|Lineup questions await Bruins upon Kevan Miller’s return||11.29.15 at 5:27 pm ET|
Kevan Miller is practicing with the Bruins and Max Talbot has reportedly been placed on waivers again to open up a roster spot, so it shouldn’t be long before Miller is cleared to return from a concussion that’s kept him out of the last five games. The question will be whether a spot in the lineup will be waiting for him.
Claude Julien won’t have an easy time deciding that in the coming days. The B’s have won every game since Miller went down, but Julien displayed unwavering faith in the 28-year-old defenseman leading up to Miller’s injury. Furthermore, the Bruins are still a work in progress in their own zone, meaning the B’s should not have their six blueliners set in stone at this point.
If Miller were to re-enter the lineup, he would likely do so at the expense of a fellow righty in either Zach Trotman or Colin Miller. The latter has struggled in his own zone, with unforced icings costing the Bruins at points, but the pros of Colin Miller’s offensive game (he factored heavily into both the game-tying and game-winning goals last week in Detroit) might outweigh the cons of his defensive game in the eyes of Bruins coaches.
Julien said the Bruins are taking it day-to-day with Kevan Miller. Asked if Miller would be a sure-thing to play once he’s ready, Julien scoffed.
“Honestly, which coach is going to tell you three days before whether this guy’s a lock [to play]?” Julien asked. “I think it’s a matter of looking at the situation when it comes to that. I don’t think anybody should be a lock in. I think you’ve got your key players that you know are there every night, but there’s also some competition there. Our group back there has done a pretty decent job, so before I make that decision I’ll certainly take a little bit more time to think about it.”
Miller became something of a scapegoat for fans unhappy with the Bruins’ mediocre start to the season. Difficulty closing gaps allowed shooters too much space, resulting in goals against. Given that Miller does not bring much offensively, the bruising defender’s issues in his own zone led to questions of whether he was worth keeping in the lineup if he wasn’t contributing defensively.
One would assume that the penalty kill was a big reason as to why Miller kept his spot earlier in the season. With the B’s missing Dennis Seidenberg for the first 14 games of the season, Miller was relied on heavily for big minutes on the PK. Miller is second to only Zdeno Chara with 3:21 of shorthanded time on ice per game; he and Chara (3:45 shorthanded TOI per night) are the only Bruins to average three minutes or more on the penalty kill this season.
Yet the Bruins haven’t really missed Miller on the PK since he went out of the lineup. The Bruins, who ranked worst in the NHL in penalty kill efficiency at the time that Miller went out of the lineup, have killed off 15 of their opponents’ 16 power plays over the last five games.
“Seids is in there, Zee is in there,” Julien said after Friday’s win. “Those two guys on the left side have been good. Trots has been pretty good on the right and [Adam] McQuaid. I thought we had enough bodies for the penalty kill to do their job and they’ve proven us right so far.”
The Bruins next play on Wednesday, when they’ll face the lowly Oilers in Edmonton. The Bruins are hardly desperate to get Miller back, but then again the revolving door on defense has yet to slow for the B’s this season. They might be wise to stick with the kids they’ve got in there for now.
|Bruins react to latest Alain Vigneault comments||11.29.15 at 12:28 pm ET|
In the latest Alain Vigneault vs. the Bruins spat, members of the Bruins reacted on Sunday to the Rangers coach’s latest comments about Friday’s B’s win.
Vigneault, whose issues with the Bruins date back to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, questioned Julien’s eyesight on Saturday in reaction to Julien calling Henrik Lundqvist an actor for embellishing a Brad Marchand penalty. This came after Vigneault had compared Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan – a likely case of boarding that went uncalled – to Aaron Rome’s head shot on Nathan Horton in Game 3 of the 2011 Cup Final between the Bruins and Vigneault-coached Canucks.
“Who would you rather have as a son: Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand?” Vigneault asked Saturday. “For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”
Julien clarified Sunday that he respects Lundqvist, getting another dig in at Vigneault in the process.
“I think it’s pretty obvious what I said was that I thought Lundqvist sold it. Not for a second did I ever question Henrik Lundqvist as a goaltender or as a person. We all know how good a goaltender he is. I know he’s a good person,” Julien said. “I’ve met him at the All-Star games and all that stuff, so it certainly wasn’t any more than just the situation. That’s all I’ve got to say on Lundqvist.
“As far as my eyes, I’m not the one who compared Beleskey’s hit to Rome, so we’ll just leave it at that.”
Despite the absurdity of the comparison of a late hit in the corner to a head shot at the blue line, Beleskey was measured in politely disagreeing with Vigneault’s comments about his hit.
“I think it was a little different than that hit, obviously,” Beleskey said. There was no suspension. [Rome’s] was a serious hit. I think [mine] was a clean hit, came from the front. I think it was, what? Point-nine seconds after, or something? I don’t know what the rule is — 0.8? I don’t know. Tough to count 0.8 in my head. Like I said, I don’t think he really braced himself for the hit and that’s what resulted in the outcome.”
As for Marchand, the Bruins’ left wing smirked through much of his media availability Sunday, but shied away from lobbing any more shots in Vigneault’s direction. As you might remember, Vigneault said back in 2012 that Marchand would one day get seriously injured by another player, something that Marchand responded to at the time by saying, “it just shows the class he has, or lack thereof.”
Marchand was more measured on Sunday, however. Clearly aware that this all goes back to 2011, Marchand pled ignorance as to why Vigneault — whom Marchand says he’s never met — has continually taken shots at him in the press.
“I’m not sure, you know? I thought I was a likable person,” Marchand said. “That’s something you’re going to ask him. We just want to play the game and try to keep everything on the ice.”
With regard to how good a son he is, Marchand said his parents like him just fine.
“I don’t know if my mom’s seen it yet and I haven’t talked to my dad about it,” Marchand said. “I think they love me, though.”
|Alain Vigneault calls Claude Julien old, raises important question of whether Brad Marchand or Henrik Lundqvist would make a more desirable son||11.28.15 at 1:08 pm ET|
Alain Vigneault and the Bruins have gone back and forth in the media ever since the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup championship over the Vigneault-coached Canucks. Despite Vigneault being long gone from Vancouver, that spat is now in its latest installment.
The Rangers coach responded Saturday to Claude Julien and Brad Marchand voicing their frustrations with an uncalled Henrik Lundqvist embellishment on a Brad Marchand goaltender interference penalty in Friday’s Bruins win. In particular, Vigneault seemed annoyed with Julien summarizing Lundqvist’s dive by quipping, “I know he does some acting on the side, but I don’t think it needs to be on the ice.”
“Well, [the Rangers public relations staff] filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said Saturday, per the New York Daily News. “I mean, it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets.
“Who would you rather have as a son: Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”
Exclusive video of Vigneault, Marchand and Lundqvist pic.twitter.com/uNa3AaBp8N
‘ DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) November 28, 2015
The “check his eyesight” comment is absurd given that there is little debate as to what happened on the play. Marchand made contact and Lundqvist had a woefully delayed reaction. Both players deserved penalties.
As for the stuff about having Marchand as a son, this marks the latest occurrence of Vigneault having something peculiar to say about the B’s left wing. After Marchand low-bridged Sami Salo in a January 2012 game that earned him a five-game suspension, Vigneault made what the Bruins perceived to be a threatening comment about Marchand.
“Marchand — and this is just my feeling — but some day he’s going to get it,” Vigneault said back in 2012. “Some day, someone’s going to say ‘enough is enough’ and they’re going to hurt the kid because he plays to hurt players. And if the league doesn’t care, somebody else will.”
Then-Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had an impromptu media session with reporters after those comments were made to voice his feelings on Vigneault’s handling of the situation.
“I think we’ve learned our lesson over time that that’s a real inappropriate comment,” Chiarelli said. “That’s a real inappropriate comment, and it’s an unprofessional comment.”
Vigneault’s words about Marchand aren’t the only comments about the Bruins he’s made in recent days that raised eyebrows. On Friday he compared an uncalled boarding penalty on Matt Beleskey to Aaron Rome targeting the head of Nathan Horton in Game 3 of the 2011 Cup Final.
The Bruins did not practice on Saturday, but they’ll have the opportunity to respond to Vigneault’s words after Sunday’s practice.
|Alain Vigneault compares Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan to Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton||11.27.15 at 4:58 pm ET|
Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan Friday did two things: It broke Stepan’s ribs and led to a whole lot of reaction. It did not, however, receive punishment.
Beleskey threw Stepan into the boards on a slightly late hit that deserved a boarding penalty but did not receive one. Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath responded by promptly pummeling Beleskey in a fight that earned McIlrath an instigator penalty.
Amidst all the postgame chatter of whether the hit deserved more punishment than just Beleskey getting punched a bunch, Beleskey insisted that the reason the play went awry was because Stepan did not brace himself to be hit.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, better known around these parts as Vancouver’s head coach when the Bruins beat the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, put a different spin on it.
“In our opinion it was a late hit,” Vigneault said. “It was more than a second and he was a couple of feet away from the boards, so we’ll have to wait and see. I remember Aaron Rome in this building, .06 seconds late and getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup finals, so it’ll be interesting to see.”
That’s a really — let’s call it “ambitious” — comparison to make considering one play was a guy shoving another into the boards while the other was a player going after a guy’s head for no apparent reason (so on second thought, let’s just call it a dumb comparison to make). Other than both plays being illegal (seemingly, at least, given that Beleskey wasn’t penalized), the plays don’t have much in common.
Here’s Beleskey’s hit on Stepan. pic.twitter.com/pyzRJA4EE6
‘ Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 27, 2015
“I just think he didn’t think I was going to hit him,” Beleskey said after the game. “He kind of didn’t brace himself. I didn’t take any extra strides or anything like that. Maybe, maybe a little bit late, but he saw me coming. I came from the front. It’s unfortunate that I think I just saw he’s injured, so hopefully he’s all right.”
|5 things we learned as Bruins strike late vs. Rangers to extend win streak||11.27.15 at 3:54 pm ET|
It had been a rough go of it for the Bruins’ power play, but the NHL‘s top-ranked man advantage returned with a bang Friday in delivering a pair of goals in a 4-3 win over the Rangers at TD Garden.
The Bruins had gone their last eight man advantages without a power play goal over a three-game stretch, but Brett Connolly changed that with a second-period goal past a screening Jimmy Hayes and Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game. The goal not only snapped the power play’s slump, but gave Connolly his first goal in 12 games. Then, with the B’s trailing 3-2 in the third period, Ryan Spooner scored on the man advantage to tie the game.
The B’s never lost momentum from there, as they took the lead in even-strength play shortly after on a David Krejci point shot.
The victory extended the Bruins’ current win streak to a season-best five games. They’ll try to extend it on a Western Canada road trip in which they’ll face the Oilers, Flames and Canucks.
Here are four more things we learned Friday:
ROUGH OUTING FOR SEIDENBERG-MILLER PAIRING
Dennis Seidenberg said prior to Friday’s game that he was enjoying skating on a pairing with rookie Colin Miller. The Rangers enjoyed the pairing a little too much.
Both of New York’s second-period goals came at the expense of the pairing. The Rangers first got on the board when Oscar Lindberg evaded Seidenberg as he tried to box out the Rangers forward, with Lindberg firing a shot from the slot that beat Tuukka Rask.
About three minutes later, Miller took an unforced icing that led to a defensive zone faceoff. When Brett Connolly got the puck off the faceoff, Seidenberg was a tad overzealous in beginning his exit from the zone. Ryan McDonagh managed to keep the puck in, however, sending the puck down low to a wide-open Rick Nash, who’d been left in the slot by Seidenberg. Nash scored with ease to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
RIGHT STUFF FOR VATRANO
Fresh off a two-goal game in his return to the lineup from an upper-body injury, Frank Vatrano was moved up to Patrice Bergeron‘s line with Brad Marchand on Friday. That meant that Vatrano, a left wing since being recalled earlier this month, skated as a right wing.
The change didn’t seem to slow Vatrano at all, as he fit right in on Boston’s top line. The rookie continued to throw pucks at the net and was second on the Bruins with a plus-15 Corsi through two periods. Read the rest of this entry »
|Despite streak, Bruins still need bounceback game||11.27.15 at 11:48 am ET|
Dennis Seidenberg had an optimistic summary of what the Bruins might be up to after stealing four points in a road trip that saw them struggle against the Maple Leafs and Red Wings.
“Maybe we wanted to turn it around this time: play bad on the road and then play at home and win,” he said with a grin.
That’s a nice way of framing things for a team that has, for the most part, been strong on the road and stunk at home. Though the Bruins have won their last two home games, that followed a 2-6-1 start to the season at TD Garden. When they face the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers in Friday’s post-Thanksgiving matinee, they’ll have a tough time making it three straight home wins and five consecutive victories overall.
The Bruins’ current four-game win streak is tied for its best stretch of the season. When the B’s took four in a row back in late October, they appeared to be hitting their stride with an impressive road trip that saw them sweep a Florida trip against the Panthers and Lightning.This time around, however, the B’s know that they are lucky to have won the last two games.
They blew two second-period leads in the second period (one of which was a two-goal lead) on Monday against the Leafs before managing to win in a shootout, but it was Wednesday’s game in which they were most fortunate. Boston rarely had the puck over the final 40 minutes against Detroit and appeared headed for a 2-1 loss, but a heads-up play by Loui Eriksson led to a game-tying goal from Colin Miller with less than two minutes to play. Frank Vatrano gave the B’s the unlikely victory in overtime with his second goal of the game.
“‘Escaped’ is a good word,” Seidenberg said. “We obviously didn’t play our best hockey. We did win, which counts at the end, but at the end of the day we want to play a better style of hockey. We were defending a whole lot, turning pucks over and not playing great defense. We want to do that better today.”
Another area in which the Bruins should want to improve is the power play. Though they still boast the best man advantage in the league with a 30.8 success rate, the B’s have gone three games without a power play goal and have not scored on their last eight power plays.
“Teams have been getting up ice on us a lot and then in the zone, they’ve been taking away the top on us,” Ryan Spooner said. “That’s usually where, for the first 15 or 18 games or something like that, we were getting the puck to the top and it was working pretty well for us. Teams have been trying to shut that down, so we maybe need to use the goal line a little bit more, shoot a little bit more, maybe from myself, and see if that works.”
|5 things we learned as Bruins get dominated but somehow win thanks to Jonas Gustavsson, kids||11.25.15 at 10:07 pm ET|
The Bruins got two more points than they deserved Wednesday.
After being positively dominated for the second and third periods and only trailing by a 2-1 score thanks to the play of Jonas Gustavsson, the B’s managed to score a late goal in regulation and cap the overtime period with Frank Vatrano’s second goal of the game.
With Gustavsson trying to rescue the B’s by himself in the third period, Loui Eriksson and Colin Miller gave him some much-needed help. Eriksson fed Miller off the rush during a Red Wings line change, with Miller blasting his famed slap shot past Petr Mrazek to tie the game with 1:44 remaining in regulation. Miller also fed Vatrano in front from the point on the game-winning goal to give the B’s the 3-2 win.
Despite giving up his usual rebounds, Gustavsson was terrific against his former club, stopping 32 of the 34 shots he faced.
Here are four more things we learned Wednesday:
BRUINS FALL OFF IN SECOND PERIOD
For the second straight game, the Bruins suffered a letdown in the second period. That’s probably where the comparisons to Monday’s second period, however. The Bruins’ second period against the Leafs on Monday saw the B’s allow three goals and score one, but the Bruins didn’t get enough shots on goal in Wednesday’s second period to expect a goal.