Unhappy with performance, Bruins accept point

Unhappy with performance, Bruins accept point

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The Bruins will take the point, and they'll move on.

It wasn't a 60-minute effort for the B's on Saturday night at the TD Garden. So they were fortunate enough to have played 61:52 of hockey against a depleted Pittsburgh Penguins team.

The Pens were missing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to injury. But in fairness to the Bruins, they were missing two of their star players as well, in Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron.

Bergeron is the only one of those players who isn't injured. He was attending to a personal issue and is expected to return to the team on Monday.

But in his absence, the Bruins that were in Saturday's lineup, weren't the same Bruins that just rattled off seven straight wins, including six straight on the road.

Instead, they looked like a team that, at times, didn't want it as bad as Pittsburgh. But also, the combination of poor offensive execution and even worse defensive decisions in their own zone, cost them dearly in the 3-2 overtime loss.

But you can't win them all. The Bruins know that, even if they're holding themselves to a higher standard of hockey than they showed against the Penguins on Saturday.

"If you're going to take one overtime loss in eight games, that's not a bad thing," said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the loss. "We just felt that, we're expecting a lot out of ourselves right now, and we're disappointed that we didn't get that second point."

Perhaps they shouldn't have even obtained the first one.

After Zdeno Chara gave the B's a 1-0 lead, 7:26 into the second period, things got ugly.

That ugliness began with Johnny Boychuk's poor decision to pinch at the middle of the Pittsburgh blue line, trying to keep a puck in the offensive zone. He was unable to do so, and as a result, the Penguins skated down and converted on a 2-on-1 to tie the game at 1-1. Just 1:10 later, it seemed the B's were still feeling the effects of Boychuk's poor decision to pinch, and they were caught standing around flat-footed on defense, leading to Dustin Jeffrey's goal from the slot that seemed all too easy for the Penguins to score.

The Bruins battled harder in the third, but it didn't look like that hard work was going to pay off. It seemed as if it was too little, too late.

Especially as Boston's No. 1 villain, Matt Cooke, skated down the left wing with under a minute to play in regulation, staring at an empty Bruins net in front of him.

Tim Thomas had been pulled, in order for the B's to send out the extra attacker, in the hopes that they could somehow find a way to get a last-minute goal and send the game into overtime.

Then, as if Boston's hockey gods had written the script, Cooke's shot at the empty net was blocked by defenseman Tomas Kaberle, and the Bruins turned it quickly up-ice for one final shot at OT.

Then, with 32.5 seconds left in regulation, David Krejci took a Milan Lucic pass in the slot, and sniped the top-left corner to tie the game at 2-2, giving the Bruins a point that they'll accept, even if Jeffrey's overtime goal sent the B's home with a loss.

"Every once in a while, you rely on that sixth attacker to help you gain a point, and we'll take that tonight," said Julien. "But lately, we've been winning games because we've been playing 60 minutes. And tonight wasn't the case."

"We didn't have our best game, that's for sure," said Chara after the loss. "We just had heavy legs, we didn't skate well, and we didn't move the puck well. On the other side, Pittsburgh played extremely well. They put a lot of pressure on us. They took away our space and time. We couldn't create much. Even though they played back-to-back games, they had pretty good jump and energy. It almost felt like we were the team who played last night.

"We worked extremely hard in the third and earned that point. That's a positive. Obviously we'd like to get two, but it happens."

They'll take it, and they'll move on.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Acciari nearing a return for Bruins after missing a month

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Acciari nearing a return for Bruins after missing a month

BRIGHTON, Mass. – He hasn’t been cleared to play just yet, but fourth line energy guy Noel Acciari is closing in on a return to the Bruins lineup. 

Acciari joined in for a Bruins morning skate for the first time in 14 games at the end of last week, and practiced with the team again Monday for a morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. The 25-year-old has missed almost exactly a month with a lower body injury, and said he can thankfully now see the light at the end of the injury tunnel for a healthy return to the B’s lineup. 

“It was getting lonely with all the guys on the road, and with me just skating with Frankie [Vatrano] and Zee [Chara],” said Acciari. “It’s great to be back out there with the guys, and it’s good to be back. Each skate I feel a lot better out there and just trying to get my conditioning back. Just being back with the guys is a great feeling, and it’s a big help.”

The fourth line has been okay in Acciari’s absence, but it seemed to be lacking the same kind of energy and hard edge the Providence College standout provided when he was healthy. That was part of what led the B’s to call up the similarly rugged Anton Blidh from Providence at the end of last week, and could provide some interesting energy line options when Acciari is ready to return. 

“I’ve played with [Blidh] before, I’m used to him and I know what he brings to the table just like he knows what I can do,” said Acciari. “So it would work out well [if we played together] I think.”

Acciari has two assists and a plus-1 rating along with four penalty minutes while averaging 10:01 of ice time in 12 games this season, and proved to be very good at unnerving opponents simply by playing all-out all the time. 

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fully getting in the holiday spirit by getting the family Christmas tree this week.

*Very good and very sobering story about Craig Cunningham’s slow recovery, and his large support system with the AHL Roadrunners team he is captaining this season. It sounds like it might be a bit of a long road for him, so he and his family will need that support from those around him.

*Tyler Seguin has his shot back, and that’s great news for the Dallas Stars power play. So is that like Stella getting her groove back?

*A KHL player went into a sliding dab formation in order to celebrate a goal on the ice, and we salute him for that.

*The Maple Leafs are trying to fortify their backup goaltending situation after waiving Jhonas Enroth this week.

*Interesting Bob McKenzie piece about a young man that’s hoping to challenge conventional thinking in the hockey coaching ranks.

*TSN’s Scott Cullen takes a look at Winnipeg rookie Patrik Laine’s shooting skills as part of his “Statistically Speaking” column.

*For something completely different: the hits just keep on coming for Netflix as they’re going to double their TV series output over the next year.