|03.11.16 at 12:38 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Patrice Bergeron was the only player absent from Friday’s practice as the Bruins prepared to host the Islanders in the upcoming Saturday matinee.
Bergeron, who committed an ill-timed line change in the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Hurricanes on Thursday, was given a maintenance day on Friday, according to Claude Julien.
Kevan Miller, who has missed the Bruins’ last three games since taking a hit from behind from Alexander Ovechkin last Saturday, practiced with the Bruins for the second straight day.
|03.11.16 at 12:54 am ET|
For the fourth time in six days, the Bruins played bonus hockey on top of their regularly scheduled 60 minutes.
And despite falling in overtime Thursday night at TD Garden to Carolina by a final of 3-2, Boston’s two recent road overtime wins (over Florida and Tampa Bay) tucked between two home overtime losses (to Washington and Carolina) have given the team enough points to surge into first place in the Atlantic Division.
That said, earning the “loser point” in two of the past four contests didn’t have the B’s giddy with excitement in the moments after Carolina’s Phil Di Giuseppe’s buried the OT winner Thursday.
“I don’t think we’re going to make that big of a deal of being in first place,” coach Claude Julien said. “Right now we’re really looking at our game and in that dressing room we’re not happy. Even if it means that point got us in first, we’re certainly not satisfied with that.”
“Right now it kind of stinks to be on the losing side,” echoed centerman David Krejci. “After the tough start we had this year to find ourselves — what is it 70 games in? — in first place that’s pretty impressive. But we’ll more appreciate that tomorrow.”
The Bruins fell to 38-23-8 after their 69th game of the year, to be exact. With 13 games remaining in the season, getting two points instead of just one could make all the difference down the stretch.
“Every point is very important for us, everybody is pushing for playoffs,” said David Pastrnak, whose goal in the third period Thursday evened the score at 2-2 and allowed for Bruins to earn the single point. “Every game is going to be really tight. For us, it’s just about focusing on the details and finishing strong.”
|03.10.16 at 9:45 pm ET|
WEEI.com Bruins postgame podcast
Though the Bruins have gotten points out of opponents like the Blackhawks, Capitals, Panthers and Lightning (3-0-1) of late, it’s been non-playoff opponents that seemingly have given them the most trouble.
Much like the Bruins struggled last Tuesday against the Flames, they were hard-pressed to score against the Hurricanes for much of Thursday’s contest in a game they would eventually lose in overtime.
An ill-timed attempted line change from Patrice Bergeron led to a Jeff Skinner breakaway in overtime. Tuukka Rask made the stopped, but Phillip Di Giuseppe got to the rebound and wheeled around to send it into the net and give Carolina a 2-1 win at TD Garden.
The Bruins now are 4-0-2 since the trade deadline. With Thursday’s point, the B’s are now in first place in the Atlantic Division. With 84 points on the season, the B’s are one ahead of Tampa Bay, though the Lightning have two games in hand and will play Friday.
The B’s will next play Saturday when they host the Islanders at the Garden.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
B’S FINALLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WARD, BUT NOT ENOUGH
Through the first two periods, Cam Ward allowed just one goal on 24 shots faced. Those numbers were not reflective of his performance.
Ward was a mess on Thursday, rarely stopping anything cleanly. The Bruins didn’t get to rebounds, however, so pucks left in front of the net by the Carolina goaltender were swept away by the defenders in front of him.
|03.10.16 at 6:30 pm ET|
Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs will be inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame this June. Also inducted will be David A. Jensen, Stephen Palmacci and Jack Parker.
Jacobs has owned the Bruins for 41 years, overseeing the team through highs and lows that included the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup championship.
“My selection reflects the entire Bruins organization as well as the team’s true owners, its dedicated and loyal fans,” Jacobs said in a statement. “Massachusetts is a great hockey state, and we are proud to play a role in the sport’s continued growth and development. I am tremendously honored.”
Parker coached Boston University from 1973 through 2013, winning the NCAA National Championship three times.
|03.10.16 at 4:58 pm ET|
The Bruins have 14 games remaining. Nine of them are against teams currently in playoff position.
A season ago, that might have meant 14 games for Tuukka Rask. After all, Rask started 16 of the Bruins’ final 17 games of the season in what, despite a strong performance from the starter, proved to be a fruitless push to reach the playoffs.
Everyone knows why Rask played so much down the stretch last season: The Bruins needed to win the games and they didn’t have any confidence in Niklas Svedberg, their backup goaltender. As such, Rask was a busy man.
This season, the Bruins might not need the points as much to get into the playoffs, but they certainly have something for which to play. Securing the top seed in the Atlantic Division would mean setting up one or two potentially winnable playoff series against teams like Pittsburgh, Detroit or Florida.
So while there’s plenty of motivation to keep going to Rask, the Bruins like this season’s backup goaltender a lot better. Coming off his best game as a Bruin, Jonas Gustavsson is eager to provide the Bruins with big points the way he did in a 42-save shutout against the Lightning Tuesday.
Claude Julien downplayed the number of shots against the Bruins have allowed of late, saying that the 42 that Gustavsson faced Tuesday were not as difficult as the 51 Rask faced Monday. Gustavsson agreed that keeping shots to the outside limited Tampa’s prime chances, but he still needed to come up with critical stops against the likes of Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov.
“There’s always going to be those chances when you need to step up,” Gustavsson said. “I was able to do that, but all in all I think we’ve played a really solid defensive game.”
Gustavsson has good numbers this season (his .916 save percentage is three points behind Rask), but he has not always passed the eye test. Rebound control is his biggest issue, but at the very least he has provided the B’s with a backup they trust. That’s huge when considering that Malcolm Subban is not currently an option due to the larynx surgery he had to receive last month.
The Bruins have two back-to-backs remaining, so there’s a good chance Gustavsson will play again next weekend in California and later this month when the B’s play in New York and then host the Panthers the next night. Those are good teams the Bruins will be playing; they won’t be able to play Rask the rest of the way like they did a season ago.
“I saw that he played a lot, but it’s tough when you’re not part of the team to really know what’s going on,” Gustavsson said. “Maybe they were in a different position points-wise as well. Right now we’re in pretty good position, but the most important thing is we keep getting better as a group and keep getting those points. If that includes me playing more games than the backup goalie played last year, we’ll see. I’ll just take it day-by-day.”
|03.10.16 at 11:53 am ET|
Kevan Miller participated in Thursday’s morning skate, but he will miss his third straight game when the Bruins host the Hurricanes at TD Garden.
The veteran defenseman has been out with an upper-body injury since leaving last Saturday’s game against the Capitals following a second-period hit from behind from Alexander Ovechkin.
Speaking after the skate, Claude Julien said that Miller remains day-to-day and is “obviously doing well.” He noted that Miller could be a possibility for Saturday’s game against the Islanders.
Miller, who appeared to injure his right shoulder on the hit, went to the hospital after the play. His season was ended by right shoulder surgery last year, so it would have been understandable if he feared a worse outcome than he experienced when he left the game.
“It wasn’t a very pleasant couple of minutes there,” Miller admitted. “It happens.”
With Miller out, Joe Morrow is expected to play his second straight game. Zach Trotman played Monday in Boston’s first game without Miller before the B’s brought Morrow into the lineup.
After a phone hearing with the league, John-Michael Liles was not given supplemental discipline for his hit to the head of Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. Liles was not penalized on the play, which saw him extend his arm and hit Kucherov at the Bruins’ blueline during Boston’s 1-0 win over the Bolts.
Assuming the Bruins play Morrow, they will have five left-shot defensemen and only one righty (Adam McQuaid) in the lineup. Liles played the right side with Zdeno Chara Tuesday against the Lightning, while Dennis Seidenberg played the right side with Morrow.
“Both those guys can play their off-sides,” Julien said. “We’ve seen it with Seids and John-Michael has been in the same situation before. He’s played both sides, so that’s been helpful, there’s no doubt. I thought they did a great job last game of handling that and giving us that stability here of being able to have certain players in the lineup and playing with different partners.”
|03.08.16 at 10:15 pm ET|
They needed overtime once again, but the Bruins completed a perfect Florida back-to-back with a 1-0 overtime win over the Lightning Tuesday at Amalie Arena.
After the teams played a frenetic 60 minutes of scoreless regulation, Brad Marchand took a feed from Patrice Bergeron off the rush 10 seconds into overtime and beat Ben Bishop to give Boston the win. The goal was Marchand’s 34th of the season.
In assisting the goal, Bergeron continued his recent hot streak, as he now has seven points (five goals, two assists) over his last five games. Furthermore, the Bruins are now 4-0-1 in five games since the trade trade deadline, a stretch that has seen them defeat three of the four playoff teams they faced.
The victory pulled the Bruins even with the Atlantic-leading Lightning with 83 points, though Tampa remains ahead of Boston in the division due to a game in hand. Tampa has 15 games remaining to Boston’s 14.
The Bruins will return to Boston to host the Hurricanes on Thursday. Because Tampa does not play until Friday, the Bruins can overtake first place for the first time all season if they are to secure a victory against Carolina.
Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:
Because we haven’t watched every game of Jonas Gustavsson’s career, we can’t say that Tuesday’s performance was the best of the veteran netminder’s NHL tenure. At the very least, it’s safe to say he played his best game as a Bruin.
Gustavsson made a career-high 42 saves, surpassing his previous best of 40. While Tampa pretty much threw the puck on net every time they got it, Gustsavsson also had to rob the likes of Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov at various points to keep the game scoreless.
The move to not start Rask in back-to-backs proved to be the wise one for the Bruins, as Rask had played in seven straight games for Boston. No rust showed for Gustavsson, however, and his shutout performance allowed the Bruins to get two huge points while being able to play Rask against the Hurricanes and Islanders in the coming days before the B’s head out west for a three-game road trip.
Of course, the Bruins probably shouldn’t get into the habit of giving up shots like they have of late. Tuukka Rask had to face 51 shots Monday against the Panthers before the Lightning put 42 pucks on Gustavsson. Read the rest of this entry »