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5 things we learned as Bruins win 4th straight 11.06.14 at 9:37 pm ET
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The Bruins won their fourth straight game Thursday with a 5-2 win over the Oilers (box), and it was the kind of win that should leave them with a pretty good taste in their mouths as they embark upon a long weekend without any game action.

Yes, they were playing the lowly Oilers (who didn’€™t have Taylor Hall in the lineup), but their response to falling behind early in the third period was the blow-the-doors-off kind of showing that should give them a little reminder that, as their injured defensemen continue to rehab their injuries, they can still be dominant when needed.

Dougie Hamilton had three points in 2:34, registering assists on a Loui Eriksson goal and a pair of power-play tallies from Carl Soderberg. Edmonton, meanwhile, didn’t have a shot on goal in the last 11 minutes of the game.

The win improved the B’€™s to 9-6-0 on the season.

Here are four other things we learned Thursday night.

KREJCI’€™S RETURN BRINGS SCORING CHANCES AND PENALTIES

Thursday marked David Krejci‘€™s return from what was believed to be a hip injury that had caused him to miss the previous two games. His return brought good opportunities for his line and a whole lot of penalty minutes.

Krejci’€™s line had ample opportunities over the first two periods. Seth Griffith couldn’€™t finish on a feed from Milan Lucic early in the first, while Lucic couldn’€™t get his stick on a feed in front from Griffith in the second. A bid from Krejci high in the zone with Lucic going to the net was nabbed by Scrivens later in the period.

The most controversial chance of the night came in the third period, however, as a high shot from Griffith on a 2-on-2 yielded a loose puck in the crease that Krejci whacked into the net, but the play was blown dead because the officials couldn’€™t see the puck. Lucic would pick up an empty netter in the final seconds of the game.

Though Krejci’€™s line had some offensive looks, the veteran center racked up more penalty minutes in the first period than he had all season entering the night. Krejci took a high-sticking double-minor at 14:34 of the first, leading to Boyd Gordon’€™s power play goal, and he was called for hooking Nail Yakupov at the end of the period.

The six penalty minutes in the opening 20 for Krejci surpassed the four penalty minutes he had in his first nine games of the season combined.

FRASER STICKS IN LINEUP, HAS A WEIRD NIGHT

With Krejci returning to the lineup, the Bruins had an interesting choice of what to do with a few of their forwards.

That began with where to put Chris Kelly, who had played in place of Krejci with Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith the previous two games. The team opted to put Kelly on the fourth line and scratch Simon Gagne, leaving Fraser in Kelly’€™s old spot on Carl Soderberg’€™s line with Loui Eriksson. Kelly was put back on the line in place of Fraser after the trio gave up a Mark Arcobello in the third period.

The lineup to begin the game was follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Kelly – Campbell – Paille

Seidenberg – Hamilton
Morrow – McQuaid
Warsofsky – Trotman

Though Fraser got to stick in the lineup, he didn’€™t get to play much in a night that had lots of special teams early on. Fraser is not on either of the power play or penalty kill units, so he was limited to just three shifts in the first period. He got five shifts in the second period and was unable to contest the puck that Arcobello blasted past Rask early in the third period.

SWEDES TAKE OVER THIRD PERIOD

Loui Eriksson hadn’€™t scored in eight games, but that finally changed in the third period Thursday when he got off the bench, raced to a loose puck in front and tied the game with his third goal of the season. Minutes later, Carl Soderberg gave the Bruins the lead on a power play goal and added to it with a second power play tally.

Though the numbers haven’€™t always shown it, Eriksson and Soderberg have been two of Boston’€™s more consistent forwards this season. With David Krejci being in and out of the lineup and Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line struggling at points, the B’€™s have gotten much-needed stability from both Eriksson and Soderberg.

SMITH CASHES IN

By the looks of Smith’€™s first period, Thursday’€™s game seemed as though it could have been a snake-bitten affair. He rang iron earlier in the period and was later offsides as he took a long pass just before the blue line from David Warsofsky that would have set up a 1-on-1 scoring chance.

Smith’€™s talent won out over his luck, however, as he took a pass on his backhand from Marchand late in the period, walked up on Nikita Nikitin and ripped a shot past Scrivins glove side.

The goal was Smith’€™s third of the season and first since Oct. 15. The 23-year-old now has points in three of his last four games (one goal, two assists).

Smith had another chance in the third period off a rebound of a Brad Marchand wraparound attempt but couldn’€™t get enough on it.

David Krejci returns to Bruins lineup vs. Oilers, Simon Gagne a healthy scratch 11.06.14 at 7:13 pm ET
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David Krejci returned to the Bruins lineup Thursday after missing the previous two games with what was believed to be a hip injury.

With Krejci returning to the lineup, Simon Gagne was made a healthy scratch. The lineup for the B’€™s was as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Kelly – Campbell – Paille

Seidenberg – Hamilton
Morrow – McQuaid
Warsofsky – Trotman

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

Read More: David Krejci,
The lasting effects of Benoit Pouliot’s Bruins stint 11.06.14 at 4:28 pm ET
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Trading Benoit Pouliot landed the Bruins Seth Griffith (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Trading Benoit Pouliot landed the Bruins Seth Griffith (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Benoit Pouliot’€™s signing in Boston in 2011 didn’t register as an earth-shaker and nor did his departure, yet both have had lasting impacts on both the player and the Bruins.

Pouliot, a third-liner in Boston who served as a journeyman for years, now has a longterm home. Trading him away helped the Bruins get a top-six right wing.

After playing for five different teams in five years, Pouliot now looks at his 2011-12 campaign in Boston as a major reason as to why, for the first time in his career, he has job security. Pouliot signed a five-year, $20 million contract with the Oilers in free agency this summer after post-Boston stops with the Lightning and Rangers.

“It helped me a lot. I think I had best year [to that point] in Boston,” Pouliot said Thursday. “I think I learned a lot about playing defense first and then offense. I think it helped my game a lot and I think I still had a good production year in the role I was put in in Boston. I really enjoyed it and I think it set me up to where I am today.”

The fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Wild, Pouliot fell out of favor in both Minnesota and eventually Montreal before taking a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the Bruins, who were looking to fill Michael Ryder‘€™s spot on the cheap. For his shortcomings with consistency and offensive zone penalties, Pouliot essentially replaced Ryder’€™s production, scoring 16 goals in the regular season after Ryder scored 18 in each of his last two seasons in Boston.

It’€™s Pouliot’€™s exit in Boston that has helped the Bruins now. During the 2012 draft, the B’€™s traded the rights to the restricted free agent to Tampa for a fifth-round pick and AHLer Michel Ouellet. The Bruins released Ouellet, but the fifth-round pick was used on Seth Griffith, a right wing playing for the London Knights of the OHL. Griffith is now a top-six forward on David Krejci‘€™s line.

Pouliot scored eight goals and added 12 assists in 34 games for the Lightning in the lockout-shortened season before signing a one-year deal with the Rangers. He turned in a modest regular season of 15 goals and 21 assists for 36 points, but he scored some big goals in the team’€™s run to the Stanley Cup finals and hit free agency with a number of teams interested. The Rangers were among them (“I really wanted to go back,” he said), but Pouliot prioritized term over everything else. The Oilers offered $4 million annually over five years ‘€” a major gamble for which the team has been criticized ‘€” and he took it.

Now, Pouliot is at the beginning of what should be a lengthy stay in Edmonton. Though he’€™s only 28, he’€™s the fourth-oldest forward among a very young crop of offensive talent. His top-five high selection in the draft gives him something in common with Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, all of whom are first overall picks.

Pouliot knows what it’€™s like to be a high pick, but the only advice he feels he should give the trio of first overall picks is to try to avoid a path like the one he’s traveled.

“I’€™ve been through the worst things possible, I think,” he said. “One-years everywhere and I wasn’€™t really consistent on my game. It got me to this point where I finally found it and try to bring it every night.

“For them, they’€™re such good players. There’€™s still a lot to learn obviously and a lot to do, but they’€™ll be fine. I’€™ll try to help them out as much as I can, but at the same time, I don’€™t see a problem with the young guys we have on our team, because they’€™re really good. We’€™ll figure it out.”

Read More: Benoit Pouliot, Seth Griffith,
Suspended Andrew Ference: Missing game vs. Bruins ‘a little extra kick in the butt’ 11.06.14 at 2:55 pm ET
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Andrew Ference‘€™s second return to the Garden since signing with the Oilers in the summer of 2013 won’€™t be as special as his first return. Most notably, he won’€™t be playing.

Ference will serve the second game of a three-game suspension Thursday night as his Oilers face the Bruins. Ference’€™s ban came for a hit to the head of Vancouver forward Zack Kassian over the weekend.

“You never want to get suspended, but to miss a game in this town is a little extra kick in the butt,” Ference said. “It is what it is. It’€™s unfortunate, but I still get to see everybody and still get to make the trip. That’€™s important.”

The 35-year-old defenseman is in his second season as Oilers captain. He served as an alternate captain in his final two seasons in Boston and was a fan favorite for his off-ice involvement with the city. Despite not being able to play, Ference said he’€™s still happy to return to Boston.

“It’€™s awesome as ever,” he said. “I’€™ve got lots to do, lots of people to see. Obviously I have more time on my hands than people were expecting, but I’€™ve filled it all up. It’€™s a special place. I’€™ve got too many friends and not enough time to see everybody.”

Ference received a strong ovation last February when he played his first game back in Boston.

Read More: Andrew Ference,
David Krejci a possibility to return to Bruins lineup Thursday 11.06.14 at 11:37 am ET
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The Bruins held an optional morning skate Thursday, with both David Krejci and Torey Krug taking the ice at TD Garden.

Krejci has missed the last two games (and five overall this season) due to a hip injury. He skated prior to Wednesday’€™s practice and could make his return to the lineup Thursday against the Oilers. Claude Julien said the team would determine during the day whether he would take pregame warmups and, should that happen, decide if he plays after that.

“We’€™ll see after he gets off,” Julien said of Krejci taking warmups when asked as the optional skate took place. “If he does, there’€™s a chance he’€™ll play, obviously.”

Krug remains out with a broken finger that was suffered last Tuesday against the Wild. Skating isn’€™t the issue for Krug, but rather his ability to grip his stick.

“He’€™s doing well. Obviously his finger is doing much, much, much better,” Julien said. “It depends again how quickly that comes around. He’€™s the only one that’€™s probably going to be able to tell us. Right now, medically they’€™ve given him permission to go out and skate and hold on to his stick and everything else. I think, from what I’€™m being told right now, it will be up to him how quickly he gets that feeling that he can hold his stick properly and that it’€™s not going to be an issue.”

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

Read More: David Krejci, Torey Krug,
David Krejci misses practice as Bruins prepare for Oilers 11.05.14 at 11:59 am ET
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WILMINGTON — David Krejci skated prior to Wednesday’€™s Bruins practice, but left the ice as the team began skating at Ristuccia Arena. Krejci has missed the last two games with a hip injury that he’€™s battled all season.

Claude Julien said after the skate that he didn’t know if Krejci would be available for Thursday’s game against the Oilers. Missing Thursday would provide extended rest for Krejci, as the Bruins won’t play again after Thursday until Monday when they host the Devils.

The lines in practice were the same they’€™ve been the last two games:

Lucic -€“ Kelly -€“ Griffith
Marchand -€“ Bergeron -€“ Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille -€“ Campbell -€“ Gagne

Seidenberg – Hamilton
Morrow – McQuaid
Warsofsky – Trotman

Oilers captain and former Bruin Andrew Ference will not play in Thursday’s game, as he is serving the second game of a three-game suspension for a high hit on Vancouver forward Zack Kassian.

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

Read More: Andrew Ference, David Krejci,
Claude Julien still wants more out of improving Bergeron line 11.04.14 at 10:56 pm ET
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Part of the Bruins’€™ early-season struggles was that the team’€™s sure things weren’€™t sure things. Zdeno Chara wasn’€™t enjoying a strong start prior to his injury, while Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line was getting beaten far more than usual.

Obviously, it’€™s going to take some time for things to return to normal. Chara is in the second week of his recovery from a torn PCL and, assuming his recovery is on track, is expected to remain out for 2-4 more weeks. The Bergeron line, on the other hand, appears to be turning a corner.

Claude Julien broke up the trio of Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith three games ago, at which point Bergeron was an uncharacteristic minus-2 on the season and Marchand was looking for his first even-strength goal of the season. Smith, Julien had said multiple times, looked like he was behind after missing most of training camp because he didn’€™t have a contract.

Smith was put back on Bergeron’€™s line after a period in Buffalo and Marchand was returned to the line by the end of the game. It seems Julien got the attention of his most trusted line, as Marchand now has four goals (three of which came playing with Bergeron and Smith) and two assists in the last three games, while both Bergeron and Smith have two points apiece in the span.

The Bruins have won all three games, two of which came on overtime winners from Marchand. Both of the Bruins’€™ goals in Tuesday’€™s 2-1 overtime victory came from the Bergeron line, as Bergeron scored his first goal in 12 games with a second-period tally.

“I think tonight was a real big step forward for us,” Marchand said. “We played with a lot more confidence than we have in the past number of games, and it seems like were able to make plays now and hold on. I think that’€™s one thing we weren’€™t doing very well early on — we were throwing it away a lot, and weren’€™t supporting each other very well, but our legs seemed to be under us, we seemed to be more comfortable with the puck, and we felt really good tonight.”

Though the results are showing more and more, Julien said he feels the line isn’t yet where he wants it to be.

“I think the puck movement between them still isn’€™t quite where we’€™ve seen it before,” Julien said. “There’€™s still room for improvement and they’€™ve just got to keep working at it, because they’€™ve got one guy right now that’€™s really hot.”

Smith was strong on the puck and looked lightyears more confident than in games past Tuesday. Julien still expects more out of him. Reminded of his past critiques of the player and asked if he felt Smith had caught up, Julien was noncommittal. Asked again about Smith, Julien reiterated his stance that he feels the whole line could do more.

“He’€™s trying to get himself going,” Julien said of Smith. “I don’€™t think he’€™s playing bad ‘€” I mean, he’€™s just one of those guys with that line ‘€“ I think that whole line, the three of them together, are starting to come around. Two goals from that line tonight, so you can’€™t complain.”

Given Julien’€™s lack of praise, Smith was asked after the game whether he felt his coach was hard on him. Smith’s vague answer suggested the answer might be yes, but Julien trying to motivate his young players is nothing new.

“I think here, everyone’€™s used to that as a hockey player,” Smith said. “You get used to it. You have pretty thick skin. I think if you don’€™t have it, you’€™re not going to go too far.”

Bergeron is a two-time Selke Trophy winner as the league’s top two-way forward, while Marchand and Smith are both looking to prove they can have consistent seasons after streaky showings last season. When that line is at its best, its among the most difficult in the league to oppose. Julien doesn’t think it’s there yet, but the positive steps its taken has helped the Bruins get wins at a time when they need them.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Reilly Smith,
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