B's shut out for fourth time in 10 games, 2-0


B's shut out for fourth time in 10 games, 2-0

ST. PAUL, MN The Bruins are officially in a rut that they cant find the escape hatch for.

The Bruins dropped their second game in a row and their third in the last four contests with a sleepy 2-0 defeat at the hands of a desperate Minnesota Wild team at the Xcel Energy Center. Its the fourth time that the Bruins have been shut out in the 10 games since Nathan Horton went down with a mild concussion, and serves as a reminder that the Bs are struggling in just about every imaginable area.

After a competent, scoreless first period things started breaking down for the Black and Gold in the second period. The Wild were able to move the puck through the neutral zone with speed, and Chad Rau went to the net unmolested before looking off Tim Thomas and firing a seed short-side for the games first score.

A borderline tripping call on Chris Kelly later on in the period left the Bruins shorthanded, and Bs killer Matt Cullen made them by on his second-effort wrister after fanning on the first shot attempt.

The Bruins poured it on with22 shot attempts in the final period after being spurred on by a long Shawn Thornton bout with Matt Kassian. But Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom provided the exclamation point when he robbed Milan Lucic at the bottom of the right face-off circle in the final minutes.
GOLD STAR: Shawn Thornton ended with four of his lines nine shots on net and he tangled with 6-foot-5 Matt Kassian in the third period hoping to spark his teammates. He took a couple of big punches early, but got in a few of his damaging shots in the Bs longest bout this season. After the game Thornton was sporting a big red welt on his forehead and was still catching his breath after the exhausting bout, and had emptied the tank trying to inspire his team. Thornton was one of the few Bs players that gave everything they had against the Wild on Sunday.

BLACK EYE: Brad Marchand has three goals, and only eight points, in the 14 games since coming back from a five-game suspension and has been much more tentative with his physical play. Marchand was close to invisible in 19:24 of ice time in a sleepy effort against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday afternoon, and has only one goal in nine games during the month of February. He may have caught some flak for the clipping hit on Alexei Emelin, but playing with the edge is the only way to go for the Bs agitator.

HONORABLE MENTION: Niklas Backstrom made 48 saves and frustrated the Bruins to the point where Milan Lucic twice went on stick-swinging rampages in the third period including smashing his stick to bits on the bench at the end of the third period before throwing it onto the ice as the final buzzer sounded. Backstrom was very good early in shutting down attempts from Daniel Paille and Andrew Ference, and then made 22 saves when it counted in the final period. He didnt look at all like a goalie riding a personal five-game losing streak, so perhaps Tuukka Rask can take heart in the bounce-back effort.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a handful of excellent scoring chances early in the contest when it was still up for grabs, but Niklas Backstrom stopped Daniel Paille cold on a couple of quality chances and stopped Andrew Ference on a one-timer during Bostons first period power play. Once the early scoring chances were off the board, the Wild took advantage of the frustrated Bs and rode their two second-period scores to a clean victory.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 the number of times the Bruins have been shut out in 11 games without Nathan Horton after registering only two shutouts in their first 46 games with the Bs power forward.
QUOTE TO NOTE: Were a better team than we have been when weve been shut out lately. Frustration is something that can drag on for a long time if you let it. Like weve told the guys you can be bitter or better, so lets work on getting better here. Claude Julien on the mindset of the Bs team amid a 17-game stretch of mediocre hockey.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally


Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.