Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Shawn Thornton drops the gloves with Chris Neil

Tyler Seguin recorded six shots on goal in a game played on his 20th birthday.

Game Forty Eight: Bruins Win First Game Back From All-Star Break

Well, here we are. The second half of the 2011-12 NHL season is upon us as 26 of the 30 teams were back in action on Tuesday night. Among them were the Boston Bruins who were back at home to kick off a three-game homestand.

Even though most of the players enjoyed the All-Star break, they were eager to get back to business. Speaking of the All-Star break, the two captains from the All-Star game were reunited at the TD Garden on this night. Daniel Alfredsson and his Ottawa Senators looked to get their first win this season against Zdeno Chara and the B's.

Nathan Horton was ruled out for this game due to lingering concussion symptoms. Rich Peverley took his place on the top line. Andrew Ference served the final game of his three-game suspension on Tuesday night as well. He was replaced in the lineup by Steven Kampfer

The Senators are a team that has been a pleasant surprise for the league. They were picked by some experts to finish last in the Eastern Conference. Currently, they hold on to sixth place and sit only four points out of first place in the Northeast Division heading into this game. They are a contender, not a spoiler.

Now lets get to the game. Ottawa came out strong in the opening minutes, controlling much of the possession and producing better scoring chances. As the period went on, the Bruins began to find their rhythm. Benoit Pouliot had two near misses and Tyler Seguin set up Brad Marchand twice with some nifty passing.

Chara put Boston on top while they were on the power play by blasting a slap shot from the top of the zone. Colin Greening tied the game after Milan Michalek centered the puck on goal and he tapped it past Tim Thomas.

There were two fights in the opening twenty minutes. Shawn Thornton and Adam McQuaid dropped the gloves with Chris Neil and Zenon Konopka respectively. Did anyone miss hockey during the break? All of the energy in the opening period made everyone remember what they had missed.

The Senators netted two goals in the second period. Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson were the goal scorers. Both of the tallies came as a result of a couple of Bruins players cheating too far up ice in the offensive zone. At the same time, Boston had several good chances on Sens goaltender Craig Anderson. They just could not find the back of the net until Milan Lucic scored with less than a minute remaining in the period.

Marchand and Dennis Seidenberg each recorded a goal for the B's in the final 20 minutes. From that point on it was all Boston. Thomas finished the game with 27 saves on 30 shots and Joe Corvo had two assists, just a couple of the bright spots in the Bruins first game back from the break. Boston defeated Ottawa by a final score of 4-3.

The Bruins will be back in action on Thursday night when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Gold Star: Milan Lucic (1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots on goal, 2 hits)...He was a force along the boards and provided the scoring touch to cap off the game.

Black Star: Zach Hamill...He was not strong when he had the puck, hence why his minutes dropped as the game went along.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Game Forty Seven: Failure To Execute Results In Loss For B's

In the midst of all of the Tim Thomas/White House boycott controversy, the Bruins returned to the nation's capital once again to take on the Washington Capitals. This was the final Bruins game before the All-Star break.

I wonder if Thomas had played in this game, would he have been booed by the home crowd? Either way, everyone needs to let this situation go.

With that being said, Tuukka Rask did get the start in goal for the B's. Andrew Ference sat out game two of his three-game suspension and Nathan Horton was ruled out due to a mild concussion. He is listed as day-to-day.

Rich Peverley took Horton's spot on the line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic while Zach Hamill took Peverley's spot on the third line. Steven Kampfer replaced Ference in the lineup yet again.

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin did not play in this game as he began to serve a three-game suspension of his own. He will also not participate in this year's All-Star game. Perhaps Patrice Bergeron can take his place? I have only been saying he deserves an All-Star roster spot for the past season and a half now? No big deal.

Lets focus on Tuesday night's game for now. The first 20 minutes went by at a brisk pace. The puck was constantly moving up and down the ice. The Caps had two great chances but their shots went wide of the net. Peverley had the lone goal of the period when he bounced the puck off of Washington goaltender Tomas Vokoun and into the net.

Krejci blocked a shot off of his foot in the opening period, causing his minutes to be briefly limited.

The second period was all about the scoring. The Caps got three goals on Rask, two of which were scored by Mathieu Perreault. For the B's, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand scored beautiful goals that came as a result of great defensive work. Bergeron and Dennis Seidenberg each had two assists in the game. The game was tied at three after two.

The third period was much like the opening period as there was continuous play without many stoppages. When the puck was in play, it was Washington who controlled much of the possession. What really hurt the Bruins in this game was turning the puck over.

It was one of Washington's 15 takeaways that allowed Perreault to complete his first career hat-trick. Dennis Wideman added an empty net goal to seal a 5-3 victory over the Bruins

You have to give credit to the Capitals. They put significant pressure on the B's all game long. They got the lucky bounces and won key face-offs. Boston could just not dig deep enough to pull this one out.

Boston's next game will be next Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators. In the meantime, enjoy the All-Star break.

Gold Star: Tyler Seguin (1 goal, plus-1 rating)...He had a great defensive game. His defensive work eventually resulted in a goal for himself.

Black Star: Adam McQuaid...Too many turnovers and too much sloppy play for anyone's liking.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Game Forty Six: Wait! There Was A B's Game On Sunday?

Did anyone know that there was a Bruins game on Sunday? With the other happenings existing in the world of sports, it was understandable if it slipped the minds of B's fans. Their opponent? The Philadelphia Flyers.

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference was suspended three games for his hit on New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh Saturday afternoon. He was replaced by Steven Kampfer, who brings a much more fast-paced, puck-moving style to the lineup. It turns out he was nothing more than a target in this game.

The game was physical as physical can be. Even though the B's blanked Philadelphia 6-0 in their last meeting, this was a different team they were facing. The Philly roster was heavily different since they lost five players due to injury. They are dropping like Fly-er-s. Har Har Har.

Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly had fights in the opening period. Kelly responded to Brayden Schenn's beautiful hit on Kampfer in the defensive zone. Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov got involved in the action when he roughed up Brad Marchand, who got pushed into Bryzgalov by a Flyer.

Shawn Thornton beat up on Jody Shelly in the second period. Once again, Thornton provided a spark for the Bruins by dropping the gloves.

At the end of two periods, Philly had a 4-3 lead. Scott Hartnell recorded a natural hat-trick in the second period to put the Flyers on top for the first time in the game. Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin, and Lucic had the three goals for Boston.

Nathan Horton left the game at some point in the third period for unknown reasons.

Fatigue began to set in for both teams as the physical play slightly continued. At the same time, both teams had several chances to score. It was David Krejci that tied the game at four after tipping the puck in off of a shot by Rich Peverley. Gregory Campbell later poked a goal in to put the B's back on top.

The Flyers tied the game up once again with the help from the power play. The game ended up going into overtime. After a scoreless overtime, Tim Thomas came up huge in the shootout by stopping two shots. Krejci and Seguin had the shootout goals for the Bruins. Boston won this game by a score of 6-5

The Bruins have one last game before the All-Star break. It will be this Tuesday night on the road against the Washington Capitals.

Gold Star: Milan Lucic (Gordie Howe hat-trick)...Solid game for the winger.

Black Star: Joe Corvo...When is enough enough already?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Game Forty Five: B's Battle For Eastern Conference Supremacy

The TD Garden played host to matinee hockey on Saturday afternoon. The Bruins took on the New York Rangers in a battle for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers stole this victory with four seconds remaining in overtime to cap off a 3-2 win.

After a scoreless first period, both teams scored two goals each in the second period. Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik netted the goals for the Rangers and Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid had the goals for the Bruins. It was not until Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves with Mike Rupp that Boston finally woke up.

Tuukka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist were brilliant in this contest. They set the tone for how the game was going to be played throughout. The game was fast-moving and physical, which was expected in a game that featured the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

In the overtime, Ference got called with a charging penalty and a game misconduct. There was no need for him to lay out Ryan McDonagh the way he did. We should expect a suspension coming from the NHL because he deserves one. Now we will finally get the chance to see Steven Kampfer play, under an unfortunate circumstance of course.

The B's will be right back in action Sunday afternoon when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers.

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask (30 saves on 33 shots, 3 goals allowed, .909 save percentage)...Yes he did give up the three goals, but the way he played in this game was superb. Do the Bruins fianlly have a goalie controversy?

Black Star: Dennis Seidenberg...He was on the ice for two of the three Rangers goals. He always falls out of site in big games and today was no different.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Game Forty Four: B's Contiune Dominance of Atlantic Division

The Bruins capped off their four-game road trip on Thursday night when they took on the New Jersey Devils. Boston had won their previous two meetings with the Devils coming into this game.

For the first time in almost a week, the Bruins lineup returned to full strength as both Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley skated in this game. Marchand was suspended five games for his hit on Canucks defenseman Sami Salo and Peverley missed the last two games for personal reasons.

The team sure has missed their speed. These two players usually provide that injection of energy all game long. They needed it for this contest against New Jersey who sits in third place in the Atlantic Division. Boston has had success against Atlantic Division teams this season, winning six straight. The last time they lost to an Atlantic Division team was opening night against the Philadelphia Flyers.

We saw a fast-paced opening period between the two teams. Nathan Horton almost beat Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur on three separate occasions. However, it was New Jersey who ended up scoring first when Petr Sykora wrapped the puck around the net and shot it past Tim Thomas.

After a scoreless second period that was dominated by the Devils, Boston looked to get off to a good start in the final 20 minutes. That certainly was the case since the B's scored three goals within the first eight minutes. Horton, Andrew Ference, and Gregory Campbell had the tallies. Campbell finished the game with the Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist, and a fighting major).

The Devils seemed to just give up on this game as it progressed. They kept turning the puck over to the Bruins allowing them to get more scoring chances. Chris Kelly added an empty-net goal to seal a 4-1 Bruins victory. Thomas made 30 saves on 31 shots.

Boston will return home for their next game on Saturday afternoon against the New York Rangers.

Gold Star: Gregory Campbell...A breakout game for the fourth-line center recording the Gordie Howe hat trick.

Black Star: Brad Marchand...He was clearly a little rusty in this one but give him some time and we should see him back to form soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Game Forty Three: Bruins Drop Game In Tampa

After coming off a shootout victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday night, the Bruins traveled a little further upstate to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was the second meeting between the two teams this season.

What is going on with the Bolts? Prior to Tuesday's game with the B's, Tampa was in last place in the Eastern Conference. They do have Steven Stamkos who leads the league in goals. However, they have the worst goals against average in the league, allowing 3.5 goals a game.

Across the sheet, Boston has been struggling even though their record does not show it. They really have not been clicking for the past few games now. Specifically, Bruins head coach Claude Julien called out Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic for not picking up their games lately. Would this turn out to be motivation or demoralizing?

Tim Thomas was back in net for Boston. Rich Peverley missed his second consecutive game due to a personal matter. He will likely miss the next two games as well. Zach Hamill and Jordan Caron skated with Chris Kelly once again.

Boston had a terrible opening period. The offense only got most of their shots when they had two power plays and the defense was straight up awful. The poor play was evident in the way that they allowed Tampa Bay to score the only goal of the period. Vincent Lecavalier tapped in the puck past Thomas after three Bruins players failed to clear it out of the crease.

The Lightning continued their momentum into the second period as they started off with a power play. Once the Bruins killed it off, the momentum started to shift. Horton scored two goals in the period. Looks like the words of Julien motivated him after all. The B's, however, had a mental lapse that turned into a Tampa Bay goal. Tom Pyatt put the puck past Thomas after a turnover by Boston.

The Lightning proved to be too much for the Bruins as they went on to score three goals in the final 20 minutes. Ryan Malone, Dominic Moore, and Stamkos (empty net) recorded the tallies for the Bolts. Daniel Paille had a short-handed goal for Boston but it was not enough. The Bruins dropped this game by a score of 5-3.

Tampa Bay snapped their seven-game losing streak at the expense of the Bruins. Also, the B's suffered their first loss of the season when Andrew Ference records a point as he had an assist on Horton's second goal.

The Bruins will be back in action Thursday night when they take on the New Jersey Devils.

Gold Star: Nathan Horton...All he really needs is a boost of confidence for him to get his game going again.

Black Star: Joe Corvo...He was trying to do too much by chasing the puck around and causing turnovers. Can we please see Steven Kampfer play?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Game Forty Two: B's Avoid Losing Two In A Row

The Bruins took on the Florida Panthers on Monday night for their second game of a four-game road trip. This was also the first of six games that the B's will play in a nine night span.

The Panthers have been struggling recently, surrendering their once commanding lead over the Southeast Division. They now only own a one point lead over the surging Washington Capitals.

As for Boston, they skated without Rich Peverley in this game due to a personal issue. As a result, Chris Kelly was paired up with Jordan Caron and Zach Hamill. It was good to see young players like Caron and Hamill get an opportunity to skate with a veteran like Kelly even though B's head coach Claude Julien mixed up the lines a little bit as the game went on.

The Bruins really came out strong in the opening period as they established their presence in all three zones of the ice. Even though Boston only got six shots on Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen, they still controlled much of the possession. The switching of the defensive pairs contributed to it as well.

Patrice Bergeron scored his 13th goal of the season at 1:20 of the period on a great shot from the top of the zone. Benoit Pouliot and Tyler Seguin had the assists. Daniel Paille got into his second career fight with Ed Jovanovski after he hit Paille with an incidental elbow. Tuukka Rask was great in the first period, stopping all 12 shots he faced.

Florida picked up the pace and scored two goals in the second period. The first goal was scored by Jason Garrison, who shot the puck and it deflected in off of Dennis Seidenberg. Shawn Matthias scored the second goal when he skated out of the penalty box and beat Rask on the breakaway. Bergeron netted his second goal of the game (a five-on-three power play goal) in between the two Florida goals.

It seemed as if the B's defense broke down as the game went on. On the other hand, the forwards put heavy pressure on the Panthers defense, Seguin in particular. His speed was a problem for the Panthers all night.

In the third period, all four lines were clicking for Boston. They all played very physical and they had several chances to put the game away. Rask made some good saves down the stretch as he finished the game with 38 of them. The score was tied at two at the end of sixty minutes.

Both teams headed to a shootout after no winner was decided in the five minute overtime. Even though his 11 game point streak came to an end in this game, David Krejci had the game-winning shootout goal in the fourth round. Boston sealed the victory with a 3-2 shootout victory. They are now 5-0-1 in games that go beyond regulation this season.

The Bruins will be back on the ice Tuesday night when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gold Star: Patrice Bergeron (2 goals, plus-1 rating, 6 shots on goal)...Do you think he was a little upset about not being named to the All-Star game?

Black Star: Andrew Ference...He committed too much in the offensive zone, which turned into fast breakaways by the Panthers.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Game Forty One: Marchand's Absence Shows In B's Loss

The Bruins kicked off a four-game road trip on Saturday when they traveled to Raleigh to take on the Carolina Hurricanes. This was game three of Brad Marchand's five game suspension. Coming into the game, Carolina was one point ahead of the last place New York Islanders whereas Boston was one point back of the first place New York Rangers. You can say that is an Eastern Conference mismatch.

When these two teams get together, it is anything but a mismatch. The last time the Bruins faced the Canes was during that stretch when they went 3-7-0 in the first month of the season. Boston lost their cool and took some ridiculous penalties that pretty much forfeited their shot to win the game. What have they done since then? They have gone 25-4-1. Not too bad right?

Two veteran goaltenders shined in this game as Tim Thomas opposed Cam Ward. Zach Hamill and Steven Kampfer were the scratches for Boston.

Even though the opening period was scoreless, the Bruins seemed to control the puck slightly more than the Hurricanes. Ever since the game against the Canucks, the Bruins seemed to have lost their edge. They shook that off a bit in the opening period, yet they did not really have a great scoring chance against Ward.

The B's finally broke through in the second period on a goal by Patrice Bergeron. Johnny Boychuk blasted a shot on goal that was saved by Ward but it produced a rebound for Bergeron to tap in. Carolina tied the game at the midway point of the period when Patrick Dwyer deflected a shot by Brandon Sutter past Thomas.

The Hurricanes put heavy pressure on Boston and there were times when they could not even leave their own defensive zone without turning the puck over. If it was not for Thomas coming up with some huge stops, the score would not have been tied.

Milan Lucic put the Bruins back on top less than two minutes into the third period. David Krejci had an assist on the goal, extending his point streak to 11 games. The rest of the game belonged to the Canes. They scored three unanswered goals (one of them being an empty net goal) and Ward made some great stops to shut down the Bruins. Carolina gets the victory in this game with a score of 4-2.

The B's will continue their East Coast road trip on Monday night when they skate against the Florida Panthers.

Gold Star: Patrice Bergeron (1 goal, 4 shots on goal, 61.1% face-offs won)...He was snubbed from the NHL All-Star Game for the second straight year. Look for him to have a big week to get some retribution.

Black Star: Rich Peverley...His speed was a non-factor in this game, which was surprising to see.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Game Forty: Bruins Lucky To Escape Wtih Win Over Habs

The Bruins knocked off the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night at the TD Garden by a score of 2-1. Jordan Caron and Milan Lucic had the goals for the Bruins. Tim Thomas made 33 saves on 34 shots. David Krejci extended his point streak to 10 games with an assist on Lucic's goal.

Caron was called back up from Providence earlier Thursday morning as he was expected to get the start. Zach Hamill was a healthy scratch along with Steven Kampfer.

Neither team deserved to win this game to be completely honest. I have never seen a Bruins team play as sloppy as they did against Montreal on Thursday night. On Caron's goal, the puck took a weird bounce off the boards and bounced in front of Caron. Since Habs goaltender Carey Price vacated the net in anticipation to grab the puck, Caron essentially had an empty net.

Both teams turned the puck over in their own defensive zone and there was no real established winner in the neutral zone all game.

Yannick Weber scored the lone Montreal goal on the power play. It was assisted by Tomas Kaberle and David Desharnais. Montreal initially went on the power play when Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban elbowed Krejci right in the face, causing Andrew Ference to respond. Ference got whistled for a double roughing minor while Subban covered his head and fell to the ground. Typical.

During the game, Mike Cammalleri got traded from Montreal to the Calgary Flames. He was escorted from the locker room during the second intermission to a local Boston hotel. This comes just days after Cammalleri told the media that the team was "playing like a bunch of losers." It looks like the kettle is calling the pot black.

A very sloppy game that Boston was fortunate enough to win. The B's will be back in action on Saturday when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes.

Gold Star: Johnny Boychuk (1 assist, plus-2 rating, 3 hits)...He was the only defenseman who did not have a sloppy game. Solid effort.

Black Star: Adam McQuaid...The puck seemed to skip around on him in this game. He also was not very dominant in the defensive zone.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Game Thirty Nine: No Marchand? No Worries

After a controversial loss on Saturday afternoon to the Vancouver Canucks, a team that is turning into their new rivals north of the boarder, the Bruins were back in action Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets. Boston took this game by a score of 5-3.

Tuukka Rask got the start in goal for Boston. Rask has now won his last six decisions with shutouts in three of his last five. He opposed Ondrej Pavelec, who is still winless playing at the TD Garden.

The opening period consisted of both teams exchanging scoring chances. There were times when the two teams got caught too far up ice and that led to breakaways. Boston definitely had the better chances but they just failed to capitalize on them.

The Jets took the lead at 16:53 of the first period on a shot from Zach Bogosian and deflected in by Andrew Ladd. Nathan Horton netted his 13th goal of the season to tie the game with less than a minute remaining in the period. Milan Lucic and David Krejci had the assists. With the assist, Krejci extended his point streak to nine games.

The Jets nabbed two more goals in the second period. Blake Wheeler and Eric Fehr had the tallies. Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom each finished with two assists for Winnipeg.

Shawn Thornton had a very eventful period as he had a goal and a fight. As he was skating out of the penalty box at the end of a 5-on-3 power play for Winnipeg, he grabbed the puck and pursued the goal but was held along the way. That set up a short-handed penalty shot and he back-handed it past Pavelec. He later dropped the gloves with former Bruin Mark Stuart.

Rask stopped a penalty shot taken by Jets forward Chris Thorburn earlier in the game. This marked the first time in Bruins history that the team had both faced and taken a penalty shot in the same game.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien started to mix up the lines a bit from the second period on. He bumped up Gregory Campbell to the third line and stuck Zack Hamill on the fourth line. The move seemed to work since the B’s started to find their rhythm that created more scoring chances.

The Bruins came out firing in the third period. Horton scored his second goal of the game just eight seconds from the drop of the puck. Once again, Krejci and Lucic had the assists.

Boston dominated the entire period as they made it difficult for Winnipeg to leave their own zone. Tyler Seguin and Benoit Pouliot each added a goal in the period. Seguin’s goal was his first ever point against the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise. Four Bruins players finished the game with two points each.

Solid performances in all three zones and good goaltending down the stretch by Rask contributed to the win. It may have taken until the final period to get it done, but that has been the story of the season so far for Boston.

The B’s will be back in action Thursday night when they welcome in the Montreal Canadiens.

Gold Star: Nathan Horton...He really seems to be feeling it now as he puts his slow start to the season behind him.

Black Star: Joe Corvo...A costly turnover and no production on the power play. It seems to be a recurring thing with him lately.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Marchand Suspended For Five Games

Bruins forward Brad Marchand had his phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan early Monday afternoon in regards to his clip on Vancouver Canucks defenseman Sami Salo. After a lengthy waiting period, the Bruins were informed that Marchand will be suspended for five games.

Marchand has developed a reputation as a player who plays right along that line without crossing over. After Saturday's loss to Vancouver, he may have crossed that line. He will lose over $152,000 in game checks from the absence.

The hit took place with around one minute left in the second period. Marchand and Salo had been jousting and shoving each other earlier in the shift. As the puck was wrapped around the boards, both players skated after it and Marchand went low with a clip. A five minute major and a game misconduct was issued. The Canucks went on to score two goals during the five minute power play en route to their 4-3 victory over the B's.

As far as the hit is concerned, it was a horrible hit. There was no need for him to go after Salo's legs the way he did. Some would argue that the two players were getting into it earlier in the shift and Marchand thought Salo was going to come head hunting for him. However, if you watch the replay you will notice that Salo had his eyes directly on the puck, not Marchand. Salo allegedly received a concussion on the play.

Should he have been suspended for the hit? Absolutely. Is five games too much? Possibly. Shanahan took into account that Marchand is a repeat offender. Earlier this season, he was fined $2,500 for slew-footing Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen. He was also suspended two games last season for elbowing Columbus Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger.

Since it was a phone hearing, the suspension could not have exceeded five games anyway.

No one should pay attention to what the Vancouver staff and players are saying about Marchand because they are a bunch of hypocrites. But the kid has to learn. If a player from another team clipped a member of the Bruins, we all would be outraged. It is not right for someone to throw a hit like that no matter what team they play for.

The Bruins have to put this behind them. In fact, they are probably the only team that can do that due to their great depth. Boston will be back in action Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets. Marchand is eligible to return from his suspension on January 19th when the B's play the New Jersey Devils.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Game Thirty Eight: The Canucks Got Their "Revenge"

Saturday afternoon was the rematch of last year's Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks. No big deal right? Well, not so much.

This was hyped as everything but a normal game. It is a horrid habit by the media, but they had every right to build it up as a showdown.

The antics that Vancouver pulled in that nationally televised series disgraced their franchise just a little bit. The Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton. The "biting incident" between Alex Burrows and Patrice Bergeron. The "pumping" of Tim Thomas' tires. The Jannik Hanson crotch shot on Adam McQuaid. For your information, that was just to name a few.

The Bruins would not see all of the faces that they encountered last June in this game. Rome was out with a broken thumb and Boston College graduate Cory Schneider got the start in goal over Roberto Luongo, which was a surprise move by Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. Luongo had won three out of his last five starts. However, he was lit up in the Stanley Cup Finals by the B's.

Tim Thomas started in goal for Boston. Brad Marchand made his return to the lineup after missing Thursday's game with flu-like symptoms.

Just four minutes into the game, fans saw gloves and sticks on the ice. Shawn Thornton slashed Burrows as he was exiting the ice, causing Burrows to respond. Thornton went back after Burrows and was met by six Canucks. Both teams were in the middle of a line change so that is the reason for the odd man situation.

Maxim Lapierre jumped in and starting throwing cheap shots like the tough guy that he is (sarcastic tone).
Milan Lucic came off the bench during the scrum and that led to him receiving a game misconduct. If you watched the replay, Henrik Sedin (one of the six Canucks involved with Thornton) left the ice before Lucic came off the bench so the game misconduct was necessary. The call was later rescinded after the game. Horton and Gregory Campbell had two separate fights in the opening period.

When the Bruins were skating five-on-five (eight minutes or so), all they were really doing was playing dump and chase throwing hits along the way. Vancouver responded by capitalizing on a five-on-three power play. Ryan Kesler put the Canucks on the board first after putting a deflected shot behind Thomas. Marchand tied the game after a great pass from Tyler Seguin.

The Vancouver defense played very sloppy in the second period. There were three different occasions when the Bruins had a breakaway with the goaltender. Daniel Paille even got interfered with during one of them and was allowed a penalty shot, which was eventually saved by Schneider.

Boston began to settle in and started playing their game. Rich Peverley put the B's on top at 7:12 of the second period. The goal came after Benoit Pouliot realized an icing was waived off and pursued the puck to get it to Peverley. The Canucks grabbed two power play goals toward the end of the period to take the lead back. Burrows and H. Sedin had the tallies.

Vancouver had a continued five minute power play into the third period due to the major clipping penalty called against Marchand. He hit Sami Salo low at the knees and it appeared that Salo was injured on the play. Cody Hodgson put another power play goal past Thomas during the remaining penalty time.

David Krejci brought the B's back within one but they failed to capitalize on a late six-on-four man advantage. Boston dropped this game by a score of 4-3.

Throughout the game the referees were kicking people out of the face-off dot left and right. The refs had nothing to do with this loss though. Over 100 penalty minutes between the two teams. The Bruins will have to go forward with suspensions likely coming their way.

The B's will be back in action Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets at the TD Garden.

Gold Star: Nathan Horton...What a physical and aggressive game he played in this one.

Black Star: Tim Thomas...Four goals is four goals even if they are on the power play.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Game Thirty Seven: Bruins Put Out The Flames

Just one day removed from a stomping of the New Jersey Devils, the Bruins were back in action Thursday night at the TD Garden. They played host to the Calgary Flames, a team that Boston will only see once this season.

Fans might remember the last time that the B's took on the Flames during the 2010-11 season. They knocked off Calgary in the middle of a six-game road trip in which they went 6-0-0. The only other time that a Bruins team has gone 6-0-0 on a road trip was during the 1971-72 season. What do those two teams have in common? Both teams won a Stanley Cup.

The Flames are a tough team that will always battle their opponent hard. They have a stud in Jarome Iginla who came into the game looking for his 500th career goal. In order to get that illusive tally, he would have had to do it against Tuukka Rask who started in goal for the Black and Gold.

Brad Marchand was scratched from the lineup due to flu-like symptoms. Benoit Pouliot took his place on the second line and Zach Hamill played on the third line in Pouliot's usual spot.

We should not be surprised by something like this anymore, but the Bruins dominated the opening period. Tyler Seguin scored his 16th goal of the season just 1:14 into the game. Milan Lucic put the B's up 2-0 after the puck took a ridiculous bounce off of Olli Jokinen and past Flames goaltender Leland Irving. David Krejci added a power play goal later in the period to extend his point streak to seven games.

The Bruins made the Flames play chase all around the ice in the opening period because they controlled most of the puck possession. There was not that many fast rushes up ice. Instead, Boston took their time and brought the puck up ice at a slower pace. That strategy worked out quite well I would say.

In the second period, Calgary got more shots on Rask as the Bruins defense played somewhat loose. As far as the offense, they picked up right where they left off. Nathan Horton scored a pair and Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly scored a goal each. Zdeno Chara recorded his 300th career assist on Horton's first goal.

Miikka Kiprusoff replaced Irving in the Calgary net after the Bruins netted their sixth goal of the game.

Both teams just looked for the game to be over once the third period came along. The Flames had a power play but that only led to a short-handed goal by Daniel Paille. Bergeron added another goal for his second of the game.

The Bruins went on to win this game by a score of 9-0. Rask stopped all 25 shots he faced for his 11th career shutout. Twelve Bruins players finished with at least one point. Five of them had three point nights (Seguin, Horton, Bergeron, Krejci, Pouliot).

Getting the win in this game was a great way to kick off a four-game homestand. The Bruins next game will be this Saturday afternoon when they take on the Vancouver Canucks in a much anticipated showdown.

Gold Star: Patrice Bergeron (2 goals, 1 assist, plus-3 rating, 2 shots on goal, 76.5% face-offs won)...He earned this one for sure.

Black Star: Shawn Thornton...It looked like he took a couple of shifts off in this game.

Tim Thomas Voted Into All-Star Game

Tim Thomas was just informed Thursday morning that he was voted into this year's NHL All-Star Game as the starting goaltender. Thus far, Thomas has posted a 17-6-0 record with a 1.90 goals against average and a .940 save percentage. This is a well-deserved honor giving the stats he has posted.

Thomas was one of six players to be informed that they have made the All-Star Game roster. Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman and captain Dion Phaneuf also made the roster. The other four players are all members of the Ottawa Senators.

Milan Michalek leads the team with 19 goals and has been a big surprise for the Sens. Erik Karlsson leads the team with a whopping 32 assists. These two players have earned the right to make the top six in voting. However, veterans Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson are somewhat skeptical to me.

Spezza does have 40 points and Aldredsson has returned this season very strong after missing much of last season due to injury. But keep in mind that the game is in Ottawa and the fan voting may have something to due with it.

The four Ottawa players are great athletes, especially Michalek and Karlsson. Do I think that Spezza and Alfredsson deserve to make the top six over players like Pavel Datsyuk or Mikko Koivu? Not at all.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Game Thirty Six: B's Open Up 2012 With Win Over Devils

The Bruins opened up this very tough week in the schedule with a game Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils. Boston routed New Jersey by a score of 6-1. Boston (51 points) now pulls within one point of the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers (52 points).

The Devils got on the board first when David Clarkson scored a power play goal set up by Zack Parise. The two ran a break-away after the Bruins got caught playing a little too far up ice when they were supposed to be conservatively killing a penalty. Tim Thomas looked like that he could have stopped the shot as well.

The B's went on to beat Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur for six unanswered goals. Patrice Bergeron scored two beauties, one of them was unassisted. David Krejci had a goal and assisted another to Nathan Horton. Yes, Horton got credit for the goal, but it was the perfect pass from Krejci that set it up. It was such a good pass that even I could have scored Horton's goal.

Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton also contributed to the score sheet with a goal each. Dennis Seidenberg and Milan Lucic each recorded two assists. Thomas made 30 saves on 31 shots.
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The Bruins were in complete control of this one. They played very tight defense which forced New Jersey to commit 17 turnovers. They also controlled the face-off dot, winning more than half of the draws (30-12). Boston played consistent throughout the entire game and that is something that needs to be done all the time. Getting off to slow starts will not always work out.

The Bruins are back in action Thursday night back at home when they welcome in the Calgary Flames.

Gold Star: David Krejci (1 goal, 1 assist, plus-1 rating, 2 shots on goal, 76.5% face-offs won).

Black Star: Benoit Pouliot...He came up small against a team that he has had success against in the past. Taking a 10 minute misconduct penalty did not help his case either.