|5 things we learned as late Zdeno Chara goal leads Bruins past Maple Leafs||11.21.15 at 9:47 pm ET|
Though the stakes weren’t quite as high as when they most notably did it, the Bruins scored late to defeat the Maple Leafs at TD Garden.
With the game scoreless with under four minutes to play, Zdeno Chara took a pass from Zach Trotman, glided up to the left circle, and fired a slap shot past a screening David Krejci and Leafs goaltender James Reimer. Brad Marchand then added an empty-netter with 6.5 seconds remaining to give the B’s a 2-0 victory.
With the win and Thursday’s victory over the Wild, the Bruins now have back-to-back home wins for the first time this season. They’ll next head out on a two-game road trip that will begin with a contest against the very Leafs team they defeated Saturday.
Here are four more things we learned Saturday:
RASK STANDS TALL
Tuukka Rask hasn’t stolen many games this season, but he made enough key saves to do it Saturday night in what proved to be a goaltending duel with James Reimer.
Most notable Rask, stopped Shawn Matthias on three of breakaways, first stoning the former Canucks forward on a break that came when Colin Miller fell down at the blue line in the first period. Matthias had another breakaway in the second against the Krug-McQuaid pairing but was again stopped by the Boston goaltender. Rask made it 3-for-3 by stopping Matthias on a partial break during a Bruins power play in the third.
The shutout was Rask’s second of the season.
MARCHAND DETERMINES SPECIAL TEAMS
The Bruins had only one penalty and one power play Saturday. Brad Marchand figured into both.
Marchand put the Leafs on the power play in the first period with a roughing penalty that came with a takedown of James van Riemsdyk. The UNH product went after Marchand due to a leg check that the B’s winger put on Leo Komarov, with Marchand then throwing the 6-foot-3 van Riemsdyk to the ice.
Marchand end up making up for it, as he was the victim of a Nazim Kadri high stick that put the B’s on the power play early in the third. Given how bad the B’s fared on that power play (the Leafs’ penalty kill had better scoring chances), it probably wasn’t worth it.
Speaking of Marchand…
MARCHAND HAS GOAL OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE, BUT SINCE HE DIDN’T SCORE IT PROBABLY WON’T QUALIFY
That we can safely say the Garden crowd was the most impressed it’s been in a home game this season on a play in which the Bruins didn’t score says a lot about how the Bruins have played at home. That sentence was wordy, but the long and short of it is that Marchand nearly scored the goal of his life on a first-period rush in which absolutely embarrassed Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly.
After winning the puck along the boards in the neutral zone, Marchand first cut in and then back out, fooling Rielly with each move. His attempt to finish on the play was stopped by Riemer.
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) November 22, 2015
And speaking of close calls with goals…
REVIEW DOESN’T HELP B’S
With the game still scoreless with under eight minutes remaining, Matt Hunwick appeared to lay out in a successful attempt to stop Jimmy Hayes from jamming the puck past Reimer. The play was reviewed, and though replays showed the play to be much closer than it seemed live, there were likely too many bodies there to actually see the puck and whether it crossed the line.
|Max Talbot’s (literal) up and down season continues||11.21.15 at 1:01 pm ET|
Max Talbot has found the AHL different this season from when he’d last seen it.
Ten years after being promoted to the NHL, Talbot is back to minor-league life as he goes up and down between Boston in Providence. Currently with the NHL club, Talbot said Saturday that his experience with Providence has opened his eyes to what players are in these days.
“Not only the league changed, but hockey in general changed from 10 years ago,” he said. “Guys are a little bit more professional. They come more mature when they’re younger. They come prepared, they’ve been working out for a certain number of years.
“The game is faster, the game is bigger. The younger guys, they have their legs and they forecheck. The game is similar in a way, but super different. I think it’s a better game than 10 years ago, like the NHL‘s better now than it was before.”
Talbot was 21 when he went from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He recalls there being more of a split between prospects and veteran players back then than there is now, where teams might be more inclined to carry as many prospects as they can get.
“It was more of a veteran type of game,” he said. “Now it’s a little more younger and a development-type atmosphere.”
Talbot can only hope that his AHL days are over (again), but that’s not likely. Frank Vatrano is expected to begin practicing on Sunday, meaning the Bruins will again have 12 healthy forwards. The B’s could opt to bring Talbot on their upcoming road trip, but if Vatrano’s health doesn’t signal his return to Providence, David Pastrnak’s eventual health figures to.
That said, Talbot said he is not resigned to having to go up and down this season. His goal is to force his way back into the lineup for good.
“There’s always things you can do,” he said. “If I play the best hockey I can play and show them that they can’t take me out of the lineup, that’s what I’m hoping I can do. If I play like I can play, the top of my [game], you can force some hands and stay here. That’s the goal of any pro athlete, to give the best you can give and hope for the best.”
Talbot may not be up for long, but Claude Julien feels fortunate to still have the 31-year-old forward as an option. The fact that he’s both a veteran and someone with whom the team is familiar means that the team generally knows what they’ll get from him.
“He’s an experienced guy,” Julien said. “‘¦ He comes, he competes hard. He understands what we’re trying to do here so it’s not like we’re trying to teach somebody. That’s the luxury that we have with Max being in Providence. When you bring him up you’re bringing a veteran player that’s played the game. But he’s not nervous about playing in this league and understands. He’s been with us since last year, so he understands exactly what we’re all about here.”
|Bruins recall Max Talbot from Providence||11.21.15 at 10:29 am ET|
The Bruins recalled Max Talbot from Providence on Saturday, a move that gives them 12 healthy forwards for Saturday’s game with Frank Vatrano out with an upper-body injury.
Talbot has been up and down between Boston and Providence this season, skating in five games at the NHL level. He has played in seven games for Providence, registering one goal and five assists for six points.
Saturday will mark Talbot’s second game in two days, as the 31-year-old skated in Friday’s P-Bruins game against Lehigh Valley.
The Bruins did not hold a morning skate on Saturday, but it would seem logical for Talbot to play on the fourth line with Zac Rinaldo and Tyler Randell.
“I’m glad to be back,” Talbot said Saturday morning. “I’ve had a chance to play a little bit more down there also, so I feel healthy, feel good, ready to go and help any way I can.”
The B’s will host the Maple Leafs Saturday night at TD Garden, marking the final game of their five-game homestand.
|Frank Vatrano day-to-day, Bruins expected to call up a forward||11.20.15 at 11:24 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Frank Vatrano was absent from Friday’s Bruins practice after suffering an upper-body injury in Thursday’s win over the Wild.
The rookie left wing turned as he was about to get hit into the end boards, resulting in his shoulder/arm hitting taking the brunt of the impact from Nate Prosser’s hit. According to a source, Vatrano is likely to miss Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs, though the source was hopeful the rookie wouldn’t be out long. Claude Julien termed the injury “day-to-day.”
With Vatrano out and the Bruins having only 20 players, defenseman Joe Morrow practiced as a left wing. Matt Beleskey moved up to take Vatrano’s place on David Krejci‘s line, while Morrow skated on a fourth line centered by Zac Rinaldo.
Julien said that Morrow will not play forward on Saturday, saying that the team was likely to make a callup. Seth Griffith is apparently ready to play for Providence after missing time with a concussion, while Max Talbot could also be recalled. Morrow has been a healthy scratch for the last six games.
Kevan Miller, who missed Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury, did not practice. The lines and pairings in practice were as follows:
|5 things we learned: Very good player Loui Eriksson’s hat trick leads Bruins past Wild||11.19.15 at 9:40 pm ET|
In a season that’s featured plenty of bad, no Bruins player has been as good as Loui Eriksson. The 30-year-old provided another reminder on Thursday night.
Eriksson picked up his first hat trick as a Bruin as he scored Boston’s second, third and fourth goals in a 4-2 win over the Wild. It took Eriksson only 16:37 to score his three goals.
While it was Eriksson’s first three-goal showing with the B’s, it was also his third multi-goal performance in 18 games this season. Eriksson now leads the Bruins with nine goals on the season, one ahead of linemate David Krejci‘s eight.
With Thursday’s performance, it’s probably worth noting again that Eriksson is in the final year of a contract that carries a $4.25 million cap hit. Teams don’t get better by losing their best players, so the Bruins would be wise to do their best to try and retain the player.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday night:
HIT ENDS VATRANO’S NIGHT
Rookie callup Frank Vatrano went hard into the endboards on his first shift of the second period and did not return to the game. Vatrano went turned at the last second as he was set to absorb a hit from Nate Prosser, resulting in him appearing to hit the boards with his right shoulder taking the brunt of the impact. Claude Julien told reporters following the game that Vatrano had an upper-body injury.
Vatrano had taken warmups with David Krejci and Loui Eriksson, but he also saw time with Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly in the first period, taking only four shifts in the first 20 minutes.
If Vatrano is to miss any time, the Bruins would likely have to recall Max Talbot from Providence, as they currently have only 12 forwards on their roster and Providence forwards Alexander Khokhlachev, Seth Griffith and Brian Ferlin are injured.
PK STEPS UP
The Bruins did a very un-Bruins thing Thursday by killing penalties successfully.
After entering the night with the worst penalty kill in the league, the B’s managed to kill off all three of Minnesota’s power plays, including a Brad Marchand hooking penalty at 15:53 of the third period that saw the Wild pull Devan Dubnyk and go 6-on-4.
By going 3-for-3 on the PK, the Bruins killed off all their penalties in a game for just the third time this season, not counting the season-opener in which the Jets never went on the power play.
BELESKEY DROPS THE GLOVES
Matt Beleskey hasn’t been a standout player to this point with the B’s, but it’s certainly not for lack of effort. Beleskey works hard and he plays as physical a game he can, as is evidenced by the fact that he leads the team in hits (which, to remind everyone, is the worst and dumbest stat in sports because it’s an anti-possession stat, but I digress).
On Thursday, Beleskey’s toughness was tested in his first fight with the Bruins. The former Duck passed with flying colors, pounding Brett Bulmer to the ice in short order 5:34 into the game. Beleskey had drawn a tripping penalty on Bulmer earlier in the period.
BRUINS SWITCH MILLERS
Kevan Miller sat out with an upper-body injury Thursday, allowing Colin Miller to re-enter the lineup after a two game stint in the press box.
Miller had an up-and-down night, as he started the rush that resulted in Eriksson’s third goal but also played a part in a goal against. He didn’t catch a pass from Zdeno Chara at the Bruins’ blue line in the second period, resulting in a turnover. That led to Nino Niederreiter feeding Mikko Koivu, whose shot yielded a rebound that Jason Zucker buried past Jonas Gustavsson just over five minutes into the second period for Minnesota’s first goal.
|Ryan Spooner benching a reminder Bruins’ can’t embrace potential as much as they’ve said||11.18.15 at 2:52 pm ET|
The Bruins have long said that this season is about potential. Yet it seems that they feel their best chance of realistically winning games is to bank on more sure things than embracing that potential. They’re not necessarily wrong in thinking that; they just might need to cool it on that P-word for a while.
When Claude Julien benched Ryan Spooner in the third period of Tuesday’s loss to the Sharks, the worst part of it was that the change didn’t allow the Bruins to complete their comeback. The second-worst part of it is that it loaned more evidence to the historically incorrect Claude Hates The Kids argument.
If the Bruins had their act together on the back end and could kill penalties, do you really think Julien would have benched Spooner for his bad second period Tuesday? Of course not. Yet this season has seen him limit players like Spooner and David Pastrnak when they’ve struggled because the Bruins, for all the gushy stuff they’ve said about their young players, can’t actually give them the keys because the Bruins aren’t good enough to absorb their mistakes.
Asked after the game why he gave Spooner no even-strength time in the final period, Julien snapped back at the reporter, asking if he had noticed that Joonas Kemppainen had earned the ice time inherited by Spooner’s benching. On Wednesday, Julien was more willing to elaborate on his decision to limit Spooner’s third-period shifts to just the power play and the final minute with an extra attacker.
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|Kevan Miller misses Bruins practice with upper-body injury||11.18.15 at 11:15 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Kevan Miller was missing from Wednesday’s practice as the Bruins looked to regroup from a disappointing 5-4 loss to the Sharks on Tuesday.
Miller, who has played in every game this season, went to the trainers’ room during the third period of Tuesday’s game and did not play the final 10:44.
“Right now, all I can tell you is he’s got an upper-body injury,” Claude Julien said after the practice. “I don’t know the details of what’s come up with the assessment. We’ll try and give you guys some more when we do. Right now I don’t have more than to tell you it’s upper-body.”
With the exception of David Pastrnak, who remains out with a foot injury and is still on crutches, all other players were on the ice for Wednesday’s practice. Julien stuck with the line of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Jimmy Hayes, shuffled the third line and left the other two the same as they’ve been in recent games. The lines and defensive pairings Wednesday were as follows:
The 8-8-1 Bruins will host the Wild Wednesday at TD Garden.