The Senators have an easy schedule the rest of the way, so the Bruins must go on a run. (Jana Chytolova/Getty Images)Not long ago, it was a foregone conclusion that the Bruins would make the playoffs; it was just a matter of which seed they would secure. 



The Bruins couldn’t come back for a fourth time Thursday night, and as a result they saw the Senators gain two massive points on them.

Reilly Smith

Reilly Smith

The Bruins couldn’t come back for a fourth time Thursday night, and as a result they saw the Senators gain two massive points on them.

With a 6-4 win over the B’s, the Senators now have 81 points on the season, trailing the Bruisn (83) by two points for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, though the Senators have a game in hand.

The game was frantic from the first shift on, as both Kyle Turris and Carl Soderberg scored in the opening minute. Back-and-forth scoring and shaky play on both sides led Claude Julien to bench Reilly Smith and shake up his lines. Reilly Smith was given just one third-period shift, while Matt Bartkowski had five.

Dennis Seidenberg hurt Boston’s chance at a comeback bid late, as he was knocked off the puck in the defensive zone and put his hand over the puck for a delay of game penalty with 4:02 remaining.

The Bruins have now lost three straight (0-2-1) heading into a back-to-back Saturday and Sunday against the Panthers and Lightning, respectively.

BURGER KINGS

The Bruins did something that no NHL had ever done before Thursday night: They scored three goals against the Hamburglar. Then, with the B’s trailing in the second, Torey Krug added a much-needed fourth to tie the game.

Hammond had entered the game 11-0-1 in 12 career NHL starts. With the win he remains undefeated in regulation.

SPOONER REPEATS HISTORY

Ryan Spooner had a pair of goals (one power-play, one even-strength) when the teams played earlier this month. He did the same Thursday in a performance that showed the Kanata, Ontario native clearly likes playing near his hometown.

Spooner redirected a Milan Lucic shot that sailed past Hammond just over four minutes into the game, giving Boston a 2-1 lead. Furthermore, it kept up his line’€™s pace as his trio with Lucic and David Pastrnak continue to score at a decent pace while not allowing many goals.

The 23-year-old added a power-play goal on a five-on-three in the second period, giving him five goals since being placed into the lineup. Those five goals tie him with Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand for the Bruins’€™ lead since Krejci’€™s injury.

In 13 games together since David Krejci‘€™s injury, the Spooner has a total of seven five-on-five goals, with only goal against in five-on-five play. The line has also scored one goal and allowed three when two of the line’€™s three members have been on the ice. Spooner’€™s overtime goal in four-on-four play against the Devils back on Feb. 27 makes for a total of nine goals scored and four goals against in all even-strength scenarios for the line.

SODERBERG STREAK OVER

Considering how many chances he got Tuesday against the Sabres without capitalizing, it seemed that Soderberg’€™s goal-less streak would last forever. Thankfully for the Bruins, that wasn’€™t the case.
Just 40 seconds after Kyle Turris’€™ goal to put Ottawa up early, Soderberg carried the puck into the offensive zone and shot past a screening Chris Kelly to tie the game with the second goal of the game’€™s opening minute.

The goal was Soderberg’€™s 11th of the season. His 10th came over two months ago back on Jan. 17.

SECOND-PAIR AND BERGERON LINE STRUGGLES LEAD TO CHANGES

When things are going right for the Bruins, Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line doesn’€™t get beat often. That wasn’€™t the case early on Thursday, as a Reilly Smith turnover in the opening seconds and some soft coverage later in the period led to a pair of goals allowed by Boston’€™s top line.

Both goals allowed came against Kyle Turris’€™ goal with Milan Michalek and Mark Stone. First, Smith sent the puck into no-man’€™s land in the neutral zone entering the defensive zone, which led to a possession for Ottawa in which Turris buried the rebound of a Michalek shot.

Later in the period, Michalek slipped off Dennis Seidenberg and Brad Marchand to jump on a loose puck and bury it past Tuukka Rask to tie the game with just under five minutes remaining in the first period.
Bergeron’€™s line wasn’€™t on the ice for Ottawa’€™s third goal (Gregory Campbell‘€™s line was), but the presence of the Bartkowski-Seidenberg pairing made it three goals against for Boston’€™s second pair on the night.

After Smith turned the puck over from behind the net on a power-play to hand the Senators a power-play goal, Claude Julien benched the struggling forward for the remaining 8:03 of the second period and the first eight-plus minutes of the third. He turned the puck over in his first shift back.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Pierre McGuire, NBC Sports, joins Lou, Christian and Greg Dickerson to talk about the Bruins chances at the postseason

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NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins and their push for the playoffs, as well as other NHL m

Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins and their push for the playoffs, as well as other NHL matters. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

With David Krejci being out, the Bruins have shuffled their lines up front and currently have Milan Lucic playing with Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak. McGuire feels this has improved Lucic’s game, as he’s been playing more like a leader being paired with two of the youngest players on the team. He does feel once Krecji returns, Lucic will be reunited with him, but doesn’t know when that will happen.

“The thing that really stood out to me is he’s really relishing this role as a leader with those two young players in Spooner and Pastrnak,” said McGuire. “I think he’s elevated his game because of the leadership potion that has been put on his plate. I don’t know what Claude [Julien] is going to do, it’s a real debatable issue. I have to think at some point Krejci will be back with Lucic, I really do. I don’t know when or for how long, but I have to think at some point they will put them back together.”

The Bruins are in Ottawa Thursday night to take on the Senators. As it stands now the Senators are four points behind the Bruins for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. McGuire feels the Bruins are in a good spot to make the playoffs.

“I think Boston has a very good chance to be a playoff team,” he said. “In fact, I would be shocked if they didn’t make it. They deserved a better fate the other night (in a shootout loss to Buffalo). The biggest thing to be was Anders Lindback, he never played a game that good in his life. I give Buffalo a lot of credit. They showed a lot of heart and a lot of desire, but the Boston Bruins were [playing hard], they just couldn’t beat Lindback. I don’t expect goaltending like that every night against Boston.”

It seems the NHL getting rid of the shootout and going to 4-on-4, and 3-on-3 overtime is getting some steam to be put in place next season. McGuire thinks this change is needed, and will be a welcomed change with members of the league — both with the coaches and players.

“I think most people that really care about the sport want to see the best players play in the game and having the game decided by the players playing the sport rather than just having a skills competition,” said McGuire. “I am all for it and I think most of the players are for it. I can tell you 99 percent of the coaches are for it in terms of the people that I have spoken with, so I would be absolutely shocked if it was not put into place for next season.”

Blog Author: 
WEEI
We discuss the Bruins as they head to Ottawa with the great Jack Edwards of NESN

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Andrew Hammond has a .956 save percentage. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Andrew Hammond and his .956 save percentage are providing a threat to the Bruins’ playoff chances. (Harry How/Getty Images)

In the Bruins’€™ biggest game of the season, they’€™ll have to go against someone they have, for the most part, never seen.

As the legend of Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond a.k.a. “The Hamburglar” continues to grow, the 27-year-old netminder with points in all 12 of his starts (11-0-1) is just that to most Bruins: a legend — someone of whom they’€™ve heard, but actually haven’€™t actually witnessed in person. When the teams last met on March 10, Ottawa started Craig Anderson in Boston’€™s 3-1 win.

By this writer’€™s count, only Torey Krug, Reilly Smith and Matt Bartkowski have played against Hammond (all in college against Hammond’€™s Bowling Green squad). Smith scored six goals against the Hamburglar in seven games over a three-season stretch, while Krug racked up four assists over seven games. The icing on the cake? Bartkowski, who has zero goals in 119 career regular-season games in the NHL, scored on Hammond back on Jan. 8, 2010 and added an assist against the Hamburglar the next night.

With the way Hammond’€™s playing now, however, one shouldn’€™t expect a multi-goal performance from Smith or, unfortunately, a single-goal performance from Bartkowski. The undrafted Hammond, who began the season in the AHL but whose contributions since his callup earned him a card that gets him free McDonald’€™s for life, has allowed just 15 goals in his 12 starts. He’€™s given up just one goal in each of his last three starts and has never given up more than two in an NHL start.

“We’€™ve got an opportunity to hand this guy his first loss,” Claude Julien said Wednesday. “It’€™s up to us to make that happen.”

Making that challenge harder is the fact that the Bruins aren’€™t exactly the goal-scoring type these days. They’€™ve put just two pucks past goaltenders over the last three games, with Zdeno Chara adding an empty-netter Saturday in Pittsburgh. Overall, the B’€™s rank 19th in the NHL with 2.60 goals per game.

Assuming Ottawa, who continues to nip at Boston’€™s heels for the second wild card spot, does start Hammond, the Bruins will need to find a way to beat him — either with a balanced scoring effort or, more realistically, a lights-out performance from Tuukka Rask — to avoid a scary stretch run. The Senators trail the B’€™s by just four points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they also have a game in hand. The Bruins do have more regulation and overtime wins (33 to Ottawa’€™s 29), so if Ottawa does match the Bruins’€™ point total, Boston would likely hold the tie-breaker.

Still, it shouldn’€™t have to get to that for the Bruins. Their roster, as we’€™ve documented perhaps too many times, is better than it’€™s performed. Despite the injuries with which they’€™ve dealt, the Bruins should easily be a playoff team, but Ottawa’€™s recent run presents a very realistic threat.

Mostly because of Hammond’€™s play, the Senators have are 12-1-1 over their last 14 games. Their only regulation loss in that span is the aforementioned contest earlier in the month in which the B’€™s faced Anderson.

Fortunately for the B’€™s, despite the fact that they’€™re facing a hot team and goaltender at a time in which they’€™re struggling to score, they have a goaltender of their own who can steal a game.

‘€œIt’€™s always slim,’€ Rask said Wednesday of his margin for error. ‘€œIt doesn’€™t matter if it’€™s the hottest or coolest goalie in the league. I know that I try to keep the goals against as low as possible, but lately, a few games, we haven’€™t scored as many goals. Obviously you know that most likely you can’€™t let in too many.’€

Hammond’s play has inspired a fan to throw a McDonald’s burger on the ice after a win. Rask quipped Wednesday that the strangest thing he’s seen thrown on the ice was a milk crate. The Bruins can only hope there’s no reason for either to be thrown on Thursday.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

WILMINGTON — The Bruins swapped out one David for another in Wednesday’€™s practice, as David Krejci took part in the skate while David Pastrnak was the only absence.

David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak

WILMINGTON — The Bruins swapped out one David for another in Wednesday’€™s practice, as David Krejci took part in the skate while David Pastrnak was the only absence.

Krejci also participated in Tuesday’€™s non-contact morning skate, but Wednesday marked his first full practice with the team since suffering a partially torn MCL on Feb. 20. He is not expected to return to game action until this weekend at the earliest.

Pastrnak’€™s absence is currently unknown, as he played through overtime of Tuesday’€™s 2-1 shootout loss to the Sabres.

With Pastrnak’€™s absent, Krejci skated in his place in line rushes. The lines in practice were as follows:

Marchand-Bergeron-Smith
Lucic-Spooner-Krejci
Kelly-Soderberg-Eriksson
Paille-Campbell-Talbot-Ferlin

All six defensemen practiced, while Jeremy Smith joined goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Niklas Svedberg after being recalled and dressing as the team’s backup Tuesday. Rask missed the game with what the team called “general soreness.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean