|02.14.15 at 12:36 am ET|
By the end of the Bruins’ five-game road trip, the NHL will be eight days away from the trade deadline. The Bruins began that trip Friday with an effort that suggested they might not be worth fixing this season.
After giving away a pair of goals in the opening 5:03 of the night, the Bruins proceeded to turn in lifeless second and third periods en route to a concerning 5-2 loss to the Canucks (box).
Tuukka Rask, who hadn’t given up more than three goals in 25 straight appearances, saw four pucks end up behind him as a result of either mindless or passive play in front of him. Boston defensemen more or less gifted Shawn Matthias a hat trick, while Jannik Hansen picked up an empty netter from his own zone in the final minutes .
The Panthers lost to the Stars Friday, so the B’s still have a four-point lead for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida still has one game in hand on the B’s, however.
The Bruins will next play Monday when they face a difficult Flames team currently in line for a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
Here are four other things we learned Friday.
POTENTIAL TARGETS IMPROVE VALUE
Matthias and Kassian are names that have been liked to the Bruins in trade rumors. Matthias, a left shot, has played both left wing and center. Neither position is a need for the Bruins, but Matthias could be appealing if he can play right wing.
Kassian has fallen a long way since he was once considered Buffalo’s answer for Milan Lucic. Since being traded to the Canucks for Cody Hodgson in 2012, the former 13th overall pick has not reached the 15-goal mark in a season and has had some issues with professionalism. He does, however, play right wing.
|02.13.15 at 12:16 pm ET|
The Bruins legend discussed the team’s current struggles to maintain consistency.
“In our game today, just get to the playoffs. If you can get to the playoffs, who knows?” Orr said. “Look at the Bruins, look who they’re competing against. How much stronger are the other teams? The parity is unbelievable, and if you get there, who knows?”
Added Orr: “One of the key things for all the teams is injuries. I mean, the injuries that the teams have right now and have had all season, if you can go into a playoff healthy, you’ve got a shot. I mean, nobody’s that much stronger than the next.”
One of the struggling Bruins is veteran captain Zdeno Chara, who has shown signs of slowing down in recent years.
“He’s not finished yet, but he plays a lot,” Orr said. “He’s so big. I mean, if we go back to last year’s playoffs and the Montreal series, you could see that he was tired. And they do play him a lot, and they’re kind of in a bind now. I think they’re four points ahead of Florida for the wild card position. They’ve got to play him, he’s their best defenseman. … It’s unfortunate they can’t give him a little bit of a rest.”
The Bruins occupy the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
The rival Canadiens have shut out the Bruins in the season series this year, winning all four games between the teams.
“I’m not sure they’re that much better than the Bruins. It’s been like this for years,” Orr said when asked why the B’s haven’t been able to find a way to beat Montreal. “The Canadiens have had great luck against the Bruins, and it could be a head thing. The Canadiens come into Boston, and they play very well in the Garden. They really do. They’ve always played well in the Garden. Going back to my time, we had issues with the Canadiens. So it’s not just happening to this Bruins team, it’s been happening for a long time.”
Orr also offered his comments on the hot topic in New England sports: the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory. Leading up to the championship win two weeks ago, the national conversation was focused on the Deflategate controversy.
With that Super Bowl, Brady has solidified his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and is in the discussion for one of the best players in Boston sports history.
“Brady should be there. He’s a great quarterback, four championships, absolutely,” Orr said when asked if Brady deserved to be in that discussion. “Tom is a heck of a player.”
|02.12.15 at 1:54 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to preview the Bruins’ upcoming West Coast trip, and also to look at what might happen at the trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
With the Bruins losers of three of their last four games, and in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, McGuire feels the team might need to shake things up at the trade deadline.
“The Bruins are a team that might need to shake the tree,” said McGuire. “Not really hard so they lose a lot of the leaves on the tree, but shake it so the tree gets everybody’s attention. I do think there might be a tune out factor, or there could be a burnout factor — maybe some guys just need to be traded to get them a new leaf on life.”
“I wouldn’t mess with the depth of guys — I really wouldn’t,” he added. “I don’t think the depth guys are a problem. I think what they really need to do is add more offense. If you at it, this is a team that doesn’t have a 20-goal scorer on their roster. That is a little bit scary when you look at the depth they have down the middle. … When you have that kind of depth down the middle and you’re not getting scoring from the wingers in particular, that is problematic.”
The Bruins are set to begin a five-game road trip, beginning Friday night in Vancouver. McGuire feels this is a big stretch for the black and gold.
“They definitely have to go on a run here,” said McGuire. “I am telling you, this is the first time I can honestly tell you guys this … this is the first time the Bruins have to scoreboard watch.”
Over the last four games, the Bruins have scored just a total of eight goals. McGuire noted goal scoring has been one of the biggest issues this season.
“They are not scoring goals easily enough,” said McGuire. “There is some haphazard defensive play. There isn’t enough consistency for 60 minutes in their game. Tuukka Rask has this huge problem playing against the Montreal Canadiens — they are going to have to sort that out. There’s been a little bit of a lack of discipline. That was troubling the other night in that loss to Dallas — two short-handed goals against, that speaks to the lack of intensity and speaks to guys not paying attention to little details.
“This is the first time I will say this, because I am bullish on this team, I still like this team a lot, but this is the first time this year that they have to scoreboard watch and that is not a real comfortable thing for a team that is probably underachieving right now.”
|02.12.15 at 12:57 pm ET|
Stars forward Antoine Roussel has been given a two-game suspension for cross-checking Adam McQuaid in the throat, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced Thursday.
Roussel was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for the play, which occurred in the first period of Tuesday’s Stars win over the Bruins. McQuaid was slow to get up but was not injured on the play.
The Department of Player Safety’s video noted that McQuaid had dropped his stick and was in the process of dropping his gloves to fight when Roussel cross-checked him. It called Roussel’s cross-check “proactive, not reactive” given that Roussel was clearly not using his stick to defend himself. To watch the league’s video, click here.
This is the second time Roussel has been disciplined this season, as he was fined in November for sucker-punching Sharks defenseman Justin Braun.
Rousell was originally signed by the Bruins as an undrafted free agent. He played 42 games for the Providence Bruins and five games for the Reading Royals in the 2010-11 season.
|02.11.15 at 10:41 am ET|
The urgency was clearly marked in the first words Zdeno Chara spoke after the Bruins dropped a 5-3 decision to a Dallas Stars team not currently in the Western Conference playoff field.
“It was just a terrible effort,” the Bruins captain said. “It is something we need to get right and we don’t have much time. We need to turn this thing around really quickly. It is unacceptable to be getting scored on twice in one game [shorthanded] obviously in a crucial part of the game. We need to be better.”
After winning eight of their final 10 games in January to creep up within four points of first place Montreal in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins have suddenly stumbled in February. They have lost three of four to open the month, and the one game they won (against the Islanders) they admittedly were fortunate to come out on top. They now lead the Florida Panthers by just four points (63-59) for the second and final wild card playoff spot in the East.
How does Chara explain bad habits creeping back in?
“It is something that we have sort it out,” Chara said. “We know that we have been better the last little while but again the last two, three games again, we started to have mental breakdowns and started drifting away from the game plan. That is something we can’t go back to again.
“I think it is a combination of maybe a number of things like you said. It is hard to really point at one thing. We know that when we play a certain way we are pretty effective and when we are not we start doing something different and that is how we get into trouble. A lot of times we need better effort, we need better urgency, we need better mental focus. It is just a combination of all of those things.”
Now the Bruins have to find their way through a five-game trip that begins Friday night in Vancouver, and includes trips to Calgary, Edmonton, St. Louis and Chicago.
“It is disappointing. We know that it was our last game for a while at home and now we have a long road trip and for sure we wanted to finish with a way better effort and result than we did. So for sure that is disappointing.”
|02.11.15 at 7:27 am ET|
As bad as the Bruins power play was Tuesday night in a 5-3 loss to the Stars, Claude Julien sees a bigger problem. His team is getting sloppy and careless when it matters most.
One example came when the Bruins had tied the game in the second period, 3-3. They get a power play and a chance to take their first lead. Instead, they allow their second short-handed goal of the night. They couldn’t recover.
“I think carelessness is one [issue],” Julien said. “[Just] poor work ethic on the power play. When you looked at even the second goal, you know, our coming back and our two guys back there are just flat-footed and just kind of lackadaisical and very soft and real disappointing that our power play was like that tonight. We talk about the lack of power plays we get, and tonight we get some and we don’t do anything with it so we only have ourselves to look at and blame ourselves for this, not only the power play but this loss.
“I thought when we tied it 3-3, the start of our second period, even in our second period, I think we had at least seven good scoring chances. But a lot like last game, too, we had some great opportunities right in front of the net and we’re not burying those. Same thing with Montreal, in the first period we could have had the lead 1-0 with Price out of the net and they’ve got guys in the crease and we didn’t bury those, so again it’s a challenge of burying your chances, and what it ends up doing is giving them the opportunity to take a lead.
“And our power play wasn’t good, but at the same time we had lots of opportunities to score goals tonight throughout the whole night. We had lots of shots, lots of loose pucks in front, and because you don’t bury those you end up on the losing side of things, and that’s one of the reasons, besides not having enough guys playing at their capabilities.” Read the rest of this entry »
|02.10.15 at 11:07 pm ET|
Give David Krejci credit for this much: He’s not sugar-coating the Bruins’ power-play effort of late.
After not only failing to score Tuesday night, the Bruins allowed their first two shorthanded goals of the season at a horrible time, and fell to the Stars, 5-3, at TD Garden.
The first shorthanded marker by Dallas came directly as a result of a sloppy, lazy pass from Krejci that never got to Torey Krug along the Dallas blue line. It was picked off by Vernon Fiddler, who beat Niklas Svedberg up top for a 1-0 Dallas lead. After the Bruins battled back to tie the game, 3-3, it was another shorthanded goal that was Boston’s undoing, as Trevor Daley skated past a standing Krejci and beat Tuukka Rask. The Bruins entered the game as the only team in the NHL not to allow a goal while on the power play.
The Bruins, who scored a shorthanded goal of their own from Patrice Bergeron, did manage nine shots on the man advantage in four chances but no goals. What gives?
“Just sucks, that’s the only word I’ve got,” Krejci said. “We’ve been working on it in practices but it’s no good, so that’s where we’re at right now.”
Krejci had no disagreement with Claude Julien‘s assessment that the Bruins were plain sloppy on the power play at critical times.
“One hundred percent. I mean, it’s not just a goal against us, there’s more things to it,” Krejci said. “We’re just not playing well on the power play, we have to practice way more. Maybe we have to change something, but that’s up to the coaches. We just have to find a way to be better, and it has to start in practices.”
Read the rest of this entry »
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