Bruins

Haggerty: Bruins look to snap funk vs. Habs

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Haggerty: Bruins look to snap funk vs. Habs

WILMINGTON If anybody can bring the Boston Bruins out of their early-season funk its the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens.The flopping, condescending members of Habs nation drop into the Hub for a much anticipated home-and-home series with the Bruins, and that always brings the best out of a B's team that can fall asleep against lesser opponents. "I would hope that that would be the case. Certainly that's come to mind when I look at the schedule. We've got enough games that for whatever reason motivate us: I look at Toronto and you have the whole Kessel thing and what's gone down there and the Chicago they've won the cup before. We've had some good games when there's a reason to be motivated," said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. "I would hope that that would be the case against Montreal."They're rivals. We've had some real good games and series with them and all that history last year. There's always a reason to play well against Montreal. I would hope that that happens again in the next two games."Unfortunately the Habs are looking at the Black and Gold in exactly the same fashion as theyre sitting on a 2-5-2 record that got Montreal assistant coach Perry Pearn fired on Wednesday afternoon. Pearn was the power play architect for a Habs team that's one of the few in the NHL worse than the Bruins with a 4-for-37 start to the season, and he was shown the door after two years of PP struggles.Habs head coach Jacques Martin is on the hot seat as well in Montreal, and the firing of an assistant is clearly a shot across the Canadiens bow that things need to change or the entire coaching staff might be next. So the Habs are in just as bad a spot as the Bruins less than a month into the new hockey year.

Both teams are in desperate need for wins to help dust themselves off and get into the Northeast Division fray after a full month of hockey, and both teams havent come close to living up to their preseason billing. Nobody could have expected that the loser of the first HabsBruins match of the year will be residing in the Northeast Division basement, but that's simply the way it is while battling vastly improved teams like the Maple Leafs and Sabres.

Anybody who is in a position like they are or we are should be hungry, said Claude Julien. So I dont know why they should be any hungrier than we are. Were not doing that great ourselves.

Many of the players in the Boston dressing room are looking forward to squaring off against a Habs team everybody feels strongly about it, and it could be the same kind of good effort Boston was able to summon for common enemies like Tampa Bay, Chicago and Toronto already this season.

Except for Brad Marchand, that is.

I didnt know that we had a home and home . . . just kidding, said Marchand with mock seriousness about the Bruins-Habs rivalry that always draws mega media attention to the hockey games. Well see if something brews up in the first one and carries over into the second one.

By no means do we want to help their team out. Were not trying to get anybody fired or anything like that, but we want to make sure we do our best to get the wins while were totally focused on that.

Bs players like Zdeno Chara, Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron had some of their best moments against the Habs during the playoffs last season, and it could be the perfect spot for all three players to permanently dump the frustrated and hangover questions if they can simply beat down against the Canadiens.

But for Claude Julien the head-to-head grudge match against the Canadiens isnt about a rivalry that will solve his teams woes, or the spark needed to light Bostons fire for the rest of the year. Instead the Bruins coach saw a pair of ancient NHL rivals that will both be playing with great desperation given how each team badly needs a victory, and need to worry more about themselves than anything else.

Everybody seems to look at things in their own way. Its a great rivalry, but for me it only matters who comes out with the win, Julien said. We have to understand that we need to get ourselves winning on a more consistent basis, and its as simple as that."Two teams that hate each other starved for two points with back-to-back changes to land damaging punches against the other. That's actually about as compelling as it gets during the NHL regular season, and should be the perfect "next chapter" in the BruinsHabs rivalry that's as good as it ever was.

Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

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Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

BRIGHTON -- It was good news when word first filtered out that David Backes had resumed skating last weekend while the Bruins were on the West Coast, and even better news Tuesday when he returned to practice. Backes skated without any restrictions in a spot on the third line with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller, and appeared to be recovering nicely from his bout of diverticulitis.

Backes was initially diagnosed with the inflammatory colon ailment in the first few days of October, with the team estimating a three- to four-week recovery period. If he'd needed surgery rather than the  prescribed rest and medication, he could have been facing a lot more missed games.

Patrice Bergeron was also back skating on Tuesday morning while centering Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, still sporting a maroon no-contact jersey while taking some light contact during the practice session.

Backes and Bergeron look like they’ could be returning to the lineup soon.

But the injury news wasn't all good, as Ryan Spooner, Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen and Adam McQuaid were all missing from practice.

Spooner (lower body) and McQuaid (lower body) were both injured in Sunday night’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Czarnik and/or Heinen might be ticketed back to Providence soon if the Bruins have to make roster space for Bergeron and/or Backes ahead of Thursday night’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with a whole different look to things with some of the different bodies taking part in the skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pasta
Schaller-Nash-Backes
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano
White

Chara-Carlo
Miller-McAvoy
Krug-Postma

Rask
Khudobin

Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

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Familiar faces get the best of the Bruins in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Perhaps part of the confused look from the Boston Bruins on the ice Sunday night in Las Vegas was a nagging feeling of déjà vu they never could shake. The Vegas Golden Knights took a 3-1 win over the Bruins for their fourth win in five tries this season, and handed the Bruins their third truly dreadful-looking defeat in five games played on the young hockey season.

It was tough to avoid the feeling that the Golden Knights were basically “Boston Bruins West”, and that was never too far away from notice as things played out on Sunday. Old friend and former Bruins play-by-play man Dave Goucher and ex-B's defenseman "Sheriff" Shane Hnidy are the friendly faces on the Vegas TV telecast, and were on the Jumbotron pregame in a skit with Carrot Top, of all people, to run down the arena's safety rules in a funny and well-produced video.

Former Bruins PR guru and Beverly native Eric Tosi is in charge of the media relations with the Golden Knights, and has been a busy, busy man along with the rest of the Vegas franchise getting the expansion club off the ground. He was even busier this past weekend, albeit with a relaxed smile on his face, as 20 members of the Tosi clan made the road trip out to Vegas to see the first NHL game between the two franchises.

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And there were the actual familiar faces on the ice with ex-Bruins Malcolm Subban and Colin Miller excelling against their old team. Subban only needed to stop 21 shots in the victory, but was able to finish his first NHL start and earn his first career NHL win against the Bruins franchise that left him unprotected on waivers just a couple of weeks ago.

The Bruins didn’t make the 23-year-old Subban sweat much during the game with pedestrian shots that hit the first-round pick squarely in the jersey crest, and pretty much zero attempts to beat his questionable glove hand.

"We know Malcolm well," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "He's a good first-shot goaltender for the most part. We wanted to put some stress on him and make him uncomfortable on those second ones, and I don't think we did a good job on that."

But give Subban credit for calming down his mental approach and refining his technique enough to play solid positional goaltending against the Bruins, and gaining some sweet revenge in the process.

Subban wasn’t gloating about it or basking in any kind of vengeance against his former team, but instead just expressed happiness at doing the job after stepping in for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury. It remains to be seen if Subban is going to be able to hold down the fort against the teams that will inevitably test him more than the hapless Bruins did, but he gave his team a good chance to win on Sunday.

"It's a great feeling. I made a lot of friends [in Boston], played with a lot of great teammates and (had) a great coaching staff. I'm just happy to get the win. The biggest thing was just not thinking, staying focused, and staying in the moment. It feels really good to get the first win in your first game," said Subban, "My first shot I got good control on it and that got me in the game a lot. You never know how the game is going to go in the NHL. It’s really technical. Sometimes you don’t get a lot of shots, so you gotta stay focused, and I felt I did that tonight.

“I thought I played pretty good. The biggest thing was my depth and not getting too deep in the net. Give myself the better opportunity to make the save. I feel like I did that (Sunday). There weren’t too many high chances. [There were] a lot of textbook saves and just having good rebound control. I’m happy to get the win.”

Miller didn’t factor into the scoring for the Golden Knights against the Bruins, but he was extremely active with three shots on net and eight shot attempts in 18:25 of ice time. He got plenty of power play time, was a plus player and looks like he might get the chance to develop his game in Vegas that hadn’t quite played out over the previous couple of years in Boston.

The Bruins won’t return to Vegas until next season, but the hope has to be those same Golden Knights’ familiar faces won’t get the best of the B’s when they come for their one-and-only visit to TD Garden at the beginning of November.

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