Offensive explosion propels Bruins


Offensive explosion propels Bruins

BOSTON -- The Bruins' five-game winning streak isn't tough to figure out.

Goals, goals, goals.

"It's been great," Milan Lucic said Saturday after Boston's 6-2 win over Buffalo. "We're doing a good job in the neutral zone, in the defensive zone. We're getting opportunities. We're bearing down on them and you know . . . coming up as a five man unit and supporting one another. I think that's ultimately what's given us the success that we're getting."

The scoring surplus is a relief.

Boston began its NHL title defense with an underwhelming 3-7-0 record. The phrase "Stanley Cup hangover" was used and overused, but the team could do little to deny it. Through their first 10 games, the Bruins goals scored 22 goals, while their opponents scored 25.

Their goals foragainst ratio in the last four games? 24-to-3.

For perspective: Boston hasn't scored at least five times in five-straight games since 1986. Scoring six or more goals in four straight contests hasn't been done since 1978.

It's escaped no one that the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line, pieced together at the end of October, leads the offensive outpouring. Both wingers scored in Thursday's over a normally stingy Buffalo defense (2.36 average goals allowed going into Saturday's game).

Marchand spoke of their chemistry modestly.

"We are starting to click a little better here now. You see some plays where we are starting to find each other now. We know where to be. Seguin is obviously a pretty easy guy to play with because of his great skill-set. We are gelling a little better now, we just have to keep it going."

A "little better"?

Marchand's assist and third period goal on Satruday stretches his career-best point streak to five games (3G, 5A). The"clicking" was showcased in the second period on a Marchand breakaway. After picking off a Sabres pass in the neutral zone, he flew in on goalie Ryan Miller's right. Seguin hopped off the bench to fill the opposite lane. Marchand held off, showing great patience in waiting for Miller to commit before passing off to Seguin for the one-timer.

It was Seguin's 11th goal of the season.

Not only does he lead all Bruins, his 11th tally also matches that of his entire rookie campaign. His proficiency has inspired Boston's surge; Seguin's lit the lamp eight times (and has three assists) in the last six contests.

He's on pace for 61 goals.

"Whenever you score, you're never going to be disappointed," Seguin smiled. "You can never score too much and right now I'm burying most of my opportunities. But I feel like my two goals tonight, I don't know what I really did, it was really just the linemates work and me just finishing."

Claude Julien is thrilled with the production, saying Seguin has exceeded the expectations of the coaching staff. But he also credited the man centering his young, speedy wingers: Patrice Bergeron.

"I think Bergy's the guy that's the reliable guy on that line," Julien said. "He's always in the right spot, even defensively. Once in a while, one of those two guys are going to end up blowing the zone in a little quick, and that's where Bergy comes in and repairs the damage. That's the thing: they get the opportunities and they make the best of it."

Faceoffs wins -- often via Bergeron -- have been huge in creating chances.

Boston leads the NHL with a 54.5 percentage in the circle. Bergeron is ranked 8th in the league behind first line center David Krejci. The Bruins' third and fourth pivots, Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell, are 27th and 41st, respectively.

As their success on the dot shows, the Bruins are deep. It's why they're is getting production up and down the lineup: 13 different players have registered a point and 12 have scored goals during the win streak.

Are the gaudy numbers good to last? Six goals per game would be an impossible clip for any team to sustain, and the Bruins know it.

"You go through spurts like this during the year," Marchand said. "And then you go through spurts like we did during the first bit of our season. We can't get too high and we can't get too excited about it. We have to make sure we stay calm and focused for each game."

Considering the rut Boston started in, the team appreciates experiencing the other extreme. Now they know what they're capable of: winning, and winning big.

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.