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Best defense for Bruins down stretch might be strong offense

04.05.16 at 12:58 pm ET
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Ryan Spooner wants to avoid a run-and-gun game. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Ryan Spooner wants to avoid a run-and-gun game. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Even at less than 100 percent, Kevan Miller’s expected return to the Bruins’ lineup Tuesday will help improve the defense from what it was on Sunday. With Dennis Seidenberg still out, the B’s need whatever they can get to avoid the issues they had when trying to defend the Hawks of the first 40 minutes of their final road game.

So with Colin Miller also entering the lineup, it’s natural to wonder whether the youngster’s return is a step in the right direction for the Bruins defensively.

It isn’t, but then again they weren’t going to much better off with Joe Morrow or Zach Trotman in the lineup instead of him. If the younger Miller can bring his skating and offensive ability, it will be worth what he lacks in his own end.

This is because the banged-up Bruins aren’t positioned to defend particularly well one through six. The offense, however, can be a strength after recently bouncing back from its most dormant 10-game period of the season. It might need to be if the Bruins want to avoid missing the postseason for a second straight year.

“The offense is there right now again,” Claude Julien said Tuesday morning. “We just have to tighten up a little bit defensively, which we’ve gone through a couple of times this year. We’ve gotten loose a little bit and then we’ve tightened it up and when we’ve tightened it up we’ve been able to have success, so if we can tighten it up tonight and continue to take advantage of our opportunities to score, that should help our chances quite a bit.”

Coming off a road trip that saw the B’s score 10 goals and allow 11, they will look for similar offense in the season’s final three games while crossing their fingers on the health and play of the defense improving. That might mean some high-scoring games, which are not the type Claude Julien teams have been known for playing.

“I think we can. I don’t think that we want to,” Ryan Spooner said of winning potential track meets. “If you look at our team, just this team as a whole in the past 10 years, they’ve taken a lot of pride in being a good defensive team first. I think if you ask all the guys in the room, they would rather win a game 2-1 or 3-2 than they would 6-5. At this time of the year, you don’t want to get into those run-and-gun matches.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Claude Julien, Ryan Spooner,

Colin Miller recalled, Kevan Miller likely in for Bruins vs. Hurricanes

04.05.16 at 10:26 am ET
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Colin Miller

Colin Miller

The Bruins have recalled Colin Miller and sent Seth Griffith to Providence in anticipation of Tuesday night’s game against the Hurricanes.

Miller’s recall comes amidst injury questions on the Bruins’ blue line, as Dennis Seidenberg (lower-body) has missed the last two games and Kevan Miller has not played since suffering a lower-body injury in the first period of last Friday’s game against the Blues.

Colin Miller will definitely play Tuesday night, while Claude Julien said the B’s were hopeful that Kevan Miller would play as well. The elder Miller suggested he’ll play, saying he is “good to go.” Seidenberg did not skate Tuesday and will not play. With both Millers in, Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman are expected to sit.

By bringing Colin Miller up, the Bruins used their fourth and final callup allotted to teams between the trade deadline and the end of the regular season.

After starting the season with the Bruins and playing 39 games in the NHL, the B’s sent Colin Miller to Providence to improve his defensive play. Miller has thee goals and 12 assists for 15 points in the NHL this season; he’s scored four goals with eight helpers for 12 points with the Baby B’s over 19 games.

Griffith played both games of the Bruins’ recent road trip in place of Jimmy Hayes, but his status as an extra forward in Monday’s practice suggested the B’s would play either Hayes or Tyler Randell on Tuesday.

Read More: Colin Miller, Seth Griffith,

Jimmy Hayes trying to overcome healthy scratches

04.04.16 at 4:03 pm ET
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Jimmy Hayes has gone 15 games without a point. (Kim Klement/USA Today)

Jimmy Hayes has gone 15 games without a point. (Kim Klement/USA Today)

Days after the Patriots beat the Colts to improve to 5-0 on the season, Jimmy Hayes could be seen around the Bruins’ dressing room wearing a t-shirt with Tom Brady’s infamous goat photo and the acronym GOAT (greatest of all time).

On Monday, Hayes once again sported a relevant shirt, though it was probably more of an unfortunate accident.

The shirt was made by a New York-based golf-lifestyle brand. It featured a cartoon golfer, the brand’s motto, and, largest of all, the name of the brand.

Hayes was wearing a shirt with “SCRATCH” written across it.

In an ideal world, there would be no irony to notice there, but the shirt was something of a scarlet letter for the Dorchester native. Mired in a 15-game pointless slump, Hayes was a healthy scratch in both games of the Bruins’ St. Louis-Chicago road trip. He’s been in and out of the lineup of late, as he was also given press box duty on March 18 against the Ducks.

“It’s obviously a message when you get scratched,” Hayes said Monday. “You feel like you can help the team and contribute, so you’ve got to continue to work hard. If you get a chance to get back in the lineup, you’ve got to make the best of your opportunity and keep staying in positive and going in the right direction.”

Seth Griffith has played the last two games in place of Hayes. At least right now, Griffith is not a good NHL player. For as invisible as Hayes has been at points this season, he’s a better option in key games like the three the B’s will play this week as they try to secure a playoff spot.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jimmy Hayes,

Bruins not thinking about repercussions of missing playoffs

04.04.16 at 1:55 pm ET
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Claude Julien

Claude Julien

The Bruins might not even need to win all three of their games this week. The Red Wings are mediocre enough that it would be a surprise if they came into Boston Thursday having not lost to the Flyers the night earlier.

Yet whether it means winning two games or winning three, the Bruins need to do whatever is required of them to make the playoffs this week. If not, an organization that already needed changes might make more drastic ones. Even if he isn’t a primary reason for the Bruins’ situation, Claude Julien could be an obvious fall guy.

“We’re not even there,” Julien said of the idea of missing the postseason. “We don’t even talk about that.”

Julien is in his ninth season with the Bruins. Players like Zdeno Chara (10 years) and Dennis Seidenberg (seven years) have been around to see much better days in their time with the B’s. The Bruins’ recent era of dominance essentially ended when Johnny Boychuk was traded ahead of last season, but the longer-tenured Bruins who have won before feel they can win again in Boston.

“We look at the next game tomorrow, that we’ve got to win that. All the other [expletive], there’s no reason to look any further than that,” Seidenberg said. “I’m confident we’re going to win all these three games and make it to the playoffs.”

The Bruins will play their final three games of their regular-season schedule at TD Garden, starting with Tuesday’s contest against the Hurricanes.

Read More: Claude Julien, Dennis Seidenberg,

Dennis Seidenberg practices, Kevan Miller and Brett Connolly don’t

04.04.16 at 1:19 pm ET
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Dennis Seidenberg

Dennis Seidenberg

Dennis Seidenberg returned to practice on Monday, but it doesn’t look to be a good bet that he’ll return to games just yet.

Seidenberg, who has missed the Bruins’ last two games due to injury, took part in Monday’s skate and took some contact, though he left practice early after attempting battle drills. Claude Julien said Seidenberg’s status was “unknown,” but Seidenberg didn’t sound optimistic about a potential return for Tuesday’s game against the Hurricanes.

“I felt OK,” Seidenberg said. “I mean, I was moving my legs, doing what I had to do and then got off. It was OK.”

Added Seidenberg: “There’s no timeline set [as to] when I’m going to come back, so it’s really tough to say.”

Adam McQuaid practiced after an injury scare in Saturday’s game, though Kevan Miller and Brett Connolly did not. Miller suffered a lower-body injury in Friday’s win over the Blues, while Connolly sustained a lower-body injury in the first-period of last Tuesday’s loss to the Devils.

Julien said that Miller remains day-to-day. Miller could be seen walking without crutches Monday morning as the Bruins took their team picture.

With Miller and Seidenberg’s status looking doubtful for Tuesday, Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman could be good bets to remain in the lineup.

The Bruins’ forward lines looked as follows Monday:


5 things we learned as Bruins can’t overcome huge deficit vs. Blackhawks

04.03.16 at 3:11 pm ET
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Patrick Kane scored a hat trick against the Bruins Sunday. (David Banks/USA Today Sports)

Patrick Kane scored a hat trick against the Bruins Sunday. (David Banks/USA Today Sports)

If the Bruins can manage the way they did in the third period Sunday for the rest of the season, they’ll be in great shape. That’s a nice way of saying the Bruins didn’t allow six goals in the third period.

They did, however, allow six goals over the first 40 minutes Sunday in Chicago, and though they stormed back from a 6-0 hole with four straight goals, the B’s missed out on two key points with a 6-4 loss to the Blackhawks.

Playing without injured defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Kevan Miller, the B’s managed through a first-period that saw them allow a tough-luck power play goal and a 4-on-4 goal. Both first-period Chicago goals came against Boston’s young defensemen, as Zach Trotman correctly tried to block a shot in front of the net during a Hawks man advantage, but when Artemi Panarin’s shot was a dud that limped to Artem Anisimov, the Chicago center had plenty of space to put the puck past Tuukka Rask. Patrick Kane then scored a breakaway goal off a Joe Morrow turnover.

It was the second period that saw the floodgates open, however, as the Blackhawks scored two more in the period’s first two minutes to chase Tuukka Rask and then added a pair against Jonas Gustavsson.

The Bruins would fire back behind a pair of goals from Patrice Bergeron as well as tallies from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, but they were unable to fully close the gap.

Boston remains outside of the playoff picture, sitting one point the Red Wings with three games remaining for each team. Given that the Bruins host the Red Wings on Thursday, the Bruins can still make the playoffs if they win all three remaining games and beat Detroit in regulation or overtime. Should the Bruins fail to do so, they risk missing the playoffs for the second straight season.

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Red Wings push Bruins out of playoff picture (for now), Steven Stamkos out 1-3 months due to blood clot surgery

04.02.16 at 10:59 pm ET
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The Red Wings eked out a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs Saturday in Toronto, leapfrogging the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division in the process.

Saturday was Detroit’s 79th game of the season; they now hold a one-point lead over Boston as the B’s head into their 79th game, a matinee against the Blackhawks Sunday in Chicago.

The Bruins and Red Wings will play each other on April 7, which will be both teams’ 81st game of the 82-game regular season. Detroit will be playing the second game of a back-to-back, as they’ll host the Flyers on Wednesday. Saturday marked the first time in the Red Wings’ last 10 back-to-backs that Detroit won the second game.

Assuming Detroit picks up wins in its other games, the Bruins need to win three of their last four (including a regulation win against the Red Wings) in order to secure the third spot in the Atlantic. For now, that spot is the only realistic one for the Bruins, though the second wild card spot might become something of a possibility if the Bruins win Sunday in Chicago and the Flyers lose to the Penguins.

Through three meetings, the Bruins are 2-1-0 against the Red Wings this season. The only loss came on Feb. 14, when the Bruins were without the services of Patrice Bergeron.

To add another wrinkle to the playoff situation, the Lightning announced Saturday night that Steven Stamkos will miss one to three months due to blood clot surgery. The Lightning are currently in line for the second Atlantic spot, meaning they would play the Bruins in the first round if their status went unchanged and Boston were to leapfrog Detroit.

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