|5 things we learned as Bruins get shutout by Braden Holtby once again||04.08.15 at 10:38 pm ET|
WASHINGTON, D.C. — When the Senators fell behind by three goals Tuesday night, it seemed the Bruins were a win away from a playoff spot. When the Bruins fell behind by three goals a night later, Boston’s playoff chances became slightly better than a coin flip.
While Ottawa was able to erase its deficit and win on Tuesday, the Bruins’ worrisome outing against the Capitals meant that their game in hand is now gone and they enter a two-game fight for their playoff lives.
For the third time this season, the Bruins failed to beat Braden Holtby as the Washington netminder picked up his third shutout against the Bruins this season, stopping all 27 Boston shots Wednesday. The B’s played sloppily with the puck and didn’t enjoy potent stays in the offensive zone, leading to the 3-0 blanking.
He becomes the first goalie to blank the Bruins in all three games in one season, stopping all 88 shots he faced.
Not helping the Bruins was the fact that they did not have a power play on the night. The only three penalties of the game came against Boston.
With the loss, the Bruins remain at 95 points, tied with the Senators for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference through 80 games. If the Bruins win Thursday in Florida and Saturday in Tampa with at least one of the wins coming in regulation or overtime, they’ll be in.
The B’s could still also surpass the Penguins (96 points), Red Wings (97) or Islanders (98), but Wednesday presented a much easier option for the team to control its destiny. Now their playoff hopes could very well come down to the final game of the season.
Here are four more things we learned Wednesday:
|David Pastrnak skates wtih fourth line as Bruins prepare for Leafs||04.04.15 at 11:47 am ET|
Claude Julien warned after Saturday’s morning skate that he’s prepared to keep mixing and matching, but his lines in the session suggested he’ll stick with what won the B’s Thursday night’s game.
Brett Connolly remained with Milan Lucic and Ryan Spooner, while Krejci was on the right wing of Patrice Bergeron‘s line. He started Thursday’s game at center but moved back to right wing, where he has now played five straight games. David Pastrnak is on the fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly.
By the looks of morning skate, following is the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Leafs:
The Bruins enter Saturday leading the Senators by three points for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, though Ottawa has five games remaining to Boston’s four. The Senators will face the Capitals Saturday night in Ottawa and will play their game in hand Sunday when they play the Leafs in Toronto.
The B’s are also even with the Red Wings for the third spot in the Atlantic Division, with Detroit also holding a game in hand. The Red Wings will play the Wild Saturday and the Capitals Sunday.
Dougie Hamilton is still not skating. Saturday marks two weeks since he suffered his upper-body injury against the Panthers.
|Milan Lucic: ‘Obviously, these are desperate times’||04.01.15 at 10:15 am ET|
The Bruins have been as streaky as Milan Lucic. A five-game win streak was followed by six straight losses.
It’s only appropriate the Bruins ended March with their third straight win, a key victory, spurred on by one of their better players in the month as the left winger provided the game-winning margin with some grit and good fortune.
His rush to the Panthers blue line with just over a minute left in regulation ended with a “why not” shot on goal that found its way through the skates of Roberto Luongo and gave the Bruins a 3-2 win Tuesday at TD Garden. Lucic has become a leader for young stars Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak on his line. On Tuesday, he led by example when it mattered most.
His drop pass to Spooner resulted in a bad-angle shot by Spooner from the left boards that tied the game early in the third period. His late-game rush with Spooner ended up being the difference in winning and losing.
“I was checking to see to see if Spoons was onside,” said Lucic, who finished the game with a goal and an assist and five of each for the month. “It was kind of a one-on-four situation and I just tried to get [the puck] past the two D-men [and] on net and I got a little bit of luck there and was able to find a hole there in the five-hole. It was one of those things where you’re kind of swarmed. You’re just getting the puck on net, and thankfully it went in for myself and ends up being a big goal for a big win.”
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Milan Lucic has ‘elevated his game’ playing with Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak||03.19.15 at 1:40 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins and their push for the playoffs, as well as other NHL matters. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
With David Krejci being out, the Bruins have shuffled their lines up front and currently have Milan Lucic playing with Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak. McGuire feels this has improved Lucic’s game, as he’s been playing more like a leader being paired with two of the youngest players on the team. He does feel once Krecji returns, Lucic will be reunited with him, but doesn’t know when that will happen.
“The thing that really stood out to me is he’s really relishing this role as a leader with those two young players in Spooner and Pastrnak,” said McGuire. “I think he’s elevated his game because of the leadership potion that has been put on his plate. I don’t know what Claude [Julien] is going to do, it’s a real debatable issue. I have to think at some point Krejci will be back with Lucic, I really do. I don’t know when or for how long, but I have to think at some point they will put them back together.”
The Bruins are in Ottawa Thursday night to take on the Senators. As it stands now the Senators are four points behind the Bruins for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. McGuire feels the Bruins are in a good spot to make the playoffs.
“I think Boston has a very good chance to be a playoff team,” he said. “In fact, I would be shocked if they didn’t make it. They deserved a better fate the other night (in a shootout loss to Buffalo). The biggest thing to be was Anders Lindback, he never played a game that good in his life. I give Buffalo a lot of credit. They showed a lot of heart and a lot of desire, but the Boston Bruins were [playing hard], they just couldn’t beat Lindback. I don’t expect goaltending like that every night against Boston.”
It seems the NHL getting rid of the shootout and going to 4-on-4, and 3-on-3 overtime is getting some steam to be put in place next season. McGuire thinks this change is needed, and will be a welcomed change with members of the league — both with the coaches and players.
“I think most people that really care about the sport want to see the best players play in the game and having the game decided by the players playing the sport rather than just having a skills competition,” said McGuire. “I am all for it and I think most of the players are for it. I can tell you 99 percent of the coaches are for it in terms of the people that I have spoken with, so I would be absolutely shocked if it was not put into place for next season.”
|David Krejci skates at right wing as David Pastrnak misses Bruins practice||03.18.15 at 12:05 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins swapped out one David for another in Wednesday’s practice, as David Krejci took part in the skate while David Pastrnak was the only absence.
Krejci also participated in Tuesday’s non-contact morning skate, but Wednesday marked his first full practice with the team since suffering a partially torn MCL on Feb. 20. He is not expected to return to game action until this weekend at the earliest, with Claude Julien saying Krejci will travel with the team for their upcoming three-game road trip.
Julien said that Pastrnak was given a maintenance day. The 18-year-old played through overtime of Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Sabres and did not appear to suffer any injuries.
With Pastrnak’s absent, Krejci skated in his place in line rushes. The lines in practice were as follows:
All six defensemen practiced, while Jeremy Smith joined goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Niklas Svedberg after being recalled and dressing as the team’s backup Tuesday. Rask missed the game with what the team called “general soreness.” Julien said all three goalies will travel.
|Don Sweeney on Sunday Skate: Bruins not limiting their search at trade deadline, ‘nothing that’s set in stone’ with David Pastrnak||02.08.15 at 12:46 pm ET|
Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney joined Sunday Skate to discuss the Bruins’ roster as the team gets closer to the March 2 trade deadline. To listen to the interview, click here.
The B’s have been looking for a wing nearly all season, though they are among a large number of teams who could stand to improve defensively. Sweeney said the Bruins continue to look for a wing, but that general manager Peter Chiarelli isn’t limiting his search.
“Everybody’s sort of focused on the fact that maybe our depth on the wings or scoring ability would be an area that we would like to address, having the types of players that we’ve lost over the last couple of years,” Sweeney said. “I don’t think it’s any trade secret that that’s probably the area that we’ve primarily been focused on, but I don’t think if any trade situations and discussions come up, that Peter wouldn’t have the opportunity to pursue in any one area that might strengthen our club.”
The search for a forward is part of an ongoing process to find David Krejci a permanent right wing. David Pastrnak’s play with Krejci was enough for the Bruins to burn the first year off his entry-level contract and keep him on the roster, though the B’s moved Pastrnak off Krejci’s line last week to keep the rookie away from other teams’ top lines.
Pastrnak was moved back to Krejci’s line with Milan Lucic in the second period of Saturday’s game, however, as the Bruins had last line change and were matching Patrice Bergeron‘s line against New York’s first line. Sweeney said Pastrnak remains a candidate to play with Krejci, but that the team is still figuring out what his role will ultimately be this season.
“There’s nothing that’s set in stone,” Sweeney said. “We’re just going to continue to evaluate. We’ll go to the trade deadline, and Peter’s trying to improve our hockey club. If we can do that, then David may find his way out of the lineup, may find his way back in Providence. It doesn’t matter. The boy has been a sponge with all things, and we’re so excited about his development trajectory and hopefully he doesn’t hit a wall here as he goes down the stretch.”
Sweeney did say that if either Pastrnak or Reilly Smith forces the Bruins’ hand and fills the spot themselves, it would be “the perfect scenario.”
The Bruins have around $2.2 million in cap space, though they have an undisclosed amount of unused long-term injured reserve space that will allow them to exceed the upper limit. Though they don’t have too much money to spend — something that can be helped by a trade partner retaining a player’s salary — Sweeney did say that the Bruins have the assets to add players to their liking.
“I think we have the assets to be able to pursue any type of deal outside of a straight cap add-on,” he said. “Obviously, the wiggle room we have from just adding a player without necessarily moving some money around is going to be more problematic than not, but from an organizational standpoint of having assets to be able to pursue deals and talk deals and potentially explore them, we absolutely are in a position to do that.
“Obviously, the cap dollars are what they are. We’ve been in the station all year long. We’ve managed that and we have to continue to do that down the stretch. Our cap situation doesn’t grow as the season goes along because we’re in LTI, but we do have some wiggle room.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins need ‘proven’ veteran who can score goals||02.05.15 at 1:50 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB after the Bruins’ loss to the Rangers Wednesday night, and to look ahead to their stretch of games before the trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
With the trade deadline approaching, McGuire feels the Bruins’ biggest need is a veteran presence on the first line who can score goals, and play with Milan Lucic and David Krejci. He feels the defense can be corrected on its own.
“I don’t know about the top four [defenseman], it’s a fair question,” McGuire said. “I think it is more pressure and get more consistent offense in the first line and insert with [Milan] Lucic and [David] Krejci, and this isn’t a knock on whomever they have tried there — whether it’s [Loui] Eriksson or Reilly Smith, whenever it be anybody, David Pastrnak — it doesn’t matter. I think they really need a veteran presence, a proven guy that can score goals in a first line situation and then the rest of the batting order kind of stabilizes itself.
“I think they can do it by committee on defense really because of the way the team plays. I think they need to get more run support with consistency, I think that is one of the reasons why they play so many one goal games, they are in so many close games, they just don’t have consistent run support for their defense and their goalie.”
“The one thing that stands out to me and not even being 19 years of age or pretty darn close to it, he can still dominate the puck,” said McGuire. “He made some pretty creative plays last night. It’s a hard league for kids that weigh 165-170 pounds to play in. I don’t see him tailing off. I think this will be a lot like what we saw with Tyler Seguin in the Bruins run to the Cup in , just because it took awhile for Tyler to get comfortable and once he got comfortable you saw what he did in the Tampa Bay series in particular.