|5 things we learned in Bruins’ overtime win over Sabres||10.30.14 at 9:49 pm ET|
It shouldn’t take messages from Claude Julien to his players to beat the Sabres and it shouldn’t take overtime to beat the Sabres, but the Bruins were able to breathe a sigh of relief Thursday night thanks to both.
Reilly Smith and Brad Marchand, both of whom were moved off of Patrice Bergeron‘s line to begin the game, connected for the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win in Buffalo (box score) to improve to 6-6-0 on the season.
Maybe the old lines would have gotten the job done just as well against the lowly Sabres, but the Bruins found a way to hold possession throughout the night come back in the third period from what appeared to be the very real possibility of a regulation loss to one of the worst teams in the NHL.
Either way, a new-look third line of Carl Soderberg between Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson tied the game with 5:30 remaining when Soderberg, whose faceoffs are usually taken by Chris Kelly, won a draw back to Dennis Seidenberg, who sent the puck up to Eriksson. The veteran right winger’s shot went off Marchand’s glove and in to both tie the game and save the B’s some real embarrassment.
The lines began as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Kelly – Bergeron – Gagne
Marchand – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Smith
Smith moved back up to Bergeron’s line in the second period, with Gagne returning to Campbell’s line. Kelly skating on the other wing of that Bergeron line meant that Soderberg had to assume all center responsibilities on his line, including taking faceoffs. That didn’t end up being a problem, especially on the game-tying goal.
|Johnny Boychuk has an ‘interesting’ return to Boston||10.24.14 at 1:41 am ET|
The toughest part of Thursday night’s return to Boston for Johnny Boychuk came during the national anthem.
“Just feeling the atmosphere and being back on the ice,” Boychuk said. “I tried not to look anywhere but just concentrate, and be prepared for the game. That was the most difficult part, but after the first couple shifts, then it’s time to get going.”
Boychuk was a plus-1 in 23 minutes and 25 shifts in the Islanders’ 3-2 win over the his former team at TD Garden. Only one of his “Johnny Rockets” found its way on net and it was stopped. He had two blocked shots and two giveaways. Boychuk did not figure in the scoring but was just happy to be apart of a night of appreciation from the Bruins fans who had watched him grow up in Boston.
“It was an interesting night,” Boychuk said. “You’re playing against that team, and you grew up with them, playing, for the last six years, you see them and you’re the opposition now. Looch [Milan Lucic] steamrolled me, so I’ll get a nice chuckle out of that when I see him. They’re a good team. We came in here, we were determined, and we held them off in the last five minutes. They had some good chances, but the other ex-Bruin [Chad Johnson] made some great saves for us, and kept us in the game when we needed it.”
|Milan Lucic, Bruins show what happens when you stick with game plan, don’t panic||10.22.14 at 6:32 am ET|
There may have been frustration among those in the sellout crowd at TD Garden when the Bruins allowed two goals in the span of 37 seconds of the second period Tuesday night, leading to a 3-2 deficit after 40 minutes of play. But that was not the mood in the dressing room as the Bruins prepared to take the ice in the third.
As a matter of fact, it was the determination to stick to the game plan of throwing pucks to the net and generating traffic in front of San Jose goalie Antti Niemi that Claude Julien, Milan Lucic and others credited for scoring three in the third, en route to a 5-3 win for Boston’s first winning streak of the season.
“It was exactly what we talked about after the second,” Julien said. “I really liked our game, even the second period was probably our best second period of the season. We just had that little lapse again that allowed them to score a couple goals. Coming out for the third, I thought we were playing well enough that we could give ourselves a chance if we just stayed with it. And our guys did exactly that. We found a way to get some goals. Same old, same old, getting your nose dirty around the net, jumping on those loose pucks. [It] made a big difference.”
Lucic had his most productive and active games of the season in front of the net. The effort didn’t produce any goals off his stick but he did assist on three goals, including the game-tying goal five minutes into the third period that sent the Bruins on their way.
“I think that’s the most important thing, especially when your down, is to stick with the game plan and play desperate to get yourself back in the game,” Lucic said. “Talking in the second intermission here, going out for the third, we just talked about being positive and sticking to the game plan and giving ourselves opportunities where we can get ourselves back in the game. We did that and were able to come out with a big win.”
|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.
|Milan Lucic hopes he’s getting back to normal||at 1:48 pm ET|
Inappropriate gestures aside, it’s been a weird start to the season for Milan Lucic.
The Bruins’ top left wing has had two different centers and three different right wings over seven games. In three of the first seven games, he’s played on a line that was different from the previous game. He’s also returning from offseason wrist surgery, which looks to be limiting him less and less as the games go on.
Still, numbers don’t lie. Lucic, traditionally a fast starter, has gone without a point in all but one game this season. He has no goals, with his two-point performance last week against the Canadiens remaining the only time he’s shown up on the scoresheet.
It appears that Seth Griffith will serve as Lucic and David Krejci‘s right wing Tuesday against the Sharks. The line had some good looks for three games before Griffith was replaced with Simon Gagne Saturday. Lucic feels that he can still find his way and the back of the net despite the revolving door on the right side of his line.
“I think the guys who have come in have played well,” Lucic said. “You look at the last three games, we were able to create a bunch of chances, but it seems like they’re just not going in for us right now. I don’t think overthinking anything or getting frustrated is going to get us anywhere. I think we’ve just got to keep playing in the O zone and creating chances and eventually they’ll start going in.”
As for the wrist, Lucic says it’s become less of a mental obstacle than it was earlier in the season, when he was a borderline invisible player on a borderline invisible line with Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser.
Now, with more games under his belt, Lucic doesn’t see the wrist as being an issue. All that’s left for him is to start finding the back of the net.
“[The wrist is] definitely getting a lot better, thinking about it a lot less, as far as re-injuring it again,” he said. “From a mental standpoint, it’s definitely becoming more positive.”
When asked Tuesday morning if Lucic was close to being the player he is when he’s at the top of his game, Claude Julien hinted at the obvious by saying people have seen him play long enough to know “how good he can be.” He doesn’t seem ready to use the roster uncertainty as an excuse for Lucic’s start.
“It’s up to each individual to play to their level. I’ve always said that,” Julien said. “It doesn’t matter who you play with, we rate players on their play — their sole play – and it doesn’t matter who you’re with; we still expect certain things.
“He’s come off an injury, he’s missed a little bit of the conditioning before camp started. He wasn’t able to play for a little while. What I like right now is he’s starting to come around and that’s the most important thing. I’m not going to dwell on the past more than’I like what I see he’s getting better all the time so he’s got to continue to improve.”
|Milan Lucic apologizes for ’embarrassing’ Bruins vs. Canadiens||10.18.14 at 1:13 pm ET|
Milan Lucic apologized Saturday morning for the fine-warranting gesture he made at Canadiens fans Thursday night.
Lucic made the obscene gesture as he entered the penalty box with 1:20 to play in the Bruins’ eventual 6-4 loss to the Canadiens. He argued with a referee after the Habs added a power play empty-netter, which earned him a game misconduct. He did not speak to the media after the game and was fined $5,000 for the gesture on Friday.
“I’m not proud of what I did there. I just want to apologize to our organization for embarrassing the Bruins organization,” Lucic told reporters Saturday morning in Buffalo.
“I also want to apologize to our fans and also apologize to the Montreal Canadiens organization and the Canadiens fans,” he added. “I know they can get under your skin sometimes but they are great fans. I apologize for my actions. I regret what I did.”
Lucic had a pair of assists in Thursday’s game, which were his first two points of the season. According to ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald, Simon Gagne skated on Lucic’s line with David Krejci in Saturday’s morning skate after finishing the last two games in that spot. Gagne scored late in Thursday’s game while playing with the duo.
Matt Fraser reportedly skated on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell. Such a move is interesting, as Paille played right wing Thursday when Gagne was on the line. Perhaps that was preparation for Fraser, far more effective on the left wing than on the right, to return to the lineup in the position he plays best.
|Milan Lucic fined $5K for obscene gesture toward Canadiens fans||10.17.14 at 11:57 am ET|
Milan Lucic lost his cool Thursday night, and now he’ll pay the price: $5,000.
The Bruins forward made an obscene gesture toward Montreal fans after being sent to the penalty box for boarding with 80 seconds to play and the B’s trailing by a goal.
After the Canadiens scored an empty-net goal for a 6-4 lead that would stand as the final score, Lucic proceeded to get thrown out of the game for confronting an official on his way to the bench from the box.
The league announced its decision Friday morning. The money will go to the Players’ Emergency Fund.