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5 things we learned as Habs complete season series sweep of Bruins 02.08.15 at 10:20 pm ET
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The Bruins still can't get past Carey Price. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Bruins still can’t get past Carey Price. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

It seems all of the encouraging play in the world isn’t enough to prepare the Bruins for the Canadiens.

Coming off a stretch of points in five of their last six games (4-1-1), the Bruins promptly gave the puck to always-opportunistic Habs and gave them a sweep of the regular-season series. Montreal’€™s 3-1 win over the B’€™s Sunday at TD Garden made the Habs winners in all four of teams’€™ meetings this season.

David Pastrnak scored Boston’€™s only goal, sending a puck just barely over the line on a rebound bid with less than five minutes to play. Though the Bruins did not pressure the Vezina favorite early, Price was outstanding when he had to be.

On paper, the Bruins should be able to contend with and beat the Canadiens. Of course, paper rarely takes into a consideration that one team is in the other’€™s head.

Here are four more things we learned Sunday:

BEST PLAYERS GO BUST

For as great a player as Price is, it isn’t like the Canadiens ice a dominant team in front of him. Dale Weise plays on their first line. Sergei Gonchar, who is actually the same person as former NHL star Sergei Gonchar, is on their second pairing.

While Boston’€™s roster needs improvements, their best players should have matched up well with Montreal’s and Carl Soderberg’€™s line should have feasted on the bottom of the Habs’ roster.

Instead, the opposite happened. Weise, who was a fourth-liner earlier in the season when he wasn’€™t a healthy scratch, slipped off of Bergeron in front of the net and took a pass from Max Pacioretty to score the Canadiens’€™ first goal. That came against Zdeno Chara‘€™s pairing.

In the third period, Chara knocked Dougie Hamilton over at the blue line in the offensive zone, resulting in Weise jumping on the puck and springing Pacioretty on a breakaway. Pacioretty beat Tuukka Rask to make it seemingly an insurmountable deficit for Boston.

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Tuukka Rask: ‘Nobody’s told me otherwise, so I’m sure I’m playing’ vs. Canadiens 02.07.15 at 10:57 pm ET
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After stopping 39 of the 40 shots he faced against the Islanders Saturday, Tuukka Rask said he is ready to go again Sunday against the Canadiens.

“Nobody’€™s told me otherwise, so I’€™m sure I’€™m playing,”€ Rask said Saturday night. “€œIf I play, hopefully we’€™ll get a win so I don’€™t ever have to answer [the] questions again.”

The questions to which Rask refers are those of whether he and the Bruins can beat the Canadiens. Boston has dropped all three of its meetings vs. the Habs this season, with Rask getting yanked in one of his two starts against Montreal.

In his career, Rask is 3-12-3 against the Canadiens in the regular season. While he shut out the Habs in one of his three postseason victories against them last year, Rask acknowledged that the Canadiens have been a problem for the Bruins.

“€œWe try to approach it as any other game, but the fact is that we haven’€™t been able to beat them that many times in the past,”€ he said. “€œWe have to change it because another fact is most likely we’€™re going to face them in the playoffs this year, so we have to learn to play against them.”€

Rask has already played in both games of back-to-backs four times this season. The possibilities to start for the Bruins if Rask doesn’€™t start are Niklas Svedberg and Malcolm Subban, the latter of whom is currently up with the Bruins. Subban hasn’€™t started a game in over two weeks, however, and playing him against the Canadiens in both his first NHL game and his first game at any level in a while would be a very challenging assignment.

Svedberg did not start Saturday in Providence, leaving open the possibility that he could be available for the B’€™s. Svedberg played most of the third period in Montreal in relief of Rask on Oct. 16 and allowed five goals to the Habs on Nov. 13 at the Bell Centre.

Claude Julien did not answer when asked who would be in net Sunday. The Bruins will not have a morning skate Sunday, so its likely that Boston’s starter will not be revealed until warmups at 7 p.m.

Read More: Malcolm Subban, Niklas Svedberg, Tuukka Rask,
5 things we learned as Bruins suffer regulation loss to Rangers 02.04.15 at 10:30 pm ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

A rough second period cost the Bruins Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, as they relinquished a lead en route to a 3-2 loss to the Rangers.

The defeat was just the Bruins’€™ second regulation loss in the last 15 games, but there could be more ahead with a difficult back-to-back stretch coming up when the B’€™s host the Islanders and Canadiens this weekend at TD Garden.

Tuukka Rask started his ninth consecutive game and had to deal with multiple odd-man rushes from the Rangers. The Bruins blew a bit of an opportunity, as Henrik Lundqvist missed the game with an upper-body injury. Cam Talbot only had to face 20 shots, however, and he stopped 18.

The one positive as the Bruins await the Islanders and Habs — both teams are currently riding losing streaks. The Islanders have dropped three straight while the Canadiens are coming off back-to-back losses.

Here are four more things we learned Wednesday:

SPEED KILLS

The last thing a team wants to do against a fast opponent is let players slip past them. That happened all too often as the Bruins tried to slow the speedy Rangers.

After Brad Marchand failed to get the puck in deep and turned it over to Kevin Klein, Rick Nash took a feed from Martin St. Louis and sprinted past Adam McQuaid, walking in on Rask all alone and backhanding his 32nd goal of the season past the Boston netminder.

Later in the period, Chris Kreider got behind Torey Krug and Kevan Miller, but was denied by Rask. The Bruins had to deal with another odd-man rush when Kevin Hayes got the puck out of the defensive zone and over Krug’€™s stick, racing to the puck in the neutral zone to create a 2-on-1 with Carl Hagelin against Miller. The Bruins survived it, as Hayes’€™ pass for Hagelin in front was stopped by Rask.

BRUINS HAVE SECOND-PAIR BLUES

Among the Bruins’€™ needs prior to the trade deadline is a steady top-four defenseman to solidify their second pairing. Assuming the pairs stay the same, Boston’€™s current second pairing of Seidenberg-McQuaid might not fare as well as the Ference-Boychuk postseason pair of years past.

The Seidenberg-McQuaid pair was split up late in the first period (the duo allowed the Nash goal), with Claude Julien going to Chara-McQuaid and Seidenberg-Hamilton. Julien went back to his normal pairings for the second period, only to see Seidenberg and McQuaid allow their second goal of the game when Derick Brassard scored on a snap shot from the high slot.

Though McQuaid made a nice play to get a stick on a Rangers scoring bid in the third that would have made it a two-goal game, both he and Seidenberg finished the night with rough numbers. McQuaid and Seidenberg finished the game with Corsi’s of minus-14 and minus-13, respectively.

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Read More: Cam Talbot, Henrik Lundqvist, Loui Eriksson, Tuukka Rask
Tuukka Rask named NHL’s Third Star of Month for January 02.02.15 at 7:32 pm ET
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Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was named the NHL‘€™s Third Star of the Month for the month of January.

Rask started 13 of the Bruins’€™ 14 games in January, allowing two goals or fewer in all but two of them. He shut out the Rangers on Jan. 15 and and made a season-high 43 saves against the Islanders on Jan. 29. Rask had a .949 save percentage for the month.

The Bruins went 7-1-3 in Rask’€™s starts last month, improving Rask’€™s season record to 22-11-7.

Alexander Ovechkin took top honors for the month, while John Tavares was named January’€™s second-best performer.

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Five things we learned as Tuukka Rask shuts out Rangers to improve Bruins’ winning streak to 5 games 01.15.15 at 9:39 pm ET
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The Bruins have started rewarding Tuukka Rask with some offense and, therefore, wins. On Thursday, the reigning Vezina winner returned the favor.

Rask stopped three Rangers breakaways and recorded his second shutout of the season as the Bruins extended their season-best winning streak to five games with a 3-0 victory over the Rangers at TD Garden (box). The veteran netminder made 30 saves on the night.

Boston got a pair of assists from Torey Krug. After Patrice Bergeron got Boston on the board in the first period with his 11th goal of the season, Krug sent a terrific slap pass from the point to the doorstep, where David Krejci tapped it past Cam Talbot for the Bruins’€™ lone goal of the second period. Krug fired a shot through traffic in the third period to create a Loui Eriksson rebound goal.

With the victory, the B’€™s improved to 24-15-6 on the season. Here are four more things we learned Thursday:

MARCHAND GETS AWAY WITH ONE

Brad Marchand was none too happy when he was called for a cross-check on Dan Boyle in the second period, but all things considered, he probably caught a break with officials on Thursday.

The veteran left wing was chasing a puck into the corner with Derick Brassard during a Rangers power play when Marchand appeared to kick Brassard’€™s right leg in an effort to take the player’€™s feet out from under. That’€™s known as a slew-foot to those in the business of suspending players, and it’€™s extremely dangerous.

Marchand has been disciplined for a slew-foot before, as the league docked him $2,500 for a slew-foot on Matt Niskanen in December of the 2011-12 season. His most recent suspension came the following month for a low-bridge hit on then-Canucks defenseman Sami Salo. He’d been suspended the previous season for a hit on R.J. Umberger.

KELLY TO THE RESCUE AND TO THE BOX

Marchand isn’€™t the only player who could hear from the league after Thursday’€™s game. Chris Kreider threw Carl Soderberg head-first into the end boards in the third period, receiving a boarding minor and a non-negotiable invitation from Chris Kelly that earned both players fighting majors.

Kelly got the worse of the deal, however, as he also received an instigating minor and a 10-minute misconduct.

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Bruins keep same lineup against banged-up Lightning 01.13.15 at 11:41 am ET
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All players were present for the Bruins’€™ morning skate as they prepared for Tuesday night’€™s contest against the Lightning at TD Garden. Tuukka Rask is expected to start in goal.

The lines and defense pairings are the same as they were in Saturday’€™s win over the Flyers:

Marchand -€“ Krejci – Pastrnak
Lucic – Bergeron -“ Paille
Smith -€“ Soderberg -€“ Eriksson
Kelly – Campbell – Cunningham

Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – McQuaid
Krug – Miller

Rask

The Lightning are coming off a 7-3 loss to the Flyers Monday night in Philadelphia in which they lost star defenseman Victory Hedman and All-Star forward Tyler Johnson to lower-body injuries. Lightning coach John Cooper told reporters after Monday’€™s game that there is a “€œgood chance”€ that neither player will be available for Tampa against the Bruins, with Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reporting Tuesday that both players are out.

Johnson leads the Lightning with 45 points this season.

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Bruins fall in shootout to Hurricanes 01.04.15 at 3:57 pm ET
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You’€™ll never guess what the Bruins did Sunday.

Looking for their first win in three games, the Bruins, behind two nonexistent periods, lost in a shootout to the second-worst team in the league as the Hurricanes took a 2-1 victory over the struggling B’€™s in Carolina. With the loss, the Bruins fell to 19-15-6 on the season.

Though the Bruins have actually gotten points in four straight (1-0-3), Sunday’€™s loss is the latest low point of the season for Boston. The Bruins are now 0-1-3 this season in games in which they have a healthy lineup.

The Bruins didn’€™t land a shot on goal until 16:55 of the first period and managed to get just two pucks on net in the first period altogether. For the second straight game, Claude Julien changed up his top-six wingers during the game, as he switched right wings Seth Griffith and Reilly Smith a day after switching first-and-second-line left wings Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand.

Patrick Dwyer scored for Carolina in the final minute of the first period, with Patrice Bergeron getting the Bruins on the board with a one-timer off a feed from Marchand at 14:35 of the second period. Bergeron nearly netted the game-winner in overtime, but Nathan Gerbe got a stick on the puck to break up Bergeron’€™s backhand bid.

The B’€™s managed just two shots on goal in the third period, with seven B’€™s forwards going the whole 65-minute contest without a shot on goal (David Krejci, Griffith, Marchand, Loui Eriksson, Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Craig Cunningham).

Tuukka Rask stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced during game action and surrendered the lone goal of the shootout to Eric Staal. The Bruins are now 1-1-3 in the last five games in which Rask has allowed two goals or less.

The Bruins will next play Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

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