|Bruins beat Canucks for first time since 2011 Stanley Cup finals||02.04.14 at 9:39 pm ET|
Though it didn’t mean as much as their last win over the Canucks, the Bruins beat Vancouver on Tuesday at TD Garden for the first time since the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins picked up a 3-1 victory, good for their sixth win in their last seven games.
Vancouver native Milan Lucic made it 1-0 at 5:12 of the first period, with David Krejci passing it back to him while on a 2-on-2 with Jarome Iginla. Lucic finished off the play by beating Roberto Luongo stick side from the slot. Iginla added to the lead with a power-play goal off a feed from Zdeno Chara in the second.
Newly acquired Canucks defenseman Raphael Diaz beat Tuukka Rask with a slap shot on a waffling puck in the second at 11:28 of the second, but a Daniel Paille breakaway goal off a stretch pass from Johnny Boychuk increased the Bruins’ lead back to two.
The game was the third played between the B’s and Canucks since the 2011 Cup finals, with Luongo making his first start at TD Garden since Game 6 of the series. He was out dueled Tuesday by Rask, who made 27 saves.
Tuesday marked Chara’s last game with the team before he leaves for Sochi to be Slovakia’s flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics Friday. The B’s have two games left before the break, as they’ll play in St. Louis on Thursday and host the Senators Saturday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
— Boychuk was a beast, starting the play that gave Paille his goal and providing a bruising presence. Boychuk found Paille coming onto the ice with the B’s stuck in their zone and sent a pass from the hashmarks of Boston’s zone to Paille at the Canucks blue line. Paille took it from there, beating Luongo low with a stick-side backhander.
That wasn’t all Boychuk did, as he used his body well on Canucks forwards, most notably crushing David Booth multiple times, including a massive hit along the wall in the Vancouver zone late in the second period.
The Bruins will need a couple more performances like that from Boychuk before the Olympic break, as the 30-year-old will be the elder statesman of Boston’s blue line for the next two games without Chara.
— Speaking of Chara, it was good for B’s to get two points in his last game with them before the break. The next two won’t be easy, as the B’s, who are already without Dennis Seidenberg, will be down their best two defensemen. David Warsofsky will play the next two games after being recalled Monday and sitting Tuesday.
— Though his line didn’t have the prettiest night, Paille continued to contribute. The tripping penalty he drew in the first period was the fourth penalty he’s drawn in the last four games, while he continues to use his speed (or, as was the case Tuesday, a fortunate line change) to create chances. Paille has eight goals through 48 games this season after registering 10 in 46 contests last season.
— Iginla has points in five of his last six games, registering three goals and eight assists for 11 points over that span. His assist on Lucic’s goal was the 600th helper of his career.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
— Brad Marchand missed out on a couple of goals in the second period. What appeared to be the Bruins’ third goal was waved off after it was determined Torey Krug obstructed Luongo. Krug was in front of the net and fell into Luongo as Reilly Smith took the puck behind the net and fed Marchand, with Marchand having half the net open with Luongo down. Luongo immediately argued that the goal should be disallowed, which it was.
Later in the period, Marchand hit the post on a backhand bid in front.
— Statistically speaking, Patrice Bergeron‘s line has cooled off since its torrid stretch in mid-to-late January. The trio of Bergeron, Marchand and Smith now has gone four games without producing a goal.
|Tuukka Rask on Claude Julien ExplanationGate: ‘He’s the boss’||01.31.14 at 1:26 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Claude Julien was all hot and bothered Thursday night when pressed for a reason as to why he pulled Tuukka Rask in the second period of the team’s 4-1 loss to the Canadiens. Julien said he didn’t have to explain himself and that some of the moves he makes are for the team to understand and not anyone else.
Rask obviously wasn’t happy with being pulled after the game, but he agreed Friday that Julien doesn’t need to explain his decisions to anyone — even him.
“No,” Rask said. “He’s the boss and he makes decisions based on what he sees on the ice. He doesn’t have to tell anybody anything. I battle out there as long as I need to. [Yesterday] didn’t last too long, and it’s too bad.”
As for whether he would like his coach to discuss his play and why he’d been pulled, Rask replied, “Doesn’t matter to me.”
Rask, who still leads the NHL with five shutouts and is fifth in the league with a .928 save percentage, has been pulled four times since Dec. 14. Thursday’s was the most controversial given that only one of the goals he allowed was particularly bad and Julien’s postgame comments.
‘Don’t think I have to explain myself [for] why I pull a goalie, OK? Because this isn’t going to be one of those things where we make a big story out of a pulled goalie,” Julien said. “Our team was poor tonight, ‘K? So maybe sometimes you pull a goalie for different reasons, and I don’t think I have to explain everything to you guys for the reasons, because there’s a lot of decisions that I make that are for inside that dressing room, not necessarily for everyone to share.’
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|Claude Julien in no mood to explain why he pulled Tuukka Rask||01.30.14 at 10:57 pm ET|
After Brian Gionta scored on the power play to make it 3-1 in the second period of Montreal’s win Thursday, Julien pulled Rask for the fourth time since Dec. 14. Rask was visibly upset as he left the ice, and after the game said that he felt “OK” in the game.
“I play as long as they tell me to play,” Rask said, “so I try to battle out there are hard as I can, I stay out there as long as I possibly can and today it lasted a little over one period. It’s too bad.”
The Habs’ second goal came on a breakaway off a turnover from Daniel Paille, while the first goal was a shot from the point that went through a lot of traffic. Though Gionta’s goal in which he tipped in a Tomas Plekanec shot was a bad goal to give up, it was still somewhat surprising to see Rask yanked given the circumstances of the goals he allowed.
“It’s a lot of everything,” Julien said after the game when asked why he pulled Rask. “That’s decisions that I make and I don’t feel I have to explain [them] every time.”
Later in Julien’s press conference, he was asked what “a lot of everything” includes.
“[It] includes what I want it to,” Julien said. “Don’t think I have to explain myself [for] why I pull a goalie, OK? Because this isn’t going to be one of those things where we make a big story out of a pulled goalie. Our team was poor tonight, ‘K? So maybe sometimes you pull a goalie for different reasons, and I don’t think I have to explain everything to you guys for the reasons, because there’s a lot of decisions that I make that are for inside that dressing room, not necessarily for everyone to share.”
The loss Thursday night dropped Rask to 2-10-2 in his career against the Canadiens. For a guy who has dominated most other teams, those numbers are alarming. It may be a little early in his career to bring up the Pedro Martinez-Yankees comparison, but the Canadiens have been Rask’s kryptonite.
“I don’t know,” Rask said of why he’s put up poor numbers against Montreal. “I mean, I haven’t played too many bad games against them; I just can’t get the wins. I mean, it sucks, but what can you do? Just hopefully by the end of my career, they’re better.”
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|Canadiens chase Tuukka Rask, beat Bruins||at 9:39 pm ET|
The Canadiens interrupted the Bruins’ recent hot streak Thursday, taking a 4-1 contest at TD Garden and improving to 2-0-0 against the B’s this season.
Tuukka Rask was pulled for the fourth time this season and dropped to 2-10-2 in his career against the Canadiens. He allowed three goals on 18 shots before being pulled a little over halfway through the second period. Chad Johnson allowed one goal in relief.
The Habs got on the board 2:16 into the game when an Alexei Emelin shot from the point went through plenty of traffic but didn’t appear to hit anything on its way past Rask. Max Pacioretty made it 2-0 later in the period when he took a feed from Brendan Gallagher off a Daniel Paille turnover, flew down the wing and held off Johnny Boychuk on his way to beating Rask five-hole.
Dougie Hamilton got the B’s on the board at 15:38 of the first when a shot from the point hit a Montreal body and got past Peter Budaj, but it would be Boston’s only goal of the night. A Brian Gionta power-play goal at 11:54 of the second chased Rask, and a Daniel Briere breakaway goal on Johnson made it a three-goal lead for the Habs.
The loss snapped the Bruins’ four-game winning streak. The B’s have four games left before the Olympic break and will host Andrew Ference and the Oilers on Saturday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
— Rask has now been pulled four times this season, all of which have come in the last month and a half. Rask was pulled Dec. 14 against the Canucks, Dec. 28 in Ottawa and Jan. 9 in Los Angeles. Though Gionta’s goal was the only particularly bad one he allowed, getting yanked at least four times in a season isn’t a great thing to have on a Vezina resume.
— The Bruins had scored six goals in three straight games (3-0-0) prior to Thursday’s game, but they were able to muster exactly one sixth of that mark Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins set to host Canadiens||at 12:01 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask will be in net Thursday night against the Canadiens, as he was the first goaltender off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate. He will face Peter Budaj, who gets the start for the Habs. Montreal last played Tuesday, with Carey Price making his eighth consecutive start.
It will be just the second meeting between the teams this season, with the Habs taking a 2-1 win Dec. 5 in Montreal.
The Bruins have been hot of late, going 6-1-1 over their last eight contests and scoring six goals in three straight (3-0-0), while the Canadiens are slumping. Montreal’s win Tuesday over the Hurricanes stopped a four-game skid, and the Habs currently stand fourth in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. By comparison, the Habs, who have played 53 games to Boston’s 52, are 10 points behind the B’s (Boston has 71 points to Montreal’s 61).
Adam McQuaid did not take part in the morning skate as he remains out with a leg injury. Chris Kelly took line rushes with the fourth line, which is where he played for the first two periods of Tuesday’s win over the Panthers.
The anticipated lineup is as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Paille – Soderberg – Eriksson
Campbell – Kelly – Thornton
Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Boychuk
Krug – Miller
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|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins ‘should have put two points in their pockets’ vs. Maple Leafs||01.15.14 at 1:54 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday, following the Bruins’ 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“I’m a little disappointed that the Bruins didn’t get the two points that they should have gotten last night,” Brickley said. “It’s the only game at home that separates five games on the road against some tough teams. A game that should have put two points in their pockets.”
The penalty kill — or lack thereof — was blamed as a big reason for the loss.
“You can’t just single out one aspect of your penalty killing that’s letting the Bruins down right now,” Brickley said. “I think it all starts with decision making, when you’re not making the right decision there’s a drag in your decision making, in other words you’re making it too late, a stride, a stride and a half too late.
“You’re playing against the top players on the other team, guys that make up the power plays, and your decision making is not there or there’s a drag, you’re going to give up quality scoring chances, and if you don’t get the saves you’re going to give up goals, and that’s where they’re at right now. This is not ebb and flow, this is a bad bad stretch of allowing far too many goals. You can win with a power play in the lower third of the National Hockey League, but you can’t win consistently when you’re only killing from the same place.”
One factor that appears to be hurting the penalty kill is the absence of Dennis Seidenberg, who tore his ACL and MCL on Dec. 27.
“The loss of Seidenberg definitely affects your penalty killing, but a little more importantly it affects the makeup of your entire team,” Brickley said. “That is the single most important issue that the Bruins are going to have to address right now. If you talk about, ‘How do the Bruins win more consistently?’ you say, well, you need more production from the [David] Krejci line. They carried the offense for the first 2 1/2, three months, but they’ve been quiet lately. They had unbelievable opportunities last night, didn’t finish. It was only the Bergeron line that was scoring goals, basically.
“They need to settle or figure out how they’re going to answer the loss of Seidenberg. When [Johnny] Boychuk is your number three, [Dougie] Hamilton, [Torey] Krug, [Adam] McQuaid make up your four, five six, [Matt] Bartkowski, [Kevan] Miller are your depth guys, now you’ve got a real good group. But you’ve lost a guy who’s playing 24-25 minutes who is an absolute horse back there, he’s physical, smart, experience, versatile, strong, well conditioned, understands his role, relishes his role. When you lose a guy like that, in the system that the Bruins play, as good as the other guys are, your team takes a big hit unless you can bring in a guy that’s not exactly like a Seidenberg, but someone that allows you to do some of the things he can do.”
|Putting Tuukka Rask’s slump in perspective||01.13.14 at 9:33 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask had never had a stretch in the NHL like the one he had prior to Saturday’s shutout. He’s sure he’ll one day have another, but for the Bruins and his Vezina campaign’s sake, he’s hoping it won’t be for a while.
Rask, who leads the league with five shutouts and is fourth with a .930 save percentage, had a woeful go of it from Dec. 28 to Jan. 9, getting pulled after allowing three goals in a little over one period losses to the Senators and Kings and allowing five goals apiece to the Islanders and Ducks. He picked up just win over the five game stretch, allowing one goal in a 4-1 win over the Jets.
As alarming as those numbers were, it’s worth noting that great goaltending performances — even Vezina ones — see dark times. Here are a few:
– In 2011, Vezina winner Tim Thomas gave up 14 goals over three starts from Feb. 11-15 while also allowing a goal in a period of relief in that stretch.
– The following season, Vezina winner Henrik Lundqvist allowed at least three goals in five straight games from March 3 to March 11.
– 2007-08 Vezina winner Martin Brodeur had a shaky stretch very early on the season, allowing at least three goals in five straight from Oct. 10 to Oct. 18 and giving up at least four in three of those starts. He also gave up 23 goals over a six-game stretch the previous season, which also saw him win the Vezina.
“It happens,” Rask said of such stretches Monday. “It’s hockey and the more you play, the odds are that it’s going to happen. You just have to work through it, and it’s tough but it’s reality. It’s going to happen again — hopefully not this year, but in the coming years and you just have to work through it and hope for the best.”
It wouldn’t be a leap to point to the fact that Rask’s rough patch began in the Bruins’ first game following Dennis Seidenberg‘s season-ending ACL/MCL tear. That wasn’t the only reason for the slump, but the B’s clearly looked to be a work in progress as they grid to acclimate to life without Seidenberg.
“We’re adjusting. I think it’s new for everybody when you miss a guy like that,” Rask said. “He’s a regular guy that plays a lot of minutes, so getting new pairings and stuff like that. As long as we put our minds into it defensively, it will be good. We’ve got some younger guys who are growing into their roles and it’s a learning curve, but we’re working [in] the right way.”
This will be another busy year for Rask, as he will follow last season’s 75-game workload with a full NHL season, the Olympics in the middle and hopefully a long playoff run in the spring.
Though he joked that he “always feels like [droppings]” when asked about how his body is holding up, Rask says that fatigue hasn’t been a major factor for him this season and doesn’t see it becoming one.
“Not too much,” he said. “I think everybody’s feeling somewhat of the schedule being so heavy, but I haven’t felt too tired. It’s draining mentally when you travel a lot and play every other day for weeks, so it can be draining, but I think we can keep things light when necessary.”