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Zdeno Chara: Bruins ‘got absolutely embarrassed’ by Kings 02.09.16 at 10:23 pm ET
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The Bruins allowed 57 shots on goal — the most they’ve given up in a game since 1965 — in an ugly 9-2 loss to the Kings Tuesday. After the game, the team hardly sounded like a group pushing for the second spot in the Atlantic Division and more like a fledgling team chasing the prowess it had in years past.

“We got absolutely embarrassed,” Zdeno Chara said. “They played a really good game, but we had nowhere near the game that we needed to play. It was embarrassing.”

The B’€™s allowed seven straight goals after taking a 1-0 lead in the first period. The loss dropped them to 1-7-0 against Western Conference playoff teams this season.

“There are things that obviously are going to stay inside this locker room, but we just need to be better,” Chara said. “We need to perform better. We’€™ve had a few stretches where we’€™ve played well, we won some tight games and some big games and we were facing some challenges or teams on top of the league and we didn’€™t follow up with the performances that we had previous games. That’€™s again tonight’€™s case. It was embarrassing.”

Said David Krejci: “The way we lost, especially the second and third period, it’€™s just unacceptable. You should go out there even if you’€™re losing 6-1 after the second period and show some pride, you know? Try to show fans that we respect them coming here. We don’€™t want to get booed in our own building. We didn’€™t respond. It was embarrassing.”

Read More: David Krejci, Zdeno Chara,
3rd-place Bruins say they’ve ‘surprised,’ ‘proved people wrong’ 01.27.16 at 2:15 am ET
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Ryan Spooner

Ryan Spooner

The Bruins’ final game before the All-Star break didn’t go their way, a 6-2 loss to Anaheim that dropped the B’s home record to a lousy 11-13-2.

However, the players in the Boston dressing room seemed content with their lot in life as they packed up for a week’s furlough, a 26-18-5 season mark in tow that was holding them third place in the Atlantic Division with 33 games remaining on the season.

“We’ve surprised a lot of people,” said defenseman Torey Krug. “We’re not surprised in here where we [are]. We had a goal to be in the top three [of our division] before the All-Star break and we’re sitting right there.”

“At the beginning of the year there were a lot of people that probably thought that we wouldn’t be in the playoffs,” echoed forward Ryan Spooner. “You kind of heard that stuff, and that we would be a younger team. But we’ve shown that we can play with the top teams. We’ve proved a lot of people wrong and we just have to keep that up.”

The Bruins have indeed exceeded many preseason prognostications to this point. The team’s 21-10-2 record against the Eastern Conference shines bright, as does its 12-6-1 mark within the division. The latter includes a 4-0 performance against the two teams ahead of Boston in the Atlantic (Florida and Detroit).

That said, despite winning five of their last seven games, players also are willing to admit that their current playoff perch is a tenuous one.

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Read More: Claude Julien, Ryan Spooner, Torey Krug, Tuukka Rask
Kevan Miller is the exception to the Zdeno Chara rule 01.06.16 at 11:16 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

If and when Claude Julien writes a book on how to make still-developing defensemen good, Zdeno Chara will write the foreword, which will consist of “Play them with me,” and then the book will be over.

Chara has had some great partners over the years with the Bruins — Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton come to mind — but it’€™s no secret that Julien can take any player who is otherwise OK and make him very good by skating him with Chara. The reason, quite simply, is because Chara is such a dominant player that skating with him more than makes up for the difficult competition that comes with playing on a top pairing.

This has been the case for a number of players over the years. Among them: Zach Trotman, Torey Krug and Steven Kampfer.

Not Kevan Miller.

Miller, mysteriously, is the exception to this rule.

“But Deej!” you say. “That just means that Kevan Miller stinks!”

Not necessarily, and that’€™s rude. The 28-year-old Miller, who is still just 119 games into his NHL career, is an OK third-pairing defenseman, as some of the aforementioned names were when they were put on pairings with Chara. Yet instead of getting better when playing with Chara, this season has suggested that Miller gets worse when paired with the (somehow only) one-time Norris winner.

Miller’€™s most common partner this season has been Torey Krug, with whom he’€™s played 160:24 in 5-on-5. His next most-common partner has been Chara, with whom he’€™s played 120:22 of 5-on-5 time. Playing with Krug often draws so-so competition — Krug has had the fifth-toughest quality of competition among Bruins defensemen this season, using time on ice of competition as a barometer — whereas playing with Chara draws the other team’€™s best players, as evidenced by Chara having the hardest quality of competition.

Miller has been fine with Krug. The Bruins have outscored opponents when the two have played together — 2.62 goals for per 60; 1.12 goals against per 60 for a goals for percentage of 70. When Chara and Miller are together, the Bruins are outscored — 2.49 goals for per 60 and 4.49 goals against per 60, making for a rather horrifying 35.7 goals for percentage.

That’€™s the comparison of Miller with Chara versus Miller with Krug. The numbers of Miller simply with and without Chara are even more telling:

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 10.52.16 PM

“But Deej!” you say. “Maybe Miller’€™s worse with Chara than players in seasons past because Chara has gotten worse! Chara just looks slower out there!”

No. Chara is still having the Chara effect on his partners. Including Kevan Miller, five defensemen have played at least 20 minutes of 5-on-5 with Chara this season. The four not named Kevan Miller all have better numbers with Chara than without him. All four — Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg, Colin Miller and Zach Trotman — have better goals for percentages with Chara, while Trotman’€™s minor bump in Corsi For percentage without Chara (48.8 with him, 49.0 without him) is the only trace of a player’€™s possession numbers not dipping when not with Chara.

Whether it’€™s the quality of competition that comes with skating as Chara’€™s partner or the fact that the duo lacks mobility, the Chara-Kevan Miller pairing has not been good. While that’€™s not reason enough to write off Miller altogether, it’€™s reason enough for Julien to separate the pairing, which he used to begin Tuesday night’€™s game against the Capitals.

If McQuaid is to miss any stretch of time, the numbers indicate that Julien would be wise to not play Miller to Chara’€™s right, where McQuaid has often played this season. The Bruins have other options — Trotman, Colin Miller — and Kevan Miller figures to be better off with Krug.

Read More: Kevan Miller, Zdeno Chara,
Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara can’t explain Bruins falling so flat 01.01.16 at 6:39 pm ET
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FOXBORO — No excuses.

The Bruins managed just three shots in the opening 20 minutes of the biggest hockey spectacle in New England since the 2013 Stanley Cup finals.

They went a span of 15 minutes in the first period without a single shot.

The Bruins were without the suspended Brad Marchand and the injured David Krejci but still, Bruins players couldn’t come up with a reason for such a flat effort in a 5-1 loss to Montreal in the 2016 Winter Classic.

“We couldn’t generate any rhythm,” Patrice Bergeron said. “We weren’t first on pucks. We were second on every one of them, and you can’€™t get any pucks on net if you don’€™t have the puck, so that was basically the reason why.”

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Read More: 2016 Winter Classic, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Patrice Bergeron
Zdeno Chara returns from upper-body injury, Bruins assign Matt Irwin to Providence 10.12.15 at 11:56 am ET
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will play his first game of the season Monday afternoon when the B’€™s host the Lightning in a 1 p.m. matinee at TD Garden.

Chara, who suffered an upper-body injury in his first preseason game on Sept. 24, missed games last week against the Jets and Canadiens. The Bruins could certainly use him, as they’€™ve allowed 10 goals in the first two games of the season and have lacked both experienced defensemen and capable penalty-killers.

Chara has been skating since Sept. 29 and has looked much less limited in recent days. He still isn’t putting his full force into slap shots, but he has taken more contact in practice.

To make room for Chara on the 23-man roster, the Bruins assigned defenseman Matt Irwin to Providence. Irwin went unclaimed after being placed on waivers Sunday.

Tuukka Rask will be in goal for the Bruins Monday.

Read More: Zdeno Chara,
Bruins’ worst fears realized as inexperienced defense struggles mightily in loss to Jets 10.08.15 at 11:51 pm ET
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Matt Irwin was a minus-3 Thursday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Matt Irwin was a minus-3 Thursday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

If you were worried about the Bruins defense being a disaster with Dougie Hamilton gone and Zdeno Chara banged up, your worst fears were realized in Thursday night’s season-opening loss against the Jets.

The game actually didn’t start off too badly at all. The Bruins were on the attack most of the first period and the defense didn’t really give the Jets any good looks on the few occasions they did get into the Bruins’ zone.

But then the second period happened. The Jets’ first goal came off a combination of all three Bruins forwards getting caught up ice and Joe Morrow not putting enough on his pass into the neutral zone, leading to an easy interception for Dustin Byfuglien and an odd-man rush the other way.

The second came off a brutal turnover by Matt Irwin behind the Bruins’ net, as Andrew Ladd picked his pocket clean before setting up former Bruin Blake Wheeler right in front. The third resulted from another tough sequence for Irwin and defensive partner Zach Trotman. Trotman couldn’t get his stick on a pass through the slot that went right by him, and then Irwin compounded that by completely losing track of his man and allowing Drew Stafford an easy finish on the doorstep.

Things didn’t get any better in the third. After the Bruins cut the deficit to 3-2, Irwin got caught pinching in the offensive zone (as you’ve probably gathered by now, the UMass product did not have a good night) and David Krejci, who was the closest to being able to cover for Irwin, could not keep up with Chris Thorburn on the rush the other way. The Jets then made it 5-2 when Torey Krug couldn’t clear out 5-foot-9 Nicolas Petan and watched a centering pass bounce off Petan’s skate and in.

“I think the examples are pretty clear of where we made those mistakes and where it cost us goals,” Claude Julien said after the game. “It was clear right from the get-go there, so it’s going to be easy to show those kinds of things. We’re early in the season, you’ve got to show those kinds of things. We’ve got to work and rectify those things as soon as possible.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Joe Morrow, Matt Irwin, Zach Trotman, Zdeno Chara
5 things we learned as Bruins open regular season with loss to Jets at 9:36 pm ET
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Zach Trotman and Boston's defense struggled mightily Thursday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Zach Trotman and Boston’s defense struggled mightily Thursday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Without Zdeno Chara, the Bruins’€™ defense figured to be suspect at best. At least there were no surprises on opening night.

Playing without their captain, Boston’€™s defense fell apart after the first period, allowing three goals in each of the last two periods as the Jets took a 6-2 victory in Boston’€™s season-opener.

The most egregious misplay came from newcomer Matt Irwin, who coughed up the puck behind Boston’€™s net with the game tied at one. Jets captain Andrew Ladd picked the puck cleanly from Irwin and fed former Bruin Blake Wheeler, who beat Tuukka Rask to give Winnipeg the lead. At least one of Irwin or partner Zach Trotman were on the ice for four of the five goals against on the night, excluding Winnipeg‘s empty netter with 3:38 left to play.

The night actually started out well for the B’€™s, who controlled play in the first period and got the game’€™s first goal from David Krejci. The B’€™s failed to cash in on their subsequent chances however, and when play turned sloppy in the second, the game slipped away.

Such a turn of events wasn’€™t too shocking. Things can go south quickly when a team doesn’€™t have a good blue line and the Bruins learned that the hard way Thursday.

Here are four more things we learned in the season-opener.

MAMBO NO. 5

For as much as Rask had to play last season, he didn’€™t get lit up frequently. Thursday saw him allow five goals, something he only did three times last season.

Rask is obviously one of the best goaltenders in the world, but with Boston’€™s sloppy showing in front of him from the start of the second period on, he had his work cut out for him. It actually could have been worse, as Rask stopped Andrew Ladd on a shorthanded breakaway.

BERGERON TAKES HEAD SHOT

Patrice Bergeron doesn’€™t go ballistic on his opponents often, but Alexander Burmistrov can probably join Alexander Burrows and Jeff Skinner’€™s club after Thursday.

With Bergeron chasing after a puck deep in Boston’€™s zone late in the first period, Burmistrov cut back and caught Bergeron in the face with an elbow. Bergeron bolted after the Jets forward immediately and a scrum ensued. Burmistrov got two minutes for an illegal check to the head and Adam Lowry got a roughing minor, while Bergeron was given a minor for cross-checking.

PASTRNAK STICKS OUT

Pastrnak brought the Bruins within one in the third period with a dart of a wrist shot that beat Ondrej Pavelec short-side, but it was a play on which he didn’€™t get a point at all that may have been most encouraging.

The second-year player isn’€™t going to be an overly physical player because, well, he can’€™t be. Though remarkably skilled, the slender 19-year-old is at risk of getting pushed around by bigger, stronger players.

That’€™s why it was a very positive sign when Pastrnak was able to steal the puck behind the Winnipeg to set up up David Krejci‘€™s goal. After forcing the turnover, Pastrnak swung around and sent the puck to the front of the net. Krejci got a stick on Winnipeg‘€™s attempt to get it out and backhanded it past Pavelec to five the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

Pastrnak didn’€™t get an assist on the play because he didn’€™t get the puck to Krejci cleanly, but the fact that he was able to win a puck by having a good stick was a good sign that the teenager can be resourceful.

EVERYBODY HATES RINALDO, WHICH IS GOOD

During pregame introductions, Zac Rinaldo got more boos than any other home player. The boo birds (not a large group and certainly a group drowned out by cheers) at TD Garden quickly learned that the weren’€™t alone when Adam Lowry tripped Rinaldo on the fourth line’€™s first shift of the game.

The fact that Rinaldo’€™s opponents don’€™t like him for his past sins could be a very good thing for the Bruins, as long as he can play within the lines and draw penalties. Rinaldo was able to do that during the preseason, but a player with a reputation like Rinaldo’€™s might have a hard time behaving for 82 games.

Read More: Zdeno Chara,
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