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David Pastrnak suspension gives Danton Heinen a shot on first line

10.29.16 at 5:38 pm ET
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Danton Heinen

Danton Heinen

If there’s one Boston Bruins line that could handle the loss of its right winger for any stretch, it’s the Patrice Bergeron line.

A spot that’s become a revolving door for the Black and Gold since Mark Recchi’s retirement in 2011, the two-game suspension handed down to David Pastrnak for his illegal check to the head of the Rangers’ Dan Girardi has once again opened up that spot on the B’s forward corp. And with the club already down second-line winger David Backes (elbow procedure) for tonight’s head-to-head with the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, first-year pro Danton Heinen has been summonsed to Bergeron’s right.

After a strong training camp with the club, the 21-year-old Heinen struggled to produce on a line with David Krejci in the first five games of the season, with zero points and just three shots on goal, and has twice sat as a healthy scratch in the last three games.

“He’s playing against much stronger opposition,” Julien admitted of Heinen’s struggles in the regular season versus his success in the preseason. “He’s still capable of doing it.”

Heinen did finish Tuesday’s blowout loss to the Minnesota Wild on the B’s first line with Bergeron and Marchand, and Julien liked what he’s seen from the 6-foot-1 winger, even without a point.

“I still see him making some real good plays out there,” Julien said. “He’s still making those plays. I don’t know if the expectations from [the media] were maybe a little high on him to start the season because of the preseason but I think he’s got a lot of positive to bring to our hockey club.”

Rask is expected to get the call in the crease after missing the previous three games.

The 29-year-old Rask is 3-0-0 with a .947 save percentage this season.

Jimmy Howard will be in net for the Wings. Howard  has allowed just one goal on 63 shots against in two games this year, both wins for No. 35 and the Wings.

Here are the expected lines and defensive pairings for the Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Danton Heinen

Ryan Spooner – David Krejci – Austin Czarnik

Matt Beleskey – Riley Nash – Jimmy Hayes

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

John-Michael Liles – Colin Miller


Tuukka Rask expected to start vs. Red Wings

10.29.16 at 3:12 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask is the expected starter tonight vs. Detroit.

Tuukka Rask is the expected starter tonight vs. Detroit.

On the ice for the third straight day, and in the starter’s crease at Joe Louis Arena for the club’s morning skate, head coach Claude Julien and the Boston Bruins sound like a team that’s banking on the return of goaltender Tuukka Rask for tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

“I would suspect yes,” Julien said when asked if Rask, who has not seen game action in nine days, would play tonight. “He showed no indication that he wasn’t [ready].”

In the midst of a three-game losing streak, Rask’s return should do wonders for a Bruins club that’s allowed 14 goals in three games — with three different goaltenders in the crease — without him.

“We’ve given up a lot of goals,” Julien said of the B’s struggles. “I think it’s been pretty obviously that we’ve let in a lot of bad goals. We just gotta get better all over.”

The extent of Rask’s injury, labeled “general soreness” for simplicity’s sake, remains vague at best and is not 100 percent healed, but the 29-year-old believes he’s made progress.

“It’s very tough to be 100 percent without taking a month or two off with these kind of things,” Rask admitted yesterday. “But I feel good enough and comfortable to be out there.”

With Rask back, McIntyre will serve as the backup for the road trip while Subban was returned to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League.

Rask is 3-0-0 with a .947 save percentage in three games this season.

Want more bad Bruins news? They can’t score

10.29.16 at 12:50 am ET
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Brad Marchand has been one of the lone bright spots for the Bruins. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Brad Marchand has been one of the lone bright spots for the Bruins. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Missing their top two goalies is the biggest issue facing the Bruins today, as it would be for any NHL team. But a dearth of scoring from anybody not named Marchand, Pastrnak, or Backes is undoubtedly the second biggest deal facing the Black and Gold.

The aforementioned forwards have accounted for 10 of their 17 goals. But after that, it’s slim pickings. Dom Moore has two goals while Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Spooner, and Austin Czarnik are the only other forwards to pot one. Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo account for the only two goals to come from the back end.

The current iteration of the third line, Matt Beleskey, Riley Nash, and Jimmy Hayes, have not accounted for a single point in seven games played. Even more alarming is the lack of any sustained attack and not having the puck enough. The wings might be better served with the offensively-gifted Ryan Spooner as their pivot. Because the unit is just not working well right now.

But there’s plenty of blame to go around. Bergeron has just one point in four games. David Krejci has three quiet assists in seven games. Torey Krug has struggled to get his game together and has yet to notch a point. Spooner has a goal and assist playing mostly with Krejci and rookie Danton Heinen has yet to tally a point in five games. Hell, Tuukka Rask has outscored 10 of his teammates with two assists.

With a handful of rookies in the lineup and new faces on the bottom six, a period of adjustment is to be expected. But the Bruins need more from everybody.

Marchand can’t stay red-hot forever and appears to be cooling down. Additionally, Claude Julien needs to make quicker adjustments when things are obviously aren’t clicking. Move guys up or down until some sort of chemistry is found.

David Backes, their marquee free agent signing who was off to a solid start, will be likely miss the next few games in addition to the two he already missed this week due to elbow surgery. His presence was missed against both Minnesota and the Rangers when the Bs more resembled last year’s limp squad instead of the team that went 3-1 out of the gate.

Backes can’t be replaced but the team needs more out of whoever fills his spot. And the rest of the crew needs to get its collective head out of its behind as well. Because until Rask returns, they’ll need to pot at least three goals a game for a chance to win and they’re nowhere close to that right now. If that doesn’t happen, things could get ugly quick around here.

Tuukka Rask will join Bruins on 3-game road trip

10.28.16 at 2:01 pm ET
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Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will join the Bruins for their three-game road trip. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will join the Bruins for their three-game road trip. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Down forward David Backes (elbow procedure) through at least the weekend, and with leading goal-scorer David Pastrnak hit with a two-game ban for his illegal check to the head on the Rangers’ Dan Girardi, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien will take any good news he can ahead of the club’s daunting three-game road trip.

Julien and the B’s got it today, too, with the return of Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask to the practice rink.

A full participant in the skate, Julien confirmed that the club’s top goaltender will join the team for the aforementioned road trip with dates against the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Lightning — all three of the playoff teams from the Atlantic Division a year ago.

Whether or not Rask is well enough to start for the Bruins, however, remains up in the air.

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David Pastrnak suspended two games; Claude Julien defends hit

10.28.16 at 12:31 pm ET
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Claude Julien doesn't think David Pastrnak should be suspended.

Claude Julien doesn’t think David Pastrnak should be suspended.

BRIGHTON – Riding a three-game losing streak, things just got a little more difficult for the Boston Bruins, as forward David Pastrnak will miss the next two games with a suspension for an illegal check to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi in the second period of Wednesday’s 5-2 loss at Madison Square Garden.

The suspension is the first of Pastrnak’s career.

“I see a guy and his feet are still on the ice,” Julien, who spoke before the news of the suspension broke, said when asked about the Pastrnak hit. “Sometimes players are in vulnerable positions, some of it their own doing and sometimes it’s just part of the game and you do what you have to do.

“I don’t think there was any attempt to injure the player. I think there was an attempt to finish his check, but certainly not to injure.”

One of five penalties against the Bruins in the loss, Julien lamented the fact that Pastrnak simply committed going through the player in pursuit of a puck.

“His foot is on the ice,” Julien continued. “You can see the snow coming off his blade so it’s not like he never slowed down on the foot that’s on the ice still.

“He didn’t go full tilt. He tried to control his hit.”

Pastrnak did catch Girardi, who was looking skywards in an attempt to corral an airborne puck, in a vulnerable position, but was not going for a killshot, according to the B’s bench boss.

“If you look at it in slow motion it’s self explanatory,” Julien said. “He doesn’t jump up, he goes through. It’s normal every time you see a hit, you go through a guy and eventually your skates come up with the flow. But he didn’t jump up in the air and land on a guy.”

Girardi did leave the ice to the locker room as part of the league’s concussion protocol, but would return to the ice and finish the game for the Blueshirts.

Pastrnak leads the Bruins with five goals and is second in points with eight through seven games.

Tuukka Rask returns to B’s practice on Friday

10.28.16 at 11:06 am ET
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Tuukka Rask returned to practice on Friday.

Tuukka Rask returned to practice on Friday.

BRIGHTON – The Boston Bruins saw the return of a sorely missed face to Friday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. Goaltender Tuukka Rask, off the ice since last Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils, rejoined his club and split crease duties with Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban.

Dealing with what’s been termed “general soreness” since an opening night win that saw Rask’s leg appear to buckle early in the game, the Black and Gold have tried to manage without No. 40 to no avail thus far.

The Bruins are winless with 18 goals against in four games without Rask, and have given up 10 goals in their last two games — both ugly losses — with the tandem of McIntyre and Subban in net.

The 29-year-old Rask has appeared in three games for the Bruins this season, with a 3-0-0 record and .947 save percentage.

B’s coach Claude Julien said on Wednesday that the Bruins were hopeful that Rask could play in Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

David Pastrnak to have hearing for hit on Dan Girardi

10.27.16 at 11:13 am ET
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David Pastrnak.

David Pastrnak.

Things could be about to get even worse for a battered Boston Bruins club.

With their straight losses to their name, a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden being the most recent one, Bruins winger David Pastrnak has found himself in some hot water for an illegal check to the head of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, one that has earned him a disciplinary hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Friday.

The hit occurred in the neutral zone 10:55 into the second period, as Girardi looked upwards and reached up to catch and play an airborne puck when the 20-year-old Pastrnak came in with speed and drove his left shoulder up high into Girardi’s chin. Pastrnak was assessed a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head on the play, and though Girardi did leave the game briefly as part of the league’s concussion protocol, he would return.

“I’m not going to comment on any of that stuff,” Bruins coach Claude Julien, who was irate with the referees after the call, said when asked if he disagreed with the Pastrnak penalty last night. “But I think if you watched the game and watched the replay you’ll be able to figure it out.”

This will be Pastrnak’s first meeting with the NHL DoPS.

Pastrnak leads the Bruins with five goals and his eight points are the second-most on the team.


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