After the Bruins opening night win against the Flyers, Pierre McGuiree of NBC joins MFB to preview the Bruins season and evaluate the Johnny Boychuck trade.

Among other things, Chris Kelly scored the game-winning goal Wednesday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)Chris Kelly is used to being an effective player.



In theory, Wednesday night’€™s season opener between the Bruins and Flyers should have given us a great back-and-forth battle between two of the NHL‘€™s best centers. Patrice Bergeron and Claude Giroux both finished in the top five in Hart Trophy voting last season, and their lines were matched against each other for most of the game Wednesday night.

But instead of that great battle, what we got was a total beatdown in favor of the Bruins. Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith dominated Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek all game long, rendering one of the best players in the league virtually invisible.

Bergeron won 10 of the 12 faceoffs he took against Giroux and ended up with a plus-16 Corsi (22 shot attempts for, 6 against), according to hockeystats.ca, while Giroux finished the night with a minus-18 Corsi (6 attempts for, 24 against). Bergeron and his linemates combined for seven shots on goal, while Giroux and his managed just two. It seemed like every time the two lines were on the ice, the puck was in the Flyers’€™ zone, and the numbers reflect that.

‘€œThey take pride in being a better line than the line that they’€™re facing up against,’€ Claude Julien said. ‘€œIt’€™s just a trait that they have. They worked hard. You have to give them credit, too, for how they checked against that line because it had a lot of potential to be dangerous offensively. But those guys did a pretty good job of taking away those opportunities.’€

The key was winning battles. Bergeron is one of the best faceoff men in the NHL, but it’€™s not like he won all 10 of those faceoffs cleanly. Some of them required him outworking Giroux on a second or third attempt to win the puck back, and some of them required Marchand or Smith to jump in and beat the opponent to a loose puck.

Battles in the corner led to longer offensive-zone possessions. One of the best examples of this came with around 9:40 left in the second when Bergeron won a 1-on-1 battle in the corner to the left of the net. He came away with the puck and moved it back to Zdeno Chara at the left point. Chara then moved it over to Adam McQuaid, who sent a shot through a nice Smith screen, one that he was able to set by winning a battle for position. The shot didn’€™t go in, but it wasn’€™t an easy save either.

That battling helped lead to the Bruins’ power-play goal that gave them a 1-0 lead as well. Bergeron and Carl Soderberg combined to win a 2-on-2 battle behind the net, and Soderberg wound up finding Smith backdoor for the goal.

When asked what worked so well Wednesday night, Smith’€™s answer was simple: ‘€œBergy. Bergy was doing a good job.’€

‘€œHe was winning tons of faceoffs, which was giving us the puck pretty much every time we got out there,’€ Smith added. ‘€œSo he did a good job, and Marchy was just kind of just being March, winning every puck in the corners and making good plays. Those guys did a good job.’€

Of course, it’€™s not surprising to see Bergeron and his linemates dominate when it comes to possession. All three of them ranked in the top 10 in the NHL in Corsi last season, and Bergeron led the league in CorsiRel (Corsi relative to his teammates). But Wednesday night was impressive even by those lofty standards.

Bergeron had just three games all of last season in which he finished with a better Corsi percentage than Wednesday night’€™s 78.6 percent. One came against a bad possession team in Washington, one came against a Florida team without a true No. 1 center, and the other came against a Detroit team that was missing both Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg at the time. In short, none of them came against a player like Claude Giroux, or a line like his.

See, Giroux isn’€™t normally a bad possession player. His 53.2 percent Corsi last season was more than respectable, and good enough for fourth on the Flyers. And his right wing, Voracek? He led the team with a 55.1 percent Corsi last season and ranked third in the NHL with a plus-8.65 percent CorsiRel. These are really good players that Bergeron and friends made look like bums.

With David Krejci out for at least the first three games of the season and new faces moving in and out of the lineup, the Bruins need Bergeron’€™s line to be the constant. There was no reason to think they wouldn’€™t be, but Wednesday night’€™s performance was even better than anyone could have expected.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

After ending last season hurt, Chris Kelly began the Bruins’€™ 2014-15 season with the game-winning goal in the final minute of the team’€™s season-opener against the Flyers.

Reilly Smith scored the first goal of the season for the Bruins. (Getty Images)

Reilly Smith scored the first goal of the season for the Bruins. (Getty Images)

After ending last season hurt, Chris Kelly began the Bruins’€™ 2014-15 season with the game-winning goal in the final minute of the team’€™s season-opener against the Flyers.

With the game tied at a goal apiece, Kelly banged a bouncing puck past Steve Mason to give the Bruins a 2-1 victory. Kelly had nine goals last season.

In a play seen many times a season ago, Reilly Smith went to the left side of the net and took a pass across the net from Carl Soderberg for a backdoor goal on the power play.

After a scoreless second period, the Flyers tied the game on a Sean Couturier goal that might have gone off Carl Soderberg’€™s stick. A Patrice Bergeron holding penalty minutes later put the Bruins in a right spot, but an effective kill (the B’€™s held the Flyers’€™ power play quiet on three power plays), kept the game knotted at one.

Tuukka Rask made 19 saves on the night for the B’€™s.

Here are some takeaways from the game:

- In a matchup of top-five finishers in 2013-14 Hart voting, Patrice Bergeron dominated Claude Giroux. In addition to Bergeron overwhelming the Flyers’€™ captain in the face-off circle, Bergeron and his linemates held a strong edge in possession over Philadelphia’€™s top line.

- The Bruins started the game with Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton as their top pair and Dennis Seidenberg with Adam McQuaid. Claude Julien switched Hamilton and McQuaid halfway though the second period, making the B’€™s top four Chara-McQuaid and Seidenberg-Hamilton. The pairings were switched back and forth throughout the third period, with the Chara and Hamilton allowing the tying goal.

An offensively overzealous performance from Hamilton probably played a factor in the switch, as an attempt at keeping the puck in the zone in final minute of the first led to a 2-on-1 for the Flyers. Early in the second, Hamilton tried to pressure a puck carrier coming out of the Philadelphia zone and got beat, giving the Flyers number the other way again.

Hamilton was also picked off at the blue line in the offensive zone midway through the period to give the Flyers another odd-man rush.

- Ryan Spooner centered a line with Milan Lucic and Matt Fraser that Julien used as his third line. Spooner held his own in the faceoff circle and made some nice plays, but his biggest offensive issue from a season ago crept up again. Spooner does not go to the net, whether it’€™s with or without the puck, and that showed up in his play again Wednesday. He peeled off to the right wall after skating the puck into the zone in the first, while a second-period play in which he dished the puck to Lucic at the blue line saw him loiter at the right circle.

- Playing in his first career NHL game, 32-year-old Bobby Robins got in his first NHL fight when, after he and Craig Cunningham hit Zac Rinaldo simultaneously (Robins was given a charging minor for the hit), Robins dropped the gloves in a feverish bout with Luke Schenn.

- The lineup in the game was as follows:

Marchand ‘€“ Bergeron ‘€“ Smith
Kelly ‘€“ Soderberg ‘€“ Eriksson
Lucic ‘€“ Spooner ‘€“ Fraser
Paille ‘€“ Cunningham ‘€“ Robins

Chara ‘€“ Hamilton/McQuaid
Seidenberg ‘€“ Adam McQuaid/Hamilton
Torey Krug ‘€“ Kevan Miller

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
We check in with the great Jack Edwards of NESN and preview the Boston Bruins on opening night for the NHL.
Live Blog Bruins season opener
 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his first weekly appearance of the 2014-15 season Wednesday, hours before the Bruins drop the puck against the Flyers in the opener at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go the MFB audio on demand page.

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his first weekly appearance of the 2014-15 season Wednesday, hours before the Bruins drop the puck against the Flyers in the opener at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go the MFB audio on demand page.

Prognosticators think highly of the Bruins heading into the campaign, and Brickley explained there’s a good reason for that.

“I don’t know if they’ve gotten better in any one particular area other than a little bit more experience,” Brickley said. “I think they have the strengths that most teams that want to be an elite team have. You try to build teams from the goal line on out. So they have a goaltender that won the Vezina in the last year, obviously, Tuukka [Rask] is tremendously talented and calm and has that demeanor that everybody likes to play in front of.

“They have a real good defensive corps led by Zdeno Chara. They play a defense-first system. They play a backchecking formula that really, really pays off, which is one of the main reasons that they play four lines. The demand by Claude Julien and his coaching staff to have that back pressure to help out the team defense part of the game is almost unmatched across the league. And it really stands out when you break down tape just how committed the Bruins forwards are to get back and play defense and pressure the puck and try to turn defense into offense with turnovers and control the middle of the ice — that’s that straight-down-the-middle phrase that I use.

“And then try to have their offense be a balanced scoring attack along with quality special teams. They were the third-best power play in the league last year, that has a lot to do with the infusion of young talent that they got — like a Dougie Hamilton, like a Torey Krug, they both play power play on different units. Reilly Smith comes in in that deal for [Tyler] Seguin, he gives you a different element, a little bit more speed, a little bit more skill up front. It allows Chara to play the front of the net — whether you thought that was going to be a successful and productive experiment or not, it has paid off for the Bruins.

“So, that’s the formula for success. That’s why the Jeremy Roenicks and the Barry Melroses feel that the Bruins, relative to every other team in the Eastern Conference, that they’re right there at the top.”

On the negative side, the Bruins traded defenseman Johnny Boychuck last week in a deal made to clear up some cap space. Brickley expressed concern about Dennis Seidenberg, who is returning from a knee injury last season, and said it might come down to Kevan Miller’s ability to fill Boychuck’s skates.

“I guess the answer is, can a guy like Kevan Miller step in to replace Johnny Boychuck? I think he can do a pretty credible job,” Brickley said. “He got good experience last year. I know the Bruins like that left-right symmetry, left shots on the left side, right shots on the right side. He’s got a first good stride, meaning he can explode out of any kind of forechecking pressure. He’s a physical guy, he’s tough. He’s got a good shot and he tries to play within the system.

“He’s one of those young — not so young in terms of age — but inexperienced guys as far as the NHL, doesn’t have a ton of games in the games played column, probably somewhere around 50. But he’s eyes and ears open, mouth shut, pays attention, tries to play with game speed and game attitude in practice in order to become a better player. So, I’m high on him, but Boychuck departing this team is a big loss, only because you didn’t get anything in return except draft picks for the future.

“And the Bruins do have a hole up front right now. They don’t have anybody that’s going to slide into that [Jarome] Iginla spot playing alongside David Krejci — I don’t expect to see Loui Eriksson, that’s not good chemistry there with David Krejci. He’s much better served to play with [Carl] Soderberg on that third unit. They tried to solve that void from within, from within the organization or with invites to camp, but it hasn’t gone that way.

“So I think going back to your original comment about Peter Chiarelli, yes, expect further moves to be made in order for the Bruins to get to be the team that they want by the trading deadline.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

More on the Boychuck trade: “I didn’t like it either, just from a fan’s perspective, because of Johnny Boychuck. He really maximized what he brought to the table in this Bruins system. And he was great in the room and everybody loved him, and certainly the media liked him, all of the above. And he was a gamer. When the game meant the most, he played the hardest, as far as he was concerned, and it showed up in the results that he got.

“I didn’t understand the timing. If it was going to be an inevitable deal, like we need to move this guy when we think about beyond this season, he’s going to command at least $5 million on the open market, we have other guys that are on one-year deals that we feel we are going to have to sign ahead of him. And if they were just committed to the fact that this was something we’re going to have to do, what’s the best time to do it? They could have made other deals to get cap-compliant and still held on to Johnny Boychuck. So it becomes about timing and what can we get in return and what assets are we looking for.

“I guess I’m disappointed in the sense that it came on the eve of opening night when it should be all about team and excitement. And I’m a little disappointed that you had tremendous value in Johnny Boychuck and I’m looking for somebody to fill that right side inside the top six, and I thought that might have been a deal that might have been able to be made, because you had such value in Johnny Boychuck.

“So, we will see moving forward what the Bruins have in mind, how they’re going to fill the weaknesses or the challenges that they have in order to be the team that they want. But I’m with you. I was disappointed. I was disappointed in the timing. They say that that’s pretty good value, though, from my understanding, that other people across the league say that two seconds and a third. And if you look back into the history of the Bruins — I won’t say recent history — but part of this core group, players like [Patrice] Bergeron and [Milan] Lucic and Krejci, they were second- and third-round picks, and that’s part of your core. So you can get good players with those picks, but the Bruins haven’t been all that successful in recent years with those picks.”

On bouncing back after last season’s disappointing playoff loss to the Canadiens: “I think the overall thought is to just use that to fuel the fire, fuel the passion, unfinished business from a year ago. You lost to your archenemy and you lost in a Game 7 on home ice. You try to remember that foul taste that’s in your mouth, similar to that Game 6 loss to Chicago in the Stanley Cup finals, those guys that experienced that, if they were still on the team, which that core group still is, and they have another foul taste in their mouth.

“Peter Chiarelli has done the best he can to try to keep this core group together based on their evaluation as to who fits into that core. And they should be well-motivated. But also understand 82 games is a ton of games, it’s a lot of minutes. Look what they did last year — basically coming out of the Olympics everybody was concerned about March; they almost ran the table, 15-1-1. So they have depth, they have a system, they know what it takes to win. Maybe some different adjustments this year in order to have better legs in the postseason. You could get Montreal again in the playoffs, and that’s always a difficult matchup no matter where the teams finish in the regular standings. So maybe some adjustments for the core group, but as far as what happened last year, it should be motivating.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
Adam McQuaid

Adam McQuaid

Adam McQuaid probably hoped that he would have been a top-4 defenseman by the time he reached his fifth full NHL season. Now, he kind of is. Maybe. For now.

McQuaid, who has played on Boston’€™s bottom pairing throughout his NHL career, figures to open the regular season as Dennis Seidenberg‘€™s defensive partner on Boston’€™s second pairing, by the looks of morning skate. The spot was held by Johnny Boychuk throughout training camp, but Saturday’€™s trade of Boychuk left an opening to be filled by McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski or Kevan Miller.

The guess here is that it will eventually be Miller, but for now, McQuaid, who hasn’€™t played in a regular-season or playoff game since last January, is getting his shot.

“I did feel like [I could be a top-4 player] when I could get some consistency and play a little more,” McQuaid said Wednesday. “I think everyone’€™s always looking to continue to take steps, but it was kind of hard when I was in and out of the lineup so much.

“It is a great opportunity, but I just need to focus on what I do and not look at as any different as a situation. Whoever I’€™m playing against, play hard and be aware of who’€™s out there. That’€™s all you can do.”

McQuaid and Seidenberg have not played much together in the past. Seidenberg has typically played on Boston’€™s second pairing in the regular season before playing on the top pairing in the postseason. McQuaid has remained a third-pairing guy.

“We haven’€™t played with each other a ton, but it’€™s one of those things,” McQuaid. “We’€™ve had the same group here for quite a while, for the most part. Guys have been comfortable playing with one another, but we’€™ve got some shifts together in the preseason. I think he’€™s a pretty easy guy to play with, so I’€™m not too worried about that.”

Look for the Bruins to take their time as they try different players with Seidenberg in order to find a full-time Boychuk replacement. For now, it’€™s McQuaid. The first step to keeping the job will be staying healthy.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean