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5 things we learned as Ryan Spooner helps Bruins keep distance from Senators

03.10.15 at 10:06 pm ET
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Ryan Spooner had to go home to have the most productive game of his NHL career.

The Kanata, Ontario, native netted two goals as the Bruins enjoyed a 3-1 win over the Senators on Tuesday in Ottawa. Spooner picked up his second career goal with a second-period power play tally and added an even strength goal by finishing off a Milan Lucic net drive later in the period.

The 23-year-old center now has eight points (three goals, five assists) in the eight games since he was called up following David Krejci‘€™s knee injury. Spooner is also riding a six-game point streak (three goals, four assists).

The game should be a confidence-booster for Spooner, as his production had recently been accompanied by some five-on-five struggles for his line in a weekend that saw his group stuck in the defensive zone too much for Claude Julien‘s liking.

Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:

BRUINS KEEP SENATORS AWAY

With the win, the Bruins created some distance between themselves and an Ottawa team that was pushing for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The B’€™s now sit seven points ahead of the Sens through 66 games, though Ottawa has one game in hand. The Panthers (72 points in 66 games) sit between the two teams.

RASK TURNS 28, NEARLY TURNS IN A SHUTOUT

Though Tuesday was Tuukka Rask‘€™s birthday, it was the netminder who gave a gift to his teammates with a solid performance that kept the Bruins with a bigger lead than they may have deserved.

Rask survived a 21-shot barrage in the second period from Ottawa, though he was helped out by three hit posts. The Senators finally broke up his shutout when Matt Puempel took a puck off the end boards from a wide Patrick Wiercioch point shot and tapped it into the net.

The reigning Vezina-winner finished the night with 39 saves on 40 shots faced.

PASTRNAK’€™S PENALTIES

Perhaps David Pastrnak and linemates Lucic and Spooner spent so much time stuck in their own zone last weekend that they forgot what to do in the offensive zone.

Pastrnak, who entered Tuesday with just two penalties in 29 career games, took two penalties — both in the offensive zone — in the first 10 minutes of Tuesday’€™s game. The 18-year-old tripped Eric Gryba on his first shift of the game and, about six minutes after leaving the penalty box for that infraction, smothered the puck behind the net for a delay of game call.

ERIKSSON FLASHES SKILL

Loui Eriksson continued what figures to be a relatively quiet 20-plus goal campaign with a sensational play that got him to 17 goals on the season.

With the Senators not getting the puck deep on a line change in the second period, Dougie Hamilton threw the puck off the boards up the ice from his own end with Eriksson giving chase. Eriksson beat Cody Ceci to the puck in the offensive zone and made a brilliant one-hand pass to himself through the defenseman before beating Craig Anderson to make it 2-0.

(Vine courtesy of Pete Blackburn)

Read More: Ryan Spooner, Tuukka Rask,

Daniel Paille uses ‘positive attitude’ to regain his mojo: ‘When they go in, it seems you can almost do anything’

03.08.15 at 5:20 pm ET
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It’s hard to tell who’s more relieved at the turnaround of Daniel Paille. Both player and coach Claude Julien have to reason to be elated with the recent production of the fourth line left wing.

Since being benched for the final two games of the five-game road trip, Paille has been on fire. His two goals Sunday were the difference in a 5-3 win over the Red Wings at TD Garden. He has four goals in the six games since, including Sunday’s short-handed marker.

“Sometimes when you sit out you get to reflect on what you can do better,” Paille said after Sunday’s offensive display. “For me, I definitely kept a positive attitude about it. Like l’ve said before, Claude was great with me about it. Coming back, kind of a play like you’ve got nothing to lose. Just keep working. If you keep working, good things will come out of it, and so far, that’s what’s been going right now. So it’s a huge boost I guess.”

“I’€™m sure it helped him in a good way, not necessarily as a wake-up call, more than watching the game and missing it,” Julien added. “At the same time, I think there’€™s no doubt the trade deadline’€™s over, guys know they’€™re here, there’€™s a lot of players that have picked up their game I think since then. Whether it’€™s a combination of that or combination of where we are in the standings and wanting to make sure we get ourselves into a playoff spot and doing whatever it takes, could be a lot of different things. It’€™s nice to see a lot of those players really bring their game up a notch.”

Paille was the butt of many jokes about the Bruins’ lack of finish around the net. He’s had the last laugh since being re-inserted into the lineup. Paille went 36 games without a goal and scored in each of his first two games back. On Sunday, he matched that total in just three shots.

“When they go in, it seems that you can almost do anything, so a big part of the game is mental and sometimes they’€™re not going to go in and it’€™s just staying focused on the right things that we’€™re doing out there and for me of course it’€™s been a frustrating time for the most part of the season, but the main point is to stay with it and having the support through the whole team here is definitely a huge boost for all of us,” Paille said. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell

5 things we learned as special teams push Bruins past Red Wings

03.08.15 at 3:01 pm ET
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The Bruins can thank their special teams and an improving fourth line for finishing off a sweep of what figured to be a very difficult back-to-back this weekend.

The Bruins scored a pair of shorthanded goals off Stephen Weiss turnovers, while David Pastrnak and Loui Eriksson netted power-play goals in a 5-3 win over the Red Wings (box). Boston’€™s only even-strength goal came in the form of a second-period Daniel Paille tally, his second of the day after netting a shorty earlier in the period.

The game marked Paille’€™s first two-goal game since Dec. 14, 2011 and continued what’€™s been quite the renaissance for the veteran winger after getting scratched late last month. After netting just one goal over the first 57 games of the season, Paille has now scored four goals in six games since his benching.

Maxime Talbot appears to be a permanent fit on Boston’€™s fourth line going forward. In assisting Paille’€™s second goal, he now has helpers in two straight games.

The win improved Boston’€™s record to 33-22-10 with 76 points. The B’€™s increased their lead over the Panthers to four points for the second wild card spot with one game in hand. Boston trails Washington (82 points) by six point, though the B’€™s have two games in hand.

Here are four more things we learned Sunday:

MARCHAND STAYS HOT

A day after scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals against the Flyers, Marchand picked a puck from Weiss’€™ stick at the blueline and raced to a breakaway on which he got Jonas Gustavsson to bite on a deke. The goal was his third in less than eight minutes of hockey.

Marchand’€™s first-period goal was his fifth in the last four games to bring him to a team-leading 22 on the season.

SPOONER LINE BECOMING DANGEROUS

After spending much of Saturday’€™s game in their own zone, Ryan Spooner’€™s line with Milan Lucic and Pastrnak continued to give Julien reason to worry.

Lucic committed a turnover that led to a Gustav Nyquist goal in the first period, with Detroit following Philadelphia’€™s lead and enjoying lengthy stays in Boston’€™s zone Sunday. Detroit also scored against the line in the third period.

SVEDBERG SURVIVES

With the Bruins having to play just over 19 hours after the conclusion of Saturday’€™s overtime win, Claude Julien faced a tough decision between starting playing Rask twice in less than 24 hours or going with his backup in what figured to be a tough contest.

Julien’€™s faith in Niklas Svedberg paid off thanks solely to the fact that the Bruins scored five goals. Svedberg allowed a couple of soft goals, including a horrifying goal against early in the third period in which an easy wrister from Luke Glendening off the rush trickled in five-hole.

Svedberg appeared to have trouble seeing Marek Zidlicky’€™s power-play goal from the point later in the period.

CAMPBELL STAYS IN

Brian Ferlin took warmups prior to Sunday’€™s game, but Julien opted to keep Gregory Campbell in the lineup and Ferlin out.

There’€™s probably something a decision to be made there going forward, but for now it seems Julien wants to see how a fourth line of Campbell centering Daniel Paille and Talbot will work. Campbell drew a penalty Saturday in his first game back from an upper-body injury, but he also took an unnecessary icing that led to a defensive zone faceoff on which Philadelphia took the lead.

Ferlin has struggled of late, most notably failing to get the puck in deep before a line change Thursday that led to a Flames goal, but Julien should embrace a rotation and not be afraid of scratching one of his veterans at times down the stretch.

Given the line’€™s success Sunday (Campbell did take a second-period holding penalty), the three will probably stay together for the time being.

Read More: Daniel Paille,

Brett Connolly hopes to play for Bruins before playoffs

03.08.15 at 11:45 am ET
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Brett Connolly

Brett Connolly

Bruins right wing Brett Connolly met with reporters prior to Sunday’€™s game, doing so for the first time since breaking the index finger in his right hand in his second practice with the team.

Connolly is expected to miss six weeks, but he hopes he can return before then and get into a regular-season game or two. He underwent surgery Thursday and will have an appointment Monday to see how the finger, which had a plate put over it, is healing.

The trade deadline acquisition said that he knew something was wrong when Dennis Seidenberg‘€™s wrist shot hit him in Wednesday’€™s practice. He didn’€™t react as such, however, as he skated and chatted with the defenseman immediately after.

“Obviously he came to see if I was OK, and you want to lie to him and tell him that you’€™re OK, but when your finger looks broken, it’€™s [obvious],” Connolly said. “For me, I felt bad for him because it was just such a harmless shot. It was just a wrister that was just in a spot that I couldn’€™t get out of the way. It just hit me in a weird spot.”

Connolly had his right hand surgically reconstructed after breaking it in an accident as a five-year-old. He said Sunday that his current injury is unrelated and that he’€™s happy with his latest surgery.

Julien said that Connolly will not travel with the Bruins for the time being. Connolly hopes to begin skating soon and adding more drills and eventual puck work as his finger heals. For now, Julien said the team wants him to focus on feeling better.

“I think right now it’€™s more about his recovery for the first few weeks, at least,” Julien said. “We’€™ve been talking to him. We’€™ve already shown him a lot of stuff about our team, about our system that he’€™s very well aware of before the injury actually, so I’€™m sure that watching us play is going to help him a lot in regards to that. If he’€™s got some questions, we’€™re always there to answer those things, but he’€™ll be fine. He’€™ll have a good idea of what to do when he’€™s ready to come back.”

Read More: Brett Connolly,

Sunday Skate Live Chat: Post-trade deadline, pre-Brett Connolly era edition

03.08.15 at 6:43 am ET
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Did the Bruins overpay Torey Krug and Reilly Smith? Did they do enough at the trade deadline? Why hasn’t Brett Connolly scored for the Bruins yet?

Questions like that stand a good chance of being asked in the Sunday Skate live chat with Pete Blackburn, DJ Bean and Joe McDonald. Join in the fun below and listen to the show here from 8-10 a.m.

Live Blog Sunday Skate Live Chat
 

Bruins’ late-game heroics push Flyers further back in Eastern Conference

03.07.15 at 7:06 pm ET
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The Flyers missed a chance to make up ground in the playoff race Saturday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Flyers missed a chance to make up ground in the playoff race Saturday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The importance of Saturday’s game for the Flyers could not be overstated.

Trailing the Bruins by four points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia could have moved closer in the standings with a win. Before Saturday’s game started, Bruins coach Claude Julien admitted this would most likely be Philadelphia’s biggest game this season.

With the clock winding down in the third period, the Flyers looked like they would get two valuable points in this critical game. Forward Chris VandeVelde redirected a shot from the point past goaltender Tuukka Rask, which gave Philadelphia a one-goal lead with 4:30 remaining. All seemed ripe for a Flyers win.

Until it didn’t.

Wayne Simmonds was called for tripping at the 17:57 mark. The penalty set the Bruins up with a power play, and essentially a 6-on-4 chance when Rask left for the bench.

Brad Marchand then tied the game up on the ensuing man advantage with 14.1 seconds to go with a deflection goal. And with 1:08 remaining in overtime, Marchand did it again with a backhanded goal that bounced over netminder Steve Mason’s shoulder.

Instead of pulling within two points of the Bruins, the Flyers now are five back of a playoff spot.

“It’s a tough defeat, but there’s still time and I mean there’s more games,” VandeVelde said following the loss. “But it’s getting down there so we’ve got to start winning games and doing the right things and holding on to wins.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brad Marchand, Chris VandeVelde, Craig Berube, Jakub Voracek

5 things we learned as Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand save Bruins in overtime vs. Flyers

03.07.15 at 3:42 pm ET
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Brad Marchand had so much fun getting to 20 goals Saturday that added a 21st for good measure. The Bruins certainly needed it, as the second of Marchand’€™s two goals gave the B’€™s a 3-2 win over the Flyers at TD Garden.

A Chris VandeVelde goal with 4:30 in regulation left the game in doubt, but Brad Marchand tipped a Dougie Hamilton shot past Steve Mason at 19:45 of the third period with the Bruins on the power play and Tuukka Rask pulled.

Rask bailed out the Bruins twice in overtime. He first rescued Ryan Spooner’€™s line when a stay in the offensive zone turned into a 3-on-1 for Philadelphia with just Torey Krug back for Boston. Rask made a timely save to negate the bid.

Shortly after, some confusion at the offensive blue line by Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson led to a Jakub Voracek breakaway chance that Rask kicked aside.

The win prevented the Flyers from making up ground on the Bruins in their push for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia now has 69 points in 66 games. The Bruins are at 74 points through 64 contests.

Here are four more things we learned:

CAMPBELL’S RETURN ENDS POORLY

Gregory Campbell‘€™s return to the Bruins’€™ lineup started strong and ended horribly.

After a four-game absence due to an upper-body injury, Campbell went hard to the net to take a pass from Maxime Talbot and got hooked in the process. The penalty led to a Patrice Bergeron goal that gave Boston a 1-0 lead.

With less than five minutes to play in regulation of a tie game, however, Campbell failed to gain the red line and iced the puck, leading to an defensive zone faceoff and Flyers possession on which a Nick Schultz shot was tipped by Chris VandeVelde past Tuukka Rask.

With Campbell back, Claude Julien kept Chris Kelly with Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg. Campbell centered the fourth line with Talbot and Daniel Paille.

Campbell’€™s return meant that Talbot was pushed off the penalty kill after seeing shorthanded time Thursday against the Flames.

BARTKOWSKI PUTTING BRUINS IN A STICKY SITUATION

Matt Bartkowski has been called for three stick penalties the last two games. All three have resulted in power play goals allowed by the B’€™s.

The costly infraction Saturday came in the second period, when Ryan White sold a call in the Bruins’€™ zone, leading to a Jakub Voracek strike on the man advantage.

The Flames scored power play goals following a first-period hook and a third-period trip from Bartkowski Thursday.

Of course, if these penalties are costing the Bruins, it means something else as well…

PENALTY KILL IS REELING

Surrendering a power-play goal was hardly a new development given the way things have fared of late for Boston’€™s PK.

Voracek’€™s second-period tally was the third power-play goal the B’€™s have allowed in the last two games (4-for-7 on the penalty kill) and ninth in nine games. The B’€™s are just 17-for-26 on the PK in that span.

Prior to the game, Dennis Seidenberg said that Boston’€™s power play has recently not been as aggressive as it’€™s been when it has had success.

CHARA AT THE POINT LEADS TO POINTS

As we noted following last week’€™s win over the Coyotes, Zdeno Chara‘€™s return to the point on the power play after a year and a half of playing forward on the man advantage is getting results. Saturday was no different.

In taking a pass from Dougie Hamilton along the blueline and throwing a long wrist shot on net that Bergeron redirected past Steve Mason, Chara created a Bruins power play goal from the point for the second time in three games. Chara stepped up and blasted a slap shot from the right circle for a goal last week against Arizona.

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