Game Day: Bruins @ Ducks
Bitz should be back in the lineup versus Anaheim
Wednesday, 01.13.2010 / 10:24 AM / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
Tuukka Rask led the Bruins out of the locker room and will be the starter in goal. He is 10-4-2 with a 1.92 GAA and a .933 sv%.
Trent Whitfield is the B's healthy scratch.
The bottom line on tonight's game came from one of the youngest players in the Bruins locker room.
After pregame skate Adam McQuaid said, “It’s just going to take a full-team defensive effort to shut them down."
Bruins fans hope it is that easy...
Check out the B's lines, here. And then join the live blog by clicking in the box to the right.
By the way, tonight should mark the return of Byron Bitz to the B's lineup.
“It’s the coaches decision whether I play, but it feels better and I hope it stays that way," said Bryon to bostonbruinsTV earlier this afternoon.
Bitz is relishing a chance to get back in the lineup against Anaheim.
"We’ve seen them once at the beginning of the year, and they’ve got a lot of firepower, a lot of skill, good power plays," said Bitz. "So again, it’s checking those guys well and playing good defensively and limit their chances.
They’re going to get their shots on net, but if we could keep most of them to the outside, I think we’ll be fine.
"They didn’t see our best game [earlier this season], and we want to show them our best game tonight.”
After the skate, Coach Julien talked about the clubs injury situation and how the club might move forward during this West Coast swing.
"We’ve been asked that question several times this year because I don’t think we’ve had a healthy team since day one," said Julien.
"Listen, we’re not different than anybody else," he continued. "You look at Detroit right now with the injuries and those teams like that that have suffered those kinds of injuries, it’s a challenge in itself.
"And I think our guys are working hard to try and make our team at least a playoff contender, which we are right now.
"This is going to be a good test here. Is it going to make or break our season? No, but it’s certainly something that we feel is important, coming off this road trip here and gaining some points."
I don't remember seeing so many of the players so near the bench so early, recently.
I sensed a bit of excitement for tonight's matchup this morning when I spoke to David Krejci.
"Well we all know what they can do," said David of the Ducks. "They have great skill in front and great defensemen so we have to be sharp and just have to play hard-- just go out there and have fun and give 100% on the ice."
I asked the center if he were feeling any pressure in the absence of Savard and Bergeron.
"I always had that kind of pressure in my life and I like it," said Krejci. "It feels good and it’s a big part of [being on] a team.
"They’re relying on you and it feels good. I like the pressure and, like I said, I’m used to it, and I’m just trying to do the best I can.”
Shawn Thornton haunted these halls as a Duck back when they won the Stanley Cup back in 2007. He is generally excited for matchups against his former teams and tonight would be no exception.
Like his coaches, however, Thornton said the Bruins must remain focused on the task at hand.
"That’s one thing we’ve been pretty good at, I think-- staying focused on one game at a time and not really looking at the big picture, just taking it one day at a time," he said.
Staying focused does not mean forgetting about the mistakes the club has made in their last two games -- both losses.
"We’ve got to give up on some of the mistakes we’ve made, as far as turnovers and not being as responsible defensively," he said. "That’s not going to help our team.
"Obviously we’re missing arguably two of our best players, so it’s not easy when you miss guys like that.
"We’re going to have to work hard, and you always try and play a perfect game, whether it’s there or not, definitely do a little bit more than normal.”
Unfortunately, two Bruins will have to wait just a bit longer before they return to the ice in Black & Gold.
Patrice Bergeron was always a serious question mark, and he will not play tonight. But neither will Mark Stuart.
And as far as seeing either man suit up for the remaining games of this road trip. Well, not so much.
"I don’t think so," said Julien. "Bergy’s a longshot.
"Stuey, I think we’ll see how he progresses in the next few days. He’s gotten closer.
"I wouldn’t write him off, but I can’t tell you right now that it’s looking great," said Julien.
With Bergeron, the B's will remain cautious.
"A couple weeks puts him to next Monday," said the Bruins head coach, who pointed to next week as a probable return window. "At least he’s had some practice with the team and we’re not just throwing him in the lineup coming back from this road trip."
Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice after morning skate. He should get the start in goal tonight.
It's a pretty full skate with only Michael Ryder, Marco Sturm and Miroslav Satan getting a pass.
The B's are on the ice. Defensemen Matt Hunwick and Johnny Boychuk are the first on.
By the way, Albert Hammond lied.
It does actually rain in Southern California. It's overcast and gray here, today.
|The B's fell to the Ducks in their previous meeting this season.
"Yeah it’s going to be tough," said Julien. "We’re playing some pretty tough hockey teams here and we know our situation.
"It’s pretty obvious that if we’re going to win, we’re going to have to be at our best, we’re going to have to grind it out, we're going to have to really minimize the mistakes, and you’re going to need some outstanding goaltending like they have had in the last few games where they feel their goaltender has stolen some games."
Julien noted that everyone has to bring their best if the B's are to earn points at any of their three Pacific Coast ports of call.
"Sometimes you need that when you go through tough times and hopefully everybody understands it and hopefully everybody brings their A-game tomorrow," said Julien, who said that nobody on the Bruins should be feeling sorry for themselves.
"Well it doesn’t matter when or what year or what time of year, I don’t believe in guys hanging their heads," he said. "You’re doing the job here that everybody would like to do and to hang your head and feel sorry for yourself is ridiculous, in my mind. You just have to bear down.
"You’re paid to do a job and you do it as best you can. It doesn’t matter the consequences or what the situations are. If you can honestly go out there and give 100% effort, which you should be giving, then there’s no reason to hang your head."
The B's Patrice Bergeron is getting the itch to get back into the lineup. Yesterday at practice, the center even snuck into a battle drill at the end of the session.
"Yeah, I tried to," said Bergeron. "I had a gold jersey on so I tried to just kind of sneak in there without Donnie [DelNegro, the B's head athletic trainer] seeing me, but we’ll see what’s going to happen."
What's going to happen -- at least tonight -- is that Bergeron will join me in the pressbox. But I don't think he'll be sitting in the stratusphere for long.
Bergeron is feeling better.
"Yeah a lot better," said Bergeron, who hopes to get his timing back quickly.
"After a week, after missing a week, right away you can tell, you've got to get that timing back," he said. "It’s nice that I didn’t miss too much time and I’m just happy to be back with the guys, at least to practice."
Despite the week, Bergeron looked pretty good.
"It was nice to get out there," he repeated. "It felt good so I decided to keep going. As long as I don’t feel any pain, I think it’s fine.
"Obviously, it’s going to be sore, you’re going to feel something, but as long as it’s not too bad, I got the green light to keep going."
But there is some pain.
"It was there, I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but it felt pretty good though," he said. "I can’t bend it in the middle of the thumb so I got to keep it in a splint and make sure I don’t move it.
"It’s a little more difficult to stickhandle and stuff like that.
"I feel like I have two thumbs in there, but it’s not bad."
7:19 a.m. (in Anaheim)
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien was candid about Mark Stuart's or Patrice Bergeron's chances for making the B's lineup against the Ducks.
"Yeah I think...they’re not ready for tomorrow but just being on the trip and being able to practice with our team, and seeing them progress is good for them," he said. "[It] is good for the rest of their teammates to see them coming along and hopefully we see them soon back in our lineup."
What was also good was the compete and attitude of the club after the long trip out from Boston. The B's ended up practicing at 5:30 (Boston time) after a decent bus ride from Los Angeles.
"Yeah I think when you’ve been on the plane for six hours it’s hard to get back out on the ice, especially the way we did it," said Julien. "We just got off the plane, checked into the hotel real quick and came right to the rink.
"It was mostly to loosen up the legs but we still wanted to work hard at it and that’s what we did, so [Wednesday's] another day and hopefully we’re at our best."
There was some good news -- Byron Bitz is ready to re-enter the lineup.
"He should. Right now he’s feeling good so right now he’s a strong possibility," said Julien.
Boston will grab a quick breakkie right around the time eveyone is having lunch in New England and will be on the ice at the Honda Center at 11:30 a.m. Pacific time.
Samantha Wood contributed to today's blog.