Bruins

Bergeron, Seguin pairing getting results

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Bergeron, Seguin pairing getting results

BOSTON -- Tyler Seguin has heard it countless times throughout his first year plus with the Bruins.

The Bs puck prodigy has been consistently told to watch the way Patrice Bergeron moves with and without the puck, to study the way No. 37 competitively takes face-offs and remains up high to support his defensemen in the offensive zone, and to note the centers lead-by-example style and unmistakable maturity that have always led most to believe hes much older than 26 years old.

It seemed only natural that Seguin the makeshift winger and Bergeron the two-way center should have been paired together at some point in their careers. The time is now, and its been a prolific connection since they were dropped on the same forward line.

Offensively Bergeron is good, but defensively hes one of the best two-way players in the league, Claude Julien said. To play on Bergerons line Tyler is going to have to play against many of the other teams big lines. If Seguin wants to run with him and play on that line, then he needs to be reliable that way. It really forces him to also become a great two-way player.

Patrice is also one of our hardest workers, and to keep up with Bergie youre going to have to be a hard worker. So it really is making Seguin a better player in that way.

Bergeron has always been an underrated offensive force for the Bruins given his defensive prowess. But hes also the only player on the Bs roster aside from Milan Lucic thats scored 30 goals before in an NHL season so the potential is there.

As much as people are fixated on the high standard of play Bergeron can hold Seguin accountable to, there is also some good the youngster can bring to Bergerons world.

That makes it the kind of symbiotic hockey relationship that can stand the test of time, and produce effective results.

Certainly when Bergie gives him the puck its going to end up in the net oftentimes, said Julien. Throughout the years he hasnt always had the luxury of playing with those dynamic offensive players, but hes been paired with hard-working guys. At the end of the night youd see all the work theyd do in the offensive zone without getting rewarded, but Bergie has a good chance right now with a player thats going to help him in that area.

The duo has teamed together for six goals in four games since Seguin was slotted in at the right wing. Theyve looked just as dynamic to the naked eye as they have on the stat sheet with tape-to-tape passes and rushes up the ice that strike right at the heart of opponents defenses.

Theres a connection between those two forward forces skating together and the Bruins jumping from 20th in the NHL in goals scored per game to sixth. Seguins offensive instincts and unique ability to create plays on the ice with rare hockey vision dovetails with Bergerons long-underrated hands, shot and ability to finish off plays when put in the position to score.

Since Claude Juliens arrival in Boston, Bergerons biggest role has been as the epicenter of a super-checking line expected to hold down the other teams best forward groups while kicking in some offense as side benefit. It became a little more than that last season when Marchand found a permanent spot on Bergerons left side, and now the center has his young, speedy, skilled winger on the other side as well.

The right wing spot now inhabited by Seguin was previously manned by marginal offensive talents like Chuck Kobasew, Marco Sturm and an aging Mark Recchi among others. They brought different strengths to the table that complimented Bergeron nicely, but Seguin is elite in a way that only Recchi could have understood when he wore a younger mans clothes.

The new results have been spectacular, and Bergeron has been a big beneficiary as hell continue to be as long as the current line combinations stay together. Bergeron has six points on the strength of five assists all of which have gone toward Seguin goals in four games since getting teamed with Seguin along with a plus-5 and nearly 19 minutes of ice time per game.

Bergeron is the type of player that you get amazed by a little bit, said Seguin. In our defensive end hes so good and thats where I want to be in a few years.

The duo put on a show for a national Canadian audience when they combined for three goals against the Leafs while stunning Octobers best hockey team, the Leafs, last weekend. It was also an alert precision pass from Bergeron to Seguin cutting toward the net against the Islanders that helped knock the wind out of New York in true quick-strike form.

Theres no reason to believe that cant keep up, and its got both forwards excited about the possibilities.

Bergeron smirked when asked about what it could mean for him offensively to have a nice, long run with an offensive force of nature like Seguin. Hes clearly having a good old time racking up points and wins as any hockey player would be. Too often in the past Bergerons linemates couldnt match his speed, hands and hockey IQ on the ice, but hes enjoying talented wingers like Seguin and Marchand for as long as it lasts.

Bergeron is on pace to put up his first 70 point season since prior to the horrific concussion four years ago that nearly ended his career, and he's once again putting together all the pieces to a dominant all-around game.

There are plays weve worked on a lot of practice. I like to get Seguin the puck when he gets open and he does a good job of moving without the puck to get himself open, said Bergeron of the chess match on the ice that they seem to be playing at a higher level right now. Its nice. Hes got the speed that catches defensemen off guard because of it. Youve got to respect it and back off to give me more space in the middle.

We need to keep talking and keep communicating because thats how you build chemistry. There is always improvement to make, but so far so good.

Its been a lot more than good.

The pairing of Bergeron and Seguin as a 1-2 scoring combination is the best thing thats happened offensively to the blue collar Bruins in a long time.

Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

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Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Perhaps part of the confused look from the Boston Bruins on the ice Sunday night in Las Vegas was a nagging feeling of déjà vu they never could shake. The Vegas Golden Knights took a 3-1 win over the Bruins for their fourth win in five tries this season, and handed the Bruins their third truly dreadful-looking defeat in five games played on the young hockey season.

It was tough to avoid the feeling that the Golden Knights were basically “Boston Bruins West”, and that was never too far away from notice as things played out on Sunday. Old friend and former Bruins play-by-play man Dave Goucher and ex-B's defenseman "Sheriff" Shane Hnidy are the friendly faces on the Vegas TV telecast, and were on the Jumbotron pregame in a skit with Carrot Top, of all people, to run down the arena's safety rules in a funny and well-produced video.

Former Bruins PR guru and Beverly native Eric Tosi is in charge of the media relations with the Golden Knights, and has been a busy, busy man along with the rest of the Vegas franchise getting the expansion club off the ground. He was even busier this past weekend, albeit with a relaxed smile on his face, as 20 members of the Tosi clan made the road trip out to Vegas to see the first NHL game between the two franchises.

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And there were the actual familiar faces on the ice with ex-Bruins Malcolm Subban and Colin Miller excelling against their old team. Subban only needed to stop 21 shots in the victory, but was able to finish his first NHL start and earn his first career NHL win against the Bruins franchise that left him unprotected on waivers just a couple of weeks ago.

The Bruins didn’t make the 23-year-old Subban sweat much during the game with pedestrian shots that hit the first-round pick squarely in the jersey crest, and pretty much zero attempts to beat his questionable glove hand.

"We know Malcolm well," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "He's a good first-shot goaltender for the most part. We wanted to put some stress on him and make him uncomfortable on those second ones, and I don't think we did a good job on that."

But give Subban credit for calming down his mental approach and refining his technique enough to play solid positional goaltending against the Bruins, and gaining some sweet revenge in the process.

Subban wasn’t gloating about it or basking in any kind of vengeance against his former team, but instead just expressed happiness at doing the job after stepping in for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury. It remains to be seen if Subban is going to be able to hold down the fort against the teams that will inevitably test him more than the hapless Bruins did, but he gave his team a good chance to win on Sunday.

"It's a great feeling. I made a lot of friends [in Boston], played with a lot of great teammates and (had) a great coaching staff. I'm just happy to get the win. The biggest thing was just not thinking, staying focused, and staying in the moment. It feels really good to get the first win in your first game," said Subban, "My first shot I got good control on it and that got me in the game a lot. You never know how the game is going to go in the NHL. It’s really technical. Sometimes you don’t get a lot of shots, so you gotta stay focused, and I felt I did that tonight.

“I thought I played pretty good. The biggest thing was my depth and not getting too deep in the net. Give myself the better opportunity to make the save. I feel like I did that (Sunday). There weren’t too many high chances. [There were] a lot of textbook saves and just having good rebound control. I’m happy to get the win.”

Miller didn’t factor into the scoring for the Golden Knights against the Bruins, but he was extremely active with three shots on net and eight shot attempts in 18:25 of ice time. He got plenty of power play time, was a plus player and looks like he might get the chance to develop his game in Vegas that hadn’t quite played out over the previous couple of years in Boston.

The Bruins won’t return to Vegas until next season, but the hope has to be those same Golden Knights’ familiar faces won’t get the best of the B’s when they come for their one-and-only visit to TD Garden at the beginning of November.

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

LAS VEGAS -- Even though it's only five games into a new regular season, it feels like the Bruins are in danger of going off the tracks.

They finished their three-game Western road swing Sunday with an aimless 3-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, which came on the heels of a wretched defeat in Colorado and a victory over the winless Coyotes. Sunday was particularly disheartening, as they never tested their ex-goalie, Malcolm Subban, putting only 21 mostly harmless shots on net against a player they gave away on waivers just a few weeks ago,

They may only have three losses in five games, but it sure feels like there's trouble starting to brew in Bruins land.

“It could be a lot of different things,” said Brad Marchand about the loss to Las Vegas. "We may not have been as mentally prepared for that game as we thought we were. They wanted it more than we did. They out-battled us in a lot of areas and they were the better team. We were making it hard on ourselves. We were trying to do too much with the puck, and not directing enough of the pucks toward the net. You can’t get rebound and you can’t get bodies there if the puck isn’t going there.”

That is a lot of different things. A lot of different problems:

-- They couldn’t fight to get to the front of the net against a rugged Vegas defensive group that was going to make them battle to get there.

-- Once again they had too many passengers along for the ride, with both Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano failing to even be a blip on the game’s radar screen. Spooner suffered a lower body injury midway through the game, but while he was out there he was a non-factor once again. 

-- It felt like there was no flow at all to Boston’s game, with breakouts dogged by sloppy passing and players who weren’t hard enough on the puck.

-- When they did get a chance to create something they either missed the net with their shot, or opted not to even take the shot in the first place. 

-- They lost 67 percent of the 57 draws taken during the game, and saw Spooner, Riley Nash and David Krejci and Ryan Spooner go a combined 8-for-29 in the face-off circle.

-- They chased the puck for long stretches and certainly didn’t ever put together anything approaching a consistent, driving pressure in the offensive zone.

Missing stalwart veterans like Patrice Bergeron and David Backes certainly isn’t helping. It makes the Bruins a much smaller group up front that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive units.

But even so, there’s a sense the Bruins can’t consistently bring their 'A' game to the rink with them and don’t seem to have much fight when they fall down by a couple of goals. Trailing by just two goals going into the third period, the Bruins had four shots on net for most of the final period until a late flurry produced a score by David Pastrnak.

Perhaps of more concern, though, is the growing feeling that the Bruins aren’t all on the same page.

Marchand vaguely referenced that the Bruins weren’t prepared to play Sunday, and Tuukka Rask said he’ll no longer comment on anything except his own goaltending. Rask has always been candid and willing to be frank about any shortcomings after Bruins losses, but it appears that’s not something that is any longer welcome inside the B’s dressing room.

“I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on,” said Rask. “I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

Meanwhile, Krejci was similarly short in his postgame thoughts and started talking about avoiding pointing fingers after a frustrating loss.

“There’s no reason to point fingers," he said. "Yeah, we lost a game and it was a frustrating loss. But it’s just the fifth game of the season, so we don’t need to make a big deal out of it. We’re going to back to Boston, we’re going to work hard in practices and we’re going to get ready for the next game.”

Clearly, the fact this stuff is coming to the surface just five games into the season is a cause for concern. But it makes sense, given the way the Bruins are letting an easy portion of the season slip through their fingers.

In their first 10 games of the year, they're facing only one team that made the playoffs last season and they've got plenty of spaced-out stretches in the schedule to get off to a strong, healthy start. Instead they’re losing to subpar teams and highly unproven goalies, and doing so with a real lack of energy or purpose on the ice.

Certainly management would be smart to think about shipping underperforming players like Vatrano back to the AHL in place of Peter Cehlarik or Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. And a few more games like Sunday’s snooze-fest could advance trade talks for a player like Matt Duchene.

But there aren’t going to be any easy answers. It comes down to hard work and hunkering down together as a team, and Sunday’s pitifully inept loss in a very winnable situation was yet another sign the Bruins aren't even close to being there yet.

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