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Milan Lucic insists Bruins are heading in right direction ‘if we can find that confidence’

03.07.15 at 12:42 am ET
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Milan Lucic has faith that things will turn out fine for the Bruins in the final month of the season.

He made that much clear after the team’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Flames Thursday night. That game opened a stretch of 11 games in 18 days for the Bruins, who are holding on for dear life in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Saturday, the Bruins host the Flyers, one of four teams that still has designs on catching Boston. Florida, Ottawa and New Jersey are also hopeful of making a run.

The Bruins enter with 72 points while the Flyers are four points back. Saturday would be a good place for Lucic and the Bruins to start finding their scoring touch. The Bruins had numerous chances to put away the Flames Thursday night, only to allow Calgary to tie the game twice, take the lead early in the third period and win it in the shootout.

“I mean we had two three-on-ones in the third period and we didn’€™t even end up with a shot on net,” Lucic said. “It seems like that’€™s been our biggest challenge this season is having that killer instinct and finishing off plays. It cost us again tonight when we had opportunities to’€”when we had the lead to extend the lead and when we made it three, three we had chances to win the game and we don’€™t bear down and gave them a chance to win it in the shootout. It’€™s no secret, we have to do a better job of winning games in the shootout.”

“I don’€™t know like I said its just having the confidence of scoring especially in the shootout there. Like you said, there’€™s no shootout in the playoffs and we’€™ve been a pretty good overtime team this year but we can’€™t bank on that right now. We still have a ways to go until the playoffs start and we got to make sure we earn our spot. Earn our playoff spot.”

Barring a late-season surge, the Bruins would open the playoffs on the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Reilly Smith has some job security for now: ‘Hopefully I can stay with this organization a while’

03.06.15 at 10:20 pm ET
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After the obvious of getting a big pay raise, the best part of the two-year contract extension for Reilly Smith might be job security.

The Bruins right wing, like teammate Torey Krug, had to sit out the start of camp last summer because the Bruins were over the cap temporarily and couldn’t afford to sign them to new contracts until there was some roster manipulation and flexibility.

But there won’t be such worries this summer or the next as Smith agreed to a two-year extension through the 2016-17 season worth $3.425 million each season.

“It seems like through this whole thing, it’s always been me and Torey slotted together in this whole negotiation process,” Smith said. “It’s good and bad. It’s nice having someone with you through the whole negotiation process, especially in the summer when you’re sitting out camp when neither of us wanted to be. But it’s just good to have it behind us.”

Krug’s deal is worth $3.4 million, but is only good through next season. Still, having the piece of mind knowing that he’ll be in camp next summer is worth it to Smith.

“It was definitely tough. It was on my mind for a while,” Smith said. “It was a pretty stressful time in the summer, having to sit out camp for a while. I’m glad I don’t have to do that the next couple of years.”

The 23-year-old Smith was part of the package from Dallas along with Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser for Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button before the 2013-14 season.

Smith, who has struggle to finish scoring chances all season like the rest of his teammates, doesn’t mind the pressure that comes with expectations. Smith, still only 23, has just 12 goals in 63 games this season. General manager Peter Chiarelli, during a Friday press conference to announce the signings, admitted Smith is being paid like a 20-goal scorer.

“I think I welcome it,” Smith said of the pressure factor. “There’s probably a little bit more pressure but as a hockey player and playing in this organization and at this level, you welcome that every day because people get better every day and just being able to cope with challenges and changes in this league, I think it’s something every player in this league dreams to be able to do. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Reilly Smith, Torey Krug,

Bruins sign Torey Krug, Reilly Smith to contract extensions

03.06.15 at 9:45 am ET
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The Bruins announced Friday morning that they have signed Torey Krug and Reilly Smith to contract extensions.

Krug’€™s deal is for one year and $3.4 million, while Smith’€™s deal is for two years with an annual cap hit of $3.425 million.

Both players were set to become restricted free agents at season’€™s end. They were both late to training camp this season because the B’€™s had yet to give them what eventually became matching one-year contracts for $1.4 million.

The Bruins now have $57,597,857 against the salary cap committed to 13 players next season, not counting Marc Savard.

Claude Julien says ‘lack of finish is probably the biggest concern right now’

03.06.15 at 8:50 am ET
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It’s been the one thing that has haunted these Bruins all season.

They can’t find a way to finish scoring opportunities in and around the net and wind up regretting it at the end of the game. Such was the case again Thursday night in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames. There were several chances for the Bruins to put some distance between themselves and Calgary in the early and middle parts of the game and they simply couldn’t find the finishing touch.

There was Daniel Paille with a wrister on Flames goalie Karri Ramo midway through the first period. There was a slap shot from Dougie Hamilton that was deflected away by a stick at the last moment. But there was no better example of Boston’s inability to find the scoring touch than when Loui Eriksson, on a 3-on-1 rush, had the puck on his stick and fired wide of an empty net midway through the third period.

Carl Soderberg, without a goal since Jan. 17 against Columbus, has now gone 17 games without a goal. He had two chances in the opening period and couldn’t find the back of the net.

“Again, the challenge of our lack of finish is probably the biggest concern right now,” coach Claude Julien said. “So I think we had the better of the game, five-on-five. There’€™s no doubt we played a lot more in their end then they did in ours.

“It’€™s a little bit of maybe confidence, and you squeeze your stick you’€™re trying so hard. There’€™s a lot of guys, use Carl Soderberg as an example. He’€™s really struggled the last little while scoring goals, and guys are putting pressure on themselves. There’€™s games where you like your team’€™s game, but your finish is what ends up killing you at the end.”

Julien realizes that the Bruins had chances leading 1-0 and 2-1 to really do damage and failed to seize on the opportunity because they simply couldn’t finish.
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Read More: Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Carl Soderberg, Claude Julien

Claude Julien on shootouts: ‘They suck’

03.05.15 at 11:12 pm ET
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Claude Julien hates shootouts, just like everybody who has anything to do with the Bruins hates shootouts.

The reason the Bruins hate shootouts is because they’re bad at them. After falling in eight rounds to the Flames on Thursday, Boston’s 2-7 record in the shootout this season is better than only the Kings’ 1-7 mark.

So, when asked about shootouts following Thursday’s loss, Julien cut off the question.

“They suck,” he said.

The reporter responded, “Hmm?” before Julien enunciated a little better.

“They suck,” he repeated as clearly as he could. “That’s my [feelings on] the shootout.”

Julien was then asked if he was talking about his players or the shootout, which was a good question, given that Bruins players happen to — to borrow a term — suck at shootouts. He said he meant shootouts, though he was probably just being nice.

Though the Bruins have participated in nine shootouts this season, no Bruins player has multiple goals. Reilly Smith, who leads the Bruins in attempts, is 1-for-10. Patrice Bergeron is 1-for-8.

The Bruins also participated in the NHL‘s worst shootout of the season less than a month ago, as neither the Oilers nor the B’s scored until the 12th round in the teams’ Feb. 18. In case you had to guess, it was the Oilers that scored and won.

To make matters worse, the Bruins had to deal with bad ice as they tried to turn their shootout luck around Thursday. Both Ryan Spooner and Torey Krug lost the puck as they tried to skate in on Karri Ramo, with Spooner losing the puck so badly that he couldn’t attempt a shot. The puck also skipped on Brad Marchand.

The good news for the Bruins is that there aren’t shootouts in the playoffs. The bad news is that you get more points and make the playoffs when you in shootouts.

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5 things we learned as Bruins give Flames game in regulation, lose in shootout

03.05.15 at 9:54 pm ET
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The Bruins needed a third-period comeback to force overtime in what could have very well been an easy victory. That was the highlight of the night, as they then lost to the Flames in the eighth round of a shootout.

Patrice Bergeron scored the shootout’s first goal when he beat Karri Ramo in the seventh round, but Calgary scored in the seventh and eighth rounds to win the battle of eighth-place teams.

The Flames had no business being in the game, but through penalties and mistakes the B’€™s gave a third-period lead to a team they’€™d mostly dominated on the night.

Here are five things we learned on a frustrating night for the B’s:

JULIEN GOES BACK TO WHAT WORKS

Claude Julien has pulled a lot of tricks with his lineup this season. He’€™s got an underachieving group to work with, so not all of the tricks pay off.

The one that seems to time and time again, however, is reuniting Chris Kelly, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson.

Amidst a frustrating third period that saw Eriksson miss a wide open net on a 2-on-1 before the Bruins handed over a 3-2 lead to the Flames, Julien pulled Kelly up from the fourth line and played him on Soderberg’€™s left wing in place of Daniel Paille. The result was the goal for which Eriksson was overdue in the period.

After Kelly tipped a Soderberg shot in front of the net, Eriksson put in the rebound to tie the game and save the Bruins some embarrassment.

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Pierre McGuire, on MFB, respects Peter Chiarelli: ‘I think the price points were a little excessive on trade deadline day’

03.05.15 at 1:41 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to look back at what the Bruins did at the trade deadline and to discuss other NHL matters. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Bruins didn’t add any defensemen at the deadline, rather trading for forwards Brett Connolly and Max Talbot. Many have said the asking price for some of the defensemen available was just too high, and McGuire agreed.

“I respect Peter [Chiarelli] because I think the price points were a little excessive on trade deadline day, I can tell you that,” said McGuire.

One of the players the Bruins did add in Connolly suffered a broken finger in practice and is now out for six weeks. McGuire said the former Tampa Bay forward has had some questions in the past.

“There were questions about his ability to be a complete player and then you compound that with the hip flexor and the abdominal stuff and there were more questions about him,” said McGuire. “All that being said, I know in Tampa they had high hopes for him, but I think if they had a mulligan and they could do it all over again in that draft, they would have taken Cam Fowler instead of Brett Connolly.”

Even with all the injuries the Bruins have had to deal with this season, McGuire still expects them to make the playoffs. He also referenced the 1992 Bruins when they used 55 players during the season because of injuries. He still has a lot of faith in the Bruins’ organization.

“I still think this coaching staff is amazingly good,” said McGuire. “I think the management group is outstanding. The future for the team is extremely bright, they have some very good young players coming. Everybody is kind of panicking now, I understand that if you’re a fan of the team, I don’t bet on any of the horses in the race, but I can tell you the Bruins are a very respected franchise in the league.”

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Brett Connolly, Max Talbot, Peter Chiarelli, Pierre McGuire
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