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Tuukka Rask in net for Bruins vs. Panthers

03.31.15 at 12:45 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask is expected to be in goal for the Bruins as the play their latest biggest game of the season. The Panthers, currently four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference consider Tuesday night a must-win, as wins over Boston Tuesday and next month could bridge the gap and help them reach the postseason.

The Bruins currently lead the Senators by three points, though Ottawa has seven games remaining to Boston’€™s six. The Senators will face the Red Wings in Detroit Tuesday, with Andrew Hammond back in net after missing time with a perceived leg injury.

Claude Julien is using his same forward lines for Tuesday night, by the looks of morning skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Krejci
Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak
Eriksson-Soderberg-Smith
Kelly-Campbell-Talbot

Chara-Trotman
Krug-Seidenberg
Bartowski-McQuaid

Rask

Tuesday will mark Rask’€™s 65th game of the season (62nd start). Rask had never played more than 58 games prior to this season. The Bruins say they understand the importance of not wasting his performances down the stretch.

“Right now it’€™s a playoff atmosphere, and we’€™re playing like it’€™s the playoffs,” Brad Marchand said. “For us, it is. I wouldn’€™t be surprised if he played the rest of the season. I obviously don’€™t know, but you’€™ve got to rely on your top guys in situations like these. That’€™s what he’€™s making seven million dollars for.”

Shawn Thornton, who was questionable for Tuesday’s game, is expected to play for the Panthers.

Former Bruin Shawn Thornton on MFB: ‘I really don’t care’ what’s going on in B’s locker room

03.30.15 at 12:36 pm ET
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Former Bruins and current Panthers winger Shawn Thornton joined Middays with MFB on Monday to discuss the NHL playoff race. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Bruins are in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they are only three points ahead of the Senators (who have a game in hand) and four ahead of Florida.

“I haven’t been following [the Bruins] much at all, to be honest,” Thornton said. “Obviously, the points race, we follow if they win or lose because we’re four behind them and we play them twice. But I haven’t been watching their games or anything. … We’re making it interesting, that’s for sure.”

Added Thornton: “We’re aware of the situation that we can’t lose either of those games [against the Bruins]. … We’re giving ourselves a chance.”

The first of the two games between Florida and the Bruins will be in Boston on Tuesday night. It will be the second time Thornton will play at TD Garden since leaving Boston after last season.

“It’s still a little different,” Thornton said. “Playing in that building for seven years on one side and then playing on the other, it’s a little different.”

Thornton was a leader on and off the ice during his time with Boston. Recently, with Thornton gone, the Bruins’ dedication and effort has been questioned by management, as many players have not lived up to their expectations.

“To be completely honest, guys, I really don’t care,” Thornton said when asked about the B’s struggles. “I have my locker room I have to worry about, I can’t be worried about what’s going on in theirs.”

Whether it’s the Bruins, Ottawa or Florida, Thornton believes that the eighth seed in the East will have a chance to upset the top seed.

“Once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen,” Thornton said.

For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/boston.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Shawn Thornton,

Bruins beat Hurricanes in overtime to go up 3 points on Senators

03.29.15 at 8:02 pm ET
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The Bruins capped a lackluster performance against the Hurricanes with the best result possible. Minutes after the Panthers defeated the Senators in regulation, David Pastrnak scored in overtime to give Boston a 2-1 victory over Carolina and a three-point lead over the Senators for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

With 37 seconds remaining in overtime, Carl Soderberg drew two defenders to him deep in the offensive zone before dishing to a wide open Pastrnak, who blasted a one-timer past Anton Khudobin. The victory gave the B’s 89 points with six games remaining. Ottawa has 86 points with seven games left, meaning the Bruins in control of their destiny going forward.

Ryan Spooner scored 2:21 into Boston’s game for his seventh goal of the season. The goal gave Spooner sole possession of the team lead in goals since his recall in late February. The Bruins failed to get a second puck past Khudobin in the rest of regulation, with Carolina evening the score on a Nathan Gerbe tally in the final minute of the second period.

Tuukka Rask started and picked up the win after leaving Saturday’s game against the Rangers in the second period. Rask made 30 saves in what was his career-high 64th game of the season.

The Bruins will next play when they host the Panthers Tuesday at TD Garden. Florida trails the B’s by four points.

Peter Chiarelli on Sunday Skate: Milan Lucic in group that has underperformed this year

03.29.15 at 9:45 am ET
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Peter Chiarelli said Milan Lucic has been in a group of players that have underperformed with the Bruins this season. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Peter Chiarelli said Milan Lucic has been in a group of players that have underperformed with the Bruins this season. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli joined Sunday Skate with DJ Bean, Joe McDonald and Pete Blackburn Sunday morning to talk all things Bruins heading into the final few games of the regular-season as the team battles to make the playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Weekend Shows audio on demand page.

Milan Lucic has seen his play improve with new linemates recently, but the team could an interesting choice with him going forward given that next season will be the final year of a three-year, $18 million deal. Chiarelli was asked about the team’s intentions with the player.

“I think I would put him in the overall group that we’ve all kind of underperformed,” Chiarelli said. “I haven’t made any real decisions on really anything and that includes Milan’s case. He’s done a lot for this organization. But, like I said, I think a lot of personnel have underperformed, so I would put Milan in that category like the rest of the group, myself included.”

Also a major topic of late with the Bruins is the job security for both Chiarelli and Claude Julien. Unlike past seasons, the final games of the regular-season have much more importance and therefore Chiarelli is in a different position than he’s ever been in.

“Yeah, interesting is a good way to put it,” he said of this season. “The year has been a bit of a difficult year. We’re battling for a playoff spot now. Much chronicled about Claude’s job and my job, but we’re professionals. We try and get the best out of our team — I try and make the right decisions and it’s a grind every game to watch. It seems like every game goes to overtime and it’s been difficult, but part of the business.”

When asked if he thinks his position should be reviewed, especially having made the postseason seven straight seasons, he refrained from going into detail.

“I am not going to comment on that,” said Chiarelli. “I am a professional paid to make the right decisions and make decisions that are best for the organization. These are things that happen in our business. … If it’s my job, it’s my job, but I hope that it’s not.”

If the Bruins do make the playoffs and Chiarelli does keep his job, there has been concern from the fanbase that the team would be satisfied with the current roster and refrain from making the necessary changes to avoid another season like this one. Chiarelli said he would plan on making the moves this team needs regardless of how it fares down the stretch.

“What we’€™ll do at the end of the year is, we’€™ll look at this roster,” Chiarelli said. “You ask me about all the things — I call them reasons, you may call them excuses — why the team isn’€™t performing the way it’€™s supposed to or where the expectations are, we’€™ll look at those. We’€™ll look at how the season finishes off. We’€™ll look at each individual player and make decisions, well-informed, educated decisions based on that.

“For me to say, ‘€˜OK, what if things go well?’€™ I’€™m not going to speculate on either [scenario]. We have the season we’€™re having. I’€™m going to go through this process and we’€™ll make the proper decisions.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Claude Julien, Milan Lucic, Peter Chiarelli, Sunday Skate

Sunday Skate Live Chat: ‘The Leafs are Kind of the Bruins’ Heroes Now’ Edition

03.28.15 at 10:13 pm ET
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How did the Bruins beat the Rangers? Why did the Leafs beat the Senators? Why did the Leafs… want to beat the Senators? Are the Senators actually bad? Are the Bruins still bad? Is Tuukka Rask hydrated? Will Pete Blackburn ever have his name said in the show open?

Discuss all these things and more in the Sunday Skate Live Chat with Pete Blackburn, DJ Bean and Joe McDonald from 7-9 a.m. Click here to listen to the show online. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli will join the show in the 8 o’clock hour.

Live Blog Sunday Skate Live Chat: ‘The Leafs are Kind of the Bruins’ Heroes Now’ Edition
 

5 things we learned as Bruins beat Rangers without a possibly dehydrated Tuukka Rask

03.28.15 at 3:41 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask did not appear to be hurt when he left Saturday's game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask did not appear to be hurt when he left Saturday’s game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Bruins got a big lead on the Rangers early and then held on for a 4-2 win without their most important player. Fortunately for them, Tuukka Rask is OK.

After Boston put three pucks past Henrik Lundqvist in the first period,  Rask left the 10 seconds into the second period and did not return to the game.

Claude Julien said following the game that Rask was “fine” and that he would travel with the team for Sunday’s game against the Hurricanes. Julien clarified that Rask would be an option to play.

It wasn’t as clear a picture when Rask left the game. At the second period’€™s first stoppage,  Rask said something to referee Jean Hebert, after which Herbert permitted him to head to the bench. Rask’€™s skating was fine and he did not appear to be in noticeable pain as he headed to the tunnel.

Niklas Svedberg came in to spell Rask with the Bruins leading. The B’€™s added to it with Reilly Smith’€™s 13th goal of the season, though Rick Nash would net his 40th goal of the season to get the Rangers on the board. Former Bruin Matt Hunwick brought the Rangers within two with less than 23 seconds to play.

Bruins goaltending coach Bob Essensa changed into goalie equipment and was on the bench late in the game as the team’s emergency goaltender. He wore No. 70, which actually turned out to just be a Malcolm Subban jersey with tape covering the name.

The win netted the Bruins a pair of much-needed points, improving them to 87 points on the season through 75 games. The Senators, who have 85 points in 73 games entering their Saturday night contest against the Leafs.

Here are four more things we learned Saturday:

LUCIC NETS TWO

Though they gave Kevin Hayes’€™ line ample opportunities, Ryan Spooner’€™s line with Milan Lucic and David Pastrnak once again produced.

Lucic had a pair of goals (the first of which came with Patrice Bergeron on the ice for Spooner on an early shift) to bring him to 17 goals on the season. Lucic’€™s second goal came as a result of some pretty passing from Spooner and Torey Krug.

With Saturday’€™s performance, here are the updated numbers for the Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak line:

5-on-5: 8 GGF, 2 GA
Partial 5-on-5 (two members of line): 2 GF, 3 GA
4-on-4: 1 G

SMITH AND SODERBERG GET IN ON THE ACTION

There were plenty of positives for the Bruins Saturday, but none were bigger than the fact that both Reilly Smith and Carl Sodeberg can feel good about their games for the first time in a while.

Smith had as pretty a shift as he’€™s had all season when he executed a quick self-pass up the boards in the defensive zone before racing through the neutral zone and dumping the puck off to Torey Krug. The play was capped by Smith taking a feed from Loui Eriksson and beating Lundqvist from the slot to make it 4-0.

Earlier in the game, Soderberg knocked the puck away from old friend Matt Hunwick in the neutral zone and caught up with it for a breakaway. He then deked and beat Lundqvist with a wrist shot for his 12th goal of the season.

KICKING OFF THE SCORING

Boston’€™s first goal looked like a sure thing to be disallowed, but the Bruins, a game after perhaps falling victim to a bad non-call, got some help from the officials.

Patrice Bergeron‘€™s shot on Henrik Lundqvist on an early first-period rush yielded a mammoth rebound. With Lucic going hard to the net, the puck went off the side of his skate and, because of his momentum, fired into the net as if the puck had been shot. The play was immediately called no-goal on the ice, with replays showing little to suggest there was no distinct kicking motion.

(GIF courtesy of @PeteBlackburn and Days of Y’Orr)

Perhaps to the surprise of many, the call on the ice was indeed overturned after a video review. The league offered the following explanation following the ruling:

At 1:41 of the first period in the Rangers/Bruins game, video review determined that the puck deflected off Milan Lucic‘s skate and into the net in a legal fashion. According to Rule 49.2 “A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal.” Good goal Boston.

BACK-END SHUFFLE

Without Dougie Hamilton, it seems the Bruins will mix and match on their back end more than they usually do.

Saturday’€™s line rushes saw Zdeno Chara paired with Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug with Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski with Zach Trotman. As was also the case Thursday, Claude Julien wasn’€™t afraid to move guys around in-game.

Trotman skated most of his shifts the first two periods with Chara, which he did often last Sunday against the Lightning. Seidenberg saw ample time with both Krug and McQuaid, with Bartkowski playing mostly with McQuaid.

 

Henrik Lundqvist returns from injury to start vs. Bruins

03.28.15 at 11:11 am ET
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Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will return from a seven-week layoff to face the Bruins Saturday.

Lundqvist, who has been out with a blood-vessel injury in his neck, has not played since Feb. 2. The Rangers have still found success without him, as their work with Cam Talbot has taken them to the top of the Eastern Conference. With 101 points through 73 points, New York is the clear front-runner to take the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins enter Saturday’€™s game desperate for two points, but the Rangers may be equally motivated to decrease Boston’€™s chances of being their first-round opponent.

“We’re ready for a tough game,” Patrice Bergeron said Saturday morning. “We’re ready for a big game and it’s definitely going to be right from the start. I think it shouldn’t matter who’s in net. We need to make sure we worry about our start and the way that we want to play and establish that right from the get-go.”

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