Bruins

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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Charlie McAvoy admits 'it's been a battle' trying to find his game in playoffs

Charlie McAvoy admits 'it's been a battle' trying to find his game in playoffs

BRIGHTON, Mass – Clearly there are a couple of Bruins players in the first round series that aren’t quite playing like themselves. 

Patrice Bergeron is definitely one of them after returning from missing Game 4 with an upper body injury, and it would seem that the injury is still affecting him even though he’s still been a pretty decent version of himself. Another of those players is 20-year-old Charlie McAvoy, who simply isn’t the same player he was for long stretches of this regular season or last spring’s playoffs when he averaged 26 plus minutes per game for the Bruins. 

McAvoy has just a single assist along with a plus-2 rating and five shots on net in the six games against the Leafs, and it’s clear at times that he’s struggled to move the puck with the same confidence and assertiveness that he did during the regular season. The lethal first passes to kick start offense haven’t been there and the willingness to carry the puck on his own hasn’t been much of a factor either as he’s quickly getting the puck off his stick.

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That’s not like McAvoy at all, and his coach admitted as much on the day leading up to the winner-take-all Game 7.

“I can’t sit here and say physically that he’s impeded right now,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I believe that coming into a playoff series after having not played, you’re playing a little bit of catch-up and he’s still doing that. I don’t think he’s playing with as much confidence as he did last year, obviously, and we have to get him back to that place. He’s a young guy and it doesn’t happen overnight, but sometimes the best message for those young guys is to simplify it, make the easy play and don’t try to do too much.”

McAvoy has insisted, however, that there aren’t any health issues with his left knee after returning from the sprained MCL. Instead McAvoy said he couldn’t get up to speed in the handful of games he played after returning from injury, and the Stanley Cup playoffs is not one of those times when a rookie is going to be able to play catch-up. 

I feel good. That’s the thing. I feel good and I need to just continue to play simple hockey, get my feet moving and do the things that I can to help us come out on top. There are ups and downs, and I knew it was going to be like that coming back [from an injury]. There are times of frustration, and times where you want to make more of an impact. You want to make the plays you were making before you got hurt,” said McAvoy. “But there’s no sense in having that mindset. Medically I’m cleared and I’m good to go, and I want to impact this team. I want to do everything I can to help us win this [Game 7]. 

“This whole series I’ve been trying to play my best hockey and there have been ups and downs. There have been good moments and there’s been bad moments. I thought I was getting my legs going in [Game 6] and starting to move the puck well, and being more decisive. Those are the little things I do so well, but it’s been a battle trying to find my game after coming back and just getting a couple of regular season games. I know these guys have my back, they always do and they always will.”

If McAvoy is indeed healthy and simply looking to find the range with his confidence and puck-moving game, then tapping into it for a big Game 7 performance would be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Black and Gold.

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