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.



It was the battle of mouthy agitators at the Air Canada Centre on Monday, as Bruins winger Brad Marchand and Toronto forward Leo Komarov engaged in a 60-minute war of words on and off the ice. Fortunately for the viewers, TSN’s between the benches feed was able to pick up a little bit of the heat that the Bruins’ 5-foot-9 sniper was throwing Komarov’s way.

There’s big leaguing somebody, and then there’s offering to send them a signed stick.

It’s a chirp that the 28-year-old Marchand has earned the right to say, too, especially in a night in which he became the first Bruins player to record 80 points in a single season since Marc Savard did it back in 2008-09. It’s also worth noting that Marchand has scored 37 goals this season and Komarov has scored 42 in his entire 242-game NHL career.

After the game, Komarov acknowledged the war of words and shoves with Boston’s favorite agitator.

Komarov, known for his deadpan sense of humor, also noted that he was just asking Marchand about his day.

Unfortunately for fans of hot mics, the Bruins and Leafs do not play again this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

It didn’t take long for tempers to flare in Monday’s head-to-head between the Bruins and Maple Leafs.

With the Bruins out to a 1-0 lead, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron skated back towards his own corner to retrieve a puck when Maple Leafs forward Nikita Soshnikov charged in and drilled Bergeron from behind with a brutal boarding from behind.

It was as gutless a move as they come and perhaps the most unnecessary hit of the evening.

What’s infuriating for Bergeron is that it’s just uncalled for. It’s a simple retrieval play from Bergeron, and with his back to the forechecker, there’s no need for Soshnikov to come in with his stick planted square into Bergeron’s numbers and drive No. 37’s face right into the dasher. For a player with a concussion history as detailed as Bergeron’s, his anger was obviously warranted.

Somehow this sequence ended with the Bruins and Leafs skating four-on-four, as Bergeron’s gloved punches to Soshnikov were deemed as dangerous as his board from behind, which makes a whole lot of sense if you’re a complete bozo.

Despite the cheap shot, Bergeron would not not miss a shift, and finished with four shots on goal in 17:25 of time on ice in the 4-2 loss.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Maple Leafs held Brad Marchand without a shot on goal. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

The Maple Leafs held Brad Marchand without a shot on goal. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

By now, it’s widely known that it’s impossible to contain Bruins winger Brad Marchand. But the Maple Leafs came as close as one team can with their 60-minute effort against the league’s hottest scorer.

Riding into action fresh off being named the NHL’s First Star of the Week, and with points in three straight games, the 28-year-old Marchand was held without a shot on goal in the B’s 4-2 defeat at the hands of the surging Maple Leafs on Monday night.

Denied on two shot attempts that were blocked and a missed shot, Marchand’s failure to put a shot on goal in this game made it just the sixth game that’s come without a shot for No. 63, and his first since Jan. 18’s 6-5 shootout loss to the Red Wings back in Detroit.

Fittingly enough, Marchand played a big factor in the B’s first goal of the night, even without a shot on goal to his credit. In a masterful sequence of moves into the attacking zone, it was Marchand that found Bruins winger David Backes for Backes’ 16th goal of the season, scored 7:26 into the first period of the game. That assist, by the way, gives Marchand 80 points on the season and in doing so makes him the first Bruins player to record 80 points in a season since Marc Savard accomplished the feat in 2008-09.

“We gave Marchand way too much room early,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock admitted after the win. “Then I thought we got more and more competitive as the game went on. I thought we played better and better. A real good win for our team obviously.”

The Bruins are 1-4-1 this season when Marchand is held without a shot on goal.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

It was the most important game of the season for the Bruins. Same for the Maple Leafs, too, actually. And it lived up to the billing.

The Bruins and Leafs skated in a playoff atmosphere in Toronto. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins and Leafs skated in a playoff atmosphere in Toronto. (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

It was the most important game of the season for the Bruins. Same for the Maple Leafs, too, actually. And it lived up to the billing.

It was a game that would have led you to believe that it was being played in April and not March. No check went unfinished. No whistle went without some post-whistle shoving. No line change went unmatched by Bruce Cassidy and the Leafs’ Mike Babcock.

It was the kind of game you would never want to see decided by a questionable penalty call one way or the other.

So naturally, that’s exactly how a 4-2 final between the Bruins and Leafs ended in their fourth and final regular season head-to-head.

With the Bruins in pursuit of the go-ahead goal against the Leafs’ Frederik Andersen, B’s forward Dominic Moore was whistled for an interference on a drive to the front of the Toronto net. Matched up with Nikita Soshnikov, Moore outmuscled the Maple Leaf forward, who knew he was coming, and as Soshnikov tumbled down to the ice, the hands of the official went up almost immediately.

Wait, really?

In a game that ramped up in physicality and intensity as it got deeper — and with numerous non-calls that benefitted the Bruins, be it the Kevan Miller high-stick on Auston Matthews, or Torey Krug practically hugging a forward in the defensive zone — the referees chose that by all meaningless play in front of Andersen’s crease, and with 2:54 left in the game, to blow a whistle.

Yuck.

And when top-ranked Maple Leafs power play went to work, they did not miss, as Tyler Bozak scored the game-winning goal with just under two minutes left in the third period. The Leafs then added empty-net goals from William Nylander and Nazem Kadri to make it 4-1 and the Leafs had their first season sweep of the Bruins (more than three games) since they were called the St. Pat’s.

Double yuck. Triple yuck. Yuck City.

“It is,” Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said when asked if that was a tough call against the club. “But what can you do?”

The Moore penalty was not the only gaffe of the night for this crew. There was also a stretch where they blew the whistle down because Matt Martin was back in the Boston zone with a skate malfunction. Not a big deal… but the Bruins were in the attacking zone and had possession of the puck. Martin’s skate issue is not a reason for the play to be blown dead. There was also the fact that the Bruins were on a four-on-four when the Leafs scored their first goal of the night. A four-on-four that happened because Patrice Bergeron was upset after Nikita Soshnikov tried to board him into the year 2018 on a ridiculously dangerous hit.

And as difficult as it may be to sit here and say that these calls did not do the B’s in tonight in Toronto, they didn’t.

In a game that meant so much for the Bruins, their effort left quite a bit to be desired.

Aside from the usual excellence of the Bergeron line, it was difficult to find another line that was able to build off that pressure. With the exception of the fourth line with Moore, Riley Nash, and Noel Acciari — who finished the night with one goal on a combined 11 shots and seven hits to their name — the Bruins got almost nothing from those below the Bergeron line. When you’re a team like the Bruins and your fourth line is your second-best line, you’re often not going to have a great night.

In over 21 minutes of time on ice, David Krejci was by all means a ghost, with zero shots and a minus-3 rating. He wasn’t the only Bruins skater that finished the night without a shot, though, as he joined by Drew Stafford and Brad Marchand in that regard.

It just wasn’t good enough across the board, and it showed, as Rask had to stand on his head for 25 saves on 27 shots, and did just that for the most part, with an additional punch to the throat coming with the fact that both of the goals the Leafs scored on Rask came almost immediately after Rask made a straight-up ridiculous save or sometimes two.

And for the first time since Cassidy took over the club, the Bruins have losses in back-to-back games.

There’s little time for the Bruins to sulk, however, as the Senators are waiting in Boston for tomorrow’s equally huge showdown.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Matt Beleskey will play tonight in Toronto. (Walter Tychnowicz/USA TODAY Sports)

Matt Beleskey will play tonight in Toronto. (Walter Tychnowicz/USA TODAY Sports)

Last Thursday in Edmonton could have gone a lot better for Bruins winger Matt Beleskey. But it could have gone a lot worse, too.

Late in the third period of a blowout loss to the Oil, Beleskey was working the front of the net when he was blasted in the side of the head by an errant shot from Bruins center Patrice Bergeron.

Beleskey crumbled down to the ice in a heap, and was helped off the ice by his teammates as some blood trickled out from behind his ear. But back at practice on Sunday and ready to play tonight in Toronto (because he’s Beleskey), the 28-year-old felt saved by his helmet.

Strike that, he was saved from serious damage by that helmet.

“I’m glad it caught the corner of my helmet — I’m sure that took a lot of the blow,” Beleskey, now sporting a large bump around his ear, said. “It was pretty funny — you look at [Bergeron] and his nose was bleeding. I think he had my blood on him. It was a tough game for us, but we move on to Toronto and we have a big one [tonight].”

Beleskey’s bump has come with a bump up the lineup as well, as he’ll slot with David Krejci and David Pastrnak on the club’s second line for tonight’s huge head-to-head with the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Beleskey is just another player on what’s become a revolving door of linemates to Krejci’s left in the last few weeks alone, between Peter Cehlarik, Drew Stafford, Frank Vatrano, and now No. 39.

“We need a net presence, a guy that’s willing to go there and occupy people for David and Pasta there,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the line’s need on the left side. “We’ve asked different guys to do it, and we’ve got it at different times, but we haven’t found that consistent answer and until we do we’ll keep using [different] people there.”

In an attempt to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Leafs, the Bruins will give this start to Tuukka Rask. The 30-year-old Rask was given the hook after he allowed five goals on 17 shots against the Oilers, and comes into play with 33 wins and a .912 save percentage in 56 games this season. Rask has 15 wins and a .927 save percentage in 24 career games against Toronto.

The Leafs counter with Frederik Andersen. Andersen stopped 36-of-41 shots against in his last head-to-head with the Bruins, and enters this contest with a perfect 7-0-0 record and .944 save percentage in seven games against the B’s in his NHL career.

David Backes, who missed the morning skate with an illness, is expected to play.

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