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Game Day: Devils vs. Bruins

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
New Jersey 0 1 0-1

Boston 1 3 0-4

First Period-1, Boston, Ryder 25 (Recchi, Savard), 16:22 (pp).

Second Period-2, Boston, Kobasew 18 (Bergeron, Recchi), 1:52. 3, Boston, Savard 23 (Hunwick, Ryder), 6:19 (pp). 4, New Jersey, Greene 2 (Langenbrunner, Parise), 12:44. 5, Boston, Lucic 14 (Kessel, Stuart), 17:26.

Third Period-None.

Shots on Goal-New Jersey 11-14-17-42. Boston 14-13-3-30.

Goalies-New Jersey, Brodeur. Boston, Thomas. A-17,565 (17,565). T-2:15.
Third Period Recap: Despite being out shot 42-30 during the game, the Bruins maintained their three goal lead during the third period for a final score of 4-1, allowing the Bruins to clinch the Northeast Division title.
0:00 - A couple of penalties late (Chara, Clarkson). The B's are Northeast Division champs and five points up on the Devils in the East.

1:15 - The Bruins fans are serenading the Devils.

1:53 - We're winding down....

3:47 - Save Thomas. He holds on and we've got a TV timeout.

5:21 - Brodeur took a shot high and lookes a little pained.

6:50 - Mottau slashed Lucic's stick out of his hand on a near breakaway. B's back on the PP.

9:57 - Chara is going to the box. Yeeesh.

NJD are 0/4 on the PP, today.

12:53 - Ward is in the box.

13:27 - B's haven't quit in the offensive zone, either.

15:37 - More Thomas...

16:42 - Timmy is keeping the B's three goals up. Great goaltending.

20:00 - Start of the Third. I missed Lucic's goal, but saw it on video! We're at 4-1.
Second Period Recap: The Bruins added to their lead early in the second period with a quick wrap-around goal by Chuck Kobasew at 1:52, making it a 2-0 game.

Devil Bobby Holik received a roughing penalty at 5:36 of the period, and Marc Savard took advantage of the Bruins power play with a goal at 6:19 and increased the lead to 3-0. 

The Devils broke into the scoreboard at 12:44 with a goal from Andy Greene to put them down 3-1, but Milan Lucic scored at 17:26, slowly leading the puck to the net, to give the B’s a three-goal lead again.

The shots on goal after the second period still were neck and neck, with the Bruins leading 27-25.

3:39 - I am heading downstairs to help my friends at NESN out with something...I'll pick up ASAP.

5:29 - A modified split save for Timmy keeps the score, 3-1.

5:42 - Ryder is in the box for holding.

7:16 - Greene beats Thomas by redirecting a pass from Langenbrunner into the B's goal. It's 3-1. Give the other assist to Parise.

9:42 - Save Brodeur (on Wideman).

10:08 - Parise is in the box for slashing.

11:33 - Thomas keeps the lead at three with a nice stop...

13:41 - Wow! Savard buries the B's latest. It's 3-0 Boston. Assists to Hunwick and Ryder.

The crowd seems stunned -- in a good way --and is buzzing.

14:24 - Holik to the box. B's back on the PP.

17:36 - Wheeler for holding.

18:08 - Still catching up with the scoring change. Kobasew scores! A wraparound shortside goal that puts the B's firmly in control. Give an assist to Recchi and Patrice Bergeron.

20:00 - Start of the Second Period.
First Period Recap: The Bruins took advantage of a Devils too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty at 15:46 of the first period to make the score 1-0. Just 36 seconds into the power play, Mark Recchi shot from a face-off drop Michael Ryder deflected a Mark Recchi bid and the puck deflected off Paul Martin’s skate for a goal at 16:22. The shots on goal were close, with the Bruins leading 14-11.
0:00 - Unless the Devils are deploying a "Kings Gambit" (a chess move where one offers up a pawn), the B's are in control of this on-ice chess match. An almost flawless period for the Bruins results in a positive break for Boston. Shots are 14-11, B's.

1:18 - Icing Boston.

3:38 - HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE break. That puck went off a New Jersey player and into the goal behind Brodeur. Paul Martin redirected it behind the New Jersey goalie, but I am not sure what B's player will get the credit.

Recchi got it, with assists to Savard and Wideman. That's Recchi's fifth goal in nine games with Boston. That's Michael Ryder's goal.

4:14 - Bench minor New Jersey. Served by Rolston. B's on the PP.

4:32 - The B's are being skillfully patient and are getting rewarded with scoring opportunities. Boston leads in shots, 12-8.

6:22 - Thomas is forced to make a tough save, but his D clears a juicy rebound.

6:38 - Icing New Jersey.

7:33 - It's exciting, but honestly it's like blogging a chess match, right now.

10:04 - Yelle put a shot into Brodeur's midsection, which handcuffed him (slightly). Save Brodeur.

12:18 - Offsides Boston.

14:02 - Lucic on the energy line brings a new wrinkle...

16:31 - Timmy's turn. Shots are 4-4.

16:45 - Axelsson fungoed a puck into the symbol on Brodeur's chest.

18:00 - Clarkson tried to get Stuart to go. Stuey looked to be laughing.

Claude Julien on his club's being excited to play  New Jersey...
Oh, sure we are.  Sure we are.  I think I’ll repeat the same thing I said the other day.  We need to focus on how we’re going to play the game and not so much on the outcome.  We have to play better if we want to be successful again and we need not to waste too much energy on the outcome, but put all our concentration on the way we’re going to play.

19:35 - Thomas stops Martin.

19:50 - Brodeur stops Savard

20:00 - Start of the First Period. A quick goal -- please?

Boston Starters: Wideman, Ference, Axelsson, Savard, Kessel, Thomas
New Jersey Starters: Martin, Oduya, Rolston, Gionta, Elias, Brodeur

Let's switch to time on the clock...

2:39 p.m.
Press Box Notes
The Bruins became the third NHL club and first in the Eastern Conference to clinch a playoff berth last night (Saturday) when the Florida Panthers dropped a 3-1 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets. With a victory today, the Bruins can clinch their first Northeast Division title since 2003-2004.

Other stories...
  • Today’s game features the top two teams in the Eastern Conference points-wise, with the Bruins at 100 points through 72 games and the Devils at 97 through 71 games. New Jersey is 9-2 in their last 11 games.
  • The Bruins own the league’s best power play on home ice with 38 goals in 139 opportunities (27.3%), while New Jersey owns the league’s fourth best penalty kill on the road with 22 goals allowed in 135 opportunities (83.7%).
  • For the Devils, Zach Parise has a seven game point streak in progress with 3-7-10 totals during this span. Parise’s 41 goals on the year rank second in the NHL, trailing only Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.  Patrik Elias has a five game point streak in progress with 4-4-8 totals over that span, while Brian Gionta has a three game goal streak with 3-0-3 totals.
  • Devils Goaltender Martin Brodeur recorded his 552nd career win on Tuesday, March 17 passing Patrick Roy as the NHL’s all-time wins leader. Friday, he recorded his 101st career shutout in a 4-0 win over Minnesota. He currently ranks second all time in shutouts, only two behind Terry Sawchuk (103). Brodeur has compiled a 15-3-2 record, a 1.95 Goals Against Average, a .928 save percentage and five shutouts this season.
  • Today is MSPCA Day at the Garden (Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton and his wife, Erin, are proud supporters of the MSPCA. Fans will have the opportunity to win Shawn Thornton doggie baskets including a Thornton autographed t-shirt, a Thornton autographed dog jersey, a Thornton autographed puck and a Boston Bruins dog leash. In addition, there will be seven Bruins decorated and signed ceramic dog bowls up for auction at the Boston Bruins Foundation table. The dog bowls were autographed by Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, Tim Thomas and Bruins alumni John Bucyk and Cam Neely. The proceeds will benefit the MSPCA.
  • The Boston Bruins Foundation will host a launch party celebrating the release of “The History of the Boston Bruins” DVD on Tuesday, March 24 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston from 5:30 –9:00 p.m. ET. Bruins greats Ray Bourque, John Bucyk, Ferny Flaman, Cam Neely and Milt Schmidt as well as current Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will participate in a Question and Answer session with NESN commentators Andy Brickley and Gord Kluzak. The Boston Bruins Foundation will be holding live and silent auctions at the launch party to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation and the Ellis Memorial & Eldredge House. The entire 2008-2009 Bruins roster and coaching staff will be in attendance as well as notable alumni and front office staff.

2:38 p.m.

The lines...

Montador, Hnidy, Bitz

2:32 p.m.
It's Tim Thomas vs. Martin Brodeur in net this afternoon.

In 48 games, Thomas has a 30-11-7 record, a 2.13 Goals Against Average and .930 Save Percentage. He leads all NHL goaltenders in both GAA and Save Percentage.

1:55 p.m.
Nothing unique...
Talking about the B’s recent doldrums, three Bruins veterans said the issue is not unique to Boston.

“I think everybody definitely goes through it,” said defenseman Andrew Ference. “I think it comes down to each individual doing better.

“The weaker teams will have five or 10 guys that say, ‘Yeah, we need to be better,’ but they just expect the star players to take over and be better, and all of a sudden, they’ll just kind of ride the wave, whereas the really good teams will have a whole bunch of guys that take responsibility for their own play and know that their contribution is just as important.

“There’s different roles, there’s different minutes played, but the importance of them on that team is essential.  Good teams realize that if there is a weak link, it can ruin the whole system,” he said.

Stephane Yelle, who has been on two Stanley Cup championship teams agreed and said that the B’s are back on the same page.

“Usually good teams find a way to get back on track,” said Yelle. “We’ve been battling.  We’ve been trying stuff, and I think we’re there.

“We’ve got 10 games left, and that’s a good amount of games to get ready for the other season.”

And the “other season” requires that the B’s be in peak form.

“We’ve been pressing and trying to get our play to a more consistent level, and sometimes when you’re not getting the results you want, it’s not always fun, but we want to approach things on a positive way and get our confidence back and make a run for it,” said Yelle.

Looking back at his own career, Yelle said that even the formidable Colorado Avalanche teams of the last decade had their ups-and-downs.

“Absolutely.  It happens every year,” said Yelle. “Yesterday I was looking at stats from my first time in Colorado, and I was thinking through and thinking back at how the years went.

“Even then, we had some great teams back then, and even the good teams go through moments during the season where their game is not where it should be.”

Patrice Bergeron, who has been through the Bruins ups-and-downs, as well as personal triumph and tragedy, says things look bright and that the match up with New Jersey is an exciting prospect.

“I think it’s good,” said Bergeron.  “Obviously, we knew before that it’s not going to be a thing that’s going to be overnight and be over with.

“We’re going to work through that, and we’re pretty excited about [playing New Jersey].  It’s going to be a big challenge for us, and it’s a great team.  There’s no reason for not being excited, and we have to look at it as a huge game.

“Every year, you get those kinds of issues.  Look at other teams…we’re not the only ones in this.  It’s a long season…and it’s a matter of how you’re going to get out of it.  It’s working hard and showing some emotion, and that’s how we’re going to get back at it.”

12:01 p.m.
One last side trip to college reports that the seeding for the NCAA Tourney went thusly:
Manchester: Ohio State vs. Boston University/North Dakota vs. New Hampshire
Bridgeport: Air Force vs. Michigan/Vermont vs. Yale
Minneapolis: Miami vs. Denver/Princeton vs. Minn.-Duluth
Grand Rapids: Bemidji State vs. Notre Dame/Cornell vs. Northeastern reports that BU was the top seed and "that Regional play begins Friday and Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn. (East Regional), Grand Rapids, Mich. (Midwest), Manchester, N.H. (Northeast) and Minneapolis (West). By next Sunday night the Frozen Four field will be determined and then played at Washington, D.C.'s Verizon Center on April 9."

11:46 a.m.
On Friday They Scrimmaged...
Watch Shawn Thornton's Vlog
The Boston Bruins held a rare scrimmage on Friday. The squad was broken into two teams.

White: Ryder, Lucic, Savard, Krecji, Wheeler, Kessel, Stuart, Ference, Hnidy, Thomas

Black: Chara, Thornton, Hunwick, Axelsson, Yelle, Ward, Bitz, Montador, Bergeron, Fernandez, Kobasew

Out: Recchi

The teams played from 11:43 a.m. to 12:11 p.m.

Manny Fernandez made eight saves, while Tim Thomas added 10, but the White team won on the strength of goals by Phil Kessel and Dennis Wideman, while Stephane Yelle notched the lone score for the Black team.


The "regular" scrimmage was followed by a penalty shot game. Black won the penalty shot contest two games to none, when Hunwick beat Thomas in two consecutive last-second penalty shots. Thus, Thomas and white had to take "laps."

Coach Julien's comments were extensive on Friday and were mirrored by Shawn Thornton's vlog. The links are to the right.

11:42 a.m.
Coach Julien's comments on Saturday were short.

When asked about the New Jersey Devils, Julien went beyond the obvious.

"I really think they've got a lot of depth, up front. Depth and experience," said the B's bench boss. "That's certainly helped them a lot.

"They have a great goaltender and, overall, I think their D's are very underrated if [anything].

"They are moving the puck well, they are strong and they've got some guys that people don't know as well -- guys like [Johnny] Oduya, who continues to get better, year after year, and who is extremely fast on his skates. So they're pretty well solid, all around," he said.

Of his own squad, Julien remained succinct.

"I think right now, when you look at our situation, I would like to see our team...compete," said the Bruins head coach. "And hopefully, if we do that, and we play the way we can...the win will follow with that. But before we can even talk about a win, we need the performance from our team.

"That's what we need right now, and I just think that our guys, in the last couple of days, seem to have been executing better and hopefully that is a turning point."

10:04 a.m.
Today is MSPCA Day at the Garden
David and Cody Krejci
The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center (MSPCA-Angell) is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Representatives from MSPCA-Angell will be in attendance at the Bruins/Devils game on Sunday afternoon.
  • Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton and his wife Erin are proud supporters of the MSPCA.
  • Fans will have the opportunity to win Shawn Thornton doggie baskets including a Thornton autographed t-shirt, a Thornton autographed dog jersey, a Thornton autographed puck and a Boston Bruins dog leash.
  • In addition, there will be seven Bruins decorated and signed ceramic dog bowls up for auction at the Boston Bruins Foundation table.
  • The dog bowls were autographed by Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, Tim Thomas and Bruins alumni John Bucyk and Cam Neely.
  • The silent auction will take place at the BBF table on loge 4, section 4.

10:01 a.m.
Okay, the updates should start rolling in from here. Assistant Coaches Doug Houda and Geoff Ward are putting Shane Hnidy, Steve Montador, Byron Bitz and Manny Fernandez through a workout.

9:51 a.m.

Good Morning! As you enjoy your brunch, we will be preparing everyone for the playoff-like game between the visiting New Jersey Devils and the Boston Bruins. Puck drop is set for 3:00 p.m. There is no morning skate, but when the players start trickling in around noon we'll be ready to catch some comments from the B's and their head coach Claude Julien. JB

Setting the stage...
Thanks to the Florida loss on Saturday night, your Boston Bruins are in the playoffs -- a bit of a departure from last year when they clinched in the penultimate game or the previous two season when the standings read DNQ -- buuuuut the Black & Gold can clinch the Northeast Division with a win against the New Jersey Devils this afternoon.

New Jersey can cut the B's lead in the Conference to one point with a regulation victory today and that would put them into contention for the Presidents' Trophy as well.

Those standings are as follows:
1.) Detroit, 72 games played, 105 points
2.) San Jose, 71 GP, 104 pts
3.) Boston, 72 GP, 100 pts

And, in the irony (or cliche) department, Boston would play Montreal in the first round of the tournament if the Stanley Cup Playoffs were to start today.

After a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, the Habs are clinging to a playoff berth. Florida has 80 points, just one tick below the CHC for the eighth spot in the East, and both clubs have ten games remaining. Buffalo is fading with 76 points and the Rangers have been surging and will pass Carolina for 6th if they beat the Senators this evening.

Speaking of the playoffs, look at the matchups should the standings stay the same:

Boston vs. Montreal
New Jersey vs. New York Rangers
Washington vs. Carolina
Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh

What a first round!

The Hub of Hockey sets the tone...
The Bruins are not the only local hockey team waiting for playoff and pairing news. Today, the field will be set for the 2009 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament.

Last night's newly crowned Hockey East champion Boston University Terriers, who have secured a top seed for the NCAAs, will be making their  31st appearance in the national tournament. In all, four Hockey East teams will qualify for the 16-team bracket, as the Terriers will be joined by Northeastern, Vermont and New Hampshire.

And from the ECAC, why not send a round of applause towards New Haven, where our New England neighbors, the Yale Bulldogs, will also be NCAA bound.

The tournament field and schedule will be announced later this morning and for full coverage of the Hockey East Tournament, click here.
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