|02.10.16 at 12:24 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — A day after getting crushed by the Kings at home, the Bruins tweaked their lines in anticipation of a six-game road trip.
The biggest change to the lines is a left-wing flip of Loui Eriksson and Matt Beleskey that reunites Eriksson with Ryan Spooner. The two performed very well together when David Krejci was out with an upper-body injury last month, but they’ve both seen their production slow down of late.
On defense, it appears that Kevan Miller will remain in the lineup and Colin Miller will remain out for now. Adam McQuaid will make the trip with the team.
Here’s how the team’s lineup looked in practice:
|02.10.16 at 1:47 am ET|
The most goals allowed by the Bruins in a game since 2008.
The most shots allowed in a game by the Bruins since 1965.
That’s 1965, 51 years ago, the year civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama, were attacked by state troopers. Lyndon Johnson was president. Johnny Bucyk was in his prime at 29 years of age.
To say that former Bruins winger Milan Lucic and L.A. did a number on Boston Tuesday night at TD Garden in a 9-2 Kings victory would be quite the understatement.
“You’re here win a game, you know?” Lucic said with a chuckle when asked if it felt awkward to beat his former mates so decisively. “You win by one, you win by seven it doesn’t matter, a win’s a win. I guess you can’t feel too bad. You come in here and try to get those bragging rights and have it over your former teammates. It was a full team effort from the net out and I was glad to get that win.”
|02.09.16 at 10:23 pm ET|
The Bruins allowed 57 shots on goal — the most they’ve given up in a game since 1965 — in an ugly 9-2 loss to the Kings Tuesday. After the game, the team hardly sounded like a group pushing for the second spot in the Atlantic Division and more like a fledgling team chasing the prowess it had in years past.
“We got absolutely embarrassed,” Zdeno Chara said. “They played a really good game, but we had nowhere near the game that we needed to play. It was embarrassing.”
The B’s allowed seven straight goals after taking a 1-0 lead in the first period. The loss dropped them to 1-7-0 against Western Conference playoff teams this season.
“There are things that obviously are going to stay inside this locker room, but we just need to be better,” Chara said. “We need to perform better. We’ve had a few stretches where we’ve played well, we won some tight games and some big games and we were facing some challenges or teams on top of the league and we didn’t follow up with the performances that we had previous games. That’s again tonight’s case. It was embarrassing.”
Said David Krejci: “The way we lost, especially the second and third period, it’s just unacceptable. You should go out there even if you’re losing 6-1 after the second period and show some pride, you know? Try to show fans that we respect them coming here. We don’t want to get booed in our own building. We didn’t respond. It was embarrassing.”
|02.09.16 at 9:43 pm ET|
The Kings ran over the Bruins, 9-2, in Lucic’s first game back in Boston since being traded to Los Angeles in the offseason. Lucic scored the Kings’ seventh goal, giving him 13 goals on the season.
The Bruins yanked Rask after the Kings’ fifth goal in favor of Jonas Gustavsson, marking the first time this season they have pulled Rask from a game.
The loss provided further perspective on how good the Bruins actually are despite playing in a bad division and conference. Though the Bruins entered the game 10-4-0 against Eastern Conference playoff teams and 5-1-0 against Atlantic Division playoff teams, Tuesday’s loss dropped them to 1-7-0 against Western Conference playoff teams.
Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:
PLAYING THE WRONG MILLER
For all intents and purposes, Colin Miller is better than Kevan Miller. Would it be out of the question to play Kevan Miller against the a bigger team like the Kings? No, but it proved to be the wrong move Tuesday night.
Miller was responsible for the Kings’ first three goals, including a pair of goals scored in a span of 1:39. First, a Jeff Carter pass during a Kings power play went off Miller’s stick and past Tuukka Rask to get Los Angeles on the board.
On Miller’s next shift, he left Marian Gaborik open seemingly in an effort to cover Dwight King, who was already covered by Jimmy Hayes and Ryan Spooner in front of the net. That allowed Vincent Lacavalier to feed Gaborik for the go-ahead goal.
Los Angeles’ third goal came as a result of a Miller turnover from behind the net in the second period. The bizarro hat trick from Miller was enough to give the Kings a lead they would not relinquish.
MARCHAND MAKES IT 10 IN 10
One positive note from Tuesday: With his first-period goal, Brad Marchand made it 10 goals in 10 games and brought his season total to 25. He’s now three shy of his career-high 28 set back in 2011-12. He’s also on pace to finish the season with 40 goals.
POWER PLAY ON ITS WAY BACK?
Marchand’s goal was a power-play tally, something that’s become something of a rarity for the B’s of late. The Bruins entered Tuesday’s game 2-for-29 on the man advantage in their previous 10 games.
RANDELL BACK IN
Tyler Randell had last played exactly one month ago, but his time off since Jan. 9’s game against the Senators didn’t leave him confused about his role. The rookie fourth-liner jumped back into Boston’s lineup Tuesday and fought Kyle Clifford on his first shift, earning the takedown in the process.
He also scored in the third period to give him five goals on the season in 21 games played. Randell leads the league in goals per 60 with a 2.09 mark.
Randell was in the lineup in place of Zac Rinaldo. The lineup looked as such:
|02.09.16 at 12:42 pm ET|
This is Milan Lucic‘s first season with the Kings and he hopes it isn’t his last.
In addition to adjusting to a new team, Lucic also has to play with the added distraction of being in the final year of his contract. Different players handle contract years differently — some post tremendous money in hopes of a huge pay day; some let the uncertainty consume them and ultimately detract from their play — and Lucic is just trying to put it out of his mind.
Interestingly enough, however, Lucic indicated Tuesday that last season saw more of those pressures get to him than this season. Though last season was the second year of a three-year, $18 million deal, Lucic knew that his future with the team depended on that season. He turned out to be correct, as the Bruins dealt him in the offseason rather than taking him into the last year of his contract.
“I think I focused on it a little bit too much, especially in the first half of the the season, just the goals and the assists and the individual stuff,” Lucic said. “Sometimes when things come up like a contract, it’s hard to ignore those king of things. That’s why I think when I stopped focusing on that and just worried about the things that mattered like winning hockey games, everything else kind of just fell into place. I tried to take that same mentality into this year.”
Lucic, 27, scored 24 or more goals three times with the Bruins. His numbers took a dip last season when he posted 18 goals, and he’s currently on pace for 19 goals. Even if he fails to hit the 20-goal mark for a second straight season, he will be an attractive option for either the Kings to re-sign (far from a certainty given cap constraints) or for another team to court on the open market.
The Kings currently sit atop the Pacific Division with 65 points through 51 games. They have less than $3 million in cap space this season despite the fact that they are only paying a little more than half of Lucic’s $6 million cap hit (the Bruins retained about $2.49 million cap-wise in the trade). Los Angeles does not have a ton of money coming off the books, while next season will see star center Anze Kopitar’s cap hit rise from $6.8 million to $10 million.
Despite all the uncertainty, Lucic says that he’s doing a better job of handling the unknown than he did a season ago.
“I’m just focusing on the things that I can control, and that’s helping the team win,” Lucic said. “I haven’t really been focusing too much on goals and assists and what I need to do to sign a big deal or anything like that. I’ve just been focused on winning hockey games and things like that. I think that’s kind of helped my play so far throughout the season.”
Added Lucic: “Looking at the team, we do have a real great team here with a real great chance here to be a contender. I’m just focusing more on that than the individual stuff.”
|02.09.16 at 12:21 pm ET|
You know you came up in a veteran organization when you’re set the play the team months after being traded and you only know “a couple” players on the team. That’s the case for Colin Miller as the Bruins prepare to take on the Kings at TD Garden.
Miller, who was drafted by the Kings in 2012, won the Calder Cup with the Manchester Monarchs last season before being traded to Boston in the Milan Lucic trade.
“I know a couple of guys on the team,” Miller said Tuesday. “Obviously I wasn’t up there at all, so I know a couple of guys on the team and have been around them in training camp and stuff like that, but there are definitely a couple of buddies that I’ll be watching tonight.”
Ah, yes. Watching. Unfortunately for Miller, he appears to be the odd man out on defense for Tuesday, as he stayed out after morning skate along with injured defenseman Adam McQuaid. If Miller is out for Tuesday, he’ll join Steven Kampfer (scratched vs. his hometown Red Wings in the 2010-11 season) as defensemen Claude Julien has sat in sentimental moments. Miller, who was scratched Saturday as well, didn’t seem especially hurt by potentially sitting against his former organization.
“It’s always fun playing against an old team that you know, but we’ll see what happens here tonight,” Miller said. “It will be a good game either way.”
Here is the anticipated lineup for Tuesday, based on morning skate:
|02.09.16 at 10:59 am ET|
Bruins forward Matt Beleskey has similar numbers to Milan Lucic a season ago, but he’s trying to avoid the comparison to the former Bruin.
“He’s a great player. If anyone put me in that [class] I’d take it, but like I said [when I came here] I’m not Milan Lucic,” Beleskey said Monday. “I won’t be that player. I’m different. I’m my own player and that’s the way I’ve been playing all year.”
Beleskey, who signed a five-year contract worth $3.8 million annually this offseason to replace Lucic, has nearly identical goals per 60 (.68) to what Lucic had in his final season in Boston (.70). He currently finds himself in a scoring slump that’s seen him score just one goal in his last 16 games, a slump that Lucic himself had last season.
Claude Julien said he’s happy with Beleskey, whom he feels the Bruins signed for his physicality rather than raw numbers.
“It’s his production that’s maybe thrown things off a little bit,” Julien said Monday. “Do people have the right view of what he is as a player vs. looking at last year’s stats and thinking that’s what it should be or even better. We knew what we were getting. We were getting a guy that, [after] losing Lucic, would give us some grit, would be able to contribute offensively here and there as well. So far he’s given us that. To me, he’s a player that, when you look at our group up front, he’s a player that we really need.”
To read more on Beleskey’s season and how it compares to Lucic’s final season in Boston, click here for Monday’s story.