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Chad Johnson likely in net for Bruins vs. Blue Jackets 11.30.13 at 11:32 am ET
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Chad Johnson

Chad Johnson

It would appear that Chad Johnson will be between the pipes for Saturday night’s game between the Bruins and the Blue Jackets. Both Johnson and Tuukka Rask participated in an optional morning skate for the Bruins, but Rask stayed out much longer than Johnson.

Johnson has started just four of the Bruins’ 26 games this season. He is 3-1-0 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.21 goals-against average. His last start came last Saturday against the Hurricanes, with each of his last two starts resulting in overtime wins for the Bruins.

Saturday’s game is the second of a back-to-back for the Bruins, as it follows Friday’s 3-2 win over the Rangers. It’s the fifth time the Bruins have had back-to-backs this season, but the first in which the B’s haven’t had to travel. Rask has started both games of two of the Bruins’ back-to-backs thus far, with the two goalies splitting the other two to this point.

The Bruins will have four days between games following Saturday, as they won’t play again until they face the Canadiens in Montreal on Thursday.

Nathan Horton did not travel to Boston and remains on long-term injury reserve for the Blue Jackets. He has yet to play for them since getting offseason shoulder surgery, though he has been skating with them since last week.

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

Read More: Chad Johnson, Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask,
Tuukka Rask in line for third start in four nights 11.21.13 at 12:34 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask

Tuukka Rask

After playing both games of a back-to-back Monday and Tuesday against the Hurricanes and Rangers, Tuukka Rask appears to be on tap to be between the pipes again for the Bruins on Thursday against the Blues.

Rask was the first goaltender off the ice in the team’s morning skate and should have his work cut out for him Thursday evening. The Blues are fifth in the NHL with 70 goals, led by left winger Alexander Steen, whose 17 goals are tied with Alexander Ovechkin for tops in the NHL. St. Louis stands fourth in the Western Conference, though its 31 points (14-3-3) are two more than the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins (14-6-1).

Rask is coming off a dominant outing Tuesday in New York in which he made 43 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Rangers. He has played all but three of the Bruins’ 21 contests this season.

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Shawn Thornton on D&C: Tuukka Rask ‘unbelievable’ vs. Rangers 11.20.13 at 11:44 am ET
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Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss the team’s recent hot streak.

Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton

That streak includes a 2-1 win over the Rangers on the road Tuesday night. Thornton tallied the game’s first goal, his third of the season. He also scored against the Blue Jackets last Thursday. Despite the offensive outburst, he still recognizes his role as the team enforcer.

“That’s still my job, first and foremost,” Thornton said. “[I’ve been] a little lucky the last few games, but I’ve still got my real job.”

Linemate Daniel Paille scored a shorthanded, game-winning goal in the second period.

“After Paille scored that goal, it kind of gave us a little bit of a lift, and you tend to get pumped up when you see the grinders pop one shorthanded,” Thornton said.

In the last five games, the fourth line — Thornton, Paille and Gregory Campbell – has a combined four goals, three assists and 19 shots.

“I always joke with the media that it doesn’t matter who’s on my line, we’re always the fourth line,” Thornton said. “I remember a few years ago, when [Blake] Wheeler was here, I got bumped up to play with [David] Krejci and Wheeler, but everyone just talked about how Wheeler and Krejci got demoted to the fourth line. It doesn’t matter who it is, if I’m on it, it’s still the fourth line.”

While Thornton and Paille provided the offensive fireworks in Tuesday’s victory, goalie Tuukka Rask shut down the Rangers. He allowed just one goal, and recorded 43 saves.

“Every time we play against those guys he’s unbelievable,” Thornton said. “I think he just really enjoys the challenge of facing Henrik Lundqvist. He earned it last night, he was unbelievable.”

Despite Thornton’s solid play of late, coach Claude Julien opted to make him a healthy scratch for the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Hurricanes on Monday.

“I don’t like sitting out, obviously, no one likes being the guy that’s the odd man out,” Thornton said. “He told me that it wasn’t because of my play, that I’ve been playing pretty well, it’s just [Jordan] Caron was coming up on sitting out 10 games straight, I think, and he wanted to get him in. And Carolina didn’t really have an enforcer threat, so it was as good a time as any to try to get him back in the game.”

To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Bruins news, go to the team page at weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Claude Julien, Daniel Paille, David Krejci
Tuukka Rask steals two points vs. Rangers 11.19.13 at 10:11 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask had 43 saves against the Rangers. (AP)

Tuukka Rask had 43 saves against the Rangers. (AP)

Tuukka Rask tied a career high with 43 saves Tuesday as the Bruins’ netminder stole a 2-1 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The Bruins, who lost Dennis Seidenberg early, were able to escape the first period scoreless despite the Rangers holding a 16-6 edge in shots on goal. The B’s then got second-period goals from Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille, the latter of which was a shorthanded tally. However, on the same penalty that Paille beat Henrik Lundqvist for his third goal of the season, Derick Brassard snapped the Bruins’ penalty kill streak at 33 consecutive kills by beating Rask with a snap shot.

Boston had to play basically the entire game without Seidenberg, who left the game after playing just one shift and did not return. Seidenberg, who entered the game second on the team in minutes played with an average of 22:07 a night, was announced out with an undisclosed injury late in the first period. The B’s also lost Matt Bartkowski (knee) for a stretch in the second period, but he returned for the third.

The game concluded a three-game road trip for the Bruins, who will play five of their next six games in Boston beginning with Thursday’s game against the Blues.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Rask was sensational for the B’s when considering that he was both playing behind a Seidenberg-less defensive unit and was playing his second game in as many nights.

Rask’s biggest save early came on a penalty shot from Chris Kreider, who was taken down on a breakaway by Johnny Boychuk while the Rangers were on the power play. Kreider tried going stick-side on Rask but was stopped, helping extend the Bruins’ penalty kill streak to 33.

Rask reprised his magic against Kreider in the third with the former BC product on another breakaway. Kreider actually could have had four goals on the night were it not for Rask coming up with big stops, and the Bruins were happy to settle for zero goals from Kreider.

- The Merlot Liners have their fun with Lundqvist, surprisingly. After their big series against the Rangers in the second round last year, goals from Thornton and Paille meant that both players now have four points against the Rangers in the teams’ last four meetings. Thornton has a goal and three assists, while Paille has two goals and a pair of helpers.

- While things have been up-and-down for Brad Marchand, Thornton’s goal doesn’t get scored without him. With Marchand driving hard to the net entering the zone, two Rangers focused their attention on him rather than respecting Thornton, who was able to get a clean look and fire a shot past the glove of Lundqvist.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- If Seidenberg is out for any stretch of time, that means the Bruins might have to make a call-up. It all would depend on whether Adam McQuaid is ready to return from his injury. If he is not and Seidenberg’s injury keeps him off the ice for more games, Kevan Miller would likely get the call. Miller was the team’s last cut in training camp.

Bartkowski, meanwhile, was clearly hampered after returning for the third period, though he was still able to log over 21 minutes. His status going forward will be worth keeping an eye on.

- At long last, the Bruins’ penalty kill streak is over thanks to Brassard’s snapshot with three seconds remaining on David Krejci‘s goaltender interference penalty. Rask clearly didn’t get a good look at Brassard’s shot from the left dot, as Johnny Boychuk appeared to be screening him on the play. Still worth noting that the B’s broke even on that penalty, as Paille scored prior to Brassard’s tally.

- Speaking of Marchand, he took a dumb penalty early in the third period when he cross-checked Mats Zuccarello into the boards from behind. Zuccarello had his numbers to Marchand the whole time, so it was no case of bad luck or the player turning at the last second. The narrative about Marchand needing to play on the edge to be effective is bogus. Taking a bad penalty late in a one-goal game is no way to snap out of a funk.

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Chad Johnson ready for more work 11.13.13 at 1:33 pm ET
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Chad Johnson

Chad Johnson

WILMINGTON — If Tuukka Rask has played more than any Bruins goaltender under Claude Julien through the first 17 games of a season, that would mean that backup Chad Johnson has played the least of any Bruins goaltender under Claude Julien through the first 17 games of a season.

With just two games under his belt, Johnson is both happy to help the team however he can and eager to get back between the pipes. After all, Johnson says, “you’re only as good as your last game.” That’s not so great when your last game was the Bruins’ worst of the season, a 3-1 mess against the Islanders on Nov. 2.

“It’s tough in this sort of situation,” Johnson said. “You play a game and you might not get another one for a week or two weeks. You’re only as good as your last game. For me, sometimes it’s two weeks. It’s sort of tough to deal with sometimes, but you just be mentally strong and worry about having good practice and be ready for an opportunity when it does come up again.”

The reason it’s been all Tuukka all the time around these parts is largely because of the Bruins’ schedule early on, with lots of days off between games and only two back-to-backs to this point.

“It’s tough only playing in two games in two months, but that’s the situation, right?” Johnson said. “The more you play, the more comfortable you’ll get. It’s kind of like anything you do. The more you play, the more confident you’ll be, the more comfortable you’ll be. For myself, now that the first month’s over, getting in more games will help a lot more to get in more of a rhythm and feel more comfortable.”

Indeed, the opportunities should increase in the near future. The Bruins’ next four games are parts of back-to-backs, as they play Thursday and Friday and then Monday and Tuesday.

“I think it was pretty obvious with the slow start that it allowed us time to get [Rask] going again and get some rest, but the schedule will get heavier and we’re going to have to lean on Chad more and more,” Julien said. “We know that he’s in situation where he hasn’t played much and we need to allow him to find his groove a little bit if we expect to get some positive performances from him.”

Read More: Chad Johnson, Tuukka Rask,
Dougie Hamilton steps up against Toronto, adding to his second-year improvement 11.09.13 at 11:58 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton saw his three-game point streak come to an end Saturday night. He couldn’t get off the ice during a two-and-a-half-minute shift in the second period. And he said after the game that he didn’t know where the phrase “Jekyll and Hyde” came from.

There you go. Those are all the things that went wrong for Hamilton in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over Toronto. The list of things that went right is much, much longer, as the 20-year-old defenseman played arguably his best game of the season, and maybe the best of his young career.

With Adam McQuaid playing just 44 seconds before leaving the game with an injury, the rest of the Bruins’ defense corps had to pick up his minutes. But it was Hamilton who saw the biggest spike in playing time. He wound up playing 24:43, a career high for a 60-minute game and a full five minutes more than his season average entering Saturday.

“His first part of the year he was in and out a little bit. But he’s played really solid for us,” Claude Julien said after the game. “Offensively he continues to make good decisions, good plays, very aggressive. Defensively he’s becoming better and better all the time. So he’s a young player — he’s a 20-year-old — but with experience, he’s starting to flourish and he just has to keep going that way.”

Hamilton would’ve picked up a couple extra minutes no matter what, but the way he played warranted even more than that. He created a number of scoring chances in the offensive zone, including one in the first where he made a nice move around Nikolai Kulemin at the blue line before zipping a pass over to David Krejci, only to have Krejci flip the shot off the side of the net. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Dougie Hamilton, Tuukka Rask,
Chad Johnson finally nearing first start of the season 10.21.13 at 8:42 pm ET
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Chad Johnson

Chad Johnson

WILMINGTON — Former NFL receiver Chad Johnson has gotten as much ice time this season as Bruins goaltender Chad Johnson, but that’s going to change.

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.

Read More: Chad Johnson, Tuukka Rask,
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