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Game Day: Penguins vs. Bruins

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
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.
Pittsburgh wins shootout. Final score, 2-1.

Letang shoots for Pitt. Save Thomas.
Kessel shoots for Boston. Scores.
Sykora shoots for Pitt. Scores.
Bergeron shoots for Boston. Miss.
Crosby shoots for Pitt. Save Thomas.
Ryder shoots for Boston. Save Sabourin.
Satan shoots for Pitt. Save Thomas.
Krejci shoots for Boston. Save Sabourin.
Malkin shoots for Pitt. Scores.
Savard shoots for Boston. Save Sabourin.
0:00 - Timmy kicks out a late bid. We are going to a shootout.

37.3 - A B's icing puts a faceoff in the Bruins end. Time out Boston.

1:35 - Or maybe not. Staal in the box for a slash on Wideman. Three-on-three for the remainder.

1:52 - Savard in the box for a hook. Time out Pitt. Four-on-three play for the remainder of the OT.

2:44 - Two huge chances for Boston. No goal.

3:44 - Sabourin stands tall with Krejci on the doorstep.

4:10 - Bergeron almost ends it, but just couldn't get enough wood on the try following a drive down the right side.

5:00 - Beginning of OT. Four-on-four play is on the way.
0:00 - The B's get a point. Which is important. But another one would be great, particularly with the club leaving right after the game for Buffalo.

1:00 - Crunch time...

2:08 - A tough hit sends Stuart into the boards awkwardly. He's okay.

3:22 - Ryder took a pass from Lucic and shot from the circle to Sabourin's right -- glove save.

5:04 - A right pad save by Thomas. Kick, save and a beaut!

7:30 - The third has seen a lot of back and forth action. Both goaltenders have made some good saves and there have been some great hits. All we need is another Bruins goal to make the night memorable.

9:33 - Boston keeps pressuring the Penguins. However, the Pens refuse to break. Sabourin has 30 saves thus far.

12:57 - Tim Thomas is tested. He's up to 24 saves.

14:45 - Savard just had the awkward moment of having his stick shatter with the shaft going farther than the puck. Sabourin made the steered the shaft away.

15:46 - An almost breakaway for Shawn Thornton (whose dad is in the building), but to no avail. Still 1-1. By the way, the Garden is sold out tonight -- 17,565.

18:44 - Crosby and Savard leave the box.

19:59 - Krejci wins the opening draw.

20:00 - Beginning of the Third Period. The Bruins just need to continue to press Sabourin.
0:00 - Bergeron scares the heck out of Pittsburgh by forechecking his way into the Penguins zone, grabbing the puck, shooting hard and nearly putting in the rebound. Still, 1-1.

46.0 - Savard just had a nice shoving match with Crosby. No fight. Each get roughing calls.

2:35 - Another nice save by Thomas.

3:24 - A big sprawling save by Thomas, who has 20 stops.

5:06 - Pittsburgh draws a penalty. Tripping for Yelle.

6:07 - With Luch's big body in front of the Pittsburgh goalie, Phil Kessel scores his fifth of the season. 1-1.

6:14 - Savard feeds Ryder in front. Ryder tests Sabourin, again.

7:17 - Staal in the box for holding. Another power play for Boston.

7:28 - Ference may have saved a goal with a diving pokecheck.

8:50 - Bergeron takes a feed from behind the net and has another stellar chance on Sabourin, who turns the shot away. Shots are 22-21, B's...

9:17 - It's getting chippy. Look for some extra curriculars, soon.

10:56 - Pittsburgh hits the post, but that's it.

12:52 - Wideman in the box for slashing. First PP for Pitt.

13:25 - Luch, laughing at another Pen. This time Orpik. Milan hammered Brooks into the boards and Orpik did not like it and gave a minor crosscheck to the Bruin, who looked at him and just smiled.

16:15 - Another save by the Pens keeper, who is suddenly busy.

17:54 - Saborin goes semi-snow angel and snothers a decent Bruins bid.

18:26 - A couple of chances (finally) on Sabourin.

18:54 - Boston has had some trouble getting the puck out of their own end.

19:59 - Pittsburgh controls the faceoff.

20:00 - Beginning of the Second Period. The Bruins need a goal. Soon.
0:00 - Boston did not take advantage of three Pittsburgh hooking calls and Pittsburgh did take advantage of Boston's major defensive misplay. So, it's 1-0 Penguins. Forty minutes to correct that.

1:09 - A total mess. Two Boston skaters tripped, Malkin beats the Bruins D, shoots, Tim kicks out a save, Satan, out of the box, puts it away. 1-0, Pitt. Bad luck all around.

3:15 - Satan in the box for hooking. PP number three for Boston. They need to take advantage of this opportunity.

4:04 - Goddard and Thornton sparred for a second, but before anything could get going the pair toppled over. Thorts got up and kind of gave Goddard a look like, "Well, that's too bad."

It wouldn't shock me if they went again.

4:53 - Letang got his hands and stick high into Lucic, who was following a shot. Luch looked as if he were just smirking at the forward.

5:37 - Bergeron challenges Sabourin with a shot that hits him high in the chest. The Pens goalie hangs on for the faceoff. Boston leads in shots, 14-7.

5:51 - Stuart follows up the PP with another nice shot from the point. This time Stuart shot from just inside the blueline and in front of the Penguins bench.

6:42 - A big shot from the point from Wideman. Boston has maintained their possession in the Pittsburgh zone.

8:08 - Crosby in the box. Boston on PP number two. Sustained pressure is in order.

10:48 - Not enough on the PP for Boston. Our Boys need to make more of their opportunities.

12:48 - Eric Goddard, hooking, is in the box for Pitt. Boston on their first power play.

14:38 - Maxime Talbot is hit for the second time in the game. Lucic just crushes him on the near board in the B's offensive zone.

16:51 - Ference hits the post. Beat Sabourin clean. The crowd is shouting, "Let's go Bruins!"

16:55 - Things are heating up.  Boston leads in shooting, 3-2.

18:37 - Ryder takes out Satan.

19:07 - A sloppy start, with Boston taking an early icing after a missed pass.

19:59 - Bergeron wins the faceoff against Crosby.

20:00 - Beginning of the First Period. Neither team is on the ice for the opening montage.

The Bruins are introduced one by one. Huge ovation for Patrice Bergeron. Welcome back Bergy! Sturm, Begeron, Kessel, Wideman, Chara and Thomas are the starters.

Switching to time on the clock...

6:56 p.m.
New opening montage tonight (I'll try to get it for the site). And the Bruins have passed out glow in the dark noise makers.

There are now video projections on the ice, as well.

It just get's better and better.

6:45 p.m.
The seats are filling in nicely. There's a pretty good energy energy in the building already!

Boy, these guys can bring the offense...Crosby, Malkin, Satan. Wow.

6:38 p.m.
And your Boston Bruins are:
Lucic - Savard - Ryder
Sturm - Bergeron - Kessel
Wheeler - Krejci - Nokelainen
Sobotka - Yelle - Thornton
Chara - Wideman
Ference - Ward
Stuart - Hnidy

It looks like Hunwick, Axelsson are the scratches. JB

6:30 p.m.
Goalie Dany Sabourin led the Pens out. Tim Thomas was first on the B's.

6:03 p.m.
The fans are beginning to trickle in...

4:53 p.m.

Veteran forward Marco Sturm was just one of 22 Bruins who was thrilled to be back home.

"It's great to be here," said Sturm, "especially for us starting out on the road.

"To finally come home, it's nice to be in (the Garden).

"Now, hopefully the crowd gets into the game early!"

3:45 p.m.
My colleagues in the Boston Professional Hockey Writers Association and Boston Bruins Foundation have done some good for charity:

The Boston Bruins Foundation and the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) have partnered to make a donation to a charity of their choosing at the end of the 2008-2009 season. 

Two and half hours before every Bruins home game, there is a press meal served in the Will McDonough Press Room at the TD Banknorth Garden for working members of the media.  Those members of the media who wish to dine in the Press Room will be asked to make a $5.00 donation and 100 percent of the donation will go to the Boston Bruins Foundation. At the end of the year, the Bruins Foundation and the Boston Chapter of the PHWA will mutually agree upon a charity to which they will donate 100 percent of the proceeds collected throughout the season

Nice job, my friends!

2:45 p.m.
Watch Shawn Thornton's Vlog
Some more quotes from Claude Julien
On coming into this first home game with a .500 record after a four-game road trip...
I think to come back above .500 on the road is already good, but it [road games] doesn’t matter if you don’t take advantage of your home games. I think tonight’s as important as any game so far this year, and probably more so.

On playing at home in the beginning vs. the middle of the season...
Again it’s always about trying not to do too much. You’re always trying to impress your home crowd sometimes, and instead of sticking with the game plan, you can get away from it a little bit by trying to do too much.

On whether the team will be more dangerous offensively compared to last year...
It has to be. I think if there’s something last year that needed some improvement it was our offensive output and so far I think we’ve done that. It is going to get tighter as we move on in the league.

On alternating Manny Fernandez and Tim Thomas in goal every other game...
Who says it’s going to be that way?

On last year’s 21-16-4 at home record and if he wants a better one this year...
Give me a better record and I’ll take it. There’s no doubt. If you can play over .500 on the road that’s obviously great, but you want the best record possible at home. Hopefully we’re going to try to improve in that area as well.

12:53 p.m.
Phil Kessel and David Krejci
Recently, Phil Kessel has been popular topic.

In four games, the speedy forward has four goals and an assist, tied for second on the team with five points (with Michael Ryder).

Coach Julien, who addressed a number of topics during this busier than usual press scrum, explained what he thought had made a difference for Kessel in the early going.

“There’s a lot of things,” said Julien. “I guess (there’s) just the normal evolution of maturing as a pro.

“(He’s got) more experience

“His confidence level obviously after playing two years in this league (is higher),” he said.

All of those changes have made Kessel an integral part of the Bruins attack.

“There’s a lot of things that come into play but his whole demeanor on and off the ice is obviously going in the positive way,” continued Julien. “He’s been more consistent on the ice. He’s been feeling like he’s even more part of the team by being a third year veteran, and acting that way as well.

“I think it’s just the maturity level from an 18 year old to a 21 year old, so all those things put together has made him a better player. We never questioned his skill level. It was that everything else had to follow. Right now it’s on track.”

It was suggested that Kessel might feel less pressure since Michael Ryder and Patrice Bergeron are in the lineup this season.

“It could be,” said Coach. “But it’s probably more about being able to deal with it, deal with what his role is.

“His production has been pretty good, obviously. As you get older and more mature, you’re able to deal with those kinds of situations better.

“This year he has just gone out there and is doing his job, and (him) doing his job has been pretty good for us so far.”

12:17 p.m.
When asked why he would hold P.J. out of the lineup this evening, Coach Julien said, "It's the early part of the season, and there's parts where you can play through injuries, and parts where it's important to make the wise decision.

"Sometimes the coach has to step in and help make that decision.

"So, we're are going to hold him back another game," he said.

There are no immediate plans to call anyone up from Providence, though.

"I think it's the type of injury where it's not something that normally lasts a long time," said Julien. "He could be fine tomorrow and he could be fine in a couple of days.

"So, we're hoping to have him back this week, for sure."

11:47 a.m.
Per Coach Julien, P.J. Axelsson will not play this evening.

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas finished his workout first, which indicates he should start tonight.

Thomas spent a considerable amount of time chatting with Coach "Goalie" Bob Essensa before leaving the ice.

Early Morning Update...
Big Day for the Bruins
After beginning the season in Colorado on October 9th, today -- October 20th -- the Black & Gold will finally return to Boston and the TD Banknorth Garden.

Pregame skate is at 10:30 a.m. Keep it here for all the updates leading up to game time.

Missing the Swede
P.J. Axelsson will miss Monday's home opener.
Having gathered all kinds of good quotes about the veteran forward on Friday, this morning I was hoping to write a feel good story about P.J. Axelsson.

You see, with all the attention paid to his sniper of a center (Marc Savard) and his playmaking linemate (Michael Ryder), Axelsson’s contributions have been overshadowed. And even though both Ryder and Savard have both noted his importance to their early success, not much is said about Axelsson.

And by the way, that’s exactly the way Axelsson would want it.

However, it’s very noticeable when P.J. is not in the lineup and the affable winger was conspicuously absent from Saturday night’s game, scratched because of an undisclosed injury.

Thankfully, the issue is said not to be serious and most writers covering tonight’s game expect “Axie” to be back at his post.

There’s no doubt that “The Swede” returning to the ice will bring smiles to the faces of his teammates – and not just because of the notoriously colorful clothing employed by Axelsson off the ice.

Game Notes: Printable Version
 View or download a printable version of this release. (PDF)
“I’ve been watching Axie quite a bit, especially on the (penalty kill),” said B’s forward Petteri Nokelainen. “He’s one of the best in the league…reading those passes.

“It’s his positioning – how he makes those (stops).

“His hockey sense is unbelievable, in that way, how he can see those plays and he can be at the right place at the right time,” he said.

Bruins blueliner Dennis Wideman marvels at Axelsson’s prowess on the defensive side of the puck.

“He is so smart,” said Wideman. “He’s probably as smart as our defensemen.

“He’s not a typical forward.”

Wideman explained why Axelsson stands out.

“Anytime he is out on the ice, you know (as a defenseman) that if you are coming back on a three-on-two or something like that, and you see Axie coming back on a guy, you know that player is going to be picked off,” he said.

“On top of it, he pitched in some huge goals for us last year. He’s not just a defensive player, although I guess that’s what he is most comfortable with. But if you don’t have guys like that on your team, you are not going to win anything,” continued Wideman. “It’s the little things that a lot of people won’t see.

“Axie has been around for a long time and he reads plays really well, he knows how plays develop and at times he can be our best forechecker.

“He knows what a guy is going to do, and he can jump that guy a lot faster. He gets there a lot quicker...his mind makes him faster,” he said.

Whether it’s his mind, his skates or his stick that makes him faster on the puck, Bruins head coach Claude Julien is happy every time the Swedish winger hits the ice and surely hopes that Axelsson's body allows him to play on Monday night.

“You can never say enough about P.J.,” said Julien. “Talk about a player who is underrated and under appreciated.

“When you have a player like that and you see what he does, you just see that he is extremely smart.

“Defensively, he’s as reliable as you can get and offensively, he does things that you don’t always notice, but gives freedom to his linemates and makes the big play,” he said.

Julien said that oftentimes Axelsson will start a play or make a stop in the defensive or neutral zone and when the Bruins bring the puck into the offensive zone, a goal develops.

“When you see that everyday, you realize that he is very underrated,” he said.

Come to FAN FEST on Monday!
Kick off the season the right way, join us for Fan Fest prior to our Home Opener on Monday, October 20! Fan Fest will be held in the West Garden Lot from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Boston Bruins Alumni will be in attendance, as well as the Bruins Ice Girls and Blades! Get here early and enjoy live music, interactive games and giveaways, the first 1,000 fans will walk away with a limited edition Bruins T-shirt.
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