Five minutes into their third straight game without captain Zdeno Chara, though a 4-1 win for the Bruins over the Lightning at TD Garden, the Black and Gold lost the club’s next longest tenured NHL defenseman, John-Michael Liles.

On a shorthanded drive towards the net, the 36-year-old Liles was tripped up by Lightning goalie Ben Bishop and sent flying out of control headfirst towards the endboards.

Liles also appeared to have been clipped in the head by B’s forward Austin Czarnik on the crash.

Down their de facto top pairing partner for Brandon Carlo, the Bruins were forced to roll with five defensemen (and four at certain points, too, with Torey Krug in the penalty box for the first eight minutes plus of the second period), and still limited a high-energy Lightning attack to 31 shots on goal, 15 of which came in a blowout of a third period.

“It was pretty early on that we lost Johnny,” Colin Miller said of the team’s defensive effort. “We did a good job responding. I think when you get down to five guys you’re not really thinking you’re just playing and sometimes that’s even better.”

In Liles’ absence, the Bruins rotated five defensemen, and it was Kevan Miller (in just his third game back after missing the first 19 contests of the season), that finished with a team-leading 26:42 of time on ice.

“It’s just the situation that happened,” Miller admitted after the win. “There’s nothing you can do about it, it happens during the season. Like I said before, no one is going to fill [Zdeno] Chara’s spot. As a group we kind of need to collectively pick each other up and make sure we’re ready to go. I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

The B’s did not have an update on Liles after the game.

“Obviously he crashed in the boards, and I think the replay I saw, it might have been a knee to the head, so they were obviously evaluating him for that injury,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said when asked for an update on Liles. 

“I was told he wasn’t coming back, and from there I don’t know what more is happening.”

Liles, acquired from the Hurricanes at the trade deadline last year, has five assists in 22 games this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The nine-month old monkey on the back of Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes has been finally, successfully thrown out of TD Garden.

The Bruins snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-0 win over Tampa Bay at TD Garden Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Lightning at TD Garden Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The nine-month old monkey on the back of Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes has been finally, successfully thrown out of TD Garden.

One of just two forwards with at least 19 games played and not a single point (the Hurricanes’ Jay McClement is the other) entering Sunday’s matinee affair with the Lightning, the much maligned winger has seemingly been through a life’s worth of bad luck in his hometown.

But that finally changed Sunday, as it was Hayes that scored the Bruins’ third goal of the win, off a great feed from David Krejci, and good for Hayes’ first goal of the season and his first in 36 games dating back to last season (Feb. 24 against the Penguins).

The cap to a three-goal middle period from the Bruins, with goals from Dominic Moore and a power-play goal from David Backes, Hayes’ tally came on his 34th shot of the season (and on his 58th shot on net since his last goal), and really put dagger in the Lightning through 40 minutes, with the Hayes goal scored with just 2:27 left in the period.

The Bruins added another in the third period, just for good measure, with a David Pastrnak puck banked off Tyler Johnson and through Ben Bishop, good for No. 88’s third in as many games since returning from an upper-body injury. Challenged on the shot by the Lightning’s Slater Koekkoek, the goal was Pastrnak’s team-leading 13th goal of the season (in just 17 games played).

The Lightning finally countered the B’s strikes with a Jonathan Drouin goal scored with just 2:39 left in the game.

With goals from four different scorers in a 4-1 final, the Bruins found balance, but no goal likely meant more than Hayes’.

Here are four other things, not related to monkeys living on backs, that we learned in a 4-0 win for the Bruins

Tuukka Rask impressive early and often in 12th win of season

Although he lost his shutout with just 2:39 left in the third period, there were absolutely no possible complaints with the game by Tuukka Rask played today. And we’ve already said that more times than we did all of last year. It’s no secret that the 29-year-old Rask has taken his game to another level this season, but Rask was especially strong in a winning effort Sunday, with several stops on looks right in front of his net, and ultimately finished today’s game with stops on all but one of 31 shots against.

Bruins keep vaunted Lightning power play off board

Win the special teams battle and you’ll win the game most nights.

The Bruins did just that, too, as a dominant Lightning power play that entered today’s contest ranked fourth in the NHL was held to an 0-for-2 mark and had just one shot on goal in defeat. It was really strength-on-strength for these two teams, too, as the Black and Gold ranked fourth in the league on the penalty kill this season heading into action. What made their Sunday success all the more impressive was that they did it without both Chara and Liles, two of their regular killing defenders.

At the other end, the Bruins took care of their power play opportunities, with a 1-for-1 mark on the man advantage.

Fourth line puts forth strong effort 

It’s no secret that the Bruins need more from their bottom six. (Heck, you could probably say that they need more from their second line, too.) But the Bruins found an extra jolt of life today behind a strong showing from the team’s new-look fourth line with Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes on the wings for center Dominic Moore. Of course, it’s easy to talk about how great the fourth line looked on a night in which two of its three members scored a goal and all three recorded points (Spooner had an assist on the Moore goal), but this group really seemed to make pushes and create chances in the offensive zone.

Against a deep Lightning forward corps, the Bruins needed a lift from that unit and they got just that.

Also: Moore now has six goals in 22 games played this season. He scored just six times for the Rangers last year… in 80 games.

John-Michael Liles exits with upper-body injury

Down Zdeno Chara (lower-body) for the third straight game, the Bruins were dealt another blow on their backend Sunday when John-Michael Liles crashed into the endboards with a thunderous impact early in the first period.

Tripped up by Ben Bishop’s stuck on a shorthanded opportunity, the 36-year-old went crashing headfirst into the boards, and hardly moved for the first 20-30 seconds he was down on Garden ice. Eventually helped to his feet, Liles was escorted down the tunnel and did not return to action with what the team has dubbed an upper-body injury.

One of three left-handed defensemen on the B’s roster (and one of two dressed for this contest), Liles’ night ended after just 2:24.

Liles has five assists and 19 shots on goal in 22 games this season.

Up next, the Bruins will travel down to Philadelphia for a Tuesday night contest with the Flyers.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Colin Miller

Colin Miller

In their first matinee of the season, the Bruins will see one of their defensemen return to the lineup Sunday against the visiting Lightning. Unfortunately for the B’s, it’s just not the one they really need back.

A healthy scratch in the last six games, Colin Miller will draw back into the defensive rotation for the Bruins today in place of Joe Morrow, who recorded one assist in six games in Miller’s spot, while B’s captain Zdeno Chara will miss his third straight game.

On a third pairing with Kevan Miller, the 24-year-old Miller returns to action with one goal and two points in 15 games this season, including a goal against the Canadiens on Nov. 8.

The other defensive pairings will remain the same, with John-Michael Liles paired with Brandon Carlo, and Torey Krug with Adam McQuaid.

Some good news on the Chara front, though, is that the 39-year-old did skate on his own early this morning.

The Bruins are 0-2-0 without Chara this season.

Tuukka Rask gets the start in the B’s net while Tampa Bay counters with Ben Bishop.

This is the second of five head-to-heads between the Bruins and Bolts this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins have scored just four goals in their last 198 minutes of hockey. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins have scored just four times in their last 198 minutes of hockey. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

A year-long struggle to find scoring has finally caught up to the Bruins.

In the team’s third straight loss Friday, a 2-1 final to the Flames at TD Garden, and their fourth loss in their last five games overall, the Bruins managed to score just one goal on 36 shots against Flames netminder Chad Johnson. It was their second straight night in which the Bruins scored just a single goal, and their sixth time scoring one goal or fewer in 21 games to date this year (they’re 1-5-0 in those games).

“We had a lot of shots in front of the net but the biggest thing is we’re not scoring goals,” B’s coach Claude Julien admitted after the loss. “Some of it is, we’ve got to hit the net with prime scoring chances. That’s one of them. The second one is, it’s okay to get scoring opportunities, but how do you create the second one off the original one, and I don’t see us getting those much so far this year.”

The Bruins even had a 12:34 stretch in which they shot 17 consecutive shots on Johnson from the final 5:34 of the second period into the first seven minutes of the third, but had just one goal to show for it, on the 16th shot of that timeframe, no less.

Quantity, not quality, has been the name of the game for the Black and Gold’s offensive game this season.

But one of the biggest problems for the Bruins in their most recent loss was their inability to generate quality looks in the opening two periods of play, with just 16 shots on 39 attempts. In the third period, though, the Bruins turned it on, with 20 shots on goal and 36 attempts overall. But still, as mentioned, had just one goal to show for it, a team-leading 12th goal from David Pastrnak.

It’s worth noting that Pastrnak scored the lone goal of the Bruins’ 3-1 loss to the Senators the night before, too.

“I’m trying to help the team as much as I can,” the 20-year-old Pastrnak, who had missed the previous three games before the Ottawa game Thursday night, said. “Some games, I’m going to score, some games, it’s other guys. As long as we’re going to pick up the two points, it doesn’t matter who is going to score. Ten games can be different. For us, we need to find a way to score goals. We need to do more in front of the net and get pucks through. One game, we have guys in front and can’t get the pucks through. In other games, we get the pucks through and we don’t have anyone in front.”

“In the third period – what more can you ask? We shot pucks at the net, we had chances,” Julien continued of the team’s third period awakening. “Frustration right now sets in when you’re not scoring and guys are squeezing their sticks and sometimes the simple plays becomes tougher plays so we’ve got to try and get over that hump.”

It didn’t help that the Flames scored the eventual game-winning goal just two shots after that 17-shot barrage from the Black and Gold, on Alex Chiasson’s third goal of the season, 1:10 after Pastrnak’s goal.

“Very unfortunate,” Boston defender Kevan Miller, on the ice for both Calgary goals tonight, said of the Chiasson goal. “We were pushing pretty hard there and I think we did a pretty good job getting back after that but we got to tighten up.”

With just one goal, the Bruins have now scored just four goals in their last 198:19 of hockey, or since Tim Schaller’s dagger of a third period goal against Winnipeg last Saturday, and just eight on their last 160 shots on goal over their last five games.

“I think we’re keeping our cool pretty good,” B’s forward Schaller said of any frustrations after the defeat. “We know we have enough skill in this room to put up a lot of goals every night, and we’ve just got to stick with it, and we showed at the end there, where we can shoot and we can put pucks on net. But we’ve got to stay the course, and stay calm, and not get frustrated.”

“We have to put this together,” Pastrnak said. “Then we’ll be fine.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

In real time, it looked like it may have just been a big collision that left Patrice Bergeron with a wide-open net early in the second period Saturday night.

Patrice Bergeron is a game-time decision for the Bruins.

Patrice Bergeron is a game-time decision for the Bruins.

In real time, it looked like it may have just been a big collision that left Patrice Bergeron with a wide-open net early in the second period Saturday night.

With Flames goalie Chad Johnson out of his crease to play the puck, Brad Marchand and Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano collided, sending Giordano crashing into his goalie. The puck ended up on Bergeron’s stick, and he fired it into the vacant cage to apparently tie the game at 1-1.

The play was ruled a goal on the ice, but then it went to review. Replays made clear the source of the collision — Marchand had knocked Giordano into Johnson with a pretty solid shove to the back.

The call was overturned and the goal was taken off the board. Reading Rule 69.1, it seems like the officials made the right call.

“If a defending player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by an attacking player so as to cause the defending player to come into contact with his own goalkeeper, such contact shall be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, and if necessary a penalty assessed to the attacking player and if a goal is scored it would be disallowed.”

Claude Julien and the Bruins did not agree. Julien had some choice words for the refs at the time, and reiterated his frustration after the game.

“You obviously saw that I wasn’t happy with it,” Julien said. “When you dump the puck in and you forecheck and all night long they kept skating in front of our forecheck, and that’s exactly what they did to Marchy. Marchy gives him a shove, which he’s allowed to do. Just because your goaltender’s out of the net and he happens to be in the way, I don’t think that should’ve been called back. We never know anymore what they think, so we just have to sit back and accept what they decide. It’s a frustrating thing, because it’s never the same thing twice.”

Marchand, who had clearly been briefed before talking to the media, did not comment on the no-goal when asked about it. He was also asked about the idea of the Flames obstructing the forecheck, but said he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

“Not really. There’s teams worse than them,” Marchand said.

Giordano did step in front of Marchand, but he didn’t really change direction, and he was a step in front of Marchand the whole way. Marchand’s shove didn’t help matters either, as it pretty much eliminated the idea that it was incidental contact. It’s also hard to understand Julien’s argument that Marchand was allowed to shove Giordano, since a shove that hard on a guy who doesn’t have the puck is almost always interference.

Anyway, check out the video below (via Stanley Cup of Chowder) and let us know what you think in the comments.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

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.

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