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Zdeno Chara present at morning skate, but out once again for Bruins

12.01.16 at 1:23 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

On the ice for the club’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, it’s another day closer to a return for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. Unfortunately for the Bruins, though, that day is not today, as Chara will miss tonight’s matchup against the visiting Hurricanes and his fifth straight contest overall.

“He’s out there skating,” confirmed Claude Julien, “but not playing tonight.”

In four games without Chara, the Bruins are 1-2-1, and have allowed eight goals over that stretch. Dating back to Chara’s exact absence, which came after just one shift in the second period of Nov. 22’s loss to the Blues (the Blues scored all four of their goals with No. 33 out), the Bruins have been outscored 12-to-9.

Though their record does not show it, the Bruins have remained a stingy defensive unit in Chara’s absence, with just 107 shots allowed (26.8 shots against per game) in those four sans Chara contests. But perhaps no performance was more impressive than Tuesday’s effort in Philly — in a shootout loss, naturally — in which the Bruins peppered Steve Mason for 47 shots on goal while only allowing 21 at the other end of the rink.

“We’ve hung in there,” Julien said of his team’s recent defensive performances without both Chara and now John-Michael Liles (out indefinitely with a concussion). “Last game we give up two early goals — one power-play and one even strength — and for the rest of the game, we managed to shut them out. Good goaltending helps, but at the same time I think we really minimized the scoring team’s opportunity that night. [The Flyers] didn’t have as many scoring chances as they normally do.”

Down Chara and Liles for the second straight contest, the defensive pairings are expected to remain the same after a morning skate without much change, with Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid as the club’s de facto top pairing, Kevan Miller and Brandon Carlo paired as the club’s shutdown unit, and Joe Morrow and Colin Miller as the team’s third pair.

Admiral’s Mailbag: Can Bruins survive December?

12.01.16 at 8:28 am ET
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Send questions for next week’s mailbag to letitbleedrearad@gmail.com or @RearAdBsBlog on Twitter.

Should the Bruins keep David Krejci? (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

Should the Bruins keep David Krejci? (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

How will the Bruins fare in December with 16 games in 31 days? Dan, Wakefield, MA

Obviously much better if they get Zdeno Chara back soon. Despite the many games, the team never leaves the Eastern time zone, and South Florida is the longest trip. The B’s can’t wrap up a playoff spot before 2016 ends, but they can certainly dig themselves a tough hole. The guess here is that they bob and weave through the month with an 8-5-3 record.

David Krejci is due $7.25M for four more years after this season. Do the Bruins try to move him? Steve, Hyde Park, MA

I think they’d move any player if the right deal came along (or, in the case of the B’s, the wrong deal). But if you’re a GM, do you want an underperforming, finicky pivot who presumably will get slower at that number? I don’t. I think the team is giving him plenty of rope after his offseason hip surgery because the healing can be notoriously long and I wouldn’t count him out yet. But he needs to stop being bored by the regular season or he’ll miss yet another postseason.

What’s your take on the Las Vegas Golden Knights? Jason, Nashua, NH

I love that Vegas finally has a pro team in any sport because it’s been way too long due to outdated, puritanical thinking about gambling. But that name almost makes me wish they take it back. I know the new owner is a big West Point guy and was intent on working “knights” into the name. But the name and logo are both very underwhelming. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, only the team’s play does. But it definitely feels like a squandered opportunity from a marketing perspective.

Florida surprisingly fired Gerrard Gallant. Does Tom Rowe get them to the playoffs? Danny, Plymouth, MA

Gallant’s canning seemingly came out of nowhere and blindsided his players. The popular bench boss was let go due to “philosophical differences” with the now analytics-heavy front office. This is Massachusetts native Rowe’s first NHL head coaching gig. He last coached in 2015 in Portland, Maine, before joining the parent club’s staff (he also was the first American to score 30 goals in the NHL). Either due to injury and/or subpar play, The Panthers’ goaltending will keep them on the outside looking in when April gets here.

Is this the year Dallas finally takes it to another level? Ricky, Auburn, MA

If the Stars upgrade the goaltending. Antti Niemi and/or Kari Lehtonen aren’t going to get them there. But the problem is finding a team willing to take one of those contracts off their hands. Paying $5.9 million for Lehtonen or $4.5 million for Niemi just isn’t a smart move for a GMs until the pot is really sweetened. But the Stars’ window is now, so they better fix their net issues soon.

Has David Krejci turned corner for Bruins?

11.30.16 at 6:54 pm ET
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David Krejci has scored three goals and 14 points in 23 games this season. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

David Krejci has scored three goals and 14 points in 23 games this season. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

A hair over the quarter mark of the season, you can probably count the nights that David Krejci has looked like, well, David Krejci, on one hand. You might even only need a couple of fingers to do it, actually.

With three goals and 14 points through 23 games this season, Krejci is currently paced for an 11-goal, 50-point season. Both those figures would finish as Krejci’s lowest totals in any full season (years excluding injury or lockout shortened campaigns) since a six-goal, 27-point rookie season in Claude Julien’s first year behind the bench in 2007.

Those projections assume that Krejci stays healthy and fails to miss any time this season, too. That’s proven to be pretty difficult in these last couple of seasons, with 35 games missed in 2014-15, 10 games missed a year ago, and an offseason hip surgery forcing Krejci out of action for the Czech Republic in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey this fall. Read the rest of this entry »

Forbes ranks Boston Bruins 5th-most valuable team in NHL

11.30.16 at 5:49 pm ET
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The Bruins are the fifth-most valuable team in the NHL, according to Forbes. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

In their annual valuation list, Forbes Magazine has ranked the Boston Bruins as the fifth-most valuable franchise in the National Hockey League this year, with a value of $800 million.

Ranked behind the New York Rangers ($1.25 billion), Montreal Canadiens ($1.12 billion), Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.1 billion), and Chicago Blackhawks ($925 million), the Bruins also generated the sixth-highest revenue on this list, at $169 million.

As expected with most of these lists, the top five most valuable teams in the league are all part of the league’s Original Six and the lone Original Six not in that group, the Detroit Red Wings, rank eighth on the list.

What’s interesting, however, is that the Bruins had the highest one-year value change from the year before at a 7% increase by any team in the top five, and the ninth-highest among any NHL team in that category (the Florida Panthers had the highest one-year change of any NHL team, at a 26% increase). The jump in value from the year before was accomplished all while the Bruins missed out of playoff gates for the second time in as many seasons, too, although it does help that the Black and Gold are one of seven NHL franchises without any debt to their name.

And behind a sellout streak that’s now reached over 300 consecutive contests, the Bruins had $33.5 million in operating income this past year, the fifth-highest in the NHL, behind the four teams ahead of them ranked ahead of them on the overall value list.

Earlier this year, B’s owner Jeremy Jacobs, who owns the TD Garden and 20 percent of NESN, along with his status of the chairman of Delaware North, ranked 142nd on the Forbes 400 list.

Bruins’ John-Michael Liles out indefinitely with concussion

11.30.16 at 2:44 am ET
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John-Michael Liles will be out indefinitely with a concussion . (John Hefti/USA Today Sports)

John-Michael Liles will be out indefinitely with a concussion . (John Hefti/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins finally broke their silence on the status of veteran defenseman John-Michael Liles, who did not travel to Philadelphia with the rest of the Bruins for their Tuesday head-to-head with the Flyers, during the club’s pregame warmup at Wells Fargo Center.

Out of action since the five-minute mark of the first period of Sunday’s 4-1 victory over the Lightning after a thunderous collision with the Garden endboards, the Bruins have confirmed that the 36-year-old Liles suffered a concussion on the crash and will be out indefinitely as the B’s follow the league’s concussion protocols.

Tripped up by the stick of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, and then kneed in the head by teammate Austin Czarnik on his out-of-control headfirst tumble into the boards, Liles remained down on the ice for close to a minute before he was helped to his skates and guided off the ice with the help of the training staff and defenseman Adam McQuaid.

Acquired from the Hurricanes last trade deadline in exchange for a 2016 third-round draft pick, 2017 fifth-round draft pick, and prospect Anthony Camara, Liles proved to be a capable third-pairing presence in his post-deadline run with the B’s, and was re-signed to a one-year, $2 million contract this past summer following the buyout of veteran d-man Dennis Seidenberg.

The 5-foot-10 has recorded five assists in 22 games this season, and 11 assists in 39 games with the B’s overall.

This is the third recorded concussion of Liles’ career, and his first since a Dec. 2011 concussion that kept him out of 16 contests.

5 Things We Learned as Bruins escape Philly with a point in shootout loss to Flyers

11.29.16 at 10:50 pm ET
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The Bruins and Flyers. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins overcame an 0-2 deficit to earn one point in a shootout loss to the Flyers Tuesday night. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

Down their two most experienced defensemen and against a team that entered play with the second-most goals for this season, the Bruins found a way to snatch overtime defeat from the jaws of regulation defeat against the Flyers in a 3-2 shootout loss Tuesday night.

In a nightmarish start to the night given their ownership of the puck and attacking zone time in an opening period that favored the Bruins in shots by a 19-to-9 mark, the Bruins found themselves in an 0-2 hole through one behind Philly goals from Michael Del Zotto and captain Claude Giroux (a power-play goal) scored just 1:32 apart.

The second period brought about more of the same for the Bruins, as it has for most of this season actually, with noteworthy opportunities and shot totals against the Flyers’ Steve Mason. But, still, zero goals.

Without a goal on 30 total shots through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins finally broke through 4:26 into the third when David Krejci’s shot bounced and trickled through Mason’s pads. The goal, Krejci’s first since Nov. 13, brought the B’s within one and broke a frustrating 45-minute stretch that came with nothing to show for their strong effort.

Krejci’s goal proved to be the one that broke the dam for the Black and Gold shooters, too, as the equally snakebitten Brad Marchand followed Krejci’s tally up with one of his own just 1:18 later, and brought the Bruins even at 2-2.

And after a phenomenal overtime frame in which the Bruins and Flyers traded chances — the shots were 6-to-1 for the Bruins but there was no better chance than Giroux’s one-time blast on a 2-on-1 stoned by Rask with just seconds left in the three-on-three, five-minute period — the B’s went to their second shootout of the season.

From there, the Bruins scored just one goal, a Marchand beauty scored in the bottom of the fifth round, but fell when David Backes could not answer a top of the ninth go-ahead shootout marker from the Flyers’ Shayne Gostisbehere.

A shootout loss is nothing worth celebrating if you’re the Black and Gold, of course, but in a way, it sorta is. When you think about the games that the Bruins have lost this season (the two last-minute losses to the Canadiens and Wild stick out in this regard), you think about the points that were left on the table. Down by two and shooting blanks on Mason through two periods, to escape this game with at least one point is practically a win for the Bruins, and that’s one more point that they didn’t have entering today.

Here are four other things we learned in the shootout loss.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tuukka Rask gets call in net for Bruins against high-powered Flyers

11.29.16 at 5:24 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask will get the start for the Bruins tonight. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask will get the start for the Bruins tonight. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

In Philadelphia down Zdeno Chara and John-Michael Liles and against a Flyers club that’s tallied the second-most goals in the NHL to date (the Flyers’ 74 goals scored in 23 games are 11 off from the Rangers’ 85 for the league lead) and put 144 shots on goal over their last four games (two wins and 36 shots per night), the Bruins are going to need everything and more in the defensive zone to pull off a win tonight.

So it’s far from a shock that it will be Tuukka Rask is expected back between the pipes for the Black and Gold at the Wells Fargo Center.

The first goalie off the ice at the B’s morning skate today, the 29-year-old Rask will return to the net after a stellar 30-of-31 effort in the crease in Sunday’s 4-1 victory the Lightning, a game that bumped his season save percentage up to .940 while his goals against average dipped down to a miniscule 1.63. With just one goal allowed, Rask has now allowed one goal or fewer in 10 of his 16 appearances this season, and has been credited with a shutout in four of those 10 games.

The latter figure could have been even higher, too, had it not been for a Victor Hedman goal scored off Colin Miller and into the B’s net with just 2:39 remaining in the third period of Sunday’s win. It was actually the fourth time that Rask had lost a shutout in the final five minutes of play this season. It happened in a Nov. 1 win over the Panthers with 4:35 left in the third, Nov. 17 against the Wild with just 45 seconds left, Nov. 19’s win over the Jets with 2:40 left in regulation, and of course, Sunday against the Bolts.

“Good thing I don’t have a bonus for that,” Rask joked about losing another shutout. “It’s alright, it’s just a tough bounce.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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