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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.

Gregory Campbell returns to Bruins lineup, Brian Ferlin a healthy scratch

03.07.15 at 12:06 pm ET
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Gregory Campbell will play Saturday against the Flyers, Claude Julien confirmed before the game.

Saturday marks Campbell’€™s return to the lineup after missing the last four contests with an upper-body injury. Brian Ferlin will be the healthy scratch after a rough outing Thursday against the Flames.

Campbell is expected to play on the fourth line Saturday, though it’€™s unclear whether he or Maxime Talbot will center the group.

Peter Chiarelli explains why he decided to extend Torey Krug, Reilly Smith: ‘Gives us comfort’

03.07.15 at 1:06 am ET
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For about 10 minutes Friday, after the team practice on TD Garden ice, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli attempted to explain why he committed nearly $11 million of salary and cap space for Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.

“Torey on one year at 3.4 million, Reilly three years at 3.425 [million],” Chiarelli said. “Obviously there’€™s the contract in the past – beginning of the year. These are players we always liked and have a bright future for us. Term was important. It’€™s shorter term and gives us more flexibility and it gives them more flexibility as far as performing on a short term platform and becoming more of a fixture of us going forward.

“The one and two year terms were important to us. These were deals that came about, the ideas and the philosophies came out a little bit more after we signed the one year deals. Later in the winter and early spring we started’€”not spring but January and February we talked more. They worked very hard to bring together and these are two good, young players and two good young people.”

And they’re good people who won’t have to endure the frustration of sitting out of camp this summer because the team didn’t have enough cap space to sign them to contracts. Both Krug and Smith recalled Friday that uncomfortable feeling. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, NHL, Peter Chiarelli, Reilly Smith

Milan Lucic insists Bruins are heading in right direction ‘if we can find that confidence’

03.07.15 at 12:42 am ET
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Milan Lucic has faith that things will turn out fine for the Bruins in the final month of the season.

He made that much clear after the team’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Flames Thursday night. That game opened a stretch of 11 games in 18 days for the Bruins, who are holding on for dear life in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Saturday, the Bruins host the Flyers, one of four teams that still has designs on catching Boston. Florida, Ottawa and New Jersey are also hopeful of making a run.

The Bruins enter with 72 points while the Flyers are four points back. Saturday would be a good place for Lucic and the Bruins to start finding their scoring touch. The Bruins had numerous chances to put away the Flames Thursday night, only to allow Calgary to tie the game twice, take the lead early in the third period and win it in the shootout.

“I mean we had two three-on-ones in the third period and we didn’€™t even end up with a shot on net,” Lucic said. “It seems like that’€™s been our biggest challenge this season is having that killer instinct and finishing off plays. It cost us again tonight when we had opportunities to’€”when we had the lead to extend the lead and when we made it three, three we had chances to win the game and we don’€™t bear down and gave them a chance to win it in the shootout. It’€™s no secret, we have to do a better job of winning games in the shootout.”

“I don’€™t know like I said its just having the confidence of scoring especially in the shootout there. Like you said, there’€™s no shootout in the playoffs and we’€™ve been a pretty good overtime team this year but we can’€™t bank on that right now. We still have a ways to go until the playoffs start and we got to make sure we earn our spot. Earn our playoff spot.”

Barring a late-season surge, the Bruins would open the playoffs on the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Reilly Smith has some job security for now: ‘Hopefully I can stay with this organization a while’

03.06.15 at 10:20 pm ET
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After the obvious of getting a big pay raise, the best part of the two-year contract extension for Reilly Smith might be job security.

The Bruins right wing, like teammate Torey Krug, had to sit out the start of camp last summer because the Bruins were over the cap temporarily and couldn’t afford to sign them to new contracts until there was some roster manipulation and flexibility.

But there won’t be such worries this summer or the next as Smith agreed to a two-year extension through the 2016-17 season worth $3.425 million each season.

“It seems like through this whole thing, it’s always been me and Torey slotted together in this whole negotiation process,” Smith said. “It’s good and bad. It’s nice having someone with you through the whole negotiation process, especially in the summer when you’re sitting out camp when neither of us wanted to be. But it’s just good to have it behind us.”

Krug’s deal is worth $3.4 million, but is only good through next season. Still, having the piece of mind knowing that he’ll be in camp next summer is worth it to Smith.

“It was definitely tough. It was on my mind for a while,” Smith said. “It was a pretty stressful time in the summer, having to sit out camp for a while. I’m glad I don’t have to do that the next couple of years.”

The 23-year-old Smith was part of the package from Dallas along with Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser for Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button before the 2013-14 season.

Smith, who has struggle to finish scoring chances all season like the rest of his teammates, doesn’t mind the pressure that comes with expectations. Smith, still only 23, has just 12 goals in 63 games this season. General manager Peter Chiarelli, during a Friday press conference to announce the signings, admitted Smith is being paid like a 20-goal scorer.

“I think I welcome it,” Smith said of the pressure factor. “There’s probably a little bit more pressure but as a hockey player and playing in this organization and at this level, you welcome that every day because people get better every day and just being able to cope with challenges and changes in this league, I think it’s something every player in this league dreams to be able to do. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Reilly Smith, Torey Krug,
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