|01.10.17 at 11:48 pm ET|
The Bruins entered the week with a surplus of defensemen.
With eight healthy defensemen on their NHL roster thanks to the return of John-Michael Liles from the concussion that kept him on the shelf for over a month, another injury (naturally) appeared to hit the Black and Gold point Tuesday, as Adam McQuaid went down with an apparent injury in the first period of the B’s 5-3 victory over the Blues.
Rocked on a heavy-looking collision at the B’s blue line with Blues forward Patrik Berglund, the 6-foot-4 McQuaid immediately toppled down to the ice and did not get back up — or even look like a player that had any capabilities of getting back up without some help.
It was initially unclear what ailed McQuaid on the hit — he appeared to grab at his knee, but was also hunched over, and his face was not seen — but it was the Bruins that confirmed that it was an upper-body injury that would keep the 30-year-old out of action for the rest of the night.
Adam McQuaid shaken up after awkward collision pic.twitter.com/yzlyXSlRmY
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 11, 2017
Done after just 10 shifts and 6:00 of ice-time in total, the Bruins leaned heavily on their top pairing of Zdeno Chara (28:31 of time on ice in 28 shifts, including four shifts of at least 1:30) and Brandon Carlo (19:57 of time on ice in 29 shifts), along with McQuaid’s pairing partner, Torey Krug (22:26 in 28 shifts).
“It’s tough, especially with how much game was left, you really have to simplify your game,” Krug, who recorded a goal and an assist (both on the power play) in the win, said of McQuaid’s exit. “If you get stuck out there for too long, then you’re going to be winded for a while. It’s about managing the game and everybody becomes a game-manager at that point.”
A seven-year pro, McQuaid has one assist along with 87 hits and 62 blocked shots in 39 games this season.
In the second year of a four-year deal worth $11 million, McQuaid missed the first five games of this season due to an upper-body injury, and has lost 142 games to injury in total since the start of the 2011-12 season.
|01.10.17 at 11:14 pm ET|
The Bruins made sure that the standing ovation given to David Backes early in the first period would be the only time a sellout crowd at Scottrade Center had anything meaningful to cheer about.
Saluted by the Blues for his decade of service to the organization, included five as the team’s captain, it was Backes’ newest linemate, Frank Vatrano, that silenced the crowd just moments later with a power-play goal eight minutes into the first period.
Defenseman Brandon Carlo extended the lead to two with a Plinko-esque bounce off the endboards, off Jake Allen, and into the St. Louis net. And then 2017 All-Star Brad Marchand sniped home his 14th goal of the season just 2:32 after that, and by the end of the period, the Bruins had more goals than the Blues had shots (two).
And as if that three-goal lead wasn’t safe (funny you should say that, as the game ended as a 5-3 final for the Bruins), the Black and Gold made it 4-0 behind a Torey Krug power-play goal barely a minute into the middle frame.
In a season marred by poor starts and early game no-shows, the Bruins straight-up slammed the Blues behind one of their most inspired efforts to date. And for the Bruins, it came in a game in which one of their leaders (Backes) could have very well been distracted entirely out of the game and allowed the Blues to dictate the pace immediately following the video tribute.
Instead, the B’s poured pressure on with an 11-to-2 shot advantage through 20 minutes, 27-to-11 through 40 minutes, and 39-to-17 shot advantage — and with just 17 shot attempts either missed or blocked — by the time the game ended.
It all happened in spite of a power-play advantage that saw the Bruins down a man five times in total on the night, with three kills on five times to the kill (the second power-play goal against came with Kevan Miller in the box and the Bruins down Colin Miller and Adam McQuaid, meaning the Bruins had just three defensemen at their disposal for the kill), and requiring a night of 7:46 shorthanded time on ice from captain Zdeno Chara, who logged 28:31 of time on ice in total in the win.
Chara’s contributions continued to highlight the fact that this trip, which has seen the Bruins grab five of a possible six points so far, has become a success behind the play of the B’s best talents and leaders. As was the case Saturday night in Florida, the Black and Gold’s top six and top pairing really smothered the hell out anything that the Blues tried to muster up before the game was already out of hand, and made life relatively easy for Rask in terms of the quality of shots thrown his way.
That overall theme of the night is nothing all that new to the Bruins, of course.
This team has controlled pace and shots against on a fairly regular basis. But it’s the tangible results — goals, leads, and contributions from their best players — that have proved difficult to find on a nightly basis. But Chara looked like Chara, and the Bergeron-Marchand combination looked like the dynamic one-two punch they’ve been for the last five years.
And the B’s made this trip a success, regardless of what happens when they square off against the Predators Thursday night.
|01.10.17 at 7:53 pm ET|
The Bruins could have had a better start to a potentially season-defining four-game road trip. But not by much, as the Bruins nabbed three of a possible four points from the Panthers and Hurricanes, and finished this past weekend in second place in the Atlantic Division.
Still, the Bruins know they need more from their painfully hot-and-cold group, especially for tonight’s showdown with the Blues, a team that’s scored the sixth-most goals at home this year. And it’s exactly what Bruins head coach Claude Julien will hope to get as his lines have been shuffled to hell for the umpmteenth time this year in search of goals.
The most notably move comes on the left side of the B’s second line, as Frank Vatrano will replace Ryan Spooner to the left of David Krejci and David Backes. The 22-year-old Vatrano has been held without a point in four consecutive games despite firing 10 shots on goal, and has totaled two goals and four points in nine games played to date.
What’s interesting about that move is that it puts Spooner back in the middle of the club’s third line. It’s a spot that No. 51 felt like he earned to keep last year based on his play (something he’s not wrong about). On the board with an assist in Sunday’s loss to the ‘Canes, Spooner has recorded three goals and eight points in his last nine games overall, and will be the scoring presence of a third line with Riley Nash to the right and Tim Schaller on the left side. Both Nash and Schaller have scored on this road trip.
And on the fourth line, the Bruins will move Austin Czarnik to the left wing, while Anton Blidh will draw back in on the right side next to center Dominic Moore. That aligns Jimmy Hayes as the club’s healthy scratch up front.
On the backend, the lone change for the Bruins comes with Colin Miller re-joining the action in place of John-Michael Liles. The 36-year-old Liles skated in his first game in over a month on Sunday, and was responsible for the turnover that led to Carolina’s overtime goal, and was in the lineup for somebody (Miller) that should not have been scratched in the first place.
Tuukka Rask gets the call in net for the B’s while the Blues counter with Jake Allen.
The Blues come into tonight’s game having won 16 of 24 home games this season, and 67 of their last 106 home games overall.
|01.10.17 at 6:55 pm ET|
David Backes’ last moment as the captain of the Blues was an emotional postgame media scrum in which he visibly struggled to recall the selflessness of his team without breaking down.
The 32-year-old Bruins forward will have to battle similar emotions tonight when it’s the Blues that recall all of Backes’ selfless contributions from his 10-year run in St. Louis in Backes’ first visit to the Scottrade Center since leaving the Blues for the B’s last summer.
The heart-and-soul of the Blues for a decade, and ranked sixth on the franchise’s all-time lists for goals (206) and points (254), and fifth in games played (727), Backes knows the reception that awaits him.
“I’m going to try not to cry,” Backes said to NHL.com’s Amalie Benjamin about the return and likely video tribute and standing ovation he’ll receive from the crowd upon his return.
There’s little doubt that this was a game that No. 42, who wore a letter for the Blues for seven seasons and served as the team captain for five campaigns in total, had circled on his calendar from the moment he signed with the Bruins. But it was also a game that his participation in came into question when Backes was dealt a concussion in a Dec. 29 head-to-head with the Sabres.
But back in action after missing just three contests (the Bruins went 1-2-0 in his absence, but looked borderline lifeless some nights), Backes’ return to full health came right before the Bruins embarked on this trip — where he’s since scored two goals on six shots in two games — and allowed the Minnesota native to emotionally get ready for what’s ahead of him against the Blues.
“I knew what I was packing for when I put my bag together,” Backes joked before the start of this four-game road trip that started with weekend trips to Florida and Carolina, where the Bruins grabbed three of a possible four points. “Go into the full mode of some warm and fuzzies of going back to a familiar place, but when the puck drops, we need two points out of that building.”
“This is a big night for him,” Julien said of Backes’ return to the Gateway City. “To come back to a place where he was captain and played many years, and no doubt it’s going to be an emotional night for him, so hopefully we can reward him with a win here.”
This is the season finale between the B’s and Blues. The Blues won the only prior head-to-head by a 4-2 final in Boston on Nov. 22. Backes, who has scored in two straight games and has goals in four of his last six games overall, scored a goal in that game.
|01.10.17 at 2:54 pm ET|
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).
|01.09.17 at 6:30 pm ET|
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.
|01.08.17 at 7:47 pm ET|
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.
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.