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Untimely penalties have become costly trend for Bruins vs. Senators 04.20.17 at 8:22 am ET
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Bruce Cassidy's team has made a habit of taking penalties at bad times. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bruce Cassidy’s team has made a habit of taking penalties at bad times. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

For the third game in a row, an untimely penalty was costly for the Bruins.

A too-many-men penalty with 4:10 remaining in the third period forced the Bruins to have to kill time while trailing 1-0, and they then struggled to set their offense in the final two minutes. The Bruins had a 13-minute stretch without a shot on goal, and finished with just 22 overall and never could get into a rhythm late.

“It was a little harder to create some [chances],” said Patrice Bergeron. “Once they got that goal they were closing us a little bit more and we have got to find ways to put pucks in deep and go back to what we’ve been doing earlier in that game.”

That call at the end of the game comes on the heels of a Riley Nash penalty in overtime during Game 3 and a Zdeno Chara delay of game call in Game 2 that led directly to Senators goals that won those contests.

In Game 4, the Bruins penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3, but that doesn’t hide the fact that untimely penalties have been problematic.

Every game in the series has been decided by one goal, all the more reason for discipline to be at the forefront.

“Usually games are very tight,” Chara said. “Some of the games could have went our way but they didn’t and we can’t be blaming that or be frustrated, we need to keep our heads up and get ready for the next one.”

Especially on a shortened roster, where two defensemen in Charlie McAvoy and Joe Morrow saw little-to-no time all season, those man-down situations wear out the defense.

“I thought what we’ve asked our defensemen to do, I think they’ve done a pretty good job for guys that got thrown into the situation,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But, part of what we talk about for our guys is to own your moments. You’re getting an opportunity, and one that you probably wanted more of during the year. So, you’re asking a lot. But, by the same token, that’s what’s in front of them.”

The first penalty of the contest was on Kevan Miller in the opening frame, and with he and Chara the only remaining blueliners who were regular penalty killers all season, that proves even more costly.

On the other end, the Bruins also haven’t been able to get calls their way.

“Our power play through the course of the year has generated offense,” said Cassidy. “We haven’t drawn enough penalties too. So, we’ve got to look at ourselves there and say, how can we get on the power play and get inside more often, force them to pull you down a little bit.”

The Bruins have a chance to extend the series to a Game 6 on Garden ice if they can win on Friday in Ottawa, but with an offense that has struggled to put the puck in the net, continuing to give away opportunities could burn them.

Noel Acciari, Riley Nash continue strong play in Bruins win 03.29.17 at 8:44 am ET
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Noel Acciari scored his first career goal Tuesday night. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Noel Acciari scored his first career goal Tuesday night. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Riley Nash scored twice against the New York Islanders on Saturday night, one of the first signs the fourth line might have some new energy. On Tuesday against the Nashville Predators, that line once again shined, with Nash getting an assist and Noel Acciari scoring his first career NHL goal.

“It was special,” Acciari said. “Your first NHL goal is a special feeling and to finally have it…I couldn’t have done it without the other guys, the other four, five guys on the ice. But it feels good.

“Riley Nash made an unbelievable pass, so I was left with the easy part there.”

It took 45 games at the NHL level for Acciari to finally light the lamp, his goal being the third in the game against the Predators with four minutes remaining in the third period.

“I’m not really thinking at that point,” said Acciari. “I’m just – my mind is kind of just blank and as soon as I see it hit the netting, it was special… Just excited.”

More than just on the score sheet, Acciari continued to bring his trademark heavy hitting in a physical affair, leading to an eventual 10-minute misconduct in a mini-brawl at the end of the contest.

“I think I kind of strayed when I got back from my injury,” Acciari said. “I kind of strayed away from the hitting game and just getting in on the forecheck.”

“Part of the process with Noel that we talked about was rounding out his offensive game. You’re starting to see more, he’s making tight-area plays, and that was a great finish, obviously great play by Riley Nash,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’s really added to that line and slid in seamlessly.”

Nash now has five points in his last three games, as his line with Dominic Moore and Acciari carried the tone of the game against the Preds.

“I’m glad I don’t have to play against him because those look like they hurt a lot of the times,” Nash said of Acciari. “It doesn’t matter if he’s hitting you or you’re trying to hit him. He’s pretty sturdy. And he just creates a lot of space.”

Acciari led the team with eight hits on Tuesday night with 13:07 minutes on the ice, an increase from just 7:57 on Saturday against the Islanders, as Cassidy continued to roll the line as long as it produced. Meanwhile, it was a third line of Ryan Spooner, Drew Stafford and Jimmy Hayes that saw its ice time decrease.

“He’s come up here and really given us an opportunity to look at that fourth line,” Cassidy said of Acciari. “Maybe a little heavier in terms of physicality, because he can get there to finish checks.”

Acciari, who has only played 24 games with the Bruins this season, has found a role with that fourth line, and his team mates who have been there all season appreciate it.

“It’s nice to watch,” said Nash. “It’s nice to see a guy on our line banging someone. I know me and Dom aren’t the most physical guys. But, Noel is picking up where we’re a little short.”

Adam McQuaid, Bruins defense getting offensive with Bruce Cassidy’s system 02.13.17 at 8:50 am ET
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McQuaid carries the puck up ice. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Adam McQuaid scored his second goal of the season Sunday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

In the Bruce Cassidy era, Bruins blue-liners have averaged 3.5 points per game. It’s a limited sample size, but the change in approach is worth noting.

In the 4-0 win over Montreal on Saturday night, that defensive dominance on the offensive side of the puck was evident again, but not being reckless was echoed throughout the team.

“They’re on a roll, so let’s enjoy it,” Cassidy said on the offensive output from the defense. “We’ve kind of encouraged that, and they take it to heart. I thought we did a much better job with our decision making when to activate as well. We weren’t reckless. We had doubts against Vancouver, we addressed it this morning, make the right decisions and for the most part we did make the decisions.”

The newfound scoring prowess of the defense benefited Adam McQuaid on Sunday night. In the first period, he took a slick pass from rookie forward Peter Cehlarik from the opposite wing and fired a one-timer past Carey Price.

“Without being reckless, without taking the focus off the right side of the puck,” said McQuaid. “Defense first. I think you always want to defend.”

It was McQuaid’s second goal of the season, and his first since Jan. 18 against Detroit. Of his 12 career goals in the NHL, five of them have come against the Habs.

“Couldn’t tell you,” McQuaid said of his Montreal success. “Obviously it’s always great, there’s a great history between the organizations and there’s always fun and intense games when the teams play. I’m not thinking of trying to score more against them or anyone else.” Read the rest of this entry »

Bruins ownership invests in esports team Splyce 02.10.17 at 11:15 am ET
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eSports will be coming to TD Garden. (Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA Today Sports)

Esports could be coming to TD Garden. (Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA Today Sports)

Like many other teams and figures in professional sports, the Boston Bruins are delving into the world of esports.

The Bruins’ parent company, Delaware North, has invested in Splyce, an esports franchise that has nine competitive teams in games such as “League of Legends” and “Call of Duty.” Boston is now the third NHL team to invest in esports, along with the New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals. The Devils invested along with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the Caps were in partnership with the Washington Wizards.

Delaware North intends to use resources from the Bruins for the sales and marketing of Splyce.

According to a report from ESPN, there’s hope that the TD Garden might be used for esports events in the future. Splyce intends to work more around the Boston market in general.

Splyce was originally founded in 2015 and is based out of Rochester, New York. The company originally was more known for streaming esports matches before jumping into the fray themselves in professional competitions. It officially rebranded as Splyce a couple of months after initially branding as Fallow Esports.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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