Big Bad Blog AT&T
WEEI.com Blog Network

Sunday Skate Live Chat: ‘The first hour’s the only hour’ edition

01.09.16 at 11:12 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Sunday Skate with DJ Bean, Joe McDonald and Pete Blackburn is back and so is the interactive live chat. Ask questions, make Photoshops, do whatever. This is a safe place.

Listen to the show here from 8-9 a.m.

Live Blog Sunday Skate Live Chat: ‘The First Hour’s the Only Hour’ edition
 

5 things we learned as Bruins fall to Senators in overtime

01.09.16 at 10:03 pm ET
By   |   Comments

The Bruins dropped a close game in Ottawa Saturday, falling to the Senators by a 2-1 score at Canadian Tire Center to allow Ottawa to gain ground in the Atlantic Division.

David Pastrnak scored the only for the Bruins, who dropped to 2-5-1 in their last eight games.

Loui Eriksson had two Grade-A chances in overtime but was unable to bury them. The first came when Ryan Spooner forced a turnover in the defensive zone that led to a breakaway for Eriksson. Craig Anderson came up big, however, stopping Eriksson’€™s bid. Later in overtime, Eriksson hit the post on a 2-on-1 with Spooner.

After Eriksson hit the post, the play went the other way, leading to a Mark Stone wraparound bid that Tuukka Rask robbed with a stick save. Given the space allowed by the 3-on-3 overtime format, Stone was able to bury the rebound to secure the win.

By getting a point, the Bruins were able to stay ahead of the Senators in the Atlantic, but the B’€™s still sit fourth in the division with 47 points on the season. Boston does have games in hand on the top three teams in the division, however.

Here are four more things we learned Saturday:

MARCHAND RETURNS

Brad Marchand made his return from a three-game suspension that had kept him out of game action for 10 days.

The 27-year-old was well-behaved against the Senators (it was against Ottawa that Marchand hit Mark Borowiecki to earn the suspension) as he slotted into his usual spot to the left of Patrice Bergeron. In addition to putting in the grunt work on the Bruins’€™ only regulation goal, he turned on the jets in overtime to beat Patrick Wiercioch to create a scoring chance in overtime.

With David Krejci out, Marchand had worn the Bruins’ second ‘A’ on his sweater in the game that earned him his suspension. Upon returning to the lineup, that ‘A’ was still being worn by Eriksson.

Read the rest of this entry »

5 things we learned as Bruins open road trip with win over Devils

01.08.16 at 9:29 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Ryan Spooner

Ryan Spooner

The Bruins began their five-game road trip with a 4-1 win over the Devils Friday night at the Prudential Center.

The B’€™s got multi-point nights from three players and Jonas Gustavsson stopped 19 of the 20 shots he saw on the night for the Bruins’€™ second win in their last seven games. The Bruins also killed off all three of New Jersey’s power plays.

Friday saw the return of David Pastrnak, who played in just his 11th game of the season after going down with a foot injury in late October. Pastrnak skated on the Bruins’€™ first line with Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson. The 19-year-old finished the game with no points and one shot on goal.

The Bruins will continue their road trip Saturday when they face the Senators in Ottawa. Here are four more things we learned Friday:

SPOONER ON A PRETTY PACE

Ryan Spooner scored eight goals in 24 games after his late-February callup last season, a key reason why both he and the Bruins were eager to reunite on a two-year deal this summer. On Friday, he surpassed that goal total amidst what’€™s been a promising offensive stretch for him.

Spooner scored from the top of the zone in the second period Friday to give him nine goals on the season. Jimmy Hayes also got to nine goals with a power-play tally late in the second period.

With a goal and an assist, Spooner extended his points streak to four games (one goal, five assists). Now at 28 points through 39 games, Spooner is on pace for 59 points this season. As Twitter follower ETD51 pointed out, that total would have led the Bruins last season.

VATRANO GETS BACK TO SCORING

Frank Vatrano had registered points in just three of his first 24 games. He’€™s now at four in 25.

Vatrano picked up his sixth goal of the season Friday by putting a rebound of a Colin Miller shot past Cory Schneider 2:02 into the first period. Speaking of Colin Miller…

POINTS COME BACK FOR MILLER

Colin Miller scored his first goal since late November and picked up his second multi-point performance of the season. His partner, Dennis Seidenberg, had a pair of assists.

Adam McQuaid’€™s absence should lead to a bit more lineup consistency on the back end, as the Bruins usually have eight defensemen when everyone is healthy, resulting in guys going in and out. Miller has been deserving of a full-time job, and he should be able to have that if he keeps producing.

MARCHAND’€™S SUSPENSION UP

Friday marked the third and final game of Brad Marchand‘€™s three-game suspension. He is eligible to return to the lineup Saturday against the same Senators team against whom he committed his infraction late last month.

Because Marchand was still on the Bruins’€™ roster during his suspension, the Bruins will not need to send anybody down for him to return to the lineup.

Marchand’€™s return to the lineup could bump David Pastrnak to Joonas Kemppainen’€™s line and Brett Connolly down to the fourth line. Connolly has gone 17 games without a goal.

Denna Laing, player injured at Outdoor Women’s Classic, remains in hospital, has no use of legs

01.08.16 at 6:26 pm ET
By   |   Comments

The family of Boston Pride forward Denna Laing, who suffered a serious spinal cord injury at the Outdoor Women’€™s Classic at Gillette Stadium last Thursday, has issued a statement on the status of the player.

Jerilyn and Dennis Laing revealed that the 24-year-old Marblehead native and Princeton product has limited use of her arms and no use of her legs.

“Denna was thrilled to be taking part in the inaugural season of the National Women’€™s Hockey League and was absolutely delighted to be one of the pioneers in a breakthrough moment for her sport — the Outdoor Women’€™s Classic. Tragically, Denna suffered a severe spinal cord injury playing the sport she loves,”€ Jerilyn and Dennis Laing said in a statement. “As of today, Denna has limited movement of her arms and no feeling in her legs. Our prayer going forward is that Denna can be moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a Rehabilitation Center and continue to fight everyday with her trademark grit and resolve.

“With respect to her long term prognosis, right now there are more questions than answers. We have received an incredible outpouring of love and support from countless friends and family members while we try to navigate this overwhelming situation. We are eternally grateful to everyone who continues to offer support as we take on this challenge together.”

The NHL also weighed in on the status of Laing as a number of statements were released simultaneously on Friday evening.

“Everyone at the National Hockey League, including the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, joins Denna Laing’€™s coaches, teammates, friends and fans in wishing Denna the very best as she confronts the challenges ahead,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “While we are certain Denna will be served well by the tenaciousness that is her trademark, we also will work with the Laing family to rally the support of the hockey family during Denna’s rehabilitation.

“We have withheld comment to this point out of respect for the wishes of the Laing family and will continue to honor those wishes going forward.”

Following are other statements on Laing that were released Friday:

NHL Commissioner Dani Rylan:

“The players, teams, coaches, management and staff of the National Women’€™s Hockey League are united in their support of Denna Laing and her family. To reflect our admiration for her as a player and our appreciation for her contribution to the NWHL’€™s first season, we are working with the Laings, our business partners and others to respond compassionately and appropriately to her injury. We will announce further details as soon as plans are formalized. Denna’s drive to excel has inspired teammates and coaches alike; in honor of that attribute, I have directed our teams to wear a helmet sticker bearing her uniform number, 24.’€

Cam Neely:

“On behalf of the Jacobs family I would like to extend the full support of the Boston Bruins to Denna and the Laing family. The New England hockey community is an incredibly strong group, and we know the assistance that will be provided to Denna and her family will be unwavering both in the immediate future and throughout the various stages of treatment.”

The Kraft family:

“The Kraft family and entire Gillette Stadium community were deeply saddened to learn of the extent of Denna Laing’€™s injuries. Our prayers remain with Denna and her family in the hope that she will soon be able to transition to a rehabilitation center that will enable her to continue to improve. We will keep Denna and her family in our prayers throughout her rehabilitation process.”

Eriksson-Bergeron-Pastrnak an intriguing option for Bruins

01.07.16 at 11:29 pm ET
By   |   Comments
David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak

It looks like the Bruins are going to use David Pastrnak the right way.

After recalling the 19-year-old scorer from Providence, the Bruins skated Pastrnak on the right wing of Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line in Thursday’€™s practice. Loui Eriksson was at left wing, as Brad Marchand will serve the final game of his three-game suspension Friday night.

The line is extremely intriguing. Playing Pastrnak on Bergeron’€™s line has always seemed to make sense (see: Tyler Seguin‘€™s 29-goal 2011-12 season), but “the Bergeron line” usually means “the Bergeron and Marchand line.” Bergeron and Marchand have pretty much been a package deal since midway through the 2010-11 season, and for good reason. They’€™re among the best duos in the NHL.

Yet having Eriksson at left wing could have an interesting impact on Pastrnak. Both Eriksson and Marchand are scorers — they have 15 and 14 goals, respectively — but Marchand is more of an electric player with the puck on his stick than Eriksson. Bergeron, a very good scorer in his own right with 15 goals, can pretty much just dish to Marchand, count to three and be part of a scoring chance.

Eriksson does a lot of things, but he isn’€™t the skater or offensively ambitious player that Marchand is. With the exception of the 2011-12 season, when Seguin scored 29 goals, Marchand has always scored more goals than his line’€™s right wing.

Having Eriksson on the line could open up the door for the Bergeron line’€™s right wing to be more of a scorer.

“Brad creates a lot by having the puck and by me trying to send him with his speed,” Bergeron said. “I think Loui’€™s more territorial and possession and kind of slowing the play down a little bit more. They’€™re different in their own rights.

“Me being a righty, my tendency is to go to my left side a little bit more, so maybe my righties are not as happy with me, but we’€™re trying to use both sides. Brad’€™s got the puck a little bit more than Loui would. Loui likes to kind of send it and chip it and dump it a little bit more.”€

Speaking after Thursday’€™s practice, Pastrnak seemed thrilled by the idea of playing with Bergeron. After not playing since Oct. 31 due to a foot injury and a lengthy rehab tour that took him to Finland for the World Junior Championships, he was probably just relieved to be back with the B’€™s.

Pastrnak played a little with Bergeron and Marchand last season, but most of his season was spent on David Krejci‘€™s line. When Krejci got hurt, Pastrnak played with Ryan Spooner and Milan Lucic.

Skating with both Eriksson and Bergeron will be a new experience for the young forward, but based on what Bergeron would want in a right wing on a line with Eriksson, Pastrnak sounds like a good fit.

“I think the righty needs to go a little bit more and use his speed more and try to [have] us find him,” Bergeron said.

Brett Connolly, who has spent a lot of time on the right wing of Bergeron’€™s line this season, has had both Marchand and Eriksson as his left wing.

“Obviously Marchy’€™s more gritty, in your face,” Connolly said. “Loui’€™s more [about] using his hockey sense to make some plays. He seems to always be in the right areas. Two good players. Two smart players.”

If Eriksson’€™s presence allows for more facilitating, Pastrnak could be beneficiary for at least a game. One would think Marchand and Bergeron would be reunited once Marchand’€™s suspension is up, but for now Claude Julien has an interesting line at his disposal.

Read More: David Pastrnak, Loui Eriksson, Patrice Bergeron,

Bruins place Adam McQuaid on injured reserve, recall David Pastrnak from Providence

01.07.16 at 11:33 am ET
By   |   Comments
David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak

WILMINGTON — The Bruins have placed Adam McQuaid on injured reserve with an upper-body injury and recalled David Pastrnak from Providence.

McQuaid, who suffered an apparent head injury on a hit from Zach Sill on Tuesday, will be eligible to return as soon as next Wednesday against the Flyers if he’€™s healthy.

Pastrnak has not played for the Bruins since Oct. 31 due to a foot injury. After a conditioning stint in Providence, he went to Finland to represent the Czech Republic in the World Junior Championships.

Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara both returned to practice after missing Wednesday’€™s skate. With Pastrnak back, the lines and pairs in practice were as follows:

Eriksson-Bergeron-Pastrnak
Beleskey-Spooner-Connolly
Vatrano (Marchand)-Kemppainen-Hayes
Rinaldo-Talbot-Ferraro/Randell

Chara-Trotman
Seidenberg-Colin Miller
Krug-Kevan Miller

Pastrnak rotated in with Brett Connolly on the Bruins’€™ second power play unit.

PP1:
Krug-Colin Miller
Spooner-Bergeron
Eriksson

PP2:
Chara-Trotman
Beleskey-Connolly/Pastrnak
Hayes

Kevan Miller is the exception to the Zdeno Chara rule

01.06.16 at 11:16 pm ET
By   |   Comments
Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

If and when Claude Julien writes a book on how to make still-developing defensemen good, Zdeno Chara will write the foreword, which will consist of “Play them with me,” and then the book will be over.

Chara has had some great partners over the years with the Bruins — Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton come to mind — but it’€™s no secret that Julien can take any player who is otherwise OK and make him very good by skating him with Chara. The reason, quite simply, is because Chara is such a dominant player that skating with him more than makes up for the difficult competition that comes with playing on a top pairing.

This has been the case for a number of players over the years. Among them: Zach Trotman, Torey Krug and Steven Kampfer.

Not Kevan Miller.

Miller, mysteriously, is the exception to this rule.

“But Deej!” you say. “That just means that Kevan Miller stinks!”

Not necessarily, and that’€™s rude. The 28-year-old Miller, who is still just 119 games into his NHL career, is an OK third-pairing defenseman, as some of the aforementioned names were when they were put on pairings with Chara. Yet instead of getting better when playing with Chara, this season has suggested that Miller gets worse when paired with the (somehow only) one-time Norris winner.

Miller’€™s most common partner this season has been Torey Krug, with whom he’€™s played 160:24 in 5-on-5. His next most-common partner has been Chara, with whom he’€™s played 120:22 of 5-on-5 time. Playing with Krug often draws so-so competition — Krug has had the fifth-toughest quality of competition among Bruins defensemen this season, using time on ice of competition as a barometer — whereas playing with Chara draws the other team’€™s best players, as evidenced by Chara having the hardest quality of competition.

Miller has been fine with Krug. The Bruins have outscored opponents when the two have played together — 2.62 goals for per 60; 1.12 goals against per 60 for a goals for percentage of 70. When Chara and Miller are together, the Bruins are outscored — 2.49 goals for per 60 and 4.49 goals against per 60, making for a rather horrifying 35.7 goals for percentage.

That’€™s the comparison of Miller with Chara versus Miller with Krug. The numbers of Miller simply with and without Chara are even more telling:

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 10.52.16 PM

“But Deej!” you say. “Maybe Miller’€™s worse with Chara than players in seasons past because Chara has gotten worse! Chara just looks slower out there!”

No. Chara is still having the Chara effect on his partners. Including Kevan Miller, five defensemen have played at least 20 minutes of 5-on-5 with Chara this season. The four not named Kevan Miller all have better numbers with Chara than without him. All four — Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg, Colin Miller and Zach Trotman — have better goals for percentages with Chara, while Trotman’€™s minor bump in Corsi For percentage without Chara (48.8 with him, 49.0 without him) is the only trace of a player’€™s possession numbers not dipping when not with Chara.

Whether it’€™s the quality of competition that comes with skating as Chara’€™s partner or the fact that the duo lacks mobility, the Chara-Kevan Miller pairing has not been good. While that’€™s not reason enough to write off Miller altogether, it’€™s reason enough for Julien to separate the pairing, which he used to begin Tuesday night’€™s game against the Capitals.

If McQuaid is to miss any stretch of time, the numbers indicate that Julien would be wise to not play Miller to Chara’€™s right, where McQuaid has often played this season. The Bruins have other options — Trotman, Colin Miller — and Kevan Miller figures to be better off with Krug.

Read More: Kevan Miller, Zdeno Chara,

Latest from Bleacher Report

Bruins Headlines
NHL Headlines