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Posted On Saturday, 02.07.2015 / 12:51 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Islanders at Bruins

BOSTON -- With a weekend road back-to-back scheduled against the Boston Bruins on Saturday and the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano has decided to give backup goaltender Chad Johnson a rare second start in a week when the Islanders face the Bruins at TD Garden (5 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, FX-CA).

Johnson made 15 saves in his last start, a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 31.

"I thought he played real well last time here," Capuano said, referring to a 3-2 Islanders win against the Bruins with Johnson in net Oct. 23. "And then obviously we've got back-to-back games. So there's no question that when we made our decision as a staff that played into it."

Johnson played for the Bruins last season before signing with the Islanders as an unrestricted free agent during the summer. He was comfortable back at TD Garden, with 30 saves on 32 shots to earn the win. Since that start he has allowed four or more goals in seven of 10 starts.

Posted On Saturday, 01.31.2015 / 1:09 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Kings at Bruins

BOSTON – Few players have more of a reason to be disappointed January is about to end than Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.

Bruins coach Claude Julien made the unusual move after the morning skate of confirming that Rask will start Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings at TD Garden. It would be hard to blame Julien for once again turning to Rask.

In January, Rask has a 6-1-3 record, .947 save percentage and 1.67 goals-against average. Rask had a rougher time in December with a .896 save percentage and 2.98 GAA.

"Yeah, I feel good out there. I've felt pretty good all year," Rask said. "Obviously now the luck has been on our side more a little bit now and I feel more confident now. But taking strides, that's good."

Posted On Thursday, 01.08.2015 / 1:01 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Devils at Bruins

BOSTON -- The New Jersey Devils have won two in a row for the first time since Nov. 11-14, but that hasn't stopped them from making a lineup change for their game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday at TD Garden.

Forward Martin Havlat, who's been out ill for five of the past seven games, will play and forward Steve Bernier will be a healthy scratch, Devils interim co-coach Lou Lamoriello said.

"Well, Havlat has been sick. He played well before he came out," Lamoriello said after the Devils' morning skate. "So the thought process was get him back in. [Bernier] played well. You can't play everybody right now. We're healthy up front."

Havlat projects to play left wing on a line centered by Dainius Zubrus and right wing Michael Ryder. The Devils are looking to get more out of Ryder, who has one goal in his past 24 games and five goals on the season. Havlat's addition to the line might provide more offense.

Posted On Wednesday, 12.31.2014 / 1:43 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Bruins

BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to tighten their defensive-zone play and they hope to get a boost from the return of goaltender Jonathan Bernier on Wednesday after allowing nine goals and 75 shots on goal in back-to-back road losses to the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this week.

Bernier is expected to start against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. He won eight of 12 starts before missing the past two games with a flu-like illness.

But the Maple Leafs have lost five of their past six games and will need more than just a change of goaltender to turn back the Bruins.

"I think the biggest thing is we've got to kill more time in their zone," Bernier said Monday. "I think the biggest thing is we've got to cycle the puck more in their zone instead of just going for the rush game. I think we've got to spend more time wearing their [defense] down. When we play well, that's what we do."

Posted On Monday, 12.29.2014 / 1:27 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Red Wings at Bruins

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forwards Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic will not play against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday at TD Garden, according to coach Claude Julien.

Julien would not elaborate on the nature of either player's injury but he classified each as day-to-day. Neither player practiced on Sunday. They were injured in a 6-2 road loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Bergeron, who scored in the first period Saturday but did not play the final 13:14 of the third, leads the Bruins with 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists). Lucic has six goals and 17 points.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 12:58 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Predators at Bruins

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins played the Nashville Predators to a draw for 65 minutes before losing 3-2 in a shootout one week ago.

So despite the Bruins recent struggles -- they're 2-2-2 in their past six games -- they can at least take the ice Tuesday against the Predators at TD Garden with confidence they can skate with the NHL's fourth-place team.

"I think no matter what the situation is, confidence or no confidence, we have to come out and start playing well for as close to 60 minutes as possible," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the morning skate. "As we keep mentioning day after day here, get some results from our scoring chances and from the end of the game ending up with wins. Like I mentioned with our chances, coming up with some goals and making those kind of things happen here. Again it's, when you get on a roll, everything seems to follow. Right now our job is to get on a bit of a roll here."

Posted On Sunday, 12.21.2014 / 1:56 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Bruins

BOSTON – Clearly the Boston Bruins need to improve their offense if they're going to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The Bruins, who  finished a 1-1-1 road trip, will start their game against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday at TD Garden one point behind the New York Rangers for the second wild-card spot.

"It's tough. It's very easy to get down on yourself," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. "As a group it's easy to fall back on that, but if you have the right mentality, that mentality is to keep shooting and try to find ways to score dirty goals, you're going to come out of that. It's only a matter of time before the guys in this room, we have the names to do it, and the skill and work ethic to get out of it. I think we will for sure."

The Bruins rank 22nd with 2.42 goals scored per game. They have scored two or fewer goals in nine of their past 12 games and have a 3-6-3 record in that span. The Bruins should've received an offensive boost from the returns of defenseman Zdeno Chara, who also plays a net-front role on the power play, and center David Krejci from injury. But there was no uptick in scoring during their past two games with their full lineup.

Posted On Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 4:19 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Louis not letting lack of size short his hockey dreams

BOSTON -- It’s impossible to avoid talking about size when referring to Miami forward Anthony Louis.

The 19-year-old Chicago Blackhawks 2013 sixth-round draft pick is listed at 5-foot-7, 160 pounds. He is the shortest and lightest player at the USA Hockey evaluation camp for the United States World Junior Team this week by at least two inches and 12 pounds, according to the camp roster. And we all know how generous those official rosters can be when it comes to the smaller guys.

After all these years, though, Louis doesn’t let discussion of his dimensions bother him.

“I mean it’s in one ear, out the other,” he said. “I just want to prove people wrong in that aspect.”

Posted On Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 3:48 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Milano right at home with his World Junior teamamtes

BOSTON -- Last summer forward Sonny Milano decided to sign with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League rather than attend Boston College.

During the USA Hockey evaluation camp to select the 2015 World Junior Championship Team this week, the 2014 Columbus Blue Jackets first-round draft pick has been united with five players that would have been his teammates this season with the Eagles, and a couple others that would’ve joined them in upcoming seasons.

So far the current and future Eagles haven’t expressed any hard feelings toward the Massapequa, N.Y., native.

“No, I mean, at first a little bit they were joking around,” Milano, 18, said Thursday after the third day of practice at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University. “But I mean obviously they’ve got to put that past them because right now we’re a team again. Maybe after they’ll give me the cold shoulder again, but not yet.”

Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 4:17 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

DeAngelo determined not to let nerves get best of him

BOSTON -- Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo has made a career out of foiling oncoming forecheckers and disappointing determined shot blockers.

The only thing that sometimes gets in the way of the defenseman achieving his goals is nerves. After the second day of the USA Hockey evaluation camp for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship on Wednesday, DeAngelo said anxiety cost him last year when he was cut from this camp in Minnesota.

The 19-year-old is more comfortable this time competing against nine other defensemen at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University for a spot on the 2015 team.

"I had to be [more comfortable]," said DeAngelo, who was drafted in the first round (No. 19) by the Tampa Bay Lightning last June. "Last year, kind of, I was a little too nervous and just trying to be too simple and not playing the game that they brought me in to play. So I changed it around a little bit this year."

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It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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