Archive for March, 2013

Claude Julien tweaks lines for morning skate, Johnny Boychuk’s status uncertain

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Wednesday’s morning skate featured more tweaking of the Bruins’ line as they prepare to host the Canadiens in a contest for first place in the Northeast Division. Claude Julien has moved Milan Lucic back with David Krejci and Nathan Horton, while Brad Marchand skated on the third line with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron.

The lines were as follows:

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton

Daniel Paille – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin

Brad Marchand – Rich Peverley  - Jordan Caron

Jay Pandolfo – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

Johnny Boychuk, who has missed the last two games with an apparent foot injury, was back on the ice for the Bruins for the first time since leaving practice last Friday. Julien said following the morning skate that Boychuk’s status for Wednesday’s game is “uncertain” given that he has not been cleared to play. Boychuk will be re-evaluated Wednesday afternoon.

Matt Bartkowski said he is unsure whether he is in the lineup for Wednesday, but don’t count out Bartkowski playing even if Boychuk returns given Aaron Johnson‘s recent struggles.

Barry Pederson on D&C: ‘I think [Bruins] are going to make a deal’

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Barry Pederson of NESN joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss what the Bruins might do before the trade deadline, what price they should pay for a player like Jarome Iginla, and why Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic are struggling to produce.

“I think they believe, the way they are constructed right now, they feel they have the potential to win, but I think there’s a lot of question marks,” Pederson said. “They need to get their offense going. They need to get their power play going.”

Pederson said the Bruins could be justified in giving up Malcolm Subban, another highly regarded prospect and a draft pick for Iginla if they’re confident they can sign Iginla to a multi-year deal. He also brought up Martin St. Louis as a possible trade target for the Bruins.

“I think he’s got a lot more to give and he would probably like to win another Cup,” Pederson said of St. Louis. “I just love his game, and I think the Bruins’ fans do as well. He can play all three positions. He may be small in stature, but as we have seen, he is a guy that gives it. He’s got great intensity. He brings offense. He makes your power play better. I think he would love to play in this system with this team. And they’re in the selling mode. That’s another name to me that’s very intriguing. [Compared to Iginla] I think the price with St. Louis would be a little bit more.”

Whether or not the Bruins deal for one of the bigger names on the market, Pederson said he thinks GM Peter Chiarelli will either do something to bolster the top six forwards or add depth to the defense, or both.

“I think they’re going to make a deal,” he said. “[AdamMcQuaid‘s injury puts you in a tough position. Chris Kelly, you don’t know how he’s going to come back from that injury … The other thing we have to remember is, this is the first time since the last collective bargaining agreement that next year’s salary cap is going lower. If you’re a seller, you may be better off now making a deal now than waiting for the summertime when everybody has to do it.”

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Bruins give Matt Bartkowski 1-year extension

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Mat Bartkowski

The Bruins announced Tuesday that they have signed defenseman Matt Bartkowski to a one-year contract extension through next season and signed Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Chris Casto to an entry level contract.

Bartkowski’s deal is a one-way contract worth $650,000. The 24-year-old has skated in the Bruins’ last two games, totaling no points and a minus-2 rating.

Claude Julien: Make no mistake, Tuukka Rask still is team’s No. 1 goalie

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

There’s no goalie controversy with the Bruins – at least certainly not in the eyes of coach Claude Julien.

Tuukka Rask wore the honorary “Red Rooster” T-shirt after turning away 23-of-25 shots in a 3-2 shootout win over the Maple Leafs on Monday night at TD Garden. After allowing two goals on the first nine shots he faced, both of which he had little chance of stopping, Rask was spectacular down the stretch, making several key saves in the final two minutes of regulation and two late in overtime to allow the Bruins to escape with two points.

Eyebrows were raised last week when Rask’s backup Anton Khudobin started back-to-back games against Ottawa and Toronto after the Rask lost games to Pittsburgh and Winnipeg to start the road trip.

Despite Rask’s 15-4-3 record, a sparkling .928 save percentage and a 1.90 goals against (second-best in the NHL), there were some murmurs that the Bruins might be closer to a platoon situation in net than anyone expected. Julien put that to rest Monday night.

“Well I don’t think Tuukka’s been bad at all,” Julien said. “I think you know, I hope people didn’t read into Khudobin playing two games, because I think Khudobin deserved to play two games. He’s played well all season long, he played well in Ottawa, and this was an opportunity to get him two games in a row and that’s all it was.

“You know, we’ve got a busy week this week and I needed Tuukka fresh and that’s all it was. So certainly had nothing to do with that. And Tuukka to me has been good and he’s never been bad, he’s been great and he’s been good. But you know, we’ve gotten some pretty good games out of him and I don’t think we can necessarily point the finger at him for losing any games for us this year.”

As a matter of fact, Rask didn’t even get that second game off as Khudobin was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots Saturday night in Toronto and Rask was sent in to try and salvage matters.

Rask and Khudobin have teamed to make a very effective combination this season, as the pair has combined for a 2.10 goals against, the second-best in the NHL this season. Khudobin gave Rask some advice on the final shootout save on Nikolai Kumelin, who beat him on a breakaway in the second period, the save that won the game.

“He made the same kind of move in that breakaway, and then Anton told me that’s the only move he’s got, so I kind of threw my blocker there and then just tried to stay with him and made my block,” Rask said.

Then came the kicker from the coach.

Asked whether Rask seemed to take the message of rest and being at full strength the right way, Julien said that’s up to each individual, pointing out that sometimes players – like Tim Thomas – can be quirky and hard to read.

“I don’t know, I think it’s one of those things that everybody reads it whichever way they can. And you know that from the goaltender last year,” Julien said.

Second thoughts: Claude Julien reverts to old lines, B’s beat Leafs in shootout

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Maple Leafs forward Nikolai Kulemin looks for a rebound in front of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask during the first period Monday. (AP)

Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron scored while Tuukka Rask stopped Nikolai Kulemin in the third round of the shootout as the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs, 3-2, in overtime Monday night at TD Garden. Rask stopped 23-of-25 shots on the night. The Bruins were without defenseman Johnny Boychuk, scratched earlier in the day with a foot injury.

The first period of action featuring the new lines produced numerous scoring opportunities but no goals. Daniel Paille, skating with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, had a point-blank chance midway through the period, firing from the left wing. The shot bounced off James Reimer and onto the stick of Bergeron but the backhander was also turned away.

The second line of David Krejci and Nathan Horton was energized by the addition of Brad Marchand, all of whom had scoring opportunities during the first 20 minutes. The Bruins outshot the Leafs, 9-6, in the scoreless period.

Toronto wasted little time taking advantage of a Bruins mistake in the opening moments of the second. Aaron Johnson hit Nazem Kadri in the neutral zone well after Kadri passed the puck, and Johnson was called for interference. Jake Gardiner fed Joffrey Lupul down low to the right of Rask and Lupul put the puck past Rask with 23 seconds left on the power play for a 1-0 Toronto lead.

The Leafs made it 2-0 when Kadri fed a perfect pass to a wide-open Nikolai Kulemin at center ice. Kulemin broke in all alone on Rask and beat the Bruins netminder up top for the two-goal margin. The Leafs had two goals on just nine shots to begin the game.

The Bruins got one goal back when Milan Lucic, moved to the third line with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron for the first two periods, skated in on a rush from center ice and beat Reimer five-hole midway through the second. It was Lucic’s fifth goal of the season but his first since Feb. 24 at Florida, a span of 15 games.

The Bruins trailed 2-1 after two periods, despite outshooting the Leafs, 21-14. Looking for more punch, Claude Julien went back to his original lines with 13 minutes left in regulation, re-uniting Marchand with Bergeron and Seguin and putting Lucic back on the line with Nathan Horton and David Krejci.

That paid dividends several shifts later when Marchand fed Dougie Hamilton, who skated behind the Leafs net. Hamilton found Bergeron all alone in the slot and Bergeron beat Reimer for his ninth goal of the season that tied the game with 9:24 left.

Rask made a glove save on Kadri from the left circle with 2:18 left in regulation to preserve the tie. Just over a minute later, Rask stopped Lupul from almost the same spot on a drop pass from Kadri. The Bruins outhit the Leafs, 10-5, in the final 20 minutes as they worked for the equalizer. Rask came up big again on Lupul with 2:10 left in overtime, stopping the forward in close from the bottom of the left circle.

The Bruins are off Tuesday before hosting Montreal Wednesday night at TD Garden. For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia from the Garden, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

What went right as Bruins beat Maple Leafs in shootout to pull even with Canadiens

Monday, March 25th, 2013

The Bruins came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Maple Leafs, 3-2, in a shootout Monday at TD Garden. Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron scored for the B’s in the shootout.

The Leafs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second period with goals from Joffrey Lupul and Nikolai Kulemin. The Bruins were able to come back with goals from Milan Lucic and Bergeron, with Lucic scoring his first goal in 16 games. Demoted to the third line for Monday’s contest, Lucic took a pass from Rich Peverley and flew past two defenders to give himself a breakaway on which he beat Leafs netminder James Reimer to make it 2-1 in the second period. Bergeron took advantage of some sloppy defensive play from Toronto in the third to tie the game.

The win improved the Bruins’ record to 21-7-3, pulling them even with the Canadiens with 45 points. Both the B’s and Habs have played 31 games this season, and the Bruins will host the Canadiens Wednesday at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Daniel Paille was undoubtedly a beneficiary of the new lines, as he had scoring chance after scoring chance while skating on Patrice Bergeron’s trio. Paille’s chances weren’t limited to even strength, however, as a spin move he pulled around Dion Phaneuf with the Leafs on the power play in the second period nearly yielded a shorthanded goal for the Bruins. Paille led the Bruins with five shots through two periods.

- Bergeron had all the time in the time in the world with the puck after Dougie Hamilton fed him from behind the net. Dion Phaneuf was front of the net when Bergeron got the puck but didn’t make much of an effort on taking Bergeron out of the play. The drowsy effort from Phanuf allowed Bergeron to handle the puck just long enough before beating Reimer with a backhander.

- More of a general observation, but Julien reverted back to the team’s original lines about five minutes into the third period. Furthermore, when the game went to 4-on-4 play following matching roughing minors to Phaneuf and Andrew Ference, Krejci was paired with Lucic while Bergeron skated with Marchand.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The line of David Krejci between Brad Marchand and Nathan Horton moved the puck well and created chances, but they didn’t get the puck on net. The line combined for three shots on goal through two periods and missed the net on multiple chances. Early on in the first period, Krejci fed Marchand in front, only to have Marchand’s bid sail to the left of Reimer. Horton has just one goal the last 14 games.

- Speaking of Horton, both he and Seguin had zero shots on goal in regulation and in overtime. That’s not fantastic.

- Aaron Johnson had a forgettable second period, as his hit on Lupul gave the Maple Leads the power play on which Lupul scored to make it 1-0. Later in the period, he had a shot blocked that led to the long pass through the neutral zone past he and Andrew Ference to give Kulemin a breakaway.

Johnny Boychuk out Monday vs. Maple Leafs

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk will miss his second straight game when the B’s host the Maple Leafs Monday night at TD Garden, Claude Julien said Monday morning.

Boychuk left Friday’s practice with an apparent foot injury. He did not practice Sunday after missing Saturday’s game in Toronto. In his place, Matt Bartkowski played 13:05, posting a minus-2 with one shot on goal. Bartkowski will play in his second consecutive game Monday

The Bruins did not hold a morning skate Monday, but Julien shuffled the team’s lines in Sunday’s practice. They were as follows:

Brad Marchand – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Daniel Paille – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin
Milan Lucic – Rich Peverley – Jordan Caron
Jay Pandolfo – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.