|In showdown of elite centers, Patrice Bergeron dominates Flyers’ Claude Giroux||10.09.14 at 12:23 am ET|
In theory, Wednesday night’s season opener between the Bruins and Flyers should have given us a great back-and-forth battle between two of the NHL‘s best centers. Patrice Bergeron and Claude Giroux both finished in the top five in Hart Trophy voting last season, and their lines were matched against each other for most of the game Wednesday night.
But instead of that great battle, what we got was a total beatdown in favor of the Bruins. Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith dominated Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek all game long, rendering one of the best players in the league virtually invisible.
Bergeron won 10 of the 12 faceoffs he took against Giroux and ended up with a plus-16 Corsi (22 shot attempts for, 6 against), according to hockeystats.ca, while Giroux finished the night with a minus-18 Corsi (6 attempts for, 24 against). Bergeron and his linemates combined for seven shots on goal, while Giroux and his managed just two. It seemed like every time the two lines were on the ice, the puck was in the Flyers’ zone, and the numbers reflect that.
“They take pride in being a better line than the line that they’re facing up against,” Claude Julien said. “It’s just a trait that they have. They worked hard. You have to give them credit, too, for how they checked against that line because it had a lot of potential to be dangerous offensively. But those guys did a pretty good job of taking away those opportunities.”
The key was winning battles. Bergeron is one of the best faceoff men in the NHL, but it’s not like he won all 10 of those faceoffs cleanly. Some of them required him outworking Giroux on a second or third attempt to win the puck back, and some of them required Marchand or Smith to jump in and beat the opponent to a loose puck.
Battles in the corner led to longer offensive-zone possessions. One of the best examples of this came with around 9:40 left in the second when Bergeron won a 1-on-1 battle in the corner to the left of the Flyers’ net. He came away with the puck and moved it back to Zdeno Chara at the left point. Chara then moved it over to Adam McQuaid, who sent a shot through a nice Smith screen, one that he was able to set by winning a battle for position. The shot didn’t go in, but it wasn’t an easy save either. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins send Ryan Spooner, Alex Khokhlachev, Justin Florek, Jeremy Smith to Providence||10.01.14 at 3:15 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Wednesday that forwards Ryan Spooner, Alex Khokhlachev and Justin Florek and goalie Jeremy Smith have been released from training camp and sent to Providence. Smith will have to clear waivers first.
Spooner, Khokhlachev and Florek were all contenders for open forward spots on the Bruins roster, especially on the third and fourth lines. Spooner played in 23 games last season, recording no goals and 11 assists. Florek had a goal and an assist in four regular-season games, plus one goal in six playoff games.
Khokhlachev was Providence’s leading scorer last season, tallying 57 points (21 goals, 36 assists) in 65 games. Spooner registered 11 goals and 35 assists in 49 games in Providence, while Florek had 19 goals and 19 assists in 69 AHL games. Smith spent last season with the Springfield Falcons — Columbus’ AHL affiliate — and posted a 21-14-3 record with an .898 save percentage.
|Bruins draft Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, Emil Johansson with final three picks||06.28.14 at 1:42 pm ET|
They used their fourth-round pick (116 overall) on center/winger Danton Heinen from the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League. Heinen was the Eagles’ captain and leading scorer. He finished the season with 29 goals and 33 assists in 57 games, good for 10th in the league in points. Heinen will head to the University of Denver this fall.
With their fifth-round pick (146 overall), the Bruins took winger Anders Bjork from the U.S. Under-18 Team. Bjork played on the team’s second line last season alongside Red Wings first-round pick Dylan Larkin and registered 21 goals and 20 assists in 61 games. The Mequon, Wisconsin, native is committed to play college hockey at Notre Dame.
In the seventh round (206 overall), the Bruins selected Swedish defenseman Emil Johansson. Johansson played for HV71’s under-20 team in Sweden last season, posting two goals and nine assists in 42 games. Johansson is the only non-forward the Bruins drafted this year.
|Peter Chiarelli: Bruins will not re-sign Shawn Thornton||06.16.14 at 3:40 pm ET|
In a video posted on the team’s website, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced that the team will not be re-signing forward Shawn Thornton.
“Today I met with Shawn. We had a good meeting, and I informed him that we wouldn’t be re-signing him,” Chiarelli said in the video. “It was good in the sense that we talked about the time Shawn has spent here.
“I told him that he was one of the most significant acquisitions that we made — one, for the role that he played, and two, for the person that he is. It was nice to rehash his time. It was sad to tell him he wasn’t coming back.”
Thornton spent seven seasons in Boston, tallying 34 goals, 42 assists and 748 penalty minutes in 480 games. He added one goal, six assists and 62 penalty minutes in 86 playoff games and helped lead the Bruins to a Stanley Cup title in 2011.
|Canadiens say they really did use ‘disrespect’ as motivation||05.15.14 at 12:42 am ET|
All the talk about “disrespect” these last couple days was almost laughable. For starters, it was unclear how it even got started. On Tuesday, some reporter asked Brandon Prust about the Bruins not respecting the Canadiens, Prust gave a vague answer about the Habs having pride and not wanting to stoop to the Bruins’ level, and off we went.
Suddenly “disrespect” was all the rage. Mike Weaver was asked about it Wednesday morning and said the Habs had to earn their respect. He was then asked a follow-up about what, exactly, the Bruins were doing to disrespect his team.
“Well, watch the clips. The whole entire series you can see little things out there,” Weaver said. “But I think that’s their game. Our game is just playing. The other stuff isn’t really a factor.”
Sure, Shawn Thornton squirted P.K. Subban with some water. Milan Lucic flexed his muscles at Subban at one point. Kevan Miller tossed a Montreal helmet into the corner after a scrum. But were those things really disrespectful? Or were they just things that happen in a playoff series between archrivals?
The consensus around Boston was that they were the latter. As our own DJ Bean put it, all the “disrespect” talk just seemed like “a team stretching to come up with motivation.”
Surely after winning Wednesday’s Game 7, the Canadiens would admit that all that talk was just part of some head game, right?
Wrong. As it turns out, the Canadiens really did feed off this “disrespect.” Or at least they claim they did. Just check out some of these quotes that came out their locker room Wednesday night: Read the rest of this entry »
|Jarome Iginla: ‘It’s the best chance that I’ve had’||05.14.14 at 11:37 pm ET|
Technically speaking, Jarome Iginla has gotten closer to the Stanley Cup than this. In 2004, his Flames made it all the way to Game 7 of the Cup finals before falling to the Lightning. Last year, his Penguins got to the conference finals before getting swept by the Bruins — the same B’s he had spurned at the trade deadline when he elected to go to Pittsburgh.
Perhaps because he realized that decision was a mistake, or maybe just because Boston gave him the best offer, Iginla decided to sign a one-year deal with the Bruins over the summer. The future Hall of Famer believed the B’s gave him the best chance to win his first Cup.
The Bruins didn’t get to play for the Cup. They didn’t even reach the conference finals. But Iginla still feels this was as good a chance as he’s ever had.
“This year’s been a lot of fun. It’s been great being here with these guys,” Iginla said. “It’s the best chance that I’ve had with a group. It’s very hard to take.”
Iginla posted 30 goals and 31 assists in the regular season, marking the 12th straight non-lockout season in which he’s reached 30 goals. He started slow in the playoffs, but wound up finishing with a team-high five goals in 12 games, including the Bruins’ lone goal in Wednesday’s Game 7 loss.
It remains to be seen whether or not Iginla will re-sign with the Bruins, but based on his production and how his teammates and coaches talk about him, you would have to figure that’s something the B’s would be interested in doing.
“He had a good year. Thirty goals again. Those 30-goal scorers are hard to find,” Claude Julien said. “Certainly he scored some goals for us in the playoffs as well. He gave us some life there in the second period [Wednesday night].
“He’s an unbelievable player, but also an unbelievable person. He was great. He fit in beautifully in our room, with our players. He was a real important part of the success that we had.”
|Possession perfectionists: Patrice Bergeron’s line continues to dominate everyone it faces||05.11.14 at 7:00 am ET|
With a little more than 10 minutes remaining in Saturday’s Game 5, and with the Bruins leading 3-1, Max Pacioretty appeared to have his chance. He grabbed the puck just inside his own blue line and turned up ice. The Bruins were in the middle of a change, and he had an open lane down the left wing — the opposite side of the ice as the Bruins bench.
Unfortunately for Pacioretty, the first guy over the boards was Patrice Bergeron. The Selke Trophy favorite made a beeline for Pacioretty, and within a matter of seconds, all that space Pacioretty appeared to have was gone. He was forced to settle for a long snap shot that Tuukka Rask kicked right to Bergeron.
Then Bergeron did what he’s done all series, and all season. He turned up ice, led a rush through the neutral zone, and helped set up an offensive-zone cycle with linemates Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith. Pacioretty and his linemates — David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher — didn’t sniff the Bruins zone the rest of the shift.
That shift perfectly encapsulated what Bergeron and his linemates do so well. They’re often called a shutdown line, especially in the playoffs. You hear about how they “take away time and space” and “keep guys to the outside.” Bergeron did both of those within the first five seconds of that shift.
What you don’t always hear enough about is what the trio did over the next 30 seconds of that shift. They don’t give up second and third chances. They get the puck and flip the ice. They cycle. They attack. They possess the puck and pin their opponents deep in their own zone.
In football, you often hear the cliche “The best defense is a good offense.” The idea is that if your offense keeps getting first downs and holds onto the ball, the other team’s offense can’t get on the field. The same applies in hockey.
Bergeron and his linemates shut down top offensive players, like Pacioretty, by not allowing them to have the puck. Yes, they’re also great at defending when those guys do get the puck, but they’re most effective when they’re able to keep those guys about 175 feet away from the Boston net. Read the rest of this entry »