By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff
By Jake Seiner/DFP Staff
On Oct. 16 against the Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins forward Mark Recchi recorded his 899th career assist, putting him one helper shy of becoming the 18th player in NHL history to reach the 900-assist plateau.
Nearly a month later, the 41-year-old winger still hadn’t notched No. 900.
Tuesday night, and fittingly a day after four of Recchi’s former peers were enshrined into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, the Kamloops, British Columbia native finally eclipsed the milestone when the Bruins topped the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-0.
Three and a half minutes into the second period, Recchi corralled a pass from linemate Patrice Bergeron along the right wall in the neutral zone. As two Penguin defenders pinched toward Recchi, the 21-year veteran paused as a streaking Daniel Paille jumped off the bench and flew through center ice. Recchi hit the 2002 first-round selection with a tape-to-tape pass perfectly in stride, and Paille burned a helpless Marc-Andre Fleury shortside for his first goal as a Bruin.
The tally put Recchi in exclusive territory. ‘The Recching Ball’ now sits just one helper behind former teammate Bryan Trottier (901 assists) and needs just 29 more assists to catch Larry Murphy (929), another former teammate, to leap into the top-15 all-time.
Recchi’s also ascending the all-time goals scored list, currently sitting at 25th with 548 career scores –– one behind yet another ex-teammate in Ron Francis. Recchi’s 1448 career points ranks 14th all-time, as well.
“Oh yeah I remember most of them,” Recchi said when asked about his growing list of milestones. “They’re all pretty neat when you start to get up there. It takes a long time to get them now –– to get a 100 [assists] now, it used to be one, one and a half seasons for me, and sometimes one, one and a little bit. It’s nice and I’ll cherish them for a long time.
“There’s a lot of amazing players that I’m up there with. I couldn’t even imagine when I started playing in this league that I’d end up there with some of the same records as these guys. I still don’t put myself in that category, but, you know, I’m up there with them.”
Recchi, 17 seasons removed from a 123-point campaign (53 goals, 70 assists) with the Philadelphia Flyers, has been among the game’s most dangerous players since coming up with the Penguins in 1988. In the waning years of his career, though, the self-identified playmaker has seen his role change, especially since coming to Boston last year at the trade deadline.
“I used to be, obviously, the offensive guy and now, I’m in more of a role that’s [more defensive],” Recchi said. “And you know, I absolutely love it.
“Ever since I’ve been here, it’s a very rewarding [challenge] –– it’s a tough challenge, but when you have centermen like [Bergeron], it sure makes life a lot easier.”
Recchi’s influence on and off the ice has been vital to the growth a young Boston team, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien.
“His approach to the game was really good for our young hockey club and players,” Julien said. “You can never get enough experience in the lineup. Today, you have to keep some young guys because of what they call the salary cap in the new NHL, so you need to have the right mix of veterans.
“I think he’s at a stage in his career where winning and going for a Stanley Cup is more important than anything else, so he’s a great influence for us to have around.”
The role of learned elder is similar to the one Recchi played just a few seasons ago for a young Penguins’ squad.
When Sidney Crosby arrived in Pittsburgh in 2005, Recchi was ‘The Kid’s’ first roommate on the road and helped spur the development of one of hockey’s brightest young stars.
In 2006-07, Recchi took another youngster under his wing in then-18-year-old Jordan Staal, going so far as to open the guestroom of his Pittsburgh home to the Thunderbay, Ontario native.
“The greatest thing about [Pittsburgh’s young guys] –– they’re very similar to here –– they’re the greatest kids and it made it enjoyable for me to come to the rink everyday,” Recchi said. “To have Jordan Staal and Sidney and [Evgeni] Malkin included in that group, it’s pretty neat to be around those guys.”
For Crosby, the chance to see Recchi reach the milestone in person brought back recollections of another memorable night.
“It’s funny, actually –– we played together when he got his 500th goal, and that was pretty neat to be a part of,” Crosby said. “So, here I am on the other side, but that’s good for him. He deserves everything that he’s gotten because he’s a great player.”
By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff
It takes more than a good goalie to shut a team out in the National Hockey League. It takes strong defensive efforts from everyone –– the netminder, the defensemen and the forwards. That’s exactly what the Bruins got in their 3-0 blanking of the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.
Tim Thomas saved all 27 shots he faced en route to his second shutout of the season, but he wasn’t called on to make any spectacular saves, and he rarely had to face more than one or two shots in succession. That’s because Boston’s (8-7-2) defensemen did a great job of clogging up the middle of the ice, keeping the Penguins (12-6-0) to the outside and clearing out rebounds.
“The one thing that was really hurting us [earlier this season] was the fact that we weren’t scoring goals, and that really put a cloud over the fact that we were still playing well defensively,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “Now we score a few goals, and all of a sudden our defense becomes something everybody notices and respects. The guys in front blocked a lot of shots, and Timmy made the saves when he had to.”
The forwards also did their part, consistently breaking plays up on the backcheck by taking away the third man into the zone and picking up defensemen who jumped in on the rush.
“I’ve never been on a team where the forwards work this hard,” defenseman Derek Morris said. “I keep giving our forwards credit, but our system runs well when our forwards do a nice job of coming back. We’re just biding time for them. We’re plugging up the middle. We might have to block a shot here or there, but our forwards are doing such a good job of taking that high guy away that we can read off of them.”
The defensemen and forwards combined to block an astounding 22 shots, repeatedly giving up their bodies to take away shooting lanes. The team’s all-around effort in its own zone was highlighted by Pittsburgh’s measly two shots on goal in the first period –– the fewest shots given up by Boston in one period since Jan. 3 of last season.
“I thought our guys did a great job tonight at blocking a lot of shots,” Julien said. “A lot of it was our D’s, and some forwards, but our D’s were doing a good job at fronting those, and we had some big blocks.”
Despite outshooting the Penguins, 10-2, in the opening frame, the teams entered the locker rooms scoreless after one. But it didn’t take the Bruins long to capitalize in the second. Just 1:36 into the period, Matt Hunwick pinched in from his point position and tried to jam a shot by Marc-Andre Fleury (26 saves) from the right doorstep, but was denied.
After Steve Begin’s rebound attempt was also saved, Hunwick picked up the puck at the left side of the net and backhanded it just under the crossbar for his fourth goal of the season. Initially, it was ruled no goal, but when play finally came to a stop over a minute later, the refs reviewed it and saw that the puck clearly crossed the line before bouncing out.
Boston struck again early in the third. After Morris made a great diving play to break up a Pittsburgh 2-on-1, Mark Recchi hit Daniel Paille with a long outlet pass to send Paille in on a breakaway. He promptly picked his spot and beat Fleury with a wrist shot to the blocker side for his first goal in a Bruins uniform. Recchi’s assist was the 900th of his career, making him the 18th player in NHL history to reach that milestone.
Patrice Bergeron tacked on an empty netter with 3.5 seconds to go to cap off the scoring. It was his sixth goal of the season.
The win gave Boston its first back-to-back wins of the season.
Be sure to check in tonight as Scott McLaughlin and Jake Seiner live blog tonight’s B’s-Pens matchup.
Transcriptions by Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff
All in all, I thought it was a well played game other than us . . . one of our goals every game is not to beat ourselves, and I thought we beat ourselves tonight pretty good with some of the stupid penalties we took, especially right off the bat early in the game.
We gave them the 5-on-3 goal. The other one was actually a power-play goal. They went 1-for-6, but they actually went 2-for-6 because the second one was just as the power play was getting over. Those were just, all three penalties off the bat were bad penalties. Down 2-0, we fought back, we played pretty well. It was a nice answer on our power play.
I thought we played very, very well in the second period. I thought we were going to win the game because we played so well in the second period. I thought the game was turned around for us, and then I thought Maine played extremely well in the third period. In the second period, we attempted 23 shots. We only attempted 16 in the third, and that was with three power plays for us, so they kill penalties very well.
I thought a few of our guys played well. Connolly has been snake-bitten all year. He finally got a goal on a power play. Trivino made a great play for our other power-play goal to Chiasson, and Trivino played very well. I thought Colby Cohen played well, and I thought our goalie played very well. I thought their goalie played great.
I’ll tell you, we’ve made every goalie we’ve played look like Jacques Plante. It’s unbelievable. We made the Northeastern goalie look like he was invincible, and we made this kid look like he was invincible because we were rushing shots. We’re having trouble scoring goals and we’re rushing shots. I think he played well, but I also think we had some opportunities.
I liked our team effort in a lot of ways, but I thought we were stupid with our penalties, and that’s what aggravated me. And I thought we ran out of a little steam in the third period.
On the play of Gustav Nyquist
Nyquist is a very good player. How many points did he have tonight? Could’ve had another one, too. He made a great play on that shorthanded situation. Yeah, he’s a very good player, one of the better players in the league. To tell you the truth, I didn’t notice him, though, and I usually notice him all over the place. But he’s a real good player.
On the no goal
I kind of knew it was going to be called off because I just went over and asked Alex, ‘Did you bump him when you backed into the goalie? Did you touch him?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I think my back did.’ And I said, ‘Well, if he’s in the crease, it’s no goal,’ and I guess they looked at it and said he was in the crease. I didn’t see a replay, but I know that must have been what they did.
On the misplayed 2-on-1 that led to Maine’s third goal
They scored on a real bad read. We had everything covered, and we had caught up. Nyquist goes down the wall and squeezes by one of our defensemen, but he’s off the angle. Where he’s got the puck, he couldn’t put that puck by my goaltender once in 100 times, and my defenseman came over to play him and left the other guy wide open –– the opposite way you’re supposed to play a 2-on-1, and they get a wide-open look.
My goalie doesn’t have a chance on that play. Real bad read there, and that was a huge goal because I thought we were playing real well.
On Kieran Millan’s play
I just said, ‘I’m tired of us losing 3-2 or getting shut out or not producing any offense for our goaltender.’ He’s been playing great, and he played great again tonight.
On the two early penalties
Well, those two penalties put us down by two goals. It’s hard to come back on the road being down two goals seven minutes into the game.
On not playing Ryan Santana
I wanted to get Megan back in the lineup. Gaudet played pretty well the last couple games. I wanted to get him one more game. I told Ryan that he’d be back in the lineup. It was not a matter of him not playing well. I thought everyone played real well the other night, but I had to take somebody out because I wanted Megan to go back in. I thought Megan played real well tonight.
On the Megan line
They got the nice goal. They played well. Megan won a lot of faceoffs tonight, which is important to us. I thought he won more than that, but he was 9-7. I think he won a lot in the offensive zone there. It just seemed like, especially on the power-play situation, we did a good job with that.
This week, he’s going full tilt all week long. We’ll see how it goes.
On the power play showing improvement
Yeah, but it wasn’t good in the end. It wasn’t good in the end the other night either. The last couple games, the power play had to win the game on both nights, we fumble-bumbled the puck, we get jumpy with it. I think it’s much, much better, but it’s got to get better in big time too.
On grade-A chances
We played a little bit harder, and I thought the second period was our best period for sure.
I think we’re pressing the pucks on the net and it’s hurting us. Although we had some real good rebound chances tonight, we’re not getting enough of those.
On the team’s offensive struggles
You know, we played hard and coach made an emphasis on that just as we did on Friday against Northeastern. I mean, the goals are going to come. The chances are there, the shots are there, just tonight we took a few stupid penalties. I mean, they got at least two power-play goals. I’m not sure if their last one was. Their last one might have been, too. Ultimately, that’s what killed us. I mean, we stay out of the box on those stupid penalties and we’re right in there.
On the save Darling made on him on a rebound chance
He’s a big kid. He’s a great goalie. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened to me against him. I played against him in juniors, and last year I had flashbacks of those kind of saves against me, so he’s a really good goaltender.
He made a great recovery after getting over there and was in good position for the rebound. I give all the credit to him. He had a great night.
On his goal and the power play in general
Our emphasis was to get it in the zone. To be able to get it set up, you have to go work hard and get the puck. Once we had it, we want to just work it around with as many clean passes as possible. Get that penalty kill moving around so we can get a few chances here and there, and we were fortunate enough Colby made a nice pass to find a hole there and catch the goalie off guard.
On the offense’s chances
We get a lot of shots, and it may look good. It’s just maybe we’re outplaying teams and we’re not scoring goals. But at the same time, the good chances we’ve had –– backdoor, open nets, pucks laying in creases, things like that –– you know those are chances we need to bear down on. Shooting back into the goaltender and things like that on good opportunities, those are ones we’re going to need later down the line, so we have to start bearing down on those now and getting some of those to go.
I think [goals will] start coming. It’s still fairly early in the season, but it comes down to focusing, bearing down, when you get a good opportunity to just make sure that it goes in. Don’t take the opportunity for granted, because when you go against good college goaltenders like that, they don’t give up on chances and its been pretty obvious as of late.
On the improved power play
Focus and hard work. I mean, we got off to a really slow start with it this year and it was pretty frustrating because BU’s been known to have a pretty skillfull power play, and Coach demands hard work before anything else, before skill on the power play, and so we really took that to heart in practice. Just getting the pucks, beating guys, winning your 1-on-1 battles and then getting it set up and working it around, because you can’t get that going until you get good control of the puck so that’s been the biggest focus as of late.
On Bonino’s absence
We’ve definitely missed him. He’s a 50-plus point scorer, and around 30 the year before, so that’s a lot of points we’re missing. We’re definitely going to be happy to get him back, but in the meantime, we’ve had plenty of chances. Without him, I think once those guys start contributing and we get some of the chances starting to go in addition to getting Bonino back, I think it will be a big plus for us.
On the first goal of the game
Yeah, they passed it through the slot, and it ended up going to a guy. He took a nice shot. I was kind of screwed on the play, but it was a nice shot.
On the wraparound goal
I made the original save and went to cover the puck, and one of our own players kind of shot it away from me. And it went right on his stick, and he was able to wrap it real quick before I got over there.
On the 2-on-1 goal
I originally thought that, when I looked up, it seemed like the guy out front was covered and I just had to take the shot 1-on-1 with [Nyquist] coming on the right-side wall. He kind of faked the shot, and I kind of froze a little bit. So, I wasn’t expecting a shot, and he passed across the crease to the guy who was open.
On stupid penalties
We’re having trouble scoring and taking penalties at the start of the game. [Maine] scoring on [their powerplays] sure isn’t going to help our team out because we’re having trouble scoring, and we know we’re not going to be able to score as many as last year, so being down two right off the gun isn’t great. But I thought we did a pretty good job of battling back and we tried.
On whether or not the lack of offense affects him
Not really. My job is just to try to keep the puck out of the net. It’s been a little tougher this year, but I think things will turn around. I thought we did a pretty good job against Northeastern. We really limited them to only having a few good scoring chances. Today, I think Maine did a pretty good job of getting to open areas and finding spots to get shots, but we’re going to get better. Things happen. You can’t win every game. It’s early in the season and hopefully things turn around.
A couple Monday morning (afternoon?) links from the FreeP. Apologies for the lateness, but we were experiencing some technical difficulties (the media version of the ever-so-vague “upper body injury”).
By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff
After an abysmal showing in last weekend’s split against the No. 8 University of Massachusetts-Lowell, the No. 5/7 Boston University men’s hockey team played its best defensive game of the season in Friday night’s 1-0 loss at Northeastern University.
Not only did the Terriers allow the fewest goals they’ve given up all season, but they also did a much better job of keeping the opponent to the outside, disrupting cycles and clearing out rebounds.
“BU did a terrific job,” Northeastern coach Greg Cronin said. “I thought they did a great job just neutralizing us on the cycle. They really stapled us on the boards. They surrounded the puck on all the battles. They constantly had those red jerseys all over the puck. We just had no mobility.”
Last weekend, the Terriers surrendered an astounding 32 shot attempts from the slot or closer in two games. BU coach Jack Parker said his team was “really inept at covering out front.” Senior defenseman and alternate captain Eric Gryba said the Terriers “weren’t tough enough to play against.”
But Friday night was an entirely different story. The Huskies took just six shots from within 10 feet of the BU cage. Rebound chances were few and far between. Extended offensive zone possessions were virtually nonexistent.
“We were focused,” Parker said. “We played harder. It’s really simple. We weren’t standing around watching . . . Saturday night’s game was a real downer for me as far as how good an effort and how good a focus we had. We looked like we weren’t ready to play. Tonight, we looked like we were ready.”
Besides being more focused and playing harder, changes in the defensive pairings worked about as well as they possibly could have. Reuniting juniors Colby Cohen and Kevin Shattenkirk on the top pairing after they were separated last weekend seemed to ignite the spark that had been lit between the duo over the past two years, but had seemingly flamed out earlier this season.
“I thought Shattenkirk played great tonight,” Parker said. “I thought this was his best game of the year. I thought Colby Cohen played great tonight. I thought it was his best game.”
Freshman Ben Rosen, who played with Gryba as the fill-in for injured sophomore David Warsofsky, also stepped up in his first collegiate regular-season game. After playing well in BU’s two exhibition games, the Syosset, N.Y. native didn’t crack the lineup in any of BU’s first five games due to a combination of both of the other freshman d-men (Sean Escobedo and Max Nicastro) performing well and Rosen not impressing the coaches enough in practice.
“I thought he played well,” Parker said of the rookie. “He was good with the puck. He was good defensively.”
One thing’s for sure –– if the Terriers continue to hold opponents to 20 shots and one goal a game, Parker will be a happy coach. When asked what his message to the team would be heading up to the University of Maine on Sunday, Parker responded, “Play like this. Give me another game like this.”
By Jake Seiner/DFP Staff
The No. 5/7 Boston University men’s hockey team was dominant in nearly every fashion Friday night against Northeastern University.
The Terriers outshot the Huskies, 43-20, and controlled the pace of play for nearly the entire game. BU ripped 19 shots on net in over 15 minutes of power-play time, and blocked more than a third of Northeastern’s shot attempts.
In the end, about the only thing the Terriers did not have was NU freshman Chris Rawlings in net. The rookie made all the difference as Northeastern blanked BU, 1-0, at Matthews Arena. It was the first time BU was shutout on the road since March 15, 2004.
Rawlings turned away 43 BU (2-4-0, 1-3-0 Hockey East) shots, including 19 with NU (3-3-0, 1-2-0), on the penalty kill.
“He’s starting to get into a rhythm psychologically,” NU coach Greg Cronin said of Rawlings. “This position is such a mental position.
“There was a boatload of [shots] on the power play –– point blank shots, and hey, he was terrific.”
Rather than fold under the pressure of facing a “boatload” of shots, Rawlings said the constant barrage of pucks helped him maintain focus.
“I can’t stand when I don’t get a lot of shots,” Rawlings said. “I need a lot of shots so I can stay in the game.”
The teams played scoreless into the third period until the Huskies capitalized on a penalty by BU freshman Alex Chiasson 11:37 into the final frame. Exactly one minute into the power play, NU junior Mike Hewkin fired a shot from the center-point position. Junior Wade McLeod screened the shot, and the puck bounced off the pads of BU sophomore netminder Kieran Millan.
The puck slid to the top-right corner of the crease, where McLeod located and pushed the puck past Millan and over the goal line. It was McLeod’s third tally of the young season, and put Northeastern up, 1-0.
Just over three minutes later, Hewkin gave an already buzzing Terrier squad a golden opportunity to knot the game and potentially take the lead. The junior leveled Chiasson from behind into the NU half wall, and was handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct with 4:09 left in regulation.
The Terriers, who had dictated the pace of play since the second period, unleashed a flurry of scoring chances on the final man advantage.
Twice, junior Colby Cohen flicked passes from the point to sophomore Chris Connolly, who redirected the puck on net. Both times, Rawlings turned the sophomore away and left BU with no rebound opportunities.
Connolly, who led all players with eight shots on goal, sparked BU’s best scoring chance of the night. The sophomore flew around the back of the cage tried wrapping the puck around on Rawlings. Connolly beat Rawlings five-hole, but Rawlings got enough of the puck with the inside of one of his legs to slow it significantly. The puck trickled through the crease parallel to the goal line, inducing a massive scurry in front of the NU cage and frenzied an already raucous Matthews Arena.
The puck crept through the crease for three or four seconds before a Husky player located it with his stick and flipped it out of the zone.
In the game’s waning seconds, the Terriers wound up for two final shots, but NU defenders blocked both attempts. The horn sounded to end the game and capped off a 0-for-7 showing for the Terriers on the power play.
Despite the story on the stat sheet, the BU power play had one of its best performances of the season.
Coming into Friday, the Terriers were scoring on just 17.2 percent of their extra-man chances, and had been plagued by often horrendous puck possession and composure in the attacking zone.
Friday night, the Terriers in-zone passing game took a major step forward. Parker said junior Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen played their best games of the season, and the pair was in rare form at the points of BU’s power play. Aided by slick wing-to-wing cross-slot passing from Connolly and sophomore Vinny Saponari, the Terriers averaged almost three shots per power-play chance.
“We had a lot of good plays,” Parker said. “We were poised with the puck. We got the puck in the zone. We got control of the puck in the zone.”
The power play improvements were a reflection of a more focused and intense effort, according to Parker. The same concentration and energy also helped BU prevail in a number of 1-on-1 loose-puck chances and win 39-of-69 faceoffs –– a far cry from last Saturday’s 19-for-60 showing against the No. 8 University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
“I thought we came to play tonight,” Parker said. “It was like night and day from the last game. We came with an effort. We came with a lot of brains. We came with a lot of focus. We came with a lot of intensity. All the things we measure our team by, we would say we won this game tonight by the things we measure.
“I’d be very, very happy to continue playing the way we are.”
Kibbles and Bits
Northeastern junior Tyler McNeely suffered an elbow injury in the first period and was not on the ice or the bench for the second and third periods. Cronin declined to comment further on the extent of the injury after the game. . . . Northeastern hit two posts Friday, including one off the crossbar when an isolated McNeely beat Millan gloveside midway through the first period. . . . The Terriers registered at least two shots on every power-play chance they had Friday. . . . Sophomore David Warsofsky, who missed Friday’s game with an injury to the adductor muscle in his hip, will not decide until Sunday if he’ll play when BU travels to the University of Maine.