|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.”
|Tyler Seguin says ‘in the end, you want to play where you’re wanted’||11.05.13 at 11:28 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin made it clear after Tuesday night’s 3-2 shootout win over his former Bruins team that he is very happy in Dallas and doesn’t regret leaving Boston.
“If I got a contract or trade or asked, I don’t think I’d come back,” Seguin said. “I think, in the end, you want to play where you’re wanted. I have great relationships with our coach and our GM here and I know how much they want me. I know how much they want me and it feels great to play here. That’s all I have to say on that.”
“Pretty intense. I went into the game with the mentality, I know they’re not going to try and talk to me so I’m not going to. I’ve been in that dressing room when Joe Thornton has come to town or Phil Kessel, it’s a hockey game out there, not friends,” Seguin said. “I had a few guys, Johnny being his funny self, grabbing me, and Tuukka getting in my way one time when there was a mini-line [scrum] when nobody dropped their gloves. Besides that, it was just a hockey game.”
It was a weird feeling and a tense night on the ice. He scored the tying goal in the shootout and watched as another former Bruins teammate, Rich Peverley scored to give the Stars a 3-2 shootout win. Seguin finished with two shots and was a plus-1.
“Glad it’s over,” Seguin said. “I didn’t know what to expect. It was just weird. It was weird being out there, especially first period. It felt more comfortable as things went on but for our team, that’s a huge win for us.”
Seguin lost 13-of-14 face-offs Sunday in Ottawa and was called out by his coach Lindy Ruff, despite a 4-3 Stars win.
“I kind of got called out by my coach a little bit there last game in Ottawa,” Seguin said. “I wanted to be better on face-offs, be a better centerman out there. I thought I played pretty solid. Obviously, nothing offensively but our line was plus tonight against a pretty good hockey team and great face-off men and we’ll take it from there.”
The Bruins did pay tribute to Seguin, showing two pictures of him holding up the 2011 Stanley Cup after the Game 7 win in Vancouver.
“It was nice,” Seguin said. “Definitely a very classy organization.”
Claude Julien was in a foul mood to begin with. His team had just blown a 2-1 lead late in the third period and then blown the extra point by losing in a shootout when not only Tyler Seguin but Rich Peverley both scored against their former Boston teammates to give Dallas a 3-2 win.
But then the Bruins coach was asked if losing to Seguin was extra painful.
“I don’t care about that. Give it a break,” Julien responded sharply. “I’m mad because we lost. Next.”
Julien did explain what he felt was the problem with his team in the last two games, losses to the Islanders and Stars.
“When you play that way, you find ways to lose hockey games and that’s what we’re doing right now, we’re finding ways to lose,” Julien said. “Bad change on the tying goal, real bad change. So, it’s not just the young guys, it’s good players, it’s everybody right now. We’re not playing well right now. We’re finding ways to lose versus finding ways to win.”
|Claude Julien calls out his team: ‘Too many mediocre players’||10.27.13 at 12:32 pm ET|
The reaction of head coach Claude Julien was fairly predictable after his team blew a 3-1 lead to the Devils and lost, 4-3, Saturday night at TD Garden.
“Even when we had the 3-1 lead in the second there I thought we missed a couple of real good opportunities,” Julien began. “But I don’t really think that’s where the game was played. Had a good start compared to the other night; much better in the first. But we kind of faltered after that. I thought the second period we allowed them to get back in the game and they were a better team as well. They won battles and especially in our own end they had us bottled in there and were out-muscling us and coming up with pucks and they got themselves within a goal and that kind of gave them life for the third.”
The Bruins were not good on the penalty kill Saturday, an area of excellence late in the regular season and playoffs last spring. They allowed four power play goals, though one of them was a very rare 6-on-3 opportunity for the Devils, when Torey Krug was called for a double-minor high sticking and Patrice Bergeron was tagged with a delay of game. The Devils pulled Martin Brodeur and they finally got the 3-3 equalizer with under two minutes left.
“But our penalty kill obviously faltered and wasn’t good enough; when you allow four power play goals in a game that’s not a good sign for a win. So that certainly didn’t help. But again, I thought we had too many mediocre players tonight and those things kind of create those situations.”
As for the penalties themselves, Julien knows his team needs to be more aware, especially when clearing the puck out of their own end.
“It is a costly penalty,” Julien said of the delay of game calls on Bergeron and earlier on Zdeno Chara. “Both pucks over the glass ended up being a goal against and those are tough penalties to take, but rules are rules. At the same time, the high stick, it is a high stick. You have to be in control of your stick, so it was deemed a four minute, which I thought was the right call. So they scored on their opportunities that they had and unfortunately, like I said, our penalty kill wasn’t up to the task.
“To me, we had one line going and we needed more. Like I said too many mediocre guys whether it’s hitting a wall, whatever the case may be it just wasn’t good enough. We had the day off yesterday to give those guys a rest but three games in four nights isn’t always an easy thing to go through and you wish you could have pulled this one through and had a real good week but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. We have to regroup, and another back-to-back and another three in four coming up there next week so hopefully we learn from that.”
The Bruins have another three-in-four nights scenario this week when they play in Pittsburgh Wednesday night before playing Anaheim on Thursday and on the road against the Islanders next Saturday.
|Jarome Iginla on his slow start to season: ‘I’ve been here many times’||10.15.13 at 1:57 pm ET|
The numbers are not pretty for 36-year-old Jarome Iginla to start the Boston portion of his career.
No goals, one assist in five games on 19 shots.
The effort is there, like the rest of the team. But like the rest of the Bruins, the finishing touch has yet to be put on his work. After failing to get the right winger at the trade deadline last spring, the Bruins signed him to a one-year, $6 million deal in the summer with the hopes of successfully replacing Nathan Horton and giving another right wing – 22-year-old Jordan Caron – more time to mature.
Last season, he had one goal in his first 16 games before finishing with 14 between Calgary and Pittsburgh. In 2011-12, he opened with two goals in his first 10 games and four in his first 15. The year before? Two goals in his first 17 games, before breaking out with a hat trick in Game No. 18.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been here many times,” Iginla said Monday. “It’s all part of the game and you just try to work hard and keep going and keep getting the chances and always keep saying that the next one is going to go in.”
Iginla is getting his chances with David Krejci and Milan Lucic and the general consensus is that he looks more in tune with with his linemates in his first five games than fellow newcomer Loui Eriksson on the second line with Patrice Bergeron with Brad Marchand line.
“Krech and Looch have been playing great and working hard and I’m trying to work hard with them and like I’ve said I’ve had really good chances for a number of games,” Iginla said. “Whenever you win you never feel as bad, you just shrug it off and say next time. But whenever you lose by a goal it always feels a lot worse when you know that one of those could have made a difference. But keep going and like I said I’ve been here before and you just keep working through it and stay positive and keep trying to get open and like I say, keep believing the next one goes in.”
In an attempt to get Iginla some momentum, Claude Julien placed Iginla on Boston’s 5-on-3 power play unit. Good chances, a couple of missed shots but still no dice.
“I think I had a few of them but two were good ones, one I just missed probably by a couple inches the top right corner, one I missed by a mile and that was just trying to hard and too excited and just missed it,” Iginla said. “But I thought ‘ when you’re feeling it those go in and unfortunately they didn’t. It was an important time of the game, it could have been a big difference. And you get out there in those situations and you definitely want to help the team and feel responsibility, all of us out there. So when you don’t score when you have a two minute one it stings but at the same time I think the guys did a great job and just keep going almost to that last second and really we almost found a way to get it to over time there.
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.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: B’s-Stars trade ‘weighted a little bit towards Boston’||10.10.13 at 3:43 pm ET|
With the 2013-14 NHL season in its second week, NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to discuss the Bruins’ new additions, as well as other news from around the NHL.
McGuire praised the Bruins’ two biggest offseason additions, wingers Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson, and indicated he thought the Bruins won the July 4 trade with the Stars that sent shipped budding star Tyler Seguin to Dallas.
“[Jarome will fit] fantastically well,” McGuire said. “Jarome is awesome, he will fit in perfectly in Boston, I’m really happy for him. Didn’t work out for him the way he wanted to last year [in Pittsburgh], but I’m glad that Boston, especially Cam [Neely] and Peter [Chiarelli], were wise enough to give him a chance, because he definitely fills the void that Nathan Horton created by departing to go to Columbus.
“Courageous trade by Peter Chiarelli and the Boston Bruins, because Tyler will be a superstar in the league, especially if he can just clean up a little bit of his behavior. … That being said, the trade is excellent for Boston. … [Eriksson] is the legitimate deal. He’s a very solid two-way player, he’s capable of playing with big-time superstars, he can play deep in your lineup, he’ll never pout, he’ll never complain, and all he’ll do is produce. The other guy that came in that trade, Reilly Smith, way underrated player. … I really like the trade for both teams, but in particular, I think it’s weighted a little bit towards Boston, just because of the consistency the two players they got in Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith.”
McGuire also touched on the new NHL rule that specifies players will be penalized for an additional two minutes, for a total of seven minutes total, if they take off their helmets before a fight.
“I hate to say this, because I’m all for player safety, I really am. I’ve seen too many horrific incidents going to even this year in the regular season with George Parros. … I’ve got to tell you, I don’t want to see anyone take their hat off, I don’t see the hats come off. I just don’t think that it’s appropriate,” he said. “There’s got to be a balance, there’s got to be a way. I don’t know what the way is, but I know one thing, there are a lot of people in the hockey community talking about it. I know it’s a big, big, point of emphasis for a lot of people that make big decisions in this league.”
McGuire gave a brief preview of the Bruins’ opponent Thursday night in the 3-0 Avalanche, who are mostly comprised of young and talented players.
“The fact of the matter is you’re going to see Nathan MacKinnon tonight, you’re going to see [Matt] Duchene tonight, you’re going to see what could be arguably one of the top third lines in the league right with Jamie McGinn, who’s played so well with Nathan MacKinnon and P.A. Parenteau. That line’s a ton of fun to watch.”