Archive for Keith Ballard

Bruins Battle for Northeast Division Lead

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey with tags , , , , , , , on December 2, 2009 by clarencethehorse

The Bruins returned home from their four-game/four-win road trip to face New Jersey on what has become know as Black Friday, the noon matinee game on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  This also means dealing with sure first-ballot hall-of-famer Martin Brodeur in net for the Devils.  Brodeur has been a workhorse for New Jersey since 1993, and he would aggravate the Bruins again on this day, stopping 32 of 33 Bruins shots and leading New Jersey to a 2-1 shootout win.   Tuukka Rask was also solid, stopping 36 of 37 shots by the Devils, as he started his sixth straight game (4-1-1) for the Bruins.  The Bruins were trailing 1-0 as the game entered the third period, and coming back against Brodeur and this Devils team is usually a pretty tall order.  But Byron Bitz took advantage of a rather fortuitous bounce at the outset of the third period, and fed Blake Wheeler who buried his 7th goal of the season to tie the game at one.  Brodeur made a great save on Marc Savard with five seconds left in regulation to ensure this game would go into overtime.  In the shootout, New Jersey scored twice to outpace the Bruins lone goal by Blake Wheeler.  The 2-1 shootout loss still provided the Bruins with one point; one more than they usually get against Brodeur and the Devils.

About three minutes into the second period, Martin Brodeur passed Patrick Roy to set the new record for career minutes played by an NHL goaltender, and the Garden crowd gave him a well-deserved round of applause.  Brodeur has won three Stanley Cups (95, 00, 03) with New Jersey, and had a twelve season stretch from 1995-96 thru 2007-08 (lockout in 04-05) where he played 70+ games in every season except for one (96-97), and he played in 67 games that season.  For the two season stretch of 2006-07 and 2007-08, the New Jersey Devils played 164 regular season games; Brodeur started 155 of them.

Now that’s durable.

He has a lifetime goals-against of 2.20 and a save percentage of .914, with 102 shutouts.  His postseason stats are equally impressive, as his three Cups attest to.

One more Keith:

The next night against Ottawa, Tim Thomas returned in net for the Bruins and the Senators came out of the gate strong, building a 2-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game.  The Bruins dodged a bullet in the first period, when Patrice Bergeron needed assistance to get to the bench after taking a  shot off the foot.  It did not initially look good, but Bergeron would return after a few minutes and the Garden crowd collectively exhaled.  In the second period, the Bruins regained momentum and eventually tied the game on power-play goals from David Krejci and Michael Ryder.   The power play has been coming around as of late for Boston, and Dennis Wideman would get the Bruins third PP goal of the game at 9:19 of the third for a 3-2 Bruins lead.  In a bit of unwanted deja vu, the Senators  tied the game with 19.3 seconds remaining on a weak goal from Milan Michalek (his second of the game) that slipped between Thomas’ pads.  This was Thomas’ first game since November 14 in Pittsburgh, when he similarly allowed an inexcusable goal with under one second left in regulation to allow the Penguins to tie the game.  In that game, the Penguins completed the comeback with an OT win.  But Thomas would have some redemption against the Senators, as he stopped all four Ottawa shots in the shootout and the Bruins prevailed on a Michael Ryder goal in the fourth round for a 4-3 shootout win.

The Bruins are 7-1-4 in their last 12 games, and that run has put them near the top of the Adams…I mean Northeast, division. Their 31 points has them one point behind Buffalo and one point ahead of Ottawa, with Montreal (26 pts) and Toronto (19 pts) filling out the bottom of the Northeast division.  If the Bruins want to keep climbing in the standings, they can not have any more of the last-minute collapses that have plagued them so far this season.

Tampa Bay visits Boston tomorrow night (12/2), followed by the Bruins first visit of the season to Montreal on Friday (12/4) and the Boston Garden return of Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday (12/5).

Wanna Get Away?

*****

Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard takes the inaugural “Wanna Get Away?” award with this near-decapitation of goalie, and teammate, Tomas Vokoun.  Ballard angrily tries to smash his stick against the goal post after being largely responsible for a goal by Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk, but remembers too late that Vokoun’s head MIGHT be in the way.

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO HERE:

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