Bruins come through in front of Rask


Bruins come through in front of Rask

By DannyPicard

BOSTON -- Fighting has always been known to spark a hockey club. Three fights in the first four seconds of a game, including two clear-cut victories, as the Bruins had Thursday night, should be enough to fire up the squad.

But as much as Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Adam McQuaid got the TD Garden rocking in the early moments of their against the Dallas Stars, a win wasn't guaranteed.

Their fights would have been meaningless if there had been no response after the fact.

Well, the Bruins responded.

As B's defenseman Andrew Ference -- who had the team's fourth fight, and third win, in the first four minutes of the first period -- pointed out after Boston's 6-3 win over Dallas, some good hockey got lost in all the fighting.

What also could have been lost in all the fighting was the fact that the Bruins played good hockey in front of Tuukka Rask.

Rask entered Thursday's game with a sub-par 4-10-1 record, but his 2.67 goals-against average and .923 save percentage told a different story about his season.

So many times this year, Bruins players have taken the blame for a game in which Rask was credited with the loss. But they did so because it was true. For most of Rask's starts, the B's have failed to show up to play the same way they do when Tim Thomas is in net.

And make no mistake about it, it's nothing more than a coincidence. But that doesn't hide the fact that it happens.

It didn't happen on Thursday, as the Bruins responded to the fighting with two early goals from Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron in the first 1:20 of the game. They went into the second period with a 4-0 lead.

"Well, part of it is our fault, to be honest with you," said Bergeron after the win about the team's play in front of Rask. "Rask's got the numbers, the numbers are unbelievable. He doesn't get those wins, but part of it is our fault, as teammates. And we need to step up and give it a good effort in front of him. We did that tonight, but also, I think he made some amazing saves and kept us in the game."

"We feel so bad for him," said Ference. "So many of the games that he started this year, he plays great and then we just seem to screw it up for him. The fights are one thing, but after the fights, to respond with some really good goals, and I think a really good first period, that's the impressive thing. Anybody can go out there and drop the gloves and fight, and do all that stuff. But to follow it up with really good hockey, is what makes it successful."

Rask finished with 30 saves, but allowed three goals on a third-period letdown to make the score 4-3.

The B's quickly called a time out, and turned things around, scoring two goals. Rask turned it around as well, making several more big stops to preserve the lead.

"It's nice to see some offensive power," said Rask. "Especially the way we started the game. Three fights, and then respond with four goals. That's a good sign. They helped me out a lot today."

"I don't know how many people realize how many key saves he made at those key moments," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, praising Rask for being the team's best penalty killer during Dallas' five-minute power play in the second period.

"He made some big saves, and he made some really, really big saves at the right time, and that's what you want from your goaltender," added Julien. "Whenever the other team gets those great opportunities, if he can come up with some big saves, that usually makes the difference in the game, and he did that for us tonight . . . We're going to need more of that from him as we move forward."

And Rask will certainly want more of the same from his teammates when he's between the pipes.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.

“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.

“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”

The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.

“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”

With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season. 

Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?


Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving The Walking Dead credit for delivering a pile driver to me as a TV viewer last night. I did not see all of that coming.

*Plenty of questions and answers about the Calgary Flames as they’ve looked a little shaky in the early going this season.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has the Edmonton Oilers straightening things out after the brutal loss to Buffalo.

*NHL captains like Steve Stamkos carry the heavy weight of tradition on their shoulders as they go about their business.

*The Hockey News wonders if Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward to ever play in the NHL. I’m certain he’s in the conversation, but that’s a big, bold statement that deserves some heavy consideration. After all, he never had to defend Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe or any other number of offensive stars. I certainly think he should be in the select club he would join if/when he wins his fourth Selke Trophy.

*Minnesota D-man Matt Dumba was nearly scratched by the Minnesota Wild, and he says that he’s never going to let that happen again.

*The Anaheim Ducks placed Simon Despres on long term injured reserve as they try to stay afloat salary cap-wise, and avoid dealing off a player in-season.

*For something completely different: The Boston Celtics break ground on a new practice facility adjacent to the new Bruins place.