|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Patrice Bergeron ‘one of the top 10 players in the league’||03.08.13 at 12:22 pm ET|
NBC’s Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Carl Soderberg, for whom the Bruins traded in 2007 only to see him stay in the Swedish Elite League, the possibility of visors being made mandatory for NHL players, and Patrice Bergeron‘s role on the team.
“You look at the plus-minus for Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand last year — a big part of it was because of Patrice Bergeron teaching them to play in their own zone. I’m convinced of that,” McGuire said. “There’s a lot of similarities to what Bergeron does to what Jean Ratelle did in his prime, and he’s a Hall of Famer. Bergeron and Ratelle are so similar. The one thing about Jean was the consistency in his game. Just ask Rod Gilbert about the influence Jean Ratelle had on him on the Goal-A-Game-line down in New York, or you can ask Marchand and Seguin, and I’ve done it, what’s the influence of Bergeron on their game. It’s huge.”
McGuire said he considers Bergeron “one of the top 10 players in the league,” and that his consistency and two-way play likely will lead to a long-term contract extension with the Bruins soon.
“I think [the Bruins] understand the value of players like that in a city like Boston,” McGuire said. “They’re so proactive when it comes to signing players they want to keep. You look at the extension to Seguin, you look at the extension to [Zdeno] Chara. They’re aggressive when it comes to identifying players that are really important to their team and keeping them, so I’ve got to believe at some point they’re going to get aggressive with Bergeron.”
News broke Thursday that Soderberg, for whom the Bruins traded Hannu Toivonen in 2007, is in talks with the Bruins about coming to Boston after the Swedish Elite League season ends. McGuire said he sees him as an impact player, likely a third-liner.
“The thing about him that’s so good is he’s rangy — he’s about 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, 195 to 200,” McGuire said. “Serious skill level ‘¦ he’s got huge offensive skills, a major breakthrough year for him this year, more mature now than he probably ever was, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him be able to play right away in the National Hockey League.”
McGuire said Soderberg’s transition to the NHL could be comparable to that of Damien Brunner, who came over from Switzerland to put up 10 goals and eight assists so far in his rookie season with Detroit.
|Patrice Bergeron line stays hot for Bruins||at 1:07 am ET|
David Krejci‘s goal proved to be the game-winner, but it was the exception in Thursday’s 4-2 Bruins victory over Toronto: the only Boston goal that didn’t involve Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin or Brad Marchand.
Seguin picked up two goals and an assist, Bergeron a goal and two assists, and Marchand two assists. If Marchand had touched the puck before Bergeron on the game’s final goal, an empty-netter by Seguin, all three would have had a hand in three different goals on the night.
Success is nothing unusual for that line, which features three of the Bruins’ top four scorers. But with Seguin picking up his scoring pace after a slow start and Marchand beginning to rack up assists as well as goals, they’re proving they can combine to put the puck in the net in any number of ways.
Marchand had one assist through his first 12 games and now has seven in his last eight. He attributed that shift, jokingly, to Seguin’s newly rediscovered goal-scoring ability.
“Well, it’s nice to see [Seguin] start finishing,” Marchand said, sarcastically complaining. “It was getting a little frustrating there early on. It’s nice for him to finally get a couple and get his confidence up with the [empty-netter].
“That stuff happens,” he continued in a serious tone. “Goals come in bunches, assists come in bunches and there will be a bunch of games where you don’t get anything. It’s just how it goes.”
Seguin did find the empty net with 15 seconds left in the game, but he also found a hole on Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens in the second period for his sixth goal of the year. Marchand chipped the puck past Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf to Seguin, and Seguin fired it over Scrivens’ outstretched leg pad to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
‘I saw [Seguin] all alone, and I guess no one is really threatened by him right now because he’s not scoring, so it’s just nice to see him finish,’ Marchand joked.
The Bruins’ first goal made use of all three players’ skills: Marchand dug out the puck along the boards to send Seguin on a breakaway from the blue line, and Bergeron followed through to knock the rebound past Scrivens.
Marchand said that kind of hard work and positioning, as well as his play in the defensive zone, are what set Bergeron apart as an elite player.
‘When I came here, Bergy was a guy that I always found myself watching because he always prides himself on getting better,’ Marchand said. ‘He always wants to learn and improve his game.’
The trio received the game’s three stars — Marchand third, Seguin second and Bergeron first — allowing them to be recognized, fittingly, as a unit.
‘We have a lot of fun out there, and it seems like we’re continuing to build and find each other a little bit more each game,’ Marchand said. ‘We work pretty hard on and off the ice to talk to each other and figure things out, and it’s a lot of fun playing with those guys.’
|Patrice Bergeron named No. 2 Star of Week||03.04.13 at 12:51 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was named the NHL’s No. 2 Star of the Week ending on March 3, the league announced Monday.
Bergeron had points in all four games he played, registering two goals and five assists over the span. The reigning Selke winner also had a plus-6 rating. On the season, Bergeron leads the Bruins in both assists (13) and points (18) and is tied with linemate Tyler Seguin with a plus-15 rating.
The first star of the week was Max Pacioretty (four goals, three assists), with Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom getting third star honors.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins trying not to get discouraged by power play||02.11.13 at 6:07 pm ET|
The power play has been so much of a challenge for the Bruins this season that it wasn’t much of a surprise to see them struggle to put the puck in the net when working on the man advantage in Monday’s practice.
Making the power play work has long been an issue for assistant coach Geoff Ward and the Bruins, but for the past three seasons they have been able to win without one.
On the season, the Bruins are 4-for-39 on the man advantage, with one of the goals coming in the form of a Tyler Seguin empty-netter against the Hurricanes. They are 1-for-18 on the power play over their last five games, but those ugly numbers have been accompanied by a pretty record. With the 4-for-39 mark comes an Eastern Conference-best 8-1-1 record, and with the 1-for-18 clip comes a 4-1-0 record.
The Bruins have managed to be able to be the best team in the Eastern Conferece (they trail the Devils by two points for the top spot, but they’ve played 10 games to New Jersey’s 12) despite not manufacturing power play goals. Recent history shows that you technically don’t need a great power play in order to win the Stanley Cup ‘ the B’s were a respectable 5-for-27 against the Canucks in 2011, but they were 0-for-21 against the Habs in the first round, 2-for-16 against the Flyers and 3-for-24 against the Lightning. That made for an underwhelming 11.4 power play percentage for the postseason, which ranked 14th among the 16 teams in the playoffs.
Last season, the Kings followed the Bruins’ lead, putting up a 12.8 clip on the power play but winning the Cup and losing just four games all postseason.
Still, while there’s strong evidence that you can win a lot of games without a good power play, there’s no denying any team would be better if it would take advantage of other teams’ infractions. The Bruins finally did that on Sunday to break an 0-for-17 stretch when Patrice Bergeron got to a puck in front that had bounced off the end boards on a shot from Chris Bourque and sent it past Ryan Miller. Not only was the goal the game-winner in the team’s 3-1 win over Buffalo, it provided a bit of relief in a rather stressful area.
Prior to that goal, the B’s were 0-for-4 in the game. The power play actually proved disruptive to a strong 5-on-5 game the B’s had been playing. The second unit, which now features Bourque at the point with Zdeno Chara, with Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley up front, saw to it that the team wouldn’t have its fifth straight game without a power play goal.
‘We’ve got to work on it,’ Bergeron said Monday. ‘We’ve got to make sure we get better. If you get discouraged, we’re obviously not going to improve. That’s the whole point, is to do the job and create some momentum and obviously score some goals.’
With Seguin getting Monday off for maintenance, the B’s moved David Krejci up and put Dennis Seidenberg on the point with Dougie Hamilton on the point on the first configuration. That likely won’t stick, but with the way the B’s have struggled on the power play as a whole, perhaps shuffling more personnel could be in the cards. The B’s have found a way to win without clicking on the man advantage, but if they ever could they would be even scarier.
|Shawn Thornton out 7-10 days with concussion||02.01.13 at 11:46 am ET|
WILMINGTON – Shawn Thornton will miss the next 7-10 days with a concussion, the Bruins announced Friday. Thornton suffered the injury in a first-period fight with Sabres enforcer John Scott on Thursday night, with Thornton leaving the game and not returning.
With Thornton out, Lane MacDermid could see more time for the B’s in the coming days. The 23-year-old had seven fights this season for Providence and played his first NHL game of the season on Thursday.
Thornton wasn’t the only absence from Friday’s practice, as Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Daniel Paille also missed the skate. Paille and Bergeron were banged up in the third period of Thursday’s loss to the Sabres, though Krejci did not appear to suffer an injury in the game.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins face big challenge vs. desperate Rangers||01.22.13 at 2:25 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When the 48-game schedule came out following the lockout, one of the most interesting aspects of it throughout the league was that the Bruins and Rangers would play each other twice in the first three games. That meant that in a season that placed even greater emphasis than usual on strong starts, one of the best teams in the NHL could easily end up in an early season hole.
As it turns out, the Rangers face that prospect. The schedule-makers weren’t kind to John Tortorella‘s club early on, as the Rangers had to face the high-powered Penguins the day after opening the season in Boston. The results haven’t been good, as the Eastern Conference favorites followed Saturday’s loss to the B’s by dropping a 6-3 contest to the Penguins in their home-opener. Now, the team will need to beat the 2-0-0 Bruins to avoid starting the season winless through three games.
“You know that they’re going to be ready for that game,” Patrice Bergeron said after Tuesday’s practice. “Also, we beat them the first game, so you know they’re going to look for some revenge probably, so it’s going to be a tough one. We’re expecting the best out of them, and we need to make sure we bring our best game as well.”
It’s hard to call the third game of the season a must-win, but the value of two points is inflated in a 48-game season, and the Rangers have some stiff competition in their division (Penguins, Flyers) for one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference. The desperation should be there at Madison Square Garden, so the Bruins will need to be ready for it.
“I don’t think [they'll come out harder]; I know they will,” Claude Julien said. “Certainly, when you’re put in that position and you’re the type of team that they are, we expect nothing but their best game out of them tomorrow.”
The Bruins welcome the test that will come with playing a desperate team. David Krejci even likened Wednesday’s game to a postseason contest in which a team trailing in the series makes a push to narrow the gap.
“I know there’s been lots of talk. They made some moves, they want to go deep in the playoffs so I’m pretty sure that’s not the start they wanted to have,” Krejci said. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us. We might be in the situation during the season or in the playoffs, that the team wants to come back and we have to show how to handle the situation. It’s a good challenge for us tomorrow and we’ll so how we can respond, but I’m sure we’re going to be ready for it.”
The Rangers went 3-1-0 against the Bruins last season, so the B’s have already matched their 2011-12 win total against Tortorella’s club. The games between the two teams were tight (three of their four matches were one-goal games, including one decided in overtime), so the Bruins aren’t expecting anything to come easy against them.
“I’m sure Nash will buy into their system and has,” Chris Kelly said. “They’re a hard-working team and that’s the way they’re coached. They play hard, they play everyone and everyone contributes. They had our number last year, and we came out and played hard in the opener.”
|Bruins improve to 2-0-0 with shootout win over Jets||01.21.13 at 3:54 pm ET|
The game could have easily ended in the Jets’ favor in overtime, as the B’s were shorthanded at two different points of the extra session. Johnny Boychuk took a penalty for high-sticking Bryan Little with 1:11 left in the third period, leaving the B’s shorthanded through the end of regulation and into overtime, but the Bruins were able to effectively kill it off. The B’s found themselves shorthanded in overtime once again when Zdeno Chara took down Blake Wheeler as he was driving to the net and was called for holding with 1:28 remaining.
The Bruins were forced to play without defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who led the B’s in ice time in Saturday’s season-opener but was out Monday with a lower-body injury. The team announced during warmups that Seidenberg is day-to-day.
With Seidenberg out, Aaron Johnson made his Bruins debut and Claude Julien shuffled two of the defensive pairings. Though the Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid pairing was kept intact, Dougie Hamilton (Seidenberg’s partner on Saturday) was moved up to play with Zdeno Chara, while Johnson played with Boychuk.
The Jets got on the board in the first period when Chris Thorburn got to a rebound at the right circle and beat Tuukka Rask just 1:58 into the contest.
With the Bruins in a line change, the Jets tried to get the puck out of the zone, but Tyler Seguin raced from the bench to keep the puck in and sped down the lane. That got the attention of both Jets defenders and goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who committed enough to Seguin that when the third-year player dished it to Brad Marchand in front, it didn’t take much mustard on Marchand’s part to easily put it into the open net.
Rask made 26 saves on 27 shots in the 65 minutes of play.
The Bruins will next have their first road game of the season as they head to Madison Square Garden to face the Rangers on Wednesday. The B’s beat the Rangers, 3-1, on Saturday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- That’s twice now this season that the Bruins have had to kill of a penalty without their best penalty killer in the critical moments of a tie game. Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference and Chris Kelly came up big on the 4-on-3 in overtime.
- Though it didn’t produce a goal, David Krejci’s line was consistently strong for the Bruins, skating hard and yielding a number of scoring chances for Nathan Horton in particular. Krejci first set up Horton for a bid with a diagonal feed from the top of the right circle to the left dot, but Horton wasn’t able to get enough on his slapper to challenge Pavelec. Krejci then fed Horton in the second period from behind the net, but Horton was denied in front and was later stopped again from the right circle. Horton also drew the Jets’ only penalty of the game, a Mark Stuart interference call, while Milan Lucic was credited with nine hits in regulation.
Seeing Horton involved and getting chances this early is a very positive sign for the Bruins, as uncertainty surrounded the big winger as he went nearly a calendar year without playing in games due to concussion issues and the lockout.
- After switching Marchand and Chris Bourque for a couple shifts apiece midway through the second period, the Patrice Bergeron line really started buzzing when Marchand was put back with his usual line mates. One shift shortly after his return saw a couple of golden opportunities from Seguin (whose bid in front just missed the net) and Bergeron (who tried to send the puck off Pavelec from a bad angle beneath the left circle).
- In particular, Seguin showed off his speed and smarts but was also more aggressive than folks have been accustomed to seeing in the youngster’s first two NHL seasons. In addition to having his risk to race and keep the puck in the zone in the first period paying off, Seguin did a good job of keeping the puck in by batting it down in the second period on a play that ended with Marchand being denied at the doorstep.
- Though he could have prevented the Jets’ first goal (see below), Hamilton looked more comfortable as the game went on and was trusted with time on the penalty kill time in his second career game. Both shorthanded shifts came at the end of penalties, so he totaled 37 seconds on the penalty kill for the Bruins.
- The B’s lucked out on a couple of plays that could have yielded Jets goals and given them the lead in what was a 1-1 game. In the second period, Evander Kane took an easy wrist shot from a bad angle low on left circle, but it trickled through Rask. Fortunately, the angle meant it slid through the crease and not into the net. In the third period, Postma launched a snapshot from above the right circle that hit the left post.
- Not necessarily a positive, but an interesting note: With Kane’s third-period goaltender interference penalty, Bruins opponents have been called for interfering with Rask.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The defense wasn’t its sharpest in the first period, suffering multiple breakdowns early after playing tight defense against the Rangers Saturday. Thorburn’s goal was the result of Hamilton losing track of the puck in front following a Paul Postma shot. The rebound bounced to Thorburn, who sent a shot past Rask to give the Jets the early 1-0 lead.
Just a little over halfway through the period following a Pavalec save on a Nathan Horton bid, Kyle Wellwood split the defense of Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid to set up a breakaway that concluded with a big save from Rask. Though the other pairings may have had an excuse due to the shuffling caused by Seidenberg’s absence, the Ference-McQuaid pairing was unchanged from training camp and the Rangers game.
The Bruins’ blueline seemed to regroup in the second period with overall tighter play.
- They only got two opportunities, but the Bruins’ power play once again failed to produce. The first configuration with Horton, Seguin and Lucic had a solid chance in the second period with Horton being denied in front, but Monday yielded another contest without a power play goal. Adding that to Saturday’s 0-for-7 showing, the B’s are now 0-for-8 on the man advantage season.
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