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Bruins Notebook

Montador is standing tall

Blue liner defends penalties, mates

STEVE MONTADOR He justifies his actions STEVE MONTADOR
He justifies his actions
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / March 19, 2009
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WILMINGTON - In the first period of Sunday's 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh, the Bruins were 12 seconds away from surviving a slashing penalty on Dennis Wideman, a kill that would leave them with a 2-1 lead.

But at 15:55, during a scrum in front of Tim Thomas, Steve Montador was called for roughing when he tussled with NHL leading scorer Evgeni Malkin. Nine seconds later, with Wideman and Montador in the penalty box, Chris Kunitz tallied a five-on-three goal to make it 2-2.

Yesterday, Montador had no apologies for the infraction, one of two he took against Pittsburgh to put his team down two men. In the third period, Montador was nabbed for hooking while P.J. Axelsson was serving an interference penalty, giving the Penguins a 17-second five-on-three power play.

"On my first penalty, I was very aggressive," Montador acknowledged. "But I think it was justified. When any player - I don't care if he is leading the league in points - slashes my goalie near the throat, I'm not going to stand there and do nothing. It's unfortunate that he didn't get a call either. I figured we were at least both going off."

The way Montador recalled the play, there was a loose puck in front of Thomas. As Malkin jammed for the puck, he caught Thomas under his mask with his blade.

"I don't think he intended on slashing him," Montador said. "But if I don't intend on tripping someone and I trip him, I get a tripping penalty. It should have at least gone both ways. The ref said that if he touched the goalie's mask, it would have made it different."

Yesterday marked two weeks since Montador, sent East by Anaheim for Petteri Nokelainen, became a Bruin. Since the trade, Montador has appeared in five games, missing two because of flu-like symptoms. The Bruins have gone 2-3 in games in which Montador has played. After skating with Mark Stuart in his Boston debut (a 2-1 home loss to Phoenix March 5), Montador has been paired with old Calgary buddy Andrew Ference on the second pairing for the last four games.

Last Saturday, Montador recorded his first assist as a Bruin in a 2-1 win over the Islanders. Montador has averaged 17:22 of ice time in Boston. In 65 games with the Ducks, Montador averaged 16:12 of playing time.

"I think it's been a pretty smooth transition," said the 29-year-old defenseman, whose arrival has impacted Shane Hnidy (healthy scratch for Montador's five appearances). "Certainly there's been a couple hiccups for me and the team. But I think for the most part we've been pretty consistent with what's expected coming out of the games. I feel like I'm right part of that. There's been talk of playing 60 minutes. I have to contribute to that as well. I've been pleased with how things have been going. I have higher expectations for myself and for the club as well. But overall, I think I'm right where I'm supposed to be."

When he landed in Boston, Montador expected to become a complementary part on a team that had started to find its rhythm again. Just a week earlier, Montador was a member of an Anaheim club the Bruins beat, 6-0, at TD Banknorth Garden. With his team trailing, 3-0, that night, Montador tried to spark the Ducks by challenging Milan Lucic to a fight.

Now, Montador has realized that the 6-0 rout was only a temporary spike in Boston's play. The Bruins pasted the Ducks by attacking their Western opponents nonstop.

"It felt like all game, when I was with Anaheim, that we were on our heels, accepting pressure and accepting the rush," said Montador. "[As a Bruin], we've done that most games I've been here. I think that's what's helped carry this team to first place and the position we're in - that constant pressure. I think there's been lapses in the last few games of that pressure. We're certainly well aware of it. And that's the first start."

Back to work
The Bruins went through another hard practice yesterday at Ristuccia Arena, the second straight hour-plus session. "It doesn't guarantee anything," coach Claude Julien said. "It's battling through it. It's our approach to the game, commitment to the game, and not getting away from what's been successful for us." . . . Thomas has started the last four games after Manny Fernandez bumbled his way through a 4-3 loss to the Rangers March 8. "Absolutely. There's no issues there," Julien said when asked if he was still confident in Fernandez. "What people see on the outside and what's happening on the inside are two different things. We talk. He knows exactly what's going on. There are things that not everybody needs to know about. We'll leave it at that." . . . Stephane Yelle (upper body) is questionable for tonight's game against Los Angeles. Yelle, out for the last five games, stayed on the ice for extra work yesterday . . . Before practice, Wideman worked with assistant coach Doug Houda on getting pucks through traffic. Wideman had to shoot around cones that Houda had set up at the points . . . Kyle Quincey leads LA defensemen with 38 points. Quincey, placed on waivers by Detroit at the start of the season, drew interest from the Bruins before being claimed by the Kings.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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