|03.06.15 at 8:50 am ET|
It’s been the one thing that has haunted these Bruins all season.
They can’t find a way to finish scoring opportunities in and around the net and wind up regretting it at the end of the game. Such was the case again Thursday night in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames. There were several chances for the Bruins to put some distance between themselves and Calgary in the early and middle parts of the game and they simply couldn’t find the finishing touch.
There was Daniel Paille with a wrister on Flames goalie Karri Ramo midway through the first period. There was a slap shot from Dougie Hamilton that was deflected away by a stick at the last moment. But there was no better example of Boston’s inability to find the scoring touch than when Loui Eriksson, on a 3-on-1 rush, had the puck on his stick and fired wide of an empty net midway through the third period.
Carl Soderberg, without a goal since Jan. 17 against Columbus, has now gone 17 games without a goal. He had two chances in the opening period and couldn’t find the back of the net.
“Again, the challenge of our lack of finish is probably the biggest concern right now,” coach Claude Julien said. “So I think we had the better of the game, five-on-five. There’s no doubt we played a lot more in their end then they did in ours.
“It’s a little bit of maybe confidence, and you squeeze your stick you’re trying so hard. There’s a lot of guys, use Carl Soderberg as an example. He’s really struggled the last little while scoring goals, and guys are putting pressure on themselves. There’s games where you like your team’s game, but your finish is what ends up killing you at the end.”
Julien realizes that the Bruins had chances leading 1-0 and 2-1 to really do damage and failed to seize on the opportunity because they simply couldn’t finish.
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|03.05.15 at 11:12 pm ET|
Claude Julien hates shootouts, just like everybody who has anything to do with the Bruins hates shootouts.
The reason the Bruins hate shootouts is because they’re bad at them. After falling in eight rounds to the Flames on Thursday, Boston’s 2-7 record in the shootout this season is better than only the Kings’ 1-7 mark.
So, when asked about shootouts following Thursday’s loss, Julien cut off the question.
“They suck,” he said.
The reporter responded, “Hmm?” before Julien enunciated a little better.
“They suck,” he repeated as clearly as he could. “That’s my [feelings on] the shootout.”
Julien was then asked if he was talking about his players or the shootout, which was a good question, given that Bruins players happen to — to borrow a term — suck at shootouts. He said he meant shootouts, though he was probably just being nice.
Though the Bruins have participated in nine shootouts this season, no Bruins player has multiple goals. Reilly Smith, who leads the Bruins in attempts, is 1-for-10. Patrice Bergeron is 1-for-8.
The Bruins also participated in the NHL‘s worst shootout of the season less than a month ago, as neither the Oilers nor the B’s scored until the 12th round in the teams’ Feb. 18. In case you had to guess, it was the Oilers that scored and won.
To make matters worse, the Bruins had to deal with bad ice as they tried to turn their shootout luck around Thursday. Both Ryan Spooner and Torey Krug lost the puck as they tried to skate in on Karri Ramo, with Spooner losing the puck so badly that he couldn’t attempt a shot. The puck also skipped on Brad Marchand.
The good news for the Bruins is that there aren’t shootouts in the playoffs. The bad news is that you get more points and make the playoffs when you in shootouts.
|03.05.15 at 9:54 pm ET|
The Bruins needed a third-period comeback to force overtime in what could have very well been an easy victory. That was the highlight of the night, as they then lost to the Flames in the eighth round of a shootout.
The Flames had no business being in the game, but through penalties and mistakes the B’s gave a third-period lead to a team they’d mostly dominated on the night.
Here are five things we learned on a frustrating night for the B’s:
JULIEN GOES BACK TO WHAT WORKS
Claude Julien has pulled a lot of tricks with his lineup this season. He’s got an underachieving group to work with, so not all of the tricks pay off.
The one that seems to time and time again, however, is reuniting Chris Kelly, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson.
Amidst a frustrating third period that saw Eriksson miss a wide open net on a 2-on-1 before the Bruins handed over a 3-2 lead to the Flames, Julien pulled Kelly up from the fourth line and played him on Soderberg’s left wing in place of Daniel Paille. The result was the goal for which Eriksson was overdue in the period.
After Kelly tipped a Soderberg shot in front of the net, Eriksson put in the rebound to tie the game and save the Bruins some embarrassment.
|03.05.15 at 1:41 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to look back at what the Bruins did at the trade deadline and to discuss other NHL matters. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Bruins didn’t add any defensemen at the deadline, rather trading for forwards Brett Connolly and Max Talbot. Many have said the asking price for some of the defensemen available was just too high, and McGuire agreed.
“I respect Peter [Chiarelli] because I think the price points were a little excessive on trade deadline day, I can tell you that,” said McGuire.
One of the players the Bruins did add in Connolly suffered a broken finger in practice and is now out for six weeks. McGuire said the former Tampa Bay forward has had some questions in the past.
“There were questions about his ability to be a complete player and then you compound that with the hip flexor and the abdominal stuff and there were more questions about him,” said McGuire. “All that being said, I know in Tampa they had high hopes for him, but I think if they had a mulligan and they could do it all over again in that draft, they would have taken Cam Fowler instead of Brett Connolly.”
Even with all the injuries the Bruins have had to deal with this season, McGuire still expects them to make the playoffs. He also referenced the 1992 Bruins when they used 55 players during the season because of injuries. He still has a lot of faith in the Bruins’ organization.
“I still think this coaching staff is amazingly good,” said McGuire. “I think the management group is outstanding. The future for the team is extremely bright, they have some very good young players coming. Everybody is kind of panicking now, I understand that if you’re a fan of the team, I don’t bet on any of the horses in the race, but I can tell you the Bruins are a very respected franchise in the league.”
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|03.05.15 at 11:57 am ET|
The six-week period that the Bruins will be without Brett Connolly is step one of an undesirable two-step process through which the team will have to work. After that comes the other hard part.
No injuries are easy to return from, but it can take a long time for a player returning from a finger injury to feel right. The fact that Connolly will go through the re-acclimation process in the postseason is far from optimal.
“It sucks,” Torey Krug said Thursday, and he would know.
Krug suffered a broken left pinky finger suffered on a slash from Zach Parise Oct. 28.
Though he returned after four games out of the lineup, his time getting comfortable again far eclipsed the length of period he stayed out of game action. A player whose bread and butter is his slap shot, Krug was limited to wrist shots and landed three shots on goal in just one of his first 11 games back. He had only one point — a goal — in that span.
“For me, I was always thinking about my finger and wondering how it was going to feel,” Krug said of his return from the injury. “When I had the puck, I was wondering if somebody was going to try and slash my hand again, so it was just a lot of thinking. It took me a while to get to the point where I didn’t have to think about it anymore.”
How long? About two months, by Krug’s estimation. He’s now playing with a new glove he received that has an extra-thick block of padding around the left pinky, which gives Krug peace of mind more than anything.
The slap shot issue won’t be a major problem for Connolly given that he’s a forward and doesn’t need to take many slappers, but Krug feels bad that Connolly’s first games with the Bruins will be spent trying to forget about an injury.
“He’s looking for a fresh start and was very excited about the opportunity that he had here to have that,” Krug said. “We were equally excited to have him. Being a forward in that position, you’re playing with the puck maybe a little bit more and you’re shooting the puck and you’ve got to handle it quicker. I can definitely feel for him, for sure.”
Connolly, who will undergo surgery on his right index finger, becomes just another name on a lengthy list of Bruins who have missed stretches of time due to injury this season. He joins Krug, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and Gregory Campbell.
“I know it’s happened a lot this year, but it’s just of how things have gone,” Krug said with a laugh, almost in disbelief. “We were very excited about what he could bring to the team, but now we can’t sit here and dwell on it. We have guys in this room that are capable of stepping up and filling voids, and they’re going to do that.”
|03.05.15 at 11:19 am ET|
After losing a player they never actually had in their lineup, the Brett Connolly-less Bruins will piece together their forward lines without both the 22-year-old right wing as well as Gregory Campbell, who remains out with an upper-body injury.
Maxime Talbot will make his Bruins debut Thursday against the Flames. He is expected to skate on a fourth line with Brian Ferlin and Chris Kelly, though that could change if Claude Julien opts to play Kelly on the third line.
Daniel Paille figures to skate on the left wing of Carl Soderberg’s line, though Thursday’s optional morning skate made it difficult to tell.
Julien said in his Thursday morning press conference that Connolly will have surgery on his broken right index finger. He is out for six weeks after taking a Dennis Seidenberg shot off the hand in Wednesday’s practice.
|03.04.15 at 10:50 pm ET|
Maxime Talbot was having a weird season with the Avalanche. The team fell short of expectations and he wasn’t getting as many bounces as he’d like.
He’ll fit right in with the Bruins.
Talbot now joins a Boston team that knows a thing or two about underachieving. Everyone in the room has something to prove over the final 20 games of the season, Talbot included.
After winning the Central Division and finishing with the third-most points in the NHL last season, Colorado management put the pedal to the metal by signing Jarome Iginla and trading for Brad Stuart. The team’s performance took a mammoth step back, however, as the Avalanche sat 12th in the Western Conference entering Wednesday’s games.
In that sense, Talbot has gone from one underperforming team to another.
“They go from not making the playoffs to Patty Roy coming in and having an outstanding season and then you get to the season this year with the momentum and the rhythm of last year and you never lift off and then you’re like, ‘Ah,’ and you’re chasing your tail all season,” Talbot said.
“Winning comes with expectations, and I think we’d created expectations, which are a good thing, because it means you’re turning a corner and you’re becoming a winning team,” he added. “This year, I can’t pinpoint what happened.”
Talbot figures to serve as a fourth-liner for the Bruins. On Wednesday he skated on the right wing of the fourth line, which had Chris Kelly at center and Daniel Paille at left wing. That line will likely change now that Brett Connolly is out, as Kelly and Paille would appear to be the most likely candidates to move up to Carl Soderberg’s line to replace Connolly.
In 63 games with the Avs this season, Talbot scored five goals and added 10 assists for 15 points. His .23 point-per-game pace puts him behind the .35 clip at which he produced last season (25 points in 70 games).
As Talbot puts it, “offense is a bonus” in his game. He says he’ll do whatever he can — blocking shots, killing penalties, whatever Claude Julien asks of him — and hopes to make an impact.
“It’s more than personally, it’s about winning games,” he said. “It’s one thing when you don’t score and you win. It’s a different thing when you don’t score and you lose. It is refreshing to see new faces and have new teammates and try to get chemistry with different guys. I’m looking forward to it.”