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Shawn Thornton on Sunday Skate: ‘I’m hoping [Bruins] absolutely tank because I want to make the playoffs, but I can’t see it’

02.15.15 at 11:56 pm ET
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Hours before the Panthers further closed in on the Bruins for what is currently the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Shawn Thornton joined Sunday Skate to discuss his team’€™s odds of catching the B’s. To hear the interview, click here.

With a shootout loss to the Blues Sunday, the Panthers improved to 24-19-12, bringing them within three points of the Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins have lost three straight games in what’€™s been a big step back for a team that won the Presidents’ Trophy last season. Thornton said he figured the Panthers would push for a spot, but he didn’t think the Bruins would fall to where they have.

“Honestly, I thought they’€™d be in the top three right now, to be completely honest,” Thornton said of the Bruins. “I did think that we’€™d be pushing for a playoff spot with the players we have, especially after being here. … I thought there’€™d be a couple other teams we’€™d be chasing, not them. Who knows? There’€™s still [27] games left. There’€™s a lot of hockey left.”

Florida could have surpassed the B’€™s by now, but they were losers in two straight entering Sunday’€™s game. Thornton said the Panthers themselves have “found ways to shoot [themselves] in the foot” of late, saying Florida hasn’€™t properly ‘€œtaken advantage of the situation’€ in front of them with the Bruins losing.

The longtime Bruin, who was not brought back in the offseason and signed a two-year deal with the Panthers, said he keeps in touch with his friends on the Bruins. Asked his thoughts on why so many players have underperformed, he said he’€™s watched “maybe five periods” of Bruins hockey this season.

“I can’€™t give you a definite answer of what’€™s going on there,” he said. “I don’€™t ask about that stuff. I don’€™t want to know.”

Despite the Bruins’€™ struggles, Thornton said he doesn’t expect them to go away this season.

“I’€™m hoping they absolutely tank because I want to make the playoffs, but I can’€™t see it happening,” he said with a laugh. “œI can’€™t see it happening with the core group of guys they have there, the goaltending. They went through a lot of injuries earlier in the season, too. When you lose your top defenseman and your top centerman, I don’€™t know how many teams in the league can get through that.”

Thornton said that if the Bruins and Panthers were to meet in a series, the Bruins would hold the edge in experience over the young Panthers, whose top points leaders are 22 years old or younger.

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Sunday Skate Live Chat, 8-10 a.m.

02.14.15 at 7:38 pm ET
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Should the Bruins still be buyers at the trade deadline? Should they be sellers? Discuss this and all other things Bruins and NHL with DJ Bean, Joe McDonald and Pete Blackburn from 8-10 a.m. on Sunday Skate.

Panthers forward Shawn Thornton joins the show at 9:30 a.m. Click here to listen to the show and click below to participate in the AT&T Live Chat, moderated by Pete Blackburn.

Live Blog Sunday Skate Live Chat
 

5 things we learned in Bruins’ latest worst loss of season

02.14.15 at 12:36 am ET
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By the end of the Bruins’ five-game road trip, the NHL will be eight days away from the trade deadline. The Bruins began that trip Friday with an effort that suggested they might not be worth fixing this season.

After giving away a pair of goals in the opening 5:03 of the night, the Bruins proceeded to turn in lifeless second and third periods en route to a concerning 5-2 loss to the Canucks (box).

Tuukka Rask, who hadn’€™t given up more than three goals in 25 straight appearances, saw four pucks end up behind him as a result of either mindless or passive play in front of him. Boston defensemen more or less gifted Shawn Matthias a hat trick, while Jannik Hansen picked up an empty netter from his own zone in the final minutes .

The Panthers lost to the Stars Friday, so the B’€™s still have a four-point lead for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida still has one game in hand on the B’€™s, however.

The Bruins will next play Monday when they face a difficult Flames team currently in line for a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

Here are four other things we learned Friday.

POTENTIAL TARGETS IMPROVE VALUE

Matthias and Kassian are names that have been liked to the Bruins in trade rumors. Matthias, a left shot, has played both left wing and center. Neither position is a need for the Bruins, but Matthias could be appealing if he can play right wing.

Kassian has fallen a long way since he was once considered Buffalo’€™s answer for Milan Lucic. Since being traded to the Canucks for Cody Hodgson in 2012, the former 13th overall pick has not reached the 15-goal mark in a season and has had some issues with professionalism. He does, however, play right wing.

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Bobby Orr on D&C: Zdeno Chara ‘not finished yet’

02.13.15 at 12:16 pm ET
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Bobby Orr joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the Bruins as well as the Patriots and Deflategate. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Bruins legend discussed the team’s current struggles to maintain consistency.

“In our game today, just get to the playoffs. If you can get to the playoffs, who knows?” Orr said. “Look at the Bruins, look who they’re competing against. How much stronger are the other teams? The parity is unbelievable, and if you get there, who knows?”

Added Orr: “One of the key things for all the teams is injuries. I mean, the injuries that the teams have right now and have had all season, if you can go into a playoff healthy, you’ve got a shot. I mean, nobody’s that much stronger than the next.”

One of the struggling Bruins is veteran captain Zdeno Chara, who has shown signs of slowing down in recent years.

“He’s not finished yet, but he plays a lot,” Orr said. “He’s so big. I mean, if we go back to last year’s playoffs and the Montreal series, you could see that he was tired. And they do play him a lot, and they’re kind of in a bind now. I think they’re four points ahead of Florida for the wild card position. They’ve got to play him, he’s their best defenseman. … It’s unfortunate they can’t give him a little bit of a rest.”

The Bruins occupy the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

The rival Canadiens have shut out the Bruins in the season series this year, winning all four games between the teams.

“I’m not sure they’re that much better than the Bruins. It’s been like this for years,” Orr said when asked why the B’s haven’t been able to find a way to beat Montreal. “The Canadiens have had great luck against the Bruins, and it could be a head thing. The Canadiens come into Boston, and they play very well in the Garden. They really do. They’ve always played well in the Garden. Going back to my time, we had issues with the Canadiens. So it’s not just happening to this Bruins team, it’s been happening for a long time.”

Orr also offered his comments on the hot topic in New England sports: the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory. Leading up to the championship win two weeks ago, the national conversation was focused on the Deflategate controversy.

“Everyone was in a hurry to judge, and that’s wrong.” Orr said. “And I think it’s now being proven that it had nothing to do with Tom [Brady] or the Pats.”

With that Super Bowl, Brady has solidified his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and is in the discussion for one of the best players in Boston sports history.

“Brady should be there. He’s a great quarterback, four championships, absolutely,” Orr said when asked if Brady deserved to be in that discussion. “Tom is a heck of a player.”

Read More: Bobby Orr, Bruins, Patriots, Zdeno Chara

Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins might need trade to shake things up

02.12.15 at 1:54 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to preview the Bruins’ upcoming West Coast trip, and also to look at what might happen at the trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

With the Bruins losers of three of their last four games, and in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, McGuire feels the team might need to shake things up at the trade deadline.

“The Bruins are a team that might need to shake the tree,” said McGuire. “Not really hard so they lose a lot of the leaves on the tree, but shake it so the tree gets everybody’s attention. I do think there might be a tune out factor, or there could be a burnout factor — maybe some guys just need to be traded to get them a new leaf on life.”

“I wouldn’t mess with the depth of guys — I really wouldn’t,” he added. “I don’t think the depth guys are a problem. I think what they really need to do is add more offense. If you at it, this is a team that doesn’t have a 20-goal scorer on their roster. That is a little bit scary when you look at the depth they have down the middle. … When you have that kind of depth down the middle and you’re not getting scoring from the wingers in particular, that is problematic.”

The Bruins are set to begin a five-game road trip, beginning Friday night in Vancouver. McGuire feels this is a big stretch for the black and gold.

“They definitely have to go on a run here,” said McGuire. “I am telling you, this is the first time I can honestly tell you guys this … this is the first time the Bruins have to scoreboard watch.”

Over the last four games, the Bruins have scored just a total of eight goals. McGuire noted goal scoring has been one of the biggest issues this season.

“They are not scoring goals easily enough,” said McGuire. “There is some haphazard defensive play. There isn’t enough consistency for 60 minutes in their game. Tuukka Rask has this huge problem playing against the Montreal Canadiens — they are going to have to sort that out. There’s been a little bit of a lack of discipline. That was troubling the other night in that loss to Dallas — two short-handed goals against, that speaks to the lack of intensity and speaks to guys not paying attention to little details.

“This is the first time I will say this, because I am bullish on this team, I still like this team a lot, but this is the first time this year that they have to scoreboard watch and that is not a real comfortable thing for a team that is probably underachieving right now.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Pierre McGuire, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin

Antoine Roussel suspended two games for cross-checking Adam McQuaid

02.12.15 at 12:57 pm ET
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Stars forward Antoine Roussel has been given a two-game suspension for cross-checking Adam McQuaid in the throat, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced Thursday.

Roussel was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for the play, which occurred in the first period of Tuesday’€™s Stars win over the Bruins. McQuaid was slow to get up but was not injured on the play.

The Department of Player Safety’€™s video noted that McQuaid had dropped his stick and was in the process of dropping his gloves to fight when Roussel cross-checked him. It called Roussel’€™s cross-check “€œproactive, not reactive” given that Roussel was clearly not using his stick to defend himself. To watch the league’€™s video, click here.

This is the second time Roussel has been disciplined this season, as he was fined in November for sucker-punching Sharks defenseman Justin Braun.

Rousell was originally signed by the Bruins as an undrafted free agent. He played 42 games for the Providence Bruins and five games for the Reading Royals in the 2010-11 season.

Zdeno Chara: ‘We need to turn this thing around really quickly’

02.11.15 at 10:41 am ET
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The urgency was clearly marked in the first words Zdeno Chara spoke after the Bruins dropped a 5-3 decision to a Dallas Stars team not currently in the Western Conference playoff field.

“It was just a terrible effort,” the Bruins captain said. “It is something we need to get right and we don’€™t have much time. We need to turn this thing around really quickly. It is unacceptable to be getting scored on twice in one game [shorthanded] obviously in a crucial part of the game. We need to be better.”

After winning eight of their final 10 games in January to creep up within four points of first place Montreal in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins have suddenly stumbled in February. They have lost three of four to open the month, and the one game they won (against the Islanders) they admittedly were fortunate to come out on top. They now lead the Florida Panthers by just four points (63-59) for the second and final wild card playoff spot in the East.

How does Chara explain bad habits creeping back in?

“It is something that we have sort it out,” Chara said. “We know that we have been better the last little while but again the last two, three games again, we started to have mental breakdowns and started drifting away from the game plan. That is something we can’€™t go back to again.

“I think it is a combination of maybe a number of things like you said. It is hard to really point at one thing. We know that when we play a certain way we are pretty effective and when we are not we start doing something different and that is how we get into trouble. A lot of times we need better effort, we need better urgency, we need better mental focus. It is just a combination of all of those things.”

Now the Bruins have to find their way through a five-game trip that begins Friday night in Vancouver, and includes trips to Calgary, Edmonton, St. Louis and Chicago.

“It is disappointing. We know that it was our last game for a while at home and now we have a long road trip and for sure we wanted to finish with a way better effort and result than we did. So for sure that is disappointing.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Zdeno Chara,
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