Bruins

Former Bruins winger Brandon Bochenski wins mayoral race in Grand Forks

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Former Bruins winger Brandon Bochenski wins mayoral race in Grand Forks

Former Bruins forward Brandon Bochenski was long known as a promising young forward who never quite worked out for the Black and Gold.

But the 38-year-old former University of North Dakota star has a different claim to fame now that he’s been elected the new mayor of Grand Forks, North Dakota.

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Bochenski, now a real estate developer in addition to a neophyte politician, ousted 20-year incumbent Mike Brown in Tuesday’s election in North Dakota while wrangling roughly half the votes in a three-way election between Bochenski, Brown and Robin David.

Bochenski ran on a conservative platform of cutting taxes and creating jobs that won him the recommendation of many within the Republican Party in North Dakota.

“We’re going to get this city going again,” said Bochenski. “We’re going to get business going again, get the economy going again. And we’ll build that tax roll through that so the burden’s shared by everybody.”

Bochenski will long be remembered as a flash in the pan for the Bruins after Boston traded away Kris Versteeg to the Chicago Blackhawks for him during a rough 2006-07 transition year. Bochenski put up 11 goals and 22 points in 31 games during the '06-'07 season after being traded to Boston in one of Peter Chiarelli’s first major moves remaking the B’s roster after he was named general manager.

The next season, Bochenski tried to put on size and muscle that slowed him down considerably and he went the first 20 games without a goal in 2007-08 before he was traded away to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Shane Hnidy. Versteeg went on to score 149 goals and 358 points in 643 games during his NHL career while winning a pair of Cups during his multiple stints with the Blackhawks.  

Needless to say, that was a trade that the Bruins ended up losing pretty badly with the power of 20/20 hindsight.

Bochenski ended up playing 156 NHL games for the Senators, Blackhawks, Bruins, Ducks, Predators and Lightning before ending his pro hockey career with a 10-year stint playing in Russia for Astana Barys of the KHL.

Christmas in August: Thoughts on Bruins, Celtics after their return

Christmas in August: Thoughts on Bruins, Celtics after their return

Winter sports are back at a furious pace.

If you're like me and spent much of the weekend absorbing constant NHL and NBA, the "Bruins and Celtics games" part of your brain is probably close to overheating after running for the first time in a while.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Heat, which begins Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 6:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Here are some thoughts from the B's and C's returning.  

♦ The best way to spin the Bruins' loss to the Flyers is to say that they don't care about seeding and were just easing back in.

I'll doubt that logic and just say they were horrible. Maybe the only positive was that the Coyle line looked good. Especially thanks to the play of Anders Bjork, that third line was a primary reason the Bruins probably came out of the first period feeling like the better team.

The rest? Whoof. Jack Studnicka did not look ready for a top-6 role and David Krejci seemed less than inspired; those could be related. The Bergeron line wasn't good; that for sure can't be a thing in the playoffs given the uncertainty of the rest of the lineup. The best team in the regular season still has no idea what its lines are and that's a major concern for me. 

♦ I thought the Flyers game was the Bruins' best chance at two points in the round robin. We’ll see how the Lightning and Capitals look today; it's possible the B's could win the next two, but we shouldn't be expecting the top seed anymore. 

♦ Jaroslav Halak was was on a long list of players who did not have it Sunday.

If Tuukka Rask was in net — especially on that fourth goal — alarms would be sounding, but then again he wasn't available with only two more chances to get prepared for the playoffs. Perhaps we should be sounding alarms either way.

Hopefully the Bruins can give Rask the next two games, because whoever they get in the first round is gonna be in playoff form. The Bruins are far from it right now. 

♦ By the end of the night, the Canadiens will either be tied with the Penguins or up two games to none and on the verge of pulling a major upset. I'd welcome the matchup if I were the Bruins, but they wouldn't get it in the first round anyway if they miss out on the top seed. 

♦ Sunday's Celtics game was hilarious, as is the fact that I’m not freaking out more over blowing a TWENTY-FOUR POINT LEAD. Why? Because Jaylen Brown had that “I decide who wins this game” mentality in the second half.

Brilliant, and he’s one of three guys I trust to do that on this team. 

♦ At 1-1 since returning, I feel good about the Celtics. Not because I'm happy that Kemba has played well despite being on a minutes restriction. That is what it is. I wasn't worried about Tatum stinking Friday; that seemed like a weird one-game thing, and it was. 

I feel good because of Gordon Hayward. He’s not on that short list of closers I just referenced and I'm not sure we'll ever stop asking if he is "back," but he's averaging 19.5 points and 8.5 rebounds through two games, both of which are well above his season averages.

I already think the Celtics are the team to beat in the East. If Kemba's knee is OK — which will remain an "if" every second of the postseason for me — and if Hayward plays like he's played, I'm even more convinced of it. 

♦ Overall, I think the NHL and NBA’s returns to play have been splendid. I got out when I could this weekend, but it was a lot of two-TV time with constant texting about which game to put on/which game was interesting gambling-wise. With no disrespect meant to other sports, these are leagues that had left so much unsettled, and it's finally happening in a way that grabs our attention all day.

What a beautiful thing. 

Bruins know they need a simpler approach with 'sloppy' ice conditions

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Bruins know they need a simpler approach with 'sloppy' ice conditions

Clearly the Bruins weren’t using it as an excuse for poor performances in the two games they have played inside the bubble in Toronto, but they also weren’t shying away from opinions on the ice quality at the Scotiabank Arena either.

The Leafs' home arena served as host for all Eastern Conference bubble games over the weekend, and the Bruins and Flyers were the first to play on the frozen sheet on Sunday for their round robin game, a 4-1 loss for the Black and Gold. Sunday’s matinee took place after three qualifying round playoff games were hosted on that ice throughout the day on Saturday, and clearly the frozen sheet got chewed up a bit.

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It was readily apparent when pucks were bouncing more than usual once both teams got a few minutes into the period and the Bruins stubbornly tried to play a fancy passing game when the conditions clearly weren’t favoring that approach. At one point, Charlie Coyle had a clear path to the net and a head of steam, but lost the handle when the puck simply hopped off his stick in what would have otherwise been a golden scoring chance.  

Conventional hockey wisdom dictated that the heavy usage of the Scotiabank Arena ice combined with the Toronto summer humidity would compromise the ice conditions for summer playoff hockey to some degree.

Some of the B’s certainly saw it that way on Sunday afternoon after the loss.

“We need to maybe change our mentality a little bit. We need to get away from those pretty plays. We make one pass, we put it on net and we recover a puck and then those seams for those pretty plays will be there,” said Torey Krug. “Let’s just change our mentality: One pass, put it on net and work hard to recover pucks. It’s obvious that things are bouncing out there, so we’ll change the way we approach things and hopefully it works out for us.

“[The ice quality] is sloppy. The first five minutes of periods are probably when you can make your plays and then after that it’s about putting the puck in the right spot and putting the ‘D’ on the opposing team in difficult positions to make plays with the puck. Both teams have to play on it and make plays when they’re there. [We need to] be accountable and take care of the puck [depending] on the time and score. Look at the second half of periods, it looks like it’s bouncing around out there. We need to just be smarter about it.”

Clearly it was about a lot more than the ice as the Bruins were going through the motions a bit in a round robin game vs. the Flyers that didn’t have a playoff feel to it. And it’s just as obvious that both sides are playing in the same ice conditions, and the very same “sloppy” state of the ice didn’t seem to slow down the Flyers at all in an impressive win.

Either way, a simpler approach to see the puck, shoot the puck and recover the puck might be exactly what the Bruins need after they were far too casual in most aspects of their game in Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Flyers.