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Max Talbot’s (literal) up and down season continues

11.21.15 at 1:01 pm ET
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Max Talbot

Max Talbot

Max Talbot has found the AHL different this season from when he’d last seen it.

Ten years after being promoted to the NHL, Talbot is back to minor-league life as he goes up and down between Boston in Providence. Currently with the NHL club, Talbot said Saturday that his experience with Providence has opened his eyes to what players are in these days.

“Not only the league changed, but hockey in general changed from 10 years ago,” he said. “Guys are a little bit more professional. They come more mature when they’€™re younger. They come prepared, they’€™ve been working out for a certain number of years.

“The game is faster, the game is bigger. The younger guys, they have their legs and they forecheck. The game is similar in a way, but super different. I think it’€™s a better game than 10 years ago, like the NHL‘€™s better now than it was before.”

Talbot was 21 when he went from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He recalls there being more of a split between prospects and veteran players back then than there is now, where teams might be more inclined to carry as many prospects as they can get.

“It was more of a veteran type of game,” he said. “Now it’€™s a little more younger and a development-type atmosphere.”

Talbot can only hope that his AHL days are over (again), but that’€™s not likely. Frank Vatrano is expected to begin practicing on Sunday, meaning the Bruins will again have 12 healthy forwards. The B’€™s could opt to bring Talbot on their upcoming road trip, but if Vatrano’€™s health doesn’€™t signal his return to Providence, David Pastrnak’€™s eventual health figures to.

That said, Talbot said he is not resigned to having to go up and down this season. His goal is to force his way back into the lineup for good.

“There’€™s always things you can do,” he said. “If I play the best hockey I can play and show them that they can’€™t take me out of the lineup, that’€™s what I’€™m hoping I can do. If I play like I can play, the top of my [game], you can force some hands and stay here. That’€™s the goal of any pro athlete, to give the best you can give and hope for the best.”

Talbot may not be up for long, but Claude Julien feels fortunate to still have the 31-year-old forward as an option. The fact that he’€™s both a veteran and someone with whom the team is familiar means that the team generally knows what they’€™ll get from him.

“He’€™s an experienced guy,” Julien said. “‘€¦ He comes, he competes hard. He understands what we’€™re trying to do here so it’€™s not like we’€™re trying to teach somebody. That’€™s the luxury that we have with Max being in Providence. When you bring him up you’€™re bringing a veteran player that’€™s played the game. But he’€™s not nervous about playing in this league and understands. He’€™s been with us since last year, so he understands exactly what we’€™re all about here.”

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Bruins recall Max Talbot from Providence

11.21.15 at 10:29 am ET
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Max Talbot

Max Talbot

The Bruins recalled Max Talbot from Providence on Saturday, a move that gives them 12 healthy forwards for Saturday’€™s game with Frank Vatrano out with an upper-body injury.

Talbot has been up and down between Boston and Providence this season, skating in five games at the NHL level. He has played in seven games for Providence, registering one goal and five assists for six points.

Saturday will mark Talbot’€™s second game in two days, as the 31-year-old skated in Friday’€™s P-Bruins game against Lehigh Valley.

The Bruins did not hold a morning skate on Saturday, but it would seem logical for Talbot to play on the fourth line with Zac Rinaldo and Tyler Randell.

“I’m glad to be back,” Talbot said Saturday morning. “I’ve had a chance to play a little bit more down there also, so I feel healthy, feel good, ready to go and help any way I can.”

The B’s will host the Maple Leafs Saturday night at TD Garden, marking the final game of their five-game homestand.

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Frank Vatrano day-to-day, Bruins expected to call up a forward

11.20.15 at 11:24 am ET
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Frank Vatrano

Frank Vatrano

WILMINGTON — Frank Vatrano was absent from Friday’€™s Bruins practice after suffering an upper-body injury in Thursday’€™s win over the Wild.

The rookie left wing turned as he was about to get hit into the end boards, resulting in his shoulder/arm hitting taking the brunt of the impact from Nate Prosser’€™s hit. According to a source, Vatrano is likely to miss Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs, though the source was hopeful the rookie wouldn’t be out long. Claude Julien termed the injury “day-to-day.”

With Vatrano out and the Bruins having only 20 players, defenseman Joe Morrow practiced as a left wing. Matt Beleskey moved up to take Vatrano’€™s place on David Krejci‘€™s line, while Morrow skated on a fourth line centered by Zac Rinaldo.

Julien said that Morrow will not play forward on Saturday, saying that the team was likely to make a callup. Seth Griffith is apparently ready to play for Providence after missing time with a concussion, while Max Talbot could also be recalled. Morrow has been a healthy scratch for the last six games.

Kevan Miller, who missed Thursday’€™s game with an upper-body injury, did not practice. The lines and pairings in practice were as follows:

Marchand-Bergeron-Hayes
Beleskey-Krejci-Eriksson
Spooner-Kemppainen-Connolly
Morrow-Rinaldo-Randell

Chara-Trotman
Seidenberg-Colin Miller
Krug-McQuaid

5 things we learned: Very good player Loui Eriksson’s hat trick leads Bruins past Wild

11.19.15 at 9:40 pm ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

In a season that’€™s featured plenty of bad, no Bruins player has been as good as Loui Eriksson. The 30-year-old provided another reminder on Thursday night.

Eriksson picked up his first hat trick as a Bruin as he scored Boston’€™s second, third and fourth goals in a 4-2 win over the Wild. It took Eriksson only 16:37 to score his three goals.

While it was Eriksson’€™s first three-goal showing with the B’€™s, it was also his third multi-goal performance in 18 games this season. Eriksson now leads the Bruins with nine goals on the season, one ahead of linemate David Krejci‘€™s eight.

With Thursday’€™s performance, it’€™s probably worth noting again that Eriksson is in the final year of a contract that carries a $4.25 million cap hit. Teams don’€™t get better by losing their best players, so the Bruins would be wise to do their best to try and retain the player.

Here are four more things we learned Thursday night:

HIT ENDS VATRANO’€™S NIGHT

Rookie callup Frank Vatrano went hard into the endboards on his first shift of the second period and did not return to the game. Vatrano went turned at the last second as he was set to absorb a hit from Nate Prosser, resulting in him appearing to hit the boards with his right shoulder taking the brunt of the impact. Claude Julien told reporters following the game that Vatrano had an upper-body injury.

Vatrano had taken warmups with David Krejci and Loui Eriksson, but he also saw time with Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly in the first period, taking only four shifts in the first 20 minutes.

If Vatrano is to miss any time, the Bruins would likely have to recall Max Talbot from Providence, as they currently have only 12 forwards on their roster and Providence forwards Alexander Khokhlachev, Seth Griffith and Brian Ferlin are injured.

PK STEPS UP

The Bruins did a very un-Bruins thing Thursday by killing penalties successfully.

After entering the night with the worst penalty kill in the league, the B’€™s managed to kill off all three of Minnesota’€™s power plays, including a Brad Marchand hooking penalty at 15:53 of the third period that saw the Wild pull Devan Dubnyk and go 6-on-4.

By going 3-for-3 on the PK, the Bruins killed off all their penalties in a game for just the third time this season, not counting the season-opener in which the Jets never went on the power play.

BELESKEY DROPS THE GLOVES

Matt Beleskey hasn’€™t been a standout player to this point with the B’€™s, but it’€™s certainly not for lack of effort. Beleskey works hard and he plays as physical a game he can, as is evidenced by the fact that he leads the team in hits (which, to remind everyone, is the worst and dumbest stat in sports because it’€™s an anti-possession stat, but I digress).

On Thursday, Beleskey’€™s toughness was tested in his first fight with the Bruins. The former Duck passed with flying colors, pounding Brett Bulmer to the ice in short order 5:34 into the game. Beleskey had drawn a tripping penalty on Bulmer earlier in the period.

BRUINS SWITCH MILLERS

Kevan Miller sat out with an upper-body injury Thursday, allowing Colin Miller to re-enter the lineup after a two game stint in the press box.

Miller had an up-and-down night, as he started the rush that resulted in Eriksson’€™s third goal but also played a part in a goal against. He didn’€™t catch a pass from Zdeno Chara at the Bruins’€™ blue line in the second period, resulting in a turnover. That led to Nino Niederreiter feeding Mikko Koivu, whose shot yielded a rebound that Jason Zucker buried past Jonas Gustavsson just over five minutes into the second period for Minnesota’€™s first goal.

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Ryan Spooner benching a reminder Bruins’ can’t embrace potential as much as they’ve said

11.18.15 at 2:52 pm ET
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Claude Julien's first priority is to win. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Claude Julien‘s first priority is to win. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Bruins have long said that this season is about potential. Yet it seems that they feel their best chance of realistically winning games is to bank on more sure things than embracing that potential. They’re not necessarily wrong in thinking that; they just might need to cool it on that P-word for a while.

When Claude Julien benched Ryan Spooner in the third period of Tuesday’€™s loss to the Sharks, the worst part of it was that the change didn’€™t allow the Bruins to complete their comeback. The second-worst part of it is that it loaned more evidence to the historically incorrect Claude Hates The Kids argument.

If the Bruins had their act together on the back end and could kill penalties, do you really think Julien would have benched Spooner for his bad second period Tuesday? Of course not. Yet this season has seen him limit players like Spooner and David Pastrnak when they’ve struggled because the Bruins, for all the gushy stuff they’ve said about their young players, can’t actually give them the keys because the Bruins aren’t good enough to absorb their mistakes.

Asked after the game why he gave Spooner no even-strength time in the final period, Julien snapped back at the reporter, asking if he had noticed that Joonas Kemppainen had earned the ice time inherited by Spooner’€™s benching. On Wednesday, Julien was more willing to elaborate on his decision to limit Spooner’€™s third-period shifts to just the power play and the final minute with an extra attacker.
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Kevan Miller misses Bruins practice with upper-body injury

11.18.15 at 11:15 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Kevan Miller was missing from Wednesday’€™s practice as the Bruins looked to regroup from a disappointing 5-4 loss to the Sharks on Tuesday.

Miller, who has played in every game this season, went to the trainers’€™ room during the third period of Tuesday’s game and did not play the final 10:44.

“Right now, all I can tell you is he’€™s got an upper-body injury,” Claude Julien said after the practice. “I don’€™t know the details of what’€™s come up with the assessment. We’€™ll try and give you guys some more when we do. Right now I don’€™t have more than to tell you it’€™s upper-body.”

With the exception of David Pastrnak, who remains out with a foot injury and is still on crutches, all other players were on the ice for Wednesday’€™s practice. Julien stuck with the line of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Jimmy Hayes, shuffled the third line and left the other two the same as they’€™ve been in recent games. The lines and defensive pairings Wednesday were as follows:

Marchand-Bergeron-Hayes
Vatrano-Krejci-Eriksson
Beleskey-Spooner-Connolly
Rinaldo-Kemppainen-Randell

Chara-Trotman
Krug-McQuaid
Seidenberg-Colin Miller

The 8-8-1 Bruins will host the Wild Wednesday at TD Garden.

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5 things we learned as penalties cost Bruins vs. Sharks

11.17.15 at 9:39 pm ET
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The Bruins are not good at killing penalties. In fact, numbers (take penalty kill percentage, for example) would suggest they’re the worst in the league at killing penalties.

Given that, games in which the Bruins often find themselves shorthanded figure to be games they’ll lose. Tuesday’s was one of them, as Boston took four second-period penalties that resulted in a pair of Sharks power-play goals in a 5-4 Sharks win at TD Garden.

The B’s took all four penalties of the second period. An Adam McQuaid interference set up San Jose’s first power play of the game, with the B’s being called for a too-many-men penalty during the kill to give San Jose a 10-second 5-on-3. Though the Bruins were able to kill off the two-man advantage, Patrick Marleau scored shortly after to give the Sharks their first power play goal of the night. A Ryan Spooner tripping penalty led to a power play goal from Joe Thornton that made it 5-3. The Bruins were able to survive Tyler Randell’s roughing penalty, but they were minutes wasted shorthanded that could have been put toward chipping away at San Jose’s lead.

The Bruins were able to eventually get within one with a third-period power-play goal from Patrice Bergeron (one of two power-play goals the Bruins scored on the night), but the Bruins failed to tie the game when Thornton put them on the power play at 12:40 for high-sticking Adam McQuaid. Then, with the Bruins making their final push to tie the game, a high-sticking minor from Brad Marchand with 2:40 remaining ate up valuable time the B’s would have likely spent with an extra attacker trying to net the game’s equalizer.

The loss dropped the Bruins to 8-8-1 on the season.

Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:

AVERAGE JONES

Tuesday could have been a matchup of two ace goaltenders at the top of their games. It was not.

After getting off to an insane start this season, five-day Bruins property Martin Jones has proven to be human in recent weeks. His first game against the team that traded for and flipped him to San Jose this summer shouldn’t make Bruins fans lose sleep over what could have been.

Jones didn’t have to make too many great saves, and he often didn’t. Loui Eriksson’s second-period goal on a one-timer from the left circle was one Jones was in position to stop but didn’t. As all goalies do with every goal they allow, he’d like to have that one back.

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