The Bruins had to kill 1:43 of a 5-on-3 in their win over the Flyers. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins had to kill 1:43 of a 5-on-3 in their win over the Flyers. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

On an odd-man rush heading towards Tuukka Rask, first-year pro defenseman Brandon Carlo made the goal-saving decision to hook Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds. 17 seconds after that, Brad Marchand was whistled for a high-stick on Shayne Gostisbehere.

In less than 20 seconds, the Bruins were down their defender who logs the second-most shorthanded time on ice among B’s defensemen and the winger on their go-to penalty-killing forward pairing.

Against a power play featuring Claude Giroux, Gostisbehere, and Simmonds, that’s by all means a goal against and an 0-1 hole.

But the Bruins instead buckled down, paid the price, and successfully leaned on their remaining shorthanded talents to make the kill.

In 1:43 of action against Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask, the Flyers put seven shots on net, and that number would have been higher had it not been for two key blocks from Adam McQuaid, who was tasked with squaring up against Giroux on the kill.

“It’s part of penalty killing, especially 5-on-3 that you’re doing everything that you can to block shots and have your stick in passing lanes,” McQuaid nonchalantly said after the win, the club’s 10th in 13 games under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy. “It’s not a favorable position to be in so you’re kind of just not necessarily in desperation mode, you kind of have to be in control but at the same time you’re doing whatever you can to kill that time off.”

A message and mindset echoed by the team’s 39-year-old captain.

“You do whatever you have to do and sacrifice,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said of the blocks on the kill. “Obviously, blocking shots, having good stick, do whatever you can to prevent them from using their number one or two plays and try to take that away from them. Obviously, be compact, and every time you have a chance to clear, you just clear and waste some time.”

In one of the worst situations they could have found themselves in late in the period, the Bruins got contributions from everybody — with big blocks, faceoff wins, and a box-out of sorts — which kept the Flyers from doing much of anything against Rask.

“Well, our penalty kill has been rock solid all year,” Cassidy said. “It always starts with the goaltender. Tuukka was great, under control on those, was able to be square to rebounds. [Zdeno Chara] generally stays out there the whole time, big stick, and McQuaid ate pucks when they did change sides on us, and Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] is Bergy. He does a great job of it. Dom [Dominic Moore] got a little piece at the end. So, again, guys that we’ve relied on all year in our five-on-three.”

In addition to the McQuaid blocks, which effectively took Giroux out of the equation from a shooting standpoint, Philly was left to take low-percentage looks from Jakub Voracek from 50 feet out, while Simmonds was held to just two net-front chances, where he’s made his living, with 41 power-play goals (second-most in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin) since the start of the 2014 season.

“At some point, you’re going to give up something. They’re two guys more than you are, so obviously, it’s about trying to take away the most dangerous plays,” Patrice Bergeron, who won his two defensive-zone draws during the penalty kill, admitted. “He made some huge saves in that five-on-three and we were able to kill that off which was big for us.”

“A few nice blocks and then we kept them on the perimeter as much as we could,” Rask said of the tone-setting kill. “It’s all about being smart and eliminating the worst possible scoring chance that you get. I think we did that.”

It was almost immediately after the kill that the Bruins were gifted a power play of their own, and connected on a David Pastrnak goal, which gave the B’s a 1-0 edge through 20 minutes and likely prevented the B’s from a potential second period freefall.

With two successful kills on the afternoon, the Bruins bumped their season penalty kill to 86.0 percent, which is the second best mark in the league, and just 0.6 percentage points off from the best mark in the entire NHL.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

It took 13 games, but the Bruins finally let one of their bad habits established under Claude Julien creep back into their game.

A new third line formed in-game wound up scoring the winning goal Saturday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

A new third line formed in-game wound up scoring the winning goal Saturday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Teams that shuffle lines a lot are generally teams that aren’t playing well. They shuffle lines because nothing’s really clicking, because they can’t score goals, because they’re losing. Teams that are winning and scoring generally just stick with what’s working — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Bruins have been winning and scoring since Bruce Cassidy took over from Claude Julien, but they’ve also been changing up their lines quite a bit, both on a game-to-game basis as well as in-game. Part of that has been out of necessity. Ryan Spooner (concussion) and Tim Schaller (lower body) are both currently unavailable, and trade deadline pickup Drew Stafford was naturally going to get some looks in a couple different spots.

But part of it has also been the fact that Cassidy simply doesn’t feel the need to settle on anything definitive, at least not yet.

“It happened to work out (Saturday), and I think you’ll see more of that, and you have since day one, moving people around in game,” Cassidy said. “And listen, when we find the best formula, we’ll keep it that way, but we’re still tinkering.”

As he has a handful of times in his 13 games as head coach, Cassidy shuffled his lines mid-game Saturday. After a bad second period (the Bruins mustered just four shots on goal in the frame), he moved Frank Vatrano up to the second line with David Krejci and David Pastrnak, moved Stafford from left wing over to his natural right wing, and bumped Matt Beleskey (who had been a healthy scratch in five of the previous six games) up to a newfound third line with Stafford and Riley Nash.

Cassidy also bumped Kevan Miller up to the top defense pairing with Zdeno Chara for the third period, and he experimented with using the same power-play unit for a full two minutes a couple times.

On a few previous occasions that Cassidy switched up lines mid-game, it didn’t seem to create any significant spark. A couple times were games the Bruins were already losing and went on to lose. But on Saturday, the new lines definitely helped spark a strong third period for the B’s.

The changes certainly weren’t the only reason the Bruins turned things around, but they were a factor. Vatrano seemed to give the Krejci line new life, and that trio created a few good chances in the third. Meanwhile, the new third line ended up scoring the winning goal. While Stafford’s game-winner with 5.6 seconds to go was a bit of a fluke in and of itself — it was a long wrister that deflected in off Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning — that line had put together a good shift leading up to it, including flipping the ice from their own zone to the offensive zone.

“I think it kind of, sometimes, gives some energy to different guys or different lines when things are not necessarily going the way you want them to,” Patrice Bergeron said. “I think when you’re not creating or generating enough chances, a tweak here and there can give you that boost, I guess, to be better and, I guess, simplify your game as a line. I think you saw that tonight.”

Going forward, it still may be a little bit before the Bruins settle on four clear, consistent lines, if they do that at all. They’re still figuring out where Stafford fits best and the eventual returns of Spooner and Schaller will throw two players who have been regulars this season back into the mix. On top of that, this is a team that has some depth and versatility up front.

Nash, Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik can all play center or wing. Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes have both had disappointing seasons and found themselves watching from the press box more than they’d like, but both are still capable of at least being perfectly fine fourth-liners.

So the Bruins have pieces that can be moved around, especially on the third and fourth lines, and until Cassidy falls in love with one lineup, he’s going to move them around.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin
The Bruins and Flyers wrapped up their season series today at TD Garden.  (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins and Flyers wrapped up their season series today at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It took 13 games, but the Bruins finally let one of their bad habits established under Claude Julien creep back into their game.

Squared up against the 11th-place Flyers in a Saturday matinee (a start time that’s been surprisingly kind to the B’s this season), it was the Flyers that were able to control the pace for the full 60 minutes against Bruce Cassidy’s B’s. But somehow, someway, it was the Bruins that pulled this win out of their behinds thanks to a last-second Drew Stafford marker tallied in a 2-1 final at TD Garden.

It was a game that spoke to the Cassidy magic that’s taken hold of this team, as they’re never quite out of it, no matter how ugly it may look.

And don’t kid yourself, today was ugly.

The Bruins likely had no business carrying a lead into the first intermission. It required a 103-second-long, 3-on-5 penalty-kill — and against the supreme power-play assassin likes of Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Shayne Gostisbehere — from the Bruins, which they accomplished thanks to key blocks from Adam McQuaid and a mammoth shift from captain Zdeno Chara.

On the power play just 41 seconds after the kill came to an end, the Bruins made Travis Konecny pay for a trip that caught Colin Miller down from behind as Miller wheeled out of his own end.

It was then that a dump-and-chase actually worked for a Boston power play that was repeatedly stood up at the attacking blue.

Dumped in by David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand outworked Andrew MacDonald behind the Flyers net, which pressured the puck towards Patrice Bergeron and then back to Pastrnak for a soft-touch goal banked in against Steve Mason at 18:38 of the first. In a period in which the B’s were outshot 14-to-11, and significantly out-chanced by the Flyers (Simmonds may have had more legitimate chances against Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask than the entire Bruins roster had against Mason in the period), the Bruins held an unlikely lead that didn’t seem like it would last long given the feeling on one bench versus the other.

It didn’t.

Just 1:27 into the second period, and with the Black and Gold drowned in their own zone (a theme of the period if there ever was one), it was Jordan Weal that put a loose puck through Brandon Carlo’s legs and into Rask’s net for the game-tying tally.

It didn’t get much better for the Bruins for the rest of the period, either, as they were outshot 9-to-4 in the middle stanza. Their first shot didn’t come until 8:45 into the period, too, when Miller was able to bomb a 40-foot slapper in on Mason. And when the Bruins were given the chance they converted on in the first period, with Weal called for a hook with just 3:11 left in the period, the Bruins could not pull another rabbit out of their hand, as their power play flubbed for a few missed shots and zero shots on goal.

Cassidy realized that things weren’t going well for his team long before the do-nothing power play opportunity, as the interim bench boss put his lines in a blender — Drew Stafford was dropped down with Riley Nash and Matt Beleskey, while Frank Vatrano moved up to a line with David Krejci and Pastrnak — and this is far from the first time this has happened, too.

In 13 games under Cassidy, the Bruins have outscored their opponents 14-to-12 in the second period. That’s a positive differential — the Bruins entered play with a league-leading plus-19 goal differential since Cassidy took over — but when compared to their first and third (and overtime) period totals, where they’ve outscored the opposition 31-to-14, it’s a tougher look. Especially when you see that this was their fourth second period in which they’ve put just six shots or fewer on the opposition’s net.

So perhaps the Bruins were equally lucky to escape that period simply tied as they were to escape the first period with a lead.

But as the teams shifted to what felt like a playoff series third period — complete with dueling ‘Let’s Go Bruins’ and ‘Let’s Go Flyers’ chants from the sellout Garden crowd — the Bruins seemed to get back to somewhat equal footing with the Flyers, with numerous chances from their points a chance from a net-driving Beleskey, these teams seemed primed for overtime.

Philly defenseman Brandon Manning had other plans.

On a low-percentage chance shot from Stafford along the wall and with a defender on him, the low, gliding shot appeared redirected off Manning and through Manning for the game-winning goal for the B’s 10th win in 13 games under Cassidy.

The Bruins will head back to the Pacific coast for a Monday matchup against the Canucks.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

There’s never a ‘good’ time to deal with a rash of injuries. But there probably hasn’t been a time where the Bruins have been better equipped to handle multiple injuries than they are right now.

Tim Schaller will miss Saturday's game against the Flyers. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tim Schaller will miss Saturday’s game against the Flyers. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

There’s never a ‘good’ time to deal with a rash of injuries. But there probably hasn’t been a time where the Bruins have been better equipped to handle multiple injuries than they are right now.

Already down center Ryan Spooner, who suffered a concussion in the third period of Monday’s loss in Ottawa, the Bruins lost utility forward Tim Schaller early in the first period of their 6-1 win over the Red Wings on Wednesday when Schaller went feet-first into the boards.

Absent from Friday’s practice at TD Garden, too, Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy has confirmed that the 26-year-old Schaller will miss tomorrow’s matinee game against the Flyers.

“Lower-body, he’s unavailable tomorrow,” Cassidy said of Schaller. “We’ll reassess going forward after that. We’ll see how it plays out.”

A fixture on the B’s fourth line with Dominic Moore and Riley Nash, Schaller has recorded seven goals and 14 points in 58 games (all NHL bests in what’s been the New Hampshire native’s breakout pro season after two cups of coffee with the Sabres over the last two years), the Bruins have multiple options when it comes to left-side options in his absence.

“Well we have [Matt] Beleskey and [Peter] Cehlarik and they’re both left shots, so we have options there,” said Cassidy, who has scratched Beleskey for three straight games and Cehlarik for one. “We’ll make that decision tomorrow.”

These things are always subject to change, especially under Cassidy, but it was Beleskey — who has played in just five of 12 games since Cassidy took over for Claude Julien — that appeared to get the first look in Schaller’s place, as he took the first rushes with Moore and Nash during Friday’s skate in Boston. It’s been a messy year for the 28-year-old Beleskey, who has tallied just two goals and seven points in 36 games this season, but his desire and work ethic to get back into action has always been there.

Added Cassidy: “Beleskey’s been working hard. He’s a guy that can help us.”

But Cassidy did not shut the door on the possibility of Cehlarik being the one to step into the lineup tomorrow.

“I think it was beneficial for [Cehlarik] to go upstairs and watch a game,” said Cassidy.

The 21-year-old Cehlarik has averaged over 14 minutes per game in his 10 NHL games — mainly played on a line with David Krejci and David Pastrnak — and has totaled two assists (both in the same game) and zero goals on eight shots on net.

“We’re not down on Peter. Like a lot of young guys, puck management is crucial,” Cassidy noted of Cehlarik’s struggles. “Just being heavier and harder around it, on it, at it against men is a learning curve and he’ll have to go through it.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Brad Marchand has put himself in the MVP discussion this season.</p>
<div class=



Drew Stafford scored his first goal with the Bruins on Wednesday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Drew Stafford scored his first goal with the Bruins on Wednesday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

I would make the case — and still believe — that Drew Stafford scored his first goal as a Bruin in his first game with the team.

The box score told a different story, however, as Stafford’s power-play, net-front putaway against Cory Schneider last Saturday was called back on a successful coach’s challenge from the Devils. It didn’t mean much, though, as Stafford had to wait just two games later to officially score his first goal in a B’s sweater when he went upstairs on Red Wings goalie Jared Coreau in the first period of Wednesday’s 6-1 win.

It was the highlight of a night that saw the 31-year-old finish with one goal, one assist, a plus-3, three shots, and three hits in 16:04, and came on a night spent on the left side of a B’s second line with David Krejci and David Pastrnak, the team’s uncontested best line in the win.

Moved from his natural right side to the left side of the Krejci line to create an all righty line for the Bruins — which is something that the club did back in 2008-09 with Krejci between Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler — Stafford didn’t miss a beat.

“He’s got a lot of composure with the puck, he can shoot or pass. Again, it was one game but I certainly liked what he did and he’s done it with [Ryan] Spooner and [Frank] Vatrano – he was very good on the other side it looks like,” B’s interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I think we’ve got an offensive player who can play either side and that’s what we thought we were getting as well.”

The move from the right to the left didn’t come with a ton of noticeable issues for Stafford, who last played significant time on the left side on a line with Mark Schiefele at times with the Jets, and his fit with Krejci was impressive. It’s doubly impressive given the 31-year-old Stafford’s newness to the Bruins and how difficult some consider it to to play with Krejci because of his desire to slow the game down to a crawl with methodical passing and skating through the neutral zone.

“I thought he was great,” Krejci said. “He was making plays, good on the puck, strong on the forecheck – so, he was a good thing for our line. Playing for him on the left side – I know it’s not easy, he’s a right-handed guy. But, I thought he did a very good job.”

“We’ve wanted to try him on both sides at some point it just probably happened sooner than we thought,” admitted Cassidy. “It’s something that we will probably continue to tinker with to be completely honest with you. Obviously they were a good line tonight, I don’t want to get ahead of myself for Saturday but I’m sure we’ll keep them together all things being equal.”

But for the fuss made about moving from his strong side, Stafford created the skill of the players around him on that line.

“It’s not too hard. Those guys are great offensive players,” Stafford, who has three points in three games with the B’s, said. “You just try and make sure you’re smart with the puck, you’re taking care of it, and you’re executing with it. You’ll get your offense.”

Added Cassidy: “It’s nice to know he can move around.”

It’s even better to know that he can still contribute when moved around.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Drew Stafford scored his first goal with the Bruins on Wednesday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Drew Stafford scored his first goal with the Bruins on Wednesday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

I would make the case — and still believe — that Drew Stafford scored his first goal as a Bruin in his first game with the team.

The box score told a different story, however, as Stafford’s power-play, net-front putaway against Cory Schneider last Saturday was called back on a successful coach’s challenge from the Devils. It didn’t mean much, though, as Stafford had to wait just two games later to officially score his first goal in a B’s sweater when he went upstairs on Red Wings goalie Jared Coreau in the first period of Wednesday’s 6-1 win.

It was the highlight of a night that saw the 31-year-old finish with one goal, one assist, a plus-3, three shots, and three hits in 16:04, and came on a night spent on the left side of a B’s second line with David Krejci and David Pastrnak, the team’s uncontested best line in the win.

Moved from his natural right side to the left side of the Krejci line to create an all righty line for the Bruins — which is something that the club did back in 2008-09 with Krejci between Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler — Stafford didn’t miss a beat.

“He’s got a lot of composure with the puck, he can shoot or pass. Again, it was one game but I certainly liked what he did and he’s done it with [Ryan] Spooner and [Frank] Vatrano – he was very good on the other side it looks like,” B’s interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I think we’ve got an offensive player who can play either side and that’s what we thought we were getting as well.”

The move from the right to the left didn’t come with a ton of noticeable issues for Stafford, who last played significant time on the left side on a line with Mark Schiefele at times with the Jets, and his fit with Krejci was impressive. It’s doubly impressive given the 31-year-old Stafford’s newness to the Bruins and how difficult some consider it to to play with Krejci because of his desire to slow the game down to a crawl with methodical passing and skating through the neutral zone.

“I thought he was great,” Krejci said. “He was making plays, good on the puck, strong on the forecheck – so, he was a good thing for our line. Playing for him on the left side – I know it’s not easy, he’s a right-handed guy. But, I thought he did a very good job.”

“We’ve wanted to try him on both sides at some point it just probably happened sooner than we thought,” admitted Cassidy. “It’s something that we will probably continue to tinker with to be completely honest with you. Obviously they were a good line tonight, I don’t want to get ahead of myself for Saturday but I’m sure we’ll keep them together all things being equal.”

But for the fuss made about moving from his strong side, Stafford created the skill of the players around him on that line.

“It’s not too hard. Those guys are great offensive players,” Stafford, who has three points in three games with the B’s, said. “You just try and make sure you’re smart with the puck, you’re taking care of it, and you’re executing with it. You’ll get your offense.”

Added Cassidy: “It’s nice to know he can move around.”

It’s even better to know that he can still contribute when moved around.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

It’s hard to imagine that the Red Wings’ 25-year playoff streak is going to come to an end when this season finishes. Then you watch them play and you absolutely see why these Wings are not fit for postseason play.