|10.10.15 at 9:59 pm ET|
The Bruins were having a bad enough night Saturday night. They were headed for what would become a 4-2 loss the Canadiens at the Garden, and one of the few things they had to show for it was a lack of injuries.
Then Brad Marchand collided with Dale Weise late in the game, falling to the ice and getting up extremely slowly. Marchand sluggishly found his way back toward the bench, with Colin Miller essentially needing to pull him onto the bench.
Marchand left the game and did not return. Claude Julien had no update on the player following the game.
As Boston’s leading goal-scorer in two of the last three seasons, he would be a major piece for Boston to lose for any period of time.
Here are five things we learned Saturday:
PK D GETS AN F
The Bruins were never shorthanded in the season-opener, so one of their biggest issues was not exposed. With Chara and Dennis Seidenberg out, the Bruins are without the only two left defensemen to average even 30 seconds on the penalty kill last season.
That meant that when Matt Beleskey took an illegal check to the head penalty 1:14 into the game, it was offensive defenseman Joe Morrow who was sent out kill the penalty with Kevan Miller. The B’s were extremely soft in front as Montreal began its power play, resulting in David Desharnais — all 5-foot-7 and 174 pounds of him – being able to whack away at his own rebound in front of Tuukka Rask uncontested and score 11 seconds into the power play. It was the only power play goal Boston allowed Saturday, but it was a biggie.
Even once Chara returns, the Bruins will be extremely undermanned on the penalty kill. Right now, it’s beyond worrisome.
Here are four more things we learned:
JULIEN LOSES CHALLENGE
Given his tendency to disagree with referees, it seemed that Claude Julien and the new coach’s challenge would be a match made in heaven. The two got off to a rocky start on Saturday night, however.
Trailing by a 2-0 score at the time, Loui Eriksson appeared to get the Bruins on the board after Loui Eriksson backhanded an errant puck past Price. Eriksson got to the puck after Joe Morrow had broken his stick on the shot, and while the play appeared to give Boston its first goal of the night, the play was called no-goal because Patrice Bergeron had made incidental contact with Carey Price.
Julien challenged the call, and though replays showed that Bergeron was pushed by Alexei Emelin and that the contact really wasn’t significant at all, the play held up. As fate would have it in this rivalry, the Canadiens scored 1:17 later to take a 3-0 lead.
Milan Lucic isn’t around to get tossed from Bruins-Canadiens games anymore. The guy who did get ejected Saturday night was rather surprising.
Ryan Spooner, who had eight penalty minutes in 57 career games entering Saturday night, was called for boarding Brian Flynn 3:30 into the third period. While the hit did not appear egregious, Spooner was handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
The call was met with confusion by those observing the game, but as pointed out by WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin, Rule 41.5 states that a boarding penalty that results in a head or face injury comes with an automatic game misconduct. Flynn was bleeding on the play, which likely made the officials’ decision for them.
BELESKEY GETS HIS FIRST, COLIN MILLER MAKES HIS DEBUT
Matt Beleskey didn’t have a particularly impressive Bruins debut Thursday and he was called for an early penalty Saturday to set up a Montreal power play goal. He did pick up his first goal as a Bruin in the second period, even if it was an ugly one.
Looking to feed the puck in front for Pastrnak, Beleskey’s pass went off Jeff Petry and past Price to get the B’s on the board.
Through two games, members of David Krejci‘s line have scored three of Boston’s four goals, with Krejci, Beleskey and David Pastrnak each having a goal apiece.
Another first for the B’s Saturday: Colin Miller made his NHL debut by playing in place of the scratched Zach Trotman. Joonas Kemppainen also sat in favor of Max Talbot.
Miller’s skating and passing were as advertised. The former King also took a cross-checking penalty midway through the third period.
BERGERON TARGETED AGAIN
The 30-year-old center was the target of an attempted low bridge from Alexei Emelin, which earned the Habs defenseman an interference penalty. The play came just a game after Bergeron took an elbow to the head from Jets forward Alexander Burmistrov.
Fortunately for the Bruins, Bergeron hasn’t been injured yet as the result of either play. Bergeron ended up scoring his first goal of the season by beating Price with 30.1 seconds left in regulation.
|10.10.15 at 1:23 pm ET|
Thursday was a first for Colin Miller. Having never previously been called up to the NHL, he watched a regular-season game from the press box for the first time.
Oh, what a mess of crap he saw.
That’s not how he put it, but that’s how everyone else on the ninth floor of TD Garden saw Boston’s defensive performance against Winnipeg in the season-opener.
On Saturday night, his job will be trickier. He’ll likely be six floors lower trying to solve the Bruins’ problems. Factor in that it would mean making his NHL debut against the Canadiens and Miller has his work cut out for him.
“If that happens, it will be pretty interesting,” Miller said after Saturday’s morning skate. “Obviously the rivalry is pretty crazy, so it will be fun to become a part of it.”
Claude Julien said after Saturday’s morning skate that Miller would be a game-time decision to play, but the skate itself suggested Miller will be in while Zdeno Chara remains out.
The B’s got the 22-year-old Miller, the AHL’s hardest shot and fastest skater, from the Kings in the Milan Lucic trade. Though he can be sent to the AHL without requiring waivers, he figured to push for a full-time job on Boston’s blue line this season.
That he was made a healthy scratch in the season-opener didn’t upset him. Claude Julien‘s hands are tied regarding the back end because with Chara out, the Bruins only have three lefty defensemen in Torey Krug, Joe Morrow and Matt Irwin. Miller, a righty, is part of a crowded group, so even if Julien wanted to sit someone like Irwin, he likely couldn’t. Saturday’s morning skate suggested righty Zach Trotman would be a healthy scratch while Miller will play with Joe Morrow.
“I’m the new guy here, so I’ve got to earn my spot,” Miller said. “That’s something that I’ve kind of just been trying to do every day.”
|10.10.15 at 12:55 pm ET|
Bruins-Canadiens games won’t be the same without Milan Lucic, but then again this rivalry has always found a way to stay heated regardless of who comes and goes.
When the Bruins host the Habs Saturday at TD Garden, things will look vastly different from the way they did when Montreal won all four meetings by multiple goals a season ago.
(Actually, there’s a very good chance the result will be the same; it will just look different.)
Lucic is gone. Dougie Hamilton, whose biggest contribution to the rivalry was forgetting that penalties expire, has also departed. Zdeno Chara is likely to remain out with an upper-body injury, while the likes of Matt Beleskey, Zac Rinaldo, Colin Miller (making his NHL debut), Jimmy Hayes and Matt Irwin will all play against the Habs for the first time as Bruins.
Despite Boston’s injuries and new faces, Bruins killer Dale Weise (seven points in his last 10 games against Boston, including the playoffs) doesn’t see Saturday as an automatic two points.
“I don’t think Boston’s any slouch by any means,” Weise said. “I think this is a good hockey team. They’ve added some good players; Beleskey’s a good guy that’s going to score for them, Jimmy Hayes we saw a lot in Florida. He scored a couple goals against us, so he’s a big body. With a goaltender like [Tuukka] Rask, similar to us, you always have a chance.”
Perhaps Weise’s most notable moment in Boston came after Game 7 of the 2014 second round. Following Montreal’s series-clinching victory over the Bruins (a game in which Weise scored), word got out that Lucic had threatened Weise in the handshake line.
Weise has always praised Lucic’s game since the incident, so it wasn’t a surprise to hear him do the same after Saturday’s morning skate.
“It makes our job a little bit easier without having him out there,” Weise said. “He’s a horse to handle out there. You’ve got to be aware when he’s out there.
“Picking up Beleskey, I know him from the West a little bit. He’s another big body. He plays hard. They’ve still got some players that can play hard over there.”
Boston’s biggest issue against the Habs will be holding up better defensively than they did Thursday night against the Jets. Though Montreal was hard-pressed for goals last season, they still managed to rack them up against Boston. The Habs have given Chara fits in recent years, but they’ll likely have an easier time with him out of the lineup.
“Having him in the lineup is a big difference,” Weise said of Chara. “He’s a big body. He’s hard to play against. Going in front of the net, you’re going to get a couple of whacks from him. It’s not a pretty place to be. He adds so much to their lineup.”
Though the Canadiens didn’t make any sizable upgrades in the offseason, they should certainly be considered the better of the two teams at this point. Even if they won’t say it, they should feel pretty good about their chances Saturday.
|10.10.15 at 10:48 am ET|
While Chara was used on a fourth pairing in Saturday’s morning skate, he was joined by Zach Trotman, an indication that Trotman will join him in the press box for Saturday night’s game against the Canadiens while Colin Miller makes his NHL debut.
Following the morning skate, Julien said that Chara was “doubtful” to play, with Miller being a game-time decision following Saturday night’s warmups. The fact that Chara and Trotman stayed out to skate extra after practice suggests the decision has already been made and that both will sit.
Interestingly, Chara, Trotman and extra forward Tyler Randell were joined by Joonas Kemppainen in skating overtime. That means Kemppainen could sit vs. the Habs, with Max Talbot potentially playing.
Trotman was part of a pairing with Matt Irwin that struggled mightily in the season-opener against the Jets. Despite Julien breaking up his pairings in the third period, Trotman was on the ice for three of Winnipeg‘s goals.
Colin Miller, a strong skater and shooter acquired from the Kings in the Milan Lucic trade, was paired with Joe Morrow in morning skate. The anticipated lineup is as follows:
Rinaldo-Kemppainen-Kelly / Rinaldo-Kelly-Talbot
|10.09.15 at 5:53 pm ET|
After drawing both a penalty and the ire of some Jets in his Bruins debut, Zac Rinaldo can expect nothing short of chaos in his second game.
Saturday night will mark Rinaldo’s 11th career game against the Canadiens, but his first against them as a Bruin. Considering that Rinaldo’s hated by plenty of opponents to begin with, he could be a welcome addition to a rivalry that has always invited madness.
Given that he considers himself an energy player, he wasn’t exactly energetic when asked about entering the Boston-Montreal rivalry. That’s because he prides himself on taking all opponents seriously.
“I never have embraced one specific team because of the rivalry of each team,” Rinaldo said Friday. “If I have personal issues with someone on the ice, I’ll keep that to myself and I’ll deal with that when that time comes, but I’ve never taken a more [seriously], I’d never work harder against the Montreal Canadiens than I’ll work against the New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks or LA Kings. I’m going to play every game the same way I play every team in the league.”
Rinaldo obviously didn’t see the result he wanted from his first game with the B’s, but he did take a positive from Thursday’s 6-2 loss. After watching Patrice Bergeron catch an elbow to the face from Winnipeg forward Alexander Burmistrov, Rinaldo said he was impressed that Bergeron went after the player rather than trying to milk a better call than the minor that was assessed.
Rinaldo, who has been suspended multiple times in his career for a total of 14 games, said he told Boston’s alternate captain after the play that he was impressed by the character he showed.
“A lot of guys in Bergeron’s situation, they would have dove,’ Rinaldo said. “… I told him, I said, ‘I really appreciate you not going down like that, you’re not flopping around on the ice and acting like you’re hurt. Instead, you got up and you dealt with your business like a grown man should and like a leader should.’ That was unbelievable on his part.”
Rinaldo knows dirty hits well, having committed his fair share in his young career. Though his reputation makes him a target capable of drawing penalties, a lot of the shots he takes could go uncalled by officials because of his past sins.
That means that if Rinaldo wants to avoid getting suspended again, he’s going to have to put up with more than he dishes out. Rinaldo said he held up on multiple plays Thursday against the Jets because he’s trying to be more cautious of getting suspended. After seeing Sharks forward Raffi Torres slapped with a 41-game ban for his preseason hit on Jakob Silfverberg, Rinaldo said he’s taking the Department of Player Safety much more seriously.
“Raffi’s a great guy,” Rinaldo said. “I met him in the summer and we both understand how hard it is to make that right decision. It’s a quick millisecond — not even, quicker than that — but it did open my eyes. My family and my friends told me to watch out because they’re not messing around. They want to make a mark and they did that. It really opened my eyes.”
Rinaldo’s gone one game as a Bruin without crossing the line, and he intends to make it a lot longer than that. The Canadiens have brought out the worst in guys like Milan Lucic in the past, so Saturday will be a bigger test of his restraint.
|10.09.15 at 11:59 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins kept the same lines and defensive pairs from Thursday’s season-opening loss in Friday’s practice, but they could be closer to having Zdeno Chara back.
Chara practiced with the team again on Friday, looking more comfortable taking slap shots as the B’s prepared for Saturday night’s game against the Canadiens. The 38-year-old defenseman, who has been out since Sept. 24 with an upper-body injury, also took some extra contact later in practice by tussling with fellow defenseman Adam McQuaid.
— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) October 9, 2015
Seth Griffith, who is out with an MCL sprain in his left knee, skated after practice with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides.
The lines and pairings in practice were as follows:
|10.09.15 at 12:48 am ET|
Maybe it’s appropriate that the best comments on the Bruins’ lack of offensive finish in a 6-2 season-opening loss Thursday night came from their goalie.
On a night when the Bruins outchanced the visiting Winnipeg Jets badly in the first period, Tuukka Rask had to make several saves close in to preserve a 1-0 lead heading into the first period. There were chances from Ryan Spooner, Brett Connolly and Brad Marchand, all in close and around Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec minutes after the Bruins were staked to a lead on a pretty goal from David Krejci.
“I mean I think most importantly, we want to take that offense,” Tuukka Rask said of what he saw from his vantage point 180 feet away. “We created a ton of chances, and had a chance to score way more goals than we did, so I think that’s the most important thing to take from this game.”
As the Bruins continued to misfire in close in the opening five minutes of the second period, there was the overwhelming sense that the visitors were dictating the pace, using Boston’s desperation against them. That was reinforced once the Jets tied the game and took the lead minutes later in the second.
“When we start cheating offensively a little bit, then one mistake leads to another very quickly, and we did that today a couple times,” Rask said. “It’s a process in the making, and we just have to correct some things out, but it’ll be good.”
Patrice Bergeron was another player who had his chances from close range but could not finish to beat Pavelec.
“It definitely would have been nice to come out of that [first] period with more than one goal,” Bergeron said. “That definitely wouldn’t have hurt us. Looking back in the second, we had a few breakdowns that they capitalized, which we didn’t. That was the story of the game right there. We definitely lost momentum, yeah – we got to find ways to score when we do have our chances and generate some more momentum with that.”
The Bruins outshot the Jets, 14-6, in the first 20 minutes and headed into the first intermission with a power play, thanks to a cheap shot elbow to the face of Bergeron by Jets defenseman Alexander Burmistrov.
“I think it would’ve been nice to come out of there with a better lead than we did after the first with the type of opportunities that we had,” Claude Julien said, echoing the words of Bergeron. “It should’ve been a two- or three-goal period. But we misfired or missed those opportunities and allowed them to stay in the game. And then the second period they came out and kind of took over and we started making some defensive mistakes. Whether, I thought, whether it was coverage, layers, or whether their was decisions with the puck or D-zone awareness, we made all of those mistakes tonight which resulted in goals against.”