|With wrist injury behind him, Carl Soderberg hopes to make bigger difference on faceoffs||10.31.14 at 4:33 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly split center duties on Boston’s third line, but Soderberg showed Thursday night that he can win a key draw.
Kelly has taken most of Soderberg’s faceoffs this season, particularly in the defensive zone. On Friday, Soderberg and Claude Julien revealed that was partially due to a wrist injury that made it difficult for Soderberg to take draws. Additionally, Kelly, technically the line’s left wing, has done the center’s job of providing support down low in the defensive zone.
Yet with Julien juggling his lines for Thursday’s game against the Sabres, Soderberg had no such help and proved he didn’t need it on one play. With under six minutes to play and the Bruins trailing by a goal, Soderberg drew the puck back to Dennis Seidenberg to begin the sequence that resulted in Brad Marchand‘s game-tying goal.
“It felt pretty good,” Soderberg said Friday. “I like taking faceoffs.”
Through 12 games, Soderberg has taken just 53 draws, but over a fifth of them came Thursday night in his first game of the season without Kelly as his linemate. Soderberg went 5-for-11 at the dot (45 percent), but lost all three defensive zone draws he took.
That’s where Julien says the Bruins value having Kelly on Soderberg’s line. Kelly, who has taken 133 draws this season, is a better faceoff man than Soderberg anyway, but the B’s also like to have Kelly take defensive zone faceoffs because he’ll already be low in the zone in the event that he loses the draw.
“It is a luxury when Kells is on that line that they can have two guys taking draws,” Julien said. “Sometimes Kells will take them in the D zone just for the reason that if we don’t win the draw, he’s working down low. Kells is by the far the best, as far as working down low.”
It’s expected that Kelly will return to Soderberg’s line Saturday against the Senators after playing on Patrice Bergeron‘s line in Thursday’s win over the Sabres. With Soderberg saying his wrist is feeling better, perhaps there will be a more even split on faceoffs going forward. Julien highly values having two centers on the same line, something he had on the third line for years with Kelly and Rich Peverley.
Soderberg has said in the past that he doesn’t mind when Kelly takes faceoffs for him, but he said Friday that every center on the team should strive to become as good on draws as Patrice Bergeron, arguably the best faceoff man in the league.
Back in Sweden, Soderberg said he was good at the dot, generally winning 53 or 54 percent of his faceoffs.
“But people aren’t as good as here on faceoffs,” he added. “There’s more pride here to take them, so I’m going to do my very best get over 50 percent at the end of the season.”
|Bruins try to make do without ‘irreplaceable’ Zdeno Chara for a while||10.24.14 at 12:32 am ET|
If there’s any silver lining to losing your captain and best defenseman for an indefinite period, the Bruins can take some comfort in the fact they’ve been down this road before.
The Bruins lost Dennis Seidenberg to a torn ACL last season. They lost Chris Kelly to a broken leg last December and a back injury just before the playoffs. The 2013 team made the Stanley Cup finals despite the loss of Gregory Campbell to a broken leg in the Eastern Conference finals. Just last week, Kevan Miller dislocated his shoulder in a fight in Buffalo and has been lost indefinitely.
But when Islanders forward John Tavares’ right knee collided with Chara’s left knee Thursday night in the B’s 3-2 loss, there was the sense that Boston’s captain could be out a while early on in a season when the Bruins are struggling to find their identity.
That sense was apparent when talking to Bruins players in the dressing room afterward.
“He’s an irreplaceable player, so obviously him not being out there, everyone notices, us and them,” Kelly said.
But Kelly insisted that Boston’s flat second period Thursday had nothing to do with Boston getting outscored 2-0 and looking listless on the ice.
“I don’t think so. They were ready right from the opening faceoff and we weren’t,” Kelly said. “Like I said, he’s an irreplaceable player. He plays every situation for us and he’s our leader. We’re going to need to fill that void collectively as a group not just one guy is going to be able to do that.
“I though we played desperate, but they were up 3-1. They may have set back a little bit and we pushed the pace. Yeah, the third period was better but like I said, 20 minutes isn’t good enough to win hockey games.”
|Bruins hope hockey community can help Ottawa through tragedy||10.23.14 at 1:28 pm ET|
After seeing the way the NHL rallied around Boston in wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon, Bruins with ties to Ottawa are glad to see the same is being done for Canada’s capital city after Wednesday’s shooting on Parliament Hill.
A night after “O Canada” was sung prior to a Penguins/Flyers game in Pittsburgh, the Bruins are expected to have Rene Rancourt sing the Canadian anthem prior to Thursday’s game between the Bruins and Islanders.
“Ottawa is home for me so I spent a good portion of the afternoon looking up at the CNN station and trying to find out as much as I could,” Julien said Thursday morning. “It’s unfortunate. It just goes to show that these tragedies don’t just happen in the U.S. of A but also in other countries and there’s other countries in Europe that have been faced with that.”
Chris Kelly said he spent parts of Wednesday working the phones to make sure his friends in Ottawa were alright. He added that he hoped the Senators could provide some sort of positive distraction for the city as it goes through this difficult time, much like the Bruins did in 2013.
Julien said he thinks the impact of such tragedies go beyond the city in which they occur, and that he imagines that each NHL team and their respective fanbases will show support wherever they can.
“Every city rallies around its own city and I’ve talked to a few people including my family that’s still back,” Julien said. “My parents and brothers and sisters, it’s affected them even if they weren’t around that area it affected them. It affects the whole city like the bombing affected us here.
“They’ll have to get used to it in a way where that’s reality, unfortunately, and it’s happening. Canada is a pretty laid back country that tries to continue to be laid back. But it’s also a country that supported the U.S. in some of its decisions and more than likely those are the consequences that it faces because of that.”
|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.
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