Patrice Bergeron suffered a lower-body injury Wednesday against the Capitals. (Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports)

Patrice Bergeron suffered a lower-body injury Wednesday against the Capitals. (Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports)

It’s often difficult to remember that Bruins center Patrice Bergeron does everything — and does it well — for the Black and Gold.

It’s only when he’s out of action, and when the Bruins suddenly can’t do anything, that you realize just how much the Bruins rely on him.

The third period of Wednesday’s loss to the Capitals was the latter, as the Bruins were forced to make do without Bergeron after he took a Matt Niskanen slapshot right to the inside of his right knee.

Crumbled down to the ice on the shot, the referees blew the whistle once the puck went to the other end of the ice, and Bergeron required tons of help both off the ice and then down the tunnel to the room.

Never one to miss time if he can help it, and with the Bruins in search of the game-tying tallies, Bergeron would return to the ice almost eight minutes later and logged another two shifts (totaling 2:07 of time on ice) before he departed back down the runway and was done for the night.

There was little B’s head coach Claude Julien could offer on Bergeron’s status after the game.

“We’ll know more [later],” Julien said. “He obviously tried to come back, so hopefully better than worse.”

The 31-year-old Bergeron finished the game with one assist and a minus-2 rating in 16:24 of time on ice, but was not available to the media after the loss, with the team expected to give an update on his status tomorrow (an off day for the team).

Added Julien: “We’ll evaluate as we move on here.”

Bergeron, who missed the first three games of the year with a lower-body injury, has 12 goals and 26 points in 51 games this year.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Life is about the little things.

TJ Oshie scored the first goal of the game in a 4-2 Capitals win over the Bruins. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask allowed five goals on 22 shots in a 5-3 loss to the Capitals on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Life is about the little things. So I guess if there’s one thing netminder Tuukka Rask and the Bruins can take comfort in, it’s knowing that they won’t have to go to the Verizon Center, the scene of the crime for tonight’s 5-3 loss to the Capitals, again until next season.

(For a complete recap of the game, click here.)

In D.C. and with the high of a three-game winning streak that’s featured solid nights from the B’s best, the air came out of the Bruins’ sails quickly when they were put in a familiar hole behind a breakaway goal from TJ Oshie just 3:06 into the game, and then a two-goal hole when Nicklas Backstrom added another one just over 10 minutes later.

It was similar to the Two Shades of Red penned in the B’s first 2016-17 trip to the barn just within the Chinatown section of the District back on Dec. 7, though this Capitals two-goal lead came in almost 14 minutes versus the seven it took in the last game, so there was progress in some regard for the Black and Gold.

The Bruins progressed forward in another way, too, as Brad Marchand put the club on the board before the period came to a close, thanks to a Brad Marchand power-play goal scored with just 1:14 left in the period.

In what has become a frequent happening throughout this return to competitive hockey and off their January deathbed, the Bruins recognized the deepening hole and answered in the form of a momentum-shifting goal, hit, or fight.

Marchand and the B’s carried that into the second period, too, on their second power-play opportunity of the night behind an easy tic-tac-toe goal from Marchand for his second of the night, 23rd of the year, and his third multi-goal night in the last four games.

But old habits die hard, especially in this building, and the sirens followed, as Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin sniped a power-play goal through Rask with just 14 seconds left in the second period, which gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead after 40.

It was a goal that you could sense coming from a mile away, too, as the Bruins were straight-up bullied around their own zone for what felt like the entire second half of the second period, and their penalty was just the match the Caps needed to light it up. As for Ovechkin scoring it, well that’s a mere formality, as it was his eighth goal in 21 home games against the Bruins.

Up against it in Boogeyman Braden Holtby, a goaltender with 10 wins and a .948 save percentage in 11 career starts against the Bruins, down by a goal in the third period, the negatives compounded for the Bruins when Patrice Bergeron was hobbled with a massive slapshot right off the inside of his right knee on a penalty kill (Bergeron would go back down the tunnel, return, and then go back down the tunnel). Things got worse when ex-Bruin Brett Connolly — a player who would have tripped over his own helmet, broken a stick, and then somehow become a healthy scratch by the time he even made it to the net if he even attempted such a goal for the Bruins a year ago — scored to put the Capitals up by two just three and a half minutes into the third period.

Evgeny Kuznetsov made it a three-goal lead late in the period, and although the Bruins made it a two-goal game with a David Krejci goal late in the third period, it didn’t matter as the Caps rolled the Bruins at home in a business-as-usual night.

In a night that really saw the Bruins limit the Caps’ chances early and often, it was Tuukka Rask that looked every bit a goaltender that played last night and didn’t truly have an All-Star break, with five goals allowed on just 22 shots against.

These Washington ice struggles are nothing new to Rask, of course, as the effort dropped him to 0-6-4 with an .882 save percentage in 10 career games at the Verizon Center. It is the only Eastern Conference building in which Rask has yet to win a game, and just one of three buildings overall, with Anaheim’s Honda Center and the Kings’ Staples Center being the others.

But what was new was the exhaustion and delayed reactions that the 29-year-old appeared to struggle with in this game.

In the crease for his 43rd start of the season, which puts him in a tie with the Sharks’ Martin Jones for the second-most in the NHL behind Oilers netminder Cam Talbot’s 46, you could feel Rask struggle on his rebound control (evident on the Backstrom goal) and he even appeared to strain himself on a beautiful stop against Ovechkin late and with the game out of reach. Those are fatigue issues more than anything else, to be honest, and after almost 2,500 minutes in net this year, how could they not be?

Now, it obviously didn’t help that the Bruins put forth one of their worst defensive games of the entire season, but for this team to go anywhere, it has to be with Rask in net and looking like what he did for the first three months of the season. With that in mind, their situation (the Bruins need to win at close to a .650 winning percentage to make the playoffs, you’d believe) has not allowed them to give their franchise netminder the rest he likely needs, and that part of it is not going to change.

If Rask is the tired Rask that’s been burnt out in back-to-back years, nights like Wednesday will become the norm.

Be it in Washington, Boston, or anywhere else for that matter.

The Bruins are back in action Saturday night against the Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins will look for their fourth straight win tonight. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins will look for their fourth straight win tonight. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Things have changed for the Bruins over the last week and so, and undoubtedly for the better. On death’s door with losses in four straight games, the Bruins have since rattled off three wins in a row for just the fourth time this season, and will look to make it four in a row as they visit the Capitals in D.C. for a Wednesday Night Rivalry match.

Wait a second, this all sounds eerily familiar.

Oh, that’s right, this is the second time this has happened this season.

It was back on Dec. 7 that the Black and Gold touched down at the Verizon Center with three straight wins to their name and against teams they needed to beat not only because of the standings but because of the struggles that preceded the winning streak.

The end result: A near miraculous comeback that fell just short, as the Bruins overcame an 0-3 deficit to force extra time against Braden Holtby and Co. but fell when Nicklas Backstrom beat Tuukka Rask through the wickets for the overtime dagger. That loss served as the first stumble in what was a slide that then featured losses in five out of six games. The Bruins can ill afford such a slide this time of year. In fact, it would be the Doomsday Scenario that unofficially-but-officially puts their playoff hopes to bed.

But let’s not look at that potential disaster just yet, as likely as it may sometimes seem given the topsy-turvy nature of this team through the first 53 games of the year, but rather focus on the task at hand tonight for the Black and Gold.

 

With a win against the Caps tonight, the Bruins would have their first four-game winning streak of the season. This is their fourth try at accomplishing the feat (they’re 0-2-1 in their previous three), and it’s basically a must for this team to stay afloat. When you look at the teams ahead of the B’s, almost every single one of them has had a great run somewhere to this date. If you look at the teams behind the Bruins, many of them have made things interesting for the Bruins because of a hot streak (yeah, I’m most definitely talking about you, Islanders group that’s gone 5-0-1 since making a coaching change two weeks back).

The Bruins, a month from the trade deadline, are still looking for their hot run.

Their current stretch is the closest thing they’ve had.

Unlike their other three-game streaks, this one has really looked like a team effort, and that their will to win has been there from all 20 skaters. Their best players have come to play throughout the stretch, too. Brad Marchand has four goals and six points in three games. David Pastrnak has one goal and four points. Patrice Bergeron has two goals and two helpers in his last three games. David Krejci had a goal and an assist last night. And even David Backes, while without a point, has found ways to contribute, with 17 hits and eight shots on net in his last three games. Their contributions have eased the burden on the bottom-six players to carry the load for this team, and allowed those players to excel in the complementary roles that suit them entirely better.

 

Tuukka Rask will be in net for the second night in a row and for the 43rd time this season. Rask made 18 stops on 21 shots thrown his way against the Bolts last night, and has won three games in a row despite an .870 save percentage. The 29-year-old Rask has one win in 13 career starts against the Capitals, and has never won a game in Washington.

Holtby, with a 24-8-4 record and .930 save percentage this year, gets the call for the Caps. Holtby made 27 saves in a 5-2 win over the Devils back on Jan. 26, and has 10 wins and a .948 save percentage in 11 career starts against the Bruins.

This is the second three head-to-heads between the Bruins and Caps this season.

 

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Frank Vatrano – David Krejci – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Ryan Spooner – Riley Nash

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Jimmy Hayes

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Kevan Miller – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Bruins forward Brad Marchand was named one of the NHL's three stars of January. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Bruins forward Brad Marchand was named one of the NHL’s three stars of January. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Brad Marchand was everywhere in January.

Fittingly, the first of February is when that was acknowledged by the NHL, too, as Marchand was named the league’s Second Star of the Month of January, sandwiched between First Star and Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov and Third Star, Sharks defenseman Brent Burns.

The 28-year-old Marchand, who has been the most consistent Bruins skater this season, was his normal self in January, but turned it up a notch with an NHL-best 11 goals and 20 points in the month.

Marchand closed his month out with back-to-back-to-back two-point nights, led by two-goal nights that kickstarted comebacks against the Red Wings and Penguins last week, and contributed two assists in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over the Lightning. A lot of that late-month success came back to a reunited first line that’s put David Pastrnak as the right wing next to Marchand and center Patrice Bergeron.

“We’re working together well, we’re finding that groove of where we have to play and how we have to play,” Marchand said of his line, which has been considered the best line in hockey this season, and their recent return to success. “We’re getting some bounces too, which helps, and it’s great that guys are stepping up at the right times and helping the team.”

Marchand was also named to the first All-Star Game of his career in the month, and added one assist in the game.

The Nova Scotia native is currently sixth in the NHL, with 21 goals and 51 points in 53 games played.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins have recalled Zane McIntyre. (James Guillory/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have recalled Zane McIntyre. (James Guillory/USA Today Sports)

For the third time in about five days, the Bruins have switched Zane McIntyre and Anton Khudobin’s assignments, with McIntyre returned to the NHL and Khudobin reassigned to the P-Bruins.

McIntyre was originally sent to the AHL to stay in game shape with a start during the NHL All-Star break, which is exactly what he did with a 32-of-34 winning effort against the Hershey Bears on Jan. 27.

The win improved McIntyre to 11-o-0 with a .950 save percentage and 1.44 goals against average for the P-Bruins on the year, and he was promptly reassigned to the Big B’s in a neat paper transaction.

But the Bruins then flipped it once more, this time to allow McIntyre to play in the 2017 AHL All-Star festivities Monday, which forced Khudobin back into an NHL practice at Warrior Ice Arena and dress as the team’s backup last night against the Lightning.

The 24-year-old McIntyre returns to the NHL with an 0-3-1 record and .860 save percentage in seven games this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Could Brad Marchand find himself back in trouble? (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports)

Could Brad Marchand find himself back in trouble with the league for another ‘dangerous trip’ on an opponent? (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports)

Don’t let run-ins and media comments fool you: Bruins winger Brad Marchand has crossed the line before and he’ll cross it again.

Half of it will be because of his reputation, some of it will be bad luck or being at the right place at the wrong time, and sometimes it’ll be old habits dying hard for the agitator-turned-superstar winger.

I’m just not sure you expected his next run-in to come two games later.

Let off the hook with a $10,000 fine for his ‘dangerous trip’ against Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall, Marchand owned up to his actions, and made up for it with a big night against the Penguins before a relaxing and rewarding weekend as an All-Star for the Atlantic Division in the 2017 All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

But back in meaningful NHL action tonight in Tampa Bay, a 4-3 victory for the Bruins, it would appear that Marchand could find himself in some more hot water for what appeared to be yet another dangerous trip.

Involved in an incident with Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman late in the second period, Marchand appeared to take Stralman’s legs out from under him from behind, and drew the ire of the Lightning bench and head coach Jon Cooper.

Cooper was not asked what he thought about the hit in general, but did talk about how it changed the game for his group.

“Well a lot happened in that,” Cooper said when asked about the momentum that came with the incident. “So there’s the… whatever you wanna call it, the non-call on Stralman or whatever it was, and then we kinda — I don’t know what happened after that.. Then there’s the hit on Paquette, and I thought that pushed it over the top, we didn’t really answer after that.”

The incident with Marchand and Stralman shifted momentum towards the B’s according to Cooper, which was great for the Bruins, who scored two goals to close out the second period, in the moment. But it could cause problems in the future.

If the NHL finds malice or intent on the play, there is no question that Marchand, who was a repeat offender long before the $10,000 fine was thrown his way, will be hit with something much worse than anything originally imagined for the Kronwall trip. Now, was there anything purposefully done on the trip? It’s hard to judge in real time, especially with the Bruins trying to make a push up the other way, but giving Marchand the benefit of the doubt is awfully tough given his lengthy rap sheet. And that’s as somebody that believes Marchand has about 90 percent turned the corner from this sort of stuff, so it’s somewhat hard to imagine the NHL giving him the benefit of the doubt less than a week after already letting him off the hook.

The 28-year-old Marchand has been suspended four times in his NHL career and fined on three separate occasions.

Marchand is currently leading the Bruins with 21 goals and 51 points, and ranks 5th in the NHL in points overall.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

In the world of masterpieces, the Bruins painted some more ugly motel wall art Tuesday night against the Lightning. But this time of year, the results are all that matter, and the Bruins had those, too, as the club pulled off their third straight comeback victory behind a 4-3 final.

The Bruins won their third straight game Tuesday night. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Brad Marchand and the Bruins won their third straight game Tuesday behind a 4-3 comeback win over the Lightning. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

In the world of masterpieces, the Bruins painted some more ugly motel wall art Tuesday night against the Lightning. But this time of year, the results are all that matter, and the Bruins had those, too, as the club pulled off their third straight comeback victory behind a 4-3 final.

(For a complete recap of the win, click here.)

Back from the All-Star break — which came at a great time given the club’s general fatigue from a hellacious opening 52-game slate charged with back-to-backs and countless three games in four night runs but also a bad time given the consistency the Bruins were beginning to generate with two straight character wins —  the first period back from break was largely uneventful for each team. If anything, the Bruins were lucky to escape the first still scoreless, as Colin Miller plucked a puck that was probably about 90% over the goal line off the line and prevented an 0-1 hole through 20 minutes of play.

Miller was not able to save the B’s from a deficit in the second period, though, as Alex Killorn beat Tuukka Rask midway into the middle frame. Given the lethargic nature of the 28 minutes that came before, it seemed as if this night would be the natural, rusty comedown from the highs of wins and the thoughts of positive strides within the B’s game.

After all, it’s been the year’s theme.

 

But with a kick-to-consciousness that came with Killorn’s goal against, the Bruins focused on creating chances against an aggressive Tampa Bay defensive corps, and found chances to connect on against Lightning netminder Ben Bishop, with two goals in 1:51 to close out the period, including one from David Krejci with just :00.9 seconds left, to escape the second with a 2-1 lead.

In a positive situation (playing with a lead in the third period) when they should have been in anything but, the Bruins were once again victimized by timely scoring from Killorn, as a defensive breakdown in front of the net allowed Killorn to score his second goal of the night, which brought the B’s and Bolts to a 2-2 tie and Amalie Arena to life.

Again, and just a few minutes later, the Bruins answered, and it was captain Zdeno Chara that came through with a slapshot goal.

Frank Vatrano added a power-play goal to put the final nail in the coffin, and the Bruins hung on, even when it became a bit more of a white-knuckle ride ending thanks to the Bolts’ third goal of the night, for a 4-3 final.

With the win, the Bruins have victories in three straight games for the first time since Dec. 1 through Dec. 5, and have done it on the backs of their best players. It’s been more than just Bergeron and Marchand, too, which has been a great sign of life for this team. Tonight, it was Krejci and Chara who really appeared to step up for the club, as Krejci had a goal and assist in almost 19 minutes of time on ice, which Chara contributed a goal and three shots in just over 22 minutes of time on ice.

There’s been a lot of talk about the belief that this coach still has in his players and vice versa, but it would have meant nothing if the club’s best players continued to have random disappearing acts for prolonged stretches (read as: losing streaks). And when the club’s best players show up, the complementary talents follow their lead, which is what you saw with a grind-it-out approach from every skater, including big nights from Matt Beleskey (winning puck battles) and Colin Miller (the guy did it all).

Most importantly, though, this is a game that the Bruins should win and, well, did win.

The victory gives the Bruins eight points of separation with the Lightning in spite of two games in hand for the Bolts, and creates some much needed distance given the amount of teams that are already chasing the Bruins.

The Bruins are back in action Wednesday night against the Capitals.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Brandon Carlo will be in the lineup tonight vs. the Lightning.  (Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports)

Brandon Carlo will be in the lineup tonight vs. the Lightning. (Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports)

Down with a tumble in the third period of last Thursday’s comeback win over the Penguins, Brandon Carlo could hardly skate off the ice.

But with a few days of rest to his name thanks to the All-Star break, the 20-year-old Carlo was back at practice back in Boston on Monday, and is good to play in tonight’s crucial road game against the Lightning.

“[Carlo]’s good,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said this morning. “He was good yesterday, and he continued to be good as well today.”

Injured with a twisted ankle, the first glance looked a lot worse than the final diagnosis, but forced Carlo and the B’s to exercise some caution.

“There was a little bit of pain there,” Carlo admitted, “but overall something I should have just walked off. But for precautionary reasons, just kinda finished off that game, and did what we had to do with x-rays and MRIs.”

The 6-foot-5 Carlo has tallied four goals and 12 points in 52 games for the B’s this season, and has averaged 21:30 of time on ice per night, which ranks second in the NHL among rookie skaters. He’s one of six Bruins to have played in every game this year.

In the thick of things in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, clinging to their third-place lead by a single point and with five more games played than the ninth-place Maple Leafs (read as: the Bruins have almost no wiggle room left), these are the games that the Black and Gold have to win. They’re must-wins to not only stay afloat in the playoff race, but also bury teams like the Bolts, who come into action tonight just six points behind the Bruins, and with two games in hand.

And despite the Bolts’ struggles this year, the B’s know they’re in for a challenge from a desperate club.

“They’ve gone through a stretch here where they’ve had some tough luck,” Julien said, “but at the same time I see a pretty good team on the ice. They’re deep, they have a lot of guys that can do some damage.”

The Bruins are expected to give this start to Tuukka Rask. The 29-year-old All-Star stopped 19-of-22 shots thrown his way last Thursday against the Penguins, and comes into action with 24 wins and a .918 save percentage in 41 games. Rask has two wins and a .934 save percentage in two games against the Lightning this season.

The Bolts will counter with Ben Bishop. Bishop has 11 wins in 25 games this year, and was yanked from his last start after he allowed five goals on 17 shots against the Coyotes. Bishop has a 4-5-3 record and .912 save percentage in 12 career games against the Bruins, and allowed four goals on 30 shots in his last head-to-head with the B’s.

“There’s a lot at stake for both teams,” Julien said. “Should be a good one.”

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Frank Vatrano – David Krejci – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Ryan Spooner – Riley Nash

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Jimmy Hayes

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Kevan Miller – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson