|Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron day-to-day for Bruins||12.28.14 at 1:49 pm ET|
Bergeron took only tree shifts in the third period Saturday in Columbus before leaving the game with what Julien told reporters was a minor injury. Lucic’s ailment is not known.
Adam McQuaid (thumb) practiced with the team, but Julien said that to his knowledge McQuaid is not ready to return to game action.
The lines in practice were as follows:
Marchand – Griffith – Smith
Fraser – Krejci – Cunningham
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Caron
All right defensemen, including McQuaid, were on the ice.
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|5 things we learned as Bruins take step backwards vs. Blue Jackets||12.27.14 at 9:40 pm ET|
The Bruins took a couple steps forward prior to the Christmas break. Then they returned and jumped a mile backwards.
The Bruins, who were coming off consecutive wins over the Sabres and Predators, have still won three games in a row just twice this season. Getting blown out just when it appeared they were finding traction served as a perfect microcosm of their 2014-15 season.
The Bruins will return to the Garden this week to host the Red Wings, Maple Leafs and Senators.
Patrice Bergeron took only three shifts in the third period and did not play the final 13:14 of the game Saturday.
Bergeron, who in the first period scored his seventh goal of the season, left the bench midway through the third. Claude Julien said in his postgame NESN interview that he was being cautious with Bergeron and sent him to the room himself.
SVEDBERG YANKED, BUT HE WAS ALSO STARTED
For the first time in his Bruins career, Niklas Svedberg was pulled from a start. It was done for good reason. He was not good.
Svedberg was taken out in the second period after allowing his third goal of the game, but he had to be bailed out by David Krejci in the final seconds of the first period in a 1-1 game.
Facing a bad-angle shot from Matt Calvert off the rush, Svedberg kicked a big rebound to David Savard, who had half an open net to deal with. Fortunately for the Bruins, Krejci went down and blocked the shot with his leg to keep the game tied.
When Kevin Connauton’s second-period goal chased Svedberg, it marked the third time this season the B’s have made an in-game goalie change.
Claude Julien often accuses the media of second-guessing, so we’ll good on it here. The decision to start the backup Saturday was puzzling. Boston was coming off two straight wins in a season that has seen them struggle to string wins together, and Rask had been off the ice with the rest of his team for three days entering Saturday.
CLAUDE HATES THE CALLS
There’s no telling whether Claude Julien is more disappointed in his players this season or the NHL‘s officials. Julien’s on-bench reactions to penalties have been stronger than ever, and he has passive-aggressively vocalized his issues with officiating to the media on several occasions this season.
On Saturday, Julien appeared highly displeased with a slashing call against Brad Marchand. After Nick Foligno called on the ensuing power play, Julien could be seen on the bench muttering choice words.
BRUINS WASTE POWER PLAYS
The Bruins got a much-needed first power play when Savard was sent off for interference midway through the second period with Columbus holding a 4-1 lead. Boston squandered that power play, landing just one shot on goal.
The Bruins soon again had reason for hope, when Fedor Tyutin was called for slashing Patrice Bergeron, but the B’s again failed to score and spent the last quarter of the man advantage in their own zone.
Craig Cunningham tipped a Gregory Campbell shot past Curtis McElhinney on the next shift to finally bring the B’s within two, but Matt Calvert would increase Columbus’ lead to three again with a goal in the final minute of the second.
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: If available, T.J. Oshie would be ‘excellent acquisition’ for Bruins||12.18.14 at 1:53 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB following Wednesday’s Wild-Bruins game and to talk about some recent trade rumors surrounding the Bruins. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
One of those names rumored of late has been Blues right wing T.J. Oshie. During the first intermission on the NBC Sports broadcast last night Bob McKenzie mentioned Oshie being available. McGuire hadn’t heard such things, but said it would be a good fit for the Bruins if he was indeed made available.
“I did not know that he was available because I think that he is a very respected member of the St. Louis Blues organization,” said McGuire. “I didn’t know he was available and he may not be. It may be people talking. Bobby McKenzie when talks, he’s usually [right on mark]. It may be someone that Bobby knows and some of us don’t know. I would tell you that T.J. is a very, very good player who I think would be a very good Bruin, if and I stress this is a huge if because I know people like to listen and twist words. If available and the Bruins could get him, that would be an excellent acquisition. I will say this, I do not know that he is available.”
McGuire was in between the benches for the NBC Sports broadcast so had the best view of the game. He saw a lot of positive things from the Bruins, as they won for the first time in four games Wednesday night with a 3-2 overtime win in Minnesota.
“I was really impressed with a few things from the Bruins,” he said. “Number one, Zdeno Chara‘s vocal leadership on the bench — usually not very vocal — but when he is people usually listen. Last night he was very vocal, especially at the end of certain situations whether it was a penalty kill, a good chip in or a good line change. He was extremely vocal and a good leader. The return of David Krejci, you see the skill level and how it makes everyone around him better, but what it also does is it changes the batting order. Now [Patrice] Bergeron is not the No. 1, he’s No. 2. [Carl] Soderberg is not the No. 2, he’s the No. 3, Gregory Campbell‘s minutes are kind of dropping down and that allows he and Danny Paille to penalty kill a little bit better. That changes everything. I was really impressed that they hung in there because that 5-on-3 penalty kill I thought was the key to the game last night.”
|Matt Fraser gets defensive and shows he can help fill void for Brad Marchand||11.19.14 at 12:59 am ET|
Ever since scoring the overtime goal against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the second round last spring, every Bruins fan knew the kid could score.
But on Tuesday night, they saw a different side of Fraser, the tough, gritty side, giving the Bruins exactly what they needed with Brad Marchand out with an unspecified injury.
Fraser played all 20 shifts with Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith as the Bruins beat the Blues, 2-0, at TD Garden.
“Obviously, I like scoring goals,” Fraser said. “I like to be an offensive threat. But you’re not going to be that kind of guy every night. There’s going to be times when you have to be relied upon to be a defensive, sound player. I think on this team, that’s more my ‘ it’s not my job, but I have to broaden my game a little bit because every guy in this room is good defensively. That’s how this franchise has built their system: you got to be good defensively. You got to make sure you’re good in all three zones.”
The irony is that Fraser did score a goal – with nine seconds left in the second period – but it was disallowed when referee Chris Lee ruled Fraser slammed into Blues goalie Brian Elliot before Elliot could play the puck.
“To me it should have been a goal,” coach Claude Julien said. “In my mind the puck’s in, it hits him, and it goes in before he even touches the goaltender. But those are unfortunately not reviewable, so he gets deprived from a goal. But the other part ‘ he deserves a lot of credit for his, he was on the line that played against their top-scoring line and defensively I thought he was very reliable. He played big, he played strong with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and [Reilly] Smith. I think that line did a great job against the [Vladimir] Tarasenko line.”
|Behind Reilly Smith, Patrice Bergeron, Bruins finding their ‘finishing’ touch||11.11.14 at 1:24 am ET|
Everyone in attendance at TD Garden will remember Monday night’s 4-2 win over the Devils for Seth Griffith’s spectacular effort late in the second-period.
But truth be told, the significance of the win goes far beyond that 10-second span. In winning their fifth straight game, the Bruins showed yet again they can actually finish around the net, something they struggled badly with in their 5-6-0 start.
At the center of the finishing was the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith. Bergeron had two assists and a goal, Smith had a goal and an assist and Carl Soderberg finished his power play chance in front.
Whether it was from the circle (Bergeron), or in the slot (Smith), or on the doorstep (Soderberg), the Bruins were finding ways to put the puck in the net.
“I think it’s finishing, yeah, because there’s been some games where we have given up too many shots and too many offensive opportunities and Tuukks [Tuukka Rask] has done a great job, same with Sveddy [Niklas Svedberg], but I think we are just doing a better job finishing the puck, and we are getting chances and it seems like we are doing a better job putting it in the back of the net than we did, you know, starting in the year,” Smith said.
“When Patrice gets the puck, I just let him do his thing,” he added. “You know sometimes you can call someone for the puck and you can kind of put someone out of their groove a little bit, because you know it’s not their first play, but Bergy has eyes in the back of his head so you know I just trust him that he will make the right play all the time.”
|Brad Marchand proves he still loves seeing Roberto Luongo between the pipes||11.05.14 at 1:52 am ET|
Marchand was the player who scored five goals against Vancouver in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, four of which came against Luongo and the final one game on an empty net in Game 7 after he and the Bruins chased him from the game with under three minutes left.
On Tuesday, in a game much less significant, Marchand did it again to Luongo, this time at 3:27 of overtime on a spectacular goal to give the Bruins a 2-1 overtime win against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. Marchand, who missed two great chances earlier in overtime, blew by defenseman Dylan Olsen, dragging the puck to Olsen’s left. On the other side, Marchand re-collected the puck and snapped one past Luongo’s blocker. Game over.
“Well he’s a big guy, and he fills a lot of the net,” Marchand said of Luongo. “He seems to battle hard, and cuts his angles down well. I mean he’s one of the top goalies in the league. He has been for a long time. It’s always tough when you play him.”
Asked specifically if he has more confidence against Luongo, Marchand didn’t dispute the obvious.
“Yeah, definitely. Anytime I go into a game and there’s a goalie that I score on more than others, I always feel confident in that situation,” Marchand admitted. “And tonight, I kind of felt the same way. You kind of hope at the same time that maybe luck will be on your side, but again, you want to try to be confident all the time, but it’s definitely something you can use to your advantage.”
|Claude Julien still wants more out of improving Bergeron line||11.04.14 at 10:56 pm ET|
Part of the Bruins’ early-season struggles was that the team’s sure things weren’t sure things. Zdeno Chara wasn’t enjoying a strong start prior to his injury, while Patrice Bergeron‘s line was getting beaten far more than usual.
Obviously, it’s going to take some time for things to return to normal. Chara is in the second week of his recovery from a torn PCL and, assuming his recovery is on track, is expected to remain out for 2-4 more weeks. The Bergeron line, on the other hand, appears to be turning a corner.
Claude Julien broke up the trio of Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith three games ago, at which point Bergeron was an uncharacteristic minus-2 on the season and Marchand was looking for his first even-strength goal of the season. Smith, Julien had said multiple times, looked like he was behind after missing most of training camp because he didn’t have a contract.
Smith was put back on Bergeron’s line after a period in Buffalo and Marchand was returned to the line by the end of the game. It seems Julien got the attention of his most trusted line, as Marchand now has four goals (three of which came playing with Bergeron and Smith) and two assists in the last three games, while both Bergeron and Smith have two points apiece in the span.
The Bruins have won all three games, two of which came on overtime winners from Marchand. Both of the Bruins’ goals in Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime victory came from the Bergeron line, as Bergeron scored his first goal in 12 games with a second-period tally.
“I think tonight was a real big step forward for us,” Marchand said. “We played with a lot more confidence than we have in the past number of games, and it seems like were able to make plays now and hold on. I think that’s one thing we weren’t doing very well early on — we were throwing it away a lot, and weren’t supporting each other very well, but our legs seemed to be under us, we seemed to be more comfortable with the puck, and we felt really good tonight.”
Though the results are showing more and more, Julien said he feels the line isn’t yet where he wants it to be.
“I think the puck movement between them still isn’t quite where we’ve seen it before,” Julien said. “There’s still room for improvement and they’ve just got to keep working at it, because they’ve got one guy right now that’s really hot.”
Smith was strong on the puck and looked lightyears more confident than in games past Tuesday. Julien still expects more out of him. Reminded of his past critiques of the player and asked if he felt Smith had caught up, Julien was noncommittal. Asked again about Smith, Julien reiterated his stance that he feels the whole line could do more.
“He’s trying to get himself going,” Julien said of Smith. “I don’t think he’s playing bad ‘ I mean, he’s just one of those guys with that line ‘ I think that whole line, the three of them together, are starting to come around. Two goals from that line tonight, so you can’t complain.”
Given Julien’s lack of praise, Smith was asked after the game whether he felt his coach was hard on him. Smith’s vague answer suggested the answer might be yes, but Julien trying to motivate his young players is nothing new.
“I think here, everyone’s used to that as a hockey player,” Smith said. “You get used to it. You have pretty thick skin. I think if you don’t have it, you’re not going to go too far.”
Bergeron is a two-time Selke Trophy winner as the league’s top two-way forward, while Marchand and Smith are both looking to prove they can have consistent seasons after streaky showings last season. When that line is at its best, its among the most difficult in the league to oppose. Julien doesn’t think it’s there yet, but the positive steps its taken has helped the Bruins get wins at a time when they need them.