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Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘Boston, Pittsburgh and Montreal are the three best teams in the Eastern Conference’ 03.22.13 at 12:31 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC commentator Pierre McGuire spoke with Mut & Merloni Friday about where the Bruins stand among the top teams in the East, what problems Dougie Hamilton could be facing, and what might happen with Jarome Iginla before the trade deadline.

“I would say Boston, Pittsburgh and Montreal are the three best teams in the Eastern Conference,” McGuire said, noting that the Penguins’ fourth-line forwards contribute on offense and that the Bruins have a similar degree of depth.

“You go watch Danny Paille play — he’s having a great year for Boston. He’s a fourth-line player. His skill level is pretty excessive too, for a depth player. Gregory Campbell‘s skill level’s not so bad. Rich Peverley‘s skill level’s not so bad. So the Bruins can match [the Penguins] in terms of depth skill, and that’s one of the things you’re going to have to have if you’re going to win in the East.”

McGuire said fatigue could be a factor in the struggles of both Milan Lucic and Hamilton. Lucic’s game has been less physical this year, and McGuire said that’s been a trend across the NHL.

“Early on we were seeing the physical teams be physical,” McGuire said. “I would say right now, we’re starting to see some guys let up a little bit. I was talking to Mario Lemieux about this the other day in Pittsburgh, and he said one of the hard parts about the 48-game schedule is that as you get to the halfway point, it’s more than that, because you haven’t had training camp and you are fatigued and you are breaking down.

“There’s a little less physical play, there’s more speed play, there’s a lot more open ice. … I’m not saying that’s the problem with Milan, but I do think fatigue is becoming a very real issue for a lot of players around the league.”

Peverley’s benching has been seen by some as Claude Julien‘s attempt to send a message, but McGuire said he doesn’t think that’s the case.

“Sometimes the games go a lot slower when you’re upstairs and you get a chance to see, maybe you do have more time to make a play, maybe you do have a different outlet and a different decision you can make,” McGuire said. “It’s not really so much about message-sending, I think it’s more getting the player refocused and re-energized.

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Dennis Seidenberg’s late goal lifts Bruins past Senators to end skid 03.21.13 at 10:15 pm ET
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Dennis Seidenberg

Dennis Seidenberg‘s first goal of the season was a huge one, as the veteran blue liner took a feed from Zdeno Chara following a Patrice Bergeron faceoff win with just over a minute to play and blasted a one-timer past Robin Lehner to break a late tie and give the Bruins a 2-1 lead over the Senators Thursday night in Ottawa.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Bruins and improved them to 20-6-3 on the season. The B’s got the win on a night in which Claude Julien made Rich Peverley a healthy scratch, keeping Ryan Spooner in the lineup as David Krejci made his return from a knee injury.

The Senators got on the board when Kaspars Daugavins fired a wrist shot past Anton Khudobin early in the second period. After a sloppy showing throughout the second period for the B’s, Daniel Paille beat Lehner with a wrister with 1:22 remaining in the second to tie the game.

The Bruins will play the first game of a home-and-home with the Maple Leafs by wrapping up their four-game road trip Saturday night in Toronto.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Julien treated the Merlot line as his third line Thursday night, and it paid off with Paille’s goal. The Paille-Gregory Campbell- Shawn Thornton line got got more shifts and ice time than the trio of Spooner between Jay Pandolfo and Jordan Caron, with Campbell playing 15:33 to Spooner’s 8:17.

- Khudobin came through for the B’s in the final 30 seconds of the first period, making big stops with the Senators buzzing in the offensive zone against the Spooner line. The backup netminder came up with stops on Kyle Turris, Jakob Silfverberg and Patrick Wiercioch in what was a frantic end to the first period.

- Paille’s strong offensive season continues, as his six goals put his total through 69 games last season (nine) easily within reach. Paille’s career-high for goals is 19, which he got with the Sabres in the 2007-08 season. His best total as a Bruin is 10 in 2009-10.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The B’s were sloppy, sloppy, sloppy from an offensive standpoint in the second period. Krejci’s line blew a 3-on-1 when Milan Lucic made an extra pass to Nathan Horton and failed to connect. Later in the second, the B’s were on an odd-man rush and Lucic passed to Tyler Seguin, who had turned back to go for a line change.

- Speaking of line changes, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron were getting off as the Senators went the other way on the rush on which Daugavins gave the Senators the 1-0 lead.

- The Bruins went without a shot on goal in both of their power plays, as the B’s made it three straight games without a power-play goal (0-for-8). Julien tweaked the units for the first power play, putting Seguin on the second unit and replacing him on the top unit with Spooner. Dougie Hamilton was also moved to the second unit, with Seidenberg taking his place on the point on the first unit.

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David Krejci returns for Bruins, Rich Peverley a healthy scratch at 7:42 pm ET
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David Krejci was back in the Bruins’ lineup for Thursday night’s game against the Senators, marking his return from a knee injury sustained when he was hit with a Johnny Boychuk slapshot Sunday.

With Krejci returning, Ryan Spooner was kept in the lineup, while Rich Peverley was made a surprise healthy scratch. Spooner replaced Peverley on the third line with Jay Pandolfo and Jordan Caron.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Rich Peverley becomes center of attention with Chris Kelly out 03.14.13 at 12:51 pm ET
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Rich Peverley

The Bruins needed more offensive consistency out of their third line, and instead they got even more uncertainty as center Chris Kelly was lost for the time being with a broken left tibia Monday against the Senators.

Things were looking up for Kelly’s line when the addition of Jordan Caron yielded a Kelly goal in Caron’s season debut Saturday, giving the Caron-Kelly-Rich Peverley line as many goals in one game as the Chris Bourque-Kelly-Peverley line had in 16 games. Yet the trio of Kelly with Caron and Peverley won’t be seen again for a while, and for the time being the B’s will be working with Peverley between Jay Pandolfo and Caron, as they did Tuesday against the Penguins.

The revamped third line obviously features some shuffling, as Peverley, who has played mostly right wing in his time with the B’s, slides to center. Caron, a left wing, is now playing his off-wing on the right to allow Pandolfo to play left. It shows off the versatility that some of the Bruins have to offer, but the line doesn’t need versatility, it needs production after a start that has seen uncharacteristically low offensive output from Boston’s third line.

The move to center is nothing new for Peverley, who played center in Nashville and Atlanta and has taken plenty of draws in his time with the B’s.

“We’re lucky to have guys like Pev, and even guys like Seguin that have played center most of their career and can step in there and be comfortable in that petition,” Claude Julien said Thursday morning. “Pev is going to have to fill some big shoes there, with Kells being a real versatile centerman that can do a lot of different things for our team. The other thing about Rich is he’s extremely good on faceoffs. That’s an area where we don’t lose a lot.”

The third line wasn’t on the ice for any of the Penguins’ three goals in the final 6:18 to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the B’s, but the trio of Pandolfo, Peverley and Caron also combined for a total of zero shots on goal Tuesday, making it a generally underwhelming debut for the new line.

With “indefinitely” the term used by Peter Chiarelli to describe how Kelly will be out, the line will obviously have time to hit its stride, unless a trade is made or a player is recalled from Providence. Pandolfo is optimistic that he, Peverley and Caron will be able to find the chemistry needed to be a reliable line.

“If we can get some chances and get some chances, it might give us some confidence,” Pandolfo said Thursday morning. “That’s the biggest thing, is just trying to create some scoring chances and do the job defensively. That’s all guys can really worry about.”

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Chris Bourque not worried he’ll be replaced at trade deadline 03.04.13 at 3:21 pm ET
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Chris Bourque

WILMINGTON — As the trade deadline approaches, players on bad teams worry about being moved, but players on good teams worry about being replaced. Not too many Bruins should have reason to worry about that, but Chris Bourque probably tops that list.

With less than a month to go before the trade deadline, enough of the season has been played for teams to diagnose potential weaknesses and where upgrades could be needed. In the Bruins’ case, there isn’t much not to like.

Tyler Seguin is finally hitting his stride after a slow start and the Bruins’ top two lines have been very productive. The defense has been strong as usual, and though Andrew Ference isn’t having his best season, the B’s shouldn’t actively seek anything more than a potential depth move on the back end. Tuukka Rask has been healthy and strong, so between the offensive production, solid defensive play and sound goaltending, you’d have to nitpick to find an area that needs upgrading.

That’s why Bourque’s name has come up so much. The Bruins have grown accustomed to getting more production out of the third line, and Bourque has gone from the third line left wing to the fourth line Saturday to a healthy scratch Sunday, which was his second of the season. He was taken off the power play late in Saturday’s win against the Lightning before eventually sitting vs. the Canadiens.

With there little not to like about this Bruins team, Bourque has been a target for criticism from the get-go. The chemistry with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley — two guys who gelled with the likes of Michael Ryder and Benoit Pouliot in the past two years — wasn’t there, so it’s no surprise that B’s fans were hoping for a Ryder redux prior to last week’s deal that sent the veteran sniper from Dallas to Montreal.

Despite Ryder no longer being an option, you would think that a winger for that Kelly line would be at the top of Peter Chiarelli’s shopping list as April 3 draws nearer. If the Bruins were to upgrade on the third line, Bourque wouldn’t be of much use as a fourth-liner, so he would likely suffer the same fate that Joe Corvo did last season when Boston replaced him in the lineup with Greg Zanon.

For now, Bourque isn’t worried that the trade deadline will mean him losing his spot in being lineup.

“Everyone’s here to win,” Bourque said Monday. “If they bring more guys in, that’s what they’re going to do. I can’t control any of that stuff. I’ve got to control what I can control and that’s it.”

In 17 games this season, Bourque has one goal and three assists for four points and a minus-4 rating. With three more games, the 27-year-old will have tied his career high with 20 games played, which he did in the 2009-10 season with the Penguins. The question at the beginning of the season was whether Bourque would be the season-long answer with Kelly and Peverley after being given the job in camp, but he’s yet to secure a stranglehold on the spot.

In the meantime, Bourque says his mindset hasn’t changed from one game to the next. He’s going to assume he’s in the lineup and he’s going to assume he’ll be given more opportunities. Time might be running out for him to make a lasting statement though.

“You come to the rink ready to play,” Bourque said. “If you don’t, then you’re not coming to the rink with the right attitude. You’ve just got to stay positive and be ready at all times.”

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Chris Bourque feels the comfort is there and the offense will come 01.25.13 at 12:47 pm ET
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Chris Bourque has no points and a minus-2 rating through three games with the Bruins. (AP)

Chris Bourque is only three games into his Bruins career, and though neither he nor his line has made a ton of noise on the ice, he’s found Boston — the third NHL stop of his career — to be an ideal fit.

“Every game I feel more and more comfortable,” he said. “Obviously getting the nerves out the first couple of games, playing in the Garden with a full house, there’s definitely a little bit of nerves and obviously in New York the other night, but I’m starting to settle in here and I’m starting to feel pretty good and hopefully just get better every day.”

Bourque said that it still feels “surreal” playing for the Bruins given that he grew up watching his father, Ray Bourque, carve out a Hall of Fame career with the B’s, but that’s to be expected.

“Every day that passes, you get kind of used to it a little bit more,” he said. “Seeing my dad’s picture all over the place, every time I see that it reminds that he was such a legend here, so it’s still a little bit different, but something that I’m going to have to get used to. It’s a lot of fun being around these guys, a great group of guys and a good hockey team.”

As for what he’s done on the ice, Bourque is looking for his first goal as a Bruin (he has one goal in 36 career NHL games), but he’s been trusted with minutes on the third line, power play (he was on the ice for Brad Marchand‘s power-play goal against the Rangers Wednesday) and shootout, as he was Boston’s third shooter against the Jets Monday. The confidence is there on Bourque’s part, and the faith is there on Claude Julien‘s part.

“Chris Bourque is a great player, skilled guy,” Julien said after Friday’s morning skate. “I think he’s been an important part of our power play as far as giving us that left shot that we need right now. He’s been pretty decent there. I think he’s another guy that’s feeling his way through our hockey club. The one thing you want out of players that are coming in for the first time is that they don’t hurt your hockey club, and [he] hasn’t.”

The line of Chris Kelly between Bourque and Rich Peverley hasn’t been the Bruins’ strongest — they’ve produced no goals, while Bourque and Peverley have minus-2 ratings and Kelly is a minus-1 — but Bourque thinks the process of coming together has gone increasingly well.

“I think every game has gotten better,” he said. “Last game there were a lot of power plays and PKs. [Kelly and Peverley] kill penalties and me and Pevs are on the power play, so we didn’t play as much together as a line, but when we’re out there I feel like we’re creating some good energy. That’s part of the job as a third line is creating energy for the team and getting momentum. I think it’s been going pretty well so far.”

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Rich Peverley (personal reasons) absent from morning skate 01.15.13 at 11:50 am ET
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The Bruins held a morning skate at TD Garden Tuesday in an effort to simulate a game day. The B’s will hold an intra-squad scrimmage in front of fans Tuesday night.

Only Rich Peverley was missing from the morning skate, with coach Claude Julien saying he was absent for personal reasons.

The Bruins are going stream the scrimmage on their website, but they’ll also be recording it for the purpose of watching game video as they would with any other game.

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