You’ve just got to watch this to believe it … defenseman Mark Stuart and some of his Boston Bruins teammates rocking out at Sunday’s Wives Carnival.
If you’re still down about the Boston Bruins’ 10-game winning streak coming to an end Saturday, you can at least take a step back and look at what’s going on between the pipes in Montreal.
The Canadiens, in the absence of injury Carey Price (lower body), are relying on back-up Jaroslav Halak to hold down the fort. The result: the fort is burning. The Habs pulled out a shootout win over Florida last night, as Pat Hickey described in today’s Montreal Gazette, but Halak’s poor play has forced head coach Guy Carbonneau to hold a pow-wow with goaltending coach Rollie Melanson.
MK: What does this say about how far Marc Denis has fallen that his name hasn’t come up as far as getting a start? But more to the point, will this make Montreal panic and deal some of its prospect pool for a veteran goaltender to complement Price? Cristobal Huet might be available.
WILMINGTON — Although thebruinsblog.net proved that he cannot be passed in the race to be the Eastern Conference All-Star head coach, Boston Bruins bench boss Claude Julien declined comment on the matter today after his team’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.
“Not officially,” Julien defiantly said when asked his reaction to coaching the All-Stars. “There’s no announcement, I’m not talking about it.”
The coach is selected based on the team with the best points percentage after games of Jan. 10 and no team in the East can catch Julien and the Bruins. The game will be played in Montreal Jan. 25.
WILMINGTON — Although defenseman Aaron Ward did not practice with the Boston Bruins today at Ristuccia Arena, there was good news on the veteran from head coach Claude Julien.
“Aaron’s actually doing a lot better. It was a mild charley horse; his motion of range today was pretty good,” Julien said after his team’s one-hour practice.
The coach also added that Ward will try to take the morning skate with the club tomorrow at TD Banknorth Garden and then determine his status.
Elsewhere on the Bruins blue line, Andrew Ference — out since mid-November with a broken foot — left practice with about 10 minutes to go and did not participate in the 1-on-1 center-ice battle drill. Julien said it was just a precautionary departure and Ference is still day-to-day.
Julien also said that he’s crossed paths with Patrice Bergeron (concussion) since the center started his light biking. Julien described his own attitude about Bergeron’s return as cautiously optimistic.
“He’s feeling better and every day I talk to him it seems to be going on the positive side. I’m just a little cautious because those kind of injuries, sometimes there’s setbacks and we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves and make some big comments and then there’s a setback. Right now, all I can say is it’s going in the right direction,” Julien said.
The Bruins expect Bergeron to make himself available to the media for the first time since last month’s concussion some time over the next week or so.
WILMINGTON — The Boston Bruins are on the Ristuccia Arena ice at this hour going through the first of their practice drills without defenseman Aaron Ward.
Ward left Saturday night’s game with Buffalo in the second period with what head coach Claude Julien said after the game was a “slight charley horse.” So far, there have been no updates on the veteran blueliner. I hope to get one today.
Everyone else that’s healthy is on the ice, with the forward lines the same from Saturday (with Petteri Nokelainen mixing in the with the fourth-liners) and the D pairs feature Mark Stuart/Zdeno Chara, Matt Hunwick/Dennis Wideman, Andrew Ference/Shane Hnidy, with Matt Lashoff the extra.
The Minnesota Wild, who visit TD Banknorth Garden Tuesday night for a match-up with the best-in-the-East Boston Bruins, will roll into the Hub on a bit of a high after their first shutout of the Colorado Avalanche in franchise history Sunday.
Russo also tells us that the Wild are still upset about what they say was an inconclusive replay used to award Detroit’s Johan Franzen a big goal in the Red Wing’s win Saturday. Shipley also explains that Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire is more likely to lean on his veterans during the playoff push.
It stands to reason that in a week when something unlikely happened — an actual Boston Bruins regulation loss for the first time since Dec. 10 — an unlikely player should have a solid all-around week.
Defensive stalwart P.J. Axelsson potted one goal, assisted on three others and posted a plus-2 rating in three games for the week ending today — solid enough numbers to earn him the Bruin of the Week title.
While Axelsson, like most of his teammates, was quiet during the club’s loss to Buffalo Saturday, the forward made plenty of noise during the team’s two victories. He notched two assists, including one on the go-ahead power-play goal by Zdeno Chara, in the win at Pittsburgh Tuesday. And then back home he scored the go-ahead goal (albeit by awkwardly sticking the puck out of the air into the net) Thursday against the Penguins.
Other contenders for the title were defenseman Dennis Wideman (1-3-4, plus-3) and center Marc Savard (2-4-6, plus-2).
Boston Bruins general Peter Chiarelli had no update on the status of defenseman Aaron Ward today. Ward left Saturday’s game one shift into the second period after he hit Buffalo center Matt Ellis. Head coach Claude Julien called the injury a “slight charley horse” after the game. Chiarelli said the club should have more info Monday.
Chiarelli also reiterated what he said about winger Marco Sturm in a published report today — the veteran will have knee surgery soon. Sturm has been out since he last played Dec. 18. When asked about the seriousness of the injury, Chiarelli would only say, “He’s going to have surgery and when it happens we’ll give you an update.”
As for the report that center Patrice Bergeron, out since Dec. 20 with a concussion, is doing light exercise and riding the bike, Chiarelli confirmed that the biking has taken place both at TD Banknorth Garden and Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington — a good sign for Bergeron because he’s been able to get out and about. As for the next step on his road to returning from his second concussion in as many seasons, Chiarelli said that there’s a protocol in place — as there is for all head injuries — but at the end of the day the team defers to the feelings of the player.
When Bergeron begins to feel able, he’ll have to do “activity at a certain heartbeat rate for a certain period of time over a certain number of days. And then there’s a certain period (he has) to be symptom-free,” according to Chiarelli.
One loss by the Boston Bruins after a 10-game winning streak isn’t going to derail the club’s season. And the defeat to Buffalo Saturday also didn’t cost head coach Claude Julien a personal accolade, as after a brief crunch of the numbers thebruinsblog.net can confirm that the Bruins’ bench boss will be behind the Eastern Conference All-Star Team bench in Montreal Jan. 25.
The coach of the team in each conference with the best points percentage after games of Jan. 10 will earn the nod. The Bruins currently sit with 62 points through 39 games, and they have three games in the week ahead. Even if they lose all three, they’d have accumulated 62 of a possible 84 points for a percentage of .7381.
The closest competitor, Washington, has 55 points in its 40 games. The Caps also have just three games on this week’s docket — and wins in those games would give them 61 of a possible 86 for a percentage of just .7093.
The NHL will make an official announcement after those Jan. 10 games. (more…)
The Minnesota Wild, the Boston Bruins’ next opponent Tuesday at TD Banknorth Garden, can’t seem to get themselves together.
They lost in a shootout to Detroit last night with two of their young defensemen not seeing the ice for the final 25 minutes of regulation and overtime, as Brian Stensaas of the Star Tribune explains. And without star Marian Gaborik, who had serious hip surgery, the Wild are searching around for more scoring and just can’t seem to find, Stensaas explains. Also in the Star Tribune, veteran Michael Russo has some sympathy for Gaborik’s cause.
The Wild play at Colorado tonight before heading to Boston, so I’ll have more links Monday.
The Boston Bruins produced a respectable one goal in five power-play opportunities during their 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres today at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, but that didn’t stop head coach Claude Julien from switching guys around in an effort to get things going in Boston’s favor.
By the time the Bruins were on their last man-advantage of the afternoon, the first power-play unit featured Chuck Kobasew up front with regular first-unit forward Marc Savard and P.J. Axelsson.
Julien was asked if he made the move because of something Kobasew had done to earn it or something someone else did to deserve a demotion. (more…)
BOSTON — This is what it’s come to with the Boston Bruins.
Even when their 10-game overall winning streak and 14-game run of home dominance ends in a 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, they don’t go down in flames — they go down fighting
It’s a tribute to the current band of Black and Gold-wearing skaters that their ‘B’ or even ‘C’ game can keep them within striking distance and a bounce here or there of grabbing a point in the standings (if not two).
Even after losing today at TD Banknorth Garden, the Bruins are 11-3-2 when they allow the first goal (.688 winning percentage). Without an even-strength point from their second or third line, the Bruins still mustered enough offense (including a goal by tough guy Shawn Thornton) to climb back from two goals to one goal down twice. And it took a career offensive night from Buffalo fourth-line center Matt Ellis (two goals, one assist) and a couple fortunate bounces in front of Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas to lift the Sabres over the Eastern Conference leaders. (more…)
BOSTON — Boston Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward left today’s 4-2 loss to Buffalo at TD Banknorth Garden after skating just one shift in the second period due to a “slight Charley horse,” according to head coach Claude Julien.
Julien added that Ward was being examined and the team will know more in the days ahead. The club is off for its Wives Carnival Sunday.
Ward seemingly was injured when he checked Buffalo forward Matt Ellis in the corner on a shift that ended with Ellis scoring his second goal of the game. Previously this season, the 35-year-old Ward missed 10 games with a leg injury.
MK: Well, Ward is a big part of this Bruins team, but with Andrew Ference coming back this week the Bruins could afford to give Ward some time off to recuperate.
The Boston Bruins’ 10-game winning streak overall and home 14-game winning streak both ended today against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Banknorth Garden.
You can read the game story on Yahoo!
In addition, center David Krejci (10 games) and defenseman Dennis Wideman (4 games) had their personal points streaks end.
A major reason the Boston Bruins have been able to succeed even while dealing with injuries to key players this season and last has been the play of their goaltenders — Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez last year and Thomas with Alex Auld in the second half of last year.
Last night the Montreal Canadiens found out how difficult it is to overcome a rash of injuries when the puck-stopper doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain. Habs head coach Guy Carbonneau was critical of the play of back-up Jaroslav Halak after a 4-1 loss to New Jersey, as Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette reported today.
Of course, the task always gets tougher when one of the key players out with injury is the No. 1 netminder, in this case Carey Price (day-to-day with an lower-body injury).
MK: This is the bed Montreal made last year when it dealt Cristobal Huet and went into this season with the same duo that finished up last spring. If Price misses significant time, it’s doubtful Halak has the staying power to keep the Canadiens afloat.