|Andy Brickley on M&M: NHL will ‘make an example’ of Shawn Thornton with lengthy suspension, but Brooks Orpik should have answered call to fight earlier||12.12.13 at 12:17 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni via phone from Edmonton, where the B’s play Thursday night, for his weekly discussion about the team.
“No question he crossed the line, he’s aware of that, and the league will obviously discipline him, use him as an example,” Brickley said. “This is the type of stuff that’s a hot-button issue in the National Hockey League — injuries, concussions, bad decisions, bad hits in the game. That’s what they’re trying to clean up, and it’s an opportunity for the league to really make an example of him, which they probably will do.
“Certainly in the moment, when we were doing the broadcast, when the initial hit [by Orpik on Loui Eriksson] was made and then Eriksson was concussed, obviously, no penalty on the play, I thought it was a borderline hit, could have been a penalty, could not have been a penalty. I have a hard time even with my experience knowing what’s a penalty and what’s not a penalty anymore. …
“When the first hit by Orpik was made on Eriksson, then he was challenged initially, if you remember, by Dougie Hamilton — no response. Then Shawn Thornton had the opportunity to challenge Orpik — no response. That’s when you know, because you’ve been there, that this is going to get ugly. Because if you’re not going to handle it the way the Bruins feel it should be handled, then people were going to start crossing lines and the game was going to get ugly. You knew it was going to happen, and I think that’s where it started to break down.”
Brickley said Orpik, who is known as a hard hitter but someone who does not fight, could have handled the situation better.
“This kid, he’s a good player, he’s a good hitter, he likes to hit in open ice,” Brickley said. “But he’s also got a reputation for a guy that hits the Loui Erikssons, the Jeff Skinners. He broke Erik Cole‘s neck from hitting him from behind. … When you have a reputation like that, you have to answer for those types of hits if you’re going to play that way. It’s plain and simple. That’s code. If you want to talk code, that’s code.”
Added Brickley: “Just flip it around if you want to have this kind of conversation. If Johnny Boychuck stands up and knocks Chris Kunitz on a borderline hit, interference, on-the-puck play, if you want to call it that, and Deryk Engelland comes over and challenges Boychuck, what does Boychuck do? … That’s how those plays get defused and you don’t get into the nasty anymore.”
|Bruins recall Nick Johnson on emergency basis||12.10.13 at 2:00 pm ET|
The Bruins announced a pair of roster moves Tuesday, placing Loui Eriksson on injured reserve and recalling forward Nick Johnson from Providence on an emergency basis.
Eriksson suffered a concussion in Saturday’s win over the Penguins. Placing a player on injured reserve means they can’t play for the seven days following the injury, meaning Eriksson won’t be eligible to return to the Bruins’ lineup until next Tuesday against the Flames at the earliest.
Johnson’s call-up comes with a number of Bruins battling the flu. Johnson, 27, has 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points this season with a plus-seven rating.
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|Loui Eriksson has concussion from Brooks Orpik hit, Chris Kelly also out for Bruins||12.07.13 at 10:38 pm ET|
The Bruins will be without three forwards for at least Sunday’s game against the Maple Leafs, as Loui Eriksson has a concussion, Shawn Thornton will not travel as he awaits his suspension and Chris Kelly is out with a lower-body injury.
Eriksson suffered his second concussion of the season in the first period Saturday on a hit from Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. Thornton was later given a match penalty for attacking Orpik on the ice on a play after the whistle in which he threw Orpik to the ice and knocked him out with two punches to the head.
Kelly suffered a lower-body injury on a slash in the third period. Orpik, as you could probably guess, has a concussion.
“It’s just an unfortunate situation,” Claude Julien said. “As you know, Shawn’s got a hearing with [Brendan] Shanahan now, so he won’t travel with us to Toronto tomorrow and I don’t know what’s going to happen from there. At the same time, Loui’s not traveling with us either. He’s got a concussion, and the other guy we just found out at the end of the game, Kelly has suffered an injury from a slash and he won’t be traveling with us either.”
Julien was clearly upset with the actions of both teams, including Orpik’s hit on Eriksson.
“Those are unfortunate incidents when you see guys getting injured,” Julien said. “That’s called Eriksson. It’s also called Orpik.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma thought rather differently.
“Well I think the hit by Orpik is a good hockey hit. Eriksson touches the puck, the puck’s coming around the wall there, it does take a strange bounce, he does touch the puck, and it’s a good hit,” Bylsma said. “Clearly they took exception to it. They put people on the ice to take exception to it, and the events that ensued, you saw Thornton.”
In addition to inserting Jordan Caron into the lineup, the Bruins will have to recall two players from Providence. Mark Divver of the Providence Journal reported Saturday night that those players are Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser.
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|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.”
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