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5 things we learned as Bruins beat Rangers without a possibly dehydrated Tuukka Rask 03.28.15 at 3:41 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask did not appear to be hurt when he left Saturday's game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask did not appear to be hurt when he left Saturday’s game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Bruins got a big lead on the Rangers early and then held on for a 4-2 win without their most important player. Fortunately for them, Tuukka Rask is OK.

After Boston put three pucks past Henrik Lundqvist in the first period,  Rask left the 10 seconds into the second period and did not return to the game.

Claude Julien said following the game that Rask was “fine” and that he would travel with the team for Sunday’s game against the Hurricanes. Julien clarified that Rask would be an option to play.

It wasn’t as clear a picture when Rask left the game. At the second period’€™s first stoppage,  Rask said something to referee Jean Hebert, after which Herbert permitted him to head to the bench. Rask’€™s skating was fine and he did not appear to be in noticeable pain as he headed to the tunnel.

Niklas Svedberg came in to spell Rask with the Bruins leading. The B’€™s added to it with Reilly Smith’€™s 13th goal of the season, though Rick Nash would net his 40th goal of the season to get the Rangers on the board. Former Bruin Matt Hunwick brought the Rangers within two with less than 23 seconds to play.

Bruins goaltending coach Bob Essensa changed into goalie equipment and was on the bench late in the game as the team’s emergency goaltender. He wore No. 70, which actually turned out to just be a Malcolm Subban jersey with tape covering the name.

The win netted the Bruins a pair of much-needed points, improving them to 87 points on the season through 75 games. The Senators, who have 85 points in 73 games entering their Saturday night contest against the Leafs.

Here are four more things we learned Saturday:

LUCIC NETS TWO

Though they gave Kevin Hayes’€™ line ample opportunities, Ryan Spooner’€™s line with Milan Lucic and David Pastrnak once again produced.

Lucic had a pair of goals (the first of which came with Patrice Bergeron on the ice for Spooner on an early shift) to bring him to 17 goals on the season. Lucic’€™s second goal came as a result of some pretty passing from Spooner and Torey Krug.

With Saturday’€™s performance, here are the updated numbers for the Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak line:

5-on-5: 8 GGF, 2 GA
Partial 5-on-5 (two members of line): 2 GF, 3 GA
4-on-4: 1 G

SMITH AND SODERBERG GET IN ON THE ACTION

There were plenty of positives for the Bruins Saturday, but none were bigger than the fact that both Reilly Smith and Carl Sodeberg can feel good about their games for the first time in a while.

Smith had as pretty a shift as he’€™s had all season when he executed a quick self-pass up the boards in the defensive zone before racing through the neutral zone and dumping the puck off to Torey Krug. The play was capped by Smith taking a feed from Loui Eriksson and beating Lundqvist from the slot to make it 4-0.

Earlier in the game, Soderberg knocked the puck away from old friend Matt Hunwick in the neutral zone and caught up with it for a breakaway. He then deked and beat Lundqvist with a wrist shot for his 12th goal of the season.

KICKING OFF THE SCORING

Boston’€™s first goal looked like a sure thing to be disallowed, but the Bruins, a game after perhaps falling victim to a bad non-call, got some help from the officials.

Patrice Bergeron‘€™s shot on Henrik Lundqvist on an early first-period rush yielded a mammoth rebound. With Lucic going hard to the net, the puck went off the side of his skate and, because of his momentum, fired into the net as if the puck had been shot. The play was immediately called no-goal on the ice, with replays showing little to suggest there was no distinct kicking motion.

(GIF courtesy of @PeteBlackburn and Days of Y’Orr)

Perhaps to the surprise of many, the call on the ice was indeed overturned after a video review. The league offered the following explanation following the ruling:

At 1:41 of the first period in the Rangers/Bruins game, video review determined that the puck deflected off Milan Lucic‘s skate and into the net in a legal fashion. According to Rule 49.2 “A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal.” Good goal Boston.

BACK-END SHUFFLE

Without Dougie Hamilton, it seems the Bruins will mix and match on their back end more than they usually do.

Saturday’€™s line rushes saw Zdeno Chara paired with Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug with Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski with Zach Trotman. As was also the case Thursday, Claude Julien wasn’€™t afraid to move guys around in-game.

Trotman skated most of his shifts the first two periods with Chara, which he did often last Sunday against the Lightning. Seidenberg saw ample time with both Krug and McQuaid, with Bartkowski playing mostly with McQuaid.

 

Henrik Lundqvist returns from injury to start vs. Bruins 03.28.15 at 11:11 am ET
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Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will return from a seven-week layoff to face the Bruins Saturday.

Lundqvist, who has been out with a blood-vessel injury in his neck, has not played since Feb. 2. The Rangers have still found success without him, as their work with Cam Talbot has taken them to the top of the Eastern Conference. With 101 points through 73 points, New York is the clear front-runner to take the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins enter Saturday’€™s game desperate for two points, but the Rangers may be equally motivated to decrease Boston’€™s chances of being their first-round opponent.

“We’re ready for a tough game,” Patrice Bergeron said Saturday morning. “We’re ready for a big game and it’s definitely going to be right from the start. I think it shouldn’t matter who’s in net. We need to make sure we worry about our start and the way that we want to play and establish that right from the get-go.”

Bruins prepare for Rangers 03.27.15 at 12:57 pm ET
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The Bruins prepared for the Rangers Friday, skating at TD Garden in anticipation of a Saturday matinee against the best team in the Eastern Conference.

Boston’s lines and defensive pairings were unchanged from Thursday’s overtime loss to the Ducks, though Friday did mark the first full practice in which Brett Connolly has participated since breaking his finger earlier this month. Connolly, who also took part in Thursday’s morning skate, hopes to be game-ready before the end of the regular season.

The Bruins’ lineup in practice was as follows:

Marchand-Bergeron-Krejci
Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak (Connolly)
Smith-Soderberg-Eriksson
Kelly-Campbell-Talbot (Paille)

Chara-McQuaid
Krug-Seidenberg
Bartkowski-Trotman

Bruins send Brian Ferlin to Providence 03.27.15 at 9:44 am ET
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The Bruins sent forward Brian Ferlin to Providence on Friday.

The 22-year-old right wing had played in seven games for the Bruins since Feb. 20, but was a healthy scratch for 10 of the team’€™s last 11 games. With David Krejci returning from a torn MCL Thursday, both Daniel Paille and Ferlin were scratched.

Ferlin had one assist and no goals over his seven games with the B’s. The first-year pro has nine goals and seven assists for 16 points in 46 games with the Providence Bruins.

Returning Ferlin to Providence means the Bruins are now back at carrying 13 forwards and six healthy defensemen.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

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5 things we learned as Bruins blow lead and drop big point 03.26.15 at 9:53 pm ET
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Though they came less than a minute away from the second point, the B’s picked up a point with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Ducks to at least gain some ground on the Senators. With the Senators still controlling the Bruins’ destiny, that missed point could prove to be very costly.

With the Senators losing to the Rangers Thursday night, both the B’s and Senators have 85 points, though the Bruins only have eight games remaining to the Senators’ nine.

The Bruins were on the way to a 2-1 regulation victory until Corey Perry redirected a puck past Tuukka Rask with Frederik Andersen pulled and 38.5 seconds remaining.

Boston had a 2-1 lead as a result of a pair of power-play goals from Ryan Spooner and Loui Eriksson on a night that saw the B’s keep Anaheim off the man advantage for most of the night. A Zdeno Chara hooking penalty in overtime changed that, and though the Bruins managed to kill it off, Ryan Getzlaf beat Rask on the next shift to end the game.

The Bruins will next play the surging Rangers Saturday at TD Garden.

Here are four more things we learned Thursday:

KREJCI RETURNS

David Krejci made his return to the lineup and had a pair of assists after missing the last 15 games with a torn MCL.

Krejci skated at right wing on Patrice Bergeron‘s line with Brad Marchand. The trio was matched up mostly against Anaheim’s top line of Ryan Getzlaf between Jiri Sekac and Corey Perry. He also manned the point on Boston’s first power play unit in place of the injured Dougie Hamilton.

The veteran forward’s return to the lineup came with an early flub, as Krejci mishandled a pass in the neutral zone on a first-period power play, kicking it to Jakob Silfverberg to give the Ducks a shorthanded partial 2-on-0. Silfverberg missed the net, rendering Krejci’s misplay less costly.

Krejci did pick up an assist on Ryan Spooner’s second-period goal and added another on Loui Eriksson’s third-period strike.

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Zach Trotman hopes to make up for loss of Dougie Hamilton 03.26.15 at 3:07 pm ET
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Zach Trotman

Zach Trotman

There is no positive to Dougie Hamilton being out of the lineup. He is too good and the Bruins’ situation is too dire. It could be the injury that finally does them in.

Yet with Hamilton out for a number of weeks (and most likely the rest of the regular season unless he’€™s rushed back from his upper-body injury), the Bruins must make one last push for a playoff spot with their back end depleted.

Injuries to Hamilton and Kevan Miller (out for the season after getting shoulder surgery last month) meant that Adam McQuaid was Boston’€™s only right-shot defenseman left. As such, the Bruins opted for the right-shooting Zach Trotman over the left-shooting Joe Morrow when they made the call to Providence for a replacement.

The call was familiar for Trotman, who had already played 17 games this season (Sunday’€™s loss to the Lightning made it 18). In fact, Trotman said that given all of Boston’€™s injuries this season, the feeling in Providence has been different from years past. To this point, the Bruins’ number of callups has hit the 30s.

“Going into weekends, you never know who’€™s going to be there when the weekend starts and who’€™s going to be there when the weekend ends,”€ Trotman said of the vibe around the Baby B’€™s.

While the margin for error is extremely slim during this recall, this situation isn’€™t completely new to Trotman. After all, he was in the Bruins’€™ lineup for the team’€™s 1-2-4 stretch in early December, so getting into games when wins are of the utmost importance shouldn’€™t be a major development.

“It’€™s a little familiar, but now it’€™s definitely a lot more into crunch time,” Trotman said Thursday. “It’€™s a lot more serious now. That’€™s really all there is to it.”

Trotman has been skating on a third pairing with Matt Bartkowski the last three days after seeing time mostly with Zdeno Chara against the Lightning. The Bartkowski-Trotman pairing means that usual No. 5/6 Torey Krug is being elevated to a second pairing.

Claude Julien hasn’€™t been afraid to tinker with his lineup this season, however, and with every game a must-win down the stretch, tinker he will. Whatever the number of shifts with whomever, Trotman thinks he’€™ll be able to handle it.

“I’€™ve played with Bart many times before,” he said. “I played with Seids quite a bit when I was up last time. Krug a little bit. I played with Zee some last game, and I’€™ve played with him in training camp before. I’€™m pretty comfortable with everyone right now.”

Trotman is big, strong and responsible, but he doesn’€™t bring the skill set that Hamilton brings. The team doesn’€™t expect him to replace Hamilton, who is easily Boston’€™s second-best defenseman and the team’€™s second leader in points in this season.

What they do expect is for him to be a serviceable third-pairing player on a back end that needs to be solid enough to get the Bruins into the playoffs.

“We realize we have to get things done now,” Trotman said. “It’€™s a backs-in-the-corner kind of deal. It’€™s a tougher situation than normal maybe to come up in, but I’€™m just trying to do my part, play my game, be simple, play hard and try to help the team win as many games as possible here.”

Read More: Dougie Hamilton, Zach Trotman,
Brett Connolly progressing, hopes to return before end of regular season 03.26.15 at 12:15 pm ET
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Brett Connolly

Brett Connolly

Bruins right wing Brett Connolly was initially expected to miss six weeks after a Dennis Seidenberg wrist shot left him with a broken finger in his second practice as a member of the Bruins earlier this month. On Thursday, Connolly skated with his teammates for the first time since the injury, following one order.

“Stay away from Seids,” Connolly recalled his teammates warning him.

Now that the initial despair from Connolly’€™s bad luck has turned into something he can joke about, his attention has been turned to an eventual return — or debut, rather — that could come sooner than initially thought.

After getting back on the ice last Monday and working extensively with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides, Connolly’€™s progress from his surgically-repaired finger is apparent. Though he hasn’t taken contact, he’€™s handling the puck and shooting. Connolly is not yet taking slap shots, but slappers aren’€™t a priority for the right wing. Once he feels he can properly grip the stick (he says his comfort level there is at 60 percent), be able to fire wristers and snap shots to the best of his abilities and participate in battle drills, he wants to play.

Ideally, Connolly said he would be back able to play again in the final week of the regular season.

“I hope so,” he said of a regular-season return. “I’€™m not too sure yet. My timetable, I know I’€™m getting closer, so I’€™m expecting to be back a few games before this regular season [ends], but we’€™ll see.”

Claude Julien wasn’€™t overly forthright regarding Connolly’€™s timetable and whether he’€™s ahead of schedule. He did say the Bruins have been encouraged with what they’€™ve seen from the 22-year-old and that they’€™re eager to see him play.

The acquisition of Connolly at the trade deadline was an intriguing one for the Bruins. Though trading for the former sixth overall pick (and restricted free agent to-be) was more of a hockey deal for future seasons than a typical deadline acquisition, he was expected to slot into the lineup as a potential top-six right for the B’€™s down the stretch.

That obviously hasn’€™t happened, and Connolly has instead experienced a slow acclimation process to the team and the city. The Bruins are not yet bringing him on road trips, but Connolly said he’€™s established good relationships with his teammates, even if he’€™s spent more time with Whitesides than with any actual players.

“I’€™ve been here for almost a month, so the guys have been great,” Connolly said. “I’€™ve gotten comfortable with not only guys, but the city and knowing your way around, knowing your way to the practice facility and things like that. Just little things that make you a little bit more comfortable. It’€™s obviously not been the three weeks I would have envisioned, but I’€™ve gotten to know the city a little bit, get to know my teammates a little bit better.

“I’€™m excited to play that first game. Obviously we’€™re in a playoff hunt, so I’€™m looking to get back out there as soon as I can.”

Read More: Brett Connolly, Dennis Seidenberg,
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