Bruins

Preview: Bruins vs. Capitals

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Preview: Bruins vs. Capitals

BOSTON -- There's plenty of motivation for both the Bruins and Capitals when they face off Thursday night at TD Garden.
The Caps should be full of vim and vigor Thursday night, given that they're on deaths door in the playoff race. The Bruins, meanwhile, need one more win to clinch a postseason berth.
Given the pride inside the Washington dressing room, one would expect a fight from players like Alex Semin and Alexander Ovechkin . . . considering what could loom for the Capitals if they dont find their way into the playoffs. Though there has been signs of life lately, there are also seems to be some resignation that they built themselves too big a hole to escape.
As for the Bruins, they're overflowing with confidence and finally starting to look like themselves again and they dont appear ready to loosen that kung-fu grip. Coach Claude Julien likes the challenge of playing a dangerous team in Washington.
They'll play Thursday without Dennis Seidenberg, who will miss the game with an infection stemming from a cut in his leg suffering against the Kings last weekend. That cant be underestimated given the big part the German defenseman plays in moving the puck and controlling things in the defensive end.
The desperation makes it tough, said Julien. I like those kinds of challenges. Those are the challenges you need to finish the season with and bring the best out of your hockey club. Were going to have to be at our best if we expect to win tonight.
At the end of 60 minutes it will probably be about which team was much more desperate for the two points and thats as it should be. PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Joe Corvo was scratched for six straight games and watched the Bruins win five of those six while watching the defense stabilize in their own end. With Dennis Seidenberg out of the lineup, Corvo gets the chance hes been waiting for while biding his time watching games from the press box. Its been pretty clear Corvo hasnt enjoyed sitting on the bench with the playoffs looming, and this is best chance to turn things around for himself. DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: There is so much for us to play for right now. Were battling for home-ice advantage and being No. 2 in our conference. As a team, our game is coming along in the last five or six games but we cant sit back. We cant take any games lightly and its time to build some good momentum with six games left. Were getting there . . . close to playing the way we want to play. David Krejci, feeling plenty of urgency with six games left in the season.KEY MATCHUP: Tomas Vokoun is 2-1 with a 3.02 goals against average and a .904 save percentage against the Bruins and should get the start against Boston on Thursday night. Itll be up to Bostons top-six forwards to finally get themselves completely untracked and start throwing rubber at the Washington net. Given the hard times Washington has been through recently a couple of quick goals could do much to discourage the desperate Capitals, who are out of the playoff picture if they find themselves on the losing end. STAT TO WATCH: 8 the plusminus of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in three meetings against the Capitals along with five points apiece.INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strain) and Nathan Horton (concussion) are both out without a return close in sight, but Rask may try to get on the ice next week. Seidenberg (infected leg cut) is out against the Capitals and considered day-to-day at this point. Caps first-line center Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) has been cleared, but won't play Thursday after skating for 90 minutes at Washingtons morning skate.GOALTENDING MATCHUP: Tim Thomas finally got a rest after appearing in 16 straight games, and the 37-year-old should be at the top of his game after appearing to hit a groove over the last two weeks. Thomas is 4-1 with a .942 in his last five games, and appears to have found the second wind that eluded him when he played in the 16 straight appearances for the Bruins. The Capitals have been trying to find a winning combo between the pipes, and have jostled between Vokoun and Michael Nuevirth through much of the season. Vokoun should get the start against the Bruins after winning two of the first three outings against the Bruins this season.

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

BOSTON – The Bruins returned Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to good health and their lineup on Thursday night, but they also saw a few more players get banged up in their win over the Vancouver Canucks. 

David Krejci exited Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the Canucks with an upper body injury after scoring a power play goal, and Adam McQuaid also had to leave the game after dropping to one knee to block a shot with his right leg. McQuaid was also already banged up after taking a shot off his knee in last weekend’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, so taking another shot off the leg certainly wasn’t a helpful development. 

“He blocked a shot, so he’ll get evaluated tonight or tomorrow. I don’t know how serious – he blocks a lot of shots. This one stung him obviously so we’ll see how it turns out. Adam [McQuaid] has been doing that for years around here. He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room. Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He actually manages the puck very well. He’s not a flashy player. He’s not a guy that just throws it away either. He makes good decisions with it, and every team needs an Adam McQuaid. We’re certainly fortunate to have him.”

With Krejci it appeared that he suffered some back spasms after getting cross-checked, and that’s what ended up forcing him out of the win. Cassidy doesn’t foresee it being a long-term thing with Krejci, who finished with a goal and two points in 8:21 of ice time centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.  

“He has an upper body; he had to leave. He wasn’t feeling too terrific today, and then he got, I think there was a cross-check there. He tried it, but couldn’t continue [playing]. I think he had some spasms, but I don’t think there’s anything long-term there at all.”

It remains to be seen if either McQuaid or Krejci will miss any time with the bumps and bruised suffered on Thursday, but it goes without saying that the Bruins hope they can stay in a lineup that’s beginning to take shape with the full group. 

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

BOSTON – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the presence of Patrice Bergeron is a major game-changer for the Boston Bruins. 

Bergeron finally felt good enough to return to the B’s lineup after missing the first five games of the season with a lower body injury, and the impact was immediate and unmistakable with a goal and four points in a 6-3 win for the Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. It was also a far-reaching impact with the Bruins center pumping life back in the B’s power play with a return to his bumper position, returning a top penalty killer to the Bruins rotation, bringing normalcy back to the forward group by slotting fellow forwards back into their rightful spots and simply giving the B’s their best all-around player back. 

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Clearly it was a joyous moment for Bergeron to get back on the ice and play after getting a couple of good days in on the practice ice leading up to Thursday night. 

“It’s hard no matter what it is. You know, when you’re missing games, when you’re missing time, it’s… you miss being out there with the guys and battling with them and going through what we have to go through as a team. It’s good to be back,” said Bergeron. “You don’t know what to expect obviously [after a long layoff]. You’re trying to hope for the best. I don’t want to say I was surprised [at his high level of play] because you want to be at your best every time you step on the ice.”

Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork finally skated together for the first time after building chemistry all throughout training camp, and they finished with four goals, 10 points, a plus-6 rating and 13 of Boston’s 35 shots on net for the game. It was the way that the Bruins roster was drawn up headed into the season before they had a five-game detour due to the injuries, and the hope is that’s the way it will continue to look for the Black and Gold moving forward. 

“I mean it’s pretty evident, you know, the way [Bergeron] played out there. He just, it’s incredible the way he came back and dominated the game after being out for that long, you know?” said Brad Marchand, who finally has his longtime partner-in-crime back. “He’s just such a big part of the group. He’s able to calm things down in the room, on the bench, and he leads by example. He just does everything that a top guy does.”

Perhaps most striking of all was the emotion and organization that the Bruins played with having Bergeron and David Backes back in the lineup. The breakouts, reloading counter-attacks and defensive zone coverage all had more noticeable structure, and the Bruins were able to get the wave after wave attack from their forward groups that spurred on goals both during 5-on-5 play and when special teams were involved. 

Some of that is getting two highly talented players like Bergeron and Backes back from injury, and some of it is getting an important, tone-setting leader like No. 37 back for everything he does off the ice as well. 

Bergeron set up the important answering goal in the first period by firing a puck that created a rebound for Bjork to clean up, he did the same for David Krejci’s power play to close out the first period scoring, he created the turnover that led to Marchand’s goal in the second period and then he sniped home his own goal from the bumper spot to finally clinch things in the third period. It was clear that Bergeron is still navigating through discomfort and some level of injury while playing at this point, but his hockey IQ and his gritty toughness are allowing him to still be a highly effective player. 

“I think it was self-evident out there that the play on the ice, first of all, built a matchup against whoever we really want. The Power play obviously [was a] big impact there. I think it’s just morale as much as anything, on the bench and in the room,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Those intangibles, leadership, first shift of the game, he’s standing up. They had scored a goal and [he’s] kind of settling the troops down, talking about the details of the game. 

“[He’s talking about] finishing your routes on the fore-check and reloading all the way to our zone.

[It’s the] stuff that coaches preach a lot, but goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. When you hear it from the leaders of the group, it means so much more. To have that back in the room and along with David Backes, those are guys that are just vocal players that bring a lot in that aspect. It’s generally, a quiet group. That doesn’t mean you can’t be effective and win as a quiet group, but it just helps sometimes to have a little bit of that energy.”

While it was a clearly a feel-good story to see Bergeron back in his proper environs on the ice, it was also just as apparent there’s still some lower body discomfort with the Bruins center. He looked like he was in pain or laboring at times out on the ice, and admitted after the game that the lower body injury might be something he’ll need to manage for the time being. That would tend to mean that once again this isn’t something that’s going to go away anytime soon, and Bergeron will again need to grind his way through the pain. 

“That’s the million dollar question, right? I don’t know what to say to that. I guess yeah, I mean I’m feeling good,” said Bergeron. “But there’s… we might manage a little bit for quite a while. But I’m feeling good and tonight was no issue.”

Clearly Bergeron and the Bruins will gladly take it if he can be a difference-maker like he was on Thursday night with a four points, eight shot attempts and plenty of hard-working shifts in his 20:58 of ice time for the game. They’ll just need to keep their fingers crossed that No. 37 can keep suiting up and playing at a high level, and that the 32-year-old can avoid any further problems after already sitting out the first five games of the regular season.