Bruins

Notes: Seguin not happy at potential scratch

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Notes: Seguin not happy at potential scratch

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Claude Julien is a conservative coach in many regards, and it certainly manifests itself when it comes to young players and playoff lineups.

Phil Kessel, then in his second year but coming off a 19-goal season, was benched for the first four games of the Bruins' opening-round playoff series against top-seeded Montreal in 2007-08. Julien reinstated Kessel for the final three games, and he responded with three goals and an assist, but the move permanently poisoned the relationship between player and coach and was one of the big reasons Kessel wanted out when he became a free agent.

Tyler Seguin isn't Phil Kessel. He's outgoing, diligent and conscientious with his teammates in ways that the introverted Maple Leafs sniper never was. But it looks as if he's going to get the Kessel treatment when the Bruins open the playoffs . . . and he's not happy about it.

Seguin was a healthy scratch Wednesday night against the Islanders and, if comments made by general manager Peter Chiarelli on 98.5 The Sports Hub Wednesday morning are any indication, that may happen in the postseason, as well. Chiarelli said Seguin sitting during the playoffs is the way it looks to be trending, but the competition isnt over yet.

Seguin was one of five players -- Michael Ryder, Patrice Bergeron, Shawn Thornton and Chris Kelly were the others -- who participated in an optional skate Wednesday morning and, in brief comments to reporters afterwards, said he wanted to play.

Im sure Ill talk to coaches about it and theyll tell me why if Im scratched, said Seguin. Of course I want to be in there playing.

Seguin has only one goal in his last 16 games. But its undeniable he's played better, faster and stronger down the stretch, and tasting the playoffs is something beneficial to his development.

The problems: Ryder has 9 goals and 18 points in 24 Stanley Cup playoff games with the Bruins over the last two seasons, and Daniel Paille is playing his best hockey of the season over the last two weeks. Both of those players could potentially serve in a fourth-line capacity.Julien spoke after the win about the tough decisions facing the coaching staff when it comes to playing time and choosing a roster headed into the postseason, and simple fact there are no easy choices. Ideally rest would be a good thing for players like Zdeno Chara and Mark Recchi, but he wasn't sure if it was coming or not."Those are tough questions to answer right now as Im sitting here because we dont know whats going on with the rest of the schedule and other teams that are playing: the opportunity to move up and maybe not," said Julien. "Its a balance of making sure that you try and get your team ready for the playoffs and some of it might mean that players have to play and we cant sit 10 guys out. "Weve only got a couple extra Ds and weve got an extra forward here, so you know, its pick and choose. As I said this morning, you pull a guy out and all of a sudden, another guy gets hurt and youre going to be told, Why didnt you pull him out? I didnt know he was going to get hurt versus the other guy. So these are things that you deal with. At the same time, players want to play. They really do. I think there might be a possibility in the last game or if something happens in the next couple of days, well look at the standings and make that decision at that time." Steve Kampfer was sent down to the Providence Bruins on Wednesday night following the win over the Islanders at TD Garden. The 22-year-old defenseman, however, will still take part in the Cuts for a Cause charity sponsored in part by 98.5 The Sports Hubs Toucher and Rich Show.
There was some good-natured chatter on thebench after Shawn Thornton picked up his career-best 10th goal of the season in the first period after missing three games with a 40-stitch slice on his forehead. Claude Julien poked fun at Thornton's defenseman capabilities while also praising the B's enforcer for his offensive accomplishments this year. "I think everybody is happy for him, anytime you hit double digits," said Julien. "His comment to me was, hopefully I can get an assist tonight, so I can be ten and ten, instead of ten and nine. Because hes looking a little selfish with more goals than assists."
Prior to Wednesday nights game against the Islanders, the Bruins handed out their annual awards.

-- The Eddie Shore Award, presented by the Gallery Gods for "exceptional hustle and determination", went to Thornton, who set career highs in goals (10) and assists (9) this season.
"I'm very honored and humbled by the award even though I feel like maybe this could have gone to my centerman as well," said Thornton referring to Gregory Campbell. "The guy the award was named after wasn't too bad of a player at all, was he?"
-- The Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy, for his outstanding performance during home games as chosen by the Boston Chapter of the PWHA, went to goalie Tim Thomas.

-- The Bruins Three Stars Awards, chosen by 98.5 The Sports Hub, were presented to the three players who have contributed the most to the teams success this season during home games. The Number One Star was Thomas, the Number Two Star was Patrice Bergeron, and the Number Three Star was Milan Lucic.

In addition to the awards, the Boston Bruins Foundation and the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) will make a 20,000 donation that will be divided among two local charitable organizations: One Mission and WriteBoston.

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

Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home

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Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' actual 2-3-0 won-loss record isn’t particularly terrible, especially when you consider they were without Patrice Bergeron and David Backes.

But they've been wildly inconsistent within those first five games, playing a couple of very good games against the Predators and Coyotes while suffering three ugly, non-competitive losses to Colorado and Vegas. The Bruins are 20th in goals scored (2.8 goals per game) and 22nd in goals allowed (3.6), and their special teams have been average at best in a soft part of the schedule that should have allowed them to get off to a good start.

The Bruins have looked sloppy much of the time with chaotic breakouts, far too many breakdowns in defensive coverage, and goaltending has been average at best.

As a result they're scuffling in the Atlantic Division as the Lightning and Maple Leafs have sprinted out to strong starts. Clearly it’s still early -- nearly the entire season is in front of them -- but there’s also no illusion about the need for a quick turnaround in what’s going to be a competitive division.

That's why the next four games, all at TD Garden, are so important.

“We’ve been inconsistent in our game. We’ve been good and we’ve been not good, so hopefully being home will allow us to get back into form,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “We knew going in with a youth movement that we’d had some ups and downs. We’ve had both. We’ve had some really strong games and we’ve had some other games where there’s a learning curve.

“As good as [our] prospects are, it falls on the core group to be solid and consistent every night. Then you lose a bit of your core group [to injuries] and you need your support players that aren’t your core group -- but aren’t kids, either -- to contribute. So we’re battling through all of that, and it’s up to us to put in a game plan that gets us through it. We haven’t achieved the level we’d like. We aren’t hiding behind that. We’d like to be better than we are right now, and we’re facing it head on every day.”

Clearly there are plenty of players in the “support player” category referenced by Cassidy who haven’t performed to date, and that also explains some of the Bruins consistency issues. Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and Riley Nash have a combined two assists and a combined minus-5 rating through those first five games, and are among the players that need to step up and perform if the Bruins are going to start achieving the consistency that Cassidy is actively seeking right now.

Rask helped off ice at Bruins practice after collision

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Rask helped off ice at Bruins practice after collision

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask had to be helped off the ice midway through practice Wednesday when it appeared rookie Anders Bjork crashed hard into the Bruins No. 1 goaltender in a drill. 

Coach Bruce Cassidy didn't have much in the way of an encouraging update on Rask following practice: "He left early. We had a line rush drill where there was obviously contact around the net. He's being evaluated. Hopefully, he's fine, but we don't know anything until he gets checked out."

MORE:

Rask never returned in what looked like another streak of bad luck for the B’s. Rask is off to a slow start at 1-3-0, with a 3.30 goals-against average and .882 save percentage, but Boston can ill afford to lose their top goalie right now.

The Bruins continue to look for the right mix of players at the start of the season and they’ve called up a couple of forwards off to hot starts in Providence for a look.

Big, skilled Slovakian winger Peter Cehlarik and AHL scoring champ Kenny Agostino have both been called up while it looks like some struggling NHL veterans, perhaps Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano, might be hitting the pine.

The two call-ups, along with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson were off to a red-hot start in Providence: Agostino leads Providence with two goals and five assists for seven points (tied for third in AHL) with a plus-four rating in three games this season. Cehlarik is second on the team with two goals and three assists for five points with a plus-three rating in three games with Providence.

Patrice Bergeron was again wearing the maroon no-contact jersey at practice on Wednesday while participating in line drills, and it would appear it’s going to be a stretch for him to be available vs. the Canucks. Adam McQuaid returned to practice on Wednesday, so Ryan Spooner was the only injured Bruins regular that wasn’t able to suit up and practice with the team.

Tuukka Rask had to be helped off the ice midway through practice when it looked like Anders Bjork crashed hard into the Bruins No. 1 goaltender in a drill. Rask never returned in what looked like another streak of bad luck for the B’s. Rask is off to a slow start at 1-3-0, with a 3.30 goals-against average and .882 save percentage, but Boston can ill afford to lose their top goalie right now.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Wednesday afternoon’s practice with it looking like David Backes might be up for a possible return on Thursday:  
 
Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak
Schaller-Kuraly-Backes
Cehlarik-Nash-Agostino
 
Beleskey-White-Vatrano
 
Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Miller-Postma
McQuaid
 
Rask
Khudobin