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Andy Brickley: Bruins ‘should have close-out ability,’ ‘haven’t shown it consistently enough’ 03.20.13 at 12:21 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

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.”

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Blown away: Bruins blow three-goal lead, lose in OT to Capitals 03.05.13 at 9:51 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton celebrates after scoring Boston's third goal that gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead in the first period. (AP)

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.

The Bruins had two golden chances to build on their one-goal lead in the third period but neither David Krejci nor Tyler Seguin could finish 3-on-1 breaks on Holtby.

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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Late hit: Canadiens make Zdeno Chara and Bruins pay 03.03.13 at 10:14 pm ET
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Milan Lucic and the Bruins brought the fight to the Canadiens but came up short. (AP)

Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais scored third period goals under four minutes apart to erase a one-goal deficit after 40 minutes and beat the Bruins, 4-3, Sunday night at TD Garden. The Canadiens overcame a career-high three assists from Brad Marchand to avenge a 2-1 loss to the Bruins on Feb. 6 in Montreal. The win also gives the Canadiens 32 points, two more than the second-place Bruins in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins had their six-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the third time this season in regulation, falling to 14-3-2 on the season.

The game was highlighted by several fights, including one involving Zdeno Chara. The Bruins captain was lost for 17 minutes late in the second period and over half of the third period when he fought Alexei Emelin, who moments earlier hit Tyler Seguin.

The Canadiens jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Tomas Plekanec took a centering pass from former Bruin Michael Ryder and partially fanned on the shot. But Plekanec got just enough of the puck to throw off Rask, who had the puck trickle past him just 21 seconds after Andrew Ference went off for an interference penalty.

The Bruins then turned up the intensity, thanks in large part to a big forecheck from Milan Lucic. Tyler Seguin tied the game when he took a pass from Patrice Bergeron and beat Peter Budaj. But the tie game lasted only 16 seconds as on the next rush up the ice, Dasharnais centered a puck for Pacioretty. The puck never reached Pacioretty and instead went off the stick of Johnny Boychuk and past Rask for a 2-1 Canadiens lead after 20 minutes. The Bruins set the tone, however, out-hitting Montreal, 15-8, in the opening period.

The Bruins dominated the second period from nearly every aspect, including the penalty kill. The Canadiens had a 5-on-3 power play for 70 seconds but thanks to zone clears by Lucic and Hamilton, the Bruins were able to kill off the entire two-man advantage, allowing just one shot on goal in the process.

Just prior to the two-man advantage, the Bruins reclaimed the lead on goals by Patrice Bergeron and Dougie Hamilton. Seguin fed Bergeron at the right post. Bergeron tried to stuff the shot past Budaj and finally got some help when Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov, crashing the net to help, kicked the puck past his own goalie with his left skate to tie the game, 2-2.

The Bruins took their only lead of the night just over five minutes later when Hamilton put himself on the low right of Budaj and turned his upper body just in time to take a pass from Marchand. Hamilton one-timed the shot from the bad angle past Budaj for a 3-2 lead.

The turning point of the game would come with 4:25 left in the second. Seguin was skating through the neutral zone with the puck when Emelin checked him to the ice. Seguin went down immediately, holding his left side and skating off slowing to the dressing room. Seconds later, Chara took revenge with a devastating check on Emelin, sparking a one-sided fight between the two. Chara was assessed a two-minute instigating penalty, five-minute fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct, adding up to 17 minutes of lost ice time for the Bruins top defenseman. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dougie Hamilton might look like Beaker, but he’s no Muppets buff 02.27.13 at 2:47 pm ET
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Bostonbruinsfan.com image

WILMINGTON — Dougie Hamilton is a smart guy. He knows the game of hockey well, and he was a superb student before his NHL career, winning the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year in 2011.

There is one thing he doesn’t know, however, and that’s the Muppets.

A photoshopped picture of Hamilton, done by the website bostonbruinsfan.com, made the rounds on Tuesday night. The image had a frowning Hamilton next to a picture of Beaker in a Bruins uniform. The Bruins saw it on the bus after their 4-1 win over the Islanders last night and had a good laugh over it.

The picture was hilarious to teammates, but though Hamilton said he found it funny, he didn’t get the joke as well as the rest of the team.

“I don’t know who Beaker is,” he admitted Thursday.

That didn’t sit well with Milan Lucic.

“Looch was really upset about that,” Brad Marchand said. “Looch asked every person on the plane last night if they knew who the Muppets were after Dougie said he didn’t know. We had some fun about that one. I hope Looch has settled down a little bit about that one.”

Often the target of jokes from teammates and opponents himself, Marchand is glad to see the Hamilton — a very business-like player for a rookie — get involved with the good-natured ribbing.

“Everyone gets it from day to day,” Marchand. “It’s funny to see Dougie react to things like that. He’s new and young and guys like to have fun with it. He’s good about it, he takes it in stride.”

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Phil Kessel trade comes full circle as Dougie Hamilton faces hometown Maple Leafs 02.01.13 at 3:31 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton's NHL career has gotten off to a strong start. (AP)

WILMINGTON — Bruins rookie Dougie Hamilton will experience a couple of firsts Saturday night against the Maple Leafs. Not only will it be his first time facing the team he grew up for rooting in their building, but it will be the first time he faces Phil Kessel.

Were it not for Kessel, Hamilton probably wouldn’t be a Bruin — instead, he’d likely be a Maple Leaf. The ninth overall pick in 2011, Hamilton was the second of two first-round picks traded from the Leafs to the B’s in 2009 in exchange for Kessel. The other one was 2010 second overall pick Tyler Seguin, and Saturday will mark the first time that all three players take the same ice at the same time.

Though their careers have yet to fully play out, the trade has been viewed as lopsided in the Bruins’ favor, based on the elite talent they were able to net in Seguin and Hamilton. Both players are Ontario natives who grew up Leafs fans (Seguin hails from Brampton, while Hamilton is a Toronto native), so watching a pair of local stars play big roles for the rival Bruins is a tough thing for fans of the Maple Leafs to do.

“It’s cool,” Hamilton said his connection to the Leafs. “It doesn’t really mean anything to me. I wasn’t really part of the trade. I was just the pick I guess. I don’t really think about it, I don’t really care about it, so it doesn’t really matter.”

So far this season, Kessel, Seguin and Hamilton each have four points, with Seguin’s empty-netter against the Hurricanes Monday the only goal scored between them. Last season, Seguin was a Leafs-killer with seven goals with four assists in six games against Toronto, so perhaps Seguin can pick up his first real goal of the season and then some on Saturday. If Bruins fans want to get greedy, perhaps Hamilton could score the first goal of his NHL career against Kessel and the Leafs.

While Hamilton understands that he will always be connected to the Kessel trade, he is more excited to take the ice at Air Canada Centre, especially as a visitor.

“I guess I always dreamt of playing for the Leafs, but I think as I’ve gotten older, I think it will be cooler to be on the other side,” he said.

While one would think the 19-year-old would have plenty of friends and family hounding him for tickets to his homecoming, Hamilton insisted that while he’ll have a few family members in the stands, his friends will have to find their own way in.

“They’re getting their own tickets,” he said. “It makes it easier on me.”

As for things in Boston, they’ve been pretty good for Hamilton. The 19-year-old has fit in quite nicely for the B’s, as his four assists are tied for second on the team, as are his 21 shots on goal.

It’s only been seven games, but Hamilton has been through the hype machine that comes with being a top-10 pick coming into a big market, and when asked about the “Dougie mania” that’s been going on — the chants, the playing of Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How To Dougie,” etc. — he said he’s quite all right with it.

“I think for me,” he said, “I’m just going day by day and just trying to enjoy myself and have fun.

“I don’t mind the Dougie mania,” he added with a grin. “It’s OK with me.”

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Barry Pederson on D&C: Bruins good, but ‘not anywhere near hitting on all cylinders’ yet 01.30.13 at 10:40 am ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson spoke with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning about the Bruins’ hot start, Dougie Hamilton‘s role, and which players aren’t quite in top form yet.

“I think the exciting thing is, they’ve got [11] points and they’re not anywhere near hitting on all cylinders,” Pederson said. ”What I saw in November and December of [2011] was, to me, the best I’ve sen a Bruins team play since the [Bobby] Orr and [Phil] Esposito days. When they were just totally dominating after those two months, and then just ran out of gas.

“That’s when the Bruins are hitting on all cylinders to me — when their team defense is good, they’re getting contributions from their special teams. This is a team that’s right up there as the best 5-on-5 team in the National Hockey League. It doesn’t take much to contribute on special teams to put them over the hump. But I think, more importantly, when you see this team playing physically and dominating teams on the forechecking game, that’s when they’re hitting on all cylinders.”

After seeing Tyler Seguin‘s shootout bid interrupted by an “unidentified food object” in Tuesday night’s shootout win over the Devils, Pederson offered some of the stranger things he saw thrown on the ice during his NHL career.

“Thumbtacks, some beer bottles. Of course it was crazy when beer bottles were glass,” he said. “There’s animals and rats and everything else. It was kind of funny there, but as we all know, one of the things you hate when you’re out there playing is something you can’t see on the ice and you step on it, and bang, somebody blows out a knee.”

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Shootout magic: Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask come up big as Bruins beat Devils 01.29.13 at 9:48 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton provided early energy for the Bruins with his bout vs. Devils forward Krys Barch. (AP)

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 »

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