BOSTON — The Bruins pegged Tuesday night’s matchup with the St. Louis Blues as a “measuring stick.”
Head Coach Claude Julien eyed it that way, and so did the players.
For most of the night, the Black & Gold were even with one of the top teams in the West. Both teams played disciplined. There wasn’t much time or space. Both sides had to go to battle.
But the Bruins came up just short, falling 2-0 to St. Louis, with two breakaway goals allowed in the third period. It marked the first time the League’s second-best offense had been shut out this season, in game No. 33.
With the loss, Boston wasn’t able to achieve their goal of jumping Montreal for first place in the Atlantic Division.
“We were ready to try to finish on a good note,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We did have a few good looks that we could have beared down a little better and that would have given us momentum, but yeah, I liked the way that I sensed the room before the game.”
BOSTON — The Bruins have won three games in a row and a fourth straight on Tuesday night at TD Garden against St. Louis could catapult them into first place in the Atlantic Division.
That would be a nice way to go into the NHL’s three-day break.
“Well, we do play against one of the best teams in the League so it’s going to be really tough,” said David Krejci. “But we’re one point behind Montreal, with three games in hand, so it would be nice to get a win tonight and enjoy the break.”
It won’t be an easy task against the Blues, who stand as one of the top teams in the West.
They’ll be coming into TD Garden on the second leg of a back-to-back after a 4-3 loss to Philadelphia on Monday night. It snapped a three-game winning streak. If anything, that will make the Blues even more motivated.
When both teams face each other, it’s always a physical, hard-nosed matchup.
“Well when you look at teams that are elite teams, you have to look at St. Louis as one of them, no doubt,” sid Julien. “They’re big, they’re strong, they’re well coached, they’ve got speed, they’ve got skill, guys that can score goals, goaltending’s been good this year, so they’ve got a lot of what a team aspiring for a Stanley Cup can have.”
WILMINGTON — With just one regulation loss in their past 15 games, the Bruins have found themselves one point out of first place in the Atlantic Division behind Montreal, with two games in hand.
Their most recent win — a 2-1 shootout victory over New Jersey on Sunday night — made that possible.
How have they stayed focused during their 11-1-3 run?
“Maybe by doing what I did today — barking at them a little bit,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said with a smirk following Monday’s skate at Ristuccia Arena. “Making sure we don’t get comfortable.”
“Part of a coach and coaching staff’s job is to make sure we keep the guys sharp. It’s also part of our job and their job to not get complacent or satisfied, and it’s also all of our jobs to remain hungry and that’s what we’re trying to do with this group.”
The Bruins will play three of their next four games at TD Garden. They host the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night in their final game before the three-day break around Christmas.
Pastrnak recently joined the Providence Bruins on a conditioning loan and suited up in their game against Springfield on Saturday — a 4-2 loss in which he notched a goal. It was Pastrnak’s first time playing in game action since Oct. 31.
The forward suffered a fracture in his left foot blocking a shot on Oct. 27 and ended up missing seven weeks in his recovery. His availability for the upcoming 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Finland is still in question, though the Czechs have expressed interest in wanting the winger on their squad.
“We’ve been in communication with the Czech national team — World Juniors team — and we have to wait and see where he’s at, as well as where our club is at, health-wise,” said Sweeney. “If we get to the 28th [of December]— when the [NHL] roster freeze is up, there’s still a chance for him to go [to Finland].”
PITTSBURGH — Hats scattered down for Frank Vatrano, as he smiled his way through a line of his teammates’ fist bumps on Friday night at the CONSOL Energy Center.
He had already done it twice on the night, as his first NHL hat trick propelled the Bruins to a 6-2 win over the Penguins.
It completed a home-and-home sweep, and gave Boston further road dominance with an 11-2-2 record away from and a 6-0-2 point streak.
The three-goal night came in Vatrano’s 17th NHL game. It marked the first time a Bruins rookie had notched a hat trick since Blake Wheeler in 2008.
There have been many smiles for Vatrano since making his debut on Nov. 7 in Montreal and scoring his first NHL goal. Vatrano also net an OT-winner in Detroit for his second career goal, before netting the hat trick in Pittsburgh.
“Yeah, it’s a little bit sooner than expected, obviously,” smiled Vatrano. “But I’m glad I was rewarded with that and it’s even better to celebrate a hat trick with a win.”
PITTSBURGH — The Bruins cap off their home-and-home series against the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Friday night at the CONSOL Energy Center, after earning a 3-0 shutout two nights ago in Boston.
Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
The Bruins are currently on a 9-1-3 stretch and have taken points out of their last four games (3-0-1). They also take a 7-0-2 point streak on the road into Friday’s game.
A look at the standings shows Boston now second in the Atlantic Division with 38 points, just five points back of Montreal with three games in hand.
“It’s exciting to see us move up in the standings. It always is, right?” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “It always gives you some motivation when those things are happening…we’ve still got some games in hand, but at least we’re in a spot where it’s encouraging.”
The Black & Gold may have found success throughout the past month, but now is not the time to get complacent.
WILMINGTON — Through 30 games, the Bruins are 17-9-4. In their last 12 games, they are 9-1-2.
They have been improving and consistently finding ways to win. Their game is not perfect, but on most nights, they’re getting the job done.
That doesn’t mean there’s a sense of comfort or feeling of accomplishment around the room, though.
“No, I think that’s the dangerous part,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “For us, it’s — again, I said it the other day — I think we’ve done OK so far, but there’s still lots of work to do.”
“There’s still areas we feel we have to improve and as coaches, until the season’s over, you should never stop trying to make your team better. If you don’t want your players satisfied, then you can’t be satisfied either, so I don’t think we’re sitting there happy with what we’ve done, more than we feel that we’re seeing improvement and I guess the potential to improve even more is there.”
WILMINGTON, MA — David Pastrnak has not been ruled out for the upcoming 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland.
The international tournament will take place from Dec. 26 — Jan. 5.
Pastrnak has missed 20 games over the course of nearly seven weeks in his recovery from a fracture in his left foot that he sustained blocking a shot.
He has been skating with the team since Monday, and although he won’t be traveling with the Bruins to Pittsburgh for their matchup with the Penguins on Friday night, he’s been progressing towards a return.
With the amount of time Pastrnak has spent out of the lineup, it will be important for him to get his conditioning up to speed — whether that comes from playing for the Czech Republic at World Juniors or possibly getting into AHL games in Providence.
BOSTON — Every year, the Bruins bring holiday cheer to hundreds of children around Boston by delivering toys, Bruins’ gifts and plenty of smiles.
Hall of Famer Ray Bourque started the Bruins Holiday Toy Shopping and Holiday Toy Delivery tradition when he was captain, and the event has continued on for decades.
For the sixth straight year, Patrice Bergeron spearheaded the effort. All of the toys were purchased through donations from the Bruins players, coaching staff and the Boston Bruins Foundation.
The entire roster went up and down the aisles shopping for toys in November, and then delivered them to six Boston hospitals on Dec. 15 after practice. The gifts will be given to more than 600 children who are unable to celebrate the holidays at home.
Split up into groups, the players visited Boston Children's Hospital, Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Franciscan Hospital for Children, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, and Shriners Hospital for Children & Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
BOSTON — The Bruins should have had two points on Monday night at TD Garden.
The way they controlled the game for most of the night — and put 49 shots on net — more than two goals should have made their way past the Edmonton netminder Cam Talbot.
The end result for the Black & Gold, though, was a 3-2 loss in overtime to give the Oilers their sixth straight win.
Brad Marchand’s night served as a microcosm of Boston’s night as a whole. He started the game with a prime scoring chance just 44 seconds into the first that Talbot held, and then he tied the game at 2-2 with 4:38 left in the regulation to force extra time when his ninth shot on goal finally went in.
But the Bruins couldn’t translate their domination — and determination — onto the scoresheet in the column that mattered the most.
“The bottom line is we fell into a 2-0 hole early on,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame. “They got a couple of good breaks there, and we had to fight our way back.”
“They had a good goaltender. I thought we played well enough to win the game, and, you know, unfortunately some of those nights don’t always go your way, so we come out with one [point] when we should have come out with two.”
Boston started the game outshooting the Oilers 7-1. An early power play put the visiting team further on their heels.