|12.29.15 at 9:55 pm ET|
The Bruins will not enter the Winter Classic on a losing streak.
A hat trick from Jimmy Hayes and two-goal performances from Patrice Bergeron and Matt Beleskey led the way in a 7-3 win over the Senators that snapped Boston’s recent skid at three games. Ryan Spooner, who had all eyes on him following his promotion to second-line center, had a pair of assists, one of which came on the power play.
Tuesday’s win allowed the Bruins to jump ahead of Detroit in the Atlantic Division with 44 points. The B’s now sit third in the division, two points behind the division-leading Panthers and one point behind the Canadiens.
The Bruins will be off Wednesday and will practice Thursday in Foxboro before hosting the Habs for the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium on Friday.
While there will be plenty of angst leftover for Friday, the Bruins played the Senators Tuesday as if Ottawa were their biggest rival. The teams combined for 110 penalty minutes on Tuesday, with a late-game fracas providing six misconducts.
Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:
MARCHAND GETS AN ‘A,’ MIGHT GET ‘A’ SUSPENSION
Brad Marchand may have spoken too soon when he mentioned his excitement to play in the Winter Classic Tuesday morning. After a dangerous his Tuesday night, Marchand could end up being suspended for Friday’s game.
Marchand, who was wearing an ‘A’ due to the absence of David Krejci, committed a low-bridge hit on Mark Borowiecki in the first period. Marchand will likely argue in his hearing that he was turning into the player rather than going for the hit, but that might not hold up well given that he has a history of low-bridging with his 2012 suspension for such a hit on Sami Salo. Working in Marchand’s favor is that Borowiecki was not injured on the play.
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 30, 2015
It’s been nearly a year since Marchand’s last suspension, when he was banned two games for slew-footing Derick Brassard. If the Department of Player Safety deems Tuesday’s hit suspendable, his recent history will be admissible when considering the suspension’s length. That wasn’t the only incident involving Borowiecki. This happened in the second period and the Ottawa defenseman lived to tell the tale.
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 30, 2015
POWER’S BACK ON
Although the Bruins entered Tuesday night’s game with the best power play percentage in the NHL, they had gone their last four games without a power play goal (0-for-6) in a stretch that saw them struggle to even get on the man advantage.
That changed for the B’s Tuesday, as they got a season-best four power play goals in a 4-for-7 showing on the man advantage. The B’s hadn’t scored multiple power-play goals since Nov. 27.
Bergeron had two of Boston’s goals on the man advantage, while Matt Beleskey hopped on the rebound of a Brett Connolly shot in the second period to make it 3-1.
‘SKEY SHOOTS, ‘SKEY SCORES
As we touched on recently, Beleskey has had positively dreadful luck shooting the puck this season. Entering the game, only one of Beleskey’s five goals had come from shooting the puck, as he had two goals apiece from redirecting shots and from his passes hitting players and going in.
Beleskey was able to actually shoot the puck into the net in the second period when he used a wrister to fling the puck past Craig Anderson after the Ottawa goaltender kicked Connolly’s shot to the left circle. Beleskey now has six goals on the season, putting him on pace for 14 on the season.
GRIFFITH IN, KRUG HEALTHY, HAYES DOWN
Seth Griffith played his first NHL game this season after the Bruins recalled the red-hot winger from Providence Tuesday. Griffith, who had 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) over his last nine games for Providence, was placed on Bergeron and Marchand’s line.
That move created a trickle-down effect for Boston’s wingers, with both Brett Connolly and Hayes being demoted as a result.
Torey Krug also returned to the lineup after missing Sunday’s game with a lower-body injury. Boston’s lineup Tuesday was as follows:
Hayes did well with his demotion to the fourth line, as his hat trick was the first of his NHL career.
|12.29.15 at 11:39 am ET|
The Bruins recalled right wing Seth Griffith from Providence Tuesday, a move that Claude Julien feels adds to the fluidity of Boston’s lineup situation.
Griffith will be available to play Tuesday against the Senators. If he does, it would figure to be at the expense of one of Boston’s right wings (Jimmy Hayes and Tyler Randell are currently the team’s third and fourth-line right wings, respectively). Randell was one of three skaters to take the ice Tuesday morning, as he joined injured players Torey Krug and Joonas Kemppainen.
Griffith has been red-hot at the AHL level, registering 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) over his last nine games.
Initially something of a longshot candidate to push for a job in Boston this season, Griffith suffered a sprained MCL in training camp and did not play his first game of the season until Oct. 23. In 24 games for Providence this season, Griffith has 10 goals and 17 assists for 27 points. He had 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 30 games for Boston last season.
Along with recalling Griffith, the Bruins moved David Krejci to injured reserve. He is considered week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
Krug, who skated for a second consecutive day on Tuesday, is a possibility to play against the Senators, though Julien was mostly mum on his lineup.
|12.28.15 at 12:24 pm ET|
Krejci, whose 11 goals and 33 points in 35 games had him on pace for a career-high in both categories, suffered his injury in the second period of Sunday’s loss to the Senators. Claude Julien would not specify the nature of Krejci’s injury — he wouldn’t elaborate past calling it an upper-body injury and terming the player “week-to-week” — but Krejci was seen wearing a sling on his right arm after Monday’s practice.
In other injury news, Torey Krug is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Krug left Saturday night’s game after the first period and did not play on Sunday. Krug skated prior to Monday’s practice, as did recovering forward Joonas Kemppainen. Julien said that Monday was either the first or second day back on the ice for Kemppainen, who has not played since Dec. 7 due to an upper-body injury.
With Krejci out, Ryan Spooner was elevated to Boston’s second line to skate with Matt Beleskey and Loui Eriksson in Monday’s practice. Landon Ferraro moved up to take Spooner’s third-line spot. Boston’s lines in practice were as follows:
The absence of both Krejci and Krug also led to changes on Boston’s power play units, as Krejci and Krug man the points on the team’s first unit. The Bruins power play units in Monday’s practice were as follows:
Without Krejci, the Bruins have just 12 healthy forwards. David Pastrnak is currently in Finland for the World Junior Championships, but Julien said he feels the Bruins might be better off letting the player regain his timing and confidence in the tournament rather than hurrying him back to the NHL.
|12.27.15 at 7:40 pm ET|
The Bruins dropped their third straight game in regulation as they took a 3-1 loss to the Senators Sunday in Ottawa. The result allowed the Senators to pull even with the B’s in the standings with 42 points.
Losing the game may have been the tip of the iceberg for the B’s, as David Krejci did not play the third period after suffering an upper-body injury in a collision with Bobby Ryan. Krejci scored Boston’s only goal, as he picked up his second goal in as many days.
The Bruins were already playing without defenseman Torey Krug, who was injured in Saturday’s loss to the Sabres. Colin Miller was a healthy scratch, as the Bruins inserted defensemen Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow into the lineup.
The Bruins will host the Senators Tuesday at TD Garden in their final game before Friday’s Winter Classic.
|12.26.15 at 11:21 pm ET|
Jack Eichel couldn’t have asked for a better homecoming. Having a six-day break followed by a game in Boston meant the North Chelmsford native got to spend some time at home with friends and family for Christmas.
That would’ve been pretty good in and of itself, but then Eichel capped it off with his best game as a pro. The former Boston University standout registered two goals and two assists in his first game at TD Garden as an NHLer, setting a career-high in points and snapping a seven-game goalless drought in the process.
“It was nice to see some family and friends, just kind of unwind a little bit,” Eichel said. “It’s been pretty busy for me the last few months, a little overwhelming at times, and just to go home and see the people that I’ve always been around — my mom, my dad, my sister, you know my whole family. So it’s nice to spend some time at home and kind of mentally regain yourself.”
Eichel, the second overall pick in the 2015 draft, notched a secondary assist on the Sabres’ first goal of the game, but he wasn’t involved in too many other scoring chances and he was also on the ice for two Bruins goals as Boston built up a 3-1 lead. But then, in an act that had to look familiar to any local college hockey fans, Eichel came roaring to life in the third.
Less than a minute after Ryan O’Reilly cut the Bruins’ lead to 3-2, Eichel tied the game when he held the puck in the right circle before centering a pass for Evander Kane that deflected off Kevan Miller and in.
After Jamie McGinn gave the Sabres a 4-3 lead, Eichel sealed the win when he fired a shot from his own zone into an empty net. Then he set up a second empty-netter with some good hustle. Before getting the assist, he actually had a tough-angle attempt at a hat trick, but the shot hit the side of the net.
“I was a little bit nervous jumping on the ice for warmups, but just an exciting game throughout,” Eichel said. “Made some mistakes, but at the end of the day it’s a huge win and it’s a super nice way to start this next segment for us. You know, just exciting to get a win and do it in the fashion that we did in front of so many friends and family.”
The combination of the six-day break and a return home seemed to bring out the best in Eichel, a welcome sign in a season that Eichel admits has been ‘overwhelming’ at times. There have been some ups and downs, including the recent seven-game goalless stretch, but Eichel, who just turned 19 in October, now ranks fourth in rookie scoring with 20 points (11 goals, 9 assists) in 35 games and he leads all rookies with 108 shots on goal.
“I think he’s gone through some ups and downs. We’ve seen him play some great games and we’ve seen some tough stretches,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “We’ve had this six-day break and I think we’ve seen him come back from that break energized and with a little more jump in his step. You know, he’s an excellent, dynamic player and that’s where he’s got to be night in and night out for us.”
|12.26.15 at 9:34 pm ET|
It had been so long since the Bruins were in first place that neither the players nor the fans at TD Garden knew how to behave when such a scenario appeared possible.
After a third-period David Krejci goal gave the Bruins a 3-1 and positioned the B’s to leapfrog Montreal atop the Atlantic Division, fans began doing the wave. What would come next would make the fans’ actions redundant, as a wave of Buffalo goals spoiled what could have been an easy win.
First, Ryan O’Reilly scored to cut Boston’s lead to one. Then Jack Eichel scored to tie the game. Then Jamie McGinn gave Buffalo scored to cap a run of three goals in 4:03. Minutes later, an empty-netter from Eichel and another from O’Reilly sealed the victory for the Sabres, who left with a 6-3 win as Boston let two points slip away.
With an assist on a first-period Evander Kane goal and O’Reilly’s empty-netter, Eichel finished the game with a career-best four points.
The Bruins will have Tuukka Rask in net on Sunday in Ottawa as they try to stop their two-game losing streak.
Here are four more things we learned:
KRUG HAS SHORT NIGHT
The Bruins had to play most of the night with five defensemen, as Torey Krug came up lame after a first-period foot-race and did not take another shift. Krug left the ice after his fifth shift, which ended at 12:04 of the first period. The Bruins did not specify his injury as they announced in the second period that the defenseman would not return to the game. The Bruins did not provide an update on his status following the game.
Courtesy of Stanley Cup of Chowder, here is video of Krug’s last shift:
If Krug is to miss any time, Joe Morrow would likely jump back into the lineup.
POWER PLAY RESURFACES, BUT DOESN’T SCORE
The Bruins actually got some power play time on Saturday, something they learned recently is not guaranteed on a nightly basis. The B’s went without a power play in Tuesday’s game and did not have a 5-on-4 man advantage in their last two games entering Saturday.
That streak was mercifully broken up in the first period when a Josh Gorges penalty for boarding Brett Connolly gave the B’s a first-period power play. That man advantage yielded some strong chances for the Bruins’ second unit, with Zdeno Chara hitting a post, but the two minutes proved ultimately fruitless. The B’s also failed to score on a second-period power play that followed a Gorges interference penalty.
With Krug out, David Krejci played the point for the entire power play, holding down his usual spot on the first unit and replacing Zdeno Chara on the second unit, as Chara took Krug’s spot with the top group.
In going without a power play goal Saturday, the Bruins have now gone three straight games without scoring on the man advantage, something they also experienced earlier in the month. Of course, the Bruins have had just four power plays the last three games, so it would be quite the stretch to sat their power play is actually struggling.
BELESKEY’S LUCK CHANGES
Matt Beleskey is shooting pretty much just as much as he was last season, when he scored 22 goals in 65 games. Yet he had just four goals entering Saturday, two of which came off passes that inadvertently hit players and went in.
With Beleskey having extremely bad luck with shooting (his 6.2 shooting percentage at the break ranked 237th among 309 NHL forwards with at least 25 games played this season), he was able to find the back of the net by redirecting a Kevan Miller shot past Chad Johnson in the second period for his fifth goal of the season.
Beleskey now has two goals off passes, two off redirects and one from actually shooting the puck into the net. He should have better number than he does, but he’s still on pace for a career-high 40 points.
KREJCI GETS BACK TO SCORING
David Krejci had gone 11 games without a goal entering Saturday, but an impressive display of hand-eye coordination changed that.
Krejci got to 10 goals on the season by batting the rebound of his own shot past Johnson to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead.
Krejci goal, knocks it out of the air juuuust under crossbar height pic.twitter.com/cy5k22WUba
‘ Stephanie (@myregularface) December 27, 2015
Given that he continued to put up points during his goal-less stretch (seven assists), Krejci is now on pace for 77 points, which would surpass the career-high 73 he put up in the 2008-09 season.
|12.26.15 at 8:10 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced Saturday night that David Pastrnak will be made available to the Czech Republic for the World Junior Championship when the NHL‘s roster freeze ends on Monday, unless the Bruins suffer an injury that forces them to call up Pastrnak.
Pastrnak has played two games for Providence in the AHL since returning from a foot injury. The Bruins were faced with the option of calling Pastrnak up to Boston or making him available for World Juniors. He could not have been kept in Providence while World Juniors were taking place.
“He is fully healthy,” Sweeney said. “Now we need to get him back to where he’s back in our lineup. … We think that based on last year and his experience there and coming out of that tournament with the confidence that he had, that he’ll be able to come back to the full level that he had gotten to last year.”
Pastrnak registered a goal and six assists in five games at last year’s World Junior Championship as one of the Czech Republic’s top forwards, and he will be expected to be one of their top players again.
While a heavy tournament schedule and big minutes could be seen as less than ideal for a player just returning from injury, Sweeney said Pastrnak is 100 percent and that he sees the increased ice time as a good thing.
“Being off for seven weeks, that’s a long time for any player, let alone a 19-year-old player, to jump back to the extreme of the National Hockey League level,” Sweeney said. “I think this will give him a real shot in the arm from a confidence standpoint.”