Wicked Bruins Fan

October 2008 Archives

Semi Live Blog: Bruins vs. Flames

Coming to you live again from my couch. I have a small stash of candy to my right to munch on during the game and a drink to my left that is getting low.

Game Preview: Bruins vs. Flames

The Bruins conclude their three game road trip tonight in Calgary. The Bruins have won their first two games on the road, posting 1-0 wins over the Oilers and Canucks. They're carrying a 135:56 shutout streak into tonight's game against the Flames.

Calgary seems like a tough place for the Bruins to play as they are winless in their last four games (0-3-1) in Calgary. Their last victory in Calgary was on October 18, 1997. The Flames are currently on a four game winning streak as well. Their last win was a 3-0 shutout against the Avalanche.

Goalies: Starters in bold.
CALGARY: Curtis McElhinney (0-0-0, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%), Mikka Kiprusoff (5-3-1, 2.99 GAA, .897 SV%)
BOSTON: Tim Thomas (3-1-2, 1.77 GAA, .943 SV%), Manny Fernandez (2-1-1, 2.95 GAA, .892 SV%)

Who's Hot: Marc Savard who has four assists in his last three games... Tim Thomas who posted back-to-back 1-0 shutouts in Edmonton and Vancouver. Thomas has a personal shutout streak of 132:14 going into tonight's game.

Who's Not: Petteri Nokelainen and Mark Stuart who have not gotten a point this season.

Injuries: Chuck Kobasew, leg fracture.

I'll be around for the game tonight, watching to see if the Bruins can continue their own winning and shutout streak.

Dissecting Warm-ups

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After three homes games so far, warm-ups has me looking for things that don't seem to be out of the ordinary. Each player has their certain stretching spot, some along the boards on the bench side while others are opposite on the penalty box side. Some players have weird "things" they do consecutively.

There are a couple of things I have picked up on in the most recent two home games.

On Thursday against Toronto, there was something different about Milan Lucic, but I wasn't sure what. It followed up on Saturday. He seemed different out on the ice, but I couldn't put my finger on it. That was until news articles broke that Lucic started wearing contacts during those two games. I didn't realize his squint was the thing missing in the last two home games.

The other thing I noticed was not only does Marc Savard always flip pucks to the seats behind the net, but he also seems to give the goalies a "pep talk" before the team lines up to shoot individual shots at the end. On Thursday, I thought that it was just a Savard/Tim Thomas thing until it happened again on Saturday with Manny Fernandez. That gives a glimpse as to what kind of veteran a player like Savard is.

Another thing I made it a point to do on Saturday was get pictures of Shane Hnidy before he's across the ice. Either I couldn't find him before that point in warm-ups or he kept slipping past me. I don't think it was a subconscious thing.

Sometimes I overload on pictures of one player or another. But the thing I realized from last season is you can't have enough pictures of a player because you never know just what can happen, injury or trade speaking.

When I try to get a shot of goaltenders making a save with the puck somewhere visible in the frame, it never happens. When I don't try, I get lucky and end up with shots that make it worth bringing along a camera.

When I was editing Thursday's photos, I stopped and asked myself who this player was. I thought it looked like Michael Ryder but remembered he was later down the line so it couldn't be him. Then I saw another picture that added the two together and figured out it was Blake Wheeler. I felt bad that I didn't recognize him from the beginning, but sometimes that happens when I'm still getting used to seeing different faces on the team.

The last thing to be noticed in warm-ups is how Ryder has scored the last goal during warm-ups when players "crash the goalie." I don't know who scored during the home opener because the goal happened too quickly, but the other two home games, Ryder scored the goals at the end.

The games are what matter obviously. Anybody can watch the games from the comfort of their own homes and see a limited view. Warm-ups are something extra where player personalities come out and fans get a chance to see something that might not be shown anywhere else.

I think that is why I take photos at warm-ups, to give other fans who can't make it to games the view I am lucky enough to get.

Live Blog: Bruins vs. Canucks

Coming to you live from my couch watching the Bruins and Canucks in HD. Tim Thomas is starting for the second consecutive night for the Bruins. Captain of the Canucks Roberto Luongo is in net at the other end.

Going to try a new format tonight. We'll see how this works.

Starters: Thomas, Wideman, Ference, Lucic, Savard, Kessel

First Period - Times indicate minutes left in the period because it would take longer for me to figure it out the other way.

15:28 - Penalty on Vancouver, Ohlund for tripping.

15:19 - Puck squeaked by Luongo, but he reached behind him with his glove hand and kept the puck out.

13:47 - Luongo makes another save on the penalty kill. Bergeron had the shot, set up by Chara.

13:37 - Ryder took the puck away from a Canucks player. I must say one of the things I've been impressed with in the last few games are how aggressive the Bruins are without the puck. They usually gain possession of the puck by being that aggressive.

12:08 - Thornton with a shot and Luongo with the save. First TV timeout of the period.

11:09 - Vancouver had a 2-on-1 rush and Thomas makes the save.

10:13 - Ward takes the puck off his hand, shaking it afterwards.

9:44 - Ryder scores! Assisted by Sturm and Savard. There was a penalty being called so Thomas was already on the bench when the goal was scored.

7:36 - Two big saves by Thomas. The first on Burrows, the rebound on Kesler. Second TV timeout of the period.

Just a thought, but I can hear the hits on the boards louder than I can hear the play-by-play by Jack Edwards.

5:46 - Icing on Vancouver.

4:something - One of the Sedin twins had a breakaway. HUGE save by Thomas. Fun fact: The Sedin twins were drafted in 1999 when the NHL draft was in Boston.

2:33 - Thornton totally missed that check.

End of 1st period: Bruins lead 1-0.

Had good intentions

I am starting to believe that updating Twitter is making me blog-lazy. Whenever I have intentions of writing here, something else comes along or I lose my wit. Anybody can link to other articles and information, which I'm sure most Bruins fans would already know about by the time I got to posting about it. I want to start writing more and gathering information less, outside of game previews because I need to get that information from somewhere.

With that said, I may try to introduce another new segment on the blog this week, as well as keeping up to date with the team as they trek through the Northwest.

I won't have time to do a game preview for tonight's game in Vancouver, the time difference prevents that as it did yesterday when the Bruins were in Edmonton. But I will be around tonight to provide game updates.

I promise to get back to posting regularly and getting new sections up on the website.

In the meantime, feel free to check out the latest home game photo albums in the gallery.

Previous Game: The Bruins won 1-0 in overtime last night in Edmonton with Tim Thomas posting the first shutout of the season. Dennis Wideman scored the game-winner on the power play.

Game Preview: Thrashers vs. Bruins

The Bruins host the Thrashers tonight in their first meeting of the season. The Thrashers played last night, losing 5-3 in Detroit.

Today marks the first time all 30 NHL teams will be in action since they opened the season after the lockout.

Goalies: Starters in bold, but not confirmed as the game-day skates were limited.
ATLANTA: Johan Hedberg (0-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.00 SV%), Kari Lehtonen (2-3-2, 2.99 GAA, .918 SV%)
BOSTON: Tim Thomas (1-1-2, 2.65 GAA, .919 SV%), Manny Fernandez (1-1-1, 2.61 GAA, .899 SV%)

Who's Hot: Phil Kessel has six goals in seven games. He didn't score last game, but is an early consideration for the Rocket Richard trophy.

Who's Not: Stephane Yelle and Vladimir Sobotka. While both players are valuable in other areas of the game, both have yet to record a point this season.

Injuries: Chuck Kobasew, fractured fibula, out indefinitely but skated this morning.

Fun Facts: The Bruins and Thrashers have combined for three shutouts in their lifetime series, two by Boston and one by Atlanta. All three shutouts were in Atlanta... The Bruins and Thrashers have played eight overtime games in their lifetime series, with seven games taking place in Boston.

Family Ties: Mark Stuart's bother Colin plays in the Atlanta organization. Both Mark and Colin scored goals in a game between the Bruins and Thrashers last season on December 31.

Other NHL News: This streamed across my Twitter last night, and I had to read about it. Sarah Palin dropped the ceremonial puck in St. Louis last night and goaltender Manny Legace was injured on the red carpet.

The Bruins are finishing up their brief homestand tonight. Next week, they finish playing the Northwest Division when they visit Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary.

Live Blog: Bruins vs. Sabres

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The Bruins are in Buffalo. Axelsson is out with muscle spasms.

Starters: Fernandez, Chara, Wideman, Lucic, Kessel, Savard.

First: Early icing call on Buffalo. Sturm put the first shot on goal for the Bruins. The Bruins have come out shooting. Bruins are the firs tto go on the power play. Sabres had a shorthanded chance but Fernandez stoned Ellis. Bruins iced the puck on the power play. That's such a pet peeve. Wideman made a great play to keep the puck in the Sabres zone. He turned, managed to get the puck on goal through some players and scored unassisted at 10:59. Bruins get another power play at 13:10. And 34 seconds later, Sturm gets a hooking penalty to put the teams 4-on-4. Bruins killed off the abbreviated power play. Ward was shaken up on a play, which turned out to be him taking a knee to the head. He didn't miss a shift though. Bruins lead 1-0 after one.

Second: Fernandez made a strong save to start. Sobotka blocked a shot with his foot and went to the locker room. Kessel got a shot on Miller and he gave up a rebound to Savard and made the second save. Best scoring chance so far for the Bruins, besides Wideman's goal. Wheeler was set up by Krejci for a scoring chance soon after that, and Miller made the save. Buffalo had a great chance to tie it when Vanek went in alone on Fernandez, and the puck went wide of the net. Sobotka is back on the ice. Fernandez has been making some great saves during the game. The Sabres get nabbed with a goaltender interference penalty. Miller made a great arm save on Ryder's shot on the power play. Kessel scored on the power play. Stuart goes to the penalty box for interference soon after. Buffalo gets a goal back on the power play. The momentum is shifting. Bruins are getting another penalty. Savard is in the penalty box for hooking. Bruins killed off the penalty, barely. Bruins lead 2-1 after two.

Third: Five minutes in, Stafford ties the game 2-2. Bruins are on a power play. Miller robs Krejci from the go-ahead goal with a glove save. Bruins are on another power play at 13:57. And the Bruins couldn't generate much on the power play. The Sabres are going on a power play now as Yelle is in the penalty box for tripping at 16:32. Bruins killed off that penalty. Sabres and Bruins are tied 2-2.

Overtime: Fernandez made a save. Fernandez makes another save. Krejci was almost set up alone in front of Miller for a chance. Sturm gets robbed by a crazy stick save by Miller. Bruins get 27 seconds of power play time to end OT. Chara's shot on the power play was blocked. Time for another shootout.

Shootout: Kotalik is going first for Buffalo. Save by Fernandez. Kessel first for Boston. Save by Miller. Stafford next for Buffalo. He got Fernandez down and put the puck over him. Bergeron next for Boston. Wow, Miller has some insane patience and stopped Bergeron. Roy last for Fernandez. Fernandez stops the puck. Krejci is next. And he scores!!! Pominville for Buffalo and Fernandez stops him. Chara was next for Boston and he misfired. Vanek scores for Buffalo. Savard is last and Miller poke-checked the puck away.

Sabres win the game 3-2. Another shootout loss for the Bruins for the second night in a row.

Game Preview: Bruins vs. Sabres

The Bruins are in Buffalo tonight in their first match-up against the Sabres. Both teams' previous games were shootout losses. Boston lost against Pittsburgh 2-1 in a shootout last night. Buffalo lost 3-2 against Atlanta in a shootout on Saturday.

Tonight's game can be seen on Versus starting at 7.

Goalies: Starting goaltenders are bolded.
Buffalo: Ryan Miller (3-0-0, 1.30 GAA, .945 SV%), Patrick Lalime (1-0-1, 1.44 GAA, .951 SV%)
Boston: Tim Thomas (1-0-2, 2.54 GAA, .919 SV%), Manny Fernandez (1-1-0, 3.03 GAA, .878 SV%)

Who's Hot: Phil Kessel has a two-game goal scoring streak.

Who's Not: Blake Wheeler who hasn't recorded a point since the season opener.

Injuries: Chuck Kobasew, fracture in right leg suffered Oct. 9th, out indefinitely... P.J. Axelsson, muscle spasms, is no longer listed on the injury list.

Milestones: With Fernandez slated to start tonight's game, the game will be his 300th of his NHL career.

Buffalo Wingin' It: The Bruins and Sabres have never made a trade between these two teams... The Sabres are 4-0-1 through their first five games.

Buffalo Firsts: Phil Kessel scored his first NHL against the Sabres on October 21, 2006... Matt Hunwick, David Krejci and Petteri Nokelainen all played their first NHL games against the Sabres. Hunwick on November 10, 2997, Krejci on January 30, 2007 and Nokelainen on October 5, 2005... Shane Hnidy and Dennis Wideman were both drafted by the Sabres, but neither played on the team.

I will be around to live-blog the game tonight, so check back for that starting during the first intermission.

Game Preview: Bruins vs. Senators

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The Bruins conclude their four game road trip in Ottawa tonight in their first match-up of the season against the Senators. The Senators played last night, a 6-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. The Bruins' last game was on Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens where they lost in a shootout 4-3. The Senators opened their season in Stockholm, Sweden against the Penguins.

Goalies: Starting goaltenders are bolded.
Ottawa: Alex Auld (1-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .968 SV%), Martin Gerber (1-1-1, 3.28 GAA, .907 SV%)
Boston: Tim Thomas (1-0-1, 3.39 GAA, .896 SV%), Manny Fernandez (0-1-0, 4.07 GAA, .846 SV%)

Who's Hot: Marc Savard had another two-goal game against Montreal. His goal scoring streak has reached 5 goals in 3 games.

Who's Not: Marco Sturm still hasn't gotten a goal.

Injuries: Chuck Kobasew, fracture in right leg suffered Oct. 9th.

Former Bruins: Goaltender Alex Auld played for Boston last season after being traded from Phoenix. Auld signed with the Senators when he became an unrestricted free agent on July 1st... Shean Donovan was traded to Ottawa in exchange for Peter Schaefer on July 17, 2007.

Ottawa Fun Facts: Peter Chiarelli, Marc Savard, Aaron Ward and Stephane Yelle are Ottawa natives... Chiarelli spent seven seasons in the Senators organization... Marco Sturm scored his second career hat trick against the Senators... Tim Thomas has three shutouts against Ottawa. Thomas has seven total shutouts.

Ottawa Firsts: David Krejci scored his first NHL goal against Ottawa on February 26, 2008... Michael Ryder played his first NHL game against Ottawa on October 9, 2003... Mark Stuart had his first NHL point against Ottawa on March 16, 2006.

I had plans to live-blog the game up until the Red Sox completed the second best comeback in the ALCS on Thursday to survive another game. Now I have to work tonight, but I should be able to recap the game by the end of it.

Game Preview: Bruins vs. Montreal

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The Bruins are in Montreal tonight as the Canadiens open their season at home. It's the Canadiens' 100th home opener. The Bruins should be able to fight through any distractions and focus on the game. Game time is set for 7:30 on NESN. The puck drops at 7:45 after the pre-game ceremony.

Tonight is the first of probably many more match-ups between these two teams this season (six games during the regular season). You may remember the Bruins and Canadiens met in last season's playoffs when the Bruins fought back to force game 7. The Bruins are 99-199-47-1 lifetime in Montreal. The Bruins are winless against the Canadiens in their last 11 meetings (0-10-0-1). The Bruins last defeated Montreal in the regular season on March 3, 2007 in Boston.

Claude Julien says: "We have to be ready. I told our guys today that it's going to take our 'A' game. Simple as that."

Goalies: Starting goaltenders are bolded.
Montreal: Carey Price (1-0-1, 1.92 GAA, 94.1 SV%), Jaroslav Halak (1-0-0, 1.00, 96.0 SV%)
Boston: Tim Thomas (1-0-0, 4.00 GAA, 89.7 SV%), Manny Fernandez (0-1-0, 4.07 GAA, 84.6 SV%)

Who's Hot: Marc Savard has a two-game goal scoring streak. Savard scored two goals in the 3rd period in Minnesota on Saturday.

Who's Not: Although Patrice Bergeron has 3 assists in 2 games, he has yet to score a goal this season. Tonight would be a great time to get his first goal... Marco Sturm has yet to score a goal.

Recalled: Vladimir Sobotka and Matt Hunwick were both recalled from Providence yesterday and made the trip to Montreal. Sobotka will be in the line-up tonight, while Hunwick appears to be the healthy scratch along with Petteri Nokelainen.

Milestones: Aaron Ward is playing his 700th NHL game tonight... Michael Ryder faces his former team for the first time tonight, not counting pre-season.

Injuries: Chuck Kobasew, fracture in right leg suffered Oct. 9th, on crutches and out at least three weeks.

Fun Fact: The Bruins' next win in Montreal will be their 100th road victory in Montreal. How great would it be for the Bruins to win their 100th win the same night the Canadiens have their 100th home opener?

I won't be around at the start of the game, but will jump in blogging when I have access to a computer during the game. Check Twitter for updates until I can update on the blog.

Alberts traded

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I'll address the Bruins thing making the most news right now, or at least a little bit of news. The practice recap and photos will come later this afternoon.

Defenseman Andrew Alberts was traded this morning, during practice, to Philadelphia.

The Bruins receive Ned Lukacevic and a conditional 2009 fourth-round pick. The draft pick becomes a third-rounder if Alberts signs with Philadelphia when he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

I went to practice, arriving late and only saw Alberts for part of a drill. Then I saw him make his way over to the door to exit the ice while a drill was still going on. At first I thought it was weird because I never saw players leave for bathroom breaks before. Then the bad feeling started to seep in. He wasn't coming back. He was taken off the ice and he was taken off the Bruins.

At the end of practice I saw Dennis Wideman go over to the door and get the attention of the equipment manager. He talked to him for a minute, returned to the ice skating alone at center and shot a puck, then grabbed his extra stick and was the first one to leave the ice. Wideman is never first to leave after practices. That was the point I knew Alberts was traded or at least something had happened. Wideman and Alberts are close, often riding to practices together.

It seems the trade was a salary cap space saving move, which had to happen. I know that. It just sucks seeing another favorite player go to another team, especially to a team that came close to ending Patrice Bergeron's career and even Alberts' too. That is the only factor that makes Montreal look like a better option.

I never saw a "deal go down" before, so this is one for the hockey memory books. It ranks up there with finding out Adam Oates was traded after a game against the Flyers while waiting outside the old Boston Garden for his autograph.

6:12 p.m.

Peter Chiarelli broke the news to Alberts this morning, and said the defenseman was disappointed to hear the news. "I told him that sometimes you've got to do things now that you don't like doing," Chiarelli said. "I like him as a player. I like the way he competes. The way the system is now, you've got to be a little more proactive. He was a casualty of that."

The Irony

The Flyers needed a defenseman because Randy Jones, the player who knocked Bergeron out, is injured along with a couple of other defensemen. That's pretty much how Alberts got there.

Alberts will also have Scott Hartnell as a teammate, the same player who put him on the injured list last season.

Isn't that ironic?

“Yeah, that is ironic, but I don’t think that will be an issue,” Flyers’ general manager Paul Holmgren told Comcast SportsNet.com. “Andrew did miss a lot of time after that injury, but he’s fully healthy now. For whatever reason, he didn’t fit into the Bruins plans this season, but we can use him.”

Alberts answered some questions on the Flyers website.

Q: What is your reaction being traded to the Flyers?

AA: “I’m just excited for a new opportunity. Things were not apparently working out in Boston. The fact that I get to come here and contribute, I’m fortunate and excited.”

Q: What are your strengths?
AA: “I like to get back to being more physical. In the Boston system it is a little bit tough to run around and be physical. Hopefully I can get back to the way I played the first couple of years and be more physical. I just want to make smart plays and move the puck up the ice.”

The Flyers host the Montreal Canadiens tonight. Alberts is questionable for the game pending his arrival in Philadelphia.

Not so wild about it

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I would love to be able to post a captivating recap about Saturday's game against the Minnesota Wild, but I honestly didn't see enough to comment either way.

Manny Fernandez had the start against his former team, and Phil Kessel put the Bruins on the board first. The game was tied 1-1 after the first period. Not a bad start to it at all.

Then the Wild scored three goals in the 2nd period. Two goals seemed to come in such a short amount of time that by the time I walked to the back of work and back out again, two goals were scored.

In the third period, the Bruins tried to make a comeback with Marc Savard scoring two goals in the last eight minutes. But the Bruins lost 4-3.

Winger Petteri Nokelainen filled the void now left by Chuck Kobasew and the fracture in his leg. Andrew Alberts was a healthy scratch.

The Bruins came home for a few days before they venture north to Montreal for Wednesday's game.

Kudos to a co-worker who had the Bruins on one of the channels at work over a half hour before the game, and told me the channel in advance. That might have been the best part of the game.

Game Preview: Bruins vs. Wild

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The Bruins are in Minnesota as the Wild open their season tonight at home. The game will be broadcast on NESN starting at 8:30. No conflict with the Red Sox this year as their games are on TBS. The Bruins' pre-game show starts at 8 on NESN.

Tonight is the first match-up between these two teams this season. The Wild will visit Boston on January 6th. The Bruins are 1-6-0 lifetime against the Wild. The Bruins' last victory against the Wild came on December 15, 2005, which was the Bruins' first visit to Minnesota. These two teams did not play each other last season.

Goalies: Minnesota goaltender statistics are from the pre-season. Starters will be/are in bold.
Minnesota: John Harding (1-1-0, 2.83 GAA, 91.5 SV%), Niklas Backstrom (4-1-0, 1.69 GAA, 94.3 SV%)
Boston: Tim Thomas (1-0-0, 4.00 GAA, 89.7 SV%), Manny Fernadez (0-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 00.0 SV%)

Who's Hot: Marc Savard and David Krejci both had a goal and an assist in the season opener... Patrice Bergeron notched two assists as well.

Who's Not: Marco Sturm went pointless in the season opener. He should get on the scoreboard tonight... Chuck Kobasew who had two assists in the season opener is now out indefenitely with a fracture.

Injuries: Chuck Kobasew, fracture in right leg suffered Oct. 9th, out indefinitely. Teams do not have disclose injury specifics or how much time a player will miss.

Minnesota Ties: The Bruins players who have ties to Minnesota are Andrew Alberts (hometown Eden Prairie), Mark Stuart (Rochester), Blake Wheeler (Plymouth). Wheeler and Phil Kessel also played college hockey at the University of Minnesota. Fernandez played six seasons with the Wild, and shut out the Bruins on March 18, 2004.

Thoughts on the first game

I thought the Bruins played a good game overall on Thursday night. They were badly out-shot in the first period, where their defensive breakout was fairly good, but they couldn't generate any sustained offensive pressure. As the game went on, they got better. I look at the game as a "first day on the job" type deal where players know what's expected, but mistakes are still prone to happen.

The Bruins won, which is what matters at the end of 60 minutes, and if the win is ugly or great, that doesn't matter after the fact. The Bruins do have some areas to improve on, and they will. It was only game one of an 82 game season.

Tim Thomas had a good game as well. Although he flopped more than he butterflied, I think that was due the defense collapsing around him more times than not. The important thing is Thomas made some great saves (on Sakic in the first), and he made the game-breaking saves when the team needed him to. As the Versus analysts said after the game, the Avalanche scored enough goals to win, but Peter Budaj allowed more than Thomas.

I have faith the Bruins will get stronger through this road trip, and even better before their home opener on the 20th.

Forward Chuck Kobasew was hit by a shot during the game, and was in a walking cast yesterday. The Bruins were waiting for results of an X-ray to determine if it was fractured. If Kobasew misses time, the Bruins could get Petteri Nokelainen down from the press box and into the line-up. Another option GM Peter Chiarelli mentioned was Andrew Alberts subbing in for wing, something that hasn't been down since the Mike Sullivan days. If the team is that desperate to get Alberts in the line-up, I would home he would remain on the blueline.

The Bruins are in Minnesota right now and will be having their morning skate after the Wild are done with theirs. Check back later for a preview.

Live-blog: Bruins vs. Avalanche

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Bruins fans had to wait an additional 20 minutes for the puck to drop.

Starters: Thomas, Bergeron, Sturm, Kessel, Ward, Chara. Bergeron is wearing the permanent 'A' this season, and Axelsson has the rotating 'A'.

Andy Brickley is working the game for Versus.

First: Less than 15 seconds in and Thomas already made a save. Yelle had a nice rush, but former Bruins Guite checked the puck away. I do need to add that it is great seeing Bergeron in a regular season game again. Bruins have a nice breakout going from the defensive zone, but can't generate any pressure in the offensive zone yet. Yelle set up Lucic for the first shot on goal. Bruins went offside at the first TV timout. Kessel puts the Bruins on top on a turnover by the Avalanche at 6:21. The TV timeout seemed to help the Bruins offensive game. Chara buried Jones behind the Bruins' goal. Chara got a penalty for boarding at 9:17. Bergeron had a shorthanded breakaway and Budaj saved it. Never did I want Bergeron to score a goal so bad as then, especially since the Avalanche tied the game with a power play goal scored by Hejduk. Wheeler scored his first NHL goal at 10:51, assisted by Krejci and Kobasew. Thomas made some huge saves on Wolski and Sakic, the beauty of the save coming on Sakic's chance that I think had all fans thinking it was going in. Bruins gave a lengthy 5-on3 to the Avalanche after Ference went off for hooking at 12:41 and was followed 4 seconds later by Ward for a delay of game penalty. The 5-on-3 penalty killers did a great job. Then Wolski scored on the 5-on-4 power play advantage. End of the period, score is tied 2-2.

Second: Budaj made a save on Bergeron. Avalanche got a penalty. Guite almost had a shot at a breakaway, but the puck reached Thomas first. Avalanche killed the penalty off. Thomas made a nice save. (I'm not sure why I don't type much during second periods, but I guess when I do, the Avalanche score.) McLeod got the goal. Bruins defense is collapsing right before our eyes. Bruins are on the power play and they scored, Savard was credited with the goal. He tipped a Chara shot from the point. And Ward shoots the puck from the point and breaks some glass behind the net. They elected to go to intermission now and add the time to the third period. Score is tied 3-3.

Last 2:47 of Second: Thomas made a save on Smyth. And he made a save on Hejduk. A little pushing in front of the net after the save. The net camera did not flatter the back of Thomas during one of those saves. Another save by Thomas. Wheeler got his first penalty with 24 seconds left in the period. Score is still 3-3 after two periods.

Third: Avalanche start the period on the power play. Thomas made another save. Ryder scores his first Bruins goal at 5:36, which is also his 100th NHL goal. The goal was assisted by Savard and Axelsson. Bruins lead 4-3. Avalanche tie the game at 10:17, goal scored by Leopold. Game is tied 4-4. All I want is a win. Bruins had a couple of chances, followed by a couple Avalanche chances. Krejci puts the Bruins on top 5-4 with a little over 2 minutes remaining in the game. (I would have typed more before that, but I started yawning anytime I tried to start.) Kobasew and Lucic had the assists. Bergeron picks up a tripping penalty with 1:41 remaining. Nothing like making it a little exciting. Bruins did a good job during the first minute of the penalty. Thomas made a save. 33 seconds left in the game. Budaj is pulled and sitting on the bench for the extra attacker. Colorado called a timeout. Pile up in front of the net with 1.1 second to go. Thomas seemed to be shaken up as he didn't move much after the pile cleared, but he seems okay. Bruins win 5-4!

Ending the live-blog at 12:48 a.m. I will post a recap and thoughts later today.

Pass some time

Need some help passing time during the next six hours? This won't take six hours to do, but it should take about five minutes if you spend some time on each player.

The new Bruins players' profile pictures are up! It's always nice to see how much they've changed and to put real faces with new additions to the team. To me, Dennis Wideman looks the most changed from last season. In fact, I could barely recognize Wideman the first couple days of training camp. Phil Kessel looks different as well.

So there are your 2008-2009 Boston Bruins.

Game Preview: Bruins vs. Avalanche

The Bruins open the 2008-2009 season against the Colorado Avalanche tonight. The game will be televised on VERSUS and VERSUS HD starting at 10. Bear with me as I get back into the hockey swing of things. I’m going to be trying a few different things in the game previews this season.

Tonight is the first and only match-up between the Bruins and Avalanche this season. This is the third straight season the Bruins open on the road. The Bruins are 6-20-5 lifetime in road openers. The Bruins are winless in their last five openers, 0-4-1.

Goalies: The starters' names will be bolded once they’re known. Note that the stats are from the pre-season.
Colorado: Peter Budaj (2-0-0, 1.89 GAA, 93.6 SV%), Andrew Raycroft (2-1-0, 3.90 GAA, 83.1 SV%)
Boston: Tim Thomas (0-3-0, 3.35 GAA, 89.6 SV%), Manny Fernandez (2-1-0, 3.29 GAA, 85.9 SV%)

Who’s Hot & Who’s Not: The “Hot” section is be for players who are in the midst of scoring streaks or are coming off a great game. The “Not” section is for players who are in a slump or are not playing their best hockey. It’s hard to pick anybody for tonight’s game since pre-season doesn’t really count, but if I had to choose, the “Hot” would be Andrew Ference who scored 6 points in 4 pre-season games; Patrice Bergeron also had 6 points in 6 pre-season games; Blake Wheeler (1-4-5 in 6 games) for making the roster out of camp. The “Not” would be Peter Schaefer who was waived yesterday.

Former Bruins: This section will name the former Bruins on the opposing team. Tonight, the Bruins will likely face Raycroft in goal. If Raycroft gets the nod tonight, it will be his 200th NHL game. Boston drafted Raycroft, and he won the Calder Trophy during the 2003-2004 season. The other former Bruin is Ben Guite who spent time in Providence and made his NHL debut with Boston in the 2005-2006 season.

2:13 p.m. The puck drops at 10:20 tonight. Thomas is starting in goal. The healthy scratches are Andrew Alberts and Petteri Nokelainen.

2008-2009 Season Opener Contest

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I came up with the idea late last night to have a little season opener contest. I didn't want it to be as complex as last season's opening contest, so this year it's a little more simple.

The Bruins open their season tomorrow in Colorado. The game can be seen on Versus.

Copy and paste the following with your picks in the comments to participate. Contest entries will close Thursday at 9:30 p.m. (Eastern).

Roster moves

The Bruins made their first roster move of the day, reportedly placing Peter Schaefer on waivers. Schaefer did not have a good training camp, going pointless in the pre-season. He was hindered by hip flexor stiffness during camp. Schaefer's salary is $2.1 million.

Blake Wheeler is at practice, indicating he will be on the opening night roster and he has made the team.

There are 26 players practicing, leaving three more players to be cut.

12:49 p.m. The Bruins placed Nate Thompson and Jeremy Reich on waivers. Matt Hunwick has been assigned to Providence. No real surprises there. Hunwick had a good camp, but I think some time in Providence won't hurt. I hope the Bruins don't lose Thompson on waivers. Thompson and Reich both have to clear to be assigned to Providence. Peter Chiarelli said there could be one more move.

1:20 p.m. Carl Soderberg has been assigned to Malmo. I figure that was a formality since Soderberg wasn't in training camp.

Check this post later for more updates throughout the day as more roster moves happen. I will try to get information up as soon as possible.

Questions

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The Bruins concluded their pre-season over the weekend splitting two games. The Bruins lost on Saturday 3-1 against the Islanders, and won yesterday in a 5-4 shootout victory over the Capitals. Their pre-season record was 3-4-1.

Training camp is usually a time where questions are answered. This year seemed to add more questions. Some questions can’t be answered right now or by the season opener, but they will be answered eventually.

1) Will Blake Wheeler make the team?
2) Why didn’t Marc Savard, a veteran who wore the alternate ‘A’ for 51 games last season, not wear it once during the pre-season?
3) Will Manny Fernandez have an injury-free season?
4) What will become of Peter Schaefer?
5) Will Peter Chiarelli trade any players before Wednesday? And if so, what type of player is he looking to acquire?
6) Will Tim Thomas remain the no. 1 goaltender in Boston?
7) Will we see Tuukka Rask playing significant time in Boston during the season?
8) Will all of the defensemen remain on the roster?
9) Will the Bruins have more offense this season? Will it come from Michael Ryder?
10) Will Vladimir Sobotka, Petteri Nokelainen, David Krejci and Matt Hunwick be in the line-up on Thursday?

Those are some of the questions I have. It will be an interesting couple of days. The front office has many different ways to make up the 2008-2009 Boston Bruins. My only wish is it’s a playoff bound team that can advance to the second round.

A look at statistics

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The Bruins are 2-3-1 in pre-season games. There are two games left this pre-season, but here's a quick look at the team's statistics leaders so far. I will post the final and more in-depth statistics on Monday after the pre-season is finished. I wanted something to reference going into the final pre-season weekend.

Goalie (Record) GPI MINS GAA GA SA SV%
Tuukka Rask (1-0-1) 2 122 1.48 3 63 95.2
Kevin Regan (0-0-0) 1 20 3.00 1 7 85.7
Manny Fernandez (1-1-0) 2 99 3.03 5 40 87.5
Tim Thomas (0-2-0) 2 118 4.07 8 61 86.9

I didn't realize Rask outplayed Fernandez and Thomas by that much. I can now see why he was disappointed he was sent down. I hope both Fernandez and Thomas can improve their stats after this weekend.

Player GP G A PTS
Andrew Ference 3 2 3 5
Patrice Bergeron 4 1 4 5
P.J. Axelsson 4 3 1 4
Marco Sturm 4 2 2 4
Vladimir Sobotka 4 2 1 3
Blake Wheeler 4 1 2 3
David Krejci 2 0 3 3
Andrew Alberts 4 0 3 3
Dennis Wideman 4 1 1 2
Phil Kessel 2 0 2 2
Shawn Thornton 4 0 2 2
Zdeno Chara 1 1 0 1
Aaron Ward 3 1 0 1
Petteri Nokelainen 3 1 0 1
Jeremy Reich 4 1 0 1
Michael Ryder 4 1 0 1
Stephane Yelle 3 0 1 1
Milan Lucic 4 0 1 1
Matt Hunwick 4 0 1 1

Shane Hnidy (1 game), Chuck Kobasew (2 games), Peter Schaefer (2 games), Nate Thompson (4 games) and Mark Stuart (4 games) don't have any points during pre-season. I left them out of the table, as well as the players who were already assigned to Providence, their junior clubs or released in general. But all players will be included in the final table on Monday.

Update: The final table of statistics is done and can be seen here.

It pays to have some faith

I went to Bruins practice today before the team held their media day. Practice was held at the Garden and from experience in past years, I would get there early only to find out there was no way to get inside and would have to turn around and go home (or back to school when I was attending Suffolk University).

Before committing to going to Boston, I e-mailed a source to see if doors would in fact be open for practice. The source responded promptly after contacting the team and said the doors would be wide open.

I was still a little hesitant, but since it came straight from the team, I had to have a little faith. Being my fashionable self, I was fashionably late, arriving at least a half hour after practice started. It seemed I missed quite a bit of action in some drills too, but that's my own fault for being late.

From the little I did see, this team is one of the closest I have seen in years. Before players would kind of branch off into their own little cliques after practice, or leave the ice early, and it would always be the same. Now it doesn't matter who works with who, what they're doing and they seem to generally have fun, even during practice drills.

Claude Julien speaks to his players on a one-on-one basis often. I haven't seen that since before Dave Lewis. The assistant coaches do the same thing. It's refreshing to see that.

The Bruins have two pre-season games left, tomorrow against the Islanders and Sunday in Washington. Manny Fernandez was the first off the ice today, so I would gather he is starting tomorrow.

I'll be going to the game and updating Twitter during the game.

Scenarios for the next week

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The Boston Bruins open the 2008-2009 season in one week, and there are some things that can happen between now and then. The Bruins currently have 27 players in camp and must get down to 23 by opening night. That leaves some unanswered questions and a number of possible answers.

Some of the questions start a ripple effect and could lead to other things happening, that would need to happen for the first thing to be able to happen. Case in point is Blake Wheeler and his $2.825 million price tag. Wheeler has played well enough during camp to all but solidify his spot on the big club, but will his salary hold him back? If he plays in the next two pre-season games as well as he has in previous games, he could very well be in the starting line-up on October 9th.

The salary is the little pebble in the shoe. If Wheeler makes the team, that puts the Bruins over the salary cap if all of the current players remain here. That means one of the current players would have to be traded or waived, or a combination of players to give the Bruins the cap space they need.

General manager Peter Chiarelli has stated there is a 50% chance of a trade happening by opening night. The chances that a trade won’t happen and Wheeler starts the season in Providence also seem like they’re at 50% as well. But something needs to give if Claude Julien wants to put the best team he can on the ice this season.

“We need to put the best team on the ice that’s available,” said Julien. “Somehow we’ve got to make it work.” - Source

In strictly a numbers game, the likely candidates to be traded or waived would be any of the following: Peter Schaefer ($2.1 million), Jeremy Reich ($487,500), P.J. Axelsson ($1.85 million). There have been some rumors circulating around Marc Savard ($5 million) and Phil Kessel ($2.2 million). I won’t count the defensemen out either with Andrew Ference ($1.4 million) and Andrew Alberts ($1.25 million).

An anonymous agent was quoted saying that the Savard trade talk has been floating around for a while. But would the Bruins be willing to deal their top scorer? It has happened before.

I could see the next week happening in three different ways. The first is Wheeler starting the season in Providence and the Bruins not having to worry about shedding any more salary. The second is Wheeler making the team, and the Bruins making a move to shed a little salary, be it Schaefer or Axelsson. The third is the Bruins making a heck of a splash and trading their top scorer.

Tuukka Rask, Matt Lashoff, Jeff Penner and Martin St. Pierre were assigned to Providence leaving four more cuts need to take place. Using today’s practice line-up, it’s even hard for me to predict which players will be cut. I’ll say if I was the coach and had to make these cuts, I’d assign Matt Hunwick, Jeremy Reich and Nate Thompson to Providence, and make a minor trade involving Shane Hnidy.

I can’t believe how stacked the team is right now. It really is hard to cut anybody outside of Hunwick and Thompson. Players like David Krejci and Vladimir Sobotoka should be on the opening night roster.

The final cuts should come after Saturday's game.

"We've got some tough decisions," said Julien. "Some of it involves upper management. Some of it involves us as coaches." - Source

If you were in the position that Julien and Chiarelli are currently in, what would you do? Who would you cut? Would to send Wheeler to Providence? Would you make a blockbuster trade?