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Bruins, down David Pastrnak, go for road trip sweep against Wild 11.17.16 at 7:09 pm ET
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. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins and Wild wrap up their season series tonight in Minnesota. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Nobody in the NHL has been better away from home than the Bruins.

The start to the team’s latest stint away from the Garden, a three-game road swing that began last Friday, was no exception, either. With a dominant puck-possession game, the Bruins rattled off impressive back-to-back performances against the Coyotes and Avalanche last weekend, and now go for the sweep with a Thursday night visit to the Xcel Energy Center for a head-to-head with the Wild.

But in their first game back from a four-day layoff (their second-longest gap between games this season), the Bruins will have to find a way to score goals against a Wild team that’s allowed a league-low 29 goals through 15 games without one of their best, as top-line winger David Pastrnak will miss tonight’s tilt with an undisclosed injury.

Pastrnak’s 10 goals are the second-most in the NHL this season, and though the Bruins are 2-0-0 with Pastrnak out of action this year (No. 88 missed two games to suspension late last month), the Bruins will have to continue to pour shots on goal in an attempt to mask his absence. Shots have not been the problem for the Bruins of late, especially after a season-high 46 shots hammered on the Avalanche net on Sunday, but there’s no doubt that the Bruins need to find more than just shots, as the team enters tonight’s game with just four goals (one of which was an empty-net goal in the closing seconds of Sunday’s win) on their last 85 shots on goal dating back to the third period of last Thursday’s win over the Blue Jackets.

“We’d like to have some more goals scored with the number of chances we have, but at the end of the days we’re winning hockey games,” B’s head coach Claude Julien, whose team has won three games in a row, said after an optional morning skate on Thursday. “So you build on that stuff and you hope that the goals will come. I think we’ve been through that before many times, and when you stick with it eventually goals start going in.”

The Bruins are expected to turn to Tuukka Rask in net for his fourth straight start. Rask has been lights out on this road trip, with two wins and 51 stops on 52 shots against, and enters play with seven wins and a .956 save percentage in seven road games this season. The 29-year-old has two wins and a .932 save percentage in five career games against the Wild.

Minnesota will counter with Devan Dubnyk. The towering Dubnyk stopped all 27 shots against in his last appearance against the Bruins, a 5-0 beatdown of the B’s back at TD Garden on Oct. 25, and stopped 26-of-27 in his last appearance, a loss to the Flames.

In addition to the injured Pastrnak, forwards Noel Acciari (lower-body), Frank Vatrano (foot), and defenseman Kevan Miller (hand) remain out of action for the Bruins. Defenseman Colin Miller is the expected healthy scratch.

This will be the season series finale between the B’s and Wild this season.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Riley Nash

Ryan Spooner – David Krejci – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Dominic Moore – Austin Czarnik

Jimmy Hayes – Tim Schaller – Sean Kuraly

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Joe Morrow – John-Michael Liles

Rask

Marc Savard reflects on career-ending hit: ‘I don’t know what’s wrong here, but I’m dying. I can’t see anything’ 11.17.16 at 6:30 pm ET
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Marc Savard

Marc Savard

These days, Marc Savard collects paychecks from the New Jersey Devils. Last year, it was the Florida Panthers, and before that, the Boston Bruins, the team Savard called his own since coming to the Black and Gold in the summer of 2006. But the now 39-year-old Savard’s skates have not touched NHL ice since he suffered a concussion in his last game, which came all the way back on Jan. 23, 2011.

And they won’t again.

Profiled in a tremendous Boston Globe story, Savard touched on the final months of his playing career, which began with a cheapshot at the hands of then-Penguin Matt Cooke (Savard noted that he’s still yet to hear from Cooke), had its up upon a return with an overtime goal against the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2010. And the moment it all ended, with a seemingly inconsequential hit from ex-teammate Matt Hunwick in that aforementioned Jan. 2011 contest.

“I said, ‘Donny, I don’t know what’s wrong here, but I’m dying. I can’t see anything,'” Savard recalled to the Globe. “And my eyes were open, so I was quite scared there.”

The Ottawa, Ont., native spent five years with the Bruins, and recorded an impressive 74 goals and 305 points in 304 games with the organization, including a stellar eight goals and 22 points in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games (all with the Bruins). Savard was such an impactful presence for the Bruins that even though he skated in less than 30 games for the Bruins in 2010-11, that the Black and Gold successfully petitioned to get his name on the Stanley Cup, and No. 91 himself was at the team’s Cup parade.

Now a coach in Ontario (which is profiled heavily in the story), Savard’s contract — one signed with the B’s and then-GM Peter Chiarelli back in 2009 — will run out at the end of this upcoming season, when Savard is expected to formally retire.

 

 

Bruins’ David Pastrnak to miss game vs. Wild 11.17.16 at 3:13 pm ET
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David Pastrnak.

David Pastrnak.

The Bruins began their three-game road with back-to-back wins — in impressive fashion, too — in Arizona and Colorado, but will have to go for the clean sweep of the trip without their top goal-scorer, as David Pastrnak will miss tonight’s head-to-head with the Wild at Xcel Energy Center with an undisclosed injury.

Given a maintenance day on Tuesday, absent from Wednesday’s practice, and then confirmed out for tonight’s game following an optional skate early this morning, coach Claude Julien quipped “not sure” when asked if Pastrnak’s injury was an upper or lower-body injury.

The loss of Pastrnak — who is tied for the second-most goals in the NHL, with 10 — is a big one for a Bruins club that while winning, have scored just four goals (one empty-netter) on 75 shots on this road trip.

“I like the way we’re playing,” Julien said. “I like the fact that we’re winning some hockey games here and playing well. You build on the positives here and let the other stuff hopefully come.”

This is not the first time the Bruins have been without No. 88 in their lineup, as the team was forced to skate without him during his two-game ban for an illegal check to the head of the Rangers’ Dan Girardi, and went 2-0-0 in his absence.

With Pastrnak out, the B’s are expected to skate Riley Nash in his spot on the top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, while Dominic Moore will move up to the middle of the third line with Matt Beleskey and Austin Czarnik. Tim Schaller will move to the middle of a fourth line with Jimmy Hayes flipped to the left side and recent AHL recall Sean Kuraly on the right side.

 

Admiral’s Mailbag: Why David Backes has been worth money for Bruins 11.17.16 at 10:29 am ET
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David Backes has earned his money this season. (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

David Backes has earned his money this season. (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

Today’s column is a mailbag comprised of questions received via Twitter and/or email. For future pieces, questions can be sent to:letitbleedrearad@gmail.com or @RearAdBsBlog. Please include name and city/town:

Has David Backes been worth the $6M (cap hit) so far this season? —- Todd, Quincy

Absolutely. The physical, grinding forward has 3-4—7 totals in 11 games and has brought the intensity and effort that are the trademarks of his game. His .64 points per game is third on the team behind David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. Additionally, his leadership during the game and in the room has carried with it a dose of accountability that had perhaps been lacking. Money well spent thus far.

Can Tuukka Rask continue playing at this pace? —- Jimmy, Winchester

If there’s one position in hockey where a guy can keep up a seemingly torrid pace all season, it’s goalie. Rask has come flying out of the gate with Vezina-like numbers (10-1 record, 1.54 GAA, .945 SP, and three shutouts) and might be playing the best hockey off his career right now. Though he might have a hiccup at some point, expect Rask to challenge Montreal netminder Carey Price for year-end hardware.

Who has been the biggest surprise this season? —- Ronnie, West Roxbury

This is an easy one: defenseman Brandon Carlo. Though he came into camp as one of the team’s better prospects, it’s still a very pleasant surprise just how seamlessly the teenager has fit in. Playing alongside captain Zdeno Chara, Carlo’s mistakes have been rare and he’s more resembled a steady vet than a 19-year-old kid just 16 games into what should be a nice long career. Like most rookies, it’s expected he’ll hit the proverbial wall at some point. But given what we’ve seen so far, I’m expecting Carlo to simply scale the wall and keep doing what he’s doing.

Who or what has been the biggest reason for the Bruins success so far this season? —- Dave, Arlington

Rask’s goaltending is the obvious answer given his play (though Brad Marchand essentially carried the team early on). But one guy who should get more credit for the results thus far is Claude Julien. Claude’s steadying hand has kept the team on an even keel and, after some early bumps, has been seemingly been pushing every right button. There’s been no talk about ‘short leashes’ since before the season started and it’s clear the team is playing for their coach. Some day, he’ll get the respect he warrants in this town.

Patrice Bergeron has just two goals and two assists so far in 13 games. Should we be worried? —- Patti, Plymouth

Nah, nothing to worry about here despite the five straight games without a point. Bergy’s numbers will come around. He started the year hobbled due to his injured foot acting up and needed a few games to get up to speed. Though he has points in just three of 13 games, Bergeron is back to playing his standard high-end game and his offense will soon follow.

Five best commercials involving Bruins 11.16.16 at 4:54 pm ET
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Tom Brady isn't the only New England athlete to star in some killer commercials. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady isn’t the only New England athlete to star in some killer commercials. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

By now, you’ve seen the new Foot Locker commercial featuring Tom Brady and some subtle jabs at Deflategate. And if you haven’t… well, I refuse to believe that, because you live in New England and therefore are incapable of not thinking about or Googling either Tom Brady, the Patriots, and/or Deflategate at least six times a day.

Seriously, you’re not fooling anybody.

The Week of Greatness ad is just the latest spot featuring the best quarterback of all time, but far from the first. Everybody remembers when he lost his damn mind when he just went looking for some Under Armour, and when he worked as a telemarketer.

But what about the city’s hockey team?

Surely there’s been some commercials featuring members of the Black and Gold — and no, those godawful World Cup of Hockey commercials do not count — over the years, no? Right you are.

With the help of YouTube, here’s a look at some of the best commercials featuring members of the Bruins.

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Defenseman Kevan Miller joins Bruins on road trip 11.16.16 at 12:50 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

On a long three-day layoff between games ahead of their road trip finale against the Wild on Thursday, the Bruins welcomed another body back to the ice on Tuesday with the return of defenseman Kevan Miller.

Injured with a minor knee ailment in the preseason, and then shelved with a fractured left hand suffered in the preseason finale — one that was expected to come with a six-week recovery time — Miller’s participation in practice is just the first step of many in an eventual return back to the lineup.

“He’s back skating with us, so he’s coming around,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Tuesday’s practice. “Still not fully cleared for anything, for full contact and all that stuff, but he’s good enough to practice with us.”

The Bruins began a rotation of sorts with their defense before Miller even joined the team for practice, as Sunday’s win over the Avalanche came with a healthy scratch for Colin Miller, who has just one goal and an assist in 15 games this season, while Joe Morrow moved into the lineup for the first time since Oct. 22 and John-Michael Liles shifted over to the right side on the club’s third-pairing.

Signed to a four-year, $10 million extension last spring, who Miller bumps out of the mix remains to be determined.

The 29-year-old Miller, a frequent partner for B’s captain Zdeno Chara, established career-highs across the board in 2015-16, with five goals, 13 assists, 18 points, 64 shots, 164 hits, and 123 blocked shots.

An undrafted talent out of Los Angeles, Calif., Miller played his college hockey with the University of Vermont, and has totaled eight goals and 31 points in 159 games for the Bruins since the 2013-14 season.

 

Ex-Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton on trade block? 11.14.16 at 8:51 pm ET
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The Flames are reportedly taking calls on defenseman Dougie Hamilton. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

The Flames are reportedly taking calls on defenseman Dougie Hamilton. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

Defenseman Dougie Hamilton wanted out of Boston. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney granted his wish, too, with a draft day trade that sent Hamilton packing to the Calgary Flames for three draft picks (one 2015 first-round choice and two-second round choices) in 2015.

Now, less than two years into his tenure with a new organization, it’s the Flames that may want out of Hamilton.

Mired in a four-game losing streak, in 29th place in the NHL and with a league-high 59 goals allowed through 16 games this year, the Flames are an undeniable mess, and Hamilton has failed to be the star they thought they were getting from the Black and Gold in that trade (the Bruins used the picks acquired in the trade to draft forwards Zachary Senyshyn and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, and d-man Jeremy Lauzon).

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