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5 things we learned as Bruins beat Penguins to set up big meeting with Capitals

03.14.15 at 3:40 pm ET
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The Bruins won their fifth straight game Saturday to pull even with the Capitals for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. With Boston’€™s 2-0 victory over the Penguins and and Detroit’€™s loss to the Flyers, the B’€™s now trail the Red Wings by three points for the third spot in the Atlantic Division.

The win, which came thanks to a Tuukka Rask shutout, a Milan Lucic first-period goal and a clutch empty-netter from Zdeno Chara that went the length of the ice, sets up a big meeting between the B’€™s and Capitals Sunday in the nation’€™s capital. Both teams sit at 82 points on the season, though the Bruins have a game in hand.

The Penguins had an uphill climb the whole game, as Sidney Crosby was a late scratch (see below) and Evgeni Malkin was limited to just five shifts all game due to an early injury suffered on a hit from Chris Kelly.

Here are four more things we learned Saturday:

SPOONER LINE STRIKES AGAIN

The Bruins’€™ third line of Ryan Spooner between Milan Lucic and David Pastrnak produced what was the game’s only goal until Chara’s dagger, with Lucic beating Thomas Greiss from the left circle at 9:53 of the first period.

The goal was the Spooner line’€™s sixth five-on-five goal in 10 games. It also gave Lucic eight points (four goals, four assists) since the line was united following David Krejci‘€™s knee injury.

The production for Spooner’€™s line is very encouraging and proves that the young center could very well take over for Carl Soderberg next season if the veteran center walks in free agency. The team should still prioritize returning Lucic and Pastrnak to Krejci on the first line once Krejci’€™s back, as Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak would fare far worse if given the assignments that Lucic and Krejci usually have.

RASK GETS THE SHUTOUT

Rask earned his third shutout of the season and continued a stretch of impressive play of late.

With Saturday’€™s performance, Rask has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of his last eight starts. The Bruins’€™ last loss (a shootout defeat against the Flames on March 5) marks the only time since Feb. 18 that Rask has allowed three goals.

The Bruins can do more damage in the standings with a win over the Capitals Sunday, so Claude Julien would be wise to go back to Rask in that contest.

WHERE’€™S CROSBY?

Sidney Crosby was a late surprise scratch for the Penguins and there was some confusion as to whether the Bruins could put Craig Adams in the game in his place after a lineup was submitted with Crosby playing and Adams sitting.

The change was deemed legal, as officials reviewed and approved the change. The NHL sent out the following explanation Saturday afternoon:

Sidney Crosby took pre-game warmup but determined that he could not play in the Bruins/Penguins game and was replaced by Craig Adams. Since Crosby was in the previously submitted starting line-up, this change had to be made according to Rule 7.1 which states that changes to the starting line-up must be reviewed and approved by the Referee prior to the start of the game. Proper procedure was followed by the Penguins and Adams is now in the game.

TROTMAN BACK TO PROVIDENCE

The Bruins returned Zach Trotman to Providence Saturday. The team had recalled the defenseman Friday for their two-game road trip to Pittsburgh and Washington.

With Trotman now back on the AHL roster, the B’€™s have only their six healthy defensemen for blueline options.

Bruins recall Zach Trotman on emergency basis

03.13.15 at 7:40 pm ET
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The Bruins recalled defenseman Zach Trotman on an emergency basis Friday, giving them a seventh defenseman for their two-game road trip.

Trotman has played 17 games for the Bruins this season but has spent the majority of the 2014-15 campaign in Providence. In 35 games for Providence, he has two goals and 10 assists for 12 points.

The 24-year-old posted four assists with the NHL club earlier this season, as he played for Boston from late October through mid-December over multiple callups while the B’s dealt with injuries on their blue line.

Max Talbot on MFB: Bruins ‘very hungry to win’

03.13.15 at 2:10 pm ET
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Max Talbot

Max Talbot

Bruins forward Max Talbot joined Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss the team’s recent strong play. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Talbot joined the Bruins at the trade deadline. Since he arrived, the team is 4-1-0 after struggling in the month leading up to the deadline.

“[The Bruins are] a team that’s won before and that’s still very hungry to win,” Talbot said, adding: “We know what it takes to win and to be a good team, and that it’s crunch time. That’s the feeling you like to have. It’s not just, ‘OK, we win, let’s move on.’ It’s, ‘We can do better, let’s be better,’ and that’s obviously the sign of a great team.”

The Bruins are the fourth team that Talbot has played for in his 10-year NHL career.

“I didn’t really expect to be traded, it was kind of a surprise,” Talbot said, adding, “When I learned it was to Boston, I got pretty excited because of the team. I’ve competed for eight, nine years against the Bruins, and I don’t think there was one easy game.”

Talbot is not known as someone who shies away from confrontation on the ice. In the past, he has had several run-ins with current Bruins.

“I had a couple fights against [Gregory] Campbell before, I remember Chris Kelly as well, and you know, obviously a couple chirping matches against [Brad Marchand],” Talbot said, adding: “Usually the guys you get in battles with on the ice are usually the guys that are more welcoming.”

For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Max Talbot,

Bruins finally showing winning ‘character’ at right time

03.13.15 at 10:11 am ET
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The Bruins have finally hit their stride. And they couldn’t have picked a better time.

They’re even winning shootouts. After winning their first two shootouts of the season, they lost their next seven such contests, prompting their head coach to say shootouts “suck” and giving thanks they end with the regular season. Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning ended the skid and gave many inside the dressing room and organization reason to hope.

Their critics will point to the up and down play of key players like Dougie Hamilton, who, by his own admission, had an off night Thursday. The critics will say the Bruins, even during the four-game winning streak, haven’t displayed the consistent 60-minute-plus effort it takes to win in the playoffs.

But what the Bruins showed Thursday night was character and grit. No one showed it more than Gregory Campbell, who took a puck to his right eyebrow early in the first period, necessitating no fewer than eight stitches. It was nothing compared to Game 3 of the 2013 Eastern finals against Pittsburgh, when he gave up his lower right leg on an Evgeni Malkin slapshot. Later in the period, when he returned to the game, he was mashed into the corner boards but got up only a little worse for the wear.

“When you win, things look a lot better,” Campbell said. “There have been times when we’ve played some pretty good hockey and for whatever reason haven’t gotten points. Winning hockey games makes everything look better. We’ve gone the right direction and I think it’s been a process this year. Sometimes there’s not answers for everything. You have expectations coming into the year and for whatever reason, we had a slow start and it’s been well documented that we’ve stumbled a little bit along the way.

“But we’ve continued to try and improve our game, find solutions and stick together as a team. The important thing to us is not what’s happened but the way things are going. This is the important time of the year and we need wins and that’s reason to be optimistic for our team because when you play important games and get wins, that’s playoff-like hockey. That’s a positive we can build on with our team.”

Wins are wins and Thursday was the seventh straight time the Bruins took the ice and gained points. Boston has won four straight, 6-of-7 and 7-of-9 since their six-game skid that put their playoff position in serious peril. Now, the Bruins have 80 points, six points better than ninth-place Florida with 15 games left. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Patrice Bergeron, Tampa Bay Lightning

Brad Marchand on 3-on-3 OT: ‘There was so much room you almost don’t know what to do with it’

03.13.15 at 1:04 am ET
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For Claude Julien, his opinion of shootouts hasn’t changed, but he likes to win, so Thursday night’s victory over the Lightning will do just fine.

Earning just their third shootout victory in 10 tries this season, the Bruins extended their win streak to four games, edging Tampa Bay out in the skills competition with goals from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Tuukka Rask posted 35 saves in the win and stoned both members of the Lightning he faced in the shootout.

And while getting that second point was big for a Bruins team that’s gaining ground in terms of playoff seeding, a couple of penalties in overtime displayed the probable future alternative to the shootout. With Chris Kelly off for holding and Lightning center Alex Killorn to the box for embellishment, the teams were left with three skaters apiece.

This situation isn’t unfamiliar to those playing at the AHL level. Teams needing more than regulation have a seven-minute overtime period where the first four minutes are played four-on-four, and the final three are played three-on-three. If all that doesn’t decide it, then the shootout is used.

Guys like David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner, who spent time in Providence this season, have experienced three-on-three play more so than their NHL counterparts. In fact, some of the most memorable chances for the Bruins in that stretch of play were created by the duo.

With Spooner by his side, Pastrnak was able to turn two chances on netminder Ben Bishop within the span of eight seconds, the first of which was flicked wide and the second was a backhand that required the Lightning goalie to make a stop.

But for guys who haven’t necessarily had that chance, it was definitely different.

“I was a little nervous out there actually,” Marchand said. “There was so much room you almost don’t know what to do with it, but it was fun for sure.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Overtime, shootout, Tampa Bay Lightning,

5 things we learned as Bruins actually win in a shootout

03.12.15 at 9:49 pm ET
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Claude Julien doesn’t like to see a game end in a shootout, but at least he saw a 3-2 win for his team.

Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand both beat Ben Bishop after a wild overtime as the Bruins improved to 35-22-10 on the season. They now sit just two points behind the Capitals for the first wild card spot with one game in hand.

That wasn’t the extent of the post-regulation excitement. After saying Thursday morning that he wanted to see three-on-three overtime next season, Julien got his wish there as well.

With Chris Kelly getting called for a hook on Alex Killorn and the Tampa forward getting an embellishment call, the B’s and Lightning got some shortened three-on-three play before a Matt Bartkowski holding penalty sent the play to four-on-three.

David Pastrnak, who scored earlier in the game, had a couple of chances during three-on-three play, missing the net on one and getting robbed by Ben Bishop on the other.

Steven Stamkos was then given a 10-minute game misconduct when his stick went flying into the stands/bench area. That disqualified him from participating in the shootout.

The teams will next play March 22 in Tampa.

Here are four more things we learned Thursday:

GREG-OW-RY CAMPBELL

Gregory Campbell has had his fair share of painful performances this season, but Thursday was literally painful for the veteran center.

Campbell had to leave the ice after a pass from Torey Krug went off a stick and up into Campbell’€™s face. He was bleeding significantly on the ice and missed most of the period. Though he returned 15 minutes later, he went into the boards head-first off a hit from Nikita Kucherov and was very slow to leave the ice.

Campbell finished the period with just three shifts and was injured in two of them. He was on the bench for the start of the second period and stayed in the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Islanders give Johnny Boychuk $42 million extension

03.12.15 at 3:02 pm ET
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The Islanders have reportedly signed former Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk to a seven-year, $42 million extension. Boychuk tweeted that he re-signed, with Newsday’s Arthur Staple providing the financial details.

Boychuk, 31, will carry a $6 million cap hit until he is 38.

The Bruins traded Boychuk to New York prior to the season due to cap constraints, receiving Philadelphia’s second-round pick in 2015 and the Islanders’ 2016 second-round as compensation. B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli said following the trade that the Bruins had not tried to negotiate a new contract with Boychuk before trading him.

In 59 games with the Islanders, Boychuk has established career highs in goals (seven), assists (25) and points (32).

Read More: Johnny Boychuk,
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