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Bruins leave Tuukka Rask no room for error

10.22.15 at 1:44 am ET
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Tuukka Rask has allowed 22 goals this season. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask has allowed 22 goals this season. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask has not been a cure-all for the Bruins’€™ issues. That doesn’€™t mean he’€™s been a primary source of those issues.

In five games played this season, Rask has allowed a jarring 22 goals. While goals against is a team statistic, having a goalie of Rask’€™s caliber is typically a fail-safe against such results.

These are not typical circumstances, however, so judging Rask based on them isn’€™t entirely fair, even if he is making a whole lot of money.

The Bruins have lost four games this season. In three of them, the B’€™s were unequivocally worse in front of Rask than he was behind them. Last week’€™s loss to Tampa qualified as a stinker on Rask’€™s behalf, but the other performances have seen him allow goals not usually seen around these parts. Does Rask deserve criticism for not being at his best? Sure, but no five-game sample can possibly be seen as an indication that one of the best goalies in the league (remember: Rask is the leader among active goalies in career save percentage, ahead of Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price and everyone else) is some flawed player who no one noticed because he was on a good team.

Granted, what’€™s alarming with Rask is that, for the first time in a long time, he doesn’€™t pass the eye test. The numbers are ugly enough, but so too are the goals. Commonly this season, such lowlights have been the result of a Rask miscue exacerbated by Boston’s defensive play.

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Zac Rinaldo ‘for sure’ concerned about suspension after hit on Sean Couturier

10.21.15 at 11:52 pm ET
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Zac Rinaldo is well aware that his hit on Sean Couturier in the first period of Wednesday’€™s loss to the Flyers got the attention of the Department of Player Safety.

A repeat offender given that he’€™s been suspended within the last 18 months, Rinaldo said he is “for sure” concerned about being suspended for his charging major Wednesday, which came with a game misconduct.

Though Rinaldo did not target the head, the hit was highly avoidable given how late it was. He said after the game that his intention was to lay a clean hit.

“I saw the puck coming around the boards and I thought he still had full control of the puck, and I just tried to deliver a body check,” Rinaldo said.

Asked whether he felt he actually did lay a clean hit, Rinaldo reiterated, “That’€™s what I was trying to do, yeah: deliver a clean hit, just go through the body. It’€™s a part of the game, so that’€™s what I tried to do.”

Rinaldo has been suspended three times for a total of 14 games in his career.

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5 things we learned: Bruins aren’t good at holding leads

10.21.15 at 10:43 pm ET
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The Bruins can build a lead and they can blow a lead. The bad commonly outweighs the good there. Anyway, now they’€™re 2-3-1.

For the second straight game, the B’€™s relinquished a two-goal lead, with Wednesday’€™s contest costing them in overtime in the form of a 5-4 Flyers win. After jumping ahead of Philly, 4-2, through the first two periods, Boston let the Flyers storm back with third-period goals from Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds. A Ryan Spooner hooking penalty in overtime led to a power-play goal from Giroux to end the game and hand the Bruins a disappointing loss.

Boston got goals in regulation from Brett Connolly, Patrice Bergeron, Chris Kelly and Jimmy Hayes. Bergeron, who was in the lineup after recently welcoming his first child to his family, scored on the power play while Kelly’€™s goal came during a second-period penalty kill. David Krejci continued his torrid start with a pair of assists to bring his league-leading point total to 11 through six games.

Here are four more things we learned Wednesday:


It took six games for Zac Rinaldo to get tossed from a game. His first offense as a Bruin came late in the first period, when Rinaldo threw a late hit on Sean Couturier after the forward had already absorbed a hit from Adam McQuaid along the boards. Rinaldo was assessed a five-minute charging major and a game misconduct.

Given that Rinaldo was suspended last season, he counts as a repeat offender if and when the department of player safety opts to punish him.

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Claude Julien on draft pick compensation: ‘Once you’re fired, you’re fired’

10.21.15 at 12:10 pm ET
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The fact that John Tortorella isn’€™t the most ridiculous part of the Blue Jackets hiring John Tortorella shows how backwards the NHL‘€™s rules regarding compensation for fired employees is.

Tortorella, who was fired after the first year of a five-year contract with the Canucks at the end of the 2013-14 season, had two-plus more years on his contract with Vancouver before being hired by the Blue Jackets. With Columbus hiring him during his contract, however, the Canucks are within their rights to seek a second-round pick as compensation for the coach, as the Bruins are doing with Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers.

That the Canucks are now off the hook for his contract should be enough, as they chose to can him. The Blue Jackets could (and should) have viewed the second-round pick compensation as a deterrent for hiring Tortorella.

Asked about the situation Wednesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien was vocal about teams seeking draft picks for people they fired. Should he be fired, Julien could find his job search more difficult if the Bruins chose to seek draft pick compensation. The fact that the Bruins are doing so with Chiarelli (they’€™ll get a second-rounder from the Oilers in one of the coming years) shows that they might not be inclined to waive their right to a pick if they eventually fire their coach.

“The league is going to look into that, but as a coach, I find it a shame that I wouldn’€™t be able to get a job somewhere because the compensation was too high, yet they thought enough of me that they would be willing to hire me, but they wouldn’€™t be willing to give a first, second or third-round pick,” Julien said. “To me, once you’€™re fired, you’€™re fired.

“If it’€™s a different situation and you’€™re not fired, you step down, you say, ‘€˜I don’€™t want to be here anymore,’€™ or whatever, well [they] still own your rights until the end of the contract. I agree with that, because they still wanted you. You’€™re the one that wanted to step down. Once you’€™re fired, you shouldn’€™t be held back from working anywhere because of compensation. Whether it’€™s called a selfish thing on our parts, the thing that we want to do, we want to get back and work again. At the same time, it’€™s definitely a benefit for the team that fired you because they don’€™t have to keep paying you for doing nothing. This is something I know the league is going to look into, and we’€™ll see what happens there.”

Julien said that he understands draft pick compensation for coaches who are under contract and are sought after by other teams.

“I think it’€™s important to understand that there’€™s teams that develop coaches,” Julien said. “[I’€™ll] use the example of Detroit. How many coaches have they lost? Todd McLellan, being an assistant coach and them giving him the opportunity to be a head coach [in San Jose]. Well, he had an opportunity to grow in [the Red Wings] organization, so all of a sudden they say, ‘€˜Well, we should get some sort of compensation.’€™ He wasn’€™t fired. He was promoted, so I understand the logistics of where that argument comes from. I’€™m not naive when it comes to that.

“Having said that, I think there’€™s two sides to it, but as coaches, I think our biggest thing is being fired — not promoted — being fired, we should be able to get another job without being held back because of compensation.”

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Matt Beleskey (upper-body) out vs. Flyers, Patrice Bergeron questionable

10.21.15 at 11:23 am ET
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Matt Beleskey will not play Wednesday night due to an upper-body injury, Claude Julien said after Wednesday’s morning skate. Patrice Bergeron, who missed the skate due to personal reasons, is questionable to play.

[Update: 4:21 p.m.] The Bruins have confirmed that Bergeron and wife Stephanie had their first child, a boy named Zack. B’s president Cam Neely said on 98.5 The Sports Hub Wednesday that Bergeron is expected to play.

Julien said that Beleskey’s injury was suffered between Tuesday’s practice and Wednesday morning. The Bruins’ lines were out of sorts with both players absent in morning skate, but Beleskey’s absence means that Brett Connolly will likely be in the lineup Wednesday. Connolly was a healthy scratch Saturday against the Coyotes.

Tuukka Rask is expected to start against the Flyers. Joe Morrow, who has missed the last two games due to the flu, remains on injured reserve. The defensive pairings in the morning skate were as follows:

Chara-Kevan Miller
Cross-Colin Miller

Joe Morrow working way back from flu

10.20.15 at 2:32 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Joe Morrow remains on injured reserve, but participated when the B’€™s returned to practice Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.

Put on IR due to the flu last Tuesday, Morrow told reporters at Ristuccia Tuesday (via the Boston Globe’€™s Amalie Benjamin) that he lost nearly 10 pounds due to his illness. Morrow was one of eight defensemen to practice Tuesday and reportedly was on the team’€™s extra pairing with Zach Trotman. Tommy Cross has been in the lineup in place of Morrow.

Having been on IR for a week, Morrow could be activated for Wednesday’€™s game if he is ready to play. The B’€™s will host the Flyers Wednesday at TD Garden.

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5 things we learned as Bruins beat Coyotes for second win of season

10.18.15 at 12:45 am ET
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With the Bruins looking for ways out of their early season slump, the old cliche of having your best players be your best players seemed worth a try. It worked well enough Saturday night.

Tuukka Rask made key saves in the second period, Brad Marchand scored a shorthanded goal in his first game back, Patrice Bergeron scored two power play goals and David Krejci kept up his hot start to give the Bruins a 5-3 win over the Coyotes. With the win, their second straight, the Bruins are now 2-3-0 on the season.

The most crucial stretch for Boston came in the second period, when Rask stopped Martin Hanzal on a shorthanded 2-on-1 for his second key save on an odd-man rush of the period. The B’€™s then got set up in the offensive zone, leading to a blast from the left circle from Krejci to break what was a 1-1 tie. With his goal and a pair of assists on the night, Krejci increased his season total to nine points (four goals, five assists) through five games.

After Marchand made it 3-1 4:44 into the third, the Coyotes stormed back with a pair of goals from in close. Bergeron gave the B’€™s their lead back by redirecting a hard pass from Ryan Spooner past Mike Smith to make it 4-3 and added to it with another power-play goal with just over a minute remaining.

Here are four more things we learned Saturday:


Eyebrows were raised when Claude Julien decided to make Brett Connolly a healthy scratch in order to keep Tyler Randell in the lineup, but he was proven right Saturday night.

Randell scored his second goal in as many career NHL games Saturday when he took a feed from Krejci and backhanded it past Smith to tie the game in the second period. It was just Randell’€™s second shot in as many games, but he’€™s been extremely efficient.

It will be interesting to see what the Bruins do with the fourth line going forward. There’€™s no way they can sit Randell after scoring in two straight games, while Connolly should not be a regular healthy scratch.


Bergeron welcomed Marchand back to his line by doing what they do best: Take the puck and never ever let anyone else have it. Through two periods, the Bergeron line had an absurd Corsi For Percentage of 91, as the trio of Bergeron, Marchand and Loui Eriksson were on the ice for 20 shot attempts for and just two shot attempts against in even-strength play.

While Connolly played well on Bergeron’s line for two games while Marchand was out, it would be tough to take Eriksson off the line. They haven’t produced a ton 5-on-5, but with performances like Saturday’s, it’s easy to see why Julien would want to give Eriksson a permanent spot with the longtime duo of Bergeron and Marchand.


A first-period breakout went awry and resulted in a goal against when Tommy Cross sent a pass from behind the net high in the zone for Ryan Spooner. The pass was well ahead of him, however, and was easily picked off by the Coyotes in the high slot. That led to a mess in front of Tuukka Rask‘€™s net in which the puck eventually appeared to go off Chris Kelly‘€™s skate and in.

The Bruins put up a fight on the play, but…


For the second time this season, Claude Julien used a coach’€™s challenge. For the second time this season, the Bruins didn’€™t have a timeout.

Julien objected to the early Coyotes goal, arguing that Joe Vitale made ample contact with Rask in front leading up to the goal. While Vitale clearly did, it came well before Shane Doan shot the puck that eventually made its way into the net, resulting in the call to be upheld.

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