|Bruins blown leads a troubling trend||10.22.15 at 8:49 am ET|
The so-called most dangerous lead in hockey, the two-goal advantage, used to be downright safe for the Bruins to the tune of a 158-9-7 record over the past four seasons. But, with three of their first six games this season featuring blown two-goal leads, the B’s are quickly rekindling fear about the old hockey adage.
Wednesday night at TD Garden, the Bruins enjoyed a 4-2 lead heading to the third period, but watched their potential two-point reward slice in half as the Flyers came back for a 5-4 victory in overtime.
A 2-0 second period lead over Tampa Bay on October 12 at the Garden also ended in defeat for Boston this year, and a lost 3-1 third period lead on October 17 in Arizona was restored to a win thanks only to the Bruins white-hot power play. There was no such salvation on Wednesday.
“We have to play with more composure when we score a goal or get scored on,” said team captain Zdeno Chara. “[We have] some mental breaks like that. Things that are easy to be corrected. Just have to work harder and take pride in winning the battles.”
Lost puck battles were the theme of head coach Claude Julien‘s critique of the Flyers’ loss.
“We played a light game,” Julien said. “We had too many guys with light sticks, too many guys playing a light game. It’s unacceptable. What happened tonight we probably deserved. [Philadelphia] was the hungrier team. We didn’t respond well. A lot of guys would just go into battle, take a swing at the puck, and curl the other way. Again, that’s not the way we play and it’s not the way we’re going to accept players to play on our team.”
On the bright side for the Bruins, goal scoring has been plentiful to put some leads in place. Boston has netted 18 goals over their last four games. But the 2-1-1 record that’s resulted over that span has left a feeling of missed opportunities.
“When you score four goals you should have more than enough to win the game,” said Patrice Bergeron, who added two more points against Philadelphia to give him seven (four goals, three assists) through six games played. “Too many slow reactions defensively and lack of communication. Poor decisions. It ends up hurting us big time.”
Bergeron’s colleague Chris Kelly, whose shorthanded tally gave Boston a 3-2 edge on the Flyers in the second period, agreed.
“We mismanaged the puck, especially in the third [period],” Kelly said. “A team that has capable scorers like [Philadelphia has], it didn’t take much, a couple turnovers and misplays and they tied it up pretty quickly. It’s a combination of things. It’s about managing the puck, [not] putting the other guys in a tough spot changing, and maybe not changing at the right times. Little things. It’s the combinations of a lot of little things that lead to a goal. That was the case, especially their fourth goal, the [Wayne] Simmonds goal.”
“The effort is there,” Kelly continued. “It’s just focus needs to be sharper throughout the course of 60 minutes. There’s times in all four home games where we’ve played extremely well and done a lot of good things, just to maintain that composure for 60 minutes seems to be an issue right now.”
|Claude Julien on draft pick compensation: ‘Once you’re fired, you’re fired’||10.21.15 at 12:10 pm ET|
Tortorella, who was fired after the first year of a five-year contract with the Canucks at the end of the 2013-14 season, had two-plus more years on his contract with Vancouver before being hired by the Blue Jackets. With Columbus hiring him during his contract, however, the Canucks are within their rights to seek a second-round pick as compensation for the coach, as the Bruins are doing with Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers.
That the Canucks are now off the hook for his contract should be enough, as they chose to can him. The Blue Jackets could (and should) have viewed the second-round pick compensation as a deterrent for hiring Tortorella.
Asked about the situation Wednesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien was vocal about teams seeking draft picks for people they fired. Should he be fired, Julien could find his job search more difficult if the Bruins chose to seek draft pick compensation. The fact that the Bruins are doing so with Chiarelli (they’ll get a second-rounder from the Oilers in one of the coming years) shows that they might not be inclined to waive their right to a pick if they eventually fire their coach.
“The league is going to look into that, but as a coach, I find it a shame that I wouldn’t be able to get a job somewhere because the compensation was too high, yet they thought enough of me that they would be willing to hire me, but they wouldn’t be willing to give a first, second or third-round pick,” Julien said. “To me, once you’re fired, you’re fired.
“If it’s a different situation and you’re not fired, you step down, you say, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore,’ or whatever, well [they] still own your rights until the end of the contract. I agree with that, because they still wanted you. You’re the one that wanted to step down. Once you’re fired, you shouldn’t be held back from working anywhere because of compensation. Whether it’s called a selfish thing on our parts, the thing that we want to do, we want to get back and work again. At the same time, it’s definitely a benefit for the team that fired you because they don’t have to keep paying you for doing nothing. This is something I know the league is going to look into, and we’ll see what happens there.”
Julien said that he understands draft pick compensation for coaches who are under contract and are sought after by other teams.
“I think it’s important to understand that there’s teams that develop coaches,” Julien said. “[I’ll] use the example of Detroit. How many coaches have they lost? Todd McLellan, being an assistant coach and them giving him the opportunity to be a head coach [in San Jose]. Well, he had an opportunity to grow in [the Red Wings] organization, so all of a sudden they say, ‘Well, we should get some sort of compensation.’ He wasn’t fired. He was promoted, so I understand the logistics of where that argument comes from. I’m not naive when it comes to that.
“Having said that, I think there’s two sides to it, but as coaches, I think our biggest thing is being fired — not promoted — being fired, we should be able to get another job without being held back because of compensation.”
|Claude Julien ‘disappointed’ by no-goal ruling, but says he won’t hesitate to use challenge in future||10.10.15 at 11:24 pm ET|
Goalie interference? Uh, okay… pic.twitter.com/KpkX8qykna
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 11, 2015
The play and review seemed pretty straightforward. The refs waved off a Loui Eriksson goal because Patrice Bergeron made contact with Carey Price. However, Bergeron was clearly pushed into Price by Alexei Emelin, meaning the goal should have been allowed.
It was understandable that the refs missed it in real time; hockey is a fast game and sometimes you just don’t catch that push. But once Julien decided to use his challenge, it seemed like a pretty safe bet that the no-goal call would be overturned.
Instead, the refs upheld the call on the ice. Why they upheld it remains a mystery, with the league’s official statement saying simply that the review “confirmed that Boston’s Patrice Bergeron made incidental contact with Montreal goaltender Carey Price before the puck crossed the goal line, preventing Price from doing his job in the crease.” No mention of Emelin’s shove. No mention of the fact that Bergeron actually made an effort to stay out of the crease while getting pushed.
Julien said he was “disappointed” with the call and didn’t understand why it wasn’t a goal.
“I really felt, and I looked at it in between periods, and I said how can that not be a goal when the guy has both feet outside the blue paint and is doing everything he can to stay out of his way and is really trying to fight off the guy trying to push him in,” Julien said. “So, I thought that warranted obviously a goal, but for some reason they saw it some other way.”
Goalie interference plays are one of two things coaches can challenge (with goals scored on a potential offsides being the other), and Julien said it’s his understanding that whether or not a player was pushed into the goalie is part of what can be reviewed, which would rule out the possibility that the refs could only look at Bergeron’s contact with Price and not how he got there.
Bergeron couldn’t make sense of the ruling either, as he also thought that being pushed into Price should’ve negated the interference.
“That was my understanding of the rule,” Bergeron said. “They thought otherwise and we can’t really control that, I guess. … It happens fast, so I guess I understood that maybe he thought that I pushed into the goalie. But then on the replay, I thought it was clear that I got pushed into him. My understanding was that if I get pushed into the goalie and I’m working hard to get out of there, it’s fine.”
Julien said that despite the fact that this challenge didn’t go the way he expected, he wouldn’t hesitate to challenge a similar situation in the future.
“That’s a thing you’ve got to be careful of — you can’t [be discouraged],” Julien said. “In our minds, the people that looked at it in the first place all felt it should have been a goal, and I went back to my office in between periods and I felt it should have been a goal. But if you’re afraid to call those then you may miss an opportunity to either get a goal called for you or the other way around, a goal rescinded from what you think was interference.”
The disallowed goal certainly isn’t the reason the Bruins lost Saturday. More turnovers, more defensive mistakes and an inability to get the puck out of their own zone had a lot more to do with Saturday night’s 4-2 loss than that one call. But there’s no denying that it was a turning point of sorts, especially since the Canadiens scored just over a minute later to make it 3-0.
|Claude Julien hopes Alexander Burmistrov receives supplemental discipline for hit to Patrice Bergeron’s head||10.08.15 at 10:16 pm ET|
Claude Julien wasn’t happy about his team’s performance in Thursday night’s season-opening loss to the Jets, but his criticism extended past his players to one Alexander Burmistrov.
The Jets forward cut back to catch Patrice Bergeron with an elbow to the head late in the first period of Winnipeg‘s 6-2 win over the Bruins. Bergeron, who has had a number of concussions in his career, was irate with Burmistrov following the play, taking a cross-checking penalty in retaliation.
Burmistrov threw an elbow to the face of Bergeron. Terrible hit. pic.twitter.com/eUY1r5TndA
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 8, 2015
Though Burmistrov was given a minor penalty for an illegal hit to the head, Julien said after the game that the play deserves supplemental discipline.
“It will be interesting how that is being reviewed, and especially to an elite player in the league who’s had some [concussion] issues in the past,” Julien said. “I hope they look at it seriously. In my mind, I don’t see why there wouldn’t be further consequences [for] that.”
Said Bergeron: “It was a hit to the head. Even though he apologized after, it’s one of those that I didn’t have the puck at that time. You have to realize where the guy is and his position.’
|Strength in numbers: Bruins will have most new players in an opening night under Claude Julien||at 1:28 pm ET|
The only time Claude Julien had more new faces to open a season with the Bruins, his was technically the new one.
“My first year I had over twenty new guys,” Julien said Thursday morning with a grin. “I didn’t know anybody, right?”
When Julien and the Bruins begin the season Thursday night, he will likely have five players making their Bruins debuts in Jimmy Hayes, Matt Beleskey, Joonas Kemppainen, Matt Irwin and Zac Rinaldo. That ties 2007-08, Julien’s first season with the B’s, as the most new Bruins in an opening night lineup in the Julien era, not counting backup goalies.
Between Julien’s first season and now, the most new Bruins on an opening night was three, which came in 2010-11 (Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin) and 2013-14 (Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith). The Bruins have often had remarkably little roster turnover. Last season, for example, Bobby Robins was the only newbie in the lineup to begin the season.
Of course, players such as Robins who were in the organization beforehand had at least some comfort level with the B’s. All five of the new Bruins for Thursday’s opener were brought in this offseason in either trades or free agency. The number could have been even higher Thursday, but trade acquisition Colin Miller and 2009 sixth-round pick Tyler Randell are expected to be healthy scratches.
‘I think it’s been a good three-plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,’ Julien said. ‘Everything right now, we’re pleased with it, we’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too. I don’t have any issues with the number of new players. I just have a preoccupation with getting the whole group ready to play here tonight.’
Beleskey will play on David Krejci‘s line with David Pastrnak, while Hayes will start off playing left wing with Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly. Kemppainen and Rinaldo will skate on the fourth line with Chris Kelly. The only newcomer expected on the blue line Thursday, Irwin figures to be paired with Zach Trotman.
ESPN NHL hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined Dennis, Callahan & Minihane on Thursday morning to look ahead to the 2015-16 NHL season. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
With the Bruins’ disappointing season last year, he feels coach Claude Julien is under pressure right away.
“I think he is. I don’t think he should be,” Melrose said. “I think Claude is a heck of a coach, won a Stanley Cup in Boston. They had a long drought, there was no Stanley Cup winners and he comes in and gets the job done and the team is good every year. I think he’s under pressure. Boston is a team that expects to win. They expect the Red Sox to win, the Patriots to win, the Celtics to win and they expect Boston to win. It’s going to be a tough year for the Bruins. They are not the dominant Bruins they once were. Everybody got a little bit better in the East and it is going to take Claude’s best coaching job he’s ever done in his life to make this a playoff team and give them a chance of winning.”
This past offseason the team lost a number of key players, including Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic. Melrose says their margin for error is very small.
“Are they as good today as they were last year? I don’t think so,” he said. “I think what has to happen for the Bruins now is they don’t have any margin anymore. The Bruins used to be able to overcome an injury or overcome maybe a struggling player here or there, but I don’t think they can anymore. I think the Bruins have to get plays from their kids, they have to get great games from [Patrice] Bergeron, [David] Krejci and [Zdeno] Chara. They can’t afford any injuries to key players. Tuukka Rask probably has to play the best he’s ever played and they just don’t have any margin for error anymore with their lineup.
“If all those things happen they are a playoff team, but if all of a sudden Bergeron misses six weeks or Krejci, who has been hurt a lot lately, misses six weeks, Chara is already starting the year hurt, [Dennis] Seidenberg is already gone for two months, so that’s going to be tough. They’ve been able to overcome those before, I don’t know if they will be able to overcome those now.”
|Tuukka Rask happy to get back on ice: ‘You kind of forget how tough it is out there’||09.29.15 at 12:12 am ET|
The long wait finally came to an end for Tuukka Rask Monday night.
The 28-year-old goalie made his 2015 preseason debut after watching the likes of Jonas Gustavsson, Jeremy Smith, Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre fill the void over the first four games, all wins.
Monday night wasn’t about the final result, a 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. It was about getting Rask’s feet wet for the first time in game action since the regular season finale last April 11 at Tampa Bay. That night, the Bruins were eliminated in the middle of the game. Monday night, in a game with far less significance, Rask stopped 21 of 24 shots in getting his first taste of action.
“Good to get it out of the way,” Rask said. “You kind of forget how tough it is out there. It doesn’t matter how much you workout or skate, it’s always different when it’s a real game and I definitely felt it. It’s good to get that first one out of the belt and to keep moving on that.”
Rask posted a 2.30 goals against last season with a 34-21-13 mark in 70 games. He will, of course, be the starting goalie for the Bruins when they open the season on Oct. 8 against Winnipeg at TD Garden.
“I think at this point I focus on myself and getting my game where I feel like it needs to be – it’s just with the feel and everything,” Rask said. “I felt that timing was sometimes a little off, angles were a little off at times — not natural all the time. Those are the things I need to work on, but I think in the bigger picture too, looking at the breakouts we did a pretty good job today and communication was pretty good too. The first period I had to handle it a couple times, the first one of the game I just made a bad pass, but after that I made a couple good passes. A couple guys talked to me where they wanted the puck to be and I think they did a good job in front of the net, clearing some sticks and some players. I think it was good.”
Rask realizes that improving Boston’s breakout this season begins with him.