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Claude Julien: Bruins ‘not great at playing catch-up hockey’ 01.14.14 at 11:24 pm ET
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While Claude Julien acknowledged that the Bruins’ special teams have been struggling, and that Tuukka Rask has been fighting the puck recently, the one thing he kept coming back to in his postgame press conference on Tuesday was that his team can’t keep falling behind.

“I think it’s hard to win in this league when you have to play from behind all the time,” Julien said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for me right now. We’re not great at playing catch-up hockey.”

It’s true that the Bruins have been falling behind quite a bit recently. On their recent West Coast swing, they went down 3-0 to both the Ducks and Kings, and unsurprisingly lost both games. A week before that, they fell behind 3-1 to the Senators and wound up losing 4-3.

Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs was actually a little different, though. The Bruins didn’t fall behind by multiple goals early on like they did in those other three losses. In fact, they had two different leads in the first period, and didn’t trail until the middle of the second.

They went into the third trailing by just a goal, and while Julien says his team isn’t good at playing catch-up, the numbers indicate the Bruins are actually better at it than most. Entering Tuesday, the B’s were 5-10-0 when trailing after two periods, good for the third-best winning percentage in the NHL in such situations. So this wasn’t quite the same as falling behind by three goals, a situation in which no team is good.

The biggest issues Tuesday were defensive lapses, a poor penalty kill and another shaky performance from Rask. Those problems eventually led to the Bruins falling behind, and Julien eventually touched on some of them in his postgame press conference.

“I thought the first 10 minutes, we came out pretty hard,” Julien said. “Then it just kind of leveled off. We gave them a couple goals. You let a guy go to the front of the net for a rebound. The other one, you take a penalty because you don’t dump it in when you’re trying to get a line change. Those are all things that are self-inflicted. Until we clean up that part of our game, we’re going to be coming from behind, like we did again tonight.”

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Bruins’ comeback bid falls short in loss to Maple Leafs 01.14.14 at 9:48 pm ET
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Any momentum the Bruins may have generated from Saturday’s hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Sharks disappeared Tuesday night with a 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs.

The Bruins opened the scoring 3:38 in when Brad Marchand buried a rebound created by Reilly Smith‘s nice drive to the net. The Leafs answered 2:14 later with a goal that went against the grain of play when Tyler Bozak collected a rebound off a Carl Gunnarsson point shot and slid it past Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins retook the lead on Patrice Bergeron‘s 11th goal of the season, but then a pair of power-play goals from Bozak and Jake Gardiner put the Leafs up 3-2. James van Riemsdyk made it 4-2 a minute into the third with a wrister from the top of the right circle. Gregory Campbell cut the lead to one with 10:25 to go, but that was as close as the Bruins would get despite applying some heavy pressure for the remainder of the game.

With the loss, the Bruins dropped to 3-5-0 in their last eight. Their next game is Thursday night in Dallas.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins dominated the first period in terms of possession and scoring chances, but ended up tied at 2-2 heading into the intermission thanks to a pair of defensive breakdowns. On the Leafs’€™ first goal, Torey Krug missed a block attempt on Gunnarsson’€™s shot attempt from the point, inadvertently screening Tuukka Rask in the process. Kevan Miller couldn’€™t clear the rebound or muscle Bozak off the puck, and the Leafs center knocked the puck home. On the second goal, Johnny Boychuk got caught puck-watching and let Bozak slip right behind him for an easy finish.

- The Bruins struggled on special teams. Their penalty kill, in particular, was dreadful. Bozak’€™s second goal (and Boychuck’€™s defensive lapse) came on a Leafs power play, as did Gardiner’€™s tally that gave the Leafs a 3-2 lead. While Rask should’€™ve made the save on Gardiner’€™s wrister, the Leafs had been able to move the puck with ease leading up to that chance. The Leafs also came dangerously close to scoring on their third power play of the game, with van Riemsdyk getting three whacks at the puck from right in front after Campbell failed to clear the zone. As for the power play, the Bruins’€™ first one generated some good looks, but they barely even got set up on their second, which featured Zdeno Chara at the point instead of in front, where he’€™s been most of the season.

- Rask had another rough game. There wasn’t much he could’ve done on Toronto’s first two goals, but he definitely should’ve had the third and fourth. Rask now has an .876 save percentage over his last seven games.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins benefited from a combination of impressive work from Smith and some not-so-impressive work by Toronto’s defense pairing leading up to Marchand’s goal. Smith was able to skate right through Gunnarsson and Dion Phaneuf (van Riemsdyk was also with him) as the three Maple Leafs passively allowed Smith to get to the slot and fire off the backhander that yielded the rebound on which Marchand scored. Teams often pride themselves on being strong around the net, and the Maple Leafs were just the opposite.

- The fourth line continued to score. With Campbell’s third-period goal — which included a nice setup by Daniel Paille and a better finish by Campbell — that line has now scored in four of the last five games, and Campbell and Paille have four points apiece during that stretch.

DJ Bean contributed to this story.

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Ten women with local ties named to U.S. Olympic hockey team 01.01.14 at 4:06 pm ET
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Ten women with local ties were named to the U.S. Olympic team during the second intermission of Wednesday’s Winter Classic. Harvard led the way among local colleges with four players (two current, two former) making the team, including 2007 graduate Julie Chu, who is appearing in her fourth Olympics. Five Massachusetts natives made the team.

Here is the full list of U.S. players with local ties:

-G Molly Schaus – Natick, Mass. – Boston College ’11
-D Kacey Bellamy – Westfield, Mass. – New Hampshire ’09
-D Michelle Picard – Taunton, Mass. – Harvard junior
-D Josephine Pucci – Pearl River, N.Y. – Harvard ’13
-F Alex Carpenter – North Reading, Mass. – Boston College junior
-F Kendall Coyne – Palos Heights, Ill. – Northeastern junior
-F Julie Chu – Fairfield, Conn. – Harvard ’07
-F Meghan Duggan – Danvers, Mass. – Wisconsin ’11
-F Lyndsey Fry – Chandler, Ariz. – Harvard senior
-F Kelli Stack – Brooklyn Heights, Ohio – Boston College ’11

The team’s full roster can be found here.

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One of many U.S. Olympic roster projections 12.30.13 at 9:00 am ET
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Ryan Miller should once again be the starting goalie for Team USA. (AP)

Ryan Miller should once again be the starting goalie for Team USA. (AP)

The U.S. Olympic roster will be announced Wednesday at the Winter Classic, which means it’s time for everyone to make their roster projections. Mine is below. It’s worth noting that this isn’t necessarily who I think will make the team, but rather who I think should make it. It’s also worth noting that the roster announced Wednesday could end up changing due to injuries. Team USA will take 25 players to Sochi, and the assumption is that the breakdown will be 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies.

Forwards
Zach PariseRyan Kesler – Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk – Joe Pavelski – Phil Kessel
Max Pacioretty – David Backes – Bobby Ryan
Dustin Brown – Paul Stastny – T.J. Oshie
Jason Pominville, Ryan Callahan/Derek Stepan

The top three centers are pretty much interchangeable — all three can score, all three play defense and all three are strong on faceoffs. Parise and Kane are as good as it gets on the wing (although it’s worth mentioning that Parise is currently battling a foot injury). Kessel and van Riemsdyk already play together in Toronto, so it makes sense to keep them together here.

Pacioretty and Ryan give you a very good third scoring line. Brown has struggled this season, but I still like him as a fourth-liner. He and Oshie would be a bruising tandem. Stastny gets the nod over Stepan because he’s better on faceoffs and he’s been playing better recently. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bruins call up goalie Niklas Svedberg 12.27.13 at 10:12 am ET
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Niklas Svedberg

Niklas Svedberg

The Bruins have recalled goalie Niklas Svedberg from AHL Providence, the team announced Friday. The 24-year-old is 11-5-3 with a 2.91 goals against average, .907 save percentage and one shutout this season. Last year, Svedberg was voted the AHL’s most outstanding goalie after going 37-8-2 with a 2.17 GAA, .925 save percentage and four shutouts.

If Svedberg gets into a game with the Bruins, it would be his NHL debut. The Bruins kick off a home-and-home with the Senators at TD Garden on Friday before heading up to Ottawa on Saturday.

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Marshfield’s David Warsofsky shows power-play ability in Garden debut 12.21.13 at 11:46 pm ET
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David Warsofsky

David Warsofsky

In his second NHL game, defenseman David Warsofsky got a chance to show what he can do in the role that suits his game best — power-play quarterback. And the Marshfield native and Boston University product ran the Bruins’ power play the same way he’s been running Providence’s, which is very well.

Buffalo’s Linus Omark went to the box for hooking 9:07 into Saturday’s game, and with the Bruins’ top line just finishing up a shift, it was Warsofsky and the second power-play unit (which also included Patrice Bergeron, Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg and Ryan Spooner) that got the first crack.

They set up a nice cycle and got Buffalo’s penalty killers moving, and Warsofsky’s ability to move his feet and open up lanes was a big part of it. Thirty-two seconds into the man advantage, Smith found the back of the net after a pretty passing sequence that saw all five Bruins touch the puck in about a five-second span.

“I think I’ve obviously been playing on the power play down in Providence, and that’s kind of the role I want to come into,” Warsofsky said. “I felt comfortable out there. … Not every guy gets the chance when they come up to play on the power play, so it was nice to see the coaches have some confidence in me and put me out there.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Zdeno Chara doesn’t really step up; he just continues to be great 12.17.13 at 11:22 pm ET
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It’s rare that Zdeno Chara doesn’t step up, which is why it wouldn’t really be fair to say he “stepped up” in the Bruins’ 2-0 win over the Flames on Tuesday. But he did play one of his best games of the season, and not just because he registered his first two-goal game since May 4, 2011.

In fact, you could make the case that the two goals weren’t even the most impressive part of his game. They both came on the power play, an area where he’s been getting more and more comfortable all season. The first was a one-timer — he’s always had that. The second was a put-back from the top of the crease — he hasn’t been in that role on a regular basis until this year.

But only 1:56 of Chara’s 22:44 time on ice came on the power play. So what was Chara doing the rest of that time? He was dominating just as much as he dominated on the power play.

The Bruins had a plus-16 Corsi (even-strength shot attempts) with Chara on the ice Tuesday, marking a season best for the Bruins captain. The Flames attempted just six shots with Chara on the ice (also a season best), and only three of them were actually on goal.

After an embarrassing 6-2 loss to Vancouver on Saturday, it was exactly the kind of performance you’d want from your captain. But again, it would be a disservice to Chara to suggest this was some sort of personal turnaround. Read the rest of this entry »

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