|01.22.16 at 1:19 am ET|
If momentum in baseball is limited by the next day’s pitcher, momentum in hockey seems limited by the next game’s puck management.
And for the Bruins, all their Thursday momentum aided by David Krejci‘s return to the lineup and the team’s three-game winning streak – which included a rare win over arch-rival Montreal on Tuesday – vanished at TD Garden in a 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks thanks to sloppy play at inopportune times.
“We play well for three or four games, we do the things that we need to do, and then we get away from it for a bit,” center Ryan Spooner admitted after the defeat. “As a team now, we need to play the same way.”
Perhaps the B’s lineup changes prohibited the ability to repeat recent quality performances. Out went Frank Vatrano and Joonas Kemppainen, while in came Krejci and Landon Ferraro after injury absences. Three of Boston’s four forward lines had personnel tweaks entering Thursday’s action.
And by the end of the night, lacking enough quality scoring chances, there would be more tweaks coming from head coach Claude Julien.
|01.21.16 at 9:36 pm ET|
David Krejci‘s return to the Bruins’ lineup was ruined by a shaky third period that ended up snapping the team’s three-game winning streak.
Though Brad Marchand managed to tie the game at two after the B’s had allowed the go-ahead goal in the opening minutes of the third, the Canucks once again took the lead at 7:03 of the period on Daniel Sedin’s 20th goal of the season. That third goal, which came when Sedin buried a rebound that Zach Trotman was unable to corral, proved to be all the Canucks needed. Sedin would add an empty-netter with 22.1 seconds remaining to give Vancouver a 4-2 victory at TD Garden.
Krejci’s return and inconsistent play from some of Boston’s forwards saw Claude Julien juggle his lines throughout the night, something that might continue given that the B’s were held to a pair of goals Thursday.
The Bruins will next play Saturday when they host the Blue Jackets.
FERRARO ALSO RETURNS, KEMPPAINEN SITS
In addition to Krejci returning, Landon Ferraro was back in the Bruins’ lineup after missing Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury.
With both players returning, the Bruins opted to keep Max Talbot in the lineup and scratch Joonas Kemppainen, who had been serving as the team’s third-line center while Krejci was out. Frank Vatrano was sent to Providence earlier in the day in correspondence with Krejci’s activation.
On defense, Colin Miller sat for a third straight game. The Bruins’ lineup began the game as follows:
RETOOLED THIRD LINE GIVETH AND TAKETH AWAY
Playing with Matt Beleskey and Ryan Spooner, Jimmy Hayes had multiple scoring chances through the first two periods — many of which were farther away from the net than the slot from where Hayes typically scores — but he finally buried one late in the second period for his 11th goal of the season when he sent a wrister from the top of the left circle that might have gone off Christopher Tanev on its way past Jacob Markstrom.
Hayes’ goal came on a shift that saw Pastrnak jump down to the third line in place of Beleskey, who moved back up to Krejci’s line. That move allowed Loui Eriksson, who began the game at left wing, to go back to right wing and give the Bruins the Beleskey-Krejci-Eriksson line they had for much of the season leading up to Krejci’s injury.
Of course, the new-look third line gave up a goal on its first shift of the third period when Pastrnak was unable to break up a pass from Emerson Etem to Alexandre Burrows in the high slot, leading to a Burrows slapper past Tuukka Rask. Pastrnak was eventually dropped to the fourth line as he struggled with giveaways throughout the night.
In a display of how long ago 2011 was, neither team took a penalty on Thursday. That made the game the second this season in which the B’s haven’t had a single power play. It was also the third time (second in six games) that the B’s never had to kill a penalty.
SPOONER KEEPS ‘EM COMING
Spooner had the secondary helper on Hayes’ goal, giving him 10 assists and 12 points over his last 11 games. With 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) through 46 games, Spooner is now on pace for 61 points this season.
|01.21.16 at 1:04 pm ET|
Matt Bartkowski assumed that after years of being in and out of the lineup, his time with the Bruins was done when his contract expired at the end of last season. Even after the team traded Dougie Hamilton at the draft ahead of free agency, Bartkowski considered himself a goner, set to find a new home where he could play consistently.
That didn’t make the change easy for him, however. Unless your last name is Drouin, it’s common for players to want to become a full-time player with the team that develops them. Bartkowski has become a full-time player, but it’s with the Vancouver Canucks after signing a one-year deal with the team in July.
“I have a lot of good memories here. I developed here as a player,” Bartkowski, who has played in 46 of Vancouver’s 47 games entering Thursday’s game against the Bruins, said after the team’s morning skate. “Now it’s good to I guess have that piece of mind [to be a lineup regular].”
The Bruins didn’t draft Bartkowski, but after acquiring his rights from the Panthers in the 2010 Dennis Seidenberg trade, they were the team with whom he went pro and the team that brought him up to the NHL. After being one of the final cuts in the preseason of their Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 season, Bartkowski spent the next four seasons up and down and in and out of Boston’s lineup.
The most games Bartkowski played with the Bruins was 64 in the 2013-14, an opportunity created by Seidenberg’s season-ending knee injury at the time. Yet between a numbers game on defense and occasional struggles with confidence when he was in the lineup, Bartkowski was never able to hold down a full-time job in the Bruins’ lineup.
Asked about the Hamilton trade, Bartkowski said that the move didn’t re-open door to explore staying with the Bruins. That makes sense given that the B’s still had a number of young defensemen pushing for jobs, a group that they added to with the Milan Lucic trade that netted them Colin Miller.
“I kind of knew that I was going to go somewhere else,’ Bartkowski said. “In terms of trading Dougie, that was definitely a shock. It’s not every day you get a defenseman like that.”
Bartkowski also went to bat for his former teammate. Hamilton not being the most popular guy in the Bruins’ dressing room – an issue clearly not big enough to be a major concern given that the team still wanted to sign him – made its way into the news following the Bruins’ trade with the Flames, but Bartkowski spoke highly of Hamilton’s character.
“I like Dougie,” Bartkowski said. “I heard about all that. I don’t know where that was really coming from. Yeah, he’s a quiet kid, but he’s a nice kid. If you get to know him a little bit, you’ll find that out.”
Bartkowski would probably love to accentuate his return to the Garden with a goal, something he never did in 131 regular-season games with the Bruins (his lone goal came in the playoffs in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs). By comparison, he’s an offensive dynamo this season, as he’s scored twice for the Canucks.
|01.21.16 at 12:45 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask is expected to start against the Canucks Thursday at TD Garden, but the team still has some things to clear up regarding the rest of its lineup.
[UPDATE 2:30 p.m.] Both David Krejci and Landon Ferraro took part in an optional morning skate Thursday. Krejci, who has missed the last 10 games with an upper-body injury, was activated from injured reserve Thursday afternoon.
While Ferraro’s absence from Tuesday’s game due to a lower body made it plausible that the team might place him on IR to make room for Krejci, the Bruins instead sent Frank Vatrano to Providence, a sign that Ferraro is closer to returning.
While Vatrano is a better player than some of Boston’s active forwards (Zac Rinaldo, Tyler Randell), it actually made sense for the Bruins to eventually have him back in Providence. Vatrano has played 30 games for the Bruins this season, putting him 10 away from a season accrued towards eventually unrestricted free agency. Perhaps the team is interested in avoiding that for the rookie.
Ferraro’s availability is unknown for Thursday. The Bruins currently have 14 forwards on their active roster and are at the 23-player max.
|01.21.16 at 10:24 am ET|
According to sources, Loui Eriksson seeks a contract with an average annual value between the high $5 million range and the high $6 million range, depending on term, while the Bruins will explore trading him if they feel they won’t be able to sign him.
The B’s don’t feel they have to sign the free-agent-to-be before Feb. 29’s trade deadline, but if they feel there isn’t enough common ground to revisit later on, they will shop the 30-year-old right wing.
Eriksson enters Thursday’s game second on the Bruins with 38 points this season.
For more on Eriksson and his future, click here to read Wednesday’s story with comments from Eriksson.
|01.20.16 at 1:47 pm ET|
Based on Wednesday’s practice, the Bruins can probably expect the return of David Krejci in either Thursday’s game against the Canucks or Saturday’s meeting with the Blue Jackets.
Krejci was one of four forwards skating on Boston’s second line, joining Ryan Spooner, Loui Eriksson and Matt Beleskey. Perhaps most telling was the fact that he returned to his spot on Boston’s top power play unit on the point with Torey Krug.
The Bruins will need to make a roster move in order to activate Krejci from injured reserve, as the team is currently at the 23-man roster limit. One possible move would be to put Landon Ferraro, whom the team says is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, on injured reserve. Because Ferraro last played on Saturday, the team could put him on IR retroactive to Sunday and he would only have to miss the next two games before being eligible to return on Monday against the Flyers.
With Krejci back in practice, the forward lines looked as follows:
Colin Miller skated on the point of Boston’s second power play unit, suggesting he could possibly return Thursday after being a healthy scratch in Boston’s last two games.
|01.19.16 at 10:14 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron made an important point in his career count for a lot more Tuesday.
It wouldn’t have been fitting if Bergeron passed Cam Neely on the Bruins’ all-time points list with something like a secondary assist on an empty net goal. That he did so with a game-winning goal in an important game against the Canadiens seemed to suit the situation much better.
Bergeron scored at 16:49 of the second period Tuesday to break the 1-1 tie and set up the B’s for an eventual 4-1 victory against the reeling Habs. The goal was the 591st point of Bergeron’s career, surpassing Neely’s 590 and giving Bergeron sole possession of ninth on the Bruins’ all-time list.
The win was the Bruins’ third straight as they head back to Boston for home games against the Canucks on Thursday and the Blue Jackets Saturday. The Habs, meanwhile, could be nearing the end of Michel Therrien’s tenure as head coach given that Montreal has just nine points over its last 21 games dating back to Dec. 3.
Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:
RASK LOVES MONTREAL
Tuukka Rask may very well hate playing against the Canadiens just because he hates losing. The notion that he plays poorly against them, however, is overstated. Now, it appears Rask and the Bruins’ luck has turned this season in the last place they’d expect: Montreal.
While Rask allowed eight goals over two home games against the Canadiens this season (three on Oct. 10 at TD Garden, five in the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium), he allowed just one goal in each of his two games at Bell Centre this season, both of which were Bruins victories. With 38 saves on Tuesday, Rask managed to stop 70 of the 72 shots he faced in Montreal this season.
PASTRNAK SCORES IN RETURN
David Pastrnak wasn’t given the most glamorous opportunity in his return from an upper-body injury, but he made the most of it.
Pastrnak skated on Boston’s fourth line with Zac Rinaldo and Max Talbot, taking just five shifts over the first two periods and not taking the ice in the third period until there was 8:02 to play.
His lack of ice time did not prevent him from making an impact, however, as he fired a shot on a second-period shift that went off a Montreal defender and was corralled by Bergeron, leading to a Boston goal. After a lengthy wait for his first shift of the third, Pastrnak scored to give him his second multi-point game of the season. Incidentally, both of Pastrnak’s multi-point games this season have come against the Canadiens.
KREJCI REMAINS OUT, FERRARO DAY-TO-DAY
David Krejci missed his 10th straight game with an upper-body injury, but the fact that he even traveled for a one-game road trip suggests he is indeed close to returning to game action. It goes without saying that the Bruins could use him sooner rather than later, but the team should be happy if he returns during the team’s two-game road trip.
Pastrnak replaced Landon Ferraro, whom the team said is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Colin Miller was scratched for the second straight game.
With the lineup changes, Boston’s lineup was as follows:
BRUINS SURVIVE MORE MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
A recent story has repeated itself of late for the Bruins: The team outplays their opponent early on (good news), but comes away with very little to show for it (that’s bad) and is eventually burned.
Such could have been the case again on Tuesday, as the B’s had far more scoring opportunities over the first period-plus, but they had only Talbot’s first-period goal to show for it. When the Habs pushed back as the second period progressed, Boston’s lack of scoring made the deficit easy to recover from. They did so when Mark Barberio tied the game nearly halfway through the second.
Unlike games past, when the Bruins squandered chances earlier and lost as a result (it happened in New York and Philadelphia last week), the Bruins survived just like they did Saturday against the Leafs.