|Bruins try to make do without ‘irreplaceable’ Zdeno Chara for a while||10.24.14 at 12:32 am ET|
If there’s any silver lining to losing your captain and best defenseman for an indefinite period, the Bruins can take some comfort in the fact they’ve been down this road before.
The Bruins lost Dennis Seidenberg to a torn ACL last season. They lost Chris Kelly to a broken leg last December and a back injury just before the playoffs. The 2013 team made the Stanley Cup finals despite the loss of Gregory Campbell to a broken leg in the Eastern Conference finals. Just last week, Kevan Miller dislocated his shoulder in a fight in Buffalo and has been lost indefinitely.
But when Islanders forward John Tavares’ right knee collided with Chara’s left knee Thursday night in the B’s 3-2 loss, there was the sense that Boston’s captain could be out a while early on in a season when the Bruins are struggling to find their identity.
That sense was apparent when talking to Bruins players in the dressing room afterward.
“He’s an irreplaceable player, so obviously him not being out there, everyone notices, us and them,” Kelly said.
But Kelly insisted that Boston’s flat second period Thursday had nothing to do with Boston getting outscored 2-0 and looking listless on the ice.
“I don’t think so. They were ready right from the opening faceoff and we weren’t,” Kelly said. “Like I said, he’s an irreplaceable player. He plays every situation for us and he’s our leader. We’re going to need to fill that void collectively as a group not just one guy is going to be able to do that.
“I though we played desperate, but they were up 3-1. They may have set back a little bit and we pushed the pace. Yeah, the third period was better but like I said, 20 minutes isn’t good enough to win hockey games.”
|How Bruins overcame uncharacteristically bad nights from Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara||10.21.14 at 11:51 pm ET|
Usually the Patrice Bergeron line and Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton pairing are the Bruins’ constants. They’re the guys who are going to create offensive-zone possessions and not make mistakes.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday. Bergeron was on the ice for all three of the Sharks’ goals, linemates Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith joined him for two of them (it is worth noting that Marchand had a nice power-play goal), and Chara was on the ice for two of them as well. Those four and Hamilton were the only Bruins who finished with Corsi-for percentages under 50 percent, meaning they were the only Bruins who were on the ice for more 5-on-5 shot attempts against than shot attempts for.
That would seemingly be a recipe for disaster for the Bruins, especially when you consider that outside of the Carl Soderberg line, the rest of the team had been one giant question mark to this point in the season. David Krejci had looked good since his return, but linemate Milan Lucic was off to a slow start and he still didn’t have a set-in-stone right wing. The fourth line had featured several different combinations, and none of them had really done much. And the second and third defense pairings had been inconsistent at best, with Kevan Miller’s injury raising even more questions on the back end.
At least for one night, those questions turned into answers. Lucic, Krejci and rookie right wing Seth Griffith factored into four of the Bruins’ five goals, with Lucic notching three assists and Griffith scoring his first NHL goal. Two of the goals they were on the ice for — Griffith’s and Torey Krug’s — came as the direct result of getting bodies to the net. Krejci set a great screen on Krug’s, and then Lucic created some net-front havoc that freed up Griffith on his goal.
“I think it definitely was the best game that we’ve played so far this season,” Lucic said. “You saw we were hungry in the O-zone and hungry getting pucks to the net. We made some smart decisions in some important areas and it just seems like things are starting to head in the right direction.”
The fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Simon Gagne was a positive possession line that even created some chances against the Sharks’ top two lines. They scored what proved to be the game-winner midway through the third when Paille won the puck along the boards and threw a shot on net that Campbell tipped in for his first goal of the season.
Campbell and Paille were also big on the penalty kill, especially late in the game when Bergeron went to the box for a four-minute double minor. Until Krejci’s empty-netter to seal the win, Campbell had the biggest play on that kill when he blocked a Joe Thornton shot that came off a Chara turnover.
“We’ve got to be a responsible, reliable line, and Claude [Julien] has to trust us to put us in those situations,” Campbell said. “With hard work comes trust, and if we’re playing our game and we’re in on the forecheck and creating chances and bringing energy to the lineup, then he usually has confidence in us.”
As for the bottom two defense pairings, the only glaring error was a bad miscommunication between Krug and Dennis Seidenberg that led to a goal, but as Julien pointed out after the game, Bergeron’s line was just as much at fault, as Smith had failed to clear the zone and Bergeron and Marchand had gotten caught up ice.
Outside of that, the Seidenberg-Krug and Matt Bartkowski-Adam McQuaid pairings played well. Krug’s goal and two assists obviously stand out, but let’s not overlook the fact that Seidenberg had seven shots on goal and 12 shot attempts, and that he and Krug had Corsi-for percentages of 63 and 62 percent, respectively. McQuaid and Bartkowski weren’t far behind at 61 and 57 percent, respectively, and McQuaid was also big on that final penalty kill.
Obviously this is just one game. No one should think that all of the Bruins’ question marks are gone and that everyone’s going to be great from here on. But on a night when the Bruins’ best players were uncharacteristically unreliable, it was encouraging to see everyone else step up and show that they can lead the way, too.
WILMINGTON — As his team prepares to take on San Jose, the Islanders and Toronto this week, Claude Julien can finally sense things coming together after a sluggish start.
The Bruins started 1-2-0, including an ugly 4-0 loss to the Capitals on home ice and a brutal 2-1 loss to Colorado in the final second. After beating the Red Wings in a shootout, the Bruins were embarrassed again in Montreal, featuring the emotional meltdown of Milan Lucic.
But things finally seemed to click in Buffalo, where Niklas Svedberg earned his first career shutout in just his third NHL start. The 4-0 win seemed to give the Julien and the team something to build on. Two wins in three games doesn’t classify as red-hot, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction the way Julien sees it.
“I don’t know if it’s how far we’ve come or how far we have to go,” Julien said. “I think it’s just a matter of us continuing to get better as a team. I think it’s still early in the season and I think there are a lot of teams that are probably saying the same thing. It takes certain guys a while to get going. It takes others even longer. Some guys get off to a good start and then they slow down.
“We’re just looking at our team as a whole. I think what we’re looking for is consistency and we’re looking for an identity. And that’s what we’re starting to get right now, more of an identity. I think we’ve been a lot more consistent in the last three games.”
What is that identity?
“Same as it’s always been,” Julien said, referring to his team’s tough, rugged style that relies on good defense, a good forecheck, stellar goaltending and opportunistic play around the net.
|Bruins react to Johnny Boychuk trade and its ‘reality check’ impact going forward||10.05.14 at 10:41 am ET|
With the season opening at home Wednesday against the Flyers, the Bruins don’t have long to be upset about the loss of one of their best teammates.
Still, even coach Claude Julien said after Saturday’s preseason finale that the team will take a little time to get over “the sting” of losing Johnny Boychuk ($3.37 million) to the harsh realities of today’s salary cap NHL.
Torey Krug, just 23, now understands just how important managing the salary cap is for each team after spending most of the summer without a contract because GM Peter Chiarelli couldn’t fit him under the cap. Krug and Reilly Smith had to wait all summer and through most of camp to sign their $1.4 million deals because the team couldn’t sign them.
“[It’s] another lesson in the business for me,” said Krug. “I learned a few things this summer for sure, and it’s always going to be part of it forever as long as this game exists and the cap situation exists in this sport, so it’s tough to see him go for sure.”
Several defenseman will have to pick up the slack for Boychuk and will have the opportunity to step right in play a bigger role for the 30-year-old who was considered one of the heart-and-soul parts of their Stanley Cup run in 2011 and their finals appearance in 2013.
Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug are all younger than Boychuk and all will likely get chances to play alongside Dennis Seidenberg on Boston’s No. 2 D-pairing.
“I mean it’s been like this the last few years so it doesn’t really change anything,” Seidenberg said. “For me, it’s just trying to play wherever they put me and trying to do it well.”
“I didn’t know that’there was some talk about different things and stuff but I was pretty much shocked,” McQuaid said in reacting Saturday. “I don’t know, I guess maybe we all just kind of had that hope in the back of our minds that somehow we could all stay. He’s a guy that’s a huge part of this team and for me a guy that always put a smile on my face every day. Always came to the rink in a good mood and was cracking jokes. I think I’ve played seven pro seasons and six have been with Johnny so we’ve been through a lot together. He’s a guy that’I don’t think it’s really sunk in quite yet’but a guy that will be sorely missed.”
|Bruins injury roundup: Matt Fraser played on broken foot||05.16.14 at 1:30 pm ET|
As is customary on breakup day, word emerged on injuries the Bruins dealt with during the postseason. The bravest of the bunch proved to be Matt Fraser, who played the entire postseason with a broken foot.
Fraser, who was sporting a cast and crutches Friday, broke his right foot in Game 1 of the first round of the AHL postseason while playing for the Providence Bruins. He was dealing with the injury when he was called up in the second round by the Bruins and he scored the overtime winner in Game 4 of the second round for Boston.
Chris Kelly, who suffered a back injury late in the season, had a herniated disc and said it was the most pain he had ever dealt with. Kelly said he hoped he could have returned in some point in the playoffs but wasn’t sure. Kelly will undergo surgery at some point.
Milan Lucic was sporting a soft cast on his left wrist after suffering an injury in Game 7 of the second round against Montreal. He was set to receive an MRI on Friday.
Regarding Zdeno Chara‘s fractured finger, the Bruins captain said that he might not need surgery.
As for Dennis Seidenberg, the defenseman said his plan all along was to return this season after tearing his ACL and MCL on Dec. 27 and having surgery in early January. Seidenberg said he would have been able to play in the Eastern Conference finals had the team gotten there.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Claude Julien: ‘I’d be very surprised’ if Dennis Seidenberg played Game 7||05.14.14 at 11:34 am ET|
There is virtually no shot that Dennis Seidenberg will be available to play in Wednesday’s Game 7 of the second round against the Canadiens, but it was a question worth asking in Claude Julien‘s press conference following the morning skate.
Seidenberg, who took contact Monday for the first time, was a participant in Wednesday’s morning skate. Considering he is working his way back from a torn ACL and MCL, you would think he would need at least a week’s worth of contact before he would even enter the discussion as a playing possibility.
Julien was asked if there was any chance that Seidenberg would play Wednesday, leading to the following exchange:
“Uh,” Julien said, pondering. “I don’t think so.”
“That’s not a ‘no,'” replied the reporter.
“I’d be very surprised,” said Julien.
Should the Bruins advance, Seidenberg could be a possibility at some point during the Eastern Conference finals or Stanley Cup final.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins’ Dennis Seidenberg begins taking contact||05.12.14 at 12:41 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Dennis Seidenberg has begun taking contact, marking a sizable step in his road back from ACL/MCL surgery.
Seidenberg, who had surgery in early January after tearing the ligaments in his right knee on Dec. 27 and being ruled out for the season, stayed out after Monday’s morning skate and did one-on-one battle drills in the corner with Jordan Caron and Andrej Meszaros. Seidenberg has been skating since April 8, doing more and more until eventually joining the team in practices late last month. Monday was his first time taking contact.
The 32-year-old had said last week that he felt good enough to play but that he still wasn’t healed. Now that he is taking contact, the chances of him returning this postseason — assuming the Bruins advance past the Habs — become much more realistic, but the timetable is unknown. Daniel Paille, who was working his way back from a concussion, had begun taking contact on April 25 before playing May 1, but Seidenberg has been out much longer, and such timetables vary from player to player and injury to injury. It’s safe to assume that Seidenberg would need at least a week of contact before the team could start considering him as an option to play.
The Bruins initially had said that Seidenberg’s recovery time would be 6-8 months, but he has been well ahead of schedule. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has declined comment on the status of the player since the beginning of the playoffs, saying only that the team is not assuming that the player will return at some point.
“We’re not counting on Dennis to be back,” Chiarelli said on April 14. “We’re going to be very cautious with this injury. He has been skating and that’s pretty much all I can say on it.”
If Seidenberg were to return, he would provide stability on the B’s back end in a spot that has seen some inconsistency. Both Meszaros and Matt Bartkowski have struggled on the left side of the second pairing, and though Seidenberg traditionally has served as Zdeno Chara‘s postseason partner, he might be better served strengthening Johnny Boychuk‘s pairing.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
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