|5 things we learned as Bruins get David Krejci back and win||12.17.14 at 10:47 pm ET|
On Wednesday, the Bruins got three things Bruins fans thought they might never see again: three goals, a win and David Krejci.
After an up-and-down showing from the B’s in Minnesota, Loui Eriksson took a feed from Carl Soderberg and tucked it behind Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom to give the Bruins a 3-2 overtime win over the Wild (click here for the boxscore). The win was Boston’s first in four games.
Krejci returned to the lineup after missing the last 11 games. He had one shot on goal and had a minus-13, even-strength Corsi, which was worst among Bruins forwards.
Krejci played a part in Minnesota’s game-tying goal in the third period. A turnover from Krejci in the defensive zone led to a Ryan Suter point shot that Niklas Svedberg stopped with his blocker. Zach Trotman picked up the rebound, but Jason Pominville whacked it away from Trotman and into the net to tie the game at two goals apiece.
That said, Krejci’s return is mammoth for the Bruins, who have had their first-line center for just 12 games this season and fell out of a playoff spot without him.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
BRUINS STILL LIKE GRIFFITH WITH KREJCI
With Krejci returning to the top line, so too did Seth Griffith. The Bruins have played Griffith as their first-line right wing in every game Krejci has played this season, but they have generally used Griffith as a bottom-six player without Krejci.
It’s an odd choice on the Bruins’ part to not try other players with Krejci and Milan Lucic to determine how many potential in-house candidates the B’s have to fill their seemingly up-for-grabs first-line right wing job. The Bruins have still not tried Loui Eriksson with Krejci and Lucic this season.
The lines were as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Cunningham
|Thoughts on the Bruins and trades||12.17.14 at 4:21 pm ET|
The Bruins aren’t great and they aren’t going to be unless they make some sort of move. Here are some thoughts and some speculation, which I hate doing:
— As you’ve probably heard by now, the Oilers might not love Taylor Hall so much. He’s one of the best wings in the world and makes $6 million a year through 2019-20.
Sean Gentille of The Sporting News did a post on Hall and floated an idea of what it would cost to get Hall, with Dougie Hamilton, Malcolm Subban, Chris Kelly and a first-rounder making up his speculated package.
I wouldn’t trade Hamilton and the internet more or less agreed, but Gentille wasn’t wrong in suggesting that’s what it would take. Assuming the Oilers come close to knowing what they’re doing, Hamilton is the guy they should want if they were ever to talk trade with the B’s. Again, I wouldn’t do it.
Another thought on Hall: If the Bruins were to get him – which, no – you’d have to get rid of Milan Lucic or Brad Marchand, as Hall is a top-six left wing and so are they. Both Lucic and Marchand have modified no-trade clauses. There’s also that thing about the Bruins needing right wings, not left wings.
— My media buddy who thinks trading Tuukka Rask should be in play at any point ever is a nice person and also an incorrect person.
— It’s whizz or get off the pot time with Loui Eriksson. Either play him on a top line with David Krejci or trade him.
Eriksson’s a great third-line player who hasn’t gotten a long look with Krejci and Milan Lucic since he got to Boston. He doesn’t score, but the Bruins can either learn that he can with Krejci or they can see if there’s a team out there that believes he’s being underutilized with the B’s.
Once Krejci is back, the Bruins’ concern shouldn’t be breaking up their third line. It should be finding out whether they have the makings of a good first line.
|5 things we learned as Bruins open road trip with shootout loss to Predators||12.16.14 at 11:00 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask had to bail out the Bruins throughout the night, but Pekka Rinne stood every bit as tall on the other end before stopping Brad Marchand, Reilly Smith and Patrice Bergeron in the shootout. Derek Roy scored the only goal of the shootout for the Predators.
Rask had 38 saves on the night, with Rinne stopping 33 of the 35 he faced from the B’s.
With the shootout loss, the Bruins fell to 15-13-3 and have just one win over their last seven games (1-4-2). They are 8-9-3 on the season without David Krejci, who sat again Tuesday.
Here are four more things we learned Tuesday night:
REILLY SMITH IS A STREAKY GOAL-SCORER
Smith scored an absolute beauty of a goal in the third period, going past James Neal to the net and stickhandling backhand to forehand and sliding it across, off the post and in. The goal gave him eight on the season to tie Brad Marchand for the team lead.
The goal was Smith’s fourth tally in the last five games after going 10 straight games without a point. He scored in two straight games prior to that point-less stretch.
This isn’t the first example of streakiness from Smith with the Bruins, of course. He raced out to 18 goals in the first 52 games of last season before scoring just twice more over the next 30 games.
Lucic scored his sixth goal of the season when he got the Bruins on the board following the expiration of a power play in the second period. He was relentless in front of the net, jumping on a rebound of a Chris Kelly shot and then getting his own rebound to eventually bury a third-chance effort past Rinne.
That was the good Lucic. The bad came late in the period when he took a painfully obvious hooking penalty against Seth Jones in the offensive zone to give Nashville a power play with 1:01 remaining in the period. The penalty led to a Mike Fisher goal that game off a Shea Weber wrist shot with Fisher in front of Rask.
The penalty was unnecessary and easily avoidable, as Lucic also cross-checked Jones when he got to him before providing ample stick-work.
|Top to bottom: Bruins’ strange usage of Seth Griffith||12.15.14 at 4:29 pm ET|
When players get called up to the NHL, it’s typical for them to play in lesser roles before working their way up to higher lines. It’s been the opposite for Seth Griffith.
With only three goals through their first three games of the season, the Bruins recalled Griffith from Providence to play on their first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Griffith, a second-year pro, has been Krejci’s right wing in all 11 of Krejci’s games this season.
Yet Krejci, who may be nearing a return to the lineup, has missed a lot of time due to injury and the Bruins haven’t been as confident in Griffith as a first-line player when No. 46 hasn’t been centering him.
The last two games, Griffith has been on Boston’s fourth line in place of the absent Simon Gagne. Griffith, who scored as many as 45 goals in a season in his junior days, is not a prototypical fourth-line grinder. Prototypical or not, however, he’s a fourth-liner.
“For now,” Claude Julien said Monday. “We don’t have any extra forwards and we’d still like to be able to see our fourth line be able to bring some offense, so that’s why we put him there. That line was actually pretty good with Simon Gagne, and Simon Gagne’s been a top-line player his whole career.”
With all due respect to Julien, that line was not pretty good. The trio of Gregory Campbell between Daniel Paille and Gagne struggled in much of its time together, though it turned a corner on this month’s California trip.
Going from a top-line to a bottom line can be quite the adjustment. For one, you have to deal with playing fewer minutes. In most cases, you’re also working with less skilled players around you and opposing different types of players. Elite scorers who skate on top lines can be easier to oppose when you have the puck, as many top-liners are there mostly on offensive merit. The bottom-six is a working man’s game.
Guys like Brad Marchand in 2010-11 had to hone their craft in such roles before graduating to higher lines.
“I think it’s just going to help me,” Griffith said. “It’s my first year in the league. You look at this whole lineup; everybody plays hard. It’s not like it’s really a fourth-line role. You’re playing the same.
“You’re just trying to play hard every shift. If you want to be in this league a long time, you’ve got to learn to do little things like that. It’s just something that can help improve my game, if anything.”
The Bruins’ attempts at changing their fourth line from the Merlot Line days have been unsuccessful so far, and Griffith has been unsuccessful without Krejci so far. The 21-year-old has five points (three goals, two assists) when Krejci’s been in the lineup and two points (both goals) in 11 games without Krejci.
The Bruins have used Krejci on a couple different lines in practice over the last week, but Griffith hasn’t been a part of them. His return could either return Griffith to the first line or move him out of the lineup altogether (Craig Cunningham is more of a prototypical fourth-liner), but for now, Griffith will take whatever minutes he can get.
“Griff is a pretty smart player,” Julien said. “It’s not the same definition as what we had before – bang and crash and that kind of stuff – but that’s where he fits right now.”
|David Krejci to travel with Bruins, return date unknown||12.15.14 at 1:23 pm ET|
David Krejci will travel with the Bruins for their three-game road trip this week, Claude Julien said after Monday’s practice.
Julien did not indicate whether Krejci would play. The B’s have three games in the next four days beginning with Tuesday’s contest against the Predators.
“I hope so. I can’t guarantee that, though,” Julien said of Krejci playing. “I hope so.”
Krejci has missed the last 10 games and has been limited to just 11 games this season due to lower-body injuries. He skated on a four-man line with Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly and Craig Cunningham Monday.
The lines were as follows:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Lucic – Kelly – Krejci – Cunningham
Paille – Campbell – Griffith
When Krejci has been in the lineup, he has been productive and the Bruins have been successful. Krejci has three goals and seven assists for 10 points in 11 games, with the B’s going 7-4-0. The Bruins have gone 8-9-2 when Krejci has not been in the lineup.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|5 things we learned as Bruins fall in shootout to Senators||12.13.14 at 3:48 pm ET|
The Bruins got just one point out of Saturday’s shootout loss to the Senators, but it could have been worse.
Patrice Bergeron had a late injury scare in the third period, but the Bruins were able to breathe a sigh of relief with his eventual return. That wasn’t enough to get the B’s past the Senators, however, as Boston fell to 15-13-2 on the season with a 3-2 loss on penalty shots.
Bergeron left the ice during a third-period shift with less than five and a half minutes to play after getting slashed on his left hand/wrist.
The veteran center did not stay on the bench, instead heading down the tunnel to the Bruins’ dressing room. He did not play for the rest of regulation, but he was back on the ice for the start of overtime. He was stopped by Robin Lehner on a shootout attempt.
Here are four more things we learned Saturday:
CHARA SLOW IN GETTING BACK
Chara has had his ups and downs through two games, struggling with the puck and taking four penalties, including a first-period high-sticking minor and third-period interference minor Saturday. His second penalty of the day was costly, as it led to David Legwand’s power play goal.
One stat we perhaps over here at the good ship ‘EEI is five-on-five goals against for the Bruins with Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara on the ice together. That number is usually low for the season, but Ottawa’s goal off Marchand’s turnover marked the fifth time in 11 games that the opposing team has scored an even strength goal against Bergeron and Chara.
CUNNINGHAM SCORES FITTING FIRST GOAL
Craig Cunningham has not been bad when the Bruins have let him play this season. In scoring his first career NHL goal Saturday, he left the Bruins with fewer reasons to take him out again.
Cunningham is used as a bottom-six forward and penalty killer. His first-period goal, a shorthanded tally, showed that playing a simple game can play off.
Chasing a puck into the offensive zone and getting there first, Cunningham knew he wasn’t going to be able to gain separation with Erik Karlsson racing back to cut off his angle to the net. Rather than taking a chance, Cunningham simply wound up and hoped for the best, with his waffling slap shot trickling past Robin Lehner.
It was undoubtedly a horrible goal for Lehner to give up, but Cunningham’s work and execution deserved to be rewarded at some point.
MARCHAND PULL-UP PULLS BRUINS DOWN
Time and time again, we’ve seen Marchand race into the zone, pull up and find an option for dishing the puck. It’s an extremely useful move and has been for years, yet it can be costly. On Saturday, it was costly.
In the second period, Marchand brought the puck into the zone, pulled up at the left circle and sent the puck towards the middle of the ice, where it was picked off by the Senators and taken the other way, leading to a Mika Zibanejad goal. Marchand would later score in the shootout.
BRUINS WON’T GIVE UP THE FIGHT
After Thursday’s game against the Blackhawks — one that saw Chris Kelly drop the gloves with Andrew Shaw – the Bruins were averaging about one fight every three games. Perhaps Saturday showed that the Bruins would like to ramp up their fisticuffs pace.
Milan Lucic fought Mark Borowiecki after the Ottawa defenseman hit him in the corner of the offensive zone. The fight was Boston’s 11th of the season and Lucic’s second.
|NHL handles Jonathan Toews injury scare the right way, Blackhawks don’t||12.12.14 at 5:23 pm ET|
The NHL does not want Jonathan Toews to get hurt. Neither does Dennis Seidenberg. Yet while the league was smart in reacting to Thursday night’s scary play, the Blackhawks themselves were not.
The Department of Player Safety chose the perhaps not-so-popular, but rational option in assessing Boston’s defenseman no supplemental discipline for a play that resulted in Chicago’s captain going face-first into the end boards at TD Garden.
The play was not a “hit,” nor was it dirty. Seidenberg was battling for position chasing a loose puck and tried to put his left arm under and in front of Toews’ right arm to gain leverage. He outmuscled Toews, but rather than Toews being knocked off the puck, his feet as he tried to turn away took him into the boards.
It was fast, it was scary and it’s the last thing either team wanted to see. It wasn’t dirty. If the result of the play was anything but Toews hitting the boards, the takeaway by any and every observer would be surprise at how easily Toews was knocked off the puck.
It’s understandable why anyone outside of Boston might be upset with the play. The league doesn’t want its stars getting hurt and it also doesn’t want to admit ‘ as it effectively did by not punishing Seidenberg ‘ that bad things such as head injuries are going to happen even when guys play within the rules.
Still, by not punishing Seidenberg they avoided an equally big mess of an issue, as suspending Seidenberg would have sent the message that you’re not allowed to be stronger than the guy you’re battling.
Claude Julien, who blamed the play on Toews after the game, said Friday that he was relieved that the league let Seidenberg off.
“I looked at it again. You look at those things and you look at it quick,” Julien said. “I say the same thing: I’m not necessarily saying that’s the situation, but sometimes we’ve got to protect ourselves as players. Dennis is a strong individual, and he went in there to close the gap quickly away from the boards.”
Asked whether he would have called the play a “hit,” Julien said he wasn’t sure that Seidenberg deserved a boarding penalty.
“It’s debatable. It’s debatable,” Julien said. “It depends on who you talk to and how you look at it. I looked at it again, and I’m saying the same thing. It’s debatable whether it’s a penalty or not. He did go in head-first and it looks like he was going the other way and Dennis did what he had to do [on the penalty kill], was get on him aggressively and try and close the gap.”
The issue actually shouldn’t be with Seidenberg, Toews or Julien. It should be with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and anyone else who decided to keep Toews on the ice.
Somehow, that’s where Toews was for Chicago’s five-on-three after the play. He took a penalty during that five-on-three and then had another three-second shift before leaving the game for good.
Quenneville said after the game that Toews “seemed all right.” Still, two more shifts before hitting the showers is absurd for a guy with a history of concussions. Players are supposed to go to the quiet room and go through the proper protocol after concussion scares, and Thursday night’s play was undoubtedly a concussion scare.
The play itself was unfortunate, but at the very least, the Department of Player Safety did the right thing. That’s more than the Blackhawks can say for themselves.
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