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Jimmy Hayes is running out of time, chances to make impact for Bruins

11.02.16 at 6:31 pm ET
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Jimmy Hayes is still without a point this season. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports)

Jimmy Hayes is still without a point this season. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports)

At Sunrise’s BB&T Center for the first game in what will be another year of head-to-heads against the team that traded him two summers ago, a 2-1 win for the Boston Bruins, forward Jimmy Hayes was one pissed off dude.

In the box opposite Florida Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie following their matching minors, a between-the-boxes chat between the two clearly solved nothing as they immediately dropped the gloves upon exiting the box. Locked up with MacKenzie in front of the half-full, pressure-free building that the Dorchester, Mass., native used to call his home rink, Hayes tried his best to land punch after punch after punch to no avail before he settled for a WWE-style takedown.

It was the perfect microcosm of Hayes’ year-plus run — check that, stumble — with the Bruins. 

The effort is there. But the results are not, nor have they ever been.

And the Black and Gold are running out of time — and patience — to wait for them to come.

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Bruins assign Danton Heinen to Providence Bruins

11.02.16 at 1:29 pm ET
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Danton Heinen has been assigned to the Providence Bruins. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

Danton Heinen has been assigned to the Providence Bruins. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

One up, one down.

In a practice day between their two-game tour of the Sunshine State, the Boston Bruins welcomed leading goal scorer David Pastrnak back to the ice after a two-game suspension for his illegal check to the head of the Rangers’ Dan Girardi last Wednesday. And, in a corresponding move, have assigned forward Danton Heinen down to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League.

The 21-year-old Heinen, signed out of the University of Denver last summer, has skated in seven games for the Bruins this season, but has failed to record a point and has totaled just six shots on goal while in a top six role on the wing of Boston’s second line centered by David Krejci. Heinen skated in Pastrnak’s spot with the Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand combo for the last two games, too, but still did not get on the board with a point.

But even without a point to his name, Bruins head coach Claude Julien noted that Heinen was still making strong decisions with the puck, and that he was still adapting to the speed of the NHL.

A fourth-round draft pick in 2014 (116th overall), and an impressive collegiate career that included 36 goals and 93 points in 81 games played, Heinen will report to the AHL in a pressure-free top six role, where he had two assists in two games for the P-Bruins a year ago.

The moves still leave the Bruins with 13 forwards overall, as Sean Kuraly, an emergency recall prior to yesterday’s game against the Panthers, remained with the club for today’s practice.

Can you believe these dopes who want to trade Tuukka Rask?

11.02.16 at 10:31 am ET
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Tuukka Rask. (Wickerham/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask. (Wickerham/Getty Images)

Of the many knucklehead mantras heard over the local air waves and read on Twitter over the last few years, “Trade Rask” might just be Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne combined. Yes, trade away one of the best at the most important position in sports just as he’s keeping his team afloat. Such a brilliant idea.

Tuukka Rask turned in yet another splendid performance in Tuesday night’s big divisional win in Sunrise, Fla, vs. the Panthers. The lanky Finn made 33 saves, including several big stops in the first period in which the Bruins were outshot 13-3. After the team dropped three straight with no Rask, giving up 14 goals in the process, they look like a completely different team in the last two games with him.

Rask stopped all 24 Detroit shots Saturday night to notch a road shutout then stopped 33 of 34 Florida shots last night to lead the Bruins to their second straight one-goal win. His .961 save percentage is second to only Jimmy Howard (who has started just three games). The 1.20 goals against average stands third overall behind two back-ups and is better than Carey Price’s 1.40. Five wins puts him third, tied with a handful of others.

Still, they chirp.

“Trade the bum” is a refrain as old as sports. But you have to question the hockey bona fides of somebody clamoring to move Rask. It’s typically the same dolts over and over who expect the B’s to just dump what teams often wait years to develop – a proven No. 1 goalie – then promote an unproven prospect to replace him.

It’s hardly a strategy for winning in today’s NHL, but that doesn’t stop the drumbeat every time a puck goes past the Bruins goal line.

Rask’s $7 million-a-year annual salary often makes him a target for people who apparently don’t realize that $6 million in today’s market gets you the likes of playoff washout Kari Lehtonen or past-his-prime Ryan Miller. The bottom line is it’s money well spent.

Additionally, it’s not Rask’s fault that the Bruins essentially gave him a contract year that allowed him to cash in. Rather than pay then-market value and getting him locked in cheaper, the B’s rolled the dice and Rask made them pay by helping the B’s to their second Cup appearance in two years.

It would be one thing if the B’s had a Matt Murray patiently waiting in the wings, but that’s not really close to the case right now. As we saw while Rask and his back-up, Anton Khudobin, were both out, neither goalie in Providence is threatening to take the starting gig anytime soon. So why do these dopes want to get rid of him so bad?

It’s nothing specific to Bruins, or even Boston fans, because every team’s fan base has a minority of fans who, thanks to the ‘miracle’ of social media, now have a way to project their voices that they never had before. Unfortunately, the sane ones among us are stuck hearing takes that were meant for no ears. And not even Rask can save us from them.

Bruins lean heavily on Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo pairing in closing moments of win

11.02.16 at 2:21 am ET
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Claude Julien turned to his one-two punch of Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo to stop a Panthers comeback on Tuesday night. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

Claude Julien turned to his one-two punch of Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo to stop a Panthers comeback on Tuesday night. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Bruins appeared well on their way towards an easy victory over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on Tuesday night. (Well, as easy as an in-division “rivalry” game against the defending division winner from a year ago can be this time of year.)

But when Denis Malgin’s first NHL goal brought the Panthers back within one with just 4:35 left in the game, you could sense the sticks in front of B’s goalie Tuukka Rask begin to tighten.

Rask, who finished the night with 33 stops on 34 shots against, had done his part. Plus more. And it was on the skaters in front of him — and on their toes with a two-minute, 6-on-4 favoring the hometown Cats after an Adam McQuaid penalty at 16:40 of the third period — to back him up.

And it was the B’s top defensive pairing — team captain of 10 years Zdeno Chara and the 19-year-old Brandon Carlo — that shouldered the load in the final moments of a 2-1 final in their favor.

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5 Things We Learned as Tuukka Rask, Bruins beat Panthers in Florida

11.01.16 at 10:32 pm ET
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Brad Marchand scored a penalty shot on Roberto Luongo in the first period of Tuesday's win over Florida. (Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)

Brad Marchand scored a penalty shot on Roberto Luongo in the first period of Tuesday’s win over Florida. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But “Automatic on Penalty Shots” might be the newest one to add to the list when describing the 28-year-old Marchand, whose penalty shot goal scored 3:53 into the first period opened up the game’s scoring in a crucial B’s road win Tuesday, a 2-1 final over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center.

Hooked by ex-Bruin linemate Reilly Smith on a net-front drive, Marchand was awarded his first penalty shot of the new campaign, and came through with a textbook goal that completely fooled Cats’ netminder Roberto Luongo onto his back and out of the play.

The goal was Marchand’s third penalty shot goal in the last calendar year, and improved the 5-foot-9 winger to a ridiculous 4-for-5 on penalty shots in his NHL career (his only miss was in a Mar. 8, 2011 bid against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price). It also extended Marchand’s lead on the club’s all-time penalty shot goals scored leaderboard, as Johnny Bucyk is the only other player in team history to have more than one penalty shot goal (Bucyk finished his career with two goals on three opportunities overall).

Although the shot would be the final of the period — which still had 16:07 left to go after the Marchand goal — from a Black and Gold skater, the Bruins carried their 1-0 lead into the first intermission behind 13 stops from goaltender Tuukka Rask.

In a second period that favored the Bruins in pace and style, the Bruins doubled their lead with a Dom Moore shorthanded goal — initially ruled to be nothing but immediately confirmed by a subsequent video review — that banged into the Florida net and out.

The Panthers finally responded, with 4:35 left in the third period, on Denis Malgin’s first NHL goal, but it was the 29-year-old Rask and the Boston penalty kill that stood on its head in a late-game Florida power play — and 6-on-4 advantage for the Panthers — in the win.

Here are four other things we learned in the win.

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Bruins pregame notes: Patrice Bergeron questionable, Tuukka Rask in net vs. Panthers

11.01.16 at 7:16 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron is a game-time decision for the Bruins.

Patrice Bergeron is a game-time decision for the Bruins.

It’s entirely too early in the season, but the Boston Bruins have been perfect with goaltender Tuukka Rask in net. Or is it that Tuukka Rask has been perfect in net for the Bruins? Either way, down two skaters from his top two lines in David Pastrnak (suspension) and David Backes (elbow procedure) in last Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings, a win that pushed Rask to a lethal 4-0-0 on the year with a stellar .958 save percentage, the Bruins will take it.

But the Bruins’ bid to remain unbeaten with Rask in net could face its biggest challenge yet, with Patrice Bergeron, injured in a “non-practice injury” yesterday, potentially out of action along with the aforementioned absences of both Backes and Pastrnak.

Absent from the team’s morning skate, the Bruins recalled forward Sean Kuraly from the Providence Bruins on an emergency basis, and slid David Krejci into Bergeron’s spot on the first line between Brad Marchand and first-year pro Danton Heinen.

If Bergeron is out, Krejci would take his spot, Ryan Spooner would take Krejci’s spot as the second-line center with Matt Beleskey and Austin Czarnik on the wings, and Sean Kuraly would skate on the left side of a line with Riley Nash and Jimmy Hayes.

It’s worth noting that Bergeron did participate in the club’s pregame warmup.

In net, the Bruins will (obviously) give the start to Rask. The 29-year-old stopped all 24 shots against in Saturday’s win, and comes into play with 15 wins (including three shutouts) and a .950 save percentage in 19 career games against the Panthers.

Florida will counter with Roberto Luongo. Luongo took a loss in his last outing behind a 22-of-25 night against the Buffalo Sabres, but all three of his wins on the year have come at home, where he’s 3-1-0 with a .922 save percentage. Luongo, familiar with the B’s from his run to the 2011 Cup Final with the Canucks, has 15 wins and a .926 save percentage in 36 games against the Bruins.

This is the first of five meetings between the Bruins and Panthers this year.

The Bruins won the season series with the Cats a year ago, three games to one.

Is Bruins forward Ryan Spooner on the trade block?

11.01.16 at 2:41 pm ET
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Ryan Spooner could be on the trade block for the Boston Bruins. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Ryan Spooner could be on the trade block for the Boston Bruins. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

This year, albeit still extremely early, has not gone as planned for Boston Bruins forward Ryan Spooner.

Moved from his natural center position to the wing, back to center, back to wing, and now expected to be back to center again for tonight’s head-to-head with the Florida Panthers, the 24-year-old Spooner has struggled to the tune of one goal, two points, and 14 shots on goal in seven games played.

Spooner has even sat as a healthy scratch for the Bruins once this year, in the club’s home opener no less, a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 20.

The scratch prompted talk of Spooner, who has spent his entire career with the Bruins, finding himself on the outs as a trade chip for a Black and Gold roster deep down the middle.

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