|01.29.15 at 9:34 pm ET|
The Bruins passed the first of many difficult tests to come over the next month.
Facing the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference (and one that had already played after the All-Star break), the Bruins outlasted the Islanders with a 5-2 victory Thursday in the final regular-season meeting between the teams at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Bruins had to survive a dominant second period from the Islanders that saw New York answer back with goals from John Tavares and Michael Grabner. A Kevan Miller goal in the final seconds of the period gave the Bruins a 3-2 that they would build on in the third with Torey Krug’s 10th goal of the season and an empty-netter from Milan Lucic.
The teams will meet again next Saturday in Boston.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
CLAUDE SHUFFLES RIGHT WINGS
After Reilly Smith took the opening shift of the game with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Claude Julien went with a reshuffled look up front with his top three right wings switched. Smith was put on David Krejci‘s line, which moved David Pastrnak down to Carl Soderberg’s line. Loui Eriksson, moved up to Bergeron’s line.
As such, the lines were as follows:
Krejci’s line got a couple of goals out of the switch, as Lucic sent a pass through a defender’s legs to the front of the net, where Smith redirected it up and past Jaroslav Halak in the first period. Smith would later pick up assists on Patrice Bergeron‘s power-play goal in the first period and Torey Krug’s third-period goal. Lucic added an empty-netter late in eh third.
Bergeron’s line generated chances, but it surrendered both of New York’s second period goals.
SMITH GETS BACK TO SCORING
As you may remember, Smith returned from last year’s Olympic break to dreadful results, as the second-line right wing scored just one goal over a 21-game span to begin the stretch run of the season.
This season, Smith returned from the break and broke another slump. Having not scored a goal in the last 11 games, Smith got a chance at more offense when Julien put him on Krejci’s line. The moved paid off, as Thursday’s game marked Smith’s first multi-point effort in 21 games.
It wasn’t all good for Smith, as he got a high stick to the face from Johnny Boychuk in the third period that drew blood but went uncalled.
PENALTY KILL STILL KILLIN’ IT
The Bruins killed off a first-period David Krejci hooking penalty and a third-period Carl Soderberg holding penalty to hold the Islanders 0-for-2 on the power play Thursday.
In other words, it was more of the same from Boston’s penalty kill. With Thursday’s showing, the Bruins have now killed off 40 of their opponents’ last 42 power plays.
RASK MAKES SAVE OF-THE-YEAR CANDIDATE
When Rask allowed John Tavares’ second-period goal to put the Islanders on the board, it wasn’t pretty. Rask yielded a big rebound on a lazy chip from center ice and was not in position to stop Tavares from batting in his own rebound. The play presented tough judgement call of whether to come further out of the net and try to glove the puck or go down and get in front of the puck. Rask chose the latter and it burned him.
What came shortly before that play, however, was one of the best saves Rask will make all season. With the Islanders buzzing around his net, Nikolay Kulemin backhanded a puck out in front to Michael Grabner, who was celebrating what he thought was a goal until Rask blocked the puck from crossing the goal line with his paddle.
Rask made a season-high 43 saves Thursday. He has now allowed two goals or fewer in his last five starts.
|01.28.15 at 10:39 pm ET|
When the return of the World Cup of Hockey was announced over the weekend, it wasn’t clear what that meant for the future of NHL players participating in the Winter Olympics. One thing, however, was clear: It would not be the same experience as the Olympics.
By the time the tournament rolls around in the fall of 2016, some of the Bruins’ participants will be unfamiliar territory. While players like Patrice Bergeron (Canada), Tuukka Rask (Finland) and Loui Eriksson (Sweden) will likely wear the sweaters of their respective countries as usual, other Bruins stars will face different circumstances.
Zdeno Chara has represented Slovakia in three Winter Olympics, but Slovakia is not one of the six countries set to have its own team (United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Russia, Finland, Sweden). Instead, Chara would qualify to play on Team Europe, which will consist of European players from countries not represented.
Dougie Hamilton, a Toronto native who represented Canada in the 2012 World Junior Championships, would actually find himself playing against Canada, as the final team in the tournament will consist of American and Canadian players ages 23 and under. Hamilton, 21, would be 23 at the time of the tournament. No other player on Boston’s current roster would qualify for the team, but Malcolm Subban (Toronto) would be an option for the squad, as he’ll be 22 years old.
While children in sports dream about one day representing their countries, few dream about playing on a team called the North American Young Stars. That said, Hamilton would welcome the different opportunity.
“You want to play for your country, obviously,” Hamilton said Wednesday. “It’s kind of unique, but I think it would be a lot of fun to be able to play with all those young guys from North America, and at the same time kind of hard to play against Canada. It’s kind of hard when you have to play against your own country. I think it’s still a long ways away, but something you could look forward to.”
Bergeron, who is well-versed in international play (he’s won Gold medals at the World Championships and World Junior Championships in addition to his two Olympic Gold medals), likes the idea of having another squad for younger players, as Canada routinely turns away top talent due to its surplus of star players.
“Definitely [Team Canada] is going to be a tough team to make, and we know there’s great young players that are always coming up and don’t get a chance to get on either of these teams, US and Canada, but are still great players,” Bergeron said. “It could be a really good team.”
|01.28.15 at 12:23 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — With the All-Star break in the rear-view mirror, the Bruins returned to Ristuccia Arena Wednesday. All players were present.
The lines and pairings in practice were as follows:
The Bruins, who sit eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 25-16-7 record through 48 games, face a tough stretch of games as they return to action. The B’s will face the Eastern Conference-leading Islanders, who would host them if the playoffs were to begin today, twice in the next four games, the first of which will come Thursday in New York.
The B’s will also face the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings Saturday, with the Canadiens, Rangers, Stars and Canucks rounding out their next seven games.
|01.24.15 at 1:58 pm ET|
The tournament will feature eight teams, six of which will be made up strictly of one country’s players in Canada, the United States, the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Team Europe. There will also be a team that will consist of players from European countries not represented, which will be called Team Europe.
The final team will consist of players age 23 or younger from both Canada and the United States. That team will be called the North American Young Stars.
The tournament will begin with round-robin play among two four-team groups. After a one-game semifinal round, the finals will be a best-of-three series between the two finalists. The games will be played on NHL-sized rinks with NHL rules and officials.
It remains unknown whether NHL players will participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The NHL also made official that the 2016 Winter Classic will be played between the Bruins and Canadiens at Gillette Stadium. The Bruins will become the first team two host two Winter Classic games, as they played the 2010 contest at Fenway Park in an overtime win over the Flyers.
Next season’s Stadium Series games will be the Wild and Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium on Feb. 21 and the Avalanche and Red Wings on Feb. 27 at Coors Field.
|01.23.15 at 8:06 pm ET|
In a piece written for ThePlayersTribune.com entitled “Moving On,” Stars forward Tyler Seguin wrote that the Bruins were too hasty in trading him two summers ago.
“Now that it’s all completely in the past, I can give you my honest answer. Do I think the Bruins gave up on me too early? Yes, I 100 percent believe that,” Seguin wrote.
Seguin was dealt for a number of reasons, most notably a concern that his timid play on the ice and his behavior off it would not be worth his $5.75 million cap hit as he entered a six-year contract. Seguin wrote in the piece that he thought the salary cap was the reason the Bruins moved him. He was vague about his behavior and contested criticism of his play.
“I admit that there were probably some decisions I could have made better, but I also highly doubt that anyone would endorse every choice they made in their late teens,” Seguin wrote. “It’s part of growing up. I was living on my own for the first time and was the only single guy on the team. On off-nights, when the other guys would go home to their wives and families, I would go out. But none of my behavior was ever malicious, and it certainly didn’t affect my play on the ice. The suggestion that it did always bothered me because I fulfilled every role that the Bruins asked of me, whether it was leading the team in scoring as a center or serving as a winger on the third line.”
Ever since the trade, Seguin has denied that his behavior was an issue in the Boston days, but he hasn’t said much else. While it’s good that he’s now had his say, his say isn’t exactly true.
The part about fulfilling roles is the main head-scratcher, as Seguin never led the team in scoring as a center, but rather a right wing in the 2011-12 season. Patrice Bergeron was his center that season.
Furthermore, the suggestion that he adequately fulfilled his role as a third-line winger is batty. His days as a third-line wing came as a rookie, when he was a healthy scratch for most of the postseason, and when the Bruins had to demote him to the third line amidst a 2013 playoff run in which he scored just one goal all postseason.
Aside from his rookie year, the Bruins never intended for Seguin to be a third-line player. As such, he failed as a third-line wing by remaining one.
Obviously, things have worked out for Seguin in Dallas, but there’s no telling when he and the B’s will tire of reminiscing.
|01.22.15 at 1:32 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB and talked about Dougie Hamilton, and also the Winter Classic between the Bruins and Canadians next January at Gillette Stadium. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The 21-year-old has started to come into his own in the league of late, totaling three points in his last four games. McGuire feels like he has a very strong potential in the league.
“As a potential Norris Trophy winner, which is the best defender in the league,” said McGuire. “He can dominate offensively. He’s a great first passer. … He skates better than Zdeno Chara, nobody in the league will even debate you on that. Usually in hockey defensemen don’t mature until they are 24 or 25, so he’s way ahead of the curve. I think the fact that he’s playing in such a stressful environment that they have in Boston it helps him that much more. I’ve always been a huge Dougie fan and I will remain one.”
The Bruins will host the Canadians next January at Gillette Stadium, which will be broadcasted on NBC. McGuire says it will be great for the network and also to have the game played in a football stadium.
“I just love the football venues — all the seats are great,” he said. “The noise just cascades down. It’s a phenomenal venue. We’re so excited to have two Original 6 teams in it. Two great market places and our ratings will go sky high, I really believe that.”
For more Bruins news, check out weei.com/bruins.
|01.22.15 at 12:51 am ET|
The Bruins started the All-Star break early, relinquishing a third-period lead and suffering a 3-2 shootout loss to the Avalanche Wednesday (click here for the boxscore).
The shootout loss gave the Bruins three of a possible four points on their two-game road trip and gave them a 25-16-7 record at the break.
Ryan O’Reilly scored with 1:45 remaining in regulation to tie the game at two, as Patrick Roy pulled Semyon Varlamov early. Nathan MacKinnon scored the only goal of the shootout, with Reilly Smith, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron all failing to score for the B’s.
The Bruins will now break for the All-Star Game, which will be played Sunday. Patrice Bergeron is the Bruins’ only participant. They will return to game action a week from Thursday against the Islanders.
Here are five things we learned Wednesday:
MARCHAND RETURNS AND SCORES
Brad Marchand punctuated his return from a two-game suspension with a big goal to give the B’s the lead in the third period.
Marchand, who sat out Saturday’s game against the Blue Jackets and Tuesday’s contest in Dallas for slew-footing Derick Brassard last week, took a feed from David Krejci during a third-period line change and fired a wrist shot past Semyon Varlamov to break a 1-1 tie. The goal was Marchand’s team-leading 13th of the season.
The veteran left wing also took a roughing penalty early in the third period and logged over two minutes of shorthanded time as the Bruins were carried by strong penalty killing for the second straight night.
HAMILTON FINALLY DROPS THE GLOVES
An early third-period fracas between multiple members of each side brought about something we’ve yet to see –Dougie Hamilton’s bare hands.
Hamilton earned his first career fighting major as he dropped the gloves with fellow 2011 top-10 pick Gabriel Landeskog. Both players landed shots in the bout, which ended when Hamilton lost his balance while swinging for a gigantic right.
Hamilton fought twice during his four OHL seasons. His first NHL fight came in his 154th regular-season game.