|03.26.15 at 9:53 pm ET|
Though they came less than a minute away from the second point, the B’s picked up a point with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Ducks to at least gain some ground on the Senators. With the Senators still controlling the Bruins’ destiny, that missed point could prove to be very costly.
With the Senators losing to the Rangers Thursday night, both the B’s and Senators have 85 points, though the Bruins only have eight games remaining to the Senators’ nine.
Boston had a 2-1 lead as a result of a pair of power-play goals from Ryan Spooner and Loui Eriksson on a night that saw the B’s keep Anaheim off the man advantage for most of the night. A Zdeno Chara hooking penalty in overtime changed that, and though the Bruins managed to kill it off, Ryan Getzlaf beat Rask on the next shift to end the game.
The Bruins will next play the surging Rangers Saturday at TD Garden.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
David Krejci made his return to the lineup and had a pair of assists after missing the last 15 games with a torn MCL.
Krejci skated at right wing on Patrice Bergeron‘s line with Brad Marchand. The trio was matched up mostly against Anaheim’s top line of Ryan Getzlaf between Jiri Sekac and Corey Perry. He also manned the point on Boston’s first power play unit in place of the injured Dougie Hamilton.
The veteran forward’s return to the lineup came with an early flub, as Krejci mishandled a pass in the neutral zone on a first-period power play, kicking it to Jakob Silfverberg to give the Ducks a shorthanded partial 2-on-0. Silfverberg missed the net, rendering Krejci’s misplay less costly.
Krejci did pick up an assist on Ryan Spooner’s second-period goal and added another on Loui Eriksson’s third-period strike.
|03.26.15 at 3:07 pm ET|
There is no positive to Dougie Hamilton being out of the lineup. He is too good and the Bruins’ situation is too dire. It could be the injury that finally does them in.
Yet with Hamilton out for a number of weeks (and most likely the rest of the regular season unless he’s rushed back from his upper-body injury), the Bruins must make one last push for a playoff spot with their back end depleted.
Injuries to Hamilton and Kevan Miller (out for the season after getting shoulder surgery last month) meant that Adam McQuaid was Boston’s only right-shot defenseman left. As such, the Bruins opted for the right-shooting Zach Trotman over the left-shooting Joe Morrow when they made the call to Providence for a replacement.
The call was familiar for Trotman, who had already played 17 games this season (Sunday’s loss to the Lightning made it 18). In fact, Trotman said that given all of Boston’s injuries this season, the feeling in Providence has been different from years past. To this point, the Bruins’ number of callups has hit the 30s.
“Going into weekends, you never know who’s going to be there when the weekend starts and who’s going to be there when the weekend ends,” Trotman said of the vibe around the Baby B’s.
While the margin for error is extremely slim during this recall, this situation isn’t completely new to Trotman. After all, he was in the Bruins’ lineup for the team’s 1-2-4 stretch in early December, so getting into games when wins are of the utmost importance shouldn’t be a major development.
“It’s a little familiar, but now it’s definitely a lot more into crunch time,” Trotman said Thursday. “It’s a lot more serious now. That’s really all there is to it.”
Trotman has been skating on a third pairing with Matt Bartkowski the last three days after seeing time mostly with Zdeno Chara against the Lightning. The Bartkowski-Trotman pairing means that usual No. 5/6 Torey Krug is being elevated to a second pairing.
Claude Julien hasn’t been afraid to tinker with his lineup this season, however, and with every game a must-win down the stretch, tinker he will. Whatever the number of shifts with whomever, Trotman thinks he’ll be able to handle it.
“I’ve played with Bart many times before,” he said. “I played with Seids quite a bit when I was up last time. Krug a little bit. I played with Zee some last game, and I’ve played with him in training camp before. I’m pretty comfortable with everyone right now.”
Trotman is big, strong and responsible, but he doesn’t bring the skill set that Hamilton brings. The team doesn’t expect him to replace Hamilton, who is easily Boston’s second-best defenseman and the team’s second leader in points in this season.
What they do expect is for him to be a serviceable third-pairing player on a back end that needs to be solid enough to get the Bruins into the playoffs.
“We realize we have to get things done now,” Trotman said. “It’s a backs-in-the-corner kind of deal. It’s a tougher situation than normal maybe to come up in, but I’m just trying to do my part, play my game, be simple, play hard and try to help the team win as many games as possible here.”
|03.26.15 at 2:00 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins and their run to make the playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Part of the struggles for the Bruins this season has been the play of defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. McGuire feels Chara isn’t the same player as he’s been in the past, as he is now 38 years old.
“Zdeno [Chara] is not the same player that he was,” McGuire said. “He’s having a harder time maintaining lots of ice time. He’s making mistakes we’re not used to seeing him make in terms of turnovers below the goal line from the hash mark down to the goal line. He’s losing guys in coverage. Getting beat wide which we haven’t seen a lot of him over the years because of that long stick.
“I don’t think he has the quickness in confined areas that he used to have and again, that doesn’t mean he can’t get it back, but it hasn’t been there for him and I am huge a Dennis Seidenberg fan and Dennis has not been the same player and I think a lot of that is because of injury more than anything else, I really believe that.”
David Krejci is likely to return to the lineup Thursday night, and the Bruins now need to find a place for him to play. McGuire says it will be an “experiment” to see where exactly he will fit in and on which line.
“I think it’s going to be an experiment,” McGuire said. “I think you’re going to take your time. I don’t think you want take away Ryan Spooner’s ice time. You don’t want to take [Patrice] Bergeron‘s ice time. You need [Carl] Soderberg to deliver for you and Gregory Campbell plays a different role. It is going to be very interesting to see how they do it. I probably would start him playing on the wing with Bergeron just because he won’t have to do a lot of the defensive heavy lifting that a center man has to do because he has Patrice there to help him out and it’s an easier position to play up high. We’ll see. Let’s be honest, Reilly Smith would be the first person to tell you he has not had a sterling season.”
As for the current status of the team, the Bruins are currently out of the playoffs in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, a point behind the Senators for the final spot. With nine games left in the regular-season, the team will need to get things going in a hurry in order to make the postseason.
“It’s not going well for them at all,” said McGuire. “There will be a lot of people watching the scoreboard tonight between Anaheim and Boston. This is not the position I’ll say just me in particular, I never thought the Bruins would be in this position. Even though I knew they would have a hard time replacing Jarome’s [Iginla] 30 goals, and he’s at 25 this year playing on a Colorado team that won’t make the playoffs and doesn’t have nearly the fire power that Boston does. But, he’s going to get 30 again, so replacing his 30 I thought would be tough and the Johnny Boychuk stuff would be tough, but I thought they would find a way doing it by committee, but they haven’t been able to do it. It’s been very disappointing.”
|03.26.15 at 12:15 pm ET|
Bruins right wing Brett Connolly was initially expected to miss six weeks after a Dennis Seidenberg wrist shot left him with a broken finger in his second practice as a member of the Bruins earlier this month. On Thursday, Connolly skated with his teammates for the first time since the injury, following one order.
“Stay away from Seids,” Connolly recalled his teammates warning him.
Now that the initial despair from Connolly’s bad luck has turned into something he can joke about, his attention has been turned to an eventual return — or debut, rather — that could come sooner than initially thought.
After getting back on the ice last Monday and working extensively with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides, Connolly’s progress from his surgically-repaired finger is apparent. Though he hasn’t taken contact, he’s handling the puck and shooting. Connolly is not yet taking slap shots, but slappers aren’t a priority for the right wing. Once he feels he can properly grip the stick (he says his comfort level there is at 60 percent), be able to fire wristers and snap shots to the best of his abilities and participate in battle drills, he wants to play.
Ideally, Connolly said he would be back able to play again in the final week of the regular season.
“I hope so,” he said of a regular-season return. “I’m not too sure yet. My timetable, I know I’m getting closer, so I’m expecting to be back a few games before this regular season [ends], but we’ll see.”
Claude Julien wasn’t overly forthright regarding Connolly’s timetable and whether he’s ahead of schedule. He did say the Bruins have been encouraged with what they’ve seen from the 22-year-old and that they’re eager to see him play.
The acquisition of Connolly at the trade deadline was an intriguing one for the Bruins. Though trading for the former sixth overall pick (and restricted free agent to-be) was more of a hockey deal for future seasons than a typical deadline acquisition, he was expected to slot into the lineup as a potential top-six right for the B’s down the stretch.
That obviously hasn’t happened, and Connolly has instead experienced a slow acclimation process to the team and the city. The Bruins are not yet bringing him on road trips, but Connolly said he’s established good relationships with his teammates, even if he’s spent more time with Whitesides than with any actual players.
“I’ve been here for almost a month, so the guys have been great,” Connolly said. “I’ve gotten comfortable with not only guys, but the city and knowing your way around, knowing your way to the practice facility and things like that. Just little things that make you a little bit more comfortable. It’s obviously not been the three weeks I would have envisioned, but I’ve gotten to know the city a little bit, get to know my teammates a little bit better.
“I’m excited to play that first game. Obviously we’re in a playoff hunt, so I’m looking to get back out there as soon as I can.”
|03.26.15 at 11:37 am ET|
David Krejci will take warmups and is “probable” to play Thursday night against the Ducks, Claude Julien said after the Bruins’ morning skate.
Krejci, who has missed the last 15 games with a partially torn MCL, will play right wing on Patrice Bergeron‘s line according to line rushes in morning skate.
Tuukka Rask is expected to start against the Ducks. Boston’s lineup in morning skate was as follows:
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|03.25.15 at 11:17 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins practiced for over an hour Wednesday, a rarity this late in the season, but it did mean David Krejci got in a significant workday as he aims to return to Boston’s lineup.
Following the practice, Krejci said “we’ll see” when asked if he could return Thursday. In a positive sign that he could be a go against the Ducks, Krejci practiced on the Bruins’ first power play unit.
Krejci took the spot of Dougie Hamilton, who is out for multiple weeks with an upper-body injury. Ryan Spooner, who initially replaced Krejci on the power play following Krejci’s torn MCL, remains on the first unit.
The power play units were as follows:
Eriksson, Bergeron, Spooner
Lucic, Soderberberg, Pastrnak
As for the extra-long practice, Claude Julien didn’t sound too worried about overworking his players ahead of a critical three games in four days.
“We’re fortunate that have that,” Julien said of his team’s practice days. “There’s certain areas that we wanted to kind of work on, and it gave us that opportunity.”
Boston’s lines and defense pairings were unchanged from Tuesday’s practice:
|03.24.15 at 10:23 pm ET|
If Brett Connolly hadn’t broken his finger, rendering him a non-factor down the stretch before he ever played a game for the Bruins, maybe the Reilly Smith problem wouldn’t matter as much as it does.
If Connolly were healthy and in the lineup, he would provide the B’s with a viable option to take Smith’s minutes and, with any hope, do more with them than Smith has.
Connolly isn’t there, however, and the Bruins’ playoff chances are slipping away while Smith’s confidence is seemingly nowhere to be found. On a team loaded with players who can run hot and cold, Smith has been at his coldest at the worst time imaginable.
The Bruins need the Smith of early last season and last postseason. The current Smith — the one who has no goals in his last 13 games and only 12 this season despite playing most of the year with one of the best centers in the world in Patrice Bergeron — needs to access the smarts and mindset that have previously made him a good top-sixer. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether that happens down the stretch, including him.
“I think you try to build it every day,” Smith said when asked if his confidence is where it needs to be. “Obviously when the team’s struggling and things aren’t working out, your confidence isn’t going to be as high as it usually is, but it’s something you’ve got to kind of work around.”
Smith missed the first game of his two-year Bruins career on Saturday when he was made a healthy scratch against the Panthers. Uninspired play — most notably a dreadful showing against the Senators last Thursday in which he had two turnovers that led to goals and was given just one shift over the final 28:03 — led to the benching, but he was back in the lineup the next day. Smith picked up an assist on Zdeno Chara‘s third-period power play goal against the Lightning, good for just his first point in seven games.
Tuesday’s practice saw Smith skate with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, while David Krejci held Smith’s usual spot to the right of Patrice Bergeron. Krejci playing with Marchand and Bergeron makes for a loaded first line, but the Bruins have historically had success with balance throughout their top three lines, if not all four.
That means that Smith needs to start producing regardless of where he plays. Even when Connolly returns, the prospects of him contributing are worse than they were prior to the injury, as finger injuries can still keep players off their games for a while after they return to action.
Four goals in 12 games. That’s what Smith brought to the table last postseason. It wasn’t anything remarkable, but it was consistent with his role. He’s been too quiet for too long this season, and he needs to find the aforementioned production to avoid being an easy scapegoat in a lost season.
“I think I can, and that’s obviously the goal, I think for everyone on this team,” Smith said. “These are a very important nine games coming up here at the end and we’re going to need our best effort coming from everyone. Anything you can do and anything extra is definitely going to go a long way in this stretch here.”