|Reilly Smith making quick progress with Bruins||10.16.13 at 6:02 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — When the Bruins made their blockbuster trade with the Stars on July 4, Loui Eriksson appeared to be the only top-six forward they were getting in return. Five games into the season, Reilly Smith would beg to differ.
While the move is probably viewed more as a Brad Marchand demotion than a Smith promotion, Claude Julien has moved Marchand to the third line and Smith up to Patrice Bergeron‘s line in the third period Saturday against Columbus, giving the 22-year-old a lot more responsibility in the process. Julien has trusted Smith with some important minutes the last two games, most notably when Smith and Bergeron’s line played against Pavel Datsyuk‘s line on Monday. The lines were unchanged Wednesday, meaning you can expect Smith to stick on the second line for at least another game.
“He’s a young player, and what I see in this player is he seems to be getting better all the time with confidence,” Julien said Wednesday of Smith. “You see his skill level is pretty good. His hockey sense and his vision is also pretty good. I think we’re going to discover that this guy’s only going to get better as he progresses and gets more experience.
“I think he’s got the ability to possibly be a guy that can move up there, whether it’s permanently or at times. He’s got that skill level. No matter what, he’s a good player and I like the way he plays. He’s conscientious and very reliable for a player that has more or less limited experience in this league.”
The move also reunites Smith with Eriksson, with whom he played last season in Dallas, as the two were linemates for a couple of weeks last season. In fact, Eriksson assisted Smith’s first career goal. Smith returned the favor Saturday in Columbus, when, in his first period playing with him this season, he assisted Eriksson’s first goal as a Bruin.
Smith recalls his time as Eriksson’s linemate last season fondly, saying that Eriksson’s a very easy linemate to have. It hasn’t been perfect so far — Smith should have broken up Datsyuk’s pass to Henrik Zetterberg on Detroit’s first goal Saturday, but the offensive results have been, as Eriksson has scored in both games. Though the Bruins probably don’t have long-term designs of Marchand being a third-line player, the Smith-Eriksson combo is at least something they know can work for them.
“They know each other well,” Julien said. “It’s obvious that they’ve been together before and that they know each other a little bit better than we know them.”
|Carl Soderberg takes contact, still a game or two away||10.16.13 at 4:21 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — Carl Soderberg returned to taking contact Wednesday at BB&T Center as he tries to work his way back from an ankle injury suffered in the preseason. He has missed all five games this season due to the injury, but he was wearing a Merlot sweater Wednesday as the fourth line’s extra forward and participated fully in battle drills.
Following the practice, Claude Julien said that Soderberg is a game or two away from being ready to play in a game for the B’s.
The forward lines for practice were as follows, with Brad Marchand remaining on the third one:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Smith – Bergeron – Eriksson
Marchand – Kelly – Caron
Paille (Soderberg) – Campbell – Thornton
Soderberg had won the third line left wing job in training camp, as the team was set to go with a third line of Chris Kelly between Soderberg and Reilly Smith, but Caron’s improved play seems to have left Soderberg without a spot in the lineup. With that being said, Julien said he’d still like to find a way to get Soderberg into the lineup once he’s ready.
“I think it’s important that we get players in,” Julien said. “He had a really good camp; it’s unfortunate he got hurt then. When the time comes, I’m going to have to make that decision. If I can’t take anybody out, I can’t, but I’d certainly like to get him in there if I could.”
Julien did not seem to think the team would send Soderberg to the AHL for a conditioning assignment.
As for the player himself, Soderberg said that he feels he could get back in a game “very soon.” He said the biggest concern with getting ready to go was taking contact, which he’s now taken.
Said Soderberg: “You always need one or a couple of practices before you get into a game so it’s all set when you [play].”
|Tim Thomas to play against Bruins Thursday||10.16.13 at 3:56 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — After missing the last four games with a groin injury, Tim Thomas will be back between the pipes and will face his former team Thursday when the Panthers host the Bruins at BB&T Center, the team announced Wednesday.
Thomas practiced Wednesday, but did not speak to the media. He was pulled from the Panthers’ 2-1 loss on Oct. 8 with the injury and returned to practice this week.
The injury came amidst a rather rocky start to his comeback season. After allowing one goal in a season-opening win over the Stars, Thomas allowed five and was pulled against the Blues. He had allowed two goals on five shots in the game in which he left due to injury.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Check out these four pictures of Tim Thomas||10.16.13 at 12:47 pm ET|
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — Welcome to the Saveology IcePlex, practice home of the Florida Panthers. Tim Thomas — who is practicing Wednesday as he works his way back from a groin issue — could potentially face his former team for the first time Thursday night, so we’ve got you covered for each and every one of the happenings.
Unfortunately, the happenings are limited. Per the Panthers, Thomas will not be available to the media until after Thursday’s game… so here are four pictures of him.
|Shoddy defensive play burns Bruins in loss to Red Wings||10.14.13 at 4:39 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask did something Monday that he hadn’t done all season: allow a second goal.
He also allowed a third in the 3-2 loss to the Red Wings, but Rask wasn’t the issue in Boston’s second defeat this season. The Bruins turned in some shoddy work defensively, giving opportunities to a team that doesn’t need many, and the B’s were burned for it.
“All those three, pretty much, we kind of fell asleep for a second there,” Rask said after the game. “The guy had an extra second and now all of a sudden the puck’s in the net. I’m not blaming myself really, but it’s a game like that where you don’t get that many scoring chances, and once they get them you’d like to be there and stop the puck. They’re also a good team that can score a lot of goals. Tough bounces for us today.”
The first of the three came on a play that can half be chalked up to Pavel Datsyuk being super awesome at hockey and half be chalked up to some uncharacteristic play from Boston’s best players. A Patrice Bergeron giveaway allowed Pavel Datsyuk to bring the puck into the zone and get around Zdeno Chara — who could have stepped up and taken him out of the play — before sending it across to Henrik Zetterberg.
Reilly Smith was giving chase but couldn’t stretch out far enough to get his stuck on the puck, and Zetterberg scored his second goal this season against Bergeron and Chara. For a frame of reference, Bergeron and Chara were both on the ice for just one 5-on-5 goal — a Thomas Vanek tally on Jan. 31 — all of last season.
The Red Wings’ other two goals could have been prevented as well, as Johan Franzen sent a pass in the second period past the sticks of Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand to Stephen Weiss, who beat Rask on the doorstep. Dan Cleary scored on a one-timer right in front of the net — and right in front of Chara.
“We were a little loose in our coverage today, and it resulted in those three goals,” Claude Julien said. “Every game we’ve got things that we need to try and rectify with practice and bring to those players’ attention. That’s what we’ve got to do. Definitely, I thought that we were a little loose defensively, especially on the backcheck. We need to come back a little harder and a little better. Just because you’re a couple of feet away from that guy, doesn’t mean that you have him. There wasn’t full commitment in that.
Through five games, the Bruins are now 3-2-0 on the season. The season is young, but the B’s have at the very least learned that their division has become tougher with Detroit. They also know they need to be better.
“Not awful, not great, not bad,” Rask said when asked how he feels the B’s have played this season. “Every game there’s been some really good things and some letdowns.”
“When you play a team like Detroit, they don’t that many chances,” Julien said. “You’ve just got to give them some and they’ll know what to do with those. That’s what they’re known for, and that’s what they showed today.”
|Bruins’ comeback bid falls short vs. Red Wings||10.14.13 at 3:31 pm ET|
The Bruins couldn’t quite live up to the standard set by the their fellow New England teams over the weekend, as a late comeback against the Red Wings fell just short in a 3-2 loss at TD Garden.
Milan Lucic scored with 1:20 left in the game to bring the B’s within one, but the Red Wings held on for their first win against Boston since joining the Eastern Conference.
The Red Wings got on the board at 11:33 of the first period when Pavel Datsyuk beat Zdeno Chara and fed Henrik Zetterberg for the Detroit captain’s second goal in as many games against the Bruins this season. Loui Eriksson was able to get a stick on a Johnny Boychuk slap shot that got past Detroit goalie Jonas Gustavsson, but second period goals from Stephen Weiss and Daniel Cleary put the game out of reach.
Claude Julien kept Brad Marchand on the third line after demoting the struggling forward in the third period of Saturday’s win over the Blue Jackets. Marchand remained with Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron, while Reilly Smith played the entire game on Patrice Bergeron‘s line with former Stars teammate Eriksson.
The Bruins will next play Thursday in Florida against the Panthers.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Monday’s game was the first this season in which Tuukka Rask has allowed more than one goal. Rask allowed a total of four goals over the first four games of the season, and given the way the Bruins played defensively on Monday, you could hardly blame him. Read the rest of this entry »
|New guys help Bruins top Blue Jackets||10.12.13 at 4:39 pm ET|
The Bruins’ two biggest offseason additions made the difference Saturday as Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson helped the B’s past the Blue Jackets, 3-1, in Columbus. Eriksson scored his first goal as a Bruin in the third period, which proved to be the game-winner.
The Blue Jackets got on the board late in the first period, when Jack Johnson fired a slap shot past Tuukka Rask with Patrice Bergeron in the box for holding. It was Columbus’ third shot on goal of the game, as the Blue Jackets mustered only four shots on goal in the first period and one in the first 17:05.
The Bruins tied it up in the second period when Iginla made the most of his time on the penalty kill. Right after a Chris Kelly penalty expired, Iginla fed Kelly in the neutral zone and saw the veteran center enter the offensive zone and fire a slap shot that beat Sergei Bobrovsky five-hole. Eriksson then gave the B’s in the third period with a 2-on-1 goal assisted by Patrice Bergeron. The B’s got an empty-netter from Milan Lucic, putting he and Kelly in a tie for the team lead with two goals this season.
Matt Bartkowski made his season debut Saturday, playing on the second pairing with Dennis Seidenberg, while Dougie Hamilton was a healthy scratch. Brad Marchand was pulled off the second line in the third period, as he and Reilly Smith were flip-flopped. Smith picked up the secondary assist on Eriksson’s goal.
The Bruins will return to Boston to host the Red Wings Monday at TD Garden.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
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