Game Day: Lightning vs. Bruins
Tampa Bay comes to Boston looking to shock the Bruins
Wednesday, 12.2.2009 / 4:45 PM ET / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
Tonight's in-game live blog is up and running. Click the link to the right to join -------->
Press Box Notes
Storylines: The Bruins announced Tuesday afternoon that the team has locked up playmaking center Marc Savard with a seven-year contract extension through the 2016-17 NHL season. Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli and Savard held a press conference after the team’s morning skate today.
“I think I stated earlier in some articles that I wanted to stay in Boston for the rest of my career and it looks like I’m going to have that chance,” said Savard. “I’m happy about that and over the past couple of years I’ve watched this town grow back into a hockey town and hopefully our goal as a team and staff comes true, that we can bring a Cup here to Boston.”
Savard and the rest of the Bruins have only lost one game in regulation in their last 12, with a 7-1-4 record during that span. The Black & Gold have needed extra time to decide a winner in three straight games and seven of their last nine. Tonight, the B’s will face a Lightning squad that currently sits in the eight spot in the East with a 10-7-8 record and 28 points.
Last year’s number one overall pick Steven Stamkos has gotten off to a great start to his sophomore season, as he currently leads the team in goals scored (17) and points (29). His 17 goals are currently the fourth most in the entire NHL.
Connections: Mark Recchi played 62 games in Tampa last season prior to his March trade to Boston. Bruins Assistant Coach Craig Ramsay is a former Tampa Bay assistant and won the Cup with the Lightning as as assistant coach in 2004. Tampa Bay Head Coach Rick Tocchet and assistants Adam Oates and Wes Walz are former Bruin players while assistant Cap Raeder is a former Boston assistant.
Special Teams: The Bruins rank 26th in the NHL on the power play overall (16.5%) and 26th at home (15.8%). They rank 3rd on the PK overall (84.5%) and 7th at home (84.5%). The Lightning rank 21st on the PP overall (18.9%) and 18th on the road (17.7%). They rank tied for 27th on the PK overall (76.6%) and 26th on the road (73.0%).
The Boston Bruins defense corp has had no problem getting psyched up for tonight's matchup against the Lightning.
"Yeah, of course I have to," said Zdeno Chara. "[Especially when you're] playing Vinny or Stamkos or St. Louis. Even [Ryan] Malone is having a good year.
"It’s always challenging and these guys have tremendous skill and for sure, if you’re not ready and you don’t play them hard and they’re going to burn you.
"You have to be...very aware of what they try to do and they way they are on the ice. They try to find openings and some kind of room for each other so they can feed off each other and so you just have to be aware of that and most of all having good gaps and playing with them really hard, physical and always be in the right position. I think those are the keys," he said.
Dennis Wideman echoed the captain's sentiments.
|Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier (4) celebrates after scoring past Toronto Maple Leafs' Tomas Kaberle (15), of the Czech Republic; Ian White (7); and goalie Jonas Gustavsson, right, of Russia, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)|
"Other guys might try to chip it and beat you with speed or are looking for a pass, but if they get a chance to try and you one-on-one they’re just going to come at you so just got to be more aware."
However, Andrew Ference thinks that those kinds of challenges are getting pretty commonplace.
"I think especially now there’s so many talented guys in the league that it almost seems like almost every night there’s a team that has at least one or two guys that are in that upper echilon, the guys that really stand out," said the veteran. "So obviously when you’re out against one of those guys on the ice you have to be really aware.
"But it seems like we’re against one of those guys every night so I think the preparation remains the same, but obviously there’s always a focus, there’s always a couple guys on the other team’s lineup that really stands out and it’s best paying attention to."
You can add former Lightning forward Mark Recchi to list of people who are impressed with this edition of the Bolts.
"Obviously you’ve got to limit those guys [chances]," said Recchi. "I mean [Steve] Stamkos has got 17 goals, Marty’s got 15, and...is playing great.
"They’ve got some players that you really got to be aware of and you got to kind of limit their opportunities.
"Stamkos is a great skater who likes to wind it up a little bit and you have to try and get in his way and slow him down as much as possible. I mean if he gets an opportunity around the net, he’s going to score and that’s what you have to avoid," he said.
Obviously, that's high praise for the Tampa Bay wunderkind.
"He’s a great player," said Recchi. "He’s a great kid. I mean he’s like our kids in here. They’re just good kids, very professional. They come to the rink and they do what’s necessary to get themselves ready and I had a lot of fun with him last year.
"He’s a really super, super kid and very level headed. He gets it and it’s nice to be around [that].
"You got to give him a lot of credit," continued Recchi. "And you got to give Rick Tocchet a lot of credit.
"Tocchet is very good to him, very good for him, and as you can see still is. He’s come into camp and he’s a very confident player and he knows he belongs.
"Like I said, he’s got the right attitude, he knows how to approach the game and when you got all the, when you got a head like him and an attitude like him, you’re going to do well."
Thinking about Tampa Bay
"This is a team that I’ve found really improved a lot," said Julien. "They are very well structured this year.
"I think Rick’s [Tocchet] done a great job in grabbing that team and really molding it the way he’s wanted to mold them and they've brought good speed, they’re a hard working team, they’ve got great goaltending, defensively [they're] obviously a lot tougher to score against.
"I watched them play again the other night and even if they lost, I thought they played a decent game and again they’re in the back of teams trying to make the playoffs here. So...I don’t think there are any easy games in this league anymore so we are anticipating a tough one tonight," he said.
Quotes from the press conferences...
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli on the Marc Savard signing...
"Today I would like to announce the signing of Marc Savard to a multi-year extension, seven years in length. I think over the course of time since Marc has been here he has obviously shown his tremendous offensive ability. I think we’ve seen a huge amount of growth on the other side of the puck - and he’ll be the first to tell you that we bug him about it - but he has responded very well and his stats speak for themselves but it’s his intangibles that really impressed me."
Chiarelli on Savard's competitive nature...
"Well his competitive nature has always been there, but I just see it maturing, I see it growing and it’s really consistent and compatible with the identity of the team. The face-offs, the penalty killing, the shooting the puck [movement], I feel his game is rounding into a really solid, tremendous skill package with these other intangible things. And you’ve seen it year to year and it’s been impressive."
Bruins center Marc Savard on his signing with the B's...
"Before anything else I’d like to thank the Jacobs family first and foremost and Peter [Chiarelli], Claude [Julien] and the coaching staff and my teammates for making this all possible. I think I stated earlier in some articles that I wanted to stay in Boston for the rest of my career and it looks like I’m going to have that chance. I’m happy about that and you know over the past couple of years I’ve watched this town grow back into a hockey town and hopefully our goal as a team and staff comes true, that we can bring a Cup here to Boston."
Savard on getting the contract signed prior to free agency...
"It’s something I’ve been interested in getting done as soon as possible because you know, what Peter [Chiarelli] has done here in bringing in the young guys and core that we have and I want to be part of that. I want to try and win and I think we have the intangibles here to do that so I was excited and happy we came to an agreement."
Bruins head coach Claude Julien on Marc Savard's game...
"Well, when you look at players, you’ve got a lot of players who are one dimensional players and those players you can only use in certain situations. So I think what Marc [Savard] has done...is he’s added more to his game, he’s still putting up points, which is his strength, but at the same time he’s more reliable and because...we are able to put him in some different situations. Whether you’ve seen him penalty killing or late in the game and doing the right things...I think he’s tried to develop himself into an all around player. You certainly don’t want to take away his strength, but anytime you can add something to your game, which I think he’s worked hard at doing, I think that’s what has made him a better player. He hadn’t had any playoff experience until a couple of years ago and people were kind of wondering what he would be like in pressure situations and he’s responded to it [with] almost a point a game here, so you can’t criticize a player who’s got those kind of stats."
Here's what we know, folks...
- Tim Thomas was the goalie who left the ice first.
- Coach Julien said that defenseman Johnny Boychuk is in Providence.
- Jordan Caron has been selected for the preliminary Team Canada Roster for the World Junior Tournament.
"I was pretty clear with him, too -- when he signed with us -- that there could be some situations if everybody’s healthy, that he may end up going down and working out with the [AHL] team a little bit. So as I’ve said before, he’s done everything we’ve asked of him willingly and that’s why he’s so respected in that dressing room. The players really like him and he’s always positive and that’s the kind of guy you need in those situations.
"It doesn’t take away the fact that he wants to play," continued Julien. "I think it’s obvious that he wants to, but at least he is not disrupting the team with a bad attitude and that’s also important."
Johnny should be back, soon.
"I think it’s for the weekend unless we run into some issues where we got to call him back up," said Julien. "I think it’s for the weekend."
Look for an official release and plenty of coverage of the Marc Savard presser in just a bit.
Tim Thomas just took approximently 10 chip shots off the head (a la a soccer header) -- on purpose!?
Then, he and Martin St. Louis, who is watching the B's skate from the Tampa Bay bench, shook hands and began chatting.
Before I forget, you can watch the Peter Chiarelli/Marc Savard press conference here at 11:15 a.m. We'll also have video of both the presser and Coach Julien's availability, as well as post-skate locker room later this morning on bostonbruinsTV.com.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk is the only Bruin player who is not accounted for and is not on the ice for morning skate.
With all the worry about his health, Patrice Bergeron did his best to assuage any doubts by staying a little later at Wilmington's Ristuccia Memorial Arena in order to speak to the media after Coach Julien's postpractice media availability.
"Yeah, I’m standing, feeling fine," said Bergeron with a smile on Tuesday afternoon.
During the first period on Saturday, the Hub of Hockey held its collective breath as Bergeron took a puck above the knee and limped to the Bruins bench.
"I lost an edge and I just tried to get back in that shooting lane and obviously I was on my knees so I couldn’t do much," he said. "I was just hoping he wasn’t going to lift the puck and I just blocked it.
"It wasn’t bad. At first it did hurt. It’s always like that. You can ask all the guys. Every time you get, you block a shot, you got to I guess suck it up and the first shift was a tough one, but after that I felt fine."
So, Monday was just a day off?
"Yeah, it was more maintenance than anything else. [I was able to] get some rest," he said.
Bergeron said that the whole incident was simply part of hockey.
"You’re trying to do your job, trying to play your game and get in front of the shots and obviously you try to block it, but it’s not always going to happen, so I take pride in my defensive game whatever it is," he said.
There is a new challenged tonight, however. What to do with Vincent Lecavalier -- particularly in the faceoff circle?
"Just try to win it I guess," said Bergeron. "The technique is always try to read what’s the other centerman likes to do and try to I guess counter that and try to block their sticks or go quick if they’re pretty strong guys.
"You just try to switch it up depending on who you’re up against. Obviously you’re trying to work on your first, second and third try because sometimes you’re not always going to win it clean.
"And you got to be fast with your arms and also be strong," he said.
What will Bergeron try to do against TBL's big #4
"He’s pretty quick actually," said Patrice. "And yeah he’s a big guy, strong guy
"I guess I can’t tell you what I’m going to do [against him tonight] though," added the center with a chuckle.
And when you see Patrice later today, you'll notice that the big mustache is gone.
"Oh that’s for November. So, December first, don’t worry, it was gone by midnight," said Bergy who took about five years off with his razor. "Yeah I know. That’s what all the guys said. I’m back at 19-years-old again."
If it were only that easy [sigh].
Even prior to the team's announcement Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien talked about the importance of having Marc Savard on the Boston Bruins.
Julien explained that Savard's consistent sense of humor was an asset to his locker room.
"He brings a lot," he said. "I think he is more of a 'loosey-goosey-guy' that will help player relax more than make them tense.
"He is not a real screamer, as far as coming into the dressing room and telling the guys to wake up.
"He is more of a ‘come on guys we have to do certain things’ and before games he really puts guys at ease he is more of a relaxed type of guy," said Julien.
However, what seems like a "laid back" attitude doesn't translate to the ice.
"Relaxed doesn’t mean you’re not focused," he said. "Every time the puck drops he is ready to go.
"He thrives on being the guy [and wants to be the guy] the coaches to lean on. He wants to be put in all situations whether it is big draws, or whether it is a late game situation everything else, he wants to be out there all the time because...he feels that he is capable of helping out the hockey club.
"So he is a guy that has a lot of confidence in himself," he said.