|02.27.14 at 1:41 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Tuukka Rask is back with the Bruins, healthy, rested and the new owner of an Olympic bronze medal.
Rask played in four games for Finland in the Olympics, missing the team’s semifinal loss to Sweden with the flu but returning to blank Team USA in a 5-0, bronze-winning contest for Finland.
“I mean, it’s a great tournament,” Rask said of the Olympics. “It’s a tough tournament. You’re playing against the best players in the world. It’s not the same situation as in the NHL, but it’s still a battle. It was great. A great thing for Finns to get that medal. Nobody expected us to win it, and now, for [the Bruins], we got three medals, so I think everybody should be feeling pretty good about ourselves going into the month of March. Hopefully we can share some of that confidence we have from the Olympics to the other guys.”
Rask shot down a seemingly baseless rumor floating around that he had missed the semifinal game because he had gone out the night before. The Olympic village was generally dry, and Finland’s housing had no alcohol. He joked that Bruins teammate and Sweden star Loui Eriksson had put something in his food.
What actually happened was that Rask was sick during the Olympics and had played through the flu in the team’s quarterfinal win over Russia, but when he woke up the day of the semifinal game (the game was played at 4:30 p.m. in Russia, by the way), he felt that Finland stood a better chance playing a healthy Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi. Lehtonen played and the team lost.
“What can you do? I could have played, but if you’re 40 percent of your capacity, it doesn’t really make any sense to go out there if you have two No. 1 goalies,” Rask said. “So that kind of made my decision easier to stay off. I knew that it was not going to matter who’s in net, we were going to have a chance to win. It happens and no hard feelings.”
This was Rask’s first Olympic experience, but with owners against the idea of sending NHL players to future Olympics, it could be his last. Rask said he hopes that isn’t the case, but sees why owners may be concerned.
“I mean, it’s kind of a two-edged sword, I guess, because you see these injuries and it’s tough because the teams, they just give their players up and if something happens, you get nothing in return,” he said. “But for us being there, it’s fun, it’s a great experience and it’s fun to play with.
“So I can see the both worlds, GMs and owners, kind of mad about losing the players. But then again, it’s a fun experience for the players, so I’m sure they’re going to figure it out by the next one.’
Rask returns to the Bruins just as their schedule picks up. The team’s schedule calls for six sets of back-to-back games, and it’s the team’s intention to not overwork Rask. As such, Chad Johnson, who has started half of the team’s last 12 games, will get more ice time.
As for Rask, he said he doesn’t want to tell the coaches every time he feels tired, and that considering he only played four Olympic games and got a lot of sleep (he said he slept the entire plane ride back to North America), he doesn’t feel burned out now.
“You always have to look sharp no matter what, especially for the goalies,” Rask said. “But honestly, I feel good now. I don’t feel tired. Ask me again after March, I might have a little different story.’
|02.27.14 at 12:51 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins had an optional practice Thursday at Ristuccia Arena, with five forwards, five defensemen and two goalies taking the ice. The most notable absence was Adam McQuaid.
The Bruins sent Niklas Svedberg back to Providence Thursday, but Tuukka Rask was back on the ice with teammates for the first time since the Olympics. Chad Johnson joined him, with only Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille, Jordan Caron and Brad Marchand taking the ice and all defensemen but McQuaid and Zdeno Chara present.
McQuaid has been skating nearly every day as he looks to return from his leg injury, so Julien said he was given the day off for rest. The team still considers him a possibility for Saturday against the Capitals.
“He was given the day off. He was a guy who skated even Sunday, when the guys had the day off. He’s coming along well, but he hasn’t been cleared yet, but [Saturday] is a possibility. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. He’s day to day right now and we’ve just got to wait and see what he gets his clearance.”
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|02.27.14 at 11:50 am ET|
Instead of seeing black and gold for the first time since the end of the Olympic break, Bruins fans were seeing red after team owner Jeremy Jacobs announced to season ticket-holders the prices for the 2014-15 season.
During the 2013-14 season, the price of loge seat tickets ranged from $70 to $132 per game and balcony seats went from $32 to $91 per game. According to a release from the team, loge seats will now cost between $88 and $145 next season and balcony seats will cost between $45 and $98 per game.
Bruins fans took to Twitter to show their anger with the price hikes.
People think Bruins tickets are expensive now? Jacobs just increased season ticket holders prices, some by as much as $13 a game #Crook
‘ Mark_S (@Expo_Music) February 25, 2014
It’s a very sad realization that I probably will be priced out of my Bruins season tickets within the next 5 years if the team stays good.
‘ Mike Kelley (@MikeKelley22) February 26, 2014
Bruins seeing as my tickets went from about 1900 to 2655 for one 8th row balcony seat next season..my acceptance of “dips” in effort is NIL.
‘ InAWhisper (@whisperandmoan) February 26, 2014
28% price increase on our Bruins season tickets for 2014-15. Thank you, Mr. Jacobs.
‘ Chris Aldrich (@aldy04) February 26, 2014
|02.26.14 at 10:08 pm ET|
The Bruins’ return from the Olympic break wasn’t pretty, as they blew a third-period lead and fell to the Sabres, 5-4, in overtime.
Boston took its first lead of the game in the third period, with Milan Lucic blasting a slapshot on the power play past a collection of bodies. The lead wouldn’t last, as the Sabres tied the game in the final minute with the goalie pulled and Matt D’Agostini scored 22 seconds into overtime.
The teams traded goals in the first period, with Zemgus Girgensons taking a feed from Brian Flynn in front and beating Chad Johnson at 3:32 and Chris Kelly tying the game off a beautiful behind-the-back pass from Carl Soderberg.
The Sabres were able to jump out to a 3-1 lead in the second period, capitalizing on a bad call against Brad Marchand with a Tyler Myers power play goal and getting an even strength tally from Brian Flynn. Zdeno Chara brought the B’s within one with a power play goal in front of Jhonas Enroth. Brad Marchand tied the game with his team-leading 20th goal of the season.
The Bruins will next play Saturday when they host the Capitals at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Myers certainly seemed to be the aggressor in a second-period dustup with Marchand, but only Marchand was assessed a penalty (slashing). Officials missed Myers punching Marchand, and Myers poured salt on the wound shortly after with a power play goal. Marchand gets away with a lot, so he’ll always be the victim of reputation calls. That was the case Wednesday.
- Everyone knows Torey Krug isn’t the biggest guy in the league, but neither is Brian Flynn, who knocked Krug off the puck in the corner to set up Girgensons’ goal. Being strong in his own zone will probably always be a challenge for Krug, but the 6-foot-0, 170-pound Flynn shouldn’t be able to outmuscle him with that much ease.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- The good thing about playing against John Scott is that he isn’t any good at hockey. Reilly Smith didn’t need to break a sweat in taking the puck from him behind the net on a second-period play and feeding Marchand to tie the game. A note to the Sabres for future reference: Maybe you don’t want to have a sub-NHL caliber player out on the ice as a defenseman against Patrice Bergeron‘s line.
- Chris Kelly had a strong game for the B’s in what was probably his best showing since returning from his broken fibula. In addition to his first-period goal, Kelly had multiple chances in the second period, most notably a shorthanded breakaway in which he was stopped by Enroth. Kelly took a high stick to the face in the third period but stayed in the game.
- Krug made up for his first-period gaffe throughout the game. He drew a hooking penalty on Girgensons in the second period and fired the shot that got through to set up Chara’s goal, but his best work came on Boston’s third-period power play, as he dominated the shift leading to Lucic’s goal, capped by him chasing down the puck behind the net and feeding Lucic.
Shortly after Lucic’s goal, Krug beat Nick Foligno to a puck in the Bruins zone and knocked it away.
|02.26.14 at 1:29 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the possibility of the Bruins adding a defenseman prior to the deadline, Peter Chiarelli‘s scouting and Loui Eriksson. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
With the NHL trade deadline next Wednesday at 3 p.m., Brickley said how the Bruins view the blue line will determine whether they add a defenseman.
“I think it all starts with how you evaluate what’s going on along the blue line,” Brickley said. “This is a team that prides itself on goaltending, team defense, some strong penalty-killing, and then that balanced offense is somewhere further down in terms of priority. And if you have that type of analysis, then I think you have to look real closely at the group of six or seven that they have on the blue line right now and say, ‘Is this group good enough, deep enough to carry us to an Eastern Conference final and get us to a Stanley Cup final and an opportunity to win this thing.’ And I think that’s what has to be addressed, because in my evaluation I would like to see them add something significant along the blue line.”
Brickley was complimentary of Chiarelli’s ability to identify defensemen who work well with the team.
“The thing about what Peter is able to do along with his management team and the scouting crew, identify a guy like Torey Krug and go out and pay maybe a couple extra dollars to make sure he comes to Boston,” Brickley said. “You make a deal for [Matt] Bartkowski, when nobody really makes notice of it or takes notice of it. You draft a kid like Dougie Hamilton in the first round. You identify a player like Kevan Miller and allow him to play in the American Hockey League and learn how to be a good depth defenseman. And those guys are all significant pieces to what the Bruins have been able to put together and accomplish and pile up points to this point in the regular season.”
Brickley is concerned with the lack of experience the young defensemen have, however, and would rather move Johnny Boychuk out of the top two.
“But as we know the playoffs are a different animal and you’re talking about very little experience there in that foursome,” Brickley said. “Now you have Johnny Boychuk, because of the added absence of Adam McQuaid as well due to a lot of injuries over the last year plus, almost two years. And of course Dennis Seidenberg being out of the lineup. Now you have [Zdeno] Chara, Boychuk, that’s your one-two combination. And I think you’re a really strong defense if Boychuk is somewhere in your top four, but maybe not your top two. And that’s certainly not an indictment on his play, because I love his game and I love how, how game he is, as a matter of fact, to speak to his character.”
Added Brickley: “But if you can go out and acquire, or certainly add to the players that you have on the blue line, as well as they’ve played, now I think you have a much better chance when you get in the postseason. You know there’s going to be injuries, you know there are certain matchups that you’re looking for, based on the opponents that you’re going to draw, and if you can have seven, eight NHL caliber, and maybe even a top two, three that might not be there right now, I think your chances certainly improve as far as going where you want to go and reaching the goals that you set.”
Eriksson, who has not produced big numbers in Boston, played well for Sweden in the just-completed Olympics. Brickley said that the extra playing time, along with playing on the third line, could help the 28-year-old.
“Eriksson needed to play hockey, he needed to play hockey over in Sochi, and he seemed to be — he seemed to be finding his game more and more a little bit before the break,” Brickley said. “He seemed to have some chemistry with [Carl] Soderberg in particular, the two Swedes. Seemed to slide into that third line, instead of the pressure of being in that top six, that seems to be paying dividends. And his awareness, when you watched him play, although it was the bigger ice surface, his awareness of all the moving parts going on around him seemed a lot cleaner, a lot sharper. When you come back from injuries, that’s the one thing you have to be concerned about when you’re coming back from a concussion, is that awareness. Seemed a lot better in the Olympics, so that’s what I’m looking for. And he needs to continue to play. So maybe the break was good for him in terms of playing hockey.”
|02.25.14 at 3:58 pm ET|
Claude Julien called coaching a gold medal-winning Canada team in the Olympics “a once in a lifetime kind of thing” upon returning to Bruins practice Tuesday, but he seemed just as happy for Patrice Bergeron as he was for himself.
Julien, who was an associate coach under head coach Mike Babcock, said he found it very satisfying to see Bergeron — a player who has won gold at both the World Championships and World Junior Championships, win the Stanley Cup and added his second gold medal over the weekend — cement his standing as one of the world’s best players, even if he often gets overlooked because he doesn’t put up as many points as others.
“He’s such a complete player, and it’s nice to see that he was seen the same way on a bigger stage,” Julien said. “Now there’s no doubt in my mind that everybody knows how good he is.”
It didn’t take long for Bergeron, who began as the team’s fourth-line right wing on a line with Jamie Benn and John Tavares, to establish himself as a difference-maker on a loaded roster. With Norway playing Canada in a much closer game than anyone could have expected early on in Canada’s opening game of the preliminary round, Bergeron assisted goals from Shea Weber and Jamie Benn in a 3-1 win, the latter of which was the result of a beautiful pass from Bergeron in the offensive zone.
As the tournament went on, Bergeron moved up to play with Sidney Crosby and he proved to be a big asset in keeping the team’s semifinal game against Team USA a 1-0 contest.
“He was one of our best players and I’m not afraid to say that,” Julien said of Bergeron’s performance. “He came in and his line in that first game, with Benn and Tavares, was probably our best line. He was playing so well, he ended up moving up to the Crosby line and basically brought some good stability to that line and they were much better from then on.
“He made a lot of highlight clips in our reviews just by how hard he worked on both sides of the coin. Defensively, offensively, he made some great things. Forecheck, turn pucks over, backcheck.”
Bergeron used the stage provided by the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup to show anyone unsure of his abilities that he is among the game’s best players. In addition to being the best faceoff man in the world, his two-way play was impressive enough to make the Pro Hockey Writers Association realize that he was overdue for the Selke Trophy, which he was given the next season.
Bergeron will never be one the two or three biggest names in the league because though he plays the sport as well as anyone else, his two-way prowess isn’t as sexy as putting up a ton of goals or points, a la a Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin or Steven Stamkos.
Still, Julien says, there’s no confusion among big-name players that Bergeron is one of the best in the game today.
“He’s not Crosby and he’s not those kind of guys in people’s minds, but when the puck is dropped — and you can even ask Sid — Sid loves playing with him,” Julien said. “They played together in World and Junior championships. They’ve been linemates and he just loves playing with him. He’s got a great appreciation for Bergy.”
|02.25.14 at 3:27 pm ET|
The Bruins had called up Niklas Svedberg Monday, and though assistant coach Geoff Ward had said it was only for practice purposes at the time, Svedberg will go to Buffalo and serve as the team’s backup. Chad Johnson will start for the B’s. It will be Johnson’s sixth start in the last 12 games.
Rask, Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson were the only absences from Tuesday’s practice, as Julien made his return. Bergeron and Eriksson will travel to Buffalo with the team and are expected to be in Boston’s lineup Wednesday.
As for Adam McQuaid, the defenseman is expected to miss his 10th straight game due to a lower-body injury. It will be the 28th game McQuaid has missed this season, though Julien is confident McQuaid should return Saturday against the Capitals or Sunday against the Rangers.
Later in the day, the Bruins assigned Matt Lindblad to Providence.
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
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