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Defenseman Kevan Miller joins Bruins on road trip

11.16.16 at 12:50 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

On a long three-day layoff between games ahead of their road trip finale against the Wild on Thursday, the Bruins welcomed another body back to the ice on Tuesday with the return of defenseman Kevan Miller.

Injured with a minor knee ailment in the preseason, and then shelved with a fractured left hand suffered in the preseason finale — one that was expected to come with a six-week recovery time — Miller’s participation in practice is just the first step of many in an eventual return back to the lineup.

“He’s back skating with us, so he’s coming around,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Tuesday’s practice. “Still not fully cleared for anything, for full contact and all that stuff, but he’s good enough to practice with us.”

The Bruins began a rotation of sorts with their defense before Miller even joined the team for practice, as Sunday’s win over the Avalanche came with a healthy scratch for Colin Miller, who has just one goal and an assist in 15 games this season, while Joe Morrow moved into the lineup for the first time since Oct. 22 and John-Michael Liles shifted over to the right side on the club’s third-pairing.

Signed to a four-year, $10 million extension last spring, who Miller bumps out of the mix remains to be determined.

The 29-year-old Miller, a frequent partner for B’s captain Zdeno Chara, established career-highs across the board in 2015-16, with five goals, 13 assists, 18 points, 64 shots, 164 hits, and 123 blocked shots.

An undrafted talent out of Los Angeles, Calif., Miller played his college hockey with the University of Vermont, and has totaled eight goals and 31 points in 159 games for the Bruins since the 2013-14 season.


Ex-Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton on trade block?

11.14.16 at 8:51 pm ET
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The Flames are reportedly taking calls on defenseman Dougie Hamilton. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

The Flames are reportedly taking calls on defenseman Dougie Hamilton. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

Defenseman Dougie Hamilton wanted out of Boston. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney granted his wish, too, with a draft day trade that sent Hamilton packing to the Calgary Flames for three draft picks (one 2015 first-round choice and two-second round choices) in 2015.

Now, less than two years into his tenure with a new organization, it’s the Flames that may want out of Hamilton.

Mired in a four-game losing streak, in 29th place in the NHL and with a league-high 59 goals allowed through 16 games this year, the Flames are an undeniable mess, and Hamilton has failed to be the star they thought they were getting from the Black and Gold in that trade (the Bruins used the picks acquired in the trade to draft forwards Zachary Senyshyn and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, and d-man Jeremy Lauzon).

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Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask named NHL’s First Star of Week

11.14.16 at 1:50 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask was named the NHL's First Star of the Week. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Tuukka Rask was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask’s near perfect season continued on Sunday night with a 21-save shutout against the Avalanche.

It was the perfect cap to a stellar week of hockey for the 29-year-old netminder. And it came with a deserving-albeit-minor Monday morning accolade for the B’s ace to hang his signature mask on, as the National Hockey League has announced that Rask who has been named their First Star of the week ending Nov. 13.

In a week of hockey in which the Bruins jumped up to second place in the Atlantic Division, Rask went a staggering 4-0-0 with an 0.75 goals against average and .970 save percentage.

Rask started his week with a strong 32-save shutout over the Sabres at TD Garden on Monday, needed to stop just 15-of-17 for a win over the Blue Jackets on Thursday (Rask actually stopped 15-of-16, too, but Colin Miller’s own-goal counted against No. 40), and then came through a monstrous back-to-back performance against the Coyotes and Avs in which Rask stopped all but one of the 52 shots thrown his way — a power-play goal by Radim Vrbata — between the two clubs.

Rask is now 10-1-0 on the year overall, and his 10 wins are tied with the Canadiens’ Carey Price for the most in the league. Only Price (.957) and Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk (.947) have posted a better save percentage than Rask’s .945 this season, too. And only Price, at 1.40, has a better goals against average than the 1.54 Rask has posted through the first month of the season.

Rask and the Bruins are off until a Nov. 17 road head-to-head with the Minnesota Wild.

5 Things We Learned in a strong finish to brutal week of hockey for Bruins

11.13.16 at 10:00 pm ET
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David Krejci scored the game-winning goal in a 2-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

David Krejci scored the game-winning goal in a 2-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

Apparently, the Bruins will rest when they’re dead.

And they’re far from dead.

In the final game of a brutal five-game-in-seven-day stretch, the Black and Gold put forth perhaps their most dominating effort to date, with a season-high 45 shots on Avalanche netminder Semyon Varlamov, while Tuukka Rask recorded his third shutout of the year (the 33rd of his career) behind a 21-stop night in a 2-0 win at the Pepsi Center.

B’s center David Krejci opened up the game’s scoring with his second goal of the season, scored 9:30 into the first period.

It would hold as the lone goal of the opening frame, and the only goal through two periods of play for that matter, as the Bruins unloaded on the Avalanche with a 23-shot second period that would have been real ugly for Colorado had it not been for the calm and relaxed presence of Varlamov in the Avalanche net.

Similar to last night’s nailbiter against the Coyotes, the Bruins were forced to cling to life to their one-goal edge, especially when Brandon Carlo, one of the club’s go-to killers, was sentenced to the box midway through the third period, but like they did all night, the Bruins continued to frustrate an Avalanche squad that never put more than seven shots on net in any period.

The Bruins finally gained breathing room with 27.2 seconds left in the game courtesy of Dominic Moore’s fourth goal of the season, an empty-net goal, to give the Bruins the 2-0 final they left the ice with.

With the victory, the Bruins finished this marathon week with 8-of-10 points, and were just 63 seconds in Montreal away from making it a 9-of-10 week at the very least. Also: the Habs are off to a straight-up ridiculous start, so perhaps it would have been best to chalk that one up at a schedule loss, anyways. In a week that could have gone so, so bad and come with a billion excuses — some of which would have been valid with multiple back-to-backs — the Bruins found a way to not only win, but not stoop down to the level of their opponents. That’s more than we could say about these B’s clubs over the last two years, by the way.

Here are four other things we learned in the win.

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Bruins make couple of lineup changes for game vs. Avalanche

11.13.16 at 6:38 pm ET
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Joe Morrow

Joe Morrow

On the second leg of a back-to-back that began with Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Coyotes, the Bruins will take to the Pepsi Center ice against the Avalanche with a couple of minor tweaks to their lineup.

On defense, Joe Morrow will draw into his first game since Oct. 22.

The 23-year-old Morrow has yet to record a point this year, and finished with a minus-2 rating and four minutes in penalties in his last game. Morrow, a former first-round draft choice by the Penguins in 2011 (23rd overall), has skated in 50 NHL games to date, and has tallied two goals and eight points, including a career-best seven points in 33 games last season.

With Morrow in, Colin Miller will take a seat as a healthy scratch. A fixture on the Bruins’ third pairing with John-Michael Liles, Miller has one goal and two points in 15 games this season.

Up front, Sean Kuraly will draw into action for the second game of his NHL career.

The 23-year-old Kuraly finished the his NHL debut — made in a shootout win over the Lightning on Nov. 3 — with a minus-1 rating, one shot attempt, and an 0-for-2 mark on faceoffs.

Kuraly will take Tim Schaller’s spot on the B’s fourth line.

For the second night in a row, Tuukka Rask gets the call in the net.

The 29-year-old stopped 31-of-32 on Saturday, and is a ridiculous 6-0-0 with a .952 save percentage in six road games this year. Rask has also allowed one goal or fewer in six of his last nine starts, but has zero wins and a .928 save percentage in five career games against the Avalanche. The Avs are the only team that Rask has yet to beat in his NHL career.

The Avalanche counter with Semyon Varlamov.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Ryan Spooner – David Krejci – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Riley Nash – Austin Czarnik

Sean Kuraly – Dominic Moore – Jimmy Hayes

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Joe Morrow – John-Michael Liles


5 Things We Learned from another strong road night by Bruins’ Tuukka Rask

11.12.16 at 10:55 pm ET
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B's captain Zdeno Chara scored the first goal of the night in a 2-0 win over Arizona on Saturday. (Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins scored two goals in 1:50 in a 2-1 win over the Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Saturday night. (Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports)

Another night away from TD Garden, another win for Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.

In the club’s ninth road game overall, and Rask’s sixth start away from home, the 29-year-old Rask came through with another strong night and stayed perfect on the road, this time behind a 31-of-32 night in the B’s crease in a 2-1 win over the Coyotes on Saturday night.

Peppered early and often by a quick-skating Coyotes attack, Rask stood tall with 17 stops through the first two periods of play.

The Bruins supported Rask with two goals in a 1:50 span in the second period, the first from Zdeno Chara (though later credited to Ryan Spooner) and the second from David Pastrnak.

Both goals came on one-timers from just about right between the circles and with traffic in front of Coyotes goaltender Louis Domingue (who appeared legitimately surprised with each red light lit).

But it was in the third period where Rask continued to be the Bruins’ final — and best — line of defense.

The Coyotes finally answered the B’s tallies in the third period, though, with a power-play goal from Radim Vrbata with Jordan Martinook parked in front of No. 40 in black and gold.

But as the Coyotes pressed for the game-tying tally, Rask stood tall on two last-second chances from the Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson with the Arizona net empty, and found some help from the defensive unit in front of him, too, as Adam McQuaid finished with a team-high four blocked shots.

With another strong night in the B’s net, Rask bumped his road save percentage on the year up to a ridiculous .951 (up from a .948), and has allowed one goal or fewer in six of his last nine starts.

Here are four other things we learned in the win.

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Bruins looking for more of same in start of another long road trip

11.12.16 at 6:34 pm ET
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The Bruins begin a three-game road trip tonight in Arizona. (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins begin a three-game road trip tonight in Arizona. (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

Not even a month into their season, the Bruins have been on the road more than Willie Nelson.

The Bruins opened their season with a three-game road trip. Then they came home for three games at TD Garden, and embarked another stretch away from home with a four-game road trip. Then it was back to Boston for two games, in Montreal for a road game, back home for one, and now, beginning with tonight’s road contest with the Arizona Coyotes, the Bruins embark on another three-game road swing.

“That’s the theme of our team this year, on the road again,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said when asked of yet another prolonged trip away from the Garden. “Since the beginning of the year we have had those week-long road trips which so far has been good.  As I mentioned earlier in the year, when you get those road trips you get a chance to bond better and get to know each other. There are some new faces and it can only get better but we look forward to being at home for awhile at some point, those home cooked meals and also having your fans behind you. 

“We’ll take this three-game road trip, make the most out of it and come back here hopefully with smiles on our faces.”

The smiles have come on the road for the Black and Gold, too, with five wins in eight games in their road whites. And with goals from members of the second, third, and fourth line — and the first of the year for B’s defenseman Torey Krug — in Thursday’s win over the Blue Jackets, the Bruins will look to carry their offensive momentum into Glendale with a more simplified approach.

“I don’t think it’s a secret. When we’re on the road, we’re willing to play that simple, hard ugly game,” B’s forward David Backes said of the club’s road success out of the gate. “At home we’ve had tendencies to get too cute and turn pucks over in the neutral zone or just inside their blue line and that’s a recipe to feed the other team’s offense and we’ve dug ourselves some big holes and haven’t been able to dig out of them when we’ve been at home. I think lately, we’ve trusted that game that we’ve built and had success on the road. I think the game in Montreal we had 43 shots on the second night of a back-to-back with travel against a really good team and I think that really instilled a belief in us that if we play that game, we’re going to tilt the scales in our favor.”

It’s no secret that the play of goaltender Tuukka Rask has made the Bruins a great road team this year, as the 29-year-old enters play with five wins and just eight goals allowed (a .948 save percentage) in five road games this season. Rask, of course, has been dominant against the Coyotes in his career, too, with seven wins and a .936 save percentage in eight games.

But without a morning skate, it’s unclear whether or not the Bruins will go with Rask or Zane McIntyre, who stopped 20-of-23 shots against in a Tuesday night loss in Montreal. The Bruins also welcomed Anton Khudobin — out with an upper-body injury sustained in an Oct. 24 practice at Warrior Ice Arena — back for this trip and on the ice at Friday’s practice.

The Coyotes give the nod in their crease to Louis Domingue. Domingue took a loss on Thursday behind a 24-of-27 night against the Winnipeg Jets, and enters play with four wins and an .895 save percentage in 10 starts. The 6-foot-3 Domingue has appeared in one game against the B’s in his NHL career, and it was a 28-minute relief effort in which he stopped all 14 shots against.

This is the first of two meetings between the Bruins and Yotes this season.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Ryan Spooner – David Krejci – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Riley Nash – Austin Czarnik

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Jimmy Hayes

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

John-Michael Liles – Colin Miller


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