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Thomas Vanek on why he dominates Bruins: ‘You want to play your best against the best teams’ 03.11.14 at 1:41 pm ET
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Thomas Vanek has 61 career points against the Bruins. (AP)

Thomas Vanek has 61 career points against the Bruins. (AP)

MONTREAL — The fact that Thomas Vanek has produced big-time against the Bruins in his career isn’t exactly a secret. Frequently referred to as a “Bruins-killer,” the 30-year-old winger has 30 goals and 31 assists for 61 points against the Bruins in 53 career games.

When that type of offense was being put up with the Sabres and Islanders (he had a goal and three assists in three games against Boston in his four-month stint with the Islanders), he was a nuisance for the Bruins. Now that he’s with the Canadiens after a deadline-day shocker, he could be a big problem.

On Tuesday, Vanek participated in his first practice with the Canadiens after playing in two games for them (zero points, minus-1 rating). After it, he downplayed his dominance against the B’s.

“I think numbers are numbers. Sometimes they’re overblown,” he said. “For me, I don’t prepare any different. It’s just another game, really. They’re a good team and you’ve got to be ready.”

While he shrugged off his statistics, Vanek did venture a guess as to why he always seems to have big games against Boston.

“The last four or five years, to me, Boston has been one of the better teams in the league,” he said. “You want to play your best against the best teams, but again, I think sometimes just the numbers are the numbers. I can’t really tell you why that is, but I can tell you that it’s a big game, it’s a great team and you want to play in big games.”

Vanek isn’t the only Canadien who performs well against the Bruins, as Montreal has taken both of the teams’ meetings this season and has won its last five games against Boston dating back to last season.

That doesn’t mean the Habs will take the B’s lightly, as the Bruins are a point out of first place in the Eastern Conference and are 7-0-3 in their last 10 road games.

‘€œFirst of all, the Bruins, this is a good hockey team,” Habs coach Michel Therrien said. “They are battling with Pittsburgh right now for first place in the conference and every game is a new challenge. Tomorrow is no different and it’€™s a huge challenge for us.’€

Vanek has played mostly with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta in his two games for Montreal. Therrien really wants Vanek to be a fit with Plekanec, one of the better two-way centers in the league, so he intends to keep him on that line for as long as it takes for the trio to work.

With a pair of games for the Canadiens under his belt, Vanek is still looking for his first goal with the Canadiens. Wednesday night, in his first home game with the team and against the team he’s long dominated, would seem to be a pretty strong candidate.

Whether or not he gets that first goal Wednesday, the addition of Vanek has certainly changed the look of the Eastern Conference and has added more fuel to an already-intense rivalry.

Read More: Montreal Canadiens, Thomas Vanek,
Carey Price remains out for Canadiens vs. Bruins 03.11.14 at 1:16 pm ET
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Carey Price hasn't played since the Olympics. (AP)

Carey Price hasn’t played since the Olympics. (AP)

MONTREAL – Carey Price practiced with the Canadiens and faced shots on Tuesday at the Bell Centre, but he will remain out of the lineup with a lower-body injury when the Hab’s face the Bruins Wednesday night.

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said that the team is pleased with the progress Price has made in recovering from the injury, which was sustained at the Olympics.

“He’s getting closer,” Therrien said. “He had a good day today and we’ll see at the end of the week where he’s at and then we will go from there.”

Therrien did not say whether it would be Peter Budaj or Dustin Tokarski between the pipes for Montreal Wednesday. Budaj has lost his last three starts but made 34 saves in a 4-1 Canadiens victory in the last meeting between the Bruins and Habs on Jan. 30.

In other Canadiens injury news, Josh Gorges had surgery on his hand and is expected to miss a month. Gorges is a very important piece of Motnreal’s blue line, as he is P.K. Subban’s regular partner and is third on the team with 21:13 of ice time per game.

Gorges said he hopes to be able to get into some games prior to the playoffs so that he can be in proper game shape when the postseason begins.

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Bruins beat Panthers as Andrej Meszaros scores in first game with B’s 03.09.14 at 7:43 pm ET
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The Bruins took over first place in the Eastern Conference with a 5-2 win over the Panthers Sunday. With the victory, the Bruins swept their season series against Florida and went a combined 9-0-0 this season against the Panthers and the Lightning.

The teams were tied at one goal apiece after two periods, but the scoring picked up significantly in the final 20 minutes. Torey Krug made it 2-1 at 7:38 of the third period, taking a feed from Brad Marchand and beating Luongo with a nice finish in front. Shortly after Patrice Bergeron extended the lead with a power play goal, Boston College product Jimmy Hayes scored his second goal of the game to make it 3-2. Jarome Iginla etended the lead back to two with his 20th goal of the season and Chris Kelly added an empty net goal.

The Panthers had initially taken the lead in the second period when Hayes buried a rebound past Chad Johnson. The B’s tied the game less than three minutes later when Andrej Meszaros’ point shot went off Roberto Luongo‘s blocker and in.

Daniel Paille was lost for the game in the first period, as he took a big hit from Ed Jovanovski on his first shift and did not return to the game.

Meszaros played in place of Dougie Hamilton, who served as a healthy scratch. The B’s played their new defenseman on the team’s top pairing with Zdeno Chara and on the power play.

The Bruins will resume play Wednesday when they face the Canadiens at the Bell Centre. The game will mark Thomas Vanek’s first contest in Montreal since being acquired by the Habs prior to last Wednesday’s trade deadline.

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

Reilly Smith, Tuukka Rask lead Bruins past Lightning in shootout 03.08.14 at 10:01 pm ET
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Reilly Smith beat Ben Bishop in the seventh round of a shootout Saturday night to give the Bruins a 4-3 win over the Lightning.

The Bruins never led in the game, but Smith, who is still without a goal since Jan. 28, was able to beat Bishop five-hole to secure the victory for Boston. Tuukka Rask stopped all seven shots he saw in the shootout.

After the Bruins turned in a rather lethargic first period in which they put just five shots on Ben Bishop, the Lightning scored the game’s first goal with a shorthanded tally from Ondrej Palet in the second period. Mark Barberio made it 2-0 before goals from Daniel Paille and Carl Soderberg tied it, but a Valtteri Filppila tally made it 3-2.

Johnny Boychuk tied the game with a shot from the point at 8:11 of the third period.

The B’s will complete their Florida trip Sunday when they face the Panthers. They will then have two days to prepare for the Canadiens in Montreal

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- The win marked the first time this season that the Bruins have won a game in which they trailed by two goals at one point.

- Though the B’s trailed after the second period, both of the goals they scored in the second were beauties. Paille bounced off Tyler Johnson at the right circle, got control of the puck in front and sent it behind him and past Bishop.

Soderberg’s goal, meanwhile, saw Chris Kelly find him in the neutral zone after Soderberg had snuck past the Tampa defense, giving Soderberg a breakaway on which he deked Bishop before sliding the puck through the Tampa goalie’s legs on the backhand.

- For the second straight game, the B’s really limited their opponent’s shots on goal. Boston allowed 18 shots on goal to Washington on Thursday before holding Tampa to 16 shots on goal Saturday night.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins missed out on a power play goal that would have tied the game in the third period. Patrice Bergeron put a loose puck past Bishop, had his hands up in celebration and the whistle was blown to rule the play dead. Replays showed the puck was in the net well before the whistle was blown, but it was called no-goal thanks to the NHL‘s absurd “intent to blow” call that allows officials to retroactively call plays dead because they meant to blow the whistle earlier than they did.

The positive was that it made for a pretty funny display from Julien, as he appeared to say “Is that one good?” to an official after Boychuk tied the game.

- The Bruins finally saw more time on the power play after having just two power plays over a three-game span, but the results weren’t pretty. Palat’s goal was the sixth shorthanded goal the B’s have allowed this season.

- Smith was demoted to the fourth line to start the third period, as Claude Julien put Paille on Patrice Bergeron’s line for the earlygoing of the third.

Andrej Meszaros to sit again for Bruins 03.08.14 at 2:04 pm ET
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Folks waiting to see Andrej Meszaros‘ Bruins debut will have to wait a little longer, as Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters in Tampa Saturday that the team intends to stick with the same six defensemen he used in Thursday’s win over the Capitals.

As such, Meszaros will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game since coming to the B’s. It will be his 26th healthy scratch of the season.

Corey Potter, who was added on waivers Wednesday by the B’s, is with the team in Tampa and will also sit.

Tuukka Rask picks up sixth shutout of season as Bruins turn in stronger effort vs. Capitals 03.06.14 at 9:27 pm ET
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The Bruins turned in a strong defensive effort to give Tuukka Rask his league-leading sixth shutout in a 3-0 win over the Capitals Thursday.

The win marked the first time the B’s have beaten Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby in the regular season. Holtby entered Thursday’s game 4-0-0 against the B’s in regular season play.

After the teams skated to a scoreless first period, Matt Bartkowski sent a nice pass during a delayed penalty to Patrice Bergeron, who fired a shot from the left circle that went off Gregory Campbell‘s stick and past Holtby. Campbell now has four goals in his last four games.

The B’s extended the lead to 2-0 later in the period on a Loui Eriksson goal. Eriksson was returning from a heel infection that had kept him out of Tuesday’s game. Brad Marchand sealed the game with an empty net goal in the third.

Rask had a relatively light night, facing only 14 shots and stopping them all. The Capitals registered 31 shots on goal when the teams met last Saturday.

Andrej Meszaros did not play for the B’s. He took part in Thursday’s morning skate and could play this weekend.

The Bruins will next travel to Florida, where they will face the Lightning Saturday and the Panthers Sunday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- In general, the team turned in a performance lightyears better than the first four games back from the Olympic break. The B’s possessed the puck, didn’t get hemmed in their zone and played a much tighter defensive game than they did during their initial post-Olympic struggles. Shot on goal aren’t always the most telling stat, but Rask only had to face eight shots over the first 40 minutes of play.

- Patrice Bergeron‘s line kept Alexander Ovechkin’s line awfully quiet, as Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Chimera combined for just three shots on goal, with Ovechkin putting one puck on net and and Chimera registering two.

For the sake of comparison, Ovechkin himself had nine shots on goal last Saturday in Washington’s 4-2 win over the Bruins.

The one goal that the line nearly scored came against David Krejci‘s line, but Ovechkin missed the open net on the backhand with Rask out of position.

- The Bruins didn’t get burned by Washington’s highly skilled, highly productive power play. That’s because they stayed out of the penalty box. The Capitals had a pair of power play goals last Saturday against the B’s.

- It’s good to see Loui Eriksson scoring, and his second-period goal was a beauty. Camped out in front, Eriksson took a feed from Soderberg from behind the net and found a small space to roof the puck over Holtby’s right shoulder. The goal was Eriksson’s seventh of the season, while the point was his third in his last two games (one goal, two assists).

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The lack of power plays continues for the Bruins. After combining for just one power play Sunday vs. the Rangers and Tuesday vs. the Panthers, the B’s went without a man advantage Thursday. Campbell’s goal did come during a delayed penalty, but even one power play a game isn’t enough.

- Marchand threw a hit late in the first period that, while going unpenalized, was ill-advised. Well enough after Troy Brouwer had passed the puck out of the Washington zone, Marchand hit him from behind, causing some chatter between the players on the ice. Everyone knows Marchand’s deal, but when he gets bad calls against him based on reputation, that’s why.

What will Andrej Meszaros’ role be with Bruins? 03.06.14 at 12:56 pm ET
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Andrej Meszaros hopes to crack Boston's top two defense pairings. (AP)

Andrej Meszaros hopes to crack Boston’s top two defense pairings. (AP)

Andrej Meszaros is here, so now what?

Meszaros gives the Bruins seven healthy NHL defensemen for now, and eight once Corey Potter arrives. Potter is more of a clear-cut depth guy, but the B’s will have seven definite NHL guys on the back end for an extended period for the first time since early in the season, when Matt Bartkowski served as a floating healthy scratch of sorts, being rotated in and out of the lineup for Dougie Hamilton and Adam McQuaid.

Bartkowski is a healthy scratch no more and is the team’s No. 4 defenseman, a role that the left-shooting Meszaros probably would like to wrest from the 25-year-old. Meszaros won’t play Thursday (marking his 25th healthy scratch of the season), but he will get into the lineup at some point. The Bruins didn’t part with a third-round pick so they could sit a guy the rest of the way, so it will be interesting to see if the B’s rotate guys in and out of the lineup down the stretch.

“We’€™ll have to wait and see,” Claude Julien said. “All this stuff happened yesterday and I haven’t sat down and made any types of scenarios. But we need to see him practice a little bit and skate with us and we’ll see. At one point you’re going to see him in our lineup, and a lot of it will depend on players’ play. All of them.”

Furthering the idea of a rotation is the fact that Meszaros plays both sides, meaning he could go into the lineup for a number of players, from Bartkowski to Kevan Miller or even one of the team’s veteran defensemen if the B’s want to give anyone a breather.

Meszaros had served as a right defenseman for the Flyers over the last three seasons in Peter Laviolette‘s system. Under current Philadelphia coach Craig Berube, he played the left side when he was in the lineup.

“I really enjoyed the right side because I was up in the play more and up in the rush,” Meszaros said of his role under Laviolette. “The way we played for [Berube], it was different. Both D were stepping up or doing things, so it didn’t matter to me. I kind of liked it. After 10-plus years, it doesn’t really matter to me going left to right.”

“When a defenseman can play both sides, it makes him a more valuable player, and that was one of the things with Meszaros, is that he can play both sides,” Peter Chiarelli said after acquiring the player. “It can change during the game. The same way Claude likes to use more than one center on a line, I know he likes to switch his D around, so we give him that option. It’€™s another tool, and it’s some more depth.”

Meszaros obviously wasn’t Boston’s first option at the trade deadline, but if all goes well, he could be a logical fit for them. The 6-foot-2, 223-pounder is big and strong and the team like what he brings offensively. That doesn’t mean he’s Dennis Seidenberg, a guy who brings all those things and also is a lefty with experience on both sides, but it does mean he could earn some of the minutes for which the team needs to account since losing Seidenberg.

“He’€™s an experienced player; I think he’€™s proved [that] over the years,” Julien said. “He’€™s a big body as well. Offensively he supports the attack well, he’€™s been known to be a pretty good offensive-type defenseman. So with that big body and the way we play I’€™m sure he will defend well also. Again, I think it will be a matter of time to see how well he fits with us.”

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