|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.”
|Brad Marchand out vs. Blues, David Krejci and Kevan Miller could return||11.18.14 at 11:40 am ET|
Brad Marchand left Bruins morning skate after one line rush and was subsequently declared out for Tuesday’s game against the Blues.
Marchand, who missed the final 13:45 of Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury, practiced Monday and was termed “probable” at the time by Julien. Asked whether Marchand’s ailment was a concussion or head injury, Julien said it was not.
Tuesday will mark Marchand’s first missed game of the season. In 19 games thus far, Marchand is tied with Carl Soderberg and Seth Griffith for the team lead with five goals.
David Krejci (lower-body) participated in morning skate and centered his regular linemates in Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith. Julien said that the team didn’t know yet whether he would be in. Julien added that if a callup was made Tuesday, it would mean Krejci would be out.
Kevan Miller, who is cleared to play, also participated in the morning skate. Julien said the B’s will dress seven defensemen in warmups and decide afterwards whether Miller will be in the lineup. Miller has not played since suffering a dislocated shoulder in a fight on Oct. 18.
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|Kevan Miller cleared to play, David Krejci getting closer, Brad Marchand ‘probable’||11.17.14 at 10:40 am ET|
Marchand did not play the final 13:45 of Saturday’s game and also missed the last 6:23 of Wednesday’s game. Following Saturday’s win over the Hurricanes, Claude Julien said that Marchand was “not injured, per se.”
After the practice, Julien said that Marchand was “probable” for Tuesday’s game against the Blues. He added that the injury from which Marchand was suffering occurred in Saturday’s game.
With Marchand absent, Matt Fraser took his place on Patrice Bergeron‘s line.
Krejci, who began skating Friday as he works his way back from a lower-body injury, did line drills with his usual linemates in Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith. Chris Kelly, who has played in Krejci’s place during his absence, returned to Carl Soderberg’s line.
Krejci missed the first three games of the season, returned to play nine, missed two more before returning for one game and missing the last four games. He did not appear to be limited in Monday’s practice.
Julien said that he has yet to be notified that Krejci has been cleared to play. Asked whether the team wanted to be more cautious with Krejci this time than last time, Julien denied any previous impatience on the Bruins’ part.
“Well he was 100 percent last time,” Julien said, “and somehow by the end of the game he didn’t feel good again, so we have to take that into consideration as well.”
The forward lines in practice were as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Fraser – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Gagne – Campbell – Paille
Miller hasn’t played since Oct. 18 due to a dislocated shoulder suffered in a fight on Oct. 18. He had taken what the team called “light contact” leading up to Monday’s practice, but participated regularly Monday. Julien said that with Miller cleared to play, the only remaining hurdle is for the team to decide whether he has had enough practice time.
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|Claude Julien: Brad Marchand ‘not injured, per se’||11.15.14 at 4:25 pm ET|
Marchand did not play the final 13:45 of Saturday’s game. That came two games after Marchand missed the last 6:23 of Wednesday’s loss to the Maple Leafs.
‘He’s not injured, per se, but he wasn’t 100 percent,’ Julien said Saturday. ‘It was a safe route to take, I guess.’
The Bruins are either being cautious or trying to hide the situation the best they can. Remember, Julien called David Krejci‘s preseason injury “very, very minor ” at the time it was suffered. Krejci went on to miss the next three games with what was believed to be a hip injury. The team has still not revealed why Krejci has not played the last four games.
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|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.”
|Claude Julien still wants more out of improving Bergeron line||11.04.14 at 10:56 pm ET|
Part of the Bruins’ early-season struggles was that the team’s sure things weren’t sure things. Zdeno Chara wasn’t enjoying a strong start prior to his injury, while Patrice Bergeron‘s line was getting beaten far more than usual.
Obviously, it’s going to take some time for things to return to normal. Chara is in the second week of his recovery from a torn PCL and, assuming his recovery is on track, is expected to remain out for 2-4 more weeks. The Bergeron line, on the other hand, appears to be turning a corner.
Claude Julien broke up the trio of Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith three games ago, at which point Bergeron was an uncharacteristic minus-2 on the season and Marchand was looking for his first even-strength goal of the season. Smith, Julien had said multiple times, looked like he was behind after missing most of training camp because he didn’t have a contract.
Smith was put back on Bergeron’s line after a period in Buffalo and Marchand was returned to the line by the end of the game. It seems Julien got the attention of his most trusted line, as Marchand now has four goals (three of which came playing with Bergeron and Smith) and two assists in the last three games, while both Bergeron and Smith have two points apiece in the span.
The Bruins have won all three games, two of which came on overtime winners from Marchand. Both of the Bruins’ goals in Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime victory came from the Bergeron line, as Bergeron scored his first goal in 12 games with a second-period tally.
“I think tonight was a real big step forward for us,” Marchand said. “We played with a lot more confidence than we have in the past number of games, and it seems like were able to make plays now and hold on. I think that’s one thing we weren’t doing very well early on — we were throwing it away a lot, and weren’t supporting each other very well, but our legs seemed to be under us, we seemed to be more comfortable with the puck, and we felt really good tonight.”
Though the results are showing more and more, Julien said he feels the line isn’t yet where he wants it to be.
“I think the puck movement between them still isn’t quite where we’ve seen it before,” Julien said. “There’s still room for improvement and they’ve just got to keep working at it, because they’ve got one guy right now that’s really hot.”
Smith was strong on the puck and looked lightyears more confident than in games past Tuesday. Julien still expects more out of him. Reminded of his past critiques of the player and asked if he felt Smith had caught up, Julien was noncommittal. Asked again about Smith, Julien reiterated his stance that he feels the whole line could do more.
“He’s trying to get himself going,” Julien said of Smith. “I don’t think he’s playing bad ‘ I mean, he’s just one of those guys with that line ‘ I think that whole line, the three of them together, are starting to come around. Two goals from that line tonight, so you can’t complain.”
Given Julien’s lack of praise, Smith was asked after the game whether he felt his coach was hard on him. Smith’s vague answer suggested the answer might be yes, but Julien trying to motivate his young players is nothing new.
“I think here, everyone’s used to that as a hockey player,” Smith said. “You get used to it. You have pretty thick skin. I think if you don’t have it, you’re not going to go too far.”
Bergeron is a two-time Selke Trophy winner as the league’s top two-way forward, while Marchand and Smith are both looking to prove they can have consistent seasons after streaky showings last season. When that line is at its best, its among the most difficult in the league to oppose. Julien doesn’t think it’s there yet, but the positive steps its taken has helped the Bruins get wins at a time when they need them.
Perhaps the only thing about the Bruins losing Zdeno Chara for 4-6 weeks that wasn’t a total negative was that it came at the beginning of a relatively weak part of the Bruins’ schedule. Though banged up, the Bruins are still managing to get those points against lesser teams as they try to recover from their sloppy start to the season.
It wasn’t pretty until the last second, but Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Panthers (box) on Brad Marchand‘s sensational overtime winner improved the B’s to 4-1-0 without their captain, who is in the second week of his recovery from a torn PCL.
More winnable games await the Chara-less Bruins, as they will face the Oilers, Devils and Maple Leafs before returning to the Bell Centre next week in search of their first win against the Canadiens this season.
Here are four other things we learned Tuesday night:
BERGERON SNAPS GOAL SKID
Entering Tuesday, Bergeron’s only goal of the young campaign came against Detroit in the second game of the season. The two-time Selke winner scored for the first time in 12 games Tuesday.
After Reilly Smith won the puck along the wall, Brad Marchand picked up the puck inches from Smith and sent it Bergeron, who knocked down the puck, wheeled around and swept it past Roberto Luongo. The puck might have gone off the stick of a Florida defender to change the trajectory.
The goal gave Bergeron points in two straight games, as he picked up a helper Saturday against the Senators. Bergeron’s eight points (two goals, six assists) put him two behind Carl Soderberg, who leads the B’s with 10 points (three goals, seven assists).
Marchand, on the other hand, remains red hot with four goals and two assists for six points in his last three games. Reilly Smith had one of his better games of the season.
KREJCI REMAINS OUT
Lucic - Kelly – Griffith
Marchand - Bergeron - Smith
Fraser - Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille - Campbell - Gagne
Seidenberg - Hamilton
Morrow - McQuaid
Warsofsky – Trotman
LOUI ERIKSSON IS GETTING HIT IN THE FACE WITH STICKS AGAIN
Loui Eriksson ran into some bad luck prior to the Olympics when he took a stick to the mouth in a game against the Blues. Eriksson required dental work after the incident.
It was something of a familiar sight in the final minutes of regulation Tuesday when Scottie Upshall got Eriksson in the face with his stick. There was no penalty called on the play, but Eriksson stayed in the game.
THORNTON RETURNS TO BOSTON
Tuesday marked Shawn Thornton‘s first game at TD Garden since leaving the Bruins this offseason and first game ever as an opponent in Boston.
The veteran enforcer, who spent seven seasons with the B’s, was met with a standing ovation when his name was announced in the starting lineup and was again received a strong response when the Bruins played a video tribute during a first-period stoppage in play. The video featured goals, hits, fights, hospital visits and Thornton raising the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Thornton and linemate Derek MacKenzie were stuck on the ice for Bergeron’s second-period goal.