|Chad Johnson finally nearing first start of the season||10.21.13 at 8:42 pm ET|
With lots of off-days and no back-to-backs, the Bruins have been able to play Tuukka Rask in each of the first seven games of the season, yet with a back-to-back this week in Buffalo Wednesday and home against the Sharks Thursday, Johnson is finally closing in on his first game action of the season. Claude Julien said Monday that Wednesday could be the day for him.
“We’ll probably give him a shot there at some point, and Buffalo might be one of the games we give him,” Julien. “We haven’t made that final decision yet, but I will put him on notice and give him an opportunity. We’re going to have to use him at some point and that might be a good chance to use him then.”
Johnson, 27, has been waiting patiently to make his regular-season Bruins debut. He shut out the Red Wings in his final preseason start, but noted Monday that “preseason doesn’t count.” What does count is what will happen this week, and he’s had plenty of time to prepare. Johnson said there’s a learning process even for goalies as they get into new systems, so coming from Phoenix to Boston has required some adjusting on his part.
“I think it’s just sort of getting comfortable,” he said. “I think for myself and the team,it’s maybe just getting adjusted to the way I play and how they like to play certain situations, like on the penalty kill and situations like that — where they give the goalie the player and where they take away and certain situations. There’s always those little things throughout the game that happen that they build relationships with.”
Rask has allowed more than two goals just once this season and on Saturday he picked up a shutout against the Lightning. That’s a tough act to follow, but Johnson is eager to see what he can do behind what’s been a relatively stable group of defensemen.
“There’s a good team here that knows how to play good defensive hockey,” Johnson said. “For myself I’m excited to get the season going and get kind of into things. It’s been a little bit of a wait here, but that’s just kind of the situation here with the games this first month, so for myself I’m definitely looking forward to getting into some games and getting on a roll and into a good routine here.”
Johnson has played only 10 career NHL games, but if his season debut is anything like his first start of last season, the B’s will be in good hands. Johnson made 21 saves in a shutout against the Predators.
|Tuukka Rask picks up shutout as Bruins rout Lightning||10.19.13 at 9:37 pm ET|
The Bruins bounced back from a couple of wonky outings this week by routing the Lightning, 5-0, in Tampa on Saturday night in Tuukka Rask‘s first shutout of the season.
The Bruins, who improved to 5-2-0 on the season with the win, got a goal from every line and saw both Adam McQuaid and Shawn Thornton register their first goals of the season. Rask, who has started each game so far this season, made 23 saves in the victory.
David Krejci opened the scoring 1:32 into the game on a goal assisted by Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla. McQuaid made it 2-0 in the second period with a wrist shot from the point, and the B’s got two goals in a 15-second span with Reilly Smith feeding Patrice Bergeron for the third goal of the game and Chris Kelly taking a pass from Brad Marchand and scoring to chase Ben Bishop. The Tampa goalie and UMaine product had allowed two goals or less in each of his previous five starts.
Thornton then scored his first of the season, beating Anders Lindback top shelf with a wrist shot to make it 5-0 just 34 seconds into the third period.
Carl Soderberg, who had missed the first six games of the season with an ankle injury, made his season debut. Soderberg played on the third line with Kelly and Marchand, while Jordan Caron was a healthy scratch. Matt Bartkowski sat to allow McQuaid’s return to the lineup.
The Bruins will next play Wednesday in Buffalo and will return to TD Garden Thursday to host the Sharks.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Soderberg looked very good in his season debut, playing well on the third line and seeing time on the Bruins’ second power play unit. Though he registered no shots on goal, he was very active offensively and made a nice move in going around a Tampa defender on a 3-on-2 with Smith and Loui Eriksson.
– Claude Julien has returned two defensemen to the lineup after scratching them and has gotten a goal each time. A game after Dougie Hamilton returned to the lineup and scored in a game in which McQuaid was scratched, McQuaid came back Saturday and scored.
– Kelly had just three goals in 38 regular-season games last season, but with his second-period goal Saturday he has already matched that total. Kelly’s been turning in strong play with what’s been a revolving door of linemates, but it would be interesting to see a Marchand-Kelly-Soderberg line stick for a bit.
– Rask has now allowed one goal in two games against the offensively terrifying Lightning. Among his 23 saves on the night was a nice glove-save point blank right in front on Steven Stamkos in the third.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Maybe Marchand wants to be more physical, more of a pest or more of whatever, but taking two penalties isn’t the way to get out of what’s been a season-long funk for the former 28-goal-scorer. Marchand was penalized in each of the first two periods, both of which were for slashing.
– Iginla still has no goals on the season, but he turned in a very strong performance. Iginla provided the screen on McQuaid’s goal and was part of what was a solid showing for Krejci’s line. The veteran winger also dropped the gloves when he fought Radko Gudas in the third period.
|Adam McQuaid a healthy scratch vs. Panthers||10.17.13 at 7:24 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — In a season in which Claude Julien swears no defenseman is safe from a healthy scratch, the first eye-opening one is upon us. Adam McQuaid will sit vs. the Panthers, as Matt Bartkowski will stay in the lineup for a third straight game, while Dougie Hamilton will make his return to the lineup after sitting out the last two.
The Bruins lineup, per warmups, is as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Smith – Bergeron – Eriksson
Marchand – Kelly – Caron
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Seidenberg
Krug – Boychuk
Rask is obviously facing Tim Thomas as the two-time Vezina-winner and longtime Bruin will face his former team for the first time since leaving them prior to last season. Rask and Thomas, who got along well in their time as teammates, chatted with one another for about 30 seconds at center ice during warmup, as is documented by this horrible photo.
|Shoddy defensive play burns Bruins in loss to Red Wings||10.14.13 at 4:39 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask did something Monday that he hadn’t done all season: allow a second goal.
He also allowed a third in the 3-2 loss to the Red Wings, but Rask wasn’t the issue in Boston’s second defeat this season. The Bruins turned in some shoddy work defensively, giving opportunities to a team that doesn’t need many, and the B’s were burned for it.
“All those three, pretty much, we kind of fell asleep for a second there,” Rask said after the game. “The guy had an extra second and now all of a sudden the puck’s in the net. I’m not blaming myself really, but it’s a game like that where you don’t get that many scoring chances, and once they get them you’d like to be there and stop the puck. They’re also a good team that can score a lot of goals. Tough bounces for us today.”
The first of the three came on a play that can half be chalked up to Pavel Datsyuk being super awesome at hockey and half be chalked up to some uncharacteristic play from Boston’s best players. A Patrice Bergeron giveaway allowed Pavel Datsyuk to bring the puck into the zone and get around Zdeno Chara — who could have stepped up and taken him out of the play — before sending it across to Henrik Zetterberg.
Reilly Smith was giving chase but couldn’t stretch out far enough to get his stuck on the puck, and Zetterberg scored his second goal this season against Bergeron and Chara. For a frame of reference, Bergeron and Chara were both on the ice for just one 5-on-5 goal — a Thomas Vanek tally on Jan. 31 — all of last season.
The Red Wings’ other two goals could have been prevented as well, as Johan Franzen sent a pass in the second period past the sticks of Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand to Stephen Weiss, who beat Rask on the doorstep. Dan Cleary scored on a one-timer right in front of the net — and right in front of Chara.
“We were a little loose in our coverage today, and it resulted in those three goals,” Claude Julien said. “Every game we’ve got things that we need to try and rectify with practice and bring to those players’ attention. That’s what we’ve got to do. Definitely, I thought that we were a little loose defensively, especially on the backcheck. We need to come back a little harder and a little better. Just because you’re a couple of feet away from that guy, doesn’t mean that you have him. There wasn’t full commitment in that.
Through five games, the Bruins are now 3-2-0 on the season. The season is young, but the B’s have at the very least learned that their division has become tougher with Detroit. They also know they need to be better.
“Not awful, not great, not bad,” Rask said when asked how he feels the B’s have played this season. “Every game there’s been some really good things and some letdowns.”
“When you play a team like Detroit, they don’t that many chances,” Julien said. “You’ve just got to give them some and they’ll know what to do with those. That’s what they’re known for, and that’s what they showed today.”
|Tuukka Rask picking up where he left off||10.07.13 at 1:35 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Two U’s, two K’s, two games, two goals against. The Bruins will take that.
As the top six forwards get used to one another, young defensemen get comfortable with more responsibility and the new power play takes shape, the B’s have seen one area of their roster remain its reliable self: goaltending.
“Tuukka’s been Tuukka. That means he’s just been solid,” Claude Julien said of Tuukka Rask. “He’s played well, made the big saves when we need him. That first game, I thought he did a good job of holding us in there when we didn’t have a good start. Last game I thought we had a much better overall game, but against that type of team you need good goaltending, and he gave us that.”
The $56 million man has made 59 saves through two games for the B’s, with his best work coming in Thursday’s season-opener against the Lightning. With the Bruins killing off one of two 5-on-3s on the night, Rask stopped Steven Stamkos from the right circle and seconds later robbed Teddy Purcell to end the first period. The only goal he allowed in that game was on a 2-on-1 that came as a result of a bad Torey Krug pinch and uncharacteristic work from Daniel Paille and Adam McQuaid.
The Red Wings’ lone goal on Saturday was off a rebound, with Henrik Zetterberg making good on a second chance off a Justin Abdelkader shot. It’s been a limited sample size, but Rask has been a cool customer so far.
“The first one, we killed those 5-on-3s and I think [the Lightning] had more chances than Detroit did, but I think as a team, we got better from the first game,” Rask said of the team allowing one goal in each of the first two games. “The last game against Detroit is a really good example of how we need to play.”
Oftentimes, a goaltender can only be as good as the guys that play in front of him, and the Bruins’ combination of elite goaltending and stingy defense has been mutually beneficial for years. That took something of a hit when the B’s elected not to retain Andrew Ference, but Rask said the younger blue line seems to be getting better by the day as Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton get more comfortable.
“Absolutely. Every day,” Rask said. “They work hard out there, and they try to get more physical out there. I think it’s just something that comes from experience, and you’ve got to play the amount of games to feel fully comfortable, but I think the young Ds who have needed to step up for us have been really good.”
Given the schedule, Rask shouldn’t count on sitting out anytime soon. The first few weeks of Boston’s schedule breathes quite a bit, with the first back-to-back not coming until Oct. 23 (at Buffalo) and 24 (home against the Sharks). As such, expect the B’s to go to Rask often before Chad Johnson eventually sees game action.
“Tuukka only played a few games in the preseason, so it’s an opportunity for him to get some rhythm going, but at the same time, you’re going to want to use your other goaltender,” Julien said. “We’ve just got to keep him sharp in practice and work that part of the equation in as we see fit.”
|Takeaways from Bruins’ 3-2 win over Capitals: Power play strong again; Ryan Spooner impresses||09.23.13 at 9:55 pm ET|
Chris Kelly scored in overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 win over the Capitals in their final home game of the preseason Monday night at TD Garden.
They’ll finish out the preseason later this week with a pair of games against the Jets before opening up the regular season at home next Thursday against the Lightning.
The Bruins iced the following lineup:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Soderberg – Kelly – Smith
Caron – Spooner – Johnson
Paille – Lindblad – Thornton
Chara – Boychuk
Bartkowski – McQuaid
Seidenber – Miller
Here are some takeaways from the game:
– The Bruins got a power-play goal with who else but Zdeno Chara in front. Chara tipped a Dennis Seidenberg shot from from the point past Braden Holtby in the second period to tie the game at one. This is the power play the Bruins used and had been working on in practice earlier in the day:
Krejci – Seidenberg
Iginla – Lucic
– There were quite a few fights, with Kevan Miller squaring off with Aaron Colpatti, Lucic and Johnny Boychuk dropping the gloves with Joel Rechlicz in separate fights. Additionally, Adam McQuaid and Dane Byers fought at the same time as Nick Johnson and Michal Cajkovsky in the third period.
Players can and do work on their technique in practice without having to land punches, so there isn’t much of a point in risking injury (or suspension if things get out of hand like they did in Toronto on Sunday night) during the preseason. Lots of fights = lots of unnecessary risk.
– Ryan Spooner was one of the best players on the ice for the B’s as he continues to try to force the team to make a tough decision. The team isn’t interested in making him a wing, and they probably shouldn’t be given that Reilly Smith has had a strong camp, but Spooner could at the very least push to be the team’s extra forward. At the very least, Spooner is outperforming Jordan Caron, who entered camp as a favorite to earn the 13th forward spot.
– Smith looked good in the first period and was kind of underwhelming the rest of the way. He came out flying on his first shift and made a fool out of Connor Carrick in the offensive zone as he cycled the puck to himself, and in general the former Star seems to be everything that Caron is supposed to be. He’s good in his own end and tough to out-muscle, which is strange because he’s two inches shorter and more than 35 pounds lighter than Caron. Either way, Smith plays bigger than his body and is making a good case to keep that third-line right wing job. Smith was on the ice for both of Washington’s goals, however, with the first goal coming on Smith’s first PK shift of the night.
– The Bruins allowed just seven shots on goal through the first 53-plus minutes of the game, but two of them went past Tuukka Rask. The Caps could have scored on what would have been their eighth shot following a Krejci turnover in the third period, but Miller was able to break up the 2-on-1 bid before the Caps could get a shot on goal. The B’s outshot the Capitals, 37-12, in regulation.
– Speaking of Krejci and turnovers, he made some in the offensive zone in what certainly wasn’t his prettiest game. He’s also gotten rather drop-pass happy.
|Tuukka Rask has ‘no doubt’ Tim Thomas will be successful with Panthers||09.18.13 at 5:53 pm ET|
Thomas and Rask played three seasons together, with Thomas starting most of the games before taking last season off and opening the door for Rask to step in as the No. 1 goalie — a position he held late in the 2009-10 season before Thomas put up a Vezina season and took the B’s to a Stanley Cup championship a year later.
“He’s a great worker; he works hard every day, so I think that’s the part where younger goalies should take from him,” Rask said of Thomas. “Markstrom’s been around for a couple years, but I think he probably still wants to learn something new out of a veteran goalie, and Timmy is a good example of that. He works hard every day and makes you work harder every day. That’s what I got out of it and I think that’s what every goalie with Timmy will get out of it.”
Thomas is on a professional tryout with the Panthers, so he is not on their roster. If they like what they see and give him a deal, the Bruins could see Thomas back in town on Nov. 7.
“That’d be a media debacle going on if that happened,” Rask said. “I was happy to see him come back. I wasn’t going to be surprised if this happened, and it did. I’m hoping that he’s going to make the team and get a good contract and get a good year out of it.”
Given that he is 39 and didn’t play last season, there is certainly question as to whether Thomas can be anything close to the guy who turned in a record-setting 2010-11 season and followed with a strong 2011-12 season, his most recent. Yet if anyone can do it, Rask believes his former teammate can.
“Absolutely,” Rask said. “I don’t know too many goalies at this level who have done that to compare, but definitely if he wants to be good, he will be good. There’s no doubt about that. I don’t think it’s too big of an issue to take a year off and come back. I’m sure he kept himself sharp somehow and maybe saw some pucks. It’s not going to be that big of a deal to come back, but he’s definitely the guy to make it happen if somebody will.”