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Bruins bounce back to beat Sabres

12.21.13 at 9:41 pm ET
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The Bruins avenged Thursday’s loss to the Sabres by earning a 4-1 victory Saturday at TD Garden in their final home game before the Christmas break.

Reilly Smith got the B’s on the board in the first on a power play goal off a feed from Carl Soderberg, with Zemgus Girgensons tying the game by sneaking a puck over Tuukka Rask‘s right arm as he tried to hold the post. The Bruins re-took the lead in the second period on a David Krejci goal to cap a strong rush and added to it in the third period with Milan Lucic‘s team-leading 12th goal. Smith’s nipping at Lucic’s heels, however, as Smith scored an empty-neter for his 11th of the season.

Rask made 32 saves saves in the win, while Jhonas Enroth took the loss after Ryan Miller stood tall for the Sabres Thursday.

The game also featured the first career regular season fight for Patrice Bergeron in the NHL. Bergeron dropped the gloves with Buffalo blueliner Tyler Myers in the second period in a bout the taller Myers took.

The Bruins will play the Predators Saturday in Nashville before breaking for the holiday and returning to work Friday at TD Garden against the Senators.


- Krejci now has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) over his last 14 games. His multi-point night came as part of a strong effort for his line Saturday, as Lucic also scored and Jarome Iginla was stoned by Enroth on two solid opportunities.

- Carl Soderberg to Reilly Smith in front on the power play for a goal. Sound familiar? It should, as it’s the third time it’s happened this season.

- The Bruins made it through a pair of 5-on-3 shorthanded situations without allowing a goal. The first one came in the second period when Gregory Campbell drew blood on a high-stick on Jamie McBain just 11 seconds into a Patrice Bergeron cross-checking penalty. The Sabres turned in a brutal showing, while a bad call on John Scott ended a third-period 5-on-3 in short order.

- Torey Krug still has just one goal over his last 12 games, but he factored in Saturday in other ways. He moved the puck well on the shift on which the B’s scored the go-ahead goal, but he also handled some major responsibility in the second period on the second shift of the 5-on-3.


- With Bergeron’s cross-checking penalty and his second-period fight with Myers, No. 37 now has 13 penalty minutes the last three games. He had only 12 in the previous 33 games of the season. There will be no Lady Byng trophy in the near future for Bergeron.

- On the subject of Bergeron fighting, it is obviously a super bad idea. Given that he’s had four concussions in his NHL career and he’s one of the best players in the game, there is nothing to be gained by having Bergeron spend five minutes in the penalty box or risk any injury.

- Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was something of a wrecking ball in the first period, as a collision with Brad Marchand forced Marchand to miss a couple shifts. He also hit Zdeno Chara in the left hand with a shot, which forced Chara to ice the hand on the bench.

Marchand got dinged up in the second period as well when he blocked a slapshot from Myers. He was slow to get off the ice but stayed in the game.

- Rask had to save Marchand’s bacon on a tough shift for No. 63 in the first few minutes of the third period. Marchand turned the puck over in the defensive zone to set up two quick bids from Matt Ellis and Linus Omark, with Marchand unable to get the puck out on his next clearing attempt either.

Dougie Hamilton (lower body) begins skating

12.21.13 at 6:43 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton

Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton skated for the first time Saturday morning since suffering a lower-body injury on Dec. 8. The Bruins said following his injury that he would miss between two and four weeks.

“He started skating for the first time this morning, so it was his first time on the ice,” Claude Julien said prior to Saturday’s game. “We’ll see how he progresses.”

Hamilton is the second injured Bruin to return to the ice this week, as Daniel Paille (concussion symptoms) began skating Friday and is expected to return to practicing with the team on Sunday.

“He’s skating, coming along,” Julien said of Paille Saturday. “He should be skating with our team tomorrow.

Adam McQuaid (lower body) was kept out of Saturday’s lineup, but he is a “possibility” to play Monday in Nashville, according to Julien. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had said Wednesday that the B’s might keep him out through the Christmas break as a means of getting him more rest.

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Chad Johnson addresses the wraparound issue

12.20.13 at 1:00 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Lateral mobility has cost Chad Johnson more than he’d like, but he doesn’t think it’s his Achilles’ heel.

The Bruins’ backup couldn’t get from post to post in time to stop Drew Stafford on a wraparound in the third period Thursday night. The goal broke a 2-2 tie and cost the B’s the game.

“It was a brutal third goal,” Johnson admitted Friday. “I want it back. We’d played a pretty good game up to that point, and you let a soft one in in a 2-2 game with [six] minutes left, you put your team in a bad situation. It’s obviously one that I want back, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. It sucks.”

It was the second such goal Johnson’s allowed in his last two starts, as he was also slow to get over on a David Perron wraparound last Thursday in Edmonton.

“The one in Edmonton, I played that one obviously wrong,” Johnson said. “It’s just different situations I think. It’s not that I have problems with wraparounds, it’s just that right now that’s what’s been happening I guess. It’s all I can really say.”

So is the book out on Johnson? He says no. Johnson doesn’t like that he was exposed on wraparounds twice in two starts, but he sees it as more of an effort issue than an ability issue. As such, he doesn’t plan on letting it happen again soon.

“Well I mean they’ve scored two goals, so it’s something I’m going to work on,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a weakness for the most part. On the last one there I was a little lazy on it. It’s just one thing I need to correct. I don’t think it’s a technical thing or something like that.”

B’s coach Claude Julien agrees with Johnson’s assessment. He feels Johnson can push off and cover the other side quicker, and that with awareness of the issue and practice the issue can be resolved.

“That’s exactly it, and that’s why we’ve got a goalie coach that works with those guys and works on those deficiencies,” he said. “You’ve got to get better at that, and that’s what he’s doing today — working with Bob [Essensa] and trying to get better at it.”

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Daniel Paille begins skating

12.20.13 at 12:30 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Daniel Paille skated Friday morning, marking a step forward as he recovers from what the team has only called “concussion symptoms.”

Paille has missed the last five games after being sent back to Boston from last week’s Canadian road trip.

“He’s coming off concussion symptoms, so he’s starting to skate,” Claude Julien said. “He’ll skate tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”

Adam McQuaid (lower body) practiced with the B’s Friday and has been practicing with them since Monday. Peter Chiarelli said Wednesday that the team might hold him out through Christmas in order to give him more time off, but Julien said he “wouldn’t write him off” for Saturday’s game against the Sabres.

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Sabres outlast Bruins in Buffalo

12.19.13 at 9:36 pm ET
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The Bruins were outlasted by Sabres Thursday as they took a 4-2 loss to Buffalo at First Niagara Center.

Drew Stafford broke a 2-2 tie with under six minutes to go in regulation by beating Chad Johnson on a wraparound. Tyler Myers made it 4-2 just 80 seconds later, giving the Sabres a win and Johnson his first loss in his last six starts. Johnson allowed two goals on five third-period shots.

The Sabres jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a shorthanded goal from Brian Flynn, but two goals from Brad Marchand gave the B’s a 2-1 lead in the second period until the Sabres tied it on a puck that bounced off Marcus Foligno and past Chad Johnson.

Ryan Miller denied Marchand on multiple bids for a hat trick and made 30 saves in the victory for the Sabres.

The Bruins have two games left before the holiday break, as they’ll host the Sabres Saturday and face the Predators next Monday in Nashville.


- Johnson’s been beaten a couple times this season on wraparounds, so the B’s will have to hope the book isn’t out on capitalizing on their backup goaltender’s lack of mobility. It certainly cost them Thursday.

- Johnny Boychuk couldn’t keep the puck in the offensive zone during the power play on which the Sabres scored. With Boychuk unable to keep it in, Flynn caught up with the puck in the neutral zone and raced to the net on a breakaway before beating Johnson with a backhander.

- Patrice Bergeron took a pair of hooking penalties, twice leaving the B’s to kill a penalty without one of the top penalty killers in the league. Fortunately for the Bruins, they did just fine on the PK, killing off both Bergeron penalties and scoring a goal with Bergeron on a second-period PK.

- Torey Krug’s dip in production continues, as he now he now has one goal over his last 11 games. Krug took a first-period penalty for holding Stafford.


- Marchand had a better game and got results out of it. His second goal of the night was something of an accident, as he didn’t get good wood on his one-timer, but that caused the puck to waffle as it made its way past Miller stick-side high.

That was also Marchand’s second shorthanded goal of the last five games. He still has only four even-strength goals on the season, but scoring twice in a night might be the type of thing that gets more production.

- Not necessarily something that went right, but Matt Fraser reminded the B’s that he can do more than score at the AHL level when he dropped the gloves with Foligno. Fraser fought throughout his days in the WHL and has fought four times in the AHL.

Peter Chiarelli says he isn’t trading Brad Marchand

12.19.13 at 3:31 pm ET
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Peter Chiarelli

Peter Chiarelli

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that he doesn’t want anyone to interpret the team’s unhappiness with Brad Marchand‘s recent behavior as a sign that they want to get rid of him.

Chiarelli revealed Wednesday that he wasn’t happy with Marchand taunting the Canucks during Saturday’s loss, saying that he spoke to Marchand about it. That was hardly a suggestion that the team was going to trade him, but Chiarelli clarified anyway to reporters Thursday in Buffalo.

“I’m not trading Marchy. He’s a good player,” Chiarelli said. “I like the way he plays. He’ll figure it out.”

For a number of reasons, trading Marchand wouldn’t be too logical for the Bruins right now. Given that he has just five goals this season, the team likely would not get proper return on a player who scored 28 goals two seasons ago.

This isn’t the first time “Marchand” and “trade” could be used in the same sentence, as Marchand said in training camp that he wondered if he would be next when the team moved on from Tyler Seguin.

‘€œA little bit, yeah. Definitely,’€ he said when asked if he thought the team might also trade him. ‘€œAnything can happen at any time. If you have half a bad year or you’€™re not playing up to par, with the cap system nowadays, they’€™re going to want to improve the team. You don’€™t want to be that guy to get shipped out. The easiest thing to do is play your best and hopefully you can save yourself.’€

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Former Bruins enforcer Chris Nilan on D&C explains friendship with Whitey Bulger: ‘I’m a loyal person. He was a friend of mine’

12.19.13 at 10:49 am ET
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Former NHL enforcer Chris Nilan joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to talk about his hockey career, his post-NHL addiction issues and his friendship with Whitey Bulger that continues to this day.

Former NHL enforcer Chris Nilan has a few tales to tell in his new book. (AP)

Former NHL enforcer and Boston native Chris Nilan has a few interesting tales to tell in his new book. (AP)

Nilan, a product of West Roxbury and Northeastern University, was selected 231st (of 234 players) in the 1978 NHL draft but managed to have a long career with the Canadiens, Rangers and Bruins. He still holds the Canadiens franchise record for penalty minutes in a career (2,248) and season (358). He had 222 fights in his 13 NHL seasons, including 43 in 1985-86 during the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup-winning season.

Following his retirement after the 1991-92 season, Nilan had issues with alcohol and drugs, he was arrested for shoplifting and his 25-year marriage dissolved. Nilan says he has been clean and sober for three years, living with his girlfriend on the West Island of Montreal. He recently wrote a book: “Fighting Back: The Chris Nilan story.”

Nilan, now 55, grew up in Boston in the 1970s and fell in love with hockey while watching the Big, Bad Bruins. He made the NHL as a tough guy but worked to develop his game and ended up averaging 20 goals over two seasons in the mid-1980s. He said the drive he used to get him to the NHL came in handy when he hit rock bottom after his career.

“I had a dream of playing in the NHL one day,” he said. “I think the story somewhat reverts back to the things that — I had my transgressions and my drugs after hockey. Through alcoholism and drug addiction, I kind of reached back and used some of those things that drove me and got me to the National Hockey League to get me sober.”

Nilan said his turning point in his fight against addiction came after he started shooting heroin, something he promised himself he would never do.

“I was wrapped up in that for about eight months,” Nilan said. “And that night, sitting on the toilet, I basically overdosed. I woke up probably three hours later. I stood up and I fell forward and hit my head on the wall and knocked myself out again. And when I woke up from that I had I guess what you’d call the gift of desperation. I knew I needed to get help. I was in such a bad place. I was so beaten down; I beat myself down. I made a phone call and asked for help. It was the best move I ever made. … Clean since. And sober.”

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