Bruins show fire in win over Thrashers, 4-1

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Bruins show fire in win over Thrashers, 4-1

By Danny Picardand Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Shawn Thornton started the night off with a fight, and he ended it with two goals.

These Bruins needed everything he provided.

Having lost four of their last five games, and coming off a stale 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night, the Bs were in a position in which they had to show both passion and scoring.

They provided both on Thursday night at the TD Garden, defeating the Atlanta Thrashers 4-1, in a game that saw a whole lot more intensity out of the Bruins than Monday night. "These situations always bond and bring teams even closer together its a good feeling," said Zdeno Chara. "When you can rely on each other in situations like this there is nothing better than that."

Thornton started the game by dropping the gloves with Eric Boulton off the opening faceoff, and he gave the Bs a 3-0 lead, five minutes into the second period, sniping the top-right corner with a one-timer from the right circle. He added another, five minutes into the third, finishing a pretty 2-on-1 pass from Daniel Paille, which gave the Bruins a 4-1 lead.

Patrice Bergeron got the scoring started three minutes into the first period, and 13 seconds into a Thrashers power play. Bergeron skated towards a loose puck along the left wing in the neutral zone, and came in all alone, beating Atlanta goaltender Ondrej Pavelec with a deke to the right.

Michael Ryder gave Boston a 2-0 lead 56 seconds before Thornton made it 3-0. Ryder scored his goal on the power play, after he took the puck at the right half-wall, looked pass, but decided to step out and shoot, beating Pavelec low and to the left.

After Thornton scored his sixth goal of the season tying his career single-season high Atlanta cut the Bruins lead to 3-1 midway through the second period, after he beat Tim Thomas five-hole with a weak backhander while coming hard to the net from the left wing.

But it wasnt enough, and Thornton added the dagger, in the opening minutes of the third, with his second goal of the game.

And the Bruins werent done there. With 4:06 left in the game, an absolute melee took place in Atlantas zone, as Andrew Ference attacked Freddy Meyer after Meyer knocked Milan Lucic to the ground with a hard hit at the blue line.

Ference quickly reacted, threw the gloves in the air, went after Meyer, and all 10 skaters on the ice went at it, ending Thursday night with exactly what the Bruins needed. GOLD STAR: Shawn Thornton, plain and simple. Emotion, leadership and putting his body on the line for the team. He made a big statement right off the hop with a prolonged, epic hockey fight with Eric Boulton, and then scored a pair of goals to help push the Bruins to a needed victory over the Atlanta Thrashers. Thornton has a career-high seven goals on the season, and has already given everything the Bruins could possibly hope for. The Bruins crowd chanted We Want Thornton in the third period trying to will the Bs enforcer to a real hat trick rather than the Gordie Howe variety but he was denied on a couple of prime attempts.BLACK EYE: Andrew Ference, who literally had a bruised and bloodied right eye after standing up for Milan Lucic when he was slammed up high with an elbow from Freddy Meyer. Ference didnt hesitate to immediately jump into the fray in his teammates defense, and was the victim of an Anthony Stewart cheap shot at the bottom of the pile as a line brawl broke out between the Bs and Thrashers. Ference has consistently stood up and defended his teammates through his Bruins career no matter how big or strong the opponent and he did that again on Thursday night. "Andrew has done that many times. You know, I think if you recall whether it was Dallas when they were in and tried to do the same thing...hes been good," said Claude Julien. "Hes a good team man and hes always there for his teammates. That to me is not surprising. Youve seen other guys do the same thing and obviously our guys stood together there at the end and did what they had to do."TURNING POINT: Shawn Thorntons fight got the juices flowing with the Bruins in the opening seconds of the game, but it might have been for naught had the Bs not responded on the scoreboard. Patrice Bergeron has flipped a switch in the last three games, and that continued with a short-handed beauty of a score just three minutes into the first period on an Atlanta power play.BY THE NUMBERS: 7 the number of goals that Shawn Thornton has this season after a two-goal effort against the Thrashers. The game was clearly one of the best of Thorntons career, and was another one in a 2010-11 NHL season thats looking more and more like a career campaign for the Bs enforcer.QUOTE TO NOTE: It was a high hit for sure. I was bleeding from the lip and after a hit like thatI mean that was the second time Meyer has done that. Hes hit me late. Hes hit me cheap. Now thats the second time. I mean, you cant give a guy a free pass too many times, but Im happy that we stuck together as a group and as a team. You say you havent seen it in a while. Milan Lucic talking about the Freddy Meyer elbowing hit that precipitated a team-wide line brawl by the Bruins and Thrashers in the closing minutes of the third period. Lucic could be facing some NHL scrutiny after earning a match penalty in the scrum following Meyer's hit on him.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.

Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.

Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.

Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.

“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”

Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Blidh/Beleskey-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

McIntyre

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Roughly 12 hours after embattled Bruins coach Claude Julien bristled at a question about his job security and labeled it “shock journalism” in the heat of the moment after a tight loss to the Blackhawks, the B’s bench boss delivered a classy, heartfelt response to the same question.

Julien was asked about it in French by a reporter from the Montreal Gazette, but answered in English because of the “loyalty he feels to the people in Boston.”

In essence, Julien basically said he should be relieved of his duties if he’s deemed to be behind what ails the Black and Gold, but he’s going to keep working to fix things until that day comes.

It was exactly the kind of response you would expect from a coach who's taken the B’s to the mountaintop in his 10 years running the team and will always be respected and loved in Boston long after his coaching days are done.

“How do I deal with all of the rumors and all that is going on? I didn’t feel like [Friday night] was the appropriate time for me to answer that after a game where you’re emotions are pretty high. I wasn’t getting into that, but to be honest with you my job is to coach the hockey club,” said Julien. “Am I worried about my job? No, I’m not. Because it’s not my job to worry about it. My job is to fix things, and my job is to coach this team and do everything I can. If I become one of the reasons that we’re not doing well, then management has to make that decision.

“It’s not my decision to make. I’m not quitting on this team. I’m not quitting on anybody. I’m not quitting on management. I’m ready and willing to go through the hard times, and I said that at the end of last year. If it’s deemed my fault, then I shouldn’t be here, and that’s all I can say.”

While the Bruins roster is clearly less than perfect and has a larger dose of youthful players than in years past, Julien also freely admitted that they should be held to a higher standard after proving many nights that they should be a playoff team. That’s the mandate from Bruins ownership and that’s the challenge that Julien has willingly accepted.

It’s also the challenge that’s falling a bit short now as they’ve lost three crushing games in a row and have fallen behind the Ottawa Senators in the playoff standings, with Toronto also right behind them holding six games in hand.

“If we’re going with what we said we were going with and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it,” said Julien. “I think we put ourselves in a position earlier in the year where we could all of a sudden believe that we’re a playoff team...absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team. Whether we can do it or not we’ll find out at the end of the year, but my job is to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m going to do.

“As far as the rumors are concerned, they’re out there and I know that. But I don’t worry about it because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. And my time is spent trying to fix things here.”

Julien and the Bruins are headed to Pittsburgh for a Sunday matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and will have two games against the red-hot Pens headed into an All-Star break weekend that must feel like a well-earned oasis for Julien at this point in the season.