|Bruins hold optional skate||03.22.11 at 11:20 am ET|
After two days of high-energy practices, Claude Julien elected to make Tuesday’s morning skate optional. Just about everyone on the team agreed with this logic, as only Tuukka Rask and Daniel Paille took the ice.
Reading into things, this could mean that Paille might be the healthy scratch among the forwards. Brad Marchand is eligible to return vs. the Devils after a two-game suspension, while Tyler Seguin‘s recent play has made him hard to sit. The last two practices have featured both Marchand and Michael Ryder on the wing opposite Mark Recchi, so if Paille is the scratch, Marchand could be a candidate to reunite with the Merlot line.
|Shane Hnidy ready to come off LTIR||03.21.11 at 5:45 pm ET|
He might not play, but at least he’s eligible to do so.
Shane Hnidy will see team doctors Tuesday en route to officially coming off long-term injury reserve, meaning the veteran blueliner will be available to the Bruins for the first time since they signed him in late February. Hnidy had been rehabbing a shoulder injury suffered with the Coyotes in training camp.
“It’s the doctors’ thing,” Hnidy said. “If it was up to me, I was ready a while ago, but it’s probably best to wait. It feels really strong, and I’ve been able to battle the last few practices and have been doing it for a while. I haven’t had a negative effect at all.”
Claude Julien reiterated Sunday that Hnidy was brought in for depth purposes and that he wouldn’t be taking anyone’s job. Hnidy understands that, but he’ll welcome the playing time when it comes.
“The whole reason you want to come is to play, but I knew what the situation was coming in,” he said. “If it works out and I’m needed and have to play, I’m going to go out there and do my best. I’m anxious to get back and get in a game, but if not, I’ll just continue on this path, and try to prepare the best way I can.”
Hnidy previously played for the Bruins from 2007-09, totaling 17 points (4 G, 13 A) in 108 games.
WILMINGTON — When Claude Julien put Tim Thomas back in to start the third period against the Maple Leafs Saturday night, the logical reason as to why was because of Tuukka Rask‘s latest display of frustration. After Rask, who came in with over 11 minutes remaining in the second period in relief of Thomas, allowed the game’s fifth goal, he was visibly infuriated with defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who screened him on the play.
Julien has maintained that the move was not disciplinary, and that it was because Thomas wanted to go back out. Monday, he shed light on Rask’s behavior on the ice.
“I don’t support that,” Julien said. “I don’t think anybody supports that, including him. Sometimes frustration sets in, you see players breaking their sticks after a goal against or something. You see them putting their heads up in the air after they miss an open net. There’s a frustration point, so I’m certainly not going to stand here and start accusing him of that, but it’s something you don’t want to see from anybody because it has a big impact on your team.
“Having said that, I think Tuukka’s aware of that, and if anything, he’s been playing some of his best hooky lately, so I don’t think there’s any need for that. I think it’s just that sometimes you’ve got to control your emotions. He’s frustrated with the first half of the year, and he wants to help this hockey club. Sometimes his emotions are probably running a little too high and he reacts that way, but having said that, it had no influence on my decision on Saturday.”
For what it’s worth, Rask has been cool as a cucumber off the ice all season despite the uncertainty as to when he’ll play. On the ice, however, he’s never shied away from expressing his emotions, and Julien hopes he can keep them in check.
WILMINGTON — The Bruins’ dressing room seemed to be silent Monday when it came to discussing Matt Cooke‘s latest cheap shot. Shawn Thornton didn’t like the idea of commenting on it, while Johnny Boychuk claimed to have not seen the hit. Despite not everybody talking, Brad Marchand and even coach Claude Julien said enough to make it clear that Cooke’s act is not appreciated in these parts.
The Bruins, of course, have a direct tie to Cooke in that they are currently playing without Marc Savard, who has not been the same since Cooke blind-sided him last season.
“I think that it’s about time he gets — he’s got to be taught a lesson,” Marchand said. “He’s doing that stuff left, right, and center. I expect that he’ll probably get a bunch of games, but he’s got to be taught a lesson. You can’t be running around doing that stuff all the time. He’s going to seriously hurt someone again. Look at Savvy, and now McDonagh. He could have easily hurt him.
“It just seems to be part of his game. He likes to throw cheap shots around. I don’t know if he’ll learn. Hopefully he does. Hopefully he doesn’t hurt someone to the point where their career is over. You want to get that stuff out of the game, and hopefully he does learn his lesson.”
Marchand is coming off a two-game suspension of his own for a blindside elbow on Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger last week. As a first-time offender, Marchand and Julien hope that theta young forward’s lesson has been learned, but when asked about Marchand, Julien worked in a jab at Cooke.
“I think you need to trust your players to do the right things,” Julien said. “You have to trust your players that they’ve learned from those things and they don’t let it happen, although there are certain guys in the league that don’t seem to be learning.”
There was a light-hearted reaction to the Cooke reference, though when asked to comment further on the Penguins forward, Julien got serious and politely declined.
“No reaction, no comment,” Julien said. “I think right now I’ve got my hands full with trying to get our team back on track. This is an opportunity for me to let the league do their job.”
|Claude Julien taking wait-and-see approach on Brad Marchand hit||03.16.11 at 6:18 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien doesn’t care to venture a guess on what the result of Brad Marchand’s phone hearing with the league Thursday morning. Julien told reporters Wednesday in Nashville that regardless of how the league rules on Marchand’s elbow to the head of R.J. Umberger Tuesday, he’ll respect the decision, especially given the attention placed on headshots in the general managers meetings.
“I don’t know how they’re going to call it, to start with,” Julien told reporters. “I think I’ll wait and hear what they have to say about the hit and how they’re going to interpret it. Then, with an explanation, maybe I’ll understand exactly where they’re going with it.
“Right now, I don’t think I can comment on much. There’s nothing to gain from a comment after everything that’s gone on there in the last three days and how they’ve addressed it and how they want to make it better. I’ve got to wait and see, and I’ve also got to be supportive of what they’re trying to do, and I am.”
Defenseman Adam McQuaid left the ice during practice, but the coach said it was because he told the blueliner to do so after collecting bruises of late.
“He seems to be getting in the way of other teams’ shots all the time, which is a good thing for us,’ Julien said. “I think today would have just made it worse.”
|From the stat truck: Do Bruins make good first impressions vs. opponents?||03.15.11 at 12:27 am ET|
With the stretch run upon the Bruins, Claude Julien‘s club obviously has an undesirable streak to snap. Winless over their last four, the B’s need to show that their 0-2-2 slump won’t continue at a part of the season in which each point is placed under a microscope.
There are multiple issues facing the team as they return to the road, like the sudden tendency to blow multi-goal leads, as was the case when they saw both the Sabres and Islanders come back in games in which the Bruins led by two. It will be focused on heavily, but it isn’t the only thing to keep an eye on.
Despite having just 14 games remaining in the regular season, this week will also be all about making a good first impression. Both Tuesday and Thursday’s games will come against opponents the B’s have yet to face this season in the Blue Jackets and Thrashers, respectively.
To this point of the season, the Bruins have fared decently against teams when facing them for the first time. Per the good ol’ WEEI.com stat truck, they have a 14-10-2 records in such games. For the sake of comparison, the results have been worse than the Flyers’ 16-6-6 mark and better than the Canadiens’ 12-9-2.
Looking at things more recently, the B’s have fared well of late in their first meetings with teams. Since Jan. 22, the B’s have played seven opponents for the first time this season (all of whom, unsurprisingly, were Western Conference teams). The Bruins went 5-2-0 against those clubs, losing to only the Red Wings and Sharks, who are currently second and third in the Western Conference, respectively. They beat the Flames, Presidents’ Trophy-favorite Canucks and Oilers, three teams they hadn’t seen previously this season, in succession Feb. 22-27.
To both snap their winless streak and continue their successful stretch against unfamiliar faces, the B’s will have to bounce back against a Columbus team that has been nothing short of bad lately. The Blue Jackets are just 1-4-3 over their last eight games, with the win coming Saturday against the Hurricanes. While the Blue Jackets have had their fair share of struggles of late, looking at how they’ve fared in their first meetings with clubs might suggest they shouldn’t be taken lightly. In facing 26 teams for the first time this season (as many as the Bruins have entering Tuesday), Columbus has gone 15-8-3.
To round things out, the Predators are 13-8-5 when seeing a team for the first time this season, losing their last two such contests. Of course, those losses came against the top two teams in the NHL in the Canucks and Flyers, and the Predators have gotten points in six of their last seven games (4-1-2).
These stats aren’t everything, and when it comes down to it, execution, consistency and holding onto leads will likely be the biggest factors this week for the Bruins. Still, it will be interesting to see if the Bruins’ recent string of success when seeing a team for the first time continues, or whether the funk they’ve been in over their last four games will persist.
After Thursday’s game in Nashville, the Bruins will have faced 28 of the other 29 teams in the league thus far this season, missing only the Blackhawks, whom they’ll see March 29 at the Garden.
|What Zdeno Chara and the Bruins learned Saturday night||03.07.11 at 10:11 am ET|
One loss following a very impressive seven-game winning streak is hardly cause for alarm. And that’s especially true since the Bruins managed a point Saturday night when they didn’t play their best game and found a way to tie it with 32.5 seconds left in regulation.
But there was a lesson to be learned. Just asked Zdeno Chara. If you don’t skate hard against a hungry team, you’ll likely wind up on the losing end.
The captain gave the Bruins the lead, 1-0, just under eight minutes into the second period. But from then on, the B’s seem to take a collective breath and relax as the Pens picked up their intensity and took it to them in every way.
They took more shots, delivered more hits and until the final 33 seconds, scored more goals.
“We didn’t have our best game, that’s for sure,” Chara said. “We were just, we had heavy legs, we didn’t skate well, we didn’t move the puck well. On the other side Pittsburgh played extremely well. They put a lot of pressure on us. They took away space and time and we couldn’t create much.”
All of this from a Penguins team that came in losing 6-of-7 and had lost in overtime 24 hours earlier in New Jersey.
“I think it was mostly us, we weren’t moving our feet at all,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We were second to the puck. At the same time, you couldn’t establish a physical game because you never got there on time. So they were on the puck and we were doing a lot of watching, I thought in the second period and they just took the game away from us at that point.”
“They even they had back to back games,” Chara added. “They had pretty good jump and energy. It almost felt like we were the team who played last night. But it’s going to happen. You’re going to have games like this where we were just slow and not moving the puck as well as we used to. But we worked extremely hard in the third and earned that point. That’s the positive. Obviously we’d like to get two but it happens.”
But now, following the end of the winning streak, the Bruins know they have to pick it back up with a big division game Tuesday night in Montreal. The Canadiens have won four straight and 5-of-6. They trail the Bruins by just five points in the Northeast.
No reason for the Bruins not to have their legs under them for this one.