|01.01.17 at 1:36 pm ET|
The season series finale between the Bruins and Sabres had familiar themes. The Bruins beat the Sabres for the fourth time in as many tries for their first season swept against their rival of 40-plus seasons, and it was the third game in which Sabres winger Evander Kane and Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller appeared to take issue with one another.
But for the third game in as many contests, the duo were unable — or perhaps unwilling — to drop the gloves in a second period spat.
Instead, both were assessed minors while Kane was given an additional 10-minute misconduct in Saturday’s 3-1 win for the Black and Gold.
It’s worth noting that the two were both on the ice against one another late in the third period, with the Sabres in pursuit of a game-tying goal, but nothing came of it, as the Sabres were (understandably) more focused on their comeback attempt given their dire need for points, while Miller was playing on the other side of the rink as Kane.
Still, after the game, Miller sprinkled in a thought on Kane’s false bravado.
“I think he was excited to fight when the referees came in and not before,” Miller said.
Sunday morning, Kane took to Twitter to send a jab back towards Miller.
— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) January 1, 2017
After a Sunday practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Miller responded.
“I’ve been informed about [the tweet],” Miller, who does not have a Twitter account of his own and doesn’t sound like somebody that plans on making one, confirmed. “You guys can kinda pick and choose for that. You saw the game, right? I said my piece after the game. He wanted to fight when the refs and came in, and now he’s using Twitter, which is whatever you wanna call it — seems he has to say that when we don’t play them again.”
“He knew I wanted to [fight], there’s no ifs ands or buts about it,” Miller said of yesterday’s game and incident with Kane. “Everybody on his team knew I wanted to, and I’m pretty sure everybody on his team knows how I feel about him.”
And even though the bout between Kane-Miller will likely have to wait 10 months at the earliest, the 29-year-old Miller doesn’t sound like somebody that will forgive and forget when it comes down to the next head-to-head between the two.
“I have a long memory.”
|12.31.16 at 7:26 pm ET|
For the third game in a row, this one a 3-1 win over the rival Sabres in a New Year’s Eve matinee, the Bruins were denied a fight.
This time it did not involve Adam McQuaid getting his arms pinned down for some punches to the face. Instead it was Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller and Sabres winger Evander Kane who were not allowed at one another before the referees got involved, and put any hope of a fight to rest with a 10-minute misconduct handed down to Kane.
The TD Garden crowd, a 17,565-person mob that’s never come across a hockey fight they didn’t want to watch, voiced their displeasure.
But the obvious question: Why is this happening again and again?
“I don’t [know why],” Julien said. “We haven’t had a memo saying, ‘We’re doing this,’ or, ‘We’re doing that,’ and that’s probably something for someone else to answer. Maybe they’re trying to avoid scuffles.”
Saturday was not at bad as Thursday, no, but it still didn’t leave any member of the Bruins with a particularly great taste in their mouth given what’s happened in their recent bids to drop the gloves.
|12.31.16 at 4:55 pm ET|
The Bruins’ fears regarding David Backes’ health after a headshot from Sabres forward William Carrier in Thursday’s win were confirmed Saturday afternoon.
Taken out of the game on the hit, absent from Friday’s practice for further evaluation, and out for today’s game against the Sabres, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has announced that the 32-year-old Backes will be sidelined indefinitely with a concussion.
With Backes away from the team because of the concussion, Bruins coach Claude Julien said that he last talked to the veteran leader on the plane ride back from Buffalo late Thursday, but also provided a brief look into Backes’ current recovery situation when asked about him.
“He’s been told to stay home,” said Julien. “He’s been told to stay away from TVs and even texting him — he shouldn’t be receiving or texting — all I know is that he’s seen the doctors and I’m not quite sure whether he’s getting on the right track now or whether he’s still the same as he was two days ago.”
Surprisingly enough given his rough-and-tough style, this concussion goes down as just the second documented concussion of Backes’ decade-long NHL career and his first since with Boston since signing a five-year, $30 million contract last summer.
Including today’s game, Backes has missed six games this season (though the first five were due to an elbow procedure) and the Bruins have stepped up to the challenge in his absence, with wins in four of those six contests.
Backes has recorded nine goals and 19 points in 33 games this season, and leads the team with 98 hits.
|12.31.16 at 3:40 pm ET|
The Bruins have been awfully good at pushing back in 2016. Not by design, but rather out of necessity for survival in a jam-packed Atlantic Division. But perhaps it was fitting that on the final day of 2016, where we’ll eagerly push 2016 into the past later tonight, that the Bruins flipped the script and were the ones that pushed, with three straight goals to begin the game in a matinee win over the Sabres.
In the season series finale between the B’s and hated Sabres, it was Bruins winger Frank Vatrano that scored the game’s first goal, tallied just 88 seconds into the game. The Bruins were then given a chance to extend that lead to two when Anton Blidh drew a hooking penalty on Sabres defenseman Cody Franson midway through the period.
With chances galore, the closing hurrah of that 5-on-4 advantage came on a brilliant tic-tac-toe sequence that ended with Tim Schaller alone in front of Robin Lehner, but just denied by the extended pad of the lanky Sabres netminder.
It was just another close-but-not-close-enough refrain of a song sung from start to finish of this Bruins season. Same could have been said for what immediately followed, too. Whistled for a slash by Brad Marchand, the 4-on-5 shorthanded kill for the Black and Gold became a 3-on-5 on the Bruins when Schaller was whistled for a hook 53 seconds after the initial slash.
Pinned in their end — and just moments after they nearly struck for a goal that would have given the club a 2-0 lead — the Bruins looked prime to give up the game-tying goal and back their own break with bad luck once more.
But the Bruins instead kept the Sabres off the shot board entirely during the penalty kill, and carried a 1-0 lead through 20 while holding a desperate Sabres attack to just five shots on goal (two of which came when the Sabres were shorthanded).
It was the break that the Bruins used to their benefit in the middle frame, too, as tempers flared and the Bruins countered with goals, the first from Patrice Bergeron (a power-play goal) at 7:04, and then the next from Schaller, just 2:25 later. The tallies obviously upped the pressure on a stressed Sabres group, and caused some Sabres, namely the club’s second-most talented wing (Evander Kane) to go absolutely beserk in search of an answer and take a 10-minute misconduct for a spat with Kevan Miller.
In a game that had the perfect excuse for silliness — especially post-Kane misconduct and given everything else that’s circled this near four-decade old rivalry this season — the Bruins instead focused on playing well in a situation that’s become a bit of rarity (and came with the disastrous result of a collapse and overtime loss to the Hurricanes in their last try).
And given how often they’ve been left to fight from behind in recent weeks, it’s easy to forget how dominant Claude Julien teams tend to be — both this year and historically speaking — when either leading after 40 minutes of play or holding a two-goal edge.
Entering Saturday’s third period with a 15-0-1 record when leading after two periods this year, and with a 202-15-10 record since in any game in which they’ve led by at least two goals since the start of the 2011 season, the Bruins bumped those figures up another win with a sound third period, headlined by prolonged stretches without a shot on goal for the Sabres (they went almost six full minutes without a shot on goal) and eight stops from Tuukka Rask, who made 26 saves in total in the win.
The lesson learned: it’s awfully fun to play with a lead. And a lot less stressful.
|12.31.16 at 10:07 am ET|
It’s the last mailbag of 2016! To send in questions, email email@example.com or Tweet @RearAdBsBlog.
What’s the deal with the “Claude’s getting fired” rumors? Is there any to it? Jamie, Tewksbury, MA
Nah, I don’t think he’s under any more heat than usual. (Canadian reporter Darren Dreger said as much on NBCSN this week, blaming the baseless rumor on the lull in the schedule.) Despite the team’s crappy home ice performances and occasional sleepy starts, Claude Julien currently has the Bruins in a playoff spot. They’re third in the Atlantic and seven points behind Montreal for first.
Conversely, if they lose Saturday’s matinee to Buffalo, and Tampa Bay beats Carolina tonight, they’ll be on the outside looking in so it’s a very precarious playoff position. But even if they eventually tumble from a playoff spot, Claude didn’t build the roster. He’s not the one who hasn’t brought in a top-six winger or a replacement for Dougie Hamilton. He’s wringing what he can out of this crew and is doing a pretty decent job at it.
Do you think the Winter Classic and the other outdoor games are played out? Landon, Scituate, MA
I’ve heard this complaint the last couple of winters and don’t quite get it. There’s a game held at a unique location each New Year’s Day (in addition to other locations for the non-WC games) and it sells out in minutes. Attendees have a blast. Viewers at home often get a visual treat (think Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo at a snowy Rich Stadium) or, at a minimum, a national telecast of an NHL game to ease their first hangover of the new year. The players seem to genuinely enjoy it. The league makes a boatload of money on the sales of new, typically cool-looking jerseys. I mean, everybody is seemingly happy so what’s the bitching about? Just goes to show that yes, people will even complain about a free lunch.
Who do you like in the Battle of the Winning Streaks, Columbus or Minnesota? Tommy, Winchester, MA
Every year when the NHL schedule comes out, we all circle games that we anticipate. Bruins fans instantly make note of each Montreal game and scour the weekend trips for a potential roadie with the fellas or the missus (I need to get to Nashville ASAP). But I can’t imagine many people penciled in the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Minnesota Wild as the NHL’s de facto Game of the Year (so far). Well it’s true, as the two teams have made history.
Per Elias, it’s the first time in the history of the continent’s four major leagues that two teams with winning streaks of at least 12 games will face off against each other. Columbus has reeled off a crazily impressive 14 straight wins to vault to the top of the league standings; their 54 points is one more than Pittsburgh AND they have three games in hand. The Wild have won a dozen straight to get within a point of conference-leading Chicago and have four games in hand over the Hawks.
But only one streak can continue after Saturday night and the bet here says that Columbus (+105 and -1.5 +265) is too much for Minny to handle in a 3-1 win.
|12.30.16 at 2:51 pm ET|
Leveled on an illegal check to the head from Sabres forward William Carrier in the first period of last night’s win over the Sabres, Bruins forward David Backes did not make his great comeback this morning as the Bruins took the ice for a Friday practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
The lone B’s skater missing from the skate, Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed that Backes was undergoing an evaluation.
“He’s being assessed today and the organization will release something as soon as they know more,” Julien said. “Obviously he’s seen the doctors, he’s seen everybody else. That’s all I have.”
With Backes absent from practice, the Bruins moved Frank Vatrano to the right side of the second line with David Krejci and Ryan Spooner, while Riley Nash moved to the right wing of a third line with Tim Schaller on the left side and Austin Czarnik in the middle.
In the first year of a five-year, $30 million contract with the club, the 32-year-old Backes has already missed five games this year because of an elbow injury, and has recorded nine goals and 19 points with 89 shots and 98 hits in 33 games for the Bruins this season.
Backes does have concussion history, with his last documented concussion coming in Nov. 2014.
|12.30.16 at 9:59 am ET|
In case anyone needed a reminder, insulting people with homophobic slurs is gross. Anyone who does it deserves to be called out and have their shameful behavior laid bare for all to see.
Twitter user @DJ_Redd_Baron (who lists his name as James Hand-son) learned that lesson the hard way after tweeting said homophobic slurs at Bruins forward Brad Marchand. Marchand, to his credit, didn’t just let it slide and decided to take the opportunity to call out this idiot and make a statement.
Mr. Hand-son then deleted the tweet, but Marchand didn’t let him off the hook, retweeting another user’s screenshot of the tweet. @DJ_Redd_Baron then deleted his entire account, something he should’ve done a long time ago.
This derogatory statement is offensive to so many people around the world your the kind of kid parents are ashamedof https://t.co/sfVcEOPC4J
— Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) December 30, 2016
— Corey (@Riouinsuiko) December 30, 2016
@DJ_Redd_Baron your not getting off that easy bud https://t.co/g6oBoKX4XN
— Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) December 30, 2016
This was such good work by Marchand that we’ll even forgive the your/you’re mixups.