|Chad Johnson thankful for career-changing year with Bruins||10.23.14 at 1:54 pm ET|
Chad Johnson probably had as good a one-and-done with the Bruins as a backup goalie can have in the NHL. He put up great numbers and, with the B’s not having much money to spend on a backup, he left and got a good contract.
Now, after taking a two-year, $2.6 million deal with the Islanders in free agency, Johnson has a lot of things he didn’t have when he came to the B’s last year on a one-year, $600,000 pact: experience in a very good goaltending tandem thanks to his work with Tuukka Rask as well as job security and strong compensation at the NHL level. Johnson said he had eight offers, three of which he felt were serious, before signing with the Islanders.
As Johnson makes his return to TD Garden as a visiting player, he has nothing but good things to say about the Bruins. It’s not like things didn’t work out and he left; things actually worked out perfectly for everybody.
“I think when you move on, probably a lot of times in this business it’s for bad reasons. For my situation, there wasn’t room to be back with the Bruins, so it’s a different feeling to be coming back when there’s really no animosity between both sides,” Johnson said.
“It’s always nice leaving on a good note with a team, because I guess you always want to leave a good mark wherever you are, a positive mark in the locker room or in the community with the fans, however you can.”
Johnson will oppose the man who replaced him in Boston when he faces Niklas Svedberg Thursday. Even when Johnson was the backup last season, the plan was for Svedberg, who was the AHL’s top goaltender the year before, to play in Boston this season.
Johnson, who often speaks of how tough it is for NHL-ready goalies to get the opportunity to play (and stay) in the NHL, is happy to see that Svedberg is getting his shot.
“I think it’s a good situation for him, a guy who’s been in the minors for a couple of years,” Johnson said. “It’s sort of very [similar to] me. He probably could have been in the NHL last year or the year before, but just didn’t have the right situation. In the business of hockey, you just have to have the right situation. You always want to see guys have opportunity at this level, just because in my experience too, you have to sometimes just wait it out a long time in the minors to get a chance.
“He’s in a good situation. I know first-hand what kind of a team is over there, how goalie-friendly the team really is. It’s nice for him to be able to be in a good situation there.”
The 28-year-old also had glowing things to say about Rask, who won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL‘s top netminder last season. Johnson said that Rask was different from many other goaltending partners he’s had in the past, calling him “so relaxed and friendly.”
Last season marked Johnson’s first full season at the NHL level. He said going into the year that he found playing in the NHL easier than playing in the AHL because the groups in front of him were more defensively sound. He found that to be a big plus in Boston.
“The strategy of the team and the identity of that team is to play defense first and commit defensively and help the goalies out,” Johnson said. “That makes it easy on a guy like Tuukka and Svedy and myself last year. It’s always a good situation to be in when there’s that kind of identity for a team.
“It was just a good group of guys, the organization was awesome to me and there’s no secret to why they have success. They have the right people there from the very top. It makes a lot of sense why they win and do well every year.”
Johnson finished sixth last season in both save percentage (.925) and goals-against average (2.10). In two games this year (one start), he has allowed three goals over 80 minutes. He won his lone start, a victory over the Hurricanes.
|Bruins hope hockey community can help Ottawa through tragedy||10.23.14 at 1:28 pm ET|
After seeing the way the NHL rallied around Boston in wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon, Bruins with ties to Ottawa are glad to see the same is being done for Canada’s capital city after Wednesday’s shooting on Parliament Hill.
A night after “O Canada” was sung prior to a Penguins/Flyers game in Pittsburgh, the Bruins are expected to have Rene Rancourt sing the Canadian anthem prior to Thursday’s game between the Bruins and Islanders.
“Ottawa is home for me so I spent a good portion of the afternoon looking up at the CNN station and trying to find out as much as I could,” Julien said Thursday morning. “It’s unfortunate. It just goes to show that these tragedies don’t just happen in the U.S. of A but also in other countries and there’s other countries in Europe that have been faced with that.”
Chris Kelly said he spent parts of Wednesday working the phones to make sure his friends in Ottawa were alright. He added that he hoped the Senators could provide some sort of positive distraction for the city as it goes through this difficult time, much like the Bruins did in 2013.
Julien said he thinks the impact of such tragedies go beyond the city in which they occur, and that he imagines that each NHL team and their respective fanbases will show support wherever they can.
“Every city rallies around its own city and I’ve talked to a few people including my family that’s still back,” Julien said. “My parents and brothers and sisters, it’s affected them even if they weren’t around that area it affected them. It affects the whole city like the bombing affected us here.
“They’ll have to get used to it in a way where that’s reality, unfortunately, and it’s happening. Canada is a pretty laid back country that tries to continue to be laid back. But it’s also a country that supported the U.S. in some of its decisions and more than likely those are the consequences that it faces because of that.”
|Chad Johnson gets start for Islanders vs. Niklas Svedberg||10.23.14 at 12:37 pm ET|
The night will center around the return of Johnny Boychuk, who has two goals and four assists for six points in six games this season after being traded to the Islanders.
Other than the goaltender, Boston’s lineup appears to be the same as it was Tuesday:
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne
Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – Krug
Bartkowski – McQuaid
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Johnny Boychuk returns to Boston: ‘We all knew’ a trade was coming||10.23.14 at 6:00 am ET|
Some of the following quotes can also be found in Wednesday’s feature on Johnny Boychuk. For more on the former Bruin’s start to his Islanders career and his return to Boston Thursday, click here.
Speaking to WEEI.com earlier in the week, Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk said that though being traded away from Boston was difficult, he saw the move coming to an extent.
“They didn’t tell me [their plans], but we all knew,” Boychuk said. “You knew that somebody was going to get moved. Even if you don’t watch hockey, you would know that somebody’s going to get moved, just because we had eight guys.
“You’re not going to carry two extra D men. We usually [carried] one, but you’re not going to carry two. They thought they got the best deal for me, so that’s the way it goes. That’s the way the league is.”
Boychuk said that he figured that Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Dennis Seidenberg and Kevan Miller were safe from being traded, leaving him on a short list of defensemen the B’s could deal. His cap hit ($3.36 million) was the highest of the group, which also included Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski.
Peter Chiarelli said after trading Boychuk to the Islanders that negotiations never started for a contract extension with the free-agent-to-be before the B’s traded him. The lack of communication on a new contract made the trade less of a surprise for Boychuk.
“We didn’t talk, so I just figured something’s probably going to happen,” Boychuk said.
Boychuk was waking up from his pregame nap the day of Boston’s last preseason game when he got the call from Chiarelli.
“Peter phoned me when I was just waking up from my pre game nap, because I was supposed to play [against Detroit],” Boychuk. “As soon as I said ‘hello’ and he said, ‘Hi Johnny, this is Peter,’ I was like ‘ugh.’ You know that you’re getting traded when Pete calls you.”
As for the reception he expects from the Boston crowd Thursday night, Boychuk said he expects an emotional return.
“[Expletive],” Boychuk said. “That’s going to be’¦ different. It’s going to be hard. It will definitely be hard.”
Click here for Wednesday’s feature on Boychuk and here for the Bruins’ thoughts on Boychuk’s return to the Garden.
|Tuukka Rask, who knows who Johnny Boychuk is, prepares to face Johnny Boychuk||10.22.14 at 2:10 pm ET|
“Oh, is he playing? I hope he gets the start. It would be good for him,” Rask said Wednesday when asked what it would be like to play against “Johnny.”
Proving that goaltenders live in their own goaltending world, Rask thought that the “Johnny” being discussed was Islanders backup Chad Johnson, who spent last season playing in Boston with Rask.
Rask laughed when he realized his error, adding that he obviously wished the best for his former teammate. He did note that if he allowed a goal to Boychuk, who has already scored twice this season for the Islanders, Rask would “never hear the end of it.”
“He actually texted me after he got traded,” Rask said. “He said whenever we play I should give him a goal, but I hope he doesn’t score.”
Rask was then reminded that he already has a big contract, while Boychuk is in the final year of his contract. If Rask were a true friend, he’d help Boychuk boost those numbers and net him a bigger payday.
“Yeah, well if the game’s 9-1 or something for us, then accidents happen,” Rask said with a grin.
As for Boychuk himself, the 30-year-old is loving life with the Islanders, but said it will be very difficult to take the ice Thursday (and undoubtedly receive a warm welcome) in front of the Garden crowd.
“[Expletive],” Boychuk said this week when asked what he expected. “That’s going to be… different. It’s going to be hard. It will definitely be hard.”
Claude Julien said he’s happy for the early success Boychuk has had with the 4-2-0 Islanders. Boychuk’s six points through six games are as many as he had in the lockout-shortened 2013 season with the Bruins.
“He’s a good team guy. He’s an easy guy to like for players and coaches,” Julien said. “He came in and played a big role in our Stanley Cup run. Many thought he’d be an American Leaguer. We traded for him and he stepped up and became a really reliable defenseman in this league, and obviously a good defenseman. We lost a good person and a good player.
“You’re always happy that he’s happy well — of course you’re going to hear us say except when it’s against us, but I don’t think there’s anybody here that wishes [anything] but the best for him. Then you move on, and that’s what we’re trying to do. Hopefully he’s done the same thing. He seems to have done that. When you look at his start with that team, he’s had a good start as well.”
|Milan Lucic, Bruins show what happens when you stick with game plan, don’t panic||10.22.14 at 6:32 am ET|
There may have been frustration among those in the sellout crowd at TD Garden when the Bruins allowed two goals in the span of 37 seconds of the second period Tuesday night, leading to a 3-2 deficit after 40 minutes of play. But that was not the mood in the dressing room as the Bruins prepared to take the ice in the third.
As a matter of fact, it was the determination to stick to the game plan of throwing pucks to the net and generating traffic in front of San Jose goalie Antti Niemi that Claude Julien, Milan Lucic and others credited for scoring three in the third, en route to a 5-3 win for Boston’s first winning streak of the season.
“It was exactly what we talked about after the second,” Julien said. “I really liked our game, even the second period was probably our best second period of the season. We just had that little lapse again that allowed them to score a couple goals. Coming out for the third, I thought we were playing well enough that we could give ourselves a chance if we just stayed with it. And our guys did exactly that. We found a way to get some goals. Same old, same old, getting your nose dirty around the net, jumping on those loose pucks. [It] made a big difference.”
Lucic had his most productive and active games of the season in front of the net. The effort didn’t produce any goals off his stick but he did assist on three goals, including the game-tying goal five minutes into the third period that sent the Bruins on their way.
“I think that’s the most important thing, especially when your down, is to stick with the game plan and play desperate to get yourself back in the game,” Lucic said. “Talking in the second intermission here, going out for the third, we just talked about being positive and sticking to the game plan and giving ourselves opportunities where we can get ourselves back in the game. We did that and were able to come out with a big win.”
|How Bruins overcame uncharacteristically bad nights from Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara||10.21.14 at 11:51 pm ET|
Usually the Patrice Bergeron line and Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton pairing are the Bruins’ constants. They’re the guys who are going to create offensive-zone possessions and not make mistakes.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday. Bergeron was on the ice for all three of the Sharks’ goals, linemates Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith joined him for two of them (it is worth noting that Marchand had a nice power-play goal), and Chara was on the ice for two of them as well. Those four and Hamilton were the only Bruins who finished with Corsi-for percentages under 50 percent, meaning they were the only Bruins who were on the ice for more 5-on-5 shot attempts against than shot attempts for.
That would seemingly be a recipe for disaster for the Bruins, especially when you consider that outside of the Carl Soderberg line, the rest of the team had been one giant question mark to this point in the season. David Krejci had looked good since his return, but linemate Milan Lucic was off to a slow start and he still didn’t have a set-in-stone right wing. The fourth line had featured several different combinations, and none of them had really done much. And the second and third defense pairings had been inconsistent at best, with Kevan Miller’s injury raising even more questions on the back end.
At least for one night, those questions turned into answers. Lucic, Krejci and rookie right wing Seth Griffith factored into four of the Bruins’ five goals, with Lucic notching three assists and Griffith scoring his first NHL goal. Two of the goals they were on the ice for — Griffith’s and Torey Krug’s — came as the direct result of getting bodies to the net. Krejci set a great screen on Krug’s, and then Lucic created some net-front havoc that freed up Griffith on his goal.
“I think it definitely was the best game that we’ve played so far this season,” Lucic said. “You saw we were hungry in the O-zone and hungry getting pucks to the net. We made some smart decisions in some important areas and it just seems like things are starting to head in the right direction.”
The fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Simon Gagne was a positive possession line that even created some chances against the Sharks’ top two lines. They scored what proved to be the game-winner midway through the third when Paille won the puck along the boards and threw a shot on net that Campbell tipped in for his first goal of the season.
Campbell and Paille were also big on the penalty kill, especially late in the game when Bergeron went to the box for a four-minute double minor. Until Krejci’s empty-netter to seal the win, Campbell had the biggest play on that kill when he blocked a Joe Thornton shot that came off a Chara turnover.
“We’ve got to be a responsible, reliable line, and Claude [Julien] has to trust us to put us in those situations,” Campbell said. “With hard work comes trust, and if we’re playing our game and we’re in on the forecheck and creating chances and bringing energy to the lineup, then he usually has confidence in us.”
As for the bottom two defense pairings, the only glaring error was a bad miscommunication between Krug and Dennis Seidenberg that led to a goal, but as Julien pointed out after the game, Bergeron’s line was just as much at fault, as Smith had failed to clear the zone and Bergeron and Marchand had gotten caught up ice.
Outside of that, the Seidenberg-Krug and Matt Bartkowski-Adam McQuaid pairings played well. Krug’s goal and two assists obviously stand out, but let’s not overlook the fact that Seidenberg had seven shots on goal and 12 shot attempts, and that he and Krug had Corsi-for percentages of 63 and 62 percent, respectively. McQuaid and Bartkowski weren’t far behind at 61 and 57 percent, respectively, and McQuaid was also big on that final penalty kill.
Obviously this is just one game. No one should think that all of the Bruins’ question marks are gone and that everyone’s going to be great from here on. But on a night when the Bruins’ best players were uncharacteristically unreliable, it was encouraging to see everyone else step up and show that they can lead the way, too.
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