Game Day: Blue Jackets vs. Bruins
Boston hopes to rebound versus Columbus.
Thursday, 01.21.2010 / 10:16 AM ET / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
Tuukka led them out...
The Bruins will start Tuukka Rask in goal tonight. Rask lost his last start on January 13 in Anaheim and has a 10-5-2 record on the year with a 2.09 Goals Against Average and .928 save percentage.
Rask’s GAA ranks second in the league behind Ryan Miller while his save percentage ranks fourth overall.
The Bruins lines are here. And you can join the live blog by clicking the box to the right or by going here.
Coach Julien on the possible return of #91...
"Well, I will take him back when he is ready. It’s as simple as that. You have to leave that up to the trainers and the player to work through it and once he gets close, I get the heads up and right now, I haven’t gotten the heads up so I don’t know where he is exactly."
An ancient Greek philosopher one said, "There is nothing permanent except change."
And the hockey philosopher Julien agrees.
"It’s almost like every game we have different line combinations and as soon as you think you have got some lines put together, somebody is going down," said Bruins bench boss Claude Julien. "So, we have had a lot of changes in our lineup and it makes it a bit of a challenge for players to get into a rhythm.
"We just have to fight through it and, basically, when you get through those situations, you don’t look for the pretty goals, you have to be willing to score those dirty goals and when we have, we have been successful."
These days, the B's they are thinking like the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates -- the father of western medicine.
Coach Julien spoke to the nature of his injured players' ailments today, too.
"It has nothing to do with his surgery," said Julien of Marco Sturm. "That is something I can confirm."
But he couldn't confirm much else -- including what was troubling Byron Bitz and Steve Begin.
"It’s undisclosed because they can come back at any time and there is a risk in divulging it," said Julien.
Pregame Pressbox Notes
Julien on the Jackets: “I don’t care where they are in the standings. I think that is misread a little bit. The one thing I do know is that they play hard. Every time we play them it’s a hard fought game. They’re a gritty team, they will go hard to the net, and they will make it hard for you to go to their net. They’ve got some good size, obviously, and that’s why for us it’s going to be a real good challenge.” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien after today’s morning skate.
Columbus Notes: The Jackets are coming off a 5-3 loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday…Columbus is 2-12-4 in their last 18 road games… Rick Nash has a three game goal/point streak in progress with 4-1-5 totals during that span… Tonight’s contest is the second game of a three-game road trip through Philadelphia, Boston and Minnesota (0-1-0 so far)… Derick Brassard will be playing in his 100th career NHL game tonight.
Connections: Shawn Thornton and Dennis Wideman each played their first NHL games versus the Blue Jackets. Defenseman Adam McQuaid (who has split this season between Boston and Providence) was drafted by the Blue Jackets in the second round (55th overall) of the 2005 NHL Draft. Milan Jurcina played in 91 games over two seasons with Boston from 2005-07. Sami Pahlsson played in 17 games for Boston during the 2000-01 campaign. Jackets Assistant Coach Gord Murphy played 116 games over three seasons with the Bruins from 1991-92, 1992-93 and 2001-02.
Special Teams: The Bruins rank tied for 18th in the NHL on the power play overall (with Minnesota, 17.5%) and 7th at home (22%). They rank 1st on the PK overall (87.9%) and third at home (89.2%). The Blue Jackets rank 7th on the PP overall (20.7%) and 5th on the road (22.9%). They rank tied for 15th on the PK overall ( with Colorado, 81.4%) and 17th on the road (81%).
|Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask masks a stop against the Anaheim Ducks in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)|
"It always has been, from day one," said Julien of Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask -- the fifth ranked tandem in the entire NHL. "We know we’ve got a good young, upcoming goaltender. We also know that we have a goaltender who won the Vezina Trophy last year and may not be at the top of his game right now, but still has been pretty good. But the other guy has had some opportunities to go in there and has done well, so we don’t look at it as competitive."
How so, Coach?
"I don’t think they compete against each other, they compete basically to do well when they’re in net," he said. "We just figure this is a position of strength that we have had since the beginning of the year."
Rask was the first off the ice after this morning's skate and is expected to start this evening. The young Finn is 10-5-2 with a 2.09 goals against average and a .928 save percentage.
Tuukka has played in just 20 games this season, while Tim has garnered the lion's share of action.
"Well, it’s just another thing that I know, down the road, will help him immensely, no matter what," said Julien of Rask's frequent respites. "He may be a number one [goaltender] playing lots of games at one point and then he will run into an injury where he will be out for awhile and he’ll be able to come back, because he’ll have been in those situations where he hasn’t played in awhile but he still keeps himself sharp.
"It’s a mental thing and for those goaltenders who are used to playing a lot and they get into those situations just makes them mentally stronger and it shouldn’t be an issue."
"It’s not really complicated because it is all about our compete level and when you are going through a situation like we are, you have to make sure your compete level is at its best," said Julien. "Let’s not complicate the game here because we’re not in a position to do that.
"That’s probably going to be the most important thing -- how hard we want to work tonight and how hard we want to compete."
Nobody questions Patrice Bergeron's compete level, but after the Ottawa game the forward had to admit that his thumb injury limited his contribution. As such, Julien praised Trent Whitfield for yeoman's work in Bergeron's stead and at the young center's side.
"I don’t think there is anybody in our dressing room, players or coaches, that are disappointed in what he has brought to our team so far," said Julien of Whitfield.
Whitfield has played in four of the Bruins last five games, but has yet to find his way into the points column.
"I know that on the scoring sheet or the stat sheet you don’t see him with many points...but it’s more what he has created," explained Julien. "On this last road trip, I think he has gained a little bit more confidence offensively to forecheck and make some plays, and he has. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t been able to capitalize on some of those, but he is gaining confidence and as far as doing a little bit more.
"He is a guy who has been around...[and] he is a veteran and his presence on the PK, [his] faceoffs stats in some of those games have been pretty good for us and we have had to use him in those key situations," said Julien.
|Larman. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)|
This morning Drew Larman, late of the Providence Bruins, said he now knows his way to Boston.
However, despite his being literal in the I-95 sense, thanks to B's head coach Claude Julien, Larman was unknowingly being figurative when he spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon.
"I thought he worked hard enough [last game] and at the same time...we have to take the word of the people over there on who is deserving and who is not," said a decidedly straightforward Julien. "That’s [Bruins GM] Peter [Chiarelli] and upper management and coaching staff over there [in Providence].
"He has been the worthy candidate so far...and having said that, I thought he worked hard and certainly didn’t cost us last game and it’s important when you are put in that role."
Larman got an early shot on goal (and added a hit in almost eight minutes played) during Monday's game versus Ottawa and hopes to jump right back into action tonight.
The forward said he would stay focused on his own game against Columbus.
"Getting pucks to the net. Looking for rebounds and looking to pick up some garbage goals," said the forward with a chuckle. "Just working hard in the corners and making sure we get in on the forecheck."
Asked how long he had been told his stay in Boston would last, Larman said that he had not been informed.
"They don't tell me that stuff," he said. "It's day-by-day. Today is a game and that's all I am focused on right now.
"And I am looking to bring my best to the ice."
Some good news...
Marc Savard is eyeing a return next week.
"I feel good, I'm right on schedule and I felt great," said Savard of his time on the Garden ice. "I skated today. Yesterday morning I went for a little twirl and everything feels good."
"I'm shooting for that Buffalo game [on January 29th] and I'm hoping that's when I am back."
BTW: Tonight, the Bruins are hosting their 4th annual Heart Health Night presented by Tufts Medical Center when the Black & Gold take on the Blue Jackets.
As such, the club has invited pediatric cardiovascular patients and their families to the game and the children will be participating in several fan experiences like serving as pregame bench assistants, "high-fiving" the team as they head to the ice.
Bruins coaches and members of the staff will also wear red in support of the American Heart Association's efforts toward improving heart health.
Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off of the ice this morning. The first goalie off is generally the starter.
There are 20 Bruins on the ice, including Drew Larman who was called up from Providence yesterday afternoon. That means no Begin, no Byron Bitz and no Marco Sturm.
Two Bruins are on the ice skating with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides before practice: Marc Savard and Steve Begin.
The rest of the B's will take the ice at 10:30 a.m.