|Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask skate prior to Bruins practice||04.04.12 at 11:14 am ET|
WILMINGTON — In an encouraging sign, Bruins forward Nathan Horton and goaltender Tuukka Rask skated for 40 minutes with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides prior to Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. Neither players was not on the ice as the team began their practice Wednesday.
Horton has been out since Jan. 22, when he suffered his second concussion in seven months. He tried skating in February, but had a setback and was shut back down. Wednesday marks the first time he has skated since then.
Whether Horton returns to the Bruins at any point in the postseason remains unclear. In 46 games this season, he has 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points.
Rask suffered an abdomen strain/groin strain on March 3. He said recently that he hopes to return in time for the postseason.
Johnny Boychuk, who left Tuesday night’s game in the third period, did not practice, while Jordan Caron returned to the ice after staying away from the team Tuesday with flu-like symptoms.
|The Bruins entering the postseason: a look at how records over the last five years compare||04.03.12 at 11:53 am ET|
Back in November and December, it seemed as if the Bruins were poised to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Boston went 21-3-1 over those two months, outscored opponents by a 101-43 margin and did not lose a game in regulation throughout all of November.
The second half of the season, however, has not gone quite as well. The Bruins went two months without putting together back-to-back wins, lost a few key players (Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask) to injury and admitted to reaching a doldrums in effort-level that put their playoff positioning into question.
With just three games remaining in the season, however, the Bruins have secured a spot in the playoffs and clinched the Northeast Division, thereby ensuring themselves of the No. 2 seed entering the postseason. Although their postseason position is set, questions remain about how the sluggish second half might affect the team in the playoffs.
A glance at the team’s performance since February 1 over the last four seasons revealed that although this season’s Bruins have come back to earth since their early-winter success, they still are not far off from the team’s typical pace at this time of year. Here’s a quick look at how the Bruins have fared in February and March during their string of five consecutive postseason appearances.
Final record: 41-29-12 94 points
Record since February 1: 14-10-7
Final 10 games of regular season: 4-2-4
Playoff result: Lost in first round to Montreal (4-3)
Final record: 53-19-10, 116 points
Record since February 1: 17-11-4
Final 10 games of regular season: 8-2-0
Playoff result: Swept first round series against Montreal, lost in second round to Carolina (4-3)
Final record: 39-30-13, 91 points
Record since February 1: 16-10-3
Final 10 games of regular season: 6-4-0
Playoff result: Beat Buffalo in six-game first round series, lost in second round to Philadelphia (4-3)
Final record: 46-25-11, 103 points
Record since February 1: 18-10-4
Final 10 games of regular season: 6-3-1
Playoff result: Won Stanley Cup
Current record: 47-28-4, 98 points (could finish with as many as 104 points)
Record since February 1: 15-14-2
Last 10 games: 5-1-1 (three games remaining)
Playoff result: ?
Based on these results, the Bruins are still in good shape entering the playoffs. They are putting together wins now, and when they have had a winning record in their last 10 games, they have advanced to the second round. The Bruins also average about 16 wins in the last two months of the regular season over the last four years, and they are on pace to hit that mark this season.
They are in the middle of where they have been the past few years in point totals, and have won the second-most games of any Bruins team in the last five years with three games left to play.
The one difference between last year’s Stanley Cup championship team was its win differential since the beginning of February, which at a plus-4, was higher than it will be this season and better (albeit very slightly) than any other Bruins team in this five-year string of consecutive playoff appearances.
Of course, there are many other factors that translate into playoff success. Injuries will be an issue for the Bruins this season, as neither Horton (concussion) or Rask (groin) have been able to return to the lineup yet. Teams go on hot streaks while others suddenly go cold (think Bruins collapse in the second round of the 2010 playoffs). Sometimes, playoff favorites suffer stunning upsets and other times, Cinderella stories change a team’s fortune in the blink of an eye.
But in terms of records and win-loss trends at least, the Bruins are right on track to at least put up a fight in their campaign as defending Stanley Cup Champions.
|No change in Nathan Horton’s status, but Rich Peverley will travel with Bruins||03.20.12 at 12:39 pm ET|
Peverley has not played since Feb. 15 due to a knee sprain, but started skating again last Wednesday. He has yet to take physical contact, but is considered day-to-day by the team.
Julien also said that there is no news regarding the status of concussed forward Nathan Horton, and that the winger will not be traveling with the team.
“No, same old same old,” Julien said of Horton. “Nothing different. He’s still working out but not on the ice yet.”
Horton has not played since Jan. 22. He has 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points in 46 games this season
|Johnny Boychuk has concussion, Bruins not sure when Nathan Horton will return||02.27.12 at 6:02 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Monday at TD Garden that defenseman Johnny Boychuk has a mild concussion after taking a hard hit from Senators forward Chris Neil Saturday.
The Bruins added two defenseman at Monday’s trade deadline in Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau, and when Boychuk is healthy, the B’s will have eight blueliners.
As for Nathan Horton, who is still out with a concussion, Chiarelli said that he expects the forward back before the end of the regular season, but that he isn’t certain.
“I expect him back, but with these things, I don’t know,” he said.
Chiarelli said that he would have liked to add two forwards at the deadline, but that the deals weren’t there to be made.
With the NHL trade deadline just hours away, NESN Bruins studio analyst Barry Pederson joined Mut & Merloni Monday afternoon to talk about what the Bruins need to improve and what kind of moves they should make, if any.
Very few major moves have been made by any teams, but Pederson said that he would be more surprised if the Bruins made no move than if they made a major trade.
“I think they need some depth, especially when Andrew Ference went down, that really showed me that you needed another left-handed defenseman,” Pederson said. “I would look for them to try to add that because I know that Dennis Seidenberg can play the right side, he showed that and then some in the playoffs what he could do when he’s with [Zdeno] Chara, and I think they’ll want to do that come playoff time again.
“I think you want to get some depth up front for the reasons we just talked about — you’re not sure what’s going to happen with Nathan [Horton], you’re hoping he can come back, and Rich Peverley with that knee injury, you never know what they’re going to be like.”
That being said, Pederson noted that the Bruins would be wise to not jeopardize the promising future that they have with their current roster.
“They’re still in great, great shape,” Pederson said. “They’ve got a great core, they’re well-positioned salary cap-wise, they’re young, they’re talented, they’re physical, they’re packing the building over here.
“The Bruins fans are excited not only because of last year’s win, but if you look ahead and you go, ‘You know what? Barring any major injuries, this organization is built to be good for a number of years to come.’ ”
Part of the reason the Bruins should be weary of a major trade, to Pederson, is that trades often come with a wide array of variables and can often backfire.
“The difficult part with that, and it’s the same thing I’m sure the Rangers are kind of talking about and Pittsburgh with [Sidney] Crosby, is you have concussions and you also have great chemistry, and that’s something that you can’t take for granted,” Pederson said. “One of the major reasons for the Bruins to be so successful in that Cup run last year was they had each other’s back.
“It was an all-for-one, one-for-all type of mentality. The Rangers, I think, have that right now, I think Pittsburgh’s getting that. That, to me, is so important.”
|Brad Marchand on M&M: Actions of Canadians fans ‘just embarrassing’||02.17.12 at 2:56 pm ET|
Bruins forward Brad Marchand made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni Friday afternoon to discuss his criticism of Canadians fans and his father’s role in keeping him stable after the Stanley Cup last summer, among other things.
After Canadiens fans cheered Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara getting hit in the face with a puck in the Bruins’ 4-3 win Wednesday, Marchand was publicly outspoken about the fans’ reaction. To him, it was a disrespectful move that is never justified in sports, no matter what teams are playing.
“Anytime a guy gets hurt, you have to respect the fact that he’s out there doing his job, trying to make a living,” Marchand said. “It’s a dangerous sport, it’s a dangerous game and when people are cheering’¦if he takes a puck in the throat, it could have been a really bad situation. The fact that they were cheering when he got hurt, it’s just embarrassing.”
Marchand has found himself in the news recently for his off-the-ice actions, as he revealed in a recent Sports Illustrated interview that he was too drunk to appear in the Bruins’ commemorative championship DVD. He admitted that he had too much fun in the aftermath of winning the Stanley Cup, but that his father was a crucial figure in helping him stay in line.
“He sat me down after a while and was actually really upset with me, just like, ‘You’re taking it too far, you’ve only won it one time. I don’t want you to win it once, I want you to win it three or four [times],'” Marchand said. “So he said, ‘If you win two Cups in the next three years, I’ll leave you alone and let you celebrate and party the way you want to. He said, ‘Until then, I’m going to be all over you until you do it again.’ I like the challenge.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Claude Julien says Nathan Horton ‘back to square one’ in recovery from concussion||02.10.12 at 12:21 pm ET|
When Bruins coach Claude Julien frustratingly declared Tuesday that he was “done talking about” Nathan Horton‘s progress after he was supposed to have skated Sunday, something seemed fishy. As it turns out, Horton has indeed had a setback.
Julien said after Friday’s practice that Horton did not react well to skating earlier this week, and is “back to square one” in his recovery from his latest concussion.
“He’s been pulled back,” Julien said. “He’s got some symptoms, so we pulled him back. That’s why I said as far as for me to come out every and [say there’s a] step forward, a step backward. He’s back to square one and we’re giving him some time here. Those symptoms, once he got back on the ice, came back.”
Horton rode the stationary bike late last week and took to the ice on Sunday, but when symptoms returned, the team pulled the first-line winger back.
Horton suffered his second concussion since June on a hit from Philadelphia’s Tom Sestito on Jan. 22. His concussion has kept him out of the last six games.