Notes: Kessel breaks through against Bruins


Notes: Kessel breaks through against Bruins

By JoeHaggerty

BOSTON It would seem that the odds finally caught up to the Bruins.

For nine games the Bruins defense chewed up and spit out Phil Kessel every chance they got, and completely shutdown the winger in the goal-scoring department.

And everybody knows that Kessel without the goal-scoring ability isnt much of a hockey player at all. But the young right wing instead heeded the advice of the Toronto coaching staff, and changed the tape on his stick from white to black just prior to Tuesday nights game.

The change in tape led to Kessel potting a pair of goals including the game-tying strike in the third period on the way to a 4-3 victory for Toronto in a home tilt at the Garden that went completely awry.

The first goal opened up Torontos scoring in the first period, and the second goal was a sweet individual move that saw Phil the Thrill blow right by Dennis Seidenberg on the way to scoring a goal past Tim Thomas. With the two goals, Kessel had his first goals against his former team and also blew up a 14-game goal-scoring drought in the process.

The youngster was the first to admit that his lack of success at the Garden was undeniable, but didnt seem to publicly bask in the boos raining down on him after he made his former team pay the price with two goals.

I havent done anything in this building yet, until tonight, said Kessel. They are a very good team over there and we were fortunate to come out of here with a win.

Toronto coach Ron Wilson saw a pair of players in Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski that were giving that extra little bit of hustle, and doing battle with Zdeno Chara despite the fact the big defenseman level Grabovski at least twice throughout the game.

That was without a doubt Phils best game, not just because he scored, said Wilson. He was in on the forecheck, he was in banging around with Zdeno Chara and he did a good job in our end, too. He won some battles on the boards and he changed the color of the tape on his stick. I dont know if anybody noticed, he went from white to black.

Kessel certainly noticed the change in his sticks, and perhaps thats something more players will take into account when theyre putting together a summer plan.

Patrice Bergeron potted his 20th goal of the season in the third period, and in doing so put together the third 20-goal season of his career. It was also the first time that Bergeron has potted 20 goals in a season since prior to the horrific concussion suffered at the hands of Randy Jones and the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007-08.

The goal was a beauty with Bergeron simply defeating Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf during a battle in front of the net for a rebound, and then Bergeron popped in a second-effort attempt to give Boston short-lived lead. From there it was collapse, and thats what the Bruins need to work on despite Bergerons abilities to compete and succeed.

You hope so. And were a team that normally is capable of closing when you take the lead in the third. The goals that we gave up after that were just bad goals, and its not just one mistake, said Claude Julien. Its two and three. There was different ways of preventing those.

We all have to take blame in the way that our team is playing right now and Im going to put myself in that as well. Right now we need to be a little bit more emotionally involved in these games.

Peter Chiarelli indicated that because Chris Kelly was a Canadian native playing for a Canadian team in Ottawa, visa problems would likely make it impossible for the Senators center to participate in practice on Wednesday.

Daniel Paille returned from a four-game suspension and potted the teams first goal of the night to give the Bruins an early 1-0 lead.

I definitely wanted to make an impact as soon as possible, whether it was a check or just keep moving my feet and getting to the puck first, said Paille. You know I did that but I needed to continue to do it throughout the whole game and we kept getting power plays and penalty kills so it was tough to get out there five on five.

Johnny Boychuk was a healthy scratch for the first time this season on Tuesday night against the Leafs with Adam McQuaid, Mark Stuart and Steve Kampfer playing effectively for Bostons blueline corps.

I think his battle is still good and stuff like that, said Julien. But I think, again, when it comes to puck decision hes had his fair share of challenges there.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

It’s hard to believe that it’s already come to this, but it might just be Malcolm Subban between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, and perhaps again on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The 22-year-old Subban has been pulled from two ineffective starts for the P-Bruins in four AHL starts this season (.846 save percentage and a 4.50 goals against average in four games) while coming back from last year’s fractured larynx injury. He's also a player the organization was uncertain enough about that they signed veteran backup Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on the July 1 open of NHL free agency.

Subban attributed his start to a slow opening few weeks with a new P-Bruins roster of players, but that hasn’t stopped fellow P-Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre from putting up excellent numbers between the pipes in the early going.

But Khudobin went down with an injury mere minutes into Monday morning’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and Tuukka Rask been battling a nagging leg injury since the season opening win against the Blue Jackets.

So Subban was the last goalie standing on Monday as an emergency recall from Providence, and could be in line to play Tuesday night against the Wild if the Bruins medical staff can’t perform some Mr. Miyagi-style healing techniques on Rask or Khudobin.

“Khudobin got injured and couldn’t practice with us, but I haven’t heard anything yet [on an update],” said Julien following practice. “This is hockey. We deal with it on daily basis with the injuries. We wait for the news and then it’s about doing your job as it’s required. If we have to make some adjustments and have to have some different personnel, then we’ll deal with it when we have more of an update. Tuukka is still day-to-day, so nothing is changed there.

“We’re in a situation here where we’ll see what happens, and if [Subban] needs to go in goal then he’ll go in goal. It’s as simple as that. As a coach, there’s one thing that worries me and that’s ‘stop the puck.’ I’m not a goalie coach, so I’m just demanding on making the saves.”

Subban, of course, hasn’t been making the saves down in Providence early in the going there this season, and is entering the stage of his career where he needs to begin showing signs of being a potential No. 1 guy at the NHL level.

Fellow goalies from the 2012 NHL draft class like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Joonas Korpisalo, Matt Murray, Connor Hellebuyck and Frederik Andersen have all begun making their mark in the league, and Subban was selected higher than all of them except for Tampa’s Vasilevskiy. So in the final year of his entry level deal it’s high time for the 22-year-old to begin showing signs he can play in the league, whether it’s in Boston or elsewhere.

He admitted on Monday he might have been putting too much pressure on himself down in Providence while watching the injury issues play out with Tuukka Rask in Boston.

Subban was worried about the big picture of stringing together saves so he was the guy called up if the Bruins needed a goalie, and instead should have been focusing more on the present opponents at the AHL level.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think anybody that knows me well knows that. I don’t like to let in goals no matter what happens, whether it’s breakdowns or not it’s my job [to stop the puck]. If there were no breakdowns then you wouldn’t need a goaltender,” said Subban. “I want to make every save and get a shutout every game. I think the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing, and knowing that it’s okay to let a goal in every once in a while.

“So I think in my position right now I’m supposed to be playing really well down there, and I think that go in my head a little bit. I was trying to get a shutout every game rather than going game-by-game and shot-by-shot. I was overthinking it too much. But collectively as a team we’re a new team and we were trying to get the chemistry together, and once we do that the D-zone will be better and the offensive zone game will come.”

If Subban does indeed get the emergency start on Tuesday night against the Wild, the Bruins just have to hope that it’s a better outing than getting pulled in his NHL debut against the Blues two seasons ago after allowing three goals on three straight shots to start the second period. They also have to hope that Rask or Khudobin get well quick given Boston’s shaky situation on defense in front of the goaltender, and the stretch they’re in of playing six straight opponents that qualified for last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

If not then watch out below because every hockey person knows there’s no quicker way for a hockey club to really begin imploding than if the goaltending starts to become a major problem whether it’s because of injury, inconsistent performance or simply because of being a straight-up sieve.

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.