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Reports: Simon Gagne loses father to cancer

12.27.14 at 7:30 pm ET
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Simon Gagne is still away from the Bruins on leave. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Simon Gagne is still away from the Bruins on leave. (Harry How/Getty Images)

According to multiple reports, Simon Gagne’€™s father died Friday after losing his battle with cancer. The news was first reported by Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports.

Gagne had taken a leave of absence from the Bruins last month following his father’€™s diagnosis. He issued the following statement on Dec. 10.

“I have taken a personal leave of absence from the Boston Bruins in order to return home to Quebec to be with my father, who was recently diagnosed with liver cancer,” Gagne said in the statement. “The doctors — who have been great throughout this whole process — unfortunately informed us that his cancer is not curable.

“I greatly appreciate the support and understanding that the Bruins organization and my teammates have given to me and my family since I let them know the news and I look forward to rejoining them when the time is appropriate. Until then, I would kindly ask everyone to respect my family and I’€™s privacy during this difficult time.”

It is not known when Gagne will return to the Bruins. In 23 games this season, the 34-year-old wing has three goals and one assist for four points.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Simon Gagne,

5 things we learned as Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson each score twice in Bruins’ win over Predators

12.23.14 at 9:37 pm ET
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Brad Marchand scored twice Tuesday night. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Brad Marchand scored twice Tuesday night. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Dec. 23 never fails.

Even a season as icky as the Bruins’€™ 2014-15 campaign wasn’€™t enough to change the fact that the Bruins are heading into Christmas on a positive note. With a 5-3 win over the Predators Tuesday (box), the B’€™s have now won their last six Dec. 23 games dating back to 2008.

It wasn’t the smoothest game, as Boston blew two leads in the game and let Nashville cut into a two-goal lead with Taylor Beck’€™s goal at 6:48 of the third period.

The Bruins now head into the Christmas break at 18-14-3, sitting ninth in the Eastern Conference.

Here are four more things we learned Tuesday night:

THE BRUINS HAVE A 10-GOAL-SCORER

With a pair of goals Tuesday, Brad Marchand became Boston’s first player to reach 10 goals on the season. The B’s were the last team without a nine-goal scorer entering Tuesday and were one of three (Buffalo, Arizona) on Monday who hadn’t seen a player get into double digits.

Along the lines of the Dec. 23 thing, that’€™s also been a good date for Brad Marchand, as he had two goals Tuesday night and a hat trick against the Panthers on Dec. 23, 2011.

Also, oddly enough, the Bruins have had at least one player score two goals in their last four Dec. 23 games. Shawn Thornton had two against the Thrashers in 2010, Marchand had the aforementioned hat trick in 2011, Jarome Iginla scored two against the Predators last season and both Marchand and Eriksson scored twice Tuesday.

LOUI ERIKSSON IS… SCORING GOALS?

Eriksson scored twice Tuesday night (one was an empty-netter) and now has three goals in the last two games and six in the last eight. Entering December, Eriksson had never scored more than three goals in a month since joining the Bruins. He now has six this month. Eriksson led the Bruins with seven shot attempts Tuesday, with three of them ending up on goal.

POWER PLAY SCORES AGAIN

The Bruins got a goal from their second power-play unit Sunday against the Sabres, and Tuesday provided a reminder of what the team’€™s first power-play unit can do when people are healthy.

With Zdeno Chara setting up shop in front of the net, Torey Krug fed David Krejci, who blasted a one-timer that appeared to go off Chara on its way into the net. The goal was Krejci’€™s first power-play goal of the season and fourth goal overall in his injury-riddled campaign.

BRUINS GIVE UP TWO ON FOUR SHOTS

Exactly one year ago, Predators goalie Carter Hutton started against the Bruins and allowed two goals on the first four shots he faced. On Tuesday, Tuukka Rask did that against the Predators.

The first tally came as a result of some shoddy defense from Krug and Kevan Miller, with James Neal going around Krug at the blue line and feeding Colin Wilson, who protected the puck well as he went to the net and finished with a backhander past Rask.

While that first goal was pretty for the Predators, their second wasn’€™t pretty for anyone. Calle Jarnkrok took a wrist shot that slipped under Rask’€™s right arm to tie the game. Rask appeared to be in position to make the save and, whether he was screened by Dennis Seidenberg or not, should have had it.

Scott McLaughlin contributed to this article.

Why December 23 is a meaningful day for the Bruins

12.23.14 at 1:02 pm ET
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The Bruins were in a similar position in 2010 to where they are now. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The Bruins were in a similar position in 2010 to where they are now. (Elsa/Getty Images)

It’€™s been a while since the Bruins approached the Christmas break as a fringe playoff team. The last time it happened, however, they won the Stanley Cup.

Dec. 23, 2010 was a critical day in that ultimately successful season. The Bruins, coming off a postseason collapse against the Flyers the previous spring, were struggling.

Offseason acquisition Nathan Horton, who was in the midst of what would be a nine-game slump with no goals and one assist, was looking like a very talented non-factor who appeared to be bringing Milan Lucic down with him.

The team was going through the motions and it was taking them nowhere. It led to the Bruins losing four of five games, punctuated by a troubling no-show in a 3-0 shutout loss to the Ducks on Garden ice. Claude Julien, who historically is a set-it-and-forget-it guy with his lines, pulled Horton off the top line and replaced him with Blake Wheeler in that game.

After that 3-0 loss, the eighth-place Bruins had two days off before they would host the Thrashers in their final game before the holiday break. Those two days were the height of “Fire Claude Mania.”

In his weekly interview with CBS radio, President Cam Neely was asked if they were going to fire the coach. Neely said the Bruins weren’€™t, but did say, “€œI can understand why the fans are frustrated and may be calling for a coaching change.”€

Dennis Seidenberg doesn’€™t remember too many specifics about the mood of the team at that point, only saying Tuesday that “€œit was really dead.”

Then, on Dec. 23, the Bruins came out and absolutely ran over the Thrashers. Shawn Thornton fought Eric Boulton off the faceoff and spent the next five minutes in the penalty box devising a plan to score two goals in the game. Patrice Bergeron had a shorty. Michael Ryder had a power play goal. Lucic sucker-punched Freddy Meyer and somehow didn’€™t get suspended.

Ference fought. Horton fought. Marc freaking Savard fought. The game was an explosion of emotions and every bit the coming out party that the team had forgotten to have earlier in the season.

“I think that was definitely a defining game for us,” Brad Marchand said Tuesday. “We turned it on and really didn’€™t look back.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Claude Julien, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton,

Adam McQuaid progressing, Bruins prepare for Predators

12.23.14 at 12:06 pm ET
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Adam McQuaid

Adam McQuaid

Adam McQuaid joined the Bruins for Tuesday’€™s morning skate prior to Boston’€™s last game before the Christmas break.

McQuaid, who has not played since breaking his thumb on Nov. 18, is not yet ready to return to the lineup but has been skating since earlier this month. Claude Julien said after the team’s morning skate that McQuaid’s rehab is “on track.”

The Bruins will keep the same lineup that they used for the second half of Sunday’€™s game as they look to head into the holiday with a win over the Predators.

The lineup in morning skate was as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Cunningham
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Griffith – Fraser

Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Seidenberg
Krug – Miller

Rask

Read More: Adam McQuaid,

David Krejci thinks Bruins should prioritize first line, too

12.22.14 at 4:05 pm ET
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David Krejci might want to know who his right wing is as much as anyone else.

Claude Julien‘€™s hands are tied. Partially because of Krejci’€™s injuries, he waited too long to try Loui Eriksson with Krejci and Milan Lucic. Eriksson has undeniable chemistry with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly, but the Bruins haven’€™t given him a chance to develop chemistry with Lucic and Krejci. Given where they currently fall in the standings, the B’€™s might not think they can afford a games-long getting-to-know-you period if the B’€™s don’€™t win games in the process.

So that leaves Krejci, who thought he knew who he’€™d have for linemates after Jarome Iginla left, with four different right wings (Seth Griffith, Simon Gagne, Craig Cunningham and, ever so briefly, Eriksson) in 14 games this season.

“Everything was –€” it looked like we were going to play with Loui from the beginning. If not, then someone else, so it was kind of a tough situation,” Krejci told WEEI.com Monday. “I was preparing myself the whole summer [as though] I would be playing with Loui. That was on my mind. Then some injuries and those guys play pretty well together right now with Carl and Kells as a line, so yeah.”

Added Krejci: “I’€™m happy that we’€™re winning, but I’€™d like to be putting some points up as well. That’€™s why I’€™m here. That’€™s why they re-signed me. It gets a little frustrating at times. You always play with somebody else, but I’€™m sure we’€™re going to find the right guy. If not, who knows what happens? There’€™s always trades, you know.”

On Sunday, Julien finally started Eriksson on Krejci’€™s right wing to open the game. The line had a so-so first period, but allowed a second-period goal and followed it up with a shift that saw Krejci give the puck away and Lucic mishandle the puck at the blue line. Krejci’€™s misplay led to a Sabres scoring chance; Lucic’€™s forced Dougie Hamilton to trip Tyler Ennis in the neutral zone and put the Bruins on the penalty kill.

Julien returned Eriksson to Soderberg’€™s line, with Kelly scoring on the trio’€™s first shift back together. Eriksson scored the game-winner in overtime on a feed from Lucic, but it was during a line change.

While Eriksson with Kelly and Soderberg has been Boston’€™s most consistent line this season, it isn’€™t like any of Boston’€™s forwards are having particularly good seasons. The Bruins are the only team in the league without a nine-goal scorer. They’€™re one of three teams (with the Sabres and Coyotes the other two) who haven’€™t seen a player reach 10 goals.

Part of the Bruins’€™ offensive problem has been that they’€™ve only had Krejci for 14 games, leading Julien to mix and match different lines and play Soderberg’€™s line against other team’€™s top forwards and defensemen. Krejci’€™s return allows the Soderberg line to go back to playing against bottom-six players and third-pairing defensemen, which makes their job easier.

In a perfect world, the Bruins shouldn’€™t need Eriksson to win those shifts, as Soderberg is probably a little better than a third-line player, while Kelly has been a solid third-liner for years.

The Bruins value secondary scoring, but having a good first line is more important. The Bruins are better off when Krejci is at his best, and Krejci’€™s at his best when he’€™s comfortable with his linemates rather than taking turns training potential candidates.

So maybe it’€™s Eriksson and maybe it’€™s somebody else, but teams don’€™t miss the playoffs because they don’€™t have great third lines; they do because they don’€™t have first lines. Krejci is eager for Boston’€™s to take shape.

Read More: Carl Soderberg, David Krejci, Loui Eriksson,

Matt Bartkowski avoids supplemental discipline for hit on Brian Gionta

12.22.14 at 1:05 pm ET
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Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski was not given any supplemental discipline for a hit to Sabres captain Brian Gionta that earned him a game misconduct Sunday night.

The NHL Department of Player Safety explained their decision not to punish the Boston defenseman in a series of tweets Monday, calling the hit “œincidental head contact.”

After Monday’€™s practice, Bartkowski said that he didn’€™t feel the hit was worthy of a suspension.

“It’€™s just a play in the game. You don’€™t like to see players leave the game,” he said. “It’€™s not like it was my intent to injure anybody. It was just a hit, so that’€™s about it.”

Bartkowski had to answer for the hit immediately, dropping the gloves with Marcus Foligno for his first career NHL fight. He said that after leaving the game due to the misconduct, he was more focused on the call than concerned with being suspended.

“I was just pissed that I had to leave the game,” Bartkowski said. “I don’€™t know. I didn’€™t think it was worthy of [a misconduct]. I was just more pissed about that for quite a while.”

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Brian Gionta ‘shaken up’ after hit from Matt Bartkowski

12.22.14 at 12:28 am ET
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Courtesy of Pete Blackburn of Days of Y’Orr, here’s a GIF of Matt Bartkowski’s first-period hit on Sabres captain Brian Gionta.

Bartkowski was given a five-minute interference major and game misconduct for the hit. It also led to Bartkowski’s first NHL fight, as he dropped the gloves with Marcus Foligno following the hit.

Gionta did not return to the game, with Sabres coach Ted Nolan saying the veteran forward was “still a little shaken up” after the game. Bartkowski has never been disciplined by the league before. Sunday was his 100th career regular-season game in the NHL.

Bruins coach Claude Julien declined comment on the hit.

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