|11.18.14 at 9:37 pm ET|
It’s been rightfully noted here that a lot of the Bruins’ wins at home without Zdeno Chara have come against bad teams, so they deserve credit for defeating a very good team at TD Tuesday.
Tuesday’s game against the Blues could have been a messy affair. The Blues are a well-oiled machine cruising in the much superior Western Conference and had won 10 of their last 11 games entering the Garden, but the B’s were able to take a 2-0 win (box) against a team leading the Western Conference in points.
What makes the win all the more impressive for the B’s was that they did it with more injuries. David Krejci returned to the lineup, but Brad Marchand missed the game with an undisclosed injury, while Adam McQuaid was hurt in the second period and didn’t return, forcing the Bruins to play most of the game with five defensemen.
The fashion in which the win was accomplished was also impressive. The shorthanded B’s were defensively sound and survived a big third-period push from the Blues as Tuukka Rask earned his first shutout of the season.
The Bruins can take care of their easy games at home, but they also have it in them to beat perhaps the best team in the league right now. Here are four other things were learned Tuesday.
ADAM MCQUAID’S HEALTHY STREAK MIGHT BE ON HOLD
Adam McQuaid played in 20 straight games to begin this season, which is a longer stretch of games played than he was ever able to accomplish in his injury-plagued 2013-14 season. That might be coming to an end.
McQuaid left Tuesday’s game on his second shift of the second period and did not return. He was hit in the right arm or hand by a Kevin Shattenkirk shot that was blocked by Chris Kelly. McQuaid was shaking his right hand/arm immediately following getting hit. He did not play another shift after that.
The veteran defenseman played two stretches of 15 games apiece last season and did not play again after Jan. 19 due to a groin/quad injury.
|11.18.14 at 12:33 pm ET|
David Krejci‘s in-and-out-of-the-lineup season hasn’t been easy on him or the Bruins, but one teammate doesn’t have to look too far back to remember what it’s like.
“I can definitely relate,” Adam McQuaid said Tuesday. “It’s not easy.”
Krejci has missed a total of nine games this season due to what is believed to be a hip injury-turned-somewhere-else-in-the-lower-body injury. He missed the first three games of the season, returned for nine, sat two, played one and sat the last four. He is nearing his latest return to the lineup and is a possibility to play Tuesday against the Blues.
Though the injuries may not be the same, the frustration of coming back into the lineup only to leave it again is similar. McQuaid suffered a lower-body injury in the 15th game of last season and went on to miss eight games before returning to play 15 more. He came up lame again on Jan. 19 against the Blackhawks and, despite thinking at times that he was nearing a return, did not play another game the rest of the season. The team said they were shutting him down for 2-3 weeks in March due to a quad strain, but the setbacks he had piled up and eventually led to him being shut down for the year and given surgery on another area that needing cleaning up in his ankle.
As McQuaid looks back on his 2013-14 and how he can relate to Krejci, he says the frustrating part is thinking you’re ready to go only to find out that you aren’t.
“When I went through it, you’re trying to gauge where you’re at, and you take the proper steps and it’s like, ‘OK, I feel good.’ Then you try the next thing,” McQuaid said. “Until you try the next thing, you don’t know. Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned, and then the competitive [aspect] — wanting to push yourself to get back a little bit quicker than you should at times – probably doesn’t help. It takes a little time.”
This season, McQuaid hasn’t had to worry about such uncertainty. He’s played in all 19 games for the Bruins thus far ‘ the longest stretch of consecutive games he’s had since the lockout-shortened season ‘ and has been an important part of a blue line that has lost Johnny Boychuk to a trade and has also lost Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Torey Krug to various injuries at points.
There was a time while McQuaid was out last season that it appeared he would ultimately be expendable on Boston’s back end, but it has become the opposite. McQuaid, who has played 19:55 a night this season, has taken on the opposition’s top-six forwards regularly after serving as a third-pairing guy for the vast majority of his first four seasons when in the lineup.
“It’s great to be back and a part of things here and being with the guys on a daily basis and being in the same routine,” he said. “When you’re not practicing and playing and traveling, you’re still at the rink and you still see the guys and stuff, but it’s not quite the same. I’m really enjoying that part, being back in and being on the ice. Feeling like you’re a part of wins is nicer than anything.”
McQuaid can only hope that the similarities between his 2013-14 season and Krejci’s 2014-15 season end now. Krejci is the Bruins’ best offensive player and has been a point-a-game player with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his 10 games played this season.
Once Krejci returns, McQuaid has his fingers crossed that everything will be back to normal and that Krejci won’t have to experience what McQuaid did a season ago.
“That’s the hope,” he said. “I haven’t gone into great detail with him about how he’s getting along. I mean, we’ve talked a little here and there, but again, now is the time if you need the extra time, to take it. At the same time, it’s hard. If you’re feeling good, you’re going to go. If you’re feeling good, you’re not going to take extra time if you don’t feel like you need it. Hopefully when he’s back, he’s back and back to stay.”
|11.18.14 at 11:40 am ET|
Brad Marchand left Bruins morning skate after one line rush and was subsequently declared out for Tuesday’s game against the Blues.
Marchand, who missed the final 13:45 of Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury, practiced Monday and was termed “probable” at the time by Julien. Asked whether Marchand’s ailment was a concussion or head injury, Julien said it was not.
Tuesday will mark Marchand’s first missed game of the season. In 19 games thus far, Marchand is tied with Carl Soderberg and Seth Griffith for the team lead with five goals.
David Krejci (lower-body) participated in morning skate and centered his regular linemates in Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith. Julien said that the team didn’t know yet whether he would be in. Julien added that if a callup was made Tuesday, it would mean Krejci would be out.
Kevan Miller, who is cleared to play, also participated in the morning skate. Julien said the B’s will dress seven defensemen in warmups and decide afterwards whether Miller will be in the lineup. Miller has not played since suffering a dislocated shoulder in a fight on Oct. 18.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|11.17.14 at 10:40 am ET|
Marchand did not play the final 13:45 of Saturday’s game and also missed the last 6:23 of Wednesday’s game. Following Saturday’s win over the Hurricanes, Claude Julien said that Marchand was “not injured, per se.”
After the practice, Julien said that Marchand was “probable” for Tuesday’s game against the Blues. He added that the injury from which Marchand was suffering occurred in Saturday’s game.
With Marchand absent, Matt Fraser took his place on Patrice Bergeron‘s line.
Krejci, who began skating Friday as he works his way back from a lower-body injury, did line drills with his usual linemates in Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith. Chris Kelly, who has played in Krejci’s place during his absence, returned to Carl Soderberg’s line.
Krejci missed the first three games of the season, returned to play nine, missed two more before returning for one game and missing the last four games. He did not appear to be limited in Monday’s practice.
Julien said that he has yet to be notified that Krejci has been cleared to play. Asked whether the team wanted to be more cautious with Krejci this time than last time, Julien denied any previous impatience on the Bruins’ part.
“Well he was 100 percent last time,” Julien said, “and somehow by the end of the game he didn’t feel good again, so we have to take that into consideration as well.”
The forward lines in practice were as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Fraser – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Gagne – Campbell – Paille
Miller hasn’t played since Oct. 18 due to a dislocated shoulder suffered in a fight on Oct. 18. He had taken what the team called “light contact” leading up to Monday’s practice, but participated regularly Monday. Julien said that with Miller cleared to play, the only remaining hurdle is for the team to decide whether he has had enough practice time.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|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.
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