|Dougie Hamilton will not play in Bruins’ regular-season finale||04.10.15 at 3:17 pm ET|
TAMPA, Fla. — There will be no rush-job in Dougie Hamilton’s recovery from an upper-body injury. His March 21 injury was expected to keep him out for the rest of the regular season and will indeed do so.
Hamilton has been skating since Monday but has yet to practice with the team. He did not travel with the Bruins for their current three-game road trip. Asked whether Hamilton would play Sunday, Chiarelli reiterated he would not. Claude Julien had said on Tuesday that Hamilton would not go on the trip, though the Bruins were in less of a bind before losing two straight in regulation.
If the Bruins are still in playoff contention at the time, Saturday night’s game against the Lightning will be a must-win. They could be eliminated prior by either a Penguins win Friday or a Senators win earlier Saturday.
In 72 games this season, Hamilton had 10 goals and 32 assists for 42 points. As of Friday, his 21:20 time on ice per game ranked third on the Bruins, while his 54.91 Corsi for percentage in five-on-five play ranks fifth among Bruins players with at least five games played this season.
The 21-year-old will be a restricted free agent following the season.
|Peter Chiarelli unsure of his future, feels Claude Julien has ‘done fine’||04.10.15 at 3:04 pm ET|
TAMPA, Fla. — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli met with reporters for over 17 minutes Friday, marking the team’s only media availability for the day.
The Bruins are all but eliminated from playoff contention. They need to both win Saturday and see either the Senators lose in regulation or the Penguins get no more than one point in their final two games. As such, there was ample reflection on this season’s issues, but Chiarelli stressed that he did not want have what he called the “postmortem” conversation until following the season.
Chiarelli’s job seemingly has been on the line since Charlie Jacobs said the entire organization was under review in January and that missing the playoffs would be unacceptable. Asked whether Chiarelli thought he would stay with the Bruins, he expressed uncertainty.
“I don’t know. I’m not sure,” Chiarelli said. “I’m operating [as if] I am [staying] until they tell me that I’m not.”
Claude Julien could also be on the hot seat despite receiving a contract extension in November. Chiarelli spoke to the job he’s done and noted that the group has collectively cultivated its current circumstances.
“I think he’s done fine,” Chiarelli said. “I look at a couple things. I think he’s mixed and matched with the lines, I think he’s integrated some youth into the forward lines. I think he’s done well mixing and matching on the defensive pairs. None of us lately have been used to these type of circumstances, myself included. I think he’s done fine. I don’t want to get into postmortem discussion. We’ll have the chance [for that]. It’s been disappointing and obviously it’s not acceptable and there’s a level of high standard in our city and our market and we haven’t reached it right now.”
|Claude Julien: ‘Have a look at the roster’||04.09.15 at 11:08 pm ET|
After the Bruins lost in regulation to the Panthers on Thursday, Julien batted down a question about his Bruins handling big moments better in the past than they have this season. In doing so, he pointed out that past teams had better players.
“I don’t think we have the same team we’ve had in the past,” Julien said. “You guys can talk about that; have a look at the roster. It’s not the same. We can’t live in the past. That’s what we’re trying to do here: work with the guys that we have. We’ve got a lot of young players and we’ve got a lot of players that haven’t played for expectations right now.
“It’s still not too late. You’ve got to win the next game and hope that you get some help and move forward here. We can hang our heads here all we want, but the bottom line is that we’ve got to regroup and think about winning ourselves a hockey game the next game, because if not, then I’m disappointed in all of us for not thinking that way.”
Jarome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk were the biggest absences from last year’s team. Both players left due to salary cap constraints, as Chiarelli let Iginla walk in free agency and traded Boychuk to the Islanders.
Julien didn’t say anything that wasn’t already known, as Chiarelli knew he wouldn’t be able to ice as potent a roster as the B’s had a season ago. The Bruins are paying nearly $5 million in dead money against the cap this season because of last season’s bonuses ($4.2 million of which were for Iginla).
Still, Chiarelli stressed in December that despite the B’s having parted with some of last season’s players, the roster was still good enough to play better.
“They’ve underperformed,” Chiarelli told WEEI.com in December. “The roster’s not markedly different from last year. There’s a couple of notable players [gone], but there are a lot of teams that have less cumulative money spent than us that are doing better than us.
“Listen, things go in cycles, right? I understand that you can’t hit it out of the ballpark all the time, and myself included.”
The Bruins need to win Saturday and get help from other teams in order to make the playoffs. Either the Penguins must get one or zero points over their final two games or the Senators need to lose their season finale to the Flyers in regulation.
|5 things we learned as Bruins inch themselves closer to an early offseason||04.09.15 at 10:22 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Bruins had 20 minutes to stay in control of their season’s destiny. They didn’t do it.
Within the same hour, the Bruins allowed a late second-period power-play goal to the Panthers to tie the game, and the Senators defeated the Rangers. The third period was going to be critical for the B’s in what was a 1-1 game, but rather than making a statement, they allowed the Panthers to score twice against Patrice Bergeron‘s line, putting the Senators a win away from reaching the playoffs in the process.
Brad Marchand got the Bruins within one with a well-placed wrist shot over Roberto Luongo‘s shoulder to end a 15-game scoreless streak with five minutes to play, but the Panthers answered promptly with a Jimmy Hayes goal to make it a 4-2 Panthers win.
The Bruins (95 points) are not yet eliminated, but they must win Saturday in Tampa and receive help from other teams. If Boston beats Tampa Saturday and Ottawa loses to the Flyers in regulation, Boston would make the playoffs over Ottawa. If Boston wins Saturday and Pittsburgh loses both of its remaining games, the B’s also would get in. Detroit going to overtime against the Canadiens Friday meant the B’s can no longer catch the Red Wings.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
STRONG START, NO GOALS AND A PREDICTABLE LETUP
A terrible start to Wednesday’s game against the Capitals cost the B’s two much-needed points. They realized their errors and dominated in the early going against Florida.
Boston had 10 of the first 12 shots on goal, while a power play that Marchand drew resulted in two full minutes without the Panthers clearing. One thing was missing, however: goals.
|Bruins prepare for critical meeting with Panthers||04.09.15 at 6:40 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Bruins say they understand the threat that exists of them missing the playoffs. Thursday night’s game against the Panthers, their 81st game of the season, needs to be their biggest push.
That means the B’s can’t have the start they did Wednesday, when two poor play with the puck and coverage lapses put them in an early deficit from which they never recovered.
“I think [we need to] come out a lot more focused,” Dennis Seidenberg said. “Playing the way we’re supposed to, which is getting pucks deep and managing the puck a lot better than we did.”
The Bruins enter Thursday’s game tied with the Senators with 95 points through 80 games on the season. A playoff berth could be secured either by Boston winning both its final games or by the B’s finishing with more points in the next two games than the Senators.
“To this point, I think if we win the next two games I don’t think anyone will even be talking about this anymore,” Brad Marchand said. “That’s [easier] said [than] done. We’ve got a lot of really good leadership in there that we can follow going into games like tonight.”
Both the B’s and Senators are in action Thursday, as the Senators will face a Rangers team that has already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy and is resting Rick Nash, Marc Staal and Mats Zuccarello.
Perhaps the Rangers would prefer the Senators to the Bruins as a first-round opponent. Letting their players rest while improving Ottawa’s playoff chances could kill two birds with one stone.
“I’m not following what other teams do around the league,” Chara said. “Usually that’s the case for many teams, but we have to focus on what we have to do.”
|Zdeno Chara mum on possible foot injury||04.09.15 at 5:42 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — Zdeno Chara has been hit in the left foot area in each of the last two games by pucks, resulting in a pair of occurrences in which the Boston captain was in noticeable pain.
After the team arrived at BB&T Center for what should be considered a must-win against the Panthers, Chara deflected a question about how he was feeling.
“Good, you?” Chara responded.
“You know the deal,” he added. “Can’t talk about it, so that’s the way it is.”
Chara was slow to leave the ice after a David Booth shot hit him in what looked to be the outside of the foot Saturday, while a Joel Ward shot Wednesday slowed him after hitting the Boston captain on the inside of the foot. Chara took two very short shifts after Wednesday’s scare and went on to take regular shifts.
He has not looked to be particularly comfortable following the injuries, however. Chara had a bit of a limp after Saturday’s game and missed Monday’s practice. His strides also seemed hindered as he walked in on Thursday.
|Claude Julien should go back to what works in must-win games||04.09.15 at 11:15 am ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — By the end of Thursday night, the Bruins could either be in the playoffs, a win away from them, or in big trouble.
Two points against the Panthers is the team’s surest path of avoiding that last scenario. With the B’s tied with the Senators with 95 points and holding the regulation and overtime wins tiebreaker for the time being, the Bruins must assume that Ottawa will win both its remaining games. The Rangers have incentive to let Ottawa win on Thursday as a means of making sure they don’t have to see Tuukka Rask in the postseason. Winning Thursday and Saturday could very well be the only way in for Boston.
After Wednesday’s loss to the Capitals, Claude Julien should go back to some of the lines that helped the Bruins beat the Panthers and four other teams during Boston’s recent five-game win streak.
A confusing lack of commitment was a bigger reason for Wednesday’s result, but the lines also played a part. Julien broke up the trio of Ryan Spooner between Milan Lucic and David Pastrnak Wednesday in his second attempt to return David Krejci to center. The Lucic-Krejci-Pastrnak line opened with two bad shifts, the second of which saw them give Washington a goal, and they were broken up. In the third period, Julien went back to Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak and returned Krejci to Patrice Bergeron‘s right wing.
He shouldn’t wait that long Thursday. The Spooner line scored the game-tying and game-winning goals against the Panthers on March 31 at the Garden, making up for the fact that they allowed a Brad Boyes goal.
It’s understandable why Julien wants to move Krejci back to center, but at this point the B’s could actually better afford to experiment in Game 1 or 2 of the playoffs than in Game 81 of the regular season. Julien should go back to Brad Marchand-Bergeron-Krejci and Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak against the Panthers.
Where things go from there is unknown. The Bruins did not have a morning skate on Thursday, so Julien’s plan with his lines is once again anyone’s guess.
He should use the lines he used against the Maple Leafs last Saturday. Even if they scored only one goal during 65 minutes of play against a bad team, they took 81 shots. Such performances should pay off on the scoreboard, even if one didn’t overwhelm on Saturday.
The lines in that game were as follows:
That game saw the Marchand-Bergeron-Krejci line score its first goal in its six games together. Moving Krejci to center meant breaking up a line when it was just starting to produce.
After a couple of costly mistakes from Reilly Smith, Brett Connolly moved up to play with Carl Soderberg and Louis Eriksson. Julien should start the game with Connolly playing in that spot.
This is suboptimal for the Bruins. In a perfect world, they could take their time and get to a point where Lucic and Krejci can be reunited. Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak playing against weaker competition is too proven to go away from now, however. Julien’s best bet at winning these games is sticking with what works.