|12.20.15 at 7:59 pm ET|
The Bruins continued gaining ground on the Canadiens on Sunday with a 2-1 shootout win over the Devils at TD Garden. With the win, the B’s improved to 19-9-4 with 42 points on the season, putting them just one point behind the Atlantic Division-leading Habs with two games in hand.
Ryan Spooner scored the only goal of the shootout, with Bruins backup Jonas Gustavsson stopping all three shooters he faced. The Bruins got their regulation from Loui Eriksson in the first period.
The overtime session began with a two-minute 4-on-3 for Boston, as Matt Beleskey was hauled down by Adam Henrique while trying to jam in a rebound from a Zdeno Chara shot in the final seconds of regulation. The Bruins went 0-or-1 on the power play on the night, as that was Boston’s only man advantage of the game.
The Bruins next play Tuesday, when they host the Blues at TD Garden for their final game before the holiday break.
|12.19.15 at 1:24 pm ET|
The Bruins assigned Alexander Khokhlachev to Providence on Saturday, with David Pastrnak also going to the AHL on a conditioning loan. Pastrnak, who has not played since Oct. 31 due to a foot injury, will be in the P-Bruins’ lineup when they take on the Springfield Falcons Saturday night.
The NHL‘s holiday roster freeze begins at midnight, meaning the Bruins will have to either recall him, leave him in Providence or send him to the World Junior Championships by then. Julien did not divulge the Bruins’ plan for Pastrnak, saying, “David tonight is going to play for Providence and then a decision will be made concerning the World Juniors shortly after.”
Also missing from Saturday’s practice was Zac Rinaldo, who remains on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. The Bruins’ kept the same forward lines in practice as they have used in recent games, with Tyler Randell replacing Khokhlachev on the fourth line:
The B’s will return to action when they host the Devils Sunday at TD Garden.
|12.18.15 at 9:44 pm ET|
Frank Vatrano had gone nine straight games without a goal. He now has three in his last 10 games.
Vatrano busted out of his scoring slump with the first hat trick of his career as the Bruins separated in the third period to enjoy a 6-2 victory at the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center. The victory saw the Bruins sweep this week’s home-and-home series with the Penguins.
Patrice Bergeron also had a multi-goal game, as he netted a shorthanded tally in the second and added an even-strength goal early in the third to extend Boston’s lead. The goals brought his season total to 11, putting him behind only Brad Marchand (15) and Loui Eriksson (12) on the Bruins this season. He is also at over a point-per-game pace this season with 32 points in 31 games.
As for Tuukka Rask, the Bruins’ top netminder stood tall against a struggling Penguins offense for his eighth win in his last 10 appearances (8-0-2). With 29 saves on Friday, Rask has a .959 save percentage over his last 10 games.
The Bruins would have another goal in the third period, but a goal from Landon Ferraro was not allowed due to what the officials found to be goaltender interference committed by Max Talbot.
Here are four more things we learned Friday night:
Vatrano wasn’t the only UMass product with a couple of points Friday, as his former teammate in Conor Sheary had both a goal and an assist for the first two points of his career.
Sheary’s goal came on a bit of bad luck for the Bruins, as Bergeron fanned on a puck behind the net, leading Sidney Crosby to send it in front for Sheary. The Melrose native had the secondary helper on a second-period goal from Trevor Daley.
Bergeron took a holding penalty in the first period to put him at 20 penalty minutes on the season, which puts him on pace to set a new career-high for the third straight year. With the Bruins managing to kill off the ensuing Penguins power play without their best penalty-killing forward, Bergeron made up for it the following period.
With Kevan Miller in the box for tripping Sheary early in the second, Brad Marchand won a puck high in the Penguins zone and fed it to his penalty-killing partner. Bergeron rewarded Marchand for his work by flicking the puck past Jeff Zatkoff for the Bruins’ sixth shorthanded goal of the season.
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 19, 2015
While the Bruins’ penalty kill was technically a perfect 5-for-5 on the night, a point shot from Daley made its way through traffic and past Rask just seconds after rate expiration of Miller’s penalty.
POINTS KEEP COMING FOR SPOONER
After a two-point night for Ryan Spooner Wednesday (two assists; what appeared to be a second-period Spooner goal was credited to Jimmy Hayes, as it apparently hit the shaft of his stick), the young Bruins center doubled that production on Friday with a career-best four-assist night.
Spooner took the puck from the wall after some strong work along the wall from Ferraro, walked it over to the faceoff dot and fed it back to Vatrano, who snapped the puck past Zatkoff to tie the game at one goal apiece. Spooner assisted all three of Vatrano’s goals and Loui Eriksson’s power play goal.
With Spooner’s four assist on Friday, he now has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) over his last six games.
Another point wasn’t the only thing Spooner dropped on Friday. Following a big hit from Patric Hornqvist on Dennis Seidenberg in the second period, Spooner threw his gloves down and went after the Penguins forward. Hornqvist was not interesting in fighting, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Spooner. The fight would have been the first of Spooner’s professional career and quite possibly of his life, as Spooner did not fight at the OHL level either.
THREE STRAIGHT FOR ERIKSSON
Eriksson was relentless in trying to jam a loose puck past Zatkoff during a second-period Bruins power play, eventually doing so for his 12th goal of the year. The tally also made it three straight games with a goal for Eriksson, who will easily surpass the 22 goals he scored last season as long as he stays healthy.
Eriksson could have had two power play goals on the night, but he couldn’t control a slap pass from Krug at the right circle despite having a wide open net.
|12.17.15 at 12:41 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — David Pastrnak practiced with teammates once again on Thursday, but he is not yet closing in on a return to the Bruins’ lineup.
Claude Julien said following the practice that Pastrnak, who has not played since Oct. 31 due to a non-displaced fracture in his foot, will not travel with the team for Friday’s game in Pittsburgh.
The Bruins are exploring options regarding a possible conditioning stint for the 19-year-old right wing, with Providence perhaps the best of the options. Another would be sending him to play World Juniors in Finland next week, but at this time it’s believed the player’s preference is to stay in North America.
As for Joonas Kemppainen, Claude Julien was mum on the status of the injured center. Kemppainen has not played since Dec. 7 and remains on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. The team has given no indication as to how long he’ll be out, though Julien said that the first-year NHLer is not close to a return.
“I think they said he was out for a while, didn’t they?” Julien said when asked of his status.
The Bruins had not said anything that specific, though Julien’s words suggest it could be a bit before Kemppainen returns to game action. He has not yet resumed practicing with the team.
|12.17.15 at 2:01 am ET|
The six players assembled to play on Boston’s top-two forward lines Wednesday night had produced 53 goals on the season entering the night’s action. The Bruins’ bottom-six forwards had managed just 16 markers.
When the night was complete, and a 3-0 shutout victory over Pittsburgh was earned, the Bruins had three more tallies logged in the depth department.
“Well, that’s what you want to see,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien after watching goals from Max Talbot and Jimmy Hayes, plus an empty-netter from Ryan Spooner to salt the game away. “You don’t expect them to score at the pace that the top two lines are, but you certainly like to see them chip in once in a while. Tonight, it allowed us to win this game [as] those first two goals came from the third and fourth line. You don’t want guys playing in other guys’ shadows, you want them to be able to be confident enough to play in this league and contribute.”
For Talbot and Hayes, the goals were an oasis in a desert of scoring drought. Hayes had been mired in a 15-game goal funk, and Talbot hadn’t scored in any of his 28 games with the Bruins dating back his acquisition via trade last year.
“I think you saw my celebration,” Talbot said of his displayed emotion upon giving Boston a 1-0 lead in the first period. “Obviously happiness but also relief. I got a chance to have a two-on-one, just put it in the upper right corner. Felt pretty good when it hit the twine.”
Then, four minutes into the second period, a Spooner centering pass for a hard-driving Hayes somehow found the scoring zone, with the goal awarded to Hayes and giving Boston a 2-0 edge.
“It’s been a while, struggling to find the back of the net,” Hayes said. “Just keep plugging. It’s happened to me before but you want to find a way out of it. You have to go to the net. Just find a way out of it. You don’t want to lose sleep, you’ve got to be a professional. That’s how I’m going to be effective, get big, move my feet. Just being hard to play against.”
Boston’s record of late proves that they have been hard to play against as a squad, as they improved to 9-1-3 in their last 13 games played. Their growing cohesion, and attention to detail, is making the difference.
“I think as a team we’re playing better,” said Spooner. “In our own end we’re keeping teams to the outside a little bit more. And before, we were getting in some trouble at [the opponent’s] blue line, making some turnovers which doesn’t work well in this league. For the most part, we’re getting some pucks in deep, playing smart.”
It was the fourth straight game in the lineup for Talbot, the longest stretch of the season for an 11-year NHL veteran who has had to check his pride at the door while accepting a few stints in the AHL.
“I can say it was challenging at some points but I’m the type of guy to take the glass always half-full,” said Talbot. “I kept a good attitude working with the younger guys in Providence. I worked on my offensive game. When I got the call back up I’m doing what I can to help the team. That’s been my role here and I’ll keep on doing that as best I can.”
It’s a mindset that is appreciated by Julien.
“Max, from the first day he went down to Providence, all I heard is what a great attitude he had, smiling, having fun with the guys, playing hard, and was one of the best players there,” said Julien. “That just shows his character and what he’s all about. What’s happening to him now, that’s what he deserves because of just the way he’s handled himself through the situation that started at the beginning of the year.”
Julien continued: “I don’t think he had much of a chance there from training camp, being put on waivers, up and down for a game or two. But he’s been with us now for a bit of a stretch, and obviously playing well. He’s a gritty player. Probably tonight he struggled a little bit in the faceoff circle but other than that, he’s competing hard and it’s nice to see some guys like that score some goals. They work so hard and you like to see different guys score on your team once in a while and give your team a boost. That’s what he did, led us with that first goal and I thought played a pretty strong game start to finish, on penalty kill, five-on-five, really reliable.”
“It’s been a rough start in a way, but at the same time it’s just good to do something to contribute,” said Talbot. “I think Claude gave me a little confidence putting me out there and it feels good. I’m trying to do what I can. For the team it’s nice when the third and the fourth line gets some goals, gets a little relief for the first and second line which usually score most of the goals.”
|12.16.15 at 10:43 pm ET|
The Penguins are so bad right now that the B’s came out of a mediocre performance with a 3-0 win.
The struggling Penguins managed to outshoot the Bruins, 34-29, but Pittsburgh’s preference to dump pucks in rather than go to the net meant that they didn’t generate nearly as much as their offensive talent should. With the Bruins managing defensively and Tuukka Rask stopping everything he saw, Max Talbot’s first-period goal (his first as a Bruin) proved to be the game-winner.
Rask now has four shutouts on the season, surpassing last season’s total of three. Having entered Wednesday’s game with a .948 save percentage over his previous eight games, the 2013-14 Vezina winner is easily playing his best hockey of the season.
The Bruins and Penguins will wrap up their home-and-home series when they play Friday night at CONSOL Energy Center.
Here are four more things we learned Wednesday:
KOKO PLAYS, TALBOT SCORES FISRT AS A BRUIN
Alexander Khokhlachev was inserted into the lineup after the Bruins called him up Wednesday morning. Khokhlachev skated on Boston’s fourth line with Talbot and Landon Ferraro.
While Khokhlachev is the best offensive player of that trio, it was Talbot who provided the offensive firepower for the line, scoring off the rush in the first period on a rough one for Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff to allow. The goal was Talbot’s first goal as a Bruin in 29 games dating back to last season.
Max Talbot’s first goal of the season. Snipe. pic.twitter.com/FkQTQaZBM3
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 17, 2015
SPOONER STAYS HOT
The first two shifts for Ryan Spooner’s line with Frank Vatrano and Jimmy Hayes suggested it might be a long night for the trio. The first shift saw bad passing from Hayes in the neutral zone force Adam McQuaid to hook Kevin Porter. The second shift saw Eric Fehr’s line hem Spooner’s line in the Boston zone.
As it turned out, the Spooner line had plenty to give. Hayes forced a Brian Dumoulin turnover that eventually led to Talbot’s goal in the first period, while a pass in front from Spooner went off Ian Coles’s skate and in to make it 2-0. Spooner’s goal gave him his fifth point (three goals, two assists) over his last five games.
|12.16.15 at 7:22 pm ET|
David Warsofsky and Torey Krug are not particularly large people, but there wasn’t enough room in Boston for both of them.
Warsofsky, a Marshfield native who played at Cushing Academy and Boston University, was acquired by the Bruins in a 2010 trade that sent Vladimir Sobotka to the Blues. His first full pro season was 2011-12, one that saw the Bruins win the Krug sweepstakes by inking the Michigan State defenseman to an entry level deal and then immediately burning the first year off by letting him play NHL games.
Having both Warsofsky and Krug created an organizational redundancy. Both players are undersized left-shot defensemen with good mobility and an ability to quarterback a power play. When Krug established himself as an NHL player in the 2013 playoffs, Warsofsky was put in the unfortunate position of being blocked. Though he played well in the 10 games he did play for Boston over the 2013-14 and 2015-15 seasons, Warsofsky was not going to be a full-time Boston Bruin as long as Krug was around.
Upon reaching free agency this summer, the 25-year-old left to sign with the Penguins. The parting was amicable, as it was plain to see that there would be more of an opportunity for him to make the NHL elsewhere.
“Obviously growing up, you want to play for your hometown team, but I think the change has been good for me,” Warsofsky said Wednesday. “It’s maybe a little bit less pressure. I don’t have family and friends at every game. Just with the organization they have here and the players and the system, I think Pittsburgh was a better opportunity for me.”
Choosing the Penguins (Warsofsky said he was in talks with four or five teams), has paid off. Though he didn’t make the team out of camp, Warsofsky was called up to Pittsburgh on Nov. 19 due to an injuries on the Penguins‘ blue line. Now he’s on Pittsburgh’s top power play unit with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, David Perron and Chris Kunitz. He has no points through six games, but he’s received some high praise.
“He’s been really good, coming in and having to play a pretty big role for somebody stepping right in there,” Crosby said. “Top power play unit, getting some good minutes, so he’s done a really good job. With the puck, he’s able to make a really good first pass. He’s able to skate his way out of trouble. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s smart and that allows him to make a lot of good plays out there.”
Warsofsky has had enough cups of coffee in the NHL to want to make this one stick. It might not be a sure thing, but his chances are better in Pittsburgh than they were in Boston.
“I think it was just time for a change for me,” Warsofsky said. “I just needed a change of scenery for me to clear my head about some things. Yeah, the new management was I think maybe in my favor a little bit, but I think the change was good for me.”