Bruins

Notes: Bruins brought back to Earth by Red Wings

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Notes: Bruins brought back to Earth by Red Wings

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

DETROIT Its pretty clear that the Bruins have some work to do if anyone is going to believe theyre as good as the Detroit Red Wings team that swept them in a home-and-home series this weekend.

The Wings outscored the Bs by a 10-3 margin, outplayed them in five out of the six periods played between the two teams, and dropped Boston to 3-7-2 on the season against the Western Conference. Obviously Detroit can do that a lot of teams around the NHL, and the Bruins ran into the buzz saw of a Red Wings team smarting from a recent slump.

Bs leader, winger and assistant captain Mark Recchi took solace in the fact that it was a closer game on Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena, and the Bs basically lost the game on a pair of mistakes by Brad Marchand and Tyler SeguinDennis Seidenberg that cost Boston two goals.

"It's a process still and we all know that, said Recchi. We had a really bad game on Friday night. We played a lot better today. We feel comfortable knowing we can play with these guys after the game today. We know that were a good team.

Still, the Bruins cant really consider themselves elite when they lost two straight to the Red Wings and get outshot 26-16 over the final two periods of play. Defensive mistakes were the order of the day, and there wasnt a lot of care given to the puck in their own zone. That is very un-Bruins-like and led to a lot of booboos all over the ice for the Black and Gold.

The biggest thing that sticks out for me is the type of mistakes we've made in the last two games, said coach Claude Julien. There's mistakes. This is a game of mistakes. But the type of mistakes that you make can make a difference. Bad pinches. We haven't given up two-on-ones like that in a long time. We gave those up. Ill-advised decisions.

Even their first goal, we gave them that one. We didn't help ourselves tonight. We had some chances when it was 3-2 to tie it up. We had a couple scoring chances. Had we scored, maybe that would have made a difference. But they come back and score on the two-on-one. That kind of put the nail in the coffin.

Chief among the players that couldnt get things going were the exact players expected to produce against an elite team like the Red Wings.

The Bs top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton were muzzled all afternoon long, and Horton didnt squeeze off a single shot until the game was firmly out of grasp in the third period. Lucic wasnt able to get his physical game started either as Detroits subtle ability to interfere and get in the way without drawing penalties slowed down every change they had to attack.

As a line they finished with a minus-5 and five shots on net, and they were routinely burnt by the trio of Henrik Zetterberg, Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen on the ice in key game matchups.

They played really tight in the defensive zone and the neutral zone. You really had to work hard for every offensive chance, and thats what has made them a good hockey club for a long time, said Lucic. Its unfortunate because we felt good about todays game and especially after the first period, but its too bad we couldnt get the job done.

It seems like theyre always getting in your way. Its not the guy that youre trying to hit, but its the guy coming from the side or the other defenseman that gets in your way or gives you that little bit of interference. Its the way they play and its what makes it so hard to get in there on the forecheck.

Milan Lucic said a Nicklas Kronwall shot he blocked with his right foot in the third period hit his funny bone, and it immediately went numb as he went down like a ton of bricks. Lucic walked it off and went down the runway briefly, but returned to finish out the game and said hed be fine after getting a scare.

It just hit in the funny bone, and it got me good, said Lucic. But I was okay. It was part of the game. You try to block shots and sometimes its going to hurt.

Adam McQuaid was also tagged in the right hand with a shot at the end of the second period, but appeared to be okay and finished out the game without any issue.

Zach Hamill and Steve Kampfer were the healthy scratches for the Bruins on Sunday afternoon, and Hamill was returned to the Providence Bruins following Sundays loss to the Red Wings. Hamill fared decently in the third games he played with the Bruins after his call from the AHL, and played his best game while notching an assist against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Bruins needed to make a roster move with Daniel Paille returning from his four-game suspension for his hit on Raymond Sawada, and it appears that the Bs chose Jordan Caron over Hamill. Caron took a big shot from Nicklas Kronwall at the end of the second period and didnt play the third, but he was on the bench and riding a bike after the game was over.

The Boston Bruins Foundation and the 2010-11 Bruins roster and coaching staff will host the first "Boston Bruins Casino Night" presented by TD Bank on Sunday, February 20 from 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at The Westin Copley Hotel. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to play a variety of casino games with Bruins players and coaches. For more information visit bostonbruins.com.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins shuffling the deck looking for answers up front

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Bruins shuffling the deck looking for answers up front

BRIGHTON, Mass – It would appear that Bruce Cassidy is ready to start shuffling the deck up front after a slow start to the season.

With the Bruins ranking among the league’s worst both offensively and defensively just a handful of games into the season, they are both introducing a few new forwards to the mix while hoping for full health to a couple of other ones. 

First off, the Bruins appear that they might get David Backes back for Thursday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks after his bout with diverticulitis, supplying some badly needed size, strength and net-front tenacity on the wing. Patrice Bergeron (lower body) might not be too far behind after going through a full practice wearing a no-contact jersey. The return of No. 37 would help in any number of different areas once he’s good to go, and would have a cascade effect on the rest of the forwards.  

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Getting both players back in short order would give the Bruins a toughness around the net that was certainly missing against Malcolm Subban and the Golden Knights, and hasn’t been there consistently this season with No. 37 and No. 42 out of commission.

“[Bergeron] is progressing. In the past we’ve ruled him out ahead of time, but we’re not ruling him out for [Thursday vs. the Canucks]. Backes looks closer to being ready to play,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Some of the games that have gotten away from us, those guys are glue guys that really add that element to us to keep us on the rails without the game getting away. Some nights you just need their offense or some hard defending, and you miss their leadership obviously. They’re all good players, but most of them you know they’re bringing that North/South game and a few good shifts here or there could have got us back on track.

“[Bergeron] is underrated in his ability to get to the front of the net especially with Marchand and Pastrnak on his wings. So we miss that part of it: Getting there on time, making plays and finishing off plays. Backes is just a big body there and you certainly miss that part of it. With Vegas the other night that was one of the biggest things we were missing was getting second chances, shooting for second chances, hitting the net and getting those rebound chances against a team that was harder to get inside on.

A few moves on Wednesday might also suggest some on-the-fly changes with some forwards that haven’t been working out with the Black and Gold. Ryan Spooner suffered a lower-body injury on Sunday night against Vegas, and it sounds like it might not be a short-term injury for the center with just one point in his first five games. Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano also haven’t produced much in the first couple of weeks of the season, and could be in danger of losing roster spots to Providence call-ups Kenny Agostino and Peter Cehlarik.  

Both players were late cuts from training camp and were showing the blend of size, strength, skill, experience and production that Boston needs more of as they search for answers among their forward group. Beleskey, Spooner and Vatrano have combined for one point, a minus-6 rating and just 12 shots on net in a combined 14 games this season, so clearly that is one of the first spots to look for upgrading the roster from within.

“[A tryout period] is a good way to put it. We talked about that in training camp when we had a long look at guys, but not Cehlarik because he didn’t get a chance to play [because of shoulder surgery]. He obviously piqued our interest last year and did a lot of good things for us,” said Cassidy, who has been in a state of constant flux putting forward lines together due to injury and ineffectiveness. “We just went in a different direction at the trade deadline, but we brought him up to give him a look. We have a decision tomorrow and I’m not going to say whether [Cehlarik] is in or out.

“He’s really played well in Providence, and we just thought he might be able to help us. Some of it may depend on the health of the other guys as far as who’s in and who’s out. If both Cehlarik and Agostino are both in the lineup there’s a chance [they might play together]. They were with [Riley] Nash today in the middle, and he has some of the same qualities as JFK down in Providence. But until we sort through who’s in for tomorrow, and that starts at the top with Bergeron and Backes, then stuff will fall into place for all of them.”

Depending on how Don Sweeney plays with his 23-roster spots, perhaps the time has come to put one of those players on waivers for a trip to the AHL. Simply based on merit it would be Vatrano and the total nothingness he’s shown in his first four games this season, but there would also be a legitimate concern they’d lose the 23-year-old Massachusetts native on waivers for nothing.

For their part, players like Agostino and Cehlarik ripped up the AHL while teamed with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson in Providence, and were just looking for their chance to carve out a role in Boston. Now they may get their chance based on others not really grasping their opportunity, and they’re ready if that’s the case.

“It’s encouraging for me, but I’m just taking things day-by-day. I’m not looking past anything and I’m looking in the past. I just take things as they come here,” said Agostino, who leads the Bruins two goals and seven points in three games thus far. “This isn’t my first time [up at the NHL], so I’m just going to do whatever I can to make the best impression possible.”

What if Agostino and Cehlarik, a career AHL player and a former third-round pick, can’t make the impact that the Bruins are looking for?

Hopefully by then the Bruins will at least have their top two lines healthy and firing on all cylinders, and can continue to mix and match things in the bottom six until they find a combination of forwards that work. But it may come to a point where the Bruins need to look outside the organization for an impact forward or two, or at least find somebody that can make an impact on the ice rather than will themselves invisible.

Only Beleskey has been at all effective this season as he’s dropped the gloves and played physical at times, and certainly can still be an effective third or fourth liner with the right players skating alongside him. For those reasons along with the massive contract money still owed him, Beleskey should be given every opportunity to succeed in Boston. But one thing is clear at this point: There is too much dead weight on the Bruins roster right now at the forward position, and something needs to be done about it if they hope to pull themselves out of their early-season funk.   

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Bruins lose Ryan Spooner for 4-6 weeks with a groin tear

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Bruins lose Ryan Spooner for 4-6 weeks with a groin tear

The Bruins have absorbed another substantial injury to their forward group with the news that Ryan Spooner will be out 4-6 weeks with a torn groin. According to sources, it was something he was playing with for some time before the right adductor muscle in his groin finally tore in Sunday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

With Spooner out of the Bruins lineup, there will be challenges to both team speed and to a power play unit that the fast-skating center was a key contributor over the last couple of seasons. Sean Kuraly was centering Tim Schaller and David Backes in Spooner’s absence during Wednesday practice, but it remains to be seen how they’ll go about filling the void for the next couple of months.

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“We’re no different than anybody else. We’d like to have our full complement [of players],” said Bruce Cassidy, when addressing the injury situation. “To be healthy and 100 percent in this league is tough, but we’d love to be there.”

Spooner was very clearly slowed by something at the start of the season with just one point and four shots on net in his first five games of the season along with a minus-2 rating, and that’s a tough development for a player like Spooner that relies on his speed and skating for much of his effectiveness at the NHL level. It will be interesting to see if Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson eventually gets a look given his fast start at the AHL Level, and the fact that Spooner is on a one-year deal that may see him playing somewhere other than Boston next season, or perhaps even following this spring’s trade deadline. 

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