|Patrice Bergeron: Bruins stick up for Brad Marchand||12.16.13 at 1:38 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — There was plenty of reaction to Brad Marchand‘s Stanley Cup-themed taunts Saturday night in a game the Bruins lost, and one of them came from the always quotable Kevin Bieksa.
Bieksa, who took perhaps the worst dive of the 2011 playoffs in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals and called the Bruins “stupid” a year later, said after Saturday’s game that the Bruins don’t stick up for Marchand.
“Everyone knows Marchand’s deal,” Bieksa told ESPN.com. “I don’t want to get into a war of words but you know what Marchand is like. I think his teammates know what he’s like, too. There weren’t too many guys sticking up for him in those scrums.”
Patrice Bergeron, who has been a linemate of Marchand’s for the past four seasons, politely disagreed with Bieksa’s assessment.
“I’ve never been the guy that’s going to [talk trash] in the media, [but] I think we all stick up for one another,” Bergeron said Monday. “I think it’s something that we’ve done throughout the time that we’ve been here, so I don’t think that’s really an issue. That particular incident, yeah, maybe Marchy would like to take that one back, but it’s also part of his game. That’s it.”
Claude Julien was critical of Marchand’s actions following the game, saying that his behavior against the Canucks was “definitely not something we will accept in our organization. He declined to say Monday whether he had called the player into his office over the incident.
“If I did, I think it’s for us to keep internally,” Julien said. “I don’t think it’s for anybody else to know about. I was pretty clear in my comments. I think it’s not something that we want, so we deal with it internally in those situations.”
|Claude Julien: Brad Marchand’s behavior vs. Canucks ‘definitely not something we will accept’||12.15.13 at 3:00 am ET|
The Bruins pest was up to his old tricks Saturday as the B’s and Canucks played each other for the second time since the B’s beat Vancouver in the finals. First, Marchand took off his glove and kissed his ring finger following a second-period spat with Ryan Kesler (something Marchand would later say was a response to Kesler eye-gouging him). Then, with the Bruins on the way to a 6-2 loss in the third period, Marchand raised an imaginary Cup in the air and kissed it.
Claude Julien didn’t exactly give his actions a ringing endorsement after the game.
“I heard,” Julien said. “I did hear, and obviously I don’t watch the game; I coach the game, but I heard. He’s a good player, and he’s an agitator, and there’s some good things to that part of his game, but there’s certain areas where — again, I’ve said it before — you can’t cross the line. Sometimes his emotions get the better of him.
“We’ve worked with him and we’re going to continue to work with him. The perception it gives our organization is not what you want to see with those kind of things. Again, I don’t know what he said to you guys, but it’s certainly something we’re going to deal with.
“He’s too good of a player and we don’t want him to be a different player, but there’s certain things we want him to be different at. From what I hear, what happened, that’s definitely not something we will accept in our organization.”
Kesler wasn’t a fan either.
Kesler on Marchand kissing his ring: “Obviously no class.”
‘ Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) December 15, 2013
Marchand said he had reason for the ring-kissing gesture, and this isn’t the first time he’s called a player out for dirty antics. He did so a season ago with Jeff Skinner when he accurately pointed the Carolina forward’s tendency to slew-foot players.
Marchand on the ring kissing: ‘I did it after [Kesler] was eye-gouging me. Just my emotions were a little high after that.”
‘ Amalie Benjamin (@AmalieBenjamin) December 15, 2013
It isn’t the first time since the Bruins’ victory Marchand has reminded the Canucks of 2011. After Kevin Bieksa called the Bruins “stupid” following the teams’ January 2012 meeting (when Marchand delivered a low-bridge hit on Sami Salo for which he later was suspended five games), Marchand responded that the Bruins were “smart enough to win a Cup.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘No maliciousness’ from Max Pacioretty on Johnny Boychuk hit||12.06.13 at 11:56 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday, following Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Canadiens in Montreal.
The Bruins had a 1-0 lead after a period but struggled in the second as the Canadiens took control.
“There’s nothing there in way of explaining why they played the way they did in the second period,” Brickley said. “In fact, the four days off should have worked to their benefit in the second period. You knew you were going to get a better push from Montreal than what they were able to give you in the first 20 given the fact that this was game three in four nights for them, plus travel.
“But this Montreal Canadiens team is a little different in the sense that they don’t just try to beat you with their speed and their skill, they do have a little sandpaper to their game. They compete a lot harder for pucks, they know that they had to add that element to their game if they wanted to win the Atlantic Division with a team like the Bruins in there, and the Bruins being — I don’t know if it’s the gold standard, but certainly the measuring stick that you need to play similar to in over to win the division.
“That being said, you expected Montreal to have a much better second period, and for some inexplicable reason, the Bruins played maybe one of the their worst periods of the year — Claude Julien used the word ‘atrocious’ following the game, and you can’t argue with that. When they’ve played poorly in second periods this year it’s been for a variety of reasons, but the common thread is just that lack of — I don’t know if you want to call it a sense of urgency — for me it’s more paying attention to detail.
“I’m lost, really, for an explanation as to why they are so inconsistent in the second periods when they have opportunities to put teams away after 40 minutes.”
“It was a borderline hit. I thought the call was accurate that it was worthy of a two-minute boarding call,” Brickley said. “He tried to get him on the side and not from the back, but it’s in that dangerous area, distance away from the boards and a player almost with his back to you. What they’re trying to do is educate players, even though you’ve played the game a certain way for so long, it has to change because too many guys are getting hurt. They have to continue to work on that and further educate these guys and maybe tweak the rules a little bit to allow you to make different types of hits in those situations.
“But there was no maliciousness there, I didn’t think, from Pacioretty. It was just one of those reactionary hits, two guys battling in an area where always there’s a puck battle. And it was just the awkwardness that Boychuck went into the boards.”
Brickley said he was impressed with how the Bruins kept their composure after the incident.
“As far as the players are concerned, they did a terrific job, I thought, of maintaining some focus. Because your focus and your attention and your emotional feelings change when you see that happen,” Brickley said. “Your focus is totally on a first-place game against your arch rival, a game that you really want, a game that you should out-energize them, and you had some decent things happening in the first period. And now your focus changes dramatically.
“And the Bruins did a pretty good job of doing what they needed to do the rest of that period to take a lead into the intermission. But then to just give it away in the second period was so disappointing.”
|Claude Julien: ‘It’s going to be a little while’ before Johnny Boychuk returns from injury||12.05.13 at 11:37 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Johnny Boychuk was cleared to travel with the Bruins Thursday night after he left the game against the Canadiens on a stretcher and was rushed to the hospital.
‘He was cleared to fly back with us,’ Claude Julien said. ‘He’s still obviously injured. We don’t know the severity of it and I don’t know all the details, but it was an injury serious enough to bring him to the hospital. Definitely, it’s going to be a little while before he’s good to go. I don’t know exactly how much time, but the good news is he’s coming back with us tonight and he’ll be reassessed by our doctors back in Boston.’
Boychuk was injured on an awkward play in which he was turning as Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty went to hit his shoulder. Pacioretty received a boarding minor for the play, with the Bruins saying they didn’t find the play to be malicious on his part.
The veteran defenseman remained on the ice for several minutes and had his head and neck immobilized after being placed on the stretcher. He was hunched over on the ice before he got onto the stretcher, which might have suggested the issue could have been something with his back.
‘Well obviously he seemed like he wasn’t able to move,’ Julien said. ‘Whether it’s his back, I don’t know exactly. I don’t like to comment on things I don’t know much about and give false information. He’s coming back with us and no doubt tomorrow we’ll have a clearer explanation and probably more details from our own doctors.
‘They did a great job here, took good care of him. He saw the specialist and he cleared him to fly back with us, so we’ll see how he is.’
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Milan Lucic: Canadiens are Bruins’ biggest test||at 1:45 pm ET|
MONTREAL — It’s a bit odd that the Bruins and Canadiens have yet to meet roughly a third of the way into the regular season, but when they finally do Thursday night, it will mean a lot more than it would have had they met in one of the first two months of the season.
First place in the Atlantic Division is on the line — and crazily, as NHL.com’s Arpon Basu notes, it’s the fifth straight meeting between the teams in which the top spot in a division was up for grabs. The Canadiens, who have played 29 games to the Bruins’ 27, sit one point behind the B’s in the standings with 37.
Some quick background on the Canadiens: They’ve been really good of late — 7-0-1 over their last eight games, as Bruins team statistician/left winger Milan Lucic noted Thursday morning.
“I think it’s probably our biggest test of the year, coming into a real tough building against a real good team who’s playing its best hockey so far this year,” Lucic said. “It’s going to be a good test for us.”
The Habs, who have much of the same roster from last season but added a top-six winger in Daniel Briere and toughened up a bit with George Parros, have been led by the usual strong play from the likes of Carey Price and P.K. Subban. Price has a 2.00 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in 22 games this season and likely will be in net Thursday after Peter Budaj played Wednesday against the Devils.
Subban, fresh off of winning the Norris Trophy as a 23-year-old, leads the Habs with 24 points (four goals, 20 assists). Claude Julien said after the morning skate that Subban is being considered for Team Canada and that after years of adjusting to being a young star player, he’s got everyone on the same page about what he brings to the table.
“I think P.K. is a player that is electrifying,” Julien said. “He makes a lot of things happen offensively. When he carries that puck, he’s hard to stop. Throughout the years, a player is allowed to mature just like any other player. We’ve got some in our lineup that go through that same thing. Expectations sometimes are extremely high, and sometimes they’re not realistic and you don’t allow a player to develop the way you should without criticism, which you should.”
The Bruins haven’t played since Saturday, while the Canadiens are playing the second game of a back-to-back. The Habs blew a third-period lead against the Devils on Wednesday but came back to force overtime and eventually win a shootout.
That brings them to Thursday, when they will at long last face the Bruins. It’s been a good start for both teams, but the season doesn’t really start until the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry gets kicked off.
“It does feel different [having not played them], no doubt,” Julien said. “It’s probably a game that everybody’s been waiting for, fans and players alike. This is a great rivalry. We enjoy this kind of rivalry, and those are easy games to get up for for both sides and they end up being pretty entertaining games as well. ‘¦ These are the kinds of games that I think fans want to watch.”
|Bruins defense bounces back from Detroit disaster with pair of excellent games||11.30.13 at 11:55 pm ET|
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 »
|Claude Julien on Torey Krug in OT: ‘He gets around’||11.26.13 at 11:10 am ET|
There is a reason the Bruins were so high on Torey Krug going into the playoffs last spring.
They knew the 22-year-old had great puck-carrying ability, great speed and a laser of a shot. All three of those qualities were on display throughout the team’s run to the Stanley Cup finals. Turns out, Claude Julien is trying to unleash them more this season and overtime 4-on-4 play is perfectly suited to Krug’s skill set.
“Yeah, he gets around, he seems to find those gaps and everything else, those holes, and moves around really well,” Julien said after Krug unloaded a cannon past Marc-Andre Fleury Monday night just 34 seconds into overtime for the 4-3 game-winner. “So there’s no doubt it’s an area for him such as other players in the league; you look at guys like [Kris] Letang and other defensemen like that that love that kind of space because they move around so well. Tonight he was in the right place ‘ Marchy [Brad Marchand] made a great pass there ‘ but he picked that top corner; he knew where he was going with that shot.”
Krug knows in 4-on-4 hockey during overtime, he’s going to have more freedom, more space to maneuver.
“I love it,” Krug beamed. “A lot more room on the ice to skate and play with the puck, it’s more of a possession game, you’re not just chipping pucks up the wall and if you watch me play you understand I like to play with the puck so it’s a lot more fun for me for sure.”
He didn’t take long to take advantage Monday.
“It starts with the faceoff,” Krug said. “We had good puck pursuit, I don’t remember much of it but Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] made an unbelievable play to me on the far side. Their forwards were cheating a little bit, and I just missed the shot wide on that one and then we recovered the puck and it was just calm composure with the puck, especially up high on the blueline ‘ those are dangerous areas. Our guys were keeping track of the puck and we had really good plays.
“The key is to make sure you hit the net, because if you don’t, it’s ramming out the other way and they’re going to get a break on that. There were a few times when I missed the net; right before I scored there was a shot that, Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] made an unbelievable pass to the middle and I got down there and I missed the net and I rode up the boards so, your focus is just getting in on that.”