Bruins

Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Canadiens

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Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Canadiens

MONTREAL Here are 15 thoughts after the third period with the Bruins taking the Canadiens by a 2-1 score after 60 minutes of rivalry hockey action at the Bell Centre.
FIRST PERIOD
1) The regrettable Bs defense from the Buffalo loss has returned. They allowed several 2-on-1 situations one that was stopped on a good back-check by Chris Bourque as he crashed into the net and a goal was saved on another when Dougie Hamilton used his stick to block a puck from getting past Rask way outside his crease and Rask stopped Lars Eller cold on a breakaway chance later in the period. Tyler Seguin also took a holding penalty on another potential shorthanded breakaway chance for Brandon Prust, so things were sloppy in the first for Boston defensively.2) Eleven saves for Tuukka Rask in the first period including several high degree of difficulty stops like the Eller breakaway and a stuff shot for Rene Bourque at the front of the net during a wild scramble. This a period that Rask stole for the Bruins where they should be down at least 2-0 given their overall defensive effort.3) Good job in limited action by the Bs fourth line. Jamie Tardif drew a hooking call on P.K. Subban that led to a Boston power play and the Bruins are allowing Ryan Spooner to get some time on the Bs second power play unit. They only totaled a couple of minutes of actual ice time, but thats all they need to do without mistakes per period tonight for the Bruins.4) The Bruins didnt have a shot on goal until 12 minutes into the period and finished with four for the first period. Not enough jump or life to the Bruins breakout and theyre getting beaten in one-on-one battles all over the ice. They look like theyre having trouble keeping pace with the Habs, and its not surprising given that injuries have taken away two of their fastest skaters in Brad Marchand Daniel Paille.5) Chris Kelly went down the runway before the first period was over. Not sure if its an injury or an equipment issue, but stay turned on that one. Not good if hes also banged up.

SECOND PERIOD
1) One shot on net between Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic after two periods of hockey tonight. There isnt enough net-front presence for the big bodies or sustained offensive possession in the attack zone to let them get there. Lucic has also been whistled for a couple of penalties that have broken up the shift-by-shift flow that most players like to build up through the game.2) No shots on net and a penalty that wiped out a Boston power play in the first period for Tyler Seguin. At one point in the second he took a nice cross-ice dish from Lucic as he darted in toward the net, but pulled up to fire a shot rather than taking the puck toward the open lane to the net. Seguins shot hit the outside of the net and the Bruins got nothing for what should have been a great scoring chance with their most gifted goal-scorer. Seguin is one period away from having one empty net goal in his first nine games of the season and thats not good enough.3) P.K. Subban has reportedly made some enemies within his own dressing room after his holdout, but hell win them back quickly if he keeps playing like he is right now. A team-high three blocked shots for Subban and the games only goal to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead. Subban took a half-swing from the right point that rocked off the blade of Rich Peverleys stick and carried over Tuukka Rask for Subbans first goal of the season.4) Milan Lucic is one angry bear tonight. He whacked Andrei Markov with a high stick and then hit Markov with a slash in the second period after both players got their sticks up in the air during a shoving match. Lucic then looked like he was about to get whistled for another penalty right at the end of the second period when he again zeroed in on a Habs skater. Wonder who told him they thought he was out of shape this morning?5) Five of the 15 shots for the Bruins have come from the third line tonight. Doing a good job of at least generating some offense and Chris Bourque saved a goal with a hustling back-check in the first period. They continue to play at a pretty solid level for the Bruins after a slow start.

THIRD PERIOD
1) Great coaching move by Claude Julien getting Tyler Seguin together with David Krejci and Milan Lucic on a line together to start the third period. That line scores goals on each of their first two shifts of the third period and helps give the Bruins just enough offense for the victory. Watching Seguin and Krejci work the puck together is a treat given their natural offensive skills.2) Not a coincidence that the Zdeno CharaJohnny Boychuk pairing was out on the ice for both the goals as well. Chara made a nice play with two fore-checkers on him to break the puck out of the Bruins zone that eventually led to the second Bruins goal of the night.3) One shot on net and 0-for-4 on face-offs in about six minutes of ice time for Ryan Spooner in his NHL debut. That sounds about right for the 21-year-old playing the biggest game of his life. Welcome to the NHL.4) The PlekanecBourqueGionta line along with Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin got torched on both of those Bruins goals to start the third period. Worth noting as they couldnt keep up with the speed Boston was bringing entering into the offensive zone.5) The Habs had at least two or three chances to tie things up in the third period but couldnt bury a couple of open scoring chances. David Desharnais, in particular, missed one wide left after being set up with a wide open look in front of the net.

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

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Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
 
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.


 
3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
 
PLUS
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
 
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
 
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
 
MINUS
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
 
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
 
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

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Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
 
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
 
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
 
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
 
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
 
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
 
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.