Bruins

B's show toughness, togetherness in win

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B's show toughness, togetherness in win

TORONTO It turned into a roughing penalty for Jordan Caron in the third period, but there was a lot the Bruins liked about a play that first started with Dion Phaneuf flattening Chris Kelly by the blue line.

The hit arrived quickly and surprisingly for Kelly, and perhaps a little too late for Phaneuf and the Leafs since the game had already well been decided in a 7-0 win for the Bruins at Air Canada Center on Saturday night.

Some instant-replay jockeys thought the hit was a little on the dirty, given that Phaneuf left his skates ever so briefly after making an impact with Kellys upper body.

Some Toronto wags also felt Phaneuf should have woken up and actually started playing a little defense earlier in the game instead of watching Milan Lucic blow right past him for Bostons third goal in the second period.

You have to wonder how many times those in Toronto were decrying the disappearing act of their captain during the winning and losing portion of the game early on before the Bruins ran up a touchdown on them. All of that along with Phaneufs minus-3 for the evening likely went into the spring-loaded slam of Kelly when the Bs center found himself in a prime position to be catapulted.

The best part: thoughts from Kelly about the play being a good, hard competitive hockey play rather than the whining or chest-thumping that can sometimes accompany a jarring hit on the ice.

Its a non-issue. I think if you ask every guy in our room they still want to see hits like that remain in the game, said Kelly. Nobody wants to take the physical part of the game out.

While Seguin vs. Kessel does seem a little played out and Kessel vs. the Bruins even more so -- after more than a dozen permutations of the individual match-up that have come up over the last three seasons, there was plenty of refreshing things about the Phaneuf hit in the third period.

The best teammate to Kelly in the moment immediately afterward was Jordan Caron arriving -- without hesitation -- to the defense of his teammate. The second-year player stood over Phaneuf and gave him a quick little shove to remind him there are consequences after his train-wreck hit.

Caron, of course, went on to the penalty box after the shove with a roughing penalty for responding for an overwhelmingly clean hockey hit. But the first year player wouldnt have been blamed if he was timid in the face of split-second decision in the wake of his fallen teammate.

He reacted correctly, and those are the kind of good penalties teams will rally around and kill off when it comes to winning and losing time for the Bruins over the course of a long hockey season.

Other players noticed Carons reactive move for the team-building purposes they represented, and snapped the mental pictures of a team building the right kind of chemistry. The Bruins are at their best when theyre standing up for each other and preventing other teams from taking liberties with any of their players.

The rookie forward did his part to step in for his alternate captain in Kelly, and his veteran leader appreciated it after seeing many times when big hits have gone unnoticed by a team that couldnt be bothered.

Were sticking up for each other, were a close group and thats awesome. But I think that really reflects the score a lot more than the hit, said Kelly. We really thought that we went out and played our game against the Leafs and that we really find our identity.

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.