|Claude Julien: Make no mistake, Tuukka Rask still is team’s No. 1 goalie||03.26.13 at 11:21 am ET|
There’s no goalie controversy with the Bruins – at least certainly not in the eyes of coach Claude Julien.
Tuukka Rask wore the honorary “Red Rooster” T-shirt after turning away 23-of-25 shots in a 3-2 shootout win over the Maple Leafs on Monday night at TD Garden. After allowing two goals on the first nine shots he faced, both of which he had little chance of stopping, Rask was spectacular down the stretch, making several key saves in the final two minutes of regulation and two late in overtime to allow the Bruins to escape with two points.
Eyebrows were raised last week when Rask’s backup Anton Khudobin started back-to-back games against Ottawa and Toronto after the Rask lost games to Pittsburgh and Winnipeg to start the road trip.
Despite Rask’s 15-4-3 record, a sparkling .928 save percentage and a 1.90 goals against (second-best in the NHL), there were some murmurs that the Bruins might be closer to a platoon situation in net than anyone expected. Julien put that to rest Monday night.
“Well I don’t think Tuukka’s been bad at all,” Julien said. “I think you know, I hope people didn’t read into Khudobin playing two games, because I think Khudobin deserved to play two games. He’s played well all season long, he played well in Ottawa, and this was an opportunity to get him two games in a row and that’s all it was.
“You know, we’ve got a busy week this week and I needed Tuukka fresh and that’s all it was. So certainly had nothing to do with that. And Tuukka to me has been good and he’s never been bad, he’s been great and he’s been good. But you know, we’ve gotten some pretty good games out of him and I don’t think we can necessarily point the finger at him for losing any games for us this year.”
As a matter of fact, Rask didn’t even get that second game off as Khudobin was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots Saturday night in Toronto and Rask was sent in to try and salvage matters.
Rask and Khudobin have teamed to make a very effective combination this season, as the pair has combined for a 2.10 goals against, the second-best in the NHL this season. Khudobin gave Rask some advice on the final shootout save on Nikolai Kumelin, who beat him on a breakaway in the second period, the save that won the game.
“He made the same kind of move in that breakaway, and then Anton told me that’s the only move he’s got, so I kind of threw my blocker there and then just tried to stay with him and made my block,” Rask said.
Then came the kicker from the coach.
Asked whether Rask seemed to take the message of rest and being at full strength the right way, Julien said that’s up to each individual, pointing out that sometimes players – like Tim Thomas – can be quirky and hard to read.
“I don’t know, I think it’s one of those things that everybody reads it whichever way they can. And you know that from the goaltender last year,” Julien said.
|Second thoughts: Claude Julien reverts to old lines, B’s beat Leafs in shootout||03.25.13 at 9:59 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron scored while Tuukka Rask stopped Nikolai Kulemin in the third round of the shootout as the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs, 3-2, in overtime Monday night at TD Garden. Rask stopped 23-of-25 shots on the night. The Bruins were without defenseman Johnny Boychuk, scratched earlier in the day with a foot injury.
The first period of action featuring the new lines produced numerous scoring opportunities but no goals. Daniel Paille, skating with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, had a point-blank chance midway through the period, firing from the left wing. The shot bounced off James Reimer and onto the stick of Bergeron but the backhander was also turned away.
The second line of David Krejci and Nathan Horton was energized by the addition of Brad Marchand, all of whom had scoring opportunities during the first 20 minutes. The Bruins outshot the Leafs, 9-6, in the scoreless period.
Toronto wasted little time taking advantage of a Bruins mistake in the opening moments of the second. Aaron Johnson hit Nazem Kadri in the neutral zone well after Kadri passed the puck, and Johnson was called for interference. Jake Gardiner fed Joffrey Lupul down low to the right of Rask and Lupul put the puck past Rask with 23 seconds left on the power play for a 1-0 Toronto lead.
The Leafs made it 2-0 when Kadri fed a perfect pass to a wide-open Nikolai Kulemin at center ice. Kulemin broke in all alone on Rask and beat the Bruins netminder up top for the two-goal margin. The Leafs had two goals on just nine shots to begin the game.
The Bruins got one goal back when Milan Lucic, moved to the third line with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron for the first two periods, skated in on a rush from center ice and beat Reimer five-hole midway through the second. It was Lucic’s fifth goal of the season but his first since Feb. 24 at Florida, a span of 15 games.
The Bruins trailed 2-1 after two periods, despite outshooting the Leafs, 21-14. Looking for more punch, Claude Julien went back to his original lines with 13 minutes left in regulation, re-uniting Marchand with Bergeron and Seguin and putting Lucic back on the line with Nathan Horton and David Krejci.
That paid dividends several shifts later when Marchand fed Dougie Hamilton, who skated behind the Leafs net. Hamilton found Bergeron all alone in the slot and Bergeron beat Reimer for his ninth goal of the season that tied the game with 9:24 left.
Rask made a glove save on Kadri from the left circle with 2:18 left in regulation to preserve the tie. Just over a minute later, Rask stopped Lupul from almost the same spot on a drop pass from Kadri. The Bruins outhit the Leafs, 10-5, in the final 20 minutes as they worked for the equalizer. Rask came up big again on Lupul with 2:10 left in overtime, stopping the forward in close from the bottom of the left circle.
The Bruins are off Tuesday before hosting Montreal Wednesday night at TD Garden. For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia from the Garden, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.
|Karl Alzner on bully tactics: Bruins would never let that happen to Tyler Seguin||03.16.13 at 4:57 pm ET|
Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner says the Bruins were dirty and cheap in double teaming on a fight against Matt Hendricks in the third period of Boston’s 4-1 win over the Capitals Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Hendricks was cornered by Adam McQuaid and Shawn Thornton and eventually fought McQuaid at center ice.
“That’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen in my life, the fact that they let those guys corner a guy like that. For all they know, Henny has a broken hand and can’t fight. If we had done that to [Tyler] Seguin with [John] Erskine, you think they would’ve let that happen? Questionable, very questionable.”
Can the Capitals do anything to respond?
“Go after one of their guys, guess that the only thing you can do,” Alzner said. “But we’re probably not going to do that because we’re not that kind of team but that’s the only thing you can do.”
There’s a back story to the Hendricks’ fight.
Hendricks got into it with Nathan Horton late in the second period, when Horton took a stick the forehead, resulting in several stitches. That angered the mild-mannered but physically imposing Horton.
“I was yelling at him, like three times,” Horton said. “I yelled at him and he didn’t look at me. Then he just kind of sprinted at me and caught me with my gloves [down]. Maybe he did hear me. I just didn’t think he did because he wasn’t looking at me.”
As for the third period, when Thornton and McQuaid cornered him, “Nobody’s going to want to go with Thorty,” Horton said. “He’s pretty scary, but we’ve got a tough team. Everybody’s got each other’s back.”
|Putting up a good fight: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton big as Bruins overwhelm Capitals||03.16.13 at 3:40 pm ET|
Milan Lucic had a career-high three assists and Nathan Horton scored once, added two assists and had a fight for a “Gordie Howe hat trick” as the Bruins outmuscled the Capitals, 4-1, Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Anton Khudobin stopped 32-of-33 shots for the Bruins, who won for the fifth time in six games and improved to 19-4-3, good for 41 points in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Penguins, who beat the Rangers Saturday afternoon.
Another Saturday, another quick start by the Bruins. One week after scoring three goals in five minutes against the Flyers, the Bruins scored twice in a three-minute span late in the opening period. Lucic skated behind Michal Neuvirth and fed Horton in the low slot from behind the net. Horton fired the shot pass the Caps goalie for the game’s first score.
Three minutes, three seconds later, it was Lucic again in the role of playmaker, as he centered a pass for David Krejci, who beat Neuvirth for a 2-0 lead.
Khudobin had a big first period, facing just eight shots but making several key saves to protect the lead, including a pair of stops on Alex Ovechkin and a glove save on Marcus Johansson.
The Capitals cut the Boston lead in half just 84 seconds into the second on a fluke goal. Johnny Boychuk played a puck to the left of Khudobin and the puck went right to Krejci, who tried passing it across the crease but the puck went through Khudobin for a Washington goal.
Moments after a great sprawling glove save by Khudobin on Nicklas Backstrom, Andrew Ference wristed a shot past Neuvirth for his first goal of the season and a 3-1 lead. The Bruins then established their physical presence in the game as Brad Marchand took exception with the play of Mike Ribeiro and beat him badly in a fight in the Bruins zone. That was followed less than a minute later by a bout in which Horton landed several blows to Matt Hendricks. Horton, with a goal, assist and fight completed the so-called Gordie Howe hat trick.
The Bruins iced the game on the power play, as Rich Peverley scored on a center from Lucic, just eight seconds after Jack Hillen was whistled for high sticking. Adam McQuaid handled Hendricks in another tussle at center-ice in the third period as the Bruins put away the win.
The Bruins outhit the Capitals, 35-24, on the day. The Bruins also increased their league-leading penalty kill, increasing their streak to 27 straight kills. They are 95-for-102 this season on the penalty kill.
The Bruins have little time to celebrate as they play in Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon, five days after allowing three goals in four minutes in a 3-2 loss Tuesday night.
For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia at the Garden, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.
|Tuukka Rask: ‘Our heads were not in it at all’||03.14.13 at 10:50 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask stopped 29-of-30 shots and was voted the No. 1 star of Thursday’s 4-1 over the Panthers at TD Garden.
But Rask was hardly impressed with Boston’s 18th win of the season, especially when the Bruins allowed a short-handed goal in the second period and were fighting for their lives with the lowly, injury-riddled Panthers, who came in allowing an NHL-worst 101 goals.
“We were pretty bad out there at times,” Rask said. “Our heads were not in it at all. That short-handed goal tells a lot about that. I mean, weren’t that bad, defensively.”
The Panthers had the first five shots of the game before Boston rebounded to take a 16-11 advantage in shots after one. The Panthers then outworked the Bruins in the second, outshooting them, 12-7, and trailed just 2-1 after a shorty by Shawn Matthias.
“The first period I had a lot of shots,” Rask said. “It wasn’t that bad, despite the breakaway and a couple of turnovers, it wasn’t that bad. It was pretty clear where guys were coming from. Then, in the second period, it was just a mess. Pucks everywhere, guys were everywhere, there was no structure in our game. There are two different kind of scenarios for a goalie to face but in the third, we played a pretty solid period.
“We haven’t played our best hockey except for the Philly game. We’ve blown a couple of leads in the third and stuff like that. We should be aware of what’s coming at us in games like this. Today was a little sluggish. Our heads were not in it. It shouldn’t be catching us off-guard.
“It’s kind of like Ottawa. They had a similar situation. They just grind out it and try to get points and gritty goals and stuff like that. We knew that was coming. They played a pretty good game. They know our system. They have Rammer [Craig Ramsay] there as a coach so give them credit, too. But we just weren’t at our best.”
|Business-like: Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask lead B’s to bounce-back win over Panthers||03.14.13 at 9:26 pm ET|
It was another milestone night at the Garden, this time for the Bruins. With the win, Claude Julien surpassed Milt Schmidt for second on the club’s all-time coaching wins list with victory No. 246. Art Ross (1924-1945) is far ahead in first, with 361 career wins for the Bruins. Now in his sixth season as Boston’s coach, Julien improved his record to 246-136-53 in 435 games.
The win improved the Bruins to 18-4-3 on the season and drew them to within one point of idle Montreal (40 points) for first place in the Eastern Conference standings, with two games in hand on the Canadiens.
Chara put the Bruins on top with a slap shot from the left point after a fluky bounce off the boards. The blast beat former Boston College goalie Scott Clemmensen and gave Boston a 1-0 lead 3:55 into the game.
The Bruins got three big saves from Rask in the first period, including a glove save on Jonathan Huberdeau midway through the period that protected Boston’s one-goal advantage.
Bergeron made it 2-0 when he took a perfect feed from Brad Marchand and one-timed the puck into the net vacated by Clemmensen on the right post. The Bruins appeared ready to take advantage of an injury-depleted Panthers team that has given up an NHL-worst 103 goals this season. But instead, the Bruins could not take advantage of several chances in the final two periods, including open nets for Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.
The Bruins gave one of the goals back by allowing a rare shorthanded goal by Florida’s Shawn Matthias at 3:10 of the second period. Matthias outworked Dougie Hamilton for the loose puck deep in the Boston zone and the Florida forward beat Rask for the unassisted goal. It was the first short-handed goal allowed by the Bruins this season in 74 power plays.
With momentum swinging against them, the Bruins’ NHL-leading penalty-killing unit killed off a pair of Florida power plays to hold onto the lead.
The Bruins finally finished a chance, with the help of a lucky bounce midway through the final period. Shawn Thornton centered a pass from a bad angle from the right circle. The puck bounced off the skate of Florida defenseman Colby Robak and back to the slot. Thornton circled behind the net and collected the loose puck and put it in the net for his third goal of the season at 12:43 of the third period.
Bergeron scored his second of the game and eighth of the season on an empty-net tally with 57.2 seconds left for the final score of the night. The Bruins are off Friday before hosting the Capitals at 1 p.m at the Garden in the first of a Bruins-Celtics day-night doubleheader on Causeway Street.
For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.
|Brad Marchand says Tyler Seguin is ‘pressure’ free now, and it shows||03.08.13 at 1:18 pm ET|
Forget the pressure of playing against his hometown Leafs on Thursday. After all, Tyler Seguin has proven that’s not really pressure at all. It’s inspiration.
The true pressure test came early in the season in the form of expectations for the budding superstar of the Bruins.
On Sept. 11, he signed a six-year, $34.5 million contract extension with the Bruins, when he was still 20 years of age. He then lit it up in Switzerland during the four-month NHL lockout, just to stay sharp. Stay sharp he did with 25 goals and 15 assists in 29 games with Biel.
He started relatively slowly with three goals and seven assists in his first 17 games. But since the calendar turned to March he’s been on fire. He has four goals in two assists in four games in March and has turned the Patrice Bergeron–Brad Marchand line into the most productive on the team.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure on him coming into the year with his new contract and with how well he did over in Switzerland,” Marchand said after Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Leafs in which he had two goals and an assist. “I think he was feeling pressure a bit because a lot of people were saying a lot of things about him, and it seems like right now he’s just very calm and confident, and he’s not really worried about anything else. He’s just focused on playing, and when he does that he’s a great player, and you see it night in and night out right now. He’s making a difference.”
Funny, it’s the assist he got that impressed everyone the most. After Marchand fought for a loose puck near the Toronto bench, he picked it up and made like a missile for the Leafs goal in the final minute of the first period. He was stopped but the rebound was left for Bergeron to tap home for a 1-0 lead.
“When Segs is on his game that’s the kind of things he does,” Marchand marveled. “He takes the puck to the net hard, and he uses speed and skill, and you saw that in the first goal, you saw it in the second goal, and I guess again on the third one. His speed, that’s how he has to play.”
In 14 career games against his hometown Leafs (actually, he grew up in nearby Brampton, Ont.), he has 10 goals and six assists. Any extra bounce for the player who is the reason for the “Thank you, Kessel” chants at TD Garden?
“I’d like to say no,” Seguin said with a smile. “I mean I try to prepare for every game but [Thursday] I thought we did a good job, I think all of our goals our line scored so it was a total line effort whether it was winning battles or making nice passes.
Is there is a little more relief now that these pucks are hitting the back of the net?
“Yeah, you could say that,” Seguin said. “I think every guy in here likes to score and I’m no exception so definitely feels good.
“I think the last couple weeks I’ve just been playing good in my D-Zone and competing a lot more than I think I was in the start of the season. Over in Europe I think I was circling a bit more and didn’t really have to battle, I don’t even know if I got hit over there for the few months I was there but I had to find that game again with me, and I think it’s coming around now.”
The fire everyone always wanted to see from Seguin has been lit. How long will it burn?
“I mean I think it just comes with not producing and just getting more determined and getting back to focusing on the little things more than the big picture or the statistics, I’m starting with that and things are rolling from there,” he said. “I mean it feels good. I think again, like I was saying, as a whole, as a line, I think we’re playing really well, we’re moving the puck well and winning battles and I think with our experience with each other over the last two years those two the last three, it’s really clicking right now.”
Seguin couldn’t help but get a little friendly jab in at Marchand when reminded that he’s scoring all the goals that Marchand was getting from his assists early in the season.
“I just gave it to March [early in the season],” Seguin said. “What else are you going to do, look at the stats?
Well, that’s not a bad place now for No. 19.