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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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Colin Miller healthy, available to play for Bruins vs. Sharks

11.17.15 at 11:34 am ET
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Colin Miller

Colin Miller

Colin Miller will be one of eight defensemen available to the Bruins when they face the Sharks on Tuesday night, according to Claude Julien. With the B’€™s holding an optional skate, however, it’€™s unclear whether he will play.

Miller sat out Saturday night’€™s win over the Red Wings due to a minor lower-body injury. He said after Monday’€™s practice that he felt healthy and ready to play.

With Miller absent against the Red Wings, the Bruins went a defensive group of Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg and Zach Trotman on Saturday. Joe Morrow is also healthy, but has been scratched for the Bruins’ last four games.

Prior to sitting on Saturday, Miller had played in 14 straight games since being a health scratch in the Bruins’€™ season-opener against the Jets. Miller has one goal and seven assists for eight points on the season, including a six-game point streak that ended earlier this month.

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Colin Miller hopes to return to Bruins lineup Tuesday

11.16.15 at 12:48 pm ET
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Colin Miller

Colin Miller

Colin Miller feels ready to return to the Bruins’€™ lineup, but it’€™s unclear whether that will be the case on Tuesday when the B’€™s host the Sharks.

Miller was kept out of Saturday’€™s lineup with a lower-body injury, though Claude Julien intimated the injury was minor. Miller took part in Monday’€™s practice and said that he

“I feel good,” Miller said. “I feel fine, so we’€™ll see come tomorrow what happens.”

Prior to sitting on Saturday, Miller had played in 14 straight games for the Bruins. Now that Dennis Seidenberg is healthy, however, Miller is one of eight options the Bruins have on defense, with both Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman seeing ample time in the press box.

The Bruins clearly do not have their six defensemen set in stone, so as Claude Julien continues to rotate guys in and out of the lineup on defense, it wouldn’€™t be outside the realm of possibility for Julien to sit Miller an extra game even if he’€™s healthy enough to play.

“I think it depends on circumstances,” Julien said. “It depends on if guys are playing well, it’€™s fine [to play them], if there’€™s guys that aren’€™t playing as well and you think a guy can come in and help, you’€™re going to make those decisions. I don’€™t think it’€™s necessarily a clear decision on my part.”

Miller has played well enough to stay in the lineup, however, just as Morrow had been mostly good before being taken out of the lineup recently. With Trotman having sat for 11 straight games before getting back into game action earlier this month, the numbers game on a not-so-good blue line figures to put some of Boston’€™s young defensemen in the press box more often than they might deserve it.

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Torey Krug ends 26-game goal drought, insists he wasn’t ‘too worried’ about it

11.14.15 at 11:41 pm ET
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Torey Krug celebrates his first goal of the season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Torey Krug celebrates his first goal of the season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

On his 44th shot on goal of the season, Torey Krug finally scored his first goal. Dating back to last season, it was his first goal in 27 games, ending the longest drought of his young career.

If Krug were a forward, this would all be a pretty big deal. Given that he’s an offensive defensemen who has scored 26 goals over the last two season, it’s still at least noteworthy. Krug insists he wasn’t giving the drought much thought, though.

“I wasn’t really too worried about it, especially with a few more minutes being played,” Krug said. “My number one job is always defense and that’s been good so far. I can always improve, but it’s nice to get the first one.”

Krug is right, of course. Even if he is an offensive defenseman, he is still, first and foremost, a defenseman. In the past, it was easy to overlook that fact. Krug was often used in situations that catered to his strengths and shielded his question marks (he got a lot of offensive zone starts and faced mostly third and fourth lines), so his defensive game wasn’t exactly facing tough tests.

This season has been different, though. Krug hasn’t been nearly as sheltered as he has been in the past. Given the lack of true top-four defensemen on the Boston blue line, Krug has had to play a bigger role. According to war-on-ice.com, Krug has an offensive zone start percentage of 53.25 percent this year vs. 59.97 percent last year, and only Zdeno Chara has faced tougher quality of competition among Bruins defensemen. Oh, and Krug is second on the B’s in average time on ice (again behind only Chara).

Krug said he has embraced the challenge and pointed out that playing against first and second lines might actually suit his game in a way people wouldn’t necessarily notice.

“You go out there and play hockey that is more suitable to my type of game,” Krug said. “Playing against top-two line guys, they think the same way that I think. How hockey should be played — it’s more fun to play that.”

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5 things we learned: No fading as Bruins beat Red Wings at home

11.14.15 at 9:32 pm ET
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The Bruins played well against a decent opponent and won at home. That may not sound like an impressive feat, but a victory like Saturday’€™s 3-1 win over the Red Wings was long overdue.

There was no fast start and major letup, but rather a fairly balanced performance that saw the B’€™s control a scoreless first period before eventually breaking through with three goals in the second period.

Boston’€™s defense, which has typically given opponents goals at home, was better. Detroit failed to land a shot on goal in the first six minutes of each of the first two periods. It wasn’€™t until a third-period power play that the Red Wings found the back of the net, which came in the form of a Justin Abdelkader power play goal. Tuukka Rask was strong, keeping his opponents from scoring multiple goals for just the fourth time this season.

The Bruins are now 8-7-1 on the season and 2-5-1 at home. They’€™ll continue their home stand when they host the Sharks at TD Garden on Tuesday.

Here are five more things we learned Saturday:

RASK COMES THROUGH

When teams fail to get pucks to the net the way the Red Wings did on Saturday, it’€™s easy to write off the opposing goaltender’€™s performance. While Saturday was far from Tuukka Rask‘€™s most taxing outing, he did come through with a couple of impressive saves.

The most notable save of the night for Rask came during a scoreless first period, when Brad Marchand wiped out in the offensive zone doing his pull-up move, resulting in the Red Wings going the other way with numbers in their favor. With Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader on a 2-on-1, Rask came across his net to rob Abdelkader to keep the game scoreless. Rask also made a nice kick save on Zetterberg following Bergeron’€™s goal in the second period and a kick save on Riley Sheahan in the third.

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Gabriel Landeskog suspended 2 games, Brad Marchand fined $5,000

11.13.15 at 6:29 pm ET
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The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Friday that Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog has been suspended two games for his hit to the head of Bruins forward Brad Marchand in Thursday’s game.

Marchand, who got up after Landeskog hit him in the head with his shoulder, sucker-punched Landeskog following the hit. Marchand was given a $5,000 fine for the incident.

Kevan Miller: ‘I need to be better’

11.13.15 at 1:26 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

WILMINGTON — Call it being overused, call it a player still finding his footing after missing half of last season, but Kevan Miller hasn’€™t gotten off to the start he’d hoped for this season.

Miller has played in each of the Bruins’€™ first 15 games after missing the last 26 games of last season due to shoulder surgery. Miller, whose shoulder also kept him out for a stretch earlier in the season, hasn’€™t had a particularly pleasant return to game action. Used frequently as Zdeno Chara‘€™s partner, the 27-year-old has struggled both with the puck and without it, occasionally leaving shooters too much space as they enter the offensive zone. Thursday night’€™s game saw him turn in a costly turnover when he coughed the puck up in the defensive zone, leading to a Colorado goal.

“It’€™s a work in progress. You want to get better as you go,” Miller said of his start to the season. “This is my third year, but this is 100-something games. I’€™m trying to get better every game. There’€™s going to be ups, there’€™s going to be downs and we’€™re going to learn from that, but you want to make sure you’€™re consistent every night. I need to be better.”

Undoubtedly factoring into Miller’€™s struggles is the fact that he’€™s been used in a bigger role this season, something that perhaps could change once Dennis Seidenberg is up to speed. Miller has been given 20:21 of ice time per night, up over two minutes from last season’€™s 18:02 average.

Miller has also had much tougher zone starts than in either of his previous two seasons, as shown in this war-on-ice usage chart showing each of Miller’€™s three NHL seasons.

miller usage 2
When asked about Miller, Claude Julien‘€™s words sounded like they could have been applied to many of his defensemen, as Miller is certainly not alone in making costly errors.

“Right now, it’€™s not about how much leeway we give players,” he said. “It’€™s about how accountable you want to be as a player. You’€™ve got to work through those kind of things. You’€™ve got to minimize it. If you’€™ve been injured, and you don’€™t think your game is at its best, let’€™s keep it simple. Let’€™s do the right things here and try and make the right decisions.

“Again, it’€™s puck management. It doesn’€™t have to be complicated. It just has to be a simple game, and a lot of times, less is more. That’€™s what we have to understand.”

Now that Seidenberg is back in the lineup, the Bruins could view Miller as a potential option to spent the occasional game in the press box. Joe Morrow has been a healthy scratch the last three games, while Zach Trotman has sat in 12 of 15 games this season.

Miller still provides value, however, as he can kill penalties and be used on the left side in a pinch. He’€™ll just need better games ahead of him if he wants to solidify his spot.

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