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Bruins blame pie: Patrice Bergeron says it’s ‘definitely not on’ Claude Julien 04.09.16 at 7:13 pm ET
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Debate over whether Claude Julien should be fired has already begun. (USA Today Sports)

Debate over whether Claude Julien should be fired already has begun. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The “Should Claude Julien be fired” talk had already begun even before Saturday, but with the Bruins missing the playoffs for a second straight year and getting absolutely embarrassed on home ice in their season finale, it’s only going to pick up.

Most Bruins players weren’t willing to make any sort of comment on the possibility of Julien being fired after Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Senators given that, at the time, the B’s still had an outside shot of making the playoffs (the Flyers’ win over the Penguins later Saturday officially sealed their fate). But the team’s best and most important player came to the defense of Julien.

“I’ve said a million times that Claude has been the best coach I’ve had,” said Patrice Bergeron. “It’s definitely not on him. It should be on us. His system is there, the game plan is there. It’s about us executing, and we didn’t do that. So it should fall back on the players.”

In the case of Saturday and other games down the stretch that saw the Bruins lose to non-playoff teams, Bergeron is right that the players deserve a good chunk of the blame. There’s no excuse for making the kinds of defensive mistakes that led to Ottawa’s goals on Saturday. There’s no excuse for a top-five offense struggling to score against three non-playoff teams over the last two weeks of the season. Regardless of who the coach is or whether his message is getting through, those are things for which the players need to take responsibility.

But there is plenty of blame to go around, and yes, Julien deserves some of it. A coach should be able to do more to ensure that his team isn’t making as many mistakes as the Bruins made Saturday, whether it was getting beat wide, leaving guys uncovered in front or making bad breakout passes that were easily intercepted. Those things are coachable, and the fact that they happened this late in the season doesn’t reflect well on the coach.

The group that deserves the most blame, however, is the front office. Don Sweeney and company are the ones who built a team that had one legitimate top-four defenseman — and that one, Zdeno Chara, is 39 years old. It’s fitting that defense was the Bruins’ biggest issue on their disastrous last day, because it was their biggest issue all season, and it will remain their biggest issue going forward unless they bring in multiple defensemen who are significant upgrades over what they have now.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Bruins sign BU defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to entry-level contract 04.01.16 at 5:06 pm ET
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Matt Grzelcyk served as a captain at BU for the last two years. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Matt Grzelcyk served as a captain at BU for the last two years. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Bruins have signed Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to a two-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. The Charlestown native was a third-round pick of the B’s in 2012 and could have become a free agent in August had he not signed with Boston.

Grzelcyk recently wrapped up his senior season at BU, where he served as team captain each of the last two seasons. He had 10 goals and 13 assists in 27 games (he missed 12 games earlier in the season due to injury), putting him fourth nationally among defensemen in points per game. He was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star for the second year in a row.

Grzelcyk will report to the Providence Bruins for the remainder of this season before his two-year deal kicks in next season.

Grzelcyk is listed at 5-foot-10 and 176 pounds. The strengths of his game are transition and offense, as he’s a very good skater who often times led rushes for the Terriers and got involved deep in the offensive zone. He also played an integral role on an effective power play that finished the season at 21.1 percent. Grzelcyk worked to dramatically improve his shot over the last two years, resulting in a jump from six goals over his first two years at BU to 20 over the last two.

Grzelcyk’s connection to the Bruins runs deep, as his father, John, has worked on the Garden’s “Bull Gang” for more than 40 years.

Torey Krug’s goalless streak continues after questionable offsides call overturns goal 03.05.16 at 11:35 pm ET
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While Alex Ovechkin’s hit from behind on Kevan Miller may grab the most headlines from Saturday’s game, the controversial play that actually had the biggest impact on the game was Torey Krug’s overturned goal early in the second period.

David Pastrnak carried into the offensive zone and fired a shot that led to a juicy rebound. Krug picked up the loose puck, cut to the middle and beat Philipp Grubauer for what appeared to be his first goal in 40 games.

However, the goal wound up being waved off after a video review determined that Loui Eriksson was offsides on Pastrnak’s zone entry.

The question, of course, is whether the video evidence was actually definitive. Eriksson clearly made an effort to drag one skate behind him to try to stay onsides, but the skate eventually lifted off the ice. On the replays shown on TV, it was hard to tell whether the skate lifted before or after the puck entered the zone.

The goal would’ve given the Bruins a 2-0 lead, and possibly a second straight win over a top team. Instead the Capitals tied the game at one later in the second period and eventually won in overtime.

Krug, for his part, downplayed the no-goal ruling after the game.

“If it’s offside, it’s not a goal,” Krug said. “I mean, it’s frustrating. I haven’t scored in a while, but that’s a good test for your character and trying to respond and still having faith. It’s, like I said, right time, right place, it’ll happen.”

The Bruins, to their credit, didn’t seem to get too deflated by the call. They controlled play for the majority of the second period and outshot the Capitals 20-7 in the frame. Unfortunately they couldn’t find the back of the net again, while the Capitals eventually did.

“We did OK,” Krug said. “I think this year we’ve done a really good job of responding to calls that haven’t gone our way. Unfortunately they got the next goal, so it’s not clearly indicative of how we responded, but we did an alright job.”

Claude Julien didn’t say much about this specific call, but acknowledged that he doesn’t always agree with video reviews — understandable considering Saturday’s wasn’t the first to go against the Bruins this season.

“You guys keep asking coaches. We’re not all, I guess, 100 percent on board with some of that stuff, but you’ve got to live with it” Julien said. “You live with it, because we always compare it to other calls that we’ve had, whether it’s with other games and stuff like that. I guess we don’t always see consistency.”

Dennis Seidenberg played the voice of reason, offering up an idea that could clear up situations like Saturday’s.

“You have to see something in the future, I guess, on the level of the ice where you can actually see the skate coming up – like a camera on the blue line,” Seidenberg said. “But it’s tough to see. I didn’t see it and it’s really tough for me to judge because I don’t know.”

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Canadiens goalie Mike Condon thinks he got some Patriots mojo: ‘Anything that Tom Brady touches turns to gold’ 01.01.16 at 6:25 pm ET
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Mike Condon stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced in the Canadiens' Winter Classic win over the Bruins.  (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Mike Condon stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced in the Canadiens’ Winter Classic win over the Bruins. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask had Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Stephen Gostkowski featured on his helmet. Claude Julien wore a Bill Belichick-esque hoodie behind the bench. But it was Canadiens goalie Mike Condon who came away from Friday’s Winter Classic feeling like he had snagged some of the Patriots’ winning mojo.

Condon, a Holliston native who grew up rooting for the Pats, also had a Patriots-themed mask, as his featured sketches of Brady and Belichick along with four Lombardi Trophies and the team’s famous “Do Your Job” motto.

The cherry on top was getting the helmet autographed by Brady and Belichick before the Pats took off for Miami for Sunday’s regular-season finale.

“I’m pretty sure anything that Tom Brady touches turns to gold,” Condon said. “So I was pretty happy. Hopefully got some mojo on my helmet there. I’m a huge fan of his, huge fan of this organization, and I’m just happy to pay respect to them on the ice.”

Condon didn’t really need to be gold on Friday, as his Canadiens held the Bruins to just three shots on goal in the first period and built up a 3-0 lead by the end of the second. But he was very good when he was tested. Read the rest of this entry »

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Claude Julien pays homage to Bill Belichick with Bruins hoodie for Winter Classic 01.01.16 at 1:55 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien and Patriots coach Bill Belichick are good friends, as evidenced by their skate around the Gillette Stadium rink on Thursday morning.

So it should come as no surprise that Julien decided to pay homage to Belichick by wearing a Bruins hoodie for Friday’s Winter Classic against the Canadiens. Here’s video of Julien showing off his hoodie to Belichick, courtesy of the Bruins’ Twitter account.

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Tom Brady repays Tuukka Rask by throwing on goalie gear in Facebook post 01.01.16 at 12:02 pm ET
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If his first post of 2016 is any indication, this is going to be another strong year for Tom Brady on Facebook.

Brady opened the year by getting into the Winter Classic spirit and repaying Tuukka Rask, whose special Winter Classic mask features Brady, Rob GronkowskiJulian Edelman and Stephen Gostkowski.

Rask and the Bruins take on the rival Canadiens at Gillette Stadium Friday afternoon.

Thanks Tuukka for featuring me on your mask today! In your honor, I’ll be rocking your pads this Sunday in Miami. Happy new year and go Bruins! #WinterClassic

Posted by Tom Brady on Friday, January 1, 2016

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Massachusetts natives Mike Condon, Brian Flynn embrace playing for rival Canadiens in Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium 12.31.15 at 6:04 pm ET
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The drive from Mike Condon’€™s hometown of Holliston to Gillette Stadium is about 14 miles. His path to starting the Winter Classic there has been much longer.

The Canadiens rookie played at Belmont Hill School before attending Princeton, where he appeared in just four games as a freshman in 2009-10. He split time over the next two years before finally winning the starting job outright as a senior. He posted an impressive .923 save percentage that season and then signed with the ECHL’€™s Ontario Reign. He went on to see playoff playing time with the AHL’€™s Houston Aeros that spring as well.

Over the next two seasons, Condon spent time with the ECHL’€™s Wheeling Nailers and AHL’€™s Hamilton Bulldogs, continuing to post strong numbers the whole time. He continued to impress in Montreal’€™s training camp and preseason games this year and wound up winning the Canadiens’€™ backup goalie job over Dustin Tokarski.

When starter Carey Price went down with a lower-body injury in late October, Condon took over as the starter. He went 9-2-3 with a solid .918 save percentage over his first 15 NHL games (including one no-decision in relief), but then he started to struggle. He lost his next seven decisions and posted an ugly .871 save percentage during that time as the entire Canadiens team began to slide.

Condon enters Friday’€™s Winter Classic on a bit of a high note, though, having stopped 36 of 39 shots in a win over the Lightning on Monday. He’€™ll look to build on that Friday playing in front of plenty of friends and family in the home of the football team for which he grew up cheering. In fact, Condon has Bill Belichick, ‘€œDo Your Job’€ and the Patriots’€™ four Lombardi Trophies on his special Winter Classic mask (photo courtesy of David Gunnarsson).

condon mask

Most of Condon’€™s friends and family have always been Bruins fans, but he said they’€™ve all changed sides in the rivalry pretty quickly.

“I know all my family and friends will be wearing the bleu, blanc and rouge for sure,” Condon said. “I think the maximum number of tickets you could get was 14, so I maxed that out. Other than that, there are a lot of friends outside that are still coming. I think they’€™re all cheering for the Canadiens.” Read the rest of this entry »

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