|01.18.17 at 7:52 pm ET|
It’s obvious that the Bruins have struggled to string wins together this season, with losses in all but seven of 22 games that have followed wins. At the same time, the team has found ways to rebound from losses just as well, with wins in 13 of 25 games that have immediately followed a loss. They did it the last time they were in this situation, too, as the team rallied from a hardfought one-goal loss to the Predators with a six-goal outburst in a win against the Flyers two days later.
The consistent inconsistencies have become maddening, sure, but it’s something the Bruins have accepted as a necessity to stay afloat.
And they will will look to keep that trend going tonight when they look to rebound from Monday’s 4-0 loss at the hands of the East-worst Islanders with a head-to-head against the Red Wings.
“We rebound really well, that’s a strength of this team,” Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. “But obviously negative comes with that because we’re not getting the job done the game before. But it definitely is a strength of this team.”
In a week that was originally looked upon as a potential building block for the Bruins to pile up some points against lower-tier opponents in the Isles and Red Wings before a measuring stick game against the Blackhawks, the Bruins know that it’s about to getting back to their basics that will keep the club trending upwards to keep pace with a streak-heavy Eastern Conference.
“There are times where you want these losses to sting and you want to learn from them, but I think at this point in the season it’s about moving on and making sure we continue to work on our game,” Krug continued, “those times where you learn are for earlier in the year and right now we want to stop making excuses and get the job done.”
Tuukka Rask will be back in net for the B’s. Rask was given the early hook for the just the second time this season (he’s been pulled three times in total, but only two have been performance-driven exits) after he allowed three goals on 15 shots through 40 minutes of play Monday, and has allowed six goals on 39 shots since leaving last Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury.
Rask has 22 wins and a .923 save percentage in 36 games year and stopped all 24 shots in his prior head-to-head with the Wings.
The Wings counter with Jared Coreau. The 6-foot-6 Coreau has five wins (two shutouts) and a .911 save percentage in eight games this season, and stopped all 18 shots thrown his way in a Monday night shutout over the Canadiens two days ago.
Matt Beleskey traveled with the club, but is not expected to play. Beleskey has been out with a knee injury since Dec. 3.
Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Frank Vatrano
Tim Schaller – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner – David Backes – Austin Czarnik
Anton Blidh – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash
Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Joe Morrow – John-Michael Liles
|01.17.17 at 7:36 pm ET|
The Bruins are running out of it. Energy. Solutions. Ideas. Excuses. Internal options. You name it, and they are sure to be running out of it.
That’s simply not going to work for a Bruins team that’s been put on the notice and told that a third straight season of missing the postseason is just plain unacceptable. And it’s led to the Bruins sticking out as one of the more active teams involved in the trade market, too.
Earlier this season, the Bruins were among those most interested in trading for Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba during his holdout with the Jets, but balked at the asking price when it included Brandon Carlo. And they seemed to do to the same when the Avalanche inquired on Carlo’s availability in early talks for Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog.
The word spread throughout the league: being the first of Don Sweeney’s draft picks to crack an NHL lineup, the Bruins considered Carlo pretty damn close to untouchable.
But now, with B’s executive director of player personnel John Ferguson Jr. in Colorado to scout the Avalanche-Blackhawks game tonight after a bizarre turn of events that saw the Bruins cancel a practice they had scheduled less than 24 hours prior, the rumor mill is once again buzzing with the talk of the Bruins and Avalanche trying to work something out.
With the potential of the Bruins bending on their initial refusal to move the 20-year-old Carlo in a trade.
Word on the street is Brandon Carlo may be back in play. Gonna be interesting how this shakes out
— Adrian Dater (@adater) January 17, 2017
But if the Bruins are bending on this, it’s likely with the intentions to acquire more than Landeskog (who has attracted interest from the Kings and Penguins as well), which creates an interesting dynamic between these two teams. See, the Avalanche are the ones that believe the Bruins have to up their offer and not the other way around. And it wouldn’t be a shock to find out that the Avalanche are merely trying to drive up the price — be it from the Bruins or any other team — intrigued in their captain.
Still, with the Avs looking for a top-notch defenseman in any trade involving Landeskog or Matt Duchene, Carlo seems like an expected starting point, even if the Avs already have two high-end right-shot d-men in Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie. That price paid by the Bruins is not expected to change, either, even if this is a bit of gamesmanship on the part of Avalanche GM Joe Sakic.
In Carlo, the Bruins believe that they have found a first-year pro that can handle the way that the new NHL is trending, and has shown that he has the smarts and defensive prowess to make himself a legitimate top-four option for the Bruins in the now. It also goes without saying that players with the upside and on affordable entry-level contracts like the one Carlo is on are treated as precious gems in this hard cap world, and viewed as an absolute necessity if your team is going to compete for more than one run.
Moving Carlo (who makes less than $800,000 for this season and the two after that) and more for Landeskog (on the hook for just under $6 million per season through 2021), would be a move that shows that the Bruins didn’t really learn enough from a little-by-little fall out of what should have been perennial Cup contention had the Bruins not been handcuffed into overpayments for aging roleplayers and terrible cash-clearing trades (Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders) because of a non-existent farm system.
It’s not that Carlo is untradeable for the Bruins, but he’s untradeable if the deal is one that puts you closer to the hole you’ve spent the last two seasons trying to claw your way out of, and one that landed Sweeney into this job in the first place.
But desperate times call for inflated asking prices in this NHL, and there’s no doubt that these Bruins are desperate.
|01.17.17 at 4:42 pm ET|
One of the NHL head coaches involved in yesterday’s game in which the conference’s worst team came into the building of a playoff team and beat them by four goals (and allowed zero) has been fired.
But it’s not the one you would have expected.
Instead, it was Islanders coach Jack Capuano that was handed his pink-slip Tuesday. Fired on the heels of a 4-0 victory over the Bruins yesterday afternoon, and after a 17-17-8 start to his seventh season behind the Isles bench, Capuano will be replaced by assistant coach Doug Weight on an interim basis, and leaves the Islanders after bringing the team to the postseason in three of his six seasons in town.
A coach getting fired after playing the Bruins is far from jarring — the Rangers moved on from John Tortorella after a second-round series loss to the Bruins in 2013 and the Wild fired Mike Yeo after the B’s spanked his Wild team last season — but rarely, if ever, has it been done after a team beat the Bruins.
It’s hard to find any situation where a coach has been fired after a win, I’d imagine.
One of the reasons that the Islanders made the decision now, according to general manager Garth Snow, was that they did not view Capuano as a coach that they would bring back next season, and that they felt that there was still time to right the ship given their record (and probably the topsy-turvy nature of the Eastern Conference as a whole).
Meanwhile, the B’s 15th loss in 22 games that have followed a win and their second loss in as many tries against the East-worst Islanders exposed the Bruins as a tired club and prompted head coach Claude Julien, who has seemed tense given the temperature around the team and from above, to cancel practice ahead of tomorrow’s pivotal meeting with the Red Wings.
Capuano’s firing will go down as the 87th NHL coach firing/change (non-retiring or walking as free agent coach like Mike Babcock did with his switch from the Red Wings to Maple Leafs) since the Bruins hired Julien in 2007.
|01.17.17 at 12:48 pm ET|
In what’s been his most trying year behind the B’s bench, coach Claude Julien is taking the temperature of his team while also taking his own.
It was on the heels of a 4-0 beatdown by the last-place Islanders that a disappointed and downright angry Julien scheduled a 10:30 a.m. practice for Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena. But when 10:30 a.m. came, only an injured forward (Matt Beleskey), healthy scratch (Jimmy Hayes), and backup goaltender (Zane McIntyre) were on the ice. That remained the case by 10:45 a.m., and before 11 a.m. hit, it was announced that Julien had decided to cancel practice for his club.
The decision to cancel practice was akin to a lovers’ quarrel. Julien, in the heat of the moment following his team getting viciously booed off the ice of their home building, took an off day away from the club. But when given some time to reflect back on it, Julien seemingly realized that it may do more harm than good in the long run and took it back.
In what unfolded as the team’s first day off in eight days and a necessary breather on a travel day to Detroit before a Wednesday head-to-head with the Red Wings, some of the team leaders held court and dished on the idea that this team is just straight-up tired given the dreaded ‘condensed schedule’ and a league-high 47 games played to date.
“Physically obviously everyone’s in good shape and around the league everyone is able to play in these but mentally it’s a grind,” Bruins d-man Torey Krug admitted, “and we’re at that point in the season in late January where it seems to drag on a little bit.”
“I think it’s one of those days where you have to regroup, recharge the batteries and feel better,” Patrice Bergeron said. “You can’t just put the blame on the [schedule]. We’re professionals and we have to show up every game.”
This season, or at least until a certain point, has become a war of attrition for the Bruins. After next week’s home game against the Red Wings, the Bruins will play just eight times in the next 26 days thanks to the All-Star break and the team’s bye late in mid-February. That’s a good and bad thing for the Bruins. The good is obvious: the Bruins will get some much needed rest. The bad: the points they’ve left on the table with duds against teams like the Islanders and even the Devils a few weeks back could and should come back to haunt them when the likes of the Maple Leafs and Sens catch up to the club in games played.
“You use a day like today to look forward, look at video, and be better for the next day,” Bergeron, who has now played 50 games since September between the World Cup and B’s (Brad Marchand has played in 53 games, while Zdeno Chara has played in 47), said of the team’s morning away from on-ice work. “Because it happens fast — we have a game tomorrow.”
Against another team that the Bruins, tired or not, can’t afford to look past.
|01.17.17 at 12:07 am ET|
Little made sense in a 4-0 loss to the cellar-dwelling Islanders Monday. One call that did make sense for the Bruins, however, was head coach Claude Julien’s decision to pull Tuukka Rask after the second period.
Rask, like most Bruins, did not have his best game.
And though it wasn’t entirely his fault (perhaps with the exception of the second Islander goal, which was scored off a bad angle shot from Josh Bailey that Rask should have sealed off), Rask didn’t help the Black and Gold with just 12 stops in total before given the hook.
“You’ve got to do something, right? I let in that weak one, the second goal,” Rask said of his early exit. “But the coaches always have to do whatever they can to get the team going and that’s it.”
Of course, the 29-year-old’s worst stretch was also the team’s worst stretch, as the B’s blew assignment after assignment while Rask allowed three goals on six shots in a 5:20 stretch late in the second period. But it wasn’t the only reason that he was replaced by Zane McIntyre for the third period of what became a clear throwaway game.
“Well there’s two things that can happen,” Julien said, “number one, you hope you can spark your team, because of the performance in front of him, and if it doesn’t spark your team, you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”
The former didn’t happen for Julien and the Bruins, but the latter could prove invaluable.
If you look at where the league is trending or trended over the last few seasons, the Bruins will likely need at least 95 points to qualify for postseason play. They’re at 51 points through 47 games played, and the simple math tells you that they’re in need of about 44 points over the final 35 games to make the postseason. More simple math tells you that’s about 22 wins. And with the way that the Black and Gold have played this year with backups in net — the Bruins have just one victory in 11 games started by a trio of backups this season — you can expect Rask to have be in net for almost all 22 of those wins.
But it won’t matter who’s in net for the Bruins if the team continues to no-show against bottom of the barrel teams.
“You need to bring that emotion and work ethic every night. Doesn’t matter if it’s road or home. On the road we seem to do that every night,” Rask said of the team’s hot-and-cold nature and struggles at TD Garden. “At home for some reason, we play a good game, an emotional game and then we lack it in the next one and the results are what they were tonight.
“It’s like a broken record; we have to fix it. Or otherwise it won’t be good.”
That would mean a third straight burnout by both the goaltender and team and without a playoff berth to show for their exhausting efforts.
|01.16.17 at 7:42 pm ET|
Bruins forward David Backes plays video games. And from the sounds of his postgame comments after the B’s 4-0 embarrassment at the hands of the Isles, he’s even dabbled in franchise modes along the way.
“I don’t know if we wanted to hit simulate on the old video game today because we figured we had more points than them,” Backes said after the loss, “but the result is certainly not what we’re looking for when we just established ourselves back to .500 at home.”
In what was a disastrous afternoon that really fell apart for the Bruins when they collapsed for three goals against in less than six minutes at the end of the second period, Backes lamented the dreadful effort, and the B’s inability to keep themselves in a game that should have been an easy victory given the Isles’ struggles both on the road and in general.
“It’s just not good enough,” Backes said when asked what head coach Claude Julien’s message was after their 11th loss in 21 home games. “There’s no excuse-making going on. It’s just not good enough from top to bottom, left to right.
“We’re not going to win many games playing like that.”
With the loss, the Bruins dropped to 7-11-4 in 22 games that have followed a victory.
“If we want to play the way we did against St. Louis or Philly in here, then we’re going to win a lot of games,” Backes said. “We just can’t be Jekyll and Hyde and black and white on different days, because that’s as frustrating as it gets. We’ve shown we can do it. It’s imperative we do it every game or we start seeing ourselves fall in the standings and that’s certainly not acceptable as well.”
But now I can’t help but wonder which games Backes has simulated in his franchise modes.
|01.16.17 at 6:58 pm ET|
It’s not often you see an Islanders goaltender come to Boston and hold the Bruins to zero in a winning effort.
Actually, strike that — it’s never been done, though Rick DiPietro came close in a 0-0 tie back in Feb. 2004. That was until today, of course (and naturally given the way this season has gone), as Isles netminder Thomas Greiss stopped everything thrown his way en route to the franchise’s first ever road shutout victory over the Bruins.
Hit with seven shots in a sluggish first period, 14 in the middle frame, and then 11 in a third period in which the Bruins by all means conceded the idea of even making a game of it, Greiss rolled with a relatively easy night in the crease, as it was hard to find many quality looks from the B’s offense despite the 32-to-27 shot advantage by the day’s end.
“We had a few good shifts there, we sustained a little bit of pressure in there, but then we just couldn’t keep that for the next lines after going,” Patrice Bergeron said. “We couldn’t sustain that or build from that, so it was really a whole team throughout the lineup that didn’t show up and it’s obviously unacceptable.”
The shutout also continued personal success against the B’s for Greiss, who made a career-high 48 saves in his last head-to-head with the Bruins, a 4-2 win on Dec. 20, and gives him saves on all but two of 82 Bruins shots against (.976 save percentage).
“It’s been treating me pretty well, fun games,” Greiss said of his success in Boston this season. “But, you know, they are a good team. You’ve always got to respect them. They always come at you pretty hard.”
Overall, it was the Isles’ fourth lifetime shutout against the Bruins.
With the Isles finally on the board with a road shutout win over the Bruins, only the Coyotes, Blue Jackets, Predators, and Thrashers-turned-Jets remain as franchises without a road shutout over the Bruins.