Archive for January, 2013

Claude Julien still sees plenty of room for improvement

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

The Bruins have started out 3-0-1 and have looked impressive in the process.

But for 40 minutes Friday night, Claude Julien watched as his team was sluggish, falling behind 2-1 to the Islanders before recovering to tie the game, 2-2, before the third period.

Zdeno Chara scored on a perfect pass from Milan Lucic with just under 13 minutes left to break the tie and Patrice Bergeron add late insurance in a 4-2 win.

“Obviously happy we haven’€™t lost in regulation yet. But, I don’€™t think we’€™re extremely happy with our game [Friday],” Julien said. “For 40 minutes, I didn’€™t think we were on top of our game, we didn’€™t seem to be in sync, we didn’€™t seem to have the energy that we usually show. So, it was a struggle for us tonight, but the last 20 were a little bit better, we found a way to win. A lot of times, that’€™s what you’€™ve got to do, you’€™ve got to push through those kind of nights and we did. So, you take the two points and you move on.”
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Merlot Line a difference-maker in win over Islanders

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Through four games, the Bruins have one point-per-game player and his name is Gregory Campbell.

The Bruins’ fourth-line center scored and had an assist in Friday’s 4-2 win over the Islanders at TD Garden on a night that saw the members of the Merlot Line produce a pair of goals (Shawn Thornton scored the Bruins’ first-goal of the game).

The line of Campbell, Thornton and Daniel Paille had its ups and downs last season, but their performance was massive in what was on the whole a relatively sloppy night for the B’s. There was the typical show of solidarity from Thornton, who came to Paille’s defense in the first period when Matt Martin wanted to drop the gloves following a clean hit in the corner, but the line also brought offense, defense and energy.

“Tonight they were the ones that were doing the right things,” Claude Julien said. “Both goals that they scored, they had somebody in front of the net, Thorty on the first one, and Soupy on the second goal, things that our others lines weren’€™t doing for two periods. Once we got ourselves going we were a lot better. They set the example I guess for the rest of the team for the third period.”

Said Campbell: “We’ve been playing together for the last two years, which is a rare thing in hockey,” he said. “We get along off the ice, which is good because it transfers on the ice. We accept our role and know our role. Sometimes it is not an easy job but we are willing to help the team. It’€™s a role that we take pride in.”

Campbell, who had 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) all of last season, has a goal and three-assists thus far in the shortened campaign.

“I mean, it is what it is,” Campbell said of leading the B’s in points. “I’m just trying to contribute. I felt like I worked hard in the lockout in the last four months and I feel good right now. As I said, I am just trying to contribute, whether it’€™s goals or assists, it doesn’€™t really matter. It’€™s just helping the team win.”

Do the Dougie: 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton is a Bruins sensation

Friday, January 25th, 2013

He’s only 19 but defenseman Dougie Hamilton is already showing why the Bruins’ management felt comfortable putting him right into the fire of the NHL.

Hamilton had two assists as the Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 4-2 Friday night at TD Garden. The crowd began to chant his name in the third period after his outlet pass set up Patrice Bergeron‘s insurance goal. The players are already singing to him in the locker room, asking him to — as the song says — “Teach me how to Dougie.”

Claude Julien noted Hamilton work in juniors that prepared him for his debut early on in this shortened season.

“There’€™s a couple of things that’€™s happened to help him along the way here,” Julien said. “He’€™s been playing since September with his junior team, he’€™s gone to the World Juniors, so he’€™s played in high-caliber tournaments. So, he’€™s got that experience and he’€™s come in here with a good jump, having played four months of hockey and right now he’€™s playing with a lot of confidence. The guys that he’€™s playing with have been extremely helpful with him on the ice.

“I think that’€™s why our [front office] guys drafted him, because they saw a lot of things we’€™re seeing right now. We liked his size, we liked the way he moved on the ice, but at the same time, we thought he had real good hockey sense. He sees the ice well, he finds the passing lanes and you saw on that goal, breakout out of our own end. You see the guy scoring, but it all starts from our end, and that was from his pass to [Brad] Marchand and to Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] for the breakaway. Those kind of things is what our scouts saw in him and those kind of things he’€™s demonstrating right now. You have to be pleased and impressed with a young player playing the way he has been.”

What went right and wrong as Bruins beat Islanders

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Dougie Hamilton had the first multi-point game of his career as Bruins improved to 3-0-1 with a 4-2 win over the Islanders at TD Garden Friday night.

Hamilton had two assists on the night, with the B’s getting scoring from Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. The Islanders got a pair of goals from Keith Aucoin.

Tuukka Rask made 24 saves on 26 shots in the win, his third of the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– It was another strong game for Hamilton, who picked up his second career and third career points with assists on Thornton and Bergeron’s goals, and could have had more. Hamilton fired the shot that led to Thornton’s goal in front in the first period, while his long pass from the corner to Brad Marchand in the neutral zone started the play that resulted in Bergeron’s breakaway goal. Late in the third period, arena-wide “Dougie” chants filled the Garden.

Though Hamilton had only two shots that actually reached Rick DiPietro Friday, he once again displayed an impressive ability to get pucks through. Another one of his shots, an intentionally wide blast, nearly resulted in a goal when it bounced off the board to Patrice Bergeron, whose bid was stopped.

– Speaking of defensemen, the Bruins got Dennis Seidenberg back on Friday, and though Claude Julien limited his time somewhat (he did not get any time on the power play), he didn’t appear to be in any noticeable discomfort. Seidenberg had a team-high six hits for the Bruins.

– Though the power play remains unsuccessful, the penalty kill was sharp as usual for the Bruins. In killing off three penalties, the team’s penalty kill improved to 16-for-16 through four games.

Johnny Boychuk showed his tolerance for pain by not missing a shift after clearly feeling a blocked shot from Kyle Okposo in the third period. Boychuk struggled through the rest of the shift and went down the tunnel afterwards, but was back out on the ice for his next turn.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– Though they finally scored their first power-play goal of the season on Wednesday, the struggles on the man advantage continued for the Bruins on Friday. In turning in an 0-for-3 showing, the Bruins saw their power play sink to 1-for-17 on the season.

Zdeno Chara took his third minor penalty in four games when he mauled John Tavares in the neutral zone in the second period. The stakes were much lower without Chara this time around, as Chara’s previous penalties came late in tie games and involved a 5-on-3 for the opponent, and the B’s penalty killers once again came up big without their top man.

– The line of Chris Kelly between Rich Peverley and Chris Bourque had another underwhelming night, as Aucoin blew right by Bourque and Johnny Boychuk in front to score the Islanders’ first goal. The goal and minus-1 showing dropped both Peverley and Bourque to a minus-3 thus far on the season. Kelly, who picked up the secondary assist on Campbell’s goal but had changed before the puck went in, was also a minus-1 and saw his rating fall to minus-3.

Late charge: Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron lift Bruins to win over Islanders

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Zdeno Chara fired a wrist shot past Rick DiPietro with just under 13 minutes left in the third period to break a 2-2 tie, as the Bruins bounced back from their first loss of the season with a 4-2 win over the Islanders Friday night at TD Garden. Rookie sensation Dougie Hamilton added two assists and set up Boston’s fourth goal with a pretty outlet pass as the Garden crowd began to chant his name.

The Bruins overcame a two-goal night from Waltham and Chelmsford, Mass. native Keith Aucoin to improve to 3-0-1 in the young season. With seven points on the season, they also have gained a point in all four games.

Tuukka Rask has started all four games and stopped 24 of 26 shots on the night to record his third win.

The Bruins jumped on top just under five minutes into the game when Shawn Thornton collected a loose puck and put it past DiPietro. Hamilton set up the goal when he took a shot from the right point that deflected off the stick of Daniel Paille. DiPietro couldn’t control the shot and Thornton was in the right spot on the doorstep for his first goal of the season and Hamilton’s second NHL point.

The Islanders tied it six minutes later when the red-hot Aucoin took a pass from Colin McDonald from the side of the net and put it past Rask.

The first period featured a fight between Milan Lucic in which the Bruins leveled Matt Carkner with a right cross, getting the Friday night Garden crowd into the game.

The Islanders opened the second period on the power play. While they couldn’t score, they used the advantage to gain momentum of the game. That proved productive when Rask and the Bruins allowed a loose puck to bounce uncontrolled to the high slot. Aucoin was in the right spot at the right time again and blasted a slap shot past Rask at 9:50 of the period for an unassisted goal, his second of the game and third in two nights.

The Bruins used good fortune to gain the equalizer four minutes later when David Krejci threw a puck on net from the far boards. The puck glanced off the skate of Islanders defenseman Joe Finley and onto the stick of Gregory Campell, who put it past DiPietro to make it 2-2 after 40 minutes.

With just under 13 minutes left, the Bruins regained the lead when Lucic took a pass from Nathan Horton and fired a pass from the right circle to the tape of Chara. The Bruins captain snapped a wrist shot from the slot past DiPietro to give the Bruins the lead with 12:53 remaining. It was his first goal of the season and he pumped both hands in the air in relief after the goal. (more…)

Chris Bourque feels the comfort is there and the offense will come

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Chris Bourque is only three games into his Bruins career, and though neither he nor his line has made a ton of noise on the ice, he’s found Boston — the third NHL stop of his career — to be an ideal fit.

“Every game I feel more and more comfortable,” he said. “Obviously getting the nerves out the first couple of games, playing in the Garden with a full house, there’s definitely a little bit of nerves and obviously in New York the other night, but I’m starting to settle in here and I’m starting to feel pretty good and hopefully just get better every day.”

Bourque said that it still feels “surreal” playing for the Bruins given that he grew up watching his father, Ray Bourque, carve out a Hall of Fame career with the B’s, but that’s to be expected.

“Every day that passes, you get kind of used to it a little bit more,” he said. “Seeing my dad’s picture all over the place, every time I see that it reminds that he was such a legend here, so it’s still a little bit different, but something that I’m going to have to get used to. It’s a lot of fun being around these guys, a great group of guys and a good hockey team.”

As for what he’s done on the ice, Bourque is looking for his first goal as a Bruin (he has one goal in 36 career NHL games), but he’s been trusted with minutes on the third line, power play (he was on the ice for Brad Marchand‘s power-play goal against the Rangers Wednesday) and shootout, as he was Boston’s third shooter against the Jets Monday. The confidence is there on Bourque’s part, and the faith is there on Claude Julien‘s part.

“Chris Bourque is a great player, skilled guy,” Julien said after Friday’s morning skate. “I think he’s been an important part of our power play as far as giving us that left shot that we need right now. He’s been pretty decent there. I think he’s another guy that’s feeling his way through our hockey club. The one thing you want out of players that are coming in for the first time is that they don’t hurt your hockey club, and [he] hasn’t.”

The line of Chris Kelly between Bourque and Rich Peverley hasn’t been the Bruins’ strongest — they’ve produced no goals, while Bourque and Peverley have minus-2 ratings and Kelly is a minus-1 — but Bourque thinks the process of coming together has gone increasingly well.

“I think every game has gotten better,” he said. “Last game there were a lot of power plays and PKs. [Kelly and Peverley] kill penalties and me and Pevs are on the power play, so we didn’t play as much together as a line, but when we’re out there I feel like we’re creating some good energy. That’s part of the job as a third line is creating energy for the team and getting momentum. I think it’s been going pretty well so far.”

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Dennis Seidenberg a game-time decision vs. Islanders, Tuukka Rask expected to start

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Dennis Seidenberg will participate in warmups prior to Friday night’s game against the Islanders and will be a game-time decision as he looks to return from a lower-body injury that has kept him out for the last two games.

“He’ll be game-time,” Claude Julien said after Friday’s morning skate. “I can tell you I’m more optimistic than pessimistic though, but again, game-time for the right reasons that we want to make sure that he is ready to go.”

Seidenberg took part in the morning skate after staying off the ice (the team did not practice) on Thursday. The 31-year-old participated in line rushes with Dougie Hamilton, his partner in last Saturday’s win over the Rangers (the only game in which he’s played this season and the game in which he suffered the injury). It’s worth noting, however, that Seidenberg practiced on Tuesday and worked with Hamilton before eventually being kept out of Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden. He said Friday that he feels good and that resting on Thursday was beneficial.

“The day off always helps when you have a nagging injury, so it definitely helped,” he said.

The defensive pairings have been shuffled in each of the two games without Seidenberg, but they were as follows Friday morning (the forward lines were unchanged):

Zdeno CharaJohnny Boychuk

Seidenberg – Hamilton

Andrew Ference – Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice Friday, suggesting he will make his fourth straight start to begin the season.

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