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Game Day: Blues vs. Bruins

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
St. Louis wins the shootout and takes the game, 5-4.

Wheeler hit the post.
Oshie scores on Thomas.
Mason stops Axelsson.
Boyes scores.
0:00 - Mason made a last second save to send the game to a shootout. It's 4-4, after 65 minutes.

34.5 - Puck out of play, faceoff in the St. Louis zone.

1:02 - Krejci blocks a shot from the point.

2:32 - Ryder just had a heck of a shift and nearly won it on his own, two or three times.

3:47 - Wheeler with another chance, the puck bounced over his stick in front of the net.

5:00 - Start of Overtime. It's four-on-four play for five minutes of sudden-death overtime.
0:00 - Got some stuff to sort through. WIth Mason on the bench, Jackman made a heck of a save and the puck ended up back in the Boston zone. Somewhere in there Wheeler missed an empty net. Eventually, Tkachuk David Backes beat Thomas with a baseball bunt of the puck into the goal -- however, it looked like the puck was above the crossbar.

Goal St. Louis. It's 4-4. Overtime. The wind just went out of the building...

1:20 - Hold the celebration. David Perron scores. It's 4-3, Boston.

2:42 - Yelle in the box for tripping.

3:02 - Chara scores. Wow, what a turnaround. 4-2. Big Zee puts it on net and Mason couldn't see through three defenders.

3:09 - Savard, Wheeler and Kobasew all have a shot at the B's fourth -- Mason says no.

I guess they are going to take a look at Wheeler's try to make sure it didn't end up in the goal.

No goal. Boston still leads, 3-2.

3:27 - Thomas with a save and a pile-up in front of Timmy.

4:25 - Axieeeeee! A seeing-eye goal. Through four Blues. It's 3-2, Boston.

4:44 -  Ryder from Krejci -- GOAL! It's 2-2. And there's still time on the second call.

5:05 - Hook on St. Louis. Backes makes it a Boston five-on-three.

6:18 - Hinote to the box. Make-up call? B's on the PP.

6:50 - Wheels with a nice drive into the St. Louis zone, down the left side, and it really looked like there should've been a call on old friend Brad Boyes.

8:52 - Wideman in the box for hooking. Thomas made a stop while lying flat on his belly and with the back of his leg. Wow. Game changer?

12:41 - Mason has enough of the Savard line and pins the puck to the right post for a faceoff.

13:45 - Tim with his 13th save.

15:24 - A decent shift by the Savard line...

17:40 - Icing Boston. Bitz is back on the ice.

19:16 - Just to update: Hinote and Crombeen also got roughing calls.

20:00 - Start of the Third Period. Boston is 0-6-1 when trailing after two. St. Louis is 11-1-1 when leading after two.

BTW: Today's game is a sellout.
0:00 - Wow. Poor Dan Hinote got the worst of that. Crombeen elbowed Big Zee and Chara seemed to want to go. For whatever reason, Hinote got in the middle and Zdeno landed on Hinote. OUCH.

But then, in what was the strangest call these eyes have seen in a while, Zee, who was confronted by at least two Blues and elbowed by another, got a double minor for roughing.

Shots are 18-11, Boston.

1:22 - Good kill, which included Tim losing his stick, getting a skater's stick, giving back said stick and getting his back and then making a save. Ugly, but effective.

3:27 - That was ugly. A long scramble in the Bruins zone leads to the P.J. Axelsson penalty for holding. That's the first man-advantage for St. Louis.

6:27 - Two-on-one, Ryder and St. Pierre. Ryder to St. Pierre, but Marty didn't get enough wood to take advantage of the open left side of the St. Louis net. Mason held on to a follow-up shot.

8:32 - Boston came pretty darn close. Mason had to do the snow angel to keep it out, and then it was pig-pile on Hnidy, who was the last Bruins player trying to shove the puck out from under the Blues goalie.

9:24 - Mason with his toughest stop on the afternoon. A nice hard, low shot from Nokelainen.

9:58 - The B's are not having an easy period and can't seem to get out of their own way. Very little forward momentum...

13:09 - McClement scores. Somebody lost track of him on the right side and he grabbed a nice pass from Steen and put the puck past Thomas.

15:35 - Boston gets a break. Steen slashes Wheeler (or Wheels' stick) and gets two. The B's are 0/1 on the PP.

17:19 - Bitz gets helped off. He seemed to try and put a little extra into a hit and got the worst of it.

17:37 - Belay that. The Blues are spending a lot of time in the Bruins zone.

19:13 - Boston seems to have a little more fire...

20:00 - Start of the Second Period. Legace is out with a lower body injury -- will not return.

The Bruins are 10-3-1 when tied after the first. The Blues are 5-8-0.
0:00 - A pretty nondescript start to the game for both squads. Shots are now 10-5, Boston.

Wonder what happened to Legace?

2:54 - Crombeen in the box for St. Louis. Tripping. Boston's first PP.

4:35 - Chara, showing some fire, cleans out McClement in the corner to Timmy's right.

7:05 - Some bad hockey. St. Louis icing.

9:25 - Savard, Kobasew and Wheeler had another terrific shift and a pretty decent scoring chance out of basically nothing. Savard used the Bruins goal as a blocker, bounced the puck back to himself off the metal and brought it in front for the chance.

On the second attempt (and first shot) Legace held on for the faceoff. Legace left the ice and Mason took the net for St. Louis.

10:08 - Icing Bruins, who do not look on their game.

12:23 - That went through three sets of wickets (legs) to go into the Boston net. Winchester, with a slap shot, scores to make the score 1-1. Coach Julien looked VERY angry.

Shots are just 2-1, St. Louis.

13:39 - Oh no. It looks like they are on the phone with the video judge...

What we see up here looks good (no goal). And the video judge agrees. No goal. Still, 1-0, Boston.

14:23 - Hnidy makes a nice save as a puck got through Timmy. Shane swept it out of harm's way.

15:34 - Kobasew scores! Coach moving the lines around brings instant dividends. Wheeler to Kobasew, Chuckie put it by Legace. B's are 1/1, shooting...

17:47 - Icing Blues.

19:46 - St. Louis controls the puck and regroups in their own end...

20:00 - Start of the First Period.

Boston Starters: Stuart, Chara, Bitz, Yelle, Thornton, Thomas
St. Louis Starters: Jackman, Tkachuk, Steen, Crombeen, Weaver, Legace

Switching to time on the clock.

1:00 p.m.
Press Box Notes...

The Bruins and Blues met earlier this year in St. Louis on Sunday, December 21, with the Bruins capturing a 6-3 win behind two first period goals from Blake Wheeler.

Other stories...
  • The Bruins will be wearing their Reebok Third Jersey System today for the seventh of 16 times this season. They have compiled a 5-1-0 record in their previous six games wearing their third jerseys.
  • Bruins forward Petteri Nokelainen is playing in his 100th career NHL game today.
  • Today’s game features two of the top power plays in the league with Boston ranking third overall in the NHL (23.8%) and St. Louis ranking sixth (22.0%).
  • For the Blues, Patrik Berglund leads all NHL rookies in goals scored (14) and ranks second in both points (29) and assists (15). He will join Bruins rookie Blake Wheeler at the 2009 NHL YoungStars game during all-star weekend on Saturday, January 24. Wheeler ranks third among rookies in points (28) and tied for second in both goals scored (13) and assists (15).
  • Both teams are coming off road losses on Saturday night, as St. Louis was defeated by Chicago, 2-1, in overtime while the Bruins fell to Washington, 2-1, in regulation.

12:40  p.m.
The lines are actually...
Wheeler - Savard - Kobasew
Axelsson - Krejci - Ryder
Thornton - Yelle - Bitz
Sobotka - St. Pierre - Nokelainen
Stuart - Chara
Hunwick - Wideman
Lashoff - Hnidy

Bergeron, Ference, Lucic, Ward

12:29 p.m.
It's Tim Thomas vs. Manny Legace.

12:23 p.m.
Coach spoke a bit more about the Bruins injuries during his availability.

On Wideman, Julien said, "You never know with those types of injuries you've gotta have, take time to look at it every day and see if it's still good or if it's improving and in his case it's good enough that he's ready to go."

A comment was made about Wideman's durability.

"Yeah, it usually takes a lot for him to stay out of the lineup and again this is a decision made not only by him but by us," he said. "If there was a high risk thing he wouldn't be in the lineup today if he wasn't able to give us what we expect out of him he wouldn't be in the lineup today either.

"So he's good enough to go.

"I guess he's battling through a little bit of pain and that we feel...that he's capable of doing that and we feel that he's good enough to go out there and play," he said.

12:05 p.m.
Dennis Wideman will play. So, the Bruins will have the same lineup as last game.

So that means the lines should look like...
Axelsson - Savard - Kobasew
Wheeler - Krejci - Ryder
Nokelainen - Yelle - Bitz
Sobotka - St. Pierre - Thornton
Stuart - Chara
Lashoff - Wideman
Hunwick - Hnidy

Bergeron, Ference, Lucic, Ward

11:08 a.m.
I got to talk a little with Byron Bitz yesterday in Wilmington.

I wanted to talk to him about his nickname -- Bitzycat -- and how that nickname came about.

"Jeremy Reich, and I don’t know where he thought that up but you know him, he comes up with his own language and I don’t know where he got it from but it kind of stuck," said Byron.

That makes sense. Jeremy, who is with the P-Bruins this season, graced us with some explanation of his own language last year in Shawn Thornton's Vlog, but Bitzycat?

"I don’t know. I really don’t know," said Bitz. "At training camp, Reich started calling me that and Thorny calls me that and now I think everybody’s calling me that so, it’s just one of those things. It just kind of stuck on me."

Is it a term of endearment?

"Yeah, yeah, I mean I like it, its one of those things that just, I don’t know where it came from, I don’t think there’s any meaning, but that’s my name," said Byron, who said that previously his nickname had been, simply, Bitzy.

As if convincing himself, Byron just repeated the moniker.

"Bitzycat, yeah," said Bitz.  "I’m the cat."

Getting down to business, I asked Bitz about his first week in the NHL.

"It’s been good," he said. "I got on the road here, and I think playing on the road here is a little different [than the AHL], obviously.

"You don’t have the home crowd; you don’t have 17, 18,000 people behind you. So you’ve got to try and create your own energy and that’s been a difference.

"But it’s good to be back home now," he said.

What's the biggest difference in NHL? Speed?

"Yeah speed," he said, before he explained, "everything’s so magnified, you know?"

"You don’t have a lot of time with the puck and you just try to make the right play, but everybody’s so good positionally that, you make a mistake you know it's going to be going back the other way."

10:39  a.m.
Before I forget, good friend and Bruins teams photog Steve Babineau will be joined by former Bruins tough guy (and morning show personality extraordinaire) Lyndon Byers for a signing of Steve's book Black and Gold.

So start your All-Star weekend by reminicing with Steve and LB at B.J.'s in Framingham.

The info...
Friday, January 23rd at 11:30 a.m.
BJ's Framingham
26 Whittier St.
Framingham, MA 01701
508- 872-2100

It's a gorgeous book!

10:29 a.m.
After practice yesterday, Coach Julien was asked if he expected any of his injured players to be back in the lineup on Monday.

"No, not really," he said, before he talked about Dennis Wideman.

Wideman played through some bumps after being low-bridged by Alex Ovechkin in Washington.

"I would say that Wides is probable, more likely than not," said the coach. "And we'll have to see what the medical staff [says] about [Aaron] Ward's situation.

"And with [Milan Lucic], again, I would say more doubtful because we are going to make sure that he is at 100%."

The news was positive about Andrew Ference.

"Right now, Ference is looking pretty good," said Julien. "And so is [Patrice] Bergeron, so everything is pointing to things going in the right direction.

"So we've got to suck it up for the next [couple of] games and hopefully get some good news after the break."

10:14 a.m.
There is no morning skate for either team, but we do expect some of the B's to speak to the media before the game.

Coach Julien will meet with the press at 11:50 a.m.

January 18th
3:48 p.m.

The Bruins had a productive practice and Coach Julien looked pretty happy after the session.

"We've got a lot of guys who are close to coming back," said Julien of his injured players. "If we can at least suck it up for the next few games, and at least pull [some positives] out of those, hopefully we'll have good news after the break.

"And that doesn't mean we won't before...but we just have to battle through it.

"Every team is going to go through a bit of a tough stretch," he said.

Julien said that when go-to guys are out of the lineup, other people have to step up.

"We've got to find ways [to win]," said Julien. "Obviously, when you are going through those kinds of situations, you hope you are going to find those unsung heroes -- somebody who's going to come up with a big goal.

"Marty St. Pierre did that against the Islanders.

"But you need more of those guys to [step up] right now, until we get a healthier team," he said.

11:37 a.m.
The Bruins are in Ristuccia warming up for practice.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien greeted me with a pithy, "Is it still snowing Bish?"

"Yes, I think it's getting harder," said your author, earnestly.

"Good," said Julien, "because that was either snow or dandruff in your hair and I couldn't tell."


Back to business: I don't see Dennis Wideman, but Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Aaron Ward are all on the ice.

  • Everyone always talks about how mad Tim Thomas gets when he gets scored on -- even in practice. But Manny Fernandez is seething when he lets one in during practice, too. While Tim is often (but not as often as he used to) seen slamming a post or shaking his head, Manny is more verbal, giving a chirp here or there and then throwing in a growl. It's like a big cat has taken over the crease on the locker room side of the ice.
  • Whenever anyone scores there seems to be a somewhat derisive "oooooooh" from the other players. It's almost as if the Bruins are reminding the "offending" player that it's only practice.
  • In the corners, if you watch carefully, you can see minor "skirmishes" -- simple shoving matches -- where smiling teammates give a good shove. Nothing to it beisides boys being boys.
  • Biggest cheer from the club, though was actually, Mark Stuart's penalty shot score. Even Coach Julien seemed to crack a smile.
Angela Stefano and Angela Latona contributed (greatly) to today's Bear Essentials
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