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Report: Chris Phillips, Senators moving closer to new contract

03.04.14 at 3:22 pm ET
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According to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, the Senators and defenseman Chris Phillips are moving closer towards common ground on the length of a potential contract extension.


Phillips, 35, is in the final year of his contract and could be put on the trade market if he is not re-signed. The former first overall pick is acting as his own agent.

The Bruins are believed to be interested in his services, as he is a big and strong defenseman who could push Matt Bartkowski for his spot on the left side of Boston’s second pairing in the postseason, but he would likely only become available if the Senators feel they won’t be able to sign him before Wednesday’s trade deadline.

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Regardless of what trades bring, Bruins should hold on to Matt Bartkowski

03.04.14 at 12:44 pm ET
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Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski

The Bruins nearly traded Matt Bartkowski a season ago, and it’s a good thing they didn’t. This season, they shouldn’t come that close.

Boston’s biggest need at the trade deadline is obvious: a left-shot defenseman who could play top-4 minutes. While such a player would be valuable if the B’s want to lessen Zdeno Chara‘s workload in order to keep him fresh for the playoffs, the biggest reason why would be to have a more experienced and dependable option than Bartkowski. That doesn’t mean the B’s should be in a hurry to move Bartkowski for whoever they may acquire.

Right now, Bartkowski is in line to be Boston’s second-pairing left shot defenseman behind Chara. It’s a role that was previously occupied by Andrew Ference in the postseason and one that Dennis Seidenberg may have assumed had he not been lost for the season with a torn ACL.

If Bartkowski ends up playing that role, it won’t be anything new, as he’s been a top-4 guy since Seidenberg went down and he served in the role last postseason against the Rangers. Among the Bruins currently playing, Bartkowski is third on the team behind Chara and Johnny Boychuk with 19:20 of ice time per night, and he has played 22 minutes or more in four of the team’s last six games.

“He’€™s logging some pretty big minutes now and he continues to get better,” Claude Julien said Tuesday. “I like his poise with the puck, he’€™s been carrying a lot of pucks out of our own end which has facilitated our breakouts. You know, he’€™s defending better all the time, he’€™s getting that confidence as far as being able to battle I the corner and that’€™s just the young player getting more ice and more experience and feeling more comfortable with the whole situation.”

Even if the Bruins get someone to upgrade his spot, the Bruins would be wise to hold on to Bartkowski. They have a group of young defensemen (David Warsofsky would be a good trade candidate given that Torey Krug serves in the role that Warsofsky figures to play at the NHL level) and could move one of them while keeping Bartkowski.

After all, if it is depth that Peter Chiarelli seeks, a player like Bartkowksi who has proven himself capable of handling the big stage — his only NHL goal remains a rather big one in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last season — is worth keeping around.

“When you sit here today you understand how important it was for [Bartkowski and Krug] to play in that series in New York,” Julien said. “They handled the pressure, they handled the playoff pressure that comes with it very well. I thought they did a great job, they were poised. Torey played a big role in that series, scoring some big goals and Bart did the same thing. We had some young Ds that really excelled in that series and today you feel more comfortable going in to the playoffs with those guys because they’€™ve been through it.”

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Loui Eriksson out Tuesday vs. Panthers, but absence isn’t trade-related

03.04.14 at 11:48 am ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson will not play in Tuesday’s game against the Panthers due to a “minor issue,” according to B’s coach Claude Julien. Eriksson and Adam McQuaid were the only players missing from the team’s morning skate.

Though the timing of Eriksson’s absence has led to speculation that the team could be trading the player, a team source indicated Tuesday that Eriksson’s absence doesn’t have anything to do with Wednesday’s trade deadline.

Julien would not specify whether Eriksson was injured, however, as he repeatedly said that Eriksson is out with an “issue” and that he will play on Thursday. With Eriksson out, Jordan Caron will play on the team’s third line with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly.

As for McQuaid, Julien said the team will make a decision by the end of the week as to whether they will have the player proceed with his rehab from a lower body injury or shut him down for the time being.

Tuesday’s game will be the 21st Eriksson has missed this season with the Bruins, with the other 20 absences due to a pair of concussions suffered. In his previous five seasons, Eriksson missed a total of three games with the Stars, all of which came in the 2010-11 season.

Eriksson is in his first season with the B’s after being the centerpiece of the package shipped to Boston in last July 4′s trade with Dallas. He has two more seasons on his contract after this season with a reasonable cap hit of $4.25 million a season.

In 40 games for Boston this season, Eriksson has six goals and 16 assists for 22 points and a plus-11 rating.

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Bruins determining plan for Adam McQuaid

03.03.14 at 9:40 am ET
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Adam McQuaid

Adam McQuaid

The Bruins are determining the proper course of action to take with injured defenseman Adam McQuaid, who was initially expected to play over the weekend before suffering a setback.

McQuaid has not played since Jan. 19 and has been able to dress in just half of Boston’s 60 games this season, missing 30 games due to a lower-body injury that has plagued him since initially sustaining the injury on Nov. 9. Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters Saturday in New York that the team is deciding whether to shut him down for the time being or try to continue with his rehab.

“There’€™s going to be an answer soon,”€ Julien told reporters. “We’€™ve got to make a decision on whether to go forward or hold him back.”

With McQuaid out, Kevan Miller has established himself as a viable option as the right defenseman on Boston’s third pairing. McQuaid and Miller bring very similar attributes, with McQuaid taller and more experienced, while Miller is stronger.

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Bruins beat Rangers for first win since Olympics

03.02.14 at 9:49 pm ET
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The Bruins picked up their first win since returning from the Olympic break as they defeated the Rangers, 6-3, Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Leading the way in the victory for Boston was Tuukka Rask, who made 39 saves on the night and kept the B’s in it throughout a shaky first period for the team. Gregory Campbell had pair of goals in the third.

Dougie Hamilton had his first multi-point game of the season, registering a goal and two assists. After picking up the secondary helper on Jarome Iginla’s goal and giving the B’s the lead early in the second, Hamilton took a shot from the point that went off Marc Staal in front, with Carl Soderberg collecting the puck and roofing it.

The Bruins got off to a rough start, allowing their third breakaway goal in a three-period span when J.T. Miller beat Tuukka Rask for his third goal of the season. Though the Rangers outplayed the B’s throughout a first period in which they outshot Boston, 20-9, Iginla’s goal at 18:07 left the teams tied at the first intermission.

Hamilton gave the Bruins the lead at 4:04 of the second period, with Soderberg making it a 3-1 game at 9:34. The Rangers answered back with a Brad Richards goal at 16:53.

The Bruins used the third period to pull away with a pair of third-period goals from Campbell, the first of which was a shorthanded tally off a feed from Loui Eriksson. The second goal was reviewed, as Daniel Paille‘s pass went off Campbell’s skate and in, but replays determined there was no distinct kicking motion.

Ryan McDonagh scored the Rangers’ final goal, a power-play tally, to make it 5-3, but Milan Lucic‘s tip of a Matt Bartkowski wrist shot extended Boston’s lead back to three.

The game marked the second leg of a back-to-back, as Rask started in Saturday’s loss to the Capitals. The Bruins will have five more back-to-backs this month and seven more in the regular season. The B’s will next play Tuesday when they host the Panthers at TD Garden.

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Bruins hope back-to-back games will help them shake off rust

03.01.14 at 5:06 pm ET
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The good thing about back-to-backs is that if you stink in the first game, you get a chance to make amends the very next night.

That’s the mindset the Bruins will have as they head to New York to take on the Rangers Sunday night. They weren’t entirely terrible on Saturday — in fact, they actually out-attempted Washington 67-44 — but they had some horrific defensive breakdowns that directly led to four goals and a loss.

The Bruins suffered similar breakdowns in Wednesday’s overtime loss against Buffalo, another game they dominated possession-wise. They had two days of practice to try to correct those mistakes, but obviously that didn’t do a whole lot of good.

Perhaps the solution is to just keep playing games. Claude Julien thinks that could be the case.

“I think we’re OK,” Julien said. “I think we’ve played together and played the way we should for long enough that, basically, they need to see it more than they need to practice it. Tomorrow’s going to be a good day for us to look at those things and get ready for tomorrow night. It’s probably not a bad thing that we have back-to-back games. We can put this one aside quickly and work on the next one.”

It makes sense. The Bruins had been playing great prior to the Olympic break. Then everything just stopped for two weeks. It shouldn’t be a total shock that they’ve struggled to pick up where they left off.

The Bruins have still been good enough to control play for long stretches of both their post-Olympic games, but the rust has shown with some miscommunications (like the one Matt Bartkowski and Johnny Boychuk had on Washington’s third goal Saturday), missed assignments (like Alex Ovechkin being left open on his two power-play goals) and bad reads (which Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug were both guilty of on the Capitals’ fourth goal).

Some fans and reporters will use this to fuel the Bruins-need-an-impact-defenseman talk. While getting one would certainly help, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the mistakes made in these last two games are the exception, not the rule. The Bruins are second in the NHL in scoring defense for a reason. They’re a good defensive team. They just have some kinks to work out of their game.

They’ll get another crack at doing that a little more than 24 hours after Saturday’s loss, and that could be just what they need. A lot of teams struggle in the second game of a back-to-back, but the Bruins have actually excelled in those situations this season, posting a 7-2-0 record in second games. That could be a good sign moving forward, as the B’s have eight back-to-backs left this season.

“I think it’s good to kind of turn the page right away and get back at it tomorrow,” Gregory Campbell said. “There’s some things that we need to do better, some things we addressed before the game, and it didn’t really take into account during the game. So I think from our standpoint, it’s good that we’re playing tomorrow night.”

Bruins fall to Capitals, remain winless since Olympics

03.01.14 at 3:38 pm ET
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The Bruins remain winless since the Olympic break, as they dropped a 4-2 contest Saturday in their first meeting of the season against the Capitals.

The Capitals took a 2-0 lead with Alexander Ovechkin scoring a power-play goal against Tuukka Rask in each of the first two periods. They extended the lead to 3-0 when Joel Ward picked off a Johnny Boychuk pass off a faceoff and took it to the net for a breakaway goal.

Patrice Bergeron brought the Bruins back into the game 19 seconds later with a power-play goal to make it 3-1. Shawn Thornton then made it a one-goal game with a pass to the slot that went off Mike Green and past Washington netminder Braden Holtby.

The Capitals were able to expand the lead to two again, with Eric Fehr scoring a breakaway goal off a turnover from Bergeron.

The Bruins will play the Rangers Sunday in New York, marking their first of six back-to-backs in the month of March.


- It was another subpar showing defensively for the Bruins, with the Matt Bartkowski-Boychuk pairing turning in a shaky performance and nobody able to catch up to Fehr following a turnover from Bergeron in the third period. Claude Julien had called the Bruins too loose defensively after Wednesday’s loss to the Sabres.

- The Bruins were rather unimpressive on a 5-on-3 after Jay Beagle went off for holding and Tom Wilson was called for high-sticking at 6:57 of the first period. The Bruins landed just one shot on goal during the two-minute 5-on-3, which featured Zdeno Chara at the point and Jarome Iginla as the net-front guy on the team’s first unit.

- Brad Marchand took a pair of offensive zone penalties, tripping Eric Fehr late in the second period and high-sticking Dmitry Orlov in the third. Neither penalty cost the B’s, but putting a regular penalty killer in the box against the second-best power play in the league isn’t a great idea.

- Speaking of penalties, Chris Kelly‘s penalty fest continued, and it cost the Bruins in the first period. Kelly was given an interference minor for shoving Jason Chimera in the first, leading to Ovechkin’s power play goal. It was Kelly’s seventh minor penalty over the last six games. He had taken just one minor penalty in his previous 13 contests.


- Thornton’s goal was probably his line’s most spectacular of the season. Daniel Paille sent a bouncing pass to Shawn Thornton, who was able to settle it as he advanced in the offensive zone before sending a pass to the slot for Campbell, who sped in and crashed into Green, with the puck going off Green and over Holtby’s left shoulder.

- Rask didn’t get too much help (two breakaway goals), but he did come came through with a big glove save on Troy Brouwer with Washington on the power play in the third period and the score still 3-2. Saturday marked Rask’s first game since the Olympics.

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