|Tuukka Rask, who knows who Johnny Boychuk is, prepares to face Johnny Boychuk||10.22.14 at 2:10 pm ET|
“Oh, is he playing? I hope he gets the start. It would be good for him,” Rask said Wednesday when asked what it would be like to play against “Johnny.”
Proving that goaltenders live in their own goaltending world, Rask thought that the “Johnny” being discussed was Islanders backup Chad Johnson, who spent last season playing in Boston with Rask.
Rask laughed when he realized his error, adding that he obviously wished the best for his former teammate. He did note that if he allowed a goal to Boychuk, who has already scored twice this season for the Islanders, Rask would “never hear the end of it.”
“He actually texted me after he got traded,” Rask said. “He said whenever we play I should give him a goal, but I hope he doesn’t score.”
Rask was then reminded that he already has a big contract, while Boychuk is in the final year of his contract. If Rask were a true friend, he’d help Boychuk boost those numbers and net him a bigger payday.
“Yeah, well if the game’s 9-1 or something for us, then accidents happen,” Rask said with a grin.
As for Boychuk himself, the 30-year-old is loving life with the Islanders, but said it will be very difficult to take the ice Thursday (and undoubtedly receive a warm welcome) in front of the Garden crowd.
“[Expletive],” Boychuk said this week when asked what he expected. “That’s going to be… different. It’s going to be hard. It will definitely be hard.”
Claude Julien said he’s happy for the early success Boychuk has had with the 4-2-0 Islanders. Boychuk’s six points through six games are as many as he had in the lockout-shortened 2013 season with the Bruins.
“He’s a good team guy. He’s an easy guy to like for players and coaches,” Julien said. “He came in and played a big role in our Stanley Cup run. Many thought he’d be an American Leaguer. We traded for him and he stepped up and became a really reliable defenseman in this league, and obviously a good defenseman. We lost a good person and a good player.
“You’re always happy that he’s happy well — of course you’re going to hear us say except when it’s against us, but I don’t think there’s anybody here that wishes [anything] but the best for him. Then you move on, and that’s what we’re trying to do. Hopefully he’s done the same thing. He seems to have done that. When you look at his start with that team, he’s had a good start as well.”
|Claude Julien’s faith in Seth Griffith pays off||10.21.14 at 11:24 pm ET|
The “Claude Never Plays the Kids” club will have to ignore Seth Griffith’s existence for the next little while.
With the right wing job on David Krejci‘s line remaining up for grabs early in the season, on Tuesday Julien gave Griffith, a 21-year-old second year pro, the biggest vote of confidence the youngster has received so far: he kept him on the line in the third period. Griffith then rewarded the decision by tying the game at three with his first career NHL goal.
After the first game of Griffith’s three-game stint in the lineup last week, the Bruins signed Simon Gagne and played him in Griffith’s place in the third periods of the team’s games against Detroit and Montreal. Those games saw Griffith get some chances (he rang iron in Montreal), but the B’s stuck with Gagne late in the one-goal games.
Griffith was scratched Saturday sent down Sunday to play in Providence and recalled Monday. After skating the first two periods on the Krejci line and Boston’s top power play unit, Griffith was kept with Krejci and Lucic to play key minutes in a one-goal game.
It paid off when Thomas Hertl accidentally knocked a loose puck into the high slot while trying to wrest the puck from Lucic. Griffith leaned into it and fired a wrist shot past defenseman Jason Demers and goaltender Antti Niemi at 4:50 of the third. It may have only been his fourth career NHL game, but by the way Griffith jumped against the glass in celebration, the goal was a big relief.
“Obviously every player when they get their first couple games they want to score right away,” Griffith said. “I’m happy it came sooner rather than later.”
Julien’s faith in the youngster appears to be growing as the team searches to find a full-time replacement for Jarome Iginla. That replacement may not yet be on the roster, but for now Julien thinks Griffith is giving him enough reasons to keep him with Krejci.
“Because he played well,” Julien said when asked what made him stick with Griffith Tuesday. “When he was playing well I thought he made some great plays. This isn’t because he scored; I think he scored because he played well. I just thought he was pretty good. [The Sharks are] a big team and I thought he handled himself well along the walls and making good plays.”
Added Julien: “If those guys are going to get better, sometimes you’ve got to put them in those positions when you feel they’re doing well enough to warrant that.”
Considering he was a relatively early cut from camp, Griffith has to be more than happy with where the season has taken him. Part of it is the fact that he’s the best right-shooting wing option the B’s have, but if the Bruins give him a prolonged look, perhaps he can make his case for a full-time job.
“We’re starting to get a little chemistry going,” Griffith said. “It’s good to see but it’s not too hard playing with two great players like that.”
|Late Gregory Campbell tiebreaker leads Bruins past Sharks||10.21.14 at 9:46 pm ET|
Milan Lucic (three assists) and Torey Krug (a goal and two assists) each had three points in the victory, which gave the Bruins three wins in their last four games and evened their record at 4-4-0 on the season through eight games.
Campbell wasn’t the only Bruin to find the back of the net for the first time tis season, as Brad Marchand took advantage of power play time given to him on a first-period man advantage and beat Niemi from the right circle to make it 1-0 13:57 into the game. Logan Couture would answer back with a Sharks power play goal minutes later with Marchand in the box for cross-checking.
The B’s tok a 2-1 lead on a power play goal from Krug, but fell behind when the Sharks got goals from Couture and Joe Thornton in a span of 39 seconds against Patrice Bergeron‘s line. Seth Griffith scored his first career NHL goal in the third to tie it.
Tuukka Rask made 31 saves in the victory, coming up big in the final minutes as the Bruins had to kill off four-minute Bergeron minor for high-sticking. With Niemi pulled, David Krejci scored a shorthanded empty-netter to seal the win.
The B’s will next play Thursday, when they host the Islanders for the first time since trading Johnny Boychuk to New York just before the season.
Here are some observations from the game:
– Bergeron was on the ice for all three of San Jose’s goals over the first two periods, one of which was a power-play goal. If that isn’t unusual enough, Thornton’s second-period goal marked the third time in eight games this season that the Bruins have allowed a 5-on-5 goal with both Zdeno Chara and Bergeron on the ice. This season is off to a very un-Bruins start. Remember, the B’s only allowed one 5-on-5 goal with the duo on the ice in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
Chara doesn’t have bad games, but Tuesday was definitely one of them. The Bruins’ captain had lots of trouble with the puck, even committing a turnover by the net on a late penalty kill that very well could have cost the Bruins. Chara slammed his stick in frustration against the bench after a shift in the third period.
– Bergeron finished the night a minus-2 and took a high-sticking double-minor in the last four and a half minutes to leave the Bruins killing a penalty in a one-goal game without their best penalty-killing forward. An odd night for Bergeron indeed, who now has 10 penalty minutes through eight games.
– David Krejci‘s line had a nice turnaround as the game went on after being turnover city in the first period. Lucic turned two pucks over on one shift in the game’s fifth minute and Krejci had a giveaway on an ensuing shift. Krejci’s line still dominated possession on the night.
– Krejci turned in a nice play on Krug’s power-play goal. After the faceoff, Krejci appeared to take a stick to the facial area, dropping his own stick as he grabbed his face. He quickly recovered and picked up his stick in time to get to the front of the net and provide a screen on Krug’s goal.
– Marchand has been on and off the Bruins’ power play units this season. Tuesday’s goal should help his case to get more consistent minutes on the man advantage. Boston’s top unit worked well on his goal, with Torey Krug averting defenders in the right circle before sending the puck low to Milan Lucic. Marchand, who was back at the point with Krug pinching, took the pass from Lucic, walked up and fired a shot from the circle for his first goal of the season.
|Milan Lucic hopes he’s getting back to normal||10.21.14 at 1:48 pm ET|
Inappropriate gestures aside, it’s been a weird start to the season for Milan Lucic.
The Bruins’ top left wing has had two different centers and three different right wings over seven games. In three of the first seven games, he’s played on a line that was different from the previous game. He’s also returning from offseason wrist surgery, which looks to be limiting him less and less as the games go on.
Still, numbers don’t lie. Lucic, traditionally a fast starter, has gone without a point in all but one game this season. He has no goals, with his two-point performance last week against the Canadiens remaining the only time he’s shown up on the scoresheet.
It appears that Seth Griffith will serve as Lucic and David Krejci‘s right wing Tuesday against the Sharks. The line had some good looks for three games before Griffith was replaced with Simon Gagne Saturday. Lucic feels that he can still find his way and the back of the net despite the revolving door on the right side of his line.
“I think the guys who have come in have played well,” Lucic said. “You look at the last three games, we were able to create a bunch of chances, but it seems like they’re just not going in for us right now. I don’t think overthinking anything or getting frustrated is going to get us anywhere. I think we’ve just got to keep playing in the O zone and creating chances and eventually they’ll start going in.”
As for the wrist, Lucic says it’s become less of a mental obstacle than it was earlier in the season, when he was a borderline invisible player on a borderline invisible line with Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser.
Now, with more games under his belt, Lucic doesn’t see the wrist as being an issue. All that’s left for him is to start finding the back of the net.
“[The wrist is] definitely getting a lot better, thinking about it a lot less, as far as re-injuring it again,” he said. “From a mental standpoint, it’s definitely becoming more positive.”
When asked Tuesday morning if Lucic was close to being the player he is when he’s at the top of his game, Claude Julien hinted at the obvious by saying people have seen him play long enough to know “how good he can be.” He doesn’t seem ready to use the roster uncertainty as an excuse for Lucic’s start.
“It’s up to each individual to play to their level. I’ve always said that,” Julien said. “It doesn’t matter who you play with, we rate players on their play — their sole play – and it doesn’t matter who you’re with; we still expect certain things.
“He’s come off an injury, he’s missed a little bit of the conditioning before camp started. He wasn’t able to play for a little while. What I like right now is he’s starting to come around and that’s the most important thing. I’m not going to dwell on the past more than’I like what I see he’s getting better all the time so he’s got to continue to improve.”
|Seth Griffith, Matt Bartkowski appear set to return to Bruins lineup vs. Sharks||10.21.14 at 12:20 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask was first goaltender off the ice at Tuesday’s morning skate, suggesting he’ll be between the pipes against the Sharks.
With Kevan Miller out, Matt Bartkowski is set to enter the lineup. The Bruins will play Torey Krug on the right side of the second pairing with Dennis Seidenberg.
Krug is a left shot, but he has experience playing the right side dating back to college. Seidenberg is also a lefty who can play both sides.
Matt Fraser appears to be the team’s healthy scratch on offense, as he rotated in on the fourth line but stayed on the ice later than his teammates.
The lines and pairings in morning skate were as follows:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne
Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – Krug
Bartkowski – McQuaid
|Bruins’ self-proclaimed defensive depth being put to test||10.20.14 at 10:56 pm ET|
In the offseason, Peter Chiarelli said he felt the Bruins had nine NHL-caliber defensemen. A 10th, he would later say, was close in Zach Trotman. It was hard to disagree.
Then the B’s traded Johnny Boychuk. Then Kevan Miller dislocated his right shoulder in a fight Saturday night, leaving him out indefinitely.
You can bet that all the defensive depth you’ve heard about now will be put to the test.
The obvious replacement with Miller out of the lineup is Matt Bartkowski. The Bruins would take turns sitting guys to find ways to get him in the lineup last season before Dennis Seidenberg‘s knee injury gave him a full-time job. With a healthier group this season, Bartkowski has been limited to just one game.
After that, David Warsofsky is the only remaining blueliner from the summer’s advertised group not on the roster. The B’s had to put him on waivers in order to send him to Providence at the end of training camp, but nobody claimed him. In five AHL games this season, the 24-year-old Warsofsky has no points and a minus-5 rating.
The thing with both Bartkowski and Warsofsky is that they are both left shots, while Miller is a righty. The Bruins, as you’ve probably noticed by now, like to play with a lefty on the left and a righty on the right unless it’s a Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg (both lefties) type of pairing.
There have been other exceptions to the lefty-righty rule, as Torey Krug played a bit on the right side down the stretch last season and Seidenberg has played on the left when paired with Bartkowski. It’s worth noting that the Bartkowski-Seidenberg pairing has struggled when used in games dating back to last season before Seidenberg’s injury.
|Bruins recall Seth Griffith from Providence||10.20.14 at 9:46 am ET|
The Bruins recalled right wing Seth Griffith from Providence Monday, a day after sending him down.
Griffith was first recalled by the B’s three games into the season, at which point he was put on David Krejci‘s line with Milan Lucic for two games. After Simon Gagne finished both games in Griffith’s place, the B’s made Griffith a healthy scratch Saturday and sent him to Providence Sunday. He played for Providence Sunday, scoring an empty-net goal.
In three games for Providence this season, Griffith has two goals and an assist for three points.
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