Bruins

Bruins take care of business vs. Islanders

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Bruins take care of business vs. Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. The sleepy effort and near-loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this week might have been the best thing that happened to the Bruins prior to their 6-0 win against the Islanders on Saturday.

With big divisional tilts against the Montreal Canadiens, who humbled the Bruins with a home-and-home sweep at the end of October, and the Buffalo Sabres, who will be looking for revenge after the Milan LucicRyan Miller brouhaha last weekend, the Black and Gold skaters wouldnt be blamed if they thoroughly overlooked a date with the Isles at Nassau Coliseum.

After all, the Bruins had already nailed the Islanders by a 6-3 score earlier two weeks ago, and New York is having serious issues with two wins in their last 10 games to go along with a minus-21 goal differential. The Islanders have taken their rightful place in the Eastern Conference basement, and it wouldnt have been shocking to see the Bruins feel their way through the first 20 minutes.

We know when they score first that theyre a good hockey team, and we wanted to get that first goal and build off it, said Chris Kelly, who potted a pair of goals and enjoyed his first three point game with the Bruins. We wanted to start this road trip off on the right foot. The Islanders have good offensive weapons and if we overlooked them they were going to bury us. We needed a solid 60-minute effort and we got it.

Instead the Bruins slugged the Islanders with a series of haymaker shots and knocked Isles goaltender Rick DiPietro out of the game with three goals on the strength of 13 shots. The second period effort wasnt quite as effective in sealing New Yorks fate, but the Bruins were so good in the first 20 minutes that the Islanders never mounted a serious comeback in Tim Thomas 28th career shutout in the 6-0 win on Long Island. After the game the Bs pointed to the Columbus game as the kind of fortunate wakeup call that reminded them just how easily another hockey team can creep up and bit them if they become unsuspecting enough.

You cant just let up on a team, or have any letdown, said Patrice Bergeron, who scored the teams first goal and finished with a plus-1 in 16:46 of ice time. The parody in the league is too good to do so. It was important for us to have a good effort and bounce back from that last game against Columbus.

Any hockey team needs those kinds of on-ice reminders from the leagues whipping boys, and New York certainly qualifies after monumental struggles over the last few years have kept them at the bottom of the East standings. Claude Juliens philosophy headed into the game was for the Bruins to hit the Islanders quickly with a flurry in the first period that would discourage the team in rapid fashion, and thats exactly how it played out when Tyler Seguin cut through Steve Staios and Mark Streit before dishing to Patrice Bergeron for the quick goal.

DiPietros breakdown followed with goals allowed to Nathan Horton and Chris Kelly, and the Bruins were off-and-running while laughing at the notion of a trap game while Boston fans chanted Lets Go Bruins at an emptying Nassau Coliseum.

These kinds of teams are always hard to play against, said Claude Julien. That might not have shown because we played them tight tonight and respected their game. The only way we were going to get back into the race was to get going on some kind of a streak here. It doesnt matter how many games weve won here because were still just hanging on to the last playoff spot or slipping out of it. Weve got to get ourselves into a better playoff position than that.

Now its on to the Montreal and Buffalo legs of the road trip, and games that wont be taking the Bruins by surprise. Julien will be happy to know the Bs find themselves in the seventh spot among the top eight playoff teams in the East after their eighth straight victory, and have a whole point of breathing room.

The Bs will need to keep the pedal down over the next two grudge match road games if they hope to solidify that in time for their return trip home on Thanksgiving.

Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins

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Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – While it’s still early in the careers of all the young Bruins rookies making their way this season, it sure looks like 22-year-old Danton Heinen is among the B’s youngsters that are here to stay. The former University of Denver standout didn’t make the cut at the end of training camp this season and he failed early last year when it was clear he wasn’t ready during an eight-game audition with the big club.

But Heinen continued to look ready while scoring a pair of goals and three points in the three games on a pivotal road trip through California last week, and is now tied for fifth on the Bruins in points despite missing four games in the AHL. In all, Heinen has four goals and 10 points along with a plus-4 rating in 15 games this season, and is on pace for a really strong 21 goals and 52 points in his first full year.

This has been a really nice step forward for Heinen after being a point-per-game player for Providence during their playoff run last spring.

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“Last year’s playoff did a lot for him. When I saw him playing there, he was a different player than when he’d left [Boston],” said Bruce Cassidy. “There was a willingness to stay in the battle and his growth when it comes to winning pucks…you’ve seen it here. A lot of the things he’s down well are his second and third efforts on the puck where last year I thought he was pushed off the puck pretty easily [at the NHL level].”

There could be a period when his offense slows down or some other part of his game drags his minutes down, but right now he looks like he’s well on his way to establishing himself in a key role with the Black and Gold. The difference has been Heinen increasing his speed and also adding a little more tenacity to the skill and offense package that he was always bringing to the table.  

“I don’t want to say that because when we get our guys healthy then we’ll see where we’re at,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked if Heinen was a keeper at the NHL level at this point. “But I think he’s certainly shown he’s a much more consistent player than he was last year. He’s probably a bit ahead of the other younger guys because he has gone through a bit of it [at the pro level]. The fact that he’s been able to play in a lot of different situations, play left or right wing, and moved up in the lineup while being very effective with [Sean] Kuraly and [Tim] Schaller down in the lineup, as a coach it’s to have a guy like that who can move around and fit in a lot of different places.

“So he’s certainly helped himself [to stay in the NHL]. I think it’s too early to say if he’s here for good, but I don’t envision him leaving [Boston] anytime soon with the way that he’s played.”

Only time and consistently good play will allow the playmaking Heinen to truly lock up his spot on the NHL roster, but it’s increasingly difficult to envision any scenario where the fifth-round pick isn’t playing an increasingly important role for the Bruins. 

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Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis

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Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis

BRIGHTON -- In a development that was certainly much sooner than originally anticipated, David Backes has returned to the ice just a matter of weeks after having 10 inches of colon removed during surgery for diverticulitis. It remains to be seen how gradual a process it will be for the 33-year-old to actually return to game action given his original timetable for recovery was eight weeks following the early November procedure, but it seems like it might end up being ahead of the two months Backes was initially expected to be sidelined. 

For his part, Backes was happy to be back skating with his teammates and pushing his recovering body after feeling pretty sluggish for the first few days following surgery. He confirmed he’d been skating for a couple of days while the team was on the West Coast, but Monday was his first team doing anything post-surgery with the rest of the team. 

“It’s good to be back with the guys and to be around the room, and to have seen the kind of resiliency that these guys showed on the road trip. The back half of the road trip was impressive,” said Backes, who has an assist in five games with the Bruins before succumbing to the surgery. “To be on the ice and moving around after sitting around doing nothing for too long where you don’t think you’re going to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it feels good. 

“The doc’s advice is that if it doesn’t hurt then I can keep moving forward and add more of a workload on, so that’s the update for today. It’s still non-contact, but we’ll keep moving along and hopefully I’ll be back doing what I love to do on a regular basis. I haven’t been notified that the timeline has changed at all, so I’m just going to keep putting in the work. The more I seem to do the work the better it is, and I seem to be able to do a little more each day. So those are all positive signs.”

For the Bruins it’s clearly a morale booster to see the big power forward back doing regular hockey activities, and serving notice that he’ll be bringing his size, strength, leadership and physicality back to a B’s team that definitely needs him. Clearly the return of another high-end forward would also immensely help a Bruins team that’s still very undermanned up front, but it would appear there will be some other B’s forwards getting back prior to Backes. 

Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner appear poised to return to full practice on Tuesday with a possible return to the lineup not too far beyond that after all three injured forwards took part in Monday’s optional skate at Warrior Ice Arena. 

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