|Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara can’t explain Bruins falling so flat||01.01.16 at 6:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — No excuses.
The Bruins managed just three shots in the opening 20 minutes of the biggest hockey spectacle in New England since the 2013 Stanley Cup finals.
They went a span of 15 minutes in the first period without a single shot.
The Bruins were without the suspended Brad Marchand and the injured David Krejci but still, Bruins players couldn’t come up with a reason for such a flat effort in a 5-1 loss to Montreal in the 2016 Winter Classic.
“We couldn’t generate any rhythm,” Patrice Bergeron said. “We weren’t first on pucks. We were second on every one of them, and you can’t get any pucks on net if you don’t have the puck, so that was basically the reason why.”
|5 things we learned as Frank Vatrano’s hat trick leads Bruins past Penguins||12.18.15 at 9:44 pm ET|
Frank Vatrano had gone nine straight games without a goal. He now has three in his last 10 games.
Vatrano busted out of his scoring slump with the first hat trick of his career as the Bruins separated in the third period to enjoy a 6-2 victory at the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center. The victory saw the Bruins sweep this week’s home-and-home series with the Penguins.
Patrice Bergeron also had a multi-goal game, as he netted a shorthanded tally in the second and added an even-strength goal early in the third to extend Boston’s lead. The goals brought his season total to 11, putting him behind only Brad Marchand (15) and Loui Eriksson (12) on the Bruins this season. He is also at over a point-per-game pace this season with 32 points in 31 games.
As for Tuukka Rask, the Bruins’ top netminder stood tall against a struggling Penguins offense for his eighth win in his last 10 appearances (8-0-2). With 29 saves on Friday, Rask has a .959 save percentage over his last 10 games.
The Bruins would have another goal in the third period, but a goal from Landon Ferraro was not allowed due to what the officials found to be goaltender interference committed by Max Talbot.
Here are four more things we learned Friday night:
Vatrano wasn’t the only UMass product with a couple of points Friday, as his former teammate in Conor Sheary had both a goal and an assist for the first two points of his career.
Sheary’s goal came on a bit of bad luck for the Bruins, as Bergeron fanned on a puck behind the net, leading Sidney Crosby to send it in front for Sheary. The Melrose native had the secondary helper on a second-period goal from Trevor Daley.
Bergeron took a holding penalty in the first period to put him at 20 penalty minutes on the season, which puts him on pace to set a new career-high for the third straight year. With the Bruins managing to kill off the ensuing Penguins power play without their best penalty-killing forward, Bergeron made up for it the following period.
With Kevan Miller in the box for tripping Sheary early in the second, Brad Marchand won a puck high in the Penguins zone and fed it to his penalty-killing partner. Bergeron rewarded Marchand for his work by flicking the puck past Jeff Zatkoff for the Bruins’ sixth shorthanded goal of the season.
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 19, 2015
While the Bruins’ penalty kill was technically a perfect 5-for-5 on the night, a point shot from Daley made its way through traffic and past Rask just seconds after rate expiration of Miller’s penalty.
POINTS KEEP COMING FOR SPOONER
After a two-point night for Ryan Spooner Wednesday (two assists; what appeared to be a second-period Spooner goal was credited to Jimmy Hayes, as it apparently hit the shaft of his stick), the young Bruins center doubled that production on Friday with a career-best four-assist night.
Spooner took the puck from the wall after some strong work along the wall from Ferraro, walked it over to the faceoff dot and fed it back to Vatrano, who snapped the puck past Zatkoff to tie the game at one goal apiece. Spooner assisted all three of Vatrano’s goals and Loui Eriksson’s power play goal.
With Spooner’s four assist on Friday, he now has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) over his last six games.
Another point wasn’t the only thing Spooner dropped on Friday. Following a big hit from Patric Hornqvist on Dennis Seidenberg in the second period, Spooner threw his gloves down and went after the Penguins forward. Hornqvist was not interesting in fighting, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Spooner. The fight would have been the first of Spooner’s professional career and quite possibly of his life, as Spooner did not fight at the OHL level either.
THREE STRAIGHT FOR ERIKSSON
Eriksson was relentless in trying to jam a loose puck past Zatkoff during a second-period Bruins power play, eventually doing so for his 12th goal of the year. The tally also made it three straight games with a goal for Eriksson, who will easily surpass the 22 goals he scored last season as long as he stays healthy.
Eriksson could have had two power play goals on the night, but he couldn’t control a slap pass from Krug at the right circle despite having a wide open net.
|Claude Julien ‘disappointed’ by no-goal ruling, but says he won’t hesitate to use challenge in future||10.10.15 at 11:24 pm ET|
Goalie interference? Uh, okay… pic.twitter.com/KpkX8qykna
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 11, 2015
The play and review seemed pretty straightforward. The refs waved off a Loui Eriksson goal because Patrice Bergeron made contact with Carey Price. However, Bergeron was clearly pushed into Price by Alexei Emelin, meaning the goal should have been allowed.
It was understandable that the refs missed it in real time; hockey is a fast game and sometimes you just don’t catch that push. But once Julien decided to use his challenge, it seemed like a pretty safe bet that the no-goal call would be overturned.
Instead, the refs upheld the call on the ice. Why they upheld it remains a mystery, with the league’s official statement saying simply that the review “confirmed that Boston’s Patrice Bergeron made incidental contact with Montreal goaltender Carey Price before the puck crossed the goal line, preventing Price from doing his job in the crease.” No mention of Emelin’s shove. No mention of the fact that Bergeron actually made an effort to stay out of the crease while getting pushed.
Julien said he was “disappointed” with the call and didn’t understand why it wasn’t a goal.
“I really felt, and I looked at it in between periods, and I said how can that not be a goal when the guy has both feet outside the blue paint and is doing everything he can to stay out of his way and is really trying to fight off the guy trying to push him in,” Julien said. “So, I thought that warranted obviously a goal, but for some reason they saw it some other way.”
Goalie interference plays are one of two things coaches can challenge (with goals scored on a potential offsides being the other), and Julien said it’s his understanding that whether or not a player was pushed into the goalie is part of what can be reviewed, which would rule out the possibility that the refs could only look at Bergeron’s contact with Price and not how he got there.
Bergeron couldn’t make sense of the ruling either, as he also thought that being pushed into Price should’ve negated the interference.
“That was my understanding of the rule,” Bergeron said. “They thought otherwise and we can’t really control that, I guess. … It happens fast, so I guess I understood that maybe he thought that I pushed into the goalie. But then on the replay, I thought it was clear that I got pushed into him. My understanding was that if I get pushed into the goalie and I’m working hard to get out of there, it’s fine.”
Julien said that despite the fact that this challenge didn’t go the way he expected, he wouldn’t hesitate to challenge a similar situation in the future.
“That’s a thing you’ve got to be careful of — you can’t [be discouraged],” Julien said. “In our minds, the people that looked at it in the first place all felt it should have been a goal, and I went back to my office in between periods and I felt it should have been a goal. But if you’re afraid to call those then you may miss an opportunity to either get a goal called for you or the other way around, a goal rescinded from what you think was interference.”
The disallowed goal certainly isn’t the reason the Bruins lost Saturday. More turnovers, more defensive mistakes and an inability to get the puck out of their own zone had a lot more to do with Saturday night’s 4-2 loss than that one call. But there’s no denying that it was a turning point of sorts, especially since the Canadiens scored just over a minute later to make it 3-0.
|Tuukka Rask: Bruins ‘had a chance to score way more goals’ in season-opening loss||10.09.15 at 12:48 am ET|
Maybe it’s appropriate that the best comments on the Bruins’ lack of offensive finish in a 6-2 season-opening loss Thursday night came from their goalie.
On a night when the Bruins outchanced the visiting Winnipeg Jets badly in the first period, Tuukka Rask had to make several saves close in to preserve a 1-0 lead heading into the first period. There were chances from Ryan Spooner, Brett Connolly and Brad Marchand, all in close and around Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec minutes after the Bruins were staked to a lead on a pretty goal from David Krejci.
“I mean I think most importantly, we want to take that offense,” Tuukka Rask said of what he saw from his vantage point 180 feet away. “We created a ton of chances, and had a chance to score way more goals than we did, so I think that’s the most important thing to take from this game.”
As the Bruins continued to misfire in close in the opening five minutes of the second period, there was the overwhelming sense that the visitors were dictating the pace, using Boston’s desperation against them. That was reinforced once the Jets tied the game and took the lead minutes later in the second.
“When we start cheating offensively a little bit, then one mistake leads to another very quickly, and we did that today a couple times,” Rask said. “It’s a process in the making, and we just have to correct some things out, but it’ll be good.”
Patrice Bergeron was another player who had his chances from close range but could not finish to beat Pavelec.
“It definitely would have been nice to come out of that [first] period with more than one goal,” Bergeron said. “That definitely wouldn’t have hurt us. Looking back in the second, we had a few breakdowns that they capitalized, which we didn’t. That was the story of the game right there. We definitely lost momentum, yeah – we got to find ways to score when we do have our chances and generate some more momentum with that.”
The Bruins outshot the Jets, 14-6, in the first 20 minutes and headed into the first intermission with a power play, thanks to a cheap shot elbow to the face of Bergeron by Jets defenseman Alexander Burmistrov.
“I think it would’ve been nice to come out of there with a better lead than we did after the first with the type of opportunities that we had,” Claude Julien said, echoing the words of Bergeron. “It should’ve been a two- or three-goal period. But we misfired or missed those opportunities and allowed them to stay in the game. And then the second period they came out and kind of took over and we started making some defensive mistakes. Whether, I thought, whether it was coverage, layers, or whether their was decisions with the puck or D-zone awareness, we made all of those mistakes tonight which resulted in goals against.”
|Claude Julien hopes Alexander Burmistrov receives supplemental discipline for hit to Patrice Bergeron’s head||10.08.15 at 10:16 pm ET|
Claude Julien wasn’t happy about his team’s performance in Thursday night’s season-opening loss to the Jets, but his criticism extended past his players to one Alexander Burmistrov.
The Jets forward cut back to catch Patrice Bergeron with an elbow to the head late in the first period of Winnipeg‘s 6-2 win over the Bruins. Bergeron, who has had a number of concussions in his career, was irate with Burmistrov following the play, taking a cross-checking penalty in retaliation.
Burmistrov threw an elbow to the face of Bergeron. Terrible hit. pic.twitter.com/eUY1r5TndA
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 8, 2015
Though Burmistrov was given a minor penalty for an illegal hit to the head, Julien said after the game that the play deserves supplemental discipline.
“It will be interesting how that is being reviewed, and especially to an elite player in the league who’s had some [concussion] issues in the past,” Julien said. “I hope they look at it seriously. In my mind, I don’t see why there wouldn’t be further consequences [for] that.”
Said Bergeron: “It was a hit to the head. Even though he apologized after, it’s one of those that I didn’t have the puck at that time. You have to realize where the guy is and his position.’
McGuire said with so many players being added to the team in the offseason, patience is going to be key for coach Claude Julien, as well as getting off to a hot start.
“Well, he’s going to have to be because that’s patience is going to be part of his job to make sure these players learn how to play,” McGuire said. “Dougie Houda, the other assistant coach who works mostly with the defense, he’s going to have to do some pretty patient work with those young players as well on defense. The expectation in Boston is so high, obviously, and it should be. It is a strong franchise and an original six franchise. I love the intensity. The fan base is obviously rapid.
“It’s an important franchise in the league, but it’s really, really critical that they get off to a good start because this is the kind of thing that confidence is going to be a premium. If they get off to a bad start, the confidence starts to wain, it would be a tough year.”
With the team already dealing with a number of injuries to open the year, health is a concern.
“They will have to start getting some people healthy, especially Big Z (Zdeno Chara) No. 1, and No. 2 [Dennis] Seidenberg injury sets them back a little bit,” McGuire said. “They also have Kevan Miller and Colin Miller with Colin Miller coming over in the [Milan] Lucic trade, who can really step up his game. I thought there was some moments in preseason where he was very good. The Bruins clearly know him well from his days in Manchester and his days at [Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds]. They have to hope he can get it going and obviously Torey Krug takes another step forward.
“This is going to be interesting. It is going to be interesting to watch. The one thing I would caution Bruins fans on is I would never bet against a team that has Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara in their leadership core. I never would just because I respect those guys so much.”
|Patrice Bergeron ready for different training camp than Bruins have had in recent years||09.02.15 at 3:01 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The voluntary practices that take place prior to training camp in September are very informal. The optional attendance means the group of Bruins that take the ice can be pretty varied from one day to the next. With guys like David Pastrnak, Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg not making it on Wednesday, there weren’t as many familiar faces as there were the day before.
Take that approach and apply it to building the actual roster, and you’ve got the 2015-16 Bruins.
Turnover was the name of the game this offseason, which means that plenty of time this preseason (and, realistically, the first couple months of the regular season) will be devoted to new guys fitting in and current Bruins getting familiar with new teammates. Where past training camps have largely been focused on the previous year’s team shaking off the cobwebs while minimal roster spots were open for competition, this month figures to be quite a bit busier.
“It’s going to be different from the past few years,” Patrice Bergeron said after Wednesday’s skate at Ristuccia Arena. “I’ve been here a little longer, so there’s been some years before where it’s been a complete change, so it is going to be different from the past few years, but I’ve been through that before. I think it’s just about getting to know the guys on and off the ice.”
Among the new faces are Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Zac Rinaldo, Colin Miller and Matt Irwin. Beleskey is considered the biggest prize, as he was the top free agent wing this offseason after scoring 22 goals for the Ducks last season.
“It’s our job as leaders and veteran guys to make guys feel comfortable off the ice and even on and make everyone realize it’s about everyone,” Bergeron said. “It’s not just one guy or two guys here. It’s about everyone going towards the same direction if you want to have some results.”
The players who left are more notable than the ones coming in, as Dougie Hamilton (Flames), Milan Lucic (Kings), Reilly Smith (Panthers) and Carl Soderberg (Avalanche) were all traded. The Hamilton loss is the biggest, but the other departures could hurt the Bruins in the short term while the new guys get settled in. With Smith gone, Bergeron and Brad Marchand seek a new full-time right wing for their line for the second time in three years.
Asked about Hamilton leaving, Bergeron was complimentary of the player’s character. After all, when Hamilton made the Bruins in 2013, Claude Julien said his character was more like Bergeron’s than that of fellow young star Tyler Seguin.
Yet Hamilton’s exit raised many questions, particularly when it became apparent he did not want to sign a new contact with the Bruins. While Hamilton wasn’t necessarily the most popular guy among his teammates, there was never any indication that things were so bad that the sides wouldn’t want to move forward together.
“I think he’s still the same guy,” Bergeron said when reminded of Julien’s comparison. “He’s low-key and he’s trying to get better. I wish him all the best, and I can’t really say what happened because I’m not sure what happened.’
Bergeron said didn’t see the trade coming.
“I didn’t get that sense,” he said when asked if he’d ever detected unhappiness on Hamilton’s part. “There’s been discussions between him, the management, his agent that I’m not aware of, so I can’t really go any further.”
Veterans still have another couple weeks before training camp kicks off on Sept. 17. The informal practices provide an opportunity for this much-altered squad to jell, and they could likely use it.