|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘I think everybody wants [fighting] in the game’||12.04.13 at 9:49 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday for his weekly discussion, as the B’s prepare for a Thursday night game in Montreal against the Canadiens.
Thornton said players who join the Bruins should know how heated this rivalry can be before stepping onto the ice.
“You are expected to, but it probably took a game or three for me to actually really understand it,” he said. “Now I fully embrace it.”
Added Thornton: “You just get an appreciation for the deep-rooted history of hatred for each other. Being in that building and then coming into our building, there’s an energy level that you don’t really know about until you’re involved in it. I’m excited for our new guys to actually get a taste of it here.”
Despite the nastiness that sometimes has surrounded the rivalry, Thornton said he feels comfortable mingling with the locals while in the city.
“They’re very knowledgeable fans up there. They’re very passionate, obviously,” he said. “For the most part, they’re hockey fans. Even if they don’t like us, there might be some chirping and stuff, but no [more than that].”
There has been a movement to curtail fighting in hockey, but Thornton said he does not believe it will be banned from the game while he is playing.
“I think they want it in the game. I think everybody wants it in the game,” Thornton said. “But they’re kind of at a stage now with all the [concussion] stuff going on that the league’s been put in a position that they have to cover their own [butts] about it. I think that’s the biggest reason that you feel this sort of push towards I guess it being phased out a little. But I think it’s more about covering their own [butts] than anything else.”
|Reilly Smith is just trying to ‘keep the ball rolling’||11.23.13 at 8:22 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien looks on the ice and sees the skill of Reilly Smith. Then he has to remind himself and others that he is just 22 years of age.
On Saturday, he saw a sure-fire sign that Smith is fully capable of handling the load at the NHL level. With 6:29 left in the second period of a 1-1 game, Smith broke in on Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward and had the puck on his backhand. Earlier in the season, Smith’s eyes might have gotten too big and he might have felt the pressure to rush the shot. But not Saturday. He waited.
Smith took a pass from Carl Soderberg in the low slot between the circles, skated across the crease and flipped the puck just hard enough that Ward couldn’t control it, providing the go-ahead goal, already the fourth of the season with his new team.
“Kells [Chris Kelly] was tied up in front so he kind of set up a good pick, I didn’t want to force it right through and I thought I might have a little more net going to my backhand,” Smith explained. “Cam [Ward] still almost had it so I was kind of lucky that it snuck through.”
Does Saturday’s patience on the goal show he’s getting more comfortable?
“Absolutely, just little things like that where probably a few weeks or a month ago I probably wouldn’t have done that, I probably would have tried to get it on net right away,” Smith said. “With every day, you build confidence.
“Every day gets a little bit easier. When you stay with the same linemates, for a few weeks or a month, everyday gets easier, chemistry builds every day so just take it day by day but I think everything is going pretty well right now, just try to keep the ball rolling.”
With Kelly and Carl Soderberg on the third line, the young winger acquired along with Loui Eriksson from Dallas for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley is looking more and more ready to fit in on a regular basis.
“They just feel better more and more about playing together,” Julien said. “They’re reading off of each other extremely well; I said that earlier in an interview about how they’re just reading off each other, they’re anticipating, so they’re always on top of the puck. We still have some lines right now that are kind of waiting to see what the puck carrier is going to do with it and you hope that with time we can get that same level as that third line is right now of anticipating well. They know exactly where they want to go and where they’re going to put the puck so they’re on top of it all the time and the last few games they’ve had a lot of chances and a lot of offensive zone time.
“Again, we’re talking about a young player here. I keep saying it all the time, we always seem to overlook his age and he’s a young player. And the way I think he’s handled himself in pressure situations and handling the puck a little bit better and holding onto it. And at the same time, I thought tonight he shot the puck a little bit more; he had a little bit better of a nose for the net and before, looking to make plays versus shooting the puck. So he’s really turned a corner and is really coming along well for a young player.”
It’s not just Julien either. Smith is winning over veteran teammates at the same time.
“I didn’t know much about him before he got traded,” David Krejci said. “I know he’s a great player, he’s still young, but he’s playing like a ten year vet [veteran]. It’s good to see him doing well; hopefully he can keep it up.”
|Patrice Bergeron’s line too quiet for Bruins||11.06.13 at 7:05 pm ET|
Loui Eriksson is back. Now how about some goals?
No, not just from Eriksson, but from Patrice Bergeron‘s line as a whole. Regardless of who else has been on Bergeron’s line — and there have been three different configurations so far this season — it hasn’t been scoring.
In the last seven games, Bergeron’s line, whether Reilly Smith-Bergeron-Eriksson, Smith-Bergeron-Brad Marchand or Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson, has scored a grand total of one goal. Bergeron is one of the best players in the league (arguably the best player on the Bruins), but top-six lines need to produce, and his hasn’t.
Bergeron’s third-period goal last Wednesday is the second line’s only goal since the Bruins’ 5-0 win over the Lightning on Oct. 19. It’s safe to say that Lightning game was the most complete game the B’s have played this season, and a lot of that is due to the fact that Bergeron’s line simply hasn’t been going.
Consider that Bergeron himself has been a minus player in two of the last three games and three times this season after having a negative rating in just five games total last season. Goals are being scored against the Bergeron line, but just as worrisome is the fact that it hasn’t been producing.
Sure, there are some reasons as to why. Bergeron’s coming off a few injuries, there’s turnover with Eriksson coming aboard, there have been moving parts on the wings and Marchand is in the midst of what will likely go down as one of the worst slumps (12 games without a goal) of his career. That’s no excuse for a line centered by Bergeron to be anything less than very good.
‘There have been a lot of changes, but the bottom line is that you have to find ways to do your job,’ Bergeron said. ‘It seems now that hopefully it’s going to stay [the same] and we can do some great things.’
Indeed, it does. Tuesday’s game marked the first of this season that the Bruins used the lines they had put in place in the final week of the preseason to be their lineup. Yet injuries to Carl Soderberg and Eriksson messed with that, and on Tuesday the Bruins played their fifth game of the season with the Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson line. It was the first time the trio had played together since the second period of the fourth game of the season.
While the results were underwhelming with a no-show on the scoring sheet, the line actually did play well, with the trio moving the puck well and creating chances in Eriksson’s first game back from a concussion.
Encouraging is good, but it doesn’t put points on the table. Marchand, who spent four games and a period on the third line after a demotion against the Blue Jackets last month, has just one goal through 14 games this season. Last season he’d already scored nine times through 14 contests.
Between Marchand’s struggles and Eriksson’s absence, Claude Julien doesn’t sound too surprised by the lack of offensive output.
‘You’ve got a guy that just came back from a concussion, and you’ve got another guy that hasn’t played extremely well,’ Julien said. ‘There’s a mixture there that doesn’t really [suggest] success, does it? I think it’s just a matter of getting those guys going.’
Tuesday was definitely a step in the right direction, but the B’s need their second line’s fortune to change if the team wants to have the success of years past. Remember, all three members of the line (Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Marchand) found themselves top five in the league in plus/minus two seasons ago. Those kind of numbers don’t come without putting the puck in the net.
‘I’m trying to play my game and do everything right, but production is part of my game also, and I need to find that,’ Bergeron said. ‘With that being said, it’s about bearing down when we do have some chances.’
|Loui Eriksson, Johnny Boychuk expected to return to Bruins lineup vs. Stars||11.05.13 at 11:58 am ET|
Both Loui Eriksson and Johnny Boychuk are set to return from injuries Tuesday against the Stars. Eriksson has been out with a concussion since Oct. 23, while Boychuk left Thursday’s game after crashing into the boards and did not play Saturday.
Eriksson has passed all the tests required to play, while Boychuk said he is 100 percent. Claude Julien said both are expected to be in Tuesday’s lineup.
“Their status is good,” Julien said. “Loui will definitely be in, more than likely Johnny as well.”
Eriksson skated on the right wing of Patrice Bergeron‘s line in Tuesday’s morning skate. Tuesday marked his fifth consecutive day on the ice, with Monday being the first in which he took contact.
With Eriksson back, the Bruins’ forward lines are as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand – Bergeron – Eriksson
Soderberg – Kelly – Smith
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
For Eriksson, it will be his first game playing against the only other NHL team for which he has played.
“I have a lot of good memories from Dallas, when I played there, but right now they’ve changed almost the whole team,” Eriksson said. “It’s a brand new team for them, but I was in Dallas for eight years. You get used to everything there, and you miss some things there, but it’s nice to come here. It’s a real nice city to play in. ‘¦ I really like it here, and the team is good too.”
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|John Scott texted Loui Eriksson to apologize for hit||11.04.13 at 1:38 pm ET|
Bruins forward Loui Eriksson said Monday that John Scott sent him a text message to apologize for an elbow to the head that left Eriksson concussed and Scott suspended for seven games.
“He texted me and wrote me an apology,” Eriksson said. “That was good by him.”
Eriksson is nearing a return to the lineup after practicing and taking contact Monday. As for what he felt about the hit, Eriksson said it wasn’t pretty, but he was relatively measured in speaking about it.
“I didn’t remember the first two minutes after I got hit,” Eriksson said. “I’ve seen the replay, and it wasn’t the prettiest hit. The league made a decision to suspend him for seven games, and they took a good look at it. It’s a bad hit, and I don’t have more to say about that.”
|Loui Eriksson takes contact, could return Tuesday vs. Stars||at 12:49 pm ET|
Both Loui Eriksson and Johnny Boychuk were on the ice for Monday’s practice, with Eriksson participating fully and taking contact for the first time since suffering a concussion last month against the Sabres.
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand/Caron – Bergeron – Eriksson
Soderberg – Kelly – Smith
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
After practice, Eriksson said that he hopes to return to the lineup Tuesday against his former team.
“The head is getting better and I’m feeling pretty good right now,” he said. “We’ll see about tomorrow. I still have some testing to do, but I’m feeling much better than when I got hit.”
It was just last Monday that Julien had said that Eriksson was “at least” a week away from skating, but he’s zipped through the stages of protocol and could potentially play Tuesday.
“As long as you’ve passed all the different stages of the protocol, you’re good,” Julien said. “He went through one and felt good, then skated, then skated with us on the Island and he skated again yesterday. He’s had no issues so far. Today he had the opportunity to have a full workout with the team, and he still has to go through some tests before he’s cleared, and we’ll go day by day with his situation.”
As for Boychuk, Julien said the defenseman is still considered day-to-day. Boychuk left Thursday’s game against the Ducks after crashing into the boards in the second period and did not play Saturday against the Islanders.
|Report: Bruins send Ryan Spooner back to Providence||11.03.13 at 3:22 pm ET|
According to Kirk Luedeke, the Bruins have sent forward Ryan Spooner back to Providence. Spooner was recalled Thursday and has played in the Bruins’ last two games, picking up a secondary assist in each contest.
With Spooner back in Providence, the Bruins can insert Jordan Caron back into the lineup after the 23-year-old spent the last two games as a healthy scratch. It is also an indication that Loui Eriksson, who is back skating, is getting closer to making a return to the lineup.
Eriksson skated in Saturday’s morning skate (non-contact), and it is currently unknown whether he has been cleared to take contact. Whether he participates in practice Monday will be very telling in that regard.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.