|First line focused on burying chances||01.22.13 at 5:44 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — There were few questions surrounding the Bruins (less than other teams, anyway) entering the season, but one of them surrounded the first line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. So far the answers have been pretty convincing.
The trio hadn’t played together since Horton went down with a concussion last season on a hit from Flyers forward Tom Sestito on Jan. 22, exactly a year ago. With Horton coming off two straight season-ending concussions and Lucic not playing during the lockout, it was easy to question how the Krejci trio would fare.
Nobody would have been surprised if the two power forwards came out sluggish as they got their legs back, but it’s been the opposite. The whole line has been flying, while Horton and Lucic have been their usual physical selves. Claude Julien sang their praises after Monday’s win over the Jets, but Krejci and Lucic said Tuesday that though they’re happy with their start, they haven’t buried their chances.
“It’s been basically a year going back to when Nathan got hurt in Philadelphia, since we played together in a threesome, and it’s obviously great that we’ve been able to click as well as we have, but in saying that, we’ve only been able to produce one goal,” Lucic said. “A big thing in the NHL is you’ve got to push yourself to get results. Right now it’s coming, but I think we definitely need to keep going until we get those results.”
Lucic was a wrecking ball on Monday (10 hits), while Horton and Krejci sniffed around several scoring opportunities, one of which came on their first shift when Krejci’s backhand bid was denied by Ondrej Pavelec.
“We had one right away the first shift,” Krejci said. “Those are the worst, on the first shift and you don’t score when you have a great chance. It’s not really a good feeling, but I think our game’s getting back to where we’d like it to be. The main thing for us is to keep our feet moving, with the puck or without the puck.”
Though Krejci has probably been the line’s best player through three games, the first line has undoubtedly been boosted by the return of Horton. The 27-year-old was cleared for contact over the summer and would have been ready for the start of the season had it began in October, and despite choosing not to play anywhere during the lockout, he clearly spent the time well. He looks bigger and stronger, while showing the skill that made him the third overall pick back in 2003.
His absence was felt when he went down last season. With Horton in the lineup, Lucic scored 17 goals in 45 games, while Krejci had 27 assists in 43 games. Without Horton, Lucic had just nine goals and Krejci had 14 assists in 43 games (including the playoffs).
With Horton back, the duo of he and Lucic has skated hard and used their big bodies (they stand at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3, respectively, and both weigh over 225 pounds) to wear down opposing top lines and create scoring opportunity.
“That’s how they get in the game, those two, with their physical play,” Krejci said. “I think they’ve done a pretty good job at it, and as a line I think we’ve created so many chances.
Said Lucic: “I think if you look at when I’ve been most successful in my career, it’s been when it’s been straight-line hockey. I’ve been able to do that the last two games, and I need to continue doing that. It’s no secret it makes me more successful than any other way of playing.
“If I’m trying to stick-handle and make moves and all that type of stuff, it doesn’t work as well. Keeping it simple works the best for my game and it has since my junior days, so why change now?”
The line has not been on the ice for a goal against this season. That’s a positive, but at the end of the day, its members know they should be on the ice for quite a few Bruins’ goals.
“I think the chemistry’s getting back there,” Krejci said of the line’s work. “Too bad we didn’t score [Monday]. We had so many chances, but the good thing is that we’re getting chances, we keep our feet moving and that’s a good sign. We’re the top line, so everyone expects for us to produce. We’re going to have to do that.”
|Bruins face big challenge vs. desperate Rangers||01.22.13 at 2:25 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When the 48-game schedule came out following the lockout, one of the most interesting aspects of it throughout the league was that the Bruins and Rangers would play each other twice in the first three games. That meant that in a season that placed even greater emphasis than usual on strong starts, one of the best teams in the NHL could easily end up in an early season hole.
As it turns out, the Rangers face that prospect. The schedule-makers weren’t kind to John Tortorella‘s club early on, as the Rangers had to face the high-powered Penguins the day after opening the season in Boston. The results haven’t been good, as the Eastern Conference favorites followed Saturday’s loss to the B’s by dropping a 6-3 contest to the Penguins in their home-opener. Now, the team will need to beat the 2-0-0 Bruins to avoid starting the season winless through three games.
“You know that they’re going to be ready for that game,” Patrice Bergeron said after Tuesday’s practice. “Also, we beat them the first game, so you know they’re going to look for some revenge probably, so it’s going to be a tough one. We’re expecting the best out of them, and we need to make sure we bring our best game as well.”
It’s hard to call the third game of the season a must-win, but the value of two points is inflated in a 48-game season, and the Rangers have some stiff competition in their division (Penguins, Flyers) for one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference. The desperation should be there at Madison Square Garden, so the Bruins will need to be ready for it.
“I don’t think [they’ll come out harder]; I know they will,” Claude Julien said. “Certainly, when you’re put in that position and you’re the type of team that they are, we expect nothing but their best game out of them tomorrow.”
The Bruins welcome the test that will come with playing a desperate team. David Krejci even likened Wednesday’s game to a postseason contest in which a team trailing in the series makes a push to narrow the gap.
“I know there’s been lots of talk. They made some moves, they want to go deep in the playoffs so I’m pretty sure that’s not the start they wanted to have,” Krejci said. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us. We might be in the situation during the season or in the playoffs, that the team wants to come back and we have to show how to handle the situation. It’s a good challenge for us tomorrow and we’ll so how we can respond, but I’m sure we’re going to be ready for it.”
The Rangers went 3-1-0 against the Bruins last season, so the B’s have already matched their 2011-12 win total against Tortorella’s club. The games between the two teams were tight (three of their four matches were one-goal games, including one decided in overtime), so the Bruins aren’t expecting anything to come easy against them.
“I’m sure Nash will buy into their system and has,” Chris Kelly said. “They’re a hard-working team and that’s the way they’re coached. They play hard, they play everyone and everyone contributes. They had our number last year, and we came out and played hard in the opener.”
|Dennis Seidenberg ‘pretty close,’ Brad Marchand expected to play vs. Rangers||01.22.13 at 11:51 am ET|
WILMINGTON — With the 0-2-0 Rangers waiting in New York, the Bruins on Tuesday returned to practice in anticipation of a rematch of the season-opener.
Dennis Seidenberg, who missed Monday’s 2-1 shootout win over the Jets with a lower-body injury, skated by himself prior to the session and participated in the full practice. With Seidenberg back at practice, his pairing with Dougie Hamilton was reunited, as was the Zdeno Chara–Johnny Boychuk duo. The Andrew Ference–Adam McQuaid pairing remained intact in Monday’s game and Tuesday’s practice.
Claude Julien said after the practice both Seidenberg and Marchand are day-to-day, though he expects Marchand to play Wednesday vs. the Rangers and said that Seidenberg is “pretty close.”
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|Bruins improve to 2-0-0 with shootout win over Jets||01.21.13 at 3:54 pm ET|
The game could have easily ended in the Jets’ favor in overtime, as the B’s were shorthanded at two different points of the extra session. Johnny Boychuk took a penalty for high-sticking Bryan Little with 1:11 left in the third period, leaving the B’s shorthanded through the end of regulation and into overtime, but the Bruins were able to effectively kill it off. The B’s found themselves shorthanded in overtime once again when Zdeno Chara took down Blake Wheeler as he was driving to the net and was called for holding with 1:28 remaining.
The Bruins were forced to play without defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who led the B’s in ice time in Saturday’s season-opener but was out Monday with a lower-body injury. The team announced during warmups that Seidenberg is day-to-day.
With Seidenberg out, Aaron Johnson made his Bruins debut and Claude Julien shuffled two of the defensive pairings. Though the Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid pairing was kept intact, Dougie Hamilton (Seidenberg’s partner on Saturday) was moved up to play with Zdeno Chara, while Johnson played with Boychuk.
The Jets got on the board in the first period when Chris Thorburn got to a rebound at the right circle and beat Tuukka Rask just 1:58 into the contest.
With the Bruins in a line change, the Jets tried to get the puck out of the zone, but Tyler Seguin raced from the bench to keep the puck in and sped down the lane. That got the attention of both Jets defenders and goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who committed enough to Seguin that when the third-year player dished it to Brad Marchand in front, it didn’t take much mustard on Marchand’s part to easily put it into the open net.
Rask made 26 saves on 27 shots in the 65 minutes of play.
The Bruins will next have their first road game of the season as they head to Madison Square Garden to face the Rangers on Wednesday. The B’s beat the Rangers, 3-1, on Saturday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– That’s twice now this season that the Bruins have had to kill of a penalty without their best penalty killer in the critical moments of a tie game. Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference and Chris Kelly came up big on the 4-on-3 in overtime.
– Though it didn’t produce a goal, David Krejci’s line was consistently strong for the Bruins, skating hard and yielding a number of scoring chances for Nathan Horton in particular. Krejci first set up Horton for a bid with a diagonal feed from the top of the right circle to the left dot, but Horton wasn’t able to get enough on his slapper to challenge Pavelec. Krejci then fed Horton in the second period from behind the net, but Horton was denied in front and was later stopped again from the right circle. Horton also drew the Jets’ only penalty of the game, a Mark Stuart interference call, while Milan Lucic was credited with nine hits in regulation.
Seeing Horton involved and getting chances this early is a very positive sign for the Bruins, as uncertainty surrounded the big winger as he went nearly a calendar year without playing in games due to concussion issues and the lockout.
– After switching Marchand and Chris Bourque for a couple shifts apiece midway through the second period, the Patrice Bergeron line really started buzzing when Marchand was put back with his usual line mates. One shift shortly after his return saw a couple of golden opportunities from Seguin (whose bid in front just missed the net) and Bergeron (who tried to send the puck off Pavelec from a bad angle beneath the left circle).
– In particular, Seguin showed off his speed and smarts but was also more aggressive than folks have been accustomed to seeing in the youngster’s first two NHL seasons. In addition to having his risk to race and keep the puck in the zone in the first period paying off, Seguin did a good job of keeping the puck in by batting it down in the second period on a play that ended with Marchand being denied at the doorstep.
– Though he could have prevented the Jets’ first goal (see below), Hamilton looked more comfortable as the game went on and was trusted with time on the penalty kill time in his second career game. Both shorthanded shifts came at the end of penalties, so he totaled 37 seconds on the penalty kill for the Bruins.
– The B’s lucked out on a couple of plays that could have yielded Jets goals and given them the lead in what was a 1-1 game. In the second period, Evander Kane took an easy wrist shot from a bad angle low on left circle, but it trickled through Rask. Fortunately, the angle meant it slid through the crease and not into the net. In the third period, Postma launched a snapshot from above the right circle that hit the left post.
– Not necessarily a positive, but an interesting note: With Kane’s third-period goaltender interference penalty, Bruins opponents have been called for interfering with Rask.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The defense wasn’t its sharpest in the first period, suffering multiple breakdowns early after playing tight defense against the Rangers Saturday. Thorburn’s goal was the result of Hamilton losing track of the puck in front following a Paul Postma shot. The rebound bounced to Thorburn, who sent a shot past Rask to give the Jets the early 1-0 lead.
Just a little over halfway through the period following a Pavalec save on a Nathan Horton bid, Kyle Wellwood split the defense of Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid to set up a breakaway that concluded with a big save from Rask. Though the other pairings may have had an excuse due to the shuffling caused by Seidenberg’s absence, the Ference-McQuaid pairing was unchanged from training camp and the Rangers game.
The Bruins’ blueline seemed to regroup in the second period with overall tighter play.
– They only got two opportunities, but the Bruins’ power play once again failed to produce. The first configuration with Horton, Seguin and Lucic had a solid chance in the second period with Horton being denied in front, but Monday yielded another contest without a power play goal. Adding that to Saturday’s 0-for-7 showing, the B’s are now 0-for-8 on the man advantage season.
|Dennis Seidenberg out with lower-body injury||01.21.13 at 12:16 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg will not play in Monday’s matinee against the Jets due to a lower-body injury, according to the team. Aaron Johnson is in the lineup in his place. The team said Seidenberg is day-to-day.
Based on pre-game warmups, Dougie Hamilton, Seidenberg’s partner in the season-opener, will skate on a pairing with Zdeno Chara. The other pairings are Andrew Ference–Adam McQuaid and Johnson-Johnny Boychuk.
Claude Julien said prior to Monday’s matinee that it will be Tuukka Rask in net for the B’s. Rask, who inherited the No. 1 netminding job with Tim Thomas taking the year off, made 20 saves on 21 shots in the season-opening win over the Rangers Saturday.
|Dougie Hamilton embraces more physical play in NHL||01.20.13 at 5:01 pm ET|
Dougie Hamilton may have had to wait a little too long to make his Bruins debut, but now that it’s come and gone he’s just happy to officially be an NHL defenseman.
Hamilton, who spent the first few months of the season playing junior hockey in the OHL and the World Junior Championships, took his first NHL shift with the Bruins on the power play early in the first period. Before that, he was welcomed with one of the loudest receptions in the pre-game player introductions, accompanied with massive sprays of fog as he stepped onto the Garden ice.
“It was pretty cool, just with the smoke or fog or whatever that was,” Hamilton said. “It’s pretty cool to go out there, and you don’t really hear much of the cheering, but it’s pretty cool to go out and look around and realize that your dream has come true.”
Hamilton finished last among Bruins defensemen with 13:40 of ice time, but he played 4:25 on the power play and registered two shots on goal and three hits on the night with an even rating.
It may be a big adjustment from junior hockey to the NHL, but Hamilton is embracing the physical challenge that comes with it. At 6-foot-5, Hamilton felt that he couldn’t play a physical game at the junior level without getting penalized. He felt he had the opportunity to use his body more to his advantage Saturday against the bigger-bodied Rangers.
“I thought that was fun, just getting hit by those big guys and having them come at you and just being able to hit them too,” he said. “It’s a little bit different in junior when you can’t do much or they’re smaller than you, so I thought that was a pretty fun part of the game.”
“I experienced it in juniors coaching [6-foot-5 defenseman] Jiri Fischer at the time; he was the same kind of player, he was in the box a lot in junior because he was so much stronger than everybody else. And when I watched Dougie play this year in junior if there’s one thing you could tell was his size, you know at 6-foot-5 and in the corners he had to watch himself because again they’re not as strong. If he wasn’t careful he’d end up in the box.
“Here he doesn’t have to hold back, and I think he’ll be able to play more to his strength and it will certainly help his game. Like I said, he needed to move on and I think what he’s done here is enough for him to stay here at the time being.”
|Bruins recall Aaron Johnson, send David Warsofsky to Providence||01.20.13 at 11:11 am ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday that they have sent defenseman David Warsofsky to Providence and recalled blueliner Aaron Johnson.
Johnson, who was signed in the offseason after playing last season with the Blue Jackets, was sent to Providence on a conditioning loan Thursday. He played two games for Providence during the loan, registering one assist.
Warsofsky, a native of Marshfield and a Boston University product, played in 30 games for Providence prior to attending Bruins’ training camp. He has two goals and seven assists for nine points at the AHL level this season.
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