|Bruins report card: Defensemen/goaltenders||06.10.14 at 4:12 pm ET|
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.
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
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 »
|Tuukka Rask: Bruins gave Canadiens ‘some gifts’ in Game 6, ready to ‘move on’ to Game 7||05.12.14 at 11:52 pm ET|
MONTREAL — From the moment he came out to play a bouncing puck from behind his net in the first period Monday night, Tuukka Rask and the Bruins were in a generous mood.
And that’s a terrible thing when you come into a game thinking you have your opponent down, right where you want them. But Torey Krug’s pass to Kevan Miller was mishandled and Rask failed to contain it and gift-giving was underway.
“I don’t know what happened behind the net,” Rask said after Montreal’s 4-0 win in Game 6. “All of sudden, it was right in front of me and out of the corner of my eye, I thought there was a guy on the left side so I just decided to jump on that and missed it and it wound up in the back of the net.”
The Bruins gave the Canandiens chance after chance in front of Rask, including a miscommunication between Rask and captain Zdeno Chara in the second period that resulted in a killer goal and a 2-0 Montreal lead.
“I kind of hesitated,” Rask said. “I didn’t want to get burned again as I did the first one. I got burned a different way. I think me and Zee got caught looking at each other. I thought he was going to dive and he thought I was going to play it. Just another gift.
|Bruins beat Canadiens in Game 5 to take 3-2 series lead||05.10.14 at 9:45 pm ET|
The Bruins’ third line struck again as the B’s took a 3-2 series lead over the Canadiens with a 4-2 Game 5 victory Saturday at TD Garden.
Carl Soderberg scored his first career playoff goal and had a pair of assists for the Bruins. He opened the game’s scoring, taking a pass from Loui Eriksson and a firing a shot stick-side high shot on Carey Price that went off the Montreal goaltender’s blocker and in at 12:30 of the first period. The first period saw eight penalties called between the two teams, with less than half of the period being played five-on-five.
The Bruins got a pair of power play goals in a span of 22 seconds in the second period, first with Reilly Smith redirecting a Dougie Hamilton shot and then with a wide open Jarome Iginla taking a feed from Torey Krug and beating Price to make it 3-0.
Tuukka Rask‘s shutout streak, which dated back to Dale Weise‘s breakaway goal in the second period of Game 3, ended when Tomas Plekanec fired a shot from the left circle during a Montreal penalty that went off Brendan Gallagher and in. Rask’s streak had lasted 1:22:06.
Loui Eriksson made it 4-1 at 14:12, getting to the puck in front after Matt Fraser fired a shot from the half wall that yielded a big rebound. P.K. Subban scored during six-on-four play with Matt Bartkowski in the box for his second holding penalty of the game at 2:29.
The Bruins will be able to close out the Habs as soon as Monday at the Bell Centre in Game 6. The B’s held a 3-2 lead in the teams’ 2011 postseason meeting but dropped Game 6 by a 2-1 score in Montreal before eventually winning the series in seven games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– That’s now two straight games in which Soderberg’s line has cashed in with Montreal’s third pairing of Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver on the ice. Taking advantage with the ever slow Murray on the ice should be a key to victory as long as Michel Therrien keeps the veteran defenseman in his lineup.
– The Bruins finally scored on the power play, ending a drought that had seen them go 0-for-10 at the start of the series. The goal featured a beauty of a pass from Torey Krug that got past Brian Gionta to Iginla. There were obviously coverage issues for Montreal to have left Iginla that wide open, but Gionta should have been able to get a stick on the pass to break it up.
– The Canadiens have to be in how-do-we-solve-Rask mode at this point, which is a fine turn of events after much the first eight periods of the series suggested the Bruins would be hard-pressed to solve Price. Rask stopped Max Pacioretty on a partial breakaway in the first period and stopped David Desharnais after the Montreal center took a stretch pass off a line change.
Rask even had his very own Tim Thomas moment, as he punched Plekanec in the hard after the Montreal center went hard to the net for a centering feed from Brian Gionta. The Bruins goaltender was penalized earlier in the period for batting the puck over the glass.
– One of the first things you should know about Fraser is that he has one of the best shots in the entire organization. The B’s didn’t see much of Fraser putting the puck on net during his 14 NHL games this regular season, however. The 23-year-old only had one shot on goal in Game 5, but it did major damage in yielding the rebound that led to Eriksson’s goal. Fraser had an opportunity in the high slot earlier but fired it wide of the net.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– In a development that few could have seen coming entering the series, the Bruins are taking a bunch of penalties at home despite being penalized only once in each game played in Montreal. Boston gave Montreal four power plays through the first two periods, and it could have been worse had Marchand gotten something extra for taking a whack at Eller after his penalty was called.
Bartkowski took a pair of holding penalties in Game 5, which gives him four this series and five penalties this series.
In scoring during Marchand’s penalty and Bartkowski’s second, the Habs have now scored six power play goals at the Garden this series with no power play goals at the Bell Centre.
– There was a brief scare for Johnny Boychuk on Plekanec’s penalty, as the Montreal center’s stick appeared to hit Boychuk in the throat area as Boychuk went to hit him. Boychuk was holding his chin/throat area after the play, but he stayed in the game, with Iginla’s goal coming on Plekanec’s penalty.
– Smith hit another post for the Bruins in the first period, which, if you’ve been counting how many times the Bruins have done that this series, means you’ve counted to a high numbers. Posts and missed nets on non-redirected shots usually means you’re going up a good goalie and you have to pick your spots well to beat him.
|Don Cherry on D&C: Bruins ‘just don’t seem to be ready’||05.07.14 at 9:25 am ET|
Legendary Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the Bruins’ disappointing 4-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“That was not one of their better games. I don’t understand it,” the former Bruins coach said. “They spot teams a 3-0 lead and think they’re going to come back in the third period. It’s a dumb way to play.”
The Bruins were hurt by a couple of defensive breakdowns that led to early Canadiens goals, and Cherry said their failure to be prepared to play hard and focused from the opening faceoff is an issue that continues to haunt them.
“It’s funny, you can sit here and dissect it. You have to be behind the bench to realize that Montreal is going to come out flying,” Cherry said. “They have their favorite singer. You have to be ready for something like that. It’s easy to say. I’ve been there many times before.
“There’s so many mistakes made, even down to the one where [Tuukka] Rask doesn’t bang his stick on the breakaway. You’re taught in junior, in bantams, when you see a penalty near the end, you bang your stick to warn the guys. Here’s a guy that’s not ready. They just don’t seem to be ready. They think that they can come back all the time in the third period. They seem to be relying on that third period all the time. They don’t play desperate right now. I’m telling you, they better start, because they’re sky high, Montreal is sky high.”
Added Cherry: “You’ve got to play like [Brad] Marchand. Believe it or not, he was plus-2 last night. He is a guy that they’ve got to look to. He plays like that all the time, and that’s the way they’ve got to play. They were fast asleep the first two periods.”
The Bruins’ problems start in goal, where Rask has continued his career-long struggles against the Canadiens, while Carey Price has come up with some big saves at the other end.
“Rask is not playing the way Rask can play. … Price is outplaying him, that’s for sure,” Cherry said. “Rask is not playing like he did in the season for some reason. Montreal’s got — I don’t know if they’ve got his number or what. But he’s not the Rask that I know.
“But here’s the thing that bothers me, is the Bruins were out-hit last night. Imagine the Bruins being out-hit by those little midgets with Montreal. They’re just not ready. And if they’re not ready, it’s going to be a short series.”
|Why the book on Carey Price is not out||05.05.14 at 1:24 pm ET|
Last year it was Corey Crawford‘s glove, and now it’s the top half of the net against Carey Price. As the Bruins score their goals in certain spots, the idea of “the book being out” on the opposing goaltender naturally emerges.
Yet in the case of the Bruins vs. Price, the narrative developing isn’t quite accurate. Speaking to the Bruins goaltender — whom we all know is extremely honest – the whole thing is silly. In Tuukka Rask‘s mind, goaltenders can’t reach the NHL with free spaces on their bingo boards.
“I think every goalie in this league feels like if you see the shot, you should stop it pretty much,” Rask said Monday. “I mean, there’s tendencies where guys get scored on more than other places, but I don’t think there’s one particular spot on any goalie where you just want to keep shooting and shooting.”
On Sunday, Bruins players were asked about the Bruins having scored a lot of goals this series on Price by shooting high, and their answers suggested that to be the case. Dougie Hamilton even said that B’s shooters had picked up on the fact that Price was looking low.
“I think we’ve definitely noticed that when he’s screened he’s looking low and he gets really low,” Hamilton said. “I think we can score a lot of goals up high when we have a net-front presence. I don’t know if we’re really trying, but we’ve noticed that.”
That may be the case, but after looking through all seven goals the B’s have scored on Price through the first two games of the series, it’s barely even a tendency. In fact, only three of Boston’s goals have come from shooting high: Reilly Smith‘s third-period goal in Game 1 while Price was trying to look around a screen, Daniel Paille‘s snap shot in Game 2 (which wasn’t even shot all that high; it went off Francis Bouillon and up) and Hamilton’s Game 2 snap shot glove side high as Price was moving across his net.
If anything, taking advantage of Price on the move has been key for the Bruins. Hamilton’s goal and Smith’s Game 2 goal both came as a result of that, as Smith shot the puck glove side around the middle of the net as Price was moving across.
|Tuukka Rask welcomes baby daughter||at 12:16 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask and his girlfriend welcomed a baby girl this weekend, making the Bruins goaltender a father for the first time.
The due date for the child to arrive was Friday, the day after Game 1 of the second round against the Canadiens, and the baby was born either Sunday or early Monday morning. There was a state police officer at Friday’s practice, perhaps to provide an escort if need be, and the Bruins would have had a plan to get Rask to Boston from Montreal had the baby come after the Bruins had left for Canada on Monday.
Bruins backup goaltender Chad Johnson told ESPN Boston on Thursday that he was prepared to play in case Rask had to leave Game 1 to tend to the situation.
“I’ve sort of talked to him about it. You don’t know what’s going to happen there, so you sort of have to be ready,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if he’s going to leave or not leave in that situation, but again, you can’t really control anything. I just have to try to be ready for any situation, if I get to start or I get put in, I want to make the best of it and try to do as well as you can.”
Understandably with a lot on his mind, Rask had an uncharacteristic performance Thursday and vented about his own play following the 4-3 double-overtime loss to Montreal.
The weight off the new father’s shoulders was celebrated by the entire team Monday, as the B’s selected Rask to lead the team’s stretch at the end of Monday’s practice.
Games 3 and 4 of the second round will be played Tuesday and Thursday at the Bell Centre.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘The Bruins know it’s going to be a long series’||05.02.14 at 12:48 pm ET|
Pierre McGuire of NBC Sports joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Bruins’ 4-3 double-overtime loss to the Canadiens in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“I was really surprised at the caliber of play, and that speaks well to a fantastic seven-game series, hopefully, because the caliber of play was good as any I’ve seen in this playoff season,” said McGuire, who noted that Friday night he will work his 18th game in 18 nights in 18 cities when he covers the Rangers-Penguins game in Pittsburgh.
The Bruins had 51 shots on goal but missed the net on a number of other opportunities and appeared to overplay the puck on others, leading to turnovers. From his perch between the benches, McGuire heard the Bruins coaches telling the players to be more aggressive in getting the puck to the net.
“I kept hearing them say, ‘Just shoot the puck. Shoot the puck. Don’t be too cute. Shoot the puck,’ ” McGuire said, adding: “One of the big agendas I think for the Bruins going into Game 2 tomorrow afternoon is to shoot the puck from anywhere and just get to the net.”
Meanwhile, the Canadiens pounced on some Bruins turnovers to create chances on the Boston goal.
“The closing speed of the Canadiens is vastly underrated. People that don’t see them a lot don’t understand,” McGuire said. “Everybody knows about Carey Price. Two things people don’t know about the Canadiens that are really important: One, they’re extremely quick. Two, they have a huge amount of character. Much greater than ever before. You saw it with Dale Weise, you saw it with Brandon Prust, you saw it with Travis Moen last night. Their character quotient is a lot higher than people give them credit for. And that’s why I think this will be a long series. And I know the Bruins know it’s going to be a long series and a hard series. They’re aware of it as a team.”
“I think Tuukka said it best. I don’t have to jump on and pile on. I’m sure people are piling on,” McGuire said. “But then again, I remember after Game 1in the Detroit series, everyone was ripping him for the [Pavel] Datsyuk goal, which was a thing of beauty. And he said, ‘Well, maybe I should have had it.’ Tuukka’s harder on himself than any fan could ever be or any newspaper reporter could ever be. He knows he needs to be better. He wasn’t good enough last night. And I think he’ll have a huge bounceback. I’m not surprised that he’s as honest and open as he is, because he doesn’t doubt his abilities at all. And when you don’t doubt your ability, you’re not afraid to say when you make a mistake or you’re not on top of your game. He wasn’t on top of his game last night.”