|David Krejci, Reilly Smith provide offense as Bruins beat Red Wings, end losing streak||10.15.14 at 11:02 pm ET|
David Krejci and Reilly Smith each scored in regulation, and then they each scored in the shootout as the Bruins beat the Red Wings, 3-2, Wednesday night to end their three-game losing streak.
Krejci opened the scoring 5:12 into the game with his first goal of the season after Chris Kelly forced a neutral-zone turnover and sprung Krejci up the middle of the ice. The Red Wings answered a few minutes later when Tomas Tatar took advantage of some sloppy defensive play and ripped a shot under the crossbar.
The Bruins regained the lead with 6:29 left in the second. Brad Marchand retrieved a dump-in deep in the offensive zone and calmly moved the puck to Patrice Bergeron, who then tried a wraparound that led to a juicy rebound for Smith to bury.
The Red Wings answered again, though, when Gustav Nyquist fired a laser shot past Tuukka Rask for a power-play goal 2:56 into the third. The Bruins failed to capitalize on two power plays of their own in the third period, and Jimmy Howard made several big saves in the final minute — most notably on a Simon Gagne rebound bid — to force overtime.
The Bruins were the better team in overtime, but couldn’t finish their chances. The best opportunity came on a 3-on-1 a minute and a half in, but Smith tried to force a pass that was easily broken up. The B’s had to kill a 41-second Wings power play to end the overtime after Brendan Smith drew a call on Bergeron with a pretty blatant embellishment.
Here are some other observations from the game:
-For the second time in as many games against Detroit, the Bruins suffered a Patrice Bergeron injury scare. Last week Bergeron missed most of the second period after crashing awkwardly into the boards. On Wednesday he limped off the ice late in the second after blocking a Danny DeKeyser slap shot. Fortunately for the Bruins, Bergeron was back on the ice for the start of the third period. As he so often is, Bergeron was the Bruins’ best forward Wednesday night. He went 17-for-24 on faceoffs and posted a .740 Corsi, and his line registered 12 shots on goal to go along with Smith’s second-period tally.
-This is partially tied into Bergeron since they played with that line a lot, but Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton were great, as they usually are. They had Corsis of 78 percent and 79 percent, respectively, which is very good. Hamilton was also a force in overtime, as he jumped into the offense several times and helped create scoring chances.
-The Bruins absolutely dominated the first period, outshooting the Red Wings 14-4 in the opening 20 minutes. They spent entire shifts in the offensive zone and won the majority of 1-on-1 battles. The scoreboard didn’t reflect that dominance, though, as the two teams entered the intermission tied at 1-1. Even on the Red Wings’ goal, they hadn’t really established any sort of possession in the Bruins’ zone, as it came off a turnover that led to a bouncing puck around the net.
-It was a particularly interesting first period for Chris Kelly. He made a great play to set up Krejci’s goal, as he forced a turnover in the neutral zone and then made a nice pass through the seam to spring Krejci. Just a few minutes later, though, it was a turnover of his own that led to Tatar’s goal, as Kelly failed to handle a pass up the boards from Dennis Seidenberg. On the whole, though, it was another good game for Kelly and linemates Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Kelly’s five shots on goal were tied for the team lead.
-The Bruins’ penalty kill had been very good until Nyquist’s power-play goal in the third period. Before that, the B’s had allowed just two shots on goal on the Red Wings’ first three power plays and made it tough for the Wings to get set up. On the fourth, though, they gave the dangerous Nyquist too much room to operate and he made them pay by walking in and snapping a shot past Rask.
-Considering it was his first game since April 2013, Simon Gagne looked pretty good. He played 12:13 and recorded four shot attempts and two shots on goal, one of which nearly won the game in the final minute of regulation. He started the game on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Ryan Spooner, but wound up seeing some time with Krejci and Milan Lucic as the game went on.
|Zdeno Chara gets stick to eye in morning skate||10.11.14 at 12:06 pm ET|
Both Gregory Campbell and David Krejci participated in Saturday’s morning skate, though neither will be on the ice when the Bruins host the Capitals at TD Garden Saturday night. Krejci is on injured reserve and is not eligible to play until Monday at the earliest, while Claude Julien said there is no timetable for Campbell, who has yet to be cleared for contact.
The B’s survived an injury scare in practice when Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara collided and Chara was hit in the eye by Lucic’s stick. Chara was down for a moment before getting up and holding a towel over his face. Chara stayed on the ice for the rest of the skate.
Based on morning skate, the lineup for Saturday is unchanged from the first two games:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Lucic – Spooner – Fraser
Paille – Cunningham – Robins
Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – McQuaid
Krug – Miller
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins ‘going to be a ton of fun to watch’||10.09.14 at 1:52 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his first weekly appearance of the season Thursday on Middays with MFB, following Wednesday night’s Bruins opener. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
McGuire said there is reason to believe the Bruins, who opened with a 2-1 victory over the Flyers, will be able to overcome the losses of Jarome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk and put together a season similar to 2013-14, when they had the best record in the NHL before falling in the second round of the playoffs to the Canadiens.
“They have a healthy Chris Kelly, I think that makes a big difference,” McGuire said. “Carl Soderberg is a ton better, you saw that last night. I think Loui Eriksson will be a ton better this year. Dougie Hamilton, even though he had a couple of turnovers, you could see when he really amped his game up he was very good. Having Dennis Seidenberg back makes them better. Tuukka Rask is a year more mature.
“I think they’re a lot better in a lot of areas. I think they’re the best team in the Eastern Conference. I’m not changing on that; I won’t change even when we’re on Game 40, barring injuries, obviously. I think this team is extremely good.
“I like the energy of a young player like Craig Cunningham. I love the energy of Bobby Robins. They obviously got last night done without David Krejci and Gregory Campbell. This is a really good team. They’re really a good team, and they’re going to be a ton of fun to watch.”
McGuire said he saw lots of promising things from the opener.
“I thought Tuukka when he had to be was really good,” he said. “I thought Kevan Miller played a solid, physical game. I like the way Torey Krug started to jump into the rush. And I like the way that the Bruins defensemen really held the offensive blue line. And probably more importantly than anything else they’re much more aggressive offensively. I know it didn’t translate because I thought Steve Mason from Philadelphia played a great job so the scoreboard’s not indicative of that. But by and large they’re a much more aggressive offensive team, and I think that’s really important for them.”
Looking at the Eastern Conference, McGuire said the Bruins’ biggest challenge might come from the Lightning.
“I think Tampa Bay’s a very good team, and I know a lot of people are talking about them, but I would look out for the Tampa Bay Lightning. I would be a little bit nervous about them,” McGuire said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how everything translates in Pittsburgh, because it is a little bit of a different roster, it’s a different coaching philosophy going from Danny Bylsma to Mike Johnston. So we’ll see how that plays out. … I don’t know if there’s a team outside of Tampa and maybe Pittsburgh that’s going to be able to play and have enough depth to play against Boston. Boston’s just that good. Montreal’s really good, I just don’t know if they’re big enough to play against Boston when Boston’s healthy. Boston’s a really, really good team.”
|Andy Brickley on MFB: ‘Expect further moves to be made’ by Bruins||10.08.14 at 1:52 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his first weekly appearance of the 2014-15 season Wednesday, hours before the Bruins drop the puck against the Flyers in the opener at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go the MFB audio on demand page.
Prognosticators think highly of the Bruins heading into the campaign, and Brickley explained there’s a good reason for that.
“I don’t know if they’ve gotten better in any one particular area other than a little bit more experience,” Brickley said. “I think they have the strengths that most teams that want to be an elite team have. You try to build teams from the goal line on out. So they have a goaltender that won the Vezina in the last year, obviously, Tuukka [Rask] is tremendously talented and calm and has that demeanor that everybody likes to play in front of.
“They have a real good defensive corps led by Zdeno Chara. They play a defense-first system. They play a backchecking formula that really, really pays off, which is one of the main reasons that they play four lines. The demand by Claude Julien and his coaching staff to have that back pressure to help out the team defense part of the game is almost unmatched across the league. And it really stands out when you break down tape just how committed the Bruins forwards are to get back and play defense and pressure the puck and try to turn defense into offense with turnovers and control the middle of the ice — that’s that straight-down-the-middle phrase that I use.
“And then try to have their offense be a balanced scoring attack along with quality special teams. They were the third-best power play in the league last year, that has a lot to do with the infusion of young talent that they got — like a Dougie Hamilton, like a Torey Krug, they both play power play on different units. Reilly Smith comes in in that deal for [Tyler] Seguin, he gives you a different element, a little bit more speed, a little bit more skill up front. It allows Chara to play the front of the net — whether you thought that was going to be a successful and productive experiment or not, it has paid off for the Bruins.
“So, that’s the formula for success. That’s why the Jeremy Roenicks and the Barry Melroses feel that the Bruins, relative to every other team in the Eastern Conference, that they’re right there at the top.”
Last season, Chara finished a distant second to Duncan Keith for the Norris Trophy, which is voted on each season by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (full disclosure: I am a voting member who gave Chara my top vote last season).
Intended to go to the league’s top defenseman each season, the Norris is perhaps the most up-for-interpretation award on which the writers vote.
Voting, in the eyes of the players and at least this member of the media, is out of control. Either more specific criteria should be set for voters or writers shouldn’t determine who wins. The Vezina Trophy, for example, is voted on by NHL general managers. They mess it up sometimes, too, but general managers are (for the most part) smarter than writers.
“A lot of times, it’s like a political campaign,” Ray Bourque, a five-time Norris-winner in his day, told WEEI.com.
Defensive metrics are becoming more widely available, but as they become fine-tuned and the hockey world slowly begins to accept them, the statistic that voters continue to look to first remains points. Lunacy.
In 2012, Erik Karlsson won the award, while Chara finished third. The year after that, P.K. Subban won. Both Karlsson and Subban’s Norris wins were based exclusively on points; Karlsson did not kill penalties for the Senators and Subban was 12th on the Habs in shorthanded time on ice the year he won.
Yet Subban, after tying for the lead among NHL defensemen in points in his Norris-winning season, finished fifth in points last season but dropped all the way to 14th in voting, receiving a single third-place vote and a single fifth-place vote. So is the award about playing defense or putting up points? If it’s the latter, why were Subban’s points ignored last season? And why, then, were Mike Green‘s 31 goals in Chara’s Norris-winning season not enough to wrest the trophy from Chara?
It’s that inconsistency in voting that each year brings Chara closer to finishing a Hall of Fame career with just one Norris to show for it.
“You kind of feel like, ‘OK, is this going to ever happen again or is this going to change or are they going to look at it differently?’” Chara said. “Because every year they tell you, ‘He didn’t get it because he had a lot of points, a lot of goals, but he’s not an all-around defenseman.’ Then the next year they’ll be like, ‘Hey, he’s an all-around defenseman but this [other] guy got 25 goals as a defenseman,’ so it’s like every year it’s almost like it swings, the way they look at it. How do you know really [what they want]?”
Over the last 10 seasons, Chara has been a top-three finisher in Norris voting six times and finished in the top five eight times. His only win came in 2008-09, and while both Niklas Lidstrom and Keith have won the award multiple times in that span, no defenseman has finished near the top with Chara’s consistency in the last 10 years.
Translation: Chara comes up short a lot.
He loses because of points. In fact, he even understands that though he was the best all-around defenseman in the league last year, his 17 goals (10 of which were on the power play, where he mostly played forward) were probably as big a reason that he got as many votes as he did as his defensive dominance.
Winning the Norris is important to Chara, but he shouldn’t expect to win it again. Last season he was as deserving of the award as he usually is – Chara’s performance was backed up well by both advanced and old-fashioned stats (his plus-25 rating was tops among the top 10 vote-getters; Shea Weber, who played tougher minutes, was a minus-2) — but he was blown out of the water by Keith, a well-rounded defenseman who was used on Chicago’s second pairing to maximize his offensive output. That meant a sensational 61 points (second among defensemen) but it came against easier competition than Chara faced.
The Blackhawks’ usage of Keith was brilliant, but it should have done more for Joel Quenneville’s Jack Adams (top coach; voted on by broadcasters) candidacy than it did for Keith’s Norris odds. Regardless, the voting wasn’t close. Keith finished first in votes with 1033 points and 68 first-place votes. Chara was given 667 points, receiving less than a third of Keith’s first-place votes with 21.
“I’m not mad about Duncan or anybody who is winning the trophy,” Chara clarified. “I just feel a little bit disappointed at times that I’ve really felt I had a strong season, I really had an all-around season and I would deserve it, but it’s voting. It’s in the hands of writers, and [that] is obviously something that only [writers] who have votes can change and make a difference, if that’s something you guys feel should be different.”
Bourque’s five Norris seasons give him the fourth-most in NHL history behind Bobby Orr (eight), Doug Harvey and Nicklas Lidstrom (seven apiece). Keith, who won the award as a shutdown defenseman in 2009-10, is now in the exclusive club of players with multiple Norris wins (12 players).
It’s very easy to argue that Chara should be in that club, but both he and anyone who has seen how the votes have fallen over the years should be wise enough to not hold their breath.
“If you want to get me started talking about the Norris Trophy and who should win it and how that all comes about in terms of who wins it in certain years,’ Bourque said, ‘’… I think that Karlsson in Ottawa is an incredible offense player, but I think that when you look at the Norris Trophy and the position of DEFENSE-man, and I put an emphasis on DEFENSE-man, it’s incredible to me sometimes, the voting and how it all happens.
“Believe me, I’ve been there,” Bourque added. “I’ve been in his shoes many, many times. I won it five times, but it was very frustrating at times, not saying that I’ve won it more times.”
|Bruins react to Johnny Boychuk trade and its ‘reality check’ impact going forward||10.05.14 at 10:41 am ET|
With the season opening at home Wednesday against the Flyers, the Bruins don’t have long to be upset about the loss of one of their best teammates.
Still, even coach Claude Julien said after Saturday’s preseason finale that the team will take a little time to get over “the sting” of losing Johnny Boychuk ($3.37 million) to the harsh realities of today’s salary cap NHL.
Torey Krug, just 23, now understands just how important managing the salary cap is for each team after spending most of the summer without a contract because GM Peter Chiarelli couldn’t fit him under the cap. Krug and Reilly Smith had to wait all summer and through most of camp to sign their $1.4 million deals because the team couldn’t sign them.
“[It’s] another lesson in the business for me,” said Krug. “I learned a few things this summer for sure, and it’s always going to be part of it forever as long as this game exists and the cap situation exists in this sport, so it’s tough to see him go for sure.”
Several defensemen will have to pick up the slack for Boychuk and will have the opportunity to step right in and play a bigger role in place of the 30-year-old who was considered one of the heart-and-soul parts of the B’s Stanley Cup run in 2011 and their finals appearance in 2013.
Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski and Krug all are younger than Boychuk and all likely will get chances to play alongside Dennis Seidenberg on Boston’s No. 2 D-pairing.
“I mean, it’s been like this the last few years, so it doesn’t really change anything,” Seidenberg said. “For me, it’s just trying to play wherever they put me and trying to do it well.”
“I didn’t know that — there was some talk about different things and stuff, but I was pretty much shocked,” McQuaid said in reacting Saturday. “I don’t know, I guess maybe we all just kind of had that hope in the back of our minds that somehow we could all stay. He’s a guy that’s a huge part of this team and for me a guy that always put a smile on my face every day. Always came to the rink in a good mood and was cracking jokes. I think I’ve played seven pro seasons and six have been with Johnny, so we’ve been through a lot together. He’s a guy that — I don’t think it’s really sunk in quite yet — but a guy that will be sorely missed.”
|Zdeno Chara scores as Bruins beat Capitals in preseason meeting||09.24.14 at 9:30 pm ET|
The Bruins beat the Capitals, 2-0, in their second game of the preseason Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Zdeno Chara scored on the doorstep during a third-period power play to finally break a scoreless tie. The power play came as a result of a boarding penalty on John Erskine for shoving Jared Knight into the boards head first. Knight stayed in the game.
The B’s also got an empty-netter from Simon Gagne in the final seconds of the game.
Tuukka Rask played the first two periods, stopping all 14 shots he saw. Jeremy Smith, who was signed in the offseason to back up Malcolm Subban in Providence, turned in a scoreless third period, including the play of the game in which he came across his net to rob Andre Burakovsky with a glove save.
The lines for the game were:
Marchand – Bergeron – Griffith
Gagne – Khokhlachev – Leino
Florek – Kearns – Knight
Lindblad – Spooner – Fallstrom
Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – McQuaid
Breen – Trotman