|Patrice Bergeron ends Bruins’ regular season in style||04.07.12 at 6:37 pm ET|
Three assists weren’t enough for Patrice Bergeron on Saturday, so he closed the regular season by scoring the only goal of a shootout and giving the Bruins a 4-3 win over the Sabres. The B’s finished the season with a 49-29-4 record and 102 points.
The game didn’t count, but Bergeron’s line gave the Garden a glimpse of what they’re hoping to do in the playoffs. In addition to Bergeron’s three helpers, the line got two goals from Tyler Seguin and one from Marchand. Seguin finished the season with a team-leading 29 goals and 67 points.
The Bruins came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the third period on goals from Seguin and Marchand. The teams went scoreless through the overtime period.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– With 66 points, Seguin became the youngest player to ever lead the Bruins in points. He also tripled his total of 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) from his rookie year. Much of Seguin’s success has come thanks to the fact that he’s spent the season on lines with either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci, but credit has to be given for taking the leap the team hoped he would take.
– The Bruins gave out their team awards prior to the game. Brad Marchand was given the Dufresne Trophy, as voted on by the Boston chapter of the Pro Hockey Writers’ Association, for best play at home after totaling 17 goals and 13 assists for 30 points at the Garden this season. Zdeno Chara was given the Eddie Shore Award for hustle and determination, while Marchand also received the John P. Bucyk Award for off-ice charitable contributions.
– Fighting is a rarity in the playoffs, so Shawn Thornton got in one last fight — his 20th of the season — by dropping the gloves with Robyn Regehr in the first period.
– Bergeron’s second assist of the day was his 400th career point, and he finished the day with 64 points on the season and 401 in his career thus far. His 42 assists this season ties for his second-best single-season total in his career. His best season for assists remains 2006-07, when he had 48.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Tim Thomas did not get the 521-save (you read that right) shutout that he would have needed to remain the holder of the single-season save percentage record. Blues goaltender Brian Elliott, currently at .940, should surpass the .939 mark that Thomas had a season ago.
– Speaking of Thomas, Saturday marked just the first time in eight games that Thomas allowed three of more goals. That’s actually a pretty good sign for the Bruins, as his overall sharp play over the last few weeks is a good sign that he’s ready for the playoffs.
|Bruins-Sabres Live Blog: B’s look to finish regular season with a win||04.07.12 at 4:15 pm ET|
|Anton Khudobin shines vs. Senators||04.05.12 at 10:05 pm ET|
The Bruins didn’t have all their stars on the ice, but they still beat the team they are likely to face when the playoffs begin next Thursday. Led by goaltender Anton Khudobin, the B’s defeated the Senators, 3-1, in Ottawa on Thursday night.
Khudobin made 44 saves, allowing only a Jason Spezza goal in the second period. The Bruins jumped out to a two-goal lead on tallies from Benoit Pouliot and Greg Zanon before Spezza made it a one-goal game in the second period. Milan Lucic gave the B’s some insurance by scoring his 26th goal of the season in the third period.
Ben Bishop took the loss for Ottawa, allowing three goals on 27 shots.
The Bruins were playing without Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk, all of whom did not make the trip to Ottawa. The B’s will wrap up the regular season Saturday against the Sabres.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The chances that he could play in the postseason are slim, but it was a very encouraging sign for the Bruins to see Khudobin turn in a plus showing. Tuukka Rask has been skating since Monday, but if he isn’t ready for the playoffs, Khudobin will have to be Thomas’ backup. Khudobin last played in the NHL two seasons ago, and in his career he now has played seven games at the NHL level.
– Though he wasn’t directly responsible for them, Erik Karlsson was on the ice for all three of the Bruins’ goals. Karlsson leads all NHL defensemen with 78 points this season, but he might have a hard time beating Shea Weber or Chara for the Norris this year. Karlsson is a great player, but is he a great defenseman?
– Zanon’s goal was his first tally since joining the Bruins in a Feb. 27 trade. It was also his second point as a member of the B’s. Zanon put a shot on net from the point in hopes that it could get redirected past Bishop, but he put enough on it to beat the Senators’ goalie unencumbered.
Zanon was also credited with a game-high nine blocked shots, all of which came in the first two periods.
– The Bruins improved to 38-0-0 in games in which they held a two-goal lead at any point.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Adam McQuaid left the game in the second period and did not return. The Bruins issued no update on McQuaid during the game aside from saying that the defenseman was “doubtful” to return. He did not.
|Chris Kelly thinks 82 ain’t nothing but a number||04.05.12 at 2:32 pm ET|
Claude Julien and the Bruins have shown that when the end of the regular season rolls around, they are far more concerned about getting ready for the playoffs than wrapping up personal accomplishments. They don’t care about the number of games played, as long as they play a lot of them in the postseason.
Take Dennis Seidenberg last year, for example. The defenseman had often missed time in previous seasons due to injury, but was finally on pace for an 82-game season in 2010-11. It didn’t end up happening, as the Bruins gave him the 81st game off to get him some rest.
After the team left Patrice Bergeron, who is one of two Bruins to play the first 80 games of the season, back with Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara for Thursday’s game against the Senators, Chris Kelly will be the only Bruin left to play in each game this season. The team could give him Saturday off, or they could play him and give him his fourth career 82-game season. Never one to worry about his accomplishments, Kelly says he’ll let the team make the choice for him.
“Whatever they decide, whatever’s best,” Kelly said. “I’m easy either way. Eighty, or 82 or 81, it doesn’t really matter, to be honest. Whatever they feel is best for the team.”
Kelly’s other 82-game seasons came with the Senators, with the most recent one coming in 2008-09. His only game missed last season was the result of a visa issue following his trade to Boston.
“It’s your job to play,” he said. “Sometimes certain circumstances don’t let you play all 82. Injuries, the flu, personal issues, visas don’t allow you too. I think at the end of the day, it’s your job to play unless you’re told different.”
While Kelly may or may not play 82 games, there’s no disputing that this had been a career-year for the 31-year-old. He’s scored 20 goals for the first time in his career, and his 39 points are also a personal best. Fan voting allowed Tyler Seguin to win the Seventh Player award this week, but even Seguin hinted that Kelly may have been robbed.
Not surprisingly, Kelly responded to that by singing Seguin’s praises and pointing to others for his success.
“Obviously it’s nice to score goals and contribute offensively. I’ve been really lucky to play with some great linemates in my time here — last year and this year,” he said. “Ziggy’s a really deserving player of that award. Obviously he’s leading our team in goals, points, he’s up there in plus-minus. That’s a rare thing to see, a young player [with a good] plus-minus. So it’s a great choice, and I think it’s that much more special when the fans decide on it.’
|Claude Julien: Nathan Horton ‘not close’ to returning, but Tuukka Rask is progressing||04.04.12 at 1:34 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins saw both Nathan Horton and Tuukka Rask take the ice prior to Wednesday’s practice. For Rask, it means things are continuing to progress. For Horton, it’s a small step in the right direction.
Rask has been skating since Monday, as he aims to make a return from his abdomen strain/groin strain by the playoffs. The Bruins have Anton Khudobin up with the team now, and it’s likely that he’ll start Thursday’s game against the Senators. That should give Khudobin a little more NHL experience (he’s played six games for the Wild) before the playoffs start if he’s needed as Tim Thomas‘ backup, but in a perfect world the Bruins would have Rask back.
“Tuukka’s been skating for a few days, and he’s coming around,” coach Claude Julien said after Wednesday’s practice. “We hope to have him with us soon, at least in practice.
“With Nathan, it’s just going out there — nothing more than just skating and trying to get a feel of how things are. Nothing more than that. He’s not close to joining us as we speak. Still keeping our fingers crossed that it’s going in the right direction.”
Horton has not played since Jan. 22, when his second concussion in less than seven months forced him out of the lineup. His attempt at a comeback has been shaky this season, as he suffered a setback after trying to skate in February.
The Bruins don’t know whether they’ll get Horton back at any point in the playoffs, as the postseason can last up to two months. He’s a longshot to return soon, but Julien says Horton is in good spirits.
“He’s in a good spot emotionally,” Julien said of Horton. “I haven’t talked [to him] about anything related to hockey and him coming back. The last thing he needs is for his coach to start asking those kind of questions. That’s not my job and it’s certainly not something that would be a positive thing to do.
“I leave him be. Everything I do with him is small talk — how are you doing today — and he’s looking good color-wise. He seems to have good color, and we see he’s happy. Those kind of things are encouraging.”
|Bruins leave Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and Patrice Bergeron back in Boston||04.04.12 at 1:02 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara all stayed out on the ice for extra work after Wednesday’s practice, and all three players will join Johnny Boychuk in staying behind when the team travels to Ottawa for Thursday’s game against the Senators. Of the four players, all but Boychuk will simply be given the game off for rest.
Boychuk left Tuesday night’s loss to the Penguins in the third period with a leg injury, but Claude Julien offered no update on the status of the defenseman aside from the fact that he won’t be making the trip.
Thursday’s game will be the first this season in which Bergeron has not played, and it will leave Chris Kelly as the only Bruin to play in each contest. It will be Thomas’ second straight scratch as the team aims to keep the reigning Conn Smythe winner fresh for the playoffs.
|Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask skate prior to Bruins practice||04.04.12 at 11:14 am ET|
WILMINGTON — In an encouraging sign, Bruins forward Nathan Horton and goaltender Tuukka Rask skated for 40 minutes with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides prior to Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. Neither players was not on the ice as the team began their practice Wednesday.
Horton has been out since Jan. 22, when he suffered his second concussion in seven months. He tried skating in February, but had a setback and was shut back down. Wednesday marks the first time he has skated since then.
Whether Horton returns to the Bruins at any point in the postseason remains unclear. In 46 games this season, he has 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points.
Rask suffered an abdomen strain/groin strain on March 3. He said recently that he hopes to return in time for the postseason.
Johnny Boychuk, who left Tuesday night’s game in the third period, did not practice, while Jordan Caron returned to the ice after staying away from the team Tuesday with flu-like symptoms.