|02.28.14 at 1:16 pm ET|
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.”
|02.28.14 at 12:35 pm ET|
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.
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|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.”
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