Bruins/Flames (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Bruins/Flames (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

On a night that gave a sellout TD Garden crowd yet another glimpse back at what was in Bruin-turned-Flame Dougie Hamilton, it was the play of another former Bruin, Flames goaltender Chad Johnson, that made the real difference in a 2-1 B’s loss.

In Boston for his fifth career start against the Bruins (Johnson entered play with two wins and a .933 save percentage in four prior head-to-heads with his old club), the Flames stymied many of the Bruins’ early period chances with 11 missed opportunities for the B’s via blocked shots and misses. They then opened the game’s scoring at the 8:36 mark when Sam Bennett capitalized on a weak B’s play at the attacking blue line, as a weak Kevan Miller shot was intercepted the Flames, pushed the other way in another parting of the seas split against the Joe Morrow and Miller pairing (like the Mark Stone goal in Ottawa the night before), and finished off for an easy Bennett strike.

With a lead, Johnson dazzled in his first chances against. His best stop of a five-shot first period came on a great one-two-three sequence of sorts that allowed David Pastrnak to storm in for a great tip chance. He followed that up with a second period robbery up of the Bruins’ Brad Marchand, this one off a great feed from Marchand.

But in the third, the Bruins finally broke through the Walls of Johnson, with a net-front jam from Pastrnak for No. 88’s 12th goal of the season and a 1-1 draw with 14:05 left in the third.

Just 70 seconds later, though, the Flames countered with an Alex Chiasson goal. Caught in perfect spacing between Morrow and Miller — also known as completely uncovered — Chiasson beat Khudobin upstairs for his third goal of the season and another one-goal lead for the Flames. And though the Bruins pressed with a late-game surge, including a strong 6-on-4 run for the final minute of play spent almost entirely in the Calgary zone, Johnson stood tall with 35 stops on 36 shots against.

In his first start since Oct. 22 after 15 games missed due to an upper-body injury, the 30-year-old Khudobin stopped 27-of-29 shots against, and looked to shake off any lingering rust as the game went on.

The loss also extended the B’s losing streak to three games, a tie for their longest of the year, and the Black and Gold have now dropped four out of their last five contests overall.

Here are four other things we learned in the loss.

Pastrnak continues scoring ways with team-leading 12th goal

David Pastrnak is just straight-up ridiculous. There’s no other way to say it. In just his 16th game of the season, the 20-year-old scored a then-tying goal, good for his 12th of the season. The goal was also the second in as many games for the ultra-talented Czech winger. In fact, Pastrnak has now scored in all but five games for the Black and Gold this season. On a team that’s seriously short on both scorers and luck this season, Pastrnak has been everything and more for the B’s.

Shot generation once again an issue for B’s

One game after a season-low 20 shots on goal in a 3-1 loss to the Senators last night, the Bruins once again struggled to get pucks on net early in this game. Through one period of play, in spite of 16 attempted shots, the Bruins had just five shots land on net. Through 40 minutes, with 39 attempts on net, just 16 shots hit the Calgary net. It’s worth noting, however, that the Bruins did turn it on in the third period with 20 shots in the final 20 minutes of play.

Second period Marchand goal disallowed due to NHL Rule 69.1

The Bruins appeared to tie this game early in the second period when Patrice Bergeron punched a loose puck into a vacant Calgary cage (with the help of a Dougie Hamilton tip into the net). But upon a challenge from the Flames, it was ruled that the Flames’ Chad Johnson was down and out of the crease only because of a collision with captain Mark Giordano. A collision that would not have occurred had Giordano not been pushed into Johnson by B’s winger Brad Marchand.

It’s a weird call, sure, especially given the fact that it technically was not Marchand that interfered with Johnson but Johnson’s own teammates, but allowing such a goal to stand would create an incredibly blurred lines that’d see attacking forwards attempt to push defenders into any and every wandering goaltender on just about every single dump-in for the rest of time.

And don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure this was the 100th goal that was either disallowed or called off for the Bruins since the league instituted the coach’s challenge last year.

Spooner demoted to fourth line 

Tough love might be the only kind of love Ryan Spooner will get from head coach Claude Julien this season. In less than a week, Spooner has been demoted from his second line spot on the left wing down to the center of the fourth line, moved to the third-line center spot, moved back to the second line wing, and now most recently, bumped down to the fourth line, this time on the wing.

With Spooner bumped back down to the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Jimmy Hayes, Matt Beleskey moved back up to the second line with David Krejci and David Backes. Tim Schaller moved up to Beleskey’s spot on the third line with Riley Nash and Austin Czarnik.

Spooner was also moved off the team’s first power-play unit. Brad Marchand took his spot there, while Spooner did continue to log power-play time, just on the second unit. Spooner did however move back to the first unit in the third period… but only because Marchand was in the box.

At a certain point, you really have to wonder what’s going to become of Spooner this season, as he’s been constantly shuffled about, and totally unable to find any consistency in his game.

The Bruins are back in action Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Anton Khudobin will start for the Bruins tonight. (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

Anton Khudobin will start for the Bruins tonight. (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

Recalled from a conditioning assignment with the Providence Bruins just hours ago, Anton Khudobin will make his first appearance in a Boston crease for the first time since Oct. 22 when the Bruins play host to Dougie Hamilton and the Flames Friday night at TD Garden.

Out with an injury sustained in an Oct. 24 practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Khudobin has missed the last 15 games for the Big Bruins, but has put in some work with the P-Bruins in the last week, with two wins in three games of action for the club.

In 189 minutes of AHL action, Khudobin stopped 76-of-87 shots against, including a 20-of-24 night in his final appearance, a 6-4 win over the Rochester Americans two nights ago.

The 30-year-old Khudobin has appeared in two games for the Black and Gold this season, with zero wins and an .849 save percentage.

Khudobin gets the start opposite the Flames’ Chad Johnson.

Johnson has six wins and a .922 save percentage in 10 games for the Flames this season, and won 17 games and posted a .925 save percentage in 27 games for the Bruins in 2013-14. Johnson has two wins and a .933 save percentage in four career games against the Bruins.

This is the first of two meetings between the Bruins and Flames this season.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the B’s

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Ryan Spooner – David Krejci – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Riley Nash – Austin Czarnik

Tim Schaller – Dominic Moore – Jimmy Hayes

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

John-Michael Liles – Brandon Carlo

Joe Morrow – Kevan Miller

Khudobin

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

A night after a disastrous defensive performance in Ottawa in what finished as a 3-1 loss for the Bruins, the Black and Gold have made their quick turnaround and returned to TD Garden tonight against the Flames for their annual Black Friday game. But the Bruins will still be without the services of their No. 1 defenseman and team captain, Zdeno Chara, according to head coach Claude Julien.

Injured in his first shift of the second period Tuesday against the Blues (likely on a corner collision with the Blues’ Jaden Schwartz), the 39-year-old captain missed last night’s game, and still out on a day-to-day basis with his lower-body injury and will be reevaluated tomorrow.

The Bruins are 0-1-0 with Chara out of action this season, and have given up seven goals in five periods without Big Z in action this season. Dating back to last year, the Bruins have allowed 13 goals in three games (all losses) without the 6-foot-9 Chara.

Kevan Miller, a minus-1 with one shot on goal and three hits in 16:50 of time on ice in his season debut Thursday night, will likely continue to skate in Chara’s place in the defensive mix, but on the third pairing with Joe Morrow. John-Michael Liles will take Chara’s exact place in the lineup, however, on a pairing with first-year standout Brandon Carlo.

Chara has one goal and six points and a plus-12 rating in 19 games for the Bruins this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Zdeno Chara's absence makes things uncomfortable for Bruins (Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

Zdeno Chara’s absence makes things uncomfortable for Bruins (Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all of our readers. Here’s a mailbag to enjoy in between your naps. Send questions for next week’s mailbag to letitbleedrearad@gmail.com or @RearAdBsBlog on Twitter:

Now that Zdeno Chara is hurt, is it essential that the Bruins go out and get a defenseman? Ricky, Dartmouth, MA

The Bruins will likely start with a wait-and-see approach regarding their injured defenseman, who had been the team’s second best player and a vital cog in their early season success. If it appears to be a short-term lower body injury, the team will just try to weather the storm with current personnel, however bumpy as it may get. But if Big Z is lost for an extended amount of time, I’d expect the Bs to try like hell to bring in a top-four D-man (though they should probably already be doing that regardless). By placing him on long-term injured reserve (LTIR), the Bruins would be allowed to go over the cap if they decided to bring in a major contract. Of course, making a deal is easier said than done and trades this early in the season are rare. It’s definitely a situation we’re all keeping our eyes on.

What’s the problem with Jimmy Hayes? Janice, Malden, MA

This is one of the biggest questions surrounding the team this year. In simple terms, I’d say Hayes is suffering from a total lack of confidence out there. He looks lost at times out there and isn’t doing much of anything. It almost feels like picking on him at this point but his futility has to be noted. He has yet to tally a point in 18 games this season and has gone 34 straight games over two seasons without one. You could have literally added a child to your family since the last time he tallied a point (Feb. 24). Reilly Smith, the guy the Bruins unwisely dumped for Hayes, has 10-11–21 totals since the last goal from Hayes. He’s been on the ice for the most 5-on-5 goals against while only out for one Bs goal. Claude keeps giving him ample opportunity to get off the schnide, including time on the power play, but there’s absolutely nothing to show for it. You have to think it’s only a matter of time before the Bs try to stash him down Providence. Like when Frank Vatrano is ready to re-join the team. Hayes’s homecoming has been nothing short of a disaster so far.

Who has been the best off-season Bruins addition? Billy, Providence, RI

Dominic Moore. The bottom-six journeyman has been a great signing, putting up 5-3–8 totals in 20 games (including two short-handed goals). He’s also chipped in with great penalty killing and Claude knows he can put him on the ice late in a game to secure a one-goal lead. His possession numbers aren’t great but that’s really the only knock on him. The speedy 36-year-old showed he still has plenty to offer at the NHL level.

Are the Edmonton Oilers back? Tommy, Auburn, MA

Yes, they sure are. Connor McDavid certainly appears to be the next Sidney Crosby-level superstar and even the Oil can’t screw that up. (I don’t think even Peter Chiarelli would trade the former No. 1 overall pick). It’ll be a big surprise if Edmonton doesn’t make its return to the playoffs this year. Either way, it’s great for the NHL to have one of its former marquee franchises become a must-watch team once again.

Which team has been the biggest disappointment so far? Bryan, Dorchester, MA

The New York Islanders. They have way too many underachievers right now and they’re not getting consistent #1 goaltending from either Jaroslav Halak or Thomas Greiss. Head Coach Jack Capuano is definitely on the hot seat and the new ownership isn’t happy with the results so far. The Isles are currently in the basement in the East, seven points behind the No. 8 seed. If they don’t put together even a modest streak soon, the season could get away from them quickly so they may very well have a new voice in the room. For every coach in the NHL, that is the constant reality—sometimes, it’s him that has to pay the price.

Blog Author: 
Rear Admiral

Instead of pumpkin pie or apple crisp, the Bruins ended their Thanksgiving with turnovers — and lots of ’em — in a 3-1 road loss to the Senators at Ottawa, Ont.’s Canadian Tire Center.

The Bruins allowed three unanswered goals in a 3-1 loss to the Senators. (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins allowed three unanswered goals in a 3-1 loss to the Senators. (Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports)

Instead of pumpkin pie or apple crisp, the Bruins ended their Thanksgiving with turnovers — and lots of ’em — in a 3-1 road loss to the Senators at Ottawa, Ont.’s Canadian Tire Center.

In a night in which the Bruins first capitalized with the help of a second chance opportunity on the power play for David Pastrnak, in his first game back from a three-game absence due to an upper-body injury, too.

After the 20-year-old miffed on his first chance, Pastrnak countered with a brilliant backhand that beat the Sens’ Craig Anderson for his 11th goal of the season (in just 15 games played, too) to put the Bruins up 1-0 after one period of play.

Scored with just 10 seconds left in the first period, too, it was the perfect escape to a rather listless, six-shot period from the Bruins.

But in a game that undoubtedly favored their style, the Sens would respond in the second.

On a great play from Mike Hoffman that parted the seas for sniper Mark Stone, Stone split through both Kevan Miller and Joe Morrow, and successfully finished the job on B’s netminder Tuukka Rask for his fifth goal of the season, scored 13:23 into the period.

Deadlocked through two periods of play, the Sens grabbed the lead off a terrible own-zone Torey Krug turnover — Krug attempted to simply blindly throw the puck out of play but was intercepted by the Sens’ Chris Wideman — and subsequent tip off a stick and through Rask for Ottawa’s second goal of the night.

Fortunately for the B’s the goal was scored with more than enough time for the Bruins to answer back.

Instead, the Bruins made yet another lackadaisical turnover, this one from David Krejci on a dropback pass intercepted by Kyle Turris midway through the period, and Turris and charged the other way and into the B’s net for their third goal of the night.

It was the all the Senators needed on a night in which the Black and Gold put a season-low 20 shots on goal.

Rask, meanwhile, stopped 23-of-26 shots in defeat, and is now officially on his first losing streak of the season.

Here are four other things we learned in the loss.

Pastrnak scores in return from upper-body injury

When David Pastrnak was asked about the pressure to score given the Bruins’ goal scoring struggles without him in the lineup (the Bruins have scored just nine goals in five games without No. 88 in action), he laughed and said that there was “literally no pressure” to score. Pastrnak followed that statement up with a goal in his first game back. Because of course.

This is really what makes Pastrnak such an entertaining and dynamic talent for the Black and Gold. The dude just straight-up loves hockey, and is at this best when he’s having fun. Did Pastrnak have fun in a 3-1 loss? Probably not, but the difference in the overall strength of the forward corps is so noticeably better with him in the lineup, and that’ll show more so most nights.

Shades of old Guy Boucher in new Guy Boucher

This game was ugly. It was tough sledding, especially through the neutral zone. And that slow, sluggish style undoubtedly favored a team coached by Guy Boucher. Let’s be real: the Senators do not have as much pure talent as the Bruins. Erik Karlsson is an incredibly dynamic talent, same for Turris, and you could put Hoffman and Stone in that group some nights. But that’s really it for the Senators. If they can slow the game down and make you have to grind it out through the middle of the ice, that’s going to favor them, especially so against a Boston team that has so many centers playing on the wing right now. And this was painfully apparent for the B’s in a night that not only featured just 20 shots, but had almost no prime scoring chances on Craig Anderson.

Kevan Miller makes season debut

On the shelf for the first 19 games of the season with a fractured left hand, the 29-year-old Kevan Miller made his season debut tonight on the club’s third pairing with Joe Morrow. On the ice for Ottawa’s first goal of the night, Miller finished the night with 16:50 of time on ice (the lowest among all B’s defenders, as expected) and registered three hits and two blocked shots.

Life without Chara is still very ugly

People wanted to trade Tuukka Rask for about three years. Hell, some people still want to. But I think it’s safe to suggest that most sane people learned just how important Rask is to the Bruins when he missed time earlier this season. (The Bruins, by the way, still do not have a win without Rask in net.) And they’re about to learn the same thing with their 39-year-old captain, Zdeno Chara. Out of action tonight with a lower-body injury, the Bruins were a defensive mess without their 6-foot-9 No. 1 defenseman, and have now allowed seven goals in five periods without Chara this season. Defense by committee? Not the most fun.

The Bruins will return back to Boston and host the Flames at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Dominic Moore played under Guy Boucher from 2010 to 2012. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

Bruins fourth line center Dominic Moore played under Guy Boucher with the Lightning from 2010 to 2012. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

Over three years since he was fired by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and after three seasons in the Swiss League as the coach of Bern SC, Guy Boucher is back in the NHL and behind the bench of the Ottawa Senators. And Boucher, of course, is no stranger to the Bruins.

Behind the Lightning bench for an unforgettable seven-game war of an Eastern Conference Final against the Bruins in 2011, the Black and Gold were the ones that finally found the hole in Boucher’s then-famous 1-3-1 system that without question flustered every team they went up against and dazzled media members from high above.

“Everybody talks about how he used to have that neutral zone sit back, everybody talks about,” B’s coach Claude Julien said Wednesday. “But like anybody else he’s adapted to a game that’s evolved, too.”

With the Sens off an 11-7-1 start that’s put them in third place in the Atlantic Division, one point above the Bruins, Boucher has found success with an offense that’s averaging the seventh-most shots on goal per contest, and has spread the club’s best offensive talents in Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, and Kyle Turris on different lines throughout his top nine forward groupings.

“I would have to think he’s a better coach today because he’s had some experience in this league,” continued Julien. “But he’s a guy that loves to prepare well and loves to have his hands on everything, and that’s just the way he is.”

And while there’s familiarity within the room from behind the B’s bench, there’s direct experience with Boucher from somebody on it in Dominic Moore, someone that played for Boucher for two years with the Bolts from 2010 to 2012.

“I have a ton of respect for Guy,” Moore, who tallied 51 points in 133 games with the Lightning, said of his former coach. “First and foremost he’s a good person. and he’s having success again. He’s a very passionate guy, he brings a lot of that love to the game and instills it in his team and I think you’re seeing that with the way they’re playing.”

The Bruins went 7-3-0 against Boucher’s Lightning from 2010 to 2013.

 

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

It’s never good timing to lose your team captain.

But for the Bruins, without captain No. 1 defenseman Zdeno Chara for a one-game road trip tonight in Ottawa, good timing may come in the potential season debut for defenseman Kevan Miller.

Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

It’s never good timing to lose your team captain.

But for the Bruins, without captain No. 1 defenseman Zdeno Chara for a one-game road trip tonight in Ottawa, good timing may come in the potential season debut for defenseman Kevan Miller.

Absent for the first 19 games of the season with a fractured left hand sustained in the preseason finale against the Flyers (and just days after Miller dodged a serious knee injury in a preseason tilt against the Canadiens), Miller was a full participant in B’s practice yesterday at Warrior Ice Arena, and has been dubbed a game-time decision by head coach Claude Julien for their Thanksgiving game with the Senators.

“Obviously it’s tough that Z got injured right now,” Miller, Chara’s partner for an extended stretch of play last season, said of him being the next man up with Chara down. “He’s a big hole to fill, but nobody can really fill that hole like Z does, so it’s a collective group effort.”

Paired with Joe Morrow on the right side of the Bruins’ third pairing, Miller feels ready to rejoin the team if given the green light.

“Hand feels great. I put in a good amount of work to get back now,” Miller said.

“I’m looking forward to getting back in the lineup whenever that is, and I’m excited to play.”

In the first season of a four-year, $10 million extension signed in May, the 29-year-old Miller established career-highs across the board in 71 games last year, including five goals and 18 points.

If No. 86 is unable to go, expect Colin Miller to suit up in his place on the B’s blue line.

This will be the first of four meetings between the Bruins and Sens this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Patrice Bergeron's offensive numbers have taken a dive.</p>
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