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Bruins clinch playoff spot as Patrick Roy pulls his goalie super early

03.21.14 at 11:30 pm ET
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The Bruins became the first team in the NHL to clinch a playoff spot, as Chad Johnson picked up a hard-earned shutout with a 2-0 victory over the Avalanche. The win was Boston’s 11th straight, while it was the team’s seventh straight playoff berth.

The win streak is Boston’s third-longest, as the B’s are three away from the 14 in a row they won in 1929-30. Tying that will be tough, as the B’s next three games are against the Coyotes, Canadiens and Blackhawks.

Patrice Bergeron scored the only goal of the first period as the Bruins kept their opponent scoreless in the first period for the 10th straight game. The B’s have not trailed since March 9 in Florida.

The Bruins made it 2-0 in the second period on a Carl Soderberg power play goal. The B’s held on from there, despite Colorado coach Patrick Roy pulling Semyon Varlomov with five minutes remaining in the game. To Roy’s credit, the Bruins did not score an empty net goal.

Johnson made 30 saves in the game, improving his record to 16-3-1 on the season and getting his second shutout of the season.

The Bruins will face the Coyotes Saturday in Phoenix before returning to Boston to face the Canadiens Monday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Johnson was superb for the B’s as he got the start in two straight games for the second time all year. He had to make 24 saves over the first two periods, the biggest of which was on a Maxime Talbot partial breakaway off of a Chris Kelly neutral zone turnover. Johnson stopped Talbot’s backhand bid, among several other strong opportunities for Colorado.

- Dougie Hamilton played a pretty big role in both Boston goals. The 20-year-old took a pass from Bergeron on his backhand, moved across the blue line as he put it back on his forehand and slid the pass down low to Bergeron, who put the puck on net and buried the rebound.

In the second period, Hamilton did a good job of keeping Talbot’s clearing bid in the zone and fed Eriksson, who gave the puck to Soderberg before bolting to the net. From there, Eriksson, who is exceptional at screening the goalie without having to tip pucks, got in Varlamov’s way as Soderberg fired a wrester that beat the Avalanche netminder.

- Here’s something you don’t see every day: Kevan Miller all Bruins in time on ice in the first two periods with 15:13. Zdeno Chara played 13:23 over the first two, though he took a high-sticking penalty late in the first period.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins had more defensive breakdowns than usual, meaning Johnson had to be good in order for them to hold the lead. The most notable one was on Talbot’s partial break in the second period off Kelly’s giveaway.

Johnson was also kept busy on a first-period shift from David Krejci‘s line in which both Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic were unable to get the puck out, leading to a couple of chances for Paul Stastnsy.

- The Bruins were outshot, 14-6, in the first period, though they came out of the period unscathed.

- This isn’t something that went wrong for the Bruins, but once again: Patrick Roy pulled his goalie with five minutes left. If that isn’t a different brand of fantastic I don’t know what is.

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Bruins not expecting, but not ruling out, a postseason Dennis Seidenberg return

03.21.14 at 4:30 pm ET
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The last couple of days have seen speculation regarding a possible early return from a torn ACL/MCL from Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, with Pierre McGuire hinting Friday that a possibility exists that Seidenberg could return late in the playoffs if the B’s are still playing.

“€œI was talking with some of their people around the team who are really tight with Seidenberg, and he was actually telling them that there’€™€™s a chance that he might be back for the playoffs,” McGuire said on Mut & Merloni.

Seidenberg was projected to have a six-to-eight month recovery time from surgery he got in early January. At the time, the team considered Seidenberg out for the season, but Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told the Boston Globe Friday that the team doesn’t expect Seidenberg to play again before next season, though he wouldn’t definitely say he won’t.

“€œI’€™m not counting on this,” Chiarelli told Amalie Benjamin. “€œHe’€™s ahead of schedule. I don’€™t like to say, ‘€˜Hey, if we’€™re in the Finals and we’€™re in Game 4,’€™ but that’€™s the type of scenario. He’€™s ahead of schedule and you can’€™t rule anything out, but I’€™m not counting on it.”

Chiarelli told the Globe that he isn’t surprised that Seidenberg is ahead of schedule given how well-conditioned the 32-year-old is. Seidenberg could be seen working out Monday before the team’s morning skate.

“My guess is, if we go deep, he’€™ll start skating at some point and we’€™ll just see how he is,” Chiarelli told the Globe. “We’€™ve been very cautious in the past with the injuries and coming back.”

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Dennis Seidenberg might return for playoffs

03.21.14 at 12:39 pm ET
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NBC sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Bruins’€™ winning streak and the potential for league expansion. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

McGuire learned from friends of Dennis Seidenberg in the Hurricanes organization that the defenseman could return to the ice this season for Boston.

“I was talking with some of their people around the team who are really tight with Seidenberg, and he was actually telling them that there’€™s a chance that he might be back for the playoffs,” McGuire said.

Seidenberg suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee in late December and had surgery for the injury in January. He was expected to miss the rest of the season.

“With him I don’€™t think there’€™d be a lot of issues,” McGuire said of Seidenberg returning for the playoffs. “He’€™s a tremendous athlete — extremely fit. He’€™s very strong — everybody knows that. I don’€™t think there’€™d be that big of an adjustment for him.”

The news comes as the Bruins look to extend their winning streak to 11 games Friday night against the Avalanche.

“You see the level of consistency and when they need to defend a lead, they know how,” McGuire said of the B’€™s recent success. “When they need to generate some enthusiasm in the building, they know how by being physical. Their cycle game is excellent. They’€™re four lines deep.”

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Bruins sign 2009 seventh-round pick Ben Sexton to entry level contract

03.21.14 at 12:10 pm ET
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The Bruins announced Thursday evening that they had signed 2009 seventh-round puck Ben Sexton to an entry-level contract.

Sexton recently concluded his college career at Clarkson University, where he had six goals and 22 assists for 28 points in 35 games. The 22-year-old forward had 24 goals and 61 assists for Clarkson in his college career.

The Ontario native stands at 6-foot-0 and 203 pounds.

Johnny Boychuk returns to practice

03.20.14 at 4:03 pm ET
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Johnny Boychuk practiced with the Bruins in Denver Friday, marking his first time back on the ice with teammates since suffering a lower-body injury last Saturday against the Hurricanes.

Bruins coach Claude Julien suggested to reporters after the practice that Boychuk, who was termed day-to-day after he crashed into the boards feet-first, might not be an option to play Friday against the Avalanche, however, saying, the team will “evaluate him day by day, but if he’s not 100 percent there’s no reason why he should play.”

Boychuk had tried taking part in Monday’s morning skate, but he was too sore. The team has played Andrej Meszaros the last two games with Boychuk out, while Corey Potter played Tuesday when Matt Bartkowski served as the team’s healthy scratch against the Devils.

Thursday marks just over two weeks since Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced that the team would shut Adam McQuaid down for two-to-three weeks in order to aid his recovery from a quad strain. Julien was asked about McQuaid Thursday and gave little update, though he did tell reporters that the player has been “working off ice longer and longer every day.”

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins say they ‘have another gear’ to their game

03.19.14 at 1:41 pm ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ 10-game win streak, Brad Marchand, Carl Soderberg and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Bruins have been on a tear recently, winning 10 straight games and outscoring opponents 41-15 in that span. Despite all their success, the team still is looking to improve.

“They’ve been able to do a lot of things really during this streak,”€ Brickley said. “But it’s amazing when you talk to the coaching staff and even to the players to a man, they say, ‘We’€™re not peaking, we haven’t hit our stride. Yes, we’€™re winning games because we’€™re playing team hockey, and we’€™re getting some good results, but we definitely have another gear.’ ”

Marchand has been quiet during the streak, only recording two goals and three assists. Brickley admits that while the 25-year-old winger has struggled at times, he has had a successful season.

“€œHe’€™s having a terrific season really, on the whole, when you take a look at it,” Brickley said. “Certainly there were times, maybe, at different points in the season where it wasn’t going his way and he was kind of fighting it or searching for that balance.”

The B’s third line compares favorably to many of the third lines across the NHL. One guy in that line that has improved, according to Brickley, is Soderberg.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Carl Soderberg, Dougie Hamilton

Bruins beat Devils for 10th straight win

03.18.14 at 9:36 pm ET
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The Bruins won their 10th straight game, as they picked up a 4-2 win over the Devils Tuesday at the Prudential Center.

Patrice Bergeron scored the only goal of the first period, taking a feed from Reilly Smith and beating Martin Brodeur five-hole. With the goal, Bergeron became the fourth Bruin to reach 20 goals this season. Smith will become the fifth with his next goal.

The early second period saw a quick flurry of goals, beginning with a Patrik Elias goal to tie the game on a 5-on-3. The Bruins responded in short order, with Brad Marchand scoring a shorthanded goal 54 seconds after Elias’ tally. Fifty-nine seconds after that, Jarome Iginla scored his 556th career goal putting him in a tie with Johnny Bucyk for 25th on the all-time goals list.

Chris Kelly would make it 4-1 in the third period, but Travis Zajac brought the Devils back within two just over two minutes later. The B’s would hold on to pick up the win, with Chad Johnson improving his record to 15-3-1 on the season.

The victory allowed the Bruins to keep their distance from the Penguins atop the Eastern Conference. The B’s continue to hold a five-point lead over Pittsburgh, though they’ve played 69 games to the Penguins‘ 68.

Matt Bartkowski was made a healthy scratch, with Corey Potter making his Bruins debut a night after Bartkowski struggled vs. the Wild. Johnny Boychuk missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.

The Bruins will travel to Denver and will face the Avalanche Friday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins have now gone nine consecutive games without allowing a first-period goal and six straight games without trailing. Winning is a much more manageable task when you don’t have to play from behind.

- There was some great passing between Andrej Meszaros, Bergeron and Reilly Smith on Bergeron’s goal. With the Devils in the midst of a line change, Meszaros found Bergeron at the blue line, who dished it back to Smith before going to the net. Smith returned the pass, with Bergeron beating Brodeur five-hole to finish the play.

- Speaking of passing, Torey Krug rifled a stretch pass down the ice to Iginla to set up the game-winning goal.

- Marchand’s goal was his fifth shorthanded tally of the season. He also drew a slashing penalty on Eric Gelinas in the third period during a shorthanded scoring chance to negate Dougie Hamilton’s second penalty of the day.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The B’s are still allowing more primo scoring chances than they’d like, and Dougie Hamilton was the only man back on a 3-on-1 that resulted in Zajac’s third-period goal.

- The Bruins saw the absence of Boychuk when they had to face a 5-on-3 early in the second. The B’s had Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Kevan Miller on the ice when Elias scored to tie the game, as Dougie Hamilton was in the box on a charging call.

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