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

Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

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Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN – Newest Bruins forward David Backes has heard the trepidation from Bruins fans about the five-year term of his contract, and he’s probably also caught wind of St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong stating publicly that contract length was an area he was uncomfortable getting to on a theoretical extension with his outbound.

The prevailing wisdom is that the decade of rugged, physical play from the 32-year-old in St. Louis will cause him to start slowing down sooner rather than later, and the last couple of seasons won’t be as high quality as the first couple in Boston.

So what does the actual player think about any questions surrounding his five year, $30 million contract?

The 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes confidently said that concerns about his age, or him slowing down demonstrably in the last few years of his new contract, are “a bunch of malarkey” to borrow a favorite phrase from Vice President Joe Biden.

“I’m 32, not 52. Time will tell, but I feel really good and I take care of my body. I lay it all on the line, but when I’m not at the rink I’m resting and recovering for the next time I have to pour it all into a game,” said Backes, who logged 727 hard-hitting games all with the St. Louis Blues organization over the last 10 seasons. “Time will be the judge, but I feel like [after] five years I’ll even have a couple more [seasons] after that.

“I don’t think this is going to be end. That’s my plan. I’m still going to get better over the next five years, and hopefully have a couple of opportunities to hoist that big trophy I’ve been chasing around for the last 10 years.”

One area of concern from last season: the 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games for the Blues were Backes’ lowest totals over a full season since his first few years in the league. It might be the first signs of decline in a player that’s logged some heavy miles, or it could be a simple down season for a player that’s always focused on setting the physical tone, and defense, just as much as his offensive output at the other end of the ice.

As Backes himself said, “time will be judge” of just how well the five year contract turns out for a natural leader that will undoubtedly give the Bruins a boost as a hard-nosed, top-6 forward as he moves into the Boston phase of his NHL career.

Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

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Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after a pretty amazing, on-point succession of speeches by Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night. It was quite a contrast to the absolute circus sideshow that went on in Cleveland last week.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynksi chronicles the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes, and the late entry of the Chicago Blackhawks as a suitor. Wysh still feels, as I do, that the Bruins end up getting this talented player at the end of the day.

*The details of the charges levied against Evander Kane paint an ugly picture of a hockey player doing a lot of the wrong things.

*PHT writer Mike Halford says that the Carolina Hurricanes might be ready to snap their playoff drought after extending head coach Bill Peters.

*John Tavares tells the Toronto media not to count on him ever pulling over a Maple Leafs jersey amid post-Stamkos speculation.

*Well, would you look at this? The Nashville Predators are providing salary cap and contract info on their own team website. What a concept!

*The Edmonton Oilers say they will have a new captain in place by opening night, and it will be interesting to see if they go the Connor McDavid route.

*Brian Elliott is thrilled at the opportunity to be “the man” between the pipes for the Calgary Flames this season after splitting time in St. Louis.

*For something completely different: a great feature on Howard Stern, and his transformation from shock jock to master interviewer.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN -- For those excited about the idea of an intense, hard-hitting David Backes in a Bruins uniform for the next five years, you have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to partially thank.

Backes, 32, didn’t know either of them all that well prior to this summer, aside from his experiences on ice against them. But Bergeron and Marchand called Backes multiple times while recruiting him to Boston, and it was a major factor in the former Blues captain signing a five-year, $30 million deal with the B's.

“Being an outsider, we need to have a little bit of confession here that Marchand is the kind of guy that gets under everybody’s skin. I was no different,” said the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes, who has 206 goals and 460 points in 727 career NHL games, all with St. Louis. “But then talking to him a little bit in the interview process prior to July 1, I hung up the phone and had to take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘That little disturber, he’s actually a pretty good guy.’ Those guys end up being the best teammates.

“A guy like Bergeron, when you play against him [he's] always in the right spot, and is never making mistakes. Those types of guys, again, are guys you want on your team, and guys you want to go to war with. They’re All-World players, Bergeron is an All-World player. But he’s also a down-to-earth guy that puts his work boots on, takes his lunch pail and plays his butt off. He’s nice to the young kids, and he’s nurturing in helping them come along. I think you’ve seen in the NHL that you need a few guys on entry-level deals, or a few guys to outperform their contracts, in order to have success in the salary-cap era. That nurturing and mentorship can really foster those kinds of performances.”

While Backes went on to mention Zdeno Chara as another highly respected, formidable opponent with whom he’ll now share a dressing room, it was interesting to note that players who currently have letters on their sweaters, like Chara and David Krejci, didn’t play a part in the recruiting process. Instead it was the next captain of the team (Bergeron) and a player (Marchand) currently in the middle of negotiations entering the last year of his contract.

“I talked to both Bergeron and Marchand twice before July 1," said Backes. "Just the way that they spoke about their team mentality, and teaming up together and sharing the load of hard minutes that need to be played, and also sharing the load of the offensive necessities that a team has . . . those things just rang true to my beliefs of a team.

“You’re all equals whether you’re the top-paid guy, or the top-minute guy, or the low-minute guy, or the guy that’s playing every other game because you’re the healthy scratch in the other games.

“We all needed to be treated equal, and do whatever we can to support the next guy. When the next guy has success, we have to be just as happy as if we scored the goal. That’s the type of thing where, when you get that from the full 20 guys on the ice, it’s so tough to be beat. Those are the teams that win championships.”

It will be interesting to see just how much involvement Backes has with the Bergeron and Marchand combination. He could very easily be a right-wing fit with those two dynamic forwards next season, or he could be a third-line center behind Bergeron and Krejci and give the Bruins elite depth down the middle of the ice.

True to his team-oriented nature, Backes said he’ll be happy to play at either position and do whatever Claude Julien feels is best.