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Gregory Campbell, Merlot Line ‘trying to gain that trust from the coaching staff’

03.06.14 at 11:09 pm ET
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Gregory Campbell is never going to be mistaken for a goal-scorer, but he’s been doing a pretty good impression of one these last four games.

Early in the second period of Thursday’s game against Washington, Campbell planted himself in front of the net during an offensive-zone possession and then redirected a Patrice Bergeron one-timer through his own legs and over Braden Holtby‘s right arm for his fourth goal in as many games.

While the goal didn’t come with the entire Merlot Line on the ice (Bergeron had replaced Shawn Thornton to provide a faceoff security blanket on a defensive-zone draw), it did continue a recent upward swing in the fourth line’s effectiveness.

“We’re doing a lot better,” Campbell said of his line. “We’re working hard and trying to work off of each other. Our other three lines have been playing really well and contributing on a nightly basis, and everybody knows that all four lines producing in the playoffs is a good recipe.”

The Bruins don’t need Campbell, Thornton and Daniel Paille to score every game, but they’re hoping this recent stretch of offensive success will build some momentum so the Bruins don’t suffer any letdowns in their play when the fourth line is on the ice.

The trio has never really been a great possession line, but when they’re at the best, they’ve been able to dump the puck in, create some chaos on the forecheck, and turn that into an offensive chance or two before they go for a change.

That’s something they had been missing in late January and early February, when they went seven straight games with a Corsi percentage under .500 and scored just two goals during that span.

“They’re just more in sync,” Claude Julien said. “I think when you watch them play now… they were a little erratic there at some points, and because of that, they were spending more time in their own end than they did at the other end of the ice.”

With six back-to-backs in March and two more in April, the Bruins knew they were going to need the fourth line to take on more ice time to prevent the other three lines from getting overworked. Campbell and his longtime wingers wanted to make sure they made the most of those minutes and showed Julien they were up to the challenge.

“The coaching staff and Claude are always fair to us,” Campbell said. “The harder we work, we tend to get rewarded more with ice time, and the more responsible we are, the more confidence he has in us as a line. He has no problem playing us if we’re playing well and he can trust us.

“So we’re trying to gain that trust from the coaching staff, and we’ve done it time and time again. I think that we’re getting back to that point where we can be out there and contribute.”

Tuukka Rask picks up sixth shutout of season as Bruins turn in stronger effort vs. Capitals

03.06.14 at 9:27 pm ET
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The Bruins turned in a strong defensive effort to give Tuukka Rask his league-leading sixth shutout in a 3-0 win over the Capitals Thursday.

The win marked the first time the B’s have beaten Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby in the regular season. Holtby entered Thursday’s game 4-0-0 against the B’s in regular season play.

After the teams skated to a scoreless first period, Matt Bartkowski sent a nice pass during a delayed penalty to Patrice Bergeron, who fired a shot from the left circle that went off Gregory Campbell‘s stick and past Holtby. Campbell now has four goals in his last four games.

The B’s extended the lead to 2-0 later in the period on a Loui Eriksson goal. Eriksson was returning from a heel infection that had kept him out of Tuesday’s game. Brad Marchand sealed the game with an empty net goal in the third.

Rask had a relatively light night, facing only 14 shots and stopping them all. The Capitals registered 31 shots on goal when the teams met last Saturday.

Andrej Meszaros did not play for the B’s. He took part in Thursday’s morning skate and could play this weekend.

The Bruins will next travel to Florida, where they will face the Lightning Saturday and the Panthers Sunday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- In general, the team turned in a performance lightyears better than the first four games back from the Olympic break. The B’s possessed the puck, didn’t get hemmed in their zone and played a much tighter defensive game than they did during their initial post-Olympic struggles. Shot on goal aren’t always the most telling stat, but Rask only had to face eight shots over the first 40 minutes of play.

- Patrice Bergeron‘s line kept Alexander Ovechkin’s line awfully quiet, as Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Chimera combined for just three shots on goal, with Ovechkin putting one puck on net and and Chimera registering two.

For the sake of comparison, Ovechkin himself had nine shots on goal last Saturday in Washington’s 4-2 win over the Bruins.

The one goal that the line nearly scored came against David Krejci‘s line, but Ovechkin missed the open net on the backhand with Rask out of position.

- The Bruins didn’t get burned by Washington’s highly skilled, highly productive power play. That’s because they stayed out of the penalty box. The Capitals had a pair of power play goals last Saturday against the B’s.

- It’s good to see Loui Eriksson scoring, and his second-period goal was a beauty. Camped out in front, Eriksson took a feed from Soderberg from behind the net and found a small space to roof the puck over Holtby’s right shoulder. The goal was Eriksson’s seventh of the season, while the point was his third in his last two games (one goal, two assists).

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The lack of power plays continues for the Bruins. After combining for just one power play Sunday vs. the Rangers and Tuesday vs. the Panthers, the B’s went without a man advantage Thursday. Campbell’s goal did come during a delayed penalty, but even one power play a game isn’t enough.

- Marchand threw a hit late in the first period that, while going unpenalized, was ill-advised. Well enough after Troy Brouwer had passed the puck out of the Washington zone, Marchand hit him from behind, causing some chatter between the players on the ice. Everyone knows Marchand’s deal, but when he gets bad calls against him based on reputation, that’s why.

What will Andrej Meszaros’ role be with Bruins?

03.06.14 at 12:56 pm ET
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Andrej Meszaros is here, so now what?

Meszaros gives the Bruins seven healthy NHL defensemen for now, and eight once Corey Potter arrives. Potter is more of a clear-cut depth guy, but the B’s will have seven definite NHL guys on the back end for an extended period for the first time since early in the season, when Matt Bartkowski served as a floating healthy scratch of sorts, being rotated in and out of the lineup for Dougie Hamilton and Adam McQuaid.

Bartkowski is a healthy scratch no more and is the team’s No. 4 defenseman, a role that the left-shooting Meszaros probably would like to wrest from the 25-year-old. Meszaros won’t play Thursday (marking his 25th healthy scratch of the season), but he will get into the lineup at some point. The Bruins didn’t part with a third-round pick so they could sit a guy the rest of the way, so it will be interesting to see if the B’s rotate guys in and out of the lineup down the stretch.

“We’€™ll have to wait and see,” Claude Julien said. “All this stuff happened yesterday and I haven’t sat down and made any types of scenarios. But we need to see him practice a little bit and skate with us and we’ll see. At one point you’re going to see him in our lineup, and a lot of it will depend on players’ play. All of them.”

Furthering the idea of a rotation is the fact that Meszaros plays both sides, meaning he could go into the lineup for a number of players, from Bartkowski to Kevan Miller or even one of the team’s veteran defensemen if the B’s want to give anyone a breather.

Meszaros had served as a right defenseman for the Flyers over the last three seasons in Peter Laviolette‘s system. Under current Philadelphia coach Craig Berube, he played the left side when he was in the lineup.

“I really enjoyed the right side because I was up in the play more and up in the rush,” Meszaros said of his role under Laviolette. “The way we played for [Berube], it was different. Both D were stepping up or doing things, so it didn’t matter to me. I kind of liked it. After 10-plus years, it doesn’t really matter to me going left to right.”

“When a defenseman can play both sides, it makes him a more valuable player, and that was one of the things with Meszaros, is that he can play both sides,” Peter Chiarelli said after acquiring the player. “It can change during the game. The same way Claude likes to use more than one center on a line, I know he likes to switch his D around, so we give him that option. It’€™s another tool, and it’s some more depth.”

Meszaros obviously wasn’t Boston’s first option at the trade deadline, but if all goes well, he could be a logical fit for them. The 6-foot-2, 223-pounder is big and strong and the team like what he brings offensively. That doesn’t mean he’s Dennis Seidenberg, a guy who brings all those things and also is a lefty with experience on both sides, but it does mean he could earn some of the minutes for which the team needs to account since losing Seidenberg.

“He’€™s an experienced player; I think he’€™s proved [that] over the years,” Julien said. “He’€™s a big body as well. Offensively he supports the attack well, he’€™s been known to be a pretty good offensive-type defenseman. So with that big body and the way we play I’€™m sure he will defend well also. Again, I think it will be a matter of time to see how well he fits with us.”

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Boy oh boy, does Zdeno Chara not want to talk about Andrej Meszaros

03.06.14 at 12:01 pm ET
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is among the friendliest professional athletes in Boston, so it was a bit odd to see just how much he didn’t want to indulge the media Thursday morning upon the team’s acquisition of his former Ottawa teammate and countryman Andrej Meszaros.

Chara was very short when asked about the team picking up Meszaros, a Slovak defenseman with whom he has played in both Ottawa and the Olympics.

After his session with the media was over, Chara was back to his normal self, politely explaining he would rather the media find out what they want to know about Meszaros from Meszaros directly.

Following is the transcript of Chara’s session Wednesday:

Q: What can you tell us about –

A: Nothing. Ask him.

Q: Yeah?

A: What do you want to know?

Q: Your relationship with him, what he brings to the table. Anything. What’ve you got to say?

A: Ask him. He’s going to be the best guy to ask all those things. You should know. You watch hockey.

Q: I know how much he weighs, how tall he is, where he’s played and everything.

A: Do you watch [his] games, too?

Q: Yeah.

A: So you should know those things.

Q: Is it good to have another Slovak on the team?

A: I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as it’s nice to have more depth on the team. That being said, he’s a Slovak. Obviously it’s nice to have a countryman, but I don’t look at it what nationality guys are. I just like to have more depth on the team. For sure he brings that dimension.

Q: So you’re glad he’s here.

A: I think I’ve answered, no?  Read the rest of this entry »

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Loui Eriksson in, Andrej Meszaros out for Bruins vs. Capitals

03.06.14 at 11:54 am ET
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Loui Eriksson will return to the lineup as expected Thursday night against the Capitals. Eriksson had been kept off the ice the previous two days due to a heel infection that made for discomfort when putting his foot into his skate.

After Thursday’s morning skate, Eriksson explained that he initially cut his heel during the Olympics and that the cut became infected.

“I got a cut in Russia, when I actually went into the cold tub,” he said. “I got a cut on my heel. So it started to get infected here the last couple of days. I’€™m on antibiotics right now, so I think it will be healing pretty good.”

Eriksson said that he played through some pain in Sunday’s win over the Rangers, a game in which he picked up a pair of assists.

“Skating there was kind of painful, but it went away after 10 minutes, after you’€™d been skating around,” he said, “but it’€™s feeling much better now and I think I’€™m going to play tonight, so it’€™s good.”

The recently acquired Andrej Meszaros will not play, though he is in town and took part in Thursday’s morning skate. Thursday will mark Meszaros’ 25th healthy scratch of the season.

As such, the only change to the lineup from Tuesday’s game is that Eriksson will be in, Jordan Caron will be out and Tuukka Rask is expected to be in goal for the B’s.

Defenseman Corey Potter, who was picked up on waivers Wednesday, is not yet with the team but will arrive Thursday afternoon and travel with the B’s to Tampa on Friday.

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

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Andrej Meszaros hopes for fewer healthy scratches with Bruins

03.05.14 at 7:02 pm ET
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Recently acquired Bruins defenseman Andrej Meszaros is on his way to Boston and could be available to the Bruins as early as Thursday night. Speaking to a pool reporter, he expressed his excitement to become a Bruin as he moves on from his days with the Flyers.

Meszaros was teammates with Zdeno Chara and Chris Kelly in Ottawa and was also a junior teammate of Milan Lucic. The Slovakia native has also been Olympic teammates with Chara since 2006. He said he spoke to Boston’s captain following the trade and looks forward to being a Bruin.

“I’€™m really excited obviously,” Meszaros said. “It’€™s a great opportunity, a great team and a great organization that I am happy to be a part of. Obviously I really liked it here in Philadelphia. It was great — great guys great organization. But this year it wasn’€™t working out for me. I wasn’€™t playing much, I was in and out of the lineup so I am happy now that I have the opportunity now to play hopefully more consistently and I’€™m better. So I’€™m happy it will be a new, fresh start for me and I am really excited.”

In and out of the lineup, indeed. Meszaros was a healthy scratch in 24 games for the Flyers this season and averaged 17:22 of ice time in the games he did play. Once the Flyers traded for Andrew MacDonald, Meszaros became expendable. Now that he’s in Boston, Meszaros hopes the scratches don’t come as frequently.

“It’€™s tough for any player who is not playing regularly,” he said. “We have eight defensemen over here and they were rotating us in and out of the lineup. It’€™s never fun; you always want to play every game and I didn’€™t have the chance to do that here. Hopefully I can do it in Boston and as much as I really like it here. Everybody was so nice to me, all of the trainers and everybody, the guys, all the guys in the room. This is a new opportunity for me and I’€™m really excited. I put it behind me now and I am going to focus for Boston and play the best that I can.”

A left shot who can play both sides, Meszaros could either try to challenge Matt Bartkowski for a spot on the left side or Kevan Miller and (eventually) Adam McQuaid for a spot on the right side. At the very least, he provides the Bruins with depth.

There may be some on-ice growing pains with Meszaros as he leaves Philadelphia, however. Peter Chiarelli told him that it might take time for him to get acclimated to the Bruins’ system, as Philadelphia plays more man-to-man and the B’s play more of a zone. The 28-year-old defenseman doesn’t think adjusting will be too big an issue.

“I think every system is different and I don’€™t think it’€™s going to be hard for me to adjust to that,” he said. “I think I’€™m pretty easy; anything the coach will tell me to do I think I can pick it up really quickly. So I don’€™t think I should have any problem with that.”

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Loui Eriksson has heel infection, wasn’t part of trade talks

03.05.14 at 6:04 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed following the trade deadline that forward Loui Eriksson‘s absence from the ice the last two days had nothing to do with trade talks, but rather a minor ailment. Chiarelli revealed that ailment to be a heel infection.

“Very minor heel injury,” Chiarelli said. “A little infection in the heel that got aggravated when he put his heel in the boot.

“So no, we weren’t trading him,” Chiarelli added with an expression that was half grinning and half annoyed. “‘€¦ He should be fine for tomorrow.”

Eriksson missed Tuesday’s game due to the infection. Claude Julien had said earlier Wednesday that Eriksson was expected to be on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate and play in Thursday night’s game against the Capitals.

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

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