Archive for Phil Kessel

Boston Bruins Streak into November

Posted in Boston Bruins, History, Hockey, Music, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2010 by clarencethehorse

There was a moment at the Garden last Thursday that seemed to symbolize the dawn of a new era for Bruins’ hockey:

Phil Kessel, in town with his fellow Maple Leafs and still pointless (in both ways) at the Garden as a Leaf, said he “couldn’t care less” about the crowd’s chant.  Tyler Seguin had just scored his first (of many?) goal at the Garden, and his presence on the Bruins is a result of the draft pick that Toronto gave us for Phil Kessel.

It was a magic early season moment at the Garden. Remember how the Bruins came out of the gate last season?  For whatever reason, they could never gain any traction…and, at times, looked absolutely terrible.

And when they did finally get traction in the playoffs, that ended abruptly…

Well, the Bruins seem to have found their stride much more quickly this season than last.  Last season, they struggled right from the get-go to establish any team identity, especially on home ice. It’s only eight games, but a 6-2 record only tells part of the story.   Following a 1-1 trip to open the season in Prague, the Bruins have gone 5-1.

Some key early season statistics:

  • Following their opening 5-2 loss to Phoenix, the Bruins have allowed 6 goals in 7 games. Wow.
  • Tim Thomas is leading the defensive stampede, going 6-0 with a .984 SV% and a 0.50 GA. He already has three shutouts, and would have four, if he didn’t handle the puck like Diane Wilkerson handles tax returns.
  • The Bruins have the largest GF/GA differential (+13), and have played in the fewest games (8) in the league.
  • Nathan Horton scored 5 goals in his first six games; and his scrap with Dion Phaneuf of the Leafs was the start of a Garden love affair. This guy is a Bruin.
  • The David Krejci, Horton, and Milan Lucic line has combined for 26 points and a +16…in only eight games.
  • Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron both got their first NHL goals out of the way early…and both have scored two more since.
  • Bruins win both ends of a home-and-home series against league powerhouse Washington, in which they outscored the Caps 7-2.
  • After a brief stumble against the Rangers, losing 3-2, the Bruins and Tim Thomas post back to back shutouts against Toronto and Ottawa to close out October at 6-2.

I know.  A small sample indeed.  But the Bruins are hitting all the right notes…which can’t be said of everyone at the Garden so far this season:

In the 3-1 Bruins victory over the Capitals on October 19, Milan Lucic had a “Gordie Howe hat trick“.  Looch had fought, and lost to, John Erskine earlier in his career.  As Brick points out, this one was percolating all night:

Milt Schmidt Night at the Garden

It was also Milt Schmidt Night on Thursday October 28, and Uncle Milty was honored in a pregame ceremony that showed the respect that Bruins fans have for this 92-year old legend, and what he’s done for this organization.  Schmidt played with the Bruins from 1936 to 1942, then again from 1945 to 1955 after serving in World War II in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He put up 229-346-575 totals in 776 games and won Stanley Cups in 1939 and 1941, then helped guide the Bruins to their two most recent championships in 1970 and 1972 as the club’s GM.

The Bruins have a grueling schedule in November. When they face-off against the Sabres in Buffalo tomorrow night, it will begin a stretch of 14 games in 27 days.

So the Bruins have gotten off the tee nicely…let’s see how their fairway game is.

This Week’s “How Did This Happen?” Clip:

And one last reminder for all you politically ambitious kids out there….zip up!

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Bruins Rake Leafs (twice) after Day Off in Montreal

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by clarencethehorse

On Friday November 4th, the Montreal Canadiens celebrated their 100th anniversary before their game against the Bruins. A sellout crowd of 21,273 filled the building for ceremonies that featured some of the team’s former greats, including Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur and Patrick Roy — and the jersey retirements of the two oldest living Canadiens, Hall of Famers Emile “Butch” Bouchard and Elmer Lach.

And the Bruins didn’t stand a chance.

Carey Price was in a zone, especially in the second period as he stopped 18 Boston shots, including everything the Bruins threw at him on a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes.  In the third period, the Bruins had the rarity of a 6-on-3 for 20-30 seconds (they had a 5-on-3, then Tim Thomas was pulled when there was another delayed penalty called on Montreal), and still could not score.  Ouch. The power play has been very good of late, but it was a complete disaster on this night.  Thomas could not really be blamed for this one, and Vladimir Sobotka at least got the B’s on the board with his second of the year in the third period.  Mike Cammalleri had a hat trick, as the Canadiens rolled over the B’s 5-1.  This game was played on a Friday nite to coincide exactly with the 100th anniversary date: December 4, 1909. It was only the 14th Friday night home game in Montreal franchise history — they’ve now won 10 and tied the other four.  Face it — the Bruins were not going to win this game.

Kesselmania – Pt. 1

The Bruins returned right home to Boston after the game to face Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs the following nite. The Saturday night sellout crowd of 17,565 let Kessel know during warm-ups what they thought of his decision to leave the Bruins for the greener pastures Toronto this past off-season, as he was roundly booed every time he touched the puck.

The “Boos” continued for every touch that Kessel had during the game, and he seemed unnerved at times as he had only two shots for the game and finished at a minus-3 as the Bruins demolished the Maple Leafs 7-2 behind a Marc Savard hat trick . Tuukka Rask returned in net for the B’s, and had 31 saves as his stock continues to rise with each start.  Marco Sturm (9th) and Marc Savard (6th) got things going for the Bruins, scoring goals 33 seconds apart early in the first to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.  After the first goal, Shawn Thornton and Colton Orr dropped the gloves for a real heavyweight joust:

Ex-Bruin Wayne Primeau, who came to the Bruins in the Joe Thornton trade (there go those shivers down my spine again), has surfaced in Toronto…..that’s just a cheap segway to show this picture I have of him from a trip to the Calgary Saddledome in October 2007 after badly injuring his knee:

Rask had several key saves in the first, none better than this one, as the B’s took a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Professional pussy Mike Komisarek has also moved on to Toronto, and he is still a yapper and a gutless invertebrate.  Let’s revisit one of his prouder moments last season when he was with Montreal, as Milan Lucic absolutely punished him in this “fight”:

And yes, he was out for several weeks after this tussle. The Bruins continued their dominating play in the second, as Chara popped home his 2nd goal of the season on a shot from the point and Marc Savard scored his 7th (second of game) on a power-play for a commanding 4-0 Bruins lead.  This was also the period where things started to get pretty chippy; Blake Wheeler slammed the Leafs’ Ian White and got a return face-rake from Toronto’s Colton Orr, and Zdeno Chara tossed down Jason Blake toward the end of the period.  Rask continued to make all the save that he should, as well as few of the spectacular variety — including this save on Lee Stempniak’s shorthanded bid.

The assault continued in the third, as the Bruins built a 7-0 lead on goals by March Recchi (5th, PPG), Johnny Boychuk (1st NHL goal) and Savard (8th, Hat Trick).  Recchi’s goal was the 550th of his career, and was the result of a beautiful rush by Patrice Bergeron.  Tuukka Rask also registered his second assist of the season, and moved past Big Al Pedersen  on the Bruins all-time scoring list. Even before Boychuk’s goal, he had acquitted himself well in this game with his solid, physical defensive play.  His first NHL goal was made possible by David Krejci’s perfectly placed drop pass.  Marc Savard’s hat trick goal (19 seconds after Boychuk’s) would close out the Bruins scoring on the nite, and a couple of late Toronto goals accounted for the 7-2 final.  Niklas Hagman  celebrated his 30th birthday with his 14th goal as Rask lost the shutout with under five minutes remaining. Mikhail Grabovski got his fifth to close out the scoring — although a Russian getting a fifth is nothing unusual:

The third period also featured a bout between Steve Begin and the Leafs’ Jamal Mayers, which ended with a takedown by Begin:

The Leafs also have Christian Hanson  in their lineup.  Why do I mention this?  Hanson is indeed the son of Dave Hanson of the Hanson Brothers from Slap Shot.

The elder Hanson also had a cup o’ coffee in the WHA and NHL in the late 70’s, but even his ‘fists-o-foil’  could not get him a permanent slot on an NHL team.  Rask (31 saves) also had to savor this victory, as Toronto dealt him to Boston on June 24, 2006 for goaltender Andrew Raycroft (currently with Vancouver).

Kesselmania – Pt. 2

The Bruins enjoyed four days of rest, while Toronto played two games, before these teams met again at the Garden on Thursday, 12/10.  But it was the Leafs who came out strong, and the Rask (in goal again) and the B’s weathered the storm in the first few minutes. The Bruins also clanked 3-4 posts in the first seven minutes, until Mark Stuart’s shot from the point gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead.  In the second period, the Bruins got an early power play and needed only six seconds to increase their lead to 2-0 as defenseman Derek Morris ripped a slap shot that beat Vesa Toskala.  It was then time for Mark Stuart and the Leafs’ Jamal Mayers to do a “Slap Shot” tribute to make Christian Hanson feel at home.  Following matching roughing minors, Stuart and Mayers arranged a second date while still in the penalty boxes, and stepped out of the box right into round 2 of their battle:

They each went back into the box for five minutes each, but Stuart’s pounding had another sellout Garden crowd on their feet.  David Krejci scored his 4th, unassisted, on a beautiful breakaway after a great Tuukka Rask save to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead.

Things got a little too interesting in the third period, as Toronto came out strong scored twice early to make it a 3-2 game.  But the B’s held on, as Mark Recchi scored a power play goal (6th) and an empty-net goal (7th) in the waning minutes to ensure a 5-2 Bruins victory.  So the Bruins win both games, outscoring Toronto 12-4 and getting two power play goals in each game.  The Bruins power play is 8 for its last 23 (34.8%), which has raised them from last (30th) in the league to 21st in the league at 18.3%.  Think the importance of an effective power play is overrated?  The Bruins are 9-0-2 this season when they have a power play goal — and 7-9-3 when they do not.

The Bruins travel to Long Island tonight to face the Islanders.

Odd Fact of the Day

When the Bruins acquired Daniel Paille from Buffalo on October 20, 2009 for a third-round and a conditional fourth-round draft selection, it was the first ever trade/transaction between the Boston and Buffalo organizations.  Buffalo joined the NHL in the 1970-71 season.

Wanna Get Away?

For this week’s “Wanna Get Away?” award winner, there is no heading/caption required:

One last note….

Dan Carcillo was rightfully suspended for 4 games for this:

Savard Signs 7-year Extension with Boston; Bruins Ground Lightning

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

The Tampa Bay Lightning came into Boston on Wednesday night  with many familiar faces in tow.  Head coach Rick Tocchet and assistant coach Adam Oates played for the Bruins, and were both sent to the Washington Capitals (along with goalie Bill Ranford) in the same trade that brought Jim Carey, Anson Carter and Jason Allison to the Bruins on March 1, 1997.  Needham native Cap Raeder is the goaltending coach, and former Bruin Wes Walz is also an assistant coach. But the Bruins were looking to continue their winning ways (7-1-4 in last 12) and had no homecoming festivities planned for the Lightning, as they played another solid defensive game and beat Tampa Bay 4-1.

Before the game, the Bruins announced they had signed star center Marc Savard to a seven-year extension, which is great news for Bruins fans:

The Bruins offense really suffered, and often disappeared, during the month that Savard missed with a broken foot earlier this season.  It was Savard who gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with a power play goal off the back of the goalies legs at 8:05 of the first period.  It was Savard’s 5th of the season, and the 200th of his NHL career.  Patrice Bergeron continued his torrid pace of late, and scored a goal on a rebound of a Zdeno Chara shot to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead after one period. Marco Sturm added two second period goals, his 7th and 8th of the season, and the Bruins had a  commanding 4-0 lead  at the end of two period. Bergeron and Mark Recchi assisted on both of Sturm’s goals, and Recchi assisted on Bergeron’s goal as well.  The Bruins’ second line combined for eight points on the night, and Bergeron has officially returned to form.  The Bruins would like to see this chemistry  continue, as their biggest asset last season was their ability to get offense from all four lines.

That reminds of this long-lost “Clarence-Classic” from Semisonic:

Tim Thomas was back in-goal for the Bruins, on the heels of giving up (another) last-minute goal, and a point in the standings,  to the Senators last Saturday nite.  Thomas did stand tall in that game’s shootout and allow the Bruins to get the two points, and he was solid in this game, as he had a season-high 39 saves in net for the Bruins.  Only Jeff Halpern beat Thomas early in the third, and this game was never in doubt for Boston. So the Bruins have now lost in regulation only ONCE in thir last 13 games (8-1-4), and find themselves one point behind Buffalo for the Adams…I mean, Northeast division lead, and in fifth place in the conference.

Here’s a picture from the game:

Photo Credit: Jerri Blank

The Bruins have an important three games coming up against divisional opponents, starting with a visit to the Bell Centre in Montreal tonight (12/4) to face the Canadiens.

KESSELPALOOZA

Then, “KesselPalooza” comes to town, as the Bruins play consecutive games (five nights apart) at the Garden against ex-Bruin Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, then Thursday night. This scheduling quirk, playing the same team in consecutive games at home, should provide an opportunity for the Boston fans to express how they feel about Kesssel’s decision to jump ship for the Leafs in the name of

That is no knock against Kessel; professional athletes need to take the $ when they can, as their careers can be over at any minute due to injury.  But the fans will still let him know what they think of his decision to jump ship to Toronto.

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: