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5 things we learned as Loui Eriksson’s late goal helps Bruins take season series vs. Islanders

02.07.15 at 9:42 pm ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

When David Krejci was hurt early in the season, Claude Julien was hesitant to move Carl Soderberg up. When Krejci’€™s line needed a right wing, Julien was hesitant to move Loui Eriksson up. On Saturday, everyone saw why once again.

With the game tied at one goal apiece, Julien mixed up his lines to reunited the steady trio of Soderberg between Chris Kelly and Eriksson. The result: a late goal from Eriksson to break the tie and give the Bruins a 2-1 win over the Islanders (box) in the first game of a difficult back-to-back that brings the Habs to Boston on Sunday.

The goal, assisted by both Soderberg and Kelly, was Eriksson’€™s 12th goal of the season after posting just 10 goals over 61 games last season in his first campaign as a Bruin.

Saturday’s game was not the first time that Julien, after breaking up his trusty third line, went back to it and saw quick results. When Julien did it on Dec. 21 against the Sabres, Kelly scored on their first shift back together and Eriksson scored the game-winner in overtime.

Though former Bruins backup Chad Johnson started in goal for New York, it’s still worth noting the victory improved the Bruins to 2-1-0 against the Islanders this season, with their one loss coming in the Oct. 23 game in which Zdeno Chara tore his PCL.

Here are four more things we learned Saturday:


David Pastrnak’€™s play dropped off from its previous level after the Bruins announced in mid-January that they would be keeping him in Boston. Part of that included being dropped off David Krejci‘€™s line last week against the Islanders.

On Saturday, the 18-year-old rookie turned in perhaps his best performance since his offensive explosion late in his audition last month. Pastrnak’€™s night looked promising early on when he nearly netted one in the first period on the rebound of a Dougie Hamilton point shot, but it was Pastrnak’€™s second period that got him promoted back to Krejci’€™s line.

Playing on Boston’€™s first power play unit after a Matt Martin holding penalty, Pastrnak dangled around Brian Strait coming into the zone, though his decision to pass to Milan Lucic might not have been as smart as shooting the puck. Later in the shift, Pastrnak, who claims to weigh in the high 170s these days, threw a big hit on Strait.

Julien apparently liked what he saw on that power play, as he moved Pastrnak from Carl Soderberg’€™s line back to Krejci’€™s line in the middle of the second period.

On the subject of Claude Julien switching his right wings…  Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Skate Live Chat at 8 a.m.

02.07.15 at 6:51 pm ET
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Sunday Skate, WEEI’s new weekly hockey show hosted by DJ Bean and Joe McDonald, begins Sunday at 8 a.m.. To listen to WEEI live online, click here.

Sunday Skate will be an interactive show, with Pete Blackburn hosting a live chat in which listeners can participate throughout. Participants will be able to drive the show’s conversation while taking part in polls and anything else Blackburn digs up. Click below to join in. The chat will open shortly before the start of each show and will run through the duration of the two-hour program.

Live Blog Sunday Skate Live Chat

Kevan Miller advised not to fight rest of season, will require offseason surgery

02.07.15 at 5:46 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller said prior to Saturday’€™s game that he is learning to manage playing through right shoulder issues after dislocating the shoulder earlier in the season. He also confirmed that he will need offseason shoulder surgery, as was first reported by the Boston Herald last week.

Miller suffered the injury in a fight against Buffalo forward Nicolas Deslauriers on Oct. 18 and missed 13 games. He said that while he has continued to feel better since returning to the lineup on Nov. 21, he has been advised by doctors not to fight.

“It was told to me by the doctors that probably not a good idea to do that,” Miller said. “Whether it happens or not, it’€™s part of the game. You kind of have to be ready for anything either way. Just need to make sure I’€™m smart with it, I guess.”

Miller, a physical defender who fought seven times last season between the NHL and AHL last season, said that having to hold back on dropping the gloves shouldn’€™t change his game too much going forward.

“I don’€™t think it really changed as far as my approach to the game,” he said. “I just think, like I said, it’€™s something I have to be aware of, and maybe there are times that in the past maybe I would have been more apt to doing that, then this time kind of pulled back sometimes. Like I said, you kind of have to be ready for either way.”

In 36 games this season, Miller has two goals and four assists for six points and a team-leading plus-16 rating. He has a 48.9 Corsi percentage.

Brad Marchand returns to practice

02.06.15 at 11:24 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Brad Marchand was back on the ice for Friday’€™s practice after taking a maintenance day on Thursday.

In preparation for this weekend’€™s back-to-back against the Islanders and Canadiens, the Bruins iced the same lines they have used since last week’€™s meeting with the Islanders. Claude Julien switched up his right wings late in Wednesday’€™s meeting with the Rangers, but Friday’€™s practice saw the team’€™s recent lines reunited:


All seven defensemen and both goaltenders were present for Friday’s practice.

Will Malcolm Subban’s first NHL start come against Canadiens?

02.05.15 at 9:20 pm ET
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Malcolm Subban

Malcolm Subban

Malcolm Subban is due for a start somewhere.

When the Bruins recalled their 2012 first-round pick last week, it was a fun story as the second-year pro got his first regular-season taste of the NHL. All these days later, the fact that he lasted past last weekend (the anticipated length of his callup) brings something else to light: The kid is going on two weeks without playing a game.

That’€™s the longest stretch this season that Subban, who last played on Jan. 24 for Providence, has gone out of game action since a lower-body injury cost him time in mid-November.

The Bruins have a three-game homestand coming up, including a tough back-to-back against the Islanders and Canadiens this weekend. Asked whether Subban would get one of the starts, Claude Julien responded Thursday with his signature “we’€™ll see, guys” answer.

To give any goaltender their first NHL start in a Bruins-Canadiens game is the definition of throwing someone into the fire. Add in that Malcolm’€™s older brother P.K. is Montreal’€™s Norris-winning assistant captain, and a potential start Sunday would be quite the event. Malcolm admitted his parents would be on the next plane to Boston should it be the case, but he isn’€™t looking that far ahead.

“It would be pretty cool, but I’€™m not thinking into it too much,”€ Malcolm said Thursday. “Just trying to stay focused. Whenever my opportunity comes, hopefully I’€™ll be ready.”

The Bruins have played Tuukka Rask in both games of four different back-to-backs this season, so the fact that a backup (whether Subban or, should they return him to Providence, Niklas Svedberg) plays this weekend is far from a guarantee. The Canadiens angle does make it interesting from a game plan standpoint, however.

Rask has started two games against the Canadiens this season and is 0-2-0 with seven goals allowed. He was pulled from the teams’€™ first meeting this season after allowing five goals in an eventual 6-4 loss. The Bruins gave Svedberg the start in Montreal on Nov. 13, with Svedberg surrendering five goals on 34 shots.

The small chance that Subban could begin his NHL career in a Battle of the Subbans comes down to the Bruins’€™ philosophy with Rask and the Canadiens. Rask is one of the best goaltenders in the world and he doesn’€™t win a lot against Montreal (3-12-3 lifetime in the regular season). The fact that Rask is one of the best goaltenders in the world is not going to change, but the Bruins can take the Rangers/Henrik Lundqvist approach by simply hiding their star goaltender from the Habs. That worked when the Rangers beat the Habs in six games in the Eastern Conference finals last spring.

So it’€™s possible that the back-to-backs and Rask’€™s history could combine to make Subban’€™s dream debut take place, but it’€™s also worth considering that the Bruins prioritize their game plan over the neat story. Just ask Michigan native Steven Kampfer, who brought his family to his Joe Louis Arena homecoming when the Bruins faced the Red Wings in 2011, only to learn the night before the game that the B’€™s would be making him a healthy scratch for the game.

Whether or not Subban plays during this callup or at any point in Boston this season, the 21-year-old has enjoyed his brief NHL stint thus far. He’€™s seen the improved competition in practice and thinks the non-training-camp exposure to working life in the NHL has been a learning experience.

“Those shots that he’€™s getting here should be a little bit higher grade than what he gets over there, for obvious reasons,” Julien said. “It’€™s a good experience for him. We’€™re trying to groom him into being the goaltender that we expect him to be, and you’€™ve got to take some steps to do that. This is one of the steps that was part of grooming him.”

Read More: Malcolm Subban, P.K. Subban,

Brad Marchand (maintenance) misses practice as Bruins prepare for Islanders and Canadiens

02.05.15 at 1:51 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Brad Marchand missed Thursday’€™s practice, with Claude Julien saying the B’€™s gave their second-line left wing a maintenance day.

Marchand, who took a couple of big hits from Dan Girardi in Wednesday’s loss to the Rangers, had his spot filled by Daniel Paille in practice. The lines were as follows:


All seven defensemen and both goaltenders were present, including Malcolm Subban, who is still with the big club.

The Bruins will practice again on Friday before hosting the Islanders Saturday and Canadiens Sunday.

Read More: Brad Marchand,

Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins need ‘proven’ veteran who can score goals

02.05.15 at 1:50 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB after the Bruins’ loss to the Rangers Wednesday night, and to look ahead to their stretch of games before the trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

With the trade deadline approaching, McGuire feels the Bruins’ biggest need is a veteran presence on the first line who can score goals, and play with Milan Lucic and David Krejci. He feels the defense can be corrected on its own.

“I don’t know about the top four [defenseman], it’s a fair question,” McGuire said. “I think it is more pressure and get more consistent offense in the first line and insert with [Milan] Lucic and [David] Krejci, and this isn’t a knock on whomever they have tried there — whether it’s [Loui] Eriksson or Reilly Smith, whenever it be anybody, David Pastrnak — it doesn’t matter. I think they really need a veteran presence, a proven guy that can score goals in a first line situation and then the rest of the batting order kind of stabilizes itself.

“I think they can do it by committee on defense really because of the way the team plays. I think they need to get more run support with consistency, I think that is one of the reasons why they play so many one goal games, they are in so many close games, they just don’t have consistent run support for their defense and their goalie.”

McGuire has been impressed with the rookie Pastrnak and compared him to Tyler Seguin in a way that he could make an impact in the postseason once he gets fully acclimated to the NHL.

“The one thing that stands out to me and not even being 19 years of age or pretty darn close to it, he can still dominate the puck,” said McGuire. “He made some pretty creative plays last night. It’s a hard league for kids that weigh 165-170 pounds to play in. I don’t see him tailing off. I think this will be a lot like what we saw with Tyler Seguin in the Bruins run to the Cup in [2011], just because it took awhile for Tyler to get comfortable and once he got comfortable you saw what he did in the Tampa Bay series in particular.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: David Krejci, David Pastrnak, Milan Lucic, Pierre McGuire
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