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Chris Kelly: ‘I should be fine’

11.22.13 at 6:37 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Chris Kelly said that the injury with which he is dealing shouldn’t limit him any further. Claude Julien had said the injury was preventing him from taking all of his faceoffs, which is why Carl Soderberg took eight draws Thursday.

Soderberg won six of his eight faceoffs, while Kelly only won three of 10.

“I should be fine,” Kelly said Friday. “Maybe I’ll get Carl to take some more. He did well last night in the circle. That’s a luxury to have, is guys on one line that can take draws. We’ll see how it goes.”

Soderberg is a former center who has made the move to wing in the NHL, so he’s experienced enough to take faceoffs. In the past, both Rich Peverley and Kelly took faceoffs for the Bruins’ third line.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Adam McQuaid questionable for Saturday’s game

11.22.13 at 12:27 pm ET
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Adam McQuaid

Adam McQuaid

WILMINGTON — Adam McQuaid took part in Friday’s practice with the Bruins, marking the fifth straight day he has skated and second straight day he’s taken the ice with teammates.

“I’m getting there,” McQuaid said after the practice. “Again, today was better than yesterday and got into some game-like situations, some down-low play. I’m happy with each day’s progressing and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

McQuaid has missed the last six games with a lower-body injury and his status for Saturday is unknown. He did note that he expects to still be playing through some pain when he eventually does return.

“It’s probably something I’m going to have to play through a little bit,” he said, “but you want to make sure it’s something you’re not going to re-injure yourself when you’re doing what you need to do when you’re on the ice.”

Given that Kevan Miller held his own Thursday, the B’s can likely afford to give McQuaid another game of rest rather than rushing him back.

“No doubt, absolutely,” Claude Julien said. “We’ll see how Adam is tomorrow morning, and we’ll make a decision then. If he’s not quite ready to go, we know what we’ve got. I have no issues with putting [Miller] in the lineup tomorrow as well.”

Dennis Seidenberg, who is out for about a week with a lower-body injury, did not practice.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

 

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Kevan Miller shows he can handle NHL in debut

11.21.13 at 11:40 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

It ended with Reilly Smith feeding Carl Soderberg in the slot and Soderberg burying his third goal of the season. The middle of the play featured Chris Kelly winning a one-on-one battle behind the net and working the puck to Smith. But the Bruins’ second goal Thursday night started with Kevan Miller keeping the puck in the zone and dumping it down low.

It was a simple play, it was the right play, and it was one of many instances of Miller doing exactly what the Bruins wanted him to do in his NHL debut. The 26-year-old defenseman never looked out of place in the 17:42 he played against the Blues. He broke up several rushes and didn’t let forwards get behind him. He battled in front of the net — and at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, he more than held his own there. He made quick plays to get the puck out of the zone, whether it was a short pass or a flip up the boards.

And, just as he did on that goal, he stood his ground in the offensive zone when the time was right, but never took himself out of the play.

“Kevan Miller played extremely well,” Claude Julien said. “He’s a defensive defenseman who makes good, strong plays. He did that tonight. He was strong, I really liked his game. I thought he was a poised player out there for his first real NHL game.”

Miller will never catch fans’ eyes the way Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski do, because offense simply isn’t a big part of his game. But he’s proven to be a dependable player at every level, and that’s afforded him an opportunity few people thought he’d have a few years ago.

Miller wasn’t drafted, and he didn’t garner a whole lot of interest once he wrapped up his senior season at the University of Vermont in 2011. But the Bruins saw enough to give him an amateur tryout contract. Then in six games in Providence at the end of the 2010-11 season, they saw enough to invite him to training camp. And then in training camp, they saw enough to sign him to an AHL contract.

Miller has continued to defy the odds in the two years since. In a system stacked with young, talented defensemen — almost all of whom were more highly-touted — Miller has just continued to get better and force himself into a bigger and bigger role.

He performed well enough in this year’s training camp to make the Bruins’ opening night roster as an eighth defenseman, but the B’s eventually decided it wasn’t going to do anyone any good to have him sit in the press box every night. They placed him on waivers, and fortunately no one claimed him, allowing the B’s to send him back to Providence.

“To be an eighth defenseman is all good and dandy,” Miller said. “But I just know the organization felt it was best for me to continue to play games and develop down there, and I completely agree with that. I think that’s helped me a long way.”

While it was a bit of a surprise to see Miller make the team out of camp, it was no surprise to see him be the guy the Bruins turned to with Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid injured. Besides being in the same sort of stay-at-home mold as those two, he was also the P-Bruin most ready to step in and contribute.

Whether or not Miller can stick with the Bruins remains to be seen. He showed on Thursday that he can play in the NHL, but he could once again find himself the victim of the numbers game once everyone’s healthy.

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Chris Kelly dealing with minor injury

11.21.13 at 11:37 pm ET
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Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly

After Carl Soderberg took eight faceoffs in the Bruins’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Blues, B’s coach Claude Julien revealed that Soderberg’s faceoff duties are increasing due to a minor injury to Chris Kelly.

“Kells isn’t 100 percent to take faceoffs,” Julein said. “Nothing major, but he’s been – the last couple of games have been a bit of a struggle, so Carl’s gone out there in those kind of situations, but in our own end I kept putting another guy out there for that reason.”

Soderberg is playing wing for the Bruins after being a center throughout his career in Sweden, so having to take draws is nothing new to him.

“He’s very capable of taking face-offs; he’s played center for a long time,” Julien said of Soderberg. “He’s always part of that group that works on face-offs on game day so we’re going to keep him going in that area so that if the first centerman gets kicked out, we know we’ve got another one there.”

Soderberg won six of eight faceoffs Thursday, while Kelly won just three of his 10 draws.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Bruins fall to Blues in shootout

11.21.13 at 9:54 pm ET
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Derek Roy frustrated Tuukka Rask a number of times Thursday, and Roy got the last laugh as he scored the clinching shootout goal in a 3-2 Blues win at TD Garden.

The Bruins grabbed the lead late in the first period on Gregory Campbell’s first goal of the season, but Tuukka Rask let a wobbling puck off the stick of Roy sneak through his five-hole 31 seconds later to tie the game going into the second period.

David Backes tipped a puck from the point past Rask less than four minutes into the second, but Carl Soderberg tied the game at 18:41 by scoring against the team that had drafted him nine years ago.

The teams skated to a scoreless period in which the Bruins outshot the Blues, 11-6. Roy had a breakaway early on in overtime, but hit the crossbar, while Soderberg was stopped by Jaroslav Halak on a breakaway in the final minute of OT. Loui Eriksson missed the net on another solid chance for the B’s in the extra period.

The Bruins will host the Hurricanes Saturday in the second game of their three-game home stand.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Roy’s goal was a rather weak one for Rask to allow, and it continued a rather troubling trend for the B’s. With that goal, 10 of the 40 goals the Bruins have allowed have come in the final two minutes of a period. That obviously burned them last Friday when they let the Senators back into the game at the end of the first period, so it’s an issue that needs addressing.

- Milan Lucic had to take a faceoff against Backes, and that essentially led to a goal for the Blues. Backes won the draw cleanly, drew it back to Kevin Shattenkirk and got to the front of the net in time to tip Shattenkirk’s wrist shot past Rask.

- That’s now five games without a point for David Krejci, which marks his first real cold stretch of the season. Krejci had points in nine of the first 10 games of the salon and 13 of the first 17.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- With Campbell’s goal, the members of the Bruins’ fourth line have combined for five goals over the last six games (including Daniel Paille’s shorthanded goal Tuesday against the Rangers). Paille and Shawn Thornton each have two goals apiece in that stretch, while Campbell has one.

Campbell helped keep the Bruins’ possession alive prior to the goal by picking up an Ian Cole turnover as the Blues were trying to get it out, and his work was eventually recorded when he took a pass in the high slot from Paille and beat Halak.

- Soderberg’s goal continued a nice little stretch for the Bruins’ third line as both he and Reilly Smith now have three points over their last three games.

- It was smooth sailing for Kevan Miller in his NHL debut, as the 26-year-old didn’t have any costly mistakes while he also managed to contribute offensively. Miller kept the puck in and sent it down low prior to Soderberg’s goal, with Chris Kelly sending it to Reilly Smith and Smith feeding Soderberg.

- There’s no such thing as a playoff atmosphere this early in the season, but the Bruins were playing against one of the best teams in the league and went at it the way they have in postseasons past: with depth. All four of the Bruins’ lines had at least five shots on goal Thursday in a game that saw a balanced offensive attack from the B’s.

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Brad Marchand ‘running out of race track pretty fast’

11.21.13 at 2:22 pm ET
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NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to discuss the Bruins’ upcoming game against the Blues, the recent struggles of Brad Marchand, as well as other news from across the NHL.

Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

Boston have been rolling as of late, winning six out of its last seven games. Despite the dominant run in November, some members of the Bruins have been slumping, namely Marchand. The 25-year-old winger has yet to really find his bearings so far this year, as he has seen a dip in his production (eight points in 21 games) while increasing his turnovers and penalties. Bruins coach Claude Julien‘s frustration with Marchand has become apparent over the last few days, as Marchand was demoted to the fourth line during Monday night’s 4-1 win over Carolina.

“[Marchand's] just going through tough times right now as a player on the ice and he’s not helping himself at all,” McGuire said. “He is running out of race track pretty fast in terms of some of his decision-making.”

The Bruins will have a tough task in their next game, as they will face off against the Blues, who hold the third seed in the Western Conference with a 14-3-3 record. St. Louis, off to its best 20-game start in franchise history, has gotten a big boost from Alexander Steen, who leads the NHL with 17 goals.

“[St. Louis] learned a lot from their first-round loss to Los Angeles last year, where it was just a battle of attrition,” McGuire said. It was just unbelievably savage the entire series and obviously Steen is off to a great start. It’s the depth of their team. … they remind me so much of the Boston Bruins. They really do.The teams are so similar. … This is a great game you guys are going to have tonight. Unbelievable game.”

Elsewhere in the NHL, a former Bruin’s play is starting to attract attention, as Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas has been viewed as a possible candidate to the U.S. Olympic team. Thomas has bounced back from a poor start to post solid numbers over the last month (2.49 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in November).

“He’s definitely worked his way back into the discussion, I can tell you that right now,” McGuire said. “He’s back into the discussion, that doesn’t mean that he’s going to make the team. One of the reasons why he’s back in the discussion, the injury to Jonathan Quick, who won’t be back until December, maybe even not until the middle of December. The other thing is Craig Anderson and Jimmy Howard have both been lukewarm … and Cory Schneider is sitting on the bench in New Jersey behind Martin Brodeur.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

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Matt Bartkowski: ‘Hopefully I play well enough so they can’t take me out’

11.21.13 at 12:40 pm ET
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Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski had no intention of coming out of Tuesday’s game against the Rangers when, with Dennis Seidenberg already done for the game, he crashed into the boards and hurt his left leg. He also has no plans on coming out of the Bruins’ lineup.

After getting banged up, Bartkowski missed the remainder of the second period Monday, as he likened it to hitting one’s funny bone and said he “couldn’t really move.” He returned to play the third period and appeared hampered, though he said Thursday that he wasn’t dealing with anything more than a little tightness. He still managed to log over 21 minutes in the game.

“It would have had to be something that the trainers would have had to tell me I couldn’t play,” Bartkowski said Thursday. “There’s five D; you’ve got to play.”

Thursday’s game will be the sixth consecutive contest in which Bartkowski has played for the Bruins, which will double the three games in a row he got last month when Claude Julien did some shuffling on the back end to get him some ice time. With Seidenberg out at least a week, it doesn’t look like Bartkowski will be exiting the lineup in the immediate future.

Obviously, Bartkowski finds himself in a position where he should be extremely motivated. He’s been given games here and there this season, but he has been the team’s seventh defenseman, and this stretch of games provides him as good a chance as any to earn a full-time job on the B’s blue line.

“Of course,” Bartkowski said. “Whenever I do get into games, especially this longer stretch, hopefully I play well enough so they can’t take me out.”

Bartkowski has played the last five games on a pairing with Johnny Boychuk. He’s generally been fifth among defensemen in time on ice (Torey Krug has played less), with Tuesday’s 21:13 the most he’s played in an NHL regular-season game (he played more in overtime games last postseason against the Maple Leafs and Rangers).

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