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5 things we learned as Bruins suffer regulation loss to Rangers

02.04.15 at 10:30 pm ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

A rough second period cost the Bruins Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, as they relinquished a lead en route to a 3-2 loss to the Rangers.

The defeat was just the Bruins’€™ second regulation loss in the last 15 games, but there could be more ahead with a difficult back-to-back stretch coming up when the B’€™s host the Islanders and Canadiens this weekend at TD Garden.

Tuukka Rask started his ninth consecutive game and had to deal with multiple odd-man rushes from the Rangers. The Bruins blew a bit of an opportunity, as Henrik Lundqvist missed the game with an upper-body injury. Cam Talbot only had to face 20 shots, however, and he stopped 18.

The one positive as the Bruins await the Islanders and Habs — both teams are currently riding losing streaks. The Islanders have dropped three straight while the Canadiens are coming off back-to-back losses.

Here are four more things we learned Wednesday:

SPEED KILLS

The last thing a team wants to do against a fast opponent is let players slip past them. That happened all too often as the Bruins tried to slow the speedy Rangers.

After Brad Marchand failed to get the puck in deep and turned it over to Kevin Klein, Rick Nash took a feed from Martin St. Louis and sprinted past Adam McQuaid, walking in on Rask all alone and backhanding his 32nd goal of the season past the Boston netminder.

Later in the period, Chris Kreider got behind Torey Krug and Kevan Miller, but was denied by Rask. The Bruins had to deal with another odd-man rush when Kevin Hayes got the puck out of the defensive zone and over Krug’€™s stick, racing to the puck in the neutral zone to create a 2-on-1 with Carl Hagelin against Miller. The Bruins survived it, as Hayes’€™ pass for Hagelin in front was stopped by Rask.

BRUINS HAVE SECOND-PAIR BLUES

Among the Bruins’€™ needs prior to the trade deadline is a steady top-four defenseman to solidify their second pairing. Assuming the pairs stay the same, Boston’€™s current second pairing of Seidenberg-McQuaid might not fare as well as the Ference-Boychuk postseason pair of years past.

The Seidenberg-McQuaid pair was split up late in the first period (the duo allowed the Nash goal), with Claude Julien going to Chara-McQuaid and Seidenberg-Hamilton. Julien went back to his normal pairings for the second period, only to see Seidenberg and McQuaid allow their second goal of the game when Derick Brassard scored on a snap shot from the high slot.

Though McQuaid made a nice play to get a stick on a Rangers scoring bid in the third that would have made it a two-goal game, both he and Seidenberg finished the night with rough numbers. McQuaid and Seidenberg finished the game with Corsi’s of minus-14 and minus-13, respectively.

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Read More: Cam Talbot, Henrik Lundqvist, Loui Eriksson, Tuukka Rask

Loui Eriksson returns, Milan Lucic (flu) questionable vs. Rangers

02.03.15 at 11:24 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Milan Lucic is questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Rangers after missing Tuesday’s practice with the flu.

Claude Julien said following the practice that Lucic will not fly with the team to New York, but that he could potentially join the team Wednesday prior to the game.

Both Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson were back on the ice after taking maintenance days on Monday. Eriksson left Saturday’s win over the Kings following a hit from Robyn Regehr that left him with a sore neck.

“It’s alright,” Eriksson said of his neck. “I got treatments on it [Monday] and it felt better again today when I woke up. I felt good today on the ice.”

Eriksson missed significant time last season due to a pair of concussions. He said Tuesday that he didn’t fear a head injury at the time of the hit from Regehr. He also said that the play was his fault and he turned into the hit.

“I didn’t feel any headache at all when I got hit,” he said. “I just felt my neck start burning. I was a little scared that something happened with it, but as I went [off the ice] it felt better and it’s been good today, so it’s a good sign.”

All seven defensemen were present, as were both goaltenders. Malcolm Subban remains on the NHL club while Niklas Svedberg remains in Providence on a conditioning loan.

The lineup in practice was as follows:

Caron-Krejci-Smith
Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson
Kelly-Soderberg-Pastrnak
Paille-Campbell-Cunningham

Chara-Hamilton
Seidenberg-McQuaid
Krug-Miller
Bartkowski

Rask
Subban

Tuukka Rask named NHL’s Third Star of Month for January

02.02.15 at 7:32 pm ET
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Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was named the NHL‘€™s Third Star of the Month for the month of January.

Rask started 13 of the Bruins’€™ 14 games in January, allowing two goals or fewer in all but two of them. He shut out the Rangers on Jan. 15 and and made a season-high 43 saves against the Islanders on Jan. 29. Rask had a .949 save percentage for the month.

The Bruins went 7-1-3 in Rask’€™s starts last month, improving Rask’€™s season record to 22-11-7.

Alexander Ovechkin took top honors for the month, while John Tavares was named January’€™s second-best performer.

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Claude Julien: Loui Eriksson’s status unclear

01.31.15 at 11:20 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien had little update on the status of Loui Eriksson, who left Saturday’€™s game with an upper-body injury.

Eriksson left Saturday’€™s win over the Kings after being hit into the boards by Robyn Regehr with less than five minutes to play.

“I don’€™t know, it just happened at the end and I just came out here,” Julien said. ‘€œI think from watching the replays that people are saying it seemed like he got an elbow or a stick in the back of the neck, and I know he had a stiff neck coming off. I don’€™t know how he’€™s doing yet.”

Eriksson has a recent history with head injuries, as a pair of concussions derailed his 2013-14 season.

This season, Eriksson is third on the Bruins with 29 points (11 goals, 29 assists).

Bruins’ new-look third line with David Pastrnak has impressive showing vs. Kings

01.31.15 at 11:16 pm ET
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David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak

Midway through the second period of Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Kings, David Pastrnak found himself as the first forward back in the defensive zone. This is where an 18-year-old rookie forward could potentially be exposed. No one questions Pastrnak’s offensive ability, but his defensive play is still a work in progress, and that’s the part of his game that could determine how much he plays and how he’s used down the stretch.

In this case, Pastrnak passed his defensive test with flying colors. He recognized that there were no Kings immediately entering the zone that he needed to pick up, so he headed for the corner to help Dennis Seidenberg, who was engaged in a 1-on-1 battle for the puck.

Pastrnak swooped in, smoothly took control of the puck, circled behind his own net and then broke the puck out of the Bruins end with a nice rush up the middle of the ice. It didn’t lead to a scoring chance at the other end because Pastrnak wound up getting caught offsides after passing the puck off, but it was the kind of defensive-zone play that should help him gain more trust from Claude Julien.

“Tonight what I saw from him was that he wasn’t a liability,” Julien said. “When you’€™re stuck in your own end and he’s not getting pucks out or he’s getting out-muscled and stuff like that, and there’s some panic in the game, then you say, ‘OK, well maybe I’ve got to cut my bench down.’

“But tonight I thought he was solid along the walls and not only that, but he was patient — even instead of just chipping it out, he made some plays. So when you see a player do that — and that’s something that at the beginning of the year was a real issue for him when he went to Providence. So I give him so much credit for improving so quickly in that area.”

Pastrnak brings a different dynamic to any line he plays on because no other Bruins right wing has the raw offensive skill that he has. In the case of Kelly and Carl Soderberg’s line, where Pastrnak was for part of Thursday’s game and all of Saturday’s game, the line gains that speed and offensive spark, but it loses the consistently stellar two-way play of Loui Eriksson.

Julien has always been hesitant to break up Soderberg and Eriksson, and for good reason. Entering Saturday, Soderberg had a 53.3 percent Corsi playing with Eriksson this season and just a 45.8 percent Corsi without him (last year it was 55.7 percent with and 50.4 percent without).

Kelly, Soderberg and Pastrnak didn’t really do much in their two-plus periods together Thursday, but they started to hit their stride as Saturday’s game went along, especially in the third period. Pastrnak set up one good look midway through the third when he sidestepped a Matt Greene hit at the offensive blue line before sending a pass to the front that Soderberg couldn’t quite handle.

Then the line scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with 5:27 to go when Soderberg circled out to the point and sent a shot toward the net that Kelly redirected past Jonathan Quick. They had another decent look in the final minutes when Pastrnak held off a defender and sent a low shot to goal that produced a rebound that was cleared away just before Soderberg got to it.

Whether Pastrnak stays with Soderberg and Kelly or moves back up to David Krejci‘s line remains to be seen. If he does stay, we’ll need a bigger sample to see if the trio can possess the puck enough to consistently create scoring chances (Kelly’s Corsi, like Soderberg’s, also drops when he is not with Eriksson).

Regardless, Saturday was a step in the right direction, both for Pastrnak’s two-way play and for the new-look third line as a whole.

5 things we learned as Bruins outlast Kings

01.31.15 at 9:32 pm ET
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The Bruins recovered from a late goal to regain the lead outlast the Kings, 3-1, Saturday at TD Garden.

Saturday marked David Pastrnak’€™s second game on the third line with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly. The line came through with the game-winning goal, with Soderberg carrying the puck around the offensive zone and firing a shot from the blueline that Kelly tipped past Jonathan Quick.

The Kings had evened the score minutes earlier when a Jordan Nolan shot off the rush took an odd trajectory (potentially going off Dougie Hamilton’€™s stick) as it sailed past Tuukka Rask.

Brad Marchand scored the Bruins’€™ first goal, beating Quick with 2:40 remaining in the second period. Marchand thought he had scored late in the first period, but replays confirmed that the puck was shot well after the period had ended. He would add an empty netter to give him 15 goals on the season.

Here are four more things we learned Saturday night:

ERIKSSON LEAVES 

Loui Eriksson was hit into the boards by Robyn Regehr with less than five minutes to play. He did not return to the game.

We’ll monitor this going forward, as Eriksson suffered two concussions last season.

2 Us, 2 Ks, 2 DEFENSEMEN OWE RASK

In a tightly played physical battle between two of the league’€™s more defensively sound teams, odd-man rushes were few and far between. The Kings, however, got the best scoring chance of the night in the second period when Nick Shore slipped behind Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid and was fed a pass from Jordan Nolan in the neutral zone for a breakaway.

Shore had ample time and space ‘€” there literally was not a defender in the frame of replays as he slowed up and tried to deke Rask ‘€” but Rask stopped Shore’€™s forehand bid and held onto the rebound to keep the game scoreless.

All of Boston’€™s top-four defensemen finished with minus Corsi’€™s on the night. Torey Krug and Kevan Miller were the only Boston defenders with positive Corsis.

PENALTY KILL STAYS SHARP

The officials more or less let the teams play Saturday night, as each team was assessed just one penalty on the night. Jeff Carter went off for a cross-check to Adam McQuaid’€™s head a few minutes into the second period, while Patrice Bergeron was called for an offensive zone trip with 28 seconds left in the second.

With Bergeron, one of the best penalty killers in the league, in the box, Boston’€™s red-hot penalty kill carried on. The B’€™s even managed a decent stay in the offensive zone during the penalty kill with Daniel Paille and Dennis Seidenberg getting shorthanded chances.

The Bruins have now killed off 41 of their opponents’€™ last 43 power plays.

JULIEN STICKS WITH SAME LINEUP

After Jordan Caron took the fourth line’€™s first line rush in morning skate, it appeared the veteran wing would be in the lineup for Saturday night. That proved to be nothing more than a false alarm, as Craig Cunningham remained in the lineup on Gregory Campell’€™s line.

Furthermore, Claude Julien kept his same lines after shuffling his right wings against the Islanders. The lineup was as follows:

Lucic-Krejci-Smith
Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson
Kelly-Soderberg-Pastrnak
Paille-Campbell-Caron

Chara-Hamilton
Seidenberg-McQuaid
Krug-Miller

Rask

Jordan Caron could be in Bruins lineup vs. Kings

01.31.15 at 12:01 pm ET
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Jordan Caron

Jordan Caron

It appears the Bruins will stick with their top three lines from Thursdays game when they host the Kings Saturday night, but another lineup change could be in the works.

Jordan Caron skated on the right wing of Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille in the fourth line’€™s first line rush in morning skate, suggesting he could be in the lineup over Craig Cunningham. Claude Julien would not confirm whether Caron would play, but did note the team was making game-time decisions with its lineup.

Caron played recently against the Blue Jackets and Stars during Brad Marchand‘s two-game suspension.

Tuukka Rask will start for the Bruins. Malcolm Subban’€™s first NHL game will be served as a backup.

The lineup in morning skate was as follows:

Lucic-Krejci-Smith
Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson
Kelly-Soderberg-Pastrnak
Paille-Campbell-Caron

Chara-Hamilton
Seidenberg-McQuaid
Krug-Miller

Rask

Saturday will mark Tuukka Rask‘s eighth consecutive start. He has allowed two goals or fewer in six of his last seven games entering Saturday.

Read More: Jordan Caron,
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