Bruins

Bourque, Bruins edge Leafs, 1-0

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Bourque, Bruins edge Leafs, 1-0

TORONTO It wasnt the laughing blowout that many of the games were last season when the Bruins lambasted the Maple Leafs in six regular season meetings, but the end result was the same.

The Bruins got an early goal from Chris Bourque and put out a great defensive effort in a 1-0 win over the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

The Bruins held the slim one goal lead through the first two periods after Chris Bourque finally potted his first goal as a member of the Black and Gold midway through the first period. It was a great shift by the Bs third line as Rich Peverley threw a bouncing puck toward the net that Chris Kelly corralled, and then fired a backhanded pass to Bourque waiting at the doorstep.

The oldest Bourque rifled the puck into the empty net for his second career NHL goal and then gave the signature family celebration: he dropped to knee on the ice and gave the sliding fist pump just like his old man.

The rest of the game was a gritty Northeast Division battle. Lane MacDermid and Mark Fraser fought two different times with the second one featuring Fraser dropping to the ice after the Bs enforcer caught him with a couple of straight rights to the face. The second fight was started when Jamie Tardif knocked Phil Kessel off his skates with a hit in the neutral zone in his first career NHL game.

It appeared that the Bruins had the insurance goal they needed in the second period when a puck bounced off Tyler Seguins leg into an open net. But it was waved off because Brad Marchand had made contact with Toronto goalie James Reimer on a previous rush to the net. That contact caused Marchand to go tumbling into the boards where he appeared to injure himself, and left the game for good at the end of the second period.

GOLD STAR: The Bruins defense headed by Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk. It was clear the Bruins wanted to get back to defensive basics after an embarrassing effort in their own zone against the Buffalo Sabres, and thats exactly what they did. Chara was airtight in his own end for 21:33 and had a combined six blocked shots and hits at the end of the night. He also came to Boychuks aid when his defensive partner was boarded by Leo Komarov in the third period, but was then called for a bogus roughing call when he bumped the Toronto skater for taking liberties. Boychuk blocked a game-high five shots and the Bruins blocked 22 while earning the ice bucket award for body sacrifice.

BLACK EYE: The referees have been pretty good on balance this season, but I think Chris Lee, Ian Walsh, Mark Shewchyk and Brad Lazarowich had an off night. The Tuukka Rask goalie interference in the first period that wiped out a Cody Franson goal was debatable with the Bs goaltender outside of the crease, and a Tyler Seguin waved off in the second period was even worse. The refs ruled incidental contact when Brad Marchand tripped over James Reimers equipment on a rush to the net, but Reimer had ample time to get up and recover before the puck bounced off Seguins leg and into the net. A tacky roughing call on Zdeno Chara for standing up for his defensive partner after hed been boarded and one of those foo-foo obstruction interference calls on Dennis Seidenberg also wont be on the greatest hits list anytime soon. The Bruins had a legit complaint as Toronto had more than twice as much power play time as the Bruins did.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins penalty kill held the Toronto power play to two shots in nearly six minutes of man advantage time, and Tuukka Rask put an exclamation point on the final one by stopping a Phil Kessel screamer from the face-off dot. It was one of the few clean looks Toronto got at the Boston net all night long, and it ended up as one of Rasks 21 saves on the night. The Bruins did the rest while running out the clock and making certain the gritty one-goal win was theirs.

HONORABLE MENTION: Give it to Lane MacDermid, who dropped the gloves twice to battle with Mark Fraser in a couple of honest-to-goodness NHL fights. The first was an early bout to set the tone in the first period and Fraser scored the take-down in an even match. The second was a reaction after Jamie Tardif knocked Phil Kessel down in the neutral zone, and Fraser started making a b-line for the fourth line winger. MacDermid stepped in and dropped Fraser with a couple of strong right-handed offerings. He also managed a shot on net and a hit in 3:02 of ice time for the Bruins.

BY THE NUMBERS: 22 the number of blocked shots by the Bruins as that dwarfed the 12 blocked shots by the Maple Leafs in the contest. It was clear Boston was spilling the effort bucket in its fourth game in the last six nights, and its the reason they won.

QUOTE TO NOTE: We just cleaned up our defensive game tonight. We were extremely sloppy in that game against Buffalo, but we cleaned it up. You talk about a good road win. This was the fourth game in six nights, with the way we competed from fore-check to back-check I thought this was a really good character win for us. Claude Julien impressed with the way the Bruins bounced back after a bad loss to Buffalo.

Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

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Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

BRIGHTON -- Tuukka Rask is quickly making his way through the concussion protocol and may return to action this weekend.

The Bruins netminder skated with the other injured players ahead of Monday’s main team practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and is on track to rejoin the team at regular practice on Tuesday barring any setbacks in his concussion recovery. That would leave Rask with just a couple of games missed after getting trucked by Anders Bjork at practice last week, and it would give the Bruins back their No. 1 goaltender after Anton Khudobin let in five goals vs. the Sabres on Thursday night.

“He’s in the protocol and progressing well,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’ll probably join us [on Tuesday] for the next step if there are no ill effects from today. That’s a positive. If there are no setbacks, I think Saturday is a more realistic [timetable for a return].”

The hope would be that Rask could start elevating his game when he does return, and play better than the goalie that’s posted the 1-3-0 record, 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage thus far this season. But first things first with the recovery to his first career concussion as an NHL goalie, and the set of hurdles that must be passed before Rask is again allowed to jump back into game action as early as this weekend.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Bruins practice with Rask, David Krejci and Noel Acciari all skating prior to practice, Patrice Bergeron staying off ice with a maintenance day and Kevan Miller skating in main practice with a maroon, no-contact jersey:

Marchand-Schaller-Bjork
DeBrusk-Backes-Pastrnak
Agostino-Nash-White
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano

Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Miller-Postma

Khudobin

Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

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Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

BRIGHTON -- Injuries, and some really tough losses, have put a bit of a damper on the start to the Bruins season. But there've also been a couple of unquestioned bright spots.

And one of them is Tim Schaller, who's been a strong, consistent performer in the first couple of weeks of the season. The New Hampshire native -- and lifelong Bruins fan -- was penciled in as a fourth-line winger throughout most of training camp, but he’s played everywhere as injuries have ravaged the B's roster.

The high point was probably centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak (and notching an assist) in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Sabres, and filling in for a late-scratched David Krejci with a very different set of skills. Certainly he’s been a standout for the Bruins with his physicality, including stepping up and fighting man mountain Erik Gudbranson after Gudbranson's nasty boarding hit on Frank Vatrano last week, and he’s also kicked in a couple of goals and three points in seven games thus far this season.

“It’s a reactionary thing, and that’s just in a person,” said Bruce Cassidy of fighting Gudbranson. “It’s a character thing because you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. Good for Timmy. That earns a lot of street cred not only in your own locker room, but the other teams notice it. too.

"We know with the goals that he can obviously chip in [offensively] and he’s doing a great job for what we’re asking him to do. He’s probably going to take ownership if he’s out there with some young guys on a line, and if he can be a leader and get that line playing the right way every night that is very valuable to us.”

Schaller’s game to this point is a continuation of what he showed in his first season with the Bruins last year, when the 26-year-old posted 7 goals and 14 points in 59 games while becoming a staple in Boston’s bottom-6 group. He’s once again shown pretty good straight-ahead speed for a big man, and a willingness to take his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame straight to the net.

“I’ve been moving well and I’ve got the two goals, so personally I’m happy [with my game],” said Schaller. “Hopefully others can feed off what I’m trying to do out there, and we get a more well-balanced game [as a team]. I had a good season last year, and what was really good was that I knew that I had more to give. That’s what I’m trying to do this season.

“I can obviously produce more. I had a good start to last season and then I kind of fell off a little bit. So hopefully I can be a little more consistent for this entire year.”

That would be a very good thing for a Bruins team that can use him in a bottom-6 energy role when its roster is healthy, and will fully utilize his versatility in times of injuries and adversity.