Bruins

Bruins struggle to wrap their heads around loss

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Bruins struggle to wrap their heads around loss

The reality was painful for some players, and perhaps a relief to others. After playing 196 hockey games over the last 17 months, the Bruins find themselves eliminated from the first round of the playoffs for the first time since Claude Juliens first season in Boston.

The series loss to the Capitals was one they were favored to win as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. They had dreams of repeating as Cup champs dancing through their heads, but it wasnt meant to be.

The reality was more than some could wrap their brains around in the home dressing room after it was all over.

We . . . were kinda used to going on all the way, you know? said Johnny Boychuk. To be done now its like . . . its kind of hard to even understand. Its like you cant even believe its over right now.

Dennis Seidenberg was one of the few Bruins players that excelled at a high level throughout the seven-game series, a credit to his mental toughness and the genius of German engineering. But even he said it was stunning to think there will be no practice or team meetings for the Bruins on Thursday.

Its such a weird feeling. You play hard and its a tight game and suddenly a bounce goes against you. Suddenly the seasons over, said Seidenberg. For the first few minutes, and even right now, youre wondering what time practice is tomorrow. But there is no practice. I mean its going to be a long summer and we have to get ready for next year again.

In some ways perhaps a first round exit isnt such a bad thing in terms of motivation. The Bruins have enjoyed five straight seasons of playoff appearances and climbed the mountaintop to win the Stanley Cup last season. A reminder of how difficult the path can be was probably in order.

So now the Bruins think about things for a couple of days. They will say their final goodbyes on Friday while they pack up their bags, conduct exit interviews, and get their final physicals. Then theyll be scattered off to the four corners of the world while eight NHL teams continue on a journey the Bruins fully expected to be taking once again.

Sometimes its not so bad to be denied what you want, and it should make for a revamped Bruins team thats just a little more dialed in next year.

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.