Patrice Bergeron was voted by the Boston chapter of the Pro Hockey Writer’€™s Association as the Bruins’€™ nominee for the 2015 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The award is given each year to “the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I did not vote for Bergeron, who I felt was something of an interesting choice. My vote went to Loui Eriksson, who has bounced back nicely in his second season with the Bruins after scoring only 10 goals over 61 regular-season games in a trying first season with the B’€™s. Eriksson scored his 20th goal of the season Tuesday and leads all Bruins forwards in time on ice this season.

Recent Masterton winners include Dominic Moore (2014), Josh Harding (2013) and Max Pacioretty (2012). Both Pacioretty and Harding came back from physical ailments, while Moore returned to the NHL after caring for his wife, who died from liver cancer last January.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

WILMINGTON — David Krejci may be making the move back to center and Brett Connolly may be closing in on his Bruins debut.

WILMINGTON — After taking contact for the first time since suffering a broken finger last month, Brett Connolly said he is ready to play.

Brett Connolly

Brett Connolly

WILMINGTON — After taking contact for the first time since suffering a broken finger last month, Brett Connolly said he is ready to play.

Connolly, who broke his right index finger in his second practice with the B’€™s on March 4 and underwent surgery, participated fully in Wednesday’€™s practice. Exactly four weeks from the date of the injury, Connolly skated on the fourth line (something that would seemingly be temporary as he eases his way back) and took turns on Boston’€™s second power play unit.

Following the practice, Connolly said he hopes to play Thursday night against the Red Wings.

“Obviously you want to get in right away,” he said. “I’€™m looking forward to seeing what’€™s going to happen here. I feel I’€™m ready. Again, [I’€™m] excited. With everything that happened, coming in here and getting hurt, obviously you’€™re very disappointed.

“It’€™s been a hard three weeks, not being around the guys on the road and just little things like that, that for a new guy coming in, it’€™s tough. But the guys have been great to me coming in here. I’€™m as comfortable as I’€™ll ever be and I’€™m excited to get in and help the team win.”

Connolly took part in Tuesday’s warmups, which he would not have been allowed to do if he were on injured reserve. Claude Julien clarified after Wednesday’s practice that the team never placed Connolly on IR, but that doctors have yet to give Julien the OK to play the 22-year-old right wing.

“I’m not going to write him off for [Thursday] but I’m certainly not going to say he’s in for sure.”

If Connolly were to play on Boston’€™s fourth line Thursday, Wednesday’€™s lines suggested he could potentially play with Chris Kelly and Max Talbot. That could certainly change, but Connolly is more focused on when he’€™ll play than with whom he’€™ll play.

“For me, I’€™m just looking to come in here and help the team win,’€ he said. ‘€œWherever they put me, that’€™s where I’€™ll be.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

WILMINGTON — David Krejci may be making the move back to center.

After four games at right wing on Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line, Krejci was in the middle of Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson in Wednesday’€™s practice. Reilly Smith moved back to Bergeron’€™s line.

The lines in practice were as follows:

Marchand-Bergeron-Smith (Paille)
Soderberg-Krejci-Eriksson
Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak
Kelly-Campbell-Talbot (Talbot)

The line moves Soderberg to left wing, where he has not played since last season.

These lines may not last long, as Brett Connolly continues to progress. His return will lead to further changes in the lineup.

The Bruins will play Thursday night in Detroit. The B’s trail the Red Wings by a pair of points with five games remaining, while the Red Wings have six. If the Bruins are to catch the Wings, they would take over the third spot in the Atlantic Division.

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

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

The Bruins have been as streaky as Milan Lucic. A five-game win streak was followed by six straight losses.

It’s only appropriate the Bruins ended March with their third straight win, a key victory, spurred on by one of their better players in the month as the right winger provided the game-winning margin with some grit and good fortune.

His rush to the Panthers blue line with just over a minute left in regulation ended with a “why not” shot on goal that found its way through the skates of Roberto Luongo and gave the Bruins a 3-2 win Tuesday at TD Garden. Lucic has become a leader for young stars Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak on his line. On Tuesday, he led by example when it mattered most.

His drop pass to Spooner resulted in a bad-angle shot by Spooner from the left boards that tied the game early in the third period. His late-game rush with Spooner ended up being the difference in winning and losing.

“I was checking to see to see if Spoons was onside,” said Lucic, who finished the game with a goal and an assist and five of each for the month. “It was kind of a one-on-four situation and I just tried to get [the puck] past the two D-men [and] on net and I got a little bit of luck there and was able to find a hole there in the five-hole. It was one of those things where you’re kind of swarmed. You’re just getting the puck on net, and thankfully it went in for myself and ends up being a big goal for a big win.”

Of course, all of this became necessary because the Bruins again let their guard down in the second period, falling behind 2-1 heading into the final 20 minutes.

“We wanted to get back to playing desperate and hungry hockey,” Lucic said. “In the second period our emotion level dropped. It just seems like to we went back to old habits in the second and it cost us two goals. Then we got back on it in the third period. It gives us a big win. At this point of the season we wanted to try to put together a full 60-minute effort, but at the end of the day it’s nice we were able to step up in the third period and get a huge win and keep taking care of business.

“It was good to see, especially with a team playing for their lives. They put so much emphasis on this game, probably being the biggest game of their season. We had to view it the same way. Obviously, being down 2-1 going into the third we had to have the same desperation and that mentality as they did, playing-for-their-lives mentality. You saw in the opening shift of the third period, we went right into the offensive zone and created a chance. We’re going to need more of that with five games left, especially four of them on the road. We’re going to have play good smart, hard hockey and keep finding a way to get wins.”

Was there an emotional switch turned on by Lucic and his teammates in the second intermission?

“I think not only for myself, I think for the whole team,” he acknowledged. “Obviously, these are desperate times. We obviously didn’t want end up in a position at the end of the season where we were second-guessing ourselves and had regrets. We started playing with that desperation and going out there and leaving it on the ice and playing that no-regrets type of mentality. It’s clicked for myself and it’s clicked for the whole team. It’s just good we’re getting wins here and we have to continue working at it to get more wins.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

To Tuukka Rask, the glass Tuesday night was half full. He and his teammates slept walked through the second period as they have in many underachieving games this season and fell behind a desperate Florida Panthers team smelling the chance to get back in the hunt for the final wild card spot in the East.

Then the Bruins woke up in the third, getting a fortunate goal from a very bad angle from Ryan Spooner and an admittedly lucky goal from Milan Lucic to escape with a hard fought 3-2 win over the Panthers at TD Garden.

“Well kind of frustrating,” said Rask, who allowed a weak five-hole goal of his own in the second period from former Bruin Brad Boyes that put the Panthers up, 2-1. “Again, just wondering what’€™s going on there. There’€™s no emotion and we needed to find it. We did and a 40-minute game today got us the win, but obviously there’€™s wins that feel great and there’€™s wins you take and you feel good. I don’€™t think this is a great win for us but we’€™ll take it for sure.”

When Milan Lucic scored with 69 seconds left in regulation, it turned out to be a crucial two points, as they put themselves six points ahead of the Panthers and remained three points clear of the Senators in the race for the eighth and final spot.

From the get-go Tuesday, the Bruins appeared ready to show they were up to the task against a Florida team fighting to stay alive.

“First period was good,” Rask said. “They never really got anything great going there but we were just so flat that it was kind of one of those games where something bad is about to happen and it did and thank goodness it didn’€™t end up costing us. We showed in the third period, when we play like that it looks good and it’€™s going to benefit us. So just have to figure out and keep that going for 60 minutes.”

In the second period, Rask faced only seven shots but allowed two to beat him. One was a right point cannon from Brandon Pirri just eight seconds into a Panthers power play. The goal 55 seconds into the second gave the Panthers new life and put the Bruins back on their heels. That’s where Rask appeared to be when he allowed Boyes to beat him 11 minutes later.

“I just wasn’€™t ready enough for that shot,” Rask said. “He was so far out that I was looking for options there, I wasn’€™t ready for it. When I’€™m not ready for it’€”you know it just caught me off guard.”

With Ottawa coming from behind to beat the Red Wings in a shootout, the Senators kept pace in terms of points with the Bruins, with still a game in hand on Boston. The Bruins have five games left while Ottawa has six. Tuesday’s win also brought the Bruins to within two points of Detroit for third place in the Atlantic, which would elevate them from the wild card pool.

“We try not to look at the standings too much because we have a job to do here and we still have five games left and they’€™re important games,” Rask said. “We’€™re trying to focus on our game and once the season is over we’€™ll look at the standings and see where we stand.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Milan Lucic has turned his season around with Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak.</p>
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The Bruins were a period away from letting the Panthers back into the race for the last playoff spot, but once again, Ryan Spooner’€™s line came through late. David Pastrnak had the game-tying goal, while Milan Lucic netted the game-winner with 1:09 remaining.

The Bruins were a period away from letting the Panthers back into the race for the last playoff spot, but once again, Ryan Spooner’€™s line came through late. David Pastrnak had the game-tying goal, while Milan Lucic netted the game-winner with 1:09 remaining.

The win improved the Bruins to 91 points on the season with five games left in the regular season. Florida, who entered the game trailing Boston by four points and fewer regulation and overtime wins, are now six points out of a playoff spot with five games remaining. The Senators were trailing the Red Wings at the time that Boston’€™s game concluded.

Tuesday marked the second-straight game in which a member of Spooner’s line netted the game-winning goal. David Pastrnak scored the deciding goal in overtime of Saturday’s win over the Hurricanes.

With Florida holding a 2-1 lead midway through the third period, Ryan Spooner threw the puck toward the net from along the wall, with David Pastrnak redirecting it past Roberto Luongo in front of the net. Lucic would later walk into the offensive zone and fire a shot past Luongo from the high slot to give Boston the win.

The line’€™s third period was a nice response from the line after being on the ice for a second-period Brad Boyes goal. With the goal for and goal against, following is the line’€™s updated production:

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 9.28.35 PM

Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:

ERIKSSON HITS 20

Loui Eriksson made a heck of a play during a first-period 4-on-4 to give Boston the only goal of the first period. Eriksson buzzed around the offensive zone before jumping on an Aleksander Barkov turnover and escaping Aaron Ekblad and Dmitry Kulikov in the slot. He then got Roberto Luongo to bite on a deke before roofing the puck with a backhander.

The goal was Eriksson’€™s 20th of the season, giving the 29-year-old five such campaigns. He had 10 goals over 61 games last season for Boston.

Eriksson is the Bruins’€™ third 20-goal scorer this season. Lucic (18) is the only other realistic candidate to hit 20. Boston had five 20-goal scorers last season.

OPENING STATEMENT

Eriksson’€™s goal and Tuukka Rask‘€™s seven saves in the first period meant that the Bruins hit the first intermission with a lead for the third consecutive game. The Bruins have now outscored opponents, 5-0, in their last three games.

BRUINS GIVE ONE AWAY

This is not the time of year to allow bad goals, but such was the case in the second period when Matt Bartkowski and Tuukka Rask collectively gave one to Brad Boyes.

Bartkowski whiffed on a stumbling puck at the offensive blue line, with Boyes stealing it and sprinting through the neutral zone. Boyes then beat Rask off the rush with a shot that snuck in five-hole.

Bartkowski needed to be better with the puck and Rask needed to make the save. Both players failed and the result was a goal against.

STOP THE FIGHT

Adam McQuaid may have challenged Shawn Thornton to fight following a second-period hit on Dennis Seidenberg. Whether he did or didn’€™t, the Bruins are probably better off that no gloves were dropped.

Like it or not, the Bruins aren’€™t exactly overflowing with right-shot defensemen right now. With Kevan Miller out for the season and Dougie Hamilton out for the foreseeable future, McQuaid and Zach Trotman are the only righties on Boston’€™s blue line. If McQuaid were to get hurt, the team would either need to move Torey Krug to the right side (Seidenberg is already playing the right side) or dip into the likes of Steve Eminger, Chris Breen or Chris Casto from Providence.

As such, McQuaid (and probably all other Bruins defensemen, especially righties) should keep their gloves on for the time being.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean