|12.13.14 at 5:20 pm ET|
With one point on Saturday, the Bruins technically moved back ahead of the Panthers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. In reality, they remained 10th in the conference in terms of points percentage, as all the other bubble teams — the Panthers, Maple Leafs, Rangers and Capitals — have games in hand on the Bruins.
Throughout the Bruins’ early-season struggles and rash of injuries, there was always the sense that as long as the B’s remained in playoff position, there was no need to be too worried.
Well, it’s time to be worried. The Bruins have lost seven of their last nine, and they’re not in playoff position anymore.
Zdeno Chara is back, but he’s still getting up to speed. David Krejci is still out, meaning three of the four forward lines are still in flux. A month ago, it might have been OK to say “Just wait until Chara is back to being himself” or “Just wait until Krejci returns.”
But the Bruins don’t have the luxury of waiting now, and they know it.
“We can’t wait too much longer to turn this thing around,” said Milan Lucic. ” We have to do it now. We can’t wait much longer. We have five games before Christmas break. We should be hungry on wanting to get as many points as we can get.”
It’s not going to be easy for the Bruins to turn it around in the next week, as they hit the road for games in Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg against three pretty solid teams. But somehow, they’re going to have to find a way to do it.
It can be tempting to look at those other bubble teams and say, “Well none of them are all that good. Maybe they’ll start losing more.” And maybe they will. But the Bruins aren’t all that good right now either, and having to rely on others to lose in order to make the playoffs is a dangerous way to go.
It’s still a little early for full-blown panic mode, but it’s definitely time for concern. And for the Bruins players, it needs to be time for a lot more urgency.
“No one is going to do it for us,” Lucic said. “We can’t bank on other teams to lose and other teams to do us favors. We have to start bringing it on the ice and start getting wins.”
|12.13.14 at 3:48 pm ET|
The Bruins got just one point out of Saturday’s shootout loss to the Senators, but it could have been worse.
Patrice Bergeron had a late injury scare in the third period, but the Bruins were able to breathe a sigh of relief with his eventual return. That wasn’t enough to get the B’s past the Senators, however, as Boston fell to 15-13-2 on the season with a 3-2 loss on penalty shots.
Bergeron left the ice during a third-period shift with less than five and a half minutes to play after getting slashed on his left hand/wrist.
The veteran center did not stay on the bench, instead heading down the tunnel to the Bruins’ dressing room. He did not play for the rest of regulation, but he was back on the ice for the start of overtime. He was stopped by Robin Lehner on a shootout attempt.
Here are four more things we learned Saturday:
CHARA SLOW IN GETTING BACK
Chara has had his ups and downs through two games, struggling with the puck and taking four penalties, including a first-period high-sticking minor and third-period interference minor Saturday. His second penalty of the day was costly, as it led to David Legwand’s power play goal.
One stat we perhaps over here at the good ship ‘EEI is five-on-five goals against for the Bruins with Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara on the ice together. That number is usually low for the season, but Ottawa’s goal off Marchand’s turnover marked the fifth time in 11 games that the opposing team has scored an even strength goal against Bergeron and Chara.
CUNNINGHAM SCORES FITTING FIRST GOAL
Craig Cunningham has not been bad when the Bruins have let him play this season. In scoring his first career NHL goal Saturday, he left the Bruins with fewer reasons to take him out again.
Cunningham is used as a bottom-six forward and penalty killer. His first-period goal, a shorthanded tally, showed that playing a simple game can play off.
Chasing a puck into the offensive zone and getting there first, Cunningham knew he wasn’t going to be able to gain separation with Erik Karlsson racing back to cut off his angle to the net. Rather than taking a chance, Cunningham simply wound up and hoped for the best, with his waffling slap shot trickling past Robin Lehner.
It was undoubtedly a horrible goal for Lehner to give up, but Cunningham’s work and execution deserved to be rewarded at some point.
MARCHAND PULL-UP PULLS BRUINS DOWN
Time and time again, we’ve seen Marchand race into the zone, pull up and find an option for dishing the puck. It’s an extremely useful move and has been for years, yet it can be costly. On Saturday, it was costly.
In the second period, Marchand brought the puck into the zone, pulled up at the left circle and sent the puck towards the middle of the ice, where it was picked off by the Senators and taken the other way, leading to a Mika Zibanejad goal. Marchand would later score in the shootout.
BRUINS WON’T GIVE UP THE FIGHT
After Thursday’s game against the Blackhawks — one that saw Chris Kelly drop the gloves with Andrew Shaw – the Bruins were averaging about one fight every three games. Perhaps Saturday showed that the Bruins would like to ramp up their fisticuffs pace.
Milan Lucic fought Mark Borowiecki after the Ottawa defenseman hit him in the corner of the offensive zone. The fight was Boston’s 11th of the season and Lucic’s second.
|12.13.14 at 12:49 pm ET|
Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy joined Mustard & Johnson at Christmas at Fenway on Saturday to talk about the possibility of Fenway Park hosting the 2016 Winter Classic. To hear the interview, visit the Mustard & Johnson audio on demand page.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported on Thursday night that the Bruins were the favorites to land next season’s Winter Classic, but that it was unclear where the game would be held. Kennedy confirmed that the Red Sox are making a bid to get the game back at Fenway, which also hosted the 2010 Winter Classic between the Bruins and Flyers.
Kennedy acknowledged that Gillette Stadium is also in the running and hinted that other venues could be involved, too.
“Of course we understand that if it goes to Gillette Stadium or some other venue, that’s good for hockey, good for New England,” Kennedy said. “But I’ll be extremely disappointed [if Fenway doesn’t get it]. … And by the way, the NHL could surprise us. You’ve got Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park, but I’ve been day-dreaming about other places they might be talking to. We’re not the only game in town.”
Kenendy outlined the Red Sox’ pitch and talked about the challenge of competing against the Patriots and Gillette Stadium.
“I think the reasons that we would put forward is the fact that this is Fenway Park, in the city of Boston, unbelievable atmosphere, one of the most iconic sports venues in all of the world really,” Kennedy said. “The experiment back in 2010 was so successful. It was such a great game, great environment. I think NBC loved it. And that’s of course with all due respect to the Patriots and Gillette Stadium.
“Listen, let’s do the math. They’ve got 68,800 seats down there or whatever it is. It’s going to be difficult to compete with that. We’ll put our best foot forward. Tom Werner and Charlie Jacobs had a conversation yesterday, they chatted about it. Everyone knows we’d love to host the game here, but we also respect the fact that we’re not going to get every single major event that comes to the region.”
|12.12.14 at 5:23 pm ET|
The NHL does not want Jonathan Toews to get hurt. Neither does Dennis Seidenberg. Yet while the league was smart in reacting to Thursday night’s scary play, the Blackhawks themselves were not.
The Department of Player Safety chose the perhaps not-so-popular, but rational option in assessing Boston’s defenseman no supplemental discipline for a play that resulted in Chicago’s captain going face-first into the end boards at TD Garden.
The play was not a “hit,” nor was it dirty. Seidenberg was battling for position chasing a loose puck and tried to put his left arm under and in front of Toews’ right arm to gain leverage. He outmuscled Toews, but rather than Toews being knocked off the puck, his feet as he tried to turn away took him into the boards.
It was fast, it was scary and it’s the last thing either team wanted to see. It wasn’t dirty. If the result of the play was anything but Toews hitting the boards, the takeaway by any and every observer would be surprise at how easily Toews was knocked off the puck.
It’s understandable why anyone outside of Boston might be upset with the play. The league doesn’t want its stars getting hurt and it also doesn’t want to admit ‘ as it effectively did by not punishing Seidenberg ‘ that bad things such as head injuries are going to happen even when guys play within the rules.
Still, by not punishing Seidenberg they avoided an equally big mess of an issue, as suspending Seidenberg would have sent the message that you’re not allowed to be stronger than the guy you’re battling.
Claude Julien, who blamed the play on Toews after the game, said Friday that he was relieved that the league let Seidenberg off.
“I looked at it again. You look at those things and you look at it quick,” Julien said. “I say the same thing: I’m not necessarily saying that’s the situation, but sometimes we’ve got to protect ourselves as players. Dennis is a strong individual, and he went in there to close the gap quickly away from the boards.”
Asked whether he would have called the play a “hit,” Julien said he wasn’t sure that Seidenberg deserved a boarding penalty.
“It’s debatable. It’s debatable,” Julien said. “It depends on who you talk to and how you look at it. I looked at it again, and I’m saying the same thing. It’s debatable whether it’s a penalty or not. He did go in head-first and it looks like he was going the other way and Dennis did what he had to do [on the penalty kill], was get on him aggressively and try and close the gap.”
The issue actually shouldn’t be with Seidenberg, Toews or Julien. It should be with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and anyone else who decided to keep Toews on the ice.
Somehow, that’s where Toews was for Chicago’s five-on-three after the play. He took a penalty during that five-on-three and then had another three-second shift before leaving the game for good.
Quenneville said after the game that Toews “seemed all right.” Still, two more shifts before hitting the showers is absurd for a guy with a history of concussions. Players are supposed to go to the quiet room and go through the proper protocol after concussion scares, and Thursday night’s play was undoubtedly a concussion scare.
The play itself was unfortunate, but at the very least, the Department of Player Safety did the right thing. That’s more than the Blackhawks can say for themselves.
|12.12.14 at 1:07 pm ET|
According to a league source, the Bruins will loan right wing David Pastrnak to the Czech Republic’s junior team later this month for the World Junior tournament.
Word of the development first reached America in the form of a report from Dan Cagen of the MetroWest Daily News. Czech outlet hockej.cz reported the news earlier Friday.
Pastrnak, the Bruins’ first-round pick (25th overall) in the 2014 draft, has played 19 games for Providence and five for Boston. He was sent back to Providence Sunday and can play four more NHL games before the first year will be burned off his three-year entry level contract.
The 18-year-old had one point (an assist) during his five-game stint in Boston’s lineup. He played mostly with Patrice Bergeron on one of Boston’s top two lines.
The tournament will be held in Toronto in Montreal, with Pastrnak leaving to join the Czech team following next Saturday’s Providence game.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|12.12.14 at 12:54 pm ET|
“It’s definitely good news and definitely a relief not to get suspended or fined or any of that stuff,” Seidenberg said after Friday’s practice.
Toews was chasing a puck into the corner after missing an open net during a second-period power play when, in an attempt to battle for position, Seidenberg knocked the Blackhawks star off the puck, sending him face-first into the boards.
Seidenberg, who was assessed a boarding minor for the play, maintained Friday that he was simply trying to outmuscle the player.
“I still believe that I went for his shoulder to the side and he kind of spun off, but then again, you look at the replays and he goes into the boards really awkwardly and dangerously,” Seidenberg said. “It looks dangerous, and again, I don’t want to hurt a guy on the ice. I play the battles and try to play them hard.”
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|12.12.14 at 12:45 pm ET|
For many who have watched the Bruins this season, a common criticism has been that they don’t seem fully engaged or motivated this season.
Tuukka Rask has seen the same thing. But after a 3-2 loss to the red-hot Blackhawks, Rask insisted the Bruins are headed in the right direction.
“We played a pretty good game,” Rask said, trying to find a silver lining after watching his teammates drop their sixth game in eight tries. “Tough couple bounces there, the first two goals. We fall behind 2-0 and we battled back and made it a game. When you’re winning games, things go your way and when you’re not really in the groove like we aren’t really, it’s tough to find it. We are just going to keep battling and good things are going to happen.”
Chris Kelly has been engaged and is one of the Bruins trying to provide a spark. His third period bout with Andrew Shaw came after Milan Lucic was shoved to the ice after feeding Torey Krug for a goal to make it 3-2. Rask was asked if he sees feistiness and grit returning to the team.
“I think it has been lacking for the most part this season,” Rask said. “The last game in Phoenix, we put emphasis on that, really battling for every puck and really being hard to play against. We did that and then [Thursday] we did the same thing and when two teams are doing that, emotions flare and sometimes there are fights. It’s a good sign that we do that.”
“It all comes from hard work and never quitting and that’s what we have been doing in practices and in the past couple games and as long as we keep doing that I think good things are going to happen for us and we are going to start winning hockey games and everybody can be smiling.”
All of the talk about true grit and character won’t mean much if the Bruins don’t start soon translating that into wins, especially against the best teams in the league, like Chicago.
“We have been able to play against the best for sure. [We’re] not necessarily getting all the results we wanted but at the end of the day it’s all about winning and we have to find a way to win these games,” Rask added.
“I mean if you look at the effort and you look at the plays we made, for the most part it was our style of hockey. I thought a lot of times we were the better team out there. So I guess you can take the positive but from a goalie standpoint, two deflections off of your own sticks and it obviously sucks. We just have to keep working and find ways to get those bounces our way, not against us.”
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Brad Marchand's Hot Streak a Big Reason for the Boston Bruins' Recent...
- Prospect Depth Allows BOS to Not Rush Pastrnak
- Seth Griffith Fitting in on the First Line with the Boston Bruins
- Bruins' Depleted Defense Returns to Reality in Loss to Wild
- Bruins' Patrice Bergeron Records 500th Career Point
- Bruins Players Dress Up as 'Frozen' Characters
- Looking at Bruins Defensive Pairings Without Chara