Game Day: Bruins @ Blackhawks
The B's practice in Illinois this afternoon.
Friday, 12.18.2009 / 10:30 AM / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
A decent guess at the lines...
Join us on the live blog - - - ->
6:36 p.m. (Chicago time)
Bruins leaderboard, courtesty the Bruins Week Ahead (As of Friday, December 18th):
1. M. Sturm, 9
T2. P. Bergeron, 8
T2. M. Savard, 8
T2. M. Ryder, 8
T4. M. Recchi, 7
T4. B. Wheeler, 7
1. Z. Chara, 17
2. P. Bergeron, 16
T3. D. Morris, 12
T3. D. Krejci, 12
5. M. Recchi, 10
1. P. Bergeron, 24
2. Z. Chara, 19
T3. M. Recchi, 17
T3. M. Sturm, 17
T3. D. Krejci, 17
1. M. Sturm, +9
2. Z. Chara, +7
3. M. Lucic, +3
4. D. Krejci, +2
1. S. Thornton, 61
2. Z. Chara, 44
3. M. Stuart, 28
4. S. Begin, 22
5. B. Bitz, 19
BRUINS ON THE NHL LEADERBOARD:
-Patrice Bergeron currently ranks 5th overall in faceoffs won with 355 (S. Crosby, 404) and 5th in faceoff percentage at 59% (P. Gaustad, 63.6%).
-Tim Thomas is currently tied for second in shutouts with three.
-Marc Savard is currently 4th in the NHL in shooting percentage at 22.4% (T. Fleischmann, 26.5%)
-Tuukka Rask ranks 2nd in save percentage with .932 (R. Miller, .937) and 2nd in goals against average with 1.97 (R. Miller, 1.88). Rask ranks first among all rookie goaltenders in save percentage and goals against average and is third in wins among rookies with 9 (S. Varlamov, 11)
-The Bruins as a team rank 1st the penalty kill category at 86.2%.
Just a few minutes before the Bruins take the ice for warmups and thanks to Mr. Plaxico the cabbie, I am here safe and sound and ready to watch a hockey game.
Clearly, in the short time before the live blog and the game I can't do justice to the event this morning, so I suggest that you enjoy the videos over at bostonbruinsTV.com for the time being and I will fill you in on "First Skate at Fenway" as soon as I have a few minutes.
As I write, the Bruins should be preparing to hit the ice in Chicago for pregame skate.
Yesterday, postpractice, Claude Julien spoke about the club's need for enhanced offense.
"The whole thing...right now is not so much [whether] we lack scoring, but [that] we’re not getting the scoring that we should," said Julien. "Right now it’s not so much what we've lost that’s gone -- it’s what we’ve lost that’s still here.
"And hopefully we can get our guys to start producing at the rate we all feel they should."
Julien looks forward to a resurgence and believes the tools for a scoring rebound are in his locker room.
"You know, when everything was in place, Wheeler, Ryder, Krejci were a good line. Savvy had Lucic...but if you didn’t have to deal with some of the injuries, you could have better balance on your lines.
"That’s part of the game, and you’ve got to live with that. But that’s why we’re trying to find some combinations that can help us get through this for the time being," he said.
But Julien has confidence in his team.
"We should be able to rely on the Krejci’s and the Wheeler’s and those kind of guys," he said. "Bergeron, Recchi, and those guys can still produce [and] I like the way our fourth line played last game.
"So, if they can give us that again I think it will certainly help," he said.
Well, that was one of the craziest mornings I've had in a while.
I started out in the Garden, where I interviewed Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, Milt Schmidt amongst a cavalcade of Bruins stars.
Then, I rode in a caravan that brought all the legends to Fenway Part where they took the "First Skate at Fenway."
After I watched that, I got to take a twirl around the rink on the infield and hit a cab to the airport where I am waiting for a plane to take me to Chicago.
Later, I will travel with the Bruins from CHI to Toronto!
I wonder if that has ever been done before -- Boston Garden, Fenway Park, United Center and Air Canada Centre all in the span of just about 24-hours?
And as a bonus, we'll be in Ottawa in the wee hours of tomorrow night! What a trip!?
In any case, and despite my being en route, my compatriots and I at BostonBruins.com and bostonbruinsTV.com will be bringing you photos, video and eventually a few stories on this morning's events.
And, heck, when I land I'll even fill you in on the hockey game that his coming later today.
See you in Chicago!
Today is the big day for the Boston Bruins Foundation auction to grab a spot in the ATT Legends Classic on Jan. 2.
I was able to track down Bruins VP and Hall of Famer Cam Neely to see what he thought of the whole process.
"What a great opportunity to play with Bruins and NHL Alumni as well as Hollywood celebrities," said Cam, via email yesterday. "Just think, you can get in a scrap with Byers, Miller or O'Reilly and maybe put one five-hole on Bobby Farrelly. Or you can have Denis Leary verbally abuse you too.
"If that is not enough Ken Linseman is there to hack and wack you and if you are lucky enough, he'll make some great plays to you while Rick Middleton shows you some 'Nifty' moves."
Mr. Neely neglected to mention that he will be there, too!
For more information about the auctions, held on 98.5 The Sports Hub and NESN, click here.
Thursday, December 17
After Thursday's practice in Chicago, Claude Julien spoke to the media about his club's preparations for Friday's Original Six matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks and obviously, with Dennis Wideman and Mark Stuart back home in Boston, the Bruins will have to choose someone to fill their spots on the blueline.
"We just have to make sure that tomorrow everybody that’s here is fine and ready to go," said Julien to the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and NESN. "We had seven D’s out there [today] and I think we’re okay.
"But If it does come to that, I think Matt Hunwick is definitely going to play, I can assure you that
"[It'll be] a decision between whether we choose an McQuaid or Wozniewski."
Julien didn't necessarily tip his hand either way.
"They bring different elements to the gamem" he said. "And You know, [Wozniewski's] also from this area which is a little bit of a motivation.
"And McQuaid is a pretty tough individual...and he gives you that physical presence," he said.
So, Bruins fans will probably have to wait until Friday night.
"I think [we've] got to look at what we have tomorrow, what we’re up against and what we need," said Julien. "We’ll probably have a better idea once we sort out everything."
From one Bruin to another
Bear and Marc Savard have exchanged gifts -- with hilarious results.
When they do, there's no doubt that Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien and his staff will be looking at the club very carefully as they mold their lineup for Friday.
Beyond the shuffle in the lines from Wednesday (see below), the Bruins backline will be fairly fluid as the B's check on the status of Derek Morris (day-to-day) and determine which of their other defensemen to use against the Blackhawks.
Matt Hunwick is option one on the blueline, with Andy Wozniewski and Adam McQuaid emergency recalls from Providence giving the B's the necessary depth in the wake of Mark Stuart and Dennis Wideman's injuries.
In any case, Coach Julien is not going to allow anyone in Black & Gold to say, "woe are we."
"There are other teams who have had more [injuries] than us, so there is no use wining or complaining or feeling sorry for yourself," said the B's bench boss. "You just move on...and understand that with the team you have at your disposal, if you play well, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win anyways.
"So we’ve still got a lot in that dressing room that can help us compensate for that and there’s no doubt that I still think there’s some players who are up to the top of their game yet,
"[That] can be viewed as bad news or as good news and if they can find that game of theirs it will certainly help us go through these tough times," said Julien.
Marco Sturm and Michael Ryder now find themselves centered by one of the premier playmakers in the game.
"I think both those guys are known for being able to score some goals and although they have, they still probably haven’t to the extent that we think they can," said Julien. "I think that’s probably the bigger issue right now of our hockey club.
"We have a lot of guys that haven’t scored...at the rate they should be scoring.
"Also, we talked about our back end, we had better production from the back end, so it’s really an overall team thing that everybody kind of has to pick it up a little bit," he said.
And Savard should be happy to see two of the B's most gifted scorers out of the corner of either ey.
"In Savvy’s case, he’s got some guys now that, hopefully, if they can finish around the net, he’s going to find ways to get them the puck," he said. "We’ll see if that helps us a little bit and hopefully the other lines contribute in some way."
Julien consistently talks about a balanced attack and was encouraged by the play of his energy line on Monday.
"[On Wednesday], just watching Sobotka’s line, for some reason they just seem to be clicking fairly well and if they count that [no] goal the other night, that line has two goals," said Coach Julien. "So, if you can get production from those kind of players and those lines, it certainly helps take the pressure off the other guys that are right now probably feeling more pressure than they need to."
Wednesday, December 16
"I think both of those guys [Andy Wozniewski, Adam McQuaid]...have pretty good size," he said. "Andy has some NHL experience. He’s a guy that can move the puck well. I think he’s second in scoring in Providence if I’m correct.
"So he’s a guy that has some offensive skill and is good puck mover [with] good size.
"And then you’ve got Mac, McQuaid, who is a pretty big, pretty tough, solid all around defenseman," continued Julien. "[He's] physical, and is very good at taking care of his own end.
"He Keeps the game simple...and he’s been playing well for them also lately."
Julien is excited to see what the two blueliners can bring.
"I think we’ve got two pretty good candidates," he said. "One who’s joined our organization this year and has done a good job of giving us some depth and the other [in Wozniewski] who I think every year has just gotten better and better [in McQuaid]."
Sad news from Huntington Ave...
Well, one of the people who made one of the biggest impressions on me was one of the smallest varsity athletes to grace the ice at Matthews Arena -- Kathryn Waldo.
Waldo was a 5'2, 115-pound sparkplug on several of the best hockey teams that NU ever iced. And while it's true that like all Division-I athletes Kathryn's obvious athletic talent made her special, what made her truly and unforgettably remarkable, even miraculous, was that she had lived all her life and played every varsity game while simultaneously battling with cystic fibrosis.
Earlier this afternoon, I was shaken to learn that after lingering complications following a double lung transplant in 2004, she fought (and fought) valiantly before she passed away on Dec. 9 of this year.
She was 33.
My friends, Kathryn Waldo was just a force. And for those of you who never saw Kathryn play, you can't underestimate the toughness and tenacity that Kathryn displayed each and every day. When I think of hockey -- or, heck, life in general -- she is one of the finest examples of true courage I have ever encountered.
Marvin Pave, who no doubt watched Waldo from the pressbox in Matthews when she played for the Huskies, clearly agrees and wrote movingly about her in today's Boston Globe:
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects lung and digestive function and leaves those afflicted prone to infection.
Even after five weeks of hospitalization when her lungs became infected before her sophomore season, Ms. Waldo still suited up for 27 games. And if she missed a game, recalled former NU head coach Heather Linstad - now head coach at the University of Connecticut - Ms. Waldo would ask for more ice time in practice. She never let her illness take away the game she loved and played with passion, Linstad said.
“Waldo was tiny, but she was a little powerhouse and one of the strongest skaters on our team. She inspired us to push ourselves and work harder,’’ said former teammate Emily Sweeney, a reporter for the Globe. “I remember so many times we’d be skating laps at practice and my legs would be burning. I’d be gasping for air, and then I’d look up and see Waldo still skating away, pulling ahead of the pack and beating everyone to the finish line.
“I always admired her.’’
Anyone who ever met Kathryn admired her. She was a true hero, and she will be sorely missed.
Stuart's streak is over...
|Boston Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart, left, checks Minnesota Wild center James Sheppard, right, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid)|
"Stuey going to be out 4-6 weeks," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "So, that's tough news for him and for us.
"He got hurt on [a] hit and, believe it or not, finished the game and kept playing.
"Anybody who knows Stuey knows how tough he is and he was in pretty good pain afterward and that's what they discovered, yesterday," he said.
Stuart was the team's reigning iron man, having played the last 196 consecutive regular season games (214 straight including
playoffs) and has not missed a game since breaking into the NHL on a full-time basis in 2007-08.
In other injury news, Dennis Wideman will not be on the trip, either, but Derek Morris will travel to Chicago.
"Wideman will not leave with us today, but may join us on the trip," explained the head coach, who added that Dennis' current injury differs from the one that he worked through last week. "And it's not the shot [blocks]. A lot of people seem to think it's that shot, but it's not his foot."
Derek Morris did not skate, either, but his status was characterized as a "maintenance, day-to-day thing."
The B's lines look a bit different today.
Marco Sturm is with Marc Savard and Michael Ryder. Daniel Paille is centered by Patrice Bergeron with Mark Recchi. Blake Wheeler is reunited with David Krejci and Byron Bitz provides the muscle. Meanwhile Vladimir Sobotka is centering Steve Begin and Shawn Thornton.
Thus far, the defense has Zdeno Chara providing fire power with twin howitzer Johnny Boychuk. Andy Wozniewski is flanked by Andrew Ference and Matt Hunwick is skating with Adam McQuaid.
Wozniewski and McQuaid are on the ice and practicing.
It seems like ages since we've seen a puck shot in anger, and with the team leaving and today being the only action I will see until Friday when I will jet out to meet the team in CHI, I am anxious for things to begin.
What we know:
Andy Wozniewski and Adam McQuaid are here and Milan Lucic is on IR. There has been no statement from the team as to how that might determine the return of Luch or who (beyond Dennis Wideman who left Saturday's game early) on the Bruins is hurt.
The club is due on the ice any minute.