Thursday, October 30, 2014

Game 12: Everything Falling Apart?

It really does seem like everything is coming off its hinges as we know it. We certainly are not used to the Boston Bruins playing this way, not to mention the number of casualties they have suffered so far this season.

This past Tuesday night, the B's lost another staple on the blue line. Torey Krug will be out of action for 2-3 weeks with a broken finger. Joe Morrow and David Warsofsky were both recalled from Providence to fill his void back there.

With all due respect, who knows if that will even work at this point? 

Aside from the injury to Krug, the Bruins are in dire straights because we do not know where their heads are. They seem psychologically fragile, and it showed during their 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. Blowing a lead is never a good look.

Luckily, they had a familiar opponent on Thursday. The Black and Gold took on the Buffalo Sabres in what was already their second meeting in Buffalo this season. 

Bruins head coach Claude Julien mixed up the bottom three lines in order to get some sort of spark out of a handful of struggling players...and that list could go on for awhile. 

After a scoreless first period, the action started to pick up in the second period. Both teams had enormous struggles getting any sort of rhythm going right out of the shoot, so things dragged and became mind numbing for a bit of time. The Sabres beat Niklas Svedberg twice in the period, with Adam McQuaid recording a goal for the Bruins sandwiched in between. The Sabres scored on the power play and just as the B's power play expired, respectively. 

The physical play picked up in the final 20 minutes, with the mindset that the teams knew that the game was on the line. Boston dominated the period from a puck-possession standpoint, as well as getting some great looks on net. The B's eventually broke through on a goal by Brad Marchand to tie the game. 

In overtime, who else? Marchand blasted home the game winner after the Bruins spent the entire opening minute of overtime in the Sabres zone. It was just a matter of time at that point. The Bruins get a much needed victory on the road. 

The Bruins will begin a four-game homestand, starting on Saturday when they take on the Ottawa Senators.

Gold Star: Brad Marchand...He was one of the struggling players who found his game in this one. He had two goals and an assist in a game where he actually made himself existent. 

Black Star: David Warsofsky...He is getting used to the NHL early on this season, so the rust was evident.

Game Twelve Box Score

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Game 11: A Wild Game

Oh man, those awful puns do get old. 

Aside from the ridiculous title, there really is some decent content here. That is because the Boston Bruins took on the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night back at home.

After years of putting together a team the right way (free-agent signings and drafting raw talent), the Wild could easily be considered one of the best teams in the Western Conference. They have strong leadership qualities and excellent skill players at the three positions. This is probably the deepest team in the West, especially if you have Mikko Koivu skating on the second line. This is a year they should be considered a favorite to contend for the Stanley Cup.

As for the Bruins, they had similar aspirations. Although they have taken some early blows this year, the B's will get stronger as the season progresses. This was going to be a tough test against an opponent who has gotten the better of them over the last several seasons (11-2-1). 

The Wild were coming off a physical encounter with the New York Rangers the previous night that limited their full-strength status, so the Bruins were hoping to seize this chance and steal a victory. 

Tuukka Rask opposed Niklas Backstrom in the goaltender matchup. Zach Trotman was back in the lineup as he skated with Matt Bartkowski on the third defensive pairing.

In the first period, the teams were pretty even in terms of shots, scoring chances, and possession of the puck. The Wild, however, were more aggressive on the fore-check. Both teams traded a goal with each other--both were pretty sweet looking--in the opening 20 minutes. Seth Griffith scored for the Bruins on an epic saucer pass from David Krejci. He really is a magician with the puck.

As for the second period, the Bruins had some sloppy moments. Rask saved the day for the B's because they legitimately gave the Wild plenty of chances off turnovers. Regardless, Boston put in another two goals scored by Griffith (2nd of game) and Milan Lucic. 

After that point, the Bruins fell apart. They allowed the Wild to score three unanswered goals in the third period. They racked up over 40 shots on Rask, so some of those are going in sooner than later. He played well throughout the game, but his teammates had their focus come and go on this night. Minnesota won this game by a final score of 4-3. 

The Bruins will be in action on Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres. 

Gold Star: Seth Griffith...The kid is finding his stride skating on the top line. With two goals and an assist against a team that has haunted the Bruins, he found the hot hand. 

Black Star: Matt Bartkowski...He continues to get beat out there. He just does not look comfortable, so much so that he got benched in the third period.

Game Eleven Box Score

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Game 10: Captain Down

The Boston Bruins were fully expecting to head up to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs with a full bill of health. Even though they were coming off a loss on Thursday, the B's are starting to score some goals.

Arguably, they suffered the biggest blow that they could endure from a player standpoint--they lost their captain.

Zdeno Chara suffered a knee injury on Thursday against the New York Islanders, and will be sidelined for about 4-6 weeks. Thankfully, no surgery is required, but this could be a blessing in disguise. The team would rather have him healthy come playoff time. With the heavy load he picks up during the spring, this could help out his chums in the long run.

Regardless, the B's had to move on in the aggregate. They recalled defensemen Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman to try and fill the void. This injury will force the Bruins to step up and play harder. 

As previously mentioned, they were in action on Saturday night against the Leafs, a team that is struggling yet again. Why not take advantage, right?

Tuukka Rask was back in net for the Black and Gold

The first half of the game was difficult for Boston. The Leafs actually held their own and certainly were playing off the home crowd in Toronto to keep them in the game. The Leafs got their chances, but Rask proved why he is in the hunt for a second Vezina Trophy this year--he made 32 saves on 33 shots for the Bruins.

As for the offense, it picked up in the latter half of the second period and into the third period. The team had four different goal scorers, so that is something that the Bruins can build off of going forward. See, everyone is picking up the slack and it started on this night. In what has become an emotional time for the country of Canada, we all can expect that the Bruins took this 4-1 victory with a heavy heart on Saturday.

The Bruins will play their next game on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild.

Gold Star: Dougie Hamilton...This is his defensive core now. With his three-point night, he is quickly being thrust into a dependable player. 

Black Star: Simon Gagne...Not the best game he has had since arriving here, but he needs to have a quick memory.

Game Ten Box Score

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Game 9: Welcome Back, Johnny

This was probably going to be the most emotional and bittersweet moment that the Boston Bruins will experience all year. Thursday night marked the return of one of Boston's most beloved athletes: Johnny Boychuk.

He had worked his way through the minor leagues in Colorado until earning the opportunity to play for the "big club" in Boston after his trade here. His work ethic, toughness, and character are all qualities that the Bruins currently miss back on the blue line. 

Check out some of Boychuk's greatest moments wearing the Black and Gold at the bottom of this entry....

Now, it is business. The Bruins were in action against the team they traded Boychuk to (for draft picks) prior to the start of the season. Yup, the New York Islanders were on TD Garden ice to oppose the B's. 

Boychuk, now in a top-pairing role with the Isles, was not the only problem the Bruins had to deal with. John Tavares is one of the best players in the league, and he always gives the B's fits. Would this night also be the case? 

The Bruins were coming off a big win on Tuesday, as they continue their chunk of the schedule were they play seven-out-of-nine games at home. This was the time to ride that momentum. Niklas Svedberg got the start in net for the Bruins on this night. 

As for this particular game, the Bruins played great for about 20 minutes. You cannot play well for only one period and expect to win the game. The Islanders beat the Bruins in every category in this one (with the lone exception being face-offs), but they also seemed to play with more heart out there. The B's tried to make things interesting late, but New York held on for an impressive road win. 

The Black and Gold lost their captain early on in the game due to an undisclosed injury. The Bruins will have a tough time replacing Zdeno Chara if he is out for a significant amount of time. 

The Bruins will play their next game on Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Gold Star: Chris Kelly...His five-game point streak is no joke. Who would have thought he would be the most productive player on the roster so far? 

Black Star: Brad Marchand...He was virtually invisible out there--he did not make himself available for any significant scoring chances.

Game Nine Box Score

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Game 8: Another Team In Shambles

The Boston Bruins were entering their first extensive road trip of the year at a pretty auspicious time. 

The entire city was calling for a premature overhaul this soon into the season. Three solid games on the road later, and we have our team back. 

It's funny how things work out. 

Anyway, with the changes made to the roster (Simon Gagne skating on the first line, Gregory Campbell back centering the fourth line, and offensive production from the defense), the Black and Gold were ready to finish the month of October strong.

The Bruins welcomed the San Jose Sharks into the TD Garden on Tuesday, a team that has been dealing with its own internal issues. The captain-less Sharks play well out West against conference opponents, but let's see how they did against Boston on this night.

Kevan Miller, who was injured on Saturday during a fight, was ruled out indefinitely. Matt Bartkowski took his place on the blue line. Also, Seth Griffith was recalled from Providence for this game. 

In the first period, both teams played at a very timid pace. You can tell that both clubs had the respect for the offensive talent that they were opposing, so defensive hockey was the story during the first 20 minutes. The Bruins had the better of the scoring chances, but the Sharks were much more physical, outhitting the B's 10-5. The game was tied at one after the first period as each team netted a power play goal. 

Boston came out on fire to start the second period. The Bruins were forcing the Sharks to break down in their own end and were continuing to rack up shots. They even took the lead on a power play goal by Torey Krug. However, they fell apart in the final five minutes. Logan Couture (2nd goal of game) and old friend Joe Thornton put the puck past Tuukka Rask to take the lead.

Before anyone knew it, the Bruins were playing from behind entering the third period. The final 20 minutes started out as a back-and-forth affair, but Boston quickly took the lead back on goals by Griffith (his first-career NHL goal) and Campbell. The Bruins had to kill a double minor to end the game, but they stood on their heads to protect Rask. The Bruins took this game by a score of 5-3 in what was a very entertaining hockey game. 

The Bruins will play their next game on Thursday night against the New York Islanders.

Gold Star: Milan Lucic...This was his best offensive game this season. His three assists proved to be huge in this game. Let's see if he can keep this up. 

Black Star: Patrice Bergeron...Not only did he not play his best, but his late penalty almost cost his team the game.

Game Eight Box Score

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Games 5-7: First Road Trip of the Year...Uh Oh?

Boston has always been an unrelenting city when it comes to its sports franchises. We as fans can be the harshest of critics, but that keeps our athletes on edge. 

The four major franchises in this city should be grateful, though. Why would an athlete want to play in a pretentious town where championships mean very little to them? Everyone should want to display their craft in Beantown.

With that being said, the Boston Bruins should not take anything that they have been reading in the media personal. However, they should pay SOME attention to it. They need to turn things around....but we can also be a little patient. 

Once David Krejci notches a few games under his belt and the rest of the offensive plays with some consistency, the B's can flip the switch and start playing better hockey. This pattern is reciprocal. 

The first big test for this team came this week when they embarked on their first three-game road trip of the year. The Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, and Buffalo Sabres were on tap over the past four nights. 

Earlier in the week, the team announced that they had officially signed veteran forward Simon Gagne to a one-year deal. Could that have been the boost up front that the Bruins have been looking for? Also, Jordan Caron and Bobby Robins were both sent down to Providence. They need goals, not fights. 

The Bruins came to play on Wednesday night. They out-shot the Red Wings 24-12 through the first two periods, and they were perfect on the penalty kill during that time. Tuukka Rask, who made his return in net, came up with some big saves when the team needed him to. Things were looking good, but the Wings tied the game at two in the third period. Ironically enough, the B's offense woke up in the shootout to take the full two points in Detroit. It was not pretty, but it was Boston's second win of the year. 

On Thursday night, the team rekindled its historic rivalry with the Habs in their first meeting of the year. In this game, the goals came aplenty. The Bruins and Habs decided to forego the physical antics and concerned themselves with scoring. Montreal did end up winning this game by a score of 6-4, chasing Rask from his net after the fifth goal. Despite Gregory Campbell making his season debut, the Bruins should have been happy with the goal output and disappointed with the ugly loss in a hostile environment. 

The Sabres were up on Saturday to conclude this road trip. The Bruins were clicking on all cylinders in this game for the first time all year. They blasted home four goals, were solid in the defensive zone, and Niklas Svedberg recorded his first-career NHL shutout. The B's finished the road trip with a 2-1-0 record, so not a bad way to turn things around. 


The Bruins will return home on Tuesday night when they take on the San Jose Sharks. 

Gold Star (combined): David Krejci...He certainly has been racking up the points ever since he made his season debut (one goal and three assists). This was exactly what the team was looking for. 

Black Star (combined): Adam McQuaid...Ouch. This was a tough trip for the rugged blue liner. He was awful in his own zone and was sloppy with the puck. That is never a good combination for a defenseman.

Game Five Box Score

Game Six Box Score

Game Seven Box Score

Monday, October 13, 2014

Game 4: Jealousy and Envy

Even though this is a long season, this city is wired so tightly that a lot of folks were considering Monday afternoon a must-win game for the Boston Bruins. 

The Colorado Avalanche came to town on this Columbus Day matinee at the TD Garden. This was the first time that the B's got a look at Jarome Iginla in an Avalanche sweater. You have to wonder if the organization is starting to regret not being more aggressive in an attempt to re-sign the veteran goal scorer. He is fitting in well in Colorado with all of the young talent, making everyone here envious. 

After a sub-par start to the year, the Bruins were hoping to get some firepower back into their lineup. David Krejci made his season debut in this game, which led to Craig Cunningham being sent down to Providence. Also, Seth Griffith was recalled from the P-Bruins to shake things up offensively. 

Niklas Svedberg also made his season debut in net on this day for Boston. 

The Bruins hung in there for most of the game. In fact, this matchup is underrated when it comes to producing physical and entertaining hockey. These two teams always give us a good watch when they get together. 

The score remained tied at one for most of the game. However, the dagger was driven into the hearts of the B's when Bruins' killer Daniel Briere scored the game-winning goal with less than a second remaining in the game. Yes, this was a tough loss, so no need to dwell on the obvious. Expect changes to surface in the immediate future. 

This was the perfect opportunity to get some momentum going before embarking on their first road trip of the year, but the team could not put it together. The Bruins will play their next game on Wednesday night in Detroit against the Red Wings (again).

Gold Star: Niklas Svedberg...He allowed two goals in his season debut,  but he made 28 saves and kept the Bruins in the game for quite awhile. Not bad so far. 

Black Star: Matt Bartkowski...He was on the ice for both goals and completely lost his man in front of the net. He looks overwhelmed already.

Game Four Box Score

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Games 2-3: Tough First Week

When a team has to play six games in nine nights to start the year, that immediately puts the pressure on you to do well from the get-co. 

Well, the good teams thrive under that type of pressure.

The Boston Bruins just so happen to be placed in that exact scenario this season. They are looking to respond in the right way to close out this busy start to the 2014-15 campaign. The B's were right back in action on Thursday night for the first road game of the year. They took on the Detroit Red Wings.

Despite Boston being short handed, this was a very winnable game. Wings' Pavel Datsyuk was placed on injured reserve to begin the year, so any type of playoff revenge planned by Detroit took a major hit right off the bat. 

The Bruins sent out the same lineup as they did on Wednesday hoping for a repeat performance. Unfortunately, that did not come to fruition. The Red Wings powered their way to a 2-1 victory on home ice. Patrice Bergeron was the lone goal scorer for the B's. Although Tuukka Rask was great in goal, he just could not get the help he needed. Those back-to-backs are killer, especially the second half of them. The second period has always been the Achilles heel of the Black and Gold since the dawning of the "Claude Julien" era in Boston...things were no different on this night.  

The Bruins closed out the week on Saturday night against the Washington Capitals, a team that gutted their core and underwent a major overhaul during the offseason. 

The new look is paying off, and it showed on this night. The Bruins got spanked by the Capitals in a 4-0 blanking at the TD Garden. Alex Ovechkin (WSH) recorded a pair of goals. The bigger problem here is that this Boston team looks inept and deficient in many areas. When you score three goals in three games as a team, everything needs to be reevaluated.  

The Black and Gold will play their first matinee game of the year on Monday afternoon against the Colorado Avalanche.

Gold Star (combined): Patrice Bergeron...This is a default selection, considering how bad the team is playing right now. However, he is the lone spark on the offensive side of things. 

Black Star (combined): Milan Lucic...His play is horrendous, not to mention that he is getting thrown around out there with ease. Something drastic has to happen here.

Game Two Box Score

Game Three Box Score

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Game 1: Who Doesn't Love This Time of Year?

That's right, everyone. We have finally made it. Although we all enjoyed a great summer, hockey is back and better than ever. 

The 2014-15 NHL season is now upon us. The debut of "Wednesday Night Rivalry" this time around featured your Boston Bruins. They kicked off their season at home against the Philadelphia Flyers. 

The Bruins finished the preseason with a 3-2-2 record, showing signs of both rising and sinking as this year will evolve. However, all flashes of hope and glimmer disintegrate once the regular season starts. Although this roster looks vastly different from when the team opened training camp, this team is still good enough to win the Atlantic Division. Here is what the opening-night lineup looked like:

Milan Lucic-Ryan Spooner-Matt Fraser
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille-Craig Cunningham-Bobby Robins

Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg-Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug-Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask-Niklas Svedberg

Gregory Campbell remained out of the lineup because of a core injury, but we all can expect him to be among this group when he returns. Also, David Krejci was placed on injured reserve to start the season due to an undisclosed injury. He should be back next week.

Now, it is time for game action. 

In the first period, the Bruins came out strong. They put pressure on the Flyers and got under their skin. The eagerness to agitate led to a power play opportunity for the Bruins, and Smith capitalized on the chance to put the Bruins up by one. They started getting sloppy in the latter half of the period, but that did not carry over into the second period.

Boston started to put untapped pressure on the Flyers to the point where they could not even carry the puck out of the neutral zone. Lots of hits and a fight thrown in combined to make for some very entertaining hockey.

In the third period, Philly tied the game and completely outplayed the Bruins. However, sometimes a bounce of the puck is all you need. After McQuaid unleashed a shot on goal, the puck bounced to the stick of Kelly for him to tap in. The 2-1 lead would hold up and the Bruins took the full two points on opening night. Soderberg had two assists in this game while Rask finished with 19 saves. 

The Bruins will play the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, followed by a Saturday night game against the Washington Capitals. 

Gold Star: Reilly Smith...Along with his goal, he set up several of his teammates with great scoring chances. He will earn that new contract this year. 

Black Star: Milan Lucic...We know the offensive production was not there in this one, but not a single hit? This better not be a trend.

Game One Box Score

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Almost Time For The Real Thing

The Boston Bruins are beyond eager to get this 2014-15 NHL season underway. It really is almost time for the real thing. However, they had one last hurdle to clear before that can happen.

The B's closed out their preseason schedule this week with a back-to-backer on Friday and Saturday night. The New York Islanders were up first, followed by the Detroit Red Wings to close things out.

David Pastrnak, Reilly Smith, and Torey Krug all made their preseason debuts, indicating that B's head coach Claude Julien has a pretty solid idea of what the opening-night roster will look like. Speaking of which, Ryan Spooner was among the notable cuts made by the team this week. This was surprising, considering that the Bruins were vocal about getting younger and more skilled on the bottom two lines. Interesting move here. 

Also, in a heartbreaking deal, the Bruins traded Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders for draft picks. This was a move motivated by money to generate more cap space, but this was an emotional decision made by management. His time in Boston will NEVER be taken lightly. He was a great Bruin. 

Either way, the Bruins and Isles played an extremely physical game on Friday night. Something like that usually plays into the hands of the Bruins, and it did. The B's went on to shellac the Islanders by a score of 6-1 in this game. Notably, Malcolm Subban looked great in net and was arguably the best player out on the ice. Could he be making a case for the backup goalie spot? 

In Saturday's game, Patrice Bergeron recorded a hat trick. However, it was not enough as the Wings skated to a 4-3 shootout victory in the last preseason game. We will soon see how the final roster will play out. 

Wednesday night marks the start of the regular season. The Bruins will be home against the Philadelphia Flyers. Let the campaign begin. Best of luck, Boston.