|11.15.14 at 5:54 pm ET|
Matt Bartkowski made one mistake that could have been costly. Early in the second period, with the Bruins leading Carolina 2-1, Bartkowski turned the puck over to Chris Terry just inside his own blue line. Terry led a quick 2-on-1 and tried to center for Jeff Skinner, who wound up redirecting an aerial pass over the net.
Aside from that one play, Bartkowski’s return to the lineup following seven straight healthy scratches was a good one. He was effective on breakouts. He got involved in the offensive zone and wound up with four shots on goal, tied for the team lead in the game. He was physical, most notably landing a big, clean hit on Patrick Dwyer midway through the second. His plus-3 Corsi was the best among Bruins defensemen in the game.
“I think I did alright for how much time I sat out,” Bartkowski said. “I was moving. I didn’t really give them too much, a few chances, but other than that it went pretty well.”
In many ways, Saturday’s game was a good representation of Bartkowski as a whole. There has always been quite a bit to like about Bartkowski’s game, namely his skating, puck movement in transition and ability to win battles down low.
Let’s not forget that Bartkowski was a top-four defenseman for a stretch during the 2013 playoffs and then for most of last season, and that he was at least serviceable in that role. There’s a reason he got those minutes over other options — because he was better-equipped to handle them.
But there have always been those mistakes, too. They started to reach a breaking point in last year’s playoffs, when he wound up being a healthy scratch in favor of Andrej Meszaros four times in 12 games. Then they continued into this season, and Bartkowski found himself watching from the press box as less experienced players like Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman and David Warsofsky were given a look.
Bartkowski said he didn’t work on any one thing in particular while he was out of the lineup and instead just tried to work hard and stay positive.
“Just worked hard in practice, worked hard on the bike, in the weight room,” Bartkowski said. “That’s about it. … Just playing hockey, that’s all it is. And just focused on staying in game shape.”
Bartkowski playing well can help the Bruins’ back end more than Morrow or Trotman. He could even get back into the top four (for what it’s worth, he was sixth among Bruins defensemen in ice time on Saturday). But he needs to cut down on the mistakes. An occasional mistake is understandable, but if they happen every night, Claude Julien may be forced to bench him again.
Even a mistake like Saturday’s — just one in an otherwise good game — is pushing it. What if the Hurricanes had converted on that 2-on-1 and tied the game? The rest of Bartkowski’s good game would have been completely forgotten and that mistake would have been the story of the game if the Bruins went on to drop a point or two.
It’s a thin line for Bartkowski right now, and that what-if scenario from Saturday highlights just how thin it is.
|11.15.14 at 4:25 pm ET|
Marchand did not play the final 13:45 of Saturday’s game. That came two games after Marchand missed the last 6:23 of Wednesday’s loss to the Maple Leafs.
‘He’s not injured, per se, but he wasn’t 100 percent,’ Julien said Saturday. ‘It was a safe route to take, I guess.’
The Bruins are either being cautious or trying to hide the situation the best they can. Remember, Julien called David Krejci‘s preseason injury “very, very minor ” at the time it was suffered. Krejci went on to miss the next three games with what was believed to be a hip injury. The team has still not revealed why Krejci has not played the last four games.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|11.15.14 at 3:29 pm ET|
Playing bad teams at home really seems to work for the Bruins.
After a treacherous two-game Canadian road trip that saw the Bruins’ get outscored, 11-2, the lowly Hurricanes looked like a worthy opponent for the B’s, but they escaped with a 2-1 win (box) and improved their record for the first time since they were last at home, which was also when they were playing bad teams.
The Hurricanes outshot the Bruins by wide margins in both the first and third periods and would have easily put more than one goal past Tuukka Rask had they finished any of what were multiple gimmes during a 1:44 5-on-3 in the first period. You get breaks like that when you play struggling teams, but by no means were the Bruins dominant.
That’s the Bruins in a nutshell right now. They can get these wins, but they aren’t dominant. The B’s are now 7-3-0 without Zdeno Chara.
Here are four other things we learned Saturday:
BARTKOWSKI RETURNS AS BRUINS SHUFFLE D
Matt Bartkowski made his return to the lineup after sitting the previous seven games as a result of his early-season struggles. He played in place of Zach Trotman, who was a healthy scratch.
Seidenberg – McQuaid
Morrow – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Krug
Bartkowski had a generally good game, with a particularly lengthy first-period shift in the offensive zone among the positives. A turnover in the second period led to a scoring chance for Jeff Skinner, but Saturday was overall an improvement on the mistake-heavy showings Bartkowski had before he was taken out of the lineup.
BERGERON LINE GETS ONE
Bergeron was on the ice for Tlusty’s goal, which made it eight even strength goals against for which he’s been on the ice the last four games.
The results for Bergeron and his line changed later in the period, however, as Brad Marchand‘s work with the puck and ensuing pass set up a Bergeron goal with 50 seconds left in the period. The goal was the first for Bergeron’s line since Reilly Smith’s goal late in the third period of Monday’s win against the Devils.
Bergeron also made a nice heads-up play in the offensive zone in the third period, picking off a Justin Faulk pass to set up a Seth Griffith scoring chance.
Marchand did not play the final 13:45 of the game. That’s something to watch, as he also did not play the final 6:23 of Wednesday’s game in Toronto.
PAILLE MESSES UP, MISSES TIME, MISSES OUT ON GOAL
Daniel Paille turned the puck over in the neutral zone to lead to a lengthy Hurricanes possession on which Jiri Tlusty scored just over seven minutes into the first period. He was given just one more shift the rest of the period and did not play the final 10:27 of the first period.
Paille didn’t take contact with anyone or appear to be in pain on his nine-second shift, which came on the penalty kill. He didn’t look like a guy who was injured, and even if he was, the Bruins probably won’t say anything about it.
Claude Julien threw some different looks out there for his forward lines as the period went on, giving Milan Lucic two shifts with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. The lines were reverted back to normal for the second period.
Paille still has no goals this season. He thought he scored when he wheeled around and in the high slot and whipped the puck through traffic and in, but the goal was waved off due to Gregory Campbell standing in the crease.
The line of Campbell between Paille and Gagne still has just one goal this season, a Campbell game-winner on Oct. 21 against the Sharks,
Say what you will about Tuukka Rask not starting in Montreal ‘ personally, I thought the Bruins’ plan to go Rask in Toronto and Niklas Svedberg was the right plan going into it, with spectacularly poor results ‘ but Rask had a nice bounce-back performance Saturday against the Hurricanes.
Of course, a lot of goaltenders have good games against the Hurricanes, who entered Saturday 26th in the league in goals scored per game, but the Bruins will take it nonetheless.
One of Rask’s bigger saves came about eight minutes into the third period, when he left a rebound out front for Victor Rask but was able to recover and stop Carolina’s second-chance opportunity.
|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.
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