|Bruins prepare for action-packed March||03.01.13 at 3:24 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Claude Julien kept his top six forwards (among others), five of his six starting defensemen and his No. 1 goalie off the ice Friday, and it wasn’t because they didn’t have their legs Thursday against the Senators, but because they’re going to need their legs this weekend and this month.
March will be an especially busy month for the Bruins after having a lighter schedule to open the season. The B’s have played 17 games since the season began on Jan. 19, but they’ll have 17 games in 31 days in the month of March. That includes four sets of back-to-backs.
“We have to take it game by game,” David Krejci said. “When you look at it as 17 games in a month, that’s a lot. When you look at it game-by-game, it’s not that bad.”
The Bruins are set to host the Lightning Saturday afternoon and the Canadiens Sunday night. The former is an offensively skilled team that’s lost three straight and needs to get its record back to .500 (9-10-1), while the latter is perhaps the NHL’s biggest surprise team, leading the Eastern Conference with 29 points in 20 games.
The Bruins’ 17 games played is the least in the NHL. They’ve actually been the conference’s most productive team, as they’re just a point behind the Habs with three games in hand, but seeing any team above them in the standings is enough to keep them from getting complacent.
“It’s easy to stay motivated right now,” Julien said after Friday’s session. There are teams that are ahead of us and we want to be at the top. You work to get there, and you can’t afford to have any letdowns. Those are all motivational factors that keep us going.”
March’s busy schedule means the B’s will have to go about things differently. There will be less practices and more video work to make up for lost time between games. There will also be more of Anton Khudobin, who will spell Tuukka Rask more frequently than he has thus far. Khudobin has played just three of the Bruins’ first 17 games, but he should get into at least four this month with the back-to-backs. Khudobin will be in net Saturday against the Lightning.
|Bruins come back in third period to beat Canadiens||02.06.13 at 10:10 pm ET|
The Bruins got back on top of the Eastern Conference and gained some much-needed breathing room in the Northeast Division with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Canadiens Wednesday night.
With the B’s trailing 1-0 after 40 minutes of play, Claude Julien switched Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin on the top two lines and saw immediate results. David Krejci‘s line produced goals from Seguin and Krejci in their first two shifts of the third period, giving the B’s a lead from which they wouldn’t look back.
The Habs took a 1-0 lead in the second period thanks to a power-play goal from P.K. Subban. The 23-year-old fired a snap shot from the point that went off Rich Peverley‘s stick and sailed past Tuukka Rask.
The win improved the B’s to 7-1-1 with a conference-best 15 points. The Canadiens fell to 6-3-0 with 12 points.
The Bruins will take Thursday and Friday to prepare for an upcoming back-to-back as they’ll host the Lightning Saturday afternoon at TD Garden before traveling to Buffalo to face the Sabres.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
• Rask was sensational, as the Habs could have easily had three or four goals over the first two periods. Rask stoned Lars Eller on a breakaway in the first period and came up with a number of other key stops early on.
The Habs also failed to capitalize on plenty of chances. Colby Armstrong missed an easy-tip-in just over a minute into the game, while Tomas Plekanec lost the puck while trying to deke on a breakaway. The veteran center tried to go forehand-to-backhand, but instead lost the puck on what essentially looked a pass into the corner.
• Good on Julien for shaking up his top six forwards in the third period. Julien switched Horton and Seguin on the top two lines, and it paid off 14 seconds into the period when Krejci hit Seguin in front to produce the game-tying goal. Krejci gave the B’s the lead on the line’s next shift.
• Seguin found a good time to score his first real goal of the season. Entering the game, Seguin, who led the Bruins with 29 goals a season ago, had only scored one empty-net goal through eight games. He was also quiet in the first two periods periods, failing to register a shot on goal.
• Speaking of lines, Julien wasn’t afraid to use the “Providence” line of Ryan Spooner between Lane MacDermid and Jamie Tardif. Spooner, who was making his NHL debut, was given significant time on the power play, and Julien trusted the line out there in the third period of a one-goal game.
• Playing on Patrice Bergeron‘s line in place of the injured Brad Marchand, Gregory Campbell had a strong showing. In addition to his two shots on goal and special teams contributions (he even played on the power play), Campbell came up with a critical pass breakup when he got a stick on a pass intended for Brandon Prust down low with all sorts of open net in the second period.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
• Milan Lucic took a pair of penalties in the second period, one of which yielded Subban’s power-play goal. Both penalties were drawn by Andrei Markov, with Lucic high-sticking the Montreal blueliner at 8:56 and going off for an unnecessary slash in the offensive zone at 14:09.
Lucic wasn’t the only culprit of a bad offensive zone stick penalty. Chris Kelly went off in the third period for hooking Francis Bouillon in the Habs’ zone with the B’s clinging to a 2-1 lead. The Canadiens would have been able to tie the game on the power play had Max Pacioretty not fanned on a feed from Erik Cole right in front.
• The ice seemed pretty tilted in the Habs’ favor in the first period. Though the teams went into the first intermission, Montreal outshot Boston 11-4, with the Bruins not getting a shot on goal until Campbell fired a slap shot on Price with 8:35 remaining in the opening period.
|Shawn Thornton skates, Brad Marchand, David Krejci missing from practice||02.04.13 at 10:53 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Shawn Thornton took the ice Monday for the first time since suffering a concussion last Thursday against the Sabres. Thornton did not participate in the team’s practice, but skated prior to his teammates hitting the ice.
Daniel Paille was present at practice after missing Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury, while Brad Marchand and David Krejci both missed the skate. Following the practice, Claude Julien gave an update on all players.
“[Paille]‘s doing fine. Again, the doctors haven’t cleared him yet but you saw him skating today,” Julien said. “Shawn Thornton skated earlier this morning, so he’s doing really well also. No issues there.
“David Krejci is maintenance and he should be on the ice tomorrow. Brad Marchand is also progressing very well. Right now, there’s nobody that’s a definite no moving forward here for the next game, but obviously we’ll make those decisions tomorrow. Before we leave we should know who can and who can’t play on Wednesday.”
Asked to clarify whether Thornton was part of the group of players potentially eligible to play Wednesday, Julien indicated that Thornton will in all likelihood be held out.
“Probably very doubtful for him, but he’s feeling very good,” Julien said. “He’s been great. He’s symptom-free for a few days now. He biked yesterday, he skated today, so things are going well but obviously there’s a protocol to follow. We’re certainly going to follow that to the letter.”
Marchand missed the second half of Saturday’s win over the Maple Leafs after crashing into the end boards in the second period and appearing to injure his shoulder. Monday marks Krejci’s second missed practice in four days, as he did not practice Friday and played Saturday. The Bruins were off on Sunday.
Paille suffered his injury in the third period of Thursday’s loss to the Sabres. With Krejci not practicing, Jay Pandolfo took his place on the top line, while Gregory Campbell replaced Marchand.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Shootout magic: Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask come up big as Bruins beat Devils||01.29.13 at 9:48 pm ET|
Brad Marchand scored the decisive goal in the sixth round while Tuukka Rask stopped 5-of-6 shots in the shootout as the Bruins beat the Devils, 2-1 in overtime Tuesday night at TD Garden. The Bruins (5-0-1) have gained at least a point in all six games this season. The highlight of the shootout came when Tyler Seguin had to re-do his first shot that produced a goal because a fan threw something on the ice. Seguin repeated his effort and scored again.
The Bruins and Devils are the only teams in the Eastern Conference without a regulation loss so far, joining San Jose and Chicago in the West, who were perfect coming into Tuesday’s action.
The two teams battled to a scoreless tie in the opening 20 minutes. Each team recorded nine shots on goal but neither team sustained serious pressure. The main highlight of the first period was a fight between Boston enforcer Shawn Thornton and New Jersey tough guy Krys Barch. In a bout that lasted for nearly a minute and a half, Thornton landed several clean shots before the two were broken apart by the officials, with both teams applauding their skater for staying on their feet the entire time.
The Bruins killed off an Andrew Ference tripping penalty with five minutes left in the first, giving them 24 straight kills to open the season.
But the Bruins were not as lucky in the second period as Johnny Boychuk was whistled for tripping at 7:22. David Clarkson redirected a Marek Zidlicky shot from the left point past Tuukka Rask for the first power play goal allowed by the Bruins in 25 chances this season.
The Bruins would kill off the next three power play chances and finished the game 4-for-5 on the penalty kill. They are 27-of-28 on the penalty kill this season.
The Bruins came out with much greater intensity in the opening minute of the third period and were buzzing around Johan Hedberg. Boston’s best chance came when Dougie Hamilton fired a shot from the left point that just went wide, missing the stick of David Krejci. Instead of a goal, Krejci was called for goaltender interference, taking some momentum away from the Bruins. Read the rest of this entry »
|First line focused on burying chances||01.22.13 at 5:44 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — There were few questions surrounding the Bruins (less than other teams, anyway) entering the season, but one of them surrounded the first line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. So far the answers have been pretty convincing.
The trio hadn’t played together since Horton went down with a concussion last season on a hit from Flyers forward Tom Sestito on Jan. 22, exactly a year ago. With Horton coming off two straight season-ending concussions and Lucic not playing during the lockout, it was easy to question how the Krejci trio would fare.
Nobody would have been surprised if the two power forwards came out sluggish as they got their legs back, but it’s been the opposite. The whole line has been flying, while Horton and Lucic have been their usual physical selves. Claude Julien sang their praises after Monday’s win over the Jets, but Krejci and Lucic said Tuesday that though they’re happy with their start, they haven’t buried their chances.
“It’s been basically a year going back to when Nathan got hurt in Philadelphia, since we played together in a threesome, and it’s obviously great that we’ve been able to click as well as we have, but in saying that, we’ve only been able to produce one goal,” Lucic said. “A big thing in the NHL is you’ve got to push yourself to get results. Right now it’s coming, but I think we definitely need to keep going until we get those results.”
Lucic was a wrecking ball on Monday (10 hits), while Horton and Krejci sniffed around several scoring opportunities, one of which came on their first shift when Krejci’s backhand bid was denied by Ondrej Pavelec.
“We had one right away the first shift,” Krejci said. “Those are the worst, on the first shift and you don’t score when you have a great chance. It’s not really a good feeling, but I think our game’s getting back to where we’d like it to be. The main thing for us is to keep our feet moving, with the puck or without the puck.”
Though Krejci has probably been the line’s best player through three games, the first line has undoubtedly been boosted by the return of Horton. The 27-year-old was cleared for contact over the summer and would have been ready for the start of the season had it began in October, and despite choosing not to play anywhere during the lockout, he clearly spent the time well. He looks bigger and stronger, while showing the skill that made him the third overall pick back in 2003.
His absence was felt when he went down last season. With Horton in the lineup, Lucic scored 17 goals in 45 games, while Krejci had 27 assists in 43 games. Without Horton, Lucic had just nine goals and Krejci had 14 assists in 43 games (including the playoffs).
With Horton back, the duo of he and Lucic has skated hard and used their big bodies (they stand at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3, respectively, and both weigh over 225 pounds) to wear down opposing top lines and create scoring opportunity.
“That’s how they get in the game, those two, with their physical play,” Krejci said. “I think they’ve done a pretty good job at it, and as a line I think we’ve created so many chances.
Said Lucic: “I think if you look at when I’ve been most successful in my career, it’s been when it’s been straight-line hockey. I’ve been able to do that the last two games, and I need to continue doing that. It’s no secret it makes me more successful than any other way of playing.
“If I’m trying to stick-handle and make moves and all that type of stuff, it doesn’t work as well. Keeping it simple works the best for my game and it has since my junior days, so why change now?”
The line has not been on the ice for a goal against this season. That’s a positive, but at the end of the day, its members know they should be on the ice for quite a few Bruins’ goals.
“I think the chemistry’s getting back there,” Krejci said of the line’s work. “Too bad we didn’t score [Monday]. We had so many chances, but the good thing is that we’re getting chances, we keep our feet moving and that’s a good sign. We’re the top line, so everyone expects for us to produce. We’re going to have to do that.”
|Bruins face big challenge vs. desperate Rangers||at 2:25 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When the 48-game schedule came out following the lockout, one of the most interesting aspects of it throughout the league was that the Bruins and Rangers would play each other twice in the first three games. That meant that in a season that placed even greater emphasis than usual on strong starts, one of the best teams in the NHL could easily end up in an early season hole.
As it turns out, the Rangers face that prospect. The schedule-makers weren’t kind to John Tortorella‘s club early on, as the Rangers had to face the high-powered Penguins the day after opening the season in Boston. The results haven’t been good, as the Eastern Conference favorites followed Saturday’s loss to the B’s by dropping a 6-3 contest to the Penguins in their home-opener. Now, the team will need to beat the 2-0-0 Bruins to avoid starting the season winless through three games.
“You know that they’re going to be ready for that game,” Patrice Bergeron said after Tuesday’s practice. “Also, we beat them the first game, so you know they’re going to look for some revenge probably, so it’s going to be a tough one. We’re expecting the best out of them, and we need to make sure we bring our best game as well.”
It’s hard to call the third game of the season a must-win, but the value of two points is inflated in a 48-game season, and the Rangers have some stiff competition in their division (Penguins, Flyers) for one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference. The desperation should be there at Madison Square Garden, so the Bruins will need to be ready for it.
“I don’t think [they'll come out harder]; I know they will,” Claude Julien said. “Certainly, when you’re put in that position and you’re the type of team that they are, we expect nothing but their best game out of them tomorrow.”
The Rangers, who came two wins away from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals last season, are a logical candidate to win the Eastern Conference after trading for seven-time 30-goal scorer Rick Nash.
The Bruins welcome the test that will come with playing a desperate team. David Krejci even likened Wednesday’s game to a postseason contest in which a team trailing in the series makes a push to narrow the gap.
“I know there’s been lots of talk. They made some moves, they want to go deep in the playoffs so I’m pretty sure that’s not the start they wanted to have,” Krejci said. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us. We might be in the situation during the season or in the playoffs, that the team wants to come back and we have to show how to handle the situation. It’s a good challenge for us tomorrow and we’ll so how we can respond, but I’m sure we’re going to be ready for it.”
The Rangers went 3-1-0 against the Bruins last season, so the B’s have already matched their 2011-12 win total against Tortorella’s club. The games between the two teams were tight (three of their four matches were one-goal games, including one decided in overtime), so the Bruins aren’t expecting anything to come easy against them.
“I’m sure Nash will buy into their system and has,” Chris Kelly said. “They’re a hard-working team and that’s the way they’re coached. They play hard, they play everyone and everyone contributes. They had our number last year, and we came out and played hard in the opener.”
|David Krejci loved playing back home, but it was no NHL||01.11.13 at 12:07 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins got another big name back on the ice Friday when center David Krejci, fresh off a stint with Pardubice HC, joined teammates at Ristuccia Arena.
Krejci, who hails from Šternberk of the former Czechoslovakia, said he enjoyed his time during the lockout. In addition to scoring scoring 16 goals with 11 assists for 27 points in 24 games, he got to spend Christmas and New Years with his family for the first time in 10 years, which meant a lot to the 26-year-old.
“It was nice, but other than that, I missed the NHL,” Krejci said. “When we’re kids, we all dream about playing in the NHL. Once we finally made it, we want to be in it. We don’t want to play somewhere else.”
At least Krejci got to see some familiar faces, as both Andrew Ference (Ceske Budejovice HC) and Tuukka Rask (Plzen HC) also played in the Czech Extraliga. Krejci scored on Rask when their teams played one another, but it was Rask who got the last laugh.
“I did score,” Krejci said. “But then the game went into a shootout and he stopped me, we were 1-1.”
Krejci was one of 12 Bruins to play in Europe during the lockout. He said he felt good after skating with teammates Friday, but admitted that time will tell whether he and others are ready for the physical challenge of the upcoming 48-game schedule.
“We’ll see,” he said of whether playing in the Extraliga was enough to keep him in NHL shape. “The game’s a little different there. There’s not as much hitting. It’s a bigger ice, so it’s definitely a little different, but we’ve got to wait and see whether I’m in good shape for the games or not. Personally I feel pretty good.”
Like everyone playing in Europe, Krejci thought at a couple of points that it was time to pack his bags and return to the NHL, only to find that talks for a new collective bargaining agreement had broken off. That was disappointing for him, but he can only imagine how disappointed fans are after the league lost nearly half a season to yet another work stoppage.
Krejci has been looking forward to stepping back onto the Garden ice since the B’s were eliminated in seven games by the Capitals last season. He just hopes that the lockout didn’t leave a bad taste in fans’ mouths and that the season-opener can be a good experience for everyone.
“I don’t really know what the fan’s [attitude] is about [toward] the situation and what’s going on with the lockout,” Krejci said. “I’m maybe a little nervous. I don’t know what to expect, but they’ve been great for so long. As long as I’ve been here, they’ve been great. They’ve been going to the games, so I hope they’re going to come and support us just like nothing happened.”