|Dougie Hamilton steps up against Toronto, adding to his second-year improvement||11.09.13 at 11:58 pm ET|
Dougie Hamilton saw his three-game point streak come to an end Saturday night. He couldn't get off the ice during a two-and-a-half-minute shift in the second period. And he said after the game that he didn't know where the phrase 'Jekyll and Hyde' came from.
There you go. Those are all the things that went wrong for Hamilton in the Bruins' 3-1 win over Toronto. The list of things that went right is much, much longer, as the 20-year-old defenseman played arguably his best game of the season, and maybe the best of his young career.
With Adam McQuaid playing just 44 seconds before leaving the game with an injury, the rest of the Bruins' defense corps had to pick up his minutes. But it was Hamilton who saw the biggest spike in playing time. He wound up playing 24:43, a career high for a 60-minute game and a full five minutes more than his season average entering Saturday.
“His first part of the year he was in and out a little bit. But he's played really solid for us,” Claude Julien said after the game. “Offensively he continues to make good decisions, good plays, very aggressive. Defensively he's becoming better and better all the time. So he's a young player — he's a 20-year-old — but with experience, he's starting to flourish and he just has to keep going that way.”
Hamilton would've picked up a couple extra minutes no matter what, but the way he played warranted even more than that. He created a number of scoring chances in the offensive zone, including one in the first where he made a nice move around Nikolai Kulemin at the blue line before zipping a pass over to David Krejci, only to have Krejci flip the shot off the side of the net. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins waste great start, still can’t get out of funk||11.05.13 at 11:29 pm ET|
It looked like the Bruins had snapped out of their recent malaise. They outshot Dallas 15-1 over the first 10 minutes of Tuesday's game, and out-attempted them 21-1. Sure, the Stars scored on their one chance, but the Bruins answered back just 38 seconds later. Then the dominance continued.
You had to figure the Bruins were on the verge of breaking through with another goal or two. When a game is that lopsided, it's usually only a matter of time before the levee breaks.
But the levee didn't break. The Bruins' pressure slowed throughout the remainder of the first period, and by the second period it was pretty much non-existent. The B's reverted to the bad habits and mental mistakes of the last week and a half — a span in which they are now 1-3-1 — and found themselves on their heels throughout the middle frame.
“First 10 minutes were good, and then we got back to some of our old habits,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “Eventually, when you play that way, you find ways to lose hockey games, and that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re finding ways to lose.”
Despite being outshot 13-4 in the second, the Bruins still found themselves in a tied game entering the third. When Milan Lucic tipped in a Dougie Hamilton shot with 8:21 to go, it looked like the Bruins might even pull out the win after all.
Instead, they had one more costly mistake in them — a bad line change that gave Vernon Fiddler a breakaway. Dennis Seidenberg hauled him down from behind, and Fiddler scored on the ensuing penalty shot. The Stars went on to win in a shootout.
“We’re making costly turnovers in areas which we usually don’t, that’s made us a successful team over the past few years,” Lucic said. “It just seems like everything is out of sync right now, and right now we’ve got to do whatever we can to try to get ourselves out of this jam, out of this funk. Frustration is not going to help us get through it. We’ve got to dig deep and start doing things the right way if we want to start playing better.”
Most of the Bruins have been through stretches like this before. Last year, they lost five of seven toward the end of March, then seven of nine to close out the regular season. In 2011-12, it was a 3-7-0 start to the season, and later a four-game losing streak in March. In the 2010-11 season (that's the one that ended with a Stanley Cup), they lost four of five on SIX different occasions.
It happens. The season is too long not to have these lulls. It doesn't mean the Bruins shouldn't work their tails off to try to get out of it. It doesn't mean Julien shouldn't shake things up if he feels the need to. But it also doesn't mean anyone should be panicking.
“It’s a long season. It’s never going to be perfect from the first game to the last,” Lucic said. “But as a player and as a professional, you have to worry about the things that you can control, and that’s work ethic and your effort and your commitment and focus and all that type of stuff. It seems like those are the things that are costing us right now.
“Fortunately, in the past, we’ve gotten strong by being able to get through funks like this. But just because we’ve gotten through it before doesn’t mean it’s just going to happen again. We have to find a way to find a way to do it.”
|Loui Eriksson out indefinitely with concussion||10.24.13 at 4:19 pm ET|
Bruins forward Loui Eriksson is out indefinitely with a concussion, general manager Peter Chiarelli announced Thursday afternoon. According to Chiarelli’s statement, Eriksson flew back to Boston on Thursday and was diagnosed with a concussion by team doctors in Boston.
Eriksson suffered the concussion in the third period of Wednesday’s win over Buffalo when Sabres forward John Scott landed a vicious elbow to his head after Eriksson had dumped the puck in from center ice. Eriksson needed to be helped off the ice by teammates and did not return to the game.
Scott was ejected from the game and has been suspended indefinitely by the NHL pending an in-person disciplinary hearing.
Full statement from Chiarelli:
“Loui traveled back to Boston from Buffalo by plane today (October 24) with a member of the Bruins medical staff. After an examination by team doctors in Boston, he has been diagnosed with a concussion and will be out indefinitely. The team will provide a further update on Loui’s status when appropriate.”
|Bruins’ new-look power play takes center stage vs. Wings||10.05.13 at 11:21 pm ET|
Torey Krug gets the puck at the point. Zdeno Chara sets the screen in front. Goalie never sees the shot coming.
That’s exactly what the Bruins coaches had in mind when they decided to reconfigure the power play heading into this season, and the new look was executed perfectly on Boston’s first goal Saturday night.
Once Krug emerged as such a dangerous offensive weapon in last year’s playoffs, it was an easy decision to have him quarterback the top power-play unit — especially when you consider how much the Bruins’ power play struggled for most of last season. He has great hands and a great shot, and he’s able to create open lanes with his footwork.
The tougher decision — at least looking at it from the outside — was what to do with Chara. As great as Chara is in pretty much every other area, he never seemed totally comfortable as a power-play quarterback.
When he got an open look, he could take advantage with his rocket of a shot, but getting those looks — and being able to move the puck quickly when he didn’t — could sometimes be a struggle. The problem for the Bruins was that they didn’t have anyone else who was a great fit for the quarterback role, either. Read the rest of this entry »
|Jarome Iginla establishes physical presence in Bruins debut||10.03.13 at 11:29 pm ET|
Jarome Iginla didn’t think it was a particularly dirty hit. He just didn’t like being knocked to the ice by Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas, so he decided to say something. After a quick verbal exchange, the gloves were off and Iginla had his first fight as a Bruin.
“It is always nice [to get the first fight out of the way],” Iginla said. “Between seasons, with the summer off, you always feel a little bit rusty at the start. It’s always nice. Just going off emotion. Nothing planned. Just got run over. That’s part of it.”
Whether it was the best time for Iginla to drop the gloves is highly debatable. He’s a first-line winger, and Gudas is not a first-pairing defenseman. On top of that, the Bruins had the lead at the time. All things considered, the Lightning would take that trade-off every time, especially since they ended up scoring just 1:26 after the fight.
But the fight did serve a purpose for Iginla. It was the centerpiece of his effort to establish himself on a new team. Combined with some of the hits he threw as an aggressive forechecker, the fight let everyone know that, at age 36, the future Hall of Famer is still going to be as physical as he’s always been.
And on a team that takes pride in sticking up for each other, Iginla made it known that he’s perfectly capable of sticking up for himself and fighting his own battles.
“That’s been Bruins hockey for a long time,” Iginla said. “Guys stick up for each other, but you also have to stick up for yourself. You don’t want anyone else rushing in on a good, clean hit. It’s just part of the intensity, part of the emotion.”
While it wasn’t Iginla’s primary motivation for dropping the gloves, the fight also won over the small group of Bruins fans who hadn’t quite forgiven Iginla for spurning the B’s in favor of the Penguins last season. There had even been a few boos when Iginla was introduced before the game.
But after the fight? Standing ovation.
“It felt good to play here and play at home, have the crowd, and be a Bruin,” Iginla said. “Guys play hard. Some big blocked shots. [Shawn Thornton] starting it off with a tilt there. There’s some hits. It felt good to be a part of an intense season opener again to get things started.”
Ultimately, the Bruins didn’t bring Iginla to Boston to be a fighter. They brought him here to be the first-line goal scorer he’s been his whole career. And given that Iginla scored 14 goals in last year’s lockout-shortened season and 30 or more in each of the 11 seasons prior to that, there’s every reason to believe he’ll be that.
Iginla’s track record speaks for itself. He didn’t need to prove himself to anyone on Thursday night. But the fact that he wanted to prove himself — to his new teammates and to his new home crowd — certainly bodes well for the Bruins.
|Jordan Caron looking to crack Bruins lineup||09.17.11 at 3:44 pm ET|
The Bruins return 11 forwards who saw significant playing time last season, meaning there is likely only one spot in the regular lineup open up front. One of the candidates to fill it is 2009 first-round pick Jordan Caron, who last season registered 12 goals and 16 assists in 47 games with Providence and three goals and four assists in 23 games with Boston.
Caron was a member of the “Black Aces” that served as healthy scratches during the playoffs, and he got the chance to practice with the big club during the Stanley Cup final after Nathan Horton went down. Caron said he is fully aware of what’s up for grabs during this training camp.
“There might be a spot open, but it's going to be my job to earn it and win it,” Caron said. “If I play like I'm supposed to and I do what I have to do, I think I have a good chance to win the job.”
The 6-foot-2 winger said his biggest assets are his two-way play and his ability to battle in corners and create space for his linemates. He said the one thing he continues to work on the most is his skating, which was described as “average” by some scouts before he was drafted.
“For me, it's always been my skating,” Caron said. “Keep improving my skating, my explosion and moving my feet. I worked a lot on that over the summer, like I do every summer. I think every year I'm getting better at it.”
His improvement in that area, as well as everywhere else, hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I was watching him today, and he was certainly a guy that kind of grabbed my attention,” Claude Julien said. “He's got good size. He seemed to be skating well. That's what he did last year, as well — he was skating well and had good jump. Hopefully with a year of experience at the pro level now, he'll be able to maintain that jump.
“He's a pretty smart player. He's got good hockey sense, and you see his reads are pretty good. He's one of those guys that's battling for a job, and we're certainly going to keep a close eye on him.”
|Tim Thomas not talking about matching last season||09.17.11 at 1:32 pm ET|
Last year, Tim Thomas put together one of the best seasons any goaltender has ever had. He compiled a 35-11-9 record, 2.00 goals-against average and NHL-record .938 save percentage. He collected his second Vezina Trophy and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The only downside to all that is it sets the bar at a seemingly impossible height for this season.
“I think Tim's biggest challenge is going to be being able to duplicate what he did last year,” Claude Julien said Friday. “If he ever comes close to doing that, we know we're going to have a good goaltender, because his season last year was outstanding.
“He's one of those players, like everybody else, who has to be willing to up his game. That doesn't necessarily mean be better. Just to be as consistent as he was last year means he's going to have to up his game, in my mind. That's the one thing Timmy's capable of doing when he sets his mind to it.”
After the first official practice of the season on Saturday, Thomas refused to talk about any of that just yet.
“It's the first day of camp,” Thomas said. “You look to improve each day. I'd rather focus on the smaller picture than to get into that stuff right now.
“I'm gonna take a day off from that. It's the first day of camp. Just enjoy it, being back on the ice with some of the elite-level hockey players in the world. Focus on that rather than thinking back to what happened last year or thinking forward to what is next year.”
Thomas acknowledged that he would obviously like to match what he did last season, but wouldn’t say any more than that.
“That's as far as I want to go with that right now,” Thomas said. “I'm worried about getting my skates right, my equipment right. That's more of where my mind is right now than all that other stuff.”