|5 things we learned as Bruins inch themselves closer to an early offseason||04.09.15 at 10:22 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Bruins had 20 minutes to stay in control of their season’s destiny. They didn’t do it.
Within the same hour, the Bruins allowed a late second-period power-play goal to the Panthers to tie the game, and the Senators defeated the Rangers. The third period was going to be critical for the B’s in what was a 1-1 game, but rather than making a statement, they allowed the Panthers to score twice against Patrice Bergeron‘s line, putting the Senators a win away from reaching the playoffs in the process.
Brad Marchand got the Bruins within one with a well-placed wrist shot over Roberto Luongo‘s shoulder to end a 15-game scoreless streak with five minutes to play, but the Panthers answered promptly with a Jimmy Hayes goal to make it a 4-2 Panthers win.
The Bruins (95 points) are not yet eliminated, but they must win Saturday in Tampa and receive help from other teams. If Boston beats Tampa Saturday and Ottawa loses to the Flyers in regulation, Boston would make the playoffs over Ottawa. If Boston wins Saturday and Pittsburgh loses both of its remaining games, the B’s also would get in. Detroit going to overtime against the Canadiens Friday meant the B’s can no longer catch the Red Wings.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
STRONG START, NO GOALS AND A PREDICTABLE LETUP
A terrible start to Wednesday’s game against the Capitals cost the B’s two much-needed points. They realized their errors and dominated in the early going against Florida.
Boston had 10 of the first 12 shots on goal, while a power play that Marchand drew resulted in two full minutes without the Panthers clearing. One thing was missing, however: goals.
|Bruins finally showing winning ‘character’ at right time||03.13.15 at 10:11 am ET|
The Bruins have finally hit their stride. And they couldn’t have picked a better time.
They’re even winning shootouts. After winning their first two shootouts of the season, they lost their next seven such contests, prompting their head coach to say shootouts “suck” and giving thanks they end with the regular season. Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning ended the skid and gave many inside the dressing room and organization reason to hope.
Their critics will point to the up and down play of key players like Dougie Hamilton, who, by his own admission, had an off night Thursday. The critics will say the Bruins, even during the four-game winning streak, haven’t displayed the consistent 60-minute-plus effort it takes to win in the playoffs.
But what the Bruins showed Thursday night was character and grit. No one showed it more than Gregory Campbell, who took a puck to his right eyebrow early in the first period, necessitating no fewer than eight stitches. It was nothing compared to Game 3 of the 2013 Eastern finals against Pittsburgh, when he gave up his lower right leg on an Evgeni Malkin slapshot. Later in the period, when he returned to the game, he was mashed into the corner boards but got up only a little worse for the wear.
“When you win, things look a lot better,” Campbell said. “There have been times when we’ve played some pretty good hockey and for whatever reason haven’t gotten points. Winning hockey games makes everything look better. We’ve gone the right direction and I think it’s been a process this year. Sometimes there’s not answers for everything. You have expectations coming into the year and for whatever reason, we had a slow start and it’s been well documented that we’ve stumbled a little bit along the way.
“But we’ve continued to try and improve our game, find solutions and stick together as a team. The important thing to us is not what’s happened but the way things are going. This is the important time of the year and we need wins and that’s reason to be optimistic for our team because when you play important games and get wins, that’s playoff-like hockey. That’s a positive we can build on with our team.”
Wins are wins and Thursday was the seventh straight time the Bruins took the ice and gained points. Boston has won four straight, 6-of-7 and 7-of-9 since their six-game skid that put their playoff position in serious peril. Now, the Bruins have 80 points, six points better than ninth-place Florida with 15 games left. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins players would face new circumstances in World Cup of Hockey||01.28.15 at 10:39 pm ET|
When the return of the World Cup of Hockey was announced over the weekend, it wasn’t clear what that meant for the future of NHL players participating in the Winter Olympics. One thing, however, was clear: It would not be the same experience as the Olympics.
By the time the tournament rolls around in the fall of 2016, some of the Bruins’ participants will be unfamiliar territory. While players like Patrice Bergeron (Canada), Tuukka Rask (Finland) and Loui Eriksson (Sweden) will likely wear the sweaters of their respective countries as usual, other Bruins stars will face different circumstances.
Zdeno Chara has represented Slovakia in three Winter Olympics, but Slovakia is not one of the six countries set to have its own team (United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Russia, Finland, Sweden). Instead, Chara would qualify to play on Team Europe, which will consist of European players from countries not represented.
Dougie Hamilton, a Toronto native who represented Canada in the 2012 World Junior Championships, would actually find himself playing against Canada, as the final team in the tournament will consist of American and Canadian players ages 23 and under. Hamilton, 21, would be 23 at the time of the tournament. No other player on Boston’s current roster would qualify for the team, but Malcolm Subban (Toronto) would be an option for the squad, as he’ll be 22 years old.
While children in sports dream about one day representing their countries, few dream about playing on a team called the North American Young Stars. That said, Hamilton would welcome the different opportunity.
“You want to play for your country, obviously,” Hamilton said Wednesday. “It’s kind of unique, but I think it would be a lot of fun to be able to play with all those young guys from North America, and at the same time kind of hard to play against Canada. It’s kind of hard when you have to play against your own country. I think it’s still a long ways away, but something you could look forward to.”
Bergeron, who is well-versed in international play (he’s won Gold medals at the World Championships and World Junior Championships in addition to his two Olympic Gold medals), likes the idea of having another squad for younger players, as Canada routinely turns away top talent due to its surplus of star players.
“Definitely [Team Canada] is going to be a tough team to make, and we know there’s great young players that are always coming up and don’t get a chance to get on either of these teams, US and Canada, but are still great players,” Bergeron said. “It could be a really good team.”
|Bruins not sure who their All-Star is||01.09.15 at 3:58 pm ET|
Asked Friday which teammate should represent the Bruins in the All-Star Game later this month, one Bruin confidently responded, “Our best player is Tuukka.”
Then, after showering and thinking about it, the player came back.
“I change my answer,” he said. “Bergy.”
The player was correct – not for choosing Patrice Bergeron, but for being indecisive. With All-Star teams being named Saturday, there is no obvious answer as to which Bruin (or, less likely, Bruins) should be there in this tumultuous season.
The annual exhibition returns this month from a two-year absence and, aside from those making money off it and a shockingly high number of Latvian voters (big ups, Zemgus Girgensons), it’s hard to imagine that many folks have missed it. All-Star appearances, aside from the extra dough they earn the player, aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, as fan voting for six of the 42 players and the fact that each team needs a representative water down the distinction.
With the Bruins receiving few standout season-long performances (they don’t have anyone in the top in points) it will be interesting to see who goes to Columbus. The player folks should most want to see would be Zdeno Chara so he can defend his title in the Hardest Shot contest, but he has not performed to his level of seasons past and has missed 19 games this season due to a torn PCL.
The most popular guess from Bruins players was that Patrice Bergeron was the best candidate, with players also voicing their support for Tuukka Rask, Carl Soderberg, Chara and Dougie Hamilton. Multiple players expressed hope that Chara could go so he could put on his until-recently annual slapshot clinic.
Bergeron was a pretty obvious candidate in the 2011-12 season, but was passed over in favor of linemate Tyler Seguin. Chara, who captained one of the teams, and Tim Thomas were also there for the Bruins in 2012, the last All-Star Game played before it fell victim to the lockout in 2013 and Olympics last season.
This season, Bergeron’s play has dipped a bit from last season, though he leads the Bruins with 31 points and is on pace for a respectable 20-goal campaign. Given what happened in 2012, one could argue he is owed an All-Star appearance. Bergeron has still never been an All-Star in his 11-season NHL career.
If the NHL seeks a big name who has raised his performance this season, Hamilton is a good candidate. He has regularly played against opponents’ top lines, with only Dennis Seidenberg getting fewer offensive zone starts on average than him. Hamilton frequently led Boston defensemen in time on ice while Chara was out and is third on the B’s in average time on ice with 22:01. Chara leads the way, averaging 22:40.
Furthermore, Hamilton is fifth on the Bruins in points with 23, which leads Boston defensemen and is 19th among NHL blueliners.
Hamilton doesn’t buy it, however. He feels Dougie’s Big All-Star Game will have to wait.
“I don’t think so,” he said with a smirk when asked whether he felt he was having an All-Star season. “I think there’s too many good D in the league. I think I had a good start and everything, but I don’t think I’m an All-Star.”
When Seguin was an All-Star in 2012, he felt he needed to apologize to Bergeron. Hamilton said that if he were chosen this year, he’d feel there were other Bruins more deserving as well.
“I think with our team, we’re known to be a team,” Hamilton said. “There’s not one guy who puts himself ahead of other guys. I would probably feel the same way [as Seguin did]. Guys like Bergie — Krej was hurt and Zee was hurt — but even Carl, Loui and Marchy, the list goes on. For me, I’m just trying to contribute to the team and win some games.”
Well, someone has to go to the stupid thing.
|5 things we learned as Bruins get much-needed win over Penguins to re-enter playoff picture||01.07.15 at 10:54 pm ET|
Milan Lucic chose the right time to have one of his better games of the season.
After turning in a heavy performance with new linemates in regulation, Lucic fired a wrist shot from the top of the zone in overtime that Patrice Bergeron tipped on its way past Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Bruins a desperately needed 3-2 victory over the Metropolitan-leading Penguins on Wednesday (click here for boxscore). Lucic finished the game with a pair of assists, both of which came on Bergeron goals.
With the Maple Leafs losing to the Capitals Wednesday night, Boston’s victory put the Bruins into the playoff picture. Now 20-15-6, the B’s are currently in possession of the second wild card spot to sit eighth in the Eastern Conference.
The victory was Boston’s first with a healthy roster this season, as they are now 1-1-3 in games in which they’ve had no players out with injuries.
Tuukka Rask made 37 shots on 39 shots faced. The win technically extended a point-streak to five games for the Bruins, though they’re just 2-0-3 in that span.
Here are four more things we learned Wednesday:
BRUINS MORE NERVOUS THAN DETERMINED
Given how they played Sunday and what Charlie Jacobs said about the team Tuesday, you would think that the Bruins would come out furious each period. Instead, the Bruins came out for the first two periods Wednesday looking just as indifferent as they have all season.
The Penguins carried the pace early in the first period before the B’s found their legs as the frame went on.
Given that the B’s were able to tie the game late in the period on a Zdeno Chara slap shot, you would think they’d come out for the second period riled up. Instead, the Bruins did not attempt a shot until 8:31 into the second.
In the third period, the Bruins landed just one shot on goal in the first 13-plus minutes, though they were at least shooting the puck, which was, horrifyingly, a step in the right direction.
Things like leadership are not quantifiable, but some of the alarmingly poor starts to periods the Bruins have had this season were not regular occurrences in years past.
|Patrice Bergeron returns to practice, David Pastrnak skates with David Krejci||01.06.15 at 10:58 am ET|
Patrice Bergeron returned to practice Tuesday at TD Garden, while David Pastrnak skated alongside David Krejci for the first time since training camp.
Pastrnak, recalled Tuesday morning, served as the fourth forward on Krejci’s line with Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith.
Bergeron took a maintenance day and missed Monday’s practice but was back with his usual linemates Tuesday.
The lines in practice were as follows:
Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – McQuaid
Krug – Miller
The B’s will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins Wednesday.
|Struggling Bruins return to practice without Patrice Bergeron||01.05.15 at 11:24 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Patrice Bergeron was the lone Bruin absent from Monday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, which began half an hour later than scheduled.
Coming off perhaps their lowest point of the season in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Hurricanes that saw most of their forwards go without a shot on goal, the B’s were scheduled for a 10:30 a.m. skate in Wilmington, but the ice remained vacant until Dennis Seidenberg stepped on 28 minutes later, with teammates trickling out shortly after.
Bergeron missed last Monday’s game against the Red Wings with an undisclosed injury but has played in three games since. Claude Julien said after the practice that Monday was a maintenance day for Bergeron.
With Bergeron absent, Boston’s lines were as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Marchand – Cunningham – Griffith
Paille – Campbell – Caron
All seven defensemen and both goaltenders participated in practice.
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