|Seth Griffith scores ‘sick’ goal, draws comparisons to Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin||11.11.14 at 12:10 am ET|
Seth Griffith doesn’t talk the same game he plays.
So, when asked about his blocked shot, sprint through a pair of opponents and spin-o-rama that ended with a goal on a backhanded shot with his back facing the net, the rookie had to quote Patrice Bergeron to do the feat justice.
“He just said that was a sick play,” Griffith said. “He’s one of the guys that talks to me all the time and he’s making me more confident in the room. Bergy was one of the first to congratulate me. It’s always pretty cool when a guy like that says something to you like that. He’s a great guy.”
The goal that Griffith scored with 1:59 left in the second period not only snapped a 2-2 tie, but it provided much needed inspiration that helped the Bruins beat the Devils, 4-2, Monday night at TD Garden. The reason for the inspiration was exactly how the play unfolded.
With the Devils possessing the puck in the Bruins’ zone, Griffith slid down to block a shot. In one motion, he got up, controlled the puck and took off on a sprint. He split Devils defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Bryce Salvador and somehow managed to carry the puck, lose it, get it back, put his back to goalie Corey Schneider and backhand it through his own legs and under the left pad of the Devils’ goalie for the go-ahead tally.
“Yeah, we picked up our game after that but it just goes to show how good we can play and we shouldn’t wait for stuff like that to happen to get going,” Griffith said.
|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.
|The lasting effects of Benoit Pouliot’s Bruins stint||11.06.14 at 4:28 pm ET|
Benoit Pouliot’s signing in Boston in 2011 didn’t register as an earth-shaker and nor did his departure, yet both have had lasting impacts on both the player and the Bruins.
Pouliot, a third-liner in Boston who served as a journeyman for years, now has a longterm home. Trading him away helped the Bruins get a top-six right wing.
After playing for five different teams in five years, Pouliot now looks at his 2011-12 campaign in Boston as a major reason as to why, for the first time in his career, he has job security. Pouliot signed a five-year, $20 million contract with the Oilers in free agency this summer after post-Boston stops with the Lightning and Rangers.
“It helped me a lot. I think I had best year [to that point] in Boston,” Pouliot said Thursday. “I think I learned a lot about playing defense first and then offense. I think it helped my game a lot and I think I still had a good production year in the role I was put in in Boston. I really enjoyed it and I think it set me up to where I am today.”
The fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Wild, Pouliot fell out of favor in both Minnesota and eventually Montreal before taking a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the Bruins, who were looking to fill Michael Ryder‘s spot on the cheap. For his shortcomings with consistency and offensive zone penalties, Pouliot essentially replaced Ryder’s production, scoring 16 goals in the regular season after Ryder scored 18 in each of his last two seasons in Boston.
It’s Pouliot’s exit in Boston that has helped the Bruins now. During the 2012 draft, the B’s traded the rights to the restricted free agent to Tampa for a fifth-round pick and AHLer Michel Ouellet. The Bruins released Ouellet, but the fifth-round pick was used on Seth Griffith, a right wing playing for the London Knights of the OHL. Griffith is now a top-six forward on David Krejci‘s line.
Pouliot scored eight goals and added 12 assists in 34 games for the Lightning in the lockout-shortened season before signing a one-year deal with the Rangers. He turned in a modest regular season of 15 goals and 21 assists for 36 points, but he scored some big goals in the team’s run to the Stanley Cup finals and hit free agency with a number of teams interested. The Rangers were among them (“I really wanted to go back,” he said), but Pouliot prioritized term over everything else. The Oilers offered $4 million annually over five years ‘ a major gamble for which the team has been criticized ‘ and he took it.
Now, Pouliot is at the beginning of what should be a lengthy stay in Edmonton. Though he’s only 28, he’s the fourth-oldest forward among a very young crop of offensive talent. His top-five high selection in the draft gives him something in common with Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, all of whom are first overall picks.
Pouliot knows what it’s like to be a high pick, but the only advice he feels he should give the trio of first overall picks is to try to avoid a path like the one he’s traveled.
“I’ve been through the worst things possible, I think,” he said. “One-years everywhere and I wasn’t really consistent on my game. It got me to this point where I finally found it and try to bring it every night.
“For them, they’re such good players. There’s still a lot to learn obviously and a lot to do, but they’ll be fine. I’ll try to help them out as much as I can, but at the same time, I don’t see a problem with the young guys we have on our team, because they’re really good. We’ll figure it out.”
|Andy Brickley on MFB: ‘Maybe the [Patrice] Bergeron line needs a little change of scenery’||10.29.14 at 1:26 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins’ disappointing start to the season. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Bruins blew a two-goal lead and dropped a 4-3 decision to the Wild on Tuesday night, putting their record at 5-6 on the young season. Brickley said the team is “treading water,” evidenced by Tuesday’s performance.
“It was 3-1 after two periods, but the Bruins were not playing all that well,” Brickley said. “That score did not indicate that the Bruins were the better team through 40 minutes. There were just too many mistakes, lack of focus, poor decision-making, getting beat on the backcheck, the defense for Minnesota was jumping into the play. And every line was guilty, none more so than the [Patrice] Bergeron line.”
Brickley said coach Claude Julien might have to resort to mixing up lines in an attempt to jump-start the team.
“It’s that one step forward, one step back that has plagued this team this year, and that’s that lack of focus and the lack of compete and consistency, just not there. It’s really hard to understand, because the core group is together and should be well schooled in all these areas and understand what they have in front of them in terms of not wanting to chase it the first two months of the season and get too far behind in the standings.
“As a coach in these situations you try to emphasize the positive things when you think that’s the right approach. Sometimes you’ve got to call guys out — not in public, but certainly within the room. Claude right now is very frustrated on what he needs to do to get this team to play better. You may even have to see some line juggling. Maybe you keep that [Carl] Soderberg line together to give you the one constant. The way the [David] Krejci line produced last night, maybe you keep them together. But I don’t know, maybe the Bergeron line needs a little change of scenery because it’s not working right now.
“You could appeal to players’ sense of, you know, ‘We’ve got to win some hockey games here, boys, and we’ve got to play better and we’ve got to do the little things that make us a good team, and we’ve got to work together as five-man units,’ because they’re just not getting the results. It’s hard to explain, it’s hard to get your hands around. And that’s the challenge for the coaching staff right now.”
No Stanley Cup was on the line Tuesday night at TD Garden, but Seth Griffith certain woke up the Gallery Gods echos when he made like Bobby Orr of May 10, 1970, and flew through the air to score what was, at the time, the go-ahead goal in the second period.
But the trouble with this airborne goal is that it wasn’t the final goal of the season. It wasn’t even in the final goal of the game.
The Bruins would score again, on a power-play tally from Milan Lucic, to go ahead 3-1 entering the third period. But the final 20 minutes featured a meltdown as the Wild outworked the Bruins and came away with a 4-3 win at TD Garden.
Still, the Griffith goal is what many Bruins fans will take with them out the door as the lone highlight. Gregory Campbell made it all possible when he rushed the net, drew a defender and left Griffith alone to come down the slot and finish it off. It was the rookie’s second goal of the night and third of the season. He also added an assist and was just a fight shy of the Gordie Howe hat trick.
“It’s kind of hard to be happy but two goals — obviously the win is more important,” Griffith said. “It’s too bad we didn’t have a very good third.”
|How Bruins overcame uncharacteristically bad nights from Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara||10.21.14 at 11:51 pm ET|
Usually the Patrice Bergeron line and Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton pairing are the Bruins’ constants. They’re the guys who are going to create offensive-zone possessions and not make mistakes.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday. Bergeron was on the ice for all three of the Sharks’ goals, linemates Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith joined him for two of them (it is worth noting that Marchand had a nice power-play goal), and Chara was on the ice for two of them as well. Those four and Hamilton were the only Bruins who finished with Corsi-for percentages under 50 percent, meaning they were the only Bruins who were on the ice for more 5-on-5 shot attempts against than shot attempts for.
That would seemingly be a recipe for disaster for the Bruins, especially when you consider that outside of the Carl Soderberg line, the rest of the team had been one giant question mark to this point in the season. David Krejci had looked good since his return, but linemate Milan Lucic was off to a slow start and he still didn’t have a set-in-stone right wing. The fourth line had featured several different combinations, and none of them had really done much. And the second and third defense pairings had been inconsistent at best, with Kevan Miller’s injury raising even more questions on the back end.
At least for one night, those questions turned into answers. Lucic, Krejci and rookie right wing Seth Griffith factored into four of the Bruins’ five goals, with Lucic notching three assists and Griffith scoring his first NHL goal. Two of the goals they were on the ice for — Griffith’s and Torey Krug’s — came as the direct result of getting bodies to the net. Krejci set a great screen on Krug’s, and then Lucic created some net-front havoc that freed up Griffith on his goal.
“I think it definitely was the best game that we’ve played so far this season,” Lucic said. “You saw we were hungry in the O-zone and hungry getting pucks to the net. We made some smart decisions in some important areas and it just seems like things are starting to head in the right direction.”
The fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Simon Gagne was a positive possession line that even created some chances against the Sharks’ top two lines. They scored what proved to be the game-winner midway through the third when Paille won the puck along the boards and threw a shot on net that Campbell tipped in for his first goal of the season.
Campbell and Paille were also big on the penalty kill, especially late in the game when Bergeron went to the box for a four-minute double minor. Until Krejci’s empty-netter to seal the win, Campbell had the biggest play on that kill when he blocked a Joe Thornton shot that came off a Chara turnover.
“We’ve got to be a responsible, reliable line, and Claude [Julien] has to trust us to put us in those situations,” Campbell said. “With hard work comes trust, and if we’re playing our game and we’re in on the forecheck and creating chances and bringing energy to the lineup, then he usually has confidence in us.”
As for the bottom two defense pairings, the only glaring error was a bad miscommunication between Krug and Dennis Seidenberg that led to a goal, but as Julien pointed out after the game, Bergeron’s line was just as much at fault, as Smith had failed to clear the zone and Bergeron and Marchand had gotten caught up ice.
Outside of that, the Seidenberg-Krug and Matt Bartkowski-Adam McQuaid pairings played well. Krug’s goal and two assists obviously stand out, but let’s not overlook the fact that Seidenberg had seven shots on goal and 12 shot attempts, and that he and Krug had Corsi-for percentages of 63 and 62 percent, respectively. McQuaid and Bartkowski weren’t far behind at 61 and 57 percent, respectively, and McQuaid was also big on that final penalty kill.
Obviously this is just one game. No one should think that all of the Bruins’ question marks are gone and that everyone’s going to be great from here on. But on a night when the Bruins’ best players were uncharacteristically unreliable, it was encouraging to see everyone else step up and show that they can lead the way, too.
|Claude Julien’s faith in Seth Griffith pays off||at 11:24 pm ET|
The “Claude Never Plays the Kids” club will have to ignore Seth Griffith’s existence for the next little while.
With the right wing job on David Krejci‘s line remaining up for grabs early in the season, on Tuesday Julien gave Griffith, a 21-year-old second year pro, the biggest vote of confidence the youngster has received so far: he kept him on the line in the third period. Griffith then rewarded the decision by tying the game at three with his first career NHL goal.
After the first game of Griffith’s three-game stint in the lineup last week, the Bruins signed Simon Gagne and played him in Griffith’s place in the third periods of the team’s games against Detroit and Montreal. Those games saw Griffith get some chances (he rang iron in Montreal), but the B’s stuck with Gagne late in the one-goal games.
Griffith was scratched Saturday sent down Sunday to play in Providence and recalled Monday. After skating the first two periods on the Krejci line and Boston’s top power play unit, Griffith was kept with Krejci and Lucic to play key minutes in a one-goal game.
It paid off when Thomas Hertl accidentally knocked a loose puck into the high slot while trying to wrest the puck from Lucic. Griffith leaned into it and fired a wrist shot past defenseman Jason Demers and goaltender Antti Niemi at 4:50 of the third. It may have only been his fourth career NHL game, but by the way Griffith jumped against the glass in celebration, the goal was a big relief.
“Obviously every player when they get their first couple games they want to score right away,” Griffith said. “I’m happy it came sooner rather than later.”
Julien’s faith in the youngster appears to be growing as the team searches to find a full-time replacement for Jarome Iginla. That replacement may not yet be on the roster, but for now Julien thinks Griffith is giving him enough reasons to keep him with Krejci.
“Because he played well,” Julien said when asked what made him stick with Griffith Tuesday. “When he was playing well I thought he made some great plays. This isn’t because he scored; I think he scored because he played well. I just thought he was pretty good. [The Sharks are] a big team and I thought he handled himself well along the walls and making good plays.”
Added Julien: “If those guys are going to get better, sometimes you’ve got to put them in those positions when you feel they’re doing well enough to warrant that.”
Considering he was a relatively early cut from camp, Griffith has to be more than happy with where the season has taken him. Part of it is the fact that he’s the best right-shooting wing option the B’s have, but if the Bruins give him a prolonged look, perhaps he can make his case for a full-time job.
“We’re starting to get a little chemistry going,” Griffith said. “It’s good to see but it’s not too hard playing with two great players like that.”
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