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Bruins’ worst fears realized as inexperienced defense struggles mightily in loss to Jets

10.08.15 at 11:51 pm ET
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Matt Irwin was a minus-3 Thursday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Matt Irwin was a minus-3 Thursday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

If you were worried about the Bruins defense being a disaster with Dougie Hamilton gone and Zdeno Chara banged up, your worst fears were realized in Thursday night’s season-opening loss against the Jets.

The game actually didn’t start off too badly at all. The Bruins were on the attack most of the first period and the defense didn’t really give the Jets any good looks on the few occasions they did get into the Bruins’ zone.

But then the second period happened. The Jets’ first goal came off a combination of all three Bruins forwards getting caught up ice and Joe Morrow not putting enough on his pass into the neutral zone, leading to an easy interception for Dustin Byfuglien and an odd-man rush the other way.

The second came off a brutal turnover by Matt Irwin behind the Bruins’ net, as Andrew Ladd picked his pocket clean before setting up former Bruin Blake Wheeler right in front. The third resulted from another tough sequence for Irwin and defensive partner Zach Trotman. Trotman couldn’t get his stick on a pass through the slot that went right by him, and then Irwin compounded that by completely losing track of his man and allowing Drew Stafford an easy finish on the doorstep.

Things didn’t get any better in the third. After the Bruins cut the deficit to 3-2, Irwin got caught pinching in the offensive zone (as you’ve probably gathered by now, the UMass product did not have a good night) and David Krejci, who was the closest to being able to cover for Irwin, could not keep up with Chris Thorburn on the rush the other way. The Jets then made it 5-2 when Torey Krug couldn’t clear out 5-foot-9 Nicolas Petan and watched a centering pass bounce off Petan’s skate and in.

“I think the examples are pretty clear of where we made those mistakes and where it cost us goals,” Claude Julien said after the game. “It was clear right from the get-go there, so it’s going to be easy to show those kinds of things. We’re early in the season, you’ve got to show those kinds of things. We’ve got to work and rectify those things as soon as possible.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Joe Morrow, Matt Irwin, Zach Trotman, Zdeno Chara

Claude Julien hopes Alexander Burmistrov receives supplemental discipline for hit to Patrice Bergeron’s head

10.08.15 at 10:16 pm ET
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Claude Julien wasn’t happy about his team’s performance in Thursday night’s season-opening loss to the Jets, but his criticism extended past his players to one Alexander Burmistrov.

The Jets forward cut back to catch Patrice Bergeron with an elbow to the head late in the first period of Winnipeg‘s 6-2 win over the Bruins. Bergeron, who has had a number of concussions in his career, was irate with Burmistrov following the play, taking a cross-checking penalty in retaliation.

Though Burmistrov was given a minor penalty for an illegal hit to the head, Julien said after the game that the play deserves supplemental discipline.

“It will be interesting how that is being reviewed, and especially to an elite player in the league who’€™s had some [concussion] issues in the past,” Julien said. “I hope they look at it seriously. In my mind, I don’€™t see why there wouldn’€™t be further consequences [for] that.”

Said Bergeron: “It was a hit to the head. Even though he apologized after, it’€™s one of those that I didn’€™t have the puck at that time. You have to realize where the guy is and his position.’€

Read More: Claude Julien, Patrice Bergeron,

5 things we learned as Bruins open regular season with loss to Jets

10.08.15 at 9:36 pm ET
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Zach Trotman and Boston's defense struggled mightily Thursday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Zach Trotman and Boston’s defense struggled mightily Thursday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Without Zdeno Chara, the Bruins’€™ defense figured to be suspect at best. At least there were no surprises on opening night.

Playing without their captain, Boston’€™s defense fell apart after the first period, allowing three goals in each of the last two periods as the Jets took a 6-2 victory in Boston’€™s season-opener.

The most egregious misplay came from newcomer Matt Irwin, who coughed up the puck behind Boston’€™s net with the game tied at one. Jets captain Andrew Ladd picked the puck cleanly from Irwin and fed former Bruin Blake Wheeler, who beat Tuukka Rask to give Winnipeg the lead. At least one of Irwin or partner Zach Trotman were on the ice for four of the five goals against on the night, excluding Winnipeg‘s empty netter with 3:38 left to play.

The night actually started out well for the B’€™s, who controlled play in the first period and got the game’€™s first goal from David Krejci. The B’€™s failed to cash in on their subsequent chances however, and when play turned sloppy in the second, the game slipped away.

Such a turn of events wasn’€™t too shocking. Things can go south quickly when a team doesn’€™t have a good blue line and the Bruins learned that the hard way Thursday.

Here are four more things we learned in the season-opener.


For as much as Rask had to play last season, he didn’€™t get lit up frequently. Thursday saw him allow five goals, something he only did three times last season.

Rask is obviously one of the best goaltenders in the world, but with Boston’€™s sloppy showing in front of him from the start of the second period on, he had his work cut out for him. It actually could have been worse, as Rask stopped Andrew Ladd on a shorthanded breakaway.


Patrice Bergeron doesn’€™t go ballistic on his opponents often, but Alexander Burmistrov can probably join Alexander Burrows and Jeff Skinner’€™s club after Thursday.

With Bergeron chasing after a puck deep in Boston’€™s zone late in the first period, Burmistrov cut back and caught Bergeron in the face with an elbow. Bergeron bolted after the Jets forward immediately and a scrum ensued. Burmistrov got two minutes for an illegal check to the head and Adam Lowry got a roughing minor, while Bergeron was given a minor for cross-checking.


Pastrnak brought the Bruins within one in the third period with a dart of a wrist shot that beat Ondrej Pavelec short-side, but it was a play on which he didn’€™t get a point at all that may have been most encouraging.

The second-year player isn’€™t going to be an overly physical player because, well, he can’€™t be. Though remarkably skilled, the slender 19-year-old is at risk of getting pushed around by bigger, stronger players.

That’€™s why it was a very positive sign when Pastrnak was able to steal the puck behind the Winnipeg to set up up David Krejci‘€™s goal. After forcing the turnover, Pastrnak swung around and sent the puck to the front of the net. Krejci got a stick on Winnipeg‘€™s attempt to get it out and backhanded it past Pavelec to five the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

Pastrnak didn’€™t get an assist on the play because he didn’€™t get the puck to Krejci cleanly, but the fact that he was able to win a puck by having a good stick was a good sign that the teenager can be resourceful.


During pregame introductions, Zac Rinaldo got more boos than any other home player. The boo birds (not a large group and certainly a group drowned out by cheers) at TD Garden quickly learned that the weren’€™t alone when Adam Lowry tripped Rinaldo on the fourth line’€™s first shift of the game.

The fact that Rinaldo’€™s opponents don’€™t like him for his past sins could be a very good thing for the Bruins, as long as he can play within the lines and draw penalties. Rinaldo was able to do that during the preseason, but a player with a reputation like Rinaldo’€™s might have a hard time behaving for 82 games.

Read More: Zdeno Chara,

Strength in numbers: Bruins will have most new players in an opening night under Claude Julien

10.08.15 at 1:28 pm ET
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The only time Claude Julien had more new faces to open a season with the Bruins, his was technically the new one.

“My first year I had over twenty new guys,” Julien said Thursday morning with a grin. “I didn’€™t know anybody, right?”

When Julien and the Bruins begin the season Thursday night, he will likely have five players making their Bruins debuts in Jimmy Hayes, Matt Beleskey, Joonas Kemppainen, Matt Irwin and Zac Rinaldo. That ties 2007-08, Julien’€™s first season with the B’€™s, as the most new Bruins in an opening night lineup in the Julien era, not counting backup goalies.

Between Julien’€™s first season and now, the most new Bruins on an opening night was three, which came in 2010-11 (Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin) and 2013-14 (Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith). The Bruins have often had remarkably little roster turnover. Last season, for example, Bobby Robins was the only newbie in the lineup to begin the season.

Of course, players such as Robins who were in the organization beforehand had at least some comfort level with the B’€™s. All five of the new Bruins for Thursday’€™s opener were brought in this offseason in either trades or free agency. The number could have been even higher Thursday, but trade acquisition Colin Miller and 2009 sixth-round pick Tyler Randell are expected to be healthy scratches.

‘€œI think it’€™s been a good three-plus weeks where we’€™ve been able to kind of work individually as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,’€ Julien said. ‘€œEverything right now, we’€™re pleased with it, we’€™re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too. I don’€™t have any issues with the number of new players. I just have a preoccupation with getting the whole group ready to play here tonight.’€

Beleskey will play on David Krejci‘€™s line with David Pastrnak, while Hayes will start off playing left wing with Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly. Kemppainen and Rinaldo will skate on the fourth line with Chris Kelly. The only newcomer expected on the blue line Thursday, Irwin figures to be paired with Zach Trotman.

Read More: Claude Julien, Jimmy Hayes, Matt Beleskey, Matt Irwin

Pierre McGuire on OM&F: ‘Really, really critical’ Bruins get off to good start

10.08.15 at 1:06 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance on Ordway, Merloni and Fauria on Thursday to preview the Bruins’ season. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.

McGuire said with so many players being added to the team in the offseason, patience is going to be key for coach Claude Julien, as well as getting off to a hot start.

“Well, he’s going to have to be because that’s patience is going to be part of his job to make sure these players learn how to play,” McGuire said. “Dougie Houda, the other assistant coach who works mostly with the defense, he’s going to have to do some pretty patient work with those young players as well on defense. The expectation in Boston is so high, obviously, and it should be. It is a strong franchise and an original six franchise. I love the intensity. The fan base is obviously rapid.

“It’s an important franchise in the league, but it’s really, really critical that they get off to a good start because this is the kind of thing that confidence is going to be a premium. If they get off to a bad start, the confidence starts to wain, it would be a tough year.”

With the team already dealing with a number of injuries to open the year, health is a concern.

“They will have to start getting some people healthy, especially Big Z (Zdeno Chara) No. 1, and No. 2 [Dennis] Seidenberg injury sets them back a little bit,” McGuire said. “They also have Kevan Miller and Colin Miller with Colin Miller coming over in the [Milan] Lucic trade, who can really step up his game. I thought there was some moments in preseason where he was very good. The Bruins clearly know him well from his days in Manchester and his days at [Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds]. They have to hope he can get it going and obviously Torey Krug takes another step forward.

“This is going to be interesting. It is going to be interesting to watch. The one thing I would caution Bruins fans on is I would never bet against a team that has Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara in their leadership core. I never would just because I respect those guys so much.”

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Read More: David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Pierre McGuire, Zdeno Chara

New-look Bruins defense thrown to wolves early without Zdeno Chara

10.08.15 at 12:36 pm ET
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Torey Krug might be the Bruins' No. 1 defenseman Thursday. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Torey Krug will likely be a top-pair defenseman for the Bruins on Thursday. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Claude Julien, his healthy defensemen and Tuukka Rask will have their work cut out for them Thursday night as they open the season without three of their top-four defensemen from last season.

With Dougie Hamilton in Calgary, Dennis Seidenberg rehabbing from back surgery and Zdeno Chara officially out for Thursday night’€™s meeting with the Jets due to an upper-body, the Bruins’€™ top defensive pairing is now Torey Krug with Adam McQuaid.

If that sounds alarming, it’€™s because that has never been a top pairing before. Though both guys have played on Chara’€™s right at times over the years, trying to shut down Winnipeg‘€™s top forwards by themselves will be a challenge.

“I don’€™t really know what to expect, but I’€™ll obviously be prepared for that,” McQuaid said of potentially playing top-pairing minutes. “Whether we’€™ll have a definitive 1-2-3 pairings, I’€™m not quite sure. I think we’€™re all pretty capable of playing. I think it’€™s a pretty solid three pairings. We’€™ll be prepared to play against anyone.”

Boston’€™s three pairings for Thursday are expected to be Krug-McQuaid, Joe Morrow-Kevan Miller and Matt Irwin-Zach Trotman. Colin Miller is expected to be a healthy scratch on defense.

This season figured to be difficult for the Bruins defensively even before Seidenberg and Chara got hurt. The loss of Hamilton made a team that struggled on the back end last season even worse, and though the B’s had ample bodies with the additions of Matt Irwin and Colin Miller, the blue line figured to be a work in progress, at best. Without Chara, the getting-to-know-you period for guys like Irwin and new full-timers in Trotman and Morrow will be harder than expected.

Where the Bruins benefit (if you can call it that) is that they have last change at home for the first three games of the season. It’€™s unknown how much longer Chara will be kept out, but Julien will at least have an easier time getting the matchups he want while the games are at TD Garden.

That means that Winnipeg‘€™s top line of Bryan Little between Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler can probably expect a healthy dose of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson on Thursday night. Playing against the Bergeron line is never easy, but it’€™s easier when Chara isn’€™t out there, too.

A former Bruin who was sent to Atlanta in the 2011 Rich Peverley trade, Wheeler likely would have seen plenty of Chara given that their positions match up (Wheeler’€™s a right wing; Chara’€™s a left D). Wheeler was matched against Seidenberg and Kevan Miller when the teams met last Nov. 28, but he faced Chara and Hamilton in a Dec. 19 meeting that saw his line go without a point and struggle with possession.

“You want to see Zee back on the ice as soon as possible, but it’€™s never that much fun playing against him with that said,’€ Wheeler said after Winnipeg‘€™s morning skate. “I mean that as a compliment. He’€™s one of the more intimidating tough guys to play against in the NHL. He’€™s a big hole to fill for sure.”

Julien answered a question about his defense Thursday by noting that the Bruins have “dealt with it before” and “dealt with it last year.” Of course, the Bruins had Hamilton then, while Boston’€™s other D’€™s assignments didn’€™t change too drastically. This will be more difficult, however long it lasts.

Read More: Zdeno Chara,

Zdeno Chara (upper-body injury) out for Bruins season-opener

10.08.15 at 10:46 am ET
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Claude Julien confirmed what Thursday’s morning skate suggested when he revealed the Bruins will take the cautious route with Zdeno Chara and hold him out of Thursday’€™s season-opener against the Jets.

The Bruins paired Chara with Colin Miller in Thursday’€™s morning skate, an indication that he’d be out after Miller did not participate in power play work Wednesday. Chara has been out since Sept. 24 with an upper-body injury.

Chara still cannot take slap shots, as he’s been doing them lightly since Wednesday. Given that he is clearly not at 100 percent, the B’s are wise to hold him out, even if it means icing a potentially porous defense for the time being.

The reason Julien might hold Colin Miller out figures to be because of Boston’s need to defend without the ultimate shutdown defenseman. With Chara out, all three remaining left-shot defensemen are offensive-minded defenders in Torey Krug, Joe Morrow and Matt Irwin. As such, it’s hard to fault Julien for sitting the right-handed Miller in favor of better defensive players in Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and Zach Trotman.

Boston’€™s roster is currently at 23 players with Chara on injured reserve. If they are to take him off IR in the coming days, they would need to remove a player from the roster.

Boston’€™s lineup in morning skate was as follows:

(Tyler Randell, Max Talbot)

Morrow-Kevan Miller
(Chara-Colin Miller)


Read More: Colin Miller, Zdeno Chara,
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