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On the Road: Bruins @ Rangers

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.
Rangers win game, 3-2.

Thomas stops Dawes.
Wheeler stopped by Lundqvist.
Zherdev hits the post/Thomas.
Kessel stopped by Lundqvist.
Sjostrom stopped by Thomas.
Axelsson stopped by Lundqvist.
Drury scores. Five hole on Thomas.
Bergeron hits the post.
0:00 - Going to a shootout. Wow.

38.0 - This time it's Ryder who almost puts it away. Lundqvist save.

45.2 - Savard hits the post. Almost...

2:15 - Hunwick with a big check that stops a New York threat.

3:03 - Thomas with a save on the post.

4:19 - A very close play by New York. Drury almost ends it.

4:49 - Four-on-four hockey. New York wins the draw.

5:00 - Overtime. One good shift.
0:00 - B's get a point. Buuuuuuuuuuuut, we could be on our way to Toronto, right now. Let's see what happens. Might be a little fatigue kicking in for Boston.

52.9 - With the goalie pulled, the Rangers score. Naslund, who has been pounded tonight, took advantage of four men on the right side and not in his way -- he shot and beat Tim glove side. Good work by New York. 2-2.

1:42 - Big hit by Lucic.

4:06 - Good work by Yelle, Lucic and Kessel, who had a nice chance to get a third one.

6:05 - That was coming. The B's have allowed the Rangers into the zone too often and too long, recently. So, Dawes takes advantage of a breakdown and scores. 2-1, Boston.

7:39 - Icing New York.

8:56 - Another gobble up save for Thomas.

11:33 - Another kill...

13:09 - Timmy gobbles up a tricky shot for the save and the draw.

13:33 - Hnidy to the box for high sticking. I strenuously object.

15:26 - Another big kill. Phew.

17:34 - Ryder in the box for a trip.

18:19 - Ryder is robbed by Lundqvist.

18:35 - Tim made a diving save without the dive. Strangely interesting.

19:59 - New York controls...

20:00 - Start of the Third. Hello to the group that traveled down from the TD Banknorth Garden offices.
0:00 - Not what you would call pretty. But it was effective.

1:22 - Chuck just checked Naslund almost all the way over into the Bruins bench. A great hit.

2:17 - Some more terrific work by the Bruins who have somehow kept the momentum despite having so many penalties. But after killing two five-on-threes, and some great work by Tim and the PK, the B's held the momentum for most of this period.

4:30 - The Rangers crash the net after another sprawling save by Thomas. Nothing but some shoving, though.

5:14 - Minus a stick, Bergeron swats the puck out the zone.

5:47 - Another penalty for Boston. Too many men. It will be another five-on-three for 1:13.

6:18 - Thomas looked like a cat looking for a catnip toy. Laying on his side, legs split, he pounced and made the save on the five-on-three.

6:34 - NYR draw another penalty. This time Axelsson is in the box, too.

7:35 - A great play by the Bruins PK. Rozsival lost the puck in his skates. Yelle grabs and gives to Savard. Savard goes into the zone and curls back to the blue, but passes  to a trailing Wideman who put the cookie on the top shelf. 2-0, Boston. Shots are 14-12, B's.

8:09 - Chara in the box for hooking.

9:37 - Timmy hops on a loose puck. A little pushing and shoving here and there.

11:16 - Chara scores. Kessels rebound got to him on the point. He unleased the howitzer and dented twine. 1-0, Boston. Shots are 14-8, Bruins.

12:28 - A defensive error gave Naslund the puck in the high slot. He shot, Tim stopped.

13:16 - Michael Rozsival just blew a tire and went feet first into the goal and the boards. Scary, actually, but he's okay and got up laughing.

14:05 - Linesman Pierre Champoux is getting some help from Don DelNegro for a cut.

14:25 - Boston is really working hard and kep the puck in the B's zone forever. Lundqvist is again, spectacular and stopped the 12th Bruins shot, from Savard, and sent it into the crowd.

17:12 - Drury with a shorthanded try, couldn't tell if Tim got a stick on it, but no goal.

18:29 - Naslund in the box for roughing. B's back on the man advantage.

19:00 - New York has killed off the Bruins power play.

20:00 - Start of the Second Period.
0:00 - Boston had a couple of nice opportunities before the whistle blew. It looked like Lundqvist might have taken a puck to the mask, but he stood tall to send the teams to the room knotted at 0-0. Shots are now 11-6, Boston. The fans behind me are grumbling about how the Bruins dictated play in the second half of the period -- it shows in the shots. But Boston still has another gear.

1:24 - Lunqvist just saved New York's bacon with some fancy scrambling. Girardi to the box for Holding. Boston PP.

1:57 - Someone named Aaron Varos just got into it with Luch, but nothing escalated.

3:49 - I think Colton Orr is trying to goad Lucic into a fight. Not a good trade to the box, however.

5:18 - Bergeron's bid is sticked away by the NYR goalie.  Shots are even, and so is the momentum of the game.

5:36 - Chara fires from the point. Lunqvist is there, but acted as if he were afraid to move. Shots are 5-4, New York.

6:37 - Savard and Co. were just giving Lunqvist and the Rangers, fits. Only one shot for Boston, though. Dan Fritsche took a puck to the noggin on the NYR bench.

7:28 - Claude Julien just missed taking an errant shot to the head. Look out Coach!

8:27 - Paul Mara and Chuck Kobasew just dropped the gloves. While it wasn't the most successful fight, Chuck was clearly annoyed with Mara enough to pop him. Kobasew acquitted himself quite well against the much larger Mara. Shots are 5-1, NYR.

10:54 - Ward just pounded somone in the far corner, much to the chagrin of his former fans.

11:58 - Boston's first shot, by Kobasew, is blockered away by Lundqvist.

13:06 - Paul Mara touches up an errant pass for a Boston icing. He and Kobasew exchange hard glances.

13:44 - Dubinsky makes Thomas work for his fourth save of the night.

14:30 - A nice shorthanded chance for Sturm is broken up late.

15:30 - Lucic in the box for interference.

16:45 - Although the advantage is slight, the Rangers have been the stronger team in the early going. Still only one shot for New York, but they have been playing the body effectively.

17:37 - The Rangers are starting to muscle up to the Bruins

18:26 - Thomas has the first save of the game.

18:41 - Some early back-and-forth play..

19:59 - The Rangers control the first face off.

20:00 -- Start of the First Period. While this has been billed as the renewal of fierce rivalry, the Bruins MUST stay out of the box and maintain their disciplined physicality to take care of these Rangers.

Switching to time on the clock...

6:29 p.m.
It's Lundqvist for New York. Thomas for Boston. Nokelainen is on the ice, but one would assume that's just for warmups.

My guess on the lines
(and it's only a guess because I am not sure where Hunwick will be):

Lucic - Savard - Kessel
Axelsson - Bergeron - Ryder
Sturm  - Krejci - Wheeler
Thornton - Yelle - Kobasew
Chara - Ward
Stuar - Wideman
Hnidy - Hunwick

Scratches: Nokelainen

6:20 p.m.
We have word on Andrew Ference, and it is not good.

He will be out with a broken tibia for 6-8 weeks.

"He'll have a pin inserted on Monday,"  said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. "So, he's going to be out for a bit, but after six weeks we'll see how he does.

"He might come back a little early, but that's the general (prognosis)," he said.

Chiarelli was asked about losing Ference, one of the backbones of a very stingy Bruins defense.

"He may be, collectively over the whole year, our best defenseman," said the GM. "He's been good and has played a real solid, efficient game, with the puck and we are going to miss him."

6:09 p.m.
There's no word on Andrew Ference's injury, as of yet.

The Bruins defenseman, called by many the most consistent D - Man for the Black & Gold this season, did not make the trip to New York.

"We go through those kind kind of things throughout the season," said Claude Julien after the early session. "You deal with it.

"Somebody else has to step up."

Matt Hunwick, you're up.

"This is an opportunity for Hunwick," continued Julien.

Julien said the Bruins were pleased with the young defenseman's progress and play.

"We really are," he said. "A lot of it is about confidence.

"When you don't play much and you get thrown in here or there, it's normal that a player would be nervous.

"But he played three in a row and seemed to get a little more comforatable and more he get's a chance to get back into the lineup."

4:22 p.m.

The Bruins looked like they were enjoying themselves this morning as their pregame warmup session sped to its conclusion.

Afterward, in the locker room, the B’s looked toward tonight’s tilt with a lot of anticipation.

“Anytime you are in New York City and playing against the Rangers there is a little added excitement,” said defenseman Dennis Wideman. “They are first in the conference, too.

“This is a team that we are chasing, and trying to catch and this is a big game for us.”

Forward Michael Ryder concurred.

“It doesn’t take that much to get up (for the game), especially since they are the only team ahead of us right now," he said. “We know that we have a few games in hand, so if we win this game it’s going to make a big difference.

“To get ahead in the standings is a big thing for us.”

You notice a subtle difference, there? The B’s, now in first place in the Northeast Division have their sights set clearly on the top of the Eastern Conference.

“They are one of those teams that have a lot of skill,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “If you give them time to make plays, they will make plays.

“They are confident, obviously, with their record and the way that they started.

“They are a well structured team,” he said.

So if the Bruins want to move up they have to keep their wits about them.

“It’s all about us, tonight, going out and playing out game,” said Coach. “I keep playing to our players…that it’s more about making sure other teams have to adjust to us.”

2:38 p.m.
An excellent movie...
Walking out into the gloom after practice, I immediately got a distinct Blade Runner feel.

We are looking down on a city of the future where gigantic buildings dwarf the ancient skyscrapers -- now as a huge blimp, flashing lights and BLARING SOUND drifts slowly over the tall buildings.

Minus the blimp, and turn up that blaring sound, that’s pretty much how it felt.

If you remember the movie it was always raining and dark and lonely – and voila, rain.

Sorry, folks, but that’s how it feels today in the Big Apple.

I’ve certainly had better days here; I seem to remember a Jason Varitek homerun here, a walk through Central Park with friends there. But, try as I might I am still a kid who had a farm at the end of my street. This many people, in a place as big as this, just scares the heck out of this homesick resident of the Central Massachusetts woods.

In search of a little bit of fun, I hit the bookstore.

Stop laughing. I'm serious.

Now, for those of you who have read Dorothy Parker, levity might not have been the first thing to come to mind, but hey a book called A Journey into Dorothy Parker’s New York by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick was at least a small light unto the day.

Although I quickly gave up a pilgrimage to the Algonquin Hotel, where Mrs. Parker presided over the Algonquin Round Table, page 11 held an attraction of its own:

In May my heart was breaking –
Oh, wide the wound, and deep!
And bitter it beat at waking,
And sore it split in sleep.

And when it came November,
I sought my heart, and sighed,
“Poor thing, do you remember?”
“What heart was that?” it cried.

The Algonquin Round Table
Hey, it pretty much always come back to hockey with me, True Believers, just ask The General (my wife and soulmate, who adores the name, by the way).

But it is funny how hockey, or, more specifically, hockey seasons are like a romance.

At the beginning, you are not all that sure about things. You’re not even entirely sure you like what’s going on or if it's worth the work to stick around. Hesitantly, in September you gain trust in the relationship, so that by late fall, you’re thinking about commitment. A serious commitment, from there, however, things can go either way.

Right now, the 2008-09 hockey season is looking pretty darn good and it’s giving all of New England a come hither stare.

Tonight, under the lights of the city that doesn’t sleep, the Bruins will try and take this thing to new heights, and put the Rangers to bed.

But until then, my friends, I will cower in my hotel room, waiting for the game and hiding from the replicants.

10:52 a.m.

The Bruins trickled onto the ice at 10:30 a.m.

As both goalies went on, I tired to figure out who was going based on their demeanor.

Manny seemed a little fired up, animated, bounced around, and hopped into the net to my left, while Timmy – well, he’s just Timmy, doing Timmy things.

Thomas warms up slowly, wandering around, checking his edges, etc.

When he is good and ready, he gets into the goal.

The general impression one gets from this morning’s skate is  a good one. You could hear a ton of chatter, and while the attitude of the B's was relaxed, their play did not reflect that.

My general impression of Madison Square Garden is that it's NOT as big as it looks on TV.

Looking around...

Billy Joel and Elton John have retired numbers here:
  • 12 for the Piano Man, symbolic of the longest runs of a single artist at MSG
  • 60 for the Rocket Man, symbolic of the most appearances by a single artist at MSG.

BTW: Ceiling of MSG reminds one of drawings you’ve seen of the “retractable roof” on Rome’s Coliseum when it was intact.

In fact, a quick look around, and the circular shape of the building itself lends itself to comparison.

As practice wound down, Marc Savard led the stretch today.

The B’s skated, officially, for 21 minutes.

Tim Thomas left the ice first and that should indicate that he will be in goal.

Nokelainen was the last Bruin off.
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