|5 things we learned as Bruins beat Leafs in shootout||04.04.15 at 9:58 pm ET|
You know things are finally going the Bruins’ way when, after struggling to score against a team as bad as the Leafs, they win in a shootout.
Such was the case Saturday night as the Bruins extended their winning streak to five games — tied for their longest of the season — with a 2-1 win in the post-overtime talent show. Given that both Ottawa and Detroit won Saturday night, the B’s and Red Wings remain tied for the third spot in the Atlantic Division, while the Senators sit three points behind the Bruins. Both the Red Wings and Senators will play their games in hand on Sunday.
The Bruins put a season-high 47 shots on goal in regulation, but managed to get only a second-period Bergeron rebound chance past James Reimer. They finished with 50 shots on the night.
Here are four more things we learned Saturday:
For the first time in his Bruins career, Gregory Campbell was a healthy scratch.
Campbell took to the press box as Max Talbot re-entered the lineup after sitting Thursday in Tampa. Claude Julien‘s lines were different for the game than they were in Saturday’s morning skate. Boston used the following lineup Saturday:
SMITH MISCUES COSTLY
The goal that tied the game for the Leafs in the second period came on a funny bounce. It was a costly mistake that put Toronto in position to score the goal, however.
After a second-period Leafs possession, Adam McQuaid skated the puck into the neutral zone, looking to dump the puck in and potentially give the B’s an opportunity for a line change. He sent a hard pass up to Reilly Smith in hopes that Smith would get a stick on the puck on its way down the ice, but Smith missed the puck and the play turned into an icing on McQuaid.
Tyler Bozak beat Carl Soderberg on the ensuing faceoff in the Bruins’ end, drawing the puck to Jake Gardiner, who then set up a Morgan Reilly point shot. Reilly’s shot yielded a funny rebound. The puck appeared to go off Rask’s blocker and then his mask, with James van Riemsdyk knocking the bouncing puck toward the net. McQuaid attempted to whack the puck out of the net, but his attempt bounced off Rask’s leg and in.
Smith had a treacherous shift in the third period, turning the puck over at the point on the power play, forcing Zdeno Chara to lay out to break up a scoring bid for Toronto. Chara was hit in the skate by a David Booth shot and was in pain on the bench. Smith was penalized for holding Booth on the play.
Following that shift, Smith was replaced by Brett Connolly on Carl Soderberg’s line. Smith took only one shift the rest of the game.
BERGERON LINE GETS ON THE BOARD
The line’s luck changed that Saturday, as some nice passing from Krejci and Marchand set up a Bergeron and ensuing rebound that Bergeron would punch in to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. The goal was Bergeron’s 22nd of the season, tying him with Marchand for the Bruins lead.
Marchand put the Bruins on the power play twice in the first period, as he was hooked by Andrew MacWilliam at 12:29 and drew interference from Nazem Kadri in neutral zone at 17:37 of the period.
THE KIDS GET CHANCES, CAN’T CONNECT
Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak stayed on a line after all. They were unable to celebrate with a goal.
Both Spooner and Pastrak failed to cash in on good scoring chances off rebounds in the second period, with Spooner fanning on the doorstep earlier in the period and Pastrnak missing the net on a shot in the high slot following a Spooner shot later in the second.
Spooner had another great chance in the third when he took a feed all alone in the slot. He was denied by Reimer, as was Pastrnak with just over three minutes later when Lucic set up a backhand bid from the 18-year-old.
|Claude Julien embracing in-game lineup changes||04.04.15 at 1:00 pm ET|
Earlier in the season, Claude Julien did something he didn’t do too often in the past: He juggled his lines in-game.
On one shift, Seth Griffith would be on David Krejci‘s right wing. On the next, it would be Simon Gagne. (The fact that neither player is currently on Boston’s roster paints a pretty good picture of how this season has gone for the Bruins, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Now that Julien finally has a healthy group of forwards, making such adjustments is nothing new. He’s done it of late and will continue to do it.
On Thursday night, Julien had to jumble his forwards throughout the night. After opening the game with David Krejci at center, adjustments had to be made as a result of a Patrice Bergeron injury. Due to David Pastrnak and Carl Soderberg, further changes were made. By the end of the game, all four lines looked different from how they started the night.
Julien has long been preferred to keep things the same. If something isn’t broken, he doesn’t fix it. If it might be broken, he lets it heal rather than changing it. This season has forced Julien to change his ways.
“We’re a team this year that’s had more fluctuation in our line combinations than ever,” Julien said.
His work isn’t done. Though the Bruins’ lines on Saturday might be the same as they were to finish Thursday’s win over the Red Wings, they could change in-game once again. Krejci isn’t going to play right wing forever, but his presence with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron gives Boston a particularly loaded first line.
Playing Brett Connolly in place of David Pastrnak with Ryan Spooner and Milan Lucic makes Spooner’s line a little bigger and more experienced. Teams tend to pick on Pastrnak when they want to, but they won’t be able to do that to Connolly. As such, Julien might be willing to play Spooner’s line more than he has.
“He’s been in the league for all of last year, and he’s a big guy and he’s skilled, too, and he’s fast,” Spooner said of Connolly. “He’ll be a good guy to play with, too. I think it will just add some age to our line and all that kind of stuff, and some experience.”
Julien’s adjustments in Thursday’s game meant that Soderberg went back to center. He played with Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith, his linemates for the previous four games.
Soderberg benefitted from having Chris Kelly on his left wing earlier in the season, as Kelly is an experienced center whose responsibility in his own end and ability to win faceoffs supplemented Soderberg’s contributions.
Playing Smith on the line and usually having Eriksson on the left wing now (both players are left shots) does not give Soderberg that safety net, but Smith brings more to the table offensively. The line connected for the game-tying goal in Detroit as Eriksson scored his 21st goal of the season.
All of the lines will be worth watching, but the bottom of the lineup is where it might get most interesting. Daniel Paille has been scratched the last five games and Max Talbot joined him on Thursday. Both players figure to sit again Saturday, as Julien goes with a line of Gregory Campbell between Kelly and Pastrnak.
All that could change and the players know it. A Talbot/Paille-Spooner-Pastrnak line would be an ideal fourth group going forward, but it won’t happen as long as Krejci is playing right wing. Changes figure to happen and, with the exception of the Campbell situation, Julien doesn’t seem to be afraid of making them.
“Now I have decisions to make and when you have decisions to make and you have tough ones it creates accountability amongst players,” Julien said. “If you want to be in the lineup or whatever the case is, there’s a lot more accountability and that’s one of the things that the coaches have left to manage their team, is having those extra players and good players.
“Having good players have to sit out for different reasons — and sometimes it’s just rotation, sometimes it’s poor play — but no matter what, to me I’d rather be in this position right now than be in the position I was a month ago. This is what I have.”
|David Pastrnak skates wtih fourth line as Bruins prepare for Leafs||04.04.15 at 11:47 am ET|
Claude Julien warned after Saturday’s morning skate that he’s prepared to keep mixing and matching, but his lines in the session suggested he’ll stick with what won the B’s Thursday night’s game.
Brett Connolly remained with Milan Lucic and Ryan Spooner, while Krejci was on the right wing of Patrice Bergeron‘s line. He started Thursday’s game at center but moved back to right wing, where he has now played five straight games. David Pastrnak is on the fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly.
By the looks of morning skate, following is the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Leafs:
The Bruins enter Saturday leading the Senators by three points for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, though Ottawa has five games remaining to Boston’s four. The Senators will face the Capitals Saturday night in Ottawa and will play their game in hand Sunday when they play the Leafs in Toronto.
The B’s are also even with the Red Wings for the third spot in the Atlantic Division, with Detroit also holding a game in hand. The Red Wings will play the Wild Saturday and the Capitals Sunday.
Dougie Hamilton is still not skating. Saturday marks two weeks since he suffered his upper-body injury against the Panthers.
|5 things we learned as Bruins score 3 straight to beat Red Wings||04.02.15 at 10:15 pm ET|
Zach Trotman picked a perfect time for his first NHL goal, as he gathered the puck after his point shot was blocked and sent it past Petr Mrazek to cap the Bruins’ come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Red Wings. The Bruins pulled out the victory by scoring three unanswered goals in the third period after the Red Wings built a 2-0 lead.
With the win, the Bruins pulled even with the Red Wings with 93 points for the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, though Detroit has five games remaining to Boston’s four. The teams are even in regulation and overtime wins (the first tiebreaker), but the Bruins now own the second tiebreaker after winning the season series against the Red Wings.
The Senators beat the Lightning in overtime later in the evening, keeping the Senators within three points of the B’s and Wings.
As the Red Wings dominated the first two periods, Tuukka Rask kept the game within reach for the B’s. His efforts were eventually rewarded when, after Detroit made it 2-0 with a Stephen Weiss power-play goal, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson scored 31 seconds apart. Reilly Smith earned the primary assist on both goals.
Trotman made it 3-2 with 3:08 remaining, and a too-many-men penalty for Detroit with 47.2 while trying to play 6-on-5 sealed Boston’s fourth straight win.
Brett Connolly, who made his Bruins debut, assisted both Trotman’s game-winner and Carl Soderberg’s power-play goal in the third for a two-point night.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
BERGERON LEAVES, RETURNS
Patrice Bergeron played only one shift in the second period, and he appeared to get injured on it following a faceoff against Luke Glendening. During a battle for the puck, Justin Abdelkader’s stick appeared to get Bergeron somewhere in the face.
Bergeron would return to the game for the start of the third period wearing a full shield. He tripped Glendening 58 seconds into the period, setting a new career high in penalty minutes with 44 on the season.
|Bruins recall Joe Morrow on emergency basis||04.02.15 at 11:16 am ET|
The Bruins recalled Joe Morrow from Providence on an emergency basis Thursday.
Morrow will be available for Thursday night’s game against the Red Wings. The team had been carrying only six defensemen, so a callup was required to have an extra blueliner in the event that a defenseman was not available for a game.
The callup was made due to Torey Krug’s potential unavailability for Thursday. Claude Julien told reporters in Detroit that Krug was sick but was “probable” to play vs. the Wings.
It has been an interesting season for Morrow, who had played 15 games for Boston due to injuries on the back end earlier in the season. Both he and coaches observed that he performed better in the NHL than he had at the AHL level, but Morrow was eventually returned to Providence when the Bruins got players back from injury.
Since then, Morrow has been the victim of a couple of bad hits in the AHL, resulting in an upper-body injury and later a knee injury. He has been back playing for the P-Bruins since Feb. 27.
Morrow played mostly with Adam McQuaid when with the B’s earlier this season. He skated seven games with McQuaid, six with Dougie Hamilton and one game each with Torey Krug and Kevan Miller. He had one goal and no assists over his 15 NHL games, the first of his career.
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|Patrice Bergeron nominated for Masterton Trophy||04.01.15 at 7:01 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron was voted by the Boston chapter of the Pro Hockey Writer’s Association as the Bruins’ nominee for the 2015 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The award is given each year to “the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
In the interest of full disclosure, I did not vote for Bergeron, who I felt was something of an interesting choice. My vote went to Loui Eriksson, who has bounced back nicely in his second season with the Bruins after scoring only 10 goals over 61 regular-season games in a trying first season with the B’s. Eriksson scored his 20th goal of the season Tuesday and leads all Bruins forwards in time on ice this season.
Recent Masterton winners include Dominic Moore (2014), Josh Harding (2013) and Max Pacioretty (2012). Both Pacioretty and Harding came back from physical ailments, while Moore returned to the NHL after caring for his wife, who died from liver cancer last January.
|Brett Connolly says he’s ready to play, hopes to make Bruins debut vs. Red Wings||04.01.15 at 1:01 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — After taking contact for the first time since suffering a broken finger last month, Brett Connolly said he is ready to play.
Connolly, who broke his right index finger in his second practice with the B’s on March 4 and underwent surgery, participated fully in Wednesday’s practice. Exactly four weeks from the date of the injury, Connolly skated on the fourth line (something that would seemingly be temporary as he eases his way back) and took turns on Boston’s second power play unit.
Following the practice, Connolly said he hopes to play Thursday night against the Red Wings.
“Obviously you want to get in right away,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen here. I feel I’m ready. Again, [I’m] excited. With everything that happened, coming in here and getting hurt, obviously you’re very disappointed.
“It’s been a hard three weeks, not being around the guys on the road and just little things like that, that for a new guy coming in, it’s tough. But the guys have been great to me coming in here. I’m as comfortable as I’ll ever be and I’m excited to get in and help the team win.”
Connolly took part in Tuesday’s warmups, which he would not have been allowed to do if he were on injured reserve. Claude Julien clarified after Wednesday’s practice that the team never placed Connolly on IR, but that doctors have yet to give Julien the OK to play the 22-year-old right wing.
“I’m not going to write him off for [Thursday] but I’m certainly not going to say he’s in for sure.”
If Connolly were to play on Boston’s fourth line Thursday, Wednesday’s lines suggested he could potentially play with Chris Kelly and Max Talbot. That could certainly change, but Connolly is more focused on when he’ll play than with whom he’ll play.
“For me, I’m just looking to come in here and help the team win,’ he said. ‘Wherever they put me, that’s where I’ll be.”