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Claude Julien visited Steven Stamkos in hospital

11.25.13 at 1:10 pm ET
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Steven Stamkos broke his right tibia vs. the Bruins earlier this month. (AP)

Steven Stamkos broke his right tibia vs. the Bruins earlier this month. (AP)

Steven Stamkos had a rough time the last time he was in Boston, as he broke his tibia in the second period of a Lightning loss on Nov. 11 and had to stay in town to get surgery.

The NHL’s third-leading goal-scorer (still) was off crutches Monday as he met the Tampa media, and he revealed that B’s coach Claude Julien paid him a visit while he was in the hospital. He also received a text message from Zdeno Chara wishing him well on behalf of the Bruins.

“I had him at the Olympic Camp and I got to know Steve the person,” Julien said after Monday’s morning skate. “When you look at what he is in the league and what he’s accomplished, to have that happen to him I thought it was just important to go by and see how he was doing. It was as simple as that.

“Again, it’s a guy – I said that after the game – he’s one of those players that people from all the different cities come up to watch and play and he’s one of the reasons we fill buildings and you hate to see that, from anybody’s point of view, to see a guy like that get injured that way. So I stopped by and he certainly feels like he wants that opportunity to represent his country and he’s going to do everything he can and I just went there and kind of showed my support.”

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

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Dan Bylsma: Team USA has ‘made note’ of Torey Krug

11.25.13 at 1:07 pm ET
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Torey Krug

Torey Krug

Penguins head coach and Team USA coach Dan Bylsma was asked Monday morning whether Torey Krug‘s name has come up in discussions as a possible candidate for the Olympics, with Bylsma saying the Bruins’ rookie’s name has been mentioned.

Krug has six goals and eight assists for 14 points through 23 games, but his status as a third-pairing blueliner (he is sixth in time on ice per game among Bruins’ regular defensemen) who does not play against opposing teams’ stars hurts his candidacy.

“I can without hesitation say that he has been mentioned and talked about a little bit based on how he’s played and the start he’s had and what he’s done so far through 23 games,” Bylsma said. “We’ve got a lot of people out watching hockey games live and on tape. We certainly have made note of how he’s been playing and what he’s done on the back end there.”

Krug was not one of the 18 blueliners invited to this summer’s Olympic orientation camp. Despite his offensive production and strong candidacy for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, the case for him to make Team USA is tough given that it boasts the likes of Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh, Paul Martin, Jack Johnson, Kevin Shattenkirk, Keith Yandle and Dustin Byfuglien, among others, as candidates.

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Dennis Seidenberg skates for Bruins

11.25.13 at 11:57 am ET
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Dennis Seidenberg skated Monday morning and joined his teammates for part of the Bruins’ morning skate. It marked the first time he has skated since suffering a lower-body injury last Tuesday against the Rangers.

Seidenberg is not yet ready to return to the lineup, and it appears Adam McQuaid might not be ready either. McQuaid took part in Monday’s morning skate and has been skating since last Monday, but he was paired with Seidenberg as part of the team’s extra pairing. Claude Julien said there’s a possibility that McQuaid could play Monday, but that doesn’t seem to be a change from his status the last couple games.

If McQuaid does not play Monday, Kevan Miller will play in his third game after being recalled last week.

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

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Reilly Smith is just trying to ‘keep the ball rolling’

11.23.13 at 8:22 pm ET
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Reilly Smith (18) beats Cam Ward for his fourth goal of the season Saturday in Boston. (AP)

Reilly Smith (18) beats Cam Ward for his fourth goal of the season Saturday in Boston. (AP)

Bruins coach Claude Julien looks on the ice and sees the skill of Reilly Smith. Then he has to remind himself and others that he is just 22 years of age.

On Saturday, he saw a sure-fire sign that Smith is fully capable of handling the load at the NHL level. With 6:29 left in the second period of a 1-1 game, Smith broke in on Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward and had the puck on his backhand. Earlier in the season, Smith’s eyes might have gotten too big and he might have felt the pressure to rush the shot. But not Saturday. He waited.

Smith took a pass from Carl Soderberg in the low slot between the circles, skated across the crease and flipped the puck just hard enough that Ward couldn’t control it, providing the go-ahead goal, already the fourth of the season with his new team.

“Kells [Chris Kelly] was tied up in front so he kind of set up a good pick, I didn’t want to force it right through and I thought I might have a little more net going to my backhand,” Smith explained. “Cam [Ward] still almost had it so I was kind of lucky that it snuck through.”

Does Saturday’s patience on the goal show he’s getting more comfortable?

“Absolutely, just little things like that where probably a few weeks or a month ago I probably wouldn’t have done that, I probably would have tried to get it on net right away,” Smith said. “With every day, you build confidence.

“Every day gets a little bit easier. When you stay with the same linemates, for a few weeks or a month, everyday gets easier, chemistry builds every day so just take it day by day but I think everything is going pretty well right now, just try to keep the ball rolling.”

With Kelly and Carl Soderberg on the third line, the young winger acquired along with Loui Eriksson from Dallas for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley is looking more and more ready to fit in on a regular basis.

“They just feel better more and more about playing together,” Julien said. “They’re reading off of each other extremely well; I said that earlier in an interview about how they’re just reading off each other, they’re anticipating, so they’re always on top of the puck. We still have some lines right now that are kind of waiting to see what the puck carrier is going to do with it and you hope that with time we can get that same level as that third line is right now of anticipating well. They know exactly where they want to go and where they’re going to put the puck so they’re on top of it all the time and the last few games they’ve had a lot of chances and a lot of offensive zone time.

“Again, we’re talking about a young player here. I keep saying it all the time, we always seem to overlook his age and he’s a young player. And the way I think he’s handled himself in pressure situations and handling the puck a little bit better and holding onto it. And at the same time, I thought tonight he shot the puck a little bit more; he had a little bit better of a nose for the net and before, looking to make plays versus shooting the puck. So he’s really turned a corner and is really coming along well for a young player.”

It’s not just Julien either. Smith is winning over veteran teammates at the same time.

“I didn’t know much about him before he got traded,” David Krejci said. “I know he’s a great player, he’s still young, but he’s playing like a ten year vet [veteran]. It’s good to see him doing well; hopefully he can keep it up.”

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Claude Julien tweaks overtime approach to avoid shootout

11.23.13 at 5:45 pm ET
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Claude Julien

Claude Julien

The Bruins showed they don’t like the shootout Thursday night by saying they don’t like the shootout. Claude Julien did it Saturday by loading up on forwards during overtime.

In an attempt to get some scoring during the five-minute 4-on-4 session, Julien played Patrice Bergeron’s line with Zdeno Chara and then David Krejci‘s line with Johnny Boychuk, so three forwards and one defenseman rather than two and two.

“We’ve practiced that this year when we’ve done our 4-on-4,” Julien said following the win. “For me, we haven’t been very lucky in shootouts — or we haven’t gotten much out of our shootouts — so I just thought it was important to maybe get a line out there, give us maybe some more offense because of the fact they’re used to playing with each other and not about taking that chance, but taking that strategy and having one defenseman there and making sure a forward always came back. Tonight it paid off.”

Julien’s move paid off, as the B’s got a goal from Krejci’s line when Jarome Iginla split two Hurricanes defenders to set up Krejci’s game-winning goal in Boston’s 3-2 win over Carolina.

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Breaking down a ridiculous 22-minute stretch of Bruins dominance

11.23.13 at 5:31 pm ET
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At the 9:13 mark of the first period, Carolina’s Jeff Skinner wristed a shot on net that Chad Johnson turned aside. Then the Hurricanes didn’t register another shot on goal until the 11:56 mark of the second, a stretch of more than 22 minutes.

Think about that. More than a full period of hockey without a single shot on goal. The Hurricanes only even attempted four shots, and three of those were blocked.

Basically, it was about as lopsided of a stretch as you’ll see. The Bruins strung together one dominant shift after another, barely letting the Hurricanes out of their own zone, never mind into the Bruins zone.

The B’s put 15 shots on goal during the 22-minute run, and attempted 24. At one point during the middle of it, they reeled off 15 straight attempts without surrendering any (see the flat line in the middle of the Extra Skater graph below).

That long, flat red line is what happens when a team can't get into the offensive zone. (Extra Skater)

That long, flat red line is what happens when a team can’t get into the offensive zone. (Extra Skater)

It was the kind of stretch coaches dream about, and it was a showcase of how dominant the Bruins can be when they have all four lines going at once. The Hurricanes are obviously not one of the best teams in the NHL, but to go on a run like that against any team is impressive. Read the rest of this entry »

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David Krejci bails Bruins out in overtime

11.23.13 at 3:39 pm ET
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David Krejci

David Krejci

The Bruins let the Hurricanes hang around in a game they had no business being in, but the B’s got away with a 3-2 overtime win thanks to a David Krejci goal off a feed from Jarome Iginla.

The goal was Krejci’s first point in six games and improved the B’s to an Eastern Conference-best 32 points on the season.

Carolina came back to tie the game in the third period on a Patrick Dwyer shorthanded goal off a Milan Lucic turnover, sending the game into overtime despite the fact that the B’s had carried the play through the first 40 minutes.

The Hurricanes got on the board in the first period when, with Carl Soderberg in the box for hooking, Andrej Sekera fired a wrist shot from the point that sailed past Chad Johnson. The B’s answered back with a power play goal of their own, as Zdeno Chara was in front to pick up a rebound off a Lucic shot and put it past Cam Ward.

From there, the Bruins dominated play to the tune of registering 15 consecutive shots on goal, including Reilly Smith‘s fourth goal of the season at 13:31 of the second period. Though the B’s entered the third period with a one-goal lead, they easily could have led by two or three goals in a game that saw missed opportunities pile up.

The Bruins will finish their three-game home stand Monday when they host the Penguins. As of the end of Saturday’s Bruins game, the B’s and Penguins are currently first and second in the Eastern Conference, respectively.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Chris Kelly’s line turned in another strong performance as the B’s continued to get production from their bottom-six forwards. Smith’s goal was meant that prior to Krejci’s goal, the last five forwards to score for the B’s were from bottom-six forwards. The B’s got goals from Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille Tuesday against the Rangers, while Gregory Campbell and Soderberg provided the team’s goals Thursday against the Blues.

- The Bruins dominated the first two periods, so much so that the Hurricanes went 22:43 without a shot on goal. That’s the amount of time that came between a Jeff Skinner shot midway through the first and Eric Staal‘s slapshot on Johnson for the Hurricanes’ first shot on goal of the second period.

The Bruins held a 15-0 shots on goal advantage during that span.

- The Bruins got away with one in the second period when Chara slashed and snapped the stick of Jiri Tlusty while the Carolina forward was on a breakaway. There was no call on the play.

- Chris Kelly appears to be better after splitting faceoff responsibilities with Soderberg Thursday due to an undisclosed injury. Kelly took all of his line’s draws Saturday and won 11 of 16 in regulation.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR BRUINS

- Hopefully Johnson was screened on Sekera’s goal, for his sake. Both Brad Marchand and Chara seemed to obstruct his view, which would explain why the puck sailed in so easily.

Other than that, there were no issues with Johnson. Of course, he was hardly tested, as Tlusty’s breakaway wold have been his biggest challenge, but it ended prematurely. You obviously can’t blame a goalie for a shorthanded 2-on-0.

- File this under unknown: The B’s appeared dodged an injury bullet, as Torey Krug seemed hobbled after blocking a shot late in the third period. He went down the tunnel, but returned to the bench. He did not return to the ice, however. Krug noted after the game that he was fine.

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