Bruins

Talking Points: Bruins don't have answer for van Riemsdyk

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Talking Points: Bruins don't have answer for van Riemsdyk

GOLD STAR: James van Riemsdyk was an absolute beast in front of the net, and something the Bruins didn’t have an answer for when they really needed to. JVR finished with both goals during regulation after winning battles in front of the net, had a game-high seven shots on net, 10 shot attempts and a couple of hits in his 16:57 of ice time. The first goal came during a Toronto power play where Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo couldn’t corral JVR, and the second was a couple of failures to clear the puck leading to van Riemsdyk once again stepping up and snapping in a shot after a scramble around the paint. JVR has had some pretty effective games against the Bruins over the years, but this will stand as one of the better ones.

BLACK EYE: It wasn’t a very strong night from Zdeno Chara, and that’s reflected in the way – and when – Toronto scored their goals in regulation. Chara was on the ice for both goals against, had three giveaways and took a pair of penalties in his 23:56 of ice time while not really looking like he was skating well most of the time also. But the real damning part was where James van Riemsdyk scored the goals in front of the net, which is usually Chara’s office and where he does the dirty work eliminating would-be invaders from getting into the scoring areas. But he couldn’t stop JVR from either of the two damaging goals, and didn’t have a particularly good road trip with a couple of physical, demanding games in New York and Toronto.

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TURNING POINT: The Bruins had multiple chances to clear pucks from the defensive zone in the closing minute leading up to the tying goal, but couldn’t make strong enough plays to either clear it or simply ice the puck. Instead, it became a melee around the front of the net where eventually James van Riemsdyk stepped in and pushed things into the extra session. That inability to hold strong through the end of periods is beginning to become a bit of a “thing” for the Bruins, and it bears watching moving forward to see if it really becomes a full-blown problem. It certainly cost them a valuable point against an Atlantic Division League foe on Friday night.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron played his butt off once again logging 22:49 of ice time, firing off a team-high six shots on net and scoring a second-period goal after once again teaming up with Brad Marchand for the offense. He finished 19-for-28 in the face-off circle, had a hit, a takeaway and a blocked shot to go along with everything, and generally did himself very proud on a night where he wanted to honor his Hall of Fame friend, Mark Recchi. The only shame of it was that there weren’t enough players on the Bruins roster that could execute like No. 37 did for the full 60 minutes of hockey. Bergeron has been sensational since coming back from his early-season injury, and Friday night was another example of that.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 – the number of Stanley Cup rings for about-to-be-inducted Hall of Famer Mark Recchi, who had the three from his playing days along with two rings from each of the last two seasons as Player Development coach with the Penguins. That is an impressive collection of jewelry.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "On the tying goal the puck was on the stick of 3 different guys we trust to get the job done & we didn't get it out. We were soft on it." – Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who clearly didn’t like what he saw from his guys in the final minute of regulation leading to the tying goal. 

A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

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A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

BRIGHTON, Mass – It sounds like the toughness quotient might be going up quite a bit higher for the Bruins in the near future.

Adam McQuaid may be cleared to play as soon as Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, or at least later on in the week if it doesn’t happen against the rough-and-tumble, Metro Division Blue Jackets. The 6-foot-5 hard-nosed defender has been out for nearly two months with a broken right fibula, but has been back skating with the Bruins for a couple of weeks.

“I don’t know if Monday he’ll be cleared, but he’s getting close. He’s practicing with us, so it’s imminent for him. I just don’t want to pinpoint an exact day,” said Cassidy of McQuaid, who was one of a handful of players along with Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Frank Vatrano, Paul Postma and Anton Khudobin that skated on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.

There certainly may be some rust in McQuaid’s game after missing the last 24 cgames dating back to the Oct. 19 injury. Ddding another tough customer and D-zone warrior certainly won't hurt the Bruins. In the short term, the presence of McQuaid could protect some of B's top players like Brad Marchand who has received some questionable hits over the last couple of months. In the long term his presence adds more size, strength and toughness in the defensive zone.

In terms of pairings it would be logical to swing Kevan Miller back over to the left side, and potentially pull rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup once McQuaid is ready to play. But Bruce Cassidy indicated it won’t be that simple, and there may be times when the Bruins roll seven defensemen given their strength in numbers once McQuaid comes back.

“If you take the last guy in, Grzelcyk, [out of the lineup] then you’re back to your four righty [defensemen]. We had mixed levels of success with that, and then it’s a matter of who on the right Is going to come out if he stick with the three lefties,” said Cassidy. “That’s an internal discussion that we’ve already started to have. He will definitely help the penalty kill. It could be a different lineup every night where we go with six D one night, and then go with seven D the next night. It will create good competition.”

McQuaid wants to temper the excitement now that he’s on the verge of a return, and is simply putting in work until he’s given the green light to play. The busy NHL schedule and the lack of quality practice time isn't the perfect scenario for the 31-year-old defenseman to return, so it’s simply a matter of doing what’s best for player and team.

“I’d like to get back as soon as I can obviously. I’ve missed a lot of time, but it’s a process. I just try to approach it like I’m not getting my hopes up too much,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 in the six games he did appear in. “We’ll have a better idea tomorrow. The more and more game-like situations you get in [can help].

“We haven’t gone too far down the road so I don’t know exactly [when I’ll return]. I’m just out there trying to get closer, but I’m excited about where I’m at and the possibility of moving forward. It’s been fun watching the guys, but I can’t wait to get back in there and be part of a winning hockey team again.”

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Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

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Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while I still remain pretty conflicted about my thoughts on the Last Jedi. See yesterday’s morning skate for the full review.

*Happy Holidays from the Boston Bruins, who all wore spiffy Christmas-inspired suits into TD Garden for Saturday night’s game against the Rangers. The clear winners are Christmas Elf Brad Marchand and bedazzled Patrice Bergeron, but everybody is a winner when they’re in the holiday spirit.

*Here’s a blueprint for all 31 NHL teams to get an outdoor game next season if you’re really looking to run the concept into the ground.

*Everybody loves a goalie fight, and the Providence Bruins had one last night even if it was more like slightly angry hugging than actual fighting.

*This quick snippet from an Ottawa Senators radio broadcast this weekend is one of the oddest things I’ve heard in a while. No idea what took them down that path.

*Speaking of the Senators, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says he has no idea why the Sens are having such big attendance problems at their arena. I can think of one reason: location, location and location.

*Larry Brooks goes over the Sean Avery memoir just in time for Christmas for all those looking for a stocking stuffer, or just looking for the perfect gift for that hockey rat in your life.

*Hacksaw Jim Duggan dropping the puck for a minor league hockey game is definitely something to brag about. Ho!

*For something completely different: 20 years later, the crazy story of how the blockbuster Titanic ultimately got made.

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