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Bish's Blog

Game Day: Bruins @ Devils

Boston looks for their 6th straight win at "The Rock"

Tuesday, 12.23.2008 / 10:26 AM / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop  - BostonBruins.com
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Game Day: Bruins @ Devils
John Bishop is the beat writer for BostonBruins.com. He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
Boston 0 0 2-2

New Jersey 0 0 0-0

First Period-None.

Second Period-None.

Third Period-1, Boston, Lucic 10 (Chara, Hnidy), :49. 2, Boston, Krejci 13, 19:12 (en).

Shots on Goal-Boston 9-9-6-24. New Jersey 9-9-7-25.

Goalies-Boston, Thomas. New Jersey, Clemmensen. A-16,305 (17,625). T-2:17.

---
0:00 - Bruins win...

47.8 - Open net, Krejci sends it down the ice and scores! 2-0, Boston.

1:09 - Clemmensen is out. Six forwards on the ice for New Jersey.

1:19 - Lucic and Kessel combine for another nice scoring chance. Clemmensen has been very strong.

1:36 - A lucky break. Offsides, New Jersey. Time out Devils.

2:53 - Zubris shoots, Thomas saves.

3:47 - Zajac puts one right into the spoked-B on Tim's chest. Another faceoff.

4:01 - Another save by Thomas, this time on Gionta.

4:52 - Boston is really making it difficult for the NJD to get into their zone and are winning the key battles in the neutral zone.

6:44 - Thomas stops Holik.

10:48 - Gotta head to the locker room. Hang on...

11:48 - Kessel fed to Lucic on a two-on-one and Lucic just couldn't find the handle...

13:55 - Some good action both ways, but it's the Bruins defense who is keeping things from getting too hairy in the Bruins end.

17:51 - Gionta(?) hits the post...scary.

19:11 - Following a Bruins faceoff win, pure hard work (and a Bucyk style shot) by Milan Lucic nets the B's the lead. Milan now has 10 goals. Give assists to Chara and Hnidy.

That's points in eight straight for Luch.

19:55 - Boston wins the draw, Lucic controls and brings it into the zone.

20:00 - Start of the Third Period. Next goal wins? BTW: shots are tied 18-18.
---
0:00 - A more exciting period, but the contest is still knotted at 0-0.

1:20 - Rolston with a slash. He goes to the box for 2-minutes.

2:03 - The hitting has increased...

4:09 - That might have been Tim's best save of the season. After stopping a slapper off a two-on-one breakaway, Thomas kicked the rebound to Elias who had all 6' x 4' to work with but found Tim's goal paddle, instead.

6:22 - Johnny Bucyk thinks it probably would have missed the net, but Clemmensen dove across his crease to catch a puck a la a baseball outfielder.

9:44 - Thornton courageously takes on Rupp at the end of his shift -- Rupp had taken out Dennis Wideman and Vladimir Sobotka, and Shawn had seen enough. I say that it was a TKO for Thornton, who seemed to land two heavy rights and at least a couple of jabs at Rupp's face with the hand holding the sweater of the Devils center. Thornton also got the take down.

10:23 - More good work by David Krejci's line. They kept the puck in the zone for over a minute...

12:45 - Another pile up. No Penalties.

12:57 - Axelsson just made it interesting and almost found Clemmensen's five hole with an innocent looking shot.

13:43 - Chara with a shot on goal. Clemmensen holds on. Snoooooze.

14:11 - At least two huge saves for Thomas.

18:04 - Kessel is in the box for -- come on, come on -- hooking.

18:44 - It's the Devils who have come out of the first break on fire...

20:00 - Start of the Second Period. How about a goal, boys?
---
0:00 - Wow. That was a pretty slow period. It wasn't the fault of the Bruins, who had some excellent scoring opportunities. The vaunted Bruins and Devils defense is working in all of its glory tonight.

2:01 - Yelle, in the box, for -- you guessed it -- hooking.

2:15 - Icing Boston...

3:27 - Clemmensen comes up big, first on Ryder, then on St. Pierre.

5:27 - That was a quick power play for the Devils. Parise is in the box for a hook.

5:33 - Matt Hunwick is in the box for Boston with a hook.

6:43 - We've hit a lull, my friends.

8:34 - Thomas boxes a Parise drive and is forced to hold on for a stoppage. Shots are tied at 5-5.

10:08 - This time it's the St. Pierre line that baffles the Devils defense and garner's the same result.

11:05 - Krejci's line befuddles the Devils "D" and Clemmensen grabs a puck that was scurrying by his net and holds on for the draw.

12:00 - Thomas takes the Devils most recent shot in the stomach and smothers it down for the faceoff.

12:37 - Shane Hnidy may have just saved a goal with a nice poke check off Thomas'  right post.

13:55 - Clarkson hit the crossbar and the crowd goes, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh."

15:30 - Langenbrunner puts a tough one on Timmy, who turns it aside.

17:47 - Some really nice movement by the second power play unit -- Wideman's final bid is knocked out of play.

18:54 - Clemmensen has to make his first save, a tough stop of a Ryder drive from the point.

19:20 - A pile up in front of Timmy's first save and cover. Clarkson and Chara push and shove, but Holik is in the box for interference.

19:57 - The Devils win the draw...

20:00 - Start of the First Period. Sheldon Brookbank and Bryce Salvador are not in the lineup for the NJD, so that may spare Boston's Thornton and Lucic from having to drop the gloves tonight.

Boston Starters: Axelsson, Yelle, Kobasew, Chara, Stuart, Thomas
New Jersey Starters: Greene, Mottau, Rolston, Holik, Clarkson, Clemmensen

Switching to time on the clock...

6:38 p.m.
Here are the lines...
Lucic - Savard - Kessel
Axelsson - Yelle - Kobasew
Wheeler - Krejci - Ryder
Sobotka - St. Pierre - Thornton
Chara - Stuart
Hunwick - Wideman
Lashoff - Hnidy
Thomas
Fernandez

Scratches:
Nokelainen, Sturm, A. Ward, Bergeron


6:30 p.m.
It's Thomas and Clemmensen in goal. They just led the Bruins and Devils out of the locker rooms.


5:11 p.m.
Former BC Eagles goalie, and tonight's likely starter for New Jersey, Scott Clemmensen, was in the hallway as WBZ, NESN and I walked in the building and toward the Media Lounge.

And that reminded me of the collegiate (i.e. NCAA Ice Hockey) all-star game that we have going tonight...

Not only do the Bruins have Chuck Kobasew from Boston College, Matt Hunwick from Michigan, Mark Stuart from Colorado College, Tim Thomas from Vermont and Phil Kessel & Blake Wheeler from Minnesota in the lineup tonight, but the Devils have Andy Greene from Miami, Jay Leach from Providence, John Madden from Michigan, Paul Martin from Minnesota, Clemmensen, Brian Gionta & Mike Mottau from BC, Jay Pandolfo from Boston U, Rod Pelley from Ohio State, Brian Rolston from Lake Superior, and Zach Parise and Travis Zajac from North Dakota.

And hey, up in the press box, let's throw in Peter Chiarelli from Harvard, Lou Lamoriello from PC, Bob Beers from Maine and Andy Brickley from New Hampshire.

Not bad.

BTW:
Thinking of Hockey East and Beanpot Alumni, Gionta, Kobasew, and Clemmensen were all on the 2001 Boston College team thatt won the NCAA Championship. Pandolfo was on BU's National Championship team from 2005.


3:21 p.m.
USA Today's Mike Brehm mentioned two of the Bruins best young stars in his Rink Report this morning.

He writes:
The rookie race is more wide open after Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derick Brassard was pronounced out for the season.
The rookie scoring co-leader will have surgery next month for a separated shoulder, which he hurt while fighting the Dallas Stars' James Neal.


Now, I was not so quick to embrace the inference that Brassard was the top choice to begin with, but I must say that I truly agree with Brehm about two of his picks, Matt Hunwick and Blake Wheeler.

Brehm Continues:
Blake Wheeler, Boston: Wheeler, once drafted fifth overall while in high school, was signed by the Bruins as a free agent. His 11 goals are tied for the rookie lead and his plus 19 rating leads rookies...Matt Hunwick, Boston: The defenseman was called up because of injuries and has cracked the top 10 in rookie scoring while averaging 17-plus minutes a night.

You can read more about Blake Wheeler, here. Last month Matt Hunwick was featured, here.


3:14 p.m.
Shawn's interview was excellent. You can listen here.


1:01 p.m.
Hey! Shawn Thornton will be on WEEI's the Dale & Holley Show (with Mike Milbury filling in for Michael Holley) at 1:10 p.m.


12:32 p.m.
All 20 Bruins were on the ice and Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the rink.

Gotta catch the bus. More in a bit. JB


9:32 a.m.

We're here at the Prudential Center and the Bruins are starting to trickle in to the building...

Head Equipment Manager Mark Dumas and assistant equipment manager Keith Robinson worked in the room yesterday and are in full swing this morning -- "Dumie" is sharpening skates and "Keato" is taking care of the equipment needs of the guys who just arrived via shuttle bus.

As usual, Don Delnegro, the club's head athletic trainer, and assistant athletic trainer and massage therapist Derek Repucci, are already ready to start taping the players for the morning skate. They'll work on whatever might ail the club when the players show up on the main bus from the hotel, which should be here in about an hour.

Brant Berglund, the B's video analyst, another classmate of mine from Boston University (joining B's beat writers Fluto Shinzawa and Matt Kalman as former BU students who "studied" college hockey under Pux Professor Jack Parker and the late-great BU COM prof Jack Falla), has been preparing video all morning and set up a presentation for the team meeting.

B's goalie Manny Fernandez is also already here, and like several of the other players and coaches, took a cab over pretty early.

Soon, I expect to see Marc Savard come in the door and start working on his three "game sticks", which are perfectly groomed and painted and put out right in front of his locker. It is pretty fun to watch him craft those composite twigs in a way that reminds me of what I read about Red Sox legend and his own habit of babying his famous bats.

As far as I am concerned, this is the best time to be in the rink (besides game time), because you can get so much done. And, if time permits, I can learn a lot about "the game" itself by watching Dumas or Robinson or Manny or Marc or maybe getting a second to ask a coach a question.

Fun stuff for sure...

Devilish thinking
The New Jersey Devils are 19-9-3 and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. At home, the NJD are 11-5-1 and the Bruins are 11-4-3 on the road. Those stats, contrasted with the B's 24-5-4 and 9-1-0 in their last 10, make tonight's tilt a battle between two of the league's hottest teams.

Goaltending continues to be a story in New Jersey, but it's not necessarily because Martin Brodeur is out and on injured reserve for a torn bicep.

Former Boston College Eagle Scott Clemmensen is 11-3-1 with a .921 Sv% and a 2.30 GAA. Clemmensen backstopped the Devils to a 3-2 shootout victory on December 21st. He is 4-0-1 in his last five.

On the flip side, Boston continues to put on a goaltending clinic.

Tim Thomas is 13-3-3 with a 2.15 GAA (tied for 3rd in the league) and a .932 Sv% (good for 2nd). Manny Fernandez, at 11-2-1, carries a 2.09 GAA (2nd in the NHL) and a .903 Sv% (6th).

Fernandez, in goal for Boston's 6-3 win over St. Louis on Sunday, said afterward, "They don't get any tougher than this."

"It was a tough game -- a real tough game...but we stuck in the there and had a good third period. And, from there, we were able to get the win."

Fernandez, who has a bit of nastiness in front of the goal, was battling - literally - with the Blues who were crashing his net all night.

"They must've watched tape or listened to the media, because they were sending me a lot of traffic in front of the net...but I was trying to fight through it and battle with the guys in front and push [them] out...it wasn't easy."

Tonight won't get any easier, as the Devils boast another tough, hardworking club and New Jersey's Zach Parise is fourth in scoring, tied with Boston's Marc Savard with 40 points. Parise also has 18 goals (5th).

But the Devils have their own issues to worry about -- namely Savard and his assists, Phil Kessel and his 21 goals (3rd in the NHL) and Savard (+20, 3rd) and Blake Wheeler's (+19, 5th) plus-minus rating.

On top of all of that, as a team, Boston is first in GAA (2.21) and Goals For (3.70), which outdistances New Jersey on both accounts.

It should be a beauty.

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