|5 things we learned: Tuukka Rask struggles as Bruins miss opportunity to steal first win||10.12.15 at 3:38 pm ET|
Even with Zdeno Chara back, the Bruins are not strong on defense. They will need Tuukka Rask to be himself in order to be a good team. In Boston’s first real good chance to steal a win, he wasn’t himself.
With the Bruins capitalizing on a poor start from the Lightning Monday at TD Garden, Boston’s chances of upsetting last season’s Eastern Conference champions were hurt by a pair of goals the former Vezina winner routinely stopped in games and seasons prior. The end result was a 6-3 loss and an 0-3-0 start for the first time since the 1999-00 season.
The biggest damage was done in the opening minutes of the third with Tampa clinging to a one-goal lead. Patrice Bergeron got a stick on a shot from Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin off the rush. The result was a sputtering puck that Rask was in position to stop but saw lightly kick off the inside of his right skate and through his legs.
That led to a Bronx cheer from the Garden crowd on his next save, as Rask had also given up a softy on a slow-moving puck in front during a first-period Tampa power play.
Fortunately for the B’s, they aren’t yet as bad as that 1999-00 team, as that group didn’t pick up a win until its 10th game of the season.
Here are four more things we learned Monday:
TOP UNIT IS TOPS; PASTRNAK FALTERS ON SECOND UNIT
Say what you will about Claude Julien‘s personnel choices for the second power play unit (see below), but the top group of David Krejci and Torey Krug on the point with Ryan Spooner on the half wall, Patrice Bergeron in the slot and Loui Eriksson in front was terrific Monday.
Krejci gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead 18 seconds into Boston’s first power play, while Eriksson picked up his first of the season 23 seconds into a Vladislav Namestnikov holding penalty. Eriksson added his second of the day during a second-period power play, using the shaft of his stick to redirect a shot from Krejci.
With Brad Marchand out with a concussion, David Pastrnak figured to see time on Boston’s second power play unit. He didn’t do much with his chance Monday, as he made a bad pass that was easily intercepted by Brian Boyle at the end of a second-period power play for Boston. Boyle kicked the puck to himself, fended off the slender Pastrnak with ease and scored a breakaway goal to make it 3-2 in Tampa’s favor.
BERGERON PENALTIES COSTLY
After setting career highs in penalty minutes in each of the last two seasons, Patrice Bergeron is now up to six penalty minutes through three games this season. His pair of penalties cost the Bruins more than another player’s might have.
Given that Brad Marchand is out with a concussion, the B’s aren’t exactly in a position to lose another one of their aces on the penalty kill. Tampa got power play goals off of each of Bergeron’s penalties Monday, a goaltender interference infraction in the first period and a hooking call in the second.
JULIEN MAKES RIGHT CALL WITH KELLY
By putting Brett Connolly on Patrice Bergeron‘s line, Claude Julien broke up a third line that was borderline terrible defensively. To fix it, he moved Jimmy Hayes to the right of Ryan Spooner and promoted Chris Kelly to play left wing/babysitter has he did successfully in previous years for Carl Soderberg.
The move paid immediate dividends for the Bruins. Kelly stole a puck in the neutral zone in the line’s first shift of the game, leading to a lengthy offensive zone stay in which the snakebitten Spooner nearly scored. Kelly was then hooked by Matthew Carle to give Boston a power play on which Krejci scored the game’s opening goal. Spooner would draw another penalty midway through the period to set up Eriksson’s first goal of the day.
KREJCI GETS THE POINTS
New linemates haven’t gotten in the way of David Krejci getting off to a strong start. With a goal and two assists Monday, Krejci now has five points (two goals, three assists) in three games this season. It’s the first time since 2010-11 that Krejci has had points in the first three games of a campaign.
|Zdeno Chara returns from upper-body injury, Bruins assign Matt Irwin to Providence||10.12.15 at 11:56 am ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will play his first game of the season Monday afternoon when the B’s host the Lightning in a 1 p.m. matinee at TD Garden.
Chara, who suffered an upper-body injury in his first preseason game on Sept. 24, missed games last week against the Jets and Canadiens. The Bruins could certainly use him, as they’ve allowed 10 goals in the first two games of the season and have lacked both experienced defensemen and capable penalty-killers.
Chara has been skating since Sept. 29 and has looked much less limited in recent days. He still isn’t putting his full force into slap shots, but he has taken more contact in practice.
To make room for Chara on the 23-man roster, the Bruins assigned defenseman Matt Irwin to Providence. Irwin went unclaimed after being placed on waivers Sunday.
Tuukka Rask will be in goal for the Bruins Monday.
|Brad Marchand out with concussion; Matt Irwin placed on waivers||10.11.15 at 11:20 am ET|
Marchand, who crashed into Dale Weise and was woozy as he left the ice in third period, leaves a hole in Boston’s top six. It appears Claude Julien will try to kill two birds with one stone by taking Brett Connolly off Ryan Spooner’s line to play with Patrice Bergeron, with Chris Kelly moving to Spooner’s line to add defensive responsibility that has been glaringly absent in the first two games of the season.
Julien put no timetable on Marchand’s return, saying that the team will follow the league’s concussion protocol and monitor his status accordingly.
Zdeno Chara was among seven defensemen who practiced with Irwin out. Julien said Chara is “questionable” for Monday’s game against the Lightning. As for Irwin, the team will learn at noon Monday whether or not the 27-year-old defenseman was claimed. If he clears waivers, the B’s can assign him to Providence.
The lines and pairings in practice were as follows:
|Claude Julien ‘disappointed’ by no-goal ruling, but says he won’t hesitate to use challenge in future||10.10.15 at 11:24 pm ET|
Goalie interference? Uh, okay… pic.twitter.com/KpkX8qykna
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 11, 2015
The play and review seemed pretty straightforward. The refs waved off a Loui Eriksson goal because Patrice Bergeron made contact with Carey Price. However, Bergeron was clearly pushed into Price by Alexei Emelin, meaning the goal should have been allowed.
It was understandable that the refs missed it in real time; hockey is a fast game and sometimes you just don’t catch that push. But once Julien decided to use his challenge, it seemed like a pretty safe bet that the no-goal call would be overturned.
Instead, the refs upheld the call on the ice. Why they upheld it remains a mystery, with the league’s official statement saying simply that the review “confirmed that Boston’s Patrice Bergeron made incidental contact with Montreal goaltender Carey Price before the puck crossed the goal line, preventing Price from doing his job in the crease.” No mention of Emelin’s shove. No mention of the fact that Bergeron actually made an effort to stay out of the crease while getting pushed.
Julien said he was “disappointed” with the call and didn’t understand why it wasn’t a goal.
“I really felt, and I looked at it in between periods, and I said how can that not be a goal when the guy has both feet outside the blue paint and is doing everything he can to stay out of his way and is really trying to fight off the guy trying to push him in,” Julien said. “So, I thought that warranted obviously a goal, but for some reason they saw it some other way.”
Goalie interference plays are one of two things coaches can challenge (with goals scored on a potential offsides being the other), and Julien said it’s his understanding that whether or not a player was pushed into the goalie is part of what can be reviewed, which would rule out the possibility that the refs could only look at Bergeron’s contact with Price and not how he got there.
Bergeron couldn’t make sense of the ruling either, as he also thought that being pushed into Price should’ve negated the interference.
“That was my understanding of the rule,” Bergeron said. “They thought otherwise and we can’t really control that, I guess. … It happens fast, so I guess I understood that maybe he thought that I pushed into the goalie. But then on the replay, I thought it was clear that I got pushed into him. My understanding was that if I get pushed into the goalie and I’m working hard to get out of there, it’s fine.”
Julien said that despite the fact that this challenge didn’t go the way he expected, he wouldn’t hesitate to challenge a similar situation in the future.
“That’s a thing you’ve got to be careful of — you can’t [be discouraged],” Julien said. “In our minds, the people that looked at it in the first place all felt it should have been a goal, and I went back to my office in between periods and I felt it should have been a goal. But if you’re afraid to call those then you may miss an opportunity to either get a goal called for you or the other way around, a goal rescinded from what you think was interference.”
The disallowed goal certainly isn’t the reason the Bruins lost Saturday. More turnovers, more defensive mistakes and an inability to get the puck out of their own zone had a lot more to do with Saturday night’s 4-2 loss than that one call. But there’s no denying that it was a turning point of sorts, especially since the Canadiens scored just over a minute later to make it 3-0.
|5 things we learned: Brad Marchand injury scare overshadows loss to Habs||10.10.15 at 9:59 pm ET|
The Bruins were having a bad enough night Saturday night. They were headed for what would become a 4-2 loss the Canadiens at the Garden, and one of the few things they had to show for it was a lack of injuries.
Then Brad Marchand collided with Dale Weise late in the game, falling to the ice and getting up extremely slowly. Marchand sluggishly found his way back toward the bench, with Colin Miller essentially needing to pull him onto the bench.
Marchand left the game and did not return. Claude Julien had no update on the player following the game.
As Boston’s leading goal-scorer in two of the last three seasons, he would be a major piece for Boston to lose for any period of time.
Here are five things we learned Saturday:
PK D GETS AN F
The Bruins were never shorthanded in the season-opener, so one of their biggest issues was not exposed. With Chara and Dennis Seidenberg out, the Bruins are without the only two left defensemen to average even 30 seconds on the penalty kill last season.
That meant that when Matt Beleskey took an illegal check to the head penalty 1:14 into the game, it was offensive defenseman Joe Morrow who was sent out kill the penalty with Kevan Miller. The B’s were extremely soft in front as Montreal began its power play, resulting in David Desharnais — all 5-foot-7 and 174 pounds of him – being able to whack away at his own rebound in front of Tuukka Rask uncontested and score 11 seconds into the power play. It was the only power play goal Boston allowed Saturday, but it was a biggie.
Even once Chara returns, the Bruins will be extremely undermanned on the penalty kill. Right now, it’s beyond worrisome.
Here are four more things we learned:
JULIEN LOSES CHALLENGE
Given his tendency to disagree with referees, it seemed that Claude Julien and the new coach’s challenge would be a match made in heaven. The two got off to a rocky start on Saturday night, however.
Trailing by a 2-0 score at the time, Loui Eriksson appeared to get the Bruins on the board after Loui Eriksson backhanded an errant puck past Price. Eriksson got to the puck after Joe Morrow had broken his stick on the shot, and while the play appeared to give Boston its first goal of the night, the play was called no-goal because Patrice Bergeron had made incidental contact with Carey Price.
Julien challenged the call, and though replays showed that Bergeron was pushed by Alexei Emelin and that the contact really wasn’t significant at all, the play held up. As fate would have it in this rivalry, the Canadiens scored 1:17 later to take a 3-0 lead.
Milan Lucic isn’t around to get tossed from Bruins-Canadiens games anymore. The guy who did get ejected Saturday night was rather surprising.
Ryan Spooner, who had eight penalty minutes in 57 career games entering Saturday night, was called for boarding Brian Flynn 3:30 into the third period. While the hit did not appear egregious, Spooner was handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
The call was met with confusion by those observing the game, but as pointed out by WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin, Rule 41.5 states that a boarding penalty that results in a head or face injury comes with an automatic game misconduct. Flynn was bleeding on the play, which likely made the officials’ decision for them.
BELESKEY GETS HIS FIRST, COLIN MILLER MAKES HIS DEBUT
Matt Beleskey didn’t have a particularly impressive Bruins debut Thursday and he was called for an early penalty Saturday to set up a Montreal power play goal. He did pick up his first goal as a Bruin in the second period, even if it was an ugly one.
Looking to feed the puck in front for Pastrnak, Beleskey’s pass went off Jeff Petry and past Price to get the B’s on the board.
Through two games, members of David Krejci‘s line have scored three of Boston’s four goals, with Krejci, Beleskey and David Pastrnak each having a goal apiece.
Another first for the B’s Saturday: Colin Miller made his NHL debut by playing in place of the scratched Zach Trotman. Joonas Kemppainen also sat in favor of Max Talbot.
Miller’s skating and passing were as advertised. The former King also took a cross-checking penalty midway through the third period.
BERGERON TARGETED AGAIN
The 30-year-old center was the target of an attempted low bridge from Alexei Emelin, which earned the Habs defenseman an interference penalty. The play came just a game after Bergeron took an elbow to the head from Jets forward Alexander Burmistrov.
Fortunately for the Bruins, Bergeron hasn’t been injured yet as the result of either play. Bergeron ended up scoring his first goal of the season by beating Price with 30.1 seconds left in regulation.
|Colin Miller appears set to make NHL debut for Bruins vs. Canadiens||10.10.15 at 1:23 pm ET|
Thursday was a first for Colin Miller. Having never previously been called up to the NHL, he watched a regular-season game from the press box for the first time.
Oh, what a mess of crap he saw.
That’s not how he put it, but that’s how everyone else on the ninth floor of TD Garden saw Boston’s defensive performance against Winnipeg in the season-opener.
On Saturday night, his job will be trickier. He’ll likely be six floors lower trying to solve the Bruins’ problems. Factor in that it would mean making his NHL debut against the Canadiens and Miller has his work cut out for him.
“If that happens, it will be pretty interesting,” Miller said after Saturday’s morning skate. “Obviously the rivalry is pretty crazy, so it will be fun to become a part of it.”
Claude Julien said after Saturday’s morning skate that Miller would be a game-time decision to play, but the skate itself suggested Miller will be in while Zdeno Chara remains out.
The B’s got the 22-year-old Miller, the AHL’s hardest shot and fastest skater, from the Kings in the Milan Lucic trade. Though he can be sent to the AHL without requiring waivers, he figured to push for a full-time job on Boston’s blue line this season.
That he was made a healthy scratch in the season-opener didn’t upset him. Claude Julien‘s hands are tied regarding the back end because with Chara out, the Bruins only have three lefty defensemen in Torey Krug, Joe Morrow and Matt Irwin. Miller, a righty, is part of a crowded group, so even if Julien wanted to sit someone like Irwin, he likely couldn’t. Saturday’s morning skate suggested righty Zach Trotman would be a healthy scratch while Miller will play with Joe Morrow.
“I’m the new guy here, so I’ve got earn my spot,” Miller said. “That’s something that I’ve kind of just been trying to do every day.”
Miller said watching Thursday’s game against the Jets was an eye-opening experience. Though he was in training camp and played the preseason with the Bruins, he noticed that having a good transition game ‘ his skating is expected to help the Bruins in that regard ‘ is easier said than done.
“It happens quick. Everything happens quick out there,’ Miller said. ‘You’ve got to be ready, you’ve got to be prepared. The transition game’s so quick. You go on offense and then it comes back on defense. I think just being very cautious and making sure to bear down and be very solid.”
There wasn’t much to like about Boston’s defense Thursday, but the blue line has long expected to be a work in progress, at best. It will face an uphill climb even after Chara returns, but Miller is one of the more intriguing parts of what should be a shaky defense for Boston this season.
|Dale Weise knows Bruins-Canadiens rivalry will be different without Milan Lucic||10.10.15 at 12:55 pm ET|
Bruins-Canadiens games won’t be the same without Milan Lucic, but then again this rivalry has always found a way to stay heated regardless of who comes and goes.
When the Bruins host the Habs Saturday at TD Garden, things will look vastly different from the way they did when Montreal won all four meetings by multiple goals a season ago.
(Actually, there’s a very good chance the result will be the same; it will just look different.)
Lucic is gone. Dougie Hamilton, whose biggest contribution to the rivalry was forgetting that penalties expire, has also departed. Zdeno Chara is likely to remain out with an upper-body injury, while the likes of Matt Beleskey, Zac Rinaldo, Colin Miller (making his NHL debut), Jimmy Hayes and Matt Irwin will all play against the Habs for the first time as Bruins.
Despite Boston’s injuries and new faces, Bruins killer Dale Weise (seven points in his last 10 games against Boston, including the playoffs) doesn’t see Saturday as an automatic two points.
“I don’t think Boston’s any slouch by any means,” Weise said. “I think this is a good hockey team. They’ve added some good players; Beleskey’s a good guy that’s going to score for them, Jimmy Hayes we saw a lot in Florida. He scored a couple goals against us, so he’s a big body. With a goaltender like [Tuukka] Rask, similar to us, you always have a chance.”
Perhaps Weise’s most notable moment in Boston came after Game 7 of the 2014 second round. Following Montreal’s series-clinching victory over the Bruins (a game in which Weise scored), word got out that Lucic had threatened Weise in the handshake line.
Weise has always praised Lucic’s game since the incident, so it wasn’t a surprise to hear him do the same after Saturday’s morning skate.
“It makes our job a little bit easier without having him out there,” Weise said. “He’s a horse to handle out there. You’ve got to be aware when he’s out there.
“Picking up Beleskey, I know him from the West a little bit. He’s another big body. He plays hard. They’ve still got some players that can play hard over there.”
Boston’s biggest issue against the Habs will be holding up better defensively than they did Thursday night against the Jets. Though Montreal was hard-pressed for goals last season, they still managed to rack them up against Boston. The Habs have given Chara fits in recent years, but they’ll likely have an easier time with him out of the lineup.
“Having him in the lineup is a big difference,” Weise said of Chara. “He’s a big body. He’s hard to play against. Going in front of the net, you’re going to get a couple of whacks from him. It’s not a pretty place to be. He adds so much to their lineup.”
Though the Canadiens didn’t make any sizable upgrades in the offseason, they should certainly be considered the better of the two teams at this point. Even if they won’t say it, they should feel pretty good about their chances Saturday.