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Pressure still on Bruins in difficult matchup with Capitals

04.08.15 at 1:04 pm ET
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Braden Holtby has shut out the Bruins twice this season. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Braden Holtby has shut out the Bruins twice this season. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Claude Julien said he watched “a couple periods” of Tuesday night’€™s Penguins-Senators game. Interestingly enough, so did the Penguins.

“That third period wasn’€™t what I expected,” he added after Wednesday’€™s morning skate.

By now, he probably should have expected it. The Senators came back from from a 3-0 deficit with a goal in the second period and two more in the third to force overtime, where Mark Stone scored his second goal of the night to give Ottawa two huge points and keep the pressure on the Bruins. The fact that Pittsburgh picked up a point in the process on a night in which Detroit jumped back into the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division didn’€™t help either.

Had the Senators lost in regulation to the Penguins, the Bruins could have wrapped up a playoff spot with a win over the Capitals Wednesday. Now, the Bruins need as many or more points in their final three games than the Senators get in their final two.

The Bruins and Senators are currently tied with 95 points. If the Senators are to win out, the Bruins would need to earn four points, with at least one of those victories coming in regulation or overtime. That’€™s what’€™s required to finish ahead of the Senators.

Of course, both teams could still get in and another could slip out. The Penguins are at 96 points on the season through 80 games, while the Red Wings (97 points in 80 games) and Islanders (98 points in 80 games) remain at risk to miss the playoffs.

All of the teams with whom the Bruins are competing for a spot in the postseason have played 80 games. Wednesday night’€™s tilt against the Capitals, who have already secured a playoff spot but would still benefit from two points for the sake of positioning, is Boston’€™s 80th game. Winning in regulation or overtime would allow the B’€™s to breathe far easier heading into their final two games.

“We’€™ve been playing kind of playoff hockey in the last 10, 15 games, so nothing’€™s going to change in these last three games,” David Krejci said.

“The good thing is that we control our own destiny, and if we win all three games then we don’€™t have to look at other teams,” he added. “It’€™s a pretty big game tonight, so we’€™ll try to get two points and move on to Florida tomorrow.”

Getting two points won’€™t be easy. Braden Holtby is expected to start for the Capitals Wednesday, and the Bruins have yet to get a puck past him in two meetings this season. The last time the teams met, a first-period Brad Marchand penalty led to a goal for Washington’€™s NHL-best power play that decided the March 15 contest.

“We’€™ve got to be a little bit better than we were last time,” Julien said. “It took us a while; they had a good start and it took us a while to get ourselves in the game. They got an early power play goal and then it stayed like that for a while.”

That is, until a Nate Schmidt shot went off Gregory Campbell‘€™s hand and past Tuukka Rask. From there, Braden Holtby completed his second shutout of the season against the Bruins with a 32-save blanking.

“We have to have a better start and manage the puck well against these guys. I think we can spend some time in the o-zone if we manage the puck better than we did in here last time and keep our feet moving, and at the same time, respect their offense. To me it’€™s going to be a man’€™s game tonight and if you want to play this kind of game, you’€™ve got to be ready to put everything on the line.”

Read More: Braden Holtby, Claude Julien, David Krejci,

Claude Julien sends mixed signals with lines as Bruins prepare for Capitals

04.08.15 at 12:31 pm ET
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Bruins prepare for the first of what could be three must-wins to end the regular season, Claude Julien is in secret-keeping mode.

Both Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg participated in Wednesday’€™s morning skate, but Julien’€™s forward lines were borderline indecipherable. The two lines that stayed consistent throughout were Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson and Lucic-Krejci-Pastrnak. The bottom six varied.

Early in the skate, the third line was Carl Soderberg between Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith, with Julien not putting a fourth line out in rushes. Later in the practice, the bottom six was Kelly/Paille-Spooner-Connolly and Campbell-Soderberg-Smith. How the lines look when the Capitals and Bruins square off at 8 p.m. is anyone’€™s guess.

“I know it’€™s a big story right now, but it is what it is,” Julien said after the morning skate. “We’€™re moving guys around and we’€™ve got Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, if you want. We can move different guys around, so to me it’€™s a normal thing for coaches. I look at the teams that are winning, and from game to game they change lines anyway.

“I guess you guys have gotten accustomed to seeing the same lines from me for years and being a little more patient. This year’€™s been different. That’€™s basically what it is.”

Krejci has played mostly right wing in his six games back from a knee injury. Asked whether he felt healthy enough to return full-time to center (such an attempt did not last in last Thursday’s game against the Red Wings), Krejci declined comment.

“I don’€™t like to answer these questions,” Krejci said. “I’€™m playing, so I feel good.”

Read More: Claude Julien,

Zdeno Chara returns to Bruins practice, Dougie Hamilton won’t travel

04.07.15 at 11:19 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Zdeno Chara took the ice early and participated in Tuesday’€™s practice with his teammates. The Bruins captain missed Monday’€™s skate due to an injury suffered blocking a shot with his left foot/ankle Saturday.

Claude Julien had said after Monday’s practice that Chara’s situation was “day-to-day.” The fact that Chara stayed out for practice and did not appear limited is an encouraging sign.

Dennis Seidenberg was the only player missing from Tuesday’€™s practice. Julien said Tuesday that Seidenberg was under the weather but would travel with the team for their upcoming three-game road trip. Dougie Hamilton, who skated by himself for the second straight day, will not travel. The possibility always exists that Hamilton could meet the team for one of the final couple games of the regular season if he is ready to return.

Joe Morrow, who was recalled Monday morning on an emergency basis, remains with the team.

The lineup in practice was as follows:

Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson
Lucic-Krejci-Pastrnak
Kelly/Paille-Spooner-Connolly
Campbell-Soderberg-Smith/Talbot

Chara-McQuaid
Morrow-Trotman
Bartkowski-Krug

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton, Zdeno Chara,

Gregory Campbell ‘putting personal agendas aside’ after healthy scratch

04.06.15 at 12:54 pm ET
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Gregory Campbell was a healthy scratch for the first time as a Bruin Saturday. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Gregory Campbell was a healthy scratch Saturday for the first time as a Bruin. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

WILMINGTON — Long after his teammates had showered, fulfilled their media responsibilities, grabbed food in the team lounge and headed home, Gregory Campbell was still on the ice at Ristuccia Arena by himself.

A healthy scratch for the first time in his Bruins career Saturday, Campbell didn’t feel ready to leave following Monday’s approximately 40-minute practice (one for which he took the ice early). The image of him shooting pucks alone for approximately 55 minutes was fitting of his 2014-15 season: He wants to be better, but his spot in the lineup is questionable at best.

“I like being out here,” Campbell said as he got off the ice, adding: “I wanted to do some things.

“It’s uncharted,” he said of not playing. “I’ve never experience it before, but at this stage of the game, it’s about putting personal agendas aside and it’s about honoring the team and the decisions the coaches make. It is what it is. It’s about honoring the team.”

Saturday’s benching was perhaps overdue given the way Campbell and his fellow fourth-liners have fared this season.

After coming to Boston and centering the best fourth line in the league with Brad Marchand and Shawn Thornton, Campbell’s eventual line with Daniel Paille and Thornton routinely put opponents’ bottom-sixers on their heels, most notably helping change the momentum of Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals after Vancouver took it to Boston in the early shifts.

Yet those vintage Merlot Line days, which really lasted until Campbell broke his leg in the 2013 Eastern Conference finals, are long over. Thornton is gone, Paille has been a healthy scratch in Boston’s last six games, while Campbell at long last sat over the weekend.

That’s where the aforementioned personal agendas may come in. A free agent at season’s end who seems unlikely to return, Campbell has given a lot to this team. It can’t be easy to go from a fan favorite to a scapegoat in what’s been a trying season for both him and the Bruins.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Claude Julien, Gregory Campbell,

Dougie Hamilton begins skating

04.06.15 at 11:57 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Dougie Hamilton skated on his own prior to Monday’s practice, Claude Julien said after the skate.

Hamilton has been out with an upper-body injury suffered in the Bruins’ March 28 game against the Panthers. Following the injury, a source close to the situation told WEEI.com that Hamilton needed a few weeks to heal.

Julien said it is unclear whether Hamilton will travel for this week’s road trip. Excluding Hamilton and counting Zdeno Chara (day-to-day), the B’s currently have seven defensemen at their disposal for the trip.

Bruins recall Joe Morrow on emergency basis; Zdeno Chara absent from practice

04.06.15 at 10:32 am ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins recalled defenseman Joe Morrow on an emergency basis Monday. Morrow was on the ice at the start of Monday’s practice, while Zdeno Chara was missing.

Chara was in pain after blocking a David Booth shot in the third period of Saturday night’s shootout win over the Maple Leafs. The shot hit Chara in the foot/ankle area, and while Chara was slow to get off the ice, he did not miss any time.

The play came as a result of a Reilly Smith turnover at the point during a power play. Chara had to race back and lay out to block Booth’s bid, hobbling him as he skated to the bench.

Claude Julien said after the practice that Chara’s absence was indeed related to the blocked shot, but Chara could be back on the ice for Tuesday’s practice. Julien termed Chara “day-to-day.”

All other players were present for Monday’s practice, with Claude Julien changing his lineup for the skate. Julien has tinkered with his lines in practices and used different ones in games (as was the case with Saturday’s morning skate and game), so the following lineup used Monday should be taken with a grain of salt:

Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson
Lucic-Krejci-Pastrnak
Kelly-Spooner-Connolly
Campbell-Soderberg-Smith

Krug-Seidenberg
Bartkowski-McQuaid
Morrow-Trotman

The B’s are entering their final three games of the season. They currently sit third in the Atlantic Division, as they are tied with the Red Wings with 95 points but hold the second tiebreaker thanks to their edge in the season series between the teams.

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

Read More: Joe Morrow, Zdeno Chara,

Chris Kelly on looming line choices: ‘We’ve got a great problem to have’

04.05.15 at 10:27 am ET
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Chris Kelly is hardly worried about the looming decisions that will have to be made to determine who will play and who won’t come playoff time.

Kelly moved from his left wing spot and centered a line Saturday that had Max Talbot on left wing and newcomer Brett Connolly on the right. This left out Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille. The way Kelly sees it, there are five players trying to make Claude Julien‘s job as difficult as possible with competition in the last week.

“Competition, that’€™s why we all play. Competition is good, and it makes everyone better, I think. We’€™ve got a great problem to have, good players that can play in the lineup, and I think every guy is trying to make it difficult on him to make those tough decisions,” Kelly said. “Ultimately, you want to go out there and play your best hockey and help the team.”

Connolly played in just his second game with the Bruins since returning from a broken finger in his second practice with the Bruins and was relieved to finally contribute. Kelly said he was happy from what he saw from his line during a 2-1 shootout win over the Maple Leafs Saturday.

“We had some pretty good chances,” Kelly said. “I think all three of us, our feet were moving, and we weren’€™t in our end too often, so it was good. A bounce here, a bounce there, maybe we would’€™ve been able to get one.”

Julien insisted after the game that what he’s trying to do is more about keeping everyone fresh than holding an audition for the fourth line in the final week. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brett Connolly, Chris Kelly,
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