Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Game 40: ...And That Concludes 2013

Although we are still a few days away from the midway point of the NHL season, we did reach one milestone on Tuesday night. 

The Boston Bruins hosted the New York Islanders in what was the final game of 2013. This past calendar year has been very memorable for the Bruins. Some of the highlights included sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins en route to a Stanley Cup appearance and handing out well-deserved contract extensions to the core players.

However, this past month has been rough. The injuries have been piling up like never before, even though they got some of their players back (Adam McQuaid and Daniel Paille). With Dennis Seidenberg done for the year, the Bruins needed to respond to the naysayers out there and prove that this team is still for real. 

The Islanders are never a pushover and Tuesday night was just another example of that statement. For the B's, Zdeno Chara made his return to the lineup after missing the last game with an injury.

As it turned out, his dominance did not stand a chance against those slick Isles. Even though the Bruins held the lead, they ended up falling by a final score of 5-3. John Tavares had a four-point night for New York. On a positive note for the Bruins, David Krejci recorded his 100th career goal in the first period of this game.

It was too bad that they could not send the fans home happy in this one. Now that 2013 is behind us, look for 2014 to be a huge year for Boston.

The Bruins will continue their three-game homestand on Thursday night against the Nashville Predators. 

Gold Star: David Krejci...His play was solid on a memorable night for the top-line center.

Black Star: Tuukka Rask...Even though the defense was not great in front of him, five goals is five goals. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Games 38-39: Hello, Ottawa-Bruins Continue Dominance At Home

Welcome back, hockey fans. 

The brief Christmas break that took place around the NHL was much needed and it was great for the players to enjoy some time with their families. 

Now, it was back to business. 

The Boston Bruins continue their dominance along the top of the Atlantic Division. That still sounds weird to say. Does anyone remember the Northeast Division?

Anyway, the B's were about to welcome in a divisional rival that is poised to challenge them as the season progresses. The Ottawa Senators came into the TD Garden on Friday night for the first game of a home-and-home series. In fact, this was the final home-and-home series that Boston would play in this season. 

The Senators, who defeated the B's in their only meeting back in November, have been struggling lately. These two games would be crucial for both teams for totally different reasons. Could Boston increase its lead in the division or could Ottawa get back on track?

Prior to puck drop, it was announced that Daniel Paille would make his return to the lineup for the home game against the Sens. He missed the last seven games with a concussion. Also, goaltender Niklas Svedberg was recalled from Providence while Matt Bartkowski made his return to the blue line.

In Friday's game, the goaltenders alternated periods of greatness. Tuukka Rask and Robin Lehner were keeping their respective teams in the game by making big stop after big stop. After nearly two scoreless periods, Jarome Iginla notched a power play goal to put the B's on top. 

David Krejci and Brad Marchand (shorthanded) each added one, and Reilly Smith added a pair in the third period to seal the 5-0 victory for the Bruins. Both Iginla and Smith were riding three-game point streaks after Friday night. Iggy's streak would extend to four games after Saturday.

With Smith's goals, it marked the seventh-straight game with a multi-goal scorer and that tied a franchise record. Rask stopped all 33 shots he faced for his fourth shutout of the season (20th of his career). Also, 10 different Bruins posted at least one point. 


In Saturday's game, a contest that did not feature Zdeno Chara, the Bruins fell to the Senators by a score of 4-3. It was reported before the game that Dennis Seidenberg is out for the year with a knee injury. That is a huge blow. David Warsofsky took his place in Saturday's game. As for the future, who knows? 

The Bruins will play their next game on Tuesday night against the New York Islanders, the last game of 2013. 

Gold Star: Reilly Smith/Brad Marchand...With the way that these two have been clicking with each other over the last couple of games, this is well deserved. Smith leads the team in goals while Marchand is building up his point total quickly.

Black Star: Carl Soderberg...This seems to be happening way too often. When he is clicking, he is a solid player. When he goes through his rough stretches, it is hard to watch him. It is still a shame to see him get hurt. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Game 37: Sea of Gold in Music City/Claude Julien Wins 400th Game

The NHL is the only league out of the four major sporting leagues here in the United States that actually knows how to do things right. 

With all due respect to the other leagues, hockey is the one sport that takes the needs of the players and everyone else involved in the sport into consideration for major holidays. The entire NHL will go on a three-day Christmas break starting on Tuesday to enjoy time with family, friends, and loved ones. 

However, business needed to be taken care of before that could happen. 

The Boston Bruins still had one more game to play before they can enjoy their mini vacation. They were in action on Monday night against the Nashville Predators. 

The Predators like to play a heavy game that they balance with some of their skill players. With a stud on defense in Shea Weber, this was not going to be easy for the Bruins. One thing that would play in their favor was that Nashville had to send out a rookie goaltender (Carter Hutton) in place of injured netminder Pekka Rinne. 

Brad Marchand, who was dinged up in the last game, traveled with the team and skated in this game. Also, Adam McQuaid made his return to the lineup after missing the last several weeks with a groin injury. That did not stop him from dropping the gloves with Eric Nystrom (NSH) for a spirited fight in his first game back.

After three goals and a forced goalie change, the Bruins dominated the opening 20 minutes. They started to get a little sloppy with the puck towards the end of the first period, but they looked to clean that up in the second period. 

The Predators made things slightly interesting late in the second period and early in the third period by beating Tuukka Rask with a pair of goals by Craig Smith. As it turned out, that would not be enough on this night. 

The Bruins went on to win this game by a score of 6-2. Matt Fraser was one of the goal scorers, which meant that was his first goal as a member of the Black and Gold. Jarome Iginla had two goals in this one.

The Bruins will play their next game on Friday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Gold Star: Ryan Spooner...This has been long overdue. Ever since his call-up, he has played incredible two-way hockey and has shown great play-making abilities. With three assists and being solid at the face-off dot in this game, this kid will be something special.

Black Star: Milan Lucic...This was a game where he was anticipated to make some sort of impact. Not so much.

Happy Holidays!   

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Games 35-36: Those Pesty Sabres

The Boston Bruins are enjoying a stretch in their schedule that most teams would kill to have at this time of year. The workload seems normal, but they are playing a string of games against opponents with records below .500. 

This is the time to capitalize and secure some points to increase their lead in the Atlantic Division. 

Their next two games would be against a team that they have grown to despise, hate, and even loathe. The Bruins were in action on Thursday and Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres in a home-and-home series. 

The last time these two teams got together, Loui Eriksson was nearly beheaded by Sabres goon John Scott. Eriksson suffered a concussion (he currently is on injured reserve) and Scott was suspended for seven games. Although the Bruins roster has been depleted of their tough guys as well as their skill guys, would they seek retribution in Buffalo on Thursday night or would it strictly be about getting the two points? 

That did not turn out to be the case since Scott was a healthy scratch for this one. However, the Sabres would not need his muscle. They went on to defeat the Bruins by a score of 4-2. Brad Marchand did record a pair of goals in a losing effort while goaltender Chad Johnson made only 19 saves. At this point in the season, the Sabres needed any spark to get things going and this was a victory that they could be proud of. 

Prior to the game, it was announced that David Warsofsky was recalled from Providence to replace Kevan Miller. He made his NHL debut on Thursday night. 

Now, our attention shifted to the second half of the home-and-home series between Boston and Buffalo. Tuukka Rask opposed Jhonas Enroth in the goaltender match-up. 

In Saturday's game, which took place at the TD Garden, the Bruins continued their territorial dominance over their opponent through the first two periods. Also, we witnessed Patrice Bergeron drop the gloves with Tyler Myers (BUF) for his first-career regular season NHL fight. Very exciting, right? 

The B's held a 2-1 lead into the third period, where they started out playing sloppy. They soon found their rhythm, led by Rask who made some key stops. Milan Lucic recorded his team-leading 12th goal of the season and Reilly Smith scored his second of the game to seal the 4-1 victory for Boston. One thing worthy of note is that the Bruins killed off two separate five-on-three power plays from the Sabres. The youngsters who have been filling in have been staying true to the system.

The Bruins will play their next game on Monday night against the Nashville Predators.

Gold Star: Brad Marchand...He had two goals on the road against Buffalo and he showed some grit during the home game. He had to be helped off the ice with an apparent injury, but returned minutes later. So much for those "trade talks."  

Black Star: Jordan Caron...The more ice time that he seems to receive, the more he regresses. Yes, his linemates have been interchangeable but there are still no excuses. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Game 34: 'Flaming' Out After Road Trip? Nope.

The Boston Bruins have been ravaged by injuries and the flu bug, but that has not stopped them from becoming the second best team in the Eastern Conference and the top team in the Atlantic Division. 

Despite their less-than-stellar roster, they have been on a tear over the last two weeks. They went into their Canadian road trip behind the Montreal Canadiens. When it was all set and done, they overtook their rival and built a comfortable lead. 

Speaking of that road trip, they took six out of a possible eight points with their only loss coming at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks towards the back end of the roadie. That is a tough city to play in because the fans take their hockey seriously. Why don't you ask Milan Lucic just how serious they take it? 

Anyway, the B's were back at home on Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames. They defeated the Flames last week in Calgary, so let's see if they can have similar luck at the TD Garden.

Prior to the game, it was announced that Craig Cunningham was recalled from Providence on an emergency basis. This came as a result of the news regarding Daniel Paille. He has been suffering from concussion-like symptoms and is out indefinitely. Man, a break cannot be caught with this team lately.

In the first period of Tuesday's game, both sides played a very heavy style of hockey. After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, that trend continued into the second period. The hits came in bunches from Calgary, but Boston produced the better scoring chances. 

After several stoppages that killed the B's momentum, they finally capitalized on the power play when Zdeno Chara blasted home his eighth goal of the season. It was somewhat poetic justice that "Big Z" recorded the goal because he was the recipient of a high stick that was not called. Ironically, the power play was a result of a high-sticking penalty. 

In the third period, the Flames did come on strong with some pressure. The Bruins did bend, but they did not break even though they struggled in the neutral zone during the last 20 minutes. At the end of the night, it was Boston standing tall. Chara recorded his second goal of the game to seal the 2-0 victory for the Bruins.

Both David Krejci and Jarome Iginla had multi-point games on this night while Tuukka Rask recorded his third shutout of the season, stopping all 21 shots he faced. The Flames just cannot score a goal in Boston.

The Bruins will be back on the road for a Thursday night game against the Buffalo Sabres. 

Gold Star: Zdeno Chara...He had a pretty solid game in the defensive zone. He was dishing out body contact and did not produce any significant turnovers. Oh yes, recording a pair of power play goals helps too.

Black Star: Brad Marchand...He may have straightened up his play, but he still does not seem to understand how to play the game correctly. Please get the memo....no more hits from behind. Something is going on. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Games 30-33: Canadian Road Trip/They're Dropping Like Flies

The Boston Bruins are in quite the predicament right now. 

This was supposed to be a week that was highly anticipated by the players and fans alike. Some of the highlights included the following: Jarome Iginla squaring off against a team/city that he called home for the majority of his career, the first time facing Andrew Ference in a different sweater since leaving Boston, and a high-profiled showdown between two teams that hate each other.

All of that did take place this past week, but that quickly became an afterthought. 

After an amazing victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins last Saturday night, the likes of Shawn Thornton (suspension) and Chris Kelly (broken ankle) did not join them on the road trip. This led to the call-up of both Matt Fraser and Ryan Spooner. Also, Adam McQuaid was placed on long-term injured reserve.

This was not exactly what the Bruins had in mind when embarking on the week-long journey north of the border, but things quickly got worse.

Yes, the Bruins secured the 5-2 victory in Toronto against the Maple Leafs on Sunday (a game that featured Kevan Miller's first-career NHL goal), but Dougie Hamilton suffered a lower-body injury and flew back to Boston. Long story short, another man down. This was overshadowed by a superb game by Chad Johnson between the pipes. 

The rest of the week was intriguing. You have to love those late-night puck drops against opponents rarely seen on a regular basis. Welcome to Western Canada.

Tuesday night featured the return of a beloved player to a city he spent well over a decade showcasing his craft. The Bruins traveled to Calgary, Alberta to take on the Flames. That city and organization is filled with class, as made evident by the tear-jerking video tribute to "Iggy" prior to puck drop.

Before the game, it was announced that Loui Eriksson was placed on injured reserve and the team recalled Nick Johnson. Also, Daniel Paille was ruled out with an upper-body injury. On the plus side, Johnny Boychuk made his return to the lineup after missing the last two games with a sprained back. It would not surprise anyone if the entire Providence Bruins roster was called up to skate for the big club with the way the players have been dropping. 

Iginla and the B's bested the Flames 2-1 in his return. Now, it was on to another reunion of sorts. Despite having a warm spot in their hearts for Ference, who now wears the "C" for the Oilers, the Black and Gold secured another two points against Edmonton. The final score was 4-2 where Iginla recorded a pair. This was their 11th consecutive victory against this franchise.

Their last stop on this trip was to a city and against a team that they spoiled some Stanley Cup dreams back in 2011. We all remember those Vancouver Canucks, correct? 

Well, they certainly remembered the Bruins. They put a shellacking on the B's Saturday night by defeating them 6-2, snapping their four-game winning streak. 

Overall, a decent road trip for Boston. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Game 29: Tisk Tisk Tisk

The new realignment that kicked in this season for the NHL definitely triggered some schedule changes, both positive and negative. 

For the Boston Bruins and their fans, one of those negative changes took place on Saturday night. No need to worry about it too much though. This was not completely devastating news. 

The Bruins hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final time this season. These two juggernauts are on a collision course that is slated to explode in April come playoff time. In the meantime, both Pittsburgh and Boston will look to take care of business in their respective divisions. 

The teams split the first two meetings heading into the rubber match on Saturday. They always give the fans some entertaining hockey games to watch, so it is a shame that the season series wrapped up this early. It is what it is. 

Obviously, Johnny Boychuk did not play in this game and is out for about a week. It was reported that he suffered a sprained lower-back after being on the wrong side of a check into the boards courtesy of Habs forward Max Pacioretty. Kevan Miller took his place in the lineup. Tuukka Rask was also back in net for the B's. 

As if the previous game didn't contain any controversy, this one was swarming with it. Instead of explain it, here is what happened....definitely some suspensions coming. 

With that being said, we still had a hockey game to play! The Bruins took this game by a final score of 3-2. The B's finished off the comeback in the third period with goals by David Krejci and Zdeno Chara, while Rask was solid in net yet again. As for the incidents that took place, we will wait for the league to respond. 

The Bruins will head out on a four-game Canadian road trip that will begin on Sunday night. Their first stop will be Toronto where they will take on the Maple Leafs. 

Gold Star: Zdeno Chara...Not only did he record the game-winning goal, but he posted a plus-3 rating and was shutdown in the defensive zone. There you go, big buy.

Black Star: Carl Soderberg...Maybe his last name is Swedish for "invisible?"

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Game 28: From First To Second

There are some things that are so obvious that they do not need to be pointed out, especially by someone who constructs a blog that goes without reading by his peers....

However, this blog is about the Boston Bruins so pointing out the obvious will have to be done on this occasion.

The month of December is upon us and the NHL season is heating up. For the Bruins, they will be playing in some key games that are upcoming on the schedule. Thursday night marked the first time this season that they played the Montreal Canadiens and unless you have been living under a rock, this is the matchup of all matchups.

The greatest rivalry in all of sports is Boston/Montreal. Here is one of the reasons why:

With both of these teams near the top of the Eastern Conference yet again, all four games this year will be intense and entertaining. Brian Gionta and Alexei Emelin are healthy for the Habs, and the Bruins have their roster back to full strength. This rivalry was about to write a new chapter to its history and it all started on Thursday night.

As expected, Tuukka Rask opposed Carey Price in the goaltender matchup. Adam McQuaid did not make the trip to Montreal for this one due to an undisclosed injury. This led to the emergency call-up of Kevan Miller from Providence.

The Bell Centre, home of the Habs, is surely a great home-ice advantage for Montreal. Among the sea of red lied a sheet of white that displayed one great hockey game. The game started out sluggish, but slowly picked up. The hits came often and the teams responded by elevating their play. The Bruins got the better of the Habs early on in terms of shots, but Montreal put more pressure on Rask than expected.

The score was 2-1 in favor of the Canadiens heading into the third period. The Bruins absolutely dominated the final 20 minutes. It was as if they refused to spend any time in their defensive zone. They put an enormous amount of pressure on Price, but they could not get the puck in the net. The Bruins fell to the Canadiens and dropped to second place in the Atlantic Division.

*There was a scary moment that took place during the first period. Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty checked Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk hard into the boards and could not get up. He had to be stretchered off the ice and taken to a local hospital. According to B's General Manager Peter Chiarelli, he was responsive and moving all of his extremities. Pacioretty received a two-minute boarding minor on the play. His status will be updated as the week progresses. 

The Bruins will return home on Saturday night to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask (25 saves on 27 shots, 2 goals allowed, .926 save percentage)...He did all that he could to try and seal the two points, but he just could not get enough offensive help from his teammates.

Black Star: Jarome Iginla...It was rough to see so many off passes. What was worse was the lack of physicality. What is going on? 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Game 27: So Long, Mustaches

The month of November has reached its conclusion and the Boston Bruins have made their presence felt throughout the first portion of the season.

Heading into Saturday night, the B's held a 17-7-2 record, good for first place in the Eastern Conference. They also possess a 9-3-2 record in November. However, they have a history of starting out strong but we should accept the fact that they are playing well now. 

Boston wrapped up this rough patch in the schedule by hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Nathan Horton remained out of the lineup as he is still "not close" to returning from his shoulder injury. Since this was the final regular-season meeting between the two teams, Bruins fans will have to wait until next year to give Horton a nice "homecoming" of sorts. 

The season series ended on a positive note for the Black and Gold as they knocked off the Blue Jackets by a final score of 3-1. Milan Lucic recorded a pair of goals for Boston. The second period got a little chippy, but these squads have been known to get physical with each other from time to time. It just so happens that Columbus gets lost in the shuffle with some of the other heated rivalries that the Bruins are involved in. 

Chad Johnson was back in net for the B's, stopping 13-out-of-14 shots that he faced. Overall, the B's remain on top of the Eastern Conference heading into December. Now, we will get a taste of some different and intense competition. This is perfect timing with the roster presently at full health.

The Bruins will not play again until Thursday night when they travel to Montreal to take on the Canadiens. Woo Hoo!

Gold Star: Milan Lucic...Excuse the expression, but this guy has been a boss. He leads the team in goals (11) and his play has not slowed down at all. 

Black Star: Reilly Smith...He flashes moments of greatness, yet he has trouble being consistent with it. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Games 25-26: Rough Stretch Nearly Complete

When a team gets on a roll and strings a few wins together, strange breaks start to go your way. 

The Boston Bruins played one of the best games in this young NHL season on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. After a back-and-forth, fast-paced contest that produced the exchanging of goals and great goaltending, Sidney Crosby netted the game-tying goal with less than a second left to play. With momentum on the opposite side, Torey Krug blasted home the winning goal to give the B's the full two points and Eastern Conference supremacy....for the time being. 

The wins are coming in and the team is finding the rhythm that they lacked during the early part of the season. They wanted to finish out the month of November with as many points as possible against some good teams. 

Boston traveled to Detroit on Wednesday night to take on the Red Wings. The teams split the first two meetings of the season. Their fourth and final meeting will not take place until April, so the team on the wrong end of this one would have a bad taste in their mouths for quite some time. 

Although Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg made the trip for the Bruins, only McQuaid laced up the skates to play in this game. Shawn Thornton was a healthy scratch in this one as well.

The Bruins will have to look themselves in the mirror after this shellacking they endured against Detroit. They fell 6-1 in a game where they did not look like themselves. The Red Wings scored the first six goals of this game. If it was not for a late goal by Jarome Iginla, this would have looked outright embarrassing. This was not a great way to start a holiday weekend and the flight home must have been excruciating.   

While the rest of the city enjoyed their Thanksgiving dinners and early-morning shopping, the Bruins were preparing for their annual "Black Friday" matinee game. This year, they took on the New York Rangers. 

Seidenberg did return to the lineup for the Bruins in this one. He missed the last several games with an undisclosed injury. As a result, Kevan Miller was assigned back to Providence.

If there was one thing that the Bruins have yet to do effectively this year, it has been the lack of ability to stage comebacks. Friday afternoon featured a solid come-from-behind victory. They defeated the Rangers by a score of 3-2 in a very chippy and physical game.

The Bruins will play their final game of the month on Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Gold Star: Patrice Bergeron...The entire offense runs through this man and sometimes players rely on their leaders to step up their game. 

Black Star: Carl Soderberg...He was playing so well. He followed up a great week of play by finishing with a minus-4 rating through two games.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Game 24: Top Guns In The East Meet Again

The rough stretch in the Boston Bruins schedule is almost at its conclusion. They just have to get through this week of games before they can enjoy a slight breather. 

They seemed to have handled themselves with great professionalism over the last month since they have gone 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. The real test is upon them because the last week in November could push them over the top as the premier team in the Eastern Conference.

They were in action on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins to conclude their three-game homestand. The Penguins got the better of the B's in their first meeting, but that was a hard-fought game that could have gone either way. Regardless, we are always in for a thrilling match-up when these two teams take the ice.

Tuukka Rask opposed Marc-Andre Fleury in net while Dennis Seidenberg missed another game due to injury for Boston. Kevan Miller made his third-straight start on the blue line in his place. Adam McQuaid also did not play in this game.

In the first period, the Penguins pitched a fort in the Bruins defensive zone. They were absolutely dominant, but Rask blocked every shot he faced in the opening 20 minutes. At the other end of the ice, Boston jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith (power play). Eriksson and Carl Soderberg recorded multi-point games on this night. 

The second period started with a bang as Pittsburgh pulled within one on a goal by James Neal. The two teams battled each other hard the rest of the way. The third period featured the exchange of goals, including a goal in the last second of regulation by Sidney Crosby to send the game into overtime. 

It did not take long for the B's to send the TD Garden fans home happy. Torey Krug blasted home the game-winner to give the B's the 4-3 victory and secure the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins will be back in action on Wednesday night when they travel to Detroit to take on the Red Wings. 

Gold Star: Loui Eriksson (1 goal, 2 assists, plus-1 rating, 5 shots on goal)...This was the night that he had the breakout performance we have been waiting for him to have. He has earned the sweater.

Black Star: Jarome Iginla....There will be an Inside Hockey piece to follow.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Games 22-23: They Keep Accumulating Points

Momentum in any sport, particularly in the NHL, can turn on a dime. 

Just a few weeks ago, the Boston Bruins were playing .500 hockey and barely getting by within their division. As of Thursday night, the Bruins were sitting on top of the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. 

The momentum that they have been carrying through this rough stretch in their schedule has been huge. We can thank the third/fourth lines and the solid goaltending for the fact that the B's won on back-to-back nights a few days ago. After securing maximum points in two-out-of-three road games this past week, they looked to return home and play even better. They were in action on Thursday night against a red-hot St. Louis Blues team that is poised to make a deep playoff run this year. 

Despite playing in back-to-back games this week, Tuukka Rask was back in net yet again. Also, Kevan Miller, who was recalled from Providence, made his debut in the lineup for this game, which was perfect timing considering the status of Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid. 

It really is amazing to watch these two teams play against each other because they are identical. They both play heavy games and they both like to put pressure on the opposing goaltender. With that being said, Boston and St. Louis can provide the fans with some entertaining hockey and that is exactly what we witnessed in this game. 

In a game that featured Gregory Campbell netting his first goal of the year, the Blues got the better of the Bruins on this night. They secured the two points in the shootout. What was impressive is that the Bruins held Alexander Steen (STL) shotless in regulation and overtime. He is tied for the league lead in goals.

The B's wasted little time after Thursday night because they played an afternoon game on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Chad Johnson was in net for Boston, giving Tuukka Rask a breather. Hey, even number-one goaltenders need a break.

These two teams played each other just a few days ago with the Bruins getting the victory. The same result took place on this day as the B's recorded the 3-2 overtime win on a game-winner by David Krejci. Although the Hurricanes had some of their top guns back in the lineup, they took numerous penalties and they could not get into a rhythm. 

The Bruins will play again on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Gold Star: Carl Soderberg...It seems like he is adjusting to the NHL with tremendous ease. The last couple of games have been prime examples of that. 

Black Star: Jarome Iginla...He has been getting a pass with his sub-par play lately. The veteran needs to start scoring some goals.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Games 20-21: Stealing Games

It is rare for an NHL team to have an entire weekend off during the regular season. Although the Boston Bruins did practice, they experienced the luxury of having a game-free weekend. 

However, that was probably the best thing for them because they have a full schedule this week with four games on the slate. Yes, they had a minor bump in the road with a loss to the Ottawa Senators, but they accumulated 9 out of a possible 10 points during their five-game homestand. That kind of confidence would certainly be called upon this week. 

The Bruins were in action on Monday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. They followed that up with a game in New York against the Rangers. 

Cam Ward (injury) made his return between the pipes for the Hurricanes. However, the Canes sent out a depleted roster for this one with Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner out of the lineup. For the Bruins, Shawn Thornton was a healthy scratch and he was replaced by Jordan Caron. 

The Bruins jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but it looked like history was about to repeat itself. Carolina climbed back into the game and cut the lead in half. In the end, it was two goals in the third period that put the Bruins over the top. They secured the 4-1 victory over a team that has had their number over the last couple of seasons. 

They also avoided blowing a second-consecutive 2-0 lead due in large part to Tuukka Rask. He came up with 23 big saves in this one. Milan Lucic, Reilly Smith, and Carl Soderberg posted multi-point games. Overall, a solid start to the week.

They looked to continue that trend on Tuesday night against the Rangers. Rick Nash made his return to the lineup for New York after missing the last 17 games with a concussion. Adam McQuaid, who did not travel with the team for this road trip, looks to make his return from a hip injury later this week. 

With Rask back in net for the Bruins, these gentlemen were in for a physical confrontation. The Rangers piled up the shots as well as the hits, making every trip up ice for the Bruins difficult. Thornton and Daniel Paille of the "Merlot Line" each recorded a goal in the second period. Despite being out-shot 33-13 through the first two periods, the B's held a 2-1 lead in the third period and that was the way it ended. 

The Rangers ended the Bruins consecutive penalty-killing streak at 33 before scoring on the power play early in this game. 

Dennis Seidenberg left the game on Tuesday night after only one shift. His status remains unknown for the rest of the week at this point.

The Bruins will play again on Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues. 

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask...He only allowed two total goals in these two games, including tying a career high in saves with 43 of them on Thursday. He has been stealing games for the Bruins.

Black Star: Brad Marchand...He was demoted to the fourth line during Monday's game, the same line where his career began three years ago. His play has been that bad as of late.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Games 18-19: Those Back-To-Backs Always Get You

Over the years, the Boston Bruins have developed a reputation around the NHL. Some folks will look at them and see a tough, rugged, united team who will stick up for each other. Critics of the team will compare them to the likes of a gang. 

Regardless of your opinion, they are one of the best teams in the league. This past week, they altered the careers of two different individuals. The Florida Panthers fired head coach Kevin Dineen immediately after their loss to the Bruins. More recently, Steven Stamkos broke his leg Monday afternoon against the B's. 

Coincidence? Definitely. The Bruins are not "career killers" ..... at least not intentionally. 

There were certainly more important things to take care of on the ice for Boston the rest of the week. They ended their five-game homestand on Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nathan Horton did not play in this game for Columbus, but he skated for the first time this week since his shoulder surgery. He is getting closer. 

Anyway, let's discuss the game. Matt Bartkowski took the place of Adam McQuaid back on the blue line in this game since McQuaid is still dealing with a nagging injury. Also, Chad Johnson made his TD Garden debut in net for the Bruins. He definitely came up with some huge stops, 32 of them to be exact.

At the end of the night, the B's sealed the two points in overtime on a breakaway goal from Milan Lucic. He has already surpassed his season total in goals from last season and we are only 19 games into the 2013-14 season. He is having a great start to the year. Boston ended its homestand with a 4-0-1 record.

The Bruins finished up the week by traveling up to Ottawa to take on the Senators in their first meeting of the season. These two teams will be battling for Atlantic Division supremacy all year long and this game would go a long way in establishing early control for that top spot. 

As for this one, the game got away from the Bruins. The more the game progressed, the worse the B's played and the Senators capitalized on some key turnovers. After holding a 2-0 lead, Boston fell 4-2 to Ottawa.

The Bruins will play their next game on Monday night when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Gold Star: Milan Lucic...He strung together two good games during this stretch and he looks poised to lead this team in goals this year.

Black Star: Reilly Smith...He has become a turnover machine. His struggles continue to be evident in the defensive zone, something that was not advertised when it came to his play. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Game 17: This Is More Like It

The Boston Bruins picked up another couple of victories last week against teams that featured some familiar faces of "Bruins past" and they were well earned. They are now keeping pace with some of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. 

Those games were simply tune-ups to the game that they were set to play on Monday afternoon. They were prepared to go into battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the best team in the conference. Ironically, Monday was Veteran's Day and many fans were anticipating a war between these two teams. 

This was the third meeting of the season between the Bruins and the Lightning with Boston emerging victorious in the first two games by just allowing one total goal combined. Was this the game that the Lightning would get over the hump and knock off the Bruins on their home ice? 

Tuukka Rask was back between the pipes for the B's. Adam McQuaid, who has a lower-body injury, did not skate in this game. He was replaced in the lineup by Matt Bartkowski. As it turned out, the depth that the B's have on the blue line proved to be the deciding factor.

Does anyone remember that brief hiccup that the Bruins experienced in their schedule last week? Well, that seems to be in the rear-view mirror. The B's knocked off the Lightning Monday afternoon by a final score of 3-0. This was by far one of their best and most complete 60 minute performances of the season. Every player skated well in both zones and were solid at the face-off circle. Gregory Campbell recorded an assist on Daniel Paille's goal, which just so happened to be his first point of the season. 

The Bolts held their breath during this game when Steven Stamkos had to be stretchered off the ice. It looked like that the All-Star center broke his leg when he charged the net in pursuit of a puck. If that is the case, then he will be out for quite some time and Tampa Bay could be in trouble. 

The Bruins will wrap up their five-game homestand on Thursday night when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask...He stopped all 28 shots he faced en route to his second shutout of the season. In three meetings with Tampa Bay this season, he has stopped all but one shot.

Black Star: Shawn Thornton...This did not turn out to be a game where he could have been used effectively. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Games 15-16: "Reunion Week" Continues

The Boston Bruins are currently in the middle of their longest homestand of the season. The Bruins play five games at the TD Garden over the next week or so. 

However, this was clearly a happy accident for the Bruins. During this stretch of home games, they were treated with the return of some familiar faces. 

Earlier this week, Tyler Seguin made his return to Boston with the Dallas Stars. He was able to get the last laugh as he netted a goal in the shootout to help his team prevail. 

In order for the B's to snap out of this funk that they have been in over the last two weeks, they needed to accumulate some points at the expense of more returning players. Thursday night marked the return of Tim Thomas to Boston when the Bruins took on the Florida Panthers. Unfortunately, Thomas did not skate in this game due to a lower-body injury. 

Maybe this could have been the solution to the B's getting back to their winning ways after dropping four of the last five games? 

This game certainly had a brisk pace to it. That is something that definitely played into the hands of the Bruins. Their passing was solid and their penalty killing was back to what it used to look like when they were at the top of the league. Bottom line was this: the Bruins started to look like the Bruins. They went on to win this game by a score of 4-1. The Boston goals were scored by David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Torey Krug, and Reilly Smith.

There was a point in this game where the B's lost two players for a brief amount of time. Patrice Bergeron took a puck to the face and Chris Kelly got elbowed in the head by Panthers forward Jesse Winchester. Both were able to return.

The Bruins closed out the week against the Toronto Maple Leafs where Phil Kessel is absolutely crushing things this year. That is not a total surprise since most players tend to catch fire during contract years. Either way, he is still a great player and his team is at the top of the Eastern Conference this season. This one was not going to be easy for Boston.   

The Bruins battled through an incredibly tough contest with the Leafs. In the end, they came away with a 3-1 victory. Patrice Bergeron netted two goals while Tuukka Rask was outstanding yet again. Two U's, two K's, two victories to end the week. However, Adam McQuaid left the game after injuring his leg during his second shift. His status will be monitored over the weekend.

The Bruins will play their next game on Monday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gold Star: Brad Marchand...The proverbial "monkey" was lifted off his back. He broke his lengthy scoring drought (13 games), not to mention the fact that his puck-handling skills have improved.

Black Star: Gregory Campbell...The entire fourth line has become a shell of themselves and it all starts with its center. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Game 14: Good To See You Again, Kid

In a previous blog entry, it was stated that there are certain games on the Boston Bruins schedule that are worthy of circulation.

With that being said, those games are broken up into two separate categories. There are games that are circled by the players/coaches and then there are games that are circled by the fans. This past Wednesday, the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins was a match-up that the players were looking forward to. Tuesday night was a game that the fans were salivating over.

The Bruins were in action against the Dallas Stars. Yes, this was the first game of a five-game homestand for the B's. Yes, the Stars are near the bottom of the Central Division in a very tough Western Conference. However, the fans were not concerned about that. They were hoping to snap some pictures of a player that used to dawn the Black and Gold. Does anyone remember the name Tyler Seguin?

That is correct. He wears the green sweater in Dallas now. He is currently one of the best players on the team from a numbers perspective. It is hard to forget his time here in Boston though. He won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011 and slowly became an offensive powerhouse in 2012. Although he played below expectations last year (which led to him being traded to Dallas), fans will never forget him.

The question now becomes how would they react when Seguin makes his return to the TD Garden? As it turned out, the fans of Boston booed him quite soundly.

Tuukka Rask was back in net for the Bruins while Loui Eriksson made his return to the lineup to take on his former team. As a result, Ryan Spooner was sent back down to Providence. Johnny Boychuk made his return to the lineup as well after missing the last game with an undisclosed injury.

In the first period, the sloppy play from both teams resulted in solid performances by the goaltenders. This was more so the case for Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen because the Bruins racked up 18 shots in the first period. However, the game was tied at one goal each after the first 20 minutes.

The score remained the same into the third period, but the chippy play continued. In fact, players on both teams had the opportunity to drop the gloves in this game. Sometimes, the chippy play benefits and motivates a certain side. At the end of the night, it was the other ex-Bruin who ended the game as Rich Peverley beat Rask in the fourth round of a shootout to seal the 3-2 victory for the Stars.

The Bruins originally had the lead, but a late penalty shot allowed the Stars to tie the game and send it into overtime. Also, a questionable non-whistle on a delay of game call by Dallas would have put the B's on the power play late in the contest. The breaks are just not going their way at the moment.

The Bruins will play their next game on Thursday night when they take on the Florida Panthers.

Gold Star: Johnny Boychuk...Holy smokes. This guy may not put up the numbers every game, but he is one of the most underrated defensemen in the league. No doubt about that.

Black Star: Gregory Campbell...We all know he is a grinder and superb penalty killer, but he has not played with the same intensity over the last couple of games. He continues to play sub-par hockey. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Game 12-13: Uh, Oh?

We all had a feeling that this would happen soon enough. It seems as if the schedule might be starting to take an early toll on the Boston Bruins.

They were riding a two-game losing streak and they were playing on back-to-back nights for the second consecutive week. The Bruins still had seven wins on the year going into Thursday night, but it is always a concern if a losing streak occurs.

Their rough stretch did not get any easier as they closed out the week against some pretty solid opponents. They returned home on Halloween night to play host to the Anaheim Ducks, one of the best teams in the Western Conference. 

Prior to the game, it was announced that Ryan Spooner was recalled from Providence to join the Bruins roster. He replaced Jordan Caron in the lineup. The goaltender match-up was Tuukka Rask vs. Jonas Hiller.

In this game, the Bruins started out incredibly slow as far as the shots on net were concerned. On a night where Carl Soderberg recorded his first-career NHL goal, the B's got the full two points in a shootout win against Anaheim. They were out-shot 5-1 in the opening period and never held the lead in regulation. With the help of some solid goaltending and timely goals, however, the Bruins pulled this one out.

After a hard-fought game on Thursday, the Bruins hit the road again for an Eastern Conference match-up against the New York Islanders. This was the first time that the Bruins skated against Thomas Vanek since being traded to the Isles from the Buffalo Sabres. 

In this game, Chad Johnson made his second start in goal as a member of the Bruins. Also, Matt Bartkowski was in the lineup for this one as he replaced Johnny Boychuk. He is listed as day-to-day with a minor injury.

The Bruins played great for 40 minutes. Unfortunately, there are 60 minutes in a hockey game and they took the second period off. The Islanders beat Johnson for three goals during that time. The B's did manage to grab a power play goal, but that was not enough as they fell to the Islanders by a score of 3-1. 

The Bruins will play their next game on Tuesday night in one of the most anticipated contests of the season. They will take on the Dallas Stars.

Gold Star: Carl Soderberg...With a goal and several other scoring chances over the last couple of games, the Swedish forward is starting to come into his own as a Bruin and as a winger.

Black Star: Reilly Smith...Where is the consistency? He has not strung together some decent games in a long time. He needs to be able to finish better at the offensive side of the ice. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Game 11: Showdown In Pittsburgh

For all of the hype that has surrounded the individual games that the Boston Bruins have played so far this season, only a select few are worthy of circulation on the calendar. 

Wednesday night was certainly one of those games. 

The Black and Gold were featured on "Wednesday Night Rivalry" for the second straight week. Last week, Loui Eriksson suffered a concussion. What would happen this week?

The Bruins were in action against the Pittsburgh Penguins. We all remember what happened last season in regards to the Penguins. In somewhat slick fashion, they acquired several veteran players (including Jarome Iginla) at the trade deadline to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. The "lock" that Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli described them as proved to be inaccurate. The Bruins went on to sweep the Pens in the Eastern Conference Finals, receiving brief satisfaction and a sense of redemption. 

Now, a new season is upon us. This rivalry will write a new chapter and it started on Wednesday night. 

After a very hard-hitting and entertaining opening period, both teams remained scoreless. Tuukka Rask was outstanding for Boston and that continued into the second period. However, he was not invincible when it came to the Penguins power play. Chris Kunitz deflected a shot past Rask with the man advantage to give Pittsburgh the lead. 

In the third period, the Bruins started to play more physical. This created more scoring chances for them late in the game. Patrice Bergeron notched a goal by deflecting a shot by Dennis Seidenberg past Pens netminder Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the game. At the end of the night, it was Pittsburgh standing tall. They added two more goals in the third period and rode their solid defensive play to the end. Iginla added a late goal for Boston, but it was not enough. The Penguins took this game by a score of 3-2.

The Bruins will play on Halloween night back at home against the Anaheim Ducks. 

Gold Star: Patrice Bergeron...Even without his goal, he played excellent at both ends of the ice.

Black Star: Torey Krug...This was a rare struggle for the youngster. He let skaters dance around him all game, including on the goal that put the Penguins in the lead for good. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Game 10: Skating With The Devils

The Boston Bruins had quite the week to say the least. 

By grabbing wins on back-to-back nights, they remain near the top of the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. They had a chance to end the week on an extremely high note when they welcomed the New Jersey Devils into the TD Garden. 

The Devils have been struggling to find an identity this season. After the loss of Ilya Kovalchuk, they have been in a downward spiral to the bottom of the conference. With only six points on the year coming into this game, a win against the Bruins would have been a step in the right direction.

Tuukka Rask was back in net for the Black and Gold. He opposed Martin Brodeur. This was also the return of former Bruin Jaromir Jagr, who now plays for New Jersey.

In what turned out to be a very disappointing night, the Bruins fell to the Devils by a score of 4-3. The way that this game ended was shockingly reminiscent of game six of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. Boston allowed two quick goals in the final minutes of the game, much like the case on Saturday night. 

The story here was just how undisciplined the B's were in this one. They could not stay out of the penalty box. As a result, the Devils capitalized and scored all four of their goals with the man advantage. 

The Bruins will play their next game on Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Gold Star: Jarome Iginla...He racked up a goal and two assists on a night where his point streak continued. It turns out that he still has something left in the tank.

Black Star: Zdeno Chara...When you are such a big part of your team's penalty kill, you have to be on the ice. Unfortunately, he was serving penalties. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Game 9: Statement Game

In the world of sports, the unwritten rule for a team coming off a victory is to take it and quickly move on to the next game.

For the Boston Bruins, that "rule" has become an afterthought.

What took place on Wednesday night in Buffalo was hard to watch and even harder to move on from. John Scott blindsided Loui Eriksson with a hit to the head. Since then, Eriksson has been diagnosed with a concussion and is out indefinitely. As for the perpetrator, Scott is suspended indefinitely until he has his in-person hearing with the NHL. 

The two teams will face each other again on December 19, but who is keeping track.....

Anyway, the Bruins put that behind them the best way that they could as they took on the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. 

The Sharks have always been one of the premier teams in the league and this year, that is no different. They have yet to lose in regulation, so this was going to be a tough test for Boston. Also, Freddie Hamilton was in the lineup for the Sharks. He is the brother of B's defenseman Dougie Hamilton.

Jordan Caron took Eriksson's place in the lineup for this game and probably for the foreseeable future. Tuukka Rask also made his return to the net in this one. He opposed Antti Niemi (SJ). 

Through the first two periods, the Sharks absolutely dominated the Bruins. Even though the play was dominated in both zones by San Jose, both goaltenders were in All-Star form. Specifically, Rask stopped 25 shots through the first 40 minutes. That propelled the Bruins to nabbing the first goal of the game towards the end of the second period. Jarome Iginla recorded his first goal as a Bruin as he slid the puck in under Niemi, who made some key stops on the Bruins up until that point.

In the third period, the Sharks got right back into it on an early goal by Patrick Marleau.The game went back and forth until David Krejci scored a goal, literally, in the final second to give the Bruins the 2-1 victory. They were outshot 39-17 in a winning effort.

The Bruins will play their next game on Saturday night when they take on the New Jersey Devils.

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask (38 saves on 39 shots, 1 goal allowed, .974 save percentage)...This was one of those games were a goaltender kept his team in it. Sure enough, the Bruins pulled out a well-deserved victory for him.

Black Star:  Jordan Caron...It may be attributed to rust, but some of his passes were not crisp and he was not physical.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Game 8: Some Things Never Change

The Boston Bruins are off to a very auspicious start to the 2013-14 season. They sit at 5-2-0 on the year and were tied for third place in the Atlantic Division heading into their next game.

How fitting that their next game was showcased as part of Wednesday Night Rivalry. Their opponent on Wednesday night was the Buffalo Sabres. 

Buffalo is sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. This was a team that was built on going younger since they traded away Jason Pominville towards the end of last season. However, these are the teams that you have to watch out for. They certainly have handed the Bruins their fair share of problems, both in muscle and on the scoreboard.

The B's seemed poised heading into Wednesday night. In fact, this game featured the Bruins debut of goaltender Chad Johnson. He won the backup job in camp beating out some very young, stiff competition. Since the Bruins were playing a back-to-back this week, Johnson was going to see the ice sooner rather than later. 

Let's see how this one turned out for the new netminder, shall we?

The game started out rather slowly considering it was these two teams on the ice. Both sides played excellent defensively, forcing their opponent to be very conservative with the puck. The only goal allowed in the opening period came off a shot by Jarome Iginla that deflected off the skate of Milan Lucic and into the goal. If it was not for Ryan Miller protecting the Sabres net, the score may have looked a little different.

In the second period, those two players picked up right where they left off. Iginla hooked up with Lucic yet again to put the Bruins up by two. 

Heading into the third period, the B's possessed a one-goal lead. The defensemen got involved in the scoring for Boston as Dougie Hamilton beat Miller for one while Torey Krug racked up a pair. The Bruins stayed on top of the Sabres for the rest of the game. They were forced to play sloppy because the Bruins were so aggressive. 

About midway through the third period, Sabres tough guy John Scott nearly decapitated Loui Eriksson with a hit to the head. He had to be carried off the ice by a couple of his teammates. As for Scott, he had to answer for that when Adam McQuaid was right there to challenge him. Scott received a match penalty, which means that the hit will automatically be reviewed by the league. 

The B's won this game by a score of 5-2 and they remain unbeaten on the road this season. As for Johnson, he looked decent, allowing two questionable goals on 16 shots. 

The Bruins will return home on Thursday night when they play host to the San Jose Sharks.

Gold Star: Milan Lucic...He recorded two goals and an assist on a night where he took a puck to the face. He got stitched up and headed right back out on the ice. This is why he wears the Black and Gold.

Black Star: Chad Johnson...The main factor here was that all of the other Bruins played well. He will surely see more games this year and it will be interesting to see how he grows.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Game 7: Redemption for Bolts?

Even though we are only a couple of weeks deep into the NHL season, one would assume that it is too early for a team to be in a must-win situation. 

This may be a little over-dramatic, but the Boston Bruins were one game removed from that must-win situation. 

They knocked off the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, a team that was struggling heading into that meeting. If you add in the fact that they were going against Tim Thomas in the opposing goal, then you have to figure that coming away from that game without maximum points would have been disappointing. 

Luckily, they pulled out the full two points on a late goal by Reilly Smith. They were riding some momentum into their game on Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was the final game of the B's two-game Florida road trip. 

The Bruins defeated Tampa Bay on opening night, but would they have the same success against the Bolts on the road?

In the first period, the tone was set early when Gregory Campbell dropped the gloves in a scrap with B.J. Crombeen. From that point on, the game was intense and physical. The game ended with a couple of other fights as well. Normally, fighting in hockey is not discussed here. However, when they have an impact on the outcome of the game, then it becomes important.

In the middle of all of that featured the Bruins finding their scoring touch. They put up five goals by five different players, including one from Shawn Thornton. Also, Tuukka Rask was brilliant as he stopped all 23 shots he faced. With Carl Soderberg making his return to the lineup, the B's are clicking at a great time. 

The Bruins will play their next game on Wednesday night when they travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Game 6: An Old Friend

The 2011 Boston Bruins were a special team to watch. They got hot at the right time and stood victorious over their opponents en route to a Stanley Cup title.

However, without a certain goaltender, they may not have achieved the success that they did during the conclusion of that season. Does anybody remember the name Tim Thomas?

Well, he plays for a different opponent now. He protects the net of the Florida Panthers, the team that the Bruins were in action against on Thursday night. This was the first of two games the B's played in the state of Florida this week. 

The Bruins are all too familiar with the style of Thomas, so this match-up was going to be interesting from the opening puck drop. With Thomas protecting the goal, he gives the Panthers a fighting chance in their division. However, he has been battling a lingering groin injury since the start of the season. Let's see what happened in this one. 

First things first, the fans of the Florida Panthers should be ashamed. The arena was so empty that it looked like a morning skate or a scrimmage. It really was a sad sight to see. Anyway, now it is time for the game itself. 

In the first two periods, both teams played a very sloppy style of hockey. They each traded scoring chances, but those came as a result of reckless turnovers at both ends of the ice. The Bruins actually held a 2-0 lead at one point, but surrendered it when Florida tied the game with six minutes remaining in the third period. However, Reilly Smith played the role of hero in this one. He netted the game winner on a back-hand shot in front of the net with just seconds remaining.

As for Thomas, he looked decent. He did give up numerous rebounds throughout the game, but we can attribute that to some rust since he has played in only four games in a year and a half span. At the other end, Tuukka Rask stood on his head and came up with some key saves to keep his team in the game.

The B's continue their brief road trip on Saturday night when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gold Star: Dougie Hamilton...He blasted home a power play goal and recorded a team high five shots on net. Also, he looked more confident in the defensive zone.

Black Star: Brad Marchand...What is going on with this guy? He finished with a minus-1 rating and was completely ineffective.

*Adam McQuaid did not play in this game. Instead, all three of the young defensemen suited up for this one.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Game 5: Matinee Hockey At Its Finest

There really is something truly special about matinee hockey. 

It is hard to put a finger on it. Whether it is the ruckus of the crowd jam packed with kids as they enjoy a day off from school or just the overall atmosphere of the TD Garden ice glowing on an afternoon. The Boston Bruins thrive on playing hockey during the day.

However, that was not always the case. The B's used to have a poor record in matinee games. They are off to a good start so far this season as they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon and hoped to continue that trend on Monday. They were in action against the Detroit Red Wings, a team that they had already beaten last week.  

In the first period and throughout the duration of this game, the Bruins had several opportunities to put this game away. In fact, not only did they have the better scoring chances but they recorded more power play time than the Red Wings.

That turned out to be not enough. The Red Wings took this game by a score of 3-2. They held a 3-1 lead at one point and the Bruins cut the lead in half on a late goal by Milan Lucic. However, it was too little, too late. Henrik Zetterberg, Stephen Weiss, and Daniel Cleary were the goal scorers for Detroit. 

The Bruins will head back on the road Thursday night when they travel to Florida to take on the Panthers.

Gold Star: Loui Eriksson...He seems to be finding his scoring touch. He has recorded goals in each of his last two games and his solid play on both sides of the ice is immense.

Black Star: Brad Marchand...He really has looked shaky at both ends of the ice in the early stages of this season. He was bumped down to the third line in this game in favor of Reilly Smith. Maybe this will be a move that will turn his game around. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Games 3-4: Finishing The Week Strong

The Boston Bruins have looked pretty good in their first two games of this young season. The key word in that sentence is YOUNG. Two games down, 80 to go. 

Although two games is only a small sample size compared to the actual length of the season, we can only judge based on what we have seen thus far. The B's knocked off two strong Eastern Conference opponents at home and did so by only allowing two total goals.

On a somewhat related note, this team will go as far as Tuukka Rask takes them. Sure, the Bruins have great depth up front and on the blue line. At the end of the day, you need a top-five goaltender to be successful in this league and the Bruins have themselves one of those. 

The Black and Gold wrapped up the week against two teams that are on the rise. First, they took on the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night at the TD Garden to conclude the three-game homestand. This Avalanche team is different from years past. They were undefeated heading into this game and they look to make a push in the Western Conference this season.

In this game, the B's did everything but score. They fell 2-0 to the Avalanche with the second goal coming with Rask pulled. Avs goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere was outstanding in net, stopping all 39 shots he faced. It was a very entertaining game that featured a few scrums. Colorado is not known for its muscle, but the Bruins lost sight of that and let it hurt them on the scoreboard. It did not help that Zdeno Chara sat out some of this game with a leg injury. He did finish his remaining shifts and looked fine once the contest concluded.

The Bruins were also in action on Saturday afternoon when they traveled to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. 

No, Nathan Horton did not play in this game. He is still recovering from shoulder surgery. Patience, B's fans. That time will come soon enough. 

This one was also a very physical match-up for the Bruins. After another stellar performance by Rask, the B's battled and came out with the 3-1 victory. This came on a day where Claude Julien coached his 700th career NHL game. Loui Eriksson scored his first goal as a member of the Black and Gold. Matt Bartkowski made his season debut on the blue line in place of Dougie Hamilton in this game.

After a very successful week to begin the year (3-1-0), the Bruins will play their next game on Monday when they take on the Detroit Red Wings. 

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask...This is why he was paid the big money to remain in Boston long term. He recorded a combined 54 saves through these two games. 

Black Star: Dougie Hamilton...He still cheats up way too much for a defenseman. After coming off a loss, it was no wonder that they turned to Matt Bartkowski to regain some idenity. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Game 2: Detroit Red Wings, Division Rival?

It has been decades since hockey fans were allowed to say that phrase. Saturday night featured the renewal of one of the most classic rivalries in all of sports. The Boston Bruins played host to the Detroit Red Wings in an "Original Six" match-up. 

Both teams were coming into this game unbeaten, although the Red Wings had played one more game than the Bruins. Regardless, something had to give. Detroit plays a very finesse style of hockey while Boston plays the hard-hitting style. If the Bruins expose their opponent in that way, then it will be a long season for the Red Wings.

Let's start with the first game of the season between these stellar squads. 

Well, in this game there was not really much to debate. This night belonged to the Bruins as they knocked off the Red Wings by a score of 4-1. The power play unit was responsible for two of the goals. This was an element of the B's game that they were hoping to improve as the season went along. With two games down, they are handling themselves quite well.

There is one developing story that we should keep an eye on. If and when Carl Soderberg returns from his injury, will he be slotted right into the lineup? Jordan Caron has played solid in the first two games and has earned his spot on the roster. Either way, it will be an interesting situation. 

The Bruins will play their next game on Thursday night when they wrap up their three-game homestand against the Colorado Avalanche. 

Gold Star: Torey Krug...He is becoming the power play "magician" for this team. He racked up a goal and an assist with the man advantage.

Black Star: Patrice Bergeron...He was under 50% from the face-off dot and was blanked across the board in all offensive categories. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Game 1: New Look, New Season

This was one of the most anticipated off-seasons for the Boston Bruins in quite some time. 

The feeling around the city was that once the organization handled some of the internal issues with the team, the fans were under the assumption that we may be in for a roller coaster of emotions heading into a new hockey year.

You know what they say about assumptions, right?

Anyway, this was covered in great extent during the summer months. However, this is just a brief recap. With Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, Nathan Horton, and Andrew Ference all playing for new teams this season, the Bruins had to recapture their identity. Based on the preseason, they succeeded.

Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson, and Reilly Smith are the new forwards that will wear the Black and Gold while the strength of this Bruins team lies within their young defensive core. Also, Chad Johnson was brought in to compete for the backup goaltending job and after a grueling training camp battling Niklas Svedberg, he won the right to back up Tuukka Rask.

The new additions gelled perfectly with the core of the team as they compiled a 6-1-0 record during the preseason. The young "bubble" skaters played so well that it was tough to see most of them get sent back to their junior teams or back down to Providence, but that is the nature of the business. 

After all of the remaining roster cuts and final practices, the Bruins were ready to begin the regular season. They opened up their 82-game campaign at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team who has dawned a refreshed look themselves. 

Even though they still have the services of Steven Stamkos, they lost Vincent Lecavalier to the Philadelphia Flyers via free agency. This may be a younger team as a result, but the Lightning are a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference this season.

Prior to the game, it was announced that David Krejci would wear the third "A" this season, carrying on that tradition left behind by Ference. Also, Carl Soderberg will begin the season on injured reserve due to an ankle ailment. He will be replaced by Jordan Caron. 

What a game this turned out to be at the Garden. The Bruins defended their home ice and knocked off the Lightning by a final score of 3-1. Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic, and Patrice Bergeron netted the goals for Boston. Rask looked absolutely solid in net, stopping 32 shots. 

In the game, there was a handful of questionable hits by Tampa Bay. Every time, the Bruins were there to defend their teammates. That is a great thing to see this early in the season. 

They will remain at home on Saturday night when they take on the Detroit Red Wings. 

*Dennis Seidenberg received a lucrative contract extension prior to puck-drop. The deal is for four years and it is worth approximately $16 million. This was a guy that they needed to lock up and upper management did just that.  

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask: 32 saves on 33 shots, 1 goal allowed, .970 save percentage....Why not acknowledge the solid play of the new franchise goaltender?

Black Star: Daniel Paille...Although he spent most of his ice time on the penalty kill, he could not utilize his speed at all during this game.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Final Week of Preseason

The NHL preseason is nearing its conclusion. Several teams have a pretty good idea about what their respective rosters are going to look like come opening night in October. 

If you are keeping track of your team at home, you would know that the Boston Bruins are one of those teams.

There are two spots still open on the third line. Carl Soderberg is one of the front-runners to nab a spot on that line next to Chris Kelly. As far as the right wing spot is concerned, newcomer Reilly Smith has impressed. He was one of the players who came over with Loui Eriksson from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley. Although Smith has not put up the numbers so far in the preseason, his solid two-way play has looked great in camp. 

Also, Chad Johnson and Niklas Svedberg are in a dead heat for the backup goaltender job. By the end of this week, we should have a better understanding as to who has emerged ahead. 

Speaking of this week, the Bruins had three more preseason games to complete, starting on Monday when they faced the Washington Capitals yet again. They finished up the week with two games against the Winnipeg Jets. 

In a fight-filled contest, Boston knocked off Washington in overtime by a final score of 3-2 at the TD Garden. Kelly scored the game-winning goal while Zdeno Chara netted a couple of power play goals for the B's. This was a "shooting spree" for the Bruins as they out-shot the Capitals 38-14 in this game. Overall, the Capitals looked ridiculous, searching for fights all game long in unnecessary fashion.

In regards to their two games with the Jets, the Bruins looked sharp. They took the first game by a score of 3-2 after Eriksson netted the game-winning goal in overtime. Ryan Spooner, who assisted on the goal, also scored in the game. Svedberg looked solid in net for Boston as well.

In Friday's game, the B's shut out the Jets with a final score of 5-0. Five different goal scorers got on the board. The Bruins finished 6-1-0 in their seven "tune-up" games, which is not a bad showing at all.

Overall, the 2013-14 NHL preseason has been intense and quite testy. Several young players around the league have been pushing the limits trying to make the teams of their respective franchises. Also, there have been numerous huge hits and a plethora of fights. Heck, even Torey Krug dropped the gloves for the Bruins.

Bring on the regular season. 

Torey Krug dropping the gloves... 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Opening Week (Preseason)

Well, that was quite a performance by the Boston Bruins on Monday night.

Although it was only the first of several preseason games against sub-par competition, things seemed to be looking good for this team. In fact, several questions were answered. 

Jarome Iginla gelled nicely with David Krejci and Milan Lucic on the top line. Also, the backup goaltender situation appears to be pretty solid as the B's have some options they can turn to when it comes to support for their franchise netminder. 

The biggest surprise was the resurface of a dominant power play. Four of the six goals scored against the Montreal Canadiens came with the man advantage. The Bruins hoped to continue their momentum throughout the rest of the week. 

Tuesday night featured the B's second unit of players taking the ice against the Washington Capitals. Among those players was newcomer Loui Eriksson, who came over from Dallas in the deal that involved Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley. 

Due to the game between the Bruins and Capitals being contested in a non-NHL arena, the game was not shown live on local television. Therefore, referring to Twitter for updates had to be done. 

Tuukka Rask and Niklas Svedberg split goaltending duties for Boston on Tuesday night. In a game that went back and forth with skittish play and sloppy puck possession, Carter Camper scored in the 8th round of the shootout to give Boston the 3-2 win over the Caps. 

In the midst of a couple rounds of cuts, the Bruins wasted little time catching their breaths. The B's ended their week with a home-and-home series against the Detroit Red Wings, their new divisional rival. They dropped Thursday's game 8-2 while on Saturday, they got some retribution by blanking the Red Wings 2-0. Carl Soderberg had a pair of goals in the win. With Detroit, Boston ran into solid goaltending and better neutral zone play. However, that is why training camp and the preseason lasts as long as it does. Whatever kinks need to be worked out, they usually do.

*Gregory Campbell made his preseason debut on Thursday after missing several months with what is now being considered the "iconic" broken leg sequence during last year's Eastern Conference Finals. Patrice Bergeron made his return on Saturday after recovering from various injuries that he sustained during last year's Stanley Cup playoffs.   

Jarome Iginla's 1st goal as a Bruin (Preseason)

Still weird to see this.....