|11.21.13 at 2:22 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to discuss the Bruins’ upcoming game against the Blues, the recent struggles of Brad Marchand, as well as other news from across the NHL.
Boston have been rolling as of late, winning six out of its last seven games. Despite the dominant run in November, some members of the Bruins have been slumping, namely Marchand. The 25-year-old winger has yet to really find his bearings so far this year, as he has seen a dip in his production (eight points in 21 games) while increasing his turnovers and penalties. Bruins coach Claude Julien‘s frustration with Marchand has become apparent over the last few days, as Marchand was demoted to the fourth line during Monday night’s 4-1 win over Carolina.
“[Marchand's] just going through tough times right now as a player on the ice and he’s not helping himself at all,” McGuire said. “He is running out of race track pretty fast in terms of some of his decision-making.”
The Bruins will have a tough task in their next game, as they will face off against the Blues, who hold the third seed in the Western Conference with a 14-3-3 record. St. Louis, off to its best 20-game start in franchise history, has gotten a big boost from Alexander Steen, who leads the NHL with 17 goals.
“[St. Louis] learned a lot from their first-round loss to Los Angeles last year, where it was just a battle of attrition,” McGuire said. It was just unbelievably savage the entire series and obviously Steen is off to a great start. It’s the depth of their team. … they remind me so much of the Boston Bruins. They really do.The teams are so similar. … This is a great game you guys are going to have tonight. Unbelievable game.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, a former Bruin’s play is starting to attract attention, as Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas has been viewed as a possible candidate to the U.S. Olympic team. Thomas has bounced back from a poor start to post solid numbers over the last month (2.49 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in November).
“He’s definitely worked his way back into the discussion, I can tell you that right now,” McGuire said. “He’s back into the discussion, that doesn’t mean that he’s going to make the team. One of the reasons why he’s back in the discussion, the injury to Jonathan Quick, who won’t be back until December, maybe even not until the middle of December. The other thing is Craig Anderson and Jimmy Howard have both been lukewarm … and Cory Schneider is sitting on the bench in New Jersey behind Martin Brodeur.”
|11.21.13 at 12:40 pm ET|
Matt Bartkowski had no intention of coming out of Tuesday’s game against the Rangers when, with Dennis Seidenberg already done for the game, he crashed into the boards and hurt his left leg. He also has no plans on coming out of the Bruins’ lineup.
After getting banged up, Bartkowski missed the remainder of the second period Monday, as he likened it to hitting one’s funny bone and said he “couldn’t really move.” He returned to play the third period and appeared hampered, though he said Thursday that he wasn’t dealing with anything more than a little tightness. He still managed to log over 21 minutes in the game.
“It would have had to be something that the trainers would have had to tell me I couldn’t play,” Bartkowski said Thursday. “There’s five D; you’ve got to play.”
Thursday’s game will be the sixth consecutive contest in which Bartkowski has played for the Bruins, which will double the three games in a row he got last month when Claude Julien did some shuffling on the back end to get him some ice time. With Seidenberg out at least a week, it doesn’t look like Bartkowski will be exiting the lineup in the immediate future.
Obviously, Bartkowski finds himself in a position where he should be extremely motivated. He’s been given games here and there this season, but he has been the team’s seventh defenseman, and this stretch of games provides him as good a chance as any to earn a full-time job on the B’s blue line.
“Of course,” Bartkowski said. “Whenever I do get into games, especially this longer stretch, hopefully I play well enough so they can’t take me out.”
Bartkowski has played the last five games on a pairing with Johnny Boychuk. He’s generally been fifth among defensemen in time on ice (Torey Krug has played less), with Tuesday’s 21:13 the most he’s played in an NHL regular-season game (he played more in overtime games last postseason against the Maple Leafs and Rangers).
|11.21.13 at 12:34 pm ET|
After playing both games of a back-to-back Monday and Tuesday against the Hurricanes and Rangers, Tuukka Rask appears to be on tap to be between the pipes again for the Bruins on Thursday against the Blues.
Rask was the first goaltender off the ice in the team’s morning skate and should have his work cut out for him Thursday evening. The Blues are fifth in the NHL with 70 goals, led by left winger Alexander Steen, whose 17 goals are tied with Alexander Ovechkin for tops in the NHL. St. Louis stands fourth in the Western Conference, though its 31 points (14-3-3) are two more than the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins (14-6-1).
Rask is coming off a dominant outing Tuesday in New York in which he made 43 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Rangers. He has played all but three of the Bruins’ 21 contests this season.
|11.21.13 at 11:53 am ET|
McQuaid hopes to return this weekend or early next week, while Claude Julien estimated that Seidenberg will miss somewhere in the neighborhood of seven days. Seidenberg left Tuesday’s game against the Rangers after his first shift and did not return. McQuaid has missed the Bruins’ last five games.
With Seidenberg out and Miller in, the Bruins used a number of different pairings in morning skate, though these seemed to be consistent:
Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Boychuk
Krug – Miller
“He was a big, strong, solid defenseman,” Julien said of what he saw from Miller in training camp. “Moved the puck fairly well, simple play. Again, probably his strength, his battle along the walls and in front of the net, he’s a big strong individual. So I thought he played a steady game, I thought he got better as camp went on, more confident from playing some games at this level. So he’s got an opportunity tonight to step in and show that he can play against one of the best teams in the league, actually.”
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|11.20.13 at 6:14 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Wednesday evening that they have called up defenseman Kevan Miller from Providence. The call-up comes amidst a rather cloudy availability situation regarding Boston’s blueliners.
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg left Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury after one shift, while Matt Bartkowski appeared to hurt his left knee in the second period but returned — albeit it noticeably hobbled — for the third period. Adam McQuaid has missed the last five games with a lower-body injury but began skating this week. It is unknown where each player stands regarding potential availability for Thursday’s game against the Blues, but Miller will be available to the team if needed.
If the 26-year-old is to play Thursday, it will be his NHL debut.
The right-shooting Miller made the Bruins out of training camp but was sent to Providence the day before the season began. In 12 games for Providence, the University of Vermont product has one goal and two assists for three points with a minus-7 rating and 30 penalty minutes.
Miller is in his fourth season in the Bruins’ organization since signing with them as an undrafted free agent.
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|11.20.13 at 11:44 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss the team’s recent hot streak.
That streak includes a 2-1 win over the Rangers on the road Tuesday night. Thornton tallied the game’s first goal, his third of the season. He also scored against the Blue Jackets last Thursday. Despite the offensive outburst, he still recognizes his role as the team enforcer.
‘That’s still my job, first and foremost,’ Thornton said. ‘[I've been] a little lucky the last few games, but I’ve still got my real job.’
Linemate Daniel Paille scored a shorthanded, game-winning goal in the second period.
‘After Paille scored that goal, it kind of gave us a little bit of a lift, and you tend to get pumped up when you see the grinders pop one shorthanded,’ Thornton said.
In the last five games, the fourth line — Thornton, Paille and Gregory Campbell – has a combined four goals, three assists and 19 shots.
‘I always joke with the media that it doesn’t matter who’s on my line, we’re always the fourth line,’ Thornton said. ‘I remember a few years ago, when [Blake] Wheeler was here, I got bumped up to play with [David] Krejci and Wheeler, but everyone just talked about how Wheeler and Krejci got demoted to the fourth line. It doesn’t matter who it is, if I’m on it, it’s still the fourth line.’
While Thornton and Paille provided the offensive fireworks in Tuesday’s victory, goalie Tuukka Rask shut down the Rangers. He allowed just one goal, and recorded 43 saves.
‘Every time we play against those guys he’s unbelievable,’ Thornton said. ‘I think he just really enjoys the challenge of facing Henrik Lundqvist. He earned it last night, he was unbelievable.’
Despite Thornton’s solid play of late, coach Claude Julien opted to make him a healthy scratch for the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Hurricanes on Monday.
‘I don’t like sitting out, obviously, no one likes being the guy that’s the odd man out,’ Thornton said. ‘He told me that it wasn’t because of my play, that I’ve been playing pretty well, it’s just [Jordan] Caron was coming up on sitting out 10 games straight, I think, and he wanted to get him in. And Carolina didn’t really have an enforcer threat, so it was as good a time as any to try to get him back in the game.’
|11.19.13 at 10:11 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask tied a career high with 43 saves Tuesday as the Bruins’ netminder stole a 2-1 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The Bruins, who lost Dennis Seidenberg early, were able to escape the first period scoreless despite the Rangers holding a 16-6 edge in shots on goal. The B’s then got second-period goals from Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille, the latter of which was a shorthanded tally. However, on the same penalty that Paille beat Henrik Lundqvist for his third goal of the season, Derick Brassard snapped the Bruins’ penalty kill streak at 33 consecutive kills by beating Rask with a snap shot.
Boston had to play basically the entire game without Seidenberg, who left the game after playing just one shift and did not return. Seidenberg, who entered the game second on the team in minutes played with an average of 22:07 a night, was announced out with an undisclosed injury late in the first period. The B’s also lost Matt Bartkowski (knee) for a stretch in the second period, but he returned for the third.
The game concluded a three-game road trip for the Bruins, who will play five of their next six games in Boston beginning with Thursday’s game against the Blues.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Rask was sensational for the B’s when considering that he was both playing behind a Seidenberg-less defensive unit and was playing his second game in as many nights.
Rask’s biggest save early came on a penalty shot from Chris Kreider, who was taken down on a breakaway by Johnny Boychuk while the Rangers were on the power play. Kreider tried going stick-side on Rask but was stopped, helping extend the Bruins’ penalty kill streak to 33.
Rask reprised his magic against Kreider in the third with the former BC product on another breakaway. Kreider actually could have had four goals on the night were it not for Rask coming up with big stops, and the Bruins were happy to settle for zero goals from Kreider.
- The Merlot Liners have their fun with Lundqvist, surprisingly. After their big series against the Rangers in the second round last year, goals from Thornton and Paille meant that both players now have four points against the Rangers in the teams’ last four meetings. Thornton has a goal and three assists, while Paille has two goals and a pair of helpers.
- While things have been up-and-down for Brad Marchand, Thornton’s goal doesn’t get scored without him. With Marchand driving hard to the net entering the zone, two Rangers focused their attention on him rather than respecting Thornton, who was able to get a clean look and fire a shot past the glove of Lundqvist.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- If Seidenberg is out for any stretch of time, that means the Bruins might have to make a call-up. It all would depend on whether Adam McQuaid is ready to return from his injury. If he is not and Seidenberg’s injury keeps him off the ice for more games, Kevan Miller would likely get the call. Miller was the team’s last cut in training camp.
Bartkowski, meanwhile, was clearly hampered after returning for the third period, though he was still able to log over 21 minutes. His status going forward will be worth keeping an eye on.
- At long last, the Bruins’ penalty kill streak is over thanks to Brassard’s snapshot with three seconds remaining on David Krejci‘s goaltender interference penalty. Rask clearly didn’t get a good look at Brassard’s shot from the left dot, as Johnny Boychuk appeared to be screening him on the play. Still worth noting that the B’s broke even on that penalty, as Paille scored prior to Brassard’s tally.
- Speaking of Marchand, he took a dumb penalty early in the third period when he cross-checked Mats Zuccarello into the boards from behind. Zuccarello had his numbers to Marchand the whole time, so it was no case of bad luck or the player turning at the last second. The narrative about Marchand needing to play on the edge to be effective is bogus. Taking a bad penalty late in a one-goal game is no way to snap out of a funk.
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