|02.19.17 at 7:42 pm ET|
After a stretch that included 50 games in just over 100 days, a week-long break was more than deserved for the Bruins.
But, as timing as a whole has often worked out for this group this season, it could not have come at a worse time. Not only did the B’s rattle off three wins in a row under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy to head into their bye week, but the Bruins rolled into the break with power-play goals in eight straight games.
Over that span, the Bruins have collected 11 power-play goals on 30 opportunities, or a 36.6 power play percentage.
It’s a hot streak that the Black and Gold have to be desperate to extend to nine games in spite of a seven-day layoff when they skate against the Sharks in San Jose as the kickoff to their California tour (and with a stop in Dallas before they return back to Boston) on Sunday night.
|02.18.17 at 5:11 pm ET|
The Bruins got some much needed rest and relaxation with their bye week, which ends today with a practice in San Jose. With the exception of one player: Forward Peter Cehlarik, who was assigned to the P-Bruins after last Sunday’s win over the Canadiens, but was recalled early this morning to join the team for their California road swing.
This was expected, of course, especially after Cehlarik’s two-point night against the Habs in what finished as a 4-0 win for the Bruins. His vision on the Adam McQuaid goal, which came with a beautiful cross-ice pass that hit McQuaid right on the stick-tape, was something to behold as far as first NHL points go, and his movement to David Backes that led to the David Krejci power-play goal was even prettier.
“He’s been playing really well, not just [Sunday] but also [Saturday] and you know he makes lots of good plays out there, it’s fun to play with him,” Cehlarik’s linemate, David Krejci, said. “So it’s been good but we have to keep working hard, keep getting better every day and keep it rolling.”
On the second line with Krejci and David Pastrnak on the right, the 21-year-old Slovak, who is a more seasoned pro than most first-year N. American pros thanks to multiple years in the Swedish Hockey League, has appeared to find a groove on what everyone should call the ‘Czech Mix’ line (please send all royalty money to this blog).
“He has the hockey IQ and the hands, big enough body guy. You just don’t know when they come up – if they can handle the pace, the pressure, time and space issues and so far, so good,” B’s interim coach Bruce Cassidy said of Cehlarik. “I like his situation where we put him, I think he will complement a [David] Krejci-type player with some give-and-go hockey. He’s not a guy who needs a puck through the neutral-zone – that’s where Krejci excels – makes the little plays down low. He’s been a nice fit so far.”
“I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to play with those kind of players that I play with,” admitted Cehlarik. “I want to make it count and I want to fit there. So I think we’re playing pretty well, hopefully we are going to keep going.”
With two assists in two career games, the obvious question for Cehlarik became when do you plan on scoring your first NHL goal?
Said Cehlarik: “Once I have my first shot.”
The Bruins skate against the Sharks at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday night.
|02.18.17 at 4:53 pm ET|
Given a new start with the Canadiens a week after being fired by the Bruins, it was more of the same in what’s become the theme of Claude Julien’s season in his first game with the Habs, a 3-1 loss to the Jets.
The Canadiens carried a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes of play behind Andrei Markov’s fourth goal of the season, and in spite of a 15-to-6 shot advantage that favored the visiting Jets.
But the escapist Canadiens could not avoid trouble in the second period, as the Jets’ Joel Armia scored an unassisted shorthanded goal (Julien’s Bruins gave up six shorthanded goals this season, the sixth-most in the NHL) to bring the teams even through two periods.
The Jets wasted no time in the third period, however, with a Mathieu Perreault goal scored just 1:16 into the third period.
Patrik Laine added an empty-net goal late to seal the deal on a loss in Julien’s (second) debut with the Canadiens.
The goals against certainly had an element of Julien’s Bruins, too, with both their timing and the bad luck of missed assignments and bad plays with the puck that came with them.
But there were also more than a few things that served as a reminder that Julien does not have the weapons he did in Boston with this current Canadiens group. For one, the Habs could not win faceoffs to save their lives in this game. Only Torrey Mitchell, who won one of his two battles at the dot, had a faceoff percentage of 50% or higher, and as a team the Canadiens were a brutal 7-for-22 (32%) in attacking zone draws. (Where’s Patrice Bergeron when you need him?) And while the Bruins had plenty of close losses under Julien this year (15 of their 23 losses were either by one or two goals), this loss was unlike those in the sense that it didn’t come with the Canadiens dominating the puck, as they were out-attempted by the Jets 59-to-49, including an ugly 33-to-20 shot advantage that favored Winnipeg.
Canadiens netminder Carey Price made 30 saves in the losing effort.
With the loss, Julien’s 2016-17 record dropped to 26-24-6 between the Bruins and Canadiens.
|02.16.17 at 3:35 pm ET|
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has a polarizing job.
It’s almost impossible to find a suspension that everyone has agreed with, and there are many in the league that feel that there are different sets of rules for different players based on their status as a top-six forward or defenseman versus a depth piece.
And the fallout of Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist’s straight-up vicious spear to the face of Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon last Sunday won’t help dispel that theory any time soon.
In one of the more heinous slashes you’ll see this season, Nyquist tried to explain to the media that the incident was accidental, but later fessed up to the DoPS that he was going for a retaliatory slash/crosscheck, and was handed a six-game ban and fined over $158,000 (one that he will not appeal) for the incident.
“While we accept Nyquist’s explanation that he did not intend to spear an opponent in the face, there are two factors that elevate this incident to a level more serious than merely accidental or reckless,” the league’s disciplinary system explained. “First as Nyquist conceded he is attempting to use his stick in a retaliatory fashion. Second, no matter how he specifically intended to retaliate with his stick, Nyquist is completely responsible for using his stick to deliver a blow that was extremely dangerous and easily could have resulted in a major if not career-threatening injury.”
A malicious, potentially ‘career-threatening injury’ from the stick of somebody that’s twice scored at least 27 goals at this level is worth just six games. That obviously doesn’t sit well with those that feel they’ve overly punished given their role.
Insert Zac Rinaldo.
The agitating energy winger, who has five goals and two assists and just 20 minutes in penalties in 29 games for the P-Bruins this season, took to Twitter on Thursday to voice his displeasure with some of the perceived double standards with the league.
Not surprised https://t.co/mntVMEWnd1
— Zac Rinaldo (@RinaldoZac) February 16, 2017
I would be in jail https://t.co/wnbGCsl31E
— Zac Rinaldo (@RinaldoZac) February 16, 2017
On the surface, Rinaldo, who was placed on waivers and by all means banished to the AHL after another run-in that came with a five-game suspension for this hit on Lightning forward Cedric Paquette last season, is not wrong. The biggest difference though, is that this was Nyquist’s first incident, while Rinaldo has been suspended four times in his career.
Rinaldo, an unrestricted free agent this summer, still has to serve that five-game suspension upon any NHL recall.
|02.15.17 at 7:31 pm ET|
The Atlantic-leading Canadiens not only hired Claude Julien to coach their team, but they backed up the Brinks truck to make it happen.
Granted permission to talk with the recently fired Bruins coach of 10 years on Sunday, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin quickly fired Michel Therrien and replaced him with Julien on Tuesday, and awarded the 56-year-old an additional five-year contract worth a reported $25 million (which begins next year) to make it happen.
“I’m convinced that in hiring Claude, we are getting one of the best coaches in the NHL,” Bergevin said. “In my estimation, he’s the best man to reach our goal. Claude has proven his worth.”
Not only does that contract take the Bruins off the hook for Julien’s reported $3 million contract next season, but actually gives the 2009 Jack Adams winner a raise from his salary with the Bruins and moves him closer to the top of the league’s highest-paid coaches behind Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock (over $6 million per season) and Blackhawks boss Joel Quenneville.
|02.15.17 at 6:48 pm ET|
The Bruins, who at one point this season had a stretch that included 50 games in just over 100 days, are happy to finally get some rest.
But of course, it had to happen right when the club is in the midst of their best stretch of the season, with wins in three straight games, including two wins over division leaders in the Sharks and Canadiens.
“Someone asked me that just before we played San Jose about the break, well if we’re winning we don’t want the break if you’re not then it’s a good time,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said after Sunday’s 4-0 thumping of the Habs. “It is what it is, right? I’d rather keep playing, guys will enjoy themselves, they’ve earned that and we’ll get ready to go Saturday for Sunday’s game in San Jose.”
“We’ll take it,” B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid admitted. “It’s our break, so yeah, I think it’s good. I think maybe when you’re stringing together a few wins, you might want to keep playing, but we get a little break, just come back with the same mindset.”
When the Bruins do come back, they’ll have the dreaded California tour with games against Sharks, Ducks, and Kings, and after that they will then head to Dallas for a head-to-head with the Stars.
It’s not exactly the most forgiving trip. And teams have not responded well to these breaks, as deserved as they may be.
|02.14.17 at 4:43 pm ET|
Dumped by the Bruins exactly one week ago, Claude Julien has found a new love to spend Valentine’s Day with in the form of the Canadiens.
In one of the most surprising switches in recent hockey history, the Canadiens today subtly announced the firing of Michel Therrien and immediately replaced him with Julien. The move made loads of sense for the Canadiens, especially after the latest lifeless loss they suffered in a 1-6 month, which fittingly came at the hands of the Bruins on Sunday.
Julien coached the Canadiens from 2003 to 2006, and was the man behind the bench when the Habs eliminated the Bruins in the first round of the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The 56-year-old Julien accumulated a 72–62–10–15 record during his first tenure with the Habs, and was oddly enough Therrien’s replacement the first time he worked for the organization.
Julien, the B’s all-time winningest coach and 2009 Jack Adams winner, had a 26-23-6 record with the Bruins this season.
The Bruins had to grant the Habs permission to interview Julien, which they obviously did.
The Bruins and Canadiens do not meet again this regular season.