|Nathan Horton practices; Rich Peverley skates with B’s healthy scratches||04.30.13 at 11:33 am ET|
The Bruins held their first practice of the postseason Tuesday at TD Garden, and the lines featured the return of Nathan Horton and some evidence that Rich Peverley could be in line for a healthy scratch in Game 1 against the Maple Leafs.
Horton has been skating since last week but has been out of game action since suffering an upper-body injury in a fight against Jarome Iginla on April 20. He skated on his normal line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic on Tuesday.
Peverley, meanwhile, practiced in a green jersey, which is worn by players not skating on the top four lines. The lines were as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Marchand – Bergeron – Seguin
Daugavins – Kelly – Jagr
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
Extra forwards: Peverley, Soderberg, Pandolfo
Following the practice, Claude Julien said that the lines from Tuesday’s skate are no sure thing to be the lines for Game 1 on Wednesday night.
“That doesn’t mean that’s my lineup, just so you guys know,” he said. “I put some lines together today, but my lineup has not been done yet. It will get finalized tomorrow.”
|Peter Chiarelli says Bruins underachieved down the stretch||04.29.13 at 3:37 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said on a conference call Monday that the B’s are going to need to turn in better play than they did over the last two months of the season if they want to be successful in the postseason.
After starting out strong (8-1-1 in their first 10 games), the B’s struggled down the stretch and went 3-5-2 over their final 10 games of the 48-game season. It ended Sunday with the B’s failing to secure the Northeast Division by losing to the Senators in the regular-season finale. As the No. 4 seed, the B’s will play the No. 5 Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
“I’m not going to offer any excuses. We didn’t perform to the level we were capable of performing on a number of different fronts,” Chiarelli said. “It was good that we had a strong front and were able to finish where we finished. If I’m going to judge our team on the latter half of the year, I’m going to have to say that we’re going to have to really step up our performance to have success in the playoffs.”
Chiarelli compared a season to a dam with holes to fill, noting that “there just seems to be more holes this year.” Asked where the team’s confidence level is at this point of the season, he said it has been “average” over the last month.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins were second best in Northeast Division||04.29.13 at 2:26 am ET|
When all was said and done with the regular season, the Bruins were the second-best team in the Northeast Division, both on paper and on the ice.
The same Bruins who had all those returning players, with all that familiarity. The same Bruins who were going to have a leg up on the rest of the league because they had 12 players play during the lockout. The same Bruins who were expected to run away with the division.
It’s only socially acceptable to quote yourself when pointing out a funny tweet of yours that you’re afraid someone might have missed, but this calls for it anyway. From Jan. 18, the day before the season started:
Anything can happen in a short season, and a strong 10, 15, 20-game run can put any team in good position to make the playoffs, but the safe bet is that the Bruins are the only serious Cup contenders in their division.
The Senators or Sabres – both of whom will play the B’s five times — figure to be the Bruins’ biggest competition, with Ottawa coming off an eighth-seed finish last season and the Sabres toughening up with the additions of Steve Ott and John Scott.
Though the Sabres might be better-equipped to drop the gloves with the B’s, they still can’t hang with them. Buffallo finished in the bottom half of the league in scoring, goals against, power play and penalty kill.
Then there’s the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens. The Leafs weakened their blue line in trading Luke Schenn for James van Riemsdyk, and though van Riemsdyk is one of the most talented players in the league, that’s an awfully risky move for a team with suspect goaltending.
The Habs, on the other hand, definitely have the goaltending, but they have a new coach with a new system to go with a team coming off a brutal season. Then there’s the fact that they didn’t sign restricted free agent P.K. Subban during training camp. Even if that team eventually hits its stride, it could take quite a while.
Take that with a grain of salt because the writer’s a hack, but nothing about it seemed wrong at the time. The Bruins appeared to be the only big boys in the division, and it was supposed to take Michel Therrien longer than it did for him to straighten things out in Montreal.
He obviously straightened things out pretty quickly, and the Bruins had two good months before they stopped looking like a great team. The Canadiens won the Northeast Division by a point, which is fitting because every game between the teams this year were one-goal games, but it has been apparent for some time now that the Canadiens have been the class of the division.
As consistent as the Habs were for the majority of the season, they even gave the B’s the opportunity to take the division late in the season. They went 4-7-0 over an 11-stretch from April 3-April 23 and the Bruins didn’t take advantage. The Habs went 4-6-0 over their last 10, and the Bruins went 3-5-2.
So perhaps it isn’t too surprising that when the B’s entered this weekend tied in points with the Canadiens with two games left to Montreal’s one, they didn’t emerge with the division title. The Canadiens won their game Saturday by beating the Maple Leafs by three goals, and the Bruins blew a two-goal lead and lost to the Capitals in overtime before falling to the Senators at home in regulation Sunday.
So despite the intimidation factor, recent Stanley Cup and preseason expectations, the Bruins will enter the postseason as the No. 4 seed. They weren’t at their best in the regular season, so the postseason will be a good time to change their level of play.
|Bruins-Maple Leafs to begin Wednesday||04.28.13 at 11:45 pm ET|
The NHL announced the first-round schedule on Sunday night. Here’s how the Bruins’ and Maple Leafs series, which begins Wednesday at the Garden, looks:
Game 1 at Boston: Wednesday, May 1, 7 p.m.
Game 2 at Boston: Saturday, May 4, 7 p.m.
Game 3 at Toronto: Monday, May 6, 7 p.m.
Game 4 at Toronto: Wednesday, May 8, 7 p.m.
Game 5 at Boston (if necessary): Friday, May 10, 7 p.m.
Game 6 at Toronto (if necessary): Sunday, May 12
Game 7 at Boston (if necessary): Monday, May 13
|Bruins put Northeast Division title in jeopardy in bad loss to Capitals||04.27.13 at 9:43 pm ET|
The Bruins blew a two-goal lead in the third period and put their division hopes in jeopardy with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals.
With the B’s leading, 2-0, entering the third, Washington came back in the first eight minutes of the third with a pair of power-play goals from Mike Green. With Zdeno Chara in the box in overtime, Eric Fehr scored on a rebound to give Washington the win. The B’s got goals from Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference in the first and second periods, respectively. Lucic also had an assist on Ference’s goal.
Though he brought the Capitals back to tie the game, Green ended up doing the Bruins a favor when he took a hooking penalty with 1:39 remaining and the teams already playing 4-on-4 with Brad Marchand and Alexander Ovechkin in the box. The penalty gave the B’s a 4-on-3 through the end of regulation and the first 21 seconds of overtime, though they failed to score on the man advantage. Zdeno Chara ended up taking a hooking penalty to give the league’s best power play a two-minute 4-on-3 in overtime, leading to Fehr’s game-winner.
The Canadiens were up big on the Maple Leafs in the third period when the Bruins and Capitals finished, so the B’s will presumably need two points Sunday against the Senators in order to win the Northeast Division.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- It was yet another blown lead in the third period for the Bruins, and the regularly with which they’ve done it is alarming this season.
- The B’s took three penalties in the first 10 minutes of a third period that began with the B’s holding a two-goal lead. Green got the Capitals on the board on a power play that came from an Adam McQuaid tripping penalty called at 5:11, and Rich Peverley took a tripping penalty of his own just over a minute after Green’s goal first goal to set up Green’s game-tying strike.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- It took a bit of luck for Lucic to score his second goal in the last 15 games, as David Krejci won a faceoff in the offensive zone and drew it back to Lucic. The left winger threw a shot on net and it went off the left leg of Karl Alzner and past Braden Holtby. It had to feel good for Lucic to get the goal any way he could, and the fact that it came at the embarassment of last year’s playoff nemesis in Alzner had to to be icing on the cake.
- Lucic may have gotten some luck on his goal, but he was active Saturday and played a big role in Boston’s second goal. Lucic took the puck through the neutral zone and fed Rich Peverley entering the Capitals zone before going hard to the net. By the time Ference took a pass from Peverley and fired it on net, Braden Holtby had a hard time seeing it as it went past him. Additionally, Lucic finished second to Tyler Seguin with four shots on goal.
- Though the two goals Rask allowed in a short span were two more than Rask had allowed in his last two starts combined, the Bruins’ starting netminder turned in another strong showing. The B’s wanted him to get hot at the right time and it appears he is doing just that.
|With Northeast Division up for grabs, Bruins and Canadiens sputtering late||04.24.13 at 12:59 am ET|
The Bruins and Canadiens always go down to the wire — though the Habs won three of four meetings this season, all four were one-goal games — but this is just weird. With the Northeast Division up for grabs, neither team seems willing to take it.
As of Wednesday, the Bruins and Habs are tied with 59 points, with each team taking turns giving the other an opportunity to take control of the division and No. 2 seed in the conference.
Boston is 1-4-1 over its last six games, while the Habs are 1-5-0. What was once a furious race for a division title has turned into standstill consisting of loss after loss.
The Canadiens gave the Bruins their latest chance at getting some distance in the standings when they dropped a 3-2 decision in regulation to the Devils on Tuesday night. The Bruins could have led by two points with one game in hand by beating the Flyers, but they put up a stinker in Philadelphia and lost, 5-2.
The B’s still have the edge, as they have three games remaining to Montreal’s two. However, if the teams both finish with the same number of points, the Canadiens would hold the tiebreaker as long as they don’t win another game in a shootout (the tiebreaker is regulation and overtime wins combined, with the Habs holding a 24-23 advantage).
Both of Montreal’s remaining games are against contenders in the desperate Jets (ninth in the conference and a point out of a playoff spot) and the Maple Leafs. The series finale between the fifth-place Leafs and Habs actually could matter, as the Leafs have three games left to play. If they win on Wednesday against Tampa Bay or Thursday against Florida, and Montreal loses to the Jets, Toronto will be able to leapfrog the Habs for fourth place. There’s a number of scenarios in which the Leafs could surpass the Habs (or the B’s for that matter), as Toronto has more regulation and overtime wins (25) than either team. Long story short, the Bruins and Canadiens actually do have to win games, or they’ll run the risk of falling as low as the No. 5 spot and lose home-ice advantage in the first round.
Both the B’s and Habs are obviously struggling, but one can’t help but look at the standings and see that the potential opponent for the No. 4 seed (which currently would the No. 5 Maple Leafs) would be a lot easier than some of the teams that the No. 2 seed could face. As of Wednesday, the Rangers and Senators were tied with 52 points, with the eighth-place New York having played 46 games to Ottawa’s 45. Depending on how things play out, the Bruins beating the Senators on Sunday potentially could lock them into a matchup with the Rangers. John Tortorella‘s club has been a mess this season, but Henrik Lundqvist might be the last guy the Bruins would want to see in the first round. Maybe the Canadiens are thinking the same thing.
So with five days remaining in the regular season, the Northeast Division is up for grabs, maybe even between three teams. Maybe neither the Canadiens nor the Bruins want to see the Rangers or Senators in the first round, but they’ve got to start winning games for the sake of not dragging their feet into the playoffs.
By the end of the day Sunday, one of these teams will have won the division, but neither will be able to say it was pretty.
|Bruins sloppy in loss to Flyers||04.23.13 at 10:15 pm ET|
The Bruins could have taken a big step towards securing the Northeast Division, but a rough second period in Philadelphia led to a 5-2 loss to the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night.
With the Canadiens having lost to the Devils in regulation, the B’s could have taken a two-point lead over the Habs in the division with one game in hand. With the Bruins losing, both teams remain at 59 points on the season. The Canadiens have two more games left, while the B’s have three.
Scott Hartnell got the Flyers on the board 1:40 into the game, and though Wade Redden scored his first goal as a Bruin to tie the game and the B’s appeared to be in control, the second period was a mess. Matt Read scored a sensational goal in which he batted a rebound past Anton Khudobin in mid-air, with a miscue from Zdeno Chara and Khudobin leading to another Flyers goal just seven seconds later.
Khudobin was pulled after the goal (credited to Oliver Lauridsen), but Jakub Voracek made it 4-1 by scoring a breakaway goal on Tuukka Rask at 5:33 of the third period. The B’s got a goal back when David Krejci did all the work himself for his 10th goal of the season, but Simon Gagne made it 5-2 just 13 seconds later.
With the game seemingly out of reach in the third, Khudobin returned to the game in place of Rask.
The Bruins will return home to face the Lightning Thursday night at TD Garden before concluding the regular season with games against the Capitals and Senators this weekend.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Flyers’ first three goals came on big mistakes from the Bruins. Hartnell scored off a giveaway from Krejci, while Read’s goal came as a result of a giveaway from Brad Marchand. With the puck in the Bruins’ zone, Marchand’s pass to Tyler Seguin was intercepted by Wayne Simmonds, who fired a shot on net to lead to the rebound on which Read scored.
The worst of the bunch was the Lauridsen goal, as Khudobin saw the puck as it was coming towards the net. He tried to play it and failed, making for a rather embarrassing goal that got him yanked from the game.
- Speaking of Khudobin, that performance probably didn’t help his case to potentially get a game here or there in the playoffs. Claude Julien has played only one goalie in each of his first five postseasons with the Bruins, and Khudobin did nothing to change that Tuesday night.
- It isn’t often that Patrice Bergeron struggles at the faceoff dot, so it’s worth noting when he does. Bergeron won only two of his seven draws in the first period Tuesday. Bergeron dug himself out of the hole and finished the game 9-for-18 on draws.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Julien is certainly holding his players accountable. After Marchand’s giveaway that led to the Flyers’ second goal (Seguin was also out there for the tally), neither Marchand nor Seguin saw the ice for the rest of the period, a span of over eight and a half minutes.
Julien then broke up the Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin line, putting Seguin with Milan Lucic and Krejci, while Jaromir Jagr jumped on with Marchand and Bergeron.
- Though the Krejci line was on the ice for Voracek’s goal, the center at least broke a season-worst five-game pointless streak. With the exception of that recent stretch, Krejci has had his most consistent season in years, and the Bruins will definitely need a big postseason performance out of him given their offensive issues.
- Carl Soderberg got his second assist in as many games, as he got the secondary apple on Redden’s first period goal. Jagr had the primary helper, as he fired the shot on net that led to the rebound on which Redden cashed in out in front. In 10 games with the B’s, Jagr has two goals and seven assists for nine points.
- Chara owns, and is a fantastic captain
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- Game 1 Gif Recap: Marchand, Big Z, and the Rookie D. Bruins win it in OT.
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