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Claude Julien, Bruins not happy about Patrice Bergeron’s goal getting called back 11.25.16 at 11:34 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron is a game-time decision for the Bruins.

Patrice Bergeron is a game-time decision for the Bruins.

In real time, it looked like it may have just been a big collision that left Patrice Bergeron with a wide-open net early in the second period Saturday night.

With Flames goalie Chad Johnson out of his crease to play the puck, Brad Marchand and Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano collided, sending Giordano crashing into his goalie. The puck ended up on Bergeron’s stick, and he fired it into the vacant cage to apparently tie the game at 1-1.

The play was ruled a goal on the ice, but then it went to review. Replays made clear the source of the collision — Marchand had knocked Giordano into Johnson with a pretty solid shove to the back.

The call was overturned and the goal was taken off the board. Reading Rule 69.1, it seems like the officials made the right call.

“If a defending player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by an attacking player so as to cause the defending player to come into contact with his own goalkeeper, such contact shall be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, and if necessary a penalty assessed to the attacking player and if a goal is scored it would be disallowed.”

Claude Julien and the Bruins did not agree. Julien had some choice words for the refs at the time, and reiterated his frustration after the game.

“You obviously saw that I wasn’t happy with it,” Julien said. “When you dump the puck in and you forecheck and all night long they kept skating in front of our forecheck, and that’s exactly what they did to Marchy. Marchy gives him a shove, which he’s allowed to do. Just because your goaltender’s out of the net and he happens to be in the way, I don’t think that should’ve been called back. We never know anymore what they think, so we just have to sit back and accept what they decide. It’s a frustrating thing, because it’s never the same thing twice.”

Marchand, who had clearly been briefed before talking to the media, did not comment on the no-goal when asked about it. He was also asked about the idea of the Flames obstructing the forecheck, but said he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Read the rest of this entry »

Bruins’ struggling power play hits new low with minus-2 performance in loss to Rangers 11.06.16 at 1:04 am ET
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Kevin Hayes scores one of the Rangers' two shorthanded goals Saturday night (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Kevin Hayes scores one of the Rangers’ two shorthanded goals Saturday night (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins’ power play has struggled to score all season. On Saturday, it also struggled to prevent the Rangers from scoring, as Boston went 0-for-3 on the man advantage and surrendered two shorthanded goals in a 5-2 loss.

With Saturday night surely marking a season low point, it’s worth examining just how bad the Bruins’ power play has been, and whether there’s hope for a turnaround.

First, the basics. The Bruins rank dead last on the power play, converting on just 7.9 percent of their chances. On top of that, they’ve now given up three shorthanded goals, which is tied for the most in the NHL. They’ve allowed as many goals as they’ve scored while on the man advantage, which is obviously terrible.

Digging a little deeper, it becomes apparent that the Bruins’ power-play struggles aren’t just a matter of bad luck, either. In fairness, there was a little luck involved in each shorthanded goal Saturday. Tuukka Rask made the initial save on Derek Stepan’s, only to have the rebound bounce off Stepan’s leg and in. Then the rush leading to Kevin Hayes’ started with a weird bounce off the glass behind the Rangers’ net. But in both cases, the Bruins also got caught with too many guys up ice, allowing the odd-man rushes to happen.

When it comes to the not-scoring part of the power play, though, the biggest problem is that the Bruins aren’t creating enough chances. According to corsica.hockey, going into Saturday the Bruins had the fourth-fewest shot attempts per 60 minutes on the power play and fourth-fewest shots on goal per 60. Their five shots on goal in six minutes of power-play time Saturday night will help lift those numbers a little, but the point remains that the B’s aren’t getting the puck to the net enough.

All of that can be the result of any number of things, whether it’s poor zone entries, a lack of movement in the zone, not getting to rebounds and blocked shots to create second chances, or simply not taking shots when they’re there. In the Bruins’ case, we’ve seen a little bit of all of that this season.

Despite the numbers and despite Saturday’s abysmal effort, some Bruins insist there are reasons to be optimistic.

“I mean, we know we have a great power play — proved that last year — but it’s got to click,” Brad Marchand said. “I thought the last couple games, tonight even early — they get a couple goals — we were moving around really well. We had a few good opportunities that we easily could have scored on. So, if we keep going like that then the pucks are going to go in the net.”

Marchand is right that the power play looked better Thursday in Tampa, and you can understand him looking for a silver lining in Saturday’s performance as well, but it also needs to be pointed out that the Bruins were 0-for-11 in the four games before that Lightning game.

Marchand is also right that the Bruins’ power play was very good last season, when it ranked seventh in the NHL at 20.5 percent. The only major change on the top power-play unit is Marchand replacing Loui Eriksson. Eriksson was terrific in front of the net, but his departure shouldn’t single-handedly sink a unit that includes talented players like Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Ryan Spooner and Torey Krug. There’s some talent on the second unit, too, particularly in David Pastrnak and Colin Miller.

The Bruins should be capable of generating clean entries and creating better looks on the power play, but they have yet to show that on any sort of consistent basis this season. Until they do, the man advantage will remain not just an area of weakness, but a legitimate detriment to the team.

“The Tampa game was a lot better, but we’re back to square one,” Bergeron said. “We’ve just got to do the job. We’re good enough players. It’s about believing and having more confidence right now and being desperate on the power play. We’re hurting the team and you can’t do that.”

5 Things We Learned as Tuukka Rask returns, shuts out Red Wings 10.29.16 at 10:00 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask made 24 saves in a shutout win over Detroit Saturday night. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask made 24 saves in a shutout win over Detroit Saturday night. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

To say the Bruins missed Tuukka Rask would be a massive understatement. They got poor goaltending from three different netminders in his absence and have lost all four games he’s missed this season.

It only took one game to be reminded of what Rask can do. He made 24 saves Saturday night and shut out the Red Wings as the Bruins won 1-0 and snapped a three-game losing streak. While Rask didn’t face a ton of shots, he did have to come up with some quality stops.

His best moment came midway through the second period after a brutal turnover by Zdeno Chara that set up Justin Abdelkader mere feet from Rask. The B’s goalie made two big saves on the initial chance, then came up with another on a Tomas Tatar redirect a few seconds later as the Red Wings maintained possession. Rask made another big save on Tatar early in the third off a nice setup from Henrik Zetterberg.

Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35 saves) was also stellar for most of the night, but he made one key mistake, and on a night when Rask was perfect, that was one too many. After Dominic Moore forced a turnover in the Detroit zone, Howard got caught out of position and Tim Schaller beat him from a tough angle for the game’s lone goal, and Schaller’s first goal as a Bruin.

The Red Wings got a late shot to tie the game on a power play with 1:13 to go, but as it was all night, the Bruins’ penalty kill was up to the challenge. For the game, the B’s held Detroit to three shots on goal on four man advantages.

Here are four other things we learned: Read the rest of this entry »

Torey Krug not happy with his early-season play: ‘I have no consistency to my game at all’ 10.23.16 at 12:06 am ET
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krug_4-9-16

Torey Krug came down pretty hard on himself Saturday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

When there was talk before the season about the possibility of Chris Kelly’s old alternate captain’s letter being moved to a new jersey, one of the players consistently mentioned was Torey Krug, thanks in large part to his honesty and the way he holds himself accountable.

Krug hasn’t worn a letter yet and may not at any point this season, but it’s clear he’s going to set an example for his teammates regardless.

After Saturday night’s 4-2 loss to the Canadiens, a game in which Krug was a minus-3 and had a bad misplay lead to a shorthanded breakaway goal, the 25-year-old defenseman came down hard on himself in one of those interviews that makes you realize no one’s going to be more critical of his play than he is. But at the same time, he also sounded confident that he’ll figure things out.

“I have no consistency to my game at all,” Krug said. “I make a good play, then next shift a poor play. It’s something I’m not proud of at the moment. I’ll work through it. I always have. There’s always times throughout the season when you play poorly. You have to work through it. Unfortunately for me, it’s the start of the season. I’ll get back to a place where my teammates can count on me, where every time I jump over the boards they know what they’re going to get. It’s not there right now, but it will be.”

Reporters mentioned two possible mitigating factors to Krug — the fact that he’s been paired with young defense partners in Rob O’Gara and Joe Morrow, and the fact that he had offseason shoulder surgery and may not be 100 percent just yet — but he refused to take the bait.

“I was injured, but I had time to work and make sure I was ready for the season,” Krug said. “I’m not going to use that as an excuse. The doctors cleared me to play, so I’m ready to play. For whatever reason, I’m not there right now.” Read the rest of this entry »

Patrice Bergeron, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller to miss Bruins’ opener 10.12.16 at 12:23 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron

Patrice Bergeron

Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller were already expected to miss the Bruins’ season-opener Thursday night, but general manager Don Sweeney announced on Wednesday that the team’s best player will be joining them on the sideline.

Patrice Bergeron will not travel with the team to Columbus after suffering a lower-body injury. He is considered day-to-day, according to Sweeney.

David Backes reportedly moved to Bergeron’s spot at center between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak at Wednesday’s practice, while rookie Danton Heinen moved up to the second line with David Krejci and Ryan Spooner.

McQuaid is considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Miller, meanwhile, will miss approximately six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a fracture in his left hand.

Sweeney also announced that the team has called up forward Tim Schaller, who will give the Bruins some depth at either center or wing.

Bruins lose Seth Griffith to waiver claim by Maple Leafs 10.11.16 at 12:43 pm ET
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Seth Griffith

Seth Griffith

Seth Griffith put up some impressive AHL numbers but never quite translated that into NHL success in Boston. Now his time with the team is done after the Maple Leafs claimed the 23-year-old forward off waivers Tuesday.

Griffith led the Providence Bruins with 77 points last season and also put up good numbers there in 2013-14 and 2014-15, but he managed just 11 points in 34 NHL games across two seasons while averaging just over one shot on goal per game.

Tyler Randell and Tim Schaller cleared waivers and are set to start the season in Providence. The Bruins need to get their roster down to 25 players by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Why you shouldn’t get hung up on Torey Krug scoring just 4 goals last season 06.30.16 at 4:07 pm ET
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Torey Krug had a career high in shots on goal last season. (USA Today Sports)

Torey Krug had a career high in shots on goal last season. (USA Today Sports)

Some of those who want to criticize the Bruins’ four-year, $21 million deal for Torey Krug have already started pointing to the fact that he is an offensive defenseman who scored just four goals last season.

Krug did in fact score just four goals, but it is not something anyone should be worried about going forward. First off, Krug still had a career high in points last year with 44.

But more relevant to the goal discussion, Krug also had a career high in shot attempts (469) and shots on goal (244). He had the fourth-most shots on goal among all NHL defensemen, behind only Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Dustin Byfuglien.

Krug shot 1.6 percent last season. He previously shot 7.7 percent in 2013-14 and 5.9 percent in 2014-15. Of the top 30 defensemen in shots on goal last season, Krug was the only one who shot worse than 3 percent, never mind 2 percent. Most of those other 29 guys shot in the 5-8 percent range, the same place Krug was before last season.

Basically what we’re getting at is that Krug is going to score much more if he continues to shoot as much as he’s been shooting. Chances are he will never have a shooting percentage as low as 1.6 percent again. If he even shot 5 percent last season, he would’ve scored 12 goals. If he shot the 6.7 percent he averaged the previous two seasons, he would’ve scored 16.

Anyone who has watched Krug play knows he has a pretty good shot. He didn’t suddenly forget how to shoot last season. Sure, there are things he can do to make sure he does a better job finishing, but for the most part that 1.6 percent is just the product of rotten luck.

So, complain about Krug’s contract if you want. Criticize his defense, say he’s undersized, say he’s not a legitimate top-four defenseman. We can have legitimate debates about all that. Just don’t get worked up over him scoring four goals last season, because he’s going to score more than that — probably a lot more — going forward.

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