Bruins

Kevan Miller (kneecap) ruled out for the start of the season for Bruins

Kevan Miller (kneecap) ruled out for the start of the season for Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – The good news is that the Bruins have Charlie McAvoy back in the fold after he signed a three-year contract on Sunday morning.

The bad news is that the B’s also confirmed today that a second player won’t be ready to go on opening night as Kevan Miller (fractured kneecap) isn’t going to be ready for the Oct. 3 season opener against the Dallas Stars. Miller is coming off a pair of fractured kneecaps, among several injuries, that limited him to just 39 games played last season and kept him out of the entire run to the Stanley Cup Final for the Bruins.

The 31-year-old Miller joins fellow defenseman John Moore, who will also be out at the start of the regular season as he returns from summer shoulder surgery. Clearly that’s going to leave a couple of open spots on the back end even when the Bruins have both McAvoy and Brandon Carlo signed and playing, but the injuries will also enable the Bruins to use the cap space occupied by Miller ($2.5 million) and Moore ($2.75 million) while they are on long term injured reserve to start the season.

“It depends on the term of the next deal, but the opportunity to [use LTIR] is there if we need to,” said Sweeney. “Moore isn’t going to start the season and [Kevan Miller] isn’t going to be ready to start the season.

“Miller’s timeline isn’t going to be opening day. He hasn’t even been on the ice yet. He’s got a test coming around [Sept.] 24 and that will determine his next step in rehab. We’re going to be very cautious with the next steps with Kevan for a healthy return.”

That means the Bruins will be able to go beyond the $3.2 million they currently hold in salary cap space with the unsigned Carlo still waiting for his agreement.

Another Bruins health update that’s a little more positive: Patrice Bergeron is expected to join the main training camp practice group on Monday after sitting out the first on-ice weekend of training camp while recovering from a lingering groin issue this summer.

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Rask knows he 'can't be too satisfied' with the way his game his taken a slide

Rask knows he 'can't be too satisfied' with the way his game his taken a slide

BOSTON – There’s no denying the single biggest common thread through the Bruins' four-game losing streak.

The same Tuukka Rask that was brilliant in the first month of the season has hit a rough patch in November and that tough stretch continued as he coughed up four goals in the third period of a 5-4 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Rask is 1-2-1 with a 3.45 goals-against average and .886 save percentage in four November starts and played a starring role as a liability in losses to Montreal and Florida the past week. It was Rask who was beaten in the first minute of the third period on a long-distance Aaron Ekblad shot where the goaltender admitted he was too deep in the net and it was Rask who didn’t shut off the post on Florida’s third goal scored by Mike Hoffman as Florida was storming back in the final 20 minutes.

“I should have been sharper in that third period,” lamented Rask. “There were a couple of soft goals and I let [the Panthers] kind of get some momentum. It’s a 60-minute game and we’ve been on the other side of it.”

It wasn’t quite as bad as the three soft goals he gave up that all clanged off his glove hand last week in Montreal, but it was far from vintage Rask at a time when a few different things are going wrong for the Bruins. Rask is still top five with a 2.16 GAA and eighth in the league with a .926 save percentage, but it’s a far cry from the .951 save percentage he racked up in 10 games in a red-hot October.

Clearly, Rask is going through the same kind of tough stretch that used to greet him the first month of the season, but this time, it’s hitting him after a brief, dominant stretch out of the starting gate. Perhaps the Bruins coaching staff will get a quicker hook with Rask the next time he shows signs of trouble as in the losses against Montreal and Florida, or Jaroslav Halak will be used with a little more frequency until Rask works out the kinks in his game.

At least the B’s No. 1 goaltender isn’t under any illusions about the way he’s played the past few games.

“In Montreal, I sucked. In Detroit, I felt okay. Today, in the last period there were a couple of soft goals, so I can’t be too satisfied,” said Rask. “But, hey, there’s a lot of hockey left.”

While it’s refreshing to hear the kind of accountability  Rask is putting out there, the Bruins aren’t going to go very far if Rask is talking too much about sucking and giving up soft goals. The B’s better hope that their top goalie gets locked back in pretty quickly so both the team and Rask can leave their early-season mini-slumps behind in the rear-view mirror.

 

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NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

Sure, the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs are months away, but it's never too soon to look ahead, right?

The competition for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference could be tight, as several teams have surged forward recently, including the Flyers, Panthers and Canadiens — all of which missed the playoffs a season ago.

The picture is also crowded out West, where not many teams have started to separate from the pack as of yet.

How are the Bruins stacking up after a four-game losing streak? And which teams are making leaps forward?

Click here for Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings.>>>>>>

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