Boyes makes statement with game-winner


Boyes makes statement with game-winner

By DannyPicard

BOSTON -- Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli traded Brad Boyes to the St. Louis Blues at the 2007 trade deadline. In return, the B's brought in puck-moving defenseman Dennis Wideman.

At the time, Chiarelli explained his thought process: "I'd like to think that our defense will be a better puck-moving unit now. That's really going to help our chances."

Similar words were spoken at this year's trade deadline, with the acquisition of veteran puck-moving defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

But on Thursday night at the TD Garden, it was Boyes who proved his offensive qualities to be more important -- in this game at least.

Boyes knocked home the game-winning goal with 1:16 left to play in overtime, giving the Sabres a 4-3 win over Boston. It was his sixth game with Buffalo, after being traded from the Blues for a second-round pick at last month's trade deadline.

He made an immediate impact in the division race as he skated hard to the net, and finished a Nathan Gerbe pass from the lower-left circle, after Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was caught too far out of the net, after taking Gerbe's initial shot off the shoulder.

"I figured I'd follow Gerbe in there and see what he's got," said Boyes. "He made a great play. Most of it was effort. With Timmy Thomas coming out like that, it was an easy tip-in for me."

In essence, Kaberle is this team's new Wideman, proving he can fill the "puck-moving" role on the blue line. And in the moments leading up to Boyes' game-winner, it was Kaberle's defense -- or lack thereof -- that allowed Gerbe to not only get an easy shot off from the high slot, but also allowed him to make Kaberle look like a turn-style, beating him to the loose rebound, and finding a wide-open Boyes at the right post.

It marked Boyes' third goal with his new team. And it was a big one, as it kept the Sabres in the hunt for one of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spots.

It was also fitting that it came against his old team, at the expense of some poor defense from a puck-moving defenseman, which was the type of player Boyes was traded for.

"I've had some great memories here," said Boyes after the game. "I loved playing here. It was a lot of fun. So you want to come back, and you want to do those things. I've been on a few teams, and any time you play an old team, there's that little extra bit, that, you want to make sure that they made a mistake, kind of getting rid of you. Again, that was a while ago. But you still have that extra jump, that sense of excitement."

Boyes played 142 total regular-season games with the Bruins before he was traded more than halfway through his second year in Boston.

He scored 26 goals in 82 games in 2005-06, and had 13 goals in 62 games with the B's prior to the trade to St. Louis.

The following season -- his first full year with the Blues -- Boyes scored a career-high 43 goals. The year after that, he scored 33.

Since then, Boyes' numbers have dropped. Last season, he scored only 14 goals in 82 games, while having only 12 goals in 62 games this season, before being traded to the potentially playoff-bound Sabres.

Thursday night's overtime game-winner marked his 15th goal of the year. While it was special to score against the team that once traded him, Boyes was happier to help the Sabres get two points, putting them in seventh place in the East, with 74 points.

"There is always that extra little bit, but to be honest, it's been a while since I've been back," said Boyes on playing in Boston. "You want to score and go hard against all teams. There are a lot of different faces over there.

"The biggest thing is, you can't stress how important it is to get that extra point. Those other things are great, and I'll take them. But that point is so valuable right now.

"I enjoy it here," said Boyes about his new home in Buffalo. "I think it's been a good move. I'm excited. When I came over here, that was my thought, just being excited, and getting back to what I enjoy doing, scoring goals, winning games, and things like that. That's what I'm trying to do."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on

Rask ends injury absence, returns to Bruins practice

Rask ends injury absence, returns to Bruins practice

BRIGHTON, Mass. – The Bruins welcomed back Tuukka Rask to the Warrior Ice Arena practice sheet on Friday morning after he took more than a week off the ice after re-aggravating his lower body injury in last week’s win over the Devils. 

Rask took part in 3-on-3 battle drills for a large chunk of the practice while backups Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban, both still with the team, practiced at the other end of the ice for most of the session. 

It remains to be seen if Rask can go against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, while troubled early in the season by the reported hamstring/groin issues, but the Finnish netminder was clearly practicing like he was going to play in Motown. 

It’s just as clear they desperately need him back given the shaky state of their defense after allowing a ghoulish 11 goals in their past two losses to the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers. 

David Backes was still missing from the practice ice while recovering from his elbow procedure, so Claude Julien was again mixing and matching the lines amid a three-game losing streak. 

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from practice: 









Liles-C. Miller







Haggerty: Bruins sinking fast with nothing to hang on to

Haggerty: Bruins sinking fast with nothing to hang on to

So, what do the Bruins do now amidst a three-game tailspin that could easily devolve into a six- or seven-game losing stretch if they’re not too careful?

The goaltending has been predictably porous with Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin out of commission with injuries. The Black and Gold allowed 11 goals in the past two games despite Zane McIntyre battling in tough conditions at Madison Square Garden. The bottom line is McIntyre and Malcolm Subban don’t look ready for NHL prime time and there are legitimate questions as to whether Subban ever will become an NHL goalie.

Beyond that, the Bruins defense has been downright atrocious just as the goaltending situation has deteriorated. Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug have struggled individually and as a pairing that the B’s coaching staff had hoped would complement Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo in Boston’s top-four. McQuaid is a minus-3 in his first two games back from an upper body injury and Krug is a minus-4 with a surprising zero points in his first seven games this season.

In fact, every Bruins defenseman not named Chara or Carlo is a combined minus-16 on the season and, of that group, only currently-in-the-AHL rookie Rob O’Gara has a positive plus/minus for the season. Both the defensive zone coverage and the compromised ability to break the puck out of their own end have been problematic and Boston’s opponents have enjoyed way too easy of a time getting into the slot area for juicy scoring chances.

In other words, the defense looks very much like last season for the Bruins with – surprise, surprise – nearly the same cast of characters returning from that subpar crew.

Then there’s the forward group, which has enjoyed great production from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand in the early going and from David Backes before his elbow injury that was at least partially caused by the hard miles the 32-year-old brawny center has logged over the years. 

Patrice Bergeron has just one point in four games since returning from a lower body injury and opposing defenses in recent games have been able to key on that top line of Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak while mostly neutralizing them. 

That’s because the other Bruins forward lines are doing nothing offensively from a production or puck possession standpoint. Sure, Austin Czarnik had his first NHL goal Wednesday night against the Rangers and Dominic Moore has a couple of goals for a fourth line that’s been decent for Boston this season.

But David Krejci has no goals and three points in seven games with a minus-4 rating while looking slow and tentative coming back from hip surgery, Ryan Spooner is off to a slow start bouncing between wing and center and the third line winger combo of Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes have zero points and a ghastly combined minus-14 rating on the season.

So, basically the Black and Gold have nothing to hang their hat on with the goaltending, the defensemen and the forwards all working at far less than full capacity right now, and that’s making them hockey road kill for opponents. To make matters worse, the Bruins find themselves in the middle of a six-game stretch where they’re playing quality teams that made the playoffs last season, and can expose all of their weak spots.

A prolonged losing streak could knock the Bruins far out of the playoff picture over the next few weeks and leave them more than a handful of points out of the postseason cut by Thanksgiving. Once that happens, the odds would be against the Bruins turning things around and there would zero margin of error for a team that needs leeway based on the glaring roster weaknesses.

So, what are the Bruins to do right now?

There’s not much they can do aside from simply play better, hope that Backes and Rask can return rather quickly and avoid buckling and quitting in games like they did against the Wild and Rangers over the past few days. The Bruins will try to ramp Rask up potentially for this weekend against the Red Wings in Detroit and perhaps that will be enough time for his reported hamstring and groin issues to have healed up.

But if not, the Bruins will need to look on the goaltending market for possible answers rather than asking rookie goalies to thrive behind a struggling, substandard defensive group. Ondrej Pavelec out in Winnipeg would be too expensive in terms of cap hit and there may not be a chance to snag Mike Condon on waivers from Pittsburgh as the Penguins look like they want to hold onto the Massachusetts native with Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury also in the fold.

That leaves the Bruins with a number of retread goalie options like Kari Ramo, Kevin Poulin, Ray Emery, Dan Ellis and Yann Danis, who might have to become a reality if Rask suffers a dreaded setback in the coming days. Bringing in a veteran goalie with NHL experience certainly makes some sense on paper if things are left to Subban and McIntyre, but the bottom line is that Boston will continue to resemble an imploding hockey club until some of their other deep-seated issues are fully addressed.

Gerry Cheevers isn’t walking through that door anytime soon, and if he did, he’d smartly walk back out rather than get hung out to dry by a Bruins team that’s playing embarrassingly poorly in front of a couple of young goalies that need their best.