|5 Things We Learned as Bruins snap three-game slide with overtime win over Canadiens||12.12.16 at 10:30 pm ET|
It took two overtime goals just to get one, but the Bruins finally have a win against Canadiens netminder Carey Price — for the first time since Feb. 6, 2013 — behind a 2-1 overtime final at the Bell Centre.
Squared up with the Habs with the third of just four meetings between the longtime rivals slated for this season, a 60-minute war of attrition solved nothing between the two, not after birthday boy Austin Czarnik’s late second period goal (and his first in 16 games), was answered by Paul Byron at the 16:48 mark of the third period.
Onto a three-on-three overtime for the second time in their last four games, the Bruins appeared to have scored when David Pastrnak was hooked and went crashing into Price before David Krejci slid in and tucked the puck home.
But an official review determined that while the puck did go into the net before the whistle was blown, that it was Pastrnak’s collision with Price that took No. 31 out of the play allowed Krejci to collect what would have been his fifth goal of the new campaign.
But instead of cowering after denial by the officials in a hostile environment, the Black and Gold responded with extended zone time that hemmed the Canadiens in their own zone, and eventually crack behind a Ryan Spooner breakaway that finished the Habs off behind a brilliant move that saw No. 51 beat Price through his sweeping five hole and into the net.
And after yet another review, this one counted, and gone was the Bruins’ three-game losing streak.
Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask made 29 saves in the winning effort, while Price stopped 27-of-29 in defeat.
Here are four other things we learned in a spirited affair at the Bell Centre…
|Bruins’ Tuukka Rask expected in net vs. Carey Price, Canadiens||12.12.16 at 4:25 pm ET|
In an attempt to prevent what would be a season-high four-game losing streak (the Bruins have gone 0-2-1 in their last three contests), the Bruins are expected to turn to their best, goaltender Tuukka Rask, in a Monday night showdown with Carey Price and the Canadiens.
In net for two of those three games (Anton Khudobin got the nod in net Thursday night against the Avalanche), the B’s offense has done little to help their netminders, finding themselves in an 0-3 deficit by the second period in the first two games of the losing streak, and an 0-2 hole midway through the second period in their last contest.
“It’s tough especially when we try to score that first goal and play with the lead and then the last couple of games we’ve been letting in two or three goals for the other team and then trying to catch up,” Rask said of the club’s early holes after Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs. “And, it’s not easy. It’s mentally – it takes a lot out of you.. It’s frustrating a little bit but we’ll battle through it and we’ll get the results I’m sure.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Rask and the B’s this week, with tonight’s head-to-head with the Canadiens, who scored 10 goals in their last game, and with games against the defending champion Penguins (in Pittsburgh, where they have been virtually unbeatable this season at 11-2-1), games against the visiting Ducks and Kings before this time next week.
But it begins with tonight’s head-to-head at the Bell Centre, and it begins with Rask.
Rask’s resume against the Canadiens is well known by now, with the 29-year-old entering tonight’s game with just five wins and a .910 save percentage in 24 games against the Habs. Of the eight teams Rask has played at least 16 times, it’s by far his lowest win total, with Rask’s eight in 18 career games against the Sens being his lowest total. Rask has yet to play against the Habs this season, too, as he was an injured scratch from the first meeting between the two, a 4-2 loss on Oct. 22, and rode the pine for their Nov. 8 loss to the Habs in Montreal, a 3-2 final and a game played on the second night of a traveling back-to-back for the B’s. (Rask, by the way, wanted that Nov. 8 start against the Canadiens, but seemingly unsuccessfully lobbied to his coach for it.)
It is worth noting, though, that all five of Rask’s wins over the Canadiens have come on the road, where he is 5-6-0 with a .930 save percentage in 12 games played (11 starts). Rask has also tallied wins in four of his last seven games in Montreal’s building, with just 13 goals allowed over that span, including a victory behind a 38-of-39 effort in his last road game against the Habs.
In the opposite crease, Price prepares for his 21st start of the season with some straight-up insane numbers to his name, with 16 wins and a .940 save percentage (and .955 save percentage at even strength), and 24 wins in 36 career games against the Bruins.
Price comes into tonight’s game without a loss to the Bruins since Feb. 6, 2013, 10 starts ago.
This is the third of four meetings between the Bruins and Canadiens this year, with the Habs having won both prior meetings.
|Lacking finish and with losses mounting, Bruins shake up lines for game vs. Canadiens||12.12.16 at 2:31 pm ET|
Of the 70 shot attempts by the Bruins in their Saturday night head-to-head with the visiting (and straight-up woeful) Maple Leafs, 33 landed on net. Just one, however, made it through Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen and into the back of the net for a Bruins goal in what was a 4-1 loss. The game before that, a 4-2 loss to the then-worst team in the league Avalanche, the Bruins landed 31 of their 62 shot attempts on Avs netminder Calvin Pickard, but just two shots went into the cage, both off David Pastrnak shots, for his 17th and 18th goals of the year.
It’s been the same story for the Bruins, just on different nights.
“When it was zero-zero we were still in it, but at the end of the night it seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams – chances for versus against – but we don’t outscore teams,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games and because of that we criticize everything else in our game – but our game isn’t that bad. If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part.
“There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”
Ain’t that the truth.
|Bruins sign forward Jesse Gabrielle to entry-level contract||12.11.16 at 12:11 pm ET|
Although the current on-ice product has struggled with losses in three straight contests (0-2-1), Bruins general manager made sure he took care of own of the club’s future talents Sunday morning, with the signing of winger Jesse Gabrielle to his three-year, entry-level contract with the club.
Gabrielle, 19, was drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round with the 105th overall pick of the 2015 draft, and is in the midst of another standout campaign with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. With 19 goals and 31 points through the first 26 games of the season, the Moosomin, Sask., native has continued his torrid pace from a year ago, that included 40 goals and 75 points in 72 games last year.
Over his four-year WHL career with the Cougars, Regina Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings, Gabrielle has appeared in 214 games, recording 94 goals and 81 assists for 175 points with 320 penalty minutes.
Gabrielle, also appeared in three games for the Providence Bruins last year on an amateur tryout after his WHL season had concluded, where he went without a point with one penalty taken and six shots on net.
He is the seventh of the Bruins’ 10 members from their 2015 draft class to have signed his entry-level contract.
|Bruins forward Noel Acciari looks back to normal in return to action||12.10.16 at 11:09 pm ET|
In case you didn’t know it by sight, the sound of the TD Garden boards rattling with each hit dished out by Bruins forward Noel Acciari served as a reminder that the 24-year-old was back in the lineup.
Absent from the previous 16 games with a lower-body injury, Acciari was back in his normal spot on the B’s fourth line with center Dominic Moore and winger Tim Schaller, and put forth another workmanlike performance, with two shots and three hits in 11:35 of time ice.
“It’s good to be back with my linemates,” Acciari admitted after his first game back, a 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs. “I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on, and that’ll come with a couple more practices and games together.”
Deployed as the club’s energy line by Claude Julien, the Schaller-Moore-Acciari combination was its usual complementary group, with solid possession and pressure in the Toronto end, while also chipping in with their normal, aforementioned physicality. But Acciari knows the group could be even better.
“Just kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured,” Acciari, who has tallied two assists in 13 games for the Bruins this year, noted. “It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score.”
But if there’s a positive to take with Acciari — who played a one-game get-your-legs-back game with the P-Bruins, a Friday win over the Marlies in which he recorded an assist — it’s from the fact that his game very much still what it’s been for the Bruins since he burst onto the scene late last season, and that his lower-body ailment didn’t appear to limit him at all.
“You can’t think about it, because once you start thinking about it, that’s when you hurt yourself again,” Acciari admitted. “Out there, you play your game, whatever that may be, and that’s what I tried to do tonight.”
|5 Things We Learned from an ugly Bruins loss to lowly Maple Leafs||12.10.16 at 9:40 pm ET|
You remember that iconic rant by the late Dennis Green, right? “They are who we thought they were,” the then-coach of the Arizona Cardinals yelled. “And we let ’em off the hook!”
Bruins coach Claude Julien might be feeling something similar after his club dominated the puck, controlled the shots, and still somehow wound up on the losing side of things against the third-worst team in the league, the Maple Leafs, by a 3-1 final Saturday night at TD Garden.
In a first period in which the Bruins outshot the Leafs 11-to-2, the Bruins held the visitors without so much as an attempted shot for almost 15 minutes in what was a tie for their fewest shots allowed in a period this season, matching the measly two they allowed in the second period of Wednesday’s overtime loss to the Capitals.
But the most glaring number was not that of the shots the Bruins allowed, but rather the zero next to their name in the goal department, as the Bruins failed to put anything by Frederik Andersen in a first period that was unbelievably dominated by the Black and Gold.
And predictably, it was the Maple Leafs Leafs that scored first, 1:44 into the second period and on their fourth shot of the night, a bullet from 2016 No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews for his 12th goal of the season (and 10th road goal).
It was on just their ninth shot of the night that the Leafs added to their lead, too, when Zach Hyman got the perfect deflection of a wobbling Jake Gardiner shot on net for his fourth goal of the season, scored 15:14 into the second period.
The Bruins finally answered the Leafs’ tallies with a smart play by B’s winger Brad Marchand.
With Andersen having retrieved the puck behind his net on an attempted clear, Marchand sealed off any possible angle the 6-foot-4 netminder had, intercepted his clearing attempt, and caught Andersen in an awkward angle on a wraparound chance. And though Marchand’s initial shot didn’t break through Andersen, with the help of a poke from David Backes, Marchand was there for the second chance opportunity and his eighth goal of the season (and first since Nov. 29).
The goal extended Marchand’s point streak to five games, and brought the B’s within one through two periods of play.
But after taking two penalties in the opening eight minutes of a third period in which they were down by one, the Bruins paid, and it was off the stick of James van Riemsdyk, who scored just as Marchand was exiting the box, for his 12th goal of the year.
The Leafs added a fourth goal, scored with 1:33 left in the third, on an empty-net dribbler from Connor Brown.
It was all the support Andersen needed in a night that required 32 saves.
With the loss, the B’s are officially on a losing streak, with back-to-back regulation losses, and three consecutive defeats overall.
Here are four other things we learned in the loss…
|Top-heavy Bruins know they need answers from first power-play unit||12.10.16 at 4:44 pm ET|
Only six NHL teams had a better power play than the Bruins, who clicked at a 20.5 percent success rate, did a year ago. A season later, only four teams have scored fewer power-play goals than the Bruins, with 12, have tallied through the opening 28 games. Their percentage has hovered around the strugglesome total figures of the latter, too, as their 14.5 percent success rate ranks as the fifth-worst in the NHL.
The shortcomings of the group have been prominently displayed over the team’s last eight contests, too. The Bruins have posted an 0-for in six in those eight games, including an 0-for-2 mark Thursday night against the league-worst Avalanche, and have gone 2-for-23 overall over that stretch (8.7 percent success rate).
For a team with a top-heavy first unit — with David Backes as the net-front presence, Ryan Spooner along the half wall to the right of the net, Patrice Bergeron as the bumper, and David Krejci and Torey Krug as the roaming points — that’s not even close to good enough.
Though the group has remained (for the most part) intact from what it was a year ago (the biggest change was the offseason personnel swap that brought Backes in as a replacement for Loui Eriksson as that group’s goalie-screening deflection extraordinaire), and while the coaching staff has shown tremendous patience in attempt to simply let them all work it out, there’s no doubt that there’s a growing sense that something (read as: the personnel) simply has to change if these struggles continue.