|01.25.17 at 2:13 am ET|
A smiling David Pastrnak greeted reporters in front of his stall.
“I missed you guys,” he said.
For Pastrnak, a crowd of reporters typically means that he’s done something well. The crowd often went three rows deep early in the season, too, when Pastrnak lit the NHL up at will and kept pace with Sidney Crosby for the league lead in goals. And it’s been quite a while since one of those crowds waited for Pastrnak after a game.
Mired in an 18-game goalless skid, the 20-year-old put an end to that Tuesday night, and in style, with the overtime game-winner that rocketed through Red Wings netminder Jared Coreau to put an end to the B’s four-game losing streak and give Pastrnak his 20th of the year.
“It was just a matter of time – sometimes you feel it. He did make a couple of plays there that I wouldn’t advise on him making but overall I thought his skating was good and there was some determination in his game,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Pastrnak ending his scoring drought.
“Hopefully it gets that monkey off his back. It’s been a while and I think that he has been feeling the pressure and hopefully that’s a step in the right direction for him and we start seeing him put more of those in the net.”
With 65 shots in between goals, it was impossible for the situation not to weigh on Pastrnak.
|01.24.17 at 9:56 pm ET|
Nothing comes as a surprise with these Bruins anymore. In fact, by now, you sort of expected what happened Tuesday to happen.
It was the ending, however, that you did not expect.
A day after an intense video session, the Bruins came out of the gates flying against a shorthanded Red Wings team. They pummeled the first 12 shots of the game on Wings netminder Jared Coreau, and had a 1-0 lead behind Kevan Miller’s first goal of the season, scored 3:39 into the first period. But as the clock ticked without a shot from the Red Wings, and with the recent history between these two teams (when the Red Wings overcame a Bruins-heavy first period and won 6-5 after being down 4-1 just six days ago), you knew the danger that would follow.
Without a shot on goal during the first TV timeout, and still without a shot to their name by the time the second timeout rolled around, Mike Green found a speeding Andreas Athanasiou through the sea of Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo and in alone on Tuukka Rask.
Athanasiou, naturally, did not miss.
And just like that, all the momentum that the Bruins had seemingly established with a dogged puck-pursuit game and countless one-on-one victory battles in the opening half of the period, went out the window. Sure, the Bruins lead in shots by a 12-1 mark, but they were tied 1-1 on the scoreboard, and that’s all that truly matters for this club given their straight-up dire situation.
The Bruins regained the lead by the end of the first period thanks to a power-play goal scored by Brad Marchand for his 17th goal of the season, but the mindset had already established, or so it felt, and no in a good way. No matter what the Bruins did with the puck, no matter how many shots they took, you just had a feeling that the Wings were still in control of their own fate in this one.
Predictably, the Wings found breaks behind a fortunate bounce off Miller and into the B’s net at the 6:25 mark of the second period, and another one when Tomas Tatar snuck a bad goal under Rask and into the back of the net for a Red Wings lead.
Left to fight from behind to begin the third period for the 21st time on the year — the Bruins entered the third with just one win and five of a possible 40 points in such scenarios — it looked as if the Black and Gold were going to do yet another fade to black.
The Bruins padded their shot totals with low-percentage looks from just inside the blue line, but with nothing of actual substance, the fruitless search for an equalizer raged on against the Wings’ Coreau, who looked like a goalie breaking new gear in with ease.
But it was the Bruins’ best three-man unit all year long — Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak — reunited for this game with the B’s in desperation mode, that would create the scramble in front of Coreau, and Marchand that would tuck the game-tying marker through Coreau for his second of the night and his 19th of the season to give the B’s life.
The frustration of 17,565 in the crowd turned to hope, and the Bruins were seemingly snapped out of their Groundhog Day-esque run of futility and with the help of a last-second stop on Darren Helm, the Bruins forced overtime.
And in the overtime, it was Pastrnak, with space and some dramatics of a Toronto-initiated review to give it some added flavor, that pumped home the slide-snapping goal for his 20th of the season, and his first in 17 games.
OK, so maybe they’re not out of surprises just yet.
|01.24.17 at 5:35 pm ET|
Somehow lost in the hoopla of the Bruins potentially firing head coach Claude Julien last week was a rumor that connected the team to one of the stars of the trade market, Blues defender Kevin Shattenkirk.
(It was actually featured in the same TSN segment that talked about Julien’s future and indicated ‘credible threats’ and the potential ‘sense of impending doom’ for the B’s coach of a decade.)
A likely goner this summer like former teammate and current Bruins forward David Backes, the Blues may look to maximize the return (the return being anything versus letting him walk for nothing as a free agent), with Shattenkirk with the possibility of a trade-and-extend involving the talented puck-mover before the deadline emerging.
|01.24.17 at 2:16 pm ET|
Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask had a better head on his shoulders at Warrior Ice Arena this morning. Or a clearer head, at the very least.
Two days after the franchise netminder lifted himself out of the game with a migraine in what finished as a 5-1 loss to the Penguins (Rask exited in the second period after stops on 20-of-22 shots), and one day after missing practice because of the same, the 29-year-old was back on the ice for the club’s (somewhat optional) morning skate, and labeled himself as ready to go for tonight’s game against the Red Wings.
Comments backed up by B’s coach Claude Julien.
|01.24.17 at 1:10 pm ET|
Reinforcements are on the way for the Bruins.
The Miller defensemen, Colin, who has missed the last six games with a lower-body injury, and Kevan, out since Jan. 14 because of a concussion and then a virus, are expected to return to action tonight when the Bruins host the still-somehow-not-dead-yet Red Wings.
And their returns can’t come soon enough for Claude Julien’s club, losers in four games in a row and eight of their last 11 games.
The B’s have a 19-12-3 record with No. 6 in action this season, versus a 4-9-3 record when he is watching as a scratch or injured talent. And though Miller has yet to emerge as a point-producing dynamo just yet (Miller has three goals and six points in 34 games this season), his stabilizing and crafty presence on the team’s third pairing has meant a lot to a Bruins team that’s been short on puck-movers this season.
“We’ve seen some good sides to his development,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Miller. “I think when you look at the way he can skate, the way he can carry the puck out of your own end, the way he moves it, he’s got a lot of great attributes.”
The 24-year-old Miller is still a work in progress for the B’s, too.
“There’s other parts of his game we gotta continue to work with,” Julien admitted. “Every once in awhile he gets real busy, so we’re trying to get him to calm down in certain areas and do the right thing. But he’s been good for us and that’s why he’s back in.”
Kevan’s return to the lineup comes after a 48-hour virus that put a hold on what would have likely been a return last weekend against the Blackhawks and Penguins. Miller has 51 hits and 36 blocked shots in 26 games played this year.
Their returns are also expected to send both John-Michael Liles and Joe Morrow to the press box as healthy scratches.
This is the third of four meetings between the B’s and Wings this season.
|01.24.17 at 4:18 am ET|
The Bruins were scheduled for a 10:30 a.m. practice at Warrior Ice Arena Monday. They did not hit the ice until almost an hour had gone by. It was an intense video session in which Bruins coach Claude Julien showed his struggling team why they were… well, struggling.
“Sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board,” Julien said, “you’ve seen enough of different things and we decided that maybe a little eye-opening moment could be what we need.”
There’s enough video of this slump, which reached four straight games behind Sunday’s 5-1 blowout loss to the Penguins, to make anybody on the Bruins want to look away. But the Clockwork Orange approach has become a necessity for the Black and Gold to grow and work their way out of the hole that will surely show up on their doorstep by the time the rest of the Atlantic Division catches up to them in games played.
“We’ve had other video sessions, but you can see it hasn’t done us a ton of good right now,” Julien said. “This was a team one.
“Desperate times require desperate measures.”
Julien has spun it a number of ways to this point, but it was on Sunday that he admitted that this team just is not talented enough to have roster-wide nights off. And that’s brought his focus back to the little things that the B’s need to not snowball against them.
“Showing details that we were doing good early on in the season when we were having success and little things we got away from,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said of the video focus. “It’s a game of little details and we need to make sure we do them right.”
As for the tone of Julien, who has seemingly tried every approach possible with this game, Chara remained mum.
“I can’t tell you,” Chara said. “It’s an internal thing. What’s going on internally you know I can’t tell you.”
At the same time, the 39-year-old didn’t shy away from the reality of where the Bruins are right now.
“It’s a grind and it’s gonna be a grind,” continued Chara, “but we have confidence that we can do this together.
“We need to play with desperation. We know where we’re at.”
Something that doesn’t take an inside-the-room set of ears and eyes to notice.
|01.23.17 at 1:50 pm ET|
The Bruins, with losses in four straight games and all but three of their last 12 games, are dangerously close to falling off a cliff. Another Tuukka Rask absence would slam their skates on the gas pedal.
Lifted from the second period of Sunday’s loss to the Penguins with a migraine, Rask was not on the ice for Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and his status for tomorrow’s head-to-head with the Red Wings is completely unknown to B’s head coach Claude Julien.
“He’s seeing the doctors as we speak, obviously dealing with the migraine issues,” Julien said after practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “That’s basically all it is and hopefully we get some good news here.”
This is not the first that Rask has battled migraine issues (the last issue came a few seasons back), and the biggest problem that’s come with them has been his ability to see, as clearly referenced to Julien yesterday when he made his way back to the B’s bench.
If Rask is unable to go, Zane McIntyre would suit up as the team’s de facto No. 1 netminder. In a tough spot to come into a game cold against a white-hot offense, McIntyre allowed three goals on 13 shots against. The 24-year-old, in just his second pro season and his first real taste of the NHL, has an 0-3-1 record and .860 save percentage on the year.
And if Rask is unable to go, the Bruins would still need to bring a backup netminder into the picture behind McIntyre.
In Providence, Khudobin has four wins and a .910 save percentage since in six games since clearing waivers and being assigned to the P-Bruins, but was pulled from yesterday’s game against the Wolf Pack after he allowed three goals on 13 shots. The other option for a call up, Malcolm Subban, has five wins and a .909 save percentage in 19 AHL games this season.
Overall, the Bruins are 1-9-2 in games decided by a goaltender other than Rask.