|Claude Julien feels his Bruins have been ‘a lot more consistent’ of late||10.21.14 at 9:03 am ET|
WILMINGTON — As his team prepares to take on San Jose, the Islanders and Toronto this week, Claude Julien can finally sense things coming together after a sluggish start.
The Bruins started 1-2-0, including an ugly 4-0 loss to the Capitals on home ice and a brutal 2-1 loss to Colorado in the final second. After beating the Red Wings in a shootout, the Bruins were embarrassed again in Montreal, featuring the emotional meltdown of Milan Lucic.
But things finally seemed to click in Buffalo, where Niklas Svedberg earned his first career shutout in just his third NHL start. The 4-0 win seemed to give the Julien and the team something to build on. Two wins in three games doesn’t classify as red-hot, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction the way Julien sees it.
“I don’t know if it’s how far we’ve come or how far we have to go,” Julien said. “I think it’s just a matter of us continuing to get better as a team. I think it’s still early in the season and I think there are a lot of teams that are probably saying the same thing. It takes certain guys a while to get going. It takes others even longer. Some guys get off to a good start and then they slow down.
“We’re just looking at our team as a whole. I think what we’re looking for is consistency and we’re looking for an identity. And that’s what we’re starting to get right now, more of an identity. I think we’ve been a lot more consistent in the last three games.”
What is that identity?
“Same as it’s always been,” Julien said, referring to his team’s tough, rugged style that relies on good defense, a good forecheck, stellar goaltending and opportunistic play around the net.
|David Krejci, Reilly Smith provide offense as Bruins beat Red Wings, end losing streak||10.15.14 at 11:02 pm ET|
David Krejci and Reilly Smith each scored in regulation, and then they each scored in the shootout as the Bruins beat the Red Wings, 3-2, Wednesday night to end their three-game losing streak.
Krejci opened the scoring 5:12 into the game with his first goal of the season after Chris Kelly forced a neutral-zone turnover and sprung Krejci up the middle of the ice. The Red Wings answered a few minutes later when Tomas Tatar took advantage of some sloppy defensive play and ripped a shot under the crossbar.
The Bruins regained the lead with 6:29 left in the second. Brad Marchand retrieved a dump-in deep in the offensive zone and calmly moved the puck to Patrice Bergeron, who then tried a wraparound that led to a juicy rebound for Smith to bury.
The Red Wings answered again, though, when Gustav Nyquist fired a laser shot past Tuukka Rask for a power-play goal 2:56 into the third. The Bruins failed to capitalize on two power plays of their own in the third period, and Jimmy Howard made several big saves in the final minute — most notably on a Simon Gagne rebound bid — to force overtime.
The Bruins were the better team in overtime, but couldn’t finish their chances. The best opportunity came on a 3-on-1 a minute and a half in, but Smith tried to force a pass that was easily broken up. The B’s had to kill a 41-second Wings power play to end the overtime after Brendan Smith drew a call on Bergeron with a pretty blatant embellishment.
Here are some other observations from the game:
-For the second time in as many games against Detroit, the Bruins suffered a Patrice Bergeron injury scare. Last week Bergeron missed most of the second period after crashing awkwardly into the boards. On Wednesday he limped off the ice late in the second after blocking a Danny DeKeyser slap shot. Fortunately for the Bruins, Bergeron was back on the ice for the start of the third period. As he so often is, Bergeron was the Bruins’ best forward Wednesday night. He went 17-for-24 on faceoffs and posted a .740 Corsi, and his line registered 12 shots on goal to go along with Smith’s second-period tally.
-This is partially tied into Bergeron since they played with that line a lot, but Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton were great, as they usually are. They had Corsis of 78 percent and 79 percent, respectively, which is very good. Hamilton was also a force in overtime, as he jumped into the offense several times and helped create scoring chances.
-The Bruins absolutely dominated the first period, outshooting the Red Wings 14-4 in the opening 20 minutes. They spent entire shifts in the offensive zone and won the majority of 1-on-1 battles. The scoreboard didn’t reflect that dominance, though, as the two teams entered the intermission tied at 1-1. Even on the Red Wings’ goal, they hadn’t really established any sort of possession in the Bruins’ zone, as it came off a turnover that led to a bouncing puck around the net.
-It was a particularly interesting first period for Chris Kelly. He made a great play to set up Krejci’s goal, as he forced a turnover in the neutral zone and then made a nice pass through the seam to spring Krejci. Just a few minutes later, though, it was a turnover of his own that led to Tatar’s goal, as Kelly failed to handle a pass up the boards from Dennis Seidenberg. On the whole, though, it was another good game for Kelly and linemates Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Kelly’s five shots on goal were tied for the team lead.
-The Bruins’ penalty kill had been very good until Nyquist’s power-play goal in the third period. Before that, the B’s had allowed just two shots on goal on the Red Wings’ first three power plays and made it tough for the Wings to get set up. On the fourth, though, they gave the dangerous Nyquist too much room to operate and he made them pay by walking in and snapping a shot past Rask.
-Considering it was his first game since April 2013, Simon Gagne looked pretty good. He played 12:13 and recorded four shot attempts and two shots on goal, one of which nearly won the game in the final minute of regulation. He started the game on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Ryan Spooner, but wound up seeing some time with Krejci and Milan Lucic as the game went on.
|Bruins leaders question work ethic, Claude Julien says he’ll reevaluate lineup amidst early skid||10.11.14 at 11:10 pm ET|
Complain about Chris Kelly‘s cap hit all you want, but he’s the guy who’s going to hold the Bruins accountable when they play as poorly as they have the last two games.
“It’s tough to put into words,” Kelly said after the Bruins were shut out by the Capitals for their second straight loss. “I think we were outworked, outbattled, and obviously outplayed over the course of 120 minutes, not just 60. I think the only positive I can think of is, it’s game three. Other than that, it’s two poor, poor efforts.”
The Bruins barely had the puck in their 2-1 loss to the Red Wings Thursday, with Kelly saying after Saturday’s blanking that guys haven’t been working hard enough. Zdeno Chara said the B’s were “embarrassed” Saturday and that their play is ‘not acceptable.’
The Bruins’ roster is obviously not at full strength. David Krejci is eligible to come off injured reserve and potentially return to the lineup Monday, but it’s no sure thing that he does. Milan Lucic is coming off wrist surgery and is clearly not functioning at full capacity.
The fourth line has been more detrimental than it’s been a source of energy. That’s been made worse by the fact that the line playing above it (Lucic with Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser) have done nothing. Bobby Robins and Ryan Spooner have put themselves in tough positions if they want to stay in the lineup. Fraser has also been a non-factor, but deserves to get a look on a line without Spooner, as he has the best shot among Bruins forwards and has shown promise when playing away from his former Providence linemate.
Asked if the weakened roster has to do with the team’s struggles so far, Kelly said he didn’t care who was playing where or with whom.
“It’s a team-wide thing, it’s not just a few guys. You guys can see it just as much as we can,” Kelly said. “It’s not a passing thing or a positioning thing, it’s a working thing. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing with. You could play with two total strangers, and all you have to do is go out and work hard.”
If Krejci is able to return for Monday, the Bruins might be wise to keep Lucic and Fraser together and have Krejci replace Spooner, who could either move to the fourth line as a center or wing or serve as an extra forward. They could also consider playing Jordan Caron on the fourth line right wing, a job currently held by Robins.
Asked after the game whether he feels he needs to make lineup changes, Julien hinted at the possibility.
“You certainly have to reevaluate,” Julien said. “There’s no doubt there, and guys are given chances, and so on and so forth. When you play two games like that, you have to reevaluate, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
|Gregory Campbell skating, doubtful to begin season||10.02.14 at 2:36 pm ET|
Campbell has missed all of training camp thus far, but began skating Thursday when he took the ice by himself at TD Garden.
“I don’t know where he stands. He’s skating now, he just started skating on his own,” Julien said. “I think it’ll be doubtful to start the season because starting to skate and get full practices and contact, getting in game shape, it’s going to be tough for him to do that in this short span. The good thing is he’s skating and hopefully he progresses in the right direction.”
With Campbell out, either Chris Kelly or Craig Cunningham could center the fourth line to begin the season.
Julien also said that players who have already been cut are possibilities to play in Friday night’s game against the Islanders. Justin Florek, Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev were among four cuts made Wednesday. Linus Arnesson never skated in training camp due to a groin injury and was never listed in the team’s cuts, but Julien said Wednesday that the defenseman was no longer in camp.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly undergo surgery||05.23.14 at 1:23 pm ET|
Both Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly have undergone surgery for injuries suffered this season and are expected to be ready for the start of training camp, according to a statement released by Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli.
Lucic suffered a left wrist injury of Game 7 of the second round against the Canadiens, while Kelly missed the entire postseason with a herniated disk in his back.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins injury roundup: Matt Fraser played on broken foot||05.16.14 at 1:30 pm ET|
As is customary on breakup day, word emerged on injuries the Bruins dealt with during the postseason. The bravest of the bunch proved to be Matt Fraser, who played the entire postseason with a broken foot.
Fraser, who was sporting a cast and crutches Friday, broke his right foot in Game 1 of the first round of the AHL postseason while playing for the Providence Bruins. He was dealing with the injury when he was called up in the second round by the Bruins and he scored the overtime winner in Game 4 of the second round for Boston.
Chris Kelly, who suffered a back injury late in the season, had a herniated disc and said it was the most pain he had ever dealt with. Kelly said he hoped he could have returned in some point in the playoffs but wasn’t sure. Kelly will undergo surgery at some point.
Milan Lucic was sporting a soft cast on his left wrist after suffering an injury in Game 7 of the second round against Montreal. He was set to receive an MRI on Friday.
Regarding Zdeno Chara‘s fractured finger, the Bruins captain said that he might not need surgery.
As for Dennis Seidenberg, the defenseman said his plan all along was to return this season after tearing his ACL and MCL on Dec. 27 and having surgery in early January. Seidenberg said he would have been able to play in the Eastern Conference finals had the team gotten there.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|No practice for Bruins; Adam McQuaid has ankle surgery||05.04.14 at 1:40 pm ET|
Adam McQuaid, who has been out since Jan. 19 with a quad strain, is officially done for the season after getting arthoscopic surgery on his right ankle. McQuaid played 30 games this season, the last of which was Jan. 19 in Chicago before missing the rest of the season with a quad strain.
McQuaid was last seen skating on April 19. According to an industry source, the decision was made for McQuaid to have surgery on the ankle — an issue that he’d already been dealing with — once it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to play this season due to the quad injury. At that point, it made sense to take care of the ankle immediately.
It was obviously a very trying year for McQuaid, who initially hurt himself on Nov. 9 against the Maple Leafs and made multiple comeback attempts that didn’t take. He returned for three games in November before re-aggravating his quad injury and then came back in December to play 11 games before getting injured again. The team shut him down for over a month in March, but he never returned to game action.
“Every time I’ve come back, I’ve hoped that that was going to be the end of it, but it’s hockey and things happens,” McQuaid said in February. “So it goes in life.”
It could be tougher for McQuaid going forward, as Kevan Miller may have claimed the third-pairing right spot — McQuaid’s usual role — for good. McQuaid has one more year on his current contract after this season with a $1.56 million cap hit, while Miller is signed up for the next two seasons at $800,000 a year.
McQuaid’s teammates stayed off the ice for the most part Sunday as they have a two-day break between Saturday’s Game 2 victory in Boston and Tuesday’s Game 3 in Montreal.
On the ice for the Bruins Sunday morning were Dennis Seidenberg, Corey Potter, Justin Florek and Matt Bartkowski. Florek and Bartkowski were both healthy scratches in Game 2 against the Canadiens.
Potter’s presence on the ice is a good sign, as he suffered a shoulder injury between Games 4 and 5 of the first round against the Red Wings.
As for Chris Kelly, who has yet to skate since suffering a back injury late in the season, Claude Julien gave minimal update on Boston’s third-line left wing. Julien would only say that each day has been better for Kelly.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
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