|Claude Julien: ‘We’re really struggling with our finish lately’||10.15.13 at 10:19 am ET|
Claude Julien isn’t about to panic about his team’s lack of finish to start the season.
After all, the Bruins have been through this before in the last several seasons and eventually found their touch when it mattered most late in the season.
Still, Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Red Wings stung because the Bruins not only have five power play chances but a 5-on-3 for nearly a full two minutes and had good puck possession time in the offensive end but couldn’t get one past Jonas Gustavsson. The Bruins have just 12 goals in five games. Only Buffalo and Ottawa have scored fewer in the new eight-team Atlantic Division.
“We’re really struggling with our finish lately,” Julien said. “It looks like we’re feeling the pressure of scoring goals and they’re not coming easy. So it’s been like that. Even the game in Columbus, took us a while to get going there, obviously Colorado. So I think our goal scoring confidence is probably not where we’d like it to be right now but you have to work through those things.”
As for the experience of having gone through this before, Julien says there are similar tendencies he seen over the years.
“We go through that it seems like every year at some point,” Julien added. “You’re seeing guys either fanning or shooting over the net. There were some scrambles there today where everybody thought the puck was going in the net and whether the goalie stops it or pucks are bouncing it doesn’t matter; the confidence isn’t there right now. So wait on that when the confidence comes back; you’re going to see us score some goals because we feel we have some guys that can score goals on this team.”
The only player who seems to be gripping the stick tighter than anyone right now – by his own admission – is Jarome Iginla. The star forward is still looking for his first goal in a Bruins uniform. He had five more shots on goal on Monday and 19 for the season in five games and still nothing.
“I had some great looks,” Iginla said. “I’ve had great looks for a few games. And pretty much I’ve been getting more chances and you get to a five on three you get chances like that you want to score. I think I missed the net on a couple goals, I think it’s probably just being a little too anxious. Just lifting my head up and you want to get that goal for the team and just get one and get feeling it. At times you squeeze a little too hard, its all those clichÃ©s, sayings you hear, you try to swing a little too hard and lift my head a little bit. And just not in a grove there where you just want to kind of will it in the net as opposed to let it happen.”
“I think he can shoot the puck a lot better than we’ve seen him because we know he’s a good shooter,” Julien said. “So, whether that’s pressing or whether that’s circumstances I don’t know. But he’s been around the league long enough, he’s going to find his way and he’s going to score some goals for us and he’s going to be the player that we thought he would be for our hockey club. So right now it just isn’t there and I see maybe a little hesitation in shooting where, when a player has confidence, their release is a little quicker too.”
|New guys help Bruins top Blue Jackets||10.12.13 at 4:39 pm ET|
The Bruins’ two biggest offseason additions made the difference Saturday as Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson helped the B’s past the Blue Jackets, 3-1, in Columbus. Eriksson scored his first goal as a Bruin in the third period, which proved to be the game-winner.
The Blue Jackets got on the board late in the first period, when Jack Johnson fired a slap shot past Tuukka Rask with Patrice Bergeron in the box for holding. It was Columbus’ third shot on goal of the game, as the Blue Jackets mustered only four shots on goal in the first period and one in the first 17:05.
The Bruins tied it up in the second period when Iginla made the most of his time on the penalty kill. Right after a Chris Kelly penalty expired, Iginla fed Kelly in the neutral zone and saw the veteran center enter the offensive zone and fire a slap shot that beat Sergei Bobrovsky five-hole. Eriksson then gave the B’s in the third period with a 2-on-1 goal assisted by Patrice Bergeron. The B’s got an empty-netter from Milan Lucic, putting he and Kelly in a tie for the team lead with two goals this season.
Matt Bartkowski made his season debut Saturday, playing on the second pairing with Dennis Seidenberg, while Dougie Hamilton was a healthy scratch. Brad Marchand was pulled off the second line in the third period, as he and Reilly Smith were flip-flopped. Smith picked up the secondary assist on Eriksson’s goal.
The Bruins will return to Boston to host the Red Wings Monday at TD Garden.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Jarome Iginla establishes physical presence in Bruins debut||10.03.13 at 11:29 pm ET|
Jarome Iginla didn’t think it was a particularly dirty hit. He just didn’t like being knocked to the ice by Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas, so he decided to say something. After a quick verbal exchange, the gloves were off and Iginla had his first fight as a Bruin.
“It is always nice [to get the first fight out of the way],” Iginla said. “Between seasons, with the summer off, you always feel a little bit rusty at the start. It’s always nice. Just going off emotion. Nothing planned. Just got run over. That’s part of it.”
Whether it was the best time for Iginla to drop the gloves is highly debatable. He’s a first-line winger, and Gudas is not a first-pairing defenseman. On top of that, the Bruins had the lead at the time. All things considered, the Lightning would take that trade-off every time, especially since they ended up scoring just 1:26 after the fight.
But the fight did serve a purpose for Iginla. It was the centerpiece of his effort to establish himself on a new team. Combined with some of the hits he threw as an aggressive forechecker, the fight let everyone know that, at age 36, the future Hall of Famer is still going to be as physical as he’s always been.
And on a team that takes pride in sticking up for each other, Iginla made it known that he’s perfectly capable of sticking up for himself and fighting his own battles.
“That’s been Bruins hockey for a long time,” Iginla said. “Guys stick up for each other, but you also have to stick up for yourself. You don’t want anyone else rushing in on a good, clean hit. It’s just part of the intensity, part of the emotion.”
While it wasn’t Iginla’s primary motivation for dropping the gloves, the fight also won over the small group of Bruins fans who hadn’t quite forgiven Iginla for spurning the B’s in favor of the Penguins last season. There had even been a few boos when Iginla was introduced before the game.
But after the fight? Standing ovation.
“It felt good to play here and play at home, have the crowd, and be a Bruin,” Iginla said. “Guys play hard. Some big blocked shots. [Shawn Thornton] starting it off with a tilt there. There’s some hits. It felt good to be a part of an intense season opener again to get things started.”
Ultimately, the Bruins didn’t bring Iginla to Boston to be a fighter. They brought him here to be the first-line goal scorer he’s been his whole career. And given that Iginla scored 14 goals in last year’s lockout-shortened season and 30 or more in each of the 11 seasons prior to that, there’s every reason to believe he’ll be that.
Iginla’s track record speaks for itself. He didn’t need to prove himself to anyone on Thursday night. But the fact that he wanted to prove himself — to his new teammates and to his new home crowd — certainly bodes well for the Bruins.
|Jarome Iginla looking forward to not getting booed||at 12:42 pm ET|
For most of the Bruins, Thursday night marks their first step in a process in settling unfinished business from last June. For three Bruins, it marks the start of a new chapter in their careers.
Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith will all make their Bruins debuts when the team opens the 2013-14 season against the Lightning at TD Garden. Though the three have a training camp and some preseason games under their belts, they know that nothing they’ve experienced in Boston will compare to the first one that matters.
For Eriksson and Smith, the experience should be extra eye-opening. Eriksson spent the first seven years of his NHL career playing in Dallas, while Smith is entering his second season. Though the Stars drew relatively well last season, coming to Boston from Dallas marks a big change as far as hockey atmospheres go.
“I’ve seen in these weeks that I’ve been here, there are a lot of fans around here,” Eriksson said. “Everyone talks hockey in this town, and it’s nice to be in an environment like that. I’m looking forward to it.”
As for Iginla, his debut in Boston is coming months after initially expected. Iginla infamously chose not to come to the Bruins prior to the trade deadline last season, asking the Flames to instead deal him to the red hot Penguins. After expressing interest in the B’s after the season and signing with them on the first day of free agency, Iginla is happy to be in Boston and is looking forward to not getting booed, as he was around these parts following the trade.
“I’m hoping not,” he said with a laugh. “I hope it’s positive and I want to make a good first impression. My family and I are thrilled to be here, and it’s been a great first month being acclimated and feeling more at home. It’s a great building to play in and a tough building to play in and we want to keep it that way.”
Iginla said he’s been noticed around Boston since coming to the Bruins and that he’s been well-received. He should be, as the longtime Flames captain is one of the better guys in the league.
“It happens a little bit. There are a lot of Bruins fans,” he said. “‘¦ People just wishing you well and saying they’re excited for the year. You can definitely tell it’s a hockey city and people are into it and looking forward to getting things rolling.”
Smith gets to fly under the radar a bit more. All eyes will be on Iginla and Eriksson because of the players they are replacing, but Smith noted he’s still feeling plenty of pressure as he makes his debut. After all, he’s not ready to assume his job is safe given all the competition he has, so he’s approaching Thursday with both nerves and excitement.
“It will be really exciting, for sure,” he said. “There will be a couple butterflies before the game, but it should be a lot of fun, but I’m looking forward to it.
|Bruins season preview: Forward projections||10.01.13 at 8:23 am ET|
It isn’t the opening week of the NHL season without people incorrectly guessing what’s going to happen (not to brag, but what has two thumbs and totally called that Johnny Boychuk would score five goals in 2011-12? Yeah, that’s the extent to which these predictions have been right).
Here’s a look at the predictions for the offense. As you can probably tell by the goal totals, the thought here is that the B’s will see some bigger individual performances than in years past. Part of that is the fact that the top two lines will be very good and part of it is the smaller goalie pads.
Note: It’s silly to predict injuries, so all players’ projections will assume they play somewhere in the 75-82-game range. Extra forwards/defensemen aren’t shown given the uncertainty of whether (and where) they’ll play.
David Krejci: 23 goals, 52 assists, 75 points
Playing with two heavily motivated power forwards, Krejci sets a career high in points. Then again, he’s probably going to put up 75 points in a single playoff run one of these years.
Jarome Iginla: 35 goals, 29 assists, 64 points
Thirty-five goals for the aging Iginla — sounds crazy, right? It shouldn’t. That’s just half a goal less than what Iginla has averaged in the last four full seasons. The argument against this happening is that he’s 36 years old now, but he hasn’t appeared to have lost a step and certainly hasn’t worn down. He’s missed a grand total of zero games due to injury since January of 2007.
Milan Lucic: 31 goals, 30 assists, 61 points
Two 30-goal-scorers for the Bruins in the same season? That hasn’t happened since the 2002-03 season, but B’s came three goals away from it in 2011-12. Lucic won’t slump this season like he did last year; Iginla will demand more of him.
Patrice Bergeron: 22 goals, 49 assists, 71 points
Also look for Bergeron to be among the league-leaders in plus-minus. With the addition of Loui Eriksson to his line, the bump in offense will mean he remains a Selke favorite.
Brad Marchand: 31 goals, 26 assists, 57 points
I’m actually predicting that every player in the NHL will have 30 goals this season, including goalies. All kidding aside, there is no reason why Marchand’s numbers shouldn’t go up this season, as he’s stepping one year further into his prime and he’s playing on the best line he’s been a part of in his NHL career.
Loui Eriksson: 28 goals, 37 assists, 65 points
These numbers might not jump off the page, but we’ll go with a more conservative prediction for Eriksson as we learn more about him. Among the questions: Will he be better or worse now that he’s got people paying attention?
Chris Kelly: 12 goals, 20 assists, 32 points
Kelly doesn’t have it in him to have two bad seasons in a row, but there are definitely questions about what this line will produce.
Carl Soderberg: 14 goals, 17 assists, 31 points
At long last, Carl Soderberg is an honest-to-goodness NHLer. He’s had his training camp, he’s used to the ice and he played in two Stanley Cup finals games for good measure. We’ll see how he holds up at wing.
Reilly Smith: 10 goals, 17 assists, 27 points
After winning the job, Smith now has the challenge of keeping it. He looked good in camp, so expect him to stick.
Gregory Campbell: 10 goals, 12 assists, 22 points
He’s healthy and ready to do something ‘ anything ‘ to make people forget about his leg.
Daniel Paille: 13 goals, 10 assists, 23 points
Just a reminder: Paille scored 10 goals in the 48-game season last year. He’s a serviceable third-liner playing on the fourth line.
Shawn Thornton: 6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points
This is the last year of his current contract, but Thornton doesn’t want it to be his last in Boston.
|Takeaways from Bruins’ preseason opener: Power play looks good, Chad Johnson doesn’t||09.16.13 at 10:03 pm ET|
The Bruins opened their preseason schedule with a 6-3 win over the Canadiens Monday in Montreal. The team will play the Capitals Tuesday in Baltimore before heading back to play the Red Wings on Thursday at TD Garden.
Here are some takeaways from the game:
— Jarome Iginla had a pair of goals for the B’s, one of which was one of Boston’s four power-play goals on the day. Milan Lucic had three assists, while David Krejci also scored on a power-play goal. Safe to say the members of that line are getting used to one another.
— The power-play unit that the B’s used in practice Monday morning paid dividends on Iginla’s first goal. The unit featured Lucic, Carl Soderberg and Iginla up front with Torey Krug and Krejci at the point. Lucic fed Iginla down low with a cross-ice pass, with Iginla slapping a one-timer that trickled past Carey Price from the left circle.
— Regarding the backup goaltender battle, Chad Johnson did nothing to help his case. He didn’t face a shot until 12:06 of the first period, and his inability to glove the easy shot from Louis Leblanc led to a rebound and a Travis Moen goal.
Johnson also should have had the Canadiens’ second goal, a P.K. Subban shot that didn’t go through any traffic but beat Johnson cleanly. The third and final goal he allowed on the eight shots he saw came on a nice tic-tac-toe play by the Habs’ first line with Max Pacioretty finishing, but it was overall a very ugly performance for Johnson.
— Malcolm Subban relieved Johnson halfway through the second and stopped all 12 shots he saw. Subban isn’t a serious contender for the vacant backup goalie job, but he certainly looked more composed than Johnson.
Subban did take a penalty, as he played the puck outside the trapezoid, but he kept the Habs from scoring on the power play.
— While Chad Johnson struggled in goal, Nick Johnson had a pair of goals, the second of which came when he turned a blocked shot into a breakaway. His wrist shot was stopped by Carey Price, but Johnson stuck with it and buried the rebound.
— Lucic was in midseason form as physicality (and taking penalties) went, as crosschecks were buy-one-get-one at the start of the second period with Leblanc.
– Adam McQuaid dropped the gloves with Stefan Fournier in the third period. McQuaid has been no stranger to dropping the gloves over the years, and he might need to pick up a couple more with Andrew Ference gone.
|Loui Eriksson opens training camp with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand; Jarome Iginla with Milan Lucic and David Krejci||09.12.13 at 1:00 pm ET|
Claude Julien has wasted no time in trying out what could be one of the best two-way lines in the league, as Julien used Loui Eriksson on the right wing with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in line drills on the day on the ice of training camp. The second group featured Jarome Iginla in Nathan Horton‘s familiar spot with Milan Lucic and David Krejci.
Eriksson, who was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas, is considered an elite two-way player. The 28-year-old has had seasons of 36, 29 and 27 goals in his career, and he figures to replace Seguin’s offense while adding a more complete game.
“Definitely no disrespect to Segs — he’s a phenomenal player and we clicked very well; we had a couple great years together — but Loui’s a bit of a different player,” Marchand said. “He’s still a very good goal-scorer, a very good playmaker, and he plays hard in our end. I’m sure he’ll complement us very well and hopefully we’ll all be able to play well together.”
Iginla was signed in the offseason after Horton elected not to return to the B’s after three seasons in Boston.
Another line that was used quite a bit in the first group was Chris Kelly between Jordan Caron and Reilly Smith. Both Smith and Caron are competing for third-line minutes this season.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.