|Matt Fraser gets defensive and shows he can help fill void for Brad Marchand||11.19.14 at 12:59 am ET|
Ever since scoring the overtime goal against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the second round last spring, every Bruins fan knew the kid could score.
But on Tuesday night, they saw a different side of Fraser, the tough, gritty side, giving the Bruins exactly what they needed with Brad Marchand out with an unspecified injury.
Fraser played all 20 shifts with Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith as the Bruins beat the Blues, 2-0, at TD Garden.
“Obviously, I like scoring goals,” Fraser said. “I like to be an offensive threat. But you’re not going to be that kind of guy every night. There’s going to be times when you have to be relied upon to be a defensive, sound player. I think on this team, that’s more my ‘ it’s not my job, but I have to broaden my game a little bit because every guy in this room is good defensively. That’s how this franchise has built their system: you got to be good defensively. You got to make sure you’re good in all three zones.”
The irony is that Fraser did score a goal – with nine seconds left in the second period – but it was disallowed when referee Chris Lee ruled Fraser slammed into Blues goalie Brian Elliot before Elliot could play the puck.
“To me it should have been a goal,” coach Claude Julien said. “In my mind the puck’s in, it hits him, and it goes in before he even touches the goaltender. But those are unfortunately not reviewable, so he gets deprived from a goal. But the other part ‘ he deserves a lot of credit for his, he was on the line that played against their top-scoring line and defensively I thought he was very reliable. He played big, he played strong with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and [Reilly] Smith. I think that line did a great job against the [Vladimir] Tarasenko line.”
|Behind Reilly Smith, Patrice Bergeron, Bruins finding their ‘finishing’ touch||11.11.14 at 1:24 am ET|
Everyone in attendance at TD Garden will remember Monday night’s 4-2 win over the Devils for Seth Griffith’s spectacular effort late in the second-period.
But truth be told, the significance of the win goes far beyond that 10-second span. In winning their fifth straight game, the Bruins showed yet again they can actually finish around the net, something they struggled badly with in their 5-6-0 start.
At the center of the finishing was the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith. Bergeron had two assists and a goal, Smith had a goal and an assist and Carl Soderberg finished his power play chance in front.
Whether it was from the circle (Bergeron), or in the slot (Smith), or on the doorstep (Soderberg), the Bruins were finding ways to put the puck in the net.
“I think it’s finishing, yeah, because there’s been some games where we have given up too many shots and too many offensive opportunities and Tuukks [Tuukka Rask] has done a great job, same with Sveddy [Niklas Svedberg], but I think we are just doing a better job finishing the puck, and we are getting chances and it seems like we are doing a better job putting it in the back of the net than we did, you know, starting in the year,” Smith said.
“When Patrice gets the puck, I just let him do his thing,” he added. “You know sometimes you can call someone for the puck and you can kind of put someone out of their groove a little bit, because you know it’s not their first play, but Bergy has eyes in the back of his head so you know I just trust him that he will make the right play all the time.”
Seth Griffith doesn’t talk the same game he plays.
So, when asked about his blocked shot, sprint through a pair of opponents and spin-o-rama that ended with a goal on a backhanded shot with his back facing the net, the rookie had to quote Patrice Bergeron to do the feat justice.
“He just said that was a sick play,” Griffith said. “He’s one of the guys that talks to me all the time and he’s making me more confident in the room. Bergy was one of the first to congratulate me. It’s always pretty cool when a guy like that says something to you like that. He’s a great guy.”
The goal that Griffith scored with 1:59 left in the second period not only snapped a 2-2 tie, but it provided much needed inspiration that helped the Bruins beat the Devils, 4-2, Monday night at TD Garden. The reason for the inspiration was exactly how the play unfolded.
With the Devils possessing the puck in the Bruins’ zone, Griffith slid down to block a shot. In one motion, he got up, controlled the puck and took off on a sprint. He split Devils defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Bryce Salvador and somehow managed to carry the puck, lose it, get it back, put his back to goalie Corey Schneider and backhand it through his own legs and under the left pad of the Devils’ goalie for the go-ahead tally.
“Yeah, we picked up our game after that but it just goes to show how good we can play and we shouldn’t wait for stuff like that to happen to get going,” Griffith said.
|Brad Marchand proves he still loves seeing Roberto Luongo between the pipes||11.05.14 at 1:52 am ET|
Marchand was the player who scored five goals against Vancouver in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, four of which came against Luongo and the final one game on an empty net in Game 7 after he and the Bruins chased him from the game with under three minutes left.
On Tuesday, in a game much less significant, Marchand did it again to Luongo, this time at 3:27 of overtime on a spectacular goal to give the Bruins a 2-1 overtime win against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. Marchand, who missed two great chances earlier in overtime, blew by defenseman Dylan Olsen, dragging the puck to Olsen’s left. On the other side, Marchand re-collected the puck and snapped one past Luongo’s blocker. Game over.
“Well he’s a big guy, and he fills a lot of the net,” Marchand said of Luongo. “He seems to battle hard, and cuts his angles down well. I mean he’s one of the top goalies in the league. He has been for a long time. It’s always tough when you play him.”
Asked specifically if he has more confidence against Luongo, Marchand didn’t dispute the obvious.
“Yeah, definitely. Anytime I go into a game and there’s a goalie that I score on more than others, I always feel confident in that situation,” Marchand admitted. “And tonight, I kind of felt the same way. You kind of hope at the same time that maybe luck will be on your side, but again, you want to try to be confident all the time, but it’s definitely something you can use to your advantage.”
If ever Shawn Thornton wanted a reminder of what he meant to Bruins fans over the last seven years, he got it in a 45-second tribute in the first period Tuesday night at TD Garden.
As they did with the return of Johnny Boychuk two weeks earlier, the Bruins gave a video tribute on the large monitors above center ice midway through the first period. It featured him holding up the Stanley Cup in 2011, scoring a goal and naturally some of his better fisticuffs over his time in black and gold.
He showed his appreciation by waving his stick in the air.
“It’s pretty touching you know,” Thornton said. “Very, very kind, very gentle. Gentle? That’s not the word I was looking for. To get a standing ovation in a visiting arena is pretty special and I appreciate it. The fans have always been great to me here and again tonight. It’s pretty nice.”
Thornton, who signed a two-year, $2.4 million deal on July 1, played 17 shifts and spent 14 minutes on the ice as coach Gerard Gallant used his whole bench. He finished with one shot, one takeaway and four hits, but no fights.
“Well, Turk rolls four lines so I think he has had confidence in our line all year,” Thornton said. “Again tonight was another case of that. I think it’s nice to have two guys in Mack [Derek MacKenzie] and Kopy [Tomas Kopecky] that I’m playing with, it makes life a little easier for me. It’s nice to have the trust in us to put us out there.”
|Claude Julien, with contract extension in hand, still ‘has fire in the belly’ to win another Stanley Cup||11.03.14 at 2:25 pm ET|
Claude Julien was finally ready to talk about his good news on Monday.
After finalizing the terms of his new contract on Sunday morning, Julien felt comfortable enough to talk about what the extension means to him.
“I feel just as hungry this time around as I was before we won our first one,” Julien said. “I’m excited to have an opportunity to have a team that can compete for that and be part of it.
“I’m happy. We finalized the details [Sunday] morning and there was still some work to be done in our discussions. I’m happy to be here because as far as I’m concerned, this is a great team here. We have an opportunity every year to at least be contenders for the Stanley Cup.”
After bringing Boston its first Stanley Cup in 39 years in 2011, Julien was awarded a contract extension one year later in July 2012. He reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2013 before his team went out to the Canadiens last year in the second round. But all the while, Julien said Monday after his team’s practice, that the fire and hunger still burns inside him.
“I think my focus has to be 100 percent here, and it has been,” Julien said. “I think the thing I feel the most that’s important right now is no matter what we’ve accomplished, I’m really still very hungry to win another Stanley Cup. You want to succeed. And you when you start getting tired of doing that is when I think you become weaker as a coach. I really feel strongly about this organization and the direction it wants to go in. I feel strongly about my intentions of wanting to win. I was just as disappointed as anybody else last year because I really felt we had a team to go all the way. So, you come back and you’re hungry, and you have that and what they call the fire in the belly, I’m extremely happy in this organization, as long as they want me.”
“We have worked at this for a few months, but there was never any doubt in my mind that this would get done,” general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a statement. “Claude is one of the top coaches in the NHL and has consistently shown a passion for winning through his coaching. Coaching is a difficult profession at the best of times and what Claude does in implementing structure in his systems, and having a solid defensive foundation while allowing freedom in offensive play is no easy task. During his time with the Bruins, he has excelled in maintaining this difficult balance, and his longevity here speaks volumes. He has coached the Bruins to a Stanley Cup and a Cup Final appearance and our goal to win with him at the helm remains the same as we move forward.”
Julien said he was in no rush to extend his contract simply because he know Chiarelli had bigger matters on his plate, like dealing the salary cap and the unpopular trade of Johnny Boychuk.
“This has been in the works for longer than that,” Julien said. “It wasn’t even an argument-type thing. To be honest with you, Peter, in my mind, had a lot more important things to do than to worry about signing me. We all know that all of the stuff of signing players and everything else. It was a mutual agreement between us to let him deal with his stuff and mine would come around eventually. It was just that it leaked out Saturday but we weren’t done yet. We just finalized everything and now it’s time to move on and hopefully, after today, turn the page.”
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: ‘I believe [Bruins] will find a way’||10.30.14 at 2:07 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB in advance of Thursday night’s Bruins game with the Sabres and to talk about the injuries the Bruins have been forced to deal with. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Bruins have lost two of their last three games, including two, one-goal games at home — the latest a 4-3 loss to the Wild where they blew a two-goal lead in the third period. McGuire stressed even if the Bruins were to lose to Buffalo Thursday night, it would not be a time to panic.
“It’s an 82-game schedule,” McGuire said. “This isn’t football, it’s not every week being a Super Bowl game. You have to understand there are ebbs and flows in every season and there’s huge peaks and gigantic valleys that you have to climb out of. This reminds me so much of what Detroit went through last year without [Henrik] Zetterberg and [Pavel] Datsyuk — they had so many key injuries. Jimmy Howard was not doing well due to injury and illness. Everyone said they wouldn’t make the playoffs – 22 years in a row they made it, 23 won’t happen — but, guess what? They found a way.
“I believe this Boston Bruins team will find a way and a lot of those young players are getting an opportunity to play now, they are going to be the beneficiaries in this.”
Added McGuire: “I’m bullish on the Bruins, I really am. There’s no substitute for grit and there’s no substitute for maturity and this is a mature leadership kind of team that has a tremendous amount of grit.”
The Bruins have had a number of injuries to their defensive group, including Zdeno Chara (ligament tear in knee), Torey Krug (broken finger), Kevan Miller (upper-body) on top of the trade of Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders before the season. McGuire says this is a time for three other Bruins defensemen to step up, as well as an important stretch for assistant coach Doug Houda.
“The biggest thing is – limited ice time — this is where Doug Houda, who is not a real big-name on the Bruins, but he’s the assistant coach that changes the defense, he’s got to really pay attention to matchups,” said McGuire. “This is where [Dennis] Seidenberg has to play like he played in Toronto the other night — almost 26 minutes, he was really good. Dougie Hamilton obviously was fantastic in that game. He’s going to have to be good. This is where you need Adam McQuaid to be a little bit more stable and better with the puck. Those three guys are going to have to be a lot better, especially when you consider not having Chara, Krug and the trading of Boychuk.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.