|04.05.12 at 10:05 pm ET|
The Bruins didn’t have all their stars on the ice, but they still beat the team they are likely to face when the playoffs begin next Thursday. Led by goaltender Anton Khudobin, the B’s defeated the Senators, 3-1, in Ottawa on Thursday night.
Khudobin made 44 saves, allowing only a Jason Spezza goal in the second period. The Bruins jumped out to a two-goal lead on tallies from Benoit Pouliot and Greg Zanon before Spezza made it a one-goal game in the second period. Milan Lucic gave the B’s some insurance by scoring his 26th goal of the season in the third period.
Ben Bishop took the loss for Ottawa, allowing three goals on 27 shots.
The Bruins were playing without Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk, all of whom did not make the trip to Ottawa. The B’s will wrap up the regular season Saturday against the Sabres.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The chances that he could play in the postseason are slim, but it was a very encouraging sign for the Bruins to see Khudobin turn in a plus showing. Tuukka Rask has been skating since Monday, but if he isn’t ready for the playoffs, Khudobin will have to be Thomas’ backup. Khudobin last played in the NHL two seasons ago, and in his career he now has played seven games at the NHL level.
– Though he wasn’t directly responsible for them, Erik Karlsson was on the ice for all three of the Bruins’ goals. Karlsson leads all NHL defensemen with 78 points this season, but he might have a hard time beating Shea Weber or Chara for the Norris this year. Karlsson is a great player, but is he a great defenseman?
– Zanon’s goal was his first tally since joining the Bruins in a Feb. 27 trade. It was also his second point as a member of the B’s. Zanon put a shot on net from the point in hopes that it could get redirected past Bishop, but he put enough on it to beat the Senators’ goalie unencumbered.
Zanon was also credited with a game-high nine blocked shots, all of which came in the first two periods.
– The Bruins improved to 38-0-0 in games in which they held a two-goal lead at any point.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Adam McQuaid left the game in the second period and did not return. The Bruins issued no update on McQuaid during the game aside from saying that the defenseman was “doubtful” to return. He did not.
|04.05.12 at 2:32 pm ET|
Claude Julien and the Bruins have shown that when the end of the regular season rolls around, they are far more concerned about getting ready for the playoffs than wrapping up personal accomplishments. They don’t care about the number of games played, as long as they play a lot of them in the postseason.
Take Dennis Seidenberg last year, for example. The defenseman had often missed time in previous seasons due to injury, but was finally on pace for an 82-game season in 2010-11. It didn’t end up happening, as the Bruins gave him the 81st game off to get him some rest.
After the team left Patrice Bergeron, who is one of two Bruins to play the first 80 games of the season, back with Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara for Thursday’s game against the Senators, Chris Kelly will be the only Bruin left to play in each game this season. The team could give him Saturday off, or they could play him and give him his fourth career 82-game season. Never one to worry about his accomplishments, Kelly says he’ll let the team make the choice for him.
“Whatever they decide, whatever’s best,” Kelly said. “I’m easy either way. Eighty, or 82 or 81, it doesn’t really matter, to be honest. Whatever they feel is best for the team.”
Kelly’s other 82-game seasons came with the Senators, with the most recent one coming in 2008-09. His only game missed last season was the result of a visa issue following his trade to Boston.
“It’s your job to play,” he said. “Sometimes certain circumstances don’t let you play all 82. Injuries, the flu, personal issues, visas don’t allow you too. I think at the end of the day, it’s your job to play unless you’re told different.”
While Kelly may or may not play 82 games, there’s no disputing that this had been a career-year for the 31-year-old. He’s scored 20 goals for the first time in his career, and his 39 points are also a personal best. Fan voting allowed Tyler Seguin to win the Seventh Player award this week, but even Seguin hinted that Kelly may have been robbed.
Not surprisingly, Kelly responded to that by singing Seguin’s praises and pointing to others for his success.
“Obviously it’s nice to score goals and contribute offensively. I’ve been really lucky to play with some great linemates in my time here — last year and this year,” he said. “Ziggy’s a really deserving player of that award. Obviously he’s leading our team in goals, points, he’s up there in plus-minus. That’s a rare thing to see, a young player [with a good] plus-minus. So it’s a great choice, and I think it’s that much more special when the fans decide on it.’
|04.04.12 at 1:34 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins saw both Nathan Horton and Tuukka Rask take the ice prior to Wednesday’s practice. For Rask, it means things are continuing to progress. For Horton, it’s a small step in the right direction.
Rask has been skating since Monday, as he aims to make a return from his abdomen strain/groin strain by the playoffs. The Bruins have Anton Khudobin up with the team now, and it’s likely that he’ll start Thursday’s game against the Senators. That should give Khudobin a little more NHL experience (he’s played six games for the Wild) before the playoffs start if he’s needed as Tim Thomas‘ backup, but in a perfect world the Bruins would have Rask back.
“Tuukka’s been skating for a few days, and he’s coming around,” coach Claude Julien said after Wednesday’s practice. “We hope to have him with us soon, at least in practice.
“With Nathan, it’s just going out there — nothing more than just skating and trying to get a feel of how things are. Nothing more than that. He’s not close to joining us as we speak. Still keeping our fingers crossed that it’s going in the right direction.”
Horton has not played since Jan. 22, when his second concussion in less than seven months forced him out of the lineup. His attempt at a comeback has been shaky this season, as he suffered a setback after trying to skate in February.
The Bruins don’t know whether they’ll get Horton back at any point in the playoffs, as the postseason can last up to two months. He’s a longshot to return soon, but Julien says Horton is in good spirits.
“He’s in a good spot emotionally,” Julien said of Horton. “I haven’t talked [to him] about anything related to hockey and him coming back. The last thing he needs is for his coach to start asking those kind of questions. That’s not my job and it’s certainly not something that would be a positive thing to do.
“I leave him be. Everything I do with him is small talk — how are you doing today — and he’s looking good color-wise. He seems to have good color, and we see he’s happy. Those kind of things are encouraging.”
|04.04.12 at 1:02 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara all stayed out on the ice for extra work after Wednesday’s practice, and all three players will join Johnny Boychuk in staying behind when the team travels to Ottawa for Thursday’s game against the Senators. Of the four players, all but Boychuk will simply be given the game off for rest.
Boychuk left Tuesday night’s loss to the Penguins in the third period with a leg injury, but Claude Julien offered no update on the status of the defenseman aside from the fact that he won’t be making the trip.
Thursday’s game will be the first this season in which Bergeron has not played, and it will leave Chris Kelly as the only Bruin to play in each contest. It will be Thomas’ second straight scratch as the team aims to keep the reigning Conn Smythe winner fresh for the playoffs.
|04.04.12 at 11:14 am ET|
WILMINGTON — In an encouraging sign, Bruins forward Nathan Horton and goaltender Tuukka Rask skated for 40 minutes with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides prior to Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. Neither players was not on the ice as the team began their practice Wednesday.
Horton has been out since Jan. 22, when he suffered his second concussion in seven months. He tried skating in February, but had a setback and was shut back down. Wednesday marks the first time he has skated since then.
Whether Horton returns to the Bruins at any point in the postseason remains unclear. In 46 games this season, he has 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points.
Rask suffered an abdomen strain/groin strain on March 3. He said recently that he hopes to return in time for the postseason.
Johnny Boychuk, who left Tuesday night’s game in the third period, did not practice, while Jordan Caron returned to the ice after staying away from the team Tuesday with flu-like symptoms.
|04.04.12 at 10:40 am ET|
The powerful Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a couple of fluky goals in the first period.
The 35-year-old in those unmistakable gold pads and blockers then held the fort until the Bruins could muster the strength to tie the game. What happened late in the second period he had little control of as he became a shooting range target during a 5-on-3 power play that yielded two goals and the game was essentially over, as the Penguins prevailed, 5-3.
“I think by the end of the night [with] the chances, the amount of chances, that we had you feel like you deserve to win a hockey game. Those power play goals really ended up costing us, with those calls. But there’s a lot to be taken from this game. For me, it’s the end of the line as far as the regular season goes and these guys, you know, they battle to be down twice like that and even though we went down 5-2 in the third, there was no give up in this bunch,” Turco said.
“And that’s, I think that’s a huge thing for these guys to build on. They’ve been a tremendous third period team, everyone knows that real well. But to see them pour it on at the end and give us a chance was also a good sign too. But at the end of the day it’s disappointing to lose anytime, never mind against a team like that.”
Turco has had quite the career, including with Dallas in 2002-03 when he set a new NHL record with a 1.72 goals against mark. He won the NCAA title with Michigan twice, including in Boston in 1998. He signed with the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in the summer of 2010.
But to find what Turco means to this Bruins team you have to look back to March 3. That’s when Tuukka Rask injured his groin against the Islanders and was essentially lost for the rest of the regular season. Two days later, the Bruins signed Turco, who in December 2011 signed a deal with the EC Red Bull Salzburg of the Erste Bank Hockey League in Austria. He cleared waivers on March 7 and joined the Black and Gold. Since he was signed after the NHL trade deadline, he is not playoff eligible. But that does not diminish his presence over the last four weeks in the Bruins dressing room, and their impact on him.
“It’s been tremendous, really,” Turco said. “I’ve been around for a bit; can’t say that disappointments have been much a part of my time here. I’ve been fortunate to have an opportunity and I’m truly grateful, for my family and I, for [what] the Boston Bruins gave me when things seemed pretty bleak. You want to play great and you want to show them, never mind anyone else, and for the most part ‘ days, game and practice, and being a good team man ‘ I’ve felt pretty proud of my time here so far. Between Tampa and a little bit tonight, those two games ‘ part of them anyway ‘ are pretty disappointing but at the end of the day I’ll continue to hold my head high like I have all year to be ready in this position and still want to play some. So, we’ll see what happens.” Read the rest of this entry »
|04.04.12 at 10:30 am ET|
But with the Northeast Division salted away again and their No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference sealed, the Bruins had the ideal chance to baptize 20-year-old defenseman Torey Krug into the world of big boys hockey Tuesday night against a team with names like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Welcome to the show, kid.
“I think stepping on the ice the start of the game,” Krug said of his biggest moment during Boston’s 5-3 loss to the Penguins, his first game in the NHL. “What the coaching staff did was have me warm up a few games with the team and that actually helped a lot. You wouldn’t think it, but it really does. You get your bearings on the ice, skating around with the other guys.
“I mean I’m most upset that we lost. The expectation here is to win and we have to fine-tune-up before the playoffs.”
Krug has played on big stages before, playing collegiately for Michigan State in the CCHA. He’s played against the likes of Michigan, Ohio State and Ferris State. But clearly, Tuesday was a different animal.
“It’s a lot different,” he said. “It was a lot of fun to play in front of these fans. Michigan State, the crowd we had there was very intimate and into the game and I feel it was the same here. Everybody knows their stuff and they know hockey so the fans are unbelievable and it’s something I look forward to on a nightly basis.”
Krug, who turns 21 on April 12, was signed to an NHL entry contract on March 25. He skated with the Bruins last Tuesday in practice and dressed on Thursday but was a healthy scratch. After a week, he was ready to make his debut Tuesday against one of the most talented teams in hockey.
“I thought he handled himself well,” his coach Claude Julien said. “I like the way he moved the puck. I think everybody who knows the game realized that he’s a good puck-mover, his mobility was obvious, and the only thing I would tell you is that you could see him in the defensive zone really thinking about trying to play within our system, and sometimes he was maybe just a fraction of a second delayed ‘ which is totally normal ‘ but once he knew what he had to do, he went. So there was no hesitation once his mind was made up, and that will only get better as it becomes second nature, and that’s totally, as I said, totally natural for a guy playing in his first game. But the rest of it — as I said, when he had the puck, didn’t hesitate, thought he moved it well and made great passes.” Read the rest of this entry »