|10.11.14 at 11:22 pm ET|
Milan Lucic has only been on the ice for one goal against this season, so to make him the scapegoat for these last two games wouldn’t be fair. A lot of guys have struggled and there have been a lot of team breakdowns, such as the two that allowed Alex Ovechkin to get open on his two goals Saturday night.
That said, Lucic’s performance so far this season is, at the very least, concerning. Through three games, he has registered two shot attempts, one shot on goal and zero points. This from a guy who has averaged nearly two shots on goal per game over the last four years.
He has been virtually invisible in the offensive zone and has consistently been out of sync with new linemates Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser. There hasn’t even been the usual hard forechecking and big hits we’ve come to expect from Lucic.
“We have to keep our chins up and fight through it, because nobody’s going to do it for us,” Lucic said. “We have to do it ourselves, starting with myself. I have to be better and take charge and do what I do best, and try to lead that way.”
Lucic’s linemates haven’t helped him much. There was already a question mark on the right wing after Jarome Iginla left in free agency, and then center David Krejci suffered an undisclosed injury in the preseason that has kept him out of the lineup since.
That left Lucic with Spooner and Fraser, two players who had a total of 54 NHL games between them entering the season. Lucic had played a whole 19 minutes with Spooner before this season and just two with Fraser.
The trio has had little chemistry so far, and Spooner and Fraser clearly still have a lot to learn at this level. Lucic hasn’t been playing anywhere to close to the level he’s capable of, but you have to wonder how much better he’d look if he had Krejci next to him.
Lucic isn’t using the new linemates as an excuse, though.
“You can try to make that as an excuse, but at the end of the day, we’re all in the NHL for a reason. We’re all really good hockey players,” Lucic said. “No matter who you’re playing with, you have to find a way to make it work. It’s up to every individual to bring their best game. You hope that it flows and jells. I think if everyone’s on the same page as far as the system goes, everything falls into place. We’re not there right now. ”
Another factor here is Lucic’s recovery from offseason wrist surgery. He admitted to reporters earlier in the day Saturday that he does still think about his wrist, and that it’s something he needs to overcome mentally.
“When you come back from an injury,” Claude Julien said, “you’re always a little overprotective of it until maybe something happens where you would have expected your injury to reoccur and it doesn’t and you realize, I guess it’s OK. It’s normal to be a little tentative. In his case it’s fully healed. Hopefully he can get over that if that’s what he thinks is holding him back a little bit.”
Lucic should get Krejci back soon, but the most important thing is that he gets his own game back as quickly as possible.
|10.11.14 at 11:10 pm ET|
Complain about Chris Kelly‘s cap hit all you want, but he’s the guy who’s going to hold the Bruins accountable when they play as poorly as they have the last two games.
“It’s tough to put into words,” Kelly said after the Bruins were shut out by the Capitals for their second straight loss. “I think we were outworked, outbattled, and obviously outplayed over the course of 120 minutes, not just 60. I think the only positive I can think of is, it’s game three. Other than that, it’s two poor, poor efforts.”
The Bruins barely had the puck in their 2-1 loss to the Red Wings Thursday, with Kelly saying after Saturday’s blanking that guys haven’t been working hard enough. Zdeno Chara said the B’s were “embarrassed” Saturday and that their play is ‘not acceptable.’
The Bruins’ roster is obviously not at full strength. David Krejci is eligible to come off injured reserve and potentially return to the lineup Monday, but it’s no sure thing that he does. Milan Lucic is coming off wrist surgery and is clearly not functioning at full capacity.
The fourth line has been more detrimental than it’s been a source of energy. That’s been made worse by the fact that the line playing above it (Lucic with Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser) have done nothing. Bobby Robins and Ryan Spooner have put themselves in tough positions if they want to stay in the lineup. Fraser has also been a non-factor, but deserves to get a look on a line without Spooner, as he has the best shot among Bruins forwards and has shown promise when playing away from his former Providence linemate.
Asked if the weakened roster has to do with the team’s struggles so far, Kelly said he didn’t care who was playing where or with whom.
“It’s a team-wide thing, it’s not just a few guys. You guys can see it just as much as we can,” Kelly said. “It’s not a passing thing or a positioning thing, it’s a working thing. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing with. You could play with two total strangers, and all you have to do is go out and work hard.”
If Krejci is able to return for Monday, the Bruins might be wise to keep Lucic and Fraser together and have Krejci replace Spooner, who could either move to the fourth line as a center or wing or serve as an extra forward. They could also consider playing Jordan Caron on the fourth line right wing, a job currently held by Robins.
Asked after the game whether he feels he needs to make lineup changes, Julien hinted at the possibility.
“You certainly have to reevaluate,” Julien said. “There’s no doubt there, and guys are given chances, and so on and so forth. When you play two games like that, you have to reevaluate, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
|10.11.14 at 10:32 pm ET|
Robins has been one third of a fourth line that has struggled for the Bruins, but his difficulty thus far hasn’t just been limited to poor shifts. The longtime AHL fighter has gotten into two scraps this season, both of which were the result of hits for which he was penalized.
In Wednesday’s season-opener, Robins took a minor penalty for charging that led to a fight with Luke Schenn. On Saturday, he took a kneeing penalty for a hit on Matt Niskanen in the offensive zone and then fought Michael Latta. The Capitals scored eight seconds into their power play for what would prove to be the game-winning goal in Washington’s 4-0 shutout win.
Robins is a fourth-line player. His job is to be an energy player in the low minutes he receives. He has two minor penalties in three games this season. By comparison, Shawn Thornton, the man who held his job a season ago, had seven minor penalties all regular season (64 games).
“That’s definitely not what I’m looking for,” Robins said after Saturday’s loss. “Refs call it pretty tight in this league, and that’s something that I’m going to have to evolve my game and learn from and grow. That’s something I’m working on.”
Robins said he understands that he needs to make changes “right away,” but his spot in the lineup could be in jeopardy for now. Without a doubt, Robins is a good piece to put in and out of your lineup depending on the opponent, but his play thus far and the Bruins’ struggles to find offense could hurt his chances of staying in the lineup even if David Krejci doesn’t return to the lineup.
Robins isn’t alone in putting his spot in jeopardy for now. Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser have been non-factors so far, though Fraser deserves a longer look, perhaps away from Spooner. The last two seasons have seen the two struggle together at the NHL level, though Fraser looked good on various lines in the preseason.
It took nine years of playing in various lesser leagues across multiple continents for Robins to reach the NHL, so it’s hard to think a few bad games will get him down. Still, this should be a learning experience on which Robins should improve if he keeps his spot.
“This league is better, stronger, faster. It’s quick.” Robins said. “It’s a quick league. Mistakes are magnified. When you’re playing at the NHL level, you have to be really good every night. You have to be consistent and that’s something I’m working on and trying to take pride in being consistently good out there.”
|10.11.14 at 9:28 pm ET|
The Bruins suffered their second consecutive loss as they fell to the Capitals, 4-0, Saturday at TD Garden. Braden Holtby stopped all 29 Bruins shots he saw.
After a Bobby Robins offensive zone penalty, Alexander Ovechkin scored a power play goal to give Washington a 1-0 lead at 11:26 of the first period. Ovechkin followed up with an even strength tally in front with 1:21 remaining in the first.
Washington extended its lead to 3-0 on its second power-play goal of the night, with Mike Green taking a feed across the zone from Evgeny Kuznetsov and one-timing it past Tuukka Rask. John Carlson beat Rask for Washington’s final goal with just over a minute to play in regulation.
The Bruins will next play when they host the Avalanche Monday afternoon at TD Garden. David Krejci, who is eligible to come off injured reserve, could potentially return to the lineup then, though Claude Julien said Saturday morning that the player is day-to-day.
– Rask wasn’t to blame for any of Washington’s first three goals. Both of Ovechkin’s goals were the result of blown coverage, while there wasn’t much Rask could have done to get across his net in time to stop Green’s one-timer.
The reigning Vezina winner has now allowed nine goals in nine periods this season.
– It’s rare to see the Bruins allow a 5-on-5 goal with both Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron on the ice, but such was the case on Ovechkin’s second goal of the first period. Ovechkin joins Thomas Vanek, Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist in the group of players to score a 5-on-5 goal against Boston’s shutdown stars over the last three seasons.
– Bobby Robins fought for the second time in two home games, but both fights came as a result of a hit that got him penalized. On Saturday, it was a Robins knee to Matt Niskanen in the offensive zone that forced Michael Latta to stick up for his teammate, with Ovechkin scoring eight seconds into Washington’s power play.
– As it has been thus far this season, Carl Soderberg’s line was solid Saturday, facing some tough assignments against Ovechkin’s line and not surrendering a goal to the trio. Soderberg also drew a second-period interference penalty on Brooks Orpik.
– At the very least, the Bruins fared better in terms of possession Saturday than they did in Thursday’s disaster in Detroit. Specifically, Patrice Bergeron‘s line and Soderberg’s line had good possession numbers in the game.
– The Bruins’ bottom six is not good. The third line of Ryan Spooner between Milan Lucic and Matt Fraser has been non-existent through three games, while Craig Cunningham and Bobby Robins might be bringing Daniel Paille down a bit on the fourth line. Claude Julien switched Ryan Spooner and Chris Kelly halfway through the third period. Lucic’s line had better shifts with Kelly than with Spooner. A trio of Soderberg with Spooner and Fraser allowed the fourth goal.
The good news is that can change as early as Monday with Krejci’s potential return.
– Lucic was given a cross-checking minor and 10 minute misconduct for chasing down Green after taking a hit from Green along the boards late in the game.
– The Bruins have gone 0-for-8 on the power play over the last two games. With Krejci still out, Dougie Hamilton and Reilly Smith have had to double-shift on the point at times so far this season.
– Ovechkin could have secured a hat trick in the opening minutes of the third period, but Adam McQuaid was just able to get his stick on a pass to Ovechkin in front with half the net open.
– The Bruins’ lineup in the game was as follows:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Lucic – Spooner – Fraser
Paille – Cunningham – Robins
Chara – McQuaid
Seidenberg – Hamilton
Krug – Miller
|10.11.14 at 1:15 pm ET|
This season, the NHL is hitting accused divers where it hurts. Guess which Bruins player doesn’t like that?
Under a new set of rules for this season, players will be given a warning for their first dive, a $2,000 fine for their second, a $3,000 fine for their third, a $4,000 fine for their fourth and a $5,000 fine for any and every dive after that.
They’ll also likely find themselves in the doghouse, as coaches will be fined $2,000 if one of their players dives a fourth time, $3,000 if they dive a fifth time and $5,000 for any other dives.
Brad Marchand, a player with a track record of embellishment penalties, was given the first of the 2014-15 season Thursday night when he was sent off for selling a Henrik Zetterberg interference penalty. The penalty came on the first shift of the second period.
There was just one problem: Marchand didn’t appear to dive on the play. It looked like, after passing the puck back to the point in the offensive zone, he was trying to avoid Zetterberg by jumping around him.
(GIF courtesy of Boston.com)
Both Marchand and Claude Julien took issue with the call, which in all likelihood shouldn’t have been a penalty on either player. Whether Zetterberg even knew Marchand was there when they made contact is up for debate as well.
Dives — whether penalized or not — are reviewed before action is taken by the league’s part. The Bruins have yet to hear whether Marchand has received a warning for the play, with Claude Julien saying Saturday that, to his knowledge, Marchand hadn’t. The Bruins will know more soon, as a list comes out each week indicating which players have earned a strike.
Whether or not the clock has started on him, Marchand still opposes the league’s new approach.
“I think the new rule is a little absurd,” Marchand told WEEI.com Saturday. “It’s all a judgment call by the referee. How do you judge how guys are on their balance, how they’re on their skates? What if they’re on one foot and on their turn a guy gets pushed? Does that mean that he has embellished?
“The fact that guys are going to start getting fined for it, I don’t agree with that. It’s all the discretion of the referee and you’ve got to try to play within the rules. We’re going to try to find that line, but at end of the day, it’s up to the referees with what they want to call, and you’ve got to live with it.”
Though certain teams — the Bruins certainly among them – have played the “everyone dives but us” card over the years, the fact is that if you want to look for it, there’s proof of selling calls with every team and many, many players throughout the league. Some are known more for it than others, and some of Marchand’s more egregious falls, as well as closer calls, have earned him a reputation that might make keeping all of his $4.5 million salary more of an uphill climb this season.
Marchand is correct, however, when he questions what is is viewed as embellishment. He brought up a terrific example of a player grabbing his face when he has not been hit with a stick.
“There’s no real definition of embellishing,” Marchand said. “Even when a guy sees a stick up on his face, it happens so quick, it might not hit you, but at the same time, you’re going to react to a stick up within inches of your face. It’s just everyone’s natural reaction. Sometimes it hits you, sometimes it may not. Yeah, you might think it’s going to hit you and you move your head back and that’s [considered] embellishing. It’s just a natural reaction; you may not even mean to do it.
“That’s where there’s such a fine line between that rule. I’m not too fond of all the fining and all that, but if that’s where it’s going to go, then you’ve got to live with it.”
Marchand knows he has a reputation for many things, and diving is among them. Of all the things for which he’s known, Marchand says the “diver” label is the most infuriating.
“It is,” he said. “Especially after a play like last game, I think it was an absolutely ridiculous call, and the fact that now I have a strike against me because of something like that [Editor’s note: Said strike is TBD]. I don’t think you can argue anything; I had my feet completely taken out from under me. What are you supposed to do there? It’s a bit of a ridiculous call, but that’s how it is.”
Julien says that he has ‘no doubt’ that referees are more inclined to call such penalties on Marchand, but he puts that on the player.
“That’s up to him to clean up that situation. He created it, right?’ Julien said. “I think he’s done a great job this year of staying focused and just playing his game. Whether he gets in the other team’s kitchen or not, that’s part of his game. But I think it’s just about making sure you don’t lose the respect of your referees by chirping or by continuing to do things after the whistle when they tell you to stop. I think that’s where he’s lost those guys a little bit. You can always redeem yourself, or you’d like to think players can, he’s really tying to do that.”
Julien has gone after other teams – specifically the Canadiens – in the past for embellishing. On Saturday, however, he admitted what many know to be true but don’t always want to say: Everyone dives.
“I don’t encourage embellishment. I don’t want to see it. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen every once in a while on our team,” Julien said. “Like anybody else, I just don’t like it. Our players are clear on that. We’re not clean; we do make those kind of mistakes every once in a while, and when it becomes an issue, it gets addressed.
“The league is doing a great job of trying to take that out of the game, and I think it’s a real important thing to our game to take out because it really tarnishes what this game’s all about.”
|10.11.14 at 12:06 pm ET|
Both Gregory Campbell and David Krejci participated in Saturday’s morning skate, though neither will be on the ice when the Bruins host the Capitals at TD Garden Saturday night. Krejci is on injured reserve and is not eligible to play until Monday at the earliest, while Claude Julien said there is no timetable for Campbell, who has yet to be cleared for contact.
The B’s survived an injury scare in practice when Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara collided and Chara was hit in the eye by Lucic’s stick. Chara was down for a moment before getting up and holding a towel over his face. Chara stayed on the ice for the rest of the skate.
Based on morning skate, the lineup for Saturday is unchanged from the first two games:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Lucic – Spooner – Fraser
Paille – Cunningham – Robins
Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – McQuaid
Krug – Miller
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|10.11.14 at 7:55 am ET|
During a recent exhibition game against the Washington Capitals, Bruins 32 year old rookie Bobby Robins was mic’d up for an episode of NESN’s “Behind the B.” Here is a sample of what Robins brings to the table:
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