuukka (Rask) was really good too.”
The B’s penalty kill hasn't allowed a goal since they beat the New York Rangers 6-3 on March 2nd.FULL ENTRY
They had won five in a row coming into Wednesday's matchup against the Montreal Canadiens. Ironically enough, they were looking to snap their five-game losing streak against Les Habitants.
By the end of the night, the Boston Bruins snapped that five-game skid against the Habs and increased their winning streak to six.
Behind a three-goal second period - with goals coming from Carl Soderberg, Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic - and a strong performance from Tuukka Rask (35 saves), the Black and Gold earned a 4-1 victory over their rivals at the Bell Centre.
Not bad for a team that looked a little sluggish in the opening 20 minutes, where they were outshot 13-6 by the Habs.
"It's nice to finally get a result against these guys," Lucic told reporters after becoming the third Bruin to score 20 goals on the season.
After the slow start where they had a difficult time catching up with the speedy Habs forwards, the Black and Gold got back to basics. Midway through the first - and certainly by the start of the second - the B's were cycling the puck, slowed the pace down and displayed their physical prowess.
"I think [we got back to] what our gameplan was; and that was to focus on what we needed to do, rather than focus on the Montreal Canadiens," Lucic said to NBCSN's Pierre McGuire. "Once we got out of that first 10 minutes - coming out of that 0-0 - we had some strong shifts to finish off the end of the first, and it carried over to the second period and we got rewarded for that."
That display is what The Hub of Hockey is used to seeing. They're seeing this during the six-game streak. But they didn't always see this intensity against their rivals.
It's why some in the Boston media called Wednesday's contest a "must win" game. That might have been a bit of a stretch, especially a team who had an 11-point lead over the second place team in the Atlantic Division heading in - the Toronto Maple Leafs - but there's no denying that the B's needed to make a statement.
And that, they did. In more ways than one.FULL ENTRY
Back on January 30, the Bruins hosted a slumping Montreal Canadiens squad who were looking for just their second win in five games. The Habs came into Boston and had their way with the Bruins, beating their longtime rivals 4-1. Despite cutting the lead to one late in the first period, the Bruins really never had a chance in this contest.
With the two teams set to square off Wednesday night in Montreal, the Bruins once again are taking on a desperate Canadiens team.
The Habs are returning home after a trip out west that saw them lose three of four including their most recent game, a 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Starting goalie and Team Canada Olympic hero Carey Price hasn’t played in a game for Montreal since returning from the break and won’t be in net against the Bruins.
The nearly three-week Olympic break has really seemed to hurt Michael Terrien’s club. Montreal entered the break on a three-game win streak, but has just three wins in the seven games since the National Hockey League resumed play.
To make things worse for Montreal, defenseman Josh Gorges had surgery on his left hand to repair a fracture and is out for approximately four months. Among Canadiens’ blue-liners, Gorges ranks third on the team in average time on ice per game at 21:13.
The Habs, who not to long ago sat comfortably in the top three of Atlantic Division now are on the verge of falling out of the top three and into a wild card spot.
Thanks to their 3-1 win in Anaheim Monday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs (78 points) have leapfrogged the Canadiens (77 points) and now sit second in the division. With a now healthy Steven Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning are also putting pressure on the Habs as they sit just two points back of the Canadiens.
With just 16 games remaining in the Canadiens regular season, the Habs know they need to start winning and start winning now. A matchup against the Bruins could be just what the Habs need to get back on track. The Bruins have lost both matchups with the Canadiens this season, being outscored 6-2.
Dating back to last season, the Habs have won five straight against the Bruins.
“It is important, I guess, to finally get a win against this team,” Bruins forward Gregory Campbell stated.
“But in order to do that, we have to play well, and sometimes we haven’t given our best efforts against this team. That’s a credit to them. They play well against us. But we could probably play a little better.”
The Bruins enter Wednesday’s much anticipated tilt with a season high five-game win streak. The win streak has brought the Bruins within three points of the Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins.
Despite the two teams heading in different directions, once again, Wednesday’s game in Montreal will be a big test for the Bruins.FULL ENTRY
Watching the events unfold in Dallas Monday night was gut wrenching. I’m sure this sentiment holds true for those in attendance at the American Airlines Center as well as the hockey fans and sports fanatics watching at home, and those who found out via social media.
For those who missed it, Rich Peverley collapsed on the Stars bench with 13:37 left in the first period in their contest with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Immediately, Stars fans in attendance were in stunned silence as the former Bruin laid motionless for several minutes. The players on the Stars bench, and eventually the Blue Jackets bench, were banging their sticks trying to get the referees’ attention.
Fortunately, the refs saw the situation and immediately stopped the game, which eventually was postponed after a 15-minute delay. Moments later, the emotional men from both teams cleared to make room as trainers, doctors, and EMTs tried to revive Peverley.
Peverley was put on a stretcher and regained consciousness. He even asked how much time was left in the contest.
"First thing Rich asked me when I spoke to him- 'how much time left in the period'. You know, typical athlete"-Coach Ruff
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 11, 2014
Maybe it was a sign of courage. Maybe it was a sign of being a little unaware of his surroundings. Or maybe it was a sign of being a true hockey player.
Whatever the sign was, Peverley survived a scary situation and is in stable condition staying overnight at a Dallas area hospital.FULL ENTRY
It isn't the end all, be all for any season, but for the time being the Boston Bruins have to be pretty satisfied.
After sweeping their weekend slate in Florida - and thus sweeping the season series from both the Lightning and Panthers - the Black and Gold surpassed the Pittsburgh Penguins and now find themselves in first place in the Eastern Conference standings with 18 games left in the 2013-14 season.
Their 5-2 win over the Panthers capped off a six-game in nine-day stretch that began with a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on March 1 at the TD Garden. Since then, the B's have won five in a row and are back to playing the tough, physical hockey that they like to display, especially in the 10 games before the Olympic break in which they went 8-1-1.
In this recent five-game span, the Bruins have outscored their opponents by 22-9. Not bad considering they allowed nine goals in their first two post Olympic games against the Sabres and Caps, in which they were outscored 9-6.
What matters to the 20 men inside the locker room is being consistent late in the season before making their playoff push. And its safe to say that they've come out of their mini rut and displayed some fine hockey.
"It's fun going in as a team and winning," Jarome Iginla told reporters after scoring his 550th career NHL goal on Sunday. "Tonight, our goal was to be on top of the conference at the end of the day. It was really good for us, especially with the short turnaround and I thought we played well."FULL ENTRY
For the second time in less than a week the Bruins hosted the National Hockey League’s leading scorer Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. This time the Bruins fared better than they did on Saturday as they blanked the Capitals 3-0 for
Tuukka Rask’s league leading sixth shutout.
The Bruins dominated the Capitals from start to finish and put forth a complete 60-minute effort. The win was the Bruins third in a row and was Rask’s (1-3-3) first career win against the Capitals. The loss was Braden Holtby’s (4-1-0) first career regular season loss to the Bruins.
Here are three takeaways from the Bruins 40th win of the season.
Gregory Campbell stays hot:
In the five games the Bruins have played since returning from the Olympic break, Gregory Campbell has been one of the Bruins better players. The London, Ontario Canada native got the Bruins on the board first Thursday night, tipping in a Patrice Bergeron shot from the point. The goal was Campbell’s fourth since returning from the break.
For Campbell it seems like a new added confidence has helped him find the back of the net. He’s been driving to the net and putting himself in positions to score. Because of the play of the entire line, the “Merlot Line” has been getting more playing time and it’s certainly benefiting Campbell.
We’ve seen Campbell go on streaks like this in the past, but Campbell is playing some of his best hockey as a Bruin.
Penalty free game, perfect for Bruins:
In last Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Capitals, the Bruins allowed the Caps to score twice on six power play opportunities. Heading into Thursday’s contest, the Bruins knew they needed to stay out of the penalty box. Staying out of the penalty box is exactly what they did as the Bruins didn’t take one penalty all game.
The Capitals entered the night as the league’s second best power play team, so keeping the Caps off the power play was pretty sweet for Rask and the Bruins.
With an eight point lead over the Montreal Canadiens in the Atlantic Division, it was safe to assume that Peter Chiarelli and company were content with adding some pieces to the puzzle, but not looking to make a big splash.
One can judge how the team missed out on Bruins killer Thomas Vanek, who was dealt to the hated Habs from the Islanders. They missed out on acquiring Stephane Robidas, who went from Dallas to Anaheim on Tuesday. And they missed out on acquiring some other names like Ryan Kesler, Matt Moulson and Chris Phillips, just to name a few,
At the end of the trade deadline, the Bruins came out just fine.
Sure, Andrej Meszaros wasn’t a hot commodity in the last several hours. But they filled their need in getting a big body who is also a left-handed shot, while only giving up a third round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in return.
The Black and Gold also claimed Corey Potter from the Edmonton Oilers off of waivers, to provide the team with added depth as a seventh or eighth defenseman. And they gave up nothing to get him.
Going into the day, Chiarelli wasn’t looking to give up much to get a big name, and who could blame him? They didn’t have to give up Ryan Spooner, who still might get called back up to Boston before the season ends. They didn’t give up any of their other top prospects. And they didn't have to give up any of their young blue-liners such as Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton and David Warsofsky, just to name a few.
Wednesday’s moves were only to improve the team’s depth on the backend. And that was just fine for Chiarelli and company.FULL ENTRY
Less than 24 hours from the National Hockey League trade deadline, the Boston Bruins looked to score the first goal of the game for the first time since the Olympic break against the Florida Panthers. It finally came into fruition as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period and never looked back en route to a 4-1 victory.
David Krejci notched his fifth career hat trick and Chad Johnson made 23 saves for his 12th victory of the year.
Here are three takeaways from the Bruins 39th win of the season.
Bruins get out to quick start and don't look back
The B's finally got out to that quick start that they desperately needed after falling behind in each of their three games since returning from the Olympic break.
Luckily for the Black and Gold they had the Florida Panthers (23-31-7) on the docket to get back on track. Early goals from David Krejci and Jarome Iginla in the first period were more than enough for the B's.
Head Coach Claude Julien was happy with his team's fast start compared to the last three games, but admits there is still work to be done defensively.
"A little bit yeah, but I still thought defensively we got to tighten up some more and you know, I felt the second period wasn't a very good period for us," Julien said. "We came out a little bit better in the third and you know overall, it's a good game, but you know, where we want to be and the type of team we want to be also is, we have to be a little bit better defensively. Too many-too many good scoring opportunities and too many defensive breakdowns."
The Panthers simply could not stop David Krejci. Krejci was a man on a mission Tuesday night scoring as his hat trick handed the Panthers their fifth loss in their last six games.
These are the teams that you must get fast starts against and that's exactly what the B's did. Krejci like Julien liked the start from his team, but knows there are things to be worked on before the playoffs begin.
"First period, I thought it was a really good period for our team," Krejci said after recording his fifth career hat trick. "Second, we kind of got away from our game, but got a 3-0 lead in the third period. I thought we played okay with the lead, but there's still some areas of our game we need to improve."
First line continues to sizzle for the Black and Gold
What more can you say about the Bruins first-line? They have been unstoppable lately and on Tuesday, combined for six points (four goals and two assists) to go along with a plus-8 rating.
Krejci was the star of the night with three goals while Jarome Iginla netted a goal and an assist while Milan Lucic added an assist of his own.
In Krejci's last 15 games, he has recorded seven goals and 12 assists. Iginla has six goals and 13 assists in his last 12 games while Lucic has six goals and eight assists in his last 12 games. A top line that is performing at a top notch level.
In their first game back at the TD Garden after the Olympic break, the Boston Bruins were hoping to bounce back from a tough 5-4 loss in Buffalo Wednesday night. That was not the case, however, as Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals lit it up in their 4-2 win over the B's Saturday afternoon.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday's game:
Capitals did what they do best: score on the power-play
One of the priorities for today's game was to contain the Capitals power-play. The Caps came into the game second in the National Hockey League scoring on the man advantage at a 22.4 percent clip. They had 49 goals on 219 opportunities and they added to that total today.
It did not go as planned for the B's as the Capitals capitalized on two of their power-play chances. The B's penalty kill has been better as of late, but it had to be top notch today as it faced a power house on the man advantage.
Ovechkin notched two power-play goals in their victory and expanded his goal total to 43 on the season.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara explained that it wasn't what the Caps did, but what the B's did not do on the penalty kill that resulted in the two goals by Ovechkin.
"I think that it was more us not doing what we said we were going to do," Chara said after the second straight loss for the B's. "So, again that's going to have to be addressed and for sure those kinds of mistakes we have to eliminate and be more focused and be sharper."
Tuukka Rask was also was frustrated that his team did not recognize Ovechkin was on the ice and open at times during the power-play which gave the Caps an even bigger advantage.
"Well, I mean, if he gets those one timers with a half empty net, you're pretty much going to score, " Rask said. "You have to recognize that he's out there and I don't think we did a very good job of that today with that. He had that shot in the first period before he scored and then gets that goal and the next one I was almost positive he was going short sided, but he kind of knuckled and he stalled and it went in, but if you keep giving him those one timers he's going to find the back of the net."FULL ENTRY
The Bruins dominated from start to finish at TD Garden Saturday afternoon winning a laugher by a score of 7-2 over the Ottawa Senators. The Bruins will head into the Olympic break with a seven point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division. Patrice Bergeron netted two goals on the afternoon while Chris Kelly, Brad Marchand, Carl Soderberg, Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic each added a goal of their own.
The break comes at a tough time for the B's as they are scorching hot as of late, but we are sure the players not traveling to Sochi will welcome the rest with welcome arms. Here are the three takeaways.
No carry over after tough loss in St. Louis
A new day means a new beginning for the Boston Bruins. After suffering a tough overtime loss at the hands of the St. Louis Blues, the B’s came out fast scoring two first period goals from Bergeron and Kelly.
Heading into the Olympic break the B’s did not want a letdown against a desperate Ottawa Senators team. There was no need to worry as they drew first blood on the power-play on a beautiful give and go sequence between Carl Soderberg and Bergeron ending in Bergeron’s 15th goal on the year. Minutes later Kelly crashed the net on a great feed from Marshfield native David Warsofsky - tallying his first NHL assist - to give the Black and Gold a 2-0 lead. Bergeron’s highlight reel goal (16th) in the second period gave the B’s a 3-0 lead and they never looked back.
It could have been very easy for the Black and Gold to take an edge off before the Olympic break with their Captain gone, Tuukka Rask resting and their tough loss after an outstanding comeback versus the Blues, but that is not the mentality of this team.
Lucky for the B’s, it was the Ottawa Senators who checked out for an early recess.
"I mean it's something we talked about before the game that we wanted to end this on a high note and feeling good about ourselves heading into the break," Bergeron said about the victory. "I think we've done that."FULL ENTRY
After falling flat against the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night, the Boston Bruins wanted to flex their muscle against another rival of theirs five nights later.
Unlike the Habs game, the Bruins were able to flex those muscles alright against the Vancouver Canucks.
Behind a solid 27-save effort from Tuukka Rask, a good performance from the first line, and a physical style that was a little reminiscent of their seven-game series in 2011, the Black and Gold picked up a key 3-1 victory in front of the 195th consecutive sellout crowd of 17,565 at the TD Garden. Here are three takeaways from the win.
First line rolling
There's no denying that any trio has their ups and downs throughout an 82-game season. The beauty of the Claude Julien system, though, is that he has the benefit of a deep roster. So when the top line struggles, the Bergeron line can pick up the slack. When they struggle, the top line is right there to help out - and not to forget the third and fourth lines have filled in admirably, too.
Lately, the trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla have been red hot. The three combined for five points Tuesday night en route to the Bruins' 36th victory of the 2013-14 season.
"Everybody does go through some ups and downs and you want to keep the downs as short as possible," Iginla said about playing with Lucic and Krejci this season.
"But, yeah I've really enjoyed working through with Krejch and Looch and we've had some stretches where we weren't as sharp, but we're a good team. You look at the team itself, sometimes all the lines are rolling, but its nice you look around and its different nights where one line is having a really good night. But the biggest thing of being a good team is being able to, where one guy or one line isn't feeling it, the others are rolling. We've been fortunate enough to count on a lot of different guys...its definitely been a team game this year."
Their night started with Iginla's 600th career assist on Lucic's 16th of the season at 5:12 of the first. It continued at 7:59 of the second when Iginla added his 16th of the year on the power play.
It ended with one of their best efforts of the season. And as this line keeps rolling - 18 points combined in their last five games - the Black and Gold keeps on winning.FULL ENTRY
Brad Marchand likes to get his nose dirty. After all, one of his monikers is known as the “Noseface Killah”.
There is one team in particular that Marchand likes to take a sniff at. And that team happens to be the Bruins’ opponent Tuesday night at the TD Garden.
Marchand and the Bruins have faced the Canucks 10 times since the 2010-11 season, which obviously includes the B’s seven-game triumph over Vancouver in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Over that time, Marchand has given quite the bulletin board material for the Sedins, Roberto Luongo and company.
“The Little Ball of Hate” - another one of his monikers - has built up quite the dirty laundry list in those 10 previous meetings. In Game 3, he had quite the celebration jumping into the arms of former Bruin Andrew Ference after his shorthanded, highlight reel goal to give the Bruins’ a 3-0 lead in the second period. Compared to the rest of his list, though, that is on the bottom of the laundry list.
So what other “crimes” has Marchand committed on the Canucks to add to that dirty laundry list?
Well, for starters his physical style has not been friendly to the Sedin brothers. In Game 4 of the Cup Final Marchand delivered a high hit on former Cancuks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, now with the Buffalo Sabres. Then, with Daniel Sedin charging in to protect his teammate, Marchand delivered a hip check to start another line brawl in that series.
Two games later, with the Bruins up 5-2 late in the third period, the “Little Ball of Hate” threw a few punches to the face of the punching bag known as Daniel Sedin. His reasoning? “Because I felt like it.”
Yes, “he felt like it” alright. And one game later, he felt like adding more chaos to the Bruins-Canucks rivalry alright when he scored twice - including the empty netter - to help lift the Black and Gold to their first Stanley Cup triumph in 39 years.FULL ENTRY
The Bruins got back to their scoring ways Saturday afternoon after they blanked the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 behind Chad Johnson’s first shutout of the season.
The Bruins got goals from David Krejci, Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg and Torey Krug to pick up their fifth win in six games.
Here are three takeaways from the Bruins second win of the season against the Oilers.
What’s a kicking motion these days?
With the Bruins leading 1-0 in the second period, it appeared that the Bruins would be doubling their lead thanks to Loui Eriksson’s seventh goal of the season. The initial replay did show the puck goes off Eriksson’s skate and into the back of the net, but it seemed like there was no distinct kicking motion. In fact Eriksson’s skate never left the ice.
Apparently Toronto thought differently and the goal was waived off.
“Yeah I thought it was when you make a kicking motion, I was just trying to hold my skate there and it just hit. I thought it was a goal but it happens,” said Eriksson.
The NHL has seen its rash of goals taken away of late as a result of pucks going off skates. You may remember last month Gregory Campbell’s goal in Dallas against the Stars was taken away after further review revealed he had kicked the puck in, but much like Eriksson’s goal there wasn’t much of a kicking motion-if any at all.
It’s clear that a kicking motion is not what it used to be. It seems like the NHL needs to go back and revisit this rule. In order to overturn a call, there needs to conclusive evidence, and in my opinion on Eriksson’s goal, and even Campbells, that was not the case.
Bruins spoil Andrew Ference’s return to Boston
Andrew Ference made his return to the TD Garden Saturday afternoon for the first time since he left Boston to sign a four year deal with the Edmonton Oilers. Ference wasn’t the best Bruin on the ice during his seven years in Boston, but it was hard to find any Bruins fan that wasn’t a fan of Ference.
With the amount of injuries the Bruins have had on their blue line this season, a veteran like Ference is exactly what they need.
Off the ice, Ference was as great as they come. The Oilers Captain was a huge supporter of the community and very often gave back to the community that he called home during his tenure as a Bruin.FULL ENTRY
He came, he saw, he went, and he came back.
For former Bruin and current Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference, it was a return that he could only dream of.
“It’s about as fairy tale as it gets in the sports world as far as leaving a city and knowing that you can come back in open arms,” Ference said to reporters prior to Saturday’s matinee at TD Garden.
Past Bruins who left their mark didn’t have the same welcome back as Ference. Phil Kessel’s return to The Hub of Hockey resounding in loud boos that still resonates to this day every time he touches the puck. Tyler Seguin’s debut in a Stars sweater in Boston also resounded in boos. (Ironic now because the “Thank You Kessel” chants are now passe, isn’t it?) Michael Ryder, Rich Peverley and even Tim Thomas didn’t have the same welcome back from the Black and Gold community as Ference.
The difference between Ference and the other former B’s named on that list? Both he and Peter Chiarelli knew the two had to part ways. With a lower salary cap in the months after the lockout, the Bruins GM was committed to keeping the team’s younger defensive core intact for the 2013-14 season and beyond.
Even with the plethora of injuries to the Bruins’ blue-line, guys like Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller have filled in admirably in 2013-14. But there’s also no denying that Ference left his mark during his tenure in Boston and helped build the Black and Gold into one of the elite teams in the National Hockey League.
“When I was told I wasn’t coming back here, it was under the best terms with Peter and the team,” Ference recalled. “They were happy with what I did and I was happy with what they did, which is great.”
“I was fortunate to leave under those kind of circumstances,” Ference added. “I’ve seen a lot of guys over the course of their careers that get traded at the drop of a hat and are gone the next day. They don’t get a chance to have a long, drawn out goodbye like I did.”
His toughness, grit and ability to chip in offensively when needed was what Ference displayed when donning the Spoked B. But his biggest impact in the city of Boston happened off the ice.
When the team went out to support local charities for the Boston Bruins Foundation, Andrew Ference was there. When the Movember Project needed a spokesperson to get the ball rolling, Andrew Ference was there. When the late Sam Berns looked up to the Boston Bruins for inspirations, Andrew Ference, and the rest of the team, were there.
And when the Bruins were looking to bond together as a unit, at home, or on the road, Andrew Ference was there.FULL ENTRY
In a perfect world, outdoor hockey would have no flaws, and we’d be seeing all 30 teams play at least one game in a baseball stadium or football field at some point.
Breaking news: this isn’t a perfect world, and outdoor hockey still has some flaws. On the other hand, its also had some eventful moments.
Outdoor hockey has grown as an event since the Winter Classic was introduced in 2008. Because of the aura of an outdoor game, many others are adding their say to the excitement that is outdoor hockey. Local hockey company StinkySocks Hockey is set to host their fourth annual "Quebec Winter Classic" which is played outdoors on the mountains of beautiful Mont Tremblant, Quebec Canada. If you follow ESPN'S John Buccigross on Twitter, you will often see him re-tweeting photos of hockey fans from around the world braving the elements to play the game they love, where it started, outdoors.
Bruins fans know this quite well when they hosted the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park. The scene of the recently retired Marco Sturm is still discussed as one of the best moments in the current era of The Hub of Hockey.
Love him or hate him, Sidney Crosby made his mark on the event when he scored the shootout winner in the very first Winter Classic, while this year’s scene in front of 100,000-plus hockey fanatics at “The Big House” is a scene that Hollywood can only dream of.
With this new presentation, the National Hockey League looked to capitalize on this phenomenon of outdoor hockey with its newly created “Stadium Series”. This immediately raised concerns from many hockey fans and pundits alike that the outdoor game on a professional level would be oversaturated. Having viewed other outdoor games in the college, minor and junior levels - both in person and as a casual observant on television - I understood those worries.
After this week’s games at Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium, its safe to say that the NHL still needs to improve on its outdoor viewing experience down the road. But, its also safe to say that these two games were pretty successful in their own right.
Sure, neither of the games were anything to write home about. But Chavez Ravine and the Bronx did provide a quality and unique viewing experience - outside of the performances by the aging KISS (who I’m sure will be setting dates for their umpteenth “Farewell Tour”), Jersey Boys and Cee-Lo Green.FULL ENTRY
For the first time in six meetings, Thursday’s contest between the Bruins and Canadiens won’t be for first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Canadiens now find themselves 10 points behind the Atlantic leading Bruins thanks to losses in four of their last five combined with the B’s four-game winning streak. As the two teams are set to faceoff in Boston for the first time in the 2013-14 season, the game will feature one team who is surging in January, and another who can’t wait to see January end.
I think it’s easy to figure out which team is which.
The Canadiens have had tremendous issues keeping the puck out of their own net of late. Prior to Tuesday’s 3-0 shutout of the Carolina Hurricanes, the Habs had allowed four or more goals in four consecutive contests. All four of those games were losses for the Habs. Tuesday’s win improved the Canadiens January record to 5-6-1.
Since their three game road trip in California that saw the Bruins pick up just two points, the Black and Gold have been red hot. Just look at their three most recent games that saw the B’s score six times in each contest.
For the Bruins, things couldn’t be going any better. They’re scoring goals like crazy, their goaltending has been stellar and their special teams have been getting the job done. The B’s have been getting scoring from all four of their lines as their full core of forwards are all back (knock on wood, Hub of Hockey) and finally healthy. The line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith has been the hottest trio in the league in the past two weeks. The trio has combined for 26 points in their last six games.
Once again the Bruins are looking like a team who will be a serious threat once the playoffs roll around.
Clearly, the same can’t be said north of the border in Montreal. As a result of their recent struggles and some questionable in game moves, Habs fans have been calling for the firing of head coach Michel Therrien. Between the calls for their coach, multiple trade rumors, and a rough stretch of play, things are pretty bad for the Canadiens at the moment.
After their dismal 5-0 loss to the Washington Capitals last week, the Canadiens’ players held a closed door meeting. After the meeting concluded, each member of the Canadiens roster was sitting at their stalls, awaiting the burning questions from the media.
“We know we play in a very passionate market, and that’s something we’ve emphasized with our players,” Therrien said prior to Tuesday’s win.
“What I keep reminding our players is to stay humble and concentrated when we are having success; you are never as good as people say when things are going well. On the flip side, you are never as bad as you think when things are not going well. You need to stay in that same pattern and to keeping doing the right things regardless of what’s happening”
Tim Thomas’ homecoming at the TD Garden did not go as he planned as the Boston Bruins hung a six spot on the Florida Panthers en route to a 6-2 victory.
The Bruins dominated from start to finish besides a little hiccup at the end of the second period into the start of the third where the Panthers cut the lead to 4-2.
The offense continued its torrid pace as they scored six goals for the third straight game. Tuukka Rask notched 28 saves and earned his 24th win on the year.
Here are three takeaways from Monday night’s win:
Tuukka Rask vs. Tim Thomas outside story
We all know how difficult it is when the media hypes big time games as well as marquee player match-ups. It was Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady a week ago. Nine days later, the discussion in Boston was about Tuukka Rask vs. Tim Thomas.
The Bruins, however, did not pay attention to the noise and stuck to their game plan coming out with their fourth straight victory. They made it a team game and not an individual match up.
Head coach Claude Julien told his players it did not matter who the opposing goaltender was tonight, but to stick to the game plan.
“He’s been here, although he didn’t play, he was up in the press box, eventually you kind of turn the page,” Julien said. “For us, we did our scouting report on the goaltender like we always do every game and it was as simple as that. So it didn’t really matter. Tim’s always going to be a part of this organization for what he’s done, but right now he’s on the other side and we just have to look at him as an opposing goaltender.”
Milan Lucic scored the first goal of the game and the Black and Gold never looked back.
Once the game started it was never about Rask and Thomas, but how the B’s could score more goals than the Panthers and they did that convincingly.FULL ENTRY
The Bruins wrapped up their quick two-game road trip with another big offensive performance as they managed to put up six goals for the second straight game, defeating the Islanders in Long Island 6-3.
Behind 34 saves by Chad Johnson and goals from Loui Eriksson, Brad Marchand, Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara (who tallied his 500th career point), the Bruins were able to pick up their third straight win.
Here are three takeaways from Monday’s contest.
Bergeron line leads the way, again.
The line of Marchand, Bergeron and Smith really can’t get any hotter than they are now. Thanks to their combined eight point night in Long Island on Monday, the red-hot trio now has a combined 29 points during their six game point streak. The line is certainly clicking on all cylinders at the moment.
The chemistry the trio is showing at the moment has been fun to watch. That chemistry was pretty evident on Marchand’s team leading 17th goal of the season at 4:50 of the second period which at the time put the Bruins on top 2-1.
Smith sent a pass right to the tape of Bergeron who found Marchand with a nice pass of his own and Marchand had no issues ripping one past Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin.
A big reason as to why the Bruins have been able to break out of their mid-season slump has been because of the play of the Bergeron line.
"We've got to keep that going," Bergeron said. "We're feeling good right now. We have some good confidence, and we're moving the puck well. When we do that, we're creating some chances for ourselves."
Chad Johnson continues to gets the job done.
Since allowing four goals in a loss to the Buffalo Sabres on December 19, Johnson has been stellar for the Bruins. Monday’s contest was the first time Johnson has allowed more than two goals in an outing since that tough game against Buffalo, but let’s be honest here, two of the Islanders three goals were no fault of Johnson's.FULL ENTRY
The Bruins kicked off their quick two-game road trip with a Saturday afternoon tilt in Philadelphia as the Bruins and Flyers met for the first time this season. The Bruins went into the City of Brotherly Love and had their way with the Broad Street Bullies in a 6-1 victory. The win was the Bruins third five-goal victory of the season.
Zdeno Chara and Jarome Iginla both scored twice, Reilly Smith and Patrice Bergeron scored a goal apiece and Tuukka Rask made 25 saves for his 23rd win of the season.
Here are three takeaways.
Bruins flat out dominate Flyers:
It was as dominating of a game as the Bruins have played all season long. From start to finish, the game was all Bruins. The B’s were able to set the pace of the game right away, and keep that pace for 60 minutes. It seemed like the Bruins had all the space and time in the world in the Flyers zone, something the Bruins took full advantage of.
At the faceoff dot, the Bruins were exceptional, especially Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins won 40 of 67 (60%) face-offs against the Flyers Saturday afternoon. 16 of those wins came from Bergeron in 25 attempts.
In the defensive zone, the Bruins were able to limit the Flyers to a few prime scoring chances, but each time the opportunity was there for the Flyers to get on the board, Rask was there to shut the door on the Flyers.
The Flyers tried to steal momentum back in the third with Claude Giroux’s power play goal, but Iginla’s second tally of the afternoon just 26 seconds later ended any chance of the Flyers building momentum.
The Bruins were excellent with the man advantage in Philly, only adding to the dominance of their play. Led by power play goals from Chara and Iginla, the Bruins were 2-for-4 on the power play.
Bergeron line remains hot:
With goals by Bergeron and Smith, and an assist by Marchand on Bergeron’s 13th goal of the season, the Bergeron line extended their point streak to five games. In those five games the trio has combined for 21 points.
Led by Marchand, the Bergeron line has been one of the hottest lines in hockey recently and that rang true on Saturday. In most cases when a line catches fire like this one has done, a little bit of luck is involved. I guess you can say luck helped the puck cross the line on Smith’s goal, but hard work and skill got the play going.
Over a three-game stretch where the Boston Bruins took a possible five out of six points against the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings, we can comfortably say the Black and Gold are continuing to build confidence after a tough road trip through California.
In their entertaining shootout loss to the Blackhawks, at the Madhouse on Madison, the B’s were one tricky bounce away from taking all six points in their recent three game stretch.
With a quick turnaround Monday afternoon, the B’s bounced back with an impressive 3-2 win over the Kings on Martin Luther King Day at TD Garden.
As the team nurses back to health and players are beginning to play up to their standards, they are becoming one tough team to beat. Head Coach Claude Julien knows his team is hitting its stride before the Olympic break, but does not mind the rest for his team that has been beat up all season long.
“We’ve played some, to me, probably some playoff hockey-type in the last two games,” Julien said after Monday’s win. “These last two days have been what you see in the playoffs-the intensity of it and everything else. It’s a welcome rest, I think. To me, it’s a mindset. When we get back to work on Saturday, we just got to be ready to compete again and be ready to play and I think we’ll be fine.”
As the team builds confidence, there is one certain player’s confidence that has risen tremendously since his early season slump and that is Brad Marchand. His two goal effort against the Kings was his second in as many days.
“Yeah, I think I knew during that stretch that eventually it was going to come around,” said Marchand, who has six goals in his last four games. “I mean bounces had to start going our way and I mean it’s nice that pucks are going in. I’m playing with Bergy (Patrice Bergeron) and Smitty (Reilly Smith), two phenomenal playmakers and they’re making it easier for me out there.”
Marchand also talked about the team’s recent progression in their past few games.
“Yeah, we’re happy,” Marchand said. “I mean two very good teams and back-to-back situation with travel. This game was definitely a tough one to get ready for, but we got to be happy. We played a great game yesterday, played a great game in Dallas and again tonight so hopefully we continue to play the same way.”
After Sunday afternoon's 3-2 shootout loss to the defending Stanley Cup Champions in Chicago, the Bruins had a quick turnaround matinee game against the surging Los Angeles Kings on Martin Luther King Day at the TD Garden.
With the blizzard rolling into town in less than 24 hours, here are the three takeaways from Monday's contest at the TD Garden.
Marchand continues January surge
After opening the season with Jordan Caron-esque statistics, the "Little Ball of Hate" continues to dominate 2014. Heading into Monday's game, Marchand recorded at least one goal in three straight games, which was followed up with two more tallies against U.S. Olympian Jonathan Quick, including the eventual game-winning-goal.
Over the span of nine January games, Marchand found the back of the net seven times, including six goals over his last four games played.
At some point, Marchand's hot streak will come to a halt. But for the time being, he is living in the moment.
"It's nice, but you know that it's going to end at some point," said Marchand, who's 16 goals lead the team - one ahead of fellow linemate Reilly Smith. "You are just trying to stay even keel. You don't want to get too high ever or you don't want to get too low. So the main thing right now is to try to continue to work hard and hopefully it will stay the same way."
It's safe to say that after a rough stretch, the "good brat" is back in good graces with Bruins fans.
If you were a Bruins fan before they captured a Stanley Cup title, you're probably well in-tuned with the ugly history that accompanies matinee games. But with their recent success, the Bruins have fared well in front of an afternoon audience.
With the victory over the Kings, the Bruins moved to 6-1-1 this season in afternoon games with nine more matinee games still remaining. Furthermore, in back-to-back games this season, the Bruins are 6-1-1 in the first game, and 6-2-0 when playing the second game of a back-to-back.
But its these last two games against the last two Cup champs that make their matinee performances even more impressive.
"I think we've talked about the consistency - that we wanted to establish that in the past few games - and I think we've done that," Patrice Bergeron said. "I thought [against the Blackhawks] that we couldn't get the extra point, but we still played a solid game against a team that has a lot of speed and we matched it. Tonight was a pretty gritty game and a hard fought game and I thought we handled it pretty well as well. So we have to keep building on that and keep moving forward."
Ghost of Jarome
In 13 December games, Jarome Iginla found his stride playing along the right wing with David Krejci and Milan Lucic tallying 12 points in that span. Since the turn of the new year, the future Hall-of-Famer has appeared in eight January games, totaling only two points in and a minus-4 rating while averaging about two shots on goal a night.
To get Iginla's game heading back in the right direction, it wouldn't be a bad idea if Claude Julien shuffled his lines up and swapped Iginla with Eriksson for a few games, as both players look a bit out of place lately.
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CHICAGO - Sure, it might only be a regular season game worth two points in the standings, but the Bruins and Blackhawks sure lived up to the hype in front of a nationally televised audience.
The only problem: the game had to end in a skills competition.
Still, the two teams put together a high-quality performance. Unfortunately, the Bruins couldn’t get the upper hand in their 3-2 loss in their first matchup against the Blackhawks since last years Stanley Cup Final.
Despite the result, the Black and Gold can still be proud of their effort. Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s contest at the United Center.
Early jump for an early start
Whether its working out some kinks at practice or going over final preparations for a night game, the Bruins are quite used to getting their legs fresh in the morning. But when NBC announced that these two teams would be showcased in their Game of the Week, the start time was a topic of discussion.
Even with the 11:30 am central start time, both teams came to play. And it was entertaining from beginning to end.
“I think we did a pretty good job of getting ready,” said forward Brad Marchand. “It was a different game, being at 11:30, but I think we approached it the right way in getting prepared and we had a pretty good first period, too.”
They were outshot 15-12 after the first period, but the Black and Gold were rewarded towards the end of the opening stanza. Which leads us to our next talking point...FULL ENTRY
CHICAGO - Two goals in 17 seconds.
That is a scene that the Bruins and their fans would like to forget.
By now its well known that the Bruins were nearly a minute away from forcing a Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final. Instead, goals from Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland - now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs - put the Hawks ahead, and moments later celebrated their second Stanley Cup in four years on the TD Garden ice.
As a Bostonian roaming the streets of “The Windy City” many Chicagoans - fans, hostesses, waiters, waitresses, bartenders, cab drivers and everyone alike - are quick to remind Bruins fans about that moment.
“Seventeen seconds,” one customer at a local Chicago establishment said to a Bruins fan.
On Sunday afternoon, or Sunday morning central time, the Black and Gold get their first chance at erasing that memory at the United Center. But those “17 seconds” are still a painful memory for one Original Six franchise.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Milan Lucic.
“It hurts,” Lucic said at practice on Saturday at Johnny’s Ice House, about a half mile from the Blackhawks’ home arena on West Madison Street. “I’ve replayed [that game] in my mind since that moment. There’s always questions on what might have happened if it didn’t hit the post and went right on Bolland’s stick. You almost think what you could’ve done."FULL ENTRY
With just three wins in their last eight games, the Boston Bruins are officially in a mid-season slump.
After managing to take two points out of their very difficult three-game west coast road trip with a 1-0 shutout of the San Jose Sharks Saturday night, the Bruins failed to build from that momentum as they dropped a 4-3 contest to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Boston Tuesday night.
Tuesday’s win over the Bruins was just Toronto’s third regulation win in their previous 27 games. In other words, Tuesday’s Atlantic Division contest was one the Bruins should have won.
Thanks to their mid-season slump, the Bruins now find themselves tied atop the Atlantic Division with the surprising Tampa Bay Lightning with 60 points. The Bruins do have a game in hand.
“No, again, every year we go through this, guys. Every year, [in the] middle of the season, we seem to go through a struggle, and we work our way out of it,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien after the loss to the Maple Leafs.
“Nothing is different, every team in this league. I mean we’re sitting here, and we’re talking about our team, but there’s not a single team in this league that doesn’t go through this. I’m trying not to be overly critical versus trying to fight our way out of it, and that’s what I’m trying to do here. That’s why I’m kind of avoiding some of these questions here about this and that. It’s not about being negative here; it’s about working our way out of it.”
The way they have worked themselves out of their mid-season slump in the past has been a pretty good indication of how well the postseason will go for the Black and Gold.
During the 2010-11 season, the Bruins lost four out of five in early February to knock them down to the bottom of the Stanley Cup playoff race. The B's quickly turned that slump around as they went on to notch wins in their next seven games. Six of those seven came on the road and helped build the character of what would eventually be a Stanley Cup Winning team.
The season after that, the Bruins failed to build off of 9-3 month of December as they flirted with .500 for the rest of the season. The playoffs couldn’t bring much more consistency to their game as they were ousted by the Washington Capitals in seven games in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With 11 games left until the league shuts down for nearly three weeks during the Olympics, the Bruins are trying to find their game once again.
If you ask anyone on the Bruins roster what it is that is hurting the team the most, the answer is the same; special teams.
Since losing Dennis Seidenberg for the season thanks to a torn ACL/MCL, the Bruins penalty kill has struggled.
The script was pretty similar to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals last May, but this one had a different finish.
After trailing 4-2, Gregory Campbell pulled the Bruins within one at 9:35 of the third period. The Bruins had the energy on their side, but couldn’t net the equalizer and fell to the struggling Maple Leafs by a final of 4-3 in front of the 190th consecutive sellout crowd at the TD Garden Tuesday night.
The Maple Leafs weren’t the only ones who were struggling heading into Tuesday’s contest as some of the Bruins’ sore spots in recent weeks continued to haunt them. Here are three takeaways from the contest.
Special team woes continue
The penalty kill struggles without Dennis Seidenberg have been well documented in recent weeks. It was no different on this night as the shorthanded unit allowed two goals on four Maple Leafs’ power plays.
The breakdowns were evident as the Leafs frequently got behind the Bruins’ D and put them on their heels - as seen with Tyler Bozak’s tally at 12:47 of the first, his second of the game. And then there’s Tuukka Rask, who let up a couple of soft goals, including Jake Gardnier’s marker at 7:09 of the second - the eventual game-winner - and could not make the big save(s) when it mattered most.
Those are just two examples of how far the Bruins’ penalty kill has fallen in recent weeks as they’ve allowed six power play goals in the last four games.
“Too many breakdowns,” said Patrice Bergeron, who tallied his 11th of the season at 10:48 of the first to give the B’s a 2-1 lead. “But also I think we’re forcing plays that we shouldn’t and sometimes we’re not in sync. We’re not forcing where all guys go as a whole and obviously when there’s only one guy going that opens up too many lanes and they’re going to eat you alive.”
On the flip side, the Bruins’ power play, which has taken great strides after a few years of futility, has seemingly become the powerless play again. They failed to convert on three of their chances and are now scoreless in their last 16 attempts with the man advantage.
It’s one thing when one of the special teams units struggles. But when the opposition is catching flaws in the shorthanded and power play units, it becomes difficult to win on a given night, especially in the National Hockey League.
“There’s a lot of games that are won with a power play goal or a penalty kill being solid,” Campbell said about the special team struggles. “It’s an area that the individuals put in the situation have to take pride in because it’s a privilege to be on the power play and penalty kill.”FULL ENTRY