|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.”
|11.12.15 at 9:44 pm ET|
Half a period does not a game make. Speaking of which, the Bruins lost.
With goals from Zdeno Chara and Ryan Spooner in the first 5:51 of the night Thursday, the Bruins appeared well on their way to blowing out the struggling Avalanche at TD Garden. That would prove to be the extent of their scoring on the night, however, and Colorado’s pushback was enough to net them the game’s next three goals and a 3-2 victory over the B’s.
The Bruins’ biggest blown opportunity of the night came in the second period, when the Bruins had a three-minute power play as a result of a Colorado major penalty and Boston minor penalty. Spooner’s first-period goal came on the power play, extending the B’s streak of games with a power play goal to eight games.
The Bruins have now lost three of their last four games and are 7-7-1 on the season. They’ll continue their five-game homestand when they host the Red Wings on Saturday at the Garden.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday.
LANDESKOG TOSSED FOR CHEAP SHOT ON MARCHAND
How Brad Marchand was able to get up (albeit slowly) and then go punch Gabriel Landeskog in the face after the hit he took in the second period will forever be a mystery.
After releasing a shot from above the right circle, Marchand was trucked by Landeskog, who came from a mile away and delivered a hit to the head. Marchand fell to the ice in ugly fashion and, upon getting up, skated to the scrum and punched the Colorado captain in the face.
Since people are asking, here’s another angle of Landeskog’s hit on Marchand. pic.twitter.com/conlsePzaO
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) November 13, 2015
While Landeskog hit Marchand with his shoulder rather than his elbow, the play was still dirty and easily avoidable. Landeskog was given a match penalty (therefore tossed from the game) on the play for an illegal hit to the head.
Marchand, meanwhile, stayed in the game after serving a roughing minor for his retaliatory punch to Landeskog. The Bruins dodged a bullet there, as Marchand missed two games in October due to a concussion suffered in the second game of the season.
SEIDENBERG MAKES RETURN
Thursday marked Dennis Seidenberg‘s first game since April 11, as he missed all of training camp and the first 14 games of the season recovering from back surgery.
Seidenberg was paired with Colin Miller for the game, with Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow serving as healthy scratches on defense.
Any plans of Seidenberg easing his way back in physically were dashed in the first period when he took a big hit in the defensive zone by Avalanche forward Cody McLeod. Tyler Randell reacted swiftly, fighting McLeod and earning a takedown in the game’s only fight.
Seidenberg also delivered a huge hit on former teammate Carl Soderberg in the second period, drawing large cheers from the Garden crowd.
MCQUAID ICING, KEVAN MILLER TURNOVER COSTLY
Tuukka Rask was more a victim of bad luck than anything else on Colorado’s second goal of the game. A funny bounce caused him to miss the puck, but then again the Avalanche shouldn’t have even been in Boston’s zone.
Adam McQuaid unnecessarily iced the puck in the final minute of the period, resulting in an offensive zone faceoff for Colorado. After Matt Duchene won the draw against David Krejci, a point shot from Francois Beauchemin went off Joonas Kemppainen, changing both speed and direction as it went past Rask, who was reacting to the shot’s initial speed and therefore swung and missed at the puck with his glove hand.
The goal itself was ugly, but tough to pin on Rask. It was easy to pin on McQuaid.
That wasn’t the extent of Boston’s flubs on defense Thursday. Kevan Miller coughed up the puck to Mikhail Grigorenko on a third period play, with Grigorenko setting up a Matt Duchene goal to break a 2-2 tie.
Soderberg tried to explain a 24-game goal-less stretch last season by saying he was ‘not a sniper.’ Perhaps that was all an elaborate ruse to trick the Bruins into letting him score on them Thursday night.
Soderberg, who inked a very generous five-year contract with the Avs worth $4.75 million in June, scored his second goal of the season when he took a pass from Blake Comeau and fired a wrist shot from the right circle past Tuukka Rask.
It wasn’t all good news for Soderberg. He received a big hit from Torey Krug in the first period and was absolutely crushed by Seidenberg on the aforementioned second-period hit.
|11.12.15 at 6:33 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Thursday that they have signed 2015 draft picks Jake DeBrusk, Zachary Senyshyn and Jeremy Lauzon to entry-level contracts.
With Jakub Zboril and Brandon Carlo having already inked their entry-level deals, the Bruins have now signed five of their six picks over the first two rounds from June’s draft. The only player not to sign yet is second-round pick Jakob Forsbacka, who is currently playing college hockey at Boston University and would forfeit his NCAA eligibility if he signed an NHL contract.
DeBrusk, the 14th overall pick of the draft, played 14 games for Swift Current of the WHL before suffering a lower-body injury that currently has him sidelined. The left wing has six goals and 14 assists on the season.
Senyhsyn, a right wing who was a surprise pick at No. 15 overall, has 10 goals and four assists for 14 points through 18 games for Saul Ste. Marie of the OHL.
Lauzon, a defenseman for Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL, was drafted 52nd overall in June. He has three goals and 22 assists for 25 points through 18 games this season.
|11.12.15 at 12:56 pm ET|
Claude Julien has been trying some new things with his lineup this season. He’s even separated Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the Bruins’ current equivalent of Hall & Oates (assuming you’re smart and don’t underrate John Oates).
On defense, Julien’s experimenting has led to an unusual occurrence recently: a righty playing the left side. That’s very uncommon in the NHL, but when Julien opted to take left Joe Morrow out of the lineup for righty Zach Trotman, the result was a righty (Kevan Miller) having to play his off-side. That will change once Dennis Seidenberg returns to the lineup (as early as Thursday evening).
The reasoning behind why righties typically don’t play the left side is simple: They never really learned to do it because they’ve never had to. With left-shot D outnumbering them, it’s so rare that a team would have more righties than lefties. As such, it’s common for lefties to have experience playing the right side — Dennis Seidenberg and Torey Krug play both sides well — but very uncommon for a righty to be comfortable over on the left.
“To me, it would be common if some of those guys really felt comfortable on those sides,’ Julien said this week. “We’ve seen Dennis Seidenberg in the past play the right side and it doesn’t bother him to play his off-side. Some players are capable of doing that. Some others aren’t that comfortable because they’ve never done it before. We’re having to make some decisions here. There’s guys that are saying, ‘I haven’t really done it but I’m willing to give it a shot,’ and I think we’ve seen enough from some of those guys to let them go there and do that job.”
Miller, one of four righties in Boston’s seven-man group, played the left side at times in college and in Providence due to lefties being injured at various points. Though he noted he’s had the odd even-strength shift here and there on the left side over the last few years — never many at a time — he said it took adjusting when playing the last couple games.
“There’s advantages and disadvantages,” he said. “Obviously on offensive zone faceoffs, you have certain one-timers out there and then you see different plays better sometimes, but obviously worse with others. You kind of just have to manage your game.”
Seidenberg appears close to returning, with Julien saying he’s a game-time decision for Thursday’s game against the Avalanche. Should both Seidenberg and Krug (also a game-time decision after taking Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s practices off) play, Miller will be free to return to the right side, assuming he stays in the lineup. Thursday’s morning skate saw Miller play on the right side of a pairing with Krug.
While he’s obviously more comfortable on the right side, he hopes the Bruins won’t hesitate to use him on the left if need be in the future.
“I feel like everybody would probably prefer to be on their strong side, but anything you can do to help the team, you’re going to do it,’ he said. ‘If they ask me to do it, then I’m happy to do it.”