BOSTON - For the second time in three games, Brad Marchand was the overtime hero.
His arms stretched up and his smile drew wide, as his Black and Gold teammates left the bench and gathered around him in celebration of of a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Just two games prior, Marchand had lifted Boston to a 3-2 win in Buffalo, scoring the game tying goal and the overtime winner. The winger now has four goals and two assists in his past three games.
After the game, as he was announced as the game's First Star, he skated across the ice and sent an autographed stick up into the stands for a lucky fan. Skating back to the bench, he watched as his game-winner was replayed on the video board above center ice.
The replay showed Marchand flying into the Panthers' zone on a quick regroup, with a touch pass from Dougie Hamilton in the neutral zone.
Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson had started going off for a line change, and Marchand took his open ice over the blueline, blowing past the Florida line of defense, dangling around defenseman Dylan Olsen in the right circle, and roofing one over Robertu Luongo high blocker at 3:27 into the extra frame.
Even he was impressed by the effort, shaking his head and looking up to the fans with a smile.
"He had some great looks, I thought - all night - and we all stayed with it as a line and it was a great play by him on that overtime goal, and great finish," said Patrice Bergeron, who scored the game-tying goal to make it 1-1 in the second period.
BOSTON - Shawn Thornton is back in Boston, this time dressed in red.
With the Florida Panthers in town to take on the Spoked-B on Tuesday night, Thornton was back in the confines of TD Garden, settling into the visiting team room for the first time.
As Bruins have come and gone from the 2011 Cup squad, their impact has always been remembered. A few weeks ago, Johnny Boychuk made his return. Last season, the likes of Andrew Ference and Tim Thomas, among others, all made their first returns to the place they called home for so long.
Each former Bruin meets with Boston reporters, and flashes a smile about the excitement of being back in Boston, because he genuinely means it.
"I'm excited. It will probably settle in a little more tonight when I get here," Thornton said on Tuesday morning, as the Panthers went through their pregame routines at TD Garden. "It was a little weird walking in the other door, but it's good, it's good to be back."
Wearing his red Panthers' workout shirt and hat, Thornton agreed with Boychuk's obvious-but-still-worth-noting assessment of being back - it was "different."
"Yeah, there's no other way to explain it I guess, it is, it's just different," said Thornton, who spent seven seasons in Black and Gold. "It's part of the sport, you move on, you go to different places, but coming back here, after seven years and the success we had, it is, it's different being on this side."
BOSTON - David Krejci is not expected to suit up for the Bruins on Tuesday night, as they host the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.
"Yeah, he’s not going to play tonight," Head Coach Claude Julien confirmed following the team's pregame skate. "He’s going to be out tonight, but we don’t think it’s a real major issue. He should be back soon."
Krejci has been deemed "day-to-day." He missed Tuesday's morning skate, in addition to Monday's practice and Saturday's game against Ottawa. His situation is undisclosed.
It's no easy task to play Krejci's role, but the versatile Kelly helped the team not skip a beat in a 4-2 win over the Senators on Saturday, and Julien took notice.
"For a guy like him to just be told 10 minutes before the game, 'you’re playing in Krejci’s spot,' and going out there and playing the way he did -- he played hard, he was responsible, made some good plays, passes and that line was good -- I think, speaks volumes," Julien said.
"He was there last game, he’s been on the wing, he’s been a centerman before, he’s been bumped everywhere and still he responds with solid performances. Those guys are not easy to find."
BOSTON - Captain Zdeno Chara has missed four games to injury, and will miss his fifth on Tuesday night, as the Bruins host the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.
He suffered a tear in the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) of his left knee 12 days ago on October 23 when landing a hit on the New York Islanders' John Tavares.
Players are not usually made available to reporters during injury recovery, but Chara took the time to speak with reporters on Tuesday morning in the Bruins' locker room for the first time since his injury.
"I feel alright," Chara said, sporting a grizzled beard that he'd grown since the last time he spoke with media. He didn't admit to feeling any pain or soreness.
Wearing a brace on his left knee, he has to keep the leg immobile for a period of time. He's been able to do upper body workouts in the meantime.
"There is not a timeline right now. I wish I could tell you guys exactly when I'm going to return," said Chara. "But as this point, it's really such a slow process, that who knows when the day is going to be."
The conservative time frame General Manager Peter Chiarelli originally gave on October 24 was four to six weeks. The good news was that the tear was exclusive to the PCL, and no other ligaments were affected.
BostonBruins.com - In his eighth season, Head Coach Claude Julien has been at the helm of the Boston Bruins for 650 games.
Out of those games, 553 have come during the regular season, as he gets set to coach Game No. 554 on Tuesday night at TD Garden, and 97 have come in the postseason.
There should be plenty more nights behind the Spoked-B's bench moving forward.
On Sunday, General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced that Julien had been signed to a multi-year contract extension.
"I'm happy to be here," Julien said following his club's practice on Monday at TD Garden. "Because as far as I'm concerned, this is a great team here, we have an opportunity every year to at least be contenders for the Stanley Cup, and I feel just as hungry this time around as I was before we won the first one."
"So I'm excited to have an opportunity to have a team that can compete for that, and be part of it."
Since Julien was hired as the 27th coach in team history on June 21, 2007, the Bruins haven't missed the playoffs.
They are the only team to have advanced to at least second-round play in five of the past six postseasons. Their 53 postseason wins during that span are the second most among all NHL teams.
BOSTON - David Krejci was absent from practice when the Bruins hit the ice on Monday morning at TD Garden.
The center was a late scratch for Saturday night's game against Ottawa after taking part in the morning skate.
"Day to day, according to our trainers - that's what I'm getting from them," Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters following Monday's practice, on Krejci's status.
Saturday marked the fourth game Krejci has missed out of the Bruins' 13 games played heading into Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers. He was sidelined for the first three games of the season with an undisclosed injury.
There are no further details on Krejci's situation expected. "I said after last game, I'm not going to comment on his injury," Julien said, when he was pressed for more information.
BOSTON - For the past five games, when the Bruins hit the ice in the Spoked-B in front of an arena of fans, Matt Fraser has been back near the locker room pumping away on the stationary bike.
That's the nature of being the odd man out.
While the team sweats it out on the ice and the crowd's cheers filter down from the stands, you sweat it out on the bike during the first period, slide your suit back on and watch the final two periods of action from the press box.
Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden was trending that way for Fraser, until David Krejci was a late scratch after taking warmups.
"I thought he was going to play," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said of Krejci. "And he came in and [we] decided that, as a group, that he wasn’t well enough to go."
Cue Fraser getting into his first game in two weeks, having last suited up in 4-0 win in Buffalo in which he played 6:45 as the fourth line right wing.
WILMINGTON, Mass. - The Bruins were back on the ice Friday morning at Ristuccia Arena following their 3-2 overtime win in Buffalo on Thursday night.
David Krejci was absent from practice, but Head Coach Claude Julien said following the skate that he would be back in the fold on Saturday, when the Black and Gold host the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden.
In light of Halloween, Julien was actually asked if Krejci was a “ghost” on Friday. “Yes he is, but he won’t be a ghost tomorrow, if that’s what you want to know,” the bench boss quipped.
Without Krejci, Chris Kelly slotted in at center alongside Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith for practice and Matt Fraser filled in for Kelly with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Simon Gagne formed the fourth line.
Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith skated together as a line. The trio had been separated to start Thursday night’s game in Buffalo, but their reunion helped produce the overtime winner, with Smith setting up Marchand in the slot.
“Well they were together today in practice, so again, we started with certain lines together yesterday, we didn’t end with them, so we could start with those guys tomorrow but not end with them,” Julien said on Friday. “I think it’s, right now, with the situation we’re in, it’s almost like a daily thing and almost a game to game, period to period, kind of thing.”
BostonBruins.com - As the Bruins hit the ice in their Spoked-B practice jerseys on Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass., there were different faces in different color schemes.
With the team at 5-6-0 on the season and struggling with inconsistency, Head Coach Claude Julien decided to mix it up.
“You know what, guys? Every coach, every team does that, so obviously there’s some guys that aren’t quite playing at their level and they’re struggling to find their game; some are just line combinations,” Julien told reporters following practice, before the team traveled to Buffalo to face the Sabres on Thursday night.
“So, we make changes.”
Brad Marchand wore a gray jersey, with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Matt Fraser filled in for Marchand, when he left practice early after “tweaking something,” according to Julien, who hoped he would be in Thursday’s lineup.
“You switch up the lines to try and spark some energy, create some new chemistry,” said Smith. “So it’s to be expected. Me, March and Berg haven’t had the same chemistry we had last year, so you mix things up and hope that something new will create and we’ll see next game, how it works out.”
On Wednesday morning, General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced that Torey Krug will miss two to three weeks with a broken finger.
Krug sustained the injury in Tuesday night’s game against Minnesota on his final shift, after taking a slash.
For reinforcements, the Bruins called up David Warsofsky and Joe Morrow from Providence to travel with the team to Buffalo in advance of Thursday’s matchup with the Sabres. Zach Trotman also remains with the team.
“I mean, if we sat here in August and said this is what was going to happen to the D corps here, I think we would have all been shaking our heads,” Warsofsky said before flying to Buffalo with the team. “So it’s a little bit different, but for me, it’s an opportunity and that’s how I’m looking at it, just to take advantage of it.”
Once again, the Bruins will need to rely on their defensive structure, operating as one unit with support all over the ice. This won’t just fall on the defense.
“For us, with our system, it’s about not just about the defensmen, but really the whole aspect of all the guys on the ice and playing a good system,” Patrice Bergeron said following Wednesday’s practice. “And that’s what we need to have.”