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Game Day: Bruins @ Blue Jackets

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
0:00 - Columbus wins.

26.7 - Empty net goal Columbus. It's 2-0. Nash.

1:10 - Thomas is out...

2:04 - Puck out of play, faceoff in the CBJ zone.

2:31 - Very, very close...puck dribbled past the goal line.

2:41 - Krejci and Vermette with a talk..

2:53 - Recchi shot. Mason save. Wow.

3:59 - Icing Columbus.

4:27 - Scramble in front, Mason made at least two more saves....

5:25 - Bergeron shot, Mason save.

7:44 - Faceoff win for Recchi, Kobasew gets the puck and shoots. Save Mason.

7:56 - Over the glass, faceoff in the CBJ zone.

11:32 - A near miss for Wideman...

12:10 - Save Mason. Shots are 30-26, CBJ.

13:10 - Shoot. Torres beat Tim, low, stick side. It's 1-0, Columbus.

14:46 - First stop by Thomas with Fernandez's mask...

15:05 - Chara is in the box for high sticking. Ugh.

16:04 - It looked like a Blue Jacket popped call. Weird play. Thomas lost his chin strap in the process. Thomas' mage (mask + cage) is broken. And he is going back into the game with Manny Fernandez's traditional mask.

16:39 - A decent kill by Columbus, punctuated by a handpass that puts the faceoff in the neutral zone.

18:52 - Commodore in the box for holding. Could be a big break for the B's.

19:14 - Phil's back...

19:24 - Tim grabs a loose puck and holds on.

20:00 - Start of the Third.
0:00 - A good period for Boston, but it could have been costly. Kessel did not return after landing awkwardly against the boards.

3.3 - Another save by Mason. Shots are 27-20, Columbus.

40.0 - Big hit by Wheeler...

1:38 - That one did. But Mason grabbed it and held on.

2:03 - Lots of scoring opportunities for Boston, but nothing is really getting through...

4:47 - Columbus looks like they mare going to try and fight  -- literally fight -- for each loos puck. Punches were thrown after a Thomas save, but no penalties.

5:32 - Oooooooooh. A nice fight between Stuart and Boll. Boll's shots looked more impressive, but I think Stuarts were more on target. Call it a draw. Both got five minutes for fighting.

6:20 - Kessel went down in a heap in the Columbus zone and slowly made his way to the locker room.

7:39 - Mason flashed the glove on Krejci.

9:31 - Mason blockered a shot out of play. Faceoff in the Jackets zone.

10:52 - Savard and Nash have a little "talk" after Mason's latest save. They both got roughing calls.

12:37 - Huselius to the box for Columbus. Slashing. The B's are 0/1 on the PP.

14:23 - Another big save by Tim.

16:03 - Save Thomas.

18:00 - In similar fashion, Lucic hit the post...

18:33 - Just after the B's killed off the penalty, Kessel is stopped by Mason on a breakaway.

20:00 - Start of the Second.
0:00 - Another good period for Boston, but the score remains tied, 0-0. Shots are 12-5, Columbus.

51.4 - Chara to the box for hooking. Hmmmm.

2:21 - Timmy took one in the face for the second time tonight, but held on for the faceoff. Shots are 11-5, Blue Jackets.

4:06 - At the end of the B's PP, Nash grabbed the puck and carried it down to the goalline where Thomas forced him wide. No shot.

6:09 - Murray goes to the box for catching Mark Stuart high. This is Boston's first PP.

6:45 - Another save by Thomas. Timmy has been pretty busy. Shots are 7-5, Blue Jackets.

9:20 - Tim had to make a tough save with a Jacket right on the doorstep.

9:46 - Kobasew is off for holding the stick. Columbus' first PP.

10:26 - Save Thomas.

12:21 - Lucic whirls a pass to Savard and Savvy made Mason make a pretty good save.

13:41 - Aaron Ward blocked a puck  and went to the bench limping. He then went to the runway. Hmmmm.

15:26 - Puck off of Kessel's foot into the crease and Mason had to scramble to get his catching glove over it.

16:47 - Icing COL.

17:55 - Krejci shot, Mason stop.

18:40 - A bit of easy back-and-forth...

19:58 - COL wins the draw.

20:00 - Start of the First Period.

Boston Starters: Chara, Montador, Recchi, Bergeron, Kobasew, Thomas
Columbus Starters:  Klesla, Tyutin, Umberger, WIlliams, Vermette, Mason

Switching to time on the clock...

6:53 p.m.
No panic...
By the way, there is little worry in the Boston room in terms of the loss at New York.

"Our competative level was extremely good," said Julien.  "For a team that was playing it's second game in 24hours, the way we came out in the third, definitely solidified that and put ourselves back in the game.

"It was a game of breaks and they got the last break."

But God is in the details, and the B's need to fine tune their game.

"Sometimes you have to look at how games are won and lost," said Julien. "Sometimes it is the little details. It's how you compete and how much you commit. I think we're a good example of that last year, too.

"With all the injuries that we had, at the end [Marc] Savard was out with a back issue. Zdeno Chara was out and just because we worked hard and we battled and committed we managed to get ourselves in the playoffs.

"And by the time we got to the playoffs we were on a pretty good roll."

Time to start a new roll -- PDQ.

6:40 p.m.
The Lines...

Scratch: Hnidy, Hunwick, Yelle

6:29 p.m.
It's Tim Thomas vs. Steve Mason between the pipes.

5:35 p.m.
Cornell's Bitz (photo:
Certainly you've heard that we are going to continue our Rinkside Chats (sponsored by Covidien) tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. with Byron Bitz.

Byron said to make sure to mention that he would love to hear from all the Cornell alumni.

He said we can talk about "Lynah Rink. Catherine Street. College Town Pizza. College Town Bagel and Statler Library."

And with the Big Red going into the ECAC playoffs, you can certainly let the Bitzy-Cat know how things are going in Ithaca!

5:24 p.m.
The Bruins are in Nationwide Arena getting ready for tonight's tilt with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Coach Julien said he expected a tough battle -- but that's no surprise.

"If you look at the last five spots available in each conference, there's a lot of teams battling for that," he said.  "We're playing teams that are desperate and playing hard and I think, right now, it's us continuing to play hard like we did the last couple of games.

"Hopefully [we'll get] some production from the players that should produce, great goaltending from our goaltenders and great [work] from our role players.

"We're at that stage right now where we are competing much better, and now if everyone can find their game, and find the level that they want to be at, the rest will fall into place," he said.

3:38  p.m.
Yelle on the mend...
Stephane Yelle will miss his second straight game this evening.

"No I haven't heard anything yet," said Julien about his center's prognosis. "What we had heard yesterday was mostly that he was going to start skating and working out, so once we get back we'll probably have some more news on that."

3:31 p.m.
As reported earlier, it seems to make sense that defenseman Steve Montador will be in the lineup when the B's take the ice tonight.

But one also gets the sense that there may be other changes to the way the Bruins stack up defensively against the Blue Jackets.

"[It's about] the competition, you know and it changes," said Claude Julien. "But it doesn't  mean it's going to stay that way.

"Nobody said our lines [are] carved in stone, nor should the D-pairs, so it's probably something that we are going to start with tonight.

"Whether we end up with it, I don't know," said Julien.

2:26 p.m.
The skate is over and the team meal is done, too. But before I bring you Coach Julien's comments, here are the headlines:
  • Tim Thomas should be in goal tonight, as he was the first goalie off the rink.
  • There will be changes in the B's defensive alignment.
More in a bit...

11:37 a.m.
The B's are skating. Stephane Yelle is not among them. Everyone else, including Montador, is accounted for. Matt Hunwick is skating in a black defenseman's jersey.

11:33 a.m.
Montador is Healthy
Look for Steve Montador to get back into action this evening. After fighting a stomach bug, he had a good skate yesterday and will participate in this morning’s warmup.

“Two skates in 36-hours is important to me,” said Montador, who was clearly feeling better as he came off the ice on Monday.

Montador also gave some insight on the Columbus squad as he had played the Blue Jackets while with the Ducks.

“A few times, yah,” said Montador. “They’re a good team and an aggressive hockey club. They skate really well and they’re physical.

“So, it’s going to be a challenge.”

“I think [Columbus head coach Ken] Hitchcock and the coaching staff has them playing at a high level,” continued the B’s new defenseman. “If you watched any of their practice today you can definitely see that.

“And they’re chomping at the bit. I mean, they are right in the thick of things and they want to stay alive, so they are going to make it a tough game.”

Watching his own team from the stands has brought Montador more insight into his new club, including a new found appreciation for one David Krejci.

“I guess, just by looking at his stats, I didn’t realize how good David was,” said Montador. “He’s just so smooth…he just finds some tricky areas around the ice.

“So he maybe wasn’t one of the most well known guys, at least in the West that I knew about, but you know there’s not too many surprises and it’s a pretty solid lineup, all-around.

“Everyone seems to want to work together,” he said.

That includes Montador, who was using the word “we” when he spoke of the Bruins going forward.

“We’re a team that wants to make it as easy on ourselves as possible by sticking together and working hard,” said Montador, who also raved about the chemistry in the locker room.

“It’s great,” said #23. “I’ve been on some teams where it’s been great and [teams where] maybe it was not so great.

“But you can just see that everyone works together and has a good time and I think that’s important.”

10:01 a.m.
Despite Struggles, Boston Remains at the top of the NHL

Kobasew and Bergeron
Through some of the morning gloom here in Columbus, the USA Today brings a bit of sunshine.

The Bruins remain in first place overall. How about that?

Even with a 4-5-1 record in their last ten, the B's have a one point lead on the vaunted San Jose Sharks (who have three games in hand) and the Detroit Red Wings (who have one game in hand).

New Jersey is a distant fourth with 87 points.

These days, we in the Hub of Hockey are not used to a crooked number in the loss column and while the B's have muddled through a bit of a tough stretch, that just makes them resemble their high-flying Western Conference competitors -- each of whom has had their moments of pause.

And yah, you can waive a finger at me and yell "games in hand, games in hand". And sure,  that's great for San Jose, and to a lesser extent Detroit and New Jersey.


And during much of the final month of the regular season, the Bruins have large gaps in their game schedule, which should provide an opportunity for the club to rest and reload for April.

In the end, maybe that rest may help the Red Wings or Sharks or Devils vault the B's for first place overall in the NHL, but as far as this reporter is concerned two stretches of R&R in the last month of the regular season will be a big help come playoff time.

After all, it's the Stanley Cup banners that everyone cares about. Presidents Trophies are just the icing (or a curse, depending on who you talk to).

Recchi Thinks the Hub of Hockey is Ready to Roll
Mark Recchi
Veteran forward Mark Recchi, who arrived as a reinforcement at the trade deadline has said several times that the B's should not worry about the recent speed bumps.

He has brought a fresh eyes to what has been described by some as a swoon. In fact, having seen the Bruins from the other bench, Recchi was pleased to report that the Black & Gold are a very good hockey club.

"It’s everything that I thought [it was]," said Recchi on Saturday afternoon when asked about the B's. "I mean this is a very deep hockey team with great defense and great goaltending.
"By the sounds of what the coaches are saying they got away from what they were being very successful at for 90 percent of the season.

"Now I think we understand the stuff that we have to work on to get better again and we’ve still got some things we got to continue to get better at," he said.

And hey, there are some things that don't need tinkering at all.

Tim Thomas is the league's best (world's best?) goalie with a .926 save percentage and a 2.24 goals against average.

Dennis Wideman, David Krejci and Blake Wheeler are 1, 2 and 3 respectively in NHL plus-minus rating.

The Bruins yield only 2.22 goals against per game -- far and away the best in the league and Boston is second only to Detroit in goals scored per game at 3.31.

"The last 10, 12 games they’ve been 4-6 and whatever the last number of games," continued Recchi after the Chicago win. "It’s not good and I think the guys realize that and recognize it and know that there’s another level of play that we’re going to have to get to and I think we’re going to work hard to get there.

"We know the coaches have done a great job of showing us what the issues are and where we’ve got to get better and if work hard at it we’re going to get better. I think you really want to get on a nice roll before playoffs and get that good feeling back again."

Surely the loss to New York did not help boost morale, but judging by the mood on the plane and around the locker room on Monday, the Bruins are not crying in their Gatorade either.

In fact, B's head coach Claude Julien pointed out that the Bruins did not exactly roll over for the Rangers

"I thought we played well," he said. "This was our second game in less than 24 hours and the energy that was deployed in this game was very good.

"I thought everybody pushed and tried to make it as good a game as we could. We knew that they were fresh and they were waiting for us.

"We put a lot of energy into it. We got ourselves back in the game and with a break here or there, I honestly I thought we could have won that one,” said Julien.

And tonight, the B's have the opportunity to change their luck.
Boston hits the ice for pregame skate at 11:30 a.m. JB
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