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Bruins not treating Kevan Miller with AHL gloves 12.03.13 at 2:21 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

WILMINGTON — The Bruins are seeing more than Kevan Miller than they probably expected, but they won’t hide him.

Miller is back with the Bruins on an emergency basis given the uncertainty surrounding the status of Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid. He played three games for the B’s last month, the first of his NHL career, and it was evident in his time with the NHL team that they weren’t afraid to play him regularly — which is no sure thing when players are called up due to injury.

The 26-year-old averaged 17:27 of ice time per game in his three-game stint while McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg were out with injuries. That’s a far cry from the five-to-10-minute nights callups can expect when pinch-hitting on veteran teams. After all, a younger Matt Bartkowski had a couple of sub-five-minute nights over the years before establishing himself with the B’s.

With Miller, 26, the Bruins had no hesitation in using him often. He logged more minutes than Krug in two of his three games, and Claude Julien trusted him enough in his third NHL game that he played him with Zdeno Chara against the Penguins when Pittsburgh had an extra attacker. The Penguins scored on that shift, and though it was his last shift during his stint in Boston given that the B’s won on the second shift of overtime and McQuaid got healthy, Miller still takes it as a positive experience.

“It was good,” Miller said Tuesday. “It shows the organization has some trust in you, which is good. It’s obviously good for me as a confidence-booster.”

Miller was paired with Bartkowski, his former AHL defense partner, in practice Tuesday. If McQuaid and Krug are both out, Bartkowski and Miller with likely serve as the team’s third defensive pairing.

The Bruins have had Miller in their system since signing him as an undrafted free agent out of UVM late in the 2010-11 season. He’s put his AHL time in, though it’s hard for him to be a realistic candidate for full-time work in Boston given the team’s surplus of blueliners. That doesn’t mean the Bruins don’t think highly of him, and that showed the last time he was up.

“We’re a group of people that we don’t care where you’re drafted, whether you’re a first-rounder, whether you’re a free agent or whatever,” Julien said. “If you are deserving of playing on that night, if you’re deserving of a call-up, you’re going to get it. If you’re deserving of getting more ice time, you’re going to get it. It all revolves around your play.

“There are so many things that have happened in our game, from guys being free agents to probably becoming Hall of Famers to all kinds of things. We don’t judge individuals by where they’re drafted more than by their play. He’s played well enough to earn that ice time when he’s had to.”

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Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid day-to-day; Bruins recall Kevan Miller 12.03.13 at 10:15 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Both Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid were missing from Tuesday’s practice, while Kevan Miller took the ice after being recalled on an emergency basis.

Following the practice, Claude Julien said that McQuaid had re-aggravated the lower-body injury that kept him out for eight games last month. Julien said that both McQuaid and Krug are both considered day-to-day, though he did not divulge Krug’s injury.

McQuaid had played the last three games for the B’s. Krug has played in every game this season played throughout the Bruins’ last game Saturday against the Blue Jackets without any noticeable issues.

Miller, 26, made his NHL debut last month for the Bruins when he was recalled due to injuries to McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg. The right-shot defenseman played three games for the B’s and had a career-high 20:13 of ice time on Nov. 25 against the Penguins.

Tuesday’s defensive pairings were as follows:

Chara – Boychuk
Seidenberg – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Miller

It is unclear whether either Krug or McQuaid will be available for Thursday’s game against the Canadiens.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Bruins getting their rest 12.02.13 at 11:54 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Most of the Bruins stayed off the ice Monday at Ristuccia Arena, as the team is in the midst of a four-day layover between games.

After beating the Blue Jackets Saturday night at TD Garden, the B’s took Sunday off, while Monday saw a small group of players including Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson, Jordan Caron and Shawn Thornton take the ice.

The Bruins will likely hold more full practices Tuesday and Wednesday before traveling to Montreal for Thursday’s meeting with the Canadiens.

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Bruins defense bounces back from Detroit disaster with pair of excellent games 11.30.13 at 11:55 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara and the Bruins have given the opponents very little the last six periods. (AP)

Zdeno Chara and the Bruins have given the opponents very little the last six periods. (AP)

The NHL was a different place in 2002. Goals and shots were as low as they’d been since the 1950s, and it wasn’t rare at all to see teams held under 20 shots on goal in a game. In fact, the 2001-02 Bruins — one of the better defensive teams in the league — held opponents under that mark 13 times.

But things have changed since then. The rule changes following the lockout in 2004-05 helped open the game back up, and although we’ll probably never get back to the eight-goals-per-game days of the 1980s, we’re at least seeing more shots and chances than the pre-lockout days. And we’re certainly not seeing teams hold opponents under 20 shots on goal as frequently as we used to — the 2011-12 Bruins, a top defensive team just like the B’s squad 10 years before, did it just four times.

All of that information sets up this: over the last two days, the Bruins have held their opponents under 20 shots on goal in back-to-back games for the first time since that 2001-02 season (April 11 and 13 of that season, to be exact).

It’s a feat that in today’s NHL would be impressive at any time. But for the Bruins, it’s even more significant considering it followed Wednesday’s debacle in Detroit, when they surrendered six goals on one defensive breakdown after another.

“We want to put that game behind us,” Zdeno Chara said. “You’re going to have a game like that where everything is off. Hopefully there’s not too many of them. But after that game, we really wanted to focus on how we were going to play defensively, and more focused on us than the teams we play. Don’t get me wrong — we want to respect their strength and whatever they do well, but mainly we want to focus on how we’re going to implement our game plan.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Milan Lucic scores twice as Bruins beat Blue Jackets 11.30.13 at 9:35 pm ET
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Milan Lucic

Milan Lucic

Milan Lucic had a pair of goals and his first fight of the season as the Bruins skated to a 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets Saturday.

Picking up the win for the Bruins was Chad Johnson, who faced only 14 shots and improved to 4-1-0 on the season.

Patrice Bergeron scored the Bruins’ first goal, firing a puck past a screening Loui Eriksson and Columbus netminder Curtis McElhinney for Bergeron’s second goal in as many games. After Carl Soderberg got hooked by Ryan Johansen, Lucic tipped a Torey Krug shot in front for a power-play goal to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead in the first period.

Lucic added his second of the game and 11th of the season with a shot that beat McElhinney high in the third period, and though the Blue Jackets got one back on a power-play goal from Johansen, the B’s were able to limit their chances throughout the night and prevent them getting back into a game in which the B’s probably could have led bigger.

The Bruins will have four days off before they play next, as their schedule will resume Thursday in Montreal for their first meeting of the season against the Canadiens.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Chad Johnson could have stayed on the bench and the teams would have been tied in the first period, as Columbus put only two shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. That followed a showing for the Bruins Friday in which they surrendered just 11 shots over the final two periods to the Rangers, so the B’s went three periods while only allowing 13 shots on goal with no goals against.

- Speaking of shots on goal, this weekend the Bruins allowed less than 20 shots on gaol in back-to-back games for the first time since April of 2002.

- Eriksson continues to reward the Bruins with his play in front. A day after his work in front led to a rebound going off Dan Girardi and in, Eriksson screened McElhinney on Bergeron’s first-period goal.

Eriksson had the pass to Dougie Hamilton before Hamilton fed it to Bergeron, so he picked up the secondary helper and now has two goals and an assist for three points against the Blue Jackets in three meetings this season.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Lucic fought Dalton Prout in the second period, and though it was a good fight between a couple of big kids, it was questionable timing on Lucic’s part. The Bruins had the puck in the offensive zone when he got tangled up with Prout in front, and though the B’s lost possession and the puck was coming out of the zone by the time the two were well into the fight, they were going at it for a few seconds beforehand.

- Jarome Iginla can’t seem to buy a goal, as he was stopped on a bid off a McElhinney rebound in the second period and, after appearing in real-time to tip Lucic’s second goal in, saw credit rightfully given to his linemate. Iginla still has just five goals through 26 games this season, but he’s turned in strong play despite not being able to find the back of the net often.

- Brad Marchand could have had his second goal in as many games were it not for a hit post in the third period. Things continue to look up for Marchand, however, and it was pretty comical seeing him take two laps around the offensive zone with the puck on a third period shift.

Scott McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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Chad Johnson likely in net for Bruins vs. Blue Jackets 11.30.13 at 11:32 am ET
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Chad Johnson

Chad Johnson

It would appear that Chad Johnson will be between the pipes for Saturday night’s game between the Bruins and the Blue Jackets. Both Johnson and Tuukka Rask participated in an optional morning skate for the Bruins, but Rask stayed out much longer than Johnson.

Johnson has started just four of the Bruins’ 26 games this season. He is 3-1-0 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.21 goals-against average. His last start came last Saturday against the Hurricanes, with each of his last two starts resulting in overtime wins for the Bruins.

Saturday’s game is the second of a back-to-back for the Bruins, as it follows Friday’s 3-2 win over the Rangers. It’s the fifth time the Bruins have had back-to-backs this season, but the first in which the B’s haven’t had to travel. Rask has started both games of two of the Bruins’ back-to-backs thus far, with the two goalies splitting the other two to this point.

The Bruins will have four days between games following Saturday, as they won’t play again until they face the Canadiens in Montreal on Thursday.

Nathan Horton did not travel to Boston and remains on long-term injury reserve for the Blue Jackets. He has yet to play for them since getting offseason shoulder surgery, though he has been skating with them since last week.

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Brad Marchand’s improved play pays off with goal, assist vs. Rangers 11.29.13 at 5:19 pm ET
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Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand

It’s still too early to say Brad Marchand has completely turned things around, but he has certainly been making more good things happen over the last few weeks. At times, it hasn’t translated to points, but in Friday’s 3-2 win over the Rangers, it did.

Midway through the first period, Marchand one-timed a Zdeno Chara pass under the crossbar to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Then early in the third, he weaved through the Rangers defense before setting up Patrice Bergeron for the game-tying goal. It marked Marchand’s first multi-point game of the season, in his and the team’s 26th game played. By comparison, Marchand had five multi-point games in the first 26 games last season and four the year before.

A quick look at Marchand’s game log shows that he had two goals and three assists in his 12 games prior to Friday. Big deal, right? True, that in and of itself is not a big deal. But what could be a big deal is that Marchand has been getting chances.

He had two or more shots on goal in 10 of those 12 games. To put that in perspective, his career average is just under two per game. (Oddly enough, his goal Friday was actually his only shot on goal for the game.) And to add even more context, in the eight games prior to that stretch, he had three shots on goal total.

So Marchand had been getting looks and taking shots; they just weren’t going in. And this is where we point out that Marchand’s shooting percentage going into Friday was 7.5 percent, less than half of his 16.8 and 19.8 marks the last two seasons.

“I really think that he’s picked up his game a lot,” Bergeron said. “Obviously everyone in the last game [a 6-1 loss to Detroit], that was something that we just can’t really talk about. But for six, seven games before that, I thought he was playing really well and improving, moving his feet. Every time he does that, he creates a lot of chances for himself, but also for us as his linemates. I think he’s been playing pretty well actually.”

To illustrate Bergeron’s point about Marchand’s importance to the whole line: in shifts with Marchand on the ice, the Bruins have out-attempted their opponent in 12 of the last 13 games. In the eight games before that — the same eight in which Marchand wasn’t getting shots on goal — the Bruins out-attempted the opposition during Marchand’s shifts just once.

Marchand hasn’t forgotten how to shoot the puck. His goal Friday afternoon — a blast from the lower right circle that Henrik Lundqvist had virtually no chance of stopping — is evidence of that. So if Marchand continues to shoot, chances are more pucks will start to go in.

The biggest concern during Marchand’s early-season struggles was that he wasn’t even getting the chances. According to him, that was because he wasn’t doing a lot of the little things he needed to do to be successful. He admitted on Friday that it started to get to his head, that he started worrying about the lack of points.

“I was frustrated and worried about points and putting up numbers and stuff like that,” Marchand said. “I think I had the wrong mindset there. It was more about the things you’ve got to do to get there and different areas of the game that I had to improve.”

But now he’s in a better place. He knows he’s doing those little things, he knows he’s getting his chances, and he knows the points will follow.

“I think once I just kind of calmed down and worried about playing my game and letting everything else go, I felt a lot better.”

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