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Bruins know Tuukka Rask can do only so much to save the D 04.09.13 at 11:20 am ET
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Tuukka Rask can only do so much.

He’s been outstanding in the last week, turning away 40 shots in a 1-0 shutout last Thursday over the Devils and making another 40 saves Monday night in a 6-2 win over the Hurricanes.

And in some ways, Monday’s performance in what looked like a blowout on paper was more impressive than the shutout.

The Hurricanes opened the game with a five-minute flurry of action in front of Rask, trying to get that all-important first goal to set the tempo for the game. Rask turned away the first eight shots and allowed the Bruins to find their scoring touch.

Boston scored twice in the first eight minutes and took the spirit out of Carolina. After Monday’s 40-save effort, Rask was asked if all the action is sharpening him up for the playoffs that start in just over two weeks.

“I don’€™t know,” Rask said. “I’€™ve felt sharp throughout the year, trying to be calm and just poised out there. It’€™s been good the past three games so I’€™m just trying to work on that and keep that up.

“I think defensively we’€™ve been pretty good, if you look at the goals against. I don’€™t think we’€™re the best we can be in that area. Especially today, a couple let downs there. Still we’€™ve been pretty solid defensively, that’€™s our bread and butter, as you know, it was good to see that offense get going. Every team goes through phases like that. I don’€™t blame the guys because they’€™re trying and sometimes you just don’€™t have it. It was good to see.”

While defenseman Dennis Seidenberg had three assists, he remains concerned about the team’s defensive approach – or lack thereof.

“I don’€™t know,” he said. “We’€™re getting into that phase of the season that we have to get sharp for the playoffs, and we only have I think 10 games left now, and it comes down to the wire for us to get into playing playoff hockey, and just playing that style of hockey makes you successful going into the postseason.

“If [Rask] doesn’€™t stop the puck we’€™re behind in the game, and you know how the game changes once the team is up. They sit back, so we got lucky in the first. Obviously we converted on those chances, but if we had fallen behind it would have been tough to come back from. It’€™s been a few games now that we haven’€™t been sharp in the first period. I don’€™t know how many games we’€™ve given up the first goal and had to battle back or try to come from behind, but tonight Tuukka saved us, kept us 0-0, and we luckily scored.”

Rask knows how very important these next two weeks will be in establishing the right defensive trend for postseason.

“Yeah I think so,” he said. “I think we kind of have to build that momentum in the last 10 games or whatever we have left. Build it off of the defense and try to get that offense going like we can. Sometimes it feels like we are trading those chances and I get a lot of shots, it plays into my advantage, but I don’€™t think in the long run that would be a good idea.

“I mean there’€™s always room to improve. I think sticking with the structure and not getting caught running around and stuff like that. Keeping our heads up and protecting that net front, I think that’€™s the biggest thing.”

Claude Julien wants to see a defensive urgency in front of Rask in the final two weeks.

“There’€™s no doubt, we need to see that urgency to get ourselves better,” Julien said. “Although defensively we weren’€™t very good, it was a step in the right direction, as far as being a little bit better offensively. We’€™ve got to carry that into the next game, where it’€™s going to be even tougher, against a Devils team that doesn’€™t give much. But at the same time, hopefully we’€™re better defensively as well.”

Rask isn’t nearly as hard on the defense in front of him as fans and his own teammates are. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, NHL, Tuukka Rask,
Canadiens best Bruins in Montreal, take season series 04.06.13 at 9:50 pm ET
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The Canadiens stayed ahead of the Bruins in the standings with a 2-1 win over the B’s Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

With the win, the Canadiens (38 games played) have 55 points to the Bruins’s 52 through 37 games. Saturday marked the fourth and final meeting between the two teams in the regular season, with the Canadiens taking three wins vs. Boston.

Montreal jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Alex Galchenyuk and Michael Ryder, with Daniel Paille scoring the Bruins’ only goal in the second period. Carey Price made 26 saves, with Tuukka Rask stopping 27 shots in the losing effort.

Here’s what went right and wrong for the Bruins in the loss:

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- After some really promising showings of late, Matt Bartkowski had a rather rough first period. Bartkowski didn’t look to see if there were any Bruins on his side of the ice as he tried to break the puck out, and the result was a turnover as he sent the puck to P.K. Subban at the point. Subban fired the puck on net, eventually leading to Galchenyuk’s first-period goal.

- Claude Julien shuffled his bottom three lines midway through the first period, leaving only the Milan LucicDavid KrejciNathan Horton line intact. The changes saw Tyler Seguin moved back to right wing on the second line, with Rich Peverley centering the line and Jaromir Jagr being teamed with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille for the third line. Jay Pandolfo, Kaspars Daugavins and Shawn Thornton served as the fourth line.

- The Bruins were outshot, 10-4, in the first period and got no shots on goal from their forwards in the first 20 minutes. Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand combined for zero shots on goal in the game. That’s unacceptable.

- With Ryder’s second-period goal, he now has three goals in three games against the Bruins this season since rejoining the Canadiens. Ryder had two goals last Wednesday against the B’s, and he gave the Habs a 2-0 lead Saturday by redirecting a shot from Subban on the power play. The puck also went off Dennis Seidenberg’s stick before floating past Rask.

- Nathan Horton missed the net on an opportunity in front in the second period, as Josh Gorges was on him when Lucic sent a pass his way with plenty of open net to work with. Price had committed to Lucic on the other side of the net, but when Lucic fed Horton the right wing jammed the puck wide left on a forehand bid. It wasn’t the first such occurrence of late, as he also failed to finish chances in front against the Devils Thursday and the Flyers last Saturday.

- Good note from Mike Salk, who noted during the game that for a team that got Jaromir Jagr in hopes of fixing its power play, the Bruins haven’t been drawing a ton of penalties. The B’s got their first and only man advantage of the game in the final minute of the game and didn’t get a single shot on goal during it. The Canadiens scored on their only power play after Milan Lucic went off for cross-checking Tomas Plekanec, who took a whack at Lucic to get him to retaliate.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- In what has probably been his best season as a Bruin, Daniel Paille won a big faceoff to set up the Bruins’ second-period goal. With Gregory Campbell tossed out of the circle, Paille won the faceoff and sent the puck back to Johnny Boychuk, whose shot went off Paille and past Carey Price in a fluttering fashion.

- The scoring chances continued for the Canadiens after they took a 2-0 lead, so give Rask credit for keeping it close by denying Montreal bids. Rask made 10 saves on 11 shots in the second period.

Read More: Michael Ryder, Tuukka Rask,
Claude Julien on allowing 87 shots in 2 games: Bad habits have ‘crept into our game’ 04.05.13 at 2:20 am ET
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Claude Julien can read the shot board on the TD Garden scoreboards like anyone else.

He knows full well that the Bruins gave up 47 shots on Tuesday night and escaped with a 3-2 win over the Senators thanks to the play of back-up goalie Anton Khudobin.

He knows full well the Bruins allowed Tuukka Rask to face 40 shots Thursday night against New Jersey, only to have their rear ends saved by the fact their goalie turned away all 40 in a 1-0 squeaker over the Devils.

“Well, he was good,” Julien said in his best understated voice. “You know, he was one of the reasons we won, obviously. He made the big saves when he had to and kept us in the lead at times when they could have gotten themselves back into the game. He was good for us tonight, and sometimes a little bit of rest and a little bit of work with the goalie coach is what goaltenders need.”

Rask wasn’t complaining afterward. Actually, he was happy to see so many pucks early, as the Bruins were outshot 17-6 in the opening 20 minutes after he had the last two games off.

“Yeah, I was saying to Doby [Anton Khudobin] in the first intermission that I would rather take 17 shots, then three or four shots to just get kind of get going and even though they had 17 shots there were a lot of shots from the outsides so it was good to get that feeling. Feel for the puck and stuff like that, so good effort.

“I’€™d just rather go out there and just get my mind right during the game. Doby played great in Buffalo, played great against Ottawa so I wasn’€™t feeling sorry for myself sitting out there. I was feeling good for him. He’€™s kind of in that groove and he’€™s playing really good so it was good to watch him for a couple of outings there and I felt good out there.”

Is Julien concerned about the shot totals and the way his team is playing defensively? Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, NHL, Tuukka Rask
Jaromir Jagr scores as Tuukka Rask blanks Devils 04.04.13 at 9:27 pm ET
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Jaromir Jagr got plenty of attention, but it was Tuukka Rask who stole the show Thursday at TD Garden in a 1-0 Bruins win over the Devils.

Jagr, who was acquired by the B’s on Tuesday, scored the only goal in his Bruins debut, but it was Rask’s 40-save shutout performance that kept the Bruins in it. The win improved the Bruins to 24-8-4 on the season with 52 points through 36 games.

Up next for the Bruins is a meeting with the Canadiens in Montreal. Here’s what went for the B’s in the Thursday night win.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Well, Jagr was able to match Lane MacDermid‘s pace (MacDermid scored in his Stars debut Wednesday).

The 41-year-old definitely looked like he was still getting a feel for his linemates, as his goal actually came as the result of the second pass he failed to connect on with Brad Marchand. Jagr, perhaps mistaking the speedy Marchand for a very speedy Marchand, sent the puck just out of the left wing’s reach. Marchand caught up to and sent a centering pass in front, with the puck going off Jagr’s skate and in.

- Speaking of Jagr, the Bruins obviously brought him in with the idea that he’d help the power play, but how about this? Jagr played the entire two minutes of the Bruins’ second-period power play. Jagr played on both units, first with Tyler Seguin, Marchand and Nathan Horton up front with Zdeno Chara at the point, and then with David Krejci, Rich Peverley and Milan Lucic in front with Dougie Hamilton at the point. The B’s didn’t score on the man advantage, though it was a better showing with a few quality chances.

- Rask was definitely the Bruins’ top performer, as he turned in an exceptional performance behind some rather shaky defense. Rask’s finest work came in the first period, when he made a kick save on Alexei Ponikarovsky and followed it by stuffing David Clarkson on the rebound with his right pad.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- It wasn’t quite the 47 shots allowed Tuesday against the Senators, but the Bruins allowed 40 shots on goal Thursday. They’ve now given up 87 shots on goal over the last two games, though the opponents have combined for just two goals, both of which were scored by the Senators.

- Seguin, who centered the second line in Patrice Bergeron‘s absence, looked like a wing trying to get comfortable playing a different position. It’s too soon to say he isn’t a fit for the job, but Seguin rightfully looked like he was adjusting after spending the entire season to this point at right wing.

Seguin went 0-for-3 on draws in first period and 2-for-5 in the second, which certainly was a far cry from the standard Bergeron has set by leading the league in faceoff efficiency. Claude Julien had Rich Peverley take draws in the defensive zone for Seguin early on, though Seguin was trusted with the responsibility in the second period and won a draw. Seguin finished the night 3-for-12 on faceoffs.

Read More: Jaromir Jagr, Tuukka Rask,
Picture perfect: Jaromir Jagr scores only goal, Tuukka Rask spotless in 1-0 win at 9:26 pm ET
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Jaromir Jagr was the main attraction but Tuukka Rask stole the show.

Rask turned aside all 40 shots while Jagr scored the only goal in his Boston debut as the Bruins edged the New Jersey Devils, 1-0, Thursday night at TD Garden. The win was an important one for the Bruins, who improve to 24-8-4. Boston has 52 points and kept pace with first-place Montreal in Northeast Division. The Bruins trail the Canadiens by just one point heading into another showdown north of the border Saturday night.

Jagr finished with a team-leading five shots in 19 shifts, which including 19 minutes, 12 seconds of ice time. He also had one hit, one blocked shots and one giveaway in his first game with the Bruins since being acquired from Dallas on Tuesday. One game after allowing 47 shots on net in a 3-2 win over Ottawa, the Bruins allowed the Devils to fire 40 shots.

Fans were ready for the debut of Jagr early on Thursday night at the Garden. As he took the ice for the pre-game skate, fans cheered him, the last Bruin to take the ice for warmups.

Jagr’s debut included a standing ovation in his first shift, the third overall of the game for the Bruins. As was the case in the morning skate, Tyler Seguin centered Jagr’s line with Jagr on the right wing and Brad Marchand on the left.

His first period was active, if not productive. He was on the ice for six shifts, totaling five minutes, 58 seconds. He had two shots and a blocked shot but the game was scoreless after 20 minutes. The Devils, after getting outplayed in the first four minutes of the game, dominated the final 15 minutes, outshooting the Bruins, 17-6, for the period.

While all eyes were on No. 68 every time he stepped on the ice, Rask was the bigger story as he made big save after big save, including a pair of back-to-back right pad saves on Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson from the low slot midway through the period. Minutes later, Rask turned away Adam Henrique on blocker save.

The Bruins and Jagr finally broke through in the second period as a centering pass from Marchand ricocheted off Jagr’s left skate and through the five-hole of Martin Brodeur just 80 seconds into the period for a 1-0 Boston lead. It was the 640th goal of Jagr’s career and 18th against Brodeur in 64 career meetings.

Six minutes later, the Bruins and their fans got a good look at another reason why management went out and acquired the 41-year-old veteran. When David Clarkson took an interference penalty, Jagr was placed on the power play for the full two minutes. He was stopped by Brodeur in close on a backhander and spent a majority of the time behind the net, though he did have one giveaway on the man advantage. Jagr was on the first power play unit with Zdeno Chara, Nathan Horton, Marchand and Seguin.

The Bruins applied serious pressure in the final two minutes of the second but Brodeur turned away Gregory Campbell and Marchand to keep it a one-goal game.

Rask kept up the sterling play in the third, highlighted by another big pad save on Andy Greene with just under eight minutes left in regulation. Greene broke through the Bruins defense and had a clean look but Rask stopped the wrister in close.

The Bruins are off Friday before leaving for a Saturday night date with the Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal. For complete coverage of Jagr’s debut from the Garden from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils
Andy Brickley on M&M: Keith Yandle, Mark Streit, Dan Boyle possible Bruins targets as trade deadline approaches 04.03.13 at 12:34 pm ET
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NESN’s Andy Brickley spoke with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday about what the Bruins could do in the last few hours before the 3 p.m. trade deadline and where he sees Jaromir Jagr fitting into the lineup.

Brickley said he thinks the Bruins would do best to add a defenseman before the deadline, and that the three names he’s seen thrown around most are Keith Yandle, Dan Boyle and Mark Streit.

“I’ve been a big Yandle fan for a long time because he’s a local kid, and you’ve always got to pull for them,” Brickley said. “Boyle’s a proven winner, won a Stanley Cup. He’s a right-handed shot who would fit nice on a power play right now with Dougie Hamilton, who’s really your only right-handed shot you can put on the back end if you’re playing with your four forwards. Boyle can run a pretty good power play. But I think Streit’s the guy that’s probably the most attainable when you talk about what you’re going to give up to get what you want. I think those are the three names that are probably pretty attractive to Boston right now.”

Brickley noted that the Bruins haven’t been afraid to deal high draft picks and top prospects in the past to get the players they want, especially during their 2011 Stanley Cup run.

“Maybe you have to deal a current asset that’s not a future first-round pick if the expectation is that conditional second turns into a first in that deal for Jagr,” Brickley said. “I do like the fact that the Bruins are willing to make those kinds of trades. When you take a look at ‘€¦ how they constructed that 2011 Cup team, they dealt first-rounders, whether they were future first-rounders or current first-rounders that were at some point in their development. In the [Mark] Recchi deal they dealt that kid [Matt] Lashoff. He was a first-rounder. The [Rich] Peverley deal, two first-rounders, [Mark] Stuart and [Blake] Wheeler. The [Nathan] Horton-[Gregory] Campbell deal, that was [Dennis] Wideman and a first-rounder, and even [TomasKaberle, that was two first-rounders, [Joe] Colborne and a future first-rounder. So they’ve shown that they will do what they need to do when they target those certain players.”

Jagr seems likely to start out playing on David Krejci‘s wing, although Brickley noted that sometimes linemates don’t click even if the pairing seem logical.

“I think it’s only natural that they try to hook him up with David Krejci, but sometimes that doesn’t work out,” Brickley said. “I would never make the analogy that [Michael] Ryder is a Jaromir Jagr, but when Ryder was acquired by Boston, the expectation was that he was playing with a top-two centerman, whether it was [PatriceBergeron or Krejci or a healthy Marc Savard, for that matter. He probably did his most damage in the playoffs playing on the third line with [Chris] Kelly and Peverley. So you never know what kind of chemistry you’re going to get when you hook certain players up.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Bruins coverage, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

On whether the Bruins need to add a forward or defenseman at the deadline: “I don’t know if it’s a necessity because I think this is still a pretty strong team if everyone’s healthy on their back end. I’d like to see them, and I think everyone would like to see the Bruins do that. The players in the room would certainly like to see another defenseman of NHL quality, somewhere in a top-five as far as their rating.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andy Brickley, Jaromir Jagr, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin
John Buccigross on D&C: Bruins are ‘going to add a significant player’ before deadline 03.28.13 at 10:19 am ET
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ESPN’s John Buccigross chatted with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, focusing on the trade of Jarome Iginla to the Penguins.

By the end of the Bruins’ 6-5 shootout loss to the Canadiens, it still seemed almost certain that the B’s would acquire the six-time All-Star, in a move that would have immediately helped Boston’s Stanley Cup aspirations.

“This is an all-timer,” Buccigross said. “I can’t remember in NHL history when a player of this impact, future Hall-of-Famer, was all set to come to a team, especially an Original Six team like the Bruins, and the whole hockey world had it coming, and then it didn’t happen, and of all teams he goes to another up-and-coming kind of organization like the Penguins. It’s a stunner.”

A key part of the potential trade with the Bruins was the fact that Iginla had a no-trade clause, and that could have been the difference.

“I think Calgary got a little better deal with the Bruins than they got for two marginal prospects from the Penguins,” Buccigross said. “But in the end, the player had the no-trade clause and he controlled where he wanted to go.”

Even without Iginla, the Bruins still have a legitimate shot at making it to the Stanley Cup finals. The current fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, the B’s still could make a trade before Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline.

“Last night I almost tweeted, I’d rather see Jay Bouwmeester come to Boston than Jarome Iginla,” Buccigross said. “They need Jay Bouwmeester more than they need Jarome Iginla. A defenseman who’s experienced, who can really skate. He would become the Bruins’ best skating defenseman if he got traded to Boston. You look at Dennis Seidenberg, Zdeno Chara‘s not getting any faster. To me he looks a lot slower this year, personally. … A lot of big guys who don’t move so well around the Penguins and the Canadiens. So, I would prefer really good skating defenseman, and Jay Bouwmeester’s just that and he’s big.”

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Read More: Jarome Iginla, John Buccigross, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask
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