Saturday, December 31, 2011

Game Thirty Five: Ryder Helps Stars Rise Over Bruins

The Dallas Stars ended the seven-game win streak of the Bruins on Saturday night as they knocked off the B's by a score of 4-2. Former Bruin Michael Ryder picked up a goal against his old team in this game.

The Stars beat Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas four times in the opening period, two of the goals coming as a result of the power play. The four goals allowed by Thomas is the most he has allowed in a single game this season. In relevance to the power play goals, the Stars made some great passes and worked the puck around the front of the net waiting for the right shot.

Even though Dallas loves to draw opponents into penalties, they still need to capitalize on the man advantage and they did in this game.

Tyler Seguin scored Boston's first goal at 11:39 of the first period. Seguin still leads the B's in points with 31. Milan Lucic scored Boston's second goal just 1:08 into the third period. David Krejci had an assist on both goals. Loui Eriksson, Trevor Daley, and Tom Wandell had the other tallies for the Stars.

In a game that the media built up and expected way too much from, the action was still fast and physical. The puck was constantly moving and nothing really slowed the game down. Dallas outplayed Boston in this game. Plain and simple. They end the year 2011 with a tough road loss.

Boston will be back in action on Wednesday night when they head to New Jersey to take on the Devils.

Gold Star: David Krejci (2 assists, plus-1 rating).

Black Star: Shawn Thornton...The fourth line logged some extra shifts in this game. However, Thornton looked lost out there to the point where he was a liability to the team.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Game Thirty Four: Bruins Win In Julien's 600th Game

Long breaks from game action is a plus for the players and coaches, especially around the holiday season. Being able to get a few days off to heal nagging injuries is also on the minds of the players. On the other hand, a long break could get a team off of a hot streak.

Breaks can cause someone like myself to get restless about when I can blog again. Besides Brad Marchand receiving the honor of the NHL's First Star of the Week following his three goal, five point performance last Friday night, not much to discuss or write about as a member of the media. It is frustrating sometimes but it happens. Enough about me.

Back to the point of teams riding streaks. The Bruins resumed their schedule Wednesday night after having the last three days off. They took on the Phoenix Coyotes for the first time since the two-game series that opened up the 2010-2011 season over in Prague.

Boston had a six-game win streak coming into the game. Bruins head coach Claude Julien elected to continue riding another streak by starting Tuukka Rask in goal. Rask has posted back-to-back shutouts in his last two starts.

Rich Peverley did not play in this game in order to rest up a lingering injury. He was replaced by Zach Hamill. Jordan Caron was sent back down to Providence (AHL), signifying that the organization sees Hamill as a better fit for this team than Caron.

Judging from what we witnessed in the opening period, one would never have thought that the B's had an extended break. Less than a minute into the game, David Krejci put Boston on the board first by scoring his seventh goal of the season. The goal was assisted by Nathan Horton and Marchand. A great extended shift by Marchand led to the opening for Krejci to shoot the puck.

There was tight play from all four lines in the opening twenty minutes that kept the Coyotes off their game. The only mental breakdown for the Bruins occurred when Ray Whitney skated right past Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk to put the puck past Rask to tie the game. Basically a gimme goal since there was no man power down the center of the ice.

Adam McQuaid put a beating on Raffi Torres after he laid a high elbow to the face of Andrew Ference. McQuaid did receive an instigator penalty and ten minute misconduct, but he left the power forward with a bloody eye and that is something Bruins fans were hoping for. Keep in mind that Torres is a former Vancouver Canuck. Zing.

Anyway, back to the game. Both teams started to experience problems with the ice. Players started to slip and they had a difficult time trying to make accurate passes. Boston and Phoenix battled the sloppy ice to deliver a hard-fought period of hockey.

The only power play of the game belonged to the Coyotes in the second period but Rask and Chara made great plays to keep the puck out of the net. Boychuk skated off the ice in pain during the period after getting hit in the lower body with a slap shot. He did not miss any ice time after the hit, showing no sign of an immediate injury.

After a scoreless third period, both teams headed into overtime with a goal each. The Bruins were lucky to even get to overtime since the Coyotes put heavy pressure on the B's in the closing two minutes of regulation. Rask again came up with some big stops. He finished the game with 21 saves.

Just 58 seconds into the overtime period, Dennis Seidenberg scored on a shot from the top of the point. It deflected off of the stick of Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris and into the goal. Benoit Pouliot and Chris Kelly had the assists. The Bruins won their seventh game in a row by defeating the Coyotes 2-1.

Their next game will be this Saturday night against the Dallas Stars.

Gold Star: Dennis Seidenberg (1 goal, plus-2 rating, 3 shots on goal)...He was on the ice for both goals and he was solid defending the blue line.

Black Star: Gregory Campbell...Although it was a sloppy game, he was not aggressive enough and he was pushed around rather easily in this game.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Game Thirty Three: Career Night For Marchand

Remember the last time that the Bruins faced off against the Florida Panthers on December 8th? Boston dominated the entire game but eventually fell 2-0 after Florida put in two late goals. They needed to jump down their throats early against the Southeast Division leading Panthers on Friday night if they wanted to avoid what happened last time.

Well, no one can say that they did not do that in this game.

The Bruins jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first 20 minutes. All four goals occurred on plays that were not on a regulation five-on-five play. Brad Marchand recorded a short-handed goal and Milan Lucic scored on the power play. Benoit Pouliot and Dennis Seidenberg scored when both teams skated four-on-four.

The goal scored by Pouliot could be one of the best goals that he has scored in his young career. He pulled off a slick front pass through his legs and slid the puck past Panthers goaltender Jose Theodore. It should be an early candidate for Goal Of The Year. Theodore was eventually pulled for Scott Clemmensen.

Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves for his usual bout with Krys Barch. The fight sparked the Bruins to score two of their first period goals in a 31 second span.

Gregory Campbell and Patrice Bergeron each added a goal in the second period. Bergeron's goal was a power play goal and it was the second power play goal of the game for the B's. He also finished the game with two assists. Marchand added two more goals in the third period to complete his first career hat trick.

The speed of the game was very fast. The puck was constantly moving and the hits occurred often. The familiarity of these two teams seemed to be evident because the Bruins had control of the game from the opening face-off. The Panthers could not even get the puck into the B's zone when they had power play opportunities.

Tuukka Rask stopped all 30 shots en route to his 10th career shutout. Boston takes this game by a final score of 8-0.

The Bruins head on their Christmas break by posting a record of 22-1 in their last 23 games. They will resume their season on the 28th of December when they travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes.

Gold Star: Brad Marchand (3 goals, 2 assists, plus-five rating).

Black Star: Daniel Paille...The Bruins only had to kill off two penalties in this game, thus limiting the ice time of Paille.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Game Thirty Two: Best In The East

"I'm looking forward to sitting back and watching a fun game against our rivals. It should be a good one." -Milan Lucic

This statement was taken for the B's power forward just hours after his hearing with Brendon Shanahan Monday afternoon. Lucic was suspended for Monday's game against the Montreal Canadiens for his major boarding penalty on Saturday when Boston faced the Philadelphia Flyers.

The suspension came as a result of Lucic's reoccurring disciplinary hearings, so it was just a matter of time. The hit itself was not that bad. However, Shanahan needed to send a message to Lucic and the one-game suspension should be the solution.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien had to shake up the lines for this game due to the Lucic suspension. Daniel Paille skated on the first line with David Krejci and Nathan Horton. Gregory Campbell made his return to the line-up for this game but he skated as a winger on the fourth line while Zach Hamill centered Campbell and Shawn Thornton.

As for the game, Boston was in the perfect advantage to increase their separation from the last-place Canadiens since there is turmoil going on with the Habs. Jacques Martin was fired as the Montreal head coach and was replaced by Randy Cunneyworth. Plus getting booed off of their home ice is tough to swallow.

So how did Monday's game between the two rivals go?

The first period was exactly what we usually expect from these two teams. There were hits, physical play, and tight checking against the boards. Benoit Pouliot put Boston on the board first when he beat Habs goaltender Carey Price for his sixth goal of the season. Rich Peverley won a face-off and passed the puck across the ice for Pouliot to put in. Tomas Plekanec tied the game up by scoring his seventh goal of the season only 1:13 later.

The second period slowed down just a little bit. The Bruins defense was quite sloppy in their own end and it almost led to a Montreal goal. It was Boston who ended up scoring in this period when Krejci put the puck past Price by using his foot. Andrew Ference had the assist. Patrice Bergeron took a high stick to the face toward the end of the period. He missed the power play shifts that followed the penalty.

A very slow start to the third period led to a rather interesting finish to the game. Brad Marchand extended the B's lead by scoring a great goal that was assisted by Bergeron and Tyler Seguin. Boston looked to have complete control of this one. We should know by now to never count out the Habs.

Erik Cole scored the Canadiens second goal immediately after Price was pulled for the extra attacker. Montreal continued to put pressure on the B's but Tim Thomas was clutch in the end. The Bruins defeated the Canadiens by a score of 3-2. Boston remains undefeated this season when entering the third period with the lead and they now sit on top of the Eastern Conference with 45 points.

Their next game will be this Friday night at the TD Garden against the Florida Panthers.

Gold Star: Rich Peverley...He finished the game with one assist and was decent from the face-off dot. What stood out was his solid performance on the power play when he controlled the top of the zone.

Black Star: Nathan Horton...He had a couple of turnovers, one of them led to the Habs second goal. He did not have a bad game, but the timeliness of the turnovers was crucial.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Game Thirty One: A Gordie For Big Z

The Boston Bruins looked dominant in their 6-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday afternoon. A great performance by Tim Thomas along with the return of Zdeno Chara proved to be too much for the Flyers. The Bruins now pull into a tie with Philly for first place in the Eastern Conference with 43 points.

Both teams played a chippy and disgusting style of hockey through the duration of this one. Once the game settled down, the Bruins were the better team. There were over 100 penalty minutes between the two teams. Chara picked up a Gordie Howe hat trick by recording a goal, an assist, and a fighting major in his first game back from his knee injury.

The B's were three for eight on the power play, which is exactly how to beat a team when they are running up the penalty column of the stat sheet. Chara, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton had the goals on the man advantage. Benoit Pouliot, Daniel Paille, and Tyler Seguin had the other three Boston tallies. Rich Peverley recorded three assists.

Boston chased Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov from the net after pounding him for five goals. There was a period of time where Philly could not get a real good shot on net. The Bruins defense did hold up well in order to protect their goaltender by only allowing 31 shots.

This one definitely had an edge to it and sometimes a game like this is needed. However, a game like this just proves that a team like Boston can win under any circumstances. Their next game will be Monday night back at home against the Montreal Canadiens.

Gold Star: Zdeno Chara (1 goal, 1 assist, 4 shots on goal).

Black Star: Shawn Thornton...This was exactly the type of game he loves to play in. Unfortunately, he was too busy serving penalties for his teammates.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Game Thirty: Thomas Bounces Back

Oh how we all love a good divisional game. The Bruins took on the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night and this was a game between two teams who are at opposite ends of the Northeast Division (Bruins 1st, Senators 5th). The Bruins held a divisional record of 8-2-0 coming into the game.

Both teams are going through injury problems at this point of the season. Zdeno Chara (knee) and Gregory Campbell (foot) were ruled out for this game. Chara participated in the morning skate so it is now a possibility that Chara will return to the line-up for the next game. The injury of Campbell has prevented him from making the team trip to Ottawa as his injury is a bit more serious.

For the Senators, Milan Michalek did not play due to an upper-body injury. He had to leave the game on Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres after colliding with teammate Erik Karlsson. He currently leads the NHL in goals with 19.

Tim Thomas was back in goal for the B's to try and bounce back from a shaky outing this past Saturday. Zach Hamill and Steven Kampfer also played in their second consecutive game.

Boston had a rough start to the opening period. They clearly had some trouble getting the puck out of their own defensive zone and that forced Thomas to make saves on shots that should not have even happened in the first place. As the period went on, the Bruins started to settle in.

Rich Peverley scored the opening goal for the second straight game. The goal was assisted by Andrew Ference and Joe Corvo. The six defenders all had a great opening period since they contributed in all three zones of the ice.

The second period was a different story. The Sens skated right up the middle at will to get some good scoring chances on Thomas. Daniel Alfredsson tied the game up after Jason Spezza used good puck movement to find Alfredsson near the dot. The Sens captain now has 15 points in the last 15 games he has played against Boston.

Chris Kelly put Boston back on top by scoring his 12th goal of the season. He was just in the right spot in front of the net after a shot by Johnny Boychuk produced a rebound for Kelly to tap in. That goal was Kelly's 200th career NHL point.

Adam McQuaid received a five minute kneeing major and a game misconduct toward the end of the period, forcing the B's to kill off a five minute power play. There was no need for him to extend his leg the way he did. A suspension could very well be coming his way.

Both teams actually ended up skating four-on-four to begin the third period because Zenon Konopka got whistled for goaltender interference. It looked rough but the B's and their fourth best penalty kill in the league were able to kill it off.

Daniel Paille scored two goals and Patrice Bergeron scored one goal in the final period. All three goals came from sloppy play by the Senators. Spezza gave a little bit of life to Ottawa by scoring the team's second goal. In the end, a solid goaltender and great penalty killing is what won this game for the Bruins. The final score was Boston 5, Ottawa 2.

Thomas made 47 saves on 49 shots. That is way too many shots to stop even if you are the two-time Vezina Trophy winner. The Bruins defense need to work on that but that is nothing a practice or two could not fix.

The Bruins will play the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon in a game that could have first place implications on the line. It should be a good one.

Gold Star: Daniel Paille (2 goals, plus-2 rating, 4 shots on goal)...A great offensive game along with good work on the penalty kill.

Black Star: Nathan Horton...Does it seem like sometimes the first-line wingers refuse to play hard? In this game, Horton was the guilty one.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Game Twenty Nine: Bruins Win With New Line-Up

The Boston Bruins, depleted roster and all, took on the Los Angeles Kings for the first of two meetings this season on Tuesday night. The B’s knocked off the Kings by a score of 3-0.

Tuukka Rask made the start in goal for the Bruins in this game. He relieved Tim Thomas in goal during Saturday night’s game against Columbus. Rask opposed Jonathan Quick, who was making his 24th appearance of the season for Los Angeles. Rask stopped all 41 shots he faced en route to his ninth career shutout.

Zdeno Chara (knee) and Gregory Campbell (foot) did not play in this game due to injuries. Chara is listed as day-to-day where the status of Campbell is unknown. Zach Hamill was called up from Providence to center the fourth line and Steven Kampfer replaced Chara on defense. Daniel Paille made his return to the line-up after missing Saturday’s game with a mild concussion.

At 6:32 of the first period, Rich Peverley put the Bruins on the board first by scoring his fifth goal of the season. Zach Hamill and Benoit Pouliot had the assists. The B’s put heavy pressure on the Kings early, forcing them to play very unorganized and sloppy. The early pressure is what led to the goal.

In the second period, Los Angeles picked up their game as they were able to put some pucks on net. The Bruins defense held strong when they had to kill off a five-on-three power play towards the end of the period. Rask made the key saves that kept the momentum on Boston’s side.

At 7:43, Brad Marchand scored his 10th goal of the season with an assist by Patrice Bergeron. Marchand buried a one-time shot immediately after Bergeron won the face-off cleanly back to him. Aside from the goal, the Kings controlled most of the puck.

Bergeron and Marchand would hook up yet again at 5:35 of the third period to produce the third Bruins goal of the game. Both players finished the game with two points each. The Kings continued to put more pressure on Rask and the B’s defense but they did not play consistent enough the entire game to have a chance in this one.

The Bruins next game will be on the road Wednesday night when they take on the Ottawa Senators.

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask (41 saves on 41 shots, first shutout of season).

Black Star: Tyler Seguin…His fellow linemen of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand had a great night, but the kid did not even show up. He was not involved with the offense in any way.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Game Twenty Eight: It Never Comes Easy Against The Jackets

The Bruins looked to turn their short string of bad luck around on Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Coming into the game, the B's had only scored a combined one goal in back-to-back losses.

Daniel Paille was ruled out for this game due to a mild concussion that he suffered in Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers.

The tone of the first period was set right away when Shawn Thornton and Jared Boll dropped the gloves. The momentum favored Boston as they got off several shots on Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis Sanford. Rich Peverley hit the near post on a slap shot and David Krejci failed to capitalize on a back-hand shot.

Despite the lack of offense, Columbus grabbed the first goal of the game. Rick Nash intercepted the puck on an attempted shot by Zdeno Chara and beat Tim Thomas on the breakaway. Milan Lucic got whistled for a double minor penalty which sent him to the box for four minutes. It was during that time that Jeff Carter extended the Columbus lead with a back-hand shot over Thomas. James Wisniewski had an assist on both of Columbus' first period goals.

Boston was able to tie the game up at two when they scored a pair of goals in 45 seconds. Joe Corvo recorded his first goal as a Bruin on a shot from the top of the point. Nathan Horton scored his eighth goal of the season after some good puck moving by Krejci.

A chippy second period started with Chara putting Boston on top for the first time in the game. The power play goal that Chara scored was his sixth goal of the season. Chara ended up leaving the game in this period with a knee injury.

R.J. Umberger tied the game up after beating Dennis Seidenberg to the puck and sliding it under Thomas. The goal was assisted by Samuel Pahlsson and Fedor Tyutin. Thomas was officially replaced by Tuukka Rask to begin the third period.

The final 20 minutes consisted of physicality and edginess which was similar to how things were going from the opening face-off. Both teams combined for 16 penalties and 42 hits.

Corvo and Chris Kelly each added a power play goal in the final period to seal the game. The Bruins won this game by a score of 5-3. Corvo finished the game with two goals and Lucic finished the game with three assists.

The Bruins next game will be Tuesday night back at home against the Los Angeles Kings.

Gold Star: Joe Corvo (2 goals, plus-1 rating, 5 shots on goal)...What a game for the veteran defenseman to pick up his first two goals as a Bruin.

Black Star: Tim Thomas...It was just a matter of time before he was pulled from the game. He allowed a couple of soft goals.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Game Twenty Seven: A New Streak?

Is it time to panic again in Boston? Is it time to start worrying about the Bruins just like fans did in the first month of the season? The Bruins have now lost two games in a row, dropping a tough game to the Florida Panthers on Thursday. The final score was Florida 2, Boston 0.

Even though there is no such thing as a moral victory, the B's should not be disappointed in the way they played on Thursday. They did everything right and they had many more scoring chances than the Panthers. The only thing that they did not do was put the puck in the net. Florida is not a push-over team this season as they lead the Southeast Division with 36 points, surpassing the Bruins for second place in the Eastern Conference.

Tim Thomas and Jose Theodore each played a great game in net. They held their opponent scoreless for over 50 minutes in this game. The only goal allowed in this game came at 17:28 of the third period when Tomas Kopecky beat Thomas for his fourth goal of the season. Shawn Matthias and Dmitry Kulikov had the assists. Kris Versteeg added an empty net goal just under two minutes later.

Bruins forward Daniel Paille left the game in the first period after being charged by Krys Barch. Shawn Thornton put a pretty good beating on him following the hit. This occurred just 45 seconds into Paille's first shift of the game.

Former Bruin Marco Sturm made his return to Boston in a Panthers jersey for this game. The B's held him in check as he only got two shots on Thomas. Also, Tyler Seguin made his return to the line-up after being scratched for Tuesday's game for missing a team meeting.

The Bruins look to turn it around on Saturday night as they travel to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets.

Gold Star: Tim Thomas (28 saves on 29 shots, 1 goal allowed, .966 save percentage)...Even though the entire first line had a great game against Florida, Thomas stood out since the score was so close.

Black Star: Brad Marchand...In a close game like this one, a team needs support from their top two lines. Marchand could not find his rhythm even with the return of Seguin.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Game Twenty Six: The End Of The Streak

The Winnipeg Jets ended the 15-game point streak of the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. With the help of their goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, the Jets defeated the B's by a score of 2-1. Pavelec made 39 saves on 40 shots. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask also had a solid game, making 33 saves.

Winnipeg seemed to match Boston's physicality throughout this game. The B's could not get to the puck cleanly at any point. Both teams also had several great scoring opportunities but the goalies were right there to shut down most of the quality scoring chances.

Andrew Ladd put the Jets on the board in the first period by shooting the puck over the right shoulder of Rask and into the net. Johnny Oduya and Pavelec had the assists. After a scoreless second period, Boston came out playing rather strong in the third period.

Shawn Thornton tied the game up by sneaking the puck under Pavelec. Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell had the assists. The game-winning goal came when both teams skated 4-on-4 after matching minor penalties. Bryan Little won a face-off and took the puck down a straight path to the goal where he beat Rask.

Tyler Seguin was scratched from this game because he missed a team meeting and the team breakfast Tuesday morning. Jordan Caron took his place on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

One thing about playing in Winnipeg is their arena is always filled with true hockey fans. Not using that as an excuse for the loss, but the MTS Centre seems like an incredibly tough place to play. The Jets never had that support when they were in Atlanta.

The Bruins next game will be Thursday night at the TD Garden against the Florida Panthers. The B's will be sporting their alternate sweaters for that game.

Gold Star: Gregory Campbell...He finished the game with one assist. He has played at a high level recently. He was a huge contributor to this win streak.

Black Star: Joe Corvo...He was on the ice for both Jets goals. The winning goal occurred when he jumped up ice thinking the Bruins would win the face-off. They did not win it and it cost them the game.