|11.13.14 at 10:07 pm ET|
MONTREAL — The two-game Canadian road trip the Bruins had this week was an opportunity for them to show they can win games that aren’t at home and against bad teams. Instead they looked more like the struggling team they were early on in the season, just without Zdeno Chara and David Krejci.
Claude Julien‘s decision to start Niklas Svedberg over Tuukka Rask looked good early on, as the Bruins held a 1-0 lead after a first period that saw Svedberg deny Max Pacioretty on the doorstep, but things gradually fell apart for the Bruins for a second straight night. With Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Habs (box) in their final trip to the Bell Centre this regular season, the Bruins fell to 0-2-0 this season against their biggest rivals. They also lost both games of the Toronto-Montreal trip by an aggregate score of 11-2.
Entering Thursday, Svedberg had only started against two teams this season: the Sabres twice and the Islanders once. The Islanders are nothing to sneeze at, but the Sabres entered Thursday last in the NHL with eight points. The Habs proved to be a much different animal, as Max Pacioretty scored a pair of goals as part of a run of four consecutive goals for the Habs beginning in the second period.
Because it’s Montreal and we technically didn’t learn why Alexander Khokhlachev was recalled (see below), this will be a six things we learned. Here are the other five:
BRUINS’ BIG DOGS GETTING BEAT
In Toronto, we pointed out that Patrice Bergeron had been on the ice for four five-on-five goals against in a two-game stretch. Make it seven in three games, as Bergeron’s line and the Dougie Hamilton – Dennis Seidenberg pairing allowed two second-period goals Thursday and allowed another in the third.
For as swell as it is that Bergeron’s line was producing more recently and that Hamilton has played big minutes and put up points (including a first-period power play goal Thursday), the Bruins aren’t happy when anyone gives up goals in bulk, let alone their best players.
The last time Bergeron had a minus-3 rating in a game prior to Thursday night was on Feb. 11, 2011. Bergeron has now been a minus player in seven of his 18 games this season; he was a minus player just 14 times all last season.
MILAN LUCIC WAS NOT THE GUY WHO DID THE DUMB THING
Thursday’s game was Milan Lucic‘s first game back at the Bell Centre since doing that thing he did with his hand last month. Rather than making another not-so-wise choice, however, Lucic was the guy drawing the dumb penalty Thursday night.
After placing a big open-ice hit on Jiri Sekac late in the second period, Lucic was approached by P.K. Subban. Lucic seemed interested in dropping the gloves, but Subban instead cross-checked him. Knowing Subban wasn’t going to fight him, Lucic didn’t retaliate and Subban was the only player given a penalty.
The Bruins didn’t score on the power play, but that was one of the minor, minor victories they could take from the night.
DALE WEISE STILL MATTERS TO THIS RIVALRY
Dale Weise, who first made enemies with the Bruins as a Vancouver Canuck in the 2011-12 regular season and only heightened things last postseason, figured to remain a big part of the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry this season. That was put in doubt, however, when the man Milan Lucic not-so-affectionately referred to as a “baby” after Game 7 was made a healthy scratch by the Habs in the first meeting between the teams this season.
Weise was in the lineup Thursday, however, and he made quite the impact. First, Weise fought and defeated Gregory Campbell in the opening minutes of the game. In the second period, the veteran winger was tripped by Dennis Seidenberg while on a breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot on which he scored easily on a gaping five-hole exposed by Svedberg. He also picked up the primary assist on Max Pacioretty‘s second-period goal. He also took a goaltender interference penalty late in the game, which earned him a punch to the head from Adam McQuaid.
Speaking of five-hole goals for Weise, that’s a spot that’s been good to Weise in this building against the Bruins. Weise beat Rask on a breakaway in Game 3 of the second round last postseason.
WE LEARNED NOTHING ABOUT WHICH GUY IS AILING…
The Bruins recalled Alexander Khokhlachev on an emergency basis Thursday, with Claude Julien saying prior to the game that the recall had nothing to do with David Krejci being out and that a different player would be a game-time decision against the Habs.
Khokhlachev didn’t take a single line rush in warmups and was made the healthy scratch. The good news for him: he gets the NHL pay. The bad news: The Moscow native’s parents, who now live in Toronto, made the trip to Montreal for the game.
Mark Divver of the Providence Journal tweeted earlier Thursday that Carl Soderberg was the player in question. Soderberg played through a wrist injury earlier in the season but did not miss any games.
… BUT MATT FRASER SOMEHOW IS NOT
Matt Fraser fought back in his days of junior hockey in the WHL and dropped the gloves twice last season, but he says he doesn’t consider himself a fighter. Instead, he considers himself a player who wants to show his team he’s willing to do anything.
That’s admirable, but maybe Fraser shouldn’t be so willing to fight for a little bit. The third-line left wing dropped the gloves in the second period and got clocked by Nathan Beaulieu amidst multiple punches he took from the Habs defenseman. Fraser didn’t look in great shape as he went straight to the training room rather the penalty box.
Perhaps surprisingly, Fraser returned to the game in the third period.
|11.13.14 at 1:43 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB, following broadcasting the Bruins’ blowout loss to Toronto Wednesday night and to discuss the state of the team going into Thursday’s game against Montreal. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
McGuire was inside the benches during the Bruins’ 6-1 loss Wednesday night, and did not like what he saw from the Bruins team, which was unexpected as he thought they would have played well going in.
“I said this last night, and I meant it sincerely, I haven’t seen the Bruins get beat like that in a long time,” said McGuire. “I was dumbfounded by that because I was around their room, I talked to their coaches before the game. The players really had an intense situation that they were looking at, they were looking like they were up to the challenge.
“The coaches were really excited — they had won six of their previous seven, all seven games that they had played previously [Zdeno] Chara wasn’t there, and they were finding ways to get it done. Obviously [Patrice] Bergeron and [Dougie] Hamilton were really playing well. I had the feeling they were going to play a really good game last night, and I was really wrong. They did not play a good game last night.”
Tuukka Rask was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals and although he might not have played in the second half of the back-to-back, McGuire says he should after what took place Wednesday night, and Rask not playing the entire game.
“[Tuukka] has to get his team’s confidence in Montreal, so that the team knows that he can deliver there,” he said. “It is up to him, and if I were Claude [Julien], he’s playing tonight.”
“You have to get back on your horse and Tuukka is going to play guilty tonight,” he added. “I don’t know if he is going to be good enough to win or not, but he has to get in there and play guilty and say, ‘I wasn’t good enough last night.’ I think he’s that honest with himself and with his teammates, that I think he will play guilty tonight.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.
|11.13.14 at 11:52 am ET|
“They said the same thing about Henrik Lundqvist last year,” Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban said. “He seemed to play pretty well.”
Indeed, Lundqvist did.
After not winning in Montreal since 2009 and being sat in games at the Bell Centre since 2012, the Rangers’ netminder went into Montreal and allowed three goals over the first two games (both Rangers wins) of the Eastern Conference finals last year. New York would go on to win the series in six games.
Rask has a career record of 3-11-3 against the Habs in the regular season overall, and is 3-6-0 against them in Montreal (4-7-0 including playoffs). He also lost two of his three starts against them at the Bell Centre last postseason, though his one win was a shutout. The goaltender also blanked them in Montreal in the 2009-10 season. He’s actually been worse against the Habs at the Garden than he’s been at the Bell Centre.
It isn’t like Rask has been a disaster against the Canadiens, but then again, not beating the Canadiens qualifies as a disaster for the Bruins.
“I wouldn’t look too much into it,” Subban said. “When he comes to this building, whenever we play Boston, it seems that we do a good job of getting traffic in front of him and not make it easy on him. It’s not an easy building to play in, but to say that he can’t have a good game here — I mean, I think he’s one of the best goalies in the league. He’s proven that and he’s played well against us at time.
“To be honest with you, when you see some of the goals that we’ve scored, we’ve done a good job of creating traffic. It’s not easy stopping second and third shots. We’ve had a couple of breakaways against him — that’s a 50-50 chance — so I think if we’re not prepared to get traffic in front of him tonight and make his life a living hell, then I don’t think we’re doing ourselves justice.”
|11.13.14 at 9:22 am ET|
MONTREAL — The Bruins have called up center Alexander Khokhlachev on an emergency basis for Thursday night’s game against the Canadiens.
The Bruins do not have a morning skate Thursday, so it’s tough to predict where Khokhlachev would slot in the team’s lineup. Because he was recalled on an emergency basis, Khokhlachev will make the trip to Montreal as a result of a Bruins injury. Brad Marchand did not play the final 6:23 of Wednesday’s loss, while Mark Divver of the Providence Journal suggested Thursday that Carl Soderberg could have some sort of ailment. Soderberg had a wrist injury earlier in the season, but did not miss any games.
Khokhlachev is amidst an impressive stretch in Providence, so it’s possible the B’s could put him in Chris Kelly‘s place on Milan Lucic‘s line with Seth Griffith, and return Kelly to Carl Soderberg’s line. Claude Julien shook up Boston’s lines in the second period of Wednesday’s loss to the Maple Leafs, moving Matt Fraser from Soderberg’s line to the fourth line.
A second-round pick in the 2011 draft, Khokhlachev has five goals and six assists for Providence in 12 games this season. The Moscow native has centered a line with wingers Jordan Caron and David Pastrnak, with Anthony Camara playing left wing on the line the last four games while Caron nursed an upper-body injury.
Thursday will be Khokhlachev’s second career NHL game. He skated in last season’s regular-season finale against the Devils.
David Krejci did not travel with the B’s to Toronto or Montreal. He remains out due to a hip injury suffered in the final game of the preseason.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|11.13.14 at 8:58 am ET|
Thursday, Horton spoke via the Columbus Dispatch about the condition for the first time.
“I can’t stand up like a normal person, I can’t bend over,” Horton said. “I can’t run. I can’t play with my kids. To get in and out of the car, I’m like a 75-year-old man … so slow and stiff. I can’t sleep at night. I try to lay down and my back seizes up and I can’t move, so sleeping is out. I’m like a zombie in the daytime.”
The only way to get rid of the pain would be surgery, “likely a three-or four-level spinal fusion with a titanium rod,” the paper said. The surgery would end his career. Horton is only 29-years-old.
“I don’t want to have surgery, because of what that means,” Horton said. “I don’t want to live with this pain, but I don’t want to make that decision. It’s hard for me to say that, at 29 years old, I’m done. I mean, really? Done at 29?”
|11.12.14 at 10:32 pm ET|
TORONTO – The first eight games of the Zdeno Chara-less schedule looked like a group of largely winnable contests before they would have to face the Canadiens.
For as well as the Bruins survived that stretch, they ended it in disastrous fashion.
For all the bad moments have had this season — and they’ve had plenty between their early-season struggles and the injuries they’ve suffered – they hadn’t really gotten walloped by anyone, let alone a Maple Leafs opponent they had handled easily without Chara once already.
The Bruins’ 6-1 loss to the Maple Leafs (here is the box score) provided a reminder for anyone who had forgotten that, though Boston hasn’t played many good teams of late, things are a lot harder without No. 33 on the ice. Phil Kessel, a player who is usually silent against his former team because of Chara, enjoyed a two-goal night against Boston’s mortal blue line.
Tuukka Rask was yanked after giving up three goals early in the second period and four on the night. Even what looked like a well-targeted Bruins goal by Reilly Smith was negated in the second period by Carl Soderberg being in the crease.
Of course, it wasn’t just about Chara, Rask or Boston’s defense. This was one of those once-in-a-season colossal stinkers that a team can only hope will end up being their worst loss of the season with few other candidates.
Here are four other things we learned Wednesday night:
|11.12.14 at 1:25 pm ET|
Thursday will mark Lucic’s first game at the Bell Centre since he made something of a spunky gesture toward Habs fans on Oct. 16, which was his first game in Montreal after he allegedly threatened players in the handshake line after Game 7 of the second round last season in Boston.
Translation: When Lucic goes to Montreal, there’s a whole lot of people waiting to let him hear it for something he did before.
Lucic knows that, and though his aim is to help the Bruins get a win against an opponent the B’s will need to start beating eventually (the Canadiens have won seven of the teams’ last eight regular-season meetings), going into that setting with a clear head is easier said than done.
“It’s tough, but that’s one of the things that you kind of learn when you become a pro,” Lucic said. “You block out all the stuff on the outside when you first come into the league it’s overwhelming playing in front of 20,000 people, but as time goes on you tend to figure that stuff out and focus on playing the game. I think that’s the main thing I have to focus on is just tuning everything out and focus on playing the best game I can for my teammates.
“I’m not going in there trying to make it me against them. It’s us going in there trying to get a job done and get a result we want. That’s the mindset that I have to have and we have to have in order to have success.”
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