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Bruins report card: Defensemen/goaltenders 06.10.14 at 4:12 pm ET
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The Bruins hope to knock down the Red Wings for good in Saturday's Game 5. (AP)

Zdeno Chara‘s great season ended in disappointment. (AP)

As the Stanley Cup finals take place, the fact that the Bruins didn’€™t even reach the Eastern Conference finals after winning the Presidents’€™ Trophy further accentuates the failure that was their 2013-14 season. Here are the individual grades.

DEFENSEMEN

Zdeno Chara: A-
Regular season: 77 GP, 17 G, 23 A, 40 PTS, plus-25
Postseason: 12 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS, plus-4

The good: He was the best defenseman in the league in the regular season and was the most deserving Norris candidate, though the guess here is he’€™ll lose to Duncan Keith. The bad: He wasn’t himself in the last couple of games against the Canadiens, which cemented the fact that when Chara isn’t right, neither are the Bruins.

Torey Krug: A-/B+
Regular season: 79 GP, 14 G, 26 A, 40 PTS, plus-18
Postseason: 12 GP, 2 G, 8 A, 10 PTS, minus-2
RESTRICTED FREE AGENT

Krug gets this high a mark because he’€™s a bottom-pairing defenseman who gives the Bruins major production in offensive situation and on the power play. He’s also getting better in his own end. It will be interesting to see what kind of money Krug commands as a restricted free agent, as this was just his first full season in the NHL.

Dougie Hamilton: B+
Regular season: 64 GP, 7 G, 18 A, 25 PTS, plus-22
Postseason: 12 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 7 PTS, plus-1

When he was healthy, Hamilton made big strides in his second season. Paired with Chara on the Bruins’€™ shutdown pairing in the postseason, he had a ball against the Red Wings in the first round, but his Game 3 mental gaffe with P.K. Subban coming out of the penalty box was the low point of what was otherwise a very promising campaign from the 20-year-old.

Johnny Boychuk: B+
Regular season: 75 GP, 5 G, 18 A, 23 PTS, plus-31
Postseason: 12 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, plus-3

Know who loves playing for the Bruins? Johnny Boychuk. Know who’€™s in the prime of his career (30) and a really good right-shot defenseman who could command a ton of money if he hits free agency after next season? Johnny Boychuk. This could get interesting. The Bruins could either concede that they won’€™t be able to afford him by trading Boychuk this offseason or they can try to get a deal done with him before the season starts, the latter of which is Peter Chiarelli‘€™s usual plan of attack.

Kevan Miller: B+
Regular season: 47 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, plus-20
Postseason: 11 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 PTS, plus-2

He’€™s a young defenseman who isn’t immune to making mistakes, but he’s steady enough to play the Adam McQuaid role of third-pairing defenseman with a healthy dose of nasty. While Miller proved himself to be an NHL regular, his first taste of the playoffs wasn’t so swell, as his postseason will be remembered for his giveaway in Game 6 against the Canadiens that resulted in what would end up standing as the game-winning goal. The fact that he signed a two-year extension with an $800,000 cap hit might make him a better commodity than McQuaid going forward.

Dennis Seidenberg: B
Regular season: 34 GP, 1 G, 9 A, 10 P, plus-11
Postseason: DNP

Seidenberg was fine before he went down with a torn ACL/MCL, and you have to commend his effort to return to the lineup, which he would have done had the Bruins reached the Eastern Conference finals. He signed a four-year extension before the first game of the season.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara
Bruins not afraid of Bell Centre magic entering Game 6 05.12.14 at 2:19 pm ET
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The Bell Centre will be rocking Monday night. (AP)

The Bell Centre will be rocking Monday night. (AP)

MONTREAL — Monday’s Game 6 marks the Bruins’ last game at the Bell Centre this season. It’s up to them to decide whether the same goes for the Canadiens.

There’s no home-ice advantage like the Bell Centre. Look up home and away records and it will tell you otherwise, but there is no crowd like the Montreal crowd — both in decibel level and in influence.

The Bruins actually had a much better home record (31-7-3) than the Canadiens (23-13-5) this season, which makes sense because the Bruins were the best team in the NHL. The Bruins already have a victory at Centre Bell this series, and they can fondly recall the days of winning Games 3 and 4 in Montreal in 2011. Yet as the teams prepare for Monday’s Game 6, the idea of eliminating the Canadiens in their own building is daunting. The B’s couldn’t do it when they had the chance in 2011, as it took a seventh game and Nathan Horton overtime heroics to close out that series.

Should the Canadiens take Game 6, as they did in that classic 2011 series, they’ll have a full head of momentum headed into Boston for a winner-take-all seventh game. It’s do-or-golf time for the Habs, and they wouldn’t rather face it anywhere else.

“We understand they use their crowd to their advantage here,” Torey Krug said after Monday’s morning skate. “They come out very fast. When you can handle that, it does well for your team. We’re just going to come in and make sure we focus on the first 10 minutes and then after that we’ll see what happens and let it take care of itself.”

The Bruins aren’t going to psych themselves out, however. They know the building and they’ve won in the building. As intimidating as it may be to sit in the dressing room and hear all the madness going on during Montreal’s epic — and it is epic — pregame ceremony, they’re smart enough to try to avoid it. That especially goes for the younger guys.

“You try to focus on yourself. The biggest thing is you know they’re going to have their game plan and we’re going to have ours,” Matt Fraser said. “I think for us, we want to dictate the pace of play and dictate how things out there. That’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to stick to our game plan.”

Fraser handled his first real experience in the Bell Centre (he’d played a preseason game there back in September) extremely well, as he was given a career-high 14:44 of ice time and scored the game’s only goal on his first shift in overtime of Game 4. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Matt Fraser, Torey Krug,
X-factor? Bruins know Red Wings’ Luke Glendening well 04.22.14 at 1:26 pm ET
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Torey Krug knows the kind of player that Luke Glendening is. (AP)

Torey Krug knows the kind of player that Luke Glendening is. (AP)

DETROIT — There’s something about Luke Glendening.

At least there is for Mike Babcock, and that’s really all that matters as the Red Wings try to find a way to both quiet Boston’s scorers and create advantageous matchups for their own.

The first two games of the series saw Babcock use Glendening — an undrafted rookie fourth-line center who played three games on a tryout with the Providence Bruins two years ago — in ways that demonstrated significant trust in the player. Glendening, who was a two-year captain for Michigan and wore an ‘A’ as a sophomore, is a key member of Detroit’s penalty kill, but he also saw plenty of shifts against David Krejci‘s line in the first two games. He scored his first career playoff goal and second career NHL goal in Game 1 against the Krejci line and was later on the ice for Milan Lucic‘s goal.

If you’re surprised by how big a role he’s been given thus far, don’t be. Torey Krug, who saw plenty of him in college, isn’t.

“I’m not surprised, and we don’t even view him as [a fourth-liner],” Krug said. “He’s a good player and he shuts down opposing teams’ guys. In Game 1 he’s out there when it’s 1-0 in the last minute. I saw him in that role before and I’m not surprised that he’s in it now.”

As the series shifts to Joe Louis Arena and Babcock gets last change, he wants to see more of Glendening against Boston’s best players. Babcock wants to get his young scorers, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, away from Boston’s power forwards, as Lucic and Jarome Iginla have rendered them invisible through the first two games.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Luke Glendening, Mike Babcock, Torey Krug,
Torey Krug and Bruins embrace high expectations: ‘I wouldn’t call it pressure’ 04.18.14 at 2:00 pm ET
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Pressure is what you make it.

As the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, the Bruins are making it nothing more than chance to fulfill their own expectations.

According to the Vegas line provided by Bodog.com, the Bruins are 7-2 favorites to win their second Stanley Cup in four years by the time late June rolls around, and for good reason. They are relatively healthy heading into the playoffs, though nursing injuries to Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly while battling a flu bug.

“Well, we never get comfortable,” Claude Julien said before Friday’s Game 1 with the Red Wings. “We’€™ve always talked about that. No matter what we’€™ve accomplished, we always know that the good things happen from hard work, so the minute we stop working hard and focusing on the areas we need to focus on, things can change. So that’€™s always been our approach.”

But it’s not the flu or injuries to Paille or Kelly that are of primary concern – it’s the parity in the Stanley Cup playoffs that present the biggest obstacle. Julien reminded everyone Friday that there’s nothing to be taken for granted when a team like the Bruins take on a club like the Red Wings, a difference of 24 points in the season standings.

“Not with parity,” Julien said. “I don’€™t think that exists anymore. I’€™ve been mentioning that for the last couple of days, about the percentage of upsets in the first round over the last couple of years. So it just goes to prove to you that anything can happen in the playoffs. We’€™ve seen it many times before and I don’€™t expect that to change this year also.”

Bruins defenseman Torey Krug says he learned a lot from his first experience in the playoffs last year. That experience, he says, will help as he and the Bruins open the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden.

“Pressure is whatever you put on yourself,” Krug said. “This team has high expectations of itself. I wouldn’t call it pressure. We’re going to respond well to whatever it is. We’re excited to get things going.”

Krug broke onto the scene in the 2014 playoffs as a power play weapon and an offensive force.

“You have to play like that,” Krug contined. “If you’re scared to make mistakes, the puck is going to end up in the back of your own net. You have to make sure you play with confidence. That’s the same message the coaching staff was preaching today. It’s the same thing as last summer. Just eager to get going. It’s an exciting time.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Detroit Red Wings, Torey Krug
Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins say they ‘have another gear’ to their game 03.19.14 at 1:41 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ 10-game win streak, Brad Marchand, Carl Soderberg and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Bruins have been on a tear recently, winning 10 straight games and outscoring opponents 41-15 in that span. Despite all their success, the team still is looking to improve.

“They’ve been able to do a lot of things really during this streak,”€ Brickley said. “But it’s amazing when you talk to the coaching staff and even to the players to a man, they say, ‘We’€™re not peaking, we haven’t hit our stride. Yes, we’€™re winning games because we’€™re playing team hockey, and we’€™re getting some good results, but we definitely have another gear.’ ”

Marchand has been quiet during the streak, only recording two goals and three assists. Brickley admits that while the 25-year-old winger has struggled at times, he has had a successful season.

“€œHe’€™s having a terrific season really, on the whole, when you take a look at it,” Brickley said. “Certainly there were times, maybe, at different points in the season where it wasn’t going his way and he was kind of fighting it or searching for that balance.”

The B’s third line compares favorably to many of the third lines across the NHL. One guy in that line that has improved, according to Brickley, is Soderberg.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Carl Soderberg, Dougie Hamilton
Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins ‘really becoming a well-oiled machine’ 03.14.14 at 1:24 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss how the Bruins are playing after the trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

After defeating the Coyotes, 2-1, Thursday night, the Bruins are on a seven-game winning streak.

“They’€™re strong,” McGuire said. “They really are tight as a group. They haven’€™t messed with the integrity of their roster. Their defensive-zone posture’€™s getting better and better all the time. I think Andrej Meszaros is going to fill in well with Zdeno Chara. He’€™s going to help the power play as well.

“They’ve done a lot of things well there in Boston for a long period of time now, and when you watch them play you get the sense that this is a group that’s really becoming a well-oiled machine.”

During that span of time, Carl Soderberg has played at center while Chris Kelly has made the move to wing.

“The way Chris Kelly has been able to move over to wing rather than being center so Carl Soderberg, who is much more comfortable playing center, can play center — I think you’ve seen Soderberg really start to rise, and Kelly’€™s been a great trooper handling the assignment moving from center to wing,” McGuire said.

“People always want to talk about the young star, they don’€™t want to talk about the old guy that’€™s moved over to accommodate this, and obviously the extra ice helps Soderberg a lot, and not having to play on the boards helps him a lot, but Chris Kelly deserves a lot of credit for this. He really does. I think he’€™s done valiant work.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more on the Bruins, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

On Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug sitting out: “I think there’s a lot that goes into it. I don’t think it’€™s about one person or two persons. … I think it’€™s about the way the team needs to play. One of the things you try to do too is keep your roster competitive at this time of year and have guys fighting for ice so that everybody stays fresh but everybody stays focused. I like the way the Bruins are handling things. Is it easy to watch Dougie Hamilton sit out back-to-back games? No, because I think Dougie’s starting to make significant progress in his career. Is it easy to see Krug sit out? No, it’s not. But, again, this is part of having a competitive, deep roster, and that’s one of the things I admire so much about the Bruins.”

Read More: Carl Soderberg, Chris Kelly, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug
Torey Krug breaks out of midseason slide with career night against Jets 01.04.14 at 5:46 pm ET
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Through the first quarter of the 2013-14 NHL season, it seemed like Bruins defenseman Torey Krug was a lock to be a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the top NHL rookie every year.

Torey Krug

Torey Krug

After bursting onto the scene by scoring four goals in his first five playoff games during the Bruins’ memorable Stanley Cup run last season, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound blueliner picked up right where he left off, recording 15 points over the team’s first 24 games this year.

While the Michigan State product impressed many with his dynamic offensive skill set, he could not keep his great production going, eventually falling into a midseason slump. Prior to Saturday afternoon’s tilt with the Jets, Krug had not scored a goal since Dec. 8 and had just two goals over a 26-game stretch.

Luckily for the Bruins, Krug was able to break out of his recent skid with a three-point effort (two goals, one assist) against Winnipeg on Saturday at the TD Garden. It was the rookie defenseman’s third multi-point game this season and first-career three-point game.

“He played well,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the game. “When he’s on top of his game offensively, he makes things happen. … He got the shots on net, was good and again, just a few times, it’s about him making safe plays at times, and that’s a part of his game that he’s working on right now, but I liked his game a lot tonight.”

Saturday’s contest did not start out well for Krug, as he turned the puck over around halfway through the opening period, creating a Jets rush that eventually resulted in a goal from Dustin Byfuglien, giving Winnipeg a 1-0 lead.

“Yeah, it’s frustrating. …  It’s all about forgetting and putting it in the past and making plays moving forward, and that’s what we did tonight,” Krug said.

Krug would make up for his defensive miscue just a little over four minutes later, as he executed a beautiful cross-ice to right wing Daniel Paille, who sent it past Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec to tie the game at 14:06 in the first period.

Said Krug: “I was going to shoot it, but at the last second I saw [Paille] popped back up, and it was nice that it worked out and he put it in the net.”

Krug finally found the back of the net a little over three minutes into the second period. The blueliner fired a shot from the left point that got past Pavelec, who was being screened in front by Bruins left wing Justin Florek, playing in his first NHL game.

“When you’re not contributing it’s tough, but it is a good feeling when you get the first one,”Krug said .”Actually, I was hoping [Florek] got his first NHL goal, I was hoping he tipped it, but it was nice.”

Krug would notch his second goal of the afternoon just four minutes later, as the rookie fired a shot from the top of the left circle that went through the legs of Jets wing Eric Tangradi and was deflected into the net.

With his three-point effort, Krug now has 23 points on the year, including 10 goals, which tie him with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Nashville’s Shea Weber for the league lead in goals amongst defensemen.

The Bruins will now head back out on the road, as they will face off against the Ducks, Kings and Sharks over the next week. While Boston faces a tough task in playing against some of the top talent in the Western Conference, Krug made note of the fact that finishing strong on their three-game homestand at the TD Garden was of the utmost importance for the Black and Gold.

“Yeah, it was important. There’s three teams, I think Claude mentioned they lost collectively six games at home between three teams,” Krug said. “So for us, we know it’s going to be tough getting points in there, and we wanted to finish our little homestand on a high note.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Daniel Paille, Justin Florek
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