Archive for Milan Lucic

Bruins are Road Scholars

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey with tags , , , , , , on November 27, 2009 by clarencethehorse

Four road games. Four wins. Eight points.  Sure, it took three OT periods and 2 shootouts, but the Bruins prevailed each game and may have finally shaken off the last of the cobwebs  that had impeded their forward progress so far this season.  In defeating St. Louis 4-2 this past Monday, then going into Minnesota on Wednesday and winning 2-1 in a shootout, the Bruins are currently positioned fifth in the conference (12-8-4, 28 pts) and are only a point out of first in the Northeast division.  The only negative was the injury suffered by winger Milan Lucic in the Minnesota game, and as I write this, the Bruins are preparing to hold a press conference to discuss his condition/prognosis.  Fingers crossed, more to come….

Marc Savard, who had not played since October 17th, returned from a broken foot in the  St. Louis game, and for the second straight game Milan Lucic set the tone in the opening moments with a jarring hit on the Blues’ Barret Jackman.  Tuukka Rask was back between the pipes, and made a great save six minutes into the first to keep the game scoreless.  Mark Recchi then gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead when he batted this puck out of mid-air for a power-play goal.  After St. Louis tied the game, Blake Wheeler scored his sixth of the season on a power play early in the second for a 2-1 B’s lead.  Milan Lucic would break another tie and give the Bruins a 3-2 lead when he tipped home a Zdeno Chara shot from the point at 12:10 of the second period.  St. Louis goalie Chris Mason made the save of the game with 3:51 remaining in the second period to keep St. Louis within a goal. Patrice Bergeron made a nifty steal deep in the St. Louis end and set up Marco Sturm for a shorthanded goal in the third period to ensure a 4-2 win for the Bruins, and also the first three-game winning streak of the season for Boston.

The re-emergence of Patrice Bergeron as an elite two-way player is a truly gratifying sight for Bruins fans; in this game, Bergeron assisted on all four Bruins goals.  This 4-assist game comes on the heels of his game-winning shootout goal against Atlanta, then his game-winning OT goal against Buffalo.  Even with Savard back, it is becoming apparent that Bergeron may be just as valuable a piece of the offensive puzzle for this year’s Bruins team.  Anyone who remembers the events of October 27, 2007, when Bergeron was viciously boarded by the Flyers Randy Jones, can attest that Bergeron’s comeback should make him the early frontrunner for this season’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Two nights later, the Bruins headed into the Wild  game knowing that in their previous nine meetings with Minnesota, they had escaped with only one win.  Tuukka Rask was again in net  (I love his mask), and the Bruins Byron Bitz gave him a 1-0 lead when he tipped home a Derek Morris shot from the point.  Andrew Ebbett tied the game for Minnesota with a power-play goal in the second, and Rask helped himself with this spectacular save in the third off the Wild’s Cal Clutterbuck….my new favorite hockey name, btw.  It was a typical tightly played, defense-dominated game against the Wild, and regulation ended with the teams knotted at one goal each.  Tuukka Rask was at his best for the Bruins in the waning minutes of regulation and in the five-minute OT period, and at this time (backup?) goalie Tim Thomas is in no danger of being ‘rushed back’ from whatever upper-body injury  currently ails him. In the shootout, Bergeron scored for the Bruins first, and then David Krejci scored the deciding shootout goal as Rask stopped 3-out-of-4 Wild shooters for a 2-1 Bruins shootout victory.

MILAN LUCIC UPDATE: He has a left high-ankle sprain and will be lost up to four weeks.  Bad, but could be worse (check out the video):

The Bruins have their first four-game winning streak of the season, and return home today to face the New Jersey Devils (9-2-1 road record) for their annual day-after-Thanksgiving Black Friday noon matinee.  We’ll see if “Tuukka time” continues, and more importantly, if the Bruins solid overall team play continues.

Bruins Solid in Consecutive Road Wins

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey with tags , , , on November 22, 2009 by clarencethehorse

The Bruins took a significant step toward righting their heavily listing ship  with road wins against Atlanta and Buffalo on consecutive nights (Nov. 19 – 20).  Was the return of rugged winger Milan Lucic the sole reason?  No.  But his presence in the lineup really does seem to inject this Bruins team with some sort of  B-12 shot.  With Lucic back, Marc Savard’s return imminent (possibly Monday night in St. Louis), and the impressive play of backup(?) goalie Tuukka Rask (started and won in net for both games), there is reason to believe the Bruins team of last season is finally rousing  from an extended summer hibernation.

Against Atlanta, the Bruins came out strong and built a 2-0 lead after the first period on goals by Marco Sturm and Michael Ryder.  Nik Antropov and Ilya Kovalchuk (power play goal) scored to get Atlanta back tied at 2-2, but the B’s got a power play goal of their own from Michael Ryder, his second of the night, with 3:15 remaining in the second period to give the Bruins the lead again at 3-2.  Ryder appears ready to go on one of his goal-scoring  streaks, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Bruins recently floundering offense.  Rask was also sharp, and this save during an Atlanta power play in the third period was one of his best.  In the third period, the Bruins took five minor penalties, and the inevitable happened with 41.4 seconds remaining, as the Thrashers pulled their goalie for the extra man and Maxim Afinogenov tied the game at three against an exhausted Bruins team.  But the Bruins prevailed in the shootout, as Rask stopped all three of the Atlanta shooters, and Patrice Bergeron scored on a nifty deke, and the Bruins had the road win.  Bergeron  continues to round back towards his pre-concussion form, and has arguably been the Bruins best player this season on both ends of the ice.

The next night in Buffalo, Rask was back between the pipes for the injured Tim Thomas, and Milan Lucic made sure that the Sabres knew the Bruins meant business with this jarring hit on Henrik Tallinder just 29 seconds into the game. Lucic also got his first goal of the season on a beautifully executed 2-on-1 with Byron Bitz, which tied the game at one in the second period.  Goaltending ruled the third period, and this game would go to overtime.  It was just 47 seconds into OT that Patrice Bergeron deftly tipped in Zdeno Chara’s shot from the blue line to give the Bruins the 2-1 win, and another two points.  It was Bergeron’s second game-winning goal in 24 hours, and the back to back wins vaulted the Bruins into sole possession of 7th place in the Eastern Conference, and only two points behind Buffalo for the Northeast division lead.

Will the Bruins be able to continue their road success in St. Louis on Monday and Minnesota on Wednesday?  With the pieces falling slowly back into place, Clarence  is cautiously optimistic.

Bruins Head on the Road in Search of Answers

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey with tags , on October 26, 2009 by clarencethehorse

As the Garden was airing out the leftover stink smelly-g from their opening home stand, the Bruins headed on the road for the first time this season in search of some consistency.  So far, the loss-win-loss-win-loss pattern had not exactly brought back memories of last season’s success. So the first game in Dallas, a truly solid 3-0 victory that featured a beginning to end effort by the Bruins, was a much-needed reminder of a how this team can play.  Marc Savard potted 2 goals, and Patrice Bergeron also beat Stars goalie Marty Turco. Backed by Thomas’ solid workmanlike performance, the game even featured some solid defense by Matt Hunwick. I had been a little hard on Hunwick so far this season, but his play improved steadily as the season has progressed.  So his train-wreck status trainwrk has been rescinded train_old. Hunwick was not the only one picking up their defensive game, as this game featured the kind of defensive effort the Bruins delivered on the road regularly last year.

Apparently ‘the road’ was not the panacea for the Bruins’ inconsistency, as they followed up the Dallas win with a 4-1 defeat in Phoenix. The Coyotes wilee1794664eb8 took over the game early and had a 2-0 lead when Mark Stuart  made it 2-1 about halfway through the second period, but two goals in less than a minute gave Phoenix a 4-1 lead at the end of the second period.  That would be the final score of this one.  A lackluster effort that only reinforced the Bruins Jekyll/Hyde persona jekyll+and+hyde so far this season, it did feature a good bout Between Johnny Boychuk and Paul Bissonnette.

Before this game, the Bruins learned that recently re-signed winger/enforcer Milan Lucic would be out of action for 4-6 weeks with a broken finger handtrauma .  As the Bruins prepared for their return home and a date with Nashville, it was announced that leading scorer and offensive sparklplug Marc Savard would also be out 4-6 weeks with a fractured foot woman-foot-in-stiletto-x-ray .

Ouch.

Lucic was the guy on the team most likely to change the momentum of a game with his physical play, and Savard could do the same with his cerebral offensive skills.  With these two game-changers out, who would step up?

The game against the Predators The Academy showed that Patrice Bergeron, Michael Ryder and Steve Begin were all doing their part to fill the void left by Lucic and Savard’s absence.  In a bit of symmetry not often seen on the statsheet, the Bruins three best players also had the three goals that resulted in a hard-earned 3-2 victory.  Ryder and Bergeron had second period goals, and Steve Begin buried the third period goal that gave the Bruins the win.

The following night, the Bruins traveled to Philadelphia to play the Flyers.  Losers of three straight and going in to the game with 5 days rest, the Flyers potent offense would present a real challenge for the B’s.   Tuukka Rask tuukka_2 was between the pipes for the Bruins as they earned a point in a 4-3 shootout loss.  Rask tuukka was largely responsible for this point, as he stopped a clean breakaway from Jeff Carter in the last-minute of the third that would have given the Flyers the win in regulation.  But nine games into the season, the Bruins had finally managed to get points in consecutive games.

Remember the date: October 24, 2009.  Not only was my friend Fitzy

Fitzy_Wedding 025

married this day, but if this season evolves the way Bruins optimists are hoping it does and the Bruins go deep into the playoffs, this date may be pointed to as the game in which the Bruins showed they can never be counted out of a game.  Sure, they scored 3 goals in the last 8:01 against the Islanders a few games ago to complete a comeback, but that was nothing.  The Bruins were in Ottawa, and Mark Recchi was playing in his 1500th NHL game.  It appeared as though Recchi’s feat would be the only noteworthy aspect of this game as the Bruins trailed 3-1 with less than two minutes remaining in the third period.  Tim Thomas played arguably his best game thus far this season, the highlight being a gem with 1:39 remaining in the 2nd period.  Thomas was pulled in the waning minutes of the third period, and watched from the bench as Recchi celebrated his landmark game with a beautiful tip-in of a Derek Morris shot with 1:28 remaining in the third.  The Senators’ collapse was completed when David Krejci tipped in another Derek Morris shot/pass with 21.6 seconds left in the third to tie the game at three.  The goal was Krejci’s first, and hopefully getting that monkey monkey off his back will kick-start his much-needed offensive skills.  After a scoreless five-minute overtime, Patrice Bergeron secured two points for the Bruins with the only shootout goal.  As the Senators headed to the locker room throwing up in their mouths, the Bruins celebrated a truly improbable 4-3 victory.

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So in three games without Lucic and Savard, the Bruins have gained five out of a possible six points. 4 Thumbs Up

The Bruins have four days of rest to enjoy their nice 2-0-1 streak before they face the Devils on Thursday.

First 2 Games: Jekyll and Hyde

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey, Music with tags , , , , on October 4, 2009 by clarencethehorse

We are a mere two games into the season, and I already hope that the Bruins worst game of the year is behind them. When the on-ice highlight of the night is YouTube sensation Junior Seau riding the zamboni, you know you’re in deep trouble. Especially against the offensively gifted and opportunistic Washington Capitals.  But that is how bad the Bruins looked hindenburg in losing their season opener 4-1 this past Thursday night.  The Bruins went 55 games last year before losing by more than two goals, but they got that dubious accomplishment out of the way early this season.  Here’s a play that sums up the game: Milan Lucic looking like Lurch lurch-kerry early in the third period as he was caught flat-footed deerheadlights by Alex Ovechkin, who jumped on the loose puck and quickly buried a snap shot past a surprised Tim Thomas to put the game essentially out of reach at 4-0.  Lucic’s play mirrored the entire evening for the Bruins, as they lost battle after battle.  That was the first time I noticed Lucic on the ice all nite, and many of the B’s forwards simply did not show up for this game. Patrice Bergeron, who got the Bruins lone goal, may have been the only exception.  This was not the way the Bruins wanted to perform in their most anxiously awaited opener in years.  For Saturday’s game, they needed to bounce back quickly and decisively, or long suffering Bruins fans would be putting their B’s jersey back into their closets amid cries of “Why did we trade Phil Kessel?!”.

What a difference a game makes.  The Bruins faced Aaron Ward and the Carolina Hurricanes for Game two, and they beat them handily, 7-2, beating them up physically along the way.  Instead of the crowd cheering on Seau riding the zamboni, we had Zdeno Chara Lurch-addams-family-6160640-114-120 riding Tom Kostopoulos like a mechanical bull.  Offensive woes of the season opener? Not anymore, as seven different Bruins dented the twine.  The power play outage against the Capitals?  No worries, as the B’s tallied 4 PPG’s against the Hurricanes.  Their forwards, who were so ineffective against the Caps, were creating offense with crisp break-out passes and aggressive rushes to the net.  After being outshot 34-20 on Thursday nite, the B’s outshot the Hurricanes 42-27.  When the Hurricanes tried to save a show a little life in the fisticuffs department, they got beat up even worse than on the scoreboard.  Milan Lucic was challenged by an ill-advised Jay Harrison in the second, and Lucic made him pay, lucic_harrison as Harrison looked like JFK arriving at Parkland Memorial Hospital as he made his way to the bench.  Ex-Bruin Andrew Alberts, who had sparked a 5-on-5 scrum in period 2 when he threw a questionable high hit on Marco Sturm, was also bloodied by Shawn Thornton in a third period bout.

The Bruins also dedicated the Fred Cusick cusick Broadcast booth at the TD Garden.  Here’s some more classic Fred.

So with a 2.43% sampling of this season in the books, this much is apparent:  the Bruins are NOT as bad as they looked against Washington in game 1, but they are also most likely not as good as they looked in game 2 against Carolina.  Next game:  Thursday at home vs. Anaheim.

Any Ben Folds fans out there?  Here’s a clip from his Saturday show at Calvin Theatre in Northampton

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