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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.”

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Zdeno Chara, John-Michael Liles both out for Bruins vs. Flyers

11.29.16 at 4:02 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara and John-Michael Liles will miss tonight's game against the Flyers. (Roy Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

Zdeno Chara and John-Michael Liles will miss tonight’s game against the Flyers. (Roy Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

In Philadelphia for a one-game getaway from Boston, the Bruins made the trek without their two elder statesmen, as defensemen Zdeno Chara and John-Michael Liles have remained back in the Hub and will both obviously miss tonight’s head-to-head with the rival Flyers.

Chara’s absence, while noticeable, is nothing new for a B’s club that’s skated without their captain for the last three contests, and have since the second period of their Nov. 22 loss to the Blues. The Bruins have allowed 10 goals in 11 periods of hockey without Chara this season, but did record their first sans Chara win Sunday, a 4-1 final over the Lightning. That win snapped a four-game losing streak in games played without the 39-year-old in action dating back to the 2014-15 season.

Out with what’s been called a lower-body injury, Chara allegedly skated on his own prior to Sunday’s contest, and remains day to day.

The Bruins are 1-2-0 with Chara out of action this season, and 12-11-1 without Chara since 2014.

The Liles situation remains vague, however, as there’s been no official update from the Bruins since Sunday’s in-game announcement that Liles suffered an upper-body injury and would not return. Injured on a trip and subsequent and straight-up brutal collision into the TD Garden endboards five minutes into the first period, the 36-year-old Liles remained down on the ice for an extended period of time before he was helped up and off the ice with the help of the training staff and Adam McQuaid.

And not only did Liles slam into the boards with a vicious thud, but he was also kneed in the head by Austin Czarnik on his way to the crash, so the exact extent of his injury — or what his injury actually is, for that matter — remains unknown.

A subtle do-it-all presence B’s head coach Claude Julien can trust in all situations, Liles will be replaced in the lineup by Joe Morrow, who was a healthy scratch for the first time since Nov. 12 last game. Morrow will be paired with Colin Miller on the Black and Gold’s third pairing, while Kevan Miller will switch to the left side on a pairing with the 20-year-old Brandon Carlo.

On a B’s point shuffled about across the board (the Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid pairing is the lone untouched pairing), the 29-year-old Miller played big minutes on the left side when Liles went down Sunday (something he admits he’s done before at different points in seasons for the Bruins), and finished the night with a team-leading 26:40 of time on ice.

“It was good,” Miller, who has skated in three consecutive contests after missing the first 19 games of the year with a fractured left hand, said of his play on the left side in a spot normally occupied by Chara and then Liles. “As a group we did pretty good. I think my partners made it easy on me and we did a good job moving the puck through the neutral zone, not messing around with it too much. I think a lot of this ended up on the left, so as a whole I think we did a pretty good job.”

In the first of three head-to-heads against the Flyers this season, the Bruins will need a group effort to limit a Philly attack that’s scored the second-most goals in the NHL and put 40-plus shots on net in back-to-back contests and six times overall this season.

The Bruins dropped two of their three games against the Flyers a season ago.

Bruins lose defenseman John-Michael Liles to scary looking injury in win over Lightning

11.27.16 at 5:47 pm ET
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Five minutes into their third straight game without captain Zdeno Chara, though a 4-1 win for the Bruins over the Lightning at TD Garden, the Black and Gold lost the club’s next longest tenured NHL defenseman, John-Michael Liles.

On a shorthanded drive towards the net, the 36-year-old Liles was tripped up by Lightning goalie Ben Bishop and sent flying out of control headfirst towards the endboards.

Liles also appeared to have been clipped in the head by B’s forward Austin Czarnik on the crash.

Down their de facto top pairing partner for Brandon Carlo, the Bruins were forced to roll with five defensemen (and four at certain points, too, with Torey Krug in the penalty box for the first eight minutes plus of the second period), and still limited a high-energy Lightning attack to 31 shots on goal, 15 of which came in a blowout of a third period.

“It was pretty early on that we lost Johnny,” Colin Miller said of the team’s defensive effort. “We did a good job responding. I think when you get down to five guys you’re not really thinking you’re just playing and sometimes that’s even better.”

In Liles’ absence, the Bruins rotated five defensemen, and it was Kevan Miller (in just his third game back after missing the first 19 contests of the season), that finished with a team-leading 26:42 of time on ice.

“It’s just the situation that happened,” Miller admitted after the win. “There’s nothing you can do about it, it happens during the season. Like I said before, no one is going to fill [Zdeno] Chara’s spot. As a group we kind of need to collectively pick each other up and make sure we’re ready to go. I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

The B’s did not have an update on Liles after the game.

“Obviously he crashed in the boards, and I think the replay I saw, it might have been a knee to the head, so they were obviously evaluating him for that injury,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said when asked for an update on Liles. 

“I was told he wasn’t coming back, and from there I don’t know what more is happening.”

Liles, acquired from the Hurricanes at the trade deadline last year, has five assists in 22 games this season.

5 Things We Learned as Jimmy Hayes finally scores for Bruins in win over Lightning

11.27.16 at 3:37 pm ET
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The Bruins snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-0 win over Tampa Bay at TD Garden Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Lightning at TD Garden Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The nine-month old monkey on the back of Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes has been finally, successfully thrown out of TD Garden.

One of just two forwards with at least 19 games played and not a single point (the Hurricanes’ Jay McClement is the other) entering Sunday’s matinee affair with the Lightning, the much maligned winger has seemingly been through a life’s worth of bad luck in his hometown.

But that finally changed Sunday, as it was Hayes that scored the Bruins’ third goal of the win, off a great feed from David Krejci, and good for Hayes’ first goal of the season and his first in 36 games dating back to last season (Feb. 24 against the Penguins).

The cap to a three-goal middle period from the Bruins, with goals from Dominic Moore and a power-play goal from David Backes, Hayes’ tally came on his 34th shot of the season (and on his 58th shot on net since his last goal), and really put dagger in the Lightning through 40 minutes, with the Hayes goal scored with just 2:27 left in the period.

The Bruins added another in the third period, just for good measure, with a David Pastrnak puck banked off Tyler Johnson and through Ben Bishop, good for No. 88’s third in as many games since returning from an upper-body injury. Challenged on the shot by the Lightning’s Slater Koekkoek, the goal was Pastrnak’s team-leading 13th goal of the season (in just 17 games played).

The Lightning finally countered the B’s strikes with a Jonathan Drouin goal scored with just 2:39 left in the game.

With goals from four different scorers in a 4-1 final, the Bruins found balance, but no goal likely meant more than Hayes’.

Here are four other things, not related to monkeys living on backs, that we learned in a 4-0 win for the Bruins

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Zdeno Chara remains out while Colin Miller draws back into Bruins lineup vs. Lightning

11.27.16 at 1:09 pm ET
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Colin Miller

Colin Miller

In their first matinee of the season, the Bruins will see one of their defensemen return to the lineup Sunday against the visiting Lightning. Unfortunately for the B’s, it’s just not the one they really need back.

A healthy scratch in the last six games, Colin Miller will draw back into the defensive rotation for the Bruins today in place of Joe Morrow, who recorded one assist in six games in Miller’s spot, while B’s captain Zdeno Chara will miss his third straight game.

On a third pairing with Kevan Miller, the 24-year-old Miller returns to action with one goal and two points in 15 games this season, including a goal against the Canadiens on Nov. 8.

The other defensive pairings will remain the same, with John-Michael Liles paired with Brandon Carlo, and Torey Krug with Adam McQuaid.

Some good news on the Chara front, though, is that the 39-year-old did skate on his own early this morning.

The Bruins are 0-2-0 without Chara this season.

Tuukka Rask gets the start in the B’s net while Tampa Bay counters with Ben Bishop.

This is the second of five head-to-heads between the Bruins and Bolts this season.

Scoring issues starting to finally catch up to Bruins

11.26.16 at 12:14 am ET
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The Bruins have scored just four goals in their last 198 minutes of hockey. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins have scored just four times in their last 198 minutes of hockey. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

A year-long struggle to find scoring has finally caught up to the Bruins.

In the team’s third straight loss Friday, a 2-1 final to the Flames at TD Garden, and their fourth loss in their last five games overall, the Bruins managed to score just one goal on 36 shots against Flames netminder Chad Johnson. It was their second straight night in which the Bruins scored just a single goal, and their sixth time scoring one goal or fewer in 21 games to date this year (they’re 1-5-0 in those games).

“We had a lot of shots in front of the net but the biggest thing is we’re not scoring goals,” B’s coach Claude Julien admitted after the loss. “Some of it is, we’ve got to hit the net with prime scoring chances. That’s one of them. The second one is, it’s okay to get scoring opportunities, but how do you create the second one off the original one, and I don’t see us getting those much so far this year.”

The Bruins even had a 12:34 stretch in which they shot 17 consecutive shots on Johnson from the final 5:34 of the second period into the first seven minutes of the third, but had just one goal to show for it, on the 16th shot of that timeframe, no less.

Quantity, not quality, has been the name of the game for the Black and Gold’s offensive game this season.

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Claude Julien, Bruins not happy about Patrice Bergeron’s goal getting called back

11.25.16 at 11:34 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron is a game-time decision for the Bruins.

Patrice Bergeron is a game-time decision for the Bruins.

In real time, it looked like it may have just been a big collision that left Patrice Bergeron with a wide-open net early in the second period Saturday night.

With Flames goalie Chad Johnson out of his crease to play the puck, Brad Marchand and Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano collided, sending Giordano crashing into his goalie. The puck ended up on Bergeron’s stick, and he fired it into the vacant cage to apparently tie the game at 1-1.

The play was ruled a goal on the ice, but then it went to review. Replays made clear the source of the collision — Marchand had knocked Giordano into Johnson with a pretty solid shove to the back.

The call was overturned and the goal was taken off the board. Reading Rule 69.1, it seems like the officials made the right call.

“If a defending player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by an attacking player so as to cause the defending player to come into contact with his own goalkeeper, such contact shall be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, and if necessary a penalty assessed to the attacking player and if a goal is scored it would be disallowed.”

Claude Julien and the Bruins did not agree. Julien had some choice words for the refs at the time, and reiterated his frustration after the game.

“You obviously saw that I wasn’t happy with it,” Julien said. “When you dump the puck in and you forecheck and all night long they kept skating in front of our forecheck, and that’s exactly what they did to Marchy. Marchy gives him a shove, which he’s allowed to do. Just because your goaltender’s out of the net and he happens to be in the way, I don’t think that should’ve been called back. We never know anymore what they think, so we just have to sit back and accept what they decide. It’s a frustrating thing, because it’s never the same thing twice.”

Marchand, who had clearly been briefed before talking to the media, did not comment on the no-goal when asked about it. He was also asked about the idea of the Flames obstructing the forecheck, but said he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Read the rest of this entry »

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