|02.26.17 at 3:58 pm ET|
It’s been one hell of a two-year ride for Bruins winger Brad Marchand.
And it’s far from finished.
In what’s become an undeniable jump from top-six winger to bonafide NHL superstar, another multi-point effort in a 6-3 Bruins win over the Stars on Sunday came with the results that were simply inevitable given the pace the 28-year-old has clicked at this season.
With a goal and two helpers in the victory in Dallas, the B’s third of a possible four on this daunting road trip, Marchand now has 27 goals and 37 helpers in 62 games, good for a new career-high 64 points, beating his previous career-best of 61 set last season.
And as he has so often this year, the 5-foot-9 winger struck early.
|02.26.17 at 11:54 am ET|
In a trip of late starts, a four-game Western Conference road swing will end with a bizarre morning start in Dallas, as the Bruins and Stars will square off for an 11:30 a.m. local start this afternoon.
It’s been a strong trip for the Black and Gold through three games, with four of a possible six points to their name, and a strong bounceback game in a 4-1 win over the Kings on Thursday night. But in their penultimate trade deadline contest, Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy will make some lineup tweaks to the club’s on-ice group.
The most noticeable switch comes with defenseman John-Michael Liles expected to slide in for Colin Miller for what will be Liles’ first game action since Feb. 9 against the Sharks when he was a late substitution for the ill Zdeno Chara. The 36-year-old Liles, who has been limited by concussion problems this year has played just nine times since Jan. 8, and has five assists in 30 games to date, while Miller has tallied four goals and nine points in 45 games on the season.
The decision to scratch Miller is a curious one given his offensive impact and ability to join the rush — which as we all know is something Cassidy wants and expects from his defenders — and the B’s 4-9-3 record with Miller out of action seems to indicate that he plays a rather important role as the club’s secondary scoring option behind Torey Krug on the team’s backend.
Up front, Matt Beleskey will return to the press box as a healthy scratch for the second time on this trip, and Riley Nash will rejoin the lineup and likely skate on a fourth line with Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller.
There’s no morning skate to confirm anything one way or the other, but after getting the night off against the Kings, expect Tuukka Rask in the B’s crease. Rask took a loss in his last outing, a 5-3 loss in which he surrendered four goals on 24 shots against, and enters play with three wins and a .914 save percentage in five career starts against the Stars. The 29-year-old Rask has 28 wins and a .912 save percentage in 48 games to date overall.
The Stars should counter with Kari Lehtonen.
It’s been another rough year for the Stars’ goaltending corps of Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, but Lehtonen was good enough in their last game, with 25 saves in a 5-2 win over the Coyotes. Lehtonen has nine wins and a .913 save percentage in 17 career head-to-heads with the Bruins, but took a loss with six goals allowed on 41 shots in his last start against the Bruins.
This is the first of two matchups between the B’s and Stars this season.
Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes
Peter Cehlarik – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano – Ryan Spooner – Jimmy Hayes
Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash
Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
John-Michael Liles – Kevan Miller
|02.24.17 at 4:09 pm ET|
Things have changed drastically and somehow stayed the same all at once for the Bruins under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy.
The Bruins have wins in five of their last six games, and although they are also just four points out of first place in the Atlantic Division, they are currently still on the outside looking in of the playoff picture.
But there is a noticeable jump to the B’s game under Cassidy, who has focused his energy on creating a more balanced four-line attack than the Bruins had under Claude Julien at any point this season. And their defense — and I include the stingiest defense-first defenders like Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller, who have frequently jumped into rushes in the attacking zone in this group — has activated on a consistent basis and their production is at a season high. It’s a small sample, sure, but there’s no doubt this is the spark the club hoped for when they first made this switch less than three weeks ago.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney wanted to see the pace in their game. He’s seen that. He wanted to see energy. They have it, although some actual rest for the first time all year has probably helped that area of their game quite a bit. And most importantly, Sweeney wanted to see something that would help guide him the right way before the league’s Mar. 1 trade deadline.
And on Friday, the second-year GM gave the media an insight as to his deadline day plans.
|02.24.17 at 5:32 am ET|
Burned by countless free agents that walked for nothing during their Stanley Cup window, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong wants to trade defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk before the Mar. 1 trade deadline.
But Shattenkirk isn’t exactly making his GM’s job any easier.
According to a report from the St. Louis Dispatch, the 28-year-old pending unrestricted free agent recently nixed a sign-and-trade that would have sent him to an Eastern Conference team. The extension that Shattenkirk would have signed as part of the deal was believed to have been for around $42 million over seven years ($6 million per season), and that the deal would have been with the Lightning.
The mutual interest between the Bolts and Blues in a Shattenkirk deal is well documented at this point, as it was more than common to see the Blues’ director of player personnel (former Bruin Rob DiMaio) at Lightning games last year and this year, with the Blues having interest in the (since untradeable) Jonathan Drouin, then Tyler Johnson, and now maybe even hometown kid Ben Bishop.
It is allegedly the second time that Shattenkirk has refused a sign-and-trade in the last year alone, according to the Dispatch.
And this latest report by all means confirms the belief that Shattenkirk is intent on skating as a ‘rental’ for any team that acquires him and that he is zeroed in on hitting the free agent market this summer as a marquee talent.
Even so, Armstrong’s desired return in a Shattenkirk deal remains astronomically high.
|02.24.17 at 1:50 am ET|
For the first time in over two calendar years, and thanks to a 4-1 final in Los Angeles tonight, Bruins netminder Anton Khudobin has won consecutive games. And for everything thrown his way in the first 40 minutes of tonight’s game, there’s little doubt that he earned it.
In net for a pivotal start that would have allowed the Bruins to leave their daunting California swing with either two, three, or four of a possible six points, the 30-year-old Khudobin was not exactly put in the greatest of situations when it came to this start.
Not only was Khudobin tasked with the aforementioned fate of the road trip’s success being in his glove and blocker, but this game was to be played in a building that’s been short on luck for the Black and Gold, with losses in three straight games at Staples Center. The Bruins were also on the second leg of a back-to-back — they entered with the second-worst record in the NHL in those situations — and the club was in need of a statement game to prove that Bruce Cassidy’s first loss behind the bench was a mere blip on the radar and not a sign of a comedown the team can’t afford.
None of those things mattered, though, as Khudobin was every bit the goaltender the Bruins needed in this game.
|02.23.17 at 8:51 pm ET|
The Bruins could have and should have won last night’s game. But, as the Ducks’ Rickard Rakell had his say with just 2:34 left in the third period of a 3-3 game, the Bruins have been left to travel to the Staples Center for tonight’s head-to-head against the Kings with the chance for four out of a six points on this California swing versus the sweep.
It’s far from the worst situation for the B’s to be in, though, as their recent history on this trip indicated that the Bruins would not only lose all three of these games, but that they wouldn’t be close either.
So the best the Bruins can do one night to the next is apply the takeaways from the Anaheim game — Cassidy called it an ‘autopsy’, which does seem oddly fitting as the Bruins basically died on the table — and turn them into lessons learned against the Kings.
“At the end of the day, we had some coverage issues late and some not being hard enough on the puck,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, who suffered his first loss behind the B’s bench with last night’s 5-3 final in Anaheim, said following Thursday’s optional skate. “I think that’s the two biggest areas we need to improve on around the front of our net, it cost us late night, and that’s stuff we’ll continue to address and hopefully correct going forward.”
And they’ll attempt to correct them with some slight tweaks to their roster.
|02.23.17 at 5:11 pm ET|
The Bruins are not keen on moving more assets for a short-term fix.
Not after moving two draft picks for Lee Stempniak, and another two draft picks and a prospect for John-Michael Liles last season. But it does remain an option for second-year Bruins general manager Don Sweeney just six days away from the NHL trade deadline.
And the first significant trade of trade season — a Thursday move that saw the Hurricanes send Ron Hainsey to the Penguins for a second-round draft pick and minor-leaguer Danny Kristo — has given the Bruins and the rest of the league an idea of the market’s prices.
Granted, the utter devastation to the health of the Pittsburgh defense corps upped general manager Jim Rutherford’s need to acquire a defenseman, but it’s still a sign of what it will cost your team to make an upgrade to your roster between now and Mar. 1.