B's absolve Rask of blame for defeat

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B's absolve Rask of blame for defeat

BOSTON -- Bruins coach Claude Julien seemed stunned.

He was taken aback by some of the questions from reporters following Boston's 3-2 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday afternoon at the TD Garden, which snapped the Bruins' 10-game winning streak. Especially questions that appeared critical of goaltender Tuukka Rask.

"There's no problem at all with Tuukka," said Julien, while on the defensive when fairly asked what he thought of Rask's performance in the shootout loss. "I thought he made some good saves, and we had some breakdowns. You look at the first goal, he doesn't have much of a chance on that.

"And the other one is a pretty skilled player, probably the highest skilled player in the league, in Pavel Datsyuk. And we didn't handle it well. We didn't have the layers. We let him walk in alone.

"It was a great game," added Julien. "And I thought Tuukka handled it well. He was good for us."

Rask may have been the one who allowed the shootout goal to Todd Bertuzzi that officially ended the Bruins' winning streak. But he wasn't the reason the B's won't be going for 12 wins in a row on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Friday was Rask's fourth start in that 10-game win streak. His last was in a 2-1 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Garden last Thursday, when he stoned Antoine Vermette with a left pad save in the shootout to seal the deal and keep the streak alive.

Against the Red Wings, he wasn't as heroic. But everyone in the Bruins' dressing room agreed: Detroit isn't a team you want to face in a shootout.

"Unfortunately, the one thing you don't want to do against that team is get into a shootout," said Julien after the game. "You've got to respect that part of their roster."

Datsyuk went first for the Red Wings, and he scored. Rask then made a save on Jiri Hudler. But on Detroit's third and final shot, he couldn't stop Bertuzzi's nifty move of taking it wide right and cutting across the crease.

When asked if he got a piece of Bertuzzi's game-winning shootout goal, Rask said, "I don't know, I don't know. It don't matter, right?"

Nope. Didn't matter. Not one bit.

"Even if Tuukka stopped that last one, they had a lot more guys to come that are pretty dangerous, that hadn't been out there yet," said Julien. "So, that's the part that you've got to respect on their team. And unfortunately, we got to that stage where it was decided by individuals."

Friday's game could have been decided before the shootout -- in the B's favor -- if it weren't for Boston's mistakes on the defensive end that allowed the Red Wings to score two goals in regulation. Their second one came just 35 seconds after the Bruins tied the game at 1-1 in the second period, and it stemmed from a defensive breakdown that allowed Datsyuk to streak past Boston defense and step in all alone from the right circle.

Detroit's first goal was also the result of a similar defensive breakdown.

Both times, Rask had no chance.

"They're always a tough team to play against," said Rask. "They're really skilled, and they like to make those seam passes in the zone and find late guys and stuff like that. It's a challenging team to play against, but it's always a battle, right?"

Wyshynski: Eriksson is looking to really cash in

Wyshynski: Eriksson is looking to really cash in

Greg Wyshynski joins Michel Felger on Sports Tonight to discuss the recent Boston Bruins moves and other potential landing spots for free agents Loui Eriksson and Milan Lucic.

Bruins view newly signed Krug as an emerging leader

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Bruins view newly signed Krug as an emerging leader

With Bruins defenseman Torey Krug in the fold for four more years, a Thursday afternoon conference call with the 25-year-old defenseman and GM Don Sweeney was about what the young puck-mover can accomplish over the next few years. With Krug coming off a four goal, 44-point season and offseason shoulder surgery, it will be a slow and steady progression to begin next season once he’s cleared to play.

What isn’t in question is Krug’s leadership, toughness and gritty attitude to go along with his considerable offensive skill set, and those all made the $21 million contract a no-brainer from the Black and Gold end of things.

“Torey’s got a very, very unique skill set that’s important to our hockey club. He’s had a very, very productive three years. His role this year and his time on ice, in all situations, increased significantly. He was able to shoulder much, much more responsibility in all parts of the game. As a young player who is invested in the Boston Bruins organization, he wants to win, he does things the right way every time he comes to the rink,” said Sweeney. “He wants to get better; he’s not satisfied. All the things you want out of a young player to identify with, which is something we also acknowledge, that Torey has really been identified as an emerging part of our core leadership group.

“I think he’ll help tremendously to help all of our young players that hope to fall in similar fashion with the success that he’s had up to this point. We have a lot of work to do in front of us and Torey’s going to help us get back to where we want to be in trying to win a Stanley Cup.”

Krug has averaged 10 goals and 41 points over his first three seasons in the NHL, and averaged a career-high 21:37 of ice time last season as a de facto No. 2 defenseman behind Zdeno Chara. It was a big season because Krug survived, and continued to put up points, as a legit top-4 defenseman in the NHL, but the 5-foot-9, 181-pounder also needed his shoulder repaired after his first season of heavy duty usage.

So it bears the question of whether Krug will stay in one piece with the heavy top-4 duty over the next four years. Whatever the answer is to that question, the puck-moving defenseman will be a leader, a feisty character on the ice and somebody that’s going to serve as a good professional role model for the flock of young players expected to come through in the next couple of seasons.

The Michigan boy couldn’t be happier to be a part of all of it in Boston for the next four years.

“I think [the leadership thing] has been something that was instilled in me in a young age, you know, coming from my father. It’s always been authentic. If anyone tries to force it then people see right through that, and it just doesn’t happen. But for me and this team and this locker room I think I’m able to bridge that gap from the young guys to the older guys,” said Krug. “I relate to every single person in that locker room, which I think will help our team as we grow and we mature bringing in younger guys from Providence. Or guys that are just signed and helping them develop and helping them feel comfortable within the locker room because it can be intimidating.

“It’s tough to walk in the locker room, you know, when you have Stanley Cup Champions and Norris and Selke Trophy winners. So it can definitely be very intimidating and hopefully I can serve as that bridge to kind of ease that gap for those guys. As far as young defensemen goes, the one thing that Claude [Julien] helped me with when I first came up was making sure I was myself. I was here for a reason. I was able to do the thing I do well, and I wasn’t straying away from that to try to be someone that I’m not. So I think young defensemen, once they realize that and they realize that everyone in this organization is there to help them then they’ll begin to improve. They’ll become themselves as they will at the NHL level.”

With Krug having experienced a couple of years of late season collapses as one of the young leaders on this Bruins team, even more will be asked of him next season as the Black and Gold push hard to right the ship. 

Report: Celtics likely to guarantee Amir Johnson’s $12M deal for next season

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Report: Celtics likely to guarantee Amir Johnson’s $12M deal for next season

The Celtics will likely guarantee the second year of Amir Johnson’s two-year, $24 million deal he signed last season, the Boston Globe reported.

Johnson, 29, a 6-9 forward, signed as a free agent last summer, averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 79 regular season games for the Celtics and 8.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the six-game, first-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks.