|Desperate Capitals stand in Bruins’ way of clinching playoff spot||03.29.12 at 12:46 pm ET|
At this point of the season, it’s somewhat of a cliche to say that every game will have a “playoff intensity,” but when you look at the Bruins’ remaining schedule, you can understand why.
Of the Bruins’ remaining six games, only Saturday’s tilt with the Islanders is against an opponent not in or fighting for the playoffs. Some teams, like the Bruins themselves, will be looking to nail down their divisions, while other teams such as the Capitals, will be trying to squeeze into the postseason picture.
That’s why Thursday’s game between the B’s and Capitals should be worth the price of admission. With a victory, the Bruins will clinch a playoff spot, while the ninth-place Capitals would take over eighth place in the conference with a win Thursday.
“Every single team in the league, they’re playing playoff hockey right now,” David Krejci said after Thursday’s morning skate. “It’s a good preparation, that’s for sure, but there’s so much to play for right now. We’re battling for home ice advantage, for second place in our conference, and Washington is battling for a playoff spot, so it should be a really interesting game tonight.”
The Capitals, who are coming off a 5-1 loss to the very Sabres team they’re fighting for the eighth spot with, will have to bring the fire they lacked Tuesday against Buffalo. Washington is still playing without center Nicklas Backstrom, who is working his way back from a concussion, but given their situation and the fact that the Capitals have taken two of three meetings between the teams so far this season, the Bruins see enough talent and desperation to make Thursday’s opponent a tough one.
“They’re battling for a playoff spot right now, and we’re going to obviously expect their best,” Adam McQuaid said. “They’ve played us hard this year, and even without Backstrom, they have a lot of offensive firepower. We’ve got to make sure we’re on our toes.”
As for the Bruins’ situation, the team knows that it needs a pair of points to go in, but their main focus is continuing to build on their improved play of late. The team has won three games in a row, something they hadn’t done over their previous 41 games, but playing well for the remainder of the season and going to the playoffs confident is more important to them than clinching a spot a spot and feeling accomplished.
“It would be nice, but I think our main focus is on playing well and making sure that we’re being consistent and going into the playoffs feeling good about ourselves and about our game,” McQuaid said of clinching. “I guess it would be a bonus to be able to clinch as soon as possible, but at the end of the day, we just have to worry about playing good hockey.”
Added McQuaid: “It’s only the beginning of where we want to get to. You have to make the playoffs in order to give yourself a chance to win the Cup. ‘¦ [We can] get that first step, and then shift our focus to what we’re really working towards.”
|Infected cut forces Dennis Seidenberg out of Bruins’ lineup for first time this season||03.29.12 at 12:07 pm ET|
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was the only Bruin missing from morning skate Thursday, and he’ll miss his first game of the season when the B’s host the Capitals Thursday night at TD Garden.
Seidenberg will be kept out of the lineup with an infected cut. The blueliner suffered the cut on his left leg Saturday against the Kings, and after getting it stitched up played Sunday and Tuesday prior to it becoming infected.
“In LA, he suffered a cut on his leg, and they stitched it up and everything was good, but a little infection has gotten into it now, so he’s on antibiotics and just to play it safe, we’re going to keep him out,” coach Claude Julien explained. “It’s just day-to-day, it’s not long-term. It’s just to take care of that.”
Joe Corvo, who has been a healthy scratch for the last six games, will be inserted into the lineup in place of Seidenberg. With Seidenberg not playing for the first time this season, centers Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly will remain the only two Bruins to play in each contest.
Julien added that the team will “probably” go with the same forwards as they have the last two games, meaning Daniel Paille is likely to remain a healthy scratch.
|Tuukka Rask hopes to return in time for playoffs||03.28.12 at 3:19 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask told ESPNBoston and other outlets Wednesday that his recovery from an abdominal strain/groin strain is going well and that he hopes to be ready for the postseason.
‘I want to be back as soon as possible,’ Rask said. ‘The playoffs was, and is, the goal.’
Rask said that he hopes to return to the ice at some point next week, with him hopefully being ready for game action following the soon after. The B’s will play their last game of the regular season next Saturday against the Sabres.
‘It’s tough to speculate,’ Rask said. ‘You never know. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll hit the ice next week if everything goes good and go from there.’
Rask leads the Bruins with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. He had an 11-8-3 record with three shutouts in 23 games before suffering his injury against the Islanders on March 3.
If Rask is not ready in time for the first round of the playoffs, the B’s would likely go with Providence starter Anton Khudobin as the backup to Tim Thomas. The Bruins signed veteran goaltender Marty Turco following the injury to Rask, but Turco would not be eligible for postseason play because he was signed after the trade deadline.
|Bruins hold optional practice, with more likely to come||03.28.12 at 1:16 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Fresh off their fourth game in six nights, the Bruins held an optional practice Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena to prepare for yet another four in six stretch.
Healthy scratches Daniel Paille, Mike Mottau, Joe Corvo and Torey Krug were joined by Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell, Jordan Caron, Benoit Pouliot, Greg Zanon and Marty Turco. Coaches Bob Essensa, Doug Houda and Doug Jarvis were on the ice while Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli watched from above.
Julien had said the team was tired after Tuesday’s win over the Lightning, due in large part to their busy schedule and having to travel back from California this week. As a result, an optional skate was in everyone’s best interest.
“Some of those guys are logging big minutes here, and I think it’s just about managing it,” he said Wednesday. “Again, we’ve got four [games] in six [days] coming up, so we need to get some rest somewhere along the way.”
With a busy schedule the rest of the way (six games in the next 10 days), Julien said it’s likely that optional practices will be more frequent.
“I think there’s a good chance some of it’s going to be like that,” he said. “We’ve talked about [finding ways to stay rested] since the start of the year, and we have to find some times where we can get some of our rest. When you come back from a trip like we did, Monday wasn’t a day off. Monday was a travel day, so today was about giving some of those guys some recuperation time, and hopefully get set for the stretch run here.”
|Bruins beat Lightning for third straight victory||03.27.12 at 10:11 pm ET|
Tuesday night was all about “3” at TD Garden Tuesday night. No. 33, Zdeno Chara, notched three assists for the third time in his career to help lead the Bruins to their third straight victory. The B’s defeated the Lightning, 5-2.
The Bruins received scoring from Shawn Thornton, Dennis Seidenberg, Benoit Pouliot, Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley to give them three wins in a row for the first time since Dec. 19-28, a span of 41 games.
Steven Stamkos had both of Tampa’s goals to give the 22-year-old a league-leading 55 tallies on the season. Tim Thomas made his return to the net after having Sunday off, with the reigning Vezina winner facing only 18 shots and making 16 saves. Dwayne Roloson stopped 33 of 27 shots.
The Bruins will be back in action Thursday against the Capitals.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Thornton’s goal was his first in 35 games. His last goal prior to it was a memorable one, as he last scored when he beat Ondrej Pavelec on a penalty shot against the Jets on Jan. 10.
– In fact, Thornton’s line with Gregory Campbell and Jordan Caron had a strong showing for the B’s. Thornton broke up a play at the blue line in the Bruins’ zone to give himself a breakaway before being stopped by Roloson in the first period, while Campbell was denied on multiple bids in the second period. Campbell was initially credited with the secondary helper on Thornton’s goal but a scoring change took it away.
– Brian Rolston extended his point streak to seven games with the assist on Pouliot’s goal. Rolston has three goals and nine assists in that span, while Pouliot now has five points (three goals, two assists) over his last three games.
– Patrice Bergeron was once again stellar in the faceoff circle. The veteran center won 20 of 25 draws.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– In addition to not playing his best hockey, Tyler Seguin has been taking a lot of minor penalties of late. He took two more Tuesday, the first of which came late in the second period when the second-year player went off for tripping Steven Stamkos. At full speed and without the benefit of replays, the play looked like a slew foot, and but Seguin has to watch it even if it wasn’t. Including a third-period high-sticking penalty, Seguin has more minor penalties (six) than points (five) over his last seven games.
– Stamkos has an NHL-leading 55 goals this season, and five of those goals have come against the Bruins in four meetings. Stamkos has had two goals in each of the teams’ last two meetings, with each goal Tuesday tying the game. If it makes the B’s feel any better, Stamkos scores a lot against every other team, too.
|Bruins-Lightning Live Blog: B’s looking for third straight win||03.27.12 at 7:28 pm ET|
|Torey Krug ready to make the most of his time in Boston||03.27.12 at 2:07 pm ET|
Former Michigan State captain Torey Krug thinks he’s ready to make the jump from the college hockey to the NHL, and after signing with the Bruins over the weekend following his junior season, the 20-year-old defenseman skated with his new teammates for the first time Tuesday morning.
“A couple of days ago, I was sitting in my house in East Lansing getting ready to study for a test, and here I am sitting in a locker room full of NHLers,” Krug said. “It’s been a great past couple of days, and I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks.”
When negotiating with the Bruins, it was agreed upon that Krug (pronounced KROOG), would spend the rest of the regular season in the NHL, which burns a season of his three-year entry level contract. Krug doesn’t know whether he’ll get into any games, but he’s eager to learn from players he grew up looking up to. In the case of Zdeno Chara, the 5-foot-9 (if that) Krug takes the expression literally.
“I’m looking up very high,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know if they built these lockers for him, but I can barely reach my helmet up top. It’s pretty funny, and I look forward to learning from him.”
His lack of size is something Krug has heard about his whole life. It’s likely why he went undrafted, but he uses as motivation.
“My whole life, I’ve been told I’m too small, and I think that’s one of the reasons that I wasn’t drafted,” he said. “At the same time, not being drafted is a blessing in disguise. There are few times in pro sports where guys get to pick where they want to play. I had the opportunity, and here I am in Boston.”
What Krug lacks physically, he makes up for with his leadership skills. He was a captain at Michigan State the last two seasons, wearing the ‘C’ for the first time as a sophomore.
“The kid’s got tremendous character,” Peter Chiarelli said on Sunday. “He’s not a big player, but he’s got a lot of heart.”
Said Krug: “I’d like to think I’m a dynamic skater. I can definitely play both sides of the puck. A lot of guys see me as a smaller defenseman and they think, ‘Oh, he’s just an offensive defenseman,’ but I like to take care of the D zone. I take a lot of pride in making that first pass out of the zone.”
When Krug decided to leave after his junior season, he had his choice when it came to where he wanted to play. Having watched the playoffs last spring, he saw a lot to like about the Bruins, so they were the pick.
“When you make a decision like that, it comes down to a lot of things, but the one thing that it always came back to is I want to be part of a winning organization,” he said. “That’s what the Boston Bruins have here.”