|04.05.14 at 3:33 pm ET|
Johnny Boychuk broke a tie in the third period, while Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly provided insurance to give the Bruins a 5-2 victory over the Flyers Saturday. With the win, the B’s clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins gave some regulars the day off, though the team didn’t term either one a healthy scratch. Jarome Iginla missed his second game of the season, with Loui Eriksson playing on Krejci’s line in his place. Kevan Miller missed his first game after playing in 33 straight contests.
Krejci scored at 15:56 of the first period, finding a loose puck in front after Eriksson put the initial shot on net. Krejci corralled the puck, took his time and lifted it over a sprawling Ray Emery.
The Flyers tied the game in the second period with a power play goal from Wayne Simmonds, but Lucic gave the Bruins the lead back just 19 seconds later with a blistering slap shot from the high slot off a feed from Krejci down low. Jay Rosehill answered that with his second goal of the season.
The Bruins finally separated for good in the third, with Boychuk firing a slap shot that went off Mark Streit on its way past Emery. Milan Lucic made it 4-2 with his second of the game. Kelly added an empty-netter with 20.7 seconds remaining.
Tuukka Rask picked up his 35th win of the season.
The B’s have four games remaining in the regular season. Up next is a two-game road trip to Minnesota and Winnipeg before they play their final home game against the Sabres and finish the season in New Jersey.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Claude Julien clearly is trying to see how well Eriksson can play the Rich Peverley role as a third-liner who fills in for top-six guys, and he looked good playing on the Krejci line Saturday. Eriksson also played on the Krejci line Wednesday and skated on Patrice Bergeron‘s line Thursday.
– After going nine straight games without a goal, Lucic has scored three goals in the last two games. He showed up in the playoffs big-time last season, so it’s good for the B’s to see some more offense out of him as the regular season winds down.
– With an assist on Boychuk’s goal, Bergeron now has points in 11 games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins have fallen victim to some pretty bad penalty calls the last few games, and it continued Saturday with a really weak interference call against Bergeron. With Reilly Smith skating the puck around Kimmo Timonen in the Flyers zone, Bergeron and Timonen made light contact, with Bergeron trying to get out of the way. Bergeron was still whistled for interference.
To make matter worse, Bergeron beat out a hybrid icing after getting out of the penalty box, but icing was still called. Saturday was a rough one for the officials.
– Torey Krug played with a broken stick on a second-period play, allowing the power play that led to Simmonds’ goal. After his stick broke on a giveaway, Krug held on a little too long as he tried to take down Jakub Voracek, and the call was rightfully made.
- In general the Andrej Meszaros-Krug pairing did not look good Saturday. Meszaros is looking more and more likely to be the healthy scratch on the back end when the postseason starts, but Julien isn’t ruling out a rotation. Matt Bartkowski, who figures to be Meszaros’ main competition, played on the second pairing with Boychuk Saturday.
|04.05.14 at 12:49 pm ET|
Bruins forward Gregory Campbell was named the Bruins’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Masterton is give to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Campbell was selected as the Bruins’ nominee by the Boston chapter of the Pro Hockey Writers Association. The nomination comes after he returned from a broken leg suffered in Game 3 off the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins. Campbell finished his shift on the penalty kill after blocking an Evgeni Malkin shot and, after missing the remainder of the postseason, has played in every game this season.
“I guess I’m very thankful for the recognition of what it takes to come back from an injury,” Campbell said Saturday morning. “It’s not an easy thing and it’s something that we all sign up for when we play hockey is the risk of having an injury. But having said that, when I look at the list of past and present nominees and winners, there’s been a lot of inspiring and courageous people that have been nominated and won this award.
“I feel like there’s been far greater challenges that these guys have overcome, so a broken leg to me isn’t much. So, I guess in that sense, I don’t think I’m really deserving of the award. I’m very grateful for the nomination, like I said, there’s a whole long list of people that have shown a lot of courage over the years. I’ll take it and move on.”
Campbell has seven goals and 12 assists this season for 19 points and a plus-1 rating.
|04.04.14 at 1:47 pm ET|
The Bruins returned center Ryan Spooner to Providence Friday. Spooner was recalled on Tuesday on an emergency basis.
Though regular players saw time out of the lineup this week (Jarome Iginla sat Wednesday against Detroit, while Carl Soderberg didn’t play in Toronto as he returned to Boston to be with his wife in anticipation of the birth of a child), Spooner did not play in either contest.
The Bruins did not practice Friday. They will return to action Saturday against the Flyers at TD Garden.
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|04.04.14 at 1:43 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Bruins’ mindset heading into the postseason. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Since the Bruins clinched a playoff spot on March 21, they have gone 4-3 with two consecutive losses to the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs this week.
“They understand it,” McGuire said of the team’s focus heading into the postseason. “They’ve been to the finals in 2011 and had to win three Game 7s — they had to beat Montreal in Game 7, they had to beat Tampa in Game 7 and they had to beat Vancouver on the road in a Game 7. That takes a lot of focus and determination and good portions of that team are back, so they understand that commitment.
“They also lost a heartbreaking Game 6 last year — everybody in Boston, with about three minutes to go, everybody thought there was going to be a Game 7. Obviously there wasn’t because of the offensive explosion of the Blackhawks. I think Boston learned from that.”
The Bruins spent the majority of March on a 12-game winning streak.
“I don’t think there are a lot of hockey lessons that these guys have to learn,” McGuire said. “I’m not that concerned about them, and, again, I throw this out because of the experience I had — I went through this twice in Pittsburgh where we had real good teams and we clinched early — we never had a problem keeping our guys focused and taking them in and out of the lineup. I see Claude [Julien] doing that, and I think he’s doing some really good things with that group.”
|04.04.14 at 1:39 am ET|
The Bruins haven’t won either of their last two games and it doesn’t matter. What a hilarious stretch run.
They care, of course, but the team has reached a point in its schedule that most other teams don’t get to have: the time for not only rest, but mixing and matching in preparation for anything the B’s might encounter when the injuries inevitably come in the postseason.
The most obvious case of this has been Loui Eriksson. The last two games have seen Eriksson used on both David Krejci‘s line (in place of a resting – er, lower-body injury suffering – Jarome Iginla Wednesday) and Patrice Bergeron‘s line (Claude Julien flipped Eriksson and Reilly Smith starting in the second period Thursday).
Giving Eriksson some time on both of the top two lines is a wise move for the B’s late in the season. Should a top-six winger suffer an injury in the postseason, Eriksson would be the most likely option to move up in the lineup, so getting him some level of comfort with those players provides a good insurance policy. When he gets back in the lineup, the Bruins would be wise to use Carl Soderberg at center on one of the top two lines with that line’s center resting.
Rich Peverley used to serve in that role for the B’s, as he got used to playing with pretty much every other forward despite usually serving as a winger on the third line when everyone was healthy. The most notable case of this came in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, when Peverley played on the right wing of Krejci’s line after Nathan Horton suffered a series-ending concussion.
Of course, Eriksson already has experience playing with Brad Marchand and Bergeron from earlier in the season, but he hadn’t played on that line since Dec. 7, as Reilly Smith seized the second-line right wing job while Eriksson was recovering from his second concussion of the season. Eriksson had not played with the Krejci line this season, as the only other game prior to Wednesday that did not feature the Milan Lucic - Krejci – Iginla trio was when Soderberg and Daniel Paille filled in for a sick Lucic in Anaheim.
Eriksson playing on the Bergeron line Wednesday could also be a case of Julien weighing options given that Smith has just one goal in his last 25 games. However, Julien said earlier this week that he’s reluctant to change his lines prior to the postseason.
“Right now, there’s no doubt that you could always move guys around, but when you look at our third line, it’s been so productive,” Julien said. “You look at all our lines. Even if [Smith]‘s not producing, Bergy’s been producing really well, so our lines are producing right now.”
Meanwhile, the different looks on the back end have continued. Julien has yet to make clear his intentions for his six postseason defensemen, though the assumption is that the biggest spot up for grabs is the second-pairing left side job currently held down by Matt Bartkowski. He and Andrej Meszaros are both battling for that job, and the last two games have seen one of them play on the second pairing with Johnny Boychuk while the other was scratched.
Neither one has dazzled thus far this week. Meszaros, who scored Sunday against the Flyers, was a minus-2 Wednesday against the Red Wings, and was part of an odd Red Wings goal that came after the puck was caught in his pants. Bartkowski was also the victim of some bad luck, as the puck was lost in his skates on a first period play before Paul Ranger got the puck and sent it past Chad Johnson.
Though Bartkowski has over 500 games less of NHL experience than Meszaros, he is more experienced in the Bruins system and has already served as a top-4 defenseman for the B’s in the playoffs, which he did in the second round last season against the Rangers.
Julien has five games left to see different looks and weigh his options.
|04.03.14 at 10:26 pm ET|
Paul Ranger opened the game’s scoring six minutes into the first period by picking up a puck that was lost in Matt Bartkowski’s skates and sending it past Chad Johnson. Brad Marchand tied the game 56 seconds later, but a Tyler Bozak goal with 12 seconds left in the period and a James van Riemsdyk tally 52 seconds into the second made it 3-1.
Toronto starter Jonathan Bernier was injured in the third period and left the game, giving way to James Reimer at 8:22 of the third. Bergeron tied the game at 12:51 with a goal against Reimer, and the score remained tied until Torey Krug was called for an iffy hold in overtime, leading to Kadri’s game-winner.
Chad Johnson was in net, losing for the first time in his last seven games. Carl Soderberg and Andrej Meszaros sat for the B’s, with Meszaros serving as a healthy scratch and Soderberg going back to Boston to be with his wife as they await the birth of a child. Jarome Iginla and Matt Bartkowski were both back in the lineup.
The B’s have five games remaining and will host the Flyers Saturday at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Bozak’s goal marked the fifth time in the last four games that the B’s have allowed a goal in the final minute of a period. That certainly isn’t a habit the B’s want to develop heading into the postseason.
- Johnson allowed more than two goals for the first time since Feb. 26, which was the first game back from the Olympic break. Johnson had allowed two or less in the six games leading up to Wednesday, a stretch that saw him allow one goal on two occasions and pick up a shutout on another.
- Bartkowski caught some bad luck with the puck getting caught in his skates prior to Toronto’s first goal and was also out there for Bozak’s goal. That came a night after a puck got caught in Meszaros’ pants to lead to a Red Wings goal. Those two could very well be battling one another for a spot in Boston’s postseason lineup, so this isn’t a good time for either of them to have rough nights.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Bergeron now has nine goals in his last nine games and is sniffing his first 30-goal season since 2005-06. Again, he isn’t going to win the Hart, but this is one of the finest seasons of his career.
- With Soderberg out, the Bruins played Chris Kelly at center with Jordan Caron and Loui Eriksson for the first period, but Eriksson was promoted to the second line from the second period on. That’s a wise move for Claude Julien, as the biggest thing keeping him from putting Eriksson on Patrice Bergeron‘s line is the fact that the third line is so good. On a night in which he didn’t have his normal third line anyway, he was able to try out Eriksson with Bergeron for the first time in a while.
It makes sense for the B’s to do that, as they have to prepare for any situation that might arise in the postseason, which is why it was good to see them try Eriksson on David Krejci‘s line Tuesday in Detroit.
- Lucic’s goal was his first in 10 games. He had only two points — both assists — in his previous nine contests.
|04.02.14 at 10:39 pm ET|
The Bruins saw their nine-game road win streak snapped with a 3-2 loss to the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday night.
Gustav Nyquist caught the Bruins during a line change in the third period and gave the Red Wings the lead 1:42 after Tomas Jurco had tied the game. Jimmy Howard held on from there as the B’s lost their first game in regulation since March 1.
The B’s played without Jarome Iginla, who missed his first game of the season with what the team called a lower-body injury. Given that the team said he wasn’t a healthy scratch, it was Iginla’s first game missed due to injury since January of 2007. Matt Bartkowski was a healthy scratch.
Boston jumped out to a 1-0 lead late in the first period on Johnny Boychuk‘s fourth goal of the season, but Tomas Tatar tied it for the Red Wings with a goal that went through Andrej Meszaros and Riley Sheahan on its way past Tuukka Rask at 4:45 of the second.
The game remained knotted at one goal apiece until Carl Soderberg scored a power-play goal 1:10 into the third period. Jurco would end up tying the game after a puck in front got caught in Meszaros’ pants and fell to Tatar, who kicked the puck to Jurco to set up the goal.
The Bruins have six games remaining and will play Thursday in Toronto.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The B’s had an injury scare in the third period when Drew Miller crashed into Patrice Bergeron on a third-period shot from Bergeron. Miller’s right leg took out Bergeron’s left leg, with Bergeron awkwardly falling to the ice and holding what looked like his left knee.
Bergeron’s seven-game goal-scoring streak came to an end, though he had the primary assist on Soderberg’s goal. Bergeron was stopped by Howard on a first-period breakaway.
– Nyquist’s goal was the third 5-on-5 goal the Red Wings have scored against the Bruins with both Bergeron and Zdeno Chara on the ice this season. That’s pretty remarkable when you consider that Chara and Bergeron allowed just one 5-on-5 goal together all of last season.
– Iginla not playing means he will not post the 10th 82-game season of his career — not this season, at least. With Iginla out, Loui Eriksson played on the right wing of David Krejci‘s line with Milan Lucic.
– The Red Wings didn’t have many second-chance opportunities through the first two periods, but they came in the third and eventually cost the B’s. Rask came up big with a save on Jurco off the rebound of a shot from Tatar just about midway through the third. Shortly after, Jurco scored on a second-chance bid.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– One positive of the loss is that the Red Wings got two points and therefore gave themselves some more separation from the eighth-seeded Blue Jackets (83 points in 75 games). The Red Wings (86 points in 76 games) are currently in line for the seventh seed, which would mean they wouldn’t face the Bruins in the first round.
– Though he didn’t score, Bergeron now has points in nine straight games. Bergeron has eight goals and four helpers over that stretch.
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