Bruins

Bruins extend point streak to 12 with thrilling shootout victory over Canadiens

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Bruins extend point streak to 12 with thrilling shootout victory over Canadiens

GOLD STAR: Brad Marchand, like the rest of the Bruins, certainly wasn’t at his best coming off the five day layoff, but the B’s winger made the plays when it mattered most. It was Marchand that answered with a power play goal beating Carey Price on a power play breakaway chance at the end of the first period to tie things up, and then it was Marchand beating Price again for the game-winner in the shootout at the Bell Centre. Marchand battled like the rest of the Bruins through a sometimes choppy 60 minutes of play, and finished with a goal and five shot attempts in 19:52 of ice time. He also had three giveaways and was part of a sometimes sloppy game from the Black and Gold, but he made the plays when his team needed him in order to get the good result. 

BLACK EYE: Literally, Montreal winger Phillip Danault left Saturday night’s game toward the end of the second period and had to be transported to a local hospital via ambulance after taking a Zdeno Chara slapshot to the head. Danault was down on the ice for long minutes afterward, and both Chara and Patrice Bergeron stood by him and waited for him to be treated and eventually wheeled off the ice with a head injury. Both Bruins veterans gave a few encouraging words to Danault as he was being taken off the ice, and the latest report on him was that he was conscious and alert at the hospital after the incident. Saturday night served as a scary reminder that hockey is a dangerous sport, and Chara’s heavy, hard slapper is one of those potential hazards whenever playing against the Bruins. 

TURNING POINT: The Habs nearly had a win in overtime as a long distance point shot bounced up in the air over the head of Tuukka Rask, but it was Torey Krug that made the alert play sweeping the puck away from the crease. It turned out to be a point-saving play for the Bruins as Tomas Plekanec was ready and waiting to bat the puck into the net, but instead both teams went through the scoreless five minute OT and straight into the shootout. If Krug doesn’t make the game-saving play then the Bruins get one out of two points, and Claude Julien gets the bragging rights over the Bruins in their first game against each other since last season’s firing. 

HONORABLE MENTION: All of Boston’s rookies did okay in their first experience against the Montreal Canadiens, but it was Jake DeBrusk that really rose to the occasion once again in a really big moment. DeBrusk scored a second period goal after a really nice Charlie McAvoy stretch pass freed him up for a breakaway, and then DeBrusk scored again in the shootout as the first guy out of the chute chosen by Bruce Cassidy in a hunch that worked out. DeBrusk finished with a goal, two points and a plus-1 rating in 14:20 of ice time, had four shot attempts and four registered hits as well in a really great all-around performance for his first go-round at the Bell Centre. Like McAvoy, DeBrusk seems to really take his game to another level in the big spotlight moments. 

BY THE NUMBERS: 12 – the number of consecutive games where the Bruins have points that marks Boston’s best run of continuous success since their President’s Trophy season in 2013-14. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I was just hoping that he's not hurt. It does happen, but it's really unfortunate. You don't want to ever see anybody hit in the head/neck area and be carried off the ice. I wish him a fast & full recovery.” –Zdeno Chara, expressing concern for Montreal winger Phillip Danault after he was injured catching a Chara slap shot in the head at the end of the second period. 

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B's last chance to send message to likely playoff opponent

B's last chance to send message to likely playoff opponent

TORONTO – The Bruins might be saying all the right things, and certainly, anything can happen with 24 games still left in the regular season, but they also know the laws of probability say that the Toronto Maple Leafs will likely be their first-round opponent in the playoffs.

The Bruins are just three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning with three games in hand and three games head-to-head vs. the Bolts down the stretch, so nothing is set in stone, of course. But the Black and Gold also know tonight’s date with the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre is the last time the two divisional rivals will face each other prior to any postseason meetings.

The Leafs took the first two in a home-and-home series against a very different Bruins team back in mid-November. The Bruins got payback last month against a weary Toronto bunch at TD Garden. For the third time in the four meetings, the Leafs will also be without superstar sophomore Auston Matthews, out with a shoulder injury sustained on Thursday night against the New York Rangers.

Either way, the Bruins are wary that this will be a final bit of message-sending to a team they’re very likely to see at some point in what they hope is a long Stanley Cup playoff run. They’re treating the important, late-season game accordingly.

“Now I think you can forecast that this may be a playoff matchup at some point, maybe not the first round but maybe the second round. But at some point, it looks like we’ll probably have to play them, so you’d like to leave a reminder of how good of a team we can be,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “I think they’re probably thinking the same, so I’m expecting a really good hockey game with the atmosphere on a Saturday night in Toronto and our guys with a few days off. Both teams have been winning a lot lately, so it should be a good game.”

It will also give a good window into what lies ahead for some of Boston’s rookie players in what should be as close to a playoff matchup as they’ve seen this season. With that in mind, all Bruins players are gearing up for their best while also knowing there’s a Sunday late afternoon trap game waiting for them in Buffalo against the Sabres.

“There are still lots of games left, but we’re aware of what’s going on with the standings and that this could be a possible [playoff] matchup,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We know it’s always tough games against them and very tight-checking hockey. We’re still trying to approach it as we’ve approached it all year, which is taking it one game at a time while pushing ourselves to be better. [Saturday] is back at it and then it’s a very busy schedule to the end, so these were our last few days of rest, I guess.”

Starting on Saturday night in Toronto, it’s 24 games in 44 days to end the regular season in one last major test of the resiliency, depth and mental toughness. It all starts with a big one against the Leafs in front of a Hockey Night in Canada audience with a final parting message on the minds of everybody.  

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For the Bruins, watching Olympic hockey "stings a bit"

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For the Bruins, watching Olympic hockey "stings a bit"

TORONTO – It’s no secret that NHL players weren’t happy about being barred from participating in the Winter Olympics wrapping up in South Korea this week. 

Instead the NHL continued their regular season with business as usual while skipping the Olympics for the first time since 1998, and college hockey players, minor league players and players already playing overseas in Europe were utilized to comprise the teams for the US, Canada and others participating in the Olympic Men’s Hockey tournament. 

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The lack of NHL participation has made for a wide open tournament at this month’s Olympics, and led to the major upset of Canada actually losing to Germany on Friday in a match to play for the gold medal game this weekend. That was bad news for former Bruins forward Chris Kelly as the captain of Team Canada at the tail end of his hockey career, but great news for fellow former B’s forward Marco Sturm as the head coach of Team Germany. 

Naturally one couldn’t help but wonder what was going through the minds of players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, who certainly would have both been on Team Canada, watching Hockey Canada fall short of the gold medal game. 

“Obviously you cheer for your country and that’s what we were all doing. I got up early to catch a little of the game,” said Bergeron. “It’s too bad. I thought Germany played a really good game, and there’s a part of me that’s very happy for Marco [Sturm] since he’s a friend of mine. We played together for a long time.

“It was tough. You wanted to be out there and you wanted to be able to compete. It’s too bad that we didn’t have a say in it. That’s probably the biggest thing for me. That’s my biggest disappointment that we had no say in being a part of it. It was different. The last two Olympics I was in it, and now being able to watch it on TV it’s actually been a lot of fun to be able to watch different events at any time of the day.”

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While Bergeron has his two gold medals from each of the past two Olympic Games to go along with his memories, Marchand might have missed his one chance to be a part of Team Canada at the Olympics during the peak of his hockey career. Coming off last season’s stunning performance from Team Canada at the World Cup, Marchand would have been close to an automatic for the Olympic roster, but instead it’s an experience he may have simply missed the boat on given that he’ll be 33 years old the next time around. 

“Obviously you get over it, but it was more about it being an opportunity lost, I think,” said Marchand. “It was a potential opportunity lost, but it allows other guys to have opportunities. I couldn’t be any happier that a guy like Chris Kelly gets to be there. It’s a huge opportunity. A lost opportunity for us is a huge opportunity for other guys…but it would have been nice to be there and be a part of it. It’s the biggest stage in the world.  

“The biggest reason it stings is that I never thought I would even be potentially be looked at for a team like that. With how things have played out the last couple of years, I might have been able to crack that [Olympic] lineup. So I think it stings a little more for that reason…to have the rug pulled out from under you for no reason. It does sting a bit, but that’s how it goes.”

That stinging feeling from the league pulling out of the Olympics will no doubt be revisited the next time the NHL and NHLPA go to the bargaining table for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. But that’s a different story for a different day as the first Winter Olympics without NHL players in 20 years finally goes into the books this weekend.

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