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Game Day: Islanders vs. Bruins

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
7:59 p.m.

John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
Bruins head coach said that tonight against the Islanders, Tim Thomas had his best game of his preseason.

"It's encouraging for us, because this is what I've called a position of strength," said Julien. "The last couple of games...we've got both goaltenders, Manny in Montreal and Tim tonight, being extremely good.

"So hopefully that is going to help us win some hockey games."

The overall effort on the evening, however, left much to be desired.

"You don't want to overreact," said the coach. "But when you spend the whole third period in the penalty box it's really hard to get the momentum going.

"The other team gets it and it seems like you are behind the eight ball the rest of the time.

"Also, it looks like you're getting outworked, which is what was happening," he said.

Coach explained this point.

"We got outworked for the better part of the game tonight, but that's (in an) exhibition game where I think there was a lot of things going on, right now, that doesn't make it easy for the players.

Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien draws out a drill for his players during practice in Boston Friday, Oct. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
"If we put ourselves in the players' shoes right now, and looking around and seeing what is happening, I think there is a situation there for a lot of uncertainty for certain players right now.

"I think part of that certainly comes into play."

But don't expect any changes in the roster tonight.

"There's more than just the hockey part involved," said Julien, who explained that there is a practice scheduled for Sunday.

"We're going to bring the guys who are playing in the game (to Washington) and the other guys are going to practice and stay behind.

"Right now, I expect the same group of players (as today) to be in Wilmington tomorrow morning," he said.

Boston Bruins, left to right, Zdeno Chara of Slovakia, Patrice Bergeron, Michael Ryder, and Marco Sturm of Germany celebrate Chara's goal against the New York Islanders during the second period of a pre-season NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
0:00 - Final score, 3-1, Isles.

30.2 - Time out Boston. Islanders penalty.

48.3 - Empty net goal for New York. 3-1, Islanders.

1:34 - Time out Islanders.

3:00 - Phil Kessel just drew a penalty on Lee. Kess has had a very good game. Good energy.

5:28 - Yelle back in the box. Hooking.

6:01 - Bad luck. Sim scores by deflecting a Thomas Pock offering from the blueline. Pock shot the puck on net, and Sim had all he could handle with Zdeno Chara in front, but his stick was loose and deflected the puck high and over the shoulder of a basically helpless Thomas.

Timmy has had a pretty good day by the way. That one was luck, but NY leads, 2-1.

6:46 - Sobotka makes another nice defensive play at the Bruins blueline and travels up the ice only to be taken out and into MacDonald. Everyone is okay, but it was a nice scoring opportunity.

8:25 - A scramble in front of the Islanders net, started by an outstanding shift by Chuck Kobasew, Milan Lucic and Phil Kessel. Phil, in particular, was working his tail off behind the New York net.

11:00 - The Garden crowd is getting into this, a bit. "Let's go Broooooooo-ins"

12:12 - Another penalty for the B's. Yelle is in the box for high sticking. It's too bad, too. The Bruins had done well to kill off the Wideman infraction (and had a decent scoring chance by Sobotka), but this puts them behind the eight ball, again.

Thankfully, the Isles are 1/5 on the PP.

14:24 -  Uh oh. Wideman in the box for a hold.

15:01 - Boston killed that power play, and both teams are fighting for any advantage. Right now shots are at a premium.

18:45 - Wheeler's in the box for hooking. Isles are 1/3 on the powerplay.

19:50 - Very pretty glove save by Thomas, who snares Weight's offering from inside the blue line.

19:57 - NYI wins the face off.

20:00 - Beginning of the Third Period. The B's could really blow this open if they start clicking.
New York Islanders goalie Joey MacDonald makes a save as Boston Bruins' Nate Thompson, left, and Milan Lucic look for the rebound during the second period of a preseason hockey game in Boston Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
0:00 - A muddy end to a very good session for Boston. The Isles finish the period up 22-21 in shots.

1:28 - Very nice PK for the B's.

3:28 - Wheeler in the box for a hook.

4:54 - The Isles are up in shots, 20 - 19.

7:20 - Islanders score. 1-1. New York drew all the B's defenders to one side and when the puck went to the other side, Weight put it into a yawning net.

8:26 - Stephane Yelle in the box for hooking. Isles get the man-advantage. Good challenge for Boston, who have taken control of the game.  The Bruins lead in shots 18-15.

9:23 - Boston is challenging again, and Milan Lucic stirred up the crowd with some power forward play in front of the Isle's net.

For a second, it looked as if there might be a fight, but nothing developed.

11:06 - Meyer back in the box. B's are one-for-three on the PP.

11:27 - Ward returned to the bench.

12:56 -  Three big shots from the point , two from Alberts and one from Wideman. MacDonald was there on all three and covered the rebound on the third.

13:34 - Aaron Ward is being helped off. Not sure what happened. Left on his own power....

16:46 - Boston took advantage of the power play and after MacDonald lost his stick, Chara fired it through the New York goalie (who was using a skater's stick) to make the score 1-0, Boston. Assists to Bergeron and Savard.

That was Chara's second of the preseason.

18:29 - An even better opportunity. Kobasew draws another penalty. Gervais in the box for NYI and Boston has a five-on-three.

19:31- Guerin in the box for NYI. High Sticking. Nice opportunity here for Boston.

20:00 - Beginning of the Second Period. We're looking for some fire during this session.
New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) tries to control the puck on Boston Bruins' Matt Hunwick during the first period of a pre-season NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
0:00 - A sleepy period of play with the final shots 12 for the Isles, 4 for Boston and a 0-0 score.

I would be surprised if Coach Julien allowed that kind of period again.

1:07 - With Bergeron on the doorstep, MacDonald makes his best save of the game and covers up the rebound. Ugh.

1:46 - Not a real terrific period by either team, but Boston is now down 12-3 in shots.

4:12 - Shots are 10-3 Islanders.

6:12 - Tim's best stop thus far. A point blank wrist shot that he deflected out of harm's way.

8:17 - Bergeron in the box for hooking. Isles on the PP.

8:35 - Kobasew just had a long and productive shift on both sides of the puck (and ice). He was all over the place...

11:58 - Tim made a couple of stops right on the doorstep to the left of his crease.

12:21 - Another great shift for Wheeler. The opposition really has trouble with him, right now.

13:22 - First shot for the Isles. Each team has one.

15:11 - Good pressure and movement on the PP for Boston. Just no quality scoring opportunities.

17:12 - Meyer in the box for New York. Bruins are on their first power play.

18:47 - Chuck Kobasew with a big hit to start things off. He followed the Isles defender behind their goal and checked him hard...

19:59 - Boston wins the face off.

20:00 - Beginning of the First Period. Joey MacDonald in goal for Isles.

Switching to time on the clock...

3:57 p.m.

Starters for Boston: Sturm, Bergeron, Kessel, Chara, Ward, Thomas

3:39 p.m.
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The lineup...
Sturm - Bergeron - Kessel
Axelsson - Savard - Ryder
Wheeler - Yelle - Kobasew
Lucic - Sobotka - Thompson
Chara - Ward
ALberts - Wideman
Hunwick - Hnidy

3:12 p.m.
Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, left, makes a save as Washington Capitals center Keith Aucoin (20) looks for the rebound during the first period of a preseason hockey game in Boston, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Timmy has the start.

"We have some guys pushing for jobs," said Coach Julien at his 3:00 p.m. press scrum. "We've got some tough decisions to make and part of it is not just what we are going to see on the ice.

"I know Peter (Chiarelli) talked about having to balance the salary cap, so it's a little more complicated than saying, 'That's it, we're cutting this guy and that guy and moving forward here.'"

That being said, Coach Julien is not concerned about having (or not having) his opening day lineup on the ice before the first game in Denver.

"We are trying to get as close as we can," he explained. "But there are lines that have played together...that you'll probably see together, again.

"I don't think we have to be that close, I think we just have to be comfortable with the choices that we are going to make."

Early Afternoon...
Thort’s Thoughts

Boston Bruins left wing Shawn Thornton, left, tries to bat in a rebound past Washington Capitals goalie Jose Theodore during the second period of a preseason hockey game in Boston Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
The Bruins had a short, sparse workout this morning, attended by four forwards, two defensemen and goalie Manny Fernandez.

Ostensibly, they were there to give Manny some work, but the seven Bruins did well in the way of entertaining the similar number of media members who braved the early hour to attend the session.

Thornton played ‘target practice’ with a couple of the writers sitting in the stands of the TD Banknorth Garden, and launched at least two pucks in a long arc in that general direction.

Judging by his smile, it was more to see a reaction than to hit them (I think).

Meanwhile the drills, a mixture of shooting drills and battle drills that provided several moments of comic relief.

“It was a little work for Manny and some conditioning for us,” said Thornton. “That’s about it, not much (besides) a good hour.”

At one point he and Jeremy Reich were set against one another with the simple goal of the man without a stick (which alternated) trying to keep himself between the stick carrier and a puck.

Asked what he was saying to Reich, Thornton answered, “I was telling him I owned him.”

Laughter followed that revelation.

“I was throwing him around like a rag doll down there, and I told him he wasn’t strong enough for me and he should get in the weight room,” added Thornton.

To these eyes, it looked as if Reicher did just fine, but the storytelling was appreciated, nonetheless.

Another highlight included the heavy shove that David Krejci gave Andrew Ference.

“I’m huge,” was Krejci’s lone comment on the practice.

Another big grin (this time from David) punctuated the remark.

One thing that was not so obvious to the casual observer was the relatively tense situation that hangs over the head of the B’s organization – 27 needs to become 23 (or less), soon.

“I’ve never been in the ‘definitely (staying)’ situation,” said Thornton, who is taking nothing for granted. “I don’t think I have ever been that comfortable.

“But this is a couple of days that are a pretty tense time for a lot of guys,” he added. “You never know what is going to happen. I mean, we still have extra guys around and even if (they) do make cuts, Game One, you don’t know if you are in the lineup.

“And everyone wants to play.

“So, there is a lot of work to be done, still, and in these last few days you still have to prove (your worth) everyday,” he said.

Manny’s Morning
Manny Fernandez chats with David Krejci. (photo: John Bishop)
While the forwards and defensemen were beating each other up in battle drills, Fernandez concentrated solely on the puck, knowing full well that it would be sent in his direction in short order.

“Most of the time, (the player) is either going to be restrained by somebody, or the puck’s going to be going through somebody (in a game),” he explained, “so it’s learning to play through traffic.”

However, getting that experience during a practice is difficult sometimes.

“I don’t think guys necessarily want to get shots in the ankles, so we don’t necessarily do a lot of drills with guys in front,” explained Fernandez.

And that means game time – especially during the pre-season, when the stakes are low and records aren’t a huge issue – is the best way for goalies to recall what their time in net will really be like during the regular season.

“Last game (against Montreal) was tough for me because of all the traffic,” Fernandez said.  “That’s definitely one area I have to work on, just fighting through traffic, not letting myself be screened.”

 But in practice, it’s all about being better in an all-around way.

“I don’t work on specifics,” said Fernandez.  “I (try and) get a little more into the groove (and) feel like I did before.

“A little more cardio, a little more of this, a little more of that, and feeling comfortable….That’s pretty much what I’m looking to achieve.”

Fernandez has got a few more practices and one more game to get the groove back, but he believes it’s been going well so far.

“I’ll make the best of (the last game), hopefully,” he said.
By John Bishop and Angela Stefano
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