|11.14.13 at 12:53 pm ET|
With Chad Johnson set to get his first start of the season at TD Garden, the Bruins are plenty motivated to give him a win. Given what happened the last time he played, they owe it to him.
Johnson hasn’t played since Nov. 2 against the Islanders, which was probably the Bruins’ worst game of their early-season dip. Johnson allowed three goals on 34 shots in a 3-1 loss, but it was the play in front of him that was the Bruins’ undoing. The Bruins gave up odd-man rushes and were dominated by New York’s top line of John Tavares between Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo in a night in which Zdeno Chara was a minus-2.
“That was a terrible outing by us, and Chad works hard and has played well when asked upon,” Chris Kelly said after Thursday’s morning skate. “We want to come out and make the game as easy as possible for him and give him some help.”
The good news for the Bruins is that they have slowly begun to turn the corner since that loss. The B’s have gotten seven of an eight possible points since then, and with a win over the Blue Jackets Thursday they can wrap up their five-game home stand with nine of a possible 10 points.
“I think every game becomes a new challenge, right?” Claude Julien said. “I liked the way we played the last few games; Toronto and obviously Tampa and seeing them turning the corner but that has to continue tonight. I think that's the challenge that teams have all the time, is not to rely on the fact that you're playing better lately but fight and keep it going. So I think that's what everybody's hoping to be able to do tonight is to keep our team going in the right direction.”
Johnson had said Wednesday that it was tough waiting for his next start given how ugly the last one had been, but the team’s improved play certainly suggests things won’t be as bad Thursday as they were last Saturday.
As for how Johnson has looked this season, he falls under the category of guys who haven’t really been given a chance to hit their stride. He and his teammates know it, as he was less than spectacular in allowing two goals on 16 shots in his Bruins debut against the Sabres. Of course, the Bruins gave him a chance to win in that game — and they did with a 5-2 win — which is far more than could be said for Johnson’s second game.
If there’s any silver lining to that loss going into Thursday, it’s that there’s far less of a chance of the Columbus matchup being a trap game. The Blue Jackets are better than their 6-10-1 record would suggest, and their effort Thursday should be matched by a Bruins team trying to make things up to Johnson.
“We kind of let him down in his second game, against the Islanders,” David Krejci said. “We feel like we owe him one and we’re going to try to do everything we can to get him a win tonight.”
|11.14.13 at 11:46 am ET|
Injured defenseman Adam McQuaid still has yet to skate since suffering a lower-body injury last Saturday against the Maple Leafs, but he did take a positive step forward Thursday when he rode the stationary bike.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he saw McQuaid working out following the team’s morning skate, but that he still doesn’t know whether the team will take him to Ottawa for Friday’s game.
With McQuaid still out, Matt Bartkowski will play his second straight game as he remains in the lineup along Johnny Boychuk.
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|11.14.13 at 11:42 am ET|
Chad Johnson was the first goalie off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate, meaning he will be between the pipes when the Bruins face the Blue Jackets Thursday night. It will be Johnson’s first start of the season at TD Garden.
Johnson, who was signed in free agency to replace Anton Khudobin, has played very sparingly this season, starting just two of the Bruins’ first 17 games as Tuukka Rask has played the most of any Bruins goaltender in Boston under Claude Julien through such a stretch.
Johnson gets the start with the Bruins having a pair of back-to-backs, as they will play the Senators Friday in Ottawa and then have games Monday and Tuesday against the Hurricanes and Rangers, respectively.
On the season, Johnson is 1-1 with a 2.53 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.
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|11.13.13 at 1:33 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — If Tuukka Rask has played more than any Bruins goaltender under Claude Julien through the first 17 games of a season, that would mean that backup Chad Johnson has played the least of any Bruins goaltender under Claude Julien through the first 17 games of a season.
With just two games under his belt, Johnson is both happy to help the team however he can and eager to get back between the pipes. After all, Johnson says, “you’re only as good as your last game.” That’s not so great when your last game was the Bruins’ worst of the season, a 3-1 mess against the Islanders on Nov. 2.
“It’s tough in this sort of situation,” Johnson said. “You play a game and you might not get another one for a week or two weeks. You’re only as good as your last game. For me, sometimes it’s two weeks. It’s sort of tough to deal with sometimes, but you just be mentally strong and worry about having good practice and be ready for an opportunity when it does come up again.”
The reason it’s been all Tuukka all the time around these parts is largely because of the Bruins’ schedule early on, with lots of days off between games and only two back-to-backs to this point.
“It’s tough only playing in two games in two months, but that’s the situation, right?” Johnson said. “The more you play, the more comfortable you’ll get. It’s kind of like anything you do. The more you play, the more confident you’ll be, the more comfortable you’ll be. For myself, now that the first month’s over, getting in more games will help a lot more to get in more of a rhythm and feel more comfortable.”
Indeed, the opportunities should increase in the near future. The Bruins’ next four games are parts of back-to-backs, as they play Thursday and Friday and then Monday and Tuesday.
“I think it was pretty obvious with the slow start that it allowed us time to get [Rask] going again and get some rest, but the schedule will get heavier and we’re going to have to lean on Chad more and more,” Julien said. “We know that he’s in situation where he hasn’t played much and we need to allow him to find his groove a little bit if we expect to get some positive performances from him.”
|11.13.13 at 10:39 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Defenseman Adam McQuaid was the only player missing from Wednesday’s Bruins practice at Ristuccia Arena, suggesting he’s likely to remain out with a lower-body injury.
McQuaid left after his second shift of Saturday’s win over the Maple Leafs and did not play Monday against the Lightning. He grabbed his groin area at the end of his last shift Saturday, with Claude Julien saying McQuaid’s injury is to “where he grabbed.” The coach added that he wasn’t sure if McQuaid’s injury was a “day-to-day” situation or a “week-plus.” He gave something of an update following Wednesday’s practice.
“Still day-to-day,” Julien said. “He’s not skating now because he’s not capable of it. We keep hoping that he keeps improving, and we’ll see where he stands by then.”
Matt Bartkowski played Monday in McQuaid’s place and is expected to be in again Thursday against the Blue Jackets. Julien said the team has “no idea” whether McQuaid will travel to Ottawa for Friday’s game.
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|11.11.13 at 5:32 pm ET|
It should come as no surprise that when Steven Stamkos flew into the net and pounded his fist in both clear pain and disappointment in the second period of Monday’s Bruins-Lightning game, the TD Garden crowd fell silent. When he was placed onto a stretcher and wheeled off the ice, the sold-out crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Boston fans aren’t always the most gracious, but the unanimous show of support for the Lightning star said that they both respect him — remember, this is the same ice on which Stamkos took a Johnny Boychuk slapshot to the face, got some stitches, slapped a cage on his helmet and went back out there in Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals — and don’t want to see the league lose one of its best young players.
The Bruins agreed, and though the top team in the conference losing the league’s leader in goals and points might bode well for the Bruins, it isn’t lost on them that a Stamkos-less NHL isn’t as good an NHL.
“I don't care whether he's on another team or not, a player like that is what people pay to come and watch,” Claude Julien said. “'¦ This game is built on guys like that that have tremendous skills, that are good leaders and everything else. It's unfortunate that those kind of injuries happen to those players. You hope that his injury isn't too serious and if anything he's going to come back quick.”
Unfortunately, the injury is serious and he isn’t going to come back quick. It’s a broken right tibia for Stamkos and he’s out indefinitely. He suffered the injury crashing into the net while battling for position with Dougie Hamilton, with his left leg hitting the post first and then the bottom of his right leg following in a scene of which you probably won’t want to catch too many replays.
Gregory Campbell knows a thing or two about tough injuries like this, as he had one of the most famous broken legs in sports history when he broke his blocking an Evgeni Malkin slapshot in Game 3 of last season’s Eastern Conference finals and finished his shift.
“I don't like to see that happen to anybody,” Campbell said. “I have a lot of respect for him, but whether it's him or somebody else, injuries are tough, tough to come back from.
Added Campbell: “He's becoming the face of the game now, one of the key faces of the NHL. In an Olympic year, a lot of things that are negative about it for his own personal game it's unfortunate. Injuries do happen, it's something that you have to come to expect, unfortunately. It's the beginning of a long process when you get injured, and he's an important player to his team and to the league, but he's a strong guy. I know he works hard, and I'm sure he'll be back stronger than ever.”
|11.11.13 at 3:36 pm ET|
The Bruins continued to make up ground in the standings Monday with a 3-0 win over the Lightning, but the matinee was overshadowed by a rather dark moment for one of the league’s top players.
The story of the game didn’t end up being scoring or standings placement, as an injury to Steven Stamkos left the superstar center down on the ice banging his fists in visible pain before being carried off on a stretcher.
Stamkos suffered the injury when he and Dougie Hamilton crashed into the net, with Stamkos’ right leg hitting the post. Stamkos’ right foot appeared to be dangling after the play, and when trainers came out to the ice, Stamkos could be seen mouthing, “It’s broken.”
Stamkos, 23, entered the game leading the NHL in both goals (14) and points (23).
The Garden crowd gave Stamkos a standing ovation and seemed to be taken out of the game until the B’s got on the board on Patrice Bergeron‘s sixth goal of the season. Bruins fans certainly have a lot of respect for Stamkos after seeing him stay in the game after getting hit in the face with a Johnny Boychuk slap shot in Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals.
Just 20 seconds after Bergeron’s goal, Daniel Paille took the puck through the neutral zone and to the net before deking Lightning goalie Anders Lindback and putting in his second goal of the season.
With a clear shot at the empty net in the natural zone, Milan Lucic dished the puck to Jarome Iginla, who scored his fourth of the season.
Tuukka Rask picked up the shutout for the Bruins, the second one he’s had against the Lightning this season. He stopped all 28 shots he saw.
The Bruins will wrap up their five-game home stand Thursday when they host the Blue Jackets.
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