Bruins

Haggerty's Bruins-Jets preview: Stay on the gas

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Haggerty's Bruins-Jets preview: Stay on the gas

For the Bruins, it will be about keeping the foot on the gaspedal as they prepare for an afternoon matinee on Martin Luther King Dayagainst the Winnipeg Jets, who are coming off a loss in their home opener.
TheJets are expected to once again be a fringe playoff team in the EasternConference this season, so it would be natural to think the Bruins might nothave the same kind of opening night adrenaline they had against the Rangers. If mental mistakes and aching bodies were going to begin tohave a negative effect, Mondays setting against Winnipeg at home would be the timeit to rear its ugly head. The Bruins are mindful of any lulls in their game aftergenerally struggling in day games over the last few seasons. Youve just gotto do your job and worry about preparing yourself, said Johnny Boychuk. Itwas a good first game against the Rangers, but you need to be ready to workhard to get that second win.Theres littledoubt former Bruins players Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart will also continue toput their best foot forward against the team that dealt them away for RichPeverley in the midst of a Stanley Cup run. That will be part of the backdropfor a game that should start to look, feel and sound like business as usual aseverybody begins to get used to the NHL being back. One thing werefocusing on is consistency, said Daniel Paille. With last year not making theplayoffs and opening up with a home loss, Winnipegis definitely going to be ready. Wheeler and Stuart have been very goodover there and they usually have a lot of adrenaline for us. We need to beready for that and not take it too lightly.PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Old friend Blake Wheelerentered this season with high expectations as a budding power forward in Winnipeg, but he didntmaterialize in the Jets loss to the Senators on opening night. The 26-year-oldfinished with 17 goals and a career-high 64 points for the Jets last season,and he was looking to build on that this season. Instead Wheeler logged 17:34 ofice time and finished with just one shot on net along with a minus-2 as hisline couldnt keep the puck out of the back of the net. In general, the entireJets team should be playing with a burr under their saddle after losing a 4-1decision to Ottawain front of their home fans on Saturday afternoon. DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Just being backwas so nice. I think its going to be pretty easy to keep it going. We havesuch a good team and our fans are great. Especially at home its nice. Id playagain today if I could because we had so much fun. Nathan Horton, who shouldbe ready to go Monday afternoon against the Jets if hes ready to play everyday. KEY MATCHUP: The Ottawa Senators were able to strike out anddo damage against the Blake WheelerBryan LittleAndrew Ladd on Saturday nightwith a couple of goals against them, and it should be interesting to see howClaude Julien exploits that with the last change at TD Garden. With that inmind dont be surprised if the Bruins coach throws Tyler Seguin, PatriceBergeron and Brad Marchand out against that trio to neutralize them defensivelyand exploit any shortcomings in the defensive zone. STAT TO WATCH: 10. That's the number of consecutive home victorieson TD Garden ice that the Bruins hold over the WinnipegAtlanta franchise thatdates back to Dec. 31, 2007. INJURIES: Dennis Seidenberg will miss today's game with a lower-body injury. Also, Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) is expectedto miss the season and be placed on long term injured reserve. GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask will follow up on hissolid 20-save season debut against the Rangers with the matinee game againstthe Jets. With a schedule that tapers off slightly at the beginning ofFebruary, it makes sense for the Bruins to ride Rask in the early going as theylook for a good start to the season. But its also slightly surprising thatthey didnt want to work Anton Khudobin into a Monday afternoon matinee thatsusually tailored for a backup goaltender. For the Jets Ondrej Pavelec isexpected to man the pipes after giving up four goals to the Ottawa Senators inSaturday nights opening loss.

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.