|Patriots safety Patrick Chung skates with Bruins at practice||03.31.17 at 1:56 pm ET|
Down a few bodies on Friday, the Bruins apparently made a call to their affiliate in Foxboro, as Patriots safety Patrick Chung joined them for the on-ice portion of their practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
“That was something said up ahead of time — he wanted to come out and skate with the some of the fellas,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Chung. “Hopefully he had a good time.
“He looked pretty good, he knew what he was doing. Not sure we’re gonna inject him into the lineup just yet, but he looked like he was having a good time and that’s half of it.”
One of the hardest hitting safeties in the league, and a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Patriots, the 29-year-old Chung’s presence at Bruins practice was a continuation of the unofficial partnership the teams in Boston seem to have with one another, and one that many on the Black and Gold seem to have an appreciate for as pro athletes.
“It’s cool to have that camaraderie between teams,” Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller said. “It’s the same way — I know a few guys on the Sox, Celtics, and Pats — and it’s just cool to have that between teams.”
But if the Bruins could pick any Patriots player to suit up with them?
“Oh, that’s a tough one. There’s a few guys,” Miller said of the hypothetical. “[Nate] Solder would be a pretty good guy — get him on skates, he’s like what, 6-foot-8, 320, put him on skates and he can be the new [Zdeno] Chara. But Chung was looking pretty good out there, so maybe him. He’s got the speed and agility out there.”
Following practice, Chung, who is a big hockey fan and started skating upon his return to the Patriots, made his way through the B’s locker room with a Bruins jersey featuring No. 23 and his last name, and got his teammates for a day to sign his jersey.
And with five games left and in search of a playoff berth, the B’s bench boss hopes his players did their homework with Chung.
“Hopefully the fellas tapped into a few of those Patriots secrets,” Cassidy said.
|Bruins show they’re back to normal, criticize quality of win over Stars||03.31.17 at 4:37 am ET|
The Bruins were just happy to snap their four-game losing streak with last weekend’s win in Brooklyn, and understandably so. They were just happy to get back to their winning ways on home ice in their second straight win this past Tuesday, a 4-1 final over the Predators, too.
But after the club’s third straight win, a 2-0 victory over the Stars on Thursday, the Black and Gold are showing signs of a legitimately good team and finding ways to actually criticize the quality of their wins.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think tonight was our best defensive effort,” Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller said after the win. “We got a little bit away from what made us successful the past few games. But, sometimes, you need to win some like that. Tuukka did a great job in front of us and we had a pretty good third period, which was huge.”
Miller’s not totally wrong, of course.
|Bruins announce first-round playoff ticket info||03.31.17 at 4:09 am ET|
Judging by their pregame press release, it would appear that the Bruins’ ticket offices are going to tempt fate for the third year in a row.
As the Bruins and Stars finished their warm-up of what finished as a 2-0 win for the Bruins, the club’s third victory in a row, the Bruins released a press release noting that first-round playoff tickets will be available for purchase beginning Monday, Apr. 3 at 1 p.m. EST.
Individual tickets will be available for purchase at the TD Garden Box Office, on the B’s official website and on their mobile app, and via phone by calling Ticketmaster. Single game suite rentals that accommodate from 18-60 people and the Garden Greats Suite, that provides fans the opportunity to watch the game alongside a Bruins alumni, will also be available for purchase starting on Monday.
The club did this in both 2015 and 2016 and ended up missing the postseason on the last day of the season both times. But, even with that in mind, this is something that any and every team with playoff hopes has to get ahead of for their fans.
There’s also the positives that come with the Bruins essentially controlling their own fate between now and next week’s finale.
“In the past, maybe we looked at the standings a lot. It’s more about, we’re just taking it day by day, game by game, and just making sure we show up every night,” B’s d-man Kevan Miller said. “We want to make sure we do our job and we should be fine.”
If the Bruins do indeed make the postseason, it would likely be against either the Senators in a matchup of the second and third seeds in the Atlantic Division bracket or against the Capitals or winner of the Metro Division as the East’s second wild card. Either finish would mean that the B’s would begin their series on the road before coming to the Garden for Games 3 and 4.
The Bruins have not qualified for postseason play since 2014.
|Bruce Cassidy lauds Tuukka Rask as Bruins’ best player in win over Stars||03.31.17 at 2:21 am ET|
What a difference a week makes.
It was on this night just seven days ago that Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said that the Bruins needed more from star goaltender Tuukka Rask after a 6-3 loss to the Lightning. Rask would then miss Friday’s practice and Saturday’s game, and put himself in a situation where he had to deliver more for the teammates and coach he let battle in Brooklyn in a must-win without him. And Rask has done just that in back-to-back games, too, after Thursday’s 27-save shutout over the Stars.
In a game that saw the Bruins hold the Stars to just about nothing from prime scoring areas, it looked as if the 30-year-old Rask was going to be on cruise control for the Black and Gold. But late pressure from the Stars — including a four-minute power play that Rask and the B’s snuffed out in the third period — forced Rask to again answer the bell.
|Bruins hold Stars to outside in shutout win||03.30.17 at 10:10 pm ET|
It almost goes without saying that the Stars are not a good hockey team. Not this year, anyways. But they still could have created trouble for the Bruins, which is something that the Black and Gold’s back-to-improving defense undoubtedly noticed and more than took care of in a 2-0 final over their visitors from Dallas on Thursday night.
For the Bruins, the two points were huge, especially on a night in which the Hurricanes, Lightning, and Maple Leafs all won or were winning when the B’s game went final, but it also came with the staple of Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy’s early success with the club, which was improving from an area of weakness from the last game.
Although the Bruins held the Predators to just 25 shots in Tuesday’s 4-1 win, there seemed to be some concern as to the chances that they did let up. The breakdowns between the circles against Tuukka Rask stood out for the Predators — although that’s a large part of their offensive gameplan, especially with elite defensive talents like Roman Josi and P.K. Subban on the points — but those same breakdowns were almost nowhere to be found in this game.
|Bruins need to avoid trap game against eliminated-but-capable Stars||03.30.17 at 7:46 pm ET|
The Bruins will be the first to tell you that they’ve been locked in a playoff-like mindset for months now.
That’s been especially true this past week or so, with five straight games against teams very much in the playoff hunt in both the East and West. That will be scrapped tonight when the Bruins play host to the Stars, a team that’s 16 points from the second wild card and thus very much elimination from contention.
No matter what the win-loss column will tell you about each club, this is not your classic trap game, at least not in the sense that it’s against a garbage team a la the Coyotes or Avalanche. Instead, the Bruins will against a team that’s undeniably bad, sure, but one that can still cause some problems for your team if you let them.
The Stars come into action with wins in three of their last five games, and would love to play spoiler in any way possible. That’s without factoring in the effectiveness of their one-two punch in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, too.
“The Stars have some dangerous players, dangerous offensive players,” Bruins forward Dominic Moore said. “Sometimes teams that are on the outside play with nothing to lose and they can very dangerous. You see that a lot of times with with teams that are out of contention early end up and finishing closer because they go on a roll late.
“But it starts with ourselves and doing the right things.”
Much like it did in their last game, a 4-1 win over the Predators, the Bruins will need to start this game with energy and pace, as the Stars are one of the worst teams in the NHL when it comes to playing from behind.
Tuukka Rask will be in net for the Black and Gold. Rask was great, with stops on 24-of-25 shots in a win over the Preds on Tuesday night, including several from the front of his net, and showed the ‘battle’ that Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy wanted to see from him. Rask has four wins and a .915 save percentage in seven career games against the Stars.
Dallas counters with Antti Niemi. The veteran Niemi has just 11 wins and an .892 save percentage in 26 decisions this season, but comes into action with six wins (one shutout) and a .912 save percentage in nine career games against the Bruins.
Frank Vatrano is out with an upper-body injury suffered in Tuesday’s practice, which means that Matt Beleskey will be in the lineup and on the club’s third line with Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes. John-Michael Liles is in for the second straight game, too, which means Colin Miller will sit with Joe Morrow as the club’s healthy scratches on the backend.
Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes
Drew Stafford – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey – Ryan Spooner – Jimmy Hayes
Dominic Moore – Riley Nash – Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
John-Michael Liles – Kevan Miller
|Bruins forward Tim Schaller takes next step in road to return||03.30.17 at 4:58 pm ET|
It was hard to miss Bruins forward Tim Schaller, who has missed the last nine games with a lower-body injury suffered in a Mar. 8 win over the Red Wings, in his return to the ice earlier this week.
In a bright red jersey that signified Schaller was still not cleared for contact, Schaller took the next step by way of a ‘normal’ jersey donned for Thursday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena.
It’s a sign that the 26-year-old is progressing well.
“He’s ready for contact, he’s in the next part of his recovery and process of getting ready to play,” Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy said of Schaller. “He’s able to take some contact now.”
Schaller has taken things on a day to day approach and has not put any certain timetable on a potential return, but at this rate, a decision should come soon.
“We’ll see how he handles [contact],” Cassidy said of Schaller, who has been a staple of the club’s left side, with an ability to move up and down the lineup. “If he’s good with it and wakes up tomorrow, for the most part without any discomfort or pain free, the trainers will have to decide if he’s ready to go to the next level, which would be getting into game action.”
A Merrimack, N.H. native, Schaller has recorded seven goals and 14 points in 58 games for the Bruins this season.