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Bruins beat Rangers for first win since Olympics

03.02.14 at 9:49 pm ET
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The Bruins picked up their first win since returning from the Olympic break as they defeated the Rangers, 6-3, Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Leading the way in the victory for Boston was Tuukka Rask, who made 39 saves on the night and kept the B’s in it throughout a shaky first period for the team. Gregory Campbell had pair of goals in the third.

Dougie Hamilton had his first multi-point game of the season, registering a goal and two assists. After picking up the secondary helper on Jarome Iginla’s goal and giving the B’s the lead early in the second, Hamilton took a shot from the point that went off Marc Staal in front, with Carl Soderberg collecting the puck and roofing it.

The Bruins got off to a rough start, allowing their third breakaway goal in a three-period span when J.T. Miller beat Tuukka Rask for his third goal of the season. Though the Rangers outplayed the B’s throughout a first period in which they outshot Boston, 20-9, Iginla’s goal at 18:07 left the teams tied at the first intermission.

Hamilton gave the Bruins the lead at 4:04 of the second period, with Soderberg making it a 3-1 game at 9:34. The Rangers answered back with a Brad Richards goal at 16:53.

The Bruins used the third period to pull away with a pair of third-period goals from Campbell, the first of which was a shorthanded tally off a feed from Loui Eriksson. The second goal was reviewed, as Daniel Paille‘s pass went off Campbell’s skate and in, but replays determined there was no distinct kicking motion.

Ryan McDonagh scored the Rangers’ final goal, a power-play tally, to make it 5-3, but Milan Lucic‘s tip of a Matt Bartkowski wrist shot extended Boston’s lead back to three.

The game marked the second leg of a back-to-back, as Rask started in Saturday’s loss to the Capitals. The Bruins will have five more back-to-backs this month and seven more in the regular season. The B’s will next play Tuesday when they host the Panthers at TD Garden.

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Bruins hope back-to-back games will help them shake off rust

03.01.14 at 5:06 pm ET
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The good thing about back-to-backs is that if you stink in the first game, you get a chance to make amends the very next night.

That’s the mindset the Bruins will have as they head to New York to take on the Rangers Sunday night. They weren’t entirely terrible on Saturday — in fact, they actually out-attempted Washington 67-44 — but they had some horrific defensive breakdowns that directly led to four goals and a loss.

The Bruins suffered similar breakdowns in Wednesday’s overtime loss against Buffalo, another game they dominated possession-wise. They had two days of practice to try to correct those mistakes, but obviously that didn’t do a whole lot of good.

Perhaps the solution is to just keep playing games. Claude Julien thinks that could be the case.

“I think we’re OK,” Julien said. “I think we’ve played together and played the way we should for long enough that, basically, they need to see it more than they need to practice it. Tomorrow’s going to be a good day for us to look at those things and get ready for tomorrow night. It’s probably not a bad thing that we have back-to-back games. We can put this one aside quickly and work on the next one.”

It makes sense. The Bruins had been playing great prior to the Olympic break. Then everything just stopped for two weeks. It shouldn’t be a total shock that they’ve struggled to pick up where they left off.

The Bruins have still been good enough to control play for long stretches of both their post-Olympic games, but the rust has shown with some miscommunications (like the one Matt Bartkowski and Johnny Boychuk had on Washington’s third goal Saturday), missed assignments (like Alex Ovechkin being left open on his two power-play goals) and bad reads (which Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug were both guilty of on the Capitals’ fourth goal).

Some fans and reporters will use this to fuel the Bruins-need-an-impact-defenseman talk. While getting one would certainly help, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the mistakes made in these last two games are the exception, not the rule. The Bruins are second in the NHL in scoring defense for a reason. They’re a good defensive team. They just have some kinks to work out of their game.

They’ll get another crack at doing that a little more than 24 hours after Saturday’s loss, and that could be just what they need. A lot of teams struggle in the second game of a back-to-back, but the Bruins have actually excelled in those situations this season, posting a 7-2-0 record in second games. That could be a good sign moving forward, as the B’s have eight back-to-backs left this season.

“I think it’s good to kind of turn the page right away and get back at it tomorrow,” Gregory Campbell said. “There’s some things that we need to do better, some things we addressed before the game, and it didn’t really take into account during the game. So I think from our standpoint, it’s good that we’re playing tomorrow night.”

Bruins fall to Capitals, remain winless since Olympics

03.01.14 at 3:38 pm ET
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The Bruins remain winless since the Olympic break, as they dropped a 4-2 contest Saturday in their first meeting of the season against the Capitals.

The Capitals took a 2-0 lead with Alexander Ovechkin scoring a power-play goal against Tuukka Rask in each of the first two periods. They extended the lead to 3-0 when Joel Ward picked off a Johnny Boychuk pass off a faceoff and took it to the net for a breakaway goal.

Patrice Bergeron brought the Bruins back into the game 19 seconds later with a power-play goal to make it 3-1. Shawn Thornton then made it a one-goal game with a pass to the slot that went off Mike Green and past Washington netminder Braden Holtby.

The Capitals were able to expand the lead to two again, with Eric Fehr scoring a breakaway goal off a turnover from Bergeron.

The Bruins will play the Rangers Sunday in New York, marking their first of six back-to-backs in the month of March.


- It was another subpar showing defensively for the Bruins, with the Matt Bartkowski-Boychuk pairing turning in a shaky performance and nobody able to catch up to Fehr following a turnover from Bergeron in the third period. Claude Julien had called the Bruins too loose defensively after Wednesday’s loss to the Sabres.

- The Bruins were rather unimpressive on a 5-on-3 after Jay Beagle went off for holding and Tom Wilson was called for high-sticking at 6:57 of the first period. The Bruins landed just one shot on goal during the two-minute 5-on-3, which featured Zdeno Chara at the point and Jarome Iginla as the net-front guy on the team’s first unit.

- Brad Marchand took a pair of offensive zone penalties, tripping Eric Fehr late in the second period and high-sticking Dmitry Orlov in the third. Neither penalty cost the B’s, but putting a regular penalty killer in the box against the second-best power play in the league isn’t a great idea.

- Speaking of penalties, Chris Kelly‘s penalty fest continued, and it cost the Bruins in the first period. Kelly was given an interference minor for shoving Jason Chimera in the first, leading to Ovechkin’s power play goal. It was Kelly’s seventh minor penalty over the last six games. He had taken just one minor penalty in his previous 13 contests.


- Thornton’s goal was probably his line’s most spectacular of the season. Daniel Paille sent a bouncing pass to Shawn Thornton, who was able to settle it as he advanced in the offensive zone before sending a pass to the slot for Campbell, who sped in and crashed into Green, with the puck going off Green and over Holtby’s left shoulder.

- Rask didn’t get too much help (two breakaway goals), but he did come came through with a big glove save on Troy Brouwer with Washington on the power play in the third period and the score still 3-2. Saturday marked Rask’s first game since the Olympics.

Dan Girardi staying with Rangers; Bruins reportedly interested in Chris Phillips

02.28.14 at 5:09 pm ET
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You can cross one name off the list of potential trade deadline options for the Bruins, as the Rangers agreed to a six-year contract extension worth $5.5 million a year with defenseman Dan Girardi.

Girardi, a right shot defenseman who has blocked many a shot in his day, was set to become an unrestricted free agent and would have been a tantalizing option alongside Zdeno Chara on Boston’s top pair, but his new contract means he’s staying put.

Chris Phillips, on the other hand, is reportedly a player the B’s are pursuing, as’s Joe McDonald reported Friday afternoon that the Bruins and Senators have had discussions about the 35-year-old defenseman.

Phillips is also in the last year of his deal, and as a left-shot would seemingly be a good fit to push Matt Bartkowski as the team’s second-pairing left defenseman. McDonald reported that the Senators want “a top prospect and a draft pick” for Phillips, which would be a rather steep price.

Ottawa is three points out of a playoff spot entering Friday night’s games and could also opt to hold onto Phillips. According to TSN, the team and the player are in discussions regarding a new contract.

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Peter Chiarelli won’t ‘throw a player overboard’ to make move before trade deadline

02.28.14 at 1:16 pm ET
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NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the change in play since the Olympic break as well as the trade market. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

In the week following the break, the Bruins, as well as other teams that had multiple players participate in the Olympics, have appeared tired.

“The Bruins aren’t the only team that are experiencing this after the Olympics,” McGuire said. “If you watched Chicago play last night, the first 40 minutes they looked very un-Chicago. If you watched Montreal play against Detroit two nights ago they looked very unlike the Montreal Canadiens. … A lot of teams that had a lot of players that were at the Olympics had a little bit of a hangover, but I think that will all be gone by tonight or tomorrow.”

“I was over there for three weeks, over in Russia for three weeks, and it takes two to three days to be acclimated to the time zones when you’€™re back here in North America.”

Earlier this month, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he wanted to add a defenseman to the team’s lineup. Chiarelli admitted, though, that it was a tough market.

“I don’t think he’s going to throw a player overboard to say he did something,” McGuire said of Chiarelli’s plan as the trade deadline approaches. “I can’t see Peter doing that — the Bruins haven’€™t acted that way since he and Cam Neely took over.

“One of the things that helps make the Bruins a better team is the play of Reilly Smith, and I think what you’€™ll see is Loui Eriksson really step it up here. They’ve become a much more deep team at the forward position, and [Patrice Bergeron] had a phenomenal Olympics so you’ve to got to be excited about where your team is at the forward position.

“That’s one of the things that I think allows Peter to have a little leeway when it comes to making a deal to get a defenseman — their strength at the forward position.”

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Adam McQuaid suffers setback in recovery from injury, unlikely to play this weekend for Bruins

02.28.14 at 12:35 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Adam McQuaid was not on the ice for Friday’s Bruins practice at Ristuccia Arena, with Claude Julien saying afterwards that the defenseman had suffered a setback in his recovery from a leg injury.

McQuaid was expected to return to the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Capitals, but after being given the day off Thursday, team doctors determined Friday that he had regressed in his recovery. McQuaid is not expected to play this weekend, with the team unsure when he will return.

“Yeah,” Julien said when asked if McQuaid had suffered a setback. “They just told me this morning. Yesterday they gave him some rest and today they wanted to give him some more and they felt that there was a bit of a setback. Again, it becomes a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month. I’m not sure anymore. I’m relying on their feedback almost every day.

“It’s been a frustrating injury for him and I know he’s really itching to get back. Those kind of things happen, and he’s set back a little bit. Hopefully we’ll get some better news here in the next few days.”

McQuaid has missed 28 total games this season over three prolonged stretches out of the lineup. He last played Jan. 19 against the Blackhawks but left the game with the injury with which he is currently dealing.

With McQuaid out, rookie Kevan Miller will continue to play in his place.

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Tuukka Rask hopes to bring Olympic success to Bruins down the stretch

02.27.14 at 1:41 pm ET
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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.’€

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