Bruins

Stiemsma: Minnesota 'was a better fit for this season'

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Stiemsma: Minnesota 'was a better fit for this season'

BOSTON -- Greg Stiemsma sat comfortably at his locker while music blared out of his teammates headphones from across the room.
Long as I stay hustling I'm gon shine Just waiting on that moment Waiting on my moment
The DJ Drama song was fitting in Stiemsma's return to Boston, the city where he established himself in the NBA at the age of 26 after years of playing overseas and questioning not when, but if, he would get his shot in the pros.
"This time last year I was in Sioux Falls still hoping to sneak a way in the NBA," said Stiemsma. "I guess patience paid off."
Minutes earlier, the big man lay on the trainers table next to Kevin Love while a sizable pack of media members anxiously gathered nearby. One reporter joked Love must have thought the crowd was for him. Not at the TD Garden.
Wednesday was Stiemsma's first trip back to Beantown since his rookie year in which he made a name for himself in only 55 games. He averaged 2.9 points and 3.2 rebounds, while drawing attention with 1.6 blocks. By the end of the season, Doc Rivers was calling his name as Kevin Garnett's backup center.
This summer was different than years past. Rather than considering which country to move to, Stiemsma was on the receiving end of interest from several NBA teams, including the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets, Charlotte Bobcats and Portland Trail Blazers. The Celtics made Stiemsma, a restricted free agent, a qualifying offer, but he knew if he did not stay on the team there would not be hard feelings. Stiemsma understood the Celtics were also exploring their options and was appreciative for the opportunity they gave him in the first place.
"I got a call from Danny (Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge) when free agency opened up and he kind of wished me best of luck, a good season kind of talk," Stiemsma recalled. "I thanked him for this opportunity and I think from then on we kind of knew that if things weren't going to work out, we kind of knew why. I think it was a mutual respect thing where he was calling to -- I feel that was a good phone call for me to get to know what was coming up."
Stiemsma signed a two-year deal with the Timberwolves, a decision brought him closer to his hometown of Randolph, Wisconsin and also gave him more money and years than the Celtics offered.
"I just felt like it was a better fit for this season," he said. "The way Minnesota's team was starting to build up, I felt it would be a great fit here. Nothing against what I had in Boston last year. I'm very grateful for that opportunity, but I just thought it was a better fit here."
Stiemsma kept in touch with Avery Bradley, Sasha Pavlovic, and his former lockermate, Ray Allen, during the summer. Allen offered him advice during the free agency process and for a long NBA career.
"Be a voice in the locker room," Stiemsma recounted. "Be vocal on the floor. Be part of it. The more you get along with the guys, the more you can adapt on the floor."
Now in his second season, Stiemsma is incorporating the words of wisdom he learned from all of his veteran teammates on the Celtics into his daily approach. Be professional. Stay even keeled. Take the season one game at a time.
"When you have examples like KG (Kevin Garnett) and Paul (Pierce) and Ray, those guys are the best of the best as far as I'm concerned," Stiemsma said.
Stiemsma is averaging 3.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 12.9 minutes per game this season. The pain that hampered him last season in both feet has subsided and he is able to play without feeling the effects of plantar fasciitis in his left foot and a bone bruise in his right. This summer he did not run until training camp, focusing on weight training instead.
"I've come too far to let something small keep me off the court," he said of the foot injuries. "So I was going to do whatever it takes, play through whatever pain, to try to keep me out there. There were a few games when it was just tough to get up and down the floor. The next mornings were even worse, those first few steps out of bed, the first hour in the morning when everything was just stiff and tight. When I first bruised my right foot, my left one was still a little sore and I felt like an old man in the morning hobbling to the bathroom. But that's part of this business, part of his nature. If you're a big guy, you're going to have injuries."
With a fierce determination, Stiemsma also continues to spread the message of accomplishing goals to others. After battling depression during his college years at the University of Wisconsin, he is involved in helping those in the same situation.
"I learned a lot and keep learning," he said. "It's still always a process but I'm feeling good. Big picture, life is good. I can't really complain about making a dream come true. I remind myself of that if there are those down days and enjoy the highs when they come."
Wednesday night was one of those highs. Stiemsma was welcomed in the visitors locker room like a player who had given it his all, persevered through the pain, and showed hard work really does pay off.
"I felt like I deserved to be in this league and this was the place that agreed with me and gave me my shot," he said of the Celtics. "There's nothing but love for this city and the organization."

Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

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Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

GOLD STAR: Jake DeBrusk gave the Bruins all kinds of energy out of the starting gate, and made a couple of plays that allowed his team to hold a lead despite getting outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. DeBrusk went hard to the net splitting a couple of San Jose defenders on the first goal, and fired a shot on net that created a rebound for Peter Cehlarik to cash in on. Then DeBrusk scored a little bit later on a rush where he beat Brent Burns in a foot race to a loose puck, then whistled a wrist shot past Aaron Dell for his fourth goal of the season. DeBrusk finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net while falling just short of 16 minutes of ice time in the victory. It was a strong effort from DeBrusk shortly after being a healthy scratch, and showed what he’s capable of when he gets his skating legs going.

BLACK EYE: Brent Burns was a complete mess for the Sharks. He was burnt by Jake DeBrusk in each of the first two Bruins goals in the first period with the B’s rookie going right at him with the attack. He also didn’t make it to the net with 12 of the 16 shots that he attempted and Burns finished with seven giveaways as well. It’s been a rough follow-up season for Burns after last year’s Norris Trophy season where he’s tried to do too much for the Sharks, and his game has suffered as a result. That seemed to be the case for Burns against the Bruins as well where his mistakes played a big role in the Sharks dropping the game.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins won the game when they managed to survive an opening 20 minutes where they were outshot 17-5, and even better they had a 2-1 lead based on some offensive fireworks from Jake DeBrusk. They were also aided by a couple of video reviews where the Bruins took a San Jose goal off the board when it was ruled that a crashing Joonas Donskoi punched a puck into the net with his glove. The Peter Cehlarik goal was also upheld at the other end after a challenge from the San Jose bench. It looked like DeBrusk was tripped before he partially crashed into Aaron Dell that set up the Cehlarik goal, and that’s clearly how the referees saw it after reviewing the play.

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Anton Khudobin, who stopped 36-of-37 shots and improved to 5-0-2 on the season with another strong win aided by a stalwart defensive effort in front of him. Khudobin now has 12 of the 20 points that the Bruins have amassed on the season, and he absolutely rewarded the B’s for opting to go with the Bruins backup for a second game in a row as they ride the hot goaltender. Khudobin was helped by a number of Bruins blocked shots in the third period when the game was still very tight, but it was also about Khudobin coming up with 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were getting outplayed by the Sharks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – the number of Bruins rookies that have scored their first NHL goals this season, including Peter Cehlarik finally getting his first NHL score Saturday night in his 14th career game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We need them. They’re in the lineup and they’re playing significant minutes. We need them to produce for us. Tonight we needed some offense early, and they provided it for us.” – Bruce Cassidy, on the role of the rookies in the win where it was all first-year players Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen doing the scoring vs. San Jose. 

Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

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Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Anton Khudobin enjoyed getting pestered with shots early. He didn't have time to let his mind wander.

Khudobin stopped 36 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

"I like it busy," Khudobin said. "I don't have to think about anything else. The third-period start was unbelievable . . . I don't think I faced a shot until halfway through the period."

Peter CehlarikJake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored to help the Bruins get their second straight win after a four-game skid (0-3-1). Boston had totaled nine goals in its previous five games, scoring more than two for just the second time in nine November games.

"It went our way," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They were clearly better than us but we come out 2-1 (in the three games on West Coast). If you stick with it, good things happen."

Khudobin remained unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) and improved to 4-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average in five games against the Sharks.

Timo Meier scored and Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sharks, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. San Jose has been held to two of fewer goals in five of their seven games this month.

"Guys in this room can score; we just have to do it," Sharks Logan Couture said. "I thought we had good chances and a lot of them at the end. We've got to create offense. If you don't score goals, you're not going to win."

Meier gave the Sharks, losers of two straight following wins in six of seven, a short-lived 1-0 lead after tapping in a rebound 4:50 into the game. Daniel O'Regan, making his season debut, won the puck behind the net and skated around to take the shot that bounced to Meier. It was O'Regan's first career assist and second career point.

"I just kind of fished it out and wanted to bring it to the net," O'Regan said. "Timo made a nice finish."

Cehlarik, in his 14th game, scored his first career goal about 1 1/2 minutes later to tie it for the Bruins.

Boston took the lead on DeBrusk's goal with 9:14 left in the first. Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck in his zone that DeBrusk, one of three rookies who scored, chased down and easily beat Dell 1-on-1.

"It's massive," DeBrusk said. "We all want it so bad and we all work so hard. These are big games for us."

Heinen made it 3-1 with 5:51 left in the third. Kevan Miller skated down the ice, drawing all the attention on the right side. He passed across the crease, from where Heinen tapped it in.

"He made a heck of a play," Heinen said. "I just put my stick on the ice."

The Sharks had a goal negated for the second straight game, this one two minutes in.

"We got enough looks tonight to score," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "We're doing more good than bad we're just not being rewarded."

NOTES: O'Regan was recalled before the game. He's the leading scorer for the Barracuda of the AHL. ... The Sharks have had three consecutive goals reversed after challenges dating to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers. ... Sharks F Joel Ward has recorded points in six of his last eight games. ... DeBrusk, who assisted on Cehlarik's goal, recorded his first multi-point game since Oct. 14, a span of 14 games.

UP NEXT

Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

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