|5 things we learned as Bruins got blown out by Sharks for third straight loss||12.05.14 at 1:05 am ET|
The Bruins were desperately in search of goals and they found them. So did the Sharks.
Then the Sharks found some more. And some more.
In finally putting up something of an offensive effort, the Bruins got crushed in a mess of a pond hockey game Thursday night. Their four goals were a minor detail in a game marked by hanging Tuukka Rask out to dry in a 7-4 loss (box). Rask had never allowed seven goals in an NHL game before Thursday night.
The Bruins have now gone 0-3-0 in the first three games of their four-game West Coast trip. They’ll wrap it up Saturday against the Coyotes.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday night:
DOMINATED IN THE SECOND
It all began in the second period. After a strong first, the B’s were blown out of the water in the second by the Sharks, who put four pucks past Rask.
They scored after long stays in the offensive zone, scored on the power play (twice) and scored off the rush. San Jose outshot Boston, 24-7, in the second.
The period was a reflection of some pretty shoddy work by the B’s in both the neutral zone and their own zone. While they would gladly take a period in which they scored two goals given their offensive woes of late, the second period showed that pond hockey doesn’t suit the B’s well.
Through the first two periods alone, the Bruins gave up 61 shot attempts, which, as Nick Goss from NESN noted, was more than they’d allowed in a game all season.
REILLY SMITH IS BACK TO SCORING
It wasn’t just that Smith didn’t have any goals in his previous 10 games entering Thursday; he didn’t have any points. That changed 29 seconds into the game, as he finished off a play courtesy of slick passing from Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. He would add a second goal shortly after a Sharks power play goal in the second period.
Speaking of Marchand and Bergeron, Smith was reunited with his longtime linemates Thursday after seeing David Pastrnak skate in his place the previous three games. Smith was put back on the line late in the second period Tuesday against the Kings and stuck there through the game Thursday.
With Smith back with Bergeron, Pastrnak was moved down to play with Chris Kelly and Matt Fraser. Seth Griffith was scratched for the third straight game. The lines were as follows:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Lucic – Soderberg – Eriksson
Fraser – Kelly – Pastrnak
Paille – Campbell – Gagne
THREE-AND-ONE FAILS BRUINS
Dating back to some early-season shootout woes last season, in four-on-four play — particularly in overtime — Claude Julien has opted against skating two forwards and two defensemen and instead deployed a full forward line and one blueliner. That backfired Thursday night.
With Marchand and Tommy Wingels going off for matching roughing minors and the Bruins trailing by a goal, Julien sent Carl Soderberg’s line and Dougie Hamilton out. Joe Pavelski skated the puck around Hamilton and was going stride-for-stride to the net with Hamilton when Lucic, trying to break up the play, accidentally kicked the puck into the net as he tried to make a hard stop.
Given that there was less than 10 minutes to play in a one-goal game, there’s no issue here with Julien’s strategy as he looked for the equalizer. It just didn’t work.
PAILLE’S FLASHY ASSIST
Daniel Paille is known for being good at a lot of things and not-so-good at finishing. That doesn’t mean he can’t play a major part in a highlight reel goal.
Shortly after Smith had gotten the Bruins on the board early in the first period, Paille skated the puck through the neutral zone. With two men to beat as he went to the net, Paille spun around on his backhand and wheeled back forward to send a pass on his forehand to an oncoming Gregory Campbell, who promptly fired the puck into the net for his third goal of the season. Two of those goals have come against the Sharks.
|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.”
|5 things we learned as Bruins won 5th straight: Seth Griffith scores crazy goal||11.10.14 at 9:29 pm ET|
One goal can make a game. Seth Griffith’s second-period goal did just that.
With the Bruins and Devils tied at two goals apiece late in the second period, the Bruins rookie scored what is likely the most impressive goal he’ll score in his career when, after blocking a shot, he battled for a puck through Bryce Salvador and got tangled up with Marek Zidlicky as he raced to the net. After getting spun around, he backhanded the puck through his legs and those of Cory Schneider to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
Reilly Smith would score soon after, giving the Bruins two goals in the final two minutes of the second period and sending them on their way to a 4-2 victory over the Devils (Check out the game boxscore).
Griffith, who was playing in his 12th NHL game after getting called up for top-six duty last month, is becoming no stranger to sensational goals. After flying through the air Bobby Orr-style on his Oct. 28 goal against the Wild, Griffith is setting the bar pretty high for himself going forward in his young NHL career.
Here are four other things we learned Monday night:
Torey Krug returned to the lineup after a four-game absence caused by a broken pinky finger suffered on Oct. 28.
Krug skated on the team’s third defensive pairing with Zach Trotman, taking the place of the injured David Warsofsky, who is out 2-4 weeks with a groin strain. The second-year defenseman also returned to his usual spot on the point of Boston’s first power play unit.
Matt Bartkowski served as a healthy scratch for the fifth consecutive game.
|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.
|5 things we learned in Bruins’ overtime win over Sabres||10.30.14 at 9:49 pm ET|
It shouldn’t take messages from Claude Julien to his players to beat the Sabres and it shouldn’t take overtime to beat the Sabres, but the Bruins were able to breathe a sigh of relief Thursday night thanks to both.
Reilly Smith and Brad Marchand, both of whom were moved off of Patrice Bergeron‘s line to begin the game, connected for the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win in Buffalo (box score) to improve to 6-6-0 on the season.
Maybe the old lines would have gotten the job done just as well against the lowly Sabres, but the Bruins found a way to hold possession throughout the night come back in the third period from what appeared to be the very real possibility of a regulation loss to one of the worst teams in the NHL.
Either way, a new-look third line of Carl Soderberg between Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson tied the game with 5:30 remaining when Soderberg, whose faceoffs are usually taken by Chris Kelly, won a draw back to Dennis Seidenberg, who sent the puck up to Eriksson. The veteran right winger’s shot went off Marchand’s glove and in to both tie the game and save the B’s some real embarrassment.
The lines began as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Kelly – Bergeron – Gagne
Marchand – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Smith
Smith moved back up to Bergeron’s line in the second period, with Gagne returning to Campbell’s line. Kelly skating on the other wing of that Bergeron line meant that Soderberg had to assume all center responsibilities on his line, including taking faceoffs. That didn’t end up being a problem, especially on the game-tying goal.
|David Krejci, Reilly Smith provide offense as Bruins beat Red Wings, end losing streak||10.15.14 at 11:02 pm ET|
David Krejci and Reilly Smith each scored in regulation, and then they each scored in the shootout as the Bruins beat the Red Wings, 3-2, Wednesday night to end their three-game losing streak.
Krejci opened the scoring 5:12 into the game with his first goal of the season after Chris Kelly forced a neutral-zone turnover and sprung Krejci up the middle of the ice. The Red Wings answered a few minutes later when Tomas Tatar took advantage of some sloppy defensive play and ripped a shot under the crossbar.
The Bruins regained the lead with 6:29 left in the second. Brad Marchand retrieved a dump-in deep in the offensive zone and calmly moved the puck to Patrice Bergeron, who then tried a wraparound that led to a juicy rebound for Smith to bury.
The Red Wings answered again, though, when Gustav Nyquist fired a laser shot past Tuukka Rask for a power-play goal 2:56 into the third. The Bruins failed to capitalize on two power plays of their own in the third period, and Jimmy Howard made several big saves in the final minute — most notably on a Simon Gagne rebound bid — to force overtime.
The Bruins were the better team in overtime, but couldn’t finish their chances. The best opportunity came on a 3-on-1 a minute and a half in, but Smith tried to force a pass that was easily broken up. The B’s had to kill a 41-second Wings power play to end the overtime after Brendan Smith drew a call on Bergeron with a pretty blatant embellishment.
Here are some other observations from the game:
-For the second time in as many games against Detroit, the Bruins suffered a Patrice Bergeron injury scare. Last week Bergeron missed most of the second period after crashing awkwardly into the boards. On Wednesday he limped off the ice late in the second after blocking a Danny DeKeyser slap shot. Fortunately for the Bruins, Bergeron was back on the ice for the start of the third period. As he so often is, Bergeron was the Bruins’ best forward Wednesday night. He went 17-for-24 on faceoffs and posted a .740 Corsi, and his line registered 12 shots on goal to go along with Smith’s second-period tally.
-This is partially tied into Bergeron since they played with that line a lot, but Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton were great, as they usually are. They had Corsis of 78 percent and 79 percent, respectively, which is very good. Hamilton was also a force in overtime, as he jumped into the offense several times and helped create scoring chances.
-The Bruins absolutely dominated the first period, outshooting the Red Wings 14-4 in the opening 20 minutes. They spent entire shifts in the offensive zone and won the majority of 1-on-1 battles. The scoreboard didn’t reflect that dominance, though, as the two teams entered the intermission tied at 1-1. Even on the Red Wings’ goal, they hadn’t really established any sort of possession in the Bruins’ zone, as it came off a turnover that led to a bouncing puck around the net.
-It was a particularly interesting first period for Chris Kelly. He made a great play to set up Krejci’s goal, as he forced a turnover in the neutral zone and then made a nice pass through the seam to spring Krejci. Just a few minutes later, though, it was a turnover of his own that led to Tatar’s goal, as Kelly failed to handle a pass up the boards from Dennis Seidenberg. On the whole, though, it was another good game for Kelly and linemates Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Kelly’s five shots on goal were tied for the team lead.
-The Bruins’ penalty kill had been very good until Nyquist’s power-play goal in the third period. Before that, the B’s had allowed just two shots on goal on the Red Wings’ first three power plays and made it tough for the Wings to get set up. On the fourth, though, they gave the dangerous Nyquist too much room to operate and he made them pay by walking in and snapping a shot past Rask.
-Considering it was his first game since April 2013, Simon Gagne looked pretty good. He played 12:13 and recorded four shot attempts and two shots on goal, one of which nearly won the game in the final minute of regulation. He started the game on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Ryan Spooner, but wound up seeing some time with Krejci and Milan Lucic as the game went on.
|In showdown of elite centers, Patrice Bergeron dominates Flyers’ Claude Giroux||10.09.14 at 12:23 am ET|
In theory, Wednesday night’s season opener between the Bruins and Flyers should have given us a great back-and-forth battle between two of the NHL‘s best centers. Patrice Bergeron and Claude Giroux both finished in the top five in Hart Trophy voting last season, and their lines were matched against each other for most of the game Wednesday night.
But instead of that great battle, what we got was a total beatdown in favor of the Bruins. Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith dominated Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek all game long, rendering one of the best players in the league virtually invisible.
Bergeron won 10 of the 12 faceoffs he took against Giroux and ended up with a plus-16 Corsi (22 shot attempts for, 6 against), according to hockeystats.ca, while Giroux finished the night with a minus-18 Corsi (6 attempts for, 24 against). Bergeron and his linemates combined for seven shots on goal, while Giroux and his managed just two. It seemed like every time the two lines were on the ice, the puck was in the Flyers’ zone, and the numbers reflect that.
“They take pride in being a better line than the line that they’re facing up against,” Claude Julien said. “It’s just a trait that they have. They worked hard. You have to give them credit, too, for how they checked against that line because it had a lot of potential to be dangerous offensively. But those guys did a pretty good job of taking away those opportunities.”
The key was winning battles. Bergeron is one of the best faceoff men in the NHL, but it’s not like he won all 10 of those faceoffs cleanly. Some of them required him outworking Giroux on a second or third attempt to win the puck back, and some of them required Marchand or Smith to jump in and beat the opponent to a loose puck.
Battles in the corner led to longer offensive-zone possessions. One of the best examples of this came with around 9:40 left in the second when Bergeron won a 1-on-1 battle in the corner to the left of the Flyers’ net. He came away with the puck and moved it back to Zdeno Chara at the left point. Chara then moved it over to Adam McQuaid, who sent a shot through a nice Smith screen, one that he was able to set by winning a battle for position. The shot didn’t go in, but it wasn’t an easy save either. Read the rest of this entry »
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