|11.16.15 at 12:48 pm ET|
Colin Miller feels ready to return to the Bruins’ lineup, but it’s unclear whether that will be the case on Tuesday when the B’s host the Sharks.
Miller was kept out of Saturday’s lineup with a lower-body injury, though Claude Julien intimated the injury was minor. Miller took part in Monday’s practice and said that he
“I feel good,” Miller said. “I feel fine, so we’ll see come tomorrow what happens.”
Prior to sitting on Saturday, Miller had played in 14 straight games for the Bruins. Now that Dennis Seidenberg is healthy, however, Miller is one of eight options the Bruins have on defense, with both Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman seeing ample time in the press box.
The Bruins clearly do not have their six defensemen set in stone, so as Claude Julien continues to rotate guys in and out of the lineup on defense, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility for Julien to sit Miller an extra game even if he’s healthy enough to play.
“I think it depends on circumstances,” Julien said. “It depends on if guys are playing well, it’s fine [to play them], if there’s guys that aren’t playing as well and you think a guy can come in and help, you’re going to make those decisions. I don’t think it’s necessarily a clear decision on my part.”
Miller has played well enough to stay in the lineup, however, just as Morrow had been mostly good before being taken out of the lineup recently. With Trotman having sat for 11 straight games before getting back into game action earlier this month, the numbers game on a not-so-good blue line figures to put some of Boston’s young defensemen in the press box more often than they might deserve it.
|11.14.15 at 11:41 pm ET|
On his 44th shot on goal of the season, Torey Krug finally scored his first goal. Dating back to last season, it was his first goal in 27 games, ending the longest drought of his young career.
If Krug were a forward, this would all be a pretty big deal. Given that he’s an offensive defensemen who has scored 26 goals over the last two season, it’s still at least noteworthy. Krug insists he wasn’t giving the drought much thought, though.
“I wasn’t really too worried about it, especially with a few more minutes being played,” Krug said. “My number one job is always defense and that’s been good so far. I can always improve, but it’s nice to get the first one.”
Krug is right, of course. Even if he is an offensive defenseman, he is still, first and foremost, a defenseman. In the past, it was easy to overlook that fact. Krug was often used in situations that catered to his strengths and shielded his question marks (he got a lot of offensive zone starts and faced mostly third and fourth lines), so his defensive game wasn’t exactly facing tough tests.
This season has been different, though. Krug hasn’t been nearly as sheltered as he has been in the past. Given the lack of true top-four defensemen on the Boston blue line, Krug has had to play a bigger role. According to war-on-ice.com, Krug has an offensive zone start percentage of 53.25 percent this year vs. 59.97 percent last year, and only Zdeno Chara has faced tougher quality of competition among Bruins defensemen. Oh, and Krug is second on the B’s in average time on ice (again behind only Chara).
Krug said he has embraced the challenge and pointed out that playing against first and second lines might actually suit his game in a way people wouldn’t necessarily notice.
“You go out there and play hockey that is more suitable to my type of game,” Krug said. “Playing against top-two line guys, they think the same way that I think. How hockey should be played — it’s more fun to play that.”
|11.14.15 at 9:32 pm ET|
The Bruins played well against a decent opponent and won at home. That may not sound like an impressive feat, but a victory like Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Red Wings was long overdue.
There was no fast start and major letup, but rather a fairly balanced performance that saw the B’s control a scoreless first period before eventually breaking through with three goals in the second period.
Boston’s defense, which has typically given opponents goals at home, was better. Detroit failed to land a shot on goal in the first six minutes of each of the first two periods. It wasn’t until a third-period power play that the Red Wings found the back of the net, which came in the form of a Justin Abdelkader power play goal. Tuukka Rask was strong, keeping his opponents from scoring multiple goals for just the fourth time this season.
The Bruins are now 8-7-1 on the season and 2-5-1 at home. They’ll continue their home stand when they host the Sharks at TD Garden on Tuesday.
Here are five more things we learned Saturday:
RASK COMES THROUGH
When teams fail to get pucks to the net the way the Red Wings did on Saturday, it’s easy to write off the opposing goaltender’s performance. While Saturday was far from Tuukka Rask‘s most taxing outing, he did come through with a couple of impressive saves.
The most notable save of the night for Rask came during a scoreless first period, when Brad Marchand wiped out in the offensive zone doing his pull-up move, resulting in the Red Wings going the other way with numbers in their favor. With Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader on a 2-on-1, Rask came across his net to rob Abdelkader to keep the game scoreless. Rask also made a nice kick save on Zetterberg following Bergeron’s goal in the second period and a kick save on Riley Sheahan in the third.
|11.13.15 at 6:29 pm ET|
Marchand, who got up after Landeskog hit him in the head with his shoulder, sucker-punched Landeskog following the hit. Marchand was given a $5,000 fine for the incident.
|11.13.15 at 1:26 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Call it being overused, call it a player still finding his footing after missing half of last season, but Kevan Miller hasn’t gotten off to the start he’d hoped for this season.
Miller has played in each of the Bruins’ first 15 games after missing the last 26 games of last season due to shoulder surgery. Miller, whose shoulder also kept him out for a stretch earlier in the season, hasn’t had a particularly pleasant return to game action. Used frequently as Zdeno Chara‘s partner, the 27-year-old has struggled both with the puck and without it, occasionally leaving shooters too much space as they enter the offensive zone. Thursday night’s game saw him turn in a costly turnover when he coughed the puck up in the defensive zone, leading to a Colorado goal.
“It’s a work in progress. You want to get better as you go,” Miller said of his start to the season. “This is my third year, but this is 100-something games. I’m trying to get better every game. There’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs and we’re going to learn from that, but you want to make sure you’re consistent every night. I need to be better.”
Undoubtedly factoring into Miller’s struggles is the fact that he’s been used in a bigger role this season, something that perhaps could change once Dennis Seidenberg is up to speed. Miller has been given 20:21 of ice time per night, up over two minutes from last season’s 18:02 average.
Miller has also had much tougher zone starts than in either of his previous two seasons, as shown in this war-on-ice usage chart showing each of Miller’s three NHL seasons.
When asked about Miller, Claude Julien‘s words sounded like they could have been applied to many of his defensemen, as Miller is certainly not alone in making costly errors.
“Right now, it’s not about how much leeway we give players,” he said. “It’s about how accountable you want to be as a player. You’ve got to work through those kind of things. You’ve got to minimize it. If you’ve been injured, and you don’t think your game is at its best, let’s keep it simple. Let’s do the right things here and try and make the right decisions.
“Again, it’s puck management. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to be a simple game, and a lot of times, less is more. That’s what we have to understand.”
Now that Seidenberg is back in the lineup, the Bruins could view Miller as a potential option to spent the occasional game in the press box. Joe Morrow has been a healthy scratch the last three games, while Zach Trotman has sat in 12 of 15 games this season.
Miller still provides value, however, as he can kill penalties and be used on the left side in a pinch. He’ll just need better games ahead of him if he wants to solidify his spot.
|11.13.15 at 12:01 am ET|
In terms of this season’s monetary compensation rankings, the Bruins got their No. 2 defenseman back from injury on Thursday night.
And while Dennis Seidenberg wasn’t on the ice nor responsible for any of the three Colorado goals scored in a 3-2 come-from-ahead loss to the Avalanche, neither did Seidenberg’s mere presence in the lineup solve Boston’s biggest woes so far in 2015-16: erratic team play and a penchant for blown leads, particularly on home ice at TD Garden.
“We had a good start like we have had in the past,” said Seidenberg, back on the ice after missing the season’s first 14 games due to back surgery. “A lot of games, actually. We just didn’t follow up, we kind of lost our game, getting pucks deep and moving our feet. They took it to us. They scored two goals in that first [period] coming back, and then we were just kind of flat it seemed like and just couldn’t get it back on track putting pressure on their net.”
If that game analysis sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Coach Claude Julien has heard it and seen it, too.
“Same old, same old, I guess,” said Julien. “We were off to a good start again and you get a 2-0 lead. Instead of continuing to play your game you’re starting to see long passes that end up in icing, you saw some turnovers at the blue line. We’re a little stubborn right now respecting our game plan the whole game.”
Julien continued: “You’re so proud of your team one night because they come in and play hard and you win hockey games and you tell yourself this is the identity of our team. This is how we’ve got to play. And then the next night it’s not there. Not every night’s going to be perfect, some nights you’ve got to grind it out a little bit more and this is what we should’ve done tonight, [but] we didn’t seem to be in sync.”
|11.12.15 at 11:27 pm ET|
Brad Marchand chose his words carefully after Thursday night’s loss to the Avalanche. He was visibly angry — perhaps because the Bruins had just turned in yet another bad performance at home, but more than likely because he took an unnecessary hit to the head in the second period.
Marchand was the recipient of a hit to the head from Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, who flew into the Colorado zone and caught Marchand in the head with his shoulder after the veteran Bruins winger had released a shot from above the left circle. Though Marchand took a few seconds to get up, he promptly skated to an ongoing scrum and delivered a sucker-punch to Landeskog’s mouth. Landeskog, who was assessed a match penalty for his hit, automatically has a hearing with Department of Player Safety. Marchand reportedly does as well.
Terrible Landeskog hit on Marchand pic.twitter.com/0fniXhoQT2
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) November 13, 2015
“I tried to let up and then I tried to skate up and apologize and tell him I didn’t mean to come across and he — obviously he wasn’t hurt, with that sucker punch,” Landeskog said after the game. “I’m happy he didn’t get hurt. I feel like the principal point of contact was shoulder, and like I said I’m happy he didn’t get hurt.”