Haggerty: Bruins showing new life after Habs losses

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Haggerty: Bruins showing new life after Habs losses

BOSTON -- The month of October is beginning to feel like a long time ago for the Boston Bruins, who are hurdling confidently into what they once were and what they could be again.

The Bs evened off their won-loss ledger at 7-7 by collecting their seventh win of the season Thursday night at TD Garden, 6-3 over the young, exciting Edmonton Oilers.

In stringing together another solid home win, the Bs have issueda statement: They're back in it for the long haul again this season, and are more determined than ever after looking a little punch-drunk in October.

Maybe its a little different than it was last month. I think guys have found their way now and know how to get back to business, said Tyler Seguin, who has enjoyed grand moments as Bostons leading scorer through 14 games.

After struggling to finish off their offensive chances during the first 10 games of the season, the Bs have outscored their opponents 24-8 during four games in the month of November. They've thoroughly humbled the Maple Leafs, Senators, Islanders and Oilers over the last two weeks, averaging six goals per game.

Whileit's true thatnone of those four were playoffmaterial last season, three of them all but the Islanders were playing their best hockey of the season headed into their games with Boston.The Black and Gold have simply upped their performance and displayed a different kind of urgency during a time of year (November) when playoff berths can't be clinched, but can certainly be lost.The defense has tightened up around coach Claude Juliens system, the offense is flowing with productivity and points, and the special teams have finally loosened up at both ends of the rink.
In other words: The good times are rolling for the Black and Gold, who onceagain resemble the team that took the NHL by storm last spring on its way to the Stanley Cup.For players that weren't here last season, the confidence flowing through the lineup feels pretty damned good.

You just have that feeling going into the game . . . like we didnt have before, said defenseman Joe Corvo, acquired in the offseason from Carolina. It just feels like were going to win the game and it just depends on by how many. Thats just the feel thats just how I feel and I think the team feels going into the game. When youre playing well like that it makes it fun.

Corvo has a plus-7 in his last three games, has piled up four assists and helped engineer a pair of power-play goals Thursday nightin the role he was custom made for when he arrived in Boston.Brad Marchand is scoring goals again, mixing things up before and after whistles, and even finding thetime to dump Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk on his backside after Dubnyk attempted to play a loose puck within the trapezoid. That's vintage Marchand.Milan Lucic has six goals in his last five games, and destroyed both Jeff Petry and Theo Peckham with bone-rattling body checks in theunique mixtures of brawn and skill that only No. 17 can provide.

Seguin came alive in the second period with a pair of points (outscoring fellow second-year prodigyTaylor Hall, who had an assist for Edmonton_ and remains on pace for a gaudy50 goals and nearly 100 points this season.
Even rookie forwards like Jordan Caron and Zach Hamill are flourishing and connecting on scoring plays like the textbook Hamill-to-Caron connection in the first period that gave the B's a little secondary scoring.

So whats with the 4-0 record in November thats allowed the Bruins to pull even with the Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division standingswith 14 points? Well, funny you should ask.

Its actually all about the Canadiens, and the wince-inducinghome-and-home losses to the Habs that closed out the month of October for the Bruins. Nobody in the Bs dressing room is talking about what was said in the aftermath of the Saturday night loss on Oct. 29 at the Bell Centre -- or who it was said by --but they knew changes were on the horizon if fortunes didnt turn immediately after a 3-7 start.
The10-game Stanley Cup hangover opened up all kinds of speculation and trade possibilities. General manager Peter Chiarelli was in the delicate state between showing loyalty to a Cup-winning nucleus, and feeling like a cattle prod was needed to wake up his sleeping bunch.Marchand and the rest of the Bruins wanted another crack at the Cup with the returning cast of characters, and that really wouldnt have beenpossible if they begin wheeling players away to other teams in a panic-type move.

We felt a lot of heat, obviously, with the start we had," said Marchand. "We knew that something might happen if we didnt turn things around. We wanted to stay together and we know what were capable of coming off last season with pretty close to the same team.

We didnt want to miss out on another opportunity to make a run, so we did a great job turning the corner. We realized that we had to be better, and hopefully we can continue the streak now.Players like David Krejci, Tuukka Rask and Johnny Boychuk -- and even Lucic, in a fairly unbelievable scenario -- were mentioned as possible sacrificial lambs to shake things up. But the Bruins want their chance to show just how good they can be again this season.It looks like they'll get it just as long as they keep playing like a team befitting the term "Stanley Cup champs" -- and they were most definitely that once again against the Oilers.

With injury in his past, Malcolm Subban is looking toward future

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With injury in his past, Malcolm Subban is looking toward future

BOSTON – It’s not really ever a banner day for any red-blooded, red-light hating goalie when he surrenders four goals in a game.

But perhaps that bottom line is softened a little bit considering when it’s also the first game of the preseason. It may also be drastically mitigated by the fact, in this case, that it was the first time Malcolm Subban guarded the space between the pipes since taking a puck to the throat that fractured his larynx last February.

That traumatic injury left Subban unable to speak for days and gasping for air while being rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.

It was a tiny victory simply for the Bruins goalie prospect to be back on the ice at all and a much bigger one once Subban had made 31 saves while largely under siege in a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

The 22-year-old admitted a little rush in net while the Red Wings were buzzing all around him for 35 shots on net through his two periods of work, but there was also happiness at simply being to back and building up for another season in the Bruins organization.

“It was great to finally get back out. Obviously, [I was] really rusty. To be honest, I felt – not so much the goals even, but just shots in general, especially in the first, obviously nerves had a little bit to do with it,” said Subban, who was 14-8-5 with a .911 save percentage and 2.46 goals-against average last season in Providence. “But it was the first time in a long time I could say that I felt not up to speed. I feel like usually I’m overplaying stuff, too fast. But, I felt today like practice is a lot different than a game.

“In the first, I thought I was a little behind the play. That starts to open up holes like my post coverage and stuff. A little rusty there, especially on the third goal, I’ve got to clean that stuff up. Other than that, I thought I played pretty well in terms of straight shots. We practice all that stuff. I’ve just got to keep working on that end. Hopefully, I can move forward and build on that. I think it’s a great game to build off, for sure, for myself and the team.”

The goals allowed showed some on defense, but also some of the rust in their goalie: Subban lost sight of the puck behind the net on the second goal and Steve Ott was able to fire a quick shot past him on the short side before he could recover his bearings. 

The third goal was also a post coverage issue with Luke Glendening scoring on a late-reacting Subban, which is usually one of his real strengths. So, there is work to be done, but Subban also shut down a number of breakaways in the second period behind a leaky defense and stopped over 30 pucks before he gave way to young goalie Dan Vladar.

That’s considered more than an honest night’s work in the first preseason appearance for any goaltender, and surely for one playing his first game in seven months.  

“I think it was [a good outing for Subban]. He faced some quality scoring chances out there, and the ones that went in probably he’d like to have back, you know,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “But overall, I think when you look at his overall performance for the two periods he played pretty solid for us. He made some big saves, some timely saves and moved well in there. I think for Malcolm, you know, despite the score, I think he had a good night.”

Perhaps most encouraging: the middle Subban brother made a key save at the end of the first period with a puck off his helmet after Detroit had scored twice in a span of 19 seconds.

The stop with Subban’s head gear was probably the best sign of the night that he’s over last year’s traumatic injury and there isn’t going to be any shell-shocked goaltender situation with him.

So, did the injury cross his mind even once during his 40 minutes of work?

“To be honest, no. I owe a lot of credit to my players and these guys on the team in practice and stuff. I really haven’t had to worry about [taking another puck to the throat], getting hit,” said Subban, who now wears a neck guard after eschewing that particular piece of equipment prior to the injury. You’ve got some pretty good shooters in here; pretty accurate shooters. But, yeah, to be honest, I never really thought of [the fractured larynx], it never came across my mind.”

One thing that’s definitely been on Subban’s mind in camp is his contract situation and knowing full well he’s in the last season of his entry-level deal with the Bruins as a former first-round pick. He now has both Anton Khudobin and Tuukka Rask in front of him in the NHL and he’s looking at a fourth straight season in the AHL with the P-Bruins.

It might have been a different story for the talented goalie prospect if he’d finished last season in the same hot streak he was enjoying at the time of his injury. Perhaps he’d be the guy prepping to be Rask’s understudy this season. Instead, the ill-timed larynx injury pushed the Bruins to opt for an established backup in Khudobin and sign him to a two-year deal that could conceivably lock Subban in Providence for a couple more seasons.

So, now Subban is playing for his future, whether it’s with the Bruins, or with another team looking for a young No. 1 goaltending prospect just now entering his prime after refining his technique and going through some character-building adversity.

“I had a hard summer of workouts and skating, so I feel good. I’m not going to hold myself short. I understand that this is my contract year and the last year of my contract, so I’ve got to have a good year regardless of where I am. I’ve just got to play awesome,” said Subban. “Obviously you want to sign again, and you want to be a part of the organization. You want to be a huge part of it and a valued asset.

“So, what I’m looking forward to proving right now is that the last three years helped me, and that I’ve improved since my first year, and that I want to be here [in Boston].”

It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with Subban within the B’s organization over the next season.

The Bruins regime that initially drafted him 24th overall back in 2012 is now gone. Subban still has value to an NHL team, particularly a Canadian one, scouring the market for a blue-chip goalie prospect. The organization is also going to be forced to expose a quality goaltender or two in the Las Vegas franchise expansion draft after this season. That could mean a new work address, or a new spot opened up within the B’s goalie depth chart, for Subban.

All of these could be possibilities for Subban, but it all starts with him pouring everything he’s learned over the past three years and dominating the AHL before he pushes for his first extended look at the highest level of hockey. 

Bruins center Acciari’s status uncertain after leaving with apparent leg injury

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Bruins center Acciari’s status uncertain after leaving with apparent leg injury

BOSTON – There were no updates following the preseason loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night, but fourth-line center candidate Noel Acciari had to leave in the third period with what appeared to be a leg injury. 

The Rhode Island native appeared to be favoring his right leg after getting tangled up in front of the benches just a couple of minutes into the third period, crawled toward the bench and then headed back to the B’s dressing room for repairs.

Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco didn’t have any update in the moments directly after the 5-1 preseason loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

“Noel did leave the game. I’m not sure what his status is, or what the injury was. I haven’t been told,” Sacco said. Acciari finished with five hits and a blocked shot in 10:35 of ice time vs. Detroit. “I’ll have to check with medical and see where we’re at.”

The hope is that the injury isn’t a serious one after Acciari looked strong and heavy playing an energy role down the middle last season for the Bruins in the final weeks of the regular season. He teamed with Justin Hickman and Anton Blidh to play a gritty, energy line on Wednesday night, and they were largely effective for the Black and Gold while some of the other bigger name players struggled.

A potential injury to Acciari, however, does leave the door open for Dominic Moore to really put an iron-fisted grip on the fourth-line center spot after it appeared there would be a big surplus of centers at the start of camp.