Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
While the NHL doesn’t track time of possession, the Bruins’ offensive numbers indicate they have had the puck more this year than they did last season. By scoring five times last night, the Bruins jacked up their output to 3.65 goals per game, a Zdeno Chara-sized bump from the 2.51 goals they scored in 2007-08.
The Red Wings seemingly have mastered the art of puck possession. Their skilled defensemen retrieve pucks smoothly. They hit their on-the-fly forwards with outlet passes in center ice. The forwards carry the puck into the offensive zone with speed and swarm opposing netminders. Even when a play isn’t available for the Wings, they backtrack, regroup, and try to restart the flow.
The Bruins, in contrast, have featured a more lunchpail version of puck possession that, while missing the grace of Detroit’s game, has been just as effective in wearing down opponents.
“It’s not like we have the puck all the time,” Thomas said. “And it’s not like we want to regroup, set it up, and try again, which is Detroit’s tendency. That Russian influence.”
from Matt Kalman of the Hockey Journal,
Former Bruins standout Rick Middelton, who now lives in New Hampshire, remembers how everyone pretty much did their own thing when they arrived for a game during his days with the Black and Gold (1976-88).
“Well there wasn’t any soccer, I’ll tell you that,” he told Hockey Journal, with a laugh under his words….
“Every routine that I saw was different,” he said. “And then there’s the routine itself – what time you do certain things. Some guys get dressed and sit there three hours before the game; some guys liked to get dressed in 15 minutes.”...
“We had a goalie, Marco Baron. I guess it must’ve been on game days that he played he couldn’t touch doorknobs – unless he turned it exactly the right way, he wouldn’t walk through it,” Middleton recalled. “I said, ‘Thank God the door to the Bruins’ dressing room didn’t have doorknobs; we never would’ve got out there because the goalie goes first.”
from Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald,
The B’s have about $43 million already locked up in 2009-10 contracts, leaving about $13 million open. It’s easy to see how the Thomas, Kessel, Krejci and Hunwick contracts will total, say, $14 million - which would leave no cash for other signings, like unrestricted free agent P.J. Axelsson.
Thomas declines comment on contract matters, but likely will be the first guy with a new deal. It will be interesting to see how high he aims. He has arguably been the Bruins’ MVP the last three seasons - while earning a total of just $3.3 million, which is the best bargain in the game. His age (35 next season) cuts his earning potential, but he should still command something like a three-year, $12 million pact.
The 21-year-old Kessel and 22-year-old Krejci are more difficult to peg.
from John Grigg of the Hockey News,
...But there’s one under-the-radar player who is fast making a name for himself around the NHL and coming up in Calder chatter (at least when I’m involved) – Boston defender Matt Hunwick.
The 23-year-old native of Warren, Mich., is an alumnus of the U.S. National Team Development Program and the University of Michigan. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder started this year – his second pro season – with the American League’s Providence Bruins, but was called up after just two games. His first NHL game this season came on Oct. 15, but then he sat out until November. When Andrew Ference fractured his leg, Hunwick got a chance to be a regular and has only missed one game since.
After failing to register a point through his first five NHL games this season, Hunwick reeled off a six-game point streak in which he tallied three goals and eight points. He currently has three goals, 14 points (tying him for 10th among rookies with Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan) and is plus-13 in just 21 games.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
...there’s a good chance that if Wheeler (11-9 -20, plus-19 in 33 games) continues to produce at his current rate, he’ll earn some extra cash to tack onto his $875,000 base pay.
Wheeler is in line to hit three $212,500 Individual A bonuses: scoring at least 20 goals, finishing among the top three Bruins in plus-minus, and making the All-Rookie Team. Wheeler is on pace to score 27 goals. He is second on the team in plus-minus, trailing only Marc Savard (plus-20). Among rookies, Wheeler is tied with Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski with 20 points, trailing Columbus’s Derick Brassard (25), Chicago’s Kris Versteeg (25), and St. Louis’s Patrik Berglund (21). Brassard dislocated his shoulder last Thursday and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
more on the Bruins
via Brian Hunter of NHL.com,
(Blake) Wheeler had already scored a goal early in the first to give the Bruins the lead when he broke in with teammate Dave Krejci on Blues goaltender Manny Legace—or at least he thought. The University of Minnesota product ending up putting on a spin-o-rama move to notch his 11th of the season.
“I initially was looking to make a pass back to Krejci,” Wheeler said. “He kind of abandoned me. He went off for a change and the only thing I could do was react. There was a guy coming at me and I just kind of reacted. I got lucky.”
Boston, MA – Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli issued the following statement today regarding Bruins center Patrice Bergeron:
“After first being treated at the TD Banknorth Garden yesterday, Patrice was diagnosed as having sustained a concussion, and was admitted to Mass General Hospital under the care of Dr. Peter Asnis.
“Since being admitted to MGH Patrice has undergone extensive testing, and all of the results have come back normal. When examined this morning, his condition had improved greatly over last night, and he was released from the hospital. There is no timetable for his return to the ice.”
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
The Bruins’ front office doesn’t seek this space for advice, but if I were general manager of the hottest hockey team on Causeway in 15 years, I’d try to tie down Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez today for three-year extensions worth an average $3 million a year. I could be wrong, but I think each of the 34-year-olds might bite (key stat: age 34). That wouldn’t be music to the ears of wunderkind Tuukka Rask, eager to launch his NHL career, but Thomas and Fernandez are proven NHL commodities.
more NHL notes including MacTavish and Hartsburg on the hot seat…
from Kevin Paul Dupont of Bruins Blog,
Frightening sight at 8:37 of the second period when Patrice Bergeron ran straight into an onrushing Dennis Seidenberg and took the blow directly to the left side of his face, leaving the Boston center facedown on the ice for some three minutes.
Bergeron, who missed most of last season with a Grade 3 concussion suffered Oct. 27, 2007, did not appear to lose consciousness. However, he was obviously stunned by the hit and lay motionless on the ice for about a minute before finally moving his legs.
After some three minutes on the ice, Bergeron was helped to his feet by teammates Chuck Kobasew and Marc Savard, who also then aided him toward the Boston bench. Some 15 feet from the bench, Bergeron skated on his own toward the bench door and exited under his own power down the runway toward the dressing room.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
In the Bruins’ plan for 2008-09, one likely scenario was to have Manny Fernandez reclaim his game, then swap the free agent-to-be before the trade deadline, replacing the veteran with rookie Tuukka Rask to back up Tim Thomas.
But with the Bruins merrily steamrolling opponents and both goalies combining to form the stoutest puck-stopping tandem in the league, general manager Peter Chiarelli may find that trading Fernandez brings more harm than benefit.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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