|Providence Bruins’ season ends in double-OT loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins||04.24.16 at 3:44 am ET|
PROVIDENCE — Guys were feeling good about themselves after the third period, said head coach Bruce Cassidy.
“Why wouldn’t they?”
Entering the final 20 minutes of regulation, the Providence Bruins trailed the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 4-1 in Game 3 of the Calder Cup Atlantic Division Semifinals, a best-of-five series in which the B’s were already in a 2-0 hole. They had lost the first two games on the road and needed a win Saturday to keep the season alive.
So after the “best period [they’d] had of the three games,” rallying from that three-goal deficit to tie things up with just under four minutes left in the third, they “deserved” to feel that way during the intermission prior to the start of overtime, Cassidy said.
On 20 shots in as many minutes that frame, Providence netted a trio of goals off the sticks of defenseman Chris Breen, captain Tommy Cross — both shots from the point — and centerman Austin Czarnik.
But despite a 63-37 disparity in shots favoring the P-Bruins, 33 minutes and 52 seconds worth of extra time wound up going the other way.
Pens winger Tom Kostopoulos, entering the zone on the right-wing boards, fed the puck to a streaking Jake Guentzel, who by that time was in the slot with defenseman Brett Bellemore on his tail. As Bellemore stumbled, the WBS center finished off his opportunity, beating netminder Jeremy Smith blocker side to end the series and Providence’s season.
Not only did the Penguins end up sweeping the Bruins, but they did so on three straight overtime winners.
“It’s tough when you go out like that, three overtime games, but I thought we left it all on the line,” said forward Frank Vatrano. “The hockey gods didn’t give us our bounces and it’s just a tough way to go out. We left it all out there, though, fought back, 4-1, had some chances to put the game away but sometimes that’s not how it goes.”
Much like the series, the P-Bruins found themselves down 2-0 a little more than halfway through the first period. Shots were even, 8-8, by stanza’s end, but Cassidy said he wasn’t sure the guys the team typically relies on to get going were “invested early on.” Most of the talking, then, ended up taking place after the opening period.
Cassidy gave “a little emotional speech” to get the team going and thinking, Czarnik said, and the B’s “simplified [their] game, got pucks to the net and worked [their] way back into it.”
Czarnik was one of the players challenged between periods, Cassidy said, adding that this is the time of year when you need your best players to be your best players. The forward ended up answering the call, finally getting the P-Bruins on the board 13:39 into the second.
Providence was outscored in that frame 2-1 but outshot the Pens 17-5 in the meantime.
“We’ve talked about it all year,” Cassidy said, “and Max Talbot said it in the time out, listen, you might win, you might lose, but you’ve got to go out competing and go out fighting, and that’s kind of the mentality you have to have. We bought into it and off we went.”
Then came the three-goal third. Two goals a little over three minutes apart got Providence within one with 14:30 left to play. As the clock ticked down to four minutes remaining, Czarnik took a dish from linemate Alexander Khokhlachev and one-timed it on net from the high slot past WBS goalie Casey DeSmith.
With all the momentum in the hands of the P-Bruins, Cassidy said, their best chance at winning the game likely came in those final three or four minutes. The Pens were on their heels as the B’s pressed and took shot after shot, but the intermission allowed WBS to regroup.
During OT, shots were even at 18-18, but Guentzel’s winner ended up being the difference and the cap on Providence’s 2015-16 season.
Three skaters in the top 10 in the AHL in points, one of the best home win percentages in the league, a 23-game home point streak for the team and the best record in the league since Jan. 1 were just a few highlights of the year.
“It was awesome,” Vatrano said. “It was a fun ride. We had a really great group down here and I enjoyed coming to the rink every day with these guys.”
“Where we were at in October,” Czarnik added, “worst team in the league to where we came speaks a lot about everyone in the room, their commitment to the organization, their battle level, their compete level, everything like that. So I love all of them in there, they did a great job all year, and I’m proud to be their teammate.”
|David Krejci, Torey Krug, Matt Beleskey have yet to undergo surgery||04.20.16 at 12:39 pm ET|
No Bruins players have gotten surgery yet this offseason, team president Cam Neely said Wednesday at TD Garden.
David Krejci is set to undergo surgery for a hip impingement with Dr. Brian Kelly, while Torey Krug and Matt Beleskey could undergo procedures for shoulder and hand injuries, respectively.
Krug and Beleskey’s statuses were up in the air at last week’s press conference with Don Sweeney, with the GM not saying that they would definitely require operations. Neely said Wednesday that Krug’s surgery was likely, while the team would “wait and see” with Beleskey.
|Cam Neely on Bruins keeping Claude Julien: ‘I had no problem with that at all’||04.20.16 at 11:55 am ET|
Bruins president Cam Neely said at Wednesday’s press conference that he fully supported general manager Don Sweeney’s preference to retain Claude Julien for a 10th season.
Julien’s status was up in the air after the Bruins missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season, but Sweeney announced last week that the team would be keeping Julien. Neely said that he viewed Julien as one of the positives for the team this season.
“I thought he did a great job coaching this year,” Neely said. “It was a big transition year for him. Different player personnel than he’s accustomed to. We tried to integrate a lot of younger players and I think he did a good job with the roster. There’s areas where we can all still evolve and I think Claude is looking at that. I think he did a great job with some of circumstances that he had throughout the year, so when Don said he wanted to keep Claude, I had no problem with that at all.”
Added Neely: “We have conversations throughout the year, and there wasn’t really a point of saying, ‘I want to bring him back.’ It was he wasn’t doing anything differently. Ultimately, that’s Don’s decision. If he comes to me and says, ‘Listen, I think we need to make a change here,’ I’ve got to go on his recommendation because he’s the one who deals with the coach on a daily basis.”
The Bruins fired assistant coach Doug Houda and the futures of Joe Sacco and Doug Jarvis, neither of whom have contracts, are up in the air. Neely said it was too early to rule out a return for Jarvis and Sacco, adding that Sweeney and Julien would interview assistant coaching candidates in short order.
“Don’s still working through that,” Neely said. “I think he’s got some people in place that he wants to get together with and interview, along with Claude. Obviously it’s a collaborative effort. Don’s out scouting right now, but I know when he gets back he’s going to sit down with Claude and they’re going to go over some names.”
|Jeremy Jacobs gives Cam Neely vote of confidence||04.20.16 at 11:29 am ET|
As expected, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs attended Wednesday’s press conference with CEO Charlie Jacobs and Cam Neely. Since becoming CEO during the 2014-15 season, Charlie Jacobs had taken over many of the media responsibilities of his father.
Rumor had it that Jeremy Jacobs was not happy with the Bruins’ situation after missing the playoffs in two straight seasons, but the longtime owner gave Neely and his staff a vote of confidence Wednesday.
“He’s my leader right now and I ride with him,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs added that Neely, who played 10 seasons of a Hall of Fame career for the Jacobs-owned Bruins, deserves ample time to try to correct the organization’s path.
“Absolutely. He is the personality that I’m looking forward to seeing,” Jacobs said. “He’s got a clear deck right now to do it.
“He had a difficult year last year, but it wasn’t unanticipated in my mind. They said it would be rocky and it was. And it was disappointing in the end.”
Neely has been the team’s president since the 2010-11 season.
|Bruins prospect Jeremy Lauzon suffers neck laceration||04.16.16 at 12:22 am ET|
One of the Bruins’ most promising players selected in the 2015 draft suffered a frightening injury Friday night.
Though he was the Bruins’ sixth selection (52nd overall), defenseman Jeremy Lauzon may have jumped ahead of some of his draft classmates thanks to a strong season in the QMJHL. His playoffs with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies were put on hold, however, when he took a skate to the neck Friday. Lauzon, who was bleeding heavily, was rushed to the hospital.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported after the game that Lauzon had suffered a neck laceration and required surgery.
Reps for Jeremy Lauzon, BOS prospect from Rouyn-Noranda taken to hospital, said he “sustained neck laceration and he’s out of danger.”
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 16, 2016
Lauzon undergoing surgery for neck laceration. BTW, Lauzon’s father, a surgeon, is with his son at hospital tho not performing the surgery.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 16, 2016
Lauzon is the second Bruins prospect in a matter of months to suffer an injury in the neck area. Malcolm Subban’s regular season was cut short when he took a puck to the throat and required surgery on his larynx back in February.
|Matt Beleskey, Torey Krug might need surgery||04.14.16 at 11:43 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said at Thursday’s press conference that in addition to David Krejci, who is having hip surgery to fix a femoroacetabular impingement, two other Bruins are possibilities to have surgery this offseason.
Sweeney noted that Matt Beleskey (hand) and Torey Krug (shoulder) could require procedures. Krug missed only one game all season, while Beleskey missed two.
“Matt Beleskey had a hand injury that he’s taking care of,” Sweeney said. “Torey has a shoulder that we’re continuing to evaluate. There’s a possibility there as well, a strong possibility.”
Krejci’s surgery will be done by Brian Kelly, who has previously done hip surgeries for Krejci and Tim Thomas.
“He feels good that this will be done, it will be behind him, and he will be arguably a top center again in the league,” Sweeney said of Krejci. “We feel great about that. To have that one-two punch for us is really important.”
|Frank Vatrano shares AHL’s most outstanding rookie award||04.14.16 at 4:11 pm ET|
Bruins forward Frank Vatrano was named a co-recipient of the Dudley Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s most outstanding rookie for the 2015-16 season.
Vatrano split the award with Avalanche prospect and 2015 10th overall pick Mikko Rantanen, who had more points than Vatrano but played far more games. Rantanen had 24 goals and 36 assists for 60 points in 51 games, while Vatrano led the AHL with 34 goals despite playing in only 34 games. Vatrano added 17 assists for a total of 51 points.
The first-year pro and East Longmeadow native played more NHL games than AHL games this season, as he scored eight goals and added three assists for 11 points in 39 games for Boston.