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Bruins recall Sean Kuraly from American Hockey League 11.11.16 at 1:44 pm ET
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Sean Kuraly

Sean Kuraly

Officially down fourth-line forward Noel Acciari, who will be out for the next four weeks with a lower-body injury according to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, the Bruins have wisely decided to carry an extra body up front for their three-game road swing through the Western Conference with the recall of Sean Kuraly from the P-Bruins.

An emergency recall on the club’s last road trip, Kuraly made his NHL debut on Nov. 3 in an 11-shift, 7:07 of time on ice night for the B’s. In for a scratched Matt Beleskey and on a third line with Riley Nash and Jimmy Hayes, the 23-year-old Kuraly finished the night with a minus-1 rating, one shot attempt, and an 0-for-2 mark on faceoffs.

In Providence, Kuraly has tallied two assists, with 21 shots and nine penalty minutes in 10 games.

Acquired in the Martin Jones to San Jose trade, Kuraly is a true first-year pro, and is in the B’s organization after a four-year collegiate career with Miami of Ohio that included 43 goals and 93 points in 154 games played. His 93 points rank 51st on the university’s all-time scoring list.

A Dublin, Ohio native, Kuraly was originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks 133rd overall in 2011.

The Bruins are back in action on Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes.

Anton Khudobin will join Bruins on 3-game road trip 11.11.16 at 1:22 pm ET
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Anton Khudobin will join the Bruins for their road trip. (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

Anton Khudobin will join the Bruins for their road trip. (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

Set to embark on a three-game road trip with stops in Arizona, Colorado, and Minnesota, the Bruins will get an experienced boost to their goaltending corps with the return — or at the very least, the accompaniment — of backup goaltender Anton Khudobin.

Injured before the start of practice on Oct. 24, the 30-year-old was originally expected to miss three weeks with an upper-body injury, but was seen at B’s practice earlier this week skating (albeit without a stick in his hand) and has progressed well enough to be with the team.

“Khudobin is coming,” Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed.

Like every Bruins goaltender not named Tuukka Rask, Khudobin is winless on the year, with an 0-2-0 record and .849 save percentage in two games played. With Khudobin out of action, the Bruins have relied on Zane McIntyre to be Rask’s backup, and the true second-year pro has come through with a winless record and .859 save percentage in three games played against undeniably stiff competition in the Wild, Rangers, and Canadiens.

One of four injured Bruins — forwards Noel Acciari, Frank Vatrano, and defenseman Kevan Miller round out the group — Khudobin is the only one expected to be with the team for the trip.

“Kevan is not due to come with us,” Julien said. “He may join us, we’ll see how his rehab is going.”

Miller, who was also on the ice this week, is recovering from a fractured left hand.

 
5 Things We Learned as Bruins chase Sergei Bobrovsky with 4 goals in 4:01 in big win 11.10.16 at 9:38 pm ET
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Torey Krug scored his first goal of the season on Thursday night. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bruins defenseman Torey Krug scored his first goal of the season in Thursday’s win over the Blue Jackets. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

In front of a sellout crowd on Military Appreciation Night at TD Garden, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug — one of seven American Bruins to donate $2,500 worth of tickets to tonight’s game to military members and their families — found another way to show his appreciation to members of the country’s armed services.

And it began with his goal that opened the floodgates on a 4:01 stretch that chased Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky with four goals on just eight shots on goal and paved the way for a big B’s win on home ice in a 5-2 final over the visiting Jackets.

Down in an 0-1 hole just 2:29 into the first period when Nick Foligno capitalized on a Zdeno Chara breakout pass blocked by Alex Wennberg, and then on a penalty kill just four minutes later, the game had the early makings of one that the Black and Gold, who did everything but win in their last game (a 3-2 loss to the Canadiens), would let slip through their hands.

But with over 30 seconds of zone time in the Columbus end, it was Krug that found the equalizer with his first goal of the season, scored on his 46th shot of the season, with help from a deflection that appeared to go off the Blue Jackets’ Scott Hartnell. Forward Matt Beleskey matched Krug’s first of the year with his own just 1:08 later, while it was Austin Czarnik scored at 12:24, and then fourth-line forward Tim Schaller that put the nail in Bobrovsky’s coffin with a goal 24 seconds after that.

In came Curtis McElhinney, who replaced Bobrovsky after just 12:48, and up came the Jackets’ white flag on this game.

For Bobrovsky, the early hook ended his bid for career victory No. 1 against the Bruins. In what was his seventh career appearance against the club, the Bruins — who beat the ultra-talented Russian netminder with five goals on 36 shots on opening night this season, too — remain the only National Hockey League franchise that he’s yet to beat in his six-year NHL career.

The Bruins would add a fifth goal courtesy of David Backes’ third goal of the season, scored 11:51 into the second period, while the Jackets got on the board in the third period behind a Colin Miller own-goal off a faceoff that went through Tuukka Rask.

Bruins stymie Jackets’ high-powered special teams 

The Blue Jackets entered tonight’s game with the league’s top power play, and the league’s second-best penalty kill. And while the Jackets leave the Garden with their gaudy penalty killing figures intact behind a 2-for-2 showing, it would be the power play that took a dip with an 0-for-3 mark on the night. Limited to the outside on their man advantages, the Jackets struggled mightily to find high-quality chances against B’s netminder Tuukka Rask, and had nothing to show for it when the night was done.

This is a B’s team that’s really felt like they’ve been a dominant five-on-five group this year on both sides of the puck, so to carry some of that success into their shorthanded game against a vaunted power play team like the Jackets can only be a positive for the B’s PK as it heads on the road against a subpar Coyotes power play and Avalanche power play that’s been great at home.

Don’t look now, but the B’s third line is cooking

It took a few games, but the Bruins might have found themselves a third line that can chip in with some much needed offense.

With center-turned-winger Austin Czarnik on the right side for the slumping Jimmy Hayes, the B’s third line combo with Czarnik and Matt Beleskey between Riley Nash has become a capable secondary scoring presence for Claude Julien’s squad. Now in their fourth game together, the trio accounted for a combined five points through 20 minutes of play, with a goal and an assist from both Czarnik and Beleskey while Nash picked up a helper of his own.

In a night of goals for the Bruins, it was really the Beleskey goal that showed off what can make this line so great. As Nash pressured Blue Jacket defender Markus Nutivaara, Nutivaara ditched the puck with a blind pass that was intercepted by Czarnik, and then dished across the circles to Beleskey, who fired it home for his first of the year.

You had the strong forecheck of Nash, the strong playmaking sense of Czarnik, and net-drive by Beleskey all on one play.

Bada-bing, bada-boom. (I just really wanted to write that, I’m sorry.)

Still, with a combined five points, the line has now accounted for three goals and nine points in their last four games.

Bruins find back-to-back success in Boston

For the first time since Mar. 1 and 3, 2016, the Bruins have won consecutive home games. That streak may not seem like anything special, but for a Black and Gold group that’s been straight-up pitiful at home, it means a whole lot. The Bruins had been 0-3-0 in home games following a home win since that aforementioned winning streak in March, and had just two home winning streaks all of last season (the only other one was a three-game streak from Nov. 19 to 27, 2015).

Backes continues to dominate Blue Jackets

Think David Backes likes playing the Blue Jackets?

In his 47th career game against the Jackets, the 32-year-old came through with one goal and an assist, giving him 19 goals and 40 points against the Columbus franchise overall. So much of Backes’ damage against the Jackets came during his run with the St. Louis Blues, which included the Jackets as a Central Division rival for all but three of his 10 years with the Blues. And since coming to the Bruins, all but one of his six points on the year have come against the Jackets, too.

On a line with Ryan Spooner and David Krejci, Backes has looked more comfortable with each game, and admitted on Thursday morning that his elbow has been pain free since his return to the ice last Saturday.

The Bruins will return to action with a Saturday night road game with the Arizona Coyotes.

Bruins host Blue Jackets in Military Appreciation Night 11.10.16 at 5:38 pm ET
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Torey Krug is one of seven Bruins that donated $2,500 of tickets to local military and their families for tonight's game.

Torey Krug

On the eve of Veterans Day, the Boston Bruins will do their part to honor the armed forces when they play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Military Appreciation Night at TD Garden.

Seven members of the Bruins — Noel Acciari, David Backes, Jimmy Hayes, Torey Krug, John-Michael Liles, Kevan Miller, and Frank Vatrano — have each donated $2,500 worth of tickets to military members and families of military members. In addition to their contributions, top-line center Patrice Bergeron has donated his suite to Gold Star families also.

The Bruins will also wear camoflague warmup jerseys during their pregame skate (those jerseys will be auctioned off during an in-game auction), and will sport American and Canadian flag tape on their sticks to show their support for the military.

“In proportion to what the military does for us, to be able to donate tickets and spend some time with them after the game is such an easy way to show your appreciation for what they do for us,” Krug said. “It’s always a game that we look forward to, especially as Americans.”

Despite a loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night, the Bruins seemed pleased with their game overall, especially after a 43-shot barrage thrown on Carey Price in the defeat, and come into tonight’s game with a chance to win consecutive home games for the first time this season (and first time since Mar. 1 and Mar. 3, 2016).

“We need to establish our building as a really tough place to come into and an even tougher place to leave with any points coming out of,” Backes, who has 18 goals and 38 points in 46 career games against the Blue Jackets, said following the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. “It starts tonight, we have a great opportunity, we can’t waste it.”

The first goalie off the ice at the morning skate, Tuukka Rask is the expected starter in net for the Bruins. Rask stopped all 32 shots thrown his way in his last appearance, a 4-0 shutout win over the Sabres on Monday, and enters play with seven wins and a .941 save percentage in eight games this season. In seven career starts against the Blue Jackets, Rask has six wins and a .932 save percentage, and stopped 28-of-31 shots in a head-to-head with the Jackets earlier this season.

On the second leg of a traveling back-to-back that saw Sergei Bobrvosky in net last night, the Jackets are expected to give this start to backup netminder Curtis McElhinney.

Defenseman Joe Morrow is the expected healthy scratch for the Bruins.

Morrow will be joined by the injured Acciari, who will miss the next four weeks with a lower-body injury sustained in Monday’s loss. Acciari has two assists and eight shots on goal in 12 games played this season.

Here are the expected lines and defensive pairings for the Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Ryan Spooner – David Krejci – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Riley Nash – Austin Czarnik

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Jimmy Hayes

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

John-Michael Liles – Colin Miller

Rask

Out of the United States on election night, Bruins touch on presidential race 11.10.16 at 3:12 pm ET
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The Bruins were out of the country the night of the U.S. Presidential Election. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins were out of the country the night of the U.S. Presidential Election. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

Professional hockey players approach talking politics the way they would an opportunity to block a Zdeno Chara slapshot face-first, without a visor. Ideally, you simply don’t do it.

It’s almost never been worth it, and there’s a great — if not likely — chance you come out of it looking worse than you entered.

The Tim Thomas saga endured by the Boston Bruins throughout their 2011-12 season, a year in which Thomas — who sported the coiled rattlesnake from the Gadsden Flag on the back of his mask — declined the invitation to join the team at the White House for a celebration of their 2011 Stanley Cup win with President Barack Obama is more than enough to scare any player off from giving their opinion.

And it was after a deeper sigh and moment of reflection that David Backes, a Minnesota native and one of the league’s biggest American stars, offered his voice on Thursday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Goalie Zane McIntyre impresses Bruins, stays ready for his next chance 11.10.16 at 2:12 pm ET
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Zane McIntyre has done his part in fill-in work for the Bruins this season. (Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports)

Zane McIntyre has done his part in fill-in work for the Bruins this season. (Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports)

In the heart of New York City, Madison Square Garden — or its alternate title, America’s Most Famous Arena (rejected titles include The House That Jeremy Lin Built and The Arena Godzilla Somehow Laid Eggs In) — was the site of Boston Bruins goaltender Zane McIntyre’s first National Hockey League start. Against the all-world Henrik Lundqvist, too. And a start made by McIntyre two nights ago at the Bell Centre against the club’s most hated rival, the Montreal Canadiens, was the scene of his second. Against one of the few goalies in the world that’s better than Lundqvist, too, in Carey Price.

That’s one hell of a way to introduce yourself to the big leagues.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” McIntyre admitted of his jump into the NHL. “You just gotta roll with the punches and try to get better everyday.”

McIntyre’s night in New York did not go as planned, of course, with 26 stops on 31 shots against in a losing effort. And though he did not get the win his second chance, either, the Bruins have certainly liked what they’ve seen from a player in just his second year as a professional hockey player.

“He was calm, he was focused,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of McIntyre’s Montreal outing that featured 20 stops on 23 shots against. “He really wanted to win that game, he’s looking for his first win. He made some decent saves there along the way and a little bit of bad luck there at the end, so that’s unfortunate but there were no complaints about his game from me.”

Down backup goaltender Anton Khudobin and with McIntyre outplaying former first-round pick Malcolm Subban in the group’s two-game sample as the club’s one-two punch — a 120-minute stretch in which the B’s allowed 10 goals — Julien has learned to temper his expectations with McIntyre, a sixth-round draft choice of the club back in 2010.

“When you got a goaltender that’s just starting, it’s not realistic to expect him to play exactly like your number one,” Julien said. “He’s a young goaltender and I’ve liked the progression he’s made since last year.”

Still in search of his first career win, and still the No. 2 behind Rask (the veteran Khudobin returned to the rink on Monday but is still skating without a stick), the Thief River Falls, Minn., native is going to do what he’s done since getting the call to Boston.

“Be ready for when my time comes and take care of business,” McIntyre said.

Bruins still waiting for final diagnosis of Noel Acciari injury 11.10.16 at 12:48 pm ET
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Noel Acciari will miss his second straight game with an undisclosed injury.

Noel Acciari will miss his second straight game with an undisclosed injury.

Another morning skate, another day without fourth-line forward Noel Acciari.

Injured in the third period of Monday’s 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres and then out of the lineup for Tuesday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens with what’s still an undisclosed ailment, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien was still without a concrete update on the 24-year-old.

“Obviously injured,” Julien said of Acciari. “I wish I could tell you the length of his injury right now.”

Replaced on the fourth line by Jimmy Hayes, who logged 9:26 of time on ice in 14 shifts and finished with one shot on goal and a minus-1 rating, Julien sounded like a coach — and like a media — that is still awaiting final diagnosis on Acciari.

“We had a day off yesterday but I will make sure you guys find out today,” Julien said.

Acciari has two assists, eight shots on goal, and 26 hits in 12 games for the Bruins this season.

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