Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:51 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 12:54 am
There's always a winner and a loser in the NHL, and this is a new nightly look at some of the winners and losers in the biggest games and biggest situations across the league.
Los Angeles Kings: Entering Tuesday's game in Nashville it had been nearly three full months since the Los Angeles Kings scored five goals in a single game, and they managed to do it for the first time since January 9 in a 5-4 win against the Predators thanks in part to a pair of first period goals from Justin Williams.
The Kings offense, which has been the worst in the league for much of the season, is finally starting to show some signs of life in recent weeks and they have now scored 16 goals over their past five games.
Regression to the mean works both ways, and perhaps it was only a matter of time until things started to improve. A team with Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty never should be one of the worst offensive teams in recent NHL history, as the Kings have been this season.
[Related Kings 5, Predators 4]
Boston Bruins: It wasn't necessarily pretty, but after losing back-to-back games over the weekend the Bruins were able to get back in the win column on Tuesday night with a 5-4 win in Toronto. The Bruins were led offensively by Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron, each scoring a pair of goals, and the win allows them to maintain their three-point lead over the Ottawa Senators, 7-3 winners in Tampa Bay, in the Northeast Division race.
The next step for the Bruins is trying to figure out how to do something they haven't done in almost two months … win consecutive games.
They have another chance on Thursday night against Buffalo.
[Related: Bruins 5, Maple Leafs 4]
Ilya Bryzgalov and the Flyers: For the second straight game Ilya Bryzgalov came up big for the Flyers, stopping 37 of the 39 shots he faced in a 3-2 win over the Red Wings. Max Talbot continued his career year for the Flyers scoring his 18th goal of the season. The only downside of the night for the Flyers was the hit forward Jakub Voracek received from Niklas Kronwall.
[Related: Flyers 3, Red Wings 2 -- Voracek crushed by Kronwall -- Grossmann's name change]
Dallas Stars: The Stars took over sole possession of first place on Tuesday night with an impressive 5-2 win in Vancouver, and in the process completed a perfect three-game road trip through western Canada, a road trip that saw them outscore the Flames, Oilers and Canucks by a 10-5 margin. Thanks to the Coyotes loss in Columbus (more on that below) the Stars now have a two-point lead over Phoenix in the Pacific Division race.
Mike Ribeiro had a three-point night (two goals, assist) in the win and also won over 50 percent of his faceoffs, while Richard Bachman 29 of 31 shots.
Phoenix Coyotes: After putting together an 11-0-1 run in February some regression had to be expected for the Coyotes at some point. They weren't going to keep winning forever, and even though they entered Tuesday's game riding a three-game losing streak, they showed some signs of busting out of their mini-slump on Monday night.
But that was all erased on Tuesday in Columbus where they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Blue Jackets, losing to the 30th ranked team in the NHL for the second time in less than a week. Those are points you can not let slip away, and the last thing the Coyotes can afford right now is to have this turn into a five or six game losing streak.
[Related: Blue Jackets 3, Coyotes 2 -- For Coyotes, playoffs have already started]
Toronto Maple Leafs: What started as a positive day with the re-signing of forward Mikhail Grabovski ended with not only a loss on the scoreboard to the Bruins, their fifth in a row this season, but also included injuries to forwards Joffrey Lupul and Colby Armstrong, neither of which is expected to play Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Not good.
[Related: Leafs re-sign Grabovski]
Photo: Getty Images
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Tags: Adam Gretz, Anze Kopitar, Boston Bruins, Colby Armstrong, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jakub Voracek, Jason Williams, Joffrey Lupul, Jordan Caron, Los Angeles Kings, Max Talbot, Mike Richards, Mikhail Grabovski, Nashville Predators, Niklas Kronwall, Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Seguin
Posted on: February 14, 2012 4:43 pm
So I know you're going to have a hard time finishing reading this sentence from your high level of shock, but Brad Marchand didn't partake in the Bruins Stanley Cup DVD interviews because he was ... wait for it ... too drunk.
That revelation -- if you want to call it that -- comes courtesy of Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber who recently profiled the pesky player for the Bruins.
For those that remember that legendary Bruins post-Cup romp back in New England, this doesn't come as a surprise. Heck, even if you don't remember that it shouldn't be a surprise. Two young hockey players (we'll leave out the underage part, we know most people have taken some of those liberties) getting smashed? Heck, just another off day, right? Add in the Stanley Cup celebration on top of it? It's no big deal.
What it does do, though, is add to the legend that is becoming Brad Marchand. From his numerous nicknames including his favorite of Nose Face Killah to timely goals, in-game actions and children's hospital visits it hasn't taken him long at all to give himself a reputation, mixed to be sure.
My question after this bombshell is if Marchand was sober or not when he made his rapping debut? After this Farber story, I sure hope not.
It might also help explain that tattoo flub Marchand had this summer to commemorate the Bruins' big victory.
Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this other little nugget from the Farber story about Marchand's suspension of five games for clipping Sami Salo.
Through everything, that Bruins-Canucks rivalry stays alive. It's one of the most intense yet infrequent rivalries I remember seeing.
Yes, Marchand is a character. There can't be any doubt of that after his not even two full seasons in the NHL.
Posted on: January 27, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 3:39 pm
When it comes to All-Star Games, the NHL is probably in the middle. It's certainly a notch below the holy grail of games, baseball's Midsummer Classic, but it's undoubtedly ahead of football's Pro Bowl. Like the NBA's version, defense isn't even optional, it's pretty much discouraged.
So truth be told, people don't watch the All-Star Game for the hockey. Really, mid-week games featuring the Blue Jackets and Oilers will provide a better game (not necessarily entertainment, however). Instead, fans watch it for the Stars , the chance to see their favorite players.
Or to see things we never get the chance to see.
Thanks to the Fantasy Draft, the possibilities exist for some squeamish line combinations that wouldn't otherwise have been feasible. Such as Bruins playing with Canucks. However seeing as one of the two captains was a Bruin, we missed out on some golden opportunity to have Zdeno Chara paired with Alex Edler while playing with Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Tyler Seguin in front of them with Tim Thomas in net. Oh, if Chara could have only seen the potential.
What Chara did end up doing was drafting a host of right wingers, making this pre-draft incredibly awkward exchange all the more apropos.
With all that said, thanks to our Line Mixmaster 3000 (patent pending) we were able to come up with some interesting lines with the teams that were selected -- and some lines that make you go "meh." Hey, you can't win them all.
(Do note we had to execute some position changes to get four even lines. But to Joffrey Lupul and Daniel Alfredsson: I see what you did. Lupul only helped Chara draft one left winger and Alfredsson only picked one right winger. Sorry fellas, you can't triple shift.)
Let's start with Team Alfredsson, considering he's the host and all.
As Seen in Ottawa line: Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson. Intrigue? Nah, there's not a whole lot on this one, frankly. Senators fans can see these guys together most every night. But you have an entire line of guys not out of position in their hometown ... it's a lock. But hopefully they keep the mic on Spezza during the game like he had it on in the draft and this time we can hear a full-out laugh. That's interesting enough.
Third Wheel line: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Logan Couture. OK, I'll relent and keep the Sedins together. The best third wheel for them is Couture. You have the whole Predators of the sea thing (Canucks' killer whale vs. the Sharks), the little rivalry between their teams and, well, just another way to pick on Couture a little bit after he was Mr. Irrelevant. Sorry Henrik, I don't think you're going to get those better players to play with this year (It's OK, Daniel, you can smile!).
I Believe I Can Fly line: Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, John Tavares. I had a harder time naming this line than any of the others (no doubt it shows). But the Flyers connection is pretty clear and they get an Atlantic Division friend in the mix in Tavares, somebody who has wheels that just might inspire Hartnell to try and skate faster and contribute to the Hartnell Down-O-Meter. Tavares converts to the wing to make it happen, a pretty easy transition from center.
The Forgotten line: James Neal, Steven Stamkos, Jason Pominville. Neal was the guy who the NHL just didn't seem to want to invite. It took the last replacement spot for Neal to get the call despite being second in the league in goals scored. Stamkos is the only guy with more goals than Neal and yet he's such a quiet superstar that some might not even be aware of that fact. As for Pominville? Well it's been a forgettable season in Buffalo so far, so he fits in here.
Defensive pairings: This is really a hodgepodge of names when put together, there's not a whole lot that screams out for obvious potential pairings. So I've got Shea Weber with Alex Edler (Western Conference the tie that binds), Erik Karlsson with Kris Letang (excessive use of the letter K) and Dan Girardi with Keith Yandle (ummm, they were each in that game that was won with 0.1 seconds left this season).
Now on to Team Chara. Here are the lines that we can put together, seeking maximum intrigue.
Cyborg line: Corey Perry, Pavel Datsyuk, Jarome Iginla. The cyborg obviously references the man in the middle, but it also includes one of the league's ageless wonders in Iginla plus a guy with a connection to Disney. Hey, we have to make some stretches. The only person out of position here is Perry, being forced to the left wing because of Chara's right-side glut.
Miss-match line: Jamie Benn, Evgeni Malkin, Marian Gaborik. Yea, there isn't a whole lot of connections with this line except Malkin and Gaborik are both from Eastern Europe. But hey, good for Benn to play his first game in weeks alongside the best player in the NHL the last couple of weeks in Malkin. He'll take it, I'm sure.
Two Blackhawks and a Kid line: Jordan Eberle, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa. So this line has a couple of players "out of position" but Kane is no stranger to center. We had to convert somebody to the middle and he's the easy pick seeing that he's played there this season. He gets to be alongside his Chicago buddy Hossa. Poor Eberle, he might not get to see the puck with these two guys. That won't make his fan club president (on the right) too happy.
Blackhawks and ladies? No doubt this will be Joey the Junior Reporter's favorite line to follow.
The Awkward line: Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Seguin, Phil Kessel. We saved the best for last. Yes, consider this the coup-de-grace of interesting lines. The two players -- Seguin and Kessel -- who will forever be tied to each other thanks to the trade between the Maple Leafs and Bruins, alongside another Leaf in Lupul.
“I said ‘Kess, I think we’re linemates,'" Seguin said to Kessel on Thursday (from the Boston Herald). "He said ‘That be cool. I think the media would like it.’”
Yes, Phil, yes we would.
Defensive pairings: Well we have to put Chara with Dion Phaneuf. Again, it's the Leafs-Bruins angle but also two of the more fearsome defensemen in the league. Good pairing. Ryan Suter gets paired with Kimmo Timmonen so they can find out if there is any chemistry there in case Philly is Suter's landing spot if he's traded. That leaves Brian Campbell to pair with Dennis Wideman. All I got here is Campbell is a current Panthers defenseman and Wideman used to be one.
As for a goalie to be mic'd up like Cam Ward was last year? I'm going to vote for Carey Price. Hey, any guy that does a campaign video like this and nearly spits his drink out when he's picked in the draft is probably entertaining enough to help carry the event for a period.
Enjoy the game. It will be a lot easier with some of the above intrigue. But please, leave your gripes about the lack of defense at home, we all know it's sorely lacking.
Tags: 2012 All-Star Game, Alex Edler, Alex Edler, Boston Bruins, Brian Campbell, Brian Stubits, Carey Price, Chicago Blackhawks, Claude Giroux, Corey Perry, Dan Girardi, Daniel Alfredsson, Daniel Sedin, Dennis Wideman, Dion Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Sedin, James Neal, Jamie Benn, Jarome Iginla, Jason Pominville, Jason Spezza, Joffrey Lupul, John Tavares, Jordan Eberle, Keith Yandle, Kimmo Timmonen, Kris Letang, Logan Couture, Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators, Patrick Kane, Pavel Datsyuk, Phil Kessel, Ryan Suter, Scott Hartnell, Shea Weber, Steven Stamkos, Tim Thomas, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Seguin, Vancouver Canucks, Zdeno Chara
Posted on: January 26, 2012 9:23 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 11:42 am
By: Adam Gretz
We knew which players were going to be taking part in the All-Star game this season, but we had no idea which team they would be playing for and who they would be playing against. It was all settled in Ottawa on Thursday night as Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson and Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, the two captains for this year's game, made their selections as you can see below in the order they were picked.
Chara won the coin toss and ended up with the first selection and chose Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk, and continued to load up on offense in the early rounds going with Evgeni Malkin, Marian Hossa and Phil Kessel.
Kessel, of course, was the last pick in the All-Star draft a year ago, but went in the eighth round this season. The last man standing this season was San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture.
Two developments that should not have been a surprise to anybody: First, The Vancouver-Boston rivalry that started in last year's Stanley Cup Finals, and carried over into this season as we saw in their regular season matchup a couple of weeks ago, continued on as Chara did not pick a single Canuck.
That means that unlike last year when they were split up, the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, will play on the same team as they've always done throughout their time in the NHL.
Also not a surprise: Alfredsson made sure to pick every Senator in the game, ending up with Erik Karlsson (his first pick), Jason Spezza (his second pick) and Milan Michalek.
More NHL All-Star Game Coverage
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Tags: 2012 All-Star Game, Adam Gretz, Alex Edler, Boston Bruins, Brian Campbell, Carey Price, Claude Giroux, Corey Perry, Dan Girardi, Daniel Alfredsson, Daniel Sedin, Dennis Wideman, Dion Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Henrik Sedin, James Neal, Jarome Iginla, Jason Pominville, Jason Spezza, Jimmy Howard, Joffrey Lupul, Jonathan Quick, Jordan Eberle, Keith Yandle, Kimmo Timonen, Kris Letang, Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators, Patrick Kane, Pavel Datsyuk, Phil Kessel, Ryan Suter, Scott Hartnell, Steven Stamkos, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin, Vancouver Canucks, Zdeno Chara
Posted on: January 26, 2012 2:17 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 2:29 pm
I only speak for myself -- obviously -- but the draft has already become my favorite part about the All-Star weekend. It's entertaining, fun and even has some suspense. The game itself that finishes the weekend might not have any of those three features working for it.
Last year's inaugural draft in Carolina was clearly a success, that's why it's coming back this year. It's just like sitting at home plate waiting for the kickball on the mound to call your name in elementary school recess. Who doesn't look back at those days fondly (don't answer that)?
Unfortunately, some of the suspense of the event is taken away though as there are some predictable elements to the draft. You already know that captains will stick to their real-life teammates. For example, Daniel Alfredsson has already made it very clear that his first pick will no doubt be his defensive teammate with the Senators, Erik Karlsson.
The draft will take part on Thursday night at 8 ET on NBC Sports Network (here's a guide to the whole weekend courtesy of Puck the Media). It was moved up one day this year to take place on Thursday instead of Friday. Don't forget that.
With all that said, here's a guide of what to look for in the draft.
Sens will go fast: This one is a guarantee. One of them is a captain. Another one will go to Team Alfredsson likely on his first pick. The others (Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek) could very well be headed to Team Alfredsson early too. It's the hometown team with a hometown captain, he's not going to let those guys sit in the pool for very long.
Same goes for the Bruins: I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and say Tim Thomas will be the first goaltender picked, and he'll go to Team Chara. That's especially the case when you consider Team Alfredsson already has a goaltender in assistant captain Henrik Lundqvist. Tyler Seguin isn't going to last long with Chara picking either. You have to take care of your own, you know?
Kessel won't go last: There was a chance when the captains were named that you thought Phil Kessel could possibly fall to the bottom of the draft again and be Mr. Irrelevant even with the solid season he's having. But then Maple Leafs teammate Joffrey Lupul was named the assistant to Zdeno Chara and he'll likely lobby for Chara to forget some old feud and select Kessel for their team.
But one of these guys will: The pool for guys going last is pretty easy to narrow down. It's going to be a forward (rules require goalies and defensemen to go by a certain round) who is the lone representative from his team and is on the lower-profile side. That knocks out big scorers (Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry) and veterans (Jarome Iginla). That leaves five guys (not burgers and fries) to choose from -- placed in my order of least likely to go last to most likely.
John Tavares -- I think he's easiest to cross off seeing that he plays center. He's safe.
Logan Couture -- A couple weeks ago he was my pick when the teams were announced but some later additions make him safe in my mind.
Jamie Benn -- The only Stars player, the All-Star Game will actually be his first game in a couple of weeks after an appendectomy. That could actually garner him some sympathy. But he's a quiet guy, so we'll see.
Jordan Eberle -- The Oilers forward was one of the late additions because of injury. He's only 21 and in just his second season. There are ingredients for him to be the last one sitting. But as last year showed with Kessel, that can result in a nice parting package.
For the record, the oddsmakers at Bovada (formerly Bodog) have Scott Hartnell the favorite to go last at 6/1, but I think he's safer than the guys above.
Disinterested players: Of course there will be guys who look like this is one of the worst things they've had to do as a professional hockey player. That's pretty much inevitable. It's a distinct possibility the captains could look that way. Sorry, but Alfie and Chara don't exactly scream exuberance.
Boo birds: The battle of Ontario is regaining steam this season, so no doubt Lupul and Kessel will hear some boo birds (and cheers from those Leafs fans who snuck in). Poor Kessel, guy can't catch a break at this thing.
Sedin twins: Will Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin be split up again? Is it possible that Brian Burke was able to keep them together against 29 other teams but the captains can't do it against one other team? This is as good of a chance as any year ... would Chara actually pick a Canucks player?
Hazing: I'm not talking about anything serious here, but remember the things like Alex Ovechkin taking a picture of a lonely Kessel in the seats? Yea, there will be some fun being had among the players. I'm putting money down on Hartnell pulling a prank on somebody in some fashion.
Better yet, it would be better if Hartnell tripped himself after he is picked, like at least one kid does at every graduation ceremony ever hosted. It would add to the legend that is Hartnell Down.
Enjoy the show everyone. It only goes downhill from there this weekend.
More from Eye on Hockey
Tags: 2012 All-Star Game, Alex Ovechkin, Boston Bruins, Brian Stubits, Corey Perry, Daniel Alfredsson, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Lundqvist, Henrik Sedin, Jamie Benn, Jarome Iginla, Jason Pominville, Jason Spezza, Joffrey Lupul, John Tavares, Jordan Eberle, Logan Couture, Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators, Phil Kessel, Scott Hartnell, Steven Stamkos, Tim Thomas, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Seguin, Vancouver Canucks, Zdeno Chara
Posted on: December 30, 2011 1:25 pm
Earlier this week, the St. Louis Blues visited Joe Louis Arena and battled the Detroit Red Wings in one of the better games of the season. In it, the Wings came back from a two-goal deficit and stung the Blues 3-2.
That was just on Tuesday. Apparently it was so good, they're going to do it again this Saturday, same arena and all.
Two teams playing each other twice in one week isn't rare in hockey. Happens a lot of weekends actually with home-and-home series. But playing twice in one week in the same city? Unless we're in the playoffs, not that common. But the Red Wings won't mind, I'm sure.
In hockey, home-ice advantage doesn't compare all that well to home-court advantage in the NBA, for example. Most teams fare better at home, but it's not as much of a lock as basketball. However for the Red Wings, it is. After beating the Blues on Tuesday, Detroit has won 11 consecutive games at the Joe. Overall this season, the Wings are 14-2-1 at home.
And they want to get rid of that place, huh?
Then again, it's probably a lot more about the team on the ice than where the ice is located, huh? I mean any team that has Pavel Datsyuk has to be good.
The three-time Selke winner and Russian stick wizard took the first-star honors after Tuesday's win, scoring a goal on a fantastic redirection and setting up Detroit's first goal of the game.
The year began a little slowly for Datsyuk -- he didn't score his third goal of the season until No. 19 -- but he's back to old tricks. For the most part, I mean that literally for that's what you think you're seeing when Datsyuk is playing the puck, trickery. He's been in the NHL since 2001 but he still leaves people amazed.
Detroit will be looking for a bit more of that amazing this weekend. Obviously their battles with the Blues have grown this season with St. Louis taking off under Ken Hitchcock. The two teams are separated by only one point in the standings and it sure seems like neither team will go away this season. So all of the head-to-head games are big with the points up for grabs.
If the rematch comes close to being a repeat of the meeting earlier this week, it might still be one the best game this weekend.
Friday night's alright in the Central
That's not the only big interdivision matchup in the Central Division this weekend. Both the Blues and Red Wings have massive matchups on Friday night, including the season's first Blackhawks-Red Wings matchup.
This is the matchup in a very good Central. The two top dogs, big rivals and true Stanley Cup threats. It begins Friday in Chicago.
Meanwhile, the Blues will be tangling with the Nashville Predators in what has become a very nice -- or should I say not nice? -- rivalry in its own right.
These two Friday night showdowns pit four of the West's top six teams against one another (Nashville is tied with the Sharks and Kings with 42 points). More importantly, they are all fighting within the same division.
It's going to be a great weekend of hockey in the Midwest.
At this point it's beyond absurd. The Boston Bruins are in the middle of one of the best stretches in the history of the NHL, and that's not hyperbole. In their last 24 games, Boston is an astounding 21-2-1, including the current seven-game win streak they take to Dallas.
In that time they have obliterated opponents. Eleven of those 21 wins were by a margin of three goals or more. By anybody's definition of dominant, the Bruins fit the bill.
Now they head to Dallas to face the Stars and get a glimpse of an old pal in Michael Ryder. The Stars forward was part of the Stanley Cup champs last season before migrating to Texas in the summer. The Bruins he played for were very good obviously, but not even that team was ever this great.
Of the many amazing things about the Bruins, one is the fact that not one of their players appears in the top 30 of the NHL in points. You have to go to No. 33 on the list to find Tyler Seguin. That's all in spite of the fact that the Bruins have the most productive offense in the league with 3.47 goals per game. Talk about balance. As Stars center Steve Ott would say "look at NHL.com."
While the Philadelphia Flyers are already back in the City of Brotherly Love and waiting to play in Citizen's Bank Park on Monday for the Winter Classic, their foes are making one stop in sunny South Florida first.
The New York Rangers, fresh off a 4-1 loss in Washington to the Capitals, would love to take a win with them into Philly for the game, so they'll take a crack at the Florida Panthers. It's the third meeting between the two teams this season, the most recent a Rangers demolishing of the Panthers in Madison Square Garden. The first meeting came in Sunrise and went to the Panthers.
The good news for Florida is that Stephen Weiss is a game-time decision. The top-line center has missed the past couple of games while the Panthers have made due with almost two lines worth of AHL forwards.
The game is just about as big for the Panthers as it is the Rangers. Florida has been atop the Southeast Division for most of the season, but the Winnipeg Jets have crawled to within four points of the 'Cats for the division lead.
Happy New Year!
Typically, the Winter Classic has been the first game played in the new year in recent seasons. Not this year.
Because of the final Sunday of the NFL season falls on Jan. 1, the Winter Classic -- and majority of the NHL schedule -- has been pushed back to Monday, Jan. 2. But one game will be played on Sunday.
The Calgary Flames will visit the Predators and the two will have the (meaningless) honor of being the first teams to play in 2012. Ring it in, boys.
We're going streaking!
Here are the streaks, good and bad, entering the weekend. Not a whole lot.
Bruins: As mentioned, take that seven-game win streak into Dallas.
Vancouver Canucks: The other Stanley Cup Finalist last season is almost as hot as the Bruins. The Canucks have won three in a row and seven of the last 10. They have a date with the Kings in L.A. on Saturday.
Phoenix Coyotes: Phoenix heads to face the Minnesota Wild as losers of four straight games. The good news? The fourth-place Coyotes are still only two points behind first-place San Jose in the Pacific.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: 2012 Winter Classic, Boston Bruins, Brian Elliott, Brian Stubits, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Ken Hitchcock, Los Angeles Kings, Michael Ryder, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Pavel Datsyuk, Phoenix Coytoes, St. Louis Blues, Stephen Weiss, Tyler Seguin, Vancouver Canucks, Weekend Preview
Posted on: December 6, 2011 8:58 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 9:05 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The Boston Bruins entered Tuesday's game against the Winnipeg Jets as the hottest team in the NHL, and they hit the ice without the services of their leading scorer, Tyler Seguin, as a result of the 19-year-old forward missing a mandatory team meeting and team breakfast earlier in the day, according to general Peter Chiarelli.
Said Chiarelli, via Joe Haggerty of CSNNE on Twitter, "Seguin missed team breakfast and team meeting this morning, an honest mistake, but we have team rules. He has to abide by them." Chiarelli also added that Seguin "didn't take it well," but understands why the rules are in place.
Entering Tuesday's action Seguin, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft, was leading the team with 13 goals and 25 points.
Seguin isn't the first player to be benched this season for missing a team meeting, as Washington's Joel Ward was a healthy scratch a couple of weeks ago because he overslept.
Jordan Caron entered the lineup in Seguin's place on Tuesday.
More Bruins News: Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else
Posted on: December 6, 2011 5:05 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 5:11 pm
By: Adam Gretz
PITTSBURGH -- When discussing the best goalies in the NHL, Boston's Tim Thomas has to be at the top of the list, head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. With two Vezina Trophies and a Stanley Cup on his resume over the past three years, it's hard to argue otherwise. He's once again near the top of the NHL in every category among netminders this season, and he's playing at the top of his game for a Bruins team that continues to play at a level above every other team in the league over the past month.
Thanks to their 3-1 win in Pittsburgh on Monday night, the Bruins won for the 14th time in their past 15 games going back to Nov. 1. The only loss over that stretch came in a shootout against the Detroit Red Wings the day after Thanksgiving, and it was a game that Boston arguably had the upper hand in for much of the day.
Over the past five weeks, they have recorded a point in the standings every time they have stepped on the ice. Right now it's their league, and everybody else just happens to be playing in it.
What's been incredible to watch during this recent run by the defending Stanley Cup champs is that for as well as Thomas has played this season -- and he's been great -- they haven't had to rely on him to carry the load or win games for them on his own. For the season, the Bruins are currently the second-highest scoring team in the NHL -- behind only Philadelphia -- averaging over 3.40 goals per game, nearly a full-goal above the league average. During their 14-0-1 run they've been averaging over four goals per game, and have scored five or more seven times.
That sort of goal support makes life easier for any player in the crease, even one like Thomas that's put up numbers like few others have in the post-lockout NHL.
"It's been easier mentally because you have confidence that your team is going to find a way to come through," said Thomas on Monday night.
"If the team isn't playing well, sometimes the goalie can make the mistake of trying put all the pressure on himself and try to win a game all by himself. But with the team playing the way it has over the past five weeks, you don't have to go into a game feeling like that."
The Bruins' current run came after a sluggish start that was easily attributed to a "Stanley Cup hangover." After the first month of the season they were 3-7 and riding a four-game losing streak that included back-to-back losses to their long-time rivals from Montreal on Oct. 27 and 29.
They haven't lost in regulation since.
"I felt like in the first four weeks, we just weren't ready mentally," said head coach Claude Julien. "Our guys, although they wanted to, that switch hadn't been turned on yet for the season."
"What's been good about it is that we've found our game again, and we seem like we're a group that's excited to play that way every night. It seems like we've gotten up, i guess that good feeling again, and we're willing to do it night after night. That's the difference. We kind of knew what was going on, it wasn't just games, it was practice, it was hard to get ourselves going again. We were slow out of the gate, and the fact that we rebounded that way is pretty impressive for those guys."
The way they're playing is old-school Bruins hockey -- big and bad, tough and physical. They don't back down from anything, and if you punch them in the mouth they're going to come right back at you. And they also have plenty of skill. For as much talk as there is about their two-headed monster in goal with Thomas and Tuukka Rask, or their massive defensemen Zdeno Chara, they're also incredibly deep up front, rolling four lines, all of which can score, and they can play any type of game they need in order to win.
A skilled finese game. Physical. A 6-5 track meet or a 1-0 slug-fest. Whatever they need to do, they can, and will, do it.
Their leading scorer is still a teenager, second-year sensation Tyler Seguin, and Patrice Bergeron has the look of an early-season favorite to take home the Selke Trophy (he finished in the top-five in voting each of the past two seasons), playing the tough minutes and shutting down the oppositions top-players, opening up scoring opportunities for Seguin and the team's other top-scorers. It's difficult to find a weakness right now.
"We've done a good job just coming to play, coming to find a way to win," said Thomas. "We don't know how we're going to win every night, but we're going to do it different ways, with different guys, but all of us together at the same time. It's been pretty nice to be a part of this team over the past month."
"There's been times were we've fell out of exactly how we wanted to play a couple of times during this streak," Thomas later added. "But then at the same time other guys came through with big nights and bailed us out. That's what makes a good team; not everybody is going to be their best every night, but as long as everybody doesn't feel their best on the same night you're going to find a way to come out on top."
And that's all the Bruins are doing right now: coming out on top.
Photo: Getty Images