|Zdeno Chara leaves as Islanders beat Bruins in Johnny Boychuk’s return||10.23.14 at 9:30 pm ET|
The Bruins’ latest lost hurt more than usual, as Zdeno Chara left Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Islanders after just five shifts in the first period.
The team announced at the start of the second period that Chara would not be retuning to the game, though they did not specify why. With Chara out, the B’s were forced to play with five defensemen the rest of the way.
Chara and Dougie Hamilton were both beaten in front early on in the night as Frans Nielsen took a pass from Josh Bailey and put it behind Niklas Svedberg at 6:21 of the first. Milan Lucic answered back with his first goal of the season, which came off a nice play from linemate Seth Griffith.
The Bruins struggled mightily in the second period, with Kyle Okposo scoring on a particularly rough shift from Matt Bartkowski and Cal Clutterbuck later capitalizing on poor coverage from Boston’s third line to make it 3-1.
The third line would make it up, however, as Chris Kelly won an offensive zone faceoff and jumped on a loose puck after a Carl Soderberg shot bounced off Brian Strait and into the slot. Kelly fired it into the net for his second goal of the season, bringing the B’s within a goal.
The Bruins proceeded to put forth a feverish comeback bid, spending long stretches in the offensive zone with good looks, but they were unable to out a game-tying goal past former B’s netminder Chad Johnson.
The game marked the return of former Bruin Johnny Boychuk to the Garden. Boychuk received a standing ovation during a first-period video tribute.
With the loss, the Bruins are now 4-5-0 on the season.
Here are some notes from the game:
– Chara played only five shifts, the last of which lasted 1:06. He didn’t appear to be hurt at any point during the shift, though he did land a big open-ice hit on Islanders captain John Tavares. After a TV timeout, Chara stayed on the ice to finish his shift.
– Chara was actually having his second consecutive rough game before exiting the game. He was on the ice for a 5-on-5 goal against (Bailey’s goal) with Bergeron on the ice for the second straight game and had a minus-10 even strength Corsi in his five shifts on the night.
– It was also another bad night for Patrice Bergeron, who was a minus-2 and could have been a minus-3 if Okposo made more of the opportunity that arose when Bergeron whiffed on a puck high in the offensive zone to send the play the other way.
– Matt Bartkowski had just a woeful shift on Okposo’s goal. After Tavares lost him deep in the zone, Bartkowski went to the net, leaving Bergeron to take Tavares. As has become a recurring theme, Bartkowski lost track of the guy going to the net, and Okposo was unencumbered as he stood feet from Bartkowski and batted the rebound from Tavares’ shot past Svedberg.
– Having to play with five defensemen when Chara isn’t one of them isn’t something Boston’s struggling defense is at all suited for. Bartkowski was also on the ice for Cal Clutterbuck’s goal, as the B’s got burned with a pair of Bartkowski and Torey Krug in their own end. The blown coverage on the play, however, fell on a forward in Loui Eriksson.
– Seth Griffith is fitting in more and more with each game. He made a nice play on Lucic’s goal, taking a pass from Krejci as the line entered the zone and throwing a pass towards the net from the high in the zone. With Lucic driving to the net with Cal Clutterbuck, the puck went off either Lucic’s skate or stick and beat Johnson. The play gave Griffith a two-game point-streak (one goal, one assist) since re-entering the lineup Tuesday.
– The Bruins obviously had to mix and match on defense once Chara left the game, but here was the lineup to begin the game:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne
Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – Krug
Bartkowski – McQuaid
|Chad Johnson thankful for career-changing year with Bruins||10.23.14 at 1:54 pm ET|
Chad Johnson probably had as good a one-and-done with the Bruins as a backup goalie can have in the NHL. He put up great numbers and, with the B’s not having much money to spend on a backup, he left and got a good contract.
Now, after taking a two-year, $2.6 million deal with the Islanders in free agency, Johnson has a lot of things he didn’t have when he came to the B’s last year on a one-year, $600,000 pact: experience in a very good goaltending tandem thanks to his work with Tuukka Rask as well as job security and strong compensation at the NHL level. Johnson said he had eight offers, three of which he felt were serious, before signing with the Islanders.
As Johnson makes his return to TD Garden as a visiting player, he has nothing but good things to say about the Bruins. It’s not like things didn’t work out and he left; things actually worked out perfectly for everybody.
“I think when you move on, probably a lot of times in this business it’s for bad reasons. For my situation, there wasn’t room to be back with the Bruins, so it’s a different feeling to be coming back when there’s really no animosity between both sides,” Johnson said.
“It’s always nice leaving on a good note with a team, because I guess you always want to leave a good mark wherever you are, a positive mark in the locker room or in the community with the fans, however you can.”
Johnson will oppose the man who replaced him in Boston when he faces Niklas Svedberg Thursday. Even when Johnson was the backup last season, the plan was for Svedberg, who was the AHL’s top goaltender the year before, to play in Boston this season.
Johnson, who often speaks of how tough it is for NHL-ready goalies to get the opportunity to play (and stay) in the NHL, is happy to see that Svedberg is getting his shot.
“I think it’s a good situation for him, a guy who’s been in the minors for a couple of years,” Johnson said. “It’s sort of very [similar to] me. He probably could have been in the NHL last year or the year before, but just didn’t have the right situation. In the business of hockey, you just have to have the right situation. You always want to see guys have opportunity at this level, just because in my experience too, you have to sometimes just wait it out a long time in the minors to get a chance.
“He’s in a good situation. I know first-hand what kind of a team is over there, how goalie-friendly the team really is. It’s nice for him to be able to be in a good situation there.”
The 28-year-old also had glowing things to say about Rask, who won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL‘s top netminder last season. Johnson said that Rask was different from many other goaltending partners he’s had in the past, calling him “so relaxed and friendly.”
Last season marked Johnson’s first full season at the NHL level. He said going into the year that he found playing in the NHL easier than playing in the AHL because the groups in front of him were more defensively sound. He found that to be a big plus in Boston.
“The strategy of the team and the identity of that team is to play defense first and commit defensively and help the goalies out,” Johnson said. “That makes it easy on a guy like Tuukka and Svedy and myself last year. It’s always a good situation to be in when there’s that kind of identity for a team.
“It was just a good group of guys, the organization was awesome to me and there’s no secret to why they have success. They have the right people there from the very top. It makes a lot of sense why they win and do well every year.”
Johnson finished sixth last season in both save percentage (.925) and goals-against average (2.10). In two games this year (one start), he has allowed three goals over 80 minutes. He won his lone start, a victory over the Hurricanes.
|Bruins hope hockey community can help Ottawa through tragedy||10.23.14 at 1:28 pm ET|
After seeing the way the NHL rallied around Boston in wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon, Bruins with ties to Ottawa are glad to see the same is being done for Canada’s capital city after Wednesday’s shooting on Parliament Hill.
A night after “O Canada” was sung prior to a Penguins/Flyers game in Pittsburgh, the Bruins are expected to have Rene Rancourt sing the Canadian anthem prior to Thursday’s game between the Bruins and Islanders.
“Ottawa is home for me so I spent a good portion of the afternoon looking up at the CNN station and trying to find out as much as I could,” Julien said Thursday morning. “It’s unfortunate. It just goes to show that these tragedies don’t just happen in the U.S. of A but also in other countries and there’s other countries in Europe that have been faced with that.”
Chris Kelly said he spent parts of Wednesday working the phones to make sure his friends in Ottawa were alright. He added that he hoped the Senators could provide some sort of positive distraction for the city as it goes through this difficult time, much like the Bruins did in 2013.
Julien said he thinks the impact of such tragedies go beyond the city in which they occur, and that he imagines that each NHL team and their respective fanbases will show support wherever they can.
“Every city rallies around its own city and I’ve talked to a few people including my family that’s still back,” Julien said. “My parents and brothers and sisters, it’s affected them even if they weren’t around that area it affected them. It affects the whole city like the bombing affected us here.
“They’ll have to get used to it in a way where that’s reality, unfortunately, and it’s happening. Canada is a pretty laid back country that tries to continue to be laid back. But it’s also a country that supported the U.S. in some of its decisions and more than likely those are the consequences that it faces because of that.”
|Chad Johnson gets start for Islanders vs. Niklas Svedberg||10.23.14 at 12:37 pm ET|
The night will center around the return of Johnny Boychuk, who has two goals and four assists for six points in six games this season after being traded to the Islanders.
Other than the goaltender, Boston’s lineup appears to be the same as it was Tuesday:
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne
Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – Krug
Bartkowski – McQuaid
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Johnny Boychuk returns to Boston: ‘We all knew’ a trade was coming||10.23.14 at 6:00 am ET|
Some of the following quotes can also be found in Wednesday’s feature on Johnny Boychuk. For more on the former Bruin’s start to his Islanders career and his return to Boston Thursday, click here.
Speaking to WEEI.com earlier in the week, Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk said that though being traded away from Boston was difficult, he saw the move coming to an extent.
“They didn’t tell me [their plans], but we all knew,” Boychuk said. “You knew that somebody was going to get moved. Even if you don’t watch hockey, you would know that somebody’s going to get moved, just because we had eight guys.
“You’re not going to carry two extra D men. We usually [carried] one, but you’re not going to carry two. They thought they got the best deal for me, so that’s the way it goes. That’s the way the league is.”
Boychuk said that he figured that Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Dennis Seidenberg and Kevan Miller were safe from being traded, leaving him on a short list of defensemen the B’s could deal. His cap hit ($3.36 million) was the highest of the group, which also included Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski.
Peter Chiarelli said after trading Boychuk to the Islanders that negotiations never started for a contract extension with the free-agent-to-be before the B’s traded him. The lack of communication on a new contract made the trade less of a surprise for Boychuk.
“We didn’t talk, so I just figured something’s probably going to happen,” Boychuk said.
Boychuk was waking up from his pregame nap the day of Boston’s last preseason game when he got the call from Chiarelli.
“Peter phoned me when I was just waking up from my pre game nap, because I was supposed to play [against Detroit],” Boychuk. “As soon as I said ‘hello’ and he said, ‘Hi Johnny, this is Peter,’ I was like ‘ugh.’ You know that you’re getting traded when Pete calls you.”
As for the reception he expects from the Boston crowd Thursday night, Boychuk said he expects an emotional return.
“[Expletive],” Boychuk said. “That’s going to be’¦ different. It’s going to be hard. It will definitely be hard.”
Click here for Wednesday’s feature on Boychuk and here for the Bruins’ thoughts on Boychuk’s return to the Garden.
|Tuukka Rask, who knows who Johnny Boychuk is, prepares to face Johnny Boychuk||10.22.14 at 2:10 pm ET|
“Oh, is he playing? I hope he gets the start. It would be good for him,” Rask said Wednesday when asked what it would be like to play against “Johnny.”
Proving that goaltenders live in their own goaltending world, Rask thought that the “Johnny” being discussed was Islanders backup Chad Johnson, who spent last season playing in Boston with Rask.
Rask laughed when he realized his error, adding that he obviously wished the best for his former teammate. He did note that if he allowed a goal to Boychuk, who has already scored twice this season for the Islanders, Rask would “never hear the end of it.”
“He actually texted me after he got traded,” Rask said. “He said whenever we play I should give him a goal, but I hope he doesn’t score.”
Rask was then reminded that he already has a big contract, while Boychuk is in the final year of his contract. If Rask were a true friend, he’d help Boychuk boost those numbers and net him a bigger payday.
“Yeah, well if the game’s 9-1 or something for us, then accidents happen,” Rask said with a grin.
As for Boychuk himself, the 30-year-old is loving life with the Islanders, but said it will be very difficult to take the ice Thursday (and undoubtedly receive a warm welcome) in front of the Garden crowd.
“[Expletive],” Boychuk said this week when asked what he expected. “That’s going to be… different. It’s going to be hard. It will definitely be hard.”
Claude Julien said he’s happy for the early success Boychuk has had with the 4-2-0 Islanders. Boychuk’s six points through six games are as many as he had in the lockout-shortened 2013 season with the Bruins.
“He’s a good team guy. He’s an easy guy to like for players and coaches,” Julien said. “He came in and played a big role in our Stanley Cup run. Many thought he’d be an American Leaguer. We traded for him and he stepped up and became a really reliable defenseman in this league, and obviously a good defenseman. We lost a good person and a good player.
“You’re always happy that he’s happy well — of course you’re going to hear us say except when it’s against us, but I don’t think there’s anybody here that wishes [anything] but the best for him. Then you move on, and that’s what we’re trying to do. Hopefully he’s done the same thing. He seems to have done that. When you look at his start with that team, he’s had a good start as well.”
|Claude Julien’s faith in Seth Griffith pays off||10.21.14 at 11:24 pm ET|
The “Claude Never Plays the Kids” club will have to ignore Seth Griffith’s existence for the next little while.
With the right wing job on David Krejci‘s line remaining up for grabs early in the season, on Tuesday Julien gave Griffith, a 21-year-old second year pro, the biggest vote of confidence the youngster has received so far: he kept him on the line in the third period. Griffith then rewarded the decision by tying the game at three with his first career NHL goal.
After the first game of Griffith’s three-game stint in the lineup last week, the Bruins signed Simon Gagne and played him in Griffith’s place in the third periods of the team’s games against Detroit and Montreal. Those games saw Griffith get some chances (he rang iron in Montreal), but the B’s stuck with Gagne late in the one-goal games.
Griffith was scratched Saturday sent down Sunday to play in Providence and recalled Monday. After skating the first two periods on the Krejci line and Boston’s top power play unit, Griffith was kept with Krejci and Lucic to play key minutes in a one-goal game.
It paid off when Thomas Hertl accidentally knocked a loose puck into the high slot while trying to wrest the puck from Lucic. Griffith leaned into it and fired a wrist shot past defenseman Jason Demers and goaltender Antti Niemi at 4:50 of the third. It may have only been his fourth career NHL game, but by the way Griffith jumped against the glass in celebration, the goal was a big relief.
“Obviously every player when they get their first couple games they want to score right away,” Griffith said. “I’m happy it came sooner rather than later.”
Julien’s faith in the youngster appears to be growing as the team searches to find a full-time replacement for Jarome Iginla. That replacement may not yet be on the roster, but for now Julien thinks Griffith is giving him enough reasons to keep him with Krejci.
“Because he played well,” Julien said when asked what made him stick with Griffith Tuesday. “When he was playing well I thought he made some great plays. This isn’t because he scored; I think he scored because he played well. I just thought he was pretty good. [The Sharks are] a big team and I thought he handled himself well along the walls and making good plays.”
Added Julien: “If those guys are going to get better, sometimes you’ve got to put them in those positions when you feel they’re doing well enough to warrant that.”
Considering he was a relatively early cut from camp, Griffith has to be more than happy with where the season has taken him. Part of it is the fact that he’s the best right-shooting wing option the B’s have, but if the Bruins give him a prolonged look, perhaps he can make his case for a full-time job.
“We’re starting to get a little chemistry going,” Griffith said. “It’s good to see but it’s not too hard playing with two great players like that.”
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