|Torey Krug OT hero as Bruins overcome Sidney Crosby’s last-second goal||11.25.13 at 9:42 pm ET|
Torey Krug one-upped Sidney Crosby‘s late heroics as the rookie defenseman netted the overtime winner in a 4-3 Bruins win Monday at TD Garden.
With the win, the B’s improved to 16-6-2 with a conference-leading 34 points. Tuukka Rask made 28 saves for his 13th win of the season.
Crosby had scored with 0.3 seconds left in the third period to send the game into overtime. In doing so he made up for the Bruins’ go-ahead goal with 5:15 remaining in regulation in which he tipped a Zdeno Chara slap shot past Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Bruins got on the board in the first period when Loui Eriksson beat Fleury with a nice backhander following some nice stickwork off a pass from Carl Soderberg. Minutes later, with Pascal Dupuis in the box for hooking Soderberg, it was Soderberg coming up with another big play as he assisted Reilly Smith‘s fifth goal of the year.
The Penguins got back into it 37 seconds into the second period when Jussi Jokinen fed James Neal, who beat Rask stick-side high with a wrist shot. Neal then tied it with his second of the night with a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot that beat Rask glove side high with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation.
The Bruins were once again without Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid. Seidenberg skated for the first time since last week’s injury Monday morning and missed his second game, while McQuaid has been skating since last Monday but has missed the team’s last eight games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– For the second straight game, the Bruins went with one defenseman and three forwards in overtime in an aggressive attempt to avoid a shootout, and it paid off once again. Krug netted the game-winner while skating with Patrice Bergeron‘s line a game after Johnny Boychuk was out there with David Krejci‘s line for Saturday’s game-winner.
– Soderberg is really coming into his own with the B’s. He played a major role in both of the Bruins’ first period goals, taking the puck the other way after Brooks Orpik fanned on a point shot and sending it over to Eriksson entering the Pittsburgh zone. He also drew the penalty on Dupuis to give the B’s a power play and provided a laser of a pass from down low to Smith in front for the B’s power-play goal.
Soderberg now has six points (2 G, 4 A) over his last five games.
– Smith also finds himself amidst something of a hot streak, as the 22-year-old now has goals in back-to-back games and has five points (3 G, 2 A) over his last five contests.
– Chara saved a goal when, with Rask laid out after a save on Dupuis, he knocked the puck out of the crease before Crosby could poke it in.
– Eriksson had gone three games without a point, but with a goal and an assist he got back to the pace at which he was producing earlier in the month. Even with no points over the previous contests, Eriksson has nine points (3 G, 6 A) over his last 10 games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Johnny Boychuk took a Dupuis stick to the face with about three minutes to go and had to go down the tunnel. He didn’t miss any time, however, as he returned to the bench during the next TV timeout and took his next shift.
– Two of them went in, but the Bruins only had five shots on goal in the first period. The Penguins landed 10 of the first 11 shots on goal in a period that saw them set up shop in the Boston zone, and Chris Kunitz could have scored twice on his first shift were it not for the right pad of Rask.
The good thing for the Bruins was that they were able to quiet the Penguins in the first after Pittsburgh’s hot start. The Penguins didn’t get another shot on goal in the period after their 10th, a Brandon Sutter bid at 8:27 of the first.
– The Bartkowski-Boychuk pairing was beaten twice by Neal and Jokinen, as the pairing was on the ice for both of Neal’s goals. Boychuk was caught up ice and left Bartkowski back as the only defenseman in front on Neal’s first goal, while Boychuk was tangled up with the puck prior to the second goal.
|Dan Bylsma: Team USA has ‘made note’ of Torey Krug||at 1:07 pm ET|
Penguins head coach and Team USA coach Dan Bylsma was asked Monday morning whether Torey Krug‘s name has come up in discussions as a possible candidate for the Olympics, with Bylsma saying the Bruins’ rookie’s name has been mentioned.
Krug has six goals and eight assists for 14 points through 23 games, but his status as a third-pairing blueliner (he is sixth in time on ice per game among Bruins’ regular defensemen) who does not play against opposing teams’ stars hurts his candidacy.
“I can without hesitation say that he has been mentioned and talked about a little bit based on how he’s played and the start he’s had and what he’s done so far through 23 games,” Bylsma said. “We’ve got a lot of people out watching hockey games live and on tape. We certainly have made note of how he’s been playing and what he’s done on the back end there.”
Krug was not one of the 18 blueliners invited to this summer’s Olympic orientation camp. Despite his offensive production and strong candidacy for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, the case for him to make Team USA is tough given that it boasts the likes of Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh, Paul Martin, Jack Johnson, Kevin Shattenkirk, Keith Yandle and Dustin Byfuglien, among others, as candidates.
|Offense taking over defense with Matt Bartkowski ready to step in for Adam McQuaid||11.10.13 at 1:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – Claude Julien said at the beginning of the season that the Bruins wouldn’t let Matt Bartkowski sit for a month. It’s true — they didn’t — but they’ve hardly gotten him into the lineup regularly of late.
With Bartkowski set to step in Monday for the injured Adam McQuaid, he’ll be playing in just the second time in the last 11 games. Bartkowski last played last Saturday against the Islanders, when he posted a minus-1 in a 3-1 Bruins loss.
“It’s just like stepping in for another game,” Bartkowski said Sunday. “I just try and think about that, so it’s nothing new.”
Assuming Bartkowski is in, the Bruins will likely be looking at having one of their young, mobile defensemen on each of their three pairings. Bartkowski was paired with Johnny Boychuk in practice Sunday, while Hamilton skated with Zdeno Chara and Krug — playing on the right side — was with Dennis Seidenberg.
If the Bruins go with those pairings — which are different from the ones they had when McQuaid was scratched in favor of Bartkowski in Florida last month — a Bruins back end that has already become a lot more offensive-minded will take it a step further with half of the defensemen being mobile blueliners.
“We do bring a little bit different game, I guess, with the skating and everything,” Bartkowski said. “It seems like the league has a lot of those D, and it’s good that we can bring that to the team. The solid D core that they’ve had here for years has worked. They won a Cup with it and everything, so for us to be able to add a little bit, it definitely helps.”
On the season, Bartkowski has played in four games, registering one assist and posting a minus-3 rating.
Given that the Bruins entered the season with seven defensemen capable of being NHL regulars, it seemed likely that Bartkowski, the fourth left shot among the seven, would be the odd man out. Yet Julien vowed to get him in the lineup wherever he could rather than letting him collect cobwebs in the press box like many spare parts.
As such, Bartkowski played in three of the Bruins’ first six games. Yet due to steady play from Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton and perhaps a desire on the Bruins’ part to get some consistency during a rough stretch of the season, Bartkowski played in only one of the next 10 contests.
“We all know that under other circumstances he’d probably be in the top-4 maybe even on some other teams when he’s on top of his game, so he’s a good defenseman,” Julien said. “It’s just right now we’ve got numbers. We’ve got veterans that are extremely good, that we’ve relied on in the past.
“We’ve got some good young players here. ‘¦ How do you take Krug out of the lineup when he’s probably one of your most important guys on the power play? Hamilton is the same way. He’s on the power play but he’s also played extremely well, so it’s not easy to balance those things out. So you make decisions as you go along, you know with time it’ll even itself out but he’s a good player, he deserves and belongs in this league. It’s as simple as that.”
|Claude Julien calls out his team: ‘Too many mediocre players’||10.27.13 at 12:32 pm ET|
The reaction of head coach Claude Julien was fairly predictable after his team blew a 3-1 lead to the Devils and lost, 4-3, Saturday night at TD Garden.
“Even when we had the 3-1 lead in the second there I thought we missed a couple of real good opportunities,” Julien began. “But I don’t really think that’s where the game was played. Had a good start compared to the other night; much better in the first. But we kind of faltered after that. I thought the second period we allowed them to get back in the game and they were a better team as well. They won battles and especially in our own end they had us bottled in there and were out-muscling us and coming up with pucks and they got themselves within a goal and that kind of gave them life for the third.”
The Bruins were not good on the penalty kill Saturday, an area of excellence late in the regular season and playoffs last spring. They allowed four power play goals, though one of them was a very rare 6-on-3 opportunity for the Devils, when Torey Krug was called for a double-minor high sticking and Patrice Bergeron was tagged with a delay of game. The Devils pulled Martin Brodeur and they finally got the 3-3 equalizer with under two minutes left.
“But our penalty kill obviously faltered and wasn’t good enough; when you allow four power play goals in a game that’s not a good sign for a win. So that certainly didn’t help. But again, I thought we had too many mediocre players tonight and those things kind of create those situations.”
As for the penalties themselves, Julien knows his team needs to be more aware, especially when clearing the puck out of their own end.
“It is a costly penalty,” Julien said of the delay of game calls on Bergeron and earlier on Zdeno Chara. “Both pucks over the glass ended up being a goal against and those are tough penalties to take, but rules are rules. At the same time, the high stick, it is a high stick. You have to be in control of your stick, so it was deemed a four minute, which I thought was the right call. So they scored on their opportunities that they had and unfortunately, like I said, our penalty kill wasn’t up to the task.
“To me, we had one line going and we needed more. Like I said too many mediocre guys whether it’s hitting a wall, whatever the case may be it just wasn’t good enough. We had the day off yesterday to give those guys a rest but three games in four nights isn’t always an easy thing to go through and you wish you could have pulled this one through and had a real good week but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. We have to regroup, and another back-to-back and another three in four coming up there next week so hopefully we learn from that.”
The Bruins have another three-in-four nights scenario this week when they play in Pittsburgh Wednesday night before playing Anaheim on Thursday and on the road against the Islanders next Saturday.
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins’ power play ‘a work in progress’||10.09.13 at 2:11 pm ET|
NESN’s Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ hot start to the season.
Boston posted a pair of home victories last week. On Thursday, the Bruins beat the Lightning, 3-1, then they took down the Red Wings, 4-1.
One area Boston needed improving on following its Stanley Cup runner-up season is the power play. The Bruins ranked dead last in the NHL in power-play goals last season with 18. But they’ve already notched two man-advantage goals through two games.
‘It’s still a work in progress, and will be for a while, they’ll continue to experiment, and continue to try [Zdeno] Chara at the front of the net with one power-play unit,’ Brickley said. ‘You’ve got different weapons this year, [Jarome] Iginla‘s a great finisher with the man advantage, [Loui] Eriksson‘s a real good power-play guy.’
The Bruins hope Eriksson, who came over from the Stars for Seguin, can fill that void. Eriksson has not entered the point column yet as a Bruin.
‘He came in as the centerpiece of that deal, with Seguin going the other way down to Dallas, and I think the expectations are that he’s going to be a 70-point guy, and he’s off to a slow start as far as the offense is concerned,’ Brickley said. ‘I think the reason why is he, too, is playing with a little bit of a conservative attitude, trying to fit in with the system.
‘But he had a couple of really good scoring opportunities last game.’
|Bruins’ new-look power play takes center stage vs. Wings||10.05.13 at 11:21 pm ET|
Torey Krug gets the puck at the point. Zdeno Chara sets the screen in front. Goalie never sees the shot coming.
That’s exactly what the Bruins coaches had in mind when they decided to reconfigure the power play heading into this season, and the new look was executed perfectly on Boston’s first goal Saturday night.
Once Krug emerged as such a dangerous offensive weapon in last year’s playoffs, it was an easy decision to have him quarterback the top power-play unit — especially when you consider how much the Bruins’ power play struggled for most of last season. He has great hands and a great shot, and he’s able to create open lanes with his footwork.
The tougher decision — at least looking at it from the outside — was what to do with Chara. As great as Chara is in pretty much every other area, he never seemed totally comfortable as a power-play quarterback.
When he got an open look, he could take advantage with his rocket of a shot, but getting those looks — and being able to move the puck quickly when he didn’t — could sometimes be a struggle. The problem for the Bruins was that they didn’t have anyone else who was a great fit for the quarterback role, either. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins season preview: Defense/goalie projections||10.01.13 at 8:24 am ET|
Here’s the second installment of the player projections for the 2013-14 season, featuring defensemen and goalies. For a look at the forwards, click here.
Note: It’s silly to predict injuries, so all players’ projections will assume they play somewhere in the 75-82-game range. Extra forwards/defensemen aren’t shown given the uncertainty of whether (and where) they’ll play.
Zdeno Chara: 13 goals, 37 assists, 50 points
Chara wasn’t bad in the Stanley Cup finals; he was hurt. When he isn’t hurt, he’s one of the best defensemen in the game. It’s as simple as that.
Dennis Seidenberg: 5 goals, 22 assists, 27 points
It’s a contract year for the 32-year-old Seidenberg, so he’ll have plenty of motivation to perform. Depending on what happens cap-wise and given the Bruins’ group of young defensemen, this could very well be Seidenberg’s last season in Boston.
Dougie Hamilton: 10 goals, 20 assists, 30 points
Don’t forget how good Hamilton was at the start of last season. If he can sustain that throughout this campaign, the 10-goal mark is certainly within reach.
Torey Krug: 11 goals, 19 assists, 30 points
After what he did against the Rangers, people’s expectations of Krug might be a little high, but here’s what we do know: He can skate, he’s smart, and he’ll be on the power play. Points will find him.
Johnny Boychuk: 4 goals, 15 assists, 19 points
Johnny Rocket turned into Johnny Wrist Shot last postseason. It will be interesting to see if his offensive success changes his regular-season approach.
Adam McQuaid: 2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points
McQuaid isn’t there for his offense, which actually makes him a logical defensive partner to balance out Krug.
Tuukka Rask: 54 starts, 2.20 goals-against average, .922 save-percentage
This isn’t a suggestion that Rask will take a step backwards performance-wise, but smaller goalie pads plus a Red Wings team that should score more than it did let season minus Andrew Ference should equal more human numbers.
The only question regarding Rask there should be is whether he can physically handle a full season and playoffs, something he’s never done as a starter at the NHL level. Rask did play 57 regular-season games and 16 playoff contests in the 2008-09 season for Providence, but he hadn’t played into late June in the previous season.
Chad Johnson: 28 starts, 2.41 goals-against average, .912 save-percentage
The 27-year-old Johnson doesn’t have a ton of NHL experience (10 games), but he’s been good at the NHL level with a 1.97 GAA, .929 save percentage and a shutout. We’ll see how good a replacement for Anton Khudobin he ends up being.
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