|5 things we learned: Tuukka Rask stays hot, Matt Beleskey continues to score in win||02.26.16 at 9:41 pm ET|
Back before the go-to goaltending concern was whether Tuukka Rask was going to have to play every game, the biggest one was making sure Boston’s goaltender — whether that happened to be Tim Thomas or Rask — would turn it on down the stretch.
If the last five games are any indication, the B’s are getting good news in that regard. In stopping 39 of the 40 shots he faced in a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes Friday, Tuukka Rask has a .951 save percentage in his last five starts. The Bruins have gone 4-1-0 in that span.
The Bruins have one more game prior to Monday’s trade deadline, as they’ll host the Lightning Sunday at TD Garden. Both the Bruins and the Bolts have 74 points on the season, though Boston has played 62 games to Tampa’s 61.
Here are four more things we learned Friday:
BELESKEY STAYS HOT, MATCHES CAREER-HIGH
With another two-goal game — his second in his last three games — Matt Beleskey tied his career-high in points with 32. Beleskey put up 32 points a season ago in 65 games for the Ducks and has done so in 60 games this season.
The third-line left wing is currently enjoying his best offensive stretch as a Bruin. He has six points (five goals and an assist) over his last four games. The 27-year-old is on pace to finish the season with 43 points.
Until the Hurricanes got some chances against them late in the second period, Patrice Bergeron‘s line dominated play over the opening 40 minutes. The trio was on the ice for 13 shots for and three shots against over the first two periods, with Bergeron leading all players with an 84.21 Corsi For percentage in the opening 40. He and Brad Marchand finished the game tied with a game-best 74.07 mark.
One of those shot attempts went in off Bergeron’s stick, as Brett Connolly’s pressure forced a turnover that made its way to Bergeron, who beat Cam Ward for the game’s first goal. With the goal, Bergeron moved into a tie with Loui Eriksson for second on the team with 23 goals this season. Read the rest of this entry »
|Tuukka Rask the only change to Bruins’ anticipated lineup vs. Penguins||02.24.16 at 12:03 pm ET|
With the exception of Tuukka Rask taking the net, Wednesday’s morning skate suggested the Bruins will use the same lineup Wednesday night against the Penguins that they used in Monday’s loss to the Blue Jackets.
That would mean that Max Talbot would be scratched for a second straight game and would be joined by Tyler Randell and Zach Trotman in the press box.
The Bruins have beaten the Penguins in both meetings between the teams this season, with Boston sweeping a home-and-home with 3-0 and 6-2 wins on Dec. 16 and 18, respectively. The B’s and Penguins enter Wednesday’s action in wild card spots, though the B’s are projected to finish in third in the Atlantic Division based on points per game.
Based on the skate, the Bruins will use the following lineup Wednesday:
|Jonas Gustavsson not cleared to play; Malcolm Subban will back up Tuukka Rask||02.02.16 at 11:39 am ET|
Jonas Gustavsson took a positive step Tuesday by facing shots in the Bruins’ morning skate, but he will remain on injured reserve when the B’s host the Maple Leafs at TD Garden.
“Cleared to practice, not to play,” Claude Julien said of the goaltender, who is recovering from an elevated heart rate.
With Gustavsson remaining out, Malcolm Subban will be Tuukka Rask‘s backup Tuesday night. Based on morning skate, the lineup figures to be as such:
|3rd-place Bruins say they’ve ‘surprised,’ ‘proved people wrong’||01.27.16 at 2:15 am ET|
The Bruins’ final game before the All-Star break didn’t go their way, a 6-2 loss to Anaheim that dropped the B’s home record to a lousy 11-13-2.
However, the players in the Boston dressing room seemed content with their lot in life as they packed up for a week’s furlough, a 26-18-5 season mark in tow that was holding them third place in the Atlantic Division with 33 games remaining on the season.
“We’ve surprised a lot of people,” said defenseman Torey Krug. “We’re not surprised in here where we [are]. We had a goal to be in the top three [of our division] before the All-Star break and we’re sitting right there.”
“At the beginning of the year there were a lot of people that probably thought that we wouldn’t be in the playoffs,” echoed forward Ryan Spooner. “You kind of heard that stuff, and that we would be a younger team. But we’ve shown that we can play with the top teams. We’ve proved a lot of people wrong and we just have to keep that up.”
The Bruins have indeed exceeded many preseason prognostications to this point. The team’s 21-10-2 record against the Eastern Conference shines bright, as does its 12-6-1 mark within the division. The latter includes a 4-0 performance against the two teams ahead of Boston in the Atlantic (Florida and Detroit).
That said, despite winning five of their last seven games, players also are willing to admit that their current playoff perch is a tenuous one.
|Bruins offer no update on Jonas Gustavsson after goalie taken to hospital||01.26.16 at 11:40 pm ET|
The Bruins offered no update on the status of goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who left Tuesday’s loss to the Ducks after the first period and was taken to the hospital.
The only word that the Bruins offered was during the game, when they shared that Gustavsson was ill and taken to Mass General. Gustavsson has a history of heart procedures, which led to speculation that the goaltender could have had another such issue.
Asked specifically whether Gustavsson’s situation was heart-related, Claude Julien said he had ‘no idea.’ The Bruins said afterwards that they would not have any update for at least the rest of the day.
Tuukka Rask replaced Gustavsson for the final two periods. He too said he was unaware of Gustavsson’s status.
“He just went to the trainer’s room after the period and that was it,” Rask said. “That’s all I know.”
|Undermanned Bruins in a strange state after season-worst 5-of-6 skid||01.05.16 at 11:58 pm ET|
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the first period and never trailed en route to a 3-2 victory at TD Garden.
Now, compared to the B’s poor effort in a 5-1 loss to Montreal on New Year’s Day, Tuesday’s one-goal defeat might even qualify for “moral victory” status to some.
However, when the B’s big picture now paints a season-worst funk, with the team having lost five of its last six games, it was hard to find great optimism in the Boston locker room after Tuesday’s game.
“I don’t know, a little bit up and down,” winger Loui Eriksson said of his team’s effort. “We’re playing a good team and they took advantage of us in the first [period]. We came back a couple of times, but in the end they won a game. It’s a tough one, we need to start winning here again.”
Coach Claude Julien approved of the will, but not quite the way.
“Yes, for me, disappointed in the loss,” Julien said. “Not disappointed in the effort. There’s no moral victory, but I can’t criticize the effort our team gave tonight. In the situation we’re in we almost had to play a perfect game to beat those guys. Our guys worked hard, they had chances, and this is a good [Washington] hockey club.
“We gave ourselves a chance there, I don’t think we ever quit. We were down a goal, then down two and came back into it. They made a big save on [Zdeno Chara] at the end to keep that game from being tied. I think our guys tried, really tried, but at the same time in this league you’ve got to win hockey games. We’ve got to be disappointed, hungrier for the next game so we can turn things around here. Hopefully the bitterness in our mouth from losing tonight is going to carry into Friday in New Jersey.”
|Tuukka Rask: ‘I haven’t seen us play so bad in a while. It was bad’||01.01.16 at 5:47 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In the immediate aftermath of the Bruins’ 5-1 stinker to the Montreal Canadiens in the 2016 Winter Classic, Tuukka Rask stormed off the ice, walked very fast on his skates and blew off some steam in the Bruins locker room.
The steam was audible from the long list of media waiting to get into the room, which doubles as the visitor’s locker room during Patriots’ games.
“We didn’t have our legs. We weren’t moving. They came out hard. We weren’t making any plays. They got the first goal and then I think that might have deflated us even more. First two periods, I haven’t seen us play so bad in a while. It was bad.
“You would think that, especially when we’re missing guys like we are, you’d have to play hard and stick with the system, and it definitely didn’t look like that today.”
After generating just three shots in a lame first period, the Bruins had several chances to make it close in the second period. Matt Belesky’s goal was waved off after the play was whistled dead. To end the period, Ryan Spooner waited too long for Mike Condon to adjust in goal and his wrist shot found Condon’s glove just before the final horn of the second period.
“It’s a 1-0 game, 2-0, you’re expecting to get that next goal and keep the game tight. But when they make it 3-0, it makes it even more difficult to climb. We never could overcome that. Overall, we didn’t definitely didn’t deserve to win.”
But again, Rask kept coming back to the mental approach of the Bruins.
“I think we were just mentally not there, I guess, and weren’t executing the game plan like we wanted to. We didn’t skate. When a couple of little things go wrong like that, it becomes big and that’s the way it looked like. We gave up a ton of scoring chances in the first two periods. That’s just unlike us. For those you give up, you have to create some scoring chances and we didn’t do that.
“When things go wrong, you have to stick with a game plan and play your system and we didn’t do that. And it just snowballs. We’re trying out there and sometimes, you just don’t have it. Today, we get scored on a couple of times in front of the net. It definitely hurt us.”
Rask was asked about the conditions and whether the wind, which NBC’s Pierre McGuire noted several times in the broadcast, was a factor.
“I felt fine. It felt like a normal game, a little breeze sometimes but it felt like a normal game,” Rask said. “Great event but to lose like that that takes the fun out of it, obviously. Too bad we couldn’t give the fans a little bit more to cheer for.
“We looked flat out there and they kind of caught us off guard. It’s disappointing. It’s very disappointing. I really don’t know what else to say.”