|5 things we learned as Bruins beat Penguins to set up big meeting with Capitals||03.14.15 at 3:40 pm ET|
The Bruins won their fifth straight game Saturday to pull even with the Capitals for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. With Boston’s 2-0 victory over the Penguins and and Detroit’s loss to the Flyers, the B’s now trail the Red Wings by three points for the third spot in the Atlantic Division.
The win, which came thanks to a Tuukka Rask shutout, a Milan Lucic first-period goal and a clutch empty-netter from Zdeno Chara that went the length of the ice, sets up a big meeting between the B’s and Capitals Sunday in the nation’s capital. Both teams sit at 82 points on the season, though the Bruins have a game in hand.
The Penguins had an uphill climb the whole game, as Sidney Crosby was a late scratch (see below) and Evgeni Malkin was limited to just five shifts all game due to an early injury suffered on a hit from Chris Kelly.
Here are four more things we learned Saturday:
SPOONER LINE STRIKES AGAIN
The Bruins’ third line of Ryan Spooner between Milan Lucic and David Pastrnak produced what was the game’s only goal until Chara’s dagger, with Lucic beating Thomas Greiss from the left circle at 9:53 of the first period.
The goal was the Spooner line’s sixth five-on-five goal in 10 games. It also gave Lucic eight points (four goals, four assists) since the line was united following David Krejci‘s knee injury.
The production for Spooner’s line is very encouraging and proves that the young center could very well take over for Carl Soderberg next season if the veteran center walks in free agency. The team should still prioritize returning Lucic and Pastrnak to Krejci on the first line once Krejci’s back, as Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak would fare far worse if given the assignments that Lucic and Krejci usually have.
RASK GETS THE SHUTOUT
Rask earned his third shutout of the season and continued a stretch of impressive play of late.
With Saturday’s performance, Rask has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of his last eight starts. The Bruins’ last loss (a shootout defeat against the Flames on March 5) marks the only time since Feb. 18 that Rask has allowed three goals.
The Bruins can do more damage in the standings with a win over the Capitals Sunday, so Claude Julien would be wise to go back to Rask in that contest.
Sidney Crosby was a late surprise scratch for the Penguins and there was some confusion as to whether the Bruins could put Craig Adams in the game in his place after a lineup was submitted with Crosby playing and Adams sitting.
The change was deemed legal, as officials reviewed and approved the change. The NHL sent out the following explanation Saturday afternoon:
Sidney Crosby took pre-game warmup but determined that he could not play in the Bruins/Penguins game and was replaced by Craig Adams. Since Crosby was in the previously submitted starting line-up, this change had to be made according to Rule 7.1 which states that changes to the starting line-up must be reviewed and approved by the Referee prior to the start of the game. Proper procedure was followed by the Penguins and Adams is now in the game.
TROTMAN BACK TO PROVIDENCE
The Bruins returned Zach Trotman to Providence Saturday. The team had recalled the defenseman Friday for their two-game road trip to Pittsburgh and Washington.
With Trotman now back on the AHL roster, the B’s have only their six healthy defensemen for blueline options.
|Bruins recall Zach Trotman on emergency basis||03.13.15 at 7:40 pm ET|
The Bruins recalled defenseman Zach Trotman on an emergency basis Friday, giving them a seventh defenseman for their two-game road trip.
Trotman has played 17 games for the Bruins this season but has spent the majority of the 2014-15 campaign in Providence. In 35 games for Providence, he has two goals and 10 assists for 12 points.
The 24-year-old posted four assists with the NHL club earlier this season, as he played for Boston from late October through mid-December over multiple callups while the B’s dealt with injuries on their blue line.
|5 things we learned as Bruins actually win in a shootout||03.12.15 at 9:49 pm ET|
Claude Julien doesn’t like to see a game end in a shootout, but at least he saw a 3-2 win for his team.
Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand both beat Ben Bishop after a wild overtime as the Bruins improved to 35-22-10 on the season. They now sit just two points behind the Capitals for the first wild card spot with one game in hand.
That wasn’t the extent of the post-regulation excitement. After saying Thursday morning that he wanted to see three-on-three overtime next season, Julien got his wish there as well.
With Chris Kelly getting called for a hook on Alex Killorn and the Tampa forward getting an embellishment call, the B’s and Lightning got some shortened three-on-three play before a Matt Bartkowski holding penalty sent the play to four-on-three.
David Pastrnak, who scored earlier in the game, had a couple of chances during three-on-three play, missing the net on one and getting robbed by Ben Bishop on the other.
Steven Stamkos was then given a 10-minute game misconduct when his stick went flying into the stands/bench area. That disqualified him from participating in the shootout.
The teams will next play March 22 in Tampa.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
Gregory Campbell has had his fair share of painful performances this season, but Thursday was literally painful for the veteran center.
Campbell had to leave the ice after a pass from Torey Krug went off a stick and up into Campbell’s face. He was bleeding significantly on the ice and missed most of the period. Though he returned 15 minutes later, he went into the boards head-first off a hit from Nikita Kucherov and was very slow to leave the ice.
Campbell finished the period with just three shifts and was injured in two of them. He was on the bench for the start of the second period and stayed in the game.
|Islanders give Johnny Boychuk $42 million extension||03.12.15 at 3:02 pm ET|
The Islanders have reportedly signed former Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk to a seven-year, $42 million extension. Boychuk tweeted that he re-signed, with Newsday’s Arthur Staple providing the financial details.
Yes! Yes! Yes! For seven more years!!
— Johnny B (@joboych) March 12, 2015
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) March 12, 2015
Boychuk, 31, will carry a $6 million cap hit until he is 38.
The Bruins traded Boychuk to New York prior to the season due to cap constraints, receiving Philadelphia’s second-round pick in 2015 and the Islanders’ 2016 second-round as compensation. B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli said following the trade that the Bruins had not tried to negotiate a new contract with Boychuk before trading him.
In 59 games with the Islanders, Boychuk has established career highs in goals (seven), assists (25) and points (32).
|Claude Julien hopes NHL moves to 3-on-3 play or back to ties (basically anything but a shootout)||03.12.15 at 1:39 pm ET|
In the shocker of all shockers, Bruins coach Claude Julien said Tuesday that he hopes three-on-three overtime play replaces the shootout.
Julien, who last week said shootouts “suck” expressed hope that next week’s general managers meetings in Toronto will further the move away from the shootout. It’s expected that the league will explore playing three-on-three in the event that the game isn’t settled in four-on-four overtime play.
“Personally I’m more of a team-oriented coach I guess, which I always believe that this is a team sport and should be decided by a team,” Julien said. “I never, never have been [in favor of the shootout] and I’m just being honest about it. I know it’s a great show and I know that we’re here for our fans. If the fans like it that much and they keep it in then I have no issues, I’ll move along with it. But if you ask me my personal opinion, I’d like to see it decided in a way that its more than just one player against a goaltender.
“Whether its four-on-four or three-on-three, it’s still a group. I think that’s the way games should be decided. I’m still one of those people that still believes that if you can’t decide it with four-on-four or three-on-three then a tie should still be good. For some reason we’ve decided that there needs to be a winner every game. Sometimes a lot of people can go home really happy having seen a game that was well played, that was tight at the end of it, was exciting to watch vs people going home feeling like they didn’t do a great job because they lost in the shootout. It really tarnishes the outcome of the whole game. That’s my personal opinion on it.”
Four-on-four followed by three-on-three and then a shootout is currently being used to settle overtime games in the AHL.
|Darrelle Revis leaving Patriots provides reminder of what could have been with Jarome Iginla and Bruins||03.11.15 at 2:30 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — A future Hall-of-Famer comes to a team, looks like he should have been there his whole career en route to a brilliant season and then disappears in the blink of a business decision. Sound familiar?
It does to the Bruins, who can undoubtedly relate to the Patriots’ pain as Darrelle Revis makes his way back to the Jets. Just last season, it seemed like a sure thing that the Bruins and Jarome Iginla would find a way to overcome the looming cap crunch and keep the 30-goal-scorer in Boston past his one-year contract. Any optimism there faded when it became clear that Iginla could not in good conscience go year-to-year on one-year deals with bonuses, as he instead opted for the security of a traditional deal with the Avalanche for three years and $16 million.
In both cases, the teams enjoyed the player’s contributions while knowing a potential departure could be looming. Milan Lucic, as knowledgable a Patriots fan as any and a now former linemate of Iginla, can see the similarities between the unfortunate departures.
“You’re definitely thinking and you’re definitely hoping that at the end of the day, something would work out for both parties and they would remain together,” Lucic said. “When it falls apart, as a teammate, it’s out of your control and sometimes it can get frustrating, but at the end of the day you understand that it’s a business and you have to move forward with the teammates that you have.
“You definitely miss [Iginla] for what he brought to the team and what he brought to this dressing room and who he was as a person and as a player, but at the end of the day you have to move on and do what’s best for the team and help the team win.”
There are obvious differences between the two situations aside from the fact that one union resulted in a championship and the other did. Financially, the biggest difference was that it was the initial signing of Iginla that made him so difficult to retain. The B’s used the bonus cushion that teams can use with 35-and-over players, paying him a $1.8 million salary (which stood as his cap hit) but giving him $4.2 million in easily attained bonuses. The bonus money applied to this year’s cap in the form of an overage penalty, giving the Bruins no flexibility.
“You would have liked to see him stay, especially as a fan of the Patriots,” Lucic said. “What he was able to bring to the defensive game of that team — I think it was [Devin] McCourty that said it: That defense was able to do so much more because he was able to shut down the guy, the top receiver, to two-to-three receptions a game versus [the] eight-to-nine that they usually get.
“You would have loved to have seen them maybe pick up that option and have him for another year, but at the end of the day, how could you blame the guy? The guy got 70 million bucks over [five] years, so it’s hard for him to say no to something like that, and obviously having 40 million guaranteed on top of that. At the end of the day, he came here and helped the team win the Super Bowl, so as a fan you’re thankful for what he brought to the team, but on the other end you wish that he could have spent some more time and maybe brought another championship here.”
Neither the Bruins nor Iginla have benefited on the ice from their parting. The B’s tried multiple experiments trying to replace him before settling on 18-year-old David Pastrnak, who, while promising for future seasons, can’t be seen as a sure thing in the Stanley Cup playoffs next month. Iginla’s goals per game are down in Colorado, where he is on pace for 26 goals as the Avalanche sit 11th in the Western Conference.
|David Krejci skating as recovery from torn MCL continues||03.11.15 at 1:54 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — David Krejci skated prior to Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, with Claude Julien saying after the practice that it was Krejci’s second time on the ice since partially tearing his MCL on Feb. 20.
“It’s part of the healing process,” Julien said. “He’s been on the ice. It’s a good sign, but he’s not ready.”
Krejci has missed eight games as part of what’s expected to be four-to-six weeks out of the lineup. He is currently on long-term injured reserve and is not eligible to return until March 17 against the Sabres at the earliest.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.