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Bruins prospects, local college players shine in wild World Junior final as USA beats Canada in shootout

01.05.17 at 11:30 pm ET
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The World Junior championship game between the United States and rival Canada somehow exceeded expectations, as the U.S. beat Canada in a shootout after twice coming back from two goals down.

Hockey fans in general had plenty to be excited about, but Bruins fans in particular had to like what they saw. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy, the Bruins’ first-round pick last summer and a current sophomore at Boston University, was one of the best players on the ice, as he registered a pretty goal and an even better-looking assist.

His goal came 3:04 into the second period and cut Canada’s lead to 2-1. McAvoy took a pass in the high slot, walked in and fired a shot glove-side past Canada goalie Carter Hart.

McAvoy jumpstarted another comeback early in the third when he faked out a Canadian defenseman and made a beautiful backhand pass through the slot to set up BU teammate Kieffer Bellows for a one-time goal that made it 4-3 Canada.

On the other side of the ice, another Bruins defense prospect also scored. Jeremy Lauzon, a B’s second-round pick in 2015, scored Canada’s second goal of the game when he collected a loose puck in the slot and ripped a shot high blocker.

In addition to the goal McAvoy assisted on, Bellows (an Islanders first-round pick) also scored the Americans’ second goal of the game when he deflected in a point shot from Harvard defenseman Adam Fox (Flames third-round pick), who had three assists in the game after notching just one point in the first six games of the tournament.

Boston College’s Colin White (Senators first-round pick) joined in on the fun, as he scored the US goal that tied the game at 4-4 midway through the third when he tapped in a nice pass to the doorstep from Fox. The goal was White’s seventh in seven games this tournament, putting him second behind Russia’s Kirill Kaprizov.

BU’s Clayton Keller (Coyotes first-round pick) also assisted on that White goal and finished the tournament with a team-high 11 points. Fellow Terrier Jordan Greenway (Wild second-round pick) had an assist as well and finished with eight points total.

Ducks prospect Troy Terry was the shootout hero, just as he was in the semifinals against Russia. After each side’s first three shooters failed to score, Terry beat Hart to put the US ahead. Flames prospect Tyler Parsons, who made 46 saves in the game, then came up with two more stops to seal the win.

The gold was the United States’ fourth overall and first since 2013.

The BU and BC stars are expected to return to their college teams in time for Saturday’s Frozen Fenway games. BU takes on UMass at 1:30 p.m., while BC faces Providence at 5.

And while we’re talking about Bruins prospects and college hockey, 2015 second-round pick Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored three goals, including the overtime winner, to lead BU to a 5-4 win over Union Thursday night while several of his teammates were battling for gold.

Slow starts once again prove to be downfall in loss to Oilers

01.05.17 at 9:52 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara fights Patrick Maroon in the first period of Thursday's game against the Oilers. (Greg M. Cooper)

Zdeno Chara fights Patrick Maroon in the first period of Thursday’s game against the Oilers. (Greg M. Cooper)

It would have real bad had the Bruins no-showed against the Oilers.

Forget the fact that the night began with a thunderous moment of applause for the departed Milt Schmidt, a Bruins legend of 80 years, that passed away Wednesday night at the age of 98. Forget the fact that the Oilers came to Boston with losses in three of their last four games. But don’t forget the fact that the Bruins entered play on the heels of perhaps their worst loss of the season, a 3-0 loss to the Devils on Monday night and have been left to cling with a two-point lead for third place in the Atlantic Division and with the teams chasing them having multiple games in hand over the club.

In January, and with the memories of two straight fades out of postseason contention (though they came much later in the season each time) still fresh, the Bruins are in desperation mode.

It showed at different points in their head-to-head with the Oilers, too. Team captain Zdeno Chara answered the bell and dropped the gloves with the Oilers’ Pat Maroon, who scored the game’s first goal just 1:08 into play, after a high hit in the attacking zone. And though Chara’s fight resulted in an end to the B’s offensive-zone domination of the Oilers at that point, it became a theme of the period, and ultimately resulted in a tied game through 20 minutes behind Colin Miller’s third goal of the season.

Still, it was not enough, though, as a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goal just 14 seconds into a tied third period broke the B’s backs, and the completion of a Maroon hat trick midway through the period served as a final nail in the coffin in a 4-3 loss to the Oilers.

At this point, you’re really out of things to say in regards to the Black and Gold’s struggles.

This was another night in which the Bruins really controlled the pace of play and frequently hemmed the opposition in their own zone. The Bruins carried a 13-to-8 shot advantage through 20 minutes, but skated to a 1-1 tie. Then they carried a 28-to-17 shot advantage into the second intermission, but again were tied, this time by a 2-2 score. Then, of course, came the disastrous third, and when that happened, and when the third Maroon goal was challenged by the Bruins in hopes of an offside that would call the tally back fell short, the Bruins were looked too jarred to make any sort of real comeback.

Gifted with a 5-on-3 for over a minute, the Bruins once again made things interesting behind a David Krejci power-play goal, but could not find the 6-on-5 game-tying tally before the clock once again ran out of time.

In what finished as another shots on goal win for the Bruins, the B’s failed to get the game-tying goal when their deficit was only one in the third period, and fell to their sixth one-goal loss during a 16-game stretch in which they’ve gone just 5-8-3.

Given the loosening of their grip on third place in the division, and the year-long frustrations in the timely goals department, the Bruins are long beyond the point or moral victories — and this loss didn’t even have one of those. And you have to imagine that the patience from an already antsy front office that’s watched this team struggle here all year long is undoubtedly wearing thin.

Frustrations that can only compound after a loss to a club littered with former Bruins and led by their old GM Peter Chiarelli.

How Bruins will honor Milt Schmidt ahead of game vs. Oilers

01.05.17 at 6:36 pm ET
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The Bruins will honor Milt Schmidt before tonight's game against the Oilers. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins will honor Milt Schmidt before tonight’s game against the Oilers. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins lost an icon on and off the ice with the passing of Milt Schmidt at the age of 98 Wednesday night.

And while it’s hard to truly honor a player that devoted nearly eight decades of his life to the Bruins, the B’s will do their best when they play host to the Oilers at TD Garden Thursday night.

First, the Bruins will honor Schmidt’s legacy with a pregame tribute prior to tonight’s game. In addition, two on-ice graphics with Schmidt’s retired jersey No. 15 have been painted behind both nets and will remain there for the entire month of January.

The Bruins will also wear a commemorative patch on their jerseys featuring Schmidt’s number 15 for the rest of the 2016-17 season.

The B’s have also lowered Schmidt’s retired number banner down closer to the ice down from its usual post with the other nine retired jerseys.

Schmidt, who was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961, is the only person in Bruins history to have served the club as a player, captain, coach and general manager. He won more Stanley Cup Championships with Boston than any other person, capturing two as a player in 1939 and 1941 and two more as the club’s general manager in 1970 and 1972. Schmidt was a four-time All-Star, won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP in 1951 and the Ross Trophy as the NHL’s scoring champion in 1940.

Bruins have made call on Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog

01.05.17 at 2:20 pm ET
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Gabriel Landeskog may be on the trade market, and the Bruins have interest. (Roy Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

Gabriel Landeskog may be on the trade market, and the Bruins have interest. (Roy Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins know they need high-end scoring. The entire league knows the Bruins need high-end scoring, for that matter. And the Bruins have made their first real push at landing such a talent with a reported call to Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic on Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, according to Adrian Dater (Bleacher Report).

The worst team in hockey, at 12-25-1 on the year, the time for a legitimate culture change in Colorado seems upon the Avalanche, and it’s landed names like Landeskog (and Matt Duchene) on the trade market. Landeskog, the team’s captain since Sept. 2012, is an immense talent, and while he’s struggled with just six goals and 12 points in 28 games this year, is a bonafide superstar on any team in this league.

So, to pull off a trade for No. 92 would take an awful lot. The price, or rather the centerpiece of the price the Bruins would have to pay? First-year pro and B’s top-pairing defenseman Brandon Carlo. A native of Colorado Spring, Colo., the Avs’ interest in Carlo is an obvious one given his local connections, but also his play as the Bruins’ undeniable No. 2 defenseman behind (er, beside) captain Zdeno Chara and Colorado’s major need for defense.

Averaging 21:58 of time on ice a night, which ranks second on the B’s and NHL rookies as a whole, Carlo has chipped in two goals and eight points, and averaged 3:09 of shorthanded time on ice per game for the NHL’s second-best penalty killing team.

Speaking to a source close to the team, Carlo has been described as ‘nearly untouchable’ for the Bruins. And according to Dater, Carlo was a non-starter for the Bruins in these talks, and they instead countered with Jakub Zboril. In later tweets, Dater went on to mention that the Bruins could build a package centered around Zboril, NHL defenseman Joe Morrow, 2015 first-round draft pick Jake DeBrusk, and the team’s first-round pick in this year’s upcoming draft to entice Sakic and the Avs into a deal.

Landeskog, who is under contract with a $5.571 million cap hit through 2021, has been a 20-goal scorer in all four of his full NHL seasons since coming into the league in 2011, and recorded a career-high 26 goals and 65 points for the Avalanche in 2013-14.

Bruins forward David Backes (concussion) out vs. Oilers

01.05.17 at 1:13 pm ET
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David Backes has missed the last two games with a concussion. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

David Backes has missed the last two games with a concussion. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bruins forward David Backes, who has been a full participant in the on-ice portion of the last two B’s skates, a Wednesday practice and Thursday morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena considers himself a quick healer. At the same time, and working through the recovery process of what he figured to be his fourth diagnosed concussion, Backes knows there’s more to his recover than just feeling OK.

And that’s why that the 32-year-old will sit out for the third straight game Thursday when the Bruins play host to the Oilers at TD Garden.

“Feeling better again today, but not quite where I need to be to play in the best league in the world quite yet,” Backes, who stayed on the ice for extra work along with the healthy scratches, admitted.

In his second straight day on the ice, Backes did take line rushes with his normal grouping, and even skated in some special team drills, but did not feel that his body was able to keep the pace he wanted.

“The speed of everything,” Backes said when asked of what’s telling him he’s not ready. “It’s a fast game and trying to get back up to speed, you don’t want to put yourself in vulnerable positions to take another hit to the head and get that compounding effect again.”

A week since suffering the concussion on a late hit from the Sabres’ William Carrier, Backes has said that all of his concussions in the past have usually taken about ‘seven to 10 days’ to heal, and that he hopes another 48 hours of rest will have him ready to go when the Bruins embark on a four-game road swing starting with a Saturday road head-to-head with the Panthers.

The Bruins are 4-3-0 with Backes out this year, but have been outscored 18-to-11 in those games.

Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin clears waivers

01.05.17 at 12:48 pm ET
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Anton Khudobin cleared waivers and remains with the Bruins. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Anton Khudobin cleared waivers and remains with the Bruins. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have just one win from a backup goaltender this year, and though that win did come from Anton Khudobin, there’s no denying the fact that the team needs far better results from the man behind Tuukka Rask if this team is to do much of anything come spring.

Placed on waivers by the B’s yesterday, the struggling 30-year-old cleared the waiver wire this morning without a claim from any of the other 29 teams in the league, and will remain with the Bruins organization. Khudobin could even suit up as the team’s backup goaltender tonight when the Bruins take on the visiting Oilers.

In the first year of a two-year, $2.4 million contract signed last summer, Khudobin has posted a 1-5-1 record, along with a 3.06 goals against average, and .885 save percentage in eight games this season. That .885 is the second-worst save percentage among NHL goaltenders with at least eight games played this year (the Flyers’ Michal Neuvirth has an .859), and Khudobin is one of 10 NHL goaltenders that’s played in at least eight games and has a sub-.900 save percentage.

Those numbers, along with the fact that Khudobin still has another year left on his deal, ultimately factored into the decision by 29 other general managers not to claim the gregarious goalie, and so it’s with the B’s that Khudobin remains.

Whether that’s in Boston or Providence, however, remains to be seen.

“We’re looking for options. We need obviously Dobby to be better,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “The options we have, we got guys in the minors — [Zane] McIntyre that’s playing well. We hope that Dobby can find his game because we know he’s a better goaltender than what he’s shown so far. And if that doesn’t work, then we probably have to look on the outside.”

McIntyre has a 10-0-0 record with the P-Bruins this year, leads the AHL in goals against average (1.41) and save percentage (.951), and was most recently named the AHL’s Goaltender of the Month for his perfect December record.

With Khudobin clearing waivers, the Bruins do not have to make an immediate reassignment with No. 35 as alluded to earlier, but can now send him back and forth between the NHL and AHL without requiring waivers for the next 30 days or 10 games.

The Bruins are 1-8-1 in games not started by Rask this season.

Bruins, NHL reflect on passing of legendary Milt Schmidt

01.05.17 at 12:52 am ET
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Bruins legend Milt Schmidt passed away Wednesday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Bruins legend Milt Schmidt passed away Wednesday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The game lost one of its great ones on Wednesday.

Milt Schmidt, the iconic Bruins legend and a four-time Stanley Cup winner (twice as a player with the Bruins, in 1939 and ’41, and twice as a general manager with the B’s, in 1970 and ’72), passed away at the age of 98. Prior to his death, Schmidt was the oldest living former NHL player, and was one of the last ties to the Old Time Hockey of Eddie Shore and company, a teammate of Schmidt’s for four seasons.

Involved with the Bruins for almost four decades, and again as one of the team’s greatest ambassadors and legend often found around the building, even in his 90s, it’s tough to find a Bruins player that Schmidt did not impact in some way, shape, or form.

“Milt’s impact in Boston, as both a player and a coach, will forever be felt amongst hockey fans,” Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs said Wednesday night via a statement. “He was a legendary personality in the Bruins organization and goes down in history as the ultimate Bruin. We should all be envious of the longevity and meaningfulness of his life.”

“I got to know Milt when I arrived in Boston, and I quickly learned that he was an outstanding ambassador for the game of hockey, a true gentleman, and that he epitomized what it means to be a Bruin.

“When people today talk about ‘Bruins Hockey’ they talk about the style that Milt created, and generations of Bruins after him tried to emulate,” Bruins team president Cam Neely, familiar with Schmidt from his playing days and managerial days, added. “After his playing and coaching days were over, he remained incredibly giving of his time and the wealth of knowledge that he had accumulated over his career to everyone associated with the Bruins and the game of hockey. He will be dearly missed.

“On behalf of the Bruins organization, I would like to extend our most sincere condolences to Milt’s family and friends.”

Schmidt even familiarized himself with today’s era of Bruins leaders.

“Milt has been one of the most respected and friendly human beings that I have ever met and spent time with. Losing Milt, who spent his life dedicated to the game of hockey, is a great loss for the Boston Bruins organization and the entire hockey community,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “I will always cherish the times we had together listening to him reminisce about old time hockey as well as our conversations on today’s style of the game – the game that he just loved so much. My deepest condolences go out to his entire family and closest friends. Milt will be greatly missed but never forgotten.”

“When you think about the Bruins, you think about Milt Schmidt,” Patrice Bergeron noted. “It has been amazing for me to see the impact that he has had, and continued to have on the organization. The last time I saw him, he was on the ice with Bobby (Orr) earlier this year. He shook my hand and said ‘Go get ‘em.’ He was always rooting for the Bruins and in our corner.

“He lived an amazing life and I am very proud to have known him.”

The man that scouted a then 12-year-old Bobby Orr, and pulled off one of the greatest trades — if not the greatest trade in team history — that brought Ken Hodge, Fred Stanfield and Phil Esposito to the Black and Gold, Schmidt’s impact on the game went beyond just the Bruins, and his passing prompted a statement from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

“It would be a challenge to find anyone who took greater pride in being a Boston Bruin than Milt Schmidt did – be it as a player, an executive or an ambassador over the 80-plus years he served the franchise, the City of Boston and the NHL,” Bettman said.

Milt’s respect for the game was matched by his humility and was mirrored by the great respect with which his opponents, and generations of Bruins players, treated him through the years. An ultimate competitor, a mainstay of two Bruins Stanley Cups as a player and architect of two more as the Bruins’ General Manager, Milt was a landmark presence in Boston’s sports landscape.”

Schmidt is survived by his son, Conrad, and his daughter, Nancy.

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