|Dennis Seidenberg returns to practice, Kevan Miller and Joonas Kemppainen to make trip||10.29.15 at 10:23 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins saw one defenseman return and another one miss practice at Ristuccia Arena. Dennis Seidenberg participated in his first practice of the season, while Kevan Miller was absent after suffering an injury Tuesday against the Coyotes.
Also absent from practice was Joonas Kemppainen, who missed a couple of shifts Tuesday as well. David Pastrnak, who missed the last 8:48 of the game after taking a shot off the foot, participated fully in Thursday’s practice. According to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, Miller skated briefly before practice.
Claude Julien said after practice that Miller and Kemppainen will make the trip to Florida for this weekend’s games. Both are game-time decisions for Friday’s game, though Julien said he expects both to play.
“Today was probably more maintenance and allowing him to be better for tomorrow,” Julien said of Miller, adding that such was also the case for Kemppainen.
The forward lines in practice were as follows:
Should Miller and Kemppainen both play, the Bruins’ lineup would figure to be unchanged from Tuesday’s win over the Coyotes, which saw Zach Trotman and Zac Rinaldo as the healthy scratches. Trotman, who has been a healthy scratch for the last seven games, would play should Miller not be able to go.
Seidenberg has been out since training camp after getting back surgery on Sept. 24. He has been skating since last Monday, but Thursday marked his first time on the ice with teammates since the surgery.
“For him, it was more to get him a little bit more encouraged by being with other players out there,” Julien said. “He just did the line drills and the puck-moving part of it. He still has a ways to go; he definitely can’t take any contact, but just the fact that he’s able to be out there with us is definitely encouraging for him.”
|Brad Marchand feels Reilly Smith can thrive in Florida||10.28.15 at 8:15 pm ET|
Panthers games aren’t just Shawn Thornton reunion nights anymore for the Bruins. In addition to former B’s Thornton, Steven Kampfer and Jaromir Jagr, the B’s will see Reilly Smith Friday in the first meeting between the teams since Smith was traded to Florida in the offseason.
Smith’s two-year tenure with the Bruins had highs and lows that were exacerbated by a number of things. In addition to being part of the return for Tyler Seguin, Smith was extremely streaky. Because the Bruins were low on cap space last season, the B’s had to stick him with an underpayment of a $1.4 million one-year contract. Peter Chiarelli made it up to Smith by giving him a two-year extension worth $3.42 million a year, a contract that, despite not being much of an overpayment for Smith’s previous work, it was given during a 13-goal season. When the offseason came, new general manager Don Sweeney traded Smith to Florida for Jimmy Hayes and devoted the money saved towards Matt Beleskey’s contract in free agency.
The Bruins gave up a good player. At 24, Smith could very well end up having a better career than Hayes or Beleskey. With Smith off to a strong start (seven points in nine games), he’s been able to adjust well to a new team, just as he did when he began the 2013-14 season in impressive fashion with the Bruins. If there’s a silver lining for him with his departure, however, it’s that the pressure that was often on the self-effacing winger in Boston won’t be there in Florida.
“Yeah, he seems to stick to himself and be a little quiet,” former linemate Brad Marchand said of Smith. “Sometimes guys can thrive in those environments where there’s not as much pressure. Maybe that’s why he fits well down there right now. You don’t really have the choice of where you’re going to be a lot of the time, so you’ve got to be able to adapt and play in that situation.”
Marchand said he is not surprised that Smith is performing well. He noted that last season’s low output from Smith was a product of him missing a large portion of training camp because he hadn’t yet been given a contract.
“He’s a really good player. He’s very skilled,” Marchand said. “He’s going to get his points and goals in this league. He’s going to do well.”
When the points didn’t come for Smith in Boston, things seemed to snowball. When Smith got sick and lost weight during his first season with the Bruins, he had a hard time finding his game again before finally reigning it in the playoffs. Last season, with the Bruins fighting for a playoff spot down the stretch, Smith scored just one goal over his last 22 games and was made a healthy scratch on March 21 in Florida. His struggles while all eyes were on the B’s made him an easy target for fans and observers.
“It’s a town where you’re expected to do well and you’re expected to play to your ability. I think in Florida, in lesser hockey markets, it’s a little different. You can get away with that kind of stuff and hide in the weeds, but there’s a lot of media attention here and the fans are very into the stats and the games and they keep an eye on that stuff,” Marchand said. “So you can’t get away with it, you can’t hide. Same thing in the room. Guys expect a lot and expect you to carry your weight.”
Added Marchand: “I think you’ve got to be able to understand each guy on the team and find a way to work with him. I don’t know exactly what his [outlook is] and how he wants to deal with situations, but regardless, when we do have that pressure on us and we’re in a tough situation, we need everyone to step up. Regardless of if you like it or not, you’ve still got to be able to play your game.”
|Brett Connolly making impact whether or not he’s scoring since return||10.28.15 at 1:06 pm ET|
That Brett Connolly has scored goals in all three games since being a healthy scratch is a great sign. Here’s another one: He’s drawing penalties instead of taking them.
Connolly, whose most memorable plays from his five games with the B’s last season were the five minor penalties he took in two games, has drawn two penalties in the last three games. He also hasn’t taken a single penalty over his seven games this season. The Bruins want Connolly to perform and stay disciplined. So far, he’s done both.
“I think it kind of comes with the territory of playing hard and finishing your checks,” Connolly said Wednesday. “When you’re finishing your checks and you’re being hard to play against, it’s usually the time when guys will take penalties on you and do things that they maybe they wouldn’t do if you’re not playing hard against them. I think just playing hard, that’s when guys will take penalties on you.”
A good example of that came Tuesday night, when Connolly finished a hit on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and got the Coyotes defenseman to take an undisciplined interference penalty in retaliation. The Bruins didn’t score on the ensuing power play, but they did two games earlier when Connolly drew a high-sticking double-minor. Forty-six seconds after Claude Giroux went to the box for the infraction, Patrice Bergeron scored to tie a game the Bruins would eventually lose.
Playing with Bergeron and Brad Marchand has undoubtedly led to his increased production, as the first-line duo has set up each of his three goals since he returned to the lineup. That he’s staying disciplined could prolong his stay in the top six.
“It’s better to be drawing them than taking them,” Connolly said. “I’ve been on a little bit of a streak here of not taking penalties. I knew that it was going to fade away and go away. I haven’t really been the guy to take a lot of penalties in the past. It’s been good. I think that I’ve just got to continue playing hard and being hard to play against. Hopefully they’ll keep taking penalties.”
The “that” to which Connolly refers is the ugly two-game stretch late last season. Full of energy after missing about a month with a broken finger suffered in his second practice, Connolly’s penalties put the B’s in a bad spot as they tried to secure a playoff spot. The B’s lost both of those games, with Connolly’s high-sticking penalty against the Panthers leading to a power play goal.
“Maybe I came in, you’re so excited to play and you’re maybe trying to do a little bit too much,” Connolly said. “It was frustrating for sure, when you’re always in the box and then the coach isn’t happy with you. It was something I had to adjust to, and I thought I’ve been better at it as of late.”
Said Claude Julien: “He comes in, he wants to make an impression going hard. Sometimes you try so hard, you’re not always doing the right things. I think now he’s more — I keep using the word — he’s more comfortable in what we’re doing here. He’s just going out there and playing his game. I think whenever he skates the way he skates, and with his big body and his strength, he has to have guys drag him down or hold him. That’s the reason I think he’s drawing penalties.”
It was just a week ago that things weren’t looking great for the scratched Connolly. His return has seen plenty of reasons as to why he shouldn’t expect to be a healthy scratch again soon.
|Claude Julien: Kevan Miller, David Pastrnak, Joonas Kemppainen still being evaluated||10.28.15 at 11:55 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins had an optional practice Wednesday, with 11 players taking the ice at Ristuccia Arena.
Not surprisingly, Kevan Miller, David Pastrnak and Joonas Kemppainen were not part of that group. All three left Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Coyotes for various lengths. Claude Julien said after the game that the players left for precautionary reasons, but his words Wednesday weren’t as optimistic.
“They’re still being evaluated,” Julien said. “I don’t have an update on them right now. They’re still being evaluated. I think it’s probably still too early to give a diagnosis as far as how serious it is or how non-serious it is. [We’ll] probably [have] a better idea tomorrow.”
Miller left the game midway through the second period after going into the boards due to a hook from Tobias Rieder. He came back for two more shifts to end the period but did not play the third. Pastrnak missed the final 8:48 due to a shot off the foot he took early in the third period. Kemppainen missed a pair of shifts in the third period but returned to the game.
|Bruins’ first home win ‘a pride thing’||10.27.15 at 11:57 pm ET|
If they’d lost on Tuesday, the Bruins would have been in Original Six territory.
As in the 1951-52 Original Six Bruins, the last version of the B’s to start a season winless on home ice for more than four games; that season Milt Schmidt’s boys went 0-5-4 out of the gate en route to a fourth-place finish.
Instead of Original Six, the 2015-16 Bruins went Additional Six on Tuesday night with a 6-0 shutout of the Coyotes to snap their 0-3-1 homely open to the year.
“It was nice to finally get a home win and get that out of the way,” Bruins winger Loui Eriksson said with a satisfied sigh.
Instead of the Bronx cheers that were heard sprinkled in at TD Garden during losses to Winnipeg, Montreal, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, Tuesday night’s win ended with a standing ovation of approval raining down from the local faithful who stayed to the final horn.
“We felt like we kind of owed them a little bit. We owed them the win,” David Krejci said on a night when he added two more goals to his growing personal collection of seven markers on the year. “Big for the standings and our fans as well. Obviously, you like to get the first one at home. We were close the last couple times, but it was big to get the first one finally. The way we played today, we got the fans on our side.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t want to go so far as saying the poor home start was weighing on his team, but he certainly acknowledged that home success is important. After all, just two years ago Boston’s 31-7-3 mark on home ice buoyed the team to a 117-point season and the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“I think the fact that we were playing better the last four games [overall] — we had the one overtime loss — I think our guys felt if they kept playing the way they could it was just a matter of time,” Julien said. “I think it’s more about a pride thing. Our home building has to be something that doesn’t bode well for teams coming in here. And right now we’ve made too many teams feel comfortable. That’s what we’re trying to change.”
|Claude Julien says Kevan Miller, David Pastrnak injuries aren’t serious||10.27.15 at 10:44 pm ET|
Miller went into the boards awkwardly on a hook from Tobias Rieder in the second period. He left the game for about 10 minutes, returned for two more shifts and then did not play the third period. Pastrnak continued to play after taking a shot off the foot early in the third period but missed the final 8:48 of the game.
Julien said that Miller, Pastrnak and Joonas Kemppainen — who missed a couple of shifts in the third period — were kept out because the game was out of hand and the team wanted to play it safe.
“We took [Miller] out more as precaution because of the score,” Julien said. “Same thing with Kemppainen; [he] left the bench for a while came back and Pastrnak got hit with a shot. At that stage, we didn’t want to risk anything more that we needed to so we sent those guys to the room.”
|5 things we learned as Tuukka Rask gets first shutout, Bruins get first home win||10.27.15 at 9:43 pm ET|
An optimistic Bruins fan probably thought entering the season that, among other things, the Bruins would still manage to quiet opposing offenses, that Tuukka Rask would play well and that Matt Beleskey would be in the lineup producing.
This has been the season of hell for anyone with those expectations, but the Bruins finally delivered such an outing Tuesday to push their record over .500 for the first time this season. It was the team’s first win at TD Garden in five home games (1-3-1).
Rask made 24 saves and Beleskey had two points in his return to the lineup as the B’s took a 6-0 victory over the Coyotes. The performance was not only Rask’s first shutout of the season, but first time allowing fewer than three goals.
As for Hayes, the former Duck was unremarkable in his first five games before going down with an upper-body injury, but he brought some offense with him when returning from a two-game absence.
Beleskey, who played with David Krejci to begin the season, was put on the third line with Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes in addition to taking occasional shifts with Joonas Kemppainen and Chris Kelly. Both groups worked. Beleskey got his first point of the night by doing a good job controlling a pass behind him from Spooner and putting the puck on net. Hayes banged the rebound past Mike Smith to make it 2-0. Beleskey later fed Joe Morrow on what turned out to be a sensational goal.
With the victory, the Bruins are now 4-3-1 on the season. Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:
MILLER LEAVES AFTER TWO, PASTRNAK LEAVES IN THIRD
Kevan Miller suffered an injury midway through the second period during an Arizona power play. After Boston won a defensive zone faceoff into the corner, Miller raced toward the puck and wound up to rim it around the boards. Tobias Rieder hooked him, causing him to miss on the puck and go into the boards awkwardly.
Miller was slow to get up and missed about 10 minutes before returning for two more shifts late in the period. He did not return to the game for the third.
If Miller is to miss any time, the Bruins will put Zach Trotman back in the lineup. A righty like Miller, Trotman has been a healthy scratch the last seven games.
Miller wasn’t the Bruins’ only injury scare, as David Pastrnak left the game in the final 10 minutes, likely due to a shot he blocked earlier in the third.
KREJCI STILL STREAKING, ERIKSSON NOT FAR BEHIND
Another game, another productive showing for Krejci. The center, who entered Tuesday tied for the league lead in points, had a pair of goals. His first of the night came when he took a pass from Loui Eriksson in the neutral zone late in what was a scoreless first period and raced into the offensive zone. With Brett Connolly to his right, Krejci sold a backhand pass remarkably before pulling the puck back ad firing a shot on the forehand past Smith to make it 1-0.
With the goal and another in the final minute of the game (not an empty-netter), Krejci now has at least one point in every game this season and a total of seven goals and seven assists for 14 points. Krejci’s career high in points is 73, which he achieved in the 2008-09 season. His career-best 23 goals were scored in 2011-12.
Eriksson, meanwhile, should be mentioned right alongside Krejci as Boston’s best players this season. He has seven assists over the last four games.
MORROW SCHOOLS COYOTES
Joe Morrow scored his first goal of the season in impressive fashion.
The young defenseman embarrassed all six Coyotes on the ice, taking a pass from Beleskey at center ice and rushing past three Arizona forwards in the neutral zone. Nicklas Grossman and Zbynek Michalek left him enough space to fire a wrist shot top corner glove side from the high slot.
Morrow had just four goals in 48 games between the AHL and NHL last season, but Tuesday showed the mobility and skill that made him a first-round pick back in 2011.
CONNOLLY KEEPS SCORING
Brett Connolly continued his fight against returning to the press box with another goal Tuesday night. Connolly, who was scratched last Saturday against the Coyotes, has now scored in three straight games since returning to the lineup.
Another thing worth keeping an eye on: Connolly draws quite a bit of penalties. He drew another one Tuesday, getting Oliver Ekman-Larsson to take an interference penalty away from the play in the second period.