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Zdeno Chara (lower-body) to miss second straight game

11.25.16 at 6:52 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

A night after a disastrous defensive performance in Ottawa in what finished as a 3-1 loss for the Bruins, the Black and Gold have made their quick turnaround and returned to TD Garden tonight against the Flames for their annual Black Friday game. But the Bruins will still be without the services of their No. 1 defenseman and team captain, Zdeno Chara, according to head coach Claude Julien.

Injured in his first shift of the second period Tuesday against the Blues (likely on a corner collision with the Blues’ Jaden Schwartz), the 39-year-old captain missed last night’s game, and still out on a day-to-day basis with his lower-body injury and will be reevaluated tomorrow.

The Bruins are 0-1-0 with Chara out of action this season, and have given up seven goals in five periods without Big Z in action this season. Dating back to last year, the Bruins have allowed 13 goals in three games (all losses) without the 6-foot-9 Chara.

Kevan Miller, a minus-1 with one shot on goal and three hits in 16:50 of time on ice in his season debut Thursday night, will likely continue to skate in Chara’s place in the defensive mix, but on the third pairing with Joe Morrow. John-Michael Liles will take Chara’s exact place in the lineup, however, on a pairing with first-year standout Brandon Carlo.

Chara has one goal and six points and a plus-12 rating in 19 games for the Bruins this season.

Admiral’s Mailbag: What’s the deal with Zdeno Chara, Jimmy Hayes?

11.25.16 at 9:13 am ET
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Zdeno Chara's absence makes things uncomfortable for Bruins (Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

Zdeno Chara’s absence makes things uncomfortable for the Bruins. (Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all of our readers. Here’s a mailbag to enjoy in between your naps. Send questions for next week’s mailbag to letitbleedrearad@gmail.com or @RearAdBsBlog on Twitter:

Now that Zdeno Chara is hurt, is it essential that the Bruins go out and get a defenseman? Ricky, Dartmouth, MA

The Bruins will likely start with a wait-and-see approach regarding their injured defenseman, who had been the team’s second best player and a vital cog in their early season success. If it appears to be a short-term lower body injury, the team will just try to weather the storm with current personnel, however bumpy as it may get. But if Big Z is lost for an extended amount of time, I’d expect the Bs to try like hell to bring in a top-four D-man (though they should probably already be doing that regardless). By placing him on long-term injured reserve (LTIR), the Bruins would be allowed to go over the cap if they decided to bring in a major contract. Of course, making a deal is easier said than done and trades this early in the season are rare. It’s definitely a situation we’re all keeping our eyes on.

What’s the problem with Jimmy Hayes? Janice, Malden, MA

This is one of the biggest questions surrounding the team this year. In simple terms, I’d say Hayes is suffering from a total lack of confidence out there. He looks lost at times out there and isn’t doing much of anything. It almost feels like picking on him at this point but his futility has to be noted. He has yet to tally a point in 18 games this season and has gone 34 straight games over two seasons without one. You could have literally added a child to your family since the last time he tallied a point (Feb. 24). Reilly Smith, the guy the Bruins unwisely dumped for Hayes, has 10-11–21 totals since the last goal from Hayes. He’s been on the ice for the most 5-on-5 goals against while only out for one Bs goal. Claude keeps giving him ample opportunity to get off the schnide, including time on the power play, but there’s absolutely nothing to show for it. You have to think it’s only a matter of time before the Bs try to stash him down Providence. Like when Frank Vatrano is ready to re-join the team. Hayes’s homecoming has been nothing short of a disaster so far.

Who has been the best off-season Bruins addition? Billy, Providence, RI

Dominic Moore. The bottom-six journeyman has been a great signing, putting up 5-3–8 totals in 20 games (including two short-handed goals). He’s also chipped in with great penalty killing and Claude knows he can put him on the ice late in a game to secure a one-goal lead. His possession numbers aren’t great but that’s really the only knock on him. The speedy 36-year-old showed he still has plenty to offer at the NHL level.

Are the Edmonton Oilers back? Tommy, Auburn, MA

Yes, they sure are. Connor McDavid certainly appears to be the next Sidney Crosby-level superstar and even the Oil can’t screw that up. (I don’t think even Peter Chiarelli would trade the former No. 1 overall pick). It’ll be a big surprise if Edmonton doesn’t make its return to the playoffs this year. Either way, it’s great for the NHL to have one of its former marquee franchises become a must-watch team once again.

Which team has been the biggest disappointment so far? Bryan, Dorchester, MA

The New York Islanders. They have way too many underachievers right now and they’re not getting consistent #1 goaltending from either Jaroslav Halak or Thomas Greiss. Head Coach Jack Capuano is definitely on the hot seat and the new ownership isn’t happy with the results so far. The Isles are currently in the basement in the East, seven points behind the No. 8 seed. If they don’t put together even a modest streak soon, the season could get away from them quickly so they may very well have a new voice in the room. For every coach in the NHL, that is the constant reality—sometimes, it’s him that has to pay the price.

5 Things We Learned in a Thanksgiving night of turnovers for Bruins

11.24.16 at 10:25 pm ET
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The Bruins allowed three unanswered goals in a 3-1 loss to the Senators. (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins allowed three unanswered goals in a 3-1 loss to the Senators. (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)

Instead of pumpkin pie or apple crisp, the Bruins ended their Thanksgiving with turnovers — and lots of ’em — in a 3-1 road loss to the Senators at Ottawa, Ont.’s Canadian Tire Center.

In a night in which the Bruins first capitalized with the help of a second chance opportunity on the power play for David Pastrnak, in his first game back from a three-game absence due to an upper-body injury, too.

After the 20-year-old miffed on his first chance, Pastrnak countered with a brilliant backhand that beat the Sens’ Craig Anderson for his 11th goal of the season (in just 15 games played, too) to put the Bruins up 1-0 after one period of play.

Scored with just 10 seconds left in the first period, too, it was the perfect escape to a rather listless, six-shot period from the Bruins.

But in a game that undoubtedly favored their style, the Sens would respond in the second.

On a great play from Mike Hoffman that parted the seas for sniper Mark Stone, Stone split through both Kevan Miller and Joe Morrow, and successfully finished the job on B’s netminder Tuukka Rask for his fifth goal of the season, scored 13:23 into the period.

Deadlocked through two periods of play, the Sens grabbed the lead off a terrible own-zone Torey Krug turnover — Krug attempted to simply blindly throw the puck out of play but was intercepted by the Sens’ Chris Wideman — and subsequent tip off a stick and through Rask for Ottawa’s second goal of the night.

Fortunately for the B’s the goal was scored with more than enough time for the Bruins to answer back.

Instead, the Bruins made yet another lackadaisical turnover, this one from David Krejci on a dropback pass intercepted by Kyle Turris midway through the period, and Turris charged the other way, and with the help of a sweet pass from Bobby Ryan, dumped into the B’s net for their third goal of the night.

It was the all the Senators needed on a night in which the Black and Gold put a season-low 20 shots on goal.

Rask, meanwhile, stopped 23-of-26 shots in defeat, and is now officially on his first losing streak of the season.

Here are four other things we learned in the loss.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bruins set for their first look at Guy Boucher’s Senators

11.24.16 at 2:04 pm ET
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Dominic Moore played under Guy Boucher from 2010 to 2012. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

Bruins fourth line center Dominic Moore played under Guy Boucher with the Lightning from 2010 to 2012. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

Over three years since he was fired by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and after three seasons in the Swiss League as the coach of Bern SC, Guy Boucher is back in the NHL and behind the bench of the Ottawa Senators. And Boucher, of course, is no stranger to the Bruins.

Behind the Lightning bench for an unforgettable seven-game war of an Eastern Conference Final against the Bruins in 2011, the Black and Gold were the ones that finally found the hole in Boucher’s then-famous 1-3-1 system that without question flustered every team they went up against and dazzled media members from high above.

“Everybody talks about how he used to have that neutral zone sit back, everybody talks about,” B’s coach Claude Julien said Wednesday. “But like anybody else he’s adapted to a game that’s evolved, too.”

With the Sens off an 11-7-1 start that’s put them in third place in the Atlantic Division, one point above the Bruins, Boucher has found success with an offense that’s averaging the seventh-most shots on goal per contest, and has spread the club’s best offensive talents in Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, and Kyle Turris on different lines throughout his top nine forward groupings.

“I would have to think he’s a better coach today because he’s had some experience in this league,” continued Julien. “But he’s a guy that loves to prepare well and loves to have his hands on everything, and that’s just the way he is.”

And while there’s familiarity within the room from behind the B’s bench, there’s direct experience with Boucher from somebody on it in Dominic Moore, someone that played for Boucher for two years with the Bolts from 2010 to 2012.

“I have a ton of respect for Guy,” Moore, who tallied 51 points in 133 games with the Lightning, said of his former coach. “First and foremost he’s a good person. and he’s having success again. He’s a very passionate guy, he brings a lot of that love to the game and instills it in his team and I think you’re seeing that with the way they’re playing.”

The Bruins went 7-3-0 against Boucher’s Lightning from 2010 to 2013.

 

Bruins D-man Kevan Miller (hand) a game-time decision vs. Sens

11.24.16 at 1:35 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

It’s never good timing to lose your team captain.

But for the Bruins, without captain No. 1 defenseman Zdeno Chara for a one-game road trip Thursday night in Ottawa, good timing may come in the potential season debut for defenseman Kevan Miller.

Absent for the first 19 games of the season with a fractured left hand sustained in the preseason finale against the Flyers (and just days after Miller dodged a serious knee injury in a preseason tilt against the Canadiens), Miller was a full participant in B’s practice Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena, and has been dubbed a game-time decision by head coach Claude Julien for their Thanksgiving game with the Senators.

“Obviously it’s tough that Z got injured right now,” Miller, Chara’s partner for an extended stretch of play last season, said of him being the next man up with Chara down. “He’s a big hole to fill, but nobody can really fill that hole like Z does, so it’s a collective group effort.”

Paired with Joe Morrow on the right side of the Bruins’ third pairing, Miller feels ready to rejoin the team if given the green light.

“Hand feels great. I put in a good amount of work to get back now,” Miller said.

“I’m looking forward to getting back in the lineup whenever that is, and I’m excited to play.”

In the first season of a four-year, $10 million extension signed in May, the 29-year-old Miller established career-highs across the board in 71 games last year, including five goals and 18 points.

If No. 86 is unable to go, expect Colin Miller to suit up in his place on the B’s blue line.

This will be the first of four meetings between the Bruins and Sens this season.

David Pastrnak returns to practice for Bruins

11.23.16 at 2:20 pm ET
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David Pastrnak (upper-body) has been cleared to return to the lineup (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

David Pastrnak (upper-body) has been cleared to return to the lineup (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

David Pastrnak has already missed more time than he’d like.

Limited to just 14 games this season — out for two because of a suspension for his illegal check to the head of the Rangers’ Dan Girardi late last month and absent from the last three games with an upper-body injury — the 20-year-old returned as a full participant in a Wednesday practice at Warrior Ice Arena and downplayed any frustration with the roadblocks in an incredibly successful season so far, with 10 goals and 14 points in 14 games played.

“It’s part of hockey and you have to get through it,” Pastrnak said of the missed time lodged in between hot streaks. “Every player’s going to be get suspended, every player’s going to be injured, but hopefully now I can keep playing well and keep playing now.”

Back in his usual spot on the Bruins’ first line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Pastrnak will travel to Ottawa with the team for Thursday’s game against the Senators, though no there’s no official status put on No. 88 for that game like in the case of Zdeno Chara (who is out).

“He was cleared to have full practice today,” Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed. “Unless there’s a setback tomorrow, I would anticipate him to hopefully play. Again, there might be a setback, this was his first day of full practice here, so we’ll see.”

“I’m ready,” Pastrnak said. “And [we’ll] see if I’ll be in the lineup tomorrow.”

In five games without Pastrnak this season, the Bruins have scored just nine goals on 166 shots, including two on 41 shots on Jake Allen in last night’s defeat at the hands of the Blues, but the team’s leading goal scorer doesn’t feel any added pressure in his potential return to the lineup.

“Literally no pressure,” Pastrnak, who became the first Bruin to score 10 goals in the first 13 games of the season since Cam Neely accomplished the feat in 1994-95, said with a chuckle. “Every game you’re not gonna score five goals like as a team. Some games you’re going to win 1-0 and some games you’re gonna win 5-4, so we have to keep playing in our system.

“No matter if we win 1-0 or 6-4, and I’d rather win 1-0 anyways.”

Tomorrow will be the first of four head-to-heads between the Bruins and Senators this season.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara (lower-body) out vs. Senators

11.23.16 at 1:25 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

For the third straight season, a preview of Life Without Zdeno Chara has hit the Bruins.

Injured in the second period of last night’s 4-2 loss to the Blues and absent from Wednesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney confirmed via press release that Chara has suffered a lower-body injury that will keep him out of a Thanksgiving night tilt against the Senators.

It’s unclear how or where Chara sustained the injury (the best guess was a collision with the Blues’ Jaden Schwartz in the corner on his one, 52-second shift in the second period), but the Bruins will have to make do without their best defender for at least the Ottawa game, but perhaps the club’s signature Black Friday home game against Dougie Hamilton and the Flames also.

“He’s not coming on the road trip, obviously” B’s coach Claude Julien confirmed after practice. “From what I’ve been told, he’s day to day. Day to day to me I think it’s pretty doubtful for these next two games.

After that, we’ll see. So that’s where we are with him.”

The 39-year-old captain has been a rock on a top-pairing with 19-year-old rookie Brandon Carlo, with a team-leading 22:41 of time on ice per contest this season, and has chipped in with one goal and six points to go with his plus-12 rating. Chara also ranks 12th among defenseman with at least 300 minutes of five-on-five time on ice in Corsi-For%, at 53.0%, for a B’s club that’s currently leading the league in possession at five-on-five play. So his loss, even for a game, is noticeable.

“I think I’m going to answer it the same way the same way I answered it at the beginning of the year when you guys asked me about our d-corps,” Julien, whose team is allowing just 27.3 shots per game (the third-best mark in the league in that category), said of somebody else shouldering the load in Chara’s absence. “We’re going to have to do it by committee.”

Without Chara, the Bruins’ defensive committee reunited their training camp pairing with John-Michael Liles and Carlo, while the second pairing of Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid has become a de facto first pairing for the club. Joe Morrow remained on the left side of the team’s third pairing, and Kevan Miller, out for the first 19 games of the season with a fractured left hand that finished his preseason slate, has been cleared for action and skated to Morrow’s right.

This is not the first time the Bruins have to skate without their captain — Chara missed 19 games in 2014-15 and then the first two games of last season — but with a personnel group that’s changed drastically from 2014 to 2015, and even 2015 to now, Julien knows that there’s no quick-fix, plug-and-play option that’ll mask the loss of the club’s go-to shutdown talent.

“We just lost our best defender,” Julien admitted.

“There’s no individual that’s going to step up and do his job more than we’re going to have to do it as a group.”

The Bruins have gone 11-9-1 without Chara over the last two seasons, including an 0-2-0 mark last season.

 

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