Archive for December, 2013

New Year’s reso-losin': Bruins PK can’t keep up with penalties vs. Islanders

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

The Bruins allowed four power-play goals as the Islanders handed them a 5-3 loss Tuesday night at TD Garden.

John Tavares scored 32 seconds into the third period — the Islanders’ only even-strength goal on the night — to break the 3-3 tie and added a power play tally at 13:17 to make it 5-3. The goal capped a four-goal run that saw them come back from a 3-1 deficit.

David Krejci put home his own rebound for the only goal of the first period, and though Frans Nielson tied it on the power play at 5:56 of the second period, Patrice Bergeron and and Daniel Paille scored within 25 seconds of one another to make it 3-1. Bergeron’s goal came from the high slot on the power play, with Paille tipping a Zdeno Chara shot from the point.

Things went downhill from there, as Torey Krug took a bad boarding penalty to set up an Islanders power play goal in which Nielson fired a puck that had bounced off Chara’s skate past Tuukka Rask. The Bruins were able to kill off an ill-advised Milan Lucic cross-checking penalty, but the Islanders got their third power goal of the game with three seconds left in the second period during a Rask delay of game penalty.

It was the second game this season in which the Bruins allowed four power play goals. The B’s also surrendered four power-play tallies to the Devils on Oct. 26.

The Bruins, who should resolve to not play like they did Tuesday in 2014, will return to action Thursday at TD Garden against the Predators.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins spent far more time on the penalty kill than they would have liked in the second period, as Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug, Milan Lucic and Tuukka Rask all took penalties in the second period. None of them were anything to write home about, though Rask’s delay of game penalty for sending the puck over the glass can be chalked up to bad luck.

In particular, Krug’s boarding penalty (taken right in front of an official) and Lucic’s cross-check to Colin McDonald were the most avoidable. Brad Marchand using his stick to slam Ryan Strome into the boards wasn’t a great idea either.

– Lucic was not a happy camper when he was given a boarding minor, an unspportsmanlike conduct minor and a 10-minute misconduct at 16:03 of the third.

– The Bruins were victims of some bad bounces and strange goals, and oddly enough Zdeno Chara was on the ice for the first four goals against. Only Nielson’s second goal could be directly traced back to the captain, but it was still unusual to see No. 33 out there for so many goals against.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Krejci remains very productive at TD Garden, with five goals and seven assist for 12 points in his last nine home games.

– With Bergeron’s 10th goal of the season, the Bruins now have four 10-goal-scorers. They consist of Reilly Smith (14), Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic (12), and Bergeron. Of the top-10 scoring teams in the league, the Blackhawks and Coyotes lead the way with six players with 10 goals, while the Blues, Ducks and Sharks have five.

It appeared that Chara (nine goals) also had his 10th when Paille’s goal was initially credited to the Bruins captain, but there was a scoring change made between the second and third period.

– The Bruins lucked out on a near-goal by the Islanders in the first period. After Rask made a toe save and fell backwards without knowing where the puck was, Cal Clutterbuck put the puck in the net, but the whistle had already been blown.

Zdeno Chara to play Tuesday

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

WILMINGTON — Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will be in the lineup Tuesday night against the Islanders after missing Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury.

While there is no word on what kept Chara out Saturday, he was able to practice Monday and took part in Tuesday’s morning skate. Afterwards, he said that he doesn’t feel the injury will limit him once he’s back on the ice.

“I wouldn’t want to go out there and be kind of a weak link,” Chara said. “I feel that I can still contribute and play my game.”

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

Shawn Thornton not taking appeal to independent arbitrator

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Shawn Thornton will not appeal his 15-game suspension to a neutral arbitrator.

Thornton’s suspension for attacking Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik on Dec. 7 was upheld by commissioner Gary Bettman last week, with Thornton having seven days to take the appeal to an independent arbitrator. Thornton has served 10 of his 15 games thus far and will be eligible to return to the lineup Jan. 11 in San Jose.

“I’m still not happy with the amount of games I got,” Thornton said. “I know I’m not a victim, but I’m not happy with the amount of games I got. But I respect the decision and I’d rather just move on mentally and focus on getting ready for the 11th instead of focusing on getting ready for another hearing.”

With Thornton choosing not to take the process further, there has still been no instances of players appealing suspensions to neutral arbitrators, which is allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement. Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta appealed his 10-game suspension to Bettman in October but also declined to advance the process after his ban was upheld. The decision to not go further was made at the last minute by Thornton, who spent much of Monday night and Tuesday morning weighing his options.

“I’d rather not be a distraction around here. I’d rather focus on getting ready for January 11, which is 12 days out now. I’m not going to lie to you, it wasn’t an easy decision,” Thornton said. “I’ve been thinking about it for the last 36 hours, not much sleep, but I feel for the team it’s probably the right thing to do I guess at this point, not going through the whole process again for a third time.”

Numerous players throughout the league reached out to Thornton during his suspension to offer their support. Among them was Sharks forward Raffi Torres, who has been suspended four times by the league and was banned for a total of 21 games for a postseason hit on Marian Hossa in the 2012 playoffs.

Yet perhaps the most encouraging words Thornton got were from Orpik himself, as the two have been friends and offseason workout partners over the years. Upon returning to practice, Orpik defended Thornton to reporters, saying, “I think he knew he made a mistake and regretted it right away.”

“Well we’ve known each other for a long time,” Thornton said. “I said right after the fact that the outcome was not what was intended and I felt awful about it. That hasn’t changed, and we’ve talked. We talked that night. We were still friends after the fact that night. Talking [to him], that helped me through this a little bit, for sure.”

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

Bruins recall Nick Johnson

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

WILMINGTON — The Bruins recalled Nick Johnson from Providence on an emergency basis Tuesday, a suggestion that Carl Soderberg might not be able to play Tuesday night against the Islanders.

All Bruins were present for Tuesday’s morning skate, including Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton and Loui Eriksson. Chara is working his way back from an undisclosed injury, while Eriksson began skating Monday.

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

Chris Kelly impatiently awaiting his return to Bruins lineup

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Chris Kelly took the ice Monday night, but unfortunately for the injured Bruins forward, he wasn’t skating.

Instead he was standing on the ice at Fenway Park as some of his Bruins teammates took part in an open skate as part of Frozen Fenway. Rather than skates, Kelly was wearing the walking boot he’s had to wear since suffering a broken right fibula on a slash from Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis on Dec. 7.

Kelly says he hopes the boot will be off within a matter of days, but as he stands over three weeks from suffering the injury, he admits that his total time before returning to Boston’s lineup will be closer to six weeks, as Claude Julien had told reporters earlier Monday.

The Bruins had initially said that Kelly would miss four to six weeks. Given that he had returned from a broken tibia last season in less than a month, he expected a quicker recovery this time around than he’s had.

“When you’re told a date, you think you can come back quicker,” Kelly told WEEI.com. “[Last season’s tibia injury] was one of those that was an injury that you could push, I found. As soon as I was diagnosed [this season], I said, ‘Oh, well I can make it back faster than that.’ Obviously with where the injury is, you can’t push it like the other one. This one might take time, and you need to be patient, but I’m not very patient.”

The good news is that Kelly has been exercising since suffering the injury. He was on the bike the next day, and though he knows there will be some adjustment back to the ice once the boot comes off, he’s at least been keeping in shape.

“I do everything,” Kelly said. “I started riding the bike regularly. We do the aerodyn bike, where I use my arms and my one good leg. And I do upper-body and legs as well.”

Dupuis slashed Kelly in the second period of the injury-laden Dec. 7 meeting between the B’s and Penguins. Kelly played the third period, thinking that the injury wasn’t serious.

“Not that bad,” Kelly said of what he thought at the time. “It hurt and I knew it hurt, but I played the rest of the game and it affected my stride in the third, but I thought maybe [it was] a bone bruise or something. You don’t think it’s broken when you can finish a game.”

Though the Bruins certainly could use Kelly, Ryan Spooner has adjusted to the NHL and has played well of late in his place. Given that this is the second injury to keep Kelly out weeks in his career and that Rich Peverley slid over to handle his duties in his place last season, it’s the first time Kelly has seen a young player step into his spot and perform well in his absence. Kelly says he’s happy to see that his line is in good hands.

“He has played extremely well,” Kelly said. “Spoons skates well and thinks the game well. He’s done a great job. All those young guys that have come in, it’s been great to see. I think when you’re looking at it from a fan’s aspect of how bright the future of this franchise is, you always want your farm system to have players that can step in. Not everyone has that luxury. We’re extremely lucky to have that.”

Zdeno Chara: Dennis Seidenberg ‘such a big loss’ for Bruins

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is working his way back from an undisclosed injury, but that isn’t the biggest concern on Boston’s blue line.

That would be the season-ending ACL/MCL tear to Dennis Seidenberg, who will have surgery on his knee and should be ready to go for the start of next season. In the meantime, the B’s are down their second-best defenseman and runner-up in time on ice.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Chara told WEEI.com. “I was on the bench when it happened, and we all saw what happened, and right there I kind of knew it was a very unlucky collision. He’s such a big loss for us. He’s a [guy] who’s playing in all situations, logging a lot of minutes. He’s a true warrior. To lose a guy like that always hurts, but it’s something that we’re going to have to play through. Obviously it’s going to be a chance for other guys to step up and fill that role.”

Seidenberg’s injury means that Chara will have a new postseason defense partner for the first time in a long time. Paired together from Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference quarterfinals and onward, Chara and Seidenberg have teamed to make up a formidable top pairing that has shut down the top lines of some of the most offensively loaded teams in the NHL on the way to two Stanley Cup finals appearances.

Likely candidates to replace Seidenberg as Chara’s postseason partner would appear to be Dougie Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk, both of whom have played plenty alongside Chara during the regular season. Yet Chara isn’t looking that far ahead. After all, Chara himself and Hamilton both need to get healthy before the Bruins’ back end can begin to look like its usual self.

“I mean, we’ll see,” Chara said. “We’re far from the playoffs this time of the year. Right now we’re just really trying to focus on getting guys back, which will hopefully be soon. When we get a full lineup, then we’re going to be feeling what the ice times and positions are going to be like. But we’re obviously trying to get through tougher times right now with the injuries we have.”

Chara practiced for part of Monday’s session, with Claude Julien telling reporters on hand that his status for Tuesday’s game against the Islanders has yet to be determined.

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

Bruins recall Kevan Miller to replace Dennis Seidenberg

Monday, December 30th, 2013

The Bruins on Monday recalled defenseman Kevan Miller on an emergency basis following Friday’s season-ending injury to Dennis Seidenberg.

Miller, 26, played nine games for the B’s before being sent to Providence on Dec 18. The former University of Vermont captain likely will spend the rest of the season with the B’s. Once he plays his 10th game, he would have to clear waivers before being sent back down.