|01.26.16 at 11:57 am ET|
The Bruins can enter the All-Star break in second place in the Atlantic Division with a win over the Ducks Tuesday night at TD Garden. After jumping past the Lightning for the third place on Monday, the B’s now sit a point behind the Red Wings, who are idle on Tuesday.
Detroit has 58 points in 49 games, while the Bruins have 57 in 48. Both teams will sit at 49 games at the break, with Tuesday determining the order.
“It’s very important for us; we want to move up in the standings,” David Pastrnak said Tuesday morning. “This is a big opportunity for us tonight. We’re going to have to finish strong and be ready for tonight.”
The Ducks currently sit outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, though they have multiple games in hand on the two teams directly in front of them in the Pacific Division. In 46 games, Anaheim has 49 points to Vancouver’s 51 in 49 and Arizona’s 53 in 48. The Ducks currently sit fifth in the Pacific and trail the Wild (55 points in 49 games), Avalanche (55 points in 50 games) and Canucks in the Wild Card race.
The Bruins did not have a morning skate on Tuesday, leaving their potential lineup for the game ambiguous.
In injury news, Claude Julien offered no update on Adam McQuaid, who has yet to begin skating since suffering an upper-body injury on Jan. 5.
|01.25.16 at 9:46 pm ET|
Brett Connolly’s luck finally came back when the Bruins needed it most.
After blowing a third-period lead to the Flyers for the second time in less than two weeks, the Bruins found themselves tied with minutes to play. Connolly changed that by redirecting a Zdeno Chara point shot past Michal Neuvirth with just under two minutes remaining in regulation to give the Bruins a 3-2 win. The goal marked the first time Connolly had scored on a goaltender in 35 games, as he had just one empty-net goal dating back to the start of December.
Chara had a pair of assists for the Bruins. He also drew a high stick from Simmonds with 1:38 remaining in the game, which appeared to sew up the victory until Torey Krug was called for a trip 35 seconds later to set up 4-on-4 play for the remainder of regulation.
Prior to Connolly’s game-winner, the Flyers tied the game on something of a controversial play that led to Wayne Simmonds’ second goal of the night. Claude Julien challenged the play to see if Michael Del Zotto was offsides as the Flyers entered the offensive zone. Though the play sure looked to be offsides, the officials confirmed the on-ice goal call.
The B’s will host the Ducks Tuesday at TD Garden in their final game before the All-Star break. With a win, they will leapfrog the Red Wings and head to the break sitting second in the Atlantic Division.
Here are four more things we learned Monday:
ALL IS WELL WITH RASK, SCRATCHED YOUNGSTERS RETURN
Monday’s lineup featured quite a few changes from Saturday’s, the most encouraging of which was that Tuukka Rask played after being held out of Saturday’s game with an undisclosed ailment.
Rask had a strong showing for the B’s, making 34 saves on 36 shots and weathering a barrage of opportunities from the Flyers over the final two periods.
In addition to Rask returning, Brett Connolly and Colin Miller returned to the lineup after healthy scratch stints of one and four games, respectively. Connolly’s return came at the expense of Landon Ferraro, who has been battling an upper-body injury, while Joe Morrow was made a healthy scratch to accommodate Miller’s return.
With Monday’s changes, the lineup looked as such:
The Bruins gave the Flyers every opportunity to tie the game in the second period, as Boston took four penalties in the first 10:57 of the second.
Rask and the Bruins’ surging penalty kill ‘ which had not allowed a power play goal in nine games entering Monday ‘ limited the damage by allowing only a Wayne Simmonds power play tally.
As for Boston’s power play, the B’s returned to producing on the man advantage after entering Monday’s game with no goals over 11 power plays in five games. Power play goals from Bergeron and Marchand gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead, albeit one they would ultimately relinquish.
MARCHAND HITS 20
With his first-period goal, Brad Marchand now has a five-game goal streak. Monday’s tally also brought him to a team-leading 20 goals.
With another strong season, Marchand has reached the 20-goal mark in all five non-shortened seasons since becoming an NHL regular in the 2010-11 season. He nearly reached that total in the lockout-shortened season, when he led the B’s with 18 goals in 45 games.
The 27-year-old has never reached the 30-goal plateau, though that seems likely as long as he stays healthy and in the Department of Player Safety’s good graces. He’s currently on pace for 36 goals, which would make him the Bruins’ highest-scoring player since Phil Kessel scored 36 in 70 games back in the 2008-09 season.
SPOONER TAKES ASSISTS LEAD
File this under Things Nobody Saw Coming: Thanks his recent torrid stretch of production, Ryan Spooner overtook Patrice Bergeron for the Bruins’ lead in assist with 26 when he picked up the primary helper on Bergeron’s first-period power play goal.
Spooner has registered 12 assists over his last 13 games dating back to Dec. 29, which was the Bruins’ first game after David Krejci‘s injury. With 36 points on the season, Spooner is on pace for 62 points this season. Should he reach that mark, it would be the most points by a Bruin in their first full NHL season since Krejci put up 73 in 2008-09.
|01.23.16 at 9:52 pm ET|
As the expression goes, a win is a win even if it takes a shootout to get the win against the worst team in the NHL.
That was the story for the Bruins Saturday night, as they managed only two regulation goals against a Blue Jackets squad that entered the night not only the worst team in the standings, but also the league’s worst defensive team. After skating to a scoreless overtime, the B’s earned the 3-2 victory on shootout goals from Ryan Spooner and Torey Krug, while Jonas Gustavsson stopped Cam Atkinson and Brandon Dubinsky.
Special teams proved to be the story of the overtime session. They first managed to kill off a Dennis Seidenberg penalty late in regulation that left the B’s shorthanded for the first 1:55 of overtime. Shortly after, a Columbus bench minor for too many men on the ice gave the Bruins a power play of their own. The B’s were unable to score, however, finishing the night 0-for-5 on the man advantage.
The Bruins will face the Flyers Monday in Philadelphia. Here are four more things we learned Saturday:
SPOONER MOVED UP AND OVER
After tinkering with his lines throughout Thursday’s game, Claude Julien pressed the zany button before Saturday’s warmups, resulting in configurations that saw Ryan Spooner go from third-line center to first-line right wing:
Though Spooner isn’t exactly known for being tough along the walls, he ended up being a decent fit on the line. The trio connected on some nice passing that resulted in a Brad Marchand goal assisted by Spooner and Bergeron.
With the assist on Marchand’s goal, Spooner now has 13 assists over his last 12 games.
Spooner’s promotion to the Bergeron line and Joonas Kemppainen’s return from being a healthy scratch meant that Brett Connolly was banished to the press box.
Known for his shot, Connolly has only one goal (which was an empty-netter) in his last 23 games and has only scored once on a goalie in 35 games dating back to the beginning of November.
PASTRNAK BOUNCES BACK
David Pastrnak had a night to forget on Thursday, as his several turnovers got him demoted to the fourth line by the end of the team’s loss to the Canucks. He snapped out of it Saturday, however, scoring a second-period goal by going hard to the net and knocking in a rebound of a David Krejci shot and drawing a penalty later in the period.
The Seidenberg-Morrow pairing was not good. After allowing goals on back-to-back shifts midway through the second period, Morrow was benched until Claude Julien let him take the ice for the last four seconds of the period.
Saturday marked Morrow’s fourth straight game in the lineup and Colin Miller’s fourth straight game in the press box as a healthy scratch. While Claude Julien is wise to not let players like Morrow sit for too long, perhaps Miller is due for his return to the lineup.
|01.23.16 at 11:36 am ET|
Matt Beleskey was among those on the ice as the Bruins held a well-attended optional skate Saturday morning.
Beleskey, who missed Friday’s practice due to illness, is a possibility for Saturday’s game against the Blue Jackets. He said after skating that he was feeling better, though Claude Julien would not confirm the player’s status.
Jonas Gustavsson was the only goaltender on the ice for the morning skate, an indication that Tuukka Rask will get the start.
|01.22.16 at 1:29 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Patrice Bergeron spent this past summer skating with Daniel Paille. He spent the previous six seasons with Paille as his teammate. At the end of the summer, Bergeron went to Bruins training camp as usual, while Paille’s routine changed rather drastically.
Unsigned over the summer as a free agent, the 31-year-old Paille went to the Blackhawks’ training camp, where he was cut before eventually signing an AHL contract with the Rockford IceHogs, Chicago’s minor-league squad. Thirty-one AHL games and a Spengler Cup appearance with Team Canada later, Paille finally returned to the NHL this week when he signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Rangers worth $575,000 in the NHL and $100,000 in the AHL.
“I’ll be honest. I’m surprised that it took so long, but I’m happy,” Bergeron said Friday. “He was in Rockford for most of the time, he went to the Spengler Cup and did well there and won. I’m happy for him. Hopefully he gets a good shot at it and he can show what he can do.”
Paille’s inability to find work was a product of teams opting to give chances to players on entry-level deals rather than signing veterans, even if the veterans’ immediate impact might have been higher. Other players who spent the summer unsigned included Lee Stempniak, David Schlemko and Marek Zidlicky. It’s a trend that might hurt current Bruins Chris Kelly and Max Talbot once their contracts expire at season’s end.
“To me, it seems like the cap situation for most of the teams and the fact that they want to see their young players and see how they react to the league kind of pushed the older guys away a little bit, and it was unfortunate,” Bergeron said. “It was definitely the worst I’ve seen in the summer, with older guys not getting jobs and stuff like that.”
Paille is best-known in Boston for rounding out the Bruins’ Merlot Line in their Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 season after Brad Marchand moved up to Patrice Bergeron‘s line. He also scored in overtime of Game 2 of the 2013 Cup Final to tie the series in Chicago.
“He brought us some good years,” Claude Julien said. “He was part of that Stanley Cup run that we had, so absolutely. When you see a player like that get an opportunity somewhere, you’re happy for him.”
After scoring 10 goals as a fourth-liner and penalty killer in the aforementioned lockout-shortened 2013 season, the performance of both Paille and the Bruins’ fourth line trended downward. The Bruins notified Paille at the end of last season, which saw him spend time as a healthy scratch, that they would not be retaining him.
“I skated with him all summer, or most of the summer anyways, and he still looks like the Piesy we all know,” Bergeron said. “He skates well and is very good on the penalty kill. He’s a smart player, so I’m sure he can still do the job.”
|01.22.16 at 12:47 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins were without Matt Beleskey for Friday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, with Claude Julien saying after the skate that the left wing was ill and sent home.
Beleskey’s absence contributed to some wonky practice lines, which were as follows:
All seven defensemen were on the ice. The Bruins will host the Blue Jackets Saturday at TD Garden.
|01.22.16 at 1:19 am ET|
If momentum in baseball is limited by the next day’s pitcher, momentum in hockey seems limited by the next game’s puck management.
And for the Bruins, all their Thursday momentum aided by David Krejci‘s return to the lineup and the team’s three-game winning streak – which included a rare win over arch-rival Montreal on Tuesday – vanished at TD Garden in a 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks thanks to sloppy play at inopportune times.
“We play well for three or four games, we do the things that we need to do, and then we get away from it for a bit,” center Ryan Spooner admitted after the defeat. “As a team now, we need to play the same way.”
Perhaps the B’s lineup changes prohibited the ability to repeat recent quality performances. Out went Frank Vatrano and Joonas Kemppainen, while in came Krejci and Landon Ferraro after injury absences. Three of Boston’s four forward lines had personnel tweaks entering Thursday’s action.
And by the end of the night, lacking enough quality scoring chances, there would be more tweaks coming from head coach Claude Julien.