Bruins

Game-time decisions for Paille, Thornton, Marchand Saturday

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Game-time decisions for Paille, Thornton, Marchand Saturday

The Bruins had all of their injured players back taking normal line rushes for a Friday morning practice on the TD Garden ice with the hope that some if not all would be ready to return Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Brad Marchand skated as the extra forward on the white line with Tyler Seguin, David Krejci and Milan Lucic while Rich Peverley donned a yellow practice jersey while skating with Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton.

Both Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton were wearing their normal merlot practice sweaters, and Jamie Tardif had pushed up to the right wing on the gray line alongside Chris Kelly and Chris Bourque. Bruins coach Claude Julien wasnt sure if he was going to keep those practice lines intact when the puck is dropped against Tampa Bay, and some of it will depend on exactly who is available to play.

I can honestly tell you that Im not 100 percent on those lines right now, said Julien. There could be some changes. There are players were going to have to make decisions on tomorrow whether theyre in our out. Those lines could change.

Well see how Marchand is tomorrow after practicing, and Paille and Thornton are in the same boat. In this season its not such a bad idea to put different players with each other just to see what might happen.

Paille has now practiced for several days and appears the closest to returning to the Bruins lineup, but Julien was careful to say he hasnt yet been medically cleared to play after taking a high-stick in the left eye area last week vs. Buffalo. The Bruins fourth line winger

At this point in time I dont necessarily know, said Paille when asked if hell play vs. Tampa Bay. I feel really good. When I practice I dont have any visual problems, but Ill have to speak with Claude and the training staff today to see if its the right decision.

Thornton will have missed two games and been out nine days since he got dinged in a brawl with Buffalo enforcer John Scott last week, and was sharing time with Lane MacDermid on the right wing during practice. Just in case youre sensing a pattern here, Thornton also wouldnt reveal how close he is to returning to the Bruins lineup after skating with the full team for the first time since suffering his injury.

This was the first time skating with the boys in a week. It was a long week of skating with myself and Daniel Paille, said Thornton. I have no idea if Im playing tomorrow. I guess well find out tomorrow.

Marchand looked spry and energetic hopping on into line rushes and drills with his Bruins teammates, but sounded like somebody that might be sitting for another game following Fridays practice

Guys play through things all the time and that wouldnt be an issue. I just want to make sure this isnt something that could reoccur. Im not going to put myself in a vulnerable position, said Marchand. You dont want to be a liability and be just floating around. Its frustrating when youre out there and youre not your best, so you might as well wait until you can help the team.

The best educated guess as to who will play and who wont based on how they looked at practice: it appeared Paille was the closest to coming back, and that both Thornton and Marchand might get at least one more day or two before theyre slotted back in the Bs lineup.

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game.