NHL playoffs are brand new for some Bruins


NHL playoffs are brand new for some Bruins

By JoeHaggerty

WILMINGTON, Mass. Claude Julien pointed out after Wednesdays practice that guys like Gregory Campbell, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton arent necessarily devoid of playoff experience.

Theyve all participated in playoff games during junior hockey, and have an inkling of what its all about.

There are some guys for us that dont have that NHL playoff experience, but they did in junior and its not like its something theyve never done before, said Julien. We just hope theyre on top of their game, and that they play well for us.

But with all apologies to the Bruins coach attempting to remove a modicum of pressure away from some of his key players, potting 9 goals in 15 playoff games for the Oshawa Generals -- as Horton did during his final year in the Ontario Hockey League -- isnt exactly the same thing as getting that first taste of Bruins-Canadiens in the postseason.

Its also the first time many of these guys will be taking a stab at the traditional playoff beard preferred by hockey players everywhere.

Im looking forward to letting it grow, said Horton. Hopefully it gets really big.

All beards aside, it perhaps bodes well for the Black and Gold that Horton at least rose to the postseason occasion in juniors before spending six years in puck purgatory with the Florida Panthers. But things will be different when Horton takes the ice with his teammates.

Horton, 25, scored 6 goals in the last 10 regular-season games while getting into his playoff mode.

You can really feel it, said Horton. Its hard to explain how you feel, but Im excited to get going and play in my first playoff game. I dont talk a lot about it, but when I do talk to the guys about it they say that its just a big step up from the regular season.

Every game means something and youre playing in the moment. Thats what they say. This is what we play for as a hockey player. To be in this situation and a be a part of this is pretty special and everybody enjoys it.

The big right winger isnt the only one to get his feet wet this particular postseason, however. Campbell was his fellow compatriot in Florida, and hes also dreamed long and hard of fulfilling all those Stanley Cup dreams he had as the young son of a larger-than-life NHL personality in Colin Campbell.

You look at Steve Yzerman, who played 15-some odd years and finally got a chance to win it, and you look at guys like Ray Bourque and Rob BrindAmour and how happy they were to win it. Its something that just brings so much joy, said Campbell. You can have a Hall of Fame unbelievable career like those guys, but unless you win a Cup you always feel like something is missing.

Seguin and Marchand are the true rookies in the Bs mix, and Marchand is perhaps the biggest wild card among any players on the Black and Gold roster given the edge hell have to play with in the postseason. But Marchand knows he needs to be mindful of the line as a first-year player still earning his stripes as a playoff performer.

I know where the line is, and its about keeping control out there, said Marchand. You want to get guys angry and hang in there if you have to. Guys get angry and come after you, and thats a part of it. Im more emotionally involved and into the game if Im playing that way, and it makes me more effective. I have to know where the line is when each game is so important and every little mistake is magnified.

At the end of the day, however, its all about maintaining and elevating the way youve played in the regular season. Horton has done that over the last month of the season, and hes showing the way for Campbell, Seguin and Marchand to similarly shine know that the postseason has arrived. It starts with treating the playoffs in the proper level of importance after working so diligently to arrive as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Its a different world here than playing in Florida, said Horton. Its a different atmosphere and its in the past. Im happy to be a part of this. Its pretty special and I think everybody enjoys it. For me its really been about bearing down and really staying in the moment. Youve got to treat each game like its your last game, and never look too far ahead.

The enjoyment starts for Horton and Co. on Thursday night against the Canadiens, and itll be pretty easy to see who has nerves and whos enjoy the bright lights and big moments of the postseason.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins looking for a lift from stagnant power play


Bruins looking for a lift from stagnant power play

BRIGHTON, Mass. – One area where the Bruins are looking for more after a mostly positive first four regular-season games: the power play.

The B’s are a downright gross 1-for-14 on the man-advantage to start the season and were 0-for-4 on Thursday night while squeaking out a last-minute win over the New Jersey Devils. The early-season 7.1 percent success rate doesn’t have them last in the NHL, but only the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames have performed at a lower PP clip.

It’s a subject that Claude Julien knew was coming from the B’s media, and so he was ready to answer for it ahead of Saturday night’s rivalry renewal with the Montreal Canadiens.

“I knew it was just a matter of time before that question came. It is what it is. I think we had some opportunities, but we haven’t finished,” said Julien. “At the end of the day our power play is judged by whether you score or not, and I thought our second period [vs. the Devils] wasn’t great. But our third period had some really good power plays, but we didn’t manage to score.

“Where we need to get to right now [on the power play], is to find a way to finish. There’s no doubt the absence of Patrice Bergeron there brings somebody else in, and maybe there’s not as much chemistry as we’re used to. But I think with him back now we can even be better, and get a little more movement…not be so stagnant. When we struggle a bit it’s because we’re a little stagnant, and we need to get a little better there.”

Quite a bit of the struggles go back to Bergeron missing the first three games of the season and the top power-play unit missing No. 37 from his trademark bumper role at the center of the PP action. The power play remained scoreless as the unit adjusted to Bergeron's return on Thursday night, but it seemed that things started to click a little bit as that game went on.

“It’s not moving right now. We’ll just work through it. There were times last year where it let us down, and there were times last year where it helped us through some tough moments,” said Torey Krug of the PP. “Right now we’re able to play through it, but at some point this team is going to need this PP to step up and score some goals. We rely on that, and the guys on the power play take a lot of pride in it.

“[Bergeron] does a lot of things for us. Instead of me having to go all the way to the other end to break the puck out where I’m losing 20 seconds and frankly it’s tiring to break the puck out, now we have him winning face-offs and we’re starting with the puck in the zone. That’s a big thing, and he collects puck like nobody else in the league. With him back on the power play it brings another important player to the forefront, but it’s a five man unit and when everything’s working out there [on the PP] we have a good unit.”

Now with Ryan Spooner expected to rejoin the B’s lineup, after being healthy scratch vs. New Jersey, that adds another dangerous power-play weapon that practiced with that unit on Saturday morning ahead of the traditional morning skate. The hope is that installing Bergeron and Spooner will help kick-start a special teams unit that’s been less than explosive, and not quite cohesive, in the first four games of the season. 

Rask out tonight vs. Canadiens, Bruins call up McIntyre from Providence


Rask out tonight vs. Canadiens, Bruins call up McIntyre from Providence

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It would appear to be something a little more serious than “general soreness” with Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins No. 1 goaltender was missing from the ice at Warrior Ice Arena for Saturday’s morning skate and Claude Julien said he won't play tonight vs. the Montreal Canadiens.

Instead, the B’s have recalled Zane McIntyre from Providence on an emergency basis and to serve as Anton Khudobin’s backup. Rask has clearly been battling a lower body injury since the opening night win over the Columbus Blue Jackets last week and it cropped up again in the Thursday night win over the New Jersey Devils.

The same injury also forced the B’s to play Khudobin instead of Rask in their only loss of the season, a 4-1 defeat to the Maple Leafs in Toronto one week ago.

Rask admitted he was playing through a little “something-something” after the Jersey win and Julien would only say that his goalie has “general soreness” and is considered day-to-day after missing team practice on Friday.  Julien reiterated the day-to-day status Saturday.

“He’s doing better, but we’re going to shut him off for a bit,” said Julien, who said he wasn’t concerned about the long-term health of his franchise goaltender. “We’ll give him another day’s rest at least, but we’ll still go day-by-day.”

 It’s a severe case of bad timing for both Rask and the B’s as the Finnish netminder is off to a roaring start this season (3-0-0 with a .947 save percentage and a 1.67 goals-against average) after his worst season last year for the Black and Gold.

The 24-year-old McIntyre has appeared in three games for Providence, going 1-0-0 and leading the AHL in goals-against average (0.44) and save percentage (.977) in a solid start after a rough rookie pro season last year.

Boston’s sixth round pick in the 2010, McIntyre, played his first professional season with Providence in 2015-16, going14-8-7 with a 2.68 GAA and .898 save percentage in 31 games.

Malcolm Subban might have been the call-up under different circumstances, but has been pulled by the P-Bruins twice in the span of a week including a Friday night loss where he allowed three goals in the first period in an eventual 4-1 loss.