2 games left in the season and the Bruins are in the driver's seat for the President's Cup which is allowing them to coast and get healthy. Pierre McGuire updates Mut and Lou on the possibility of Seidenberg's return and talks about situations elsewhere in the NHL.
Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Bruins’ road to the Presidents’€™ Trophy and the postseason. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

While Boston clinched a playoff berth back in March, the team is two points away from clinching the Presidents’€™ Trophy following Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Jets in Winnipeg.

“It’€™s not so much about winning and losing, you want to see some positive things in your game whether it’€™s coming from behind, whether it’€™s having a few good penalty kills, some good power-play situations, making sure your defensive players are obviously stepping up and doing what they want to do,” McGuire said.

“The most important thing, though, you want to be playing well situationally going in, especially when you’€™re in a situation like the Bruins are where you’€™re one of the top teams, if not the top team, in the league.”

Since clinching a spot in the postseason on March 21, the Bruins have gone 5-5 and have lost two straight.

“You’ve put yourself in a position where you can rest guys who you chose to rest, you can experiment with some different things offensively, defensively, matchup-wise,” McGuire said. “You don’€™t want to get players hurt, obviously. You want to make sure they’€™re high-octane going into the playoffs. … [It] is really important to remember the Bruins have put themselves in this position where they can afford to experiment and still maintain a lot of their organizational integrity just because of how well they’ve played all year long.”

The Bruins could have Dennis Seidenberg back in the lineup during the playoffs. Seidenberg,who tore his ACL/MCL in late-December, was seen skating on Tuesday with Adam McQuaid at Ristuccia Arena.

“They really think there’€™s potential,” McGuire said. “I wouldn’t say he definitely will, but there’€™s potential that he can come back because he’€™s been so impressive with his training. The Bruins do this about as well as any team in the league in terms of rehabbing players and getting them back.

“Dennis — he’€™s such a solid athlete and such a competitive person — it doesn’t surprise me that he did everything in his power to try to come back. … Will he help? Absolutely. But you do not want to rush this player back. You have to make sure that it’s signed off on by the doctors. If it’s not signed off, then you can’t put him in the lineup. But if it’s signed off on, boom, put him in.”

For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri

Zdeno Chara was given Thursday off to rest. (AP)The Bruins said they were going to rest their best players. Nobody said it was going to be enjoyable, but it will all be over soon. 

It seems the B’s haven’t enjoyed the not-quite-post-regular-season, pre-postseason part of their schedule and it’s hard to blame them; it’s boring. 

The Bruins rested their big guns, blew another third-period lead and took a 2-1 shootout loss to the Jets Thursday in Winnipeg.

Chad Johnson lost his shutout bid late. (AP)

Chad Johnson lost his shutout bid late. (AP)

The Bruins rested their big guns, blew another third-period lead and took a 2-1 shootout loss to the Jets Thursday in Winnipeg.

Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron both sat, with Ryan Spooner entering the lineup and centering Bergeron’s line. Andrej Meszaros played with Chara sitting.

Brad Marchand scored the game’s first goal when, after Matt Bartkowski outmuscled his man in the corner of the defensive zone, David Krejci got the puck and sent it up to Reilly Smith, who sent the puck off the end boards to get it to bounce in front. Marchand got to the puck and backhanded it past Michael Hutchinson for his 24th goal of the season.

The game remained 1-0 until late in the third period, when former Bruin flew past Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla in the neutral zone and took the puck deep into Boston’s end before dishing to Evander Kane, who broke up Chad Johnson‘s shutout bid with 1:57 to go in regulation.

The Bruins have two games remaining in their schedule. They will host the Sabres Saturday before finishing the regular season Sunday in New Jersey.


- The Bruins have allowed a lot of goals late in periods and late in games of late, and Kane’s game-tying goal was the latest. It’s tough to read into that as a real issue given that the regular personnel has been in and out of the lineup, but it’s a bad habit nonetheless.

- Hutchinson, a former third-round pick of the B’s, was strong with 30 saves in regulation. His biggest save came when he stopped Iginla on a first-period breakaway.


- Jordan Caron played in his fifth consecutive game and had a decent scoring chance midway through the second period. The most notable thing there is that he’s getting in games, as he’ll almost certainly be needed at some point in the postseason given that he’s the team’s 13th forward.

- These final games can still be used as confidence-boosters, and a Reilly Smith had a couple of really good shifts. He had the strategic dump-in off the end boards to set up Marchand’s goal in the first and nearly scored a goal of his own on a third-period one-timer off a feed from Marchand. On that same shift, Smith got back quickly to break up an Evander Kane bid.

Smith got the puck in the slot in overtime and seemed to have an open look off a Johnny Boychuk steal, but Smith’s shot was blocked by Zach Redmond. Smith was also stopped by Hutchinson on his shootout attempt.

- In getting the secondary apple on Marchand’s goal, David Krejci reached 50 assists for the second time in his career. The other such season was his 74-point campaign in 2008-09 in which he had 51 helper.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Jack Edwards talks about the Bruins stretch run to the playoffs and rants about the NCAA.

PHILADELPHIA — It might be easy for Bruins fans to forget about Zane Gothberg. The team drafted him in the sixth round four years ago, and he’€™s been playing way out in North Dakota while fellow goaltending prospects Malcolm Subban and Niklas Svedberg are just a short drive away in Providence.

On top of that, there wasn’€™t much hype around Gothberg when the B’€™s drafted him. Sure, he had been named the top senior goalie in Minnesota high school hockey, but that was high school, and it was the highest level he had played at when the Bruins decided to take a chance on him. What stood out most back then was that his name was Zane and he was from a town called Thief River Falls. He was considered a long-term project, and if he didn’€™t pan out, then no big deal — it was only a sixth-round pick.

Well, it’€™s now been four years, and it’€™s become apparent that Gothberg is panning out nicely. Two years ago, he was named a co-recipient of the United States Hockey League’€™s Goaltender of the Year Award while playing for the Fargo Force. This year, as a sophomore at North Dakota, he won the starting job by early December and has backstopped the team to the Frozen Four, where it will meet archrival Minnesota in Thursday’€™s national semifinals.

“Zane all year long has pushed to get better,” said North Dakota senior captain Dillon Simpson. “It’€™s been pretty amazing to have a goalie like that. He’€™s a passionate, competitive guy, and he pushes everyone around him to be better. I don’€™t think I’€™ve met a goalie that doesn’€™t like to get scored on as much as Zane. I think that’€™s just part of his attitude and dedication to hockey.”

Just as he had to in the USHL, Gothberg needed to earn his playing time at North Dakota. He was solid last year as a freshman, posting a .920 save percentage and 9-4-3 record, but then-junior Clarke Saunders made 10 more starts and was the No. 1 goalie for most of the season.

Gothberg and Saunders split time again to start this season, but Gothberg won sole possession of the job after two months of superior play. He only got better as the season went along, but then things hit a snag when he suffered a lower-body injury in mid-January that forced him to miss five games.

The 6-foot-2 netminder wasn’€™t going to let that derail his strong season, though. Gothberg came back on Feb. 15 and didn’€™t allow more than two goals in any of his next eight starts. He has posted an excellent .939 save percentage in 14 games since returning, culminating with a career night against Ferris State in the Midwest Regional final. In that game, Gothberg stopped 44 of the 45 shots he faced in a double-overtime victory that sent North Dakota to the Frozen Four.

Now he’€™s ready to battle Minnesota and try to win a national championship. And in the longer term, he’€™s ready to battle Subban, Svedberg and anyone else for a future with the Bruins. He’€™s had to fight for playing time before, and he isn’€™t worried about where anyone has him ranked compared to those two.

“No matter what, at any level you’€™ll be at, there will be competition in that specific position,” Gothberg said. “You just have to work your tail off and do your best and let the chips fall where they may. I’€™m looking forward to it maybe one day down the road.”

Even if the Bruins don’t have a spot for Gothberg when he’s ready to turn pro, good goalies always have value. Regardless of whether he ends up in Boston or in a trade, the B’s could be in line for a nice return on that sixth-rounder.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

The Bruins recalled center Ryan Spooner from Providence on Wednesday, marking his second recall this month.

Spooner was brought up last week for a pair of games but did not play. His chances of playing this time around are better, as Chris Kelly played only one shift in the final 25 minutes of Tuesday’s game and is considered day-to-day by the team.

The Bruins recalled center Ryan Spooner from Providence on Wednesday, marking his second recall this month.

Spooner was brought up last week for a pair of games but did not play. His chances of playing this time around are better, as Chris Kelly played only one shift in the final 25 minutes of Tuesday’s game and is considered day-to-day by the team.

Spooner filled in for Kelly earlier in the season when Kelly had a broken fibula. In 22 games for Boston this season, the 22-year-old has no goals and 11 assists for 11 points.

The 2010 second-round pick has 11 goals and 34 assists for 45 points in 45 games for Providence this season.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

PHILADELPHIA — With Boston College trailing 3-2 early in the third period of its regional final against UMass-Lowell, Ryan Fitzgerald took a pass in the neutral zone and split two Lowell defenders before finishing with a nice forehand-backhand move at the front of the net.

It’€™s a play that Fitzgerald, the Bruins’€™ fourth-round pick this past summer, has always been able to make. The difference now is that he knows when to go for it and when it might be better to be conservative and either dump the puck in or pull up and wait for help.

‘€œHe came in here as a really skilled 1-on-1 player, had great moves, great hands,’€ said linemate and BC captain Patrick Brown. ‘€œBut I think as the year has gone on, he’€™s developed his vision a lot. He’€™s learned that he can’€™t beat everyone 1-on-1. Sometimes he does, but sometimes he has to chip pucks in or make a read and decide whether it’€™s the right play to take that 1-on-1. He did a great job doing that against Lowell, had that great goal for us.’€

Decision-making isn’€™t the only area in which Fitzgerald has improved during his freshman year at the Heights. It’€™s part of what has made him a better all-around player, but an even bigger part has been his defensive play. That’€™s a theme across college hockey, as most players come from leagues where defense isn’€™t emphasized as much or isn’€™t taught as well.

Fitzgerald is no different. He had the winning and scoring down pat. The North Reading native helped lead Malden Catholic to back-to-back Super 8 titles in 2011 and 2012. Then he went to the Valley Junior Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League and earned MVP honors in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

The 5-foot-9 playmaker has always been a student of the game, too, having learned from his father, Tom (a 17-year NHLer who is now an assistant general manager for the Penguins), and uncle, Scott (an assistant scouting director with the Bruins).

But when Fitzgerald arrived at BC in the fall, Jerry York and the rest of the coaching staff identified his defensive play as an area they were going to help him improve. Fitzgerald was willing to listen and willing to learn, and as a result, he’€™s already made significant strides in just one season.

‘€œHe’€™s a much better player now, in all three zones, than he was when he came to our first practice in October,’€ York said. ‘€œWe recruited a very good player. He was a very good player before he came. He’€™s always had the ability to score goals and create offense. Now I think he pays a little more attention to the defensive side of the game.’€

Oh, and Fitzgerald has continued to score goals and create offense, too. His 12 goals this season are third among Hockey East freshmen, and his 28 points are fourth. Those numbers are often overlooked — even in college hockey circles — because of the ridiculous production BC has gotten from its top line, as Johnny Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold have 77, 63 and 52 points, respectively.

But that’€™s a once-in-a-generation line. Comparing anyone’€™s production to that isn’€™t fair. What is fair is comparing Fitzgerald to other second-line players. When it comes to scoring, the only other Hockey East team with a comparable second line is Notre Dame. And when it comes to the other teams here in Philadelphia for the Frozen Four, Fitzgerald, Brown and Austin Cangelosi are, at worst, on par with the second lines from Union, Minnesota and North Dakota.

While the top line is the biggest key to the team’€™s success, the Eagles have known all season that there would be games in which they needed other lines to step up. Because that has happened — led by Fitzgerald and company — York has been able to keep his dynamic top line together and not split them up to spread out the offense.

‘€œYou can have marquee players, and you need those players to be really good, but they have to have a supporting cast that does things also,’€ York said. ‘€œIt’€™s not like basketball where you can start five players and play them the majority of the game. We’€™re using 18 players on a pretty regular basis.’€

Fitzgerald stepped up two weekends ago against Lowell, and he knows his team is going to need him to play well again in Thursday’€™s national semifinal against Union (a team that includes Mike Vecchione, his former Malden Catholic linemate). If he does, he could find himself winning another championship on Saturday night.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin