Bruins

Thomas backstops Bruins to 2-1 win over Canadiens

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Thomas backstops Bruins to 2-1 win over Canadiens

BOSTON -- The Bruins still havent got their full groove back after last weeks epic clash against the Canucks, but they had just enough Thursday night to take down the struggling Canadiens.

Goals in the first and third periods gave the Bruins all the offense they would need, and Tim Thomas' 33 saves backstopped the Bs to a 2-1 win. Thomas 16 saves in the first period served notice to Montreal that it was going to take something a little extra to beat him, and the Habs didnt have it on this night.

The Bruins got on the board early in the first, and the Hockey gods handed it to Jordan Caron after he had played sparingly over the last month. Johnny Boychuk fired a dump-in attempt off the glass in Montreals end, and the puck bounced right to Caron in front with Carey Price out of the net.
Carons second goal of the season gave the Bruins a slim one-goal lead, and thats the way it stayed until the red-hot David Krejci line struck for the insurance score in the final period. A Nathan Horton pass from behind the net reached Milan Lucic waiting in the slot, and he lofted a funky-looking backhander off Josh Gorges' stick and past Price to make it a two-goal lead.Krejci picked up the second assist on the goal and has now put together a career-high 10-game point streak this season.
Montreal attempted to pick up the intensity in the third period with a P.K. Subban cheap shot on Krejci, followed by a power-play goal, but the Bruins held on and improved to 21-0-0 when entering the third period with a lead.GOLD STAR: Tim Thomas made 33 saves to backstop the Bruins to a victory they might not have deserved, and only gave up a goal when the referees handed the Canadiens a power play in the aftermath of a nasty P.K. Subban elbow thrown at David Krejcis head that led to a scrum on the ice. Thomas was at his best in the first period when sloppy turnovers and porous defense led to close scoring bids from Mike Blunden and Andrei Kostitsyn among his 16 stops. Wouldnt quite say this was a game stolen by Thomas, but it comes awfully close to that territory.BLACK EYE: Patrice Bergeron lost 5 out of 15 faceoffs, missed high on a perfect 2-on-1 scoring opportunity and didnt register much in 15:40 of ice time. He looked frustrated and uncomfortable on the ice, and perhaps he was after missing on an invitation to the NHL All-Star Game that he so richly deserved. If he was disappointed, it spilled out onto the ice a little bit against a Montreal team that he always ups his compete level against. Bergeron was the most deserving among those snubbed for the NHL All-Star Game, so maybe the voting process should get the black eye instead.TURNING POINT: A turning point for Milan Lucic and the Bruins when he managed to scoop the puck like his stick was a shovel and backhand a shot off Josh Gorges and past Carey Price for the game-winner.HONORABLE MENTION: A little bit of credit to Pierre Gauthier for ripping apart a Montreal Canadiens team over the last two years, and really helping out the Bruins in the process. Trading Mike Cammalleri in the middle of a game is just the latest in a long line of panic moves engineered by Gauthier, and there has to be some mal intent behind doing it during the game. Cammalleri was removed from the locker room, put into a cab bound for the team hotel and told hed been traded before the third period had even started. That is some cold stuff, and a clear reaction to his losers mentality speech from Wednesday.BY THE NUMBERS: 10 the number of consecutive games with a point for David Krejci after picking up the secondary assist on Milan Lucics game-winner. Its the longest point streak of Krejcis career, and the longest this season in the NHL.QUOTE TO NOTE: Im sure its going to be a good experience for him to see all these players. There are a lot of top players from different teams in the league that all get together. Hopefully hell learn from them and carry it with him. Hes come a long way from last year. Zdeno Chara on first-year All-Star Tyler Seguin getting selected to take part in the NHLs midseason classic.

Report: NHL asked that Marchand stop the licking

Report: NHL asked that Marchand stop the licking

The Bruins got a phone call from the NHL in which the league requested the team tell Brad Marchand to stop licking people after his Game 1 antics in the Toronto series, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

The item was No. 22 in Friedman's regular "31 Thoughts" column:

After Game 1 of the Toronto/Boston series, the Bruins got a, “We’d prefer if you could tell Brad Marchand to stop licking people” phone call from the NHL.

Marchand, the noted B's agitator, gave the Maple Leafs' Leo Komarov a lick on the face (he kissed him on the cheek earlier this season) after they tussled in the playoff opener. He explained that he thought Komarov "wanted to cuddle."

The Bruins open their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday after taking out the Leafs in seven games. We'll see if Marchand keeps his tongue to himself. 

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Bruins are ready for a 'formidable' foe in the second round vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Bruins are ready for a 'formidable' foe in the second round vs Tampa Bay Lightning

BOSTON – The Bruins have barely come down from the high of winning Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and they’ve already got to set their sights on an even bigger challenge waiting this weekend in Tampa Bay.

The Bruins will next face the Eastern Conference regular-season champion Tampa Bay Lightning, who just edged out the Black and Gold for the top spot in the East at the end of the regular season when Boston dropped their regular season finale against the Florida Panthers. 

“Well, they won the Eastern Conference. I think it’s equally a formidable if not even more so task [than the Maple Leafs]. Not a lot of holes in their lineup. We had some success in the regular season against them,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “We’re going to have to find a way to replicate that and probably be even better. We had pockets of our game in this past series that we know we need to improve upon, and it’s going to take our best effort from start to finish to play against Tampa. We’re a confident group to go in. We deserve to be here. We’re moving on and I’m sure they feel the same way.”

The good news is that the Bruins took three out of four games from the Lightning this season, and have fared very well against the Bolts over the last couple of seasons. Tuukka Rask, in particular, has been very strong against Tampa and finished with a .926 save percentage along with the three victories against them this season. 

The bad news for the Bruins is that they’re a much better team than the Toronto Maple Leafs with a better defense, a better goaltender and a more explosive array of experienced forwards including Steve Stamkos, Hart Trophy favorite Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson among others. Certainly, they’re going to need better than the .899 save percentage that Rask posted in the seven games series against the Maple Leafs, and they’re going to need more support scoring beyond a Bruins top line that will have their hands full against Victor Hedman the Tampa defense.  

“It’s going to be a battle. They were a top team all year. They compete very hard, have a ton of skill, and they have a lot of depth,” said Brad Marchand, who finished second among the Bruins with five points in the four games vs. Tampa this season behind only the six points from Torey Krug. “We’ll look at them a little bit more in the next few days, but we’re going to enjoy this one tonight.”

One area where the Bruins are going to be able to do some damage? The Tampa Bay penalty kill was 27th in the league this season, and they’ll be going up against a Bruins power play that scored on 31.8 percent (7-for-22) of their PP chances in the first round against a better Toronto penalty kill. That will be one area where the Black and Gold can do a lot of damage, but they clearly go into the second round series as the prohibitive underdogs. 

In all truthfulness, however, the Bruins are playing with house money right now. They took that next step by going from a return to the playoffs last season to winning a round and advancing deeper into the postseason with the second round date vs. the Bolts. Sure, they have Cup aspirations and the B’s will push as deeply as they can on their postseason run, but there will be little pressure on the Black and Gold at this point to win a best-of-seven series that they’re not expected to win against the favored Lightning. 

That’s not a bad spot to be in for the young, gritty and battle-hardened Black and Gold.

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