|Opinion: Claude Julien needs to schedule rest time for weary Bruins||04.12.13 at 1:34 pm ET|
I’m sick of hearing that the Bruins are tired.
“We ran out of gas,” Claude Julien claimed after Thursday night’s loss to Islanders. “The effort and will was there. They were obviously a little fresher than we were.”
That quote came just two days after he said, “The schedule has been as tough as it could ever be on an athlete. We’ve got to be careful of how hard we push those guys, because they are tired.”
I don’t disagree.
The schedule obviously has been brutal. Yes, the Bruins face the same difficulties as every other team in the league, but they currently are in the worst of the gauntlet. Whereas they started the season with more days off than most other teams, they are paying the price for that now.
So I’m happy to concede that exhaustion is playing a role in their recent string of uninspired performances.
Normally, this is the time where I would remind athletes and coaches that if they avoid making an excuse out loud, someone will make it for them. We all know the schedule is tough; let us remind people and it will sound more like an explanation and less like an excuse.
And for Tyler Seguin, who said Thursday night that while he wasn’t making excuses, “we ran out of gas after three games in four nights,” I would repeat that message.
But to Julien, I would offer some additional advice.
If your team is so tired, do something about it!
Look, we all know the Bruins are going to make the playoffs and it’s a virtual certainty that they will fill either the second or fourth seed. So, what would be the harm in resting a few exhausted players for a game or two? If they are so desperate for some fresh legs, why not create them?
|Shooting gallery: B’s fire 50 shots, beat Sens in key division battle||04.02.13 at 9:36 pm ET|
The Bruins found the perfect way to celebrate the acquisition of superstar Jaromir Jagr.
Nathan Horton scored with just under 10 minutes left in regulation and the Bruins managed 50 shots on goal in a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at TD Garden. For Horton, who could be facing demotion to the team’s third line with the Jagr addition, scored in his fourth straight game. Back-up goalie Anton Khoudobin made his second straight start and stopped 45 of 47 shots he faced to earn the win, his eighth of the season against three losses. The two teams combined for 97 shots on goal.
The win was big for the Bruins, who improved to 23-8-4 and reached 50 points on the season. They are just one point behind Montreal for the division lead and now six points up on third-place Ottawa in the division.
In an up-tempo first period, the two teams combined for 40 shots, 21 by the Bruins, including five by Tyler Seguin. It was Seguin who gave the Bruins the lead, snapping a 1-1 tie when he took a perfect feed from Brad Marchand and fired a shot into the net vacated by goalie Robin Lehner.
The game didn’t start off well for Boston as a Dennis Seidenberg turnover left the puck all alone for Colin Greening in front of Khudobin. Greening’s backhander beat the Boston goalie far side just 2:48 into the game for a 1-0 Ottawa lead. The Bruins countered just 50 seconds later when David Krejci redirected a Zdeno Chara slap shot from the high slot past Lehner. The Bruins got the go-ahead tally from Seguin just 61 seconds later.
The two teams continued their fast play in the second period but couldn’t put the puck in the net.
A bizarre turn of events and instant replay led to a tie game just two minutes into the third. Khudobin appeared to make a spectacular sprawling save on Andre Benoit‘s shot from the slot. The puck appeared to bounce off the crossbar and back into play. But after a stoppage, the officials were called over to review the play and replays showed that the puck disappeared under the crossbar and hit the top of the net, resulting in a game-tying goal.
With 13 minutes left in regulation, Seguin grabbed a loose puck and skated in alone on Lehner but lost an edge after not being able to get a clean shot on the Senators goalie. Three minutes later, Lehner turned aside Rich Peverley on a 2-on-1 break. But the Bruins kept working and got their break when Dougie Hamilton crushed Erik Condra with a big, clean hit in the Bruins zone. That led moments later to a scrum in front of Lehner and a goal from Horton at 10:21, putting Boston on top, 3-2.
The Bruins had to hold on for final 32.3 seconds as Johnny Boychuk was called for interference in front of Khudobin. With their net empty, the Senators had a 6-on-4 for the final half-minute but could not score.
The Bruins are off on Wednesday – trade deadline day in the NHL – and will get the services of newly acquired Jaromir Jagr on Thursday for their next game, a home date with the Devils.
For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia from the Garden, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.
The Bruins got both Jaromir Jagr and a win over Ottawa on Tuesday, but it still might end up being a shaky day for them as Patrice Bergeron was knocked out of the game in the second period against the Senators.
The B’s got goals from David Krejci, Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton in a 3-2 victory that put them one point behind the Canadiens in the Northeast Division. The Habs have 51 points to the Bruins’ 50 through 35 games.
Here’s what went right and wrong for the B’s:
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Horton is producing like a man who has no interest in losing his spot on the top line to Jagr. He broke a third-period 2-2 tie by scoring his fourth goal in as many games after scoring just once in the previous 14 contests. The veteran right wing has been inconsistent this season, but he’s really making that top line a tough one to break up.
– Give Matt Bartkowski credit for staying focused and turning in some solid play despite knowing that the Bruins tried to trade him for Jarome Iginla. Bartkowski saved a goal in the second period, when Khudobin made a kicksave on Mika Zibanejad and kicked the rebound out to the bottom for the right circle. A Senators player was inches from knocking it in with plenty of open net, but Bartkowski got a stick on it just in time to break it up.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Bergeron was knocked out of the game on his third shift of the second period with what appeared to at the very least be some sort of upper-body injury. Bergeron lunged at Colin Greening while the Washington center was trying to shoot, and Bergeron’s head awkwardly hit Greening’s elbow/forearm. Bergeron left the game and did not return.
Though the Bruins offered no details on the injury, the play was obviously concerning given his history with concussions. He has had three in his NHL career, the most recent of which came in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers in 2011.
Bergeron leads the Bruins with 31 points (10 goals and a team-high 21 assists) this season.
– The Bergeron injury wasn’t the only one for the Bruins. Dougie Hamilton threw a hit on Erik Condra in the Bruins’ zone, and though the play got a massive cheer as both players went down, Hamilton couldn’t finish his shift. Upon getting up, he slowly tried to get in position before calling for a line change. He went straight down the tunnel and left the ice for about 10 minutes real time before returning to the Bruins’ bench with five and a half minutes to play.
– The Bruins appeared to get the save of the year from Anton Khudobin when he lost his stick diving across the net to stop a bid from Andre Benoit after being out of position. The play was reviewed, however, and the replay showed that Benoit’s slapshot had indeed gone in and bounced back out.
– Benoit’s goal tied the game at two, making for the Bruins’ latest blown lead in the third period this season. Boston has now blown leads in seven games this season and are 4-3-2 when leading after two periods.
|Offense comes back to life in 6-5 shootout loss||03.28.13 at 12:03 am ET|
Because six Bruins failed to beat Peter Budaj in a shootout, the clearest takeaway from the Bruins’ 6-5 loss to Montreal on Wednesday was another blown third-period lead. However, the reason the Bruins had a lead to blow was that the offense came alive for the first time in a week and half, with five different players scoring.
In their last five games before Wednesday, the Bruins had 10 goals (and one of those came in a shootout). Against Montreal, they knocked Carey Price out of the net with four goals in the second period and finished the game with 41 shots.
‘It was nice to see us score some goals tonight,’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said. ‘We’ve been a little dry lately, and we managed to score five, so that was nice to see.’
Perhaps it was a bad omen when Dougie Hamilton was the first Bruin on the board, as they’re now 0-4 when he scores. Still, Hamilton cut Montreal’s lead in half just 39 seconds after P.K. Subban had made it 2-0, and his goal sparked a momentum shift in the Bruins’ direction.
Patrice Bergeron‘s line reappeared with a vengeance, recording a total of nine points between Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin. Each scored a goal, and Bergeron added three assists. Seguin had two and Marchand one.
That was especially encouraging for Marchand, as the second-chance goal he scored to tie the game at two was only his second in the last 12 games. After a shaky start to the game, Nathan Horton also broke a drought, scoring for the first time in six games and only the second time in the last 15.
The Bruins’ last two goals came on rushes, with perfectly timed passes through the slot, but their first three came from persistence on second and third chances. Despite being pulled after allowing four goals on 26 shots, Price made the Bruins work for their first three. They were equal to the challenge, winning races to rebounds and maintaining possession in the zone until they found clear shooting lanes.
Although Bergeron’s line, the Bruins’ most productive this year, ended up playing together by the middle of the game, they didn’t start the night that way. Julien started Daniel Paille with Bergeron and Seguin instead, and Marchand said the change, however brief, helped him.
‘Maybe just to let me know I’ve got to simplify a little bit,’ Marchand said. ‘At times, when you play with each other for a while, you start only looking for each other, and try to make pretty plays instead of doing things that work, which is keeping it simple and taking pucks to the net. And that’s what worked for us tonight.’
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘Boston, Pittsburgh and Montreal are the three best teams in the Eastern Conference’||03.22.13 at 12:31 pm ET|
NBC commentator Pierre McGuire spoke with Mut & Merloni Friday about where the Bruins stand among the top teams in the East, what problems Dougie Hamilton could be facing, and what might happen with Jarome Iginla before the trade deadline.
“I would say Boston, Pittsburgh and Montreal are the three best teams in the Eastern Conference,” McGuire said, noting that the Penguins‘ fourth-line forwards contribute on offense and that the Bruins have a similar degree of depth.
“You go watch Danny Paille play — he’s having a great year for Boston. He’s a fourth-line player. His skill level is pretty excessive too, for a depth player. Gregory Campbell‘s skill level’s not so bad. Rich Peverley‘s skill level’s not so bad. So the Bruins can match [the Penguins] in terms of depth skill, and that’s one of the things you’re going to have to have if you’re going to win in the East.”
“Early on we were seeing the physical teams be physical,” McGuire said. “I would say right now, we’re starting to see some guys let up a little bit. I was talking to Mario Lemieux about this the other day in Pittsburgh, and he said one of the hard parts about the 48-game schedule is that as you get to the halfway point, it’s more than that, because you haven’t had training camp and you are fatigued and you are breaking down.
“There’s a little less physical play, there’s more speed play, there’s a lot more open ice. ‘¦ I’m not saying that’s the problem with Milan, but I do think fatigue is becoming a very real issue for a lot of players around the league.”
Peverley’s benching has been seen by some as Claude Julien‘s attempt to send a message, but McGuire said he doesn’t think that’s the case.
“Sometimes the games go a lot slower when you’re upstairs and you get a chance to see, maybe you do have more time to make a play, maybe you do have a different outlet and a different decision you can make,” McGuire said. “It’s not really so much about message-sending, I think it’s more getting the player refocused and re-energized.
|Andy Brickley: Bruins ‘should have close-out ability,’ ‘haven’t shown it consistently enough’||03.20.13 at 12:21 pm ET|
NESN’s Andy Brickley spoke with Mut & Merloni Wednesday about why the Bruins have struggled to maintain leads, what general manager Peter Chiarelli might do before the trade deadline, and how the lineup could be shuffled after some recent injuries.
On Tuesday, the Bruins gave up three third-period goals and lost 3-1 to the Jets. Brickley said the way the B’s have played with leads, especially late in games, has been problematic.
“With one-goal leads, even sometimes two-goal leads — for some reason, their inability to make plays when it’s coming out of their own zone, at center ice, when they do have possession, putting pucks into areas in the offensive zone, it requires discipline,” Brickley said. “You don’t want to have to play that way, because you have the lead and you think you can extend the lead by making plays, when the real play is to put pucks in areas to force the other team to have to go and then have to come 200 feet.
“Games are going that way this year because of the 48-game schedule. Things are different this year. Those are not excuses for this Bruins team, because they’re better than they’re showing. They should have close-out ability and they haven’t shown it consistently enough. That said, they’re still in pretty darn good shape.”
There’s been talk of the Bruins pursuing a stay-at-home defenseman to help support Dougie Hamilton before the April 3 trade deadline. However, Brickley said they may make a play for an offense-oriented defenseman instead, despite the potential cost of such a trade.
“As much as we like Dougie Hamilton and what he’s brought to this team, you still see his minutes reduced late in the game, when they’re playing good competition, playoff teams, and goals are hard to come by,” Brickley said. “He’s not the player that you can look at and say, April, May and June, he’s going to be real good for us. That would be a total guess. So maybe you do have to add a puck-moving defenseman, and that’s probably where the premium is at, but there are a lot of puck-moving defensemen ‘¦ that would be available.”
|Blown away: Bruins blow three-goal lead, lose in OT to Capitals||03.05.13 at 9:51 pm ET|
Eric Fehr scored on a phenomenal rush up the slot just 37 seconds into overtime as the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Capitals, 4-3, in overtime Tuesday night at the Verizon Center. Tuukka Rask, who couldn’t protect the 3-0 lead, made 22 saves in the loss.
The Bruins lost their second straight game for the second time this season and fell to 14-3-3 on the season.
With Tyler Seguin in the penalty box serving a two-minute hooking penalty, Brad Marchand was hooked on a short-handed breakaway from behind by Alex Ovechkin and was awarded a penalty shot. Marchand beat Braden Holtby for a 1-0 lead at 6:29 of the first. It was the first short-handed penalty shot goal since Jan. 10, 2012 when Shawn Thornton scored against Winnipeg.
With the Bruins in control, they added a pair of goals 1:23 apart late in the first to make it a 3-0 game after one period. Zdeno Chara pinched down low in the offensive zone and snapped a shot past Holtby at 17:07. Then the Bruins capitalized on what appeared to be a questionable interference call on Ovechkin.
Just 15 seconds into the penalty, Dougie Hamilton fired a shot from the top of the slot through a partial screen. The puck found its way past Holtby and the Bruins had a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The Capitals, who came in winners of six of their last nine games, showed some resolve in the second period. Ovechkin found Mike Ribeiro on the low left circle in front of Rask. Ribeiro redirected the puck into the part of the net vacated by Rask at 5:46 of the second. Six minutes later, the Capitals made it a one-goal game when Tomas Kundratek fired one past Rask.
Moments after Holtby turned aside Seguin, Fehr backhanded a pass from the mid-slot that deflected off the leg of Hamilton and found its way onto the stick of Wojtek Wolski, who beat Rask to tie the game, 3-3, with 6:05 left in regulation. The Bruins had one more great chance when Ovechkin was called for hooking with 2:27 left in regulation. But the Bruins managed just two shots on the power play and couldn’t get the go-ahead marker.
Then, in the opening moments of overtime, Niklas Backstrom took a puck in the neutral zone and backhanded a pass for Fehr, who streaked up the middle and beat Rask as he was falling to the ice for the game-winner. Fehr also finished with two assists on the night for the Capitals, who improved to 9-11-1.
The Bruins return to action Thursday night when they host the Maple Leafs at TD Garden. For more, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.
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