Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is not worrying about what's out of his control.</p>
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Noel Acciari has been promoted to the third line. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Noel Acciari has been promoted to the third line for tonight’s game against the Lightning. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Forward Noel Acciari has apparently made an impression in his first two games under Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy.

Originally an emergency recall (but transitioned into a regular recall midway through his first game up with the club), the 25-year-old banger has chipped in with an assist, four shots on goal, and five hits in a combined 20:27 of time on ice between losses to the Leafs and Senators to start the B’s increasingly do-or-die week.

It’s the workmanlike sample that’s to be expected from Acciari, and one prompted Cassidy, whose team has dropped three games in a row for the first time since he took over for Claude Julien, to give No. 55 an actual promotion for the first time in his NHL career.

Slated as the right-side complement to the Black and Gold’s third line with Ryan Spooner at center and Frank Vatrano to the left when the Bruins play host to the desperate Lightning tonight at TD Garden, Acciari’s boost up to the third line is just one of several made in another day of line changes.

Something that Cassidy has somewhat made his calling card in 18 games behind the bench.

“It gives you guys something to talk about,” Cassidy joked of his line changes after the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena.

But there is a method to the madness of moving an energy skater to the club’s third line, too.

“I think [Spooner and Vatrano] play well with a guy that gets to the net. Frank’s a shooter, Spooner’s a disher. They need somebody going to the net,” Cassidy, who has tried Jimmy Hayes, Drew Stafford, and Matt Beleskey there before giving Acciari a shot tonight, said. “I thought Noel’s done a good job on the fourth line. They create traffic in front of the net. Clearly he doesn’t have a resume as a goal scorer. We know that. We’re gonna give him an opportunity to get there and see how it works out.”

Of course, this isn’t Cassidy nor the B’s first look at Acciari, who has skated in 21 NHL games this year. Acciari also played in 45 games for the P-Bruins last year with Cassidy at the helm, and it was under Cassidy’s watch a year ago that Acciari tallied seven goals and 19 points and eventually earned his way into a late season, 19-game callup with the Big B’s. The Rhode Island native also had a 30-game run with Providence between NHL recalls this year, too, with six goals and 14 points for the P-Bruins.

“We’ve encouraged all of our forwards to hang onto [the puck] a little more, so that’s part of it. I think part of it is maturity, just playing more hockey and working on building his offensive game,” Cassidy said of Acciari’s offensive development. “He finished last year [in Providence] — I put him in the middle between Vatrano and [Seth] Griffith so he could see more pucks and make more plays because if he’s going to grow and be an NHL player, you have to have a certain level of skill and offensive ability.”

Acciari’s promotion to the Spooner line also keeps the pairs that Cassidy likes to have — Spooner and Vatrano, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and David Krejci and David Pastrnak — together, but puts a player of a different skill-set in a position to add an element that the club believes can lead to a more balanced four-line group for the club.

“Even though you may be a fourth line energy guy first and foremost, and you may be groomed to be a penalty-kill, at the end of the day you still need to make plays in today’s game, you still gotta create some level of offense,” Cassidy said. “We just gotta get the finish. That’s what we’re looking for with [Acciari]. And I’m sure he’d be the first to tell you that he’s frustrated.”

That frustration has bled its way into the record books, too.

Currently, Acciari has fired the eighth-most shots on goal without having recorded a goal in the franchise’s history, with 37 shots and zero goals, and Jeff Hoggan (53 shots and zero goals) is the only other forward in franchise history to put more shots on goal and not scored a goal. Matt Bartkowski, by the way, leads all B’s skaters in club history, with zero goals on 169 shots in a B’s uniform (although as you would remember, Bartkowski did score a playoff goal back in Game 7 against Toronto in 2013).

“But he’s getting opportunities and I think that [finish] will come if he continues to get his opportunities,” Cassidy said of Acciari’s need to bear down in the attacking zone. “I think everybody when they’re in the league a little longer gets more confident.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

When concussions cut Marc Savard’s NHL career entirely too short, there was little for the playmaking extraordinaire to keep his mind at ease. It was hard to find a player that loved hockey more than No. 91, and one that loved being a member of the Bruins more than Savard did. And unable to be in Boston or with the team after his last concussion, which occurred back in Jan. 2011, Savard used Twitter to remain an active part of the B’s community, and would often chime in with his thoughts on the team.

One weird, borderline unbelievable talent of Savard’s came early in the 2011-12 season, when he would use Twitter to make predictions based on that night’s Bruins game. His accuracy was pretty remarkable, too, and nearly rivaled his passing prowess.

On Nov. 7, 2011, Savard predicted a big win over the Isles and big nights from Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. He wasn’t wrong, as the Bruins beat the Isles 6-2 while Lucic and Horton combined for three goals and five points. After that game, Savard then said that the Bruins were going to rattle off five straight wins. They won seven games in a row. Early in December, although he didn’t make a stone cold prediction, Savard said that the Bruins needed Tim Thomas to have a monster game. Thomas went on to stop 45-of-46 shots against that night, as the Bruins defeated the Penguins by a 3-1 final.

Savard, now a member of the Devils in name alone (the Bruins traded his contract to the Panthers in the Jimmy Hayes deal, and the Panthers then moved it to the Devils as a cap space maneuver of sorts), decided to dust off the magic on Wednesday.

Anything he can do to help, right?

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The goals are not coming like they once did for Bruins winger David Pastrnak. And in anything but a shocking correlation, for a Black and Gold group that’s dropped three games in a row for the first time under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, neither are the wins.

David Pastrnak is battling through a scoring slump. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

David Pastrnak is battling through a scoring slump. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The goals are not coming like they once did for Bruins winger David Pastrnak. And in anything but a shocking correlation, for a Black and Gold group that’s dropped three games in a row for the first time under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, neither are the wins.

Following his two-shot, minus-3 night in Toronto on Monday, a 4-2 loss, Pastrnak returned to the Hub and put just three of the B’s 36 shots on net in yet another zero-zero-zero night on the scoresheet, and 3-2 defeat at the hands of a Sens club that’s all three meetings this year.

After the game, Pastrnak did not hold himself back when it came to analyzing his struggles on back-to-back nights.

“I’ve got to be better,” a frustrated Pastrnak said after the game. “I’ve got to make more plays and be better. I’ve got to be better.”

The slump could not come at a worse time for the Bruins, who again have dropped three games in a row, and are set to begin the second half of this crucial week with games against the Lightning on Thursday at the Garden and Isles on Saturday in Brooklyn. It doesn’t make matters any easier that this slump has not only come in the most important week of the season for the B’s, but immediately after Pastrnak’s hottest streak of his professional career to date, with six goals and 15 points in 11 games before these two games.

“It looks like the puck’s not cooperating with him and that happens to goal scorers so he’s just going to have to play through it – he did earlier this year,” Cassidy said of Pastrnak, who went through an 18-game goal drought earlier this season, on Tuesday. “Clearly we don’t want it to be as extended as it was then, I don’t think it will be. He’s a more mature player and person but he’ll have to find his way through it and sometimes you have to score an ugly goal, get a greasy one to get out of those things.”

There’s no doubt that teams have keyed in on the 20-year-old winger of late, too, as Pastrnak has been routinely battered around through the neutral zone and around the net, and has been the subject of numerous post-whistle shoving contests.

“It’s part of the game, you know?” Pastrnak, who was involved in a massive scrum after the final horn sounded on Tuesday night, noted. “The guys are going to hit. I just need to stick with it and not let it frustrate me.”

Last night have been the height of Pastrnak’s frustration, as his attempts to weave through multiple defenders were often met with either a turnover or with him planted on his behind and the puck going the other way. And some liberties taken against him.

“You don’t want to be thrown around, so you have to go respond,” Pastrnak said. “And it’s just hockey, you know?”

A frustrated Pastrnak does little good for the B’s though, and they have to know it. Be it on the club’s first line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand as perhaps the league’s best line or with David Krejci on the club’s second line — Cassidy, for what it’s worth, flipped Pastrnak around the night as went on and put him on different lines — the Bruins have been at their best when No. 88 has found a way to factor into the game’s scoring with either a goal or a timely helper for that matter.

“He’s got to keep pushing — we need him,” Cassidy said.

And ain’t that the truth; Through 73 games this season, the Bruins are a dominating 24-16-2 when Pastrnak records at least one point (50 of a possible 84 points), and 8-12-4 (20 of a possible 48 points) when Pastrnak plays but is held off the scoreboard.

“We’re relying on him to score,” continued Cassidy. “He’s not the only guy, but we’re relying on him.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Craig Anderson made 34 saves in a 3-2 win over the Bruins on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Craig Anderson made 34 saves in a 3-2 win over the Bruins on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Down by a goal late in the second period, but with pressured cranked on Craig Anderson, Noel Acciari broke through the Ottawa defense and fired a backhand chance on net from 16 feet away. The shot brought the Garden crowd to their feet and Acciari’s arms and stick raised in celebration, but the puck was tucked deep in Anderson’s glove.

The sellout crowd sighed — almost with enough force to push Anderson’s glove over the line needed for the game-tying goal, or so they hoped — and Acciari looked towards the heavens.

It was the confirmation that the Bruins were going up against a goaltender that didn’t need to get much hotter than the .928 save percentage he rolled into Boston with on the year, and one that spelled all the bad news the B’s needed in a 3-2 loss on Tuesday night.

“I thought it was tremendous goaltending at their end. [Craig Anderson] stole them a game,” Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy said after the defeat, the club’s third in a row (and first significant slide since a four-game skid from Jan. 16 to Jan. 22). “We lost some of our discipline early in the game. I think that frustrated us more than anything – and not finishing. It was a physical game so – but then we got it back and they lost it a little bit. And at the end of the day we just didn’t quite have enough.”

In a game that forced the Bruins to battle from behind early and often — the club trailed 4:09 into the first period, 1:34 into the second period, and 4:04 into the third period — the Sens’ timely scoring at one end and stops at the other simply made life hell.

The skywards look Acciari showed off in a frustrating second period was repeated by his teammates on each of Ottawa’s go-ahead goals in response to B’s goals — the first of which came just over 12 minutes after David Krejci’s power-play goal and then just 3:47 after Torey Krug’s game-tying goal in the third period — and in a night that finished with the Bruins trailing the Senators for a combined 39:27 of hockey, Anderson’s never-fear poise and patience in the crease was made ultimately made the difference.

“One goal. That was kind of the difference, tonight,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said after the club’s 11th one-goal loss of the season (tied for the fifth-most in the league). “We created a lot of chances, we created some great momentum and offensive zone times. It just was one of those games where we created a lot of chances, a lot of good quality time in their zone, we just obviously didn’t capitalize or score a goal. That’s all we needed and again at this time of year teams are playing hard.”

But perhaps this cool down from the B’s sticks — who have scored just eight goals on their last 106 shots (a 7.54 shooting percentage) in the last three games versus having scored 58 goals on the first 465 shots (a 12.47 shooting percentage) in their first 15 games under Cassidy — was to be expected given what this team is and has been for long spells this season.

“Some of it you have to give credit to the goaltender you’re playing. Look at his numbers, he’s been very good. I’m not going to look too far back, I think we had good looks off the rush – [Craig Anderson] made saves.” Cassidy said when asked about the lack of finish returning to the group over the course of their minor slide. “I think it just ebbs and flows over the course of the year where you run into hot goaltending and you have to stay with it and that’s when you have to keep the puck out of your net. And last night, we were right there until two minutes to go where even though we weren’t scoring, we were in a position to get points.”

Much like goals, though, being in position means little if you do nothing with that position, which is what the Bruins have done in back-to-back nights, with crucial contests that slipped out of reach with third period breakdowns. And accepting the positives of that loss are not easy given where the Bruins are right now, and because of the chances they did have. But there’s little the Bruins can do about it now, as their playoff fate will seemingly be decided with each period from here ’til the final horn of Game 82.

“You got to realize what’s done is done,” Krug, who recorded his 47th and 48th points of the season in the loss, said. “We have an important task on Thursday. There’s no other option except winning that game and that’s the mindset we got to have.”

And some pucks crossing the goal line, too.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Important games against the Senators have been far from the bread and butter of the Bruins in recent years.

They’re actually the stuff of nightmares, to be honest.

The Sens beat the Bruins 3-2 in Boston on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Sens beat the Bruins 3-2 in Boston on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Important games against the Senators have been far from the bread and butter of the Bruins in recent years.

They’re actually the stuff of nightmares, to be honest.

Tuesday night at TD Garden was no exception, as the Sens took the third of three head-to-heads between the teams this season by a 3-2 final and hammered home the fact that the Bruins are going to put themselves in serious postseason danger for the third season in a row.

And though it didn’t become official until the final horn sounded and 17,565 dejected fans experiencing deja-vu made their way out to the streets of Boston, the writing was more than on the wall before then.

It’s never a good sign when the opposition scores on their first shot of the game, especially when it comes after near four full minutes of sustained pressure poured on the other end and without a goal to show for it.

It was shortly before Tom Pyatt tipped in the Sens’ first shot of the night for the 1-0 lead that the Bruins hemmed Ottawa in their zone for well over a minute as the Patrice Bergeron line pummeled the visiting net with numerous looks, and capitalized on giveaways from Senator defenders and ill-timed icings that followed key defensive zone wins from Ottawa pivots. But it was the fitting start in a season series that’s seen the Bruins throw everything at Craig Anderson but with almost nothing to celebrate.

But the celebration against Anderson finally came at the 8:57 mark of the first period, as David Krejci atoned for what was an otherwise miserable opening frame with a power-play dart fired from just over the blue line for his 21st goal of the season.

The goal brought the Bruins and Sens even, and the scores held in a tight-as-hell first period in Boston, with the B’s firing just eight shots on goal compared to just five thrown on B’s netminder Tuukka Rask from the Senators.

Ever the opportunistic bunch, though, the Senators jumped back out to a one-goal edge just 1:34 into the second period when Kyle Turris bombed a shot through Rask 32 seconds into a power play awarded to the Sens when Adam McQuaid was booked for a trip against the Sens’ Jean-Gabriel Pageau, much to the displeasure of both the Garden crowd and McQuaid himself. In a trip that began with a lunging McQuaid first hitting the puck free and then knocking Pageau down, it was the second time in as many nights that the opposition found a way to score on a penalty call that the Bruins seemed to vehemently disagree with.

McQuaid’s minor was just one of six between the two periods in a testy middle frame, which ended with the Bruins slated to begin the third period on a four-on-three following some post-horn nonsense between Torey Krug and Dion Phaneuf.

Assessed a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct to end the period, it was Krug that made sure Phaneuf paid with more than just two minutes in the box, as Krug simply danced through the Senators en route to his seventh goal of the season.

With the ice finally tilted their way in a sluggish game for many of the Bruins — their breakouts were rough, and they had numerous passes that seemed to go just out of the reach of a forward, which is an expected byproduct of the Sens’ brutal clogging presence through the neutral zone — the Bruins undoubtedly seemed to find their game against Anderson.

Then came a Dominic Moore slashing call just 1:11 after Krug’s game-tying goal.

And it hit you: “I’ve already seen this movie. More than once.”

But the Bruins came up with the kill with their second-best penalty-killing center in the box. It was just when Moore got out of the box that the Bruins found themselves in familiar trouble. Pinned in their own zone by an Ottawa attack that repeatedly kept the puck in the attacking zone with crisp and well-timed D-to-D passes, Phaneuf found Turris’ stick through the middle of the ice for a beautiful deflection that beat the Rask top corner to re-establish the Sens’ one-goal lead.

In a game that saw the Bruins routinely forced to claw back against a goaltender that’s been on top of his game (and then some) this season, the Bruins found themselves tied for just a combined 16 minutes and 24 seconds of action.

They weren’t dead yet, though, not before the Senators tried to give them one last bailout.

With Mark Borowiecki whistled for a hold against Frank Vatrano, the B’s power play went to work.

But when that failed, and after a 6-on-5 did nothing, the Black and Gold left with their third straight defeat in the books.

Ottawa’s victory over the Bruins now gives the club a six-point lead over the Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division, which probably puts an end to any hopes of home-ice advantage in round for the Bruins and invites further trouble to the Bruins, who will finish this week against the surging Lightning and Islanders, who will need to snap this streak and soon.

Oh and the white-knuckle ride to the finish, for the third year in a row, is now official.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins go against the Sens for the third time this season. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins go against the Sens for the third time this season. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

It’s late in the season and the Bruins find themselves in a near must-win against the Senators. Hello darkness my old friend.

In what’s been their demise in back-to-back seasons, the Bruins come into action on the second leg of a traveling back-to-back (the Sens were resting in a Boston hotel as the Bruins lost to the Maple Leafs last night) with two straight losses to their name for the first time since Bruce Cassidy took over for Claude Julien. But the B’s do catch a break with a Sens club that’s struggled with losses in four straight. Even with that factored in, though, this is still a team that the B’s have struggled against in a major way, with two losses in as many meetings this year, and losses in all but five of their last 16 head-to-head meetings.

A loss here would also make three in a row for the Bruins, and inch the club closer towards taking their fate out of their own hands, which is something that this team can ill afford given what’s happened since 2015.

Like last night’s game in Toronto came with everything you didn’t want to see play out before your eyes, the pregame scope of this crucial head-to-head comes with everything you don’t want to read.

But the Bruins aren’t waving the white towel just yet.

With a win, the Bruins draw one game closer to a split on this season series, and move within two points of the Senators for second place in the Atlantic Division (a race that is still far from settled, to be honest). And another plus for the Bruins has to be their home record since switching to Cassidy, as the B’s have dropped just one of eight home games under Cassidy.

As expected, Tuukka Rask gets the call in net for the Bruins. One of the few B’s to show up last night, Rask stopped 25-of-27 shots in last night’s loss to the Maple Leafs, and comes into play with 33 wins and a .912 save percentage in 57 games this season. He has yet to beat the Sens this season, and has one win in two games on zero days rest this season. The 30-year-old has eight wins and a .922 save percentage in 19 career games against the Senators.

The Senators counter with Craig Anderson. The veteran Anderson has been straight-up lights out this season, with a 21 wins and a .928 save percentage in 32 games. Anderson has 10 wins and a .905 save percentage in 21 career games against the B’s.

The lineup is the same for the Bruins.

That means Matt Beleskey gets another shot with David Krejci and David Pastrnak, while Noel Acciari skates on the fourth line. That aligns Jimmy Hayes as the healthy scratch up front, and John-Michael Liles and Joe Morrow as the scratches in back.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – David Krejci – David Pastrnak

Frank Vatrano – Ryan Spooner – Drew Stafford

Dominic Moore – Riley Nash – Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Colin Miller – Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The Bruins showed some troubling signs of last year in their loss to the Leafs. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)Monday night was more than uncomfortable for the Bruins and their fans.