|01.09.15 at 3:58 pm ET|
Asked Friday which teammate should represent the Bruins in the All-Star Game later this month, one Bruin confidently responded, “Our best player is Tuukka.”
Then, after showering and thinking about it, the player came back.
“I change my answer,” he said. “Bergy.”
The player was correct – not for choosing Patrice Bergeron, but for being indecisive. With All-Star teams being named Saturday, there is no obvious answer as to which Bruin (or, less likely, Bruins) should be there in this tumultuous season.
The annual exhibition returns this month from a two-year absence and, aside from those making money off it and a shockingly high number of Latvian voters (big ups, Zemgus Girgensons), it’s hard to imagine that many folks have missed it. All-Star appearances, aside from the extra dough they earn the player, aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, as fan voting for six of the 42 players and the fact that each team needs a representative water down the distinction.
With the Bruins receiving few standout season-long performances (they don’t have anyone in the top in points) it will be interesting to see who goes to Columbus. The player folks should most want to see would be Zdeno Chara so he can defend his title in the Hardest Shot contest, but he has not performed to his level of seasons past and has missed 19 games this season due to a torn PCL.
The most popular guess from Bruins players was that Patrice Bergeron was the best candidate, with players also voicing their support for Tuukka Rask, Carl Soderberg, Chara and Dougie Hamilton. Multiple players expressed hope that Chara could go so he could put on his until-recently annual slapshot clinic.
Bergeron was a pretty obvious candidate in the 2011-12 season, but was passed over in favor of linemate Tyler Seguin. Chara, who captained one of the teams, and Tim Thomas were also there for the Bruins in 2012, the last All-Star Game played before it fell victim to the lockout in 2013 and Olympics last season.
This season, Bergeron’s play has dipped a bit from last season, though he leads the Bruins with 31 points and is on pace for a respectable 20-goal campaign. Given what happened in 2012, one could argue he is owed an All-Star appearance. Bergeron has still never been an All-Star in his 11-season NHL career.
If the NHL seeks a big name who has raised his performance this season, Hamilton is a good candidate. He has regularly played against opponents’ top lines, with only Dennis Seidenberg getting fewer offensive zone starts on average than him. Hamilton frequently led Boston defensemen in time on ice while Chara was out and is third on the B’s in average time on ice with 22:01. Chara leads the way, averaging 22:40.
Furthermore, Hamilton is fifth on the Bruins in points with 23, which leads Boston defensemen and is 19th among NHL blueliners.
Hamilton doesn’t buy it, however. He feels Dougie’s Big All-Star Game will have to wait.
“I don’t think so,” he said with a smirk when asked whether he felt he was having an All-Star season. “I think there’s too many good D in the league. I think I had a good start and everything, but I don’t think I’m an All-Star.”
When Seguin was an All-Star in 2012, he felt he needed to apologize to Bergeron. Hamilton said that if he were chosen this year, he’d feel there were other Bruins more deserving as well.
“I think with our team, we’re known to be a team,” Hamilton said. “There’s not one guy who puts himself ahead of other guys. I would probably feel the same way [as Seguin did]. Guys like Bergie — Krej was hurt and Zee was hurt — but even Carl, Loui and Marchy, the list goes on. For me, I’m just trying to contribute to the team and win some games.”
Well, someone has to go to the stupid thing.
|01.09.15 at 1:24 pm ET|
Loui Eriksson is questionable for Saturday’s game against the Flyers after participating in Friday’s practice.
Eriksson, who appeared to suffer a right hand/wrist injury on a slash from Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo Wednesday in Pittsburgh, skated before practice Friday but was very light in his shooting. After the practice, Claude Julien said that Eriksson is still dealing with swelling that will need to subside before he plays.
The lines in practice remained the same as they were in Thursday’s win over the Devils:
Marchand – Krejci – Pastrnak
Lucic - Bergeron – Paille
Kelly – Soderberg – Smith
Caron - Campbell – Cunningham
Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – McQuaid
Krug – Miller
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|01.09.15 at 11:05 am ET|
As Claude Julien suggested after Thursday’s 3-0 victory over the Devils, the Bruins are still not the team they need to be but the ship is at least sailing in calmer waters after a second straight win.
The captain agrees.
Zdeno Chara was on the ice for one of the biggest moments of the game, setting up a screen in front on Milan Lucic‘s power play goal late in the first period as the Bruins finally capitalized on the chances the Devils were giving Boston in the opening 20 minutes.
“We made another step forward,” Chara said. “We’re not there yet we just got to continue to work really hard and stay on top of our game.”
For as rough as the Bruins have looked, Thursday’s win improves them to 21-15-6, good for 48 points and the eighth and final playoff spot in the East (as the second wild card). But step back and the players can see they’re only six points behind first-place Montreal in the Northeast. All is not lost. But after two straight wins, Chara isn’t focused so much on the standings as the method at this point, halfway through the season.
“It’s nice that you’re winning games now [but] we are not over the hump, we know that,” Chara said. “We won two games and we have a tough schedule before the All-Star break. We want to continue to play the way we’ve been playing the last two games and finish strong before the break. You can sense that the team is regaining the play and what we’re used to so, like I said, we have to stay on top of that.” Read the rest of this entry »
|01.09.15 at 9:51 am ET|
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
That’s what he saw Thursday night in a 3-0 win over the hapless Devils at TD Garden.
“I think we seemed like a real focused and energized team tonight,” said Julien, who watched as his team outshot New Jersey by a stunning 43-14 margin. “I think the biggest thing we did was we executed the way we were asked to execute and I thought coming in late last night – the first period it was so important to get our legs under us and put pucks in behind him in and get our feet moving and get a good forecheck. But what impressed me the most tonight was how hard the guys worked to get back and the layers were there, so we didn’t give them much room or too many opportunities.”
As DJ Bean points out, Thursday might be a sign that the team is finally embracing the Julien message. Wednesday and Thursday marked the first back-to-back wins since before Christmas and come after the Bruins lost three straight one-goal games.
“So that was the kind of game we like to see our team play,” Julien said. “So, you want to build on that kind of stuff. Again, you never consider yourself out of the woods, but certainly something that’s real positive to build on.”
The one man in the locker room all season the Bruins have been waiting on to pick it up is Milan Lucic. His power play goal at the end of the first period picked up every single player in black and gold and gave the team a lift it desperately needed after outplaying, outshooting and outworking the Devils.
But what really stuck out to Julien was how his team responded to adversity of its own making, namely looking disorganized and impotent on a 5-on-3 power play.
“Well, what impressed me again, a lot about that. Obviously our five-on-three wasn’t great, and you know, there’s times where your team could have just fallen apart or lost its momentum ‘ we came back the next shift and we kept going and we never lost the pace of our game.
“So, that was important for us. And then again that power play goal at the end of the second, just kind of justified, I guess, the period that we were having. At least coming into the dressing room with the lead, it would have been disappointing had it not been that way. But our guys had a good first and we stayed with our game and got rewarded there at the end of the first.”
The other aspect of Thursday’s game that encouraged Julien was how the team picked up the slack for Loui Eriksson, unavailable after injuring his hand the night before in Pittsburgh. Leading the way there was Mr. Reliable Chris Kelly, creating a turnover that led to Carl Soderberg’s goal making it 2-0 in the second.
“He did a great job on that forecheck, forcing the guy to turn the puck over and Carl ‘ who had also a real good game, scored a big goal for us,” Julien said of Kelly. “But Kells is always going to be Kells. He’s not flashy and sometimes underrated by a lot of people, but we know how important he is and some of the things he does. The team needs a little bit of everything, and he’s not in the goal department, but he’s certainly in the other department that gives us a real good identity defensively.
“I think again our forecheck ‘ we talked about how important our forecheck had to be and that was one of the things that we looked at for our own team before looking at New Jersey. And our forecheck had to be better in order to spend more time and not let teams come out so easily.”
|01.08.15 at 9:32 pm ET|
If there were such a thing as a two-goal blowout, the Bruins played it for all but 11.7 seconds on Thursday night.
Coming off a key overtime victory against the Penguins Wednesday, the Bruins dominated the Devils for 60 minutes with a 3-0 win that was sealed with a Milan Lucic empty-netter with 11.7 seconds remaining. Aside from a horrid first-period five-on-three and a general lack of finish, it was the most one-sided victory the Bruins have had all season.
Niklas Svedberg picked up an easy shutout as the Bruins outshot New Jersey, 43-14. In putting 43 shots on net, Boston posted its highest shot total of the season.
The win extended Boston’s point streak to six games (3-0-3) and improved the B’s to 21-15-6 on the season.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
BRUINS COME OUT STRONGER
The Bruins came out slowly to start all three periods of regulation Wednesday and had just 19 shots on goal through three periods to show for it.
That changed Thursday, as the B’s outshot the Devils, 18-3, in the first period, nearly reaching their three-period total of shots on goal from the night before in just 20 minutes. Not only that, but the Devils didn’t even attempt a shot for the entire second half of the period (10:47).
Carl Soderberg, Jordan Caron, Dougie Hamilton and Kevan Miller were the only Bruins without a shot on goal in the first.
Boston’s fourth line of Gregory Campbell between Caron and Craig Cunningham was the Bruins’ only line that didn’t have a positive Corsi in the period, though they were even and both Campbell and Cunningham had a shot on goal apiece in the first.
…OR MAYBE IT’S JUST THAT THE DEVILS DIDN’T SHOW UP
In the first period, it appeared the Bruins were dominating play. That rang true again in the second period, but it became abundantly clear that the Bruins were dealing with a nonexistent opponent.
The Devils went 13:09 between shots on goal during the second period from 1:34 to 14:43. They actually passed up a couple of opportunities to throw the puck on net during that span, opting instead to try to get the puck in deep, but their lack of chances and the cold goalie they created in Niklas Svedberg made it more sensible for them to put pucks on net however they could.
KREJCI GETS PASTRNAK, BUT LUCIC STICKS WITH BERGERON
David Pastrnak made his long-awaited return to the Bruins’ lineup Thursday, was slotted on David Krejci‘s line as expected. The other side of the line was different, however.
Rather than playing a potential first line of Lucic-Krejci-Pastrnak, Claude Julien kept Lucic with Patrice Bergeron and Daniel Paille after Wednesday’s strong showing. Lucic and Krejci have long been looking for a right wing since Jarome Iginla left, but they’ll have to wait to find chemistry as a trio. Time is running out, however, as Pastrnak has now played six NHL games and the Bruins need to decide whether to keep Pastrnak for the season before he plays his 10th game.
Loui Eriksson missed the game with a suspected hand/wrist injury suffered Wednesday. The lines Thursday were as follows:
Marchand – Krejci – Pastrnak
Lucic ‘ Bergeron – Paille
Kelly ‘ Soderberg – Smith
Caron ‘ Campbell ‘ Cunningham
Chara ‘ Hamilton
Seidenberg – McQuaid
Krug ‘ Miller
Pastrnak did not play the final 6:28 of the second period, missing a shift that Gregory Campbell took in his place. Upon further review of his last shift prior to the missed shift, Pastrnak was battling a bit with Adam Larsson, but didn’t appear injured at any point. He returned to the game for the third period.
The Kelly-Soderberg-Smith line showed promise and generated a second-period goal in which some good work from Chris Kelly in the corner forced a poor clearing attempt from the Devils that Carl Soderberg intercepted and took to the net, taking multiple slashes as he shot and scored.
LUCIC GETS BACK TO SCORING
Milan Lucic probably should have been credited with the overtime winner in Wednesday’s game given that it appeared to go off Penguins defenseman Simon Despres’ glove rather than Patrice Bergeron‘s stick, but Lucic didn’t have to wait long to receive credit for another goal.
Lucic scored his first goal in 10 games during a first-period power play Wednesday when he took a pass from David Krejci, at the top of the right circle, slid across the top of the circle and fired a wrist shot with Zdeno Chara screening.
Lucic’s empty netter gave him eight goals on the season.
|01.08.15 at 6:08 pm ET|
Bruins right wing Loui Eriksson will miss Thursday’s game with an apparent right hand/wrist injury suffered on a second-period slash from Robert Bortuzzo Wednesday.
Eriksson returned for a shift and missed the rest of the second period after the play before returning for the start of the third. He did not play the second half of the third period and missed all of overtime. Claude Julien said the injury is not expected to keep Eriksson out for long.
Eriksson’s absence leaves the Bruins with just five players who will have played in all 42 games of the season as of Wednesday: Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg, Dennis Seidenberg, Reilly Smith and Daniel Paille.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|01.08.15 at 2:15 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to look back on Wednesday’s Bruins overtime win against the Penguins, a game McGuire called, and also to discuss recent trade rumors with the team. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
There have been a number of rumors circulating with the struggling Bruins, but one player not to expected to be traded according to McGuire is Milan Lucic.
“I would be absolutely shocked if Milan [Lucic] was traded out of Boston — at least for this year. I would be really surprised,” said McGuire. “If you watched my interview with him after the game, that is an invigorated Milan Lucic. I thought after the first period, and even parts of the first period, he made a huge difference in that game. He was skating, he was going to the boards, he was dictating the slot, he was fore-checking with a purpose. He obviously was a very good assist player last night. He made a real good play on the game-winning goal. I would be shocked if he were traded out of Boston, I really would be.”
Earlier in the week, Charlie Jacobs, the new CEO of Delaware North’s Boston Holdings, which runs the Bruins, TD Garden and NESN, fired a warning shot across the organization, saying not making the playoffs wouldn’t be acceptable. The Bruins are currently 20-15-6, and sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
McGuire sensed a team that wasn’t its normal self before the game on Wednesday night, their first since the Jacobs comments, but as the game went along the team got their “swagger” back.
“What was amazing to me was before the game how some of the swagger I am used to seeing the Bruins have, wasn’t there. There just wasn’t that Bruins swagger. Then at the end of the game, that Bruins swagger was back,” McGuire said. “They are not an arrogant, pompous, rude team — there are some teams in the league that are — they’re not. They are a hard-working, industrious and proud group. They have very good internal leadership. It was interesting to see how it changed from before the game to after the game and if you watched my interview with Claude Julien after the second TV timeout in the second period, he basically said, ‘Listen we’re a team that doesn’t have a lot of confidence right now. We’re working to get our confidence back.’ You could see as the game went along they started to get their confidence back.”
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.