|Bruins defense bounces back from Detroit disaster with pair of excellent games||11.30.13 at 11:55 pm ET|
The NHL was a different place in 2002. Goals and shots were as low as they’d been since the 1950s, and it wasn’t rare at all to see teams held under 20 shots on goal in a game. In fact, the 2001-02 Bruins — one of the better defensive teams in the league — held opponents under that mark 13 times.
But things have changed since then. The rule changes following the lockout in 2004-05 helped open the game back up, and although we’ll probably never get back to the eight-goals-per-game days of the 1980s, we’re at least seeing more shots and chances than the pre-lockout days. And we’re certainly not seeing teams hold opponents under 20 shots on goal as frequently as we used to — the 2011-12 Bruins, a top defensive team just like the B’s squad 10 years before, did it just four times.
All of that information sets up this: over the last two days, the Bruins have held their opponents under 20 shots on goal in back-to-back games for the first time since that 2001-02 season (April 11 and 13 of that season, to be exact).
It’s a feat that in today’s NHL would be impressive at any time. But for the Bruins, it’s even more significant considering it followed Wednesday’s debacle in Detroit, when they surrendered six goals on one defensive breakdown after another.
“We want to put that game behind us,” Zdeno Chara said. “You’re going to have a game like that where everything is off. Hopefully there’s not too many of them. But after that game, we really wanted to focus on how we were going to play defensively, and more focused on us than the teams we play. Don’t get me wrong — we want to respect their strength and whatever they do well, but mainly we want to focus on how we’re going to implement our game plan.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Zdeno Chara leads Bruins past Rangers||11.29.13 at 3:44 pm ET|
Zdeno Chara capped a Gordie Howe hat-trick with a slap shot from the point to break a 2-2 tie Friday as the Bruins outlasted the Rangers with a 3-2 win at TD Garden.
Brad Marchand got the Bruins on the board first when Chara sent a cross-ice pass to him in the first period that he one-timed past Henrik Lundqvist for his fourth goal of the season. The Rangers answered back with goals from Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh, but the Bruins were able to tie it on a Patrice Bergeron shot that went off Lundvist, then Dan Girardi in front and into the net.
Chara fought BC product Brian Boyle in the second period, winning decidedly after landing a number of rights.
Tuukka Rask made 17 saves for the Bruins as he kept the Rangers off the board over the final two periods.
Dennis Seidenberg returned to the Bruins’ lineup after missing the previous three games with a lower-body injury. Seidenberg skated on a pairing with Dougie Hamilton, while Matt Bartkowski was a healthy scratch after playing the previous nine games for the B’s.
The Bruins will play the second game of a back-to-back Saturday when they host the Blue Jackets at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- It’s nice to see Patrice Bergeron’s line get a couple of goals. Eriksson continues to put up points, as he now has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in his last 12 games despite having no points in four of those contests.
Meanwhile, Marchand had his first multi-point game of the season with a goal and an assist.
- The Bruins picked up their play in the second period, particularly in the case of David Krejci‘s line. The trio was silent in the first but had multiple scoring opportunities in the second, with Lundqvist leaving a rebound off a Milan Lucic shot in front for the taking, but Jarome Iginla couldn’t get to it. Iginla also missed the net on a slapshot glove-side from the high slot.
- Further proof that when Zdeno Chara asks you to fight, you politely decline. Chara stomped Rangers giant Brian Boyle after a scrum in front of Henrik Lundqvist’s net in the second period. The two were in one another’s faces with Chara repeatedly saying “Wanna go?” Even though he’s 6-foot-7, Boyle probably should have said no.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Rangers’ two-goal first period meant the Bruins allowed nine five-on-five goals against over a six-period span dating back to James Neal’s goals in Monday’s win over the Penguins. That’s a bit of a departure from how things normally operate with Claude Julien‘s club. For the sake of comparison, the Bruins allowed just two five-on-five goals in the six periods prior.
- Speaking of five-on-five goals, Nash’s goal marked at least the fourth five-on-five goal scored against Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara this season. They were on the ice together for just one five-on-five goal over last season’s 48-game schedule, but this season they have been on the ice for a pair of Henrik Zetterberg goals, a Tuomo Ruutu goal earlier this month and Nash’s first-period goal Friday.
- Lundqvist got some help from the iron surrounding him, as a couple of Bruins chances hit the post. First, a Chara bid in front off a pass from Bergeron beat Lundqvist high glove side but clanked off the post. In the second period, a Torey Krug shot from the point with Kelly in front appeared to grab some iron as well.
- Not a banner day for Reilly Smith, as he whiffed on a puck in the crease in the first period and was a bit out of position on McDonagh’s goal. Smith left the slot to chase the puck down low, but once he took a step the puck was fed high to McDonagh, who had space and a lane to fire a shot past Rask.
|Claude Julien’s take on why Steven Stamkos is more universally beloved than other superstars||11.25.13 at 1:19 pm ET|
Claude Julien singing Steven Stamkos‘ praises a couple weeks after visiting him in the hospital certainly isn’t the first case of the Lightning superstar being a welcomed guest in Boston.
Stamkos, who has twice been injured on Garden ice, has long been well-received around these parts, and he’s one of the few star players in the game who seems to be universally beloved.
Even prior to the Max Pacioretty incident, Zdeno Chara was booed every time he touched the puck in another building. Opposing stars get booed in other towns regularly, so what is it about Stamkos [for what it's worth, he is one of the nicest people in professional sports] that makes him adored everywhere?
Julien had an interesting answer.
“What’s kind of unfortunate about the boos and that [is] a lot of it is based on what happens on the ice,” Julien said. “And we know Steve is not a dirty player. But yet, you get Zdeno, who is a physical player, and yet both of those people are just as equally good people; they’re quality people, but the perception of one versus the other is different. So you see the same thing with all those players.
“People are always going to cheer and respect the players that are not physical; they just go out and score goals and play the game. But if you’re physical at all, and you’re throwing your body around and you’re gritty and everything else, then you’re not going to get that same treatment. That’s my explanation for that. Steve is one of those hard-working guys that works hard and will get in the dirty areas but he’s not known as a dirty player — and he’s not.”
There’s obviously a lot of grey area not addressed there, as non-physical stars are booed plenty, but that’s a pretty interesting take from Julien regarding why Chara gets the treatment he does in other buildings.
|Claude Julien visited Steven Stamkos in hospital||at 1:10 pm ET|
Steven Stamkos had a rough time the last time he was in Boston, as he broke his tibia in the second period of a Lightning loss on Nov. 11 and had to stay in town to get surgery.
The NHL’s third-leading goal-scorer (still) was off crutches Monday as he met the Tampa media, and he revealed that B’s coach Claude Julien paid him a visit while he was in the hospital. He also received a text message from Zdeno Chara wishing him well on behalf of the Bruins.
“I had him at the Olympic Camp and I got to know Steve the person,” Julien said after Monday’s morning skate. “When you look at what he is in the league and what he’s accomplished, to have that happen to him I thought it was just important to go by and see how he was doing. It was as simple as that.
“Again, it’s a guy – I said that after the game – he’s one of those players that people from all the different cities come up to watch and play and he’s one of the reasons we fill buildings and you hate to see that, from anybody’s point of view, to see a guy like that get injured that way. So I stopped by and he certainly feels like he wants that opportunity to represent his country and he’s going to do everything he can and I just went there and kind of showed my support.”
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins bounce back to beat Ducks in shootout on Jarome Iginla goal||10.31.13 at 9:46 pm ET|
The Bruins bounced back from a bad start and picked up a 3-2 shootout win over the Ducks on Thursday at TD Garden. Jarome Iginla had the only goal of the shootout, ending a two-game losing streak for the B’s and improving them to 8-4-0 on the season.
Zdeno Chara tied the game with a power-play goal off a pass from David Krejci in front with 2:50 to play. The goal was Chara’s second of the season, and in picking up the primary assist Krejci managed to register at least one point for the 10th time in 12 games this season.
The Ducks got on the board in the first period when a Carl Soderberg defensive zone turnover led to a Devante Smith-Pelly goal just 1:52 into the game. It was a rough first period for the B’s, who were credited with one shot on goal but appeared to have none through the first 20 minutes.
The Bruins found both their legs and more chances in the second period, tying the game on a breakaway goal from Soderberg, but they surrendered a goal to Mathieu Perreault off a Gregory Campbell faceoff loss with 20.9 seconds left in the second, putting them behind once again going into the third period.
Johnny Boychuk left the game in the second period and did not return to the game. He played only three shifts in the second and missed the last 14:39 of the period. The reason for Boychuk’s absence is unknown.
The Bruins will try to make it two wins in a row Saturday when they take on the Islanders in New York.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Ryan Spooner, who was called up Thursday, was able to produce in his first NHL game of the season. The 21-year-old earned his first career NHL point, as he got the secondary assist on Soderberg’s goal thanks to his breakout pass to Chris Kelly. He went first in the shootout and was stopped.
Spooner, who was one of the final cuts in training camp but was sent back largely because there wasn’t room for another center on the NHL roster, centered Kelly and Soderberg, with Jordan Caron sitting out as a healthy scratch.
|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.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins’ power play ‘a work in progress’||10.09.13 at 2:11 pm ET|
NESN’s Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ hot start to the season.
Boston posted a pair of home victories last week. On Thursday, the Bruins beat the Lightning, 3-1, then they took down the Red Wings, 4-1.
One area Boston needed improving on following its Stanley Cup runner-up season is the power play. The Bruins ranked dead last in the NHL in power-play goals last season with 18. But they’ve already notched two man-advantage goals through two games.
“It’s still a work in progress, and will be for a while, they’ll continue to experiment, and continue to try [Zdeno] Chara at the front of the net with one power-play unit,” Brickley said. “You’ve got different weapons this year, [Jarome] Iginla’s a great finisher with the man advantage, [Loui] Eriksson’s a real good power-play guy.”
Aside from the power play, Boston also must fill the void left by playmakers Tyler Seguin, who was traded to Dallas, and Nathan Horton, signed as a free agent by Columbus.
The Bruins hope Eriksson, who came over from the Stars for Seguin, can fill that void. Eriksson has not entered the point column yet as a Bruin.
“He came in as the centerpiece of that deal, with Seguin going the other way down to Dallas, and I think the expectations are that he’s going to be a 70-point guy, and he’s off to a slow start as far as the offense is concerned,” Brickley said. “I think the reason why is he, too, is playing with a little bit of a conservative attitude, trying to fit in with the system.
“But he had a couple of really good scoring opportunities last game.”