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5 things we learned: Bruins blow 3-goal lead, Lee Stempniak plays overtime hero as Claude Julien overtakes 1st place on Bruins’ win list 03.07.16 at 10:46 pm ET
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Claude Julien

Claude Julien

Lee Stempniak’s first goal as a Bruin was a biggie, and Claude Julien’s record-breaking was exhausting.

After the Bruins blew a three-goal lead, Stempniak scored in overtime to give the Bruins a 5-4 victory over the Panthers. The win was Claude Julien’s 388th with the Bruins, the most for a coach in Bruins history.

After taking a 4-1 lead in the first period and chasing Roberto Luongo in the process, the Bruins allowed a pair of goals in the second period as the Panthers dominated the middle 20. Though the B’s killed off a David Krejci high-sticking double-minor that spanned across the final minute of the second and first three of three of the third period, they eventually surrendered the equalizer when Jiri Hudler scored his second of the game with 4:43 left in regulation.

With the victory, the Bruins now have as many points (81) as Florida, though Boston has played 67 games to Florida’s 66. Because the Atlantic-leading Lightning lost to the Flyers Monday, the Bruins now sit one point behind them and can overtake first place with a win over the Bolts on Tuesday.

Here are four more things we learned Monday:

BERGERON STAYS HOT

Patrice Bergreon scored twice in the first period, including a tally 34 seconds into the game that marked the third time in as many games that Bergeron scored the game’s first goal.

With Bergeron’s goals, his 27th and 28th of the season, Bergeron now has six goals in his last five games.

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Kevan Miller day-to-day with upper-body injury 03.07.16 at 1:59 pm ET
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Kevan Miller did not travel with the Bruins for the team’s two-game road trip to Florida, with coach Claude Julien telling reporters in Sunrise Monday morning that the defenseman was day-to-day with an uper-body injury.

Miller suffered the injury in the second period of Saturday’s overtime loss to the Capitals on a hit from Alexander Ovechkin. The 28-year-old defenseman did not return to the game after seeming to favor his right shoulder as he left the ice. Following the game, Julien noted that Miller had been taken to the hospital.

With Miller out on Monday, Zach Trotman is expected to re-enter the lineup against the Panthers.

Update: Zac Rinaldo suspended 5 games in AHL 03.07.16 at 1:24 am ET
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If and when Zac Rinaldo makes it back up to the NHL, he will begin by serving his five games due to his hit on Cedric Paquette. In the meantime, he’s still in the AHL.

And also suspended.

Playing in his first game for Providence on Friday, Rinaldo was given a match penalty for intent to injure on a hit on Bridgeport defenseman Kane Lafranchise in a P-Bruins’ 4-3 loss. That carries with it an automatic indefinite suspension pending league review, and the league announced Monday that Rinaldo would be given a five-game ban. Joe McDonald of ESPN was the first to report Rinaldo’s AHL suspension.

It has not been a good week-plus for Rinaldo, who was placed on waivers last Sunday, committed his suspendable hit against the Lightning later that night and was sent to Providence Monday, the same day that his five-game ban was given by the league.

It is unclear whether Rinaldo will regain his spot on Boston’s roster this season. For the time being, it appears the Bruins are set on a fourth line of Noel Acciari between Landon Ferraro and Brett Connolly. Tyler Randell is the team’s extra forward.

The Bruins sent a 2017 third-round pick to Philadelphia this summer in what was considered a head-scratcher of a deal at the time. In 52 games for Boston this season, Rinaldo has one goal and two assists for three points and 83 penalty minutes.

Here is video of the hit on Lafranchise, per Weekend at Bergy’s:

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5 things we learned: Kevan Miller hurt on hit from Alexander Ovechkin as Bruins lose to Capitals in overtime 03.05.16 at 9:52 pm ET
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Getting points in both games of a treacherous two-game stretch against the Blackhawks and Capitals was an outcome the Bruins would have gladly taken. That doesn’t mean that the fashion in which they lost Saturday doesn’t sting.

Matt Niskanen beat Tuukka Rask 2:36 into overtime to give the Capitals a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the B’s at TD Garden. The game followed Boston’s impressive victory over the Blackhawks Thursday.

Though the B’s got on the board first Saturday with a first-period Patrice Bergeron tally, the second period suggested it might not be the Bruins’ night. What would have been Torey Krug’s first goal in 40 games was called back when the Capitals challenged that Loui Eriksson was offsides, the Bruins lost Kevan Miller to injury, they failed to score on a prolonged 5-on-3 (among other chances) and a rough period from Dennis Seidenberg eventually resulted in Washington tying the game at a goal apiece.

The teams skated to a scoreless third period before Niskanen sealed the victory for the Capitals in OT.

Here are four more things we learned Saturday:

MILLER HURT

Kevan Miller’s struggles this season have been well-documented, but the 28-year-old defenseman had turned a corner of late with perhaps his most encouraging play of the season. In the first period of Saturday’s game, Miller played a major factor in Patrice Bergeron’s goal by gloving the puck as it was about to leave the zone and passing it up to Lee Stempniak as he absorbed a hit from Alexander Ovechkin.

Yet it was a later hit from Ovechkin that changed the game, as the Capitals star forward hit Miller from behind in the Washington zone in the second period. Miller left the ice hunched over with what looked like a possible right shoulder injury, which wouldn’t be great considering his season ended prematurely last year due to surgery on that shoulder.

Ovechkin was given a boarding major but not ejected.

If Miller is to miss time, Zach Trotman will likely enter the lineup in his place.  Read the rest of this entry »

Bruins believe in Capitals hype, but know well that ‘anything can happen’ 03.05.16 at 11:48 am ET
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The Capitals are considered the Eastern Conference's lone Cup contender (Getty Images)

The Capitals are considered the Eastern Conference’s lone Cup contender (Getty Images)

The Eastern Conference picture has been clear pretty much all season: There’s the Capitals and there’s everyone else.

In ranking first in the NHL in goals per game and third in goals against per game, the Capitals are the clear favorite to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Final this season, but at the very least, they will run away with the Presidents’ Trophy. Their 98 points through 64 games puts them on pace for 126 points; since the return from the 2004-05 lockout, only twice has a team had a 120-point season (Detroit with 124 in 2005-06 and Washington with 121 in 2009-10). The Capitals have beaten the B’s in both of the teams’ meetings entering Saturday’s contest at TD Garden.

The Bruins are among the teams trying to establish themselves as a potential “other Eastern Conference powerhouse.” As the last Eastern Conference to win the Cup and a common favorite in seasons leading up to this one, the Bruins know well that being considered the favorite in the East doesn’t always pan out. Boston dominated the 2011-12 regular season before being knocked off by the No. 7 ranked Capitals in seven games.

“Let me put it this way: Every playoffs, there’s been surprises,” Claude Julien said Saturday morning. “I don’t put a ton of stock into who’s in and who’s out. We all know Washington’s one of the favorites in our conference; rightfully so. They have a great team and their record shows it, but in this game anything can happen.

“We go about our business and go day-by-day. To overthink that situation to me is not healthy. To just go out there and do your job and look forward to what you have to do is probably the best way to look at that situation.”

Dennis Seidenberg said that if the Bruins are no longer considered in the class they once were, it alleviates the pressure that their stronger clubs of seasons past had.

“We like being in the underdog role,” Seidenberg said. “It means we can perform without pressure, but that team is really good over there. They’re very, very deep, very balanced scoring, very deep on defense. They’re the favorite for a reason, but with that comes a lot of pressure, a lot of certainty. Once we get into the playoffs, anything can happen. That’s what happened to us when we lost against them in seven games. If there’s a team that plays well at the right time and has a goalie that plays very well, anything can happen. We’ll see.”

The Bruins will try to pull off their second consecutive upset against a Cup favorite Saturday when they host the Capitals. Much like the Blackhawks team that Boston defeated on Thursday, the Capitals will be playing the second night of a back-to-back and will have their backup goaltender in net.

Still, defeating the Blackhawks and Capitals in succession would not only be a feather in this post-deadline Bruins team’s cap, but it would secure much-needed points that many figured would be unattainable this week. The Bruins enter Saturday’s game in third place in the Atlantic Division, though current wild card Detroit sits three points behind them with one game in hand. Including Saturday, the B’s have 17 games remaining in their regular-season schedule.

“Before you know it, the season will be over,” Julien said. “There’s not that many games left, so we need to assert ourselves every game. It’s not so much what it means more than what we need to do here. We need to bring our A game and understand that we have to play a lot like we did the other night, be strong in all areas in order to beat good teams like Washington.”

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5 things we learned as Bruins beat Blackhawks, Claude Julien pulls even with Art Ross 03.03.16 at 9:32 pm ET
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Claude Julien

Claude Julien

Whether he cared about personal accomplishments or just wanted a measuring-stick win, Claude Julien had to like what he saw Thursday against the Blackhawks.

The Bruins defeated the defending Stanley Cup champions, 4-2, at TD Garden behind a strong effort that gave Julien his 387th regular-season win as Bruins coach, tying him with Art Ross for the most in team history.

By turning in a clean defensive performance and got balanced scoring in the victory, the Bruins improved to 37-23-6 on the season (78 points) to remain third in the Atlantic Division. Tuukka Rask stopped 25 of the 27 shots he saw, though improved play in front of the net made his night easier than it’s been for much of the season.

Here are four more things we learned Thursday:

ERIKSSON BACK TO SCORING AFTER LINE SWITCH

Claude Julien kept the lines that he used in the third period of Tuesday’s game against the Flames, which saw Loui Eriksson and Matt Beleskey switch spots. Beleskey played on the left of David Krejci and David Pastrnak, while Eriksson moved to the third line with Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes as the B’s used the following lineup:

Marchand-Bergeron-Stempniak
Beleskey-Krejci-Pastrnak
Eriksson-Spooner-Hayes
Ferraro-Acciari-Connolly

Chara-Miller
Krug-Seidenberg
Liles-McQuaid

Rask

After going four straight games without a point, Eriksson got back on the scoresheet with a second-period goal to bring his season total to 24.

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Brad Marchand hopes he’s still a candidate to make Team Canada 03.03.16 at 11:56 am ET
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Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand

When the preliminary roster of Team Canada was chosen for the World Cup of Hockey, general manager Doug Armstrong called the members of the 2014 Olympic team that had not yet been named to the roster. It was a classy thing to do, not only to soften the blow but to remind the players that they could still be in the mix for the June 1 final roster.

The question then becomes whether a similar call was placed to non-Olympians who just missed the cut. Did Armstrong call the other fringe-players not yet named to Team Canada?

“Nope,” Brad Marchand said with a laugh Thursday. “Not me, anyways.”

“You’d have to talk to Bergy about that,” Marchand added when asked about having contact with the Hockey Canada folks. “He would know a lot more than me.”

Marchand was one of many capable players not included on the preliminary roster of 16, which was revealed Wednesday. While teammates past and present such as Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron were named to the squad, Marchand will now join Canadians such as P.K. Subban, Mark Giordano and Claude Giroux as those hopeful to eventually make the team.

Perhaps a longshot to make the team at the beginning of the season, Marchand’s career-high 32 goals and counting have entered him into the discussion. After twice winning the gold in representing Canada in the 2007 and 2008 World Juniors, Marchand would like to once again compete internationally. With that said, he hid any disappointment in not making the initial 16 well.

“I think when you look at the team, there’s a lot o phenomenal players on that roster,” Marchand said. “I was very happy for all the guys, [having] played with Segs and Bergy, it was great to see them on that list. I’m very happy for both of them.”

Claude Julien will be an assistant coach under head coach Mike Babcock for the team. Though Marchand joked that he thought he was on Julien’s good side, Julien was diplomatic in not showing his bias.

“We’ll see with time,” Julien said. “There’s obviously a lot of names out there. As you often hear, Canada could probably make a couple of teams and still be pretty competitive. He’s definitely a guy that’s on the radar, but the top 16 have been named and there’s a lot of guys that could have been named too on those top 16s. We’ll see how the rest of the season goes here. A lot of players are still on the radar.”

Bergeron was less guarded, giving Marchand his full endorsement.

“It would be great,” Bergeron said. “I think he’s proven himself over the years, and especially this year, how good he is and competitive he is every game. He always makes something happen every time he steps on the ice. Right now, he’s on pace for getting to close to 40. He’s been very impressive this year and has been a huge part of helping me be a good player every game.”

One glaring difference between Marchand and the 16 players who did make the team: supplemental discipline. Though there are players on Team Canada who have been suspended by the NHL in the past (Duncan Keith twice, as well as that badass Jonathan Toews who was likely out doing badass things when he committed the suspendable act of declining to play in the All-Star Game this year), none have the reputation of Marchand, who has been suspended four times for a total of 12 games over the course of his NHL career.

“I don’t think that how you play against other players on the ice is going to affect how a team or your chemistry’s going to be,” Marchand said. “Guys in this league know that every day you go on the ice, you’re doing a job. We all go out there to do the same thing. That’s to help our team win, however you do that. Guys play harder than I do or dirtier than I do. I don’t think that has any affect on it. I think it’s more about who they think is going to help the team win.”

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