|Chad Johnson ready for more work||11.13.13 at 1:33 pm ET|
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.”
|Dougie Hamilton steps up against Toronto, adding to his second-year improvement||11.09.13 at 11:58 pm ET|
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 »
|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.”
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