WILMINGTON — Both Andrew Ference and Rich Peverley were held out of Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the practice that Ference is under the weather, while Peverley is still dealing with an ailment that is healed with rest.
The Bruins had Tuesday off, and Julien said that Peverley will not practice at all this week. The team has yet to decide whether he will play Friday against the Panthers.
“Ference is battling the famous flu bug,” Julien said. “Peverley is maintenance. Again, same thing. We’re having a good look here at our schedule and what it may do for him. We’re going to keep him off here for the next couple of days, and tomorrow is certainly another one of those days. We’ll decide whether he’s in on Friday, and if not, that will give him at least a good week. We’re going to be making a decision on him regarding his situation.”
Peverley missed two games last month, sitting out the team’s Nov. 7 and Nov. 10 victories with an undisclosed injury.
NESN analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning with guest hosts Dale Arnold and Bob Ryan for his weekly discussion the Bruins.
The Bruins are the Eastern Conference leaders after winning 19 of their last 22 game. While they only hold a one point edge on the Flyers, the Bruins man handled the Flyers in a 6-0 win last Saturday, taking complete control over the East. The Bruins are in the middle of a five-day break right before the holiday season, giving Brickley and guest D&C hosts Bob Ryan and Dale, plenty to talk about before the Bruins get back in action against the Panthers on Friday. Brickley told the hosts that he thought the Bruins are currently playing better than any other Eastern Conference team.
“They certainly are right now, I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Brickley said. “You can point to all the statistics and numbers you want, but just give it the eyeball test and watch this team play. I guess the simplest way to look at it is as a collection of six defensemen, four lines, two goaltenders, the matchups that the Bruins get because of that depth and balance makes them the better team on most nights. And when you have that believability because you’re Stanley Cup champions — which was really the only element missing, I thought, from a pretty confident team over the last couple of years despite some serious playoff dramatic defeats — that once they became champions, that learning to win was embedded in them. And that’s how they play now. And if you combine those elements, yeah, they are the best team in the NHL, as we speak.”
Brickley chalked up the Bruins’ early season struggles as purely an emotional battle that veterans hadn’t dealt with before.
“They couldn’t get the emotional needle to where it needed to be,” Brickley said. “I think people were well aware of that within the organization, players included, that that was going to be the toughest task. I think you saw the younger players not have a problem with it as much as the older players, the established players, the guys that maybe had not won a Stanley Cup and now were finally champions. To understand where they needed to be emotionally game in and game out and to have to do it just a couple of months after doing it to the middle of June and try to do it in October was more difficult than anybody realized, myself included.
“I didn’t expect them to start 3-7. I thought at worst-case scenario maybe a .500 team through the first four or five weeks of the season, which would have been fine with me. But I got a little concerned at 3-7. When I heard players like Tim Thomas and Milan Lucic say, ‘You know, we’re not that far off,’ you look at the game tape and you break it down and you say maybe they’re right, what’s missing? And it was that emotion, that physical engagement that comes with the emotion of being involved in a game was the only thing that was lacking. And they found it.”
WILMINGTON — After taking Tuesday off, the Bruins have returned to practice, though forward Rich Peverley and defenseman Andrew Ference did not take the ice.
Peverley has been dealing with an ailment that coach Claude Julien has said is healed by rest. Julien said Monday the team was considering giving him one of this week’s games off, but he played Monday and it remains to be seen whether he plays Friday against the Panthers.
There are highlight reel goals. And, there are game-winning goals.
On rare occasions, you get both in one. Monday night, Brad Marchand gave Bruins fans a 2-for-1 holiday special with his deke-to-backhander that beat Montreal’s Carey Price with just over five minutes remaining to put the Bruins up, 3-1. It turned out to be the difference when Erik Cole scored with 1:14 left as the Bruins hung on for a 3-2 win.
“Once I got my head up, he was already in the motion of poke checking, and I just pulled it around him, and luckily it went in,” Marchand said.
Marchand was quick to thank linemate Tyler Seguin for his vision to see Marchand breaking down the slot for the goal.
“Well, once Segs got it, I saw [the defenseman] decided to go to him, and I was all alone, so I was hoping he’d get it through and he made the play to get it done,” Marchand said.
All of this for a team know for scoring “dirty work” goals, fighting along the boards and finding a way to finish. On this night, the finish by Marchand was spectacular.
“I think sometimes people underestimate our team for the amount of skill we have, but, you know, we have a lot of guys who make great plays, and every now and then we get a nice goal,” Marchand said. (more…)
No Milan Lucic? No problem. With last season’s leading goal-scorer suspended, the Bruins still went out and took care of business, beating the Canadiens, 3-2, at TD Garden.
For the second game in a row, Benoit Pouliot put the Bruins on the board in the first period. Tomas Plekanec answered with a goal of his own, but Andrew Ference helped the B’s get the lead back in the second period when he threw a puck out front from behind the net and saw it bounce of David Krejci and in. Tyler Seguin set up Brad Marchand off a turnover and the second-year forward deked Carey Price out of his pads for his 12th goal of the season. Erik Cole scored in the finals minutes to make it a one-goal game, but
Picking up the win for the B’s was Tim Thomas, who won improved to 16-5-0.
The Bruins will next play Friday when they host the Panthers for their last game before Christmas.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Peverley now has points in four straight games, so whatever has been ailing him hasn’t been hurting his production. In addition to assisting the first goal of the night, he tied Seguin for the leaf among Bruins forwards with five shots on goal.
Peverley is developing a habit of setting up Pouliot goals, as he’s done it twice in the last two games. While there was some uncertainty regarding that line to begin the season, it has taken shape, gelled and won games for the Bruins.
- Speaking of that third line, Pouliot now has goals in consecutive games. It’s always seemed that it would be a matter of getting comfortable in the system and being more consistent than he has in the past, and right now the former fourth overall pick is doing both. With six goals on the season now, he has a chance of reaching 18 goals this season, which is what Michael Ryder gave the B’s in his final two seasons in Boston.
- Another solid night for Zach Hamill, who was given some more responsibility Monday night. After beginning the night on the fourth line, Hamill was used up and down the lineup, seeing multiple shifts on the first line between David Krejci and Nathan Horton, and even played 1:40 on the power play. Hamill had two shots on goal, and his still looking for his first goal in the NHL.
- Another day, another strong performance from a Bruins goaltender. Thomas made 33 saves in the effort. In picking up the win, Thomas is now tied with Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury with 16 victories, which is second in the league.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Prior to Marchand’s goal, the Bruins, who had hist posts earlier in the game, had bad luck on some chances in the third period. A Seguin slapshot got past Price but went through the crease, and Price later made a tremendous point-blank save on Zach Hamill off a nice pass from Nathan Horton.
The team’s general manager made it clear Monday night he’s not about to change the way he builds his roster based on a one-game suspension of one of his higher profile players.
Peter Chiarelli said Monday he understands what Brendan Shanahan was doing by handing out a one-game suspension for Milan Lucic for the hit-from-behind on Zac Rinaldo on Saturday in Philadelphia. There’s a history there with Lucic and the Bruins have skated from possible suspensions on transgressions from Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid in the last two weeks.
But not this time.
Still, Chiarelli wants to be clear. The Bruins will still be big and bad.
“It’s one game, for one thing, so I’m not going to react to that,” Chiarelli said minutes before the game Lucic missed with the Canadiens. “We went into the year with the new rule changes thinking that we were going to be a little more heavily scrutinized. We might have even played a heavier game in the playoffs, and, again, people were clamoring that we got away with stuff, and maybe we did, maybe we didn’t. But that’s the way we built the team, and I’m going to continue to build it that way.
“I mean, hey, if I could find another Milan Lucic, I’d be very pleased. I think everyone in the league would want a player like that. No, we won’t stray from how we built it, and we’ll continue to put the pieces in that have some character and have some toughness.
Chiarelli said he spoke with the top judge in the NHL operations office on Monday, getting the full explanation of the discipline.
“I talked to Brendan Shanahan today following his sanction on Milan, the one-game suspension, and what was explained to me was that when there have been incidents before with a player, they look at the whole body of work,” Chiarelli said. “I don’t know if it’s as strong as being a repeat offender, but he’s done stuff in the past, according to hockey ops, that go to his character reference when they’re looking at putting up punishment. Brendan didn’t say this, but if it was his first incident, I would think maybe he wouldn’t have been suspended. Brendan didn’t say that, but that’s my take on the whole thing.
“If you go back and see what Milan has done, to me, it’s pretty unremarkable, but they obviously look at everything.”
But Chiarelli, to his credit, did itemize the list of misdeeds that led up to Monday’s suspension.
“I think he got a suspension against [Maxim] Lapierre, he got the fine against Freddy Meyer, he got a warning on [Ryan] Miller, and this,” Chiarelli said. “I might have been missing one, but he didn’t get any other warnings. You wouldn’t know of warnings because, short of a fine, they don’t publicize that. I agree with the global objective of addressing player safety, and if the body of work means that now he’s in that, again, not “repeat offender,” but the “repeat concerns,” I guess, however you want to characterize it, then if that’s what it is, that’s what it is. Obviously I support the league’s attempt at addressing player safety.
“And I think Milan might have explained to you, and he actually, if you look at it closely, I feel that he has, he did change his game, so to speak, on that check. I thought he stopped skating. If you looked at his left arm going in, I thought he tried to lever him so that he could hit him in the crest, and I don’t think he hit him as hard as he normally does. Milan’s a guy who’s led our team in hits, I think, since he’s been here, and he’s very rarely been penalized with boarding, hit from behind – the roughing stuff. He’s a clean player, and that’s what the law is now, so we’ll abide by it.”