Bruins gain a split with 3-0 win over Coyotes


Bruins gain a split with 3-0 win over Coyotes

By Mary Paoletti

PRAGUE -- The games were only 19 hours apart. But somehow it looked like Boston flew a completely different team out to Prague for the rematch.

Summary and statistics

The Bruins followed up Saturday's season-opening loss, in which they were too often loose defensively and punchless offensively, with a solid effort in all phases that resulted in a 3-0 shutout of the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday.

"I'm not sure I would have been happy with this trip had we not won a game," said coach Claude Julien. "It would have been a real disappointment."

But they were anything but disappointed after Sunday's game. In fact, they even had a highlight-reel moment, courtesy of rookie Tyler Seguin.

Midway through the third period, goalie Tim Thomas cleared the puck to Michael Ryder, who found Seguin streaking up through the neutral zone. The young center took the pass behind the Phoenix defense, broke in on goalie Ilya Brygalov with a defender closing in from behind, and put home a laser shot as he and the two Coyotes crashed into the net.

"It's always fun to see rookies score their first goal,'' Julien said. "And at least he can remember that one as being a real nice goal. I thought it was a great move."

That made it 3-0, but the outcome was pretty well decided by that point.

Boston dominated play throughout a scoreless first period and finally broke through against Brygalov midway through the second. Nathan Horton poked the puck away from Oliver Ekman-Larsson and spotted Milan Lucic streaking toward the goal. Lucic got the pass and fired home a 25-foot slapper.

Boston scored again with just 33 seconds left in the period. Mark Recchi stole the puck in the 'Yotes defensive zone and tipped it to Horton in front of the crease. Horton spun, fired a wrister left, and found the back of the net.

Thomas looked vintage Vezina in that controlled chaos of his.

"It feels great,'' he said. "It's been a long road and to be fortunate enough to get a shutout off the bat, to have the team play that well in front of you, to get all the bounces and feel pretty comfortable myself . . . it couldn't have gone much better.''

The Bruins goalie, helped by a stifling defense, made eight solid stops in the second period. Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Stuart split half of the team's 12 blocked shots.

"I'm sure Tuukka's standing there wishing he had the same team in front of him as Timmy had tonight," Julien said, referring to the tepid defensive play of the B's on Saturday in front of Tuukka Rask.

Indeed, Boston's intensity was ramped up from the start.

Unlike the flat affect of the opener, the B's were hot off the opening faceoff in the rematch. The first Boston shot on net came after less than a minute and the Bruins had nine more, as well, before the midway point of the period.

But Brygalov, despite short rest, was up to the task. The goalie turned aside 15 excellent Boston chances in the first twenty minutes, and kept it up most of the day. The Bruins, however, kept battling and eventually broke through.

"I wouldn't look at our team as much as I would look at the goaltender on the other side who has been credited last year with their success,'' Julien said. "Obviously these two games here he certainly made it hard for us but we got some goals past him.''

Thomas made 26 saves for the shutout.

"We needed these two points to make it a successful trip and leave a good taste in our mouths. The whole trip has been so fantastic up until the loss yesterday," Boston's netminder said. "It sure feels good to get those two points in the bank and now we can go home with our chins up, feeling good about ourselves.''

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Slow-starting Krejci looking for a spark in Bruins’ home opener

Slow-starting Krejci looking for a spark in Bruins’ home opener

BRIGHTON, Mass. – David Krejci hasn’t exactly been his usual self in the opening three games of the season for the Bruins and there are understandable, underlying reasons for that. 

One of them is that the 30-year-old playmaking center is coming off major offseason hip surgery and that’s made him look less than his silky-smooth best with the puck in the season’s first three games.

The good news is Krejci doesn’t believe any lingering hip problems have been a big factor at all, and instead his comfort level is increasing each time he takes the ice.

“I feel better and better every day. This is a tough injury, but I’m in good shape and in really good hands. The doctors have done a really good job with me every day, and it’s been really good,” said Krejci, who has one assist in the opening three games with just three shots on net while fighting to hang onto the puck. “It’s been fun to be out there with the guys, and I’m just trying to get better every day.”

A more reasonable explanation for Krejci’s sluggish start was the last-second injury to Patrice Bergeron prior to the start of the season and the major alteration to his forward line as a result of No. 37’s absence. David Backes was pulled from the right wing spot on the Krejci line to fill in for Bergeron over the season’s first three games and he came away with two goals and three points in three games centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

But the B’s second line was almost non-existent with smaller, skilled wingers on either side of Krejci that weren’t able to generate anything productive with No. 46. The B’s obviously have massive production from the top line in Bergeron’s absence and have found a respectable fourth line that can get the job done for Claude Julien. Even the third line has found some footing after the B’s bench boss replaced rookie Austin Czarnik with veteran Riley Nash and instead went with a bigger, tougher power line with Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes on the wings.

Now, Backes goes back to his rightful spot on the wing with Krejci and 21-year-old rookie Danton Heinen looks to replace a scuffling Ryan Spooner at left wing for tonight’s home opener vs. the New Jersey Devils. Backes is ready to bring some needed balance to the forward lines after the B’s top line really carried them over the first three games of the season and produced a team-high four goals for David Pastrnak.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Backes also knows that he’s exactly the kind of strong, determined net-front presence with goal-scoring ability that Krejci has always produced with over the course of his 10-year NHL career.

“I won’t be involved in the immediate face-off, but [I will be involved] in helping him on the 50/50 draws to win the puck back. Just talk all over the ice like we have been with Heinen on the wing he’s got two veteran guys with him, and we need to make him feel comfortable to be a very productive member [of the line],” said Backes. “We’ll get back to cooking a little bit with how we were looking before I was forced to play center.

“I think it puts the other teams in a predicament with that they’re going to try to defend if we have a couple-pronged attack. It’s a kind of pick-your-poison kind of deal. A checking line can typically do a good job of neutralizing a line, but when you have multiple options and multiple guns pointed at them it’s a little bit more of a predicament for them. When we’re healthy, we’re going to have that.”

So, the hope is that having a power forward, play-finisher like Backes is going to allow him time and space to create plays that have a little more hope of being turned into scoring chances at the offensive end of the ice.

“When injuries happen you’ve got to balance the team and that’s what happened. But I’m happy [Backes] is back on our line,” said Krejci, who has always been at his best while utilizing big, strong wingers on his line whether it was Milan Lucic or Nathan Horton over the years. “Hopefully we can get the chemistry early on as a line, and help the team to win.

“[Backes] is a right-handed shot, so that’s nice to have.  I had two lefties there [in Spooner and Heinen] and sometimes it’s tough to get a good pass on the backhand. He’s been playing well the first two games, so hopefully I can keep up and we can get some chemistry to help the team win.”

So, it remains to be seen how long it will take Krejci to find his offensive mojo while centering a line combo of Heinen-Krejci-Backes that didn’t get much of a look in the preseason, but the sooner, the better for a Bruins team that needs to start firing on all offensive cylinders while still working through their defensive challenges. 


Bruins assign Czarnik to Providence ‘to find his game’

Bruins assign Czarnik to Providence ‘to find his game’

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It appears sustaining the concussion at the end of the preseason took some of the steam out of Austin Czarnik’s engine and the Bruins assigned the rookie forward to Providence on Thursday so he could again find his harassing, high-energy game. 

The 5-foot-8, 160-pound Czarnik was scratched in the win over the Winnipeg Jets after starting the season with no points, one shot on net and a minus-3 rating against Columbus and Toronto and instead veteran Riley Nash replaced him as third-line center in the Monday night win over the Jets.

Claude Julien indicated it was a matter of Czarnik getting more than the 13 minutes of ice time per game he was getting in Boston and finding the level of play that was so effective in the preseason.

“He had a tremendous camp. We just want him to go down there and play, and we’ll see what goes on from there,” said Julien, who also confirmed that Patrice Bergeron will indeed play against the Devils after missing the first three games. “I was extremely impressed with his training camp. He’s a smart player, and when we get into these situations he needs to play in order to find his game. We’re going to allow him to do that. With the way that he’s played, there’s a good chance we’re going to see him again.”

There were other changes to the game day lineup, as well. It appears both Ryan Spooner and Rob O’Gara are going to be scratched for tonight’s home opener against the New Jersey Devils. Spooner has struggled while playing the wing in the first couple of games this season and O’Gara practiced despite taking a shot off the inside of his right leg in the Winnipeg win. The changes mean New Hampshire native Tim Schaller should be in the Bruins’ lineup for the home opener and Joe Morrow will make his 2016-17 debut in Boston’s fourth game of the season.  

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the New Jersey Devils based on morning skate:


Liles-C. Miller