Game Day: Islanders vs. Bruins
Bruins look to rebound against New York
Monday, 11.16.2009 / 10:17 AM ET / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
I have some running around to do, pregame. Look for the in-game live blog here at 6:30 p.m.
Pregame Pressbox Notes
Storylines: The first time these two teams met this year, the Bruins rallied from a 3-0 third period deficit to claim a 4-3 shootout win on October 10. They expect a similar hard-fought battle tonight.
“They are a hardworking team,” said head coach Claude Julien after today’s morning skate. “They’ve got a lot of young talent. They’ve got good coaching and they come out and they play hard every game. So those three things put together makes up for a good game every night and that’s why they are where they are right now.”
The Isles have only two regulation losses in their last fourteen games and have jumped in to the top eight in the conference.
“They haven’t lost much and have only had a couple of losses in regulation in the last dozen games or so,” said Julien. “That kind of tells you what kind of games they give other teams.”
One of the keys to New York’s recent success has been the production from their power play. The Islanders have converted six of their last 14 opportunities with a man advantage, a sizzling 42.9 percent clip. However, something has to give tonight, as the Bruins have been equally potent on their penalty kill, having killed off their last 17 straight times short over the last five games (100 percent).
Following tonight’s game, the Bruins will embark on a four-game road trip with visits to Atlanta, Buffalo, St. Louis and Minnesota. The Islanders, meanwhile, are in the midst of a season-long seven game road trip and have claimed points in their first three, with a 1-0-2 record.
|David Ortiz (photo: Bigpapisgrille.com)|
Streaking: With three goals in his last two games, the first overall pick in this year’s draft John Tavares enters tonight’s game with a two-game goal streak, as well as a four-game point streak in progress (3--in his last four). Teammate Mark Streit also has a four-game point streak, with 2-3=5 totals over that span.
300: Islanders defenseman Mark Streit will be playing in his 300th NHL game tonight.
Special Teams Watch: The Bruins rank 26th in the NHL on the power play overall (13.6%) and 25th at home (13.3%). They rank 7th on the PK overall (83.6%) and 13th at home (82.6%).
The Islanders rank 8th on the PP overall (22.5%) and 10th on the road (23.3%). They rank 20th on the PK overall (79.2%) and tied for 23rd on the road (75.5%).
Updated Community Appearance: Please note that the Turkey Sorting appearance which was originally scheduled for tomorrow (and listed in Friday’s Week Ahead Release) has been postponed. In place of this appearance, Johnny Boychuk and Daniel Paille will now be visiting the Roxbury Boys and Girls Club tomorrow to serve Thanksgiving dinner with the help of the Greater Boston Food Bank.
Where: Roxbury Boys and Girls Club, 115 Warren St; Roxbury, MA
When: Tuesday, November 17th: 3:30-5PM
Fingers Crossed for Thursday
As far as Milan Lucic's recovery is concerned, it sounds as if things remain on track.
"He's good," said Julien during his early afternoon press availability. "[He's] doing well.
"He’s getting better every day...[and] he’s on schedule."
I stopped Shawn Thornton and Steve Begin before they left the rink and asked if the energy line's role will be more important tonight in light of the tough ending to Saturday's game.
"I don’t think any night more so." said Thornton. "We have to be the same every single night or we’re in trouble.
"In our heads we have to try and play the same way every single night. It doesn’t matter about the situation. We've just got to come out and play hard and keep pucks down low, bang bodies, keep it simple.
"We’ve got to do that every night."
Will Thornton attemp to lighten the mood tonight?
"Well I’m not afraid to chirp anyone that’s for sure, but I think ...the guys are a little bit [angry] about the loss.
"But I don’t think it broke our confidence. So I don’t think we need to hit the big red panic button.
"I think we’ll be just fine," he said.
Thornton's linemate Steve Begin had similar sentiments.
"Every game we have to show up and bring in energy," he said. "We've got to go out there, do our job, keep it simple, and just skate.
"And I know those two guys [Thornton and Byron Bitz] are going to bring energy for sure. I mean they work hard. They make sure they get first to the puck when we dump it in and that’s what we have to do.
"I mean we have to keep playing in the same way we’ve been playing and that’s our job and that’s how we bring in energy," he said.
And if any of the Bruins look a little down in the mouth?
"Well you’ve got to give a little pat on the shin pad -- you know a little tap, and talk to him and make sure he’s [ready to go].
I mean everybody has their ups and downs...It’s a long season. Eighty-two games.
"So you've got to make sure everybody’s on the same page and we have to keep our heads up.
"I mean hockey is not an easy sport, things happen, and...the main thing we have to stay positive and look ahead. Tonight is a big game. Last game [is in the] past, we’ve learned from it and now we have to look ahead and win games," he said.
And why not have a little fun while you are at it.
"You have to," said Begin. "It’s a fun game. I mean you have to have fun playing hockey. If you don’t have fun that’s where it gets harder and harder.
"I mean you need to have fun to win games, if you don’t have fun out there that’s when you make mistakes. I mean you’re mistakes are always there, you learn from that, but you have to show up, work hard, but at the same time you have to have fun."
"Well they certainly gave us a run for our money [during their last meeting on October 10]," said Julien. "They are a hardworking team. They’ve got a lot of young talent. They’ve got good coaching and they come out and they play hard every game.
"So those three things put together makes up for a good game every night and that’s why they are where they are right now.
"They haven’t lost much and have only had a couple of losses in regulation in the last dozen games or so. That kind of tells you what kind of games they give other teams," he said.
But knowing Islander's head coach (and former Providence head coach) Scott Gordon so well, could be helpful. Maybe?
"I don’t think there is much that gets left unnoticed...with video and stuff like that," said Julien. "We have a pretty good idea of how each other coaches.
"But that doesn’t make it easier for the coach to know what’s going on the other side [and knowing him well] doesn’t make the game any different once you are on the ice."
The B's have finished their pregame activities. Tuukka Rask was the first goalie to leave the ice after the morning skate and should be in goal when the Bruins face the Islanders this evening.
Around the net
The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa reports that Saturday was the first time all season that David Krejci, Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler all scored in one game.
Before his goal, Ryder had rotated to serve as a high man and was in the right position to pick off a clearing pass at the Pittsburgh blue line. Once Ryder settled the puck, the shoot-first wing wasted little time roofing a shot under the crossbar for only his fourth goal.
“I think we were more around the net,’’ Ryder said. “We weren’t spread out as much. When we’ve got guys there, we can throw pucks at the net. We managed to score five goals, and that doesn’t happen very often with this team and we lose a game. It’s a good thing we got five goals as a team. We’ve just got to make sure we’re a little better defensively next game.’’
After seeing the B's play world class defense and some terrific offense, The Boston Herald's Steve Harris says that the B's have to aim to play a complete game.
The confounding thing about the Bruins [team stats] is that they aren’t that far away from being a good team. None of their last dozen opponents would dispute that, even if the B’s record in that span is a rather mediocre 5-3-4.
The problem is the team’s inability to perform well both offensively and defensively within the same game.
“If we can put it all together, this will be a pretty good effort,” coach Claude Julien said yesterday.
For several games, the B’s team defense was exceptional, but there was little offense to support it. And the opposite was true Saturday night in Pittsburgh: The attack erupted for five goals, its best output since the second game of the season, but the defense was poor.
The net result: a crazy, 6-5 overtime loss to the Penguins.
Wes Goldstein, of CBS Sports, has his eyes on the enemy camp, and rookie standout John Tavares.
Officially, the New York Islanders organizational policy is to avoid using the "S" word in reference to John Tavares.
Deep down though, the Islanders understand it fits. They knew it last June when Tavares created enough of a buzz for 10,000 fans to show up at the Nassau Coliseum for a draft party to see him taken first overall.
And they realized it again in Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss to the Panthers in Florida, when Tavares picked up his sagging team in the third period with a goal and an assist, triggering a comeback that earned New York a point for the fourth consecutive game. Tavares has been on the score sheet in all of those games,
three times with multiple points, and is New York's top scorer.
Meanwhile the Islanders are showing real signs of improvement, going 6-2-2 over the past 10 games and staying about the playoff cutoff line to this point. Yet for the time being, they would still rather let the rest
of the hockey world use the word savior to describe this rookie's importance to the franchise.
It's not self-serving that way, you understand.
And besides, no one ever went wrong by toning down expectations.
"Savior is not how we approach it; it's not about John saving the franchise," says coach Scott Gordon.
The Bruins are heading onto the ice for morning skate, one-by-one.