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Bruins’ Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask named to 2017 NHL All-Star Game

01.10.17 at 2:54 pm ET
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Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask have been named to the 2017 All-Star Game. (Russell LaBounty/USA Today Sports)

Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask have been named to the 2017 All-Star Game. (Russell LaBounty/USA Today Sports)

For the first time since 2012 when it was Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas, the Bruins will have multiple skaters participating in the NHL’s All-Star weekend, as both Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask have been named to their first all-star game and will skate as the B’s representatives in the 2017 All-Star game in Los Angeles.

After a career year a season ago, Marchand has contributed at a similar pace, with 13 goals and 35 points (the 24th-most points in the NHL), and ranks third among NHL left wingers in points (Artemi Panarin leads the way with 41 points and Nick Foligno has 35 points as well). The 5-foot-9 Marchand also ranks fourth among NHL left wings in shots on goal, and has points in all but 15 of 43 games played so far.

The five other Atlantic Division forwards are Nikita Kucherov (Lightning), Auston Matthews (Maple Leafs), Frans Nielsen (Red Wings), Kyle Okposo (Sabres), and Vincent Trocheck (Panthers).

Rask gets the call to LA in the midst of a season in which he’s been one of the NHL’s best netminders from the moment the puck dropped on his season. With a 20-9-3 record, Rask is one of six NHL netminders with at least 20 wins this season, and ranks fifth in the NHL with a .928 save percentage. The 29-year-old Rask has also put forth a 1.93 goals against average on the year, which ranks as third-best mark in the NHL. He is also tied with Devan Dubnyk and Braden Holtby for the league lead in shutouts, with five. He is joined by Atlantic captain and Canadiens counterpart Carey Price as the division’s two-headed netminding tandem.

The 2017 Coors Light NHL All-Star Skills Competition is Jan. 28 at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports). The 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game is Jan. 29 (3:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Report: NHL, adidas ditching alternate jerseys next season

01.09.17 at 6:30 pm ET
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The NHL is reportedly going to get rid of alternate jerseys next season. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

To help the transition from Reebok to adidas, the NHL will reportedly get rid of alternate jerseys next season. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have done their part to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to their 2016 Winter Classic jerseys, wearing it a few times even after the annual outdoor game last season and designating it as their new third jersey before the start of this season.

But they’ll have to do it while they can, as the beloved throwback will be axed next season as the league switches from Reebok to adidas, according to a report from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

“Multiple sources tell the Star Tribune that all NHL teams will be permitted to have only home and road jerseys next season as Adidas takes over for Reebok as the official outfitter of NHL uniforms,” Russo writes. “There will be no third jerseys, in order to make the initial implementation of new sweaters easier.”

Adidas and the NHL agreed to a seven-year partnership in 2015 (a partnership that will begin before the start of the 2017-18 season), and fans got their first look at what adidas can bring to the NHL table during the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, a near-month long tournament during which adidas designed all the jerseys and merchandise for each team. Adidas is the current outfitter of the NBA, but their partnership ends after this current season.

The Bruins are one of 17 NHL teams that currently have an alternate sweater in their uniform arsenal this season.

Zane McIntyre helps Bruins earn point in overtime loss to Hurricanes

01.08.17 at 7:47 pm ET
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Zane McIntyre made his third start of the season. (James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

Zane McIntyre made his third start of the season. (James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

A solid start but a nightmare finish in Carolina on Dec. 23 was the final straw for the Bruins in regards to backup netminder Anton Khudobin after just one win and an .885 save percentage in eight games.

Fittingly, it was Khudobin’s replacement (for now, anyways), Zane McIntyre, that had his first real audition at making the job his own, against the same team and in the same arena. But the result was the same for the Bruins, as the Hurricanes defeated the Bruins in overtime, this time by a 4-3 final, at PNC Arena Sunday afternoon.

Back in the NHL behind a 10-0-0 AHL record along with a league-leading 1.41 goals against average and .951 save percentage, McIntyre’s night began with a perfect 13-save first period and with a 1-0 lead to his name behind Tim Schaller’s sixth goal of the season.

But the ‘Canes punched McIntyre and the B’s back with two goals in the middle frame and honestly could have put the game away had it not been for two big shorthanded stops on Jordan Staal with the Bruins down by one.

Those were two stops that Khudobin did not make in that Dec. 23 game.

They proved to make a mammoth difference for the Black and Gold, too, as the teams traded goals in the third period and skated to a tie through 60 minutes of play. In other words, the Bruins battled back, and with timely stops from the 24-year-old McIntyre earned at least one point. It was a job that Khudobin accomplished as well in that aforementioned Dec. 23 game, yes, but he did that as he collapsed into an overtime loss, while McIntyre kept things tied up when the Bruins battled back a second time.

On the second leg of a traveling back-to-back and given the struggles the Bruins have had against Cam Ward and the Hurricanes this season, a point might honestly be the best result possible, especially with a rookie in the crease.

And though McIntyre skated off a loser for the third time in as many NHL starts, this time behind a 26-of-30 night. But (again) and more importantly, his play helped the Bruins grab a much-needed point to bump up the Bruins’ second-place point total,  and will help ease the burden that will surely be on this club when the rest of the Atlantic catches up to them in games played.

It’s a point that could earn the Minnesota native a bit more trust from Bruins coach Claude Julien, too.

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask moves into tie for second-most shutouts in team history

01.08.17 at 12:50 am ET
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Tuukka Rask is now tied with Frank Brimsek for the second-most shutouts in Bruins history. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask is now tied with Frank Brimsek for the second-most shutouts in Bruins history. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

It’s scary to think where the Bruins would be without Tuukka Rask this season and it’s beginning to show in the team record books.

In what was his 20th win of the season, a 4-0 final over the Panthers at the BB&T Center, the 29-year-old stopped all 25 shots against for his fifth shutout of the season and the 35th of his NHL career.

Consider the fact that Rask has spent his entire NHL career with the Black and Gold and that’s 35 shutouts with the Bruins. That number moved the Finnish netminder into a tie with the legendary Frank Brimsek for second on the club’s all-time shutouts list.

It’s the second player Rask has either tied or passed on the shutouts list this year, as he tied Tim Thomas with 31 by way of an Oct. 29 shutout over the Red Wings, and then passed him on Nov. 7 against the Sabres.

“[Rask] plays great every night, he’s been extremely good this year,” Brad Marchand, who scored a shorthanded goal and power-play goal in the win, said. “He gives us an opportunity to win every game.”

Next up for B’s on the franchise shutout list? Tiny Thompson, who has 74 shutouts with the Bruins.

The Bruins are 20-9-3 with Rask in action, and are just 1-8-1 in games started by any of the other three netminders (Anton Khudobin, Zane McIntyre, Malcolm Subban) to have suited up for the club this year.

Leaders get Bruins back on track with win over Panthers

01.07.17 at 9:41 pm ET
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Brad Marchand scored the 20th shorthanded goal of his career in a 3-0 win. (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Brad Marchand scored the 20th shorthanded goal of his career in a 4-0 win over the Panthers on Saturday night. (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

After having dodged a fall out of the playoff structure for what’s felt like weeks, the Bruins woke up on the outside looking in on Saturday after a Friday night win by the Maple Leafs that bumped the Leafs into third in the Atlantic Division and the B’s down to ninth in the East.

It just might have been the wake-up call that some of the Bruins’ leaders, bolstered by a return of David Backes after having missed the previous three games with a concussion, needed in a 4-0 win over James Reimer and the Panthers at the BB&T Center.

But that wake-up call didn’t come off the jump.

Instead, and as usual, the Bruins started incredibly slow, and likely would have been in a hole to begin the night had it not been the usually dynamite-against-Florida play of Tuukka Rask. But they escaped further trouble when Brad Marchand stormed down on Reimer on a shorthanded break and connected for his 11th goal of the season.

The goal was Marchand’s first shorthanded goal of the season, which gives him shorthanded markers in seven straight seasons, and 20 for his NHL career. It’s the most in the league over that span, and only three active players (Marian Hossa has a league-high 33 while Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette have each scored 22 shorthanded goals) have scored more than Marchand’s 20 career shorthanded goals, and all three have played at least 400-plus more games than Marchand in their careers.

Marchand’s goal served as the perfect escape route for the B’s after 20 minutes of play, who led by one through the first period, and the club built off that when they extended their lead to two behind Backes’ deflection early in the second period, and then a power-play goal by Marchand thanks to a monstrous rebound by Reimer off a Torey Krug shot made it 3-0 at 9:40 in the second.

The Panthers had a chance to get back into the game with a power play late in the second period, but they were shut down behind a major shift from Zdeno Chara, and one that finished after 2:15 of time on ice for the 39-year-old captain.

It was the last gasp for the Panthers in a night that was all Bruins once the club got over the initial flurry against.

The common thread for the Black and Gold in this skid-snapping victory? The contributions came from their best.

Just two nights after an emotional Chara lamented the fact that the team really felt that they had let down the family of legendary Bruins figure Milt Schmidt on the day after his death, the B’s leaders came to play. You saw what a game-changing talent Marchand can be when he’s playing at his true level; Marchand not only scored big goals, but he drew the Panthers into a smart offside on what could have been a great chance when he got tangled up at the bench door with two Panther skaters, and then later drew a penalty in garbage time to truly put an end to Florida’s night. David Krejci and Backes really seemed to be on the same page in terms of their three-zone chemistry. Chara and the rest of the B’s defense put forth a mammoth defensive night and made the Panthers earn every inch of space in the B’s zone, and even then, they didn’t get much as most of their shots were held from up high and out of any real danger zone. And Tuukka Rask stopped all 25 shots thrown his way for his fifth shutout of the year.

If that becomes the norm (which really needs to happen if the Bruins are going to stay afloat in this division given the number of games in hand by the teams either above or below them), the B’s won’t have to worry about reading the morning standings.

The Bruins will look to make it two in a row and find some consistency with a Sunday head-to-head with the Hurricanes.

David Backes (concussion) expected to return vs. Panthers

01.07.17 at 6:51 pm ET
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David Backes

David Backes

The Bruins and David Backes have been patient. Patience they hope will finally pay off.

Out for the last three games with a concussion, one that Backes considers the fourth of his NHL career, there have been days where the 32-year-old has felt probable, and others where he’s felt doubtful in regards to his ability to play. Sometimes the doubtful days have followed the probable days.

But after a Friday practice back in Boston in which Backes was out later than most Bruins for some extra conditioning, and after a full participation in Saturday’s morning skate, the do-it-all forward appears to be a go for the struggling Bruins for tonight’s road head-to-head with the Panthers.

“Head injuries are pretty important things to deal with and we don’t push anybody to come back with a concussion until we feels he’s 100 percent,” Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team has dropped two in a row and 11 of their last 16 overall, said following the pregame skate. “[Backes] didn’t last time before we played Edmonton and we didn’t hesitate, we didn’t let him play, so we’ll see how everything goes here.”

Expected back in the lineup and on the second line with David Krejci and Ryan Spooner, Backes’ boost will be a big one for a Bruins team that’s gone 4-4-0 without him (Backes missed five games earlier this season with an elbow injury), but have been outscored 21-to-11 in those eight games.

It’s a game against the Panthers, so you know what that means: Tuukka Rask gets the nod in net for the Bruins.

The 29-year-old has been his normal dominant self against the Panthers this year, with three wins and a .947 save percentage in three games, and has won 18 of 22 career games against the Panthers along with a .949 save percentage.

Rask is still searching for his first win of the 2017, though, with two losses and a .880 in two games played.

The Panthers counter with James Reimer for the second time in as many nights. Reimer stopped 28-of-29 shots in a 2-1 win over Nashville on Friday night, and comes into action with seven wins and a .930 save percentage in 16 career starts against the Black and Gold. Reimer stopped 30-of-32 in a losing effort in his last start against the Bruins.

This is the fourth of five meetings between the Bruins and Panthers this year. The B’s have won all three meetings so far.

Here are the expected lines and pairings…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Ryan Spooner – David Krejci – David Backes

Frank Vatrano – Austin Czarnik – Jimmy Hayes

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Kevan Miller – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

Bruins assign forward Noel Acciari to Providence Bruins

01.06.17 at 2:32 pm ET
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Noel Acciari

Noel Acciari

The Bruins will have an empty seat on their flight down to Florida for the start of a four-game road trip, as forward Noel Acciari has been assigned to the American Hockey League.

After missing a month of action with a knee injury, the hard-hitting Acciari skated in seven NHL games since a Dec. 10 recall, and recorded 18 hits and seven shots on goal.

He had been a healthy scratch in six of the club’s last seven games.

Overall, the 25-year-old has skated in 19 games for the B’s this season, with two assists.

The Johnston, R.I., native has skated in one game with the P-Bruins this season, with one assist.

Acciari’s reassignment likely comes with the hope that David Backes, who has missed the last three games with a concussion, is ready to return to action on Saturday night against Florida.

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