|Video: Testing out Winter Classic ice||12.30.15 at 3:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO – While Wednesday technically qualified as an off-day, the Bruins took the ice with their families for an open skate as they got their first look at Gillette Stadium‘s setup for Friday’s Winter Classic.
After the skate, the media took the ice. Here’s a weird video from that:
|Brad Marchand doesn’t feel hit warrants suspension||12.29.15 at 10:44 pm ET|
Brad Marchand will likely have to plead his case to the Department of Player Safety in order to play in the Winter Classic. He practiced Tuesday night with reporters.
Marchand insisted after Tuesday’s game that what could be seen as a low-bridge hit on Mark Borowiecki was mere incidental contact as he was trying to turn up the ice from the defensive zone.
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 30, 2015
‘It was a simple play,’ Marchand said. ‘I mean, I was trying to get to the puck area and turned up ice. He was kind of standing there. I just turned up and tried to go after the puck-carrier.
Asked if he was worried about being suspended for Friday’s Winter Classic, Marchand responded, ‘I can’t control that.’ He gave the same response when asked if he felt the hit warranted a look from the Department of Player Safety.
Marchand was last suspended in January of last season for slew-footing Derick Brassard, a ban recent enough that Marchand will be considered a repeat offender if the league does indeed decide to suspend him. The player also has a history with low-bridging, as he committed such a hit on Sami Salo back in 2012.
|5 things we learned as Bruins beat Senators in final tuneup before Winter Classic||12.29.15 at 9:55 pm ET|
The Bruins will not enter the Winter Classic on a losing streak.
A hat trick from Jimmy Hayes and two-goal performances from Patrice Bergeron and Matt Beleskey led the way in a 7-3 win over the Senators that snapped Boston’s recent skid at three games. Ryan Spooner, who had all eyes on him following his promotion to second-line center, had a pair of assists, one of which came on the power play.
Tuesday’s win allowed the Bruins to jump ahead of Detroit in the Atlantic Division with 44 points. The B’s now sit third in the division, two points behind the division-leading Panthers and one point behind the Canadiens.
The Bruins will be off Wednesday and will practice Thursday in Foxboro before hosting the Habs for the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium on Friday.
While there will be plenty of angst leftover for Friday, the Bruins played the Senators Tuesday as if Ottawa were their biggest rival. The teams combined for 110 penalty minutes on Tuesday, with a late-game fracas providing six misconducts.
Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:
MARCHAND GETS AN ‘A,’ MIGHT GET ‘A’ SUSPENSION
Brad Marchand may have spoken too soon when he mentioned his excitement to play in the Winter Classic Tuesday morning. After a dangerous his Tuesday night, Marchand could end up being suspended for Friday’s game.
Marchand, who was wearing an ‘A’ due to the absence of David Krejci, committed a low-bridge hit on Mark Borowiecki in the first period. Marchand will likely argue in his hearing that he was turning into the player rather than going for the hit, but that might not hold up well given that he has a history of low-bridging with his 2012 suspension for such a hit on Sami Salo. Working in Marchand’s favor is that Borowiecki was not injured on the play.
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 30, 2015
It’s been nearly a year since Marchand’s last suspension, when he was banned two games for slew-footing Derick Brassard. If the Department of Player Safety deems Tuesday’s hit suspendable, his recent history will be admissible when considering the suspension’s length. That wasn’t the only incident involving Borowiecki. This happened in the second period and the Ottawa defenseman lived to tell the tale.
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 30, 2015
POWER’S BACK ON
Although the Bruins entered Tuesday night’s game with the best power play percentage in the NHL, they had gone their last four games without a power play goal (0-for-6) in a stretch that saw them struggle to even get on the man advantage.
That changed for the B’s Tuesday, as they got a season-best four power play goals in a 4-for-7 showing on the man advantage. The B’s hadn’t scored multiple power-play goals since Nov. 27.
Bergeron had two of Boston’s goals on the man advantage, while Matt Beleskey hopped on the rebound of a Brett Connolly shot in the second period to make it 3-1.
‘SKEY SHOOTS, ‘SKEY SCORES
As we touched on recently, Beleskey has had positively dreadful luck shooting the puck this season. Entering the game, only one of Beleskey’s five goals had come from shooting the puck, as he had two goals apiece from redirecting shots and from his passes hitting players and going in.
Beleskey was able to actually shoot the puck into the net in the second period when he used a wrister to fling the puck past Craig Anderson after the Ottawa goaltender kicked Connolly’s shot to the left circle. Beleskey now has six goals on the season, putting him on pace for 14 on the season.
GRIFFITH IN, KRUG HEALTHY, HAYES DOWN
Seth Griffith played his first NHL game this season after the Bruins recalled the red-hot winger from Providence Tuesday. Griffith, who had 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) over his last nine games for Providence, was placed on Bergeron and Marchand’s line.
That move created a trickle-down effect for Boston’s wingers, with both Brett Connolly and Hayes being demoted as a result.
Torey Krug also returned to the lineup after missing Sunday’s game with a lower-body injury. Boston’s lineup Tuesday was as follows:
Hayes did well with his demotion to the fourth line, as his hat trick was the first of his NHL career.
|Seth Griffith recall gives Bruins options||12.29.15 at 11:39 am ET|
The Bruins recalled right wing Seth Griffith from Providence Tuesday, a move that Claude Julien feels adds to the fluidity of Boston’s lineup situation.
Griffith will be available to play Tuesday against the Senators. If he does, it would figure to be at the expense of one of Boston’s right wings (Jimmy Hayes and Tyler Randell are currently the team’s third and fourth-line right wings, respectively). Randell was one of three skaters to take the ice Tuesday morning, as he joined injured players Torey Krug and Joonas Kemppainen.
Griffith has been red-hot at the AHL level, registering 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) over his last nine games.
Initially something of a longshot candidate to push for a job in Boston this season, Griffith suffered a sprained MCL in training camp and did not play his first game of the season until Oct. 23. In 24 games for Providence this season, Griffith has 10 goals and 17 assists for 27 points. He had 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 30 games for Boston last season.
Along with recalling Griffith, the Bruins moved David Krejci to injured reserve. He is considered week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
Krug, who skated for a second consecutive day on Tuesday, is a possibility to play against the Senators, though Julien was mostly mum on his lineup.
|David Krejci week-to-week with upper-body injury||12.28.15 at 12:24 pm ET|
Krejci, whose 11 goals and 33 points in 35 games had him on pace for a career-high in both categories, suffered his injury in the second period of Sunday’s loss to the Senators. Claude Julien would not specify the nature of Krejci’s injury — he wouldn’t elaborate past calling it an upper-body injury and terming the player “week-to-week” — but Krejci was seen wearing a sling on his right arm after Monday’s practice.
In other injury news, Torey Krug is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Krug left Saturday night’s game after the first period and did not play on Sunday. Krug skated prior to Monday’s practice, as did recovering forward Joonas Kemppainen. Julien said that Monday was either the first or second day back on the ice for Kemppainen, who has not played since Dec. 7 due to an upper-body injury.
With Krejci out, Ryan Spooner was elevated to Boston’s second line to skate with Matt Beleskey and Loui Eriksson in Monday’s practice. Landon Ferraro moved up to take Spooner’s third-line spot. Boston’s lines in practice were as follows:
The absence of both Krejci and Krug also led to changes on Boston’s power play units, as Krejci and Krug man the points on the team’s first unit. The Bruins power play units in Monday’s practice were as follows:
Without Krejci, the Bruins have just 12 healthy forwards. David Pastrnak is currently in Finland for the World Junior Championships, but Julien said he feels the Bruins might be better off letting the player regain his timing and confidence in the tournament rather than hurrying him back to the NHL.
|5 things we learned as Bruins collapse in third period vs. Sabres||12.26.15 at 9:34 pm ET|
It had been so long since the Bruins were in first place that neither the players nor the fans at TD Garden knew how to behave when such a scenario appeared possible.
After a third-period David Krejci goal gave the Bruins a 3-1 and positioned the B’s to leapfrog Montreal atop the Atlantic Division, fans began doing the wave. What would come next would make the fans’ actions redundant, as a wave of Buffalo goals spoiled what could have been an easy win.
First, Ryan O’Reilly scored to cut Boston’s lead to one. Then Jack Eichel scored to tie the game. Then Jamie McGinn gave Buffalo scored to cap a run of three goals in 4:03. Minutes later, an empty-netter from Eichel and another from O’Reilly sealed the victory for the Sabres, who left with a 6-3 win as Boston let two points slip away.
With an assist on a first-period Evander Kane goal and O’Reilly’s empty-netter, Eichel finished the game with a career-best four points.
The Bruins will have Tuukka Rask in net on Sunday in Ottawa as they try to stop their two-game losing streak.
Here are four more things we learned:
KRUG HAS SHORT NIGHT
The Bruins had to play most of the night with five defensemen, as Torey Krug came up lame after a first-period foot-race and did not take another shift. Krug left the ice after his fifth shift, which ended at 12:04 of the first period. The Bruins did not specify his injury as they announced in the second period that the defenseman would not return to the game. The Bruins did not provide an update on his status following the game.
Courtesy of Stanley Cup of Chowder, here is video of Krug’s last shift:
If Krug is to miss any time, Joe Morrow would likely jump back into the lineup.
POWER PLAY RESURFACES, BUT DOESN’T SCORE
The Bruins actually got some power play time on Saturday, something they learned recently is not guaranteed on a nightly basis. The B’s went without a power play in Tuesday’s game and did not have a 5-on-4 man advantage in their last two games entering Saturday.
That streak was mercifully broken up in the first period when a Josh Gorges penalty for boarding Brett Connolly gave the B’s a first-period power play. That man advantage yielded some strong chances for the Bruins’ second unit, with Zdeno Chara hitting a post, but the two minutes proved ultimately fruitless. The B’s also failed to score on a second-period power play that followed a Gorges interference penalty.
With Krug out, David Krejci played the point for the entire power play, holding down his usual spot on the first unit and replacing Zdeno Chara on the second unit, as Chara took Krug’s spot with the top group.
In going without a power play goal Saturday, the Bruins have now gone three straight games without scoring on the man advantage, something they also experienced earlier in the month. Of course, the Bruins have had just four power plays the last three games, so it would be quite the stretch to sat their power play is actually struggling.
BELESKEY’S LUCK CHANGES
Matt Beleskey is shooting pretty much just as much as he was last season, when he scored 22 goals in 65 games. Yet he had just four goals entering Saturday, two of which came off passes that inadvertently hit players and went in.
With Beleskey having extremely bad luck with shooting (his 6.2 shooting percentage at the break ranked 237th among 309 NHL forwards with at least 25 games played this season), he was able to find the back of the net by redirecting a Kevan Miller shot past Chad Johnson in the second period for his fifth goal of the season.
Beleskey now has two goals off passes, two off redirects and one from actually shooting the puck into the net. He should have better number than he does, but he’s still on pace for a career-high 40 points.
KREJCI GETS BACK TO SCORING
David Krejci had gone 11 games without a goal entering Saturday, but an impressive display of hand-eye coordination changed that.
Krejci got to 10 goals on the season by batting the rebound of his own shot past Johnson to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead.
Krejci goal, knocks it out of the air juuuust under crossbar height pic.twitter.com/cy5k22WUba
‘ Stephanie (@myregularface) December 27, 2015
Given that he continued to put up points during his goal-less stretch (seven assists), Krejci is now on pace for 77 points, which would surpass the career-high 73 he put up in the 2008-09 season.
|Coming home the latest new experience for Jack Eichel||12.26.15 at 3:13 pm ET|
When Jack Eichel was 14 years old, he bought his father tickets to a Bruins game as a birthday gift. They sat at TD Garden and watched as the teams combined for 187 penalty minutes in a game that saw every type of scrap imaginable and then some.
As Eichel recalls, it seemed there were ‘like 10 guys left on each bench’ by the end of the night. The result was an 8-6 win in a season that would see the teams meet again in the playoffs as Montreal provided what proved to be the biggest obstacle in the Bruins’ eventual Stanley Cup run.
“I remember being here for that game,” Eichel said. “That was crazy.”
Speaking to the media Saturday, Eichel didn’t need to provide that anecdote to illustrate the fact that his recently concluded morning skate was not his first time at TD Garden. The North Chelmsford native’s been there plenty of times over the years, most notably winning the Beanpot and Hockey East championship in his Hobey Baker-winning freshman season at Boston University last season.
“This building’s been pretty good to me,” Eichel quipped.
After turning pro upon his selection as the No. 2 overall pick in June’s draft, Eichel will face the Bruins on Garden ice for the first time as his father watches from a suite with the rest of his family.
The 19-year-old center is a top-six forward for the up-and-coming Sabres, a star in the making if he isn’t one already.
“To be 19 — sometimes I think to myself, like, ‘Am I playing junior hockey right now?’ Because this guy is so good at 19,” quipped former Bruin and current Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson.
“I’m thinking of where I was at 19 years old, playing college hockey, and he’s in the NHL just going through guys and veteran D men. It’s impressive. He’s only going to get better with experience and learning the routine of a professional hockey player and travel and getting used to that. It’s crazy how good he is.”
So far, Eichel’s production has not been as overwhelming as his skill. He has a respectable 16 points through 16 games, which is enough to place him third in points (second among forwards) for the somewhat surprisingly offensively challenged Sabres. Eichel ranks sixth among rookies in both points and goals (nine).
“Obviously you want to produce points,’ Eichel said. “You want something to show on the scoresheet after games. You think you played well, but a lot of times there’s things that you build off in a game that didn’t show up on the scoresheet — if it was a good back check or you broke up a big play or you won a faceoff for your team. The way I look at it is if you’re getting your chances and you’re around the net and you feel good about your game, then you’re probably playing pretty well. There’s been a stretch of games where I didn’t feel good about my game, and I think I’m starting to get it back where I’m happy.”
Seeing a Bruins win used to be all it took for Eichel to leave the Garden satisfied. Times have certainly changed for one of Massachusetts’ biggest hockey stars.