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5 things we learned as Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand save Bruins in overtime vs. Flyers 03.07.15 at 3:42 pm ET
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Brad Marchand had so much fun getting to 20 goals Saturday that added a 21st for good measure. The Bruins certainly needed it, as the second of Marchand’€™s two goals gave the B’€™s a 3-2 win over the Flyers at TD Garden.

A Chris VandeVelde goal with 4:30 in regulation left the game in doubt, but Brad Marchand tipped a Dougie Hamilton shot past Steve Mason at 19:45 of the third period with the Bruins on the power play and Tuukka Rask pulled.

Rask bailed out the Bruins twice in overtime. He first rescued Ryan Spooner’€™s line when a stay in the offensive zone turned into a 3-on-1 for Philadelphia with just Torey Krug back for Boston. Rask made a timely save to negate the bid.

Shortly after, some confusion at the offensive blue line by Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson led to a Jakub Voracek breakaway chance that Rask kicked aside.

The win prevented the Flyers from making up ground on the Bruins in their push for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia now has 69 points in 66 games. The Bruins are at 74 points through 64 contests.

Here are four more things we learned:

CAMPBELL’S RETURN ENDS POORLY

Gregory Campbell‘€™s return to the Bruins’€™ lineup started strong and ended horribly.

After a four-game absence due to an upper-body injury, Campbell went hard to the net to take a pass from Maxime Talbot and got hooked in the process. The penalty led to a Patrice Bergeron goal that gave Boston a 1-0 lead.

With less than five minutes to play in regulation of a tie game, however, Campbell failed to gain the red line and iced the puck, leading to an defensive zone faceoff and Flyers possession on which a Nick Schultz shot was tipped by Chris VandeVelde past Tuukka Rask.

With Campbell back, Claude Julien kept Chris Kelly with Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg. Campbell centered the fourth line with Talbot and Daniel Paille.

Campbell’€™s return meant that Talbot was pushed off the penalty kill after seeing shorthanded time Thursday against the Flames.

BARTKOWSKI PUTTING BRUINS IN A STICKY SITUATION

Matt Bartkowski has been called for three stick penalties the last two games. All three have resulted in power play goals allowed by the B’€™s.

The costly infraction Saturday came in the second period, when Ryan White sold a call in the Bruins’€™ zone, leading to a Jakub Voracek strike on the man advantage.

The Flames scored power play goals following a first-period hook and a third-period trip from Bartkowski Thursday.

Of course, if these penalties are costing the Bruins, it means something else as well…

PENALTY KILL IS REELING

Surrendering a power-play goal was hardly a new development given the way things have fared of late for Boston’€™s PK.

Voracek’€™s second-period tally was the third power-play goal the B’€™s have allowed in the last two games (4-for-7 on the penalty kill) and ninth in nine games. The B’€™s are just 17-for-26 on the PK in that span.

Prior to the game, Dennis Seidenberg said that Boston’€™s power play has recently not been as aggressive as it’€™s been when it has had success.

CHARA AT THE POINT LEADS TO POINTS

As we noted following last week’€™s win over the Coyotes, Zdeno Chara‘€™s return to the point on the power play after a year and a half of playing forward on the man advantage is getting results. Saturday was no different.

In taking a pass from Dougie Hamilton along the blueline and throwing a long wrist shot on net that Bergeron redirected past Steve Mason, Chara created a Bruins power play goal from the point for the second time in three games. Chara stepped up and blasted a slap shot from the right circle for a goal last week against Arizona.

Gregory Campbell returns to Bruins lineup, Brian Ferlin a healthy scratch 03.07.15 at 12:06 pm ET
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Gregory Campbell will play Saturday against the Flyers, Claude Julien confirmed before the game.

Saturday marks Campbell’€™s return to the lineup after missing the last four contests with an upper-body injury. Brian Ferlin will be the healthy scratch after a rough outing Thursday against the Flames.

Campbell is expected to play on the fourth line Saturday, though it’€™s unclear whether he or Maxime Talbot will center the group.

Peter Chiarelli explains why he decided to extend Torey Krug, Reilly Smith: ‘Gives us comfort’ 03.07.15 at 1:06 am ET
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For about 10 minutes Friday, after the team practice on TD Garden ice, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli attempted to explain why he committed nearly $11 million of salary and cap space for Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.

“Torey on one year at 3.4 million, Reilly three years at 3.425 [million],” Chiarelli said. “Obviously there’€™s the contract in the past – beginning of the year. These are players we always liked and have a bright future for us. Term was important. It’€™s shorter term and gives us more flexibility and it gives them more flexibility as far as performing on a short term platform and becoming more of a fixture of us going forward.

“The one and two year terms were important to us. These were deals that came about, the ideas and the philosophies came out a little bit more after we signed the one year deals. Later in the winter and early spring we started’€”not spring but January and February we talked more. They worked very hard to bring together and these are two good, young players and two good young people.”

And they’re good people who won’t have to endure the frustration of sitting out of camp this summer because the team didn’t have enough cap space to sign them to contracts. Both Krug and Smith recalled Friday that uncomfortable feeling. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, NHL, Peter Chiarelli, Reilly Smith
Milan Lucic insists Bruins are heading in right direction ‘if we can find that confidence’ 03.07.15 at 12:42 am ET
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Milan Lucic has faith that things will turn out fine for the Bruins in the final month of the season.

He made that much clear after the team’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Flames Thursday night. That game opened a stretch of 11 games in 18 days for the Bruins, who are holding on for dear life in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Saturday, the Bruins host the Flyers, one of four teams that still has designs on catching Boston. Florida, Ottawa and New Jersey are also hopeful of making a run.

The Bruins enter with 72 points while the Flyers are four points back. Saturday would be a good place for Lucic and the Bruins to start finding their scoring touch. The Bruins had numerous chances to put away the Flames Thursday night, only to allow Calgary to tie the game twice, take the lead early in the third period and win it in the shootout.

“I mean we had two three-on-ones in the third period and we didn’€™t even end up with a shot on net,” Lucic said. “It seems like that’€™s been our biggest challenge this season is having that killer instinct and finishing off plays. It cost us again tonight when we had opportunities to’€”when we had the lead to extend the lead and when we made it three, three we had chances to win the game and we don’€™t bear down and gave them a chance to win it in the shootout. It’€™s no secret, we have to do a better job of winning games in the shootout.”

“I don’€™t know like I said its just having the confidence of scoring especially in the shootout there. Like you said, there’€™s no shootout in the playoffs and we’€™ve been a pretty good overtime team this year but we can’€™t bank on that right now. We still have a ways to go until the playoffs start and we got to make sure we earn our spot. Earn our playoff spot.”

Barring a late-season surge, the Bruins would open the playoffs on the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Reilly Smith has some job security for now: ‘Hopefully I can stay with this organization a while’ 03.06.15 at 10:20 pm ET
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After the obvious of getting a big pay raise, the best part of the two-year contract extension for Reilly Smith might be job security.

The Bruins right wing, like teammate Torey Krug, had to sit out the start of camp last summer because the Bruins were over the cap temporarily and couldn’t afford to sign them to new contracts until there was some roster manipulation and flexibility.

But there won’t be such worries this summer or the next as Smith agreed to a two-year extension through the 2016-17 season worth $3.425 million each season.

“It seems like through this whole thing, it’s always been me and Torey slotted together in this whole negotiation process,” Smith said. “It’s good and bad. It’s nice having someone with you through the whole negotiation process, especially in the summer when you’re sitting out camp when neither of us wanted to be. But it’s just good to have it behind us.”

Krug’s deal is worth $3.4 million, but is only good through next season. Still, having the piece of mind knowing that he’ll be in camp next summer is worth it to Smith.

“It was definitely tough. It was on my mind for a while,” Smith said. “It was a pretty stressful time in the summer, having to sit out camp for a while. I’m glad I don’t have to do that the next couple of years.”

The 23-year-old Smith was part of the package from Dallas along with Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser for Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button before the 2013-14 season.

Smith, who has struggle to finish scoring chances all season like the rest of his teammates, doesn’t mind the pressure that comes with expectations. Smith, still only 23, has just 12 goals in 63 games this season. General manager Peter Chiarelli, during a Friday press conference to announce the signings, admitted Smith is being paid like a 20-goal scorer.

“I think I welcome it,” Smith said of the pressure factor. “There’s probably a little bit more pressure but as a hockey player and playing in this organization and at this level, you welcome that every day because people get better every day and just being able to cope with challenges and changes in this league, I think it’s something every player in this league dreams to be able to do. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Reilly Smith, Torey Krug,
Bruins sign Torey Krug, Reilly Smith to contract extensions 03.06.15 at 9:45 am ET
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The Bruins announced Friday morning that they have signed Torey Krug and Reilly Smith to contract extensions.

Krug’€™s deal is for one year and $3.4 million, while Smith’€™s deal is for two years with an annual cap hit of $3.425 million.

Both players were set to become restricted free agents at season’€™s end. They were both late to training camp this season because the B’€™s had yet to give them what eventually became matching one-year contracts for $1.4 million.

The Bruins now have $57,597,857 against the salary cap committed to 13 players next season, not counting Marc Savard.

Claude Julien says ‘lack of finish is probably the biggest concern right now’ 03.06.15 at 8:50 am ET
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It’s been the one thing that has haunted these Bruins all season.

They can’t find a way to finish scoring opportunities in and around the net and wind up regretting it at the end of the game. Such was the case again Thursday night in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames. There were several chances for the Bruins to put some distance between themselves and Calgary in the early and middle parts of the game and they simply couldn’t find the finishing touch.

There was Daniel Paille with a wrister on Flames goalie Karri Ramo midway through the first period. There was a slap shot from Dougie Hamilton that was deflected away by a stick at the last moment. But there was no better example of Boston’s inability to find the scoring touch than when Loui Eriksson, on a 3-on-1 rush, had the puck on his stick and fired wide of an empty net midway through the third period.

Carl Soderberg, without a goal since Jan. 17 against Columbus, has now gone 17 games without a goal. He had two chances in the opening period and couldn’t find the back of the net.

“Again, the challenge of our lack of finish is probably the biggest concern right now,” coach Claude Julien said. “So I think we had the better of the game, five-on-five. There’€™s no doubt we played a lot more in their end then they did in ours.

“It’€™s a little bit of maybe confidence, and you squeeze your stick you’€™re trying so hard. There’€™s a lot of guys, use Carl Soderberg as an example. He’€™s really struggled the last little while scoring goals, and guys are putting pressure on themselves. There’€™s games where you like your team’€™s game, but your finish is what ends up killing you at the end.”

Julien realizes that the Bruins had chances leading 1-0 and 2-1 to really do damage and failed to seize on the opportunity because they simply couldn’t finish.
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Carl Soderberg, Claude Julien
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