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Reading (too much) into trade rumors involving the Bruins and Avalanche 02.13.17 at 5:41 pm ET
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Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog are both on the trade block. (Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports)

Avalanche forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog are on the trade block, and their front office was in Boston last night. (Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports)

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic was a smiling face spotted in the press box during Sunday’s game between the Bruins and Canadiens.

Sakic’s Avalanche, of course, were not in Boston nor will they be anytime soon. Sakic was accompanied to TD Garden by assistant GM Chris MacFarland and amateur scout Neil Shea, too, so I mean it was pretty clear that this was more than just a night in the Hub. The Avalanche, with an 11-point lead on the worst record in the NHL, are sellers, and both the Bruins and Canadiens are expected to be buyers. So the Avalanche are scouting. And scouting hard.

In what was an obvious ‘two birds with one stone’ kind of situation for Sakic and crew, things became interesting when nearly the entire second intermission was spent with Sakic and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney chatting it up against the walls of the ninth level.

It was certainly worth noting given where these two franchises are right now, namely with the calls for big changes that have followed each club all season long. But it’s also the ultimate ‘could be something, could be nothing’ that comes with bored reporters sitting in a booth with nothing to watch or report for 18 minutes.

At the same time, there’s nothing new when it comes to what these teams want from the other.

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Adam McQuaid, Bruins defense getting offensive with Bruce Cassidy’s system 02.13.17 at 8:50 am ET
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McQuaid carries the puck up ice. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Adam McQuaid scored his second goal of the season Sunday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

In the Bruce Cassidy era, Bruins blue-liners have averaged 3.5 points per game. It’s a limited sample size, but the change in approach is worth noting.

In the 4-0 win over Montreal on Saturday night, that defensive dominance on the offensive side of the puck was evident again, but not being reckless was echoed throughout the team.

“They’re on a roll, so let’s enjoy it,” Cassidy said on the offensive output from the defense. “We’ve kind of encouraged that, and they take it to heart. I thought we did a much better job with our decision making when to activate as well. We weren’t reckless. We had doubts against Vancouver, we addressed it this morning, make the right decisions and for the most part we did make the decisions.”

The newfound scoring prowess of the defense benefited Adam McQuaid on Sunday night. In the first period, he took a slick pass from rookie forward Peter Cehlarik from the opposite wing and fired a one-timer past Carey Price.

“Without being reckless, without taking the focus off the right side of the puck,” said McQuaid. “Defense first. I think you always want to defend.”

It was McQuaid’s second goal of the season, and his first since Jan. 18 against Detroit. Of his 12 career goals in the NHL, five of them have come against the Habs.

“Couldn’t tell you,” McQuaid said of his Montreal success. “Obviously it’s always great, there’s a great history between the organizations and there’s always fun and intense games when the teams play. I’m not thinking of trying to score more against them or anyone else.” Read the rest of this entry »

Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins continue to roll with 3rd straight win 02.13.17 at 12:17 am ET
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The Bruins are 3-0-0 under Bruce Cassidy. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are 3-0-0 under Bruce Cassidy. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Interim head coach Bruce Cassidy admitted that he was going to be able to sleep well when he won his Bruins head coaching debut last Thursday. That sleep will continue through the B’s bye week, too, as the Bruins have rattled off three wins in as many games under Cassidy.

They apparently saved their best for the last game of what was a do-or-die type of weekend, as the Bruins rolled the Canadiens to a 4-0 final with contributions across the board and in all situations.

“Yeah it is,” Cassidy said when asked if this was the perfect high note to go into their five-day bye on. “It was a tough game tonight, you never know how those games are going to go, a big rivalry and it went our way. I thought we were full value for it. I thought we got better as the game went on, we dealt with some adversity, we were able to get the two points and that’s always enjoyable.”

In a rivalry that’s been one-sided over the last few seasons, especially in games played in Boston (the Bruins entered play with losses in nine straight home games against the Habs, their last win coming all the way back in Jan. 2012), they stayed true to the aggressive tendencies established in wins over the Sharks and Canucks.

And have yet another win to show for it.

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Tuukka Rask moves into sole possession of 2nd place on franchise’s all-time shutouts list 02.12.17 at 11:31 pm ET
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Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask recorded the 36th shutout of his career tonight. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask recorded the 36th shutout of his career tonight. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Rest on Saturday did Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask a whole lot of good Sunday night, as the 29-year-old stopped all 25 shots thrown his way en route to a 4-0 win over the rival Canadiens.

In what finished as Rask’s first career home win against the Canadiens, as he entered play with zero wins and an .890 save percentage in 12 prior Boston head-to-heads against the Habs, the 29-year-old was tested early and often and improved his 2016-17 season record against Montreal to two wins and just one goal allowed on 56 shots against.

“[His] performance was excellent,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Rask following the win. “We needed him early.”

It also inched Rask further up on the franchise’s record books.

Not only was it the club’s first shutout over the Canadiens since Nov. 2011, and their first home shutout against the Canadiens since Mar. 2011 (both zeros were posted by Rask’s old creasemate, Tim Thomas), but it also Rask moved into sole possession of second place on the club’s all-time shutouts list with career shutout No. 36.

Entering play tied with Frank Brimsek at 35, Rask now trails only Cecil ‘Tiny’ Thompson for the franchise lead. But don’t hold your breath on Rask (or anybody for that matter) catching Thompson, as he finished his B’s career with a whopping 74 shutouts.

Rask now has 27 wins and a .912 save percentage in 46 games this season.

Zdeno Chara, Bruins make statement in 4-0 win over Canadiens 02.12.17 at 10:18 pm ET
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The Bruins improved to 3-0-0 under Bruce Cassidy with Sunday's win over the Canadiens. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins improved to 3-0-0 under Bruce Cassidy with Sunday’s win over the Canadiens. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

If you closed your eyes and just listened to the crowd at tonight’s season-series finale between the Bruins and Canadiens, you would have thought you had been transported back to the better days of 2011.

At the 5:08 mark of the second period of the game, which ended as a 4-0 victory for the Black and Gold, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara pulled out a beautiful move and beat Canadiens netminder Carey Price upstairs for a shorthanded goal, and the building began to shake.

In what was (fittingly enough) Chara’s first shorty since 2011, Chara showed the raw emotion seldom seen from the B’s captain of 11 years — at least in recent seasons of the franchise’s fall back to the middle of the NHL pack, anyways. His celebratory scream, a former trademark of No. 33, was echoed by those from the crowd, and backed up with the sing-song ‘Ca-rey’ chant that hasn’t been heard in this building in any sort of meaningful manner in over five years.

It was a statement from Big Z that his club was not going to down without a fight.

Not to this team, and not for the 10th time in as many visits to Boston.

And a statement from a Hub fanbase that’s not yet ready to wave the towel on their season.

Not when the team plays with this passion.

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Referee Wes McCauley gets really pumped about Torey Krug vs. Andrew Shaw fight 02.12.17 at 8:30 pm ET
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It didn’t take long for Torey Krug and Andrew Shaw to set the tone for Sunday’s showdown between the Bruins and Canadiens.

In the final matchup between the two, Krug and Shaw dropped the gloves just 58 seconds into the first period, and brought the TD Garden crowd to life. The fight also appeared to pump referee Wes McCauley up quite a bit, too.

At least when it came to his penalty announcement to the sellout crowd in Boston.

The fight was obvious carryover from the last meeting between the Bruins and Habs, when Krug rocked Shaw up high with a hit.

 

Goaltender Tuukka Rask gets start for Bruins vs. Canadiens 02.12.17 at 4:59 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask gets the start for the Bruins tonight vs. the Canadiens. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask gets the start for the Bruins tonight vs. the Canadiens. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Over a foot of snow is coming to Boston. So are the Canadiens.

And at this point, I’m not sure which visit the Hub dreads more.

In what’s become a one-sided rivalry if there ever was one, at least when it comes to games played in Massachusetts, the Canadiens come to TD Garden tonight riding a nine-game road winning streak over the Bruins. The last B’s home win over the hated Habs, which came all the way back on Jan. 12, 2012 in case you don’t remember, was the night that the Canadiens traded their best scorer (Michael Cammalleri) in the middle of the game, too. So, at least that was nice of them.

But with the ‘fresh start’ that’s come with the hiring of interim head coach Bruce Cassidy for a lot of players in this roster, the Bruins will turn to Tuukka Rask in search of another one of those, and the necessary strong finale before the club’s long-awaited bye week begins on Monday.

One that doesn’t happen without that aforementioned fresh start against the club’s top rival.

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