|Pierre McGuire: ‘Hated’ Bruins’ schedule to open season||10.23.14 at 2:12 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB in advance of Thursday night’s Bruins matchup against the Islanders. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Bruins got off to a slow start to the season — going 1-3 in their first four games, but McGuire said some of that was because of the way their schedule was constructed — playing those four games in a six-day span.
“I hated the way their season started, not the way they were playing, but the way the schedule was set up for them,” he said. “I think I talked to you guys about it, they almost had eight days where they had three games in four nights. That’s crazy stuff. Then, when you compound that with a [Monday] afternoon game at home after a Saturday night loss, that’s really hard. I’m not making excuses for them, but they are starting to settle into what team they want to be.”
He also noted the team was coming off of trading veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders, just prior to the regular season.
“I think they were all a little stunned about Johnny Boychuk being traded to the Islanders because he was an extremely popular guy on their team,” said McGuire. “They started the season without Gregory Campbell, he’s a very important guy on that team. I think they are feeling their way through, but they are starting heat up. I liked their game the other night against San Jose, especially the last parts of that game.”
The Bruins and Boychuk will be reunited Thursday night as the Islanders will be at TD Garden. Boychuk has had a strong start to the season, posting two goals and four assists over the first six 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.
|Gregory Campbell a game-time decision for Bruins Thursday||10.16.14 at 6:36 pm ET|
Campbell missed all of training camp and the Bruins’ first five games with a core injury. In his place, the Bruins used Craig Cunningham at center for the Bruins’ first three games and Ryan Spooner for the last two. The Bruins clearly haven’t been satisfy with their play in that spot, as Spooner was given just 4:22 of ice time in Wednesday’s game, which also featured a five-minute overtime.
According to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe, Spooner will be sent to Providence to play wing once Campbell is ready to play.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Gregory Campbell skating, doubtful to begin season||10.02.14 at 2:36 pm ET|
Campbell has missed all of training camp thus far, but began skating Thursday when he took the ice by himself at TD Garden.
“I don’t know where he stands. He’s skating now, he just started skating on his own,” Julien said. “I think it’ll be doubtful to start the season because starting to skate and get full practices and contact, getting in game shape, it’s going to be tough for him to do that in this short span. The good thing is he’s skating and hopefully he progresses in the right direction.”
With Campbell out, either Chris Kelly or Craig Cunningham could center the fourth line to begin the season.
Julien also said that players who have already been cut are possibilities to play in Friday night’s game against the Islanders. Justin Florek, Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev were among four cuts made Wednesday. Linus Arnesson never skated in training camp due to a groin injury and was never listed in the team’s cuts, but Julien said Wednesday that the defenseman was no longer in camp.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Claude Julien: David Pastrnak, Gregory Campbell ‘getting close’||09.23.14 at 2:14 pm ET|
Neither David Pastrnak (bruised shoulder) nor Gregory Campbell (core) practiced Tuesday, and both will miss Tuesday night’s preseason game against the Canadiens. Linus Arnesson (groin) skated on his own Monday and is getting closer to rejoining practices.
Campbell has yet to participate in training camp practices.
“He’s getting better every day is what I’ve been told. He hasn’t skated yet, but he’s really feeling optimistic,’ Claude Julien said before the team left for Montreal Tuesday. “From what I’m being told by our trainers, he’s getting closer and closer.”
Pastrnak left the first of two sessions Saturday with after getting hit into the boards. He has not taken the ice since.
The 2014 first-round pick spent his only full day of camp, Friday, on a line with David Krejci.
“Pastrnak is still day-to-day. He’s feeling better all the time as well,” Julien said. “I would put [him and Campbell] in the same boat,’ he said. ‘Trainers haven’t told me that they’re ready to practice yet, but they’re getting close and that’s the report that I’m getting from our guys.”
Craig Cunningham, who was recently dealing with mono, joined training camp Tuesday.
|David Pastrnak, Gregory Campbell remain out for Bruins||09.22.14 at 2:05 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins continued training camp with two practices at Ristuccia Arena Monday. The team was still split into two squads, though they were different from the two groups the B’s had used in the first two days of practices.
David Pastrnak (shoulder) did not practice Monday, while Gregory Campbell (core) and Linus Arnesson (groin) also were absent. Milan Lucic, who did not play in Sunday’s scrimmage as he continued his recovery from wrist surgery, did take part in Monday’s practice.
After the practice, Claude Julien gave a slight update on Pastrnak’s condition.
“To be honest with you, I’ve been told he’s day-to-day. What does that mean? Exactly what they’re saying,” he said. “It’s not a dislocated shoulder; it’s nothing like that. It’s some sort of a bruised shoulder, so we’ve got to wait and see how it heals.
Julien downplayed that missing time could ruin Pastrnak’s chances of making the team. Even if Pastrnak misses some time in training camp, the B’s can keep him for nine games of the regular season before they have to make a decision on beginning his entry-level contract or returning him to his team in Sweden.
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s day-to-day,” Julien said. “We’ve still got some time before the regular-season. I can’t control [when he returns], but we’ll see when he’s ready to come back.”
With Reilly Smith and Torey Krug still without contracts, Seth Griffith remained on Patrice Bergeron‘s line in place of Smith, with Brad Marchand in his usual spot on the other wing. Matt Fraser and Loui Eriksson flanked David Krejci. Pastrnak had been on Krejci’s right wing until he suffered his shoulder injury in the first of two sessions for his group on Saturday.
The Bruins have a busy week of preseason games ahead of them, as they will play four games this week beginning with an exhibition against the Canadiens Tuesday night in Montreal.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
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