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Shoddy defensive play burns Bruins in loss to Red Wings 10.14.13 at 4:39 pm ET
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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.”

Read More: Pavel Datsyuk, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara,
Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins’ power play ‘a work in progress’ 10.09.13 at 2:11 pm ET
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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.

‘€œIt’€™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. ‘€œYou’€™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.

‘€œHe 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. ‘€œI think the reason why is he, too, is playing with a little bit of a conservative attitude, trying to fit in with the system.

‘€œBut he had a couple of really good scoring opportunities last game.’€

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andy Brickley, Jordan Caron, Louis Eriksson, Nathan Horton
Bruins’ new-look power play takes center stage vs. Wings 10.05.13 at 11:21 pm ET
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Torey Krug gets the puck at the point. Zdeno Chara sets the screen in front. Goalie never sees the shot coming.

That’s exactly what the Bruins coaches had in mind when they decided to reconfigure the power play heading into this season, and the new look was executed perfectly on Boston’s first goal Saturday night.

Once Krug emerged as such a dangerous offensive weapon in last year’s playoffs, it was an easy decision to have him quarterback the top power-play unit — especially when you consider how much the Bruins’ power play struggled for most of last season. He has great hands and a great shot, and he’s able to create open lanes with his footwork.

The tougher decision — at least looking at it from the outside — was what to do with Chara. As great as Chara is in pretty much every other area, he never seemed totally comfortable as a power-play quarterback.

When he got an open look, he could take advantage with his rocket of a shot, but getting those looks — and being able to move the puck quickly when he didn’t — could sometimes be a struggle. The problem for the Bruins was that they didn’t have anyone else who was a great fit for the quarterback role, either. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara,
Bruins season preview: Defense/goalie projections 10.01.13 at 8:24 am ET
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Here’s the second installment of the player projections for the 2013-14 season, featuring defensemen and goalies. For a look at the forwards, click here.

Note: It’€™s silly to predict injuries, so all players’€™ projections will assume they play somewhere in the 75-82-game range. Extra forwards/defensemen aren’t shown given the uncertainty of whether (and where) they’ll play. 

DEFENSEMEN

Zdeno Chara: 13 goals, 37 assists, 50 points

Chara wasn’€™t bad in the Stanley Cup finals; he was hurt. When he isn’€™t hurt, he’€™s one of the best defensemen in the game. It’€™s as simple as that.

Dennis Seidenberg: 5 goals, 22 assists, 27 points

It’€™s a contract year for the 32-year-old Seidenberg, so he’€™ll have plenty of motivation to perform. Depending on what happens cap-wise and given the Bruins’ group of young defensemen, this could very well be Seidenberg’s last season in Boston.

Dougie Hamilton: 10 goals, 20 assists, 30 points

Don’€™t forget how good Hamilton was at the start of last season. If he can sustain that throughout this campaign, the 10-goal mark is certainly within reach.

Torey Krug: 11 goals, 19 assists, 30 points

After what he did against the Rangers, people’€™s expectations of Krug might be a little high, but here’€™s what we do know: He can skate, he’€™s smart, and he’€™ll be on the power play. Points will find him.

Johnny Boychuk: 4 goals, 15 assists, 19 points

Johnny Rocket turned into Johnny Wrist Shot last postseason. It will be interesting to see if his offensive success changes his regular-season approach.

Adam McQuaid: 2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points

McQuaid isn’€™t there for his offense, which actually makes him a logical defensive partner to balance out Krug.

GOALIES 

Tuukka Rask: 54 starts, 2.20 goals-against average, .922 save-percentage

This isn’t a suggestion that Rask will take a step backwards performance-wise, but smaller goalie pads plus a Red Wings team that should score more than it did let season minus Andrew Ference should equal more human numbers.

The only question regarding Rask there should be is whether he can physically handle a full season and playoffs, something he’s never done as a starter at the NHL level. Rask did play 57 regular-season games and 16 playoff contests in the 2008-09 season for Providence, but he hadn’t played into late June in the previous season.

Chad Johnson: 28 starts, 2.41 goals-against average, .912 save-percentage

The 27-year-old Johnson doesn’t have a ton of NHL experience (10 games), but he’s been good at the NHL level with a 1.97 GAA, .929 save percentage and a shutout. We’ll see how good a replacement for Anton Khudobin he ends up being.

Read More: 2013-14 Bruins Projections, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara
Takeaways from Bruins’ 3-2 win over Capitals: Power play strong again; Ryan Spooner impresses 09.23.13 at 9:55 pm ET
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Chris Kelly scored in overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 win over the Capitals in their final home game of the preseason Monday night at TD Garden.

They’ll finish out the preseason later this week with a pair of games against the Jets before opening up the regular season at home next Thursday against the Lightning.

The Bruins iced the following lineup:

Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Soderberg – Kelly – Smith
Caron – Spooner – Johnson
Paille – Lindblad – Thornton

Chara – Boychuk
Bartkowski – McQuaid
Seidenber – Miller

Here are some takeaways from the game:

- The Bruins got a power-play goal with who else but Zdeno Chara in front. Chara tipped a Dennis Seidenberg shot from from the point past Braden Holtby in the second period to tie the game at one. This is the power play the Bruins used and had been working on in practice earlier in the day:

Krejci – Seidenberg
Iginla – Lucic
Chara

The B’s also got a 5-on-3 goal from Chara at the point with Seidenberg, while Jarome Iginla was up front with David Krejci and Milan Lucic on the wings.

- There were quite a few fights, with Kevan Miller squaring off with Aaron Colpatti, Lucic and Johnny Boychuk dropping the gloves with Joel Rechlicz in separate fights. Additionally, Adam McQuaid and Dane Byers fought at the same time as Nick Johnson and Michal Cajkovsky in the third period.

Players can and do work on their technique in practice without having to land punches, so there isn’t much of a point in risking injury (or suspension if things get out of hand like they did in Toronto on Sunday night) during the preseason. Lots of fights = lots of unnecessary risk.

- Ryan Spooner was one of the best players on the ice for the B’s as he continues to try to force the team to make a tough decision. The team isn’t interested in making him a wing, and they probably shouldn’t be given that Reilly Smith has had a strong camp, but Spooner could at the very least push to be the team’s extra forward. At the very least, Spooner is outperforming Jordan Caron, who entered camp as a favorite to earn the 13th forward spot.

- Smith looked good in the first period and was kind of underwhelming the rest of the way. He came out flying on his first shift and made a fool out of Connor Carrick in the offensive zone as he cycled the puck to himself, and in general the former Star seems to be everything that Caron is supposed to be. He’s good in his own end and tough to out-muscle, which is strange because he’s two inches shorter and more than 35 pounds lighter than Caron. Either way, Smith plays bigger than his body and is making a good case to keep that third-line right wing job. Smith was on the ice for both of Washington’s goals, however, with the first goal coming on Smith’s first PK shift of the night.

- The Bruins allowed just seven shots on goal through the first 53-plus minutes of the game, but two of them went past Tuukka Rask. The Caps could have scored on what would have been their eighth shot following a Krejci turnover in the third period, but Miller was able to break up the 2-on-1 bid before the Caps could get a shot on goal. The B’s outshot the Capitals, 37-12, in regulation.

- Speaking of Krejci and turnovers, he made some in the offensive zone in what certainly wasn’t his prettiest game. He’s also gotten rather drop-pass happy.

Read More: Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Jordan Caron, Reilly Smith
Gregory Campbell: Playing Thursday a ‘realistic possibility’ 09.18.13 at 12:52 pm ET
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Good news on the Gregory Campbell front, as the veteran center didn’t seemed bothered at all Wednesday in a training camp session packed with battle drills. Asked how he felt after the contact-heavy skate, Campbell said he is continuing to improve “day by day.”

It would appear that Campbell is both in game shape and physically capable to play in games after returning from a broken leg suffered in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins. With the Red Wings in town Thursday, Campbell said that the idea of him making his preseason debut in the game is a “realistic possibility.”

To this point, Campbell, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara have been held out of games.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Gregory Campbell, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara,
Peter Chiarelli’s best and worst moves as Bruins general manager 08.29.13 at 7:31 pm ET
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Why are the Bruins so good? Duh, it’s because they’re from Boston and they all “get it” and nobody else wants to win as badly as they do.

Nope, it’s because they have a really good roster and a really good coach. The man responsible for that was rewarded on Thursday, as the B’s announced a four-year extension for general manager Peter Chiarelli. Since coming to the Bruins in 2006, Chiarelli has revamped the roster and taken the Bruins from cellar-dwellers to annual Stanley Cup contenders and 2011 champs.

Though he often flies under the radar, Chiarelli has established himself as one of the best (if not the best) general managers in Boston in recent memory. He hasn’t been perfect, but he also hasn’t been afraid to do the unpopular thing. He’s made big moves (trading Phil Kessel and later Tyler Seguin) and he’s made smaller splashes where fans were calling for bigger ones (Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley).

It’s easy to forget how these Bruins rosters came about over the years, so here’s a look at Chiarelli’s best and worst moves as B’s general manager.

BEST MOVES

(Definitely not) signing Zdeno Chara

Chiarelli, who was working as the assistant general manager of the Senators, was hired by the Bruins on May 26, 2006, though he couldn’t begin working for the Bruins until July 15. Senators free agent defenseman Zdeno Chara, who highly respected Chiarelli, turned down a nice offer from the Kings and signed with the Bruins on July 1. So too did Marc Savard, which makes for a rare case in which a team was able to build itself into a contender via free agency in a salary cap league (Drew Brees with the Saints also comes to mind).

Technically, it was interim general manager Jeff Gorton who made those signings — technically — but in getting Chiarelli, the Bruins were able to get Chara, and he has been the biggest piece of this whole thing.

(It should be noted that the Bruins made some important moves under Gorton. Chiarelli was actually sitting at the Senators’ table when the Bruins “reached” for Milan Lucic with the 50th overall pick, took Brad Marchand 71st overall and traded for some kid named Tuukka Rask.)

Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew

The Bruins moved two-thirds of their return from the Joe Thornton deal (they’d later trade Marco Sturm for, in Chiarelli’s words, “nothing”) so it had to hurt some B’s fans to not see them get huge names for what they’d gotten for a Hart winner, but Ference ended up being a major part of both Cup runs for the Bruins. He was the unsung hero of the 2011 championship team and played a big role in neutralizing the Penguins when the B’s allowed just two goals to them in the Eastern Conference finals last season. Factor in what he did for team chemistry and his contributions to the community, and Ference was worth both the trade and the three-year, $6.75 million extension the B’s gave him.

Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and Tampa Bay’s 2010 second-round pick for Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski

We’ll see what happens with second-round pick Alex Petrovic in Florida, but Bitz has played 17 NHL games since the 2010 trade, while Weller played last season in Germany. Meanwhile, the Bruins got a top-pairing defenseman in Seidenberg and a very good young defenseman in Bartkowski, who scored in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs and should stick in the NHL this season.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Peter Chiarelli, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara,
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