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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rags @ B's Recap -- 1/31/2009

Game #50
(1) Boston Bruins
(4) New York Rangers
Final Score: Bruins 1, Rangers 0

First Period

No Points Recorded

Second Period

Bruins goal by M. Savard
Bruins assists from M. Lucic, D. Wideman

Third Period

No Points Recorded

The Good

1.) The Curious Case of Tuukka Rask

Tuukka Rask turned heads with outstanding goaltending during the Bruins training camp last summer. But despite his admirable performance, the rookie was sent down to the minors at the season's start.

He came into this afternoon with four NHL games under his belt, posting a 3.25 goals against average and a .886 save percentage.

Wipe those stats from your memory. There's a new Tuukka Rask in town -- a Tuukka that's ready for the big league.

The Finnish Flash stopped all 35 shots from the Rangers this afternoon, posting his first career NHL shutout. He showcased his tremendous speed, cunning flexibility, and agile reflexes to keep the Black and Gold on top.

With a little work on his rebound control, Tuukka could take over the starting position as early as next season.

2.) Iron Man -- Marc Savard

Bruins center Marc Savard was already hot coming into tonight's game. The former Ranger had points in seven straight games, including one goal and one assist against the Devils on Thursday.

Savard scored the lone Bruins goal with 20 seconds left in the second period. The All-Star tipped the puck in with a beautiful deflection off an initial shot by Dennis Wideman.

The tally brings Savard's goal total to 19 on the year, a four-goal improvement over last season. But don't expect Savard to stop there -- he's capable of even more. The All-Star potted 28 goals with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2005-2006.

3.) The Dark Knight -- Aaron Ward

The Warrior played one of his best games of the season this afternoon. Ward led the team with four blocked shots and five hits, notching more than 21 minutes of ice time.

His veteran presence and leadership on the blueline continues to be essential to the success of the team. And Ward -- a three-time Stanley Cup champion -- has experience that will no doubt come in handy in the post-season.

He currently stands at a +14 rating this year.

The Bad

1.) Slumdog Millionaire -- Tuukka Rask's Cap Hit

Though Rask put on an excellent performance this afternoon, the B's brass can't overlook his cap hit if he were to remain on the squad.

Boston would have to pay more than $3 million in salary and bonuses to keep Rask on the roster this season. With more than $5 million already locked up between Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez, it doesn't seem plausible for Tuukka to mind the pipes for the big club.

That is, unless the B's swap one of the two veteran 'tenders for prospects, draft picks, or a cheap veteran player before the trade deadline.

The Ugly

A shutout win against one of the top teams in the East? Nothing ugly about that.

Tuukka Time

Tuukka Rask will mind the pipes this afternoon against the New York Rangers. The rookie was called up on an emergency basis earlier in the month to cover for the injured Manny Fernandez.

Rask has not played in an NHL game this season. Last year, the Finnish Flash tallied four games with the big club, posting a 3.25 goals against average and a save percentage of .886.

Prior to his call-up, Tuukka started a majority of the games for the Providence Bruins in the AHL. He's gone 19-15-0 in 34 games with the Baby B's.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl Weekend Preview - Part I

Game #50 Preview
(1) Boston Bruins: 35-8-6
(4) New York Rangers: 29-17-4

Saturday, January 31, 2009 @ 1 pm
Home Arena: TD Banknorth Garden
Season Series: Rangers lead 1-0
TV Broadcasts: NESN (HD), MSG (HD)

Boston Injuries

(G) Manny Fernandez: Day-To-Day
(C/W) Petteri Nokelainen: Day-To-Day
(LW) Marco Sturm: Out For Season

New York Injuries

None to Report

Who's Hot For the Bruins?

(D) Dennis Wideman -- 4 points in last four games, top plus/minus rating in the league at +28
(C) David Krejci -- 12 points in last nine games,

Who's Hot For the Rangers?

(C) Scott Gomez -- 2 goals, 3 assists in last three games
(LW/RW) Markus Nasland -- 5 points in last three games

The Buff's Three Keys to the Game

1.) Expose a Slumping Lundqvist

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist can't seem to shake off iffy numbers in recent games.

The Swedish 'tender boasts 41 starts this season, the fourth most in the entire league. He's posted a respectable 24-14-3 record topped off with a .911 save percentage.

But his numbers haven't been stellar as of late. He's only won a single game in his last three starts, battling a lackluster 3.67 goals against average in those matches. His losses include an embarrassing six-goal performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.

Boston needs to take advantage of Lundqvist's slump before he decides to pick up his game. An early goal or two will likely deflate his confidence.

2.) Stay Out of the Sin Bin

When it comes to the power play, the Rags aren't ones to brag. The club ranks 27th on the man advantage this year, potting only 32 goals on 215 chances.

But that doesn't mean the B's can afford to take penalties. Boston averages 13 penalty minutes a game, eighth highest in the league. And thanks to a poor special teams performance this week, the Bruins penalty kill dropped to ninth overall.

Keep the sticks down. No hooking calls. No high-sticking offenses. Only fighting majors to stir up the bench.
Which transitions smoothly into my next point...

3.) Move, Move, Move. Shoot, Shoot, Shoot. On the Power Play.

Boston's power play hasn't been up to snuff this week. The B's went 0-6 on the man advantage in Tuesday's game against the Caps -- a team with a PK ranking in the bottom half of the league.

But New York is a whole different beast to wrestle with. The Rangers have penalty killing techniques down to a science, boasting the top PK unit in the NHL. Their PK percentage is top-notch on the road at 87.8 percent with only 13 goals against.

The Bruins can't stand ignore those numbers coming into tomorrow's game. No more standing around like statues. No more lazily drifting to the corner in an attempt to retrieve the puck.
Boston's recipe for power play success: Aggressive on the rush, aggressive on the backcheck, and aggressive along the boards. All complimented with dabs of crsip passing and clear shooting to the net.

Fact of the Game

Marc Savard is no stranger to the New York Rangers. The All-Star began his NHL career with the Rags in the 1997-1998 season.

New York picked Savard in the fourth round, 91st overall, of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He played 25 games with the club in his rookie season, notching his first goal early in the year against the New York Islanders.

Savvy went on to score 10 goals and 41 assists in his 98 games with the Rangers. He also saw some time with the Hartford Wolfpack, New York's AHL affiliate.

But his career with the Rangers ended in 1999. New York traded Savard and a 1st round draft pick to Calgary for a 1st round pick, a 3rd round pick, and negotiating rights with Jan Hlavac.

Since the trade, Savard has put up admirable numbers against his former team. The center holds 21 points in his 20 games against the Rangers.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Game Recap: Devils @ B's, 1/29/2009

Game #49
Boston Bruins
New Jersey Devils
Final Score: Bruins 3, Devils 4 in OT

First Period

Devils goal by J. Langenbrunner (Shorthanded)
Devils assist from T. Zajac

Second Period

Devils goal by Z. Parise (Power Play Goal)
Devils assists from J. Langenbrunner, P. Martin

Third Period

Bruins goals by C. Kobasew, M. Savard, D. Wideman
Bruins assists from P. Bergeron, A. Ference, P. Kessel (2), M. Lucic, M. Savard

Devils goal by P. Elias
Devils assists from B. Gionta, D. Oduya


Devils goal by J. Langenbrunner
Devils assists from T. Zajac, C. White

The Good

1.) They Call Him the Working Man - Chuck Kobasew

Chuck Kobasew only holds nine goals this season, but he sinks them when they matter most.

The B's went into the third period down by two goals, treading tight waters after an onslaught of shots from the Devils. Boston needed a hero on the ice, and Kobasew answered the call early in the third.

Alone in the attacking zone, Kobasew launched himself to the corner boards as the first man in on the forecheck. Devils goalie Scott Clemensen was oblivious to the tactic and carelessly played the puck toward Kobasew's stick.

Eager to take advantage of the giveaway, Chuck pounced on the puck and grinded his way to the net. He jammed the biscuit into the post, clashing sticks with the opposition in a desperate attempt to score.

The puck pinballed past Clemmensen's pads and barely crossed the goal line. After a review of the play, the refs pointed to the center of the ice and signaled a goal.

Kobasew's solid effort cut the Devils lead in half and kick started much-needed offensive pressure by the B's.

2.) Thriller Night -- Phil's Triumphant Return

Mononucleosis sidelined Phil Kessel for six games, but the winger didn't show any symptoms of the illness tonight.

The Thrill lugged more than 19 minutes of ice time, the second longest among Boston's forwards. And though he scored no goals, Kessel notched two assists in the third period and finished even on the night.

The winger brought outstanding speed and vision back to Boston's first line. He even showed off a few of his signature moves in the attacking zone.

Marc Savard looked much more comfortable tonight with a designated scorer on his wing. Look for the two to start lighting up the goal lamp this weekend.

3.) Standing on Top of the World -- Dennis Wideman

Dennis Wideman came to Boston in 2006 with a career plus/minus rating of -38. Two-and-a-half years later, and he's now at the top of the league.

Wideman potted a goal and finished +2 against the Devils tonight, bumping his season rating to +28 overall. The defenseman finished the game with a little more than 22 minutes of ice time.

Currently, the top four plus/minus ratings in the league belong to Boston players -- Wideman, Wheeler, Savard, and Krejci, respectively.

The Bad

1.) It's, It's a Byron Bitz

The injury bug struck Boston early in the new year, knocking big-bodied players like Milan Lucic out of the lineup. The B's brass needed a quick, temporary fix to fill the ice and maintain the team's physical presence.

Byron Bitz of the Providence Bruins packed his bags and drove up to Boston to play for the big club on Jan. 10. The 6'5" Saskatchewan giant turned some heads after delivering a few big hits to the Carolina Hurricanes. He topped off his NHL debut by notching his first career assist.

It was electric. So frightfully hectic.

But his initial call-up adrenaline quickly wore off. Bitz hasn't potted a point since his first game with the big club, and he's even on the year for a team that boasts its tremendous plus rating.

Bitz looked lost on the ice tonight. Slow, hesitant to move the puck, and unsure of what plays to make in the attacking zone. His hockey sense isn't up to par with the rest of the squad.

Boston doesn't need another big body now that Lucic is back from injury. It's clear that Bitz needs to head back to the Baby B's.

2.) Good Times, Bad Times -- Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas started in his seventh consecutive game tonight, stopping 26 of 30 shots and posting a .867 save percentage.

But he failed to come up with remarkable, memorable saves to keep his team in the game. The Flint Flopper played more like a fish out of water tonight than he had all season.

Timmy looked out of sorts positionally, as if he'd grown fatigued and needed to resort to pure recklessness to stop the puck. His acrobatics couldn't withstand NJ's firepower in the end.

Though Thomas led Boston to plenty of W's this season, he needs to take a breather and regain his composure. Expect B's prospect Tuukka Rask to stand between the pipes against the Rangers on Saturday.

3.) Livin' on the Edge -- Patrice Bergeron v. Faceoffs

Patrice Bergeron must've grown too comfortable playing left-wing last game.

Bergeron returned to the B's third line and played center, winning only two faceoffs on the entire night. He faced 13 draws altogether.

The rest of the team registered 67 percent at the faceoff dot. Bergeron's draw percentage simply isn't acceptable and needs be addressed in tomorrow's practice.

The Ugly

1.) Hello Darkness, My Old Friend... -- The Power Play

The Bruins went an abysmal 0-6 on the man advantage tonight. They failed to gain and maintain puck possession in the offensive zone time after time again.

NJ played a tight defensive system along the blueline to prevent the B's from rushing into the attacking zone. The Devils easily knocked the B's off of the puck and even scored a shorthanded goal in the first period.

Boston tried to adjust its special teams as the game went on, employing a dump-and-chase strategy on later power play opportunities. But the B's weren't strong enough along the boards and were moved off the puck by NJ's penalty killers.

Kessel and Ryder Back In

The Boston Globe confirms that Phil Kessel and Michael Ryder will suit up for tonight's game against New Jersey.

Boston will need all the firepower it can muster up against the red-hot Devils. Having two of its leading goal-scorers back might help put them over the top to grab the W.

And the return of the two wingers means that the Bruins latest bout with the injury bug is almost finished. Marc Savard's top-line has a scorer again in Kessel, and the Wheeler-Krejci line is complete with Ryder's return.

No word yet on what Patrice Bergeron's role will be tonight. He played on Krejci's wing Tuesday night against the Caps and notched an assist on the power play.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Game 49 -- New Jersey Devils @ Boston Bruins Preview

Game #49 Preview
(1) Boston Bruins: 35-8-5
(3) New Jersey Devils: 30-15-3

Thursday, January 29, 2009 @ 7 pm
Home Arena: TD Banknorth Garden
Season Series: Bruins Lead 1-0
TV Broadcasts: NESN (HD), MSG (HD)

Boston Injuries

(G) Manny Fernandez: Day-To-Day
(LW) Marco Sturm: Out For the Season
Notes: Phil Kessel (RW) and Michael Ryder (RW) are expected to play tonight after missing time with the club.

Petteri Nokelainen (C/W) did not practice yesterday due to an undisclosed injury and may not suit up for the game.
New Jersey Injuries

(G) Martin Brodeur: Out indefinitely

Who's Hot For the Bruins?

(G) Tim Thomas: 5-1-1 in seven consecutive starts with a .941 save percentage
(C) Marc Savard: 17 points in the last 14 games, +26 rating on the year

Who's Hot For the Devils?

(G) Scott Clemmensen: 4-0-0 in four consecutive starts with a 1.25 goals against average
(LW) Zach Parise: 6 points in last four games, 28 goals this season

The Buff's Three Keys to the Game

1.) Top New Jersey's Goaltending

New Jersey is stuck with a goaltending situation they couldn't have possibly imagined. But the team isn't complaining.

Devils goaltender Marty Brodeur went down with an elbow injury in November -- an injury that continues to keep him off the ice. Most experts wrote off the Devils right then and there, claiming that New Jersey couldn't make a playoff run without the face of its franchise.

In a move that screamed desperation, New Jersey called up rookie 'tender Scott Clemmensen from the Lowell Devils in the AHL to stand between the pipes. But he's done more than just that.

The Iowa native is a stunning 20-9-1 this season, boasting a .923 save percentage. More than half of those wins have come on the road, where Clemmensen holds an 11-5-1 record on the year.

He comes into Boston with five wins in his last five starts. But Clemmensen only has two career victories over the B's. They'll have to shoot hard, shoot quick, and shoot often to get under his skin.

2.) Gain the Early Lead

The Devils have only won five games when trailing on the scoreboard after the first period.

But they're 15-3-2 when leading after the first. And the squad hasn't lost a game in regulation when holding the lead after the second period.

The B's need to pounce on the Devils early and pot a few goals right off the bat. They can't wait too long or NJ will sucker them into playing the neutral zone trap -- a form of hockey that can cure even the heaviest cases of insomnia.

3.) Stay Out of the Box

The Bruins may have well bought a timeshare at the penalty box Tuesday night. The team made six trips to the sin bin thanks to careless hooking and high-sticking penalties.

Luckily, Washington failed to convert on any of those chances.

But New Jersey might not give the B's that luxury. Though its power play is only ranked 14th in the league, NJ has scored three goals on the man advantage in its last five games.

Fact(s) of the Game

Devils goaltender Scott Clemmensen never suited up for the Bruins, but that doesn't mean he's a stranger to Boston hockey.

Clemmensen led the Boston College Eagles to a National Championship in 2001, his fourth and final year with the team. He played 39 games with the club that season, posting an impressive 30 wins topped off with a whopping 876 saves.

Another interesting fact -- NJ defenseman Jay Leach has two connections to the Bruins.

Leach played in the AHL with the Providence B's for three seasons starting in 2004. He even got a taste of the NHL, registering no points and seven penalty minutes in two games with Boston.

Leach is also engaged to Kathryn Tappen, NESN's studio host for Boston Bruins games. The two announced their marriage plans late last year.

Kessel Cleared to Play

Joe Haggerty of WEEI reports that Phil Kessel has been cleared to play by team doctors.

The Bruins need him back as soon as possible. Their toughest stretch of the year is ahead, starting with games against the Devils, Rangers, and Habs this week.

Thomas Moves Up

With last night's win against Washington, Tim Thomas moved past Reggie Lemelin and Pete Peters to break into the top-10 on Boston's all-time goaltender wins list.

Thomas has 94 career wins with a .920 save percentage and a goals against average of 2.61. The Flint, Michigan native was drafted in 1994 by the Quebec Nordiques in the ninth round.

It only took the All-Star three-and-a-half season to reach this milestone. He wasn't ever expected to play at the NHL level, making Thomas one of the most popular "feel good" stories in the league.

But does this feat reflect poorly on the club? The fact that Thomas was able to move up in the ranks so quickly shows Boston's inability to maintain a solid goaltender since Andy Moog's departure in 1993.

To break into Boston's top five, Thomas needs to put up an average of 30 wins per season by the end of his career. He broke this barrier once in the 2006-2007 season.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Game Recap: Caps v. B's, 1/27/2009

Game #48
Boston Bruins
Washington Capitals
Final Score: Bruins 3, Capitals 2 in OT
First Period

Washington goals by M. Green, M. Nylander
Washington assists by A. Semin, A. Ovechkin, T. Fleischmann, C. Clark
Boston goal by S. Thornton, unassisted

Second Period

Boston goal by M. Savard
Boston assist by P. Bergeron

Third Period

No goals by either team


Boston goal by D. Krejci
Boston assists by D. Wideman, Z. Chara

The Good

1.) The Return of Patrice Bergeron

The B's power play looked revived with Bergeron back at the point. A diving play in the second period kept the puck in offensive zone and resulted in a power play goal for the B's.

And tonight, for the first time all season, Bergeron showed flashes of his former self. Crisp passes in the third period led to chance after chance for the home squad. Fearless, he positioned himself perfectly to restrict passing and shooting lanes for the opposition.

Though his speed wasn't top-notch, Bergy managed to keep up with the tempo of the game and comfortably transitioned into playing again.

2.) Save After Save a la Tim Thomas

All-Star Timmy Thomas stopped 34 shots, effectively stunning the offensive Washington juggernaut.

Despite letting a few juicy rebounds fly, Thomas looked unusually sound positionally. He played a relatively flopless game, relying more on his pads and trusty glove for tough saves.

Toward the end of the game, Thomas robbed the Caps with a fantastic save using the tip of his skate. He must've learned a thing or two from watching the Circus De Soleil at the All-Star game.

3.) David Krejci: Man or Mammoth?

David Krejci lugged more than 20 minutes of ice-time tonight, but it paid off. The rising star snuck the puck around the post and right into the left-corner of the goal, winning the game for the B's in overtime.

The goal bumped Krejci's season total to 18. Combine that with his 35 assists, resulting in a whopping 53 points.

The Bad

1.) Penalties, Penalties, Penalties

The Bruins booked six tips to the sin-bin tonight, including one only seven seconds into the game. Taking four hooking penalties is inexcusable. And two high-sticking calls? Unacceptable.

The boys needs to watch their sticks along the boards and especially in the corners. Energy and grit are important to the game, but not to the point where they can cost you games.

Luckily, Washington's power play failed to convert on every chance.

2.) Sparkless Milan Lucic

Lucic didn't fulfill one of The Buff's keys to the game: Dominate the physical play. Though he registered four hits, none of them stood out and none of them changed the tempo of the game.

Looch proved tonight that he's a non-factor unless he's at the top of his physical game. Bone-crunching hits leads to turnovers for the opposition and opportunities for the B's. The team turns for Lucic to fill this role.

Hopefully he just needs to shake off some rust and get used to throwing his shoulder again.

3.) Clip Hunwick's Wing

Matt Hunwick proved tonight why he belongs on this team as a defenseman, not as a forward.

The rookie looked lost on the ice. He seemed inclined to shift back to defensive positioning and forego his role as a forward. And he only saw about seven minutes of playing time.

Hunwick did finish the game even, though. Not bad enough to be considered "ugly."

The Ugly

1.) Byron Bitz v. Donald Brashear

I'll give credit to Bitz for going after one of the NHL's top heavyweights. But it wasn't hard to tell that Brashear didn't want to hurt the kid.

The bout was a grappling match if anything. Brashear threw a few jabs on Bitz's chin toward the end of the scrap and then took him down for the KO.

I don't think B's fans would be disappointed if Bitz didn't drop the gloves again this season.

Ovechkin Back

Alexander Ovechkin has returned to the Caps' bench for the third period.

Alexander Semin is down on the ice now. Looks like he just took a high stick. Should be OK.

Alexander Ovechkin Out

Alexander Ovechkin left tonight's game during the second period after crashing into the boards. Zdeno Chara hooked him right before the incident.

No word on whether he'll be back. Alex the Great did go into the Caps locker room looking incredibly frustrated, slamming his gloves and throwing his helmet on the floor.

Game is currently tied 2-2. Game recap coming up later tonight.

Bergeron to Play Wing? And more.

Plenty of Bruins buzz in the Hub of Hockey this afternoon.

Looks like the All-Star Break was just what the doctored ordered to cure the B's injury bug. Three of the club's top players will return for tonight's home game against the Washington Capitals.

The Boston Globe reports that Patrice Bergeron will likely skate on a line with David Krejci and Blake Wheeler.

Switching Bergeron to the wing may be the best way to ease him back into the game after suffering another concussion. The Bruins have enough depth at center to allow Patrice the opportunity.

It'll also help Bergeron focus on his offensive game -- right now, he's on pace for a lackluster 38 points this season. Not ideal numbers for a player who put up back-to-back 70+ point seasons before missing most of last year.

Some also forget that Patrice Bergeron started in the NHL as a winger. He registered 16 goals in his rookie season, including a nifty game-winning playoff goal against the hated Habs.

Bergeron's move to Krejci's wing might also be influenced by Michael Ryder's absence at this morning's practice. Ryder has been ill with flu-like symptoms for the past week. No word yet on whether he'll play in tonight's game.

Other interesting notes this afternoon...

Andrew Ference will suit up tonight for the first time in 31 games. The Globe reports he'll be paired with Dennis Wideman, hopefully adding some much-needed grit to the defensive line.

But Andy's return to the lineup leaves the B's with seven active defensemen. Coach Claude Julien took this into consideration and experimented with some possibilities this morning.

Defenseman Matt Hunwick played wing on the B's fourth line during today's practice. Looks like he might be the odd-man out with Andrew Ference returning to the defensive line.

Will Hunwick stay on the wing for tonight's game? Not sure if like this move. He proved himself worthy of a defensive spot when Ference went down earlier in the season.

In 35 games with the big club, Hunwick registered 3 goals and 12 assists. He also holds a +11 rating.

If anything, I would've expected Mark Stuart to sit in the press box. Aside from a two-goal performance against the lowly Thrashers on Dec. 8, Stuart hasn't been particularly noteworthy this season.

Hopefully Hunwick played wing in practice to fill temporary gaps. Perhaps the Broons will call up forward Vladimir Sobotka from Providence later this afternoon.

Milan Lucic will also return to the lineup tonight. He's expected to play wing on the B's top line with Marc Savard and Chuck Kobasew.

"Moses," as B's defenseman Aaron Ward so aptly nicknamed him, brings a physical presence that the team has been lacking for almost the entire month. Look for him to throw some huge hits early to set the pace for tonight's game.

No updates on Phil Kessel's condition this morning.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bergeron, Ference, Lucic Possibly in Tomorrow

The New England Sports Network is reporting that Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference, and Milan Lucic are all likely to play in tomorrow's game against the Washington Capitals.

Bergeron missed the last 15 games due to a concussion he suffered at the end of December. The concussion is Bergeron's second in just 14 months.

Ference broke his tibia at the beginning of the season, missing 31 games in total. He was originally expected to be out 6-8 weeks.

Lucic declined an invitation to last weekend's NHL Youngstars Game to continue nursing a shoulder injury he sustained in December. He missed seven games.

Game 48 - Washing Capitals @ Boston Bruins Preview

Game #48 Preview
(1) Boston Bruins: 34-8-5
(2) Washington Capitals: 30-15-3

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 @ 7 pm
Home Arena: TD Banknorth Garden
Season Series: Caps Lead 2-0
TV Broadcasts: Versus (HD), TSN

Boston Injuries

(C) Patrice Bergeron: Day-to-Day
(D) Andrew Ference: Day-to-Day
(G) Manny Fernandez: Day-to-Day
(RW) Phil Kessel: 2-3 Weeks
(LW) Marco Sturm: Out For Season

Washington Injuries

(D) Shaone Morrisonn: Day-to-Day
(D) Tom Poti: Day-to-Day
(G) Brent Johnson: Day-to-Day
(D) Brian Pothier: Out indefinitely

Who's Hot For the Bruins?

(C) Marc Savard: 16 points in his last 13 games
(D) Zdeno Chara: 2 goals and 1 assist in his last 2 games, +22 overall

Who's Hot For the Caps?

(LW) Alexander Ovechkin: 4 goals in the last 4 games
(LW/RW) Alexander Semin: 2 goals, 2 assist in the last 4 games

The Buff's Three Keys to the Game

1.) Dominate Physical Play

Washington is one of the only teams in the NHL that can match Boston's physicality. The return of Milan Lucic to the line-up should help the B's set the tone. Also look for big hits from Zdeno Chara, Byron Bitz, and Mark Stuart.

2.) Stellar Goaltending

With Manny Fernandez out with a sore back, look for Tim Thomas to make his seventh consecutive start. The Flint Flopper boasts an 8-2 career record over the Capitals and leads the NHL in save percentage.

But he'll have to stand on his head to keep up with the Caps' firepower. Alexander Ovechkin continues to bolster Washington's powerhouse offense with 31 goals this season, the top number in the league.

That is, unless rookie Tuukka Rask starts. Rask was called up from the Providence Bruins today on an emergency basis. The prospect holds a 19-15-0 record with the Baby B's with a 2.46 goals against average.

3.) Work the Power Play

Washington's penalty kill ranks at the bottom half of the league -- 24th with 48 goals against. The team gave up three power play goals in its last game, a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

The Bruins are coming off a strong power play performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, scoring two goals on the man advantage. They're currently ranked #3 on the power play.

Fact of the Game

Capitals defenseman Milan Jurcina began his NHL career with the Bruins in 2005. He played 91 games with the B's, posting 8 goals, 6 assists, and a -2 rating.

Jurcina had difficulty adjusting to a Bruins coaching change in 2006. He found himself in Coach Dave Lewis' doghouse almost immediately, being benched and scratched almost on a weekly basis.

The B's traded Jurcina to the Caps in 2007 for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2008 entry draft. Since then he has enjoyed some degree of success with the Caps, becoming a regular member of their blueline.

Jurcina hasn't been a factor against his old club. In his eight games against the Bruins, he has 0 points and a +5 rating.

And what came of the conditional fourth-round pick? The Calgary Flames plucked it from the B's later that year in a trade that swapped Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew for Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau.

Calgary received the pick on the condition that Brad Stuart did not resign with the club in the off-season. Stuart chose not to.

Home Opener

Puckheads. Armchair GMs. Fantasy Pool Junkies. Gallery Gods. Bruins Nation.

Welcome to Backcheck: A blog created by yours truly, the Bruins Buff.

Grab some bench. Stay awhile. I offer you my insight, my knowledge, and my opinion. Take it for what it's worth.

Before we delve into the world of hockey in coming entries, let's take care of the formalities. Who is the Bruins Buff?

I'm a mild-mannered freelance writer by day, armed with nothing but pen, paper, and a journalism degree.

But when 7 o'clock rolls around on game day, my alter-ego takes control. I slip on my 1970 Vintage B's jersey and transform into the crazed fanatic you'll come to know.

I've been addicted to the Beantown Broons for more than 20 years. Ray Bourque. Cam Neely. Adam Oates. These are just a few of the greats I cheered on while growing up.

But the journey hasn't been all highlight goals and crisp passes. I've also cheered on my fair share of not-so-greats (see: The Paul Coffey Experiment).

Regardless, my passion for the B's has only become stronger through the years. Through obscure literature and obsessive video viewings, I've earned myself a doctorate in B's Before the Buff's Time.

Though the B's have suffered some devastating blows in recent years, the club finally looks to be back on the Quest for the Cup. With a 34-8-5 record, the Broons sit at #1 in the Eastern Conference.

Won't you join the team in its march to Causeway Street?

This blog will chronicle the flight of the 2008-2009 Boston Bruins in its remaining games. It'll also touch on Bruins history, trivia, and fun facts.

Expect game previews and game recaps. Prospect info and player critiques. This Day in Bruins History. And much, much more.

Comments are welcome and encouraged on any entry. Thanks for taking the time to read, and I hope you'll enjoy each post.

Go Black and Gold!

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