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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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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.

Reilly Smith ‘finally’ back to scoring for Bruins

03.18.14 at 9:54 am ET
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When Reilly Smith jumped out to a hot start as the Bruins’€™ leader in goals through the first three-plus months of the season, he didn’€™t soak it in the same way other young players might. He stayed quiet and it didn’€™t go to his head. Respectfully, he was boring.

So when he finally snapped his nearly seven-week-long scoring slump in the third period of Monday’€™s win over the Wild, there was no triumphant celebration — just hands in the hair and one spoken word: “œFinally.”

That, minus the “finally” was pretty much what the rest of his 19 celebrations have looked like. Nothing fancy, and nothing too proud; everything you’€™d expect from a kid who has maintained that his goals only matter to him if they help the team win.

Yet as even-keeled as he seemed to remain during that slump — which lasted 15 games and began after he notched his then-team-leading 18th goal of the season (he’€™s tied for fourth on the team now) — it weighed on him. Smith’€™s clearly the type of player who doesn’t get carried away with success, but when it wasn’€™t coming, maybe a little frustration did set in.

“€œHe demands a lot, and that’€™s a trait of a lot of players, to be honest with you,” Claude Julien said before Monday’€™s game. “He’€™s just one of those guys that has that trait, and it’€™s up to us to kind of take some of that pressure off him. He’€™s just got to go out there and play hard, and most of all you have to play hard but you have to have fun at this game. It’€™s work, but your work has to be a lot of fun, too.

“I think right now he had a lot of pressure on his shoulders. I think he was coming to the rink and getting on the ice there and instead of smiling was just carrying the weight that he didn’€™t need to carry. So we’€™re just trying to help him take some of that weight off his shoulders.”

Monday should have helped a little. Smith went to the net and jammed a rebound of a Patrice Bergeron shot past Darcy Kuemper to expand the Bruins’€™ lead to 3-1. For a player who made a name for himself early with rebound goals and finishing off Carl Soderberg backdoor plays, he was just glad it went in.

“€œI don’€™t think I’€™ve scored a pretty goal this year, so I figured it was going to come that way,” he said after the game. “It was a long time, so it was definitely a good feeling.”

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Jarome Iginla scores 2, Reilly Smith ends slump as Bruins win 9th straight

03.17.14 at 10:03 pm ET
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Reilly Smith ended his 15-game goal drought and the Bruins extended their winning streak to nine games with a 4-1 win over the Wild on Monday night at TD Garden.

Jarome Iginla opened the scoring in the second period with a deflected shot that sailed — slowly — through the legs of Minnesota goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Loui Eriksson extended the lead to 2-0 when he finished off a remarkable play from Carl Soderberg (see below), but Jason Pominville beat Tuukka Rask on a partial breakaway with less than a minute and a half left in the second to bring Minnesota within one.

Smith provided the much-needed insurance goal in the third, getting to the front of the net and putting the rebound of a Patrice Bergeron shot past Kuemper. Iginla made it 4-1 with an empty-net goal. With the goal, Iginla increased his team-leading total to 25 on the season.

With the win, the Bruins extended their lead over the Penguins for first place in the Eastern Conference to five points, though the B’s have played 68 games to Pittsburgh’s 67.

Boston played the game without Johnny Boychuk, who is day-to-day and wasn’t able to skate Monday due to a lower-body injury.

The Bruins will travel to New Jersey to face the Devils Tuesday for the second game of their fourth back-to-back this month.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Soderberg put on a one-man show on Eriksson’s goal. After picking off the puck at the top of the offensive zone with Minnesota trying to clear, he went down low and wheeled around the net before sending a backhand pass to Eriksson to set up the backdoor goal. Attribute it to whatever you want — the fact that he’s playing center, that he’s gaining experience or that he’s just more confident — but the bottom line is he has been really, really good of late.

– You always want puck luck, and that’s just what Iginla got on his first goal, which was essentially the hockey equivalent of an underhand throw.

– The Bruins once again didn’t trail in the game. They haven’t trailed at all in the last five games and haven’t allowed a first-period goal in the last eight games.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins have been giving up a lot of breakaways of late, and though there were no clean breaks, Pominville’s goal came on a partial breakaway that came off an offensive zone faceoff for the Bruins. After Patrice Bergeron won the draw, Brad Marchand was unable to settle puck and almost took a falling Ryan Suter‘s skate to the face. Suter kept his balance enough to spring Pominville, who outraced Andrej Meszaros and beat Rask, with Meszaros’ attempted poke check resulting in Pominville’s stick breaking.

– Speaking of Meszaros, he and Matt Bartkowski were paired together, and by the looks of it shouldn’t be paired together too often down the road. Though both picked up assists on Iginla’s goal, they were beaten too often, including when Mikko Koivu breezed past Bartkowski in the offensive zone before being stopped by a stick save from Rask in the first period.

Johnny Boychuk day-to-day, won’t play vs. Wild

03.17.14 at 12:01 pm ET
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Johnny Boychuk is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and will not play Monday against the Wild.

The Bruins defenseman crashed hard into the boards in the third period of Boston’s win over the Hurricanes. He returned to the game and blocked a shot with his knee, though played the rest of the game.

Boychuk was not on the ice for Monday’s morning skate, with Claude Julien sharing afterwards that Boychuk was too sore to skate.

“It’s from obviously the incident [Saturday],” Julien said. “He couldn’t skate this morning. He came in early, we tried to see if he could and he couldn’t, so we’ll just go day-to-day with him.”

Boychuk had X-rays taken after Saturday’s game. Julien said after the morning skate that Boychuk would not have tried to skate Monday unless those tests came back negative.

“There’s some damage in there, obviously, when you go in feet-first,” Julien said. “We looked at both his skates, and he kind of crashed in there and twisted, so it’s a little sore for him to skate on.”

With Boychuk out of the lineup, Corey Potter will take warmups with the rest of the Bruins’ defenseman, with Julien choosing which six of the seven defensemen will play afterwards.

Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice in the morning skate, suggesting he will get the start against Minnesota.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Bruins return Matt Lindblad to Providence

03.15.14 at 7:08 pm ET
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The Bruins returned forward Matt Lindblad to Providence Saturday after he made his NHL debut in a 5-1 win over the Hurricanes.

The team had recalled Lindblad so they could see him in NHL action and played him in place of Shawn Thornton, who was a healthy scratch. Lindblad logged 8:25 of ice time with an even rating and no shots on goal.

“I liked his game,” Claude Julien said. “He skates well, quick skater, quick thinker. He made some real good heads-up plays, so like I’ve said all along, I like his hockey sense.”

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Johnny Boychuk says ‘everything is OK’ after once again sacrificing his body

03.15.14 at 5:42 pm ET
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He could laugh about it after the game but Johnny Boychuk knows full well he was very lucky to even be standing in his electric blue pinstripe suit after Boston’s 5-1 throttling of the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

Midway through the third period, he lost an edge as Carolina’s Patrick Dwyer reached with his stick for the puck. Boychuk went careening feet first into the boards behind the Bruins net and lay prone on the ice for several minutes clutching his right leg.

Training staff came out and Boychuk immediately got to his feet and swatted away a helping arm so he could get on his skates and test his banged up right leg. He eventually conceded help, with teammate David Krejci helping him off the ice and down the tunnel. Just five minutes after going to the dressing room, Boychuk was back in front of goaltender Chad Johnson, blocking a shot with his skate on the same leg that had just suffered a nasty collision into the unforgiving corner boards.

“I’m a little sore,” Boychuk said with a painful grin. “I’m just glad everything’s OK.”

Indeed, Boychuk appeared to have escaped serious injury, as he had no walking boot on his right leg after the game and didn’t show any noticeable limp while walking. He did need about 30 extra minutes of treatment postgame before speaking to reporters.

Boychuk said he had x-rays on the leg but didn’t have the results immediately available.

As for what happened, on the play into the boards, Boychuk said it was just an unfortunate case of losing his balance.

“I was going for the puck,” Boychuk said. “I was looking left and right to see where my guys were and I went to [make a] hit and then all of a sudden, I’m going into the boards and just went feet-in kind of awkwardly, I guess.”

“I think the part is that we’€™re happy he’€™s not injured,” Julien said. “The way he went into the boards with both feet could have been a lot worse. So, kind of happy that he was able to come back and that shot on the foot is nothing compared to how hard he went into the boards, but you know what our team has always been made of those kind of players and guys that gut it out and certainly it helps our team get some, I guess, some energy, and some momentum at a certain point of the game where we needed it.”

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