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Bruins could sure use Patrice Bergeron right now

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The Boston Bruins are off to a 2-3-0 start this season, which probably isn’t ideal considering they had two games against Colorado (they were the worst team in the NHL last season), a game against Arizona (they aren’t very good) and another one against Vegas (they’re an expansion team).

Yes, the Avalanche are improved and the Golden Knights have been better than anyone anticipated, but the Bruins were a playoff team last season. They’ve got to better.

There’s no doubt that they miss center Patrice Bergeron, who’s been out for every game of the 2017-18 season so far with a lower-body injury.

Although the team hasn’t confirmed a return date for Bergeron, it sounds like Thursday’s game against Vancouver hasn’t been ruled out yet, per head coach Bruce Cassidy.

The Bruins will play just two games over the next 10 days, so that could be a way for them to ease him back into the lineup.

Heading into last night’s game against the Golden Knights, Riley Nash was centering the top line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Clearly, if Bergeron was healthy, he’d be in that role.

Boston’s top three centers (Nash, David Krejci and Ryan Spooner) have failed to score a goal during Bergeron’s absence.

“Right now, it’s ‘Listen, he’s not in, next man up,’ ” said Cassidy, per the Boston Herald. “I know it sounds simple. But we’ve got other guys in that locker room that have to get hungry and respond to the challenge of ‘Hey, I’m getting the chance to play key minutes.’”

They’ll have a good opportunity to bounce back from their mediocre start, as they’ll begin a four-game home stand starting Thursday night. They’ll host Vancouver, Buffalo, San Jose and Los Angeles over the next two weeks.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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Subban records first career NHL win — against his old team, the Bruins

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Talk about (another) milestone night for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Alex Tuch scored his first career NHL goal.

Vadim Shipachyov, making his highly anticipated debut for Vegas, also scored his first career NHL goal, which eventually turned into the winner against the Boston Bruins. (You can read about it here.)

— And finally, Malcolm Subban, the former Bruins goalie prospect, recorded his first career NHL victory, which was nearly a shutout until Boston spoiled that with a late goal from David Pastrnak.

It wasn’t the busiest night for Subban, as Vegas captured a 3-1 victory.

The Bruins played the previous night, didn’t have Patrice Bergeron in their lineup, and only tested the 23-year-old goalie with 22 shots on net. It was, for Subban, a tidy outing but did include a sharp pad save on a chance in close from noted goal scorer Brad Marchand. That kept the game scoreless, allowing for Vegas to take the lead later on.

On a more personal level for Subban, this win comes against the team that brought him into professional hockey. The Bruins selected him with the 24th overall pick in 2012. Since then, Subban had spent the majority of his pro career in the American Hockey League developing his game, while making two appearances for Boston.

He entered Bruins training camp in a battle for the back-up job behind Tuukka Rask, but that role ultimately went back to Anton Khudobin. That led Boston to put Subban on waivers and he was picked up by the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights are now 4-1 on the season, but their roster has undergone notable changes this weekend. Tuch and Shipachyov were recalled from the AHL and starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was placed on injured reserve, giving Subban the opportunity to start against his former team.

Now, what will this mean for the Golden Knights going forward?

Maxime Lagace was on the bench tonight as the back-up, and Fleury is out for at least the next seven days. Vegas has two games this upcoming week, with three days in between those games, which are both at home. It would seem there is an opportunity for Subban to get into a rhythm with a stretch of games. For him, that would be another first at the NHL level.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Malcolm Subban expected to make Golden Knights debut — against the Bruins

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Just two weeks after being placed on waivers by the Boston Bruins, Malcolm Subban is expected to face his old team when they visit the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday.

The Golden Knights’ roster has seen significant changes since Friday’s loss to Detroit, with starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury going on injured reserve.

Training camp started with a competition for the back-up goalie position in Boston, with Subban and Anton Khudobin going for the job behind starter Tuukka Rask.

In the end, Khudobin was successful in keeping the job and the Bruins, who knew there was a risk of losing Subban, placed their 2012 first-round pick on waivers.

Subban, who has appeared in only two NHL games during his time with the Bruins, was then picked up by the Golden Knights.

“I think Malcolm has taken a step, and I’m not surprised in the situation. Vegas is doing what they’re trying to build… It’s disappointing,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, per WEEI. “We’ve had a lot of time invested in Malcolm, and we are seeing him grow as a person on and off the ice. It’s a loss for our hockey club. The system is in place for a reason.”

Subban is still searching for his first career NHL win. It would make quite a story if he achieved it against the team that drafted him.

For the Bruins, it’s been an up-and-down week. They dropped a pair of games to the Colorado Avalanche and were outscored badly (10-3) in the process, before going into Arizona and embarrassing the Coyotes on Saturday.

The Golden Knights started with three straight wins, but a bad third period against Detroit resulted in their first loss of their expansion season. Their lineup is expected to feature a few different pieces on Sunday.

Vadim Shipachyov, who boasted terrific numbers in the KHL throughout his career there and was officially recalled from AHL Chicago on Saturday after a few days of controversy amid reports he wanted to go back to Russia, is also expected to make his highly anticipated Golden Knights debut versus the Bruins.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Coyotes coach was embarrassed by loss to Bruins; More trouble looms ahead

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Following a 6-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet apologized to fans for an “embarrassing” second period. That was the time that game got away from them, as a 1-1 tie swung to a 4-1 advantage for Boston.

Really, though, it wouldn’t be surprising if Tocchet was actually apologizing for the growing pains that come with an 0-4-1 start for a team that enjoyed what seemed like an excellent summer of moves.

Here’s the full presser, via the Coyotes:

Seeing Zdeno Chara come in all alone to put in a rebound probably didn’t make Tocchet very happy:

AZ Sports’ Craig Morgan caught up with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who explained what happened on the next goal, which came on a Brad Marchand breakaway.

“I was just trying to get the puck and that’s just the way it goes,” said Ekman-Larsson, who is a team-worst minus-9. “We’re down 3-1 so you kind of look for some good breaks and it goes that way instead. I was cheating a little bit. You have to give the guy credit. He knew I was going to do that.”

Morgan’s detail stands out; as reviled as plus/minus can be as a stat, and as potent as “OEL” can be on the power play, a -9 does indeed make you cringe.

As important as it is to point out that Louis Domingue, not newly acquired Antti Raanta, has been in the net for much of the Coyotes’ struggles, there are plenty of goals that come down to flat-out awful defense. To some extent, that might be systemic, as Tocchet & Co. will need to accept the good and the bad that comes with utilizing scoring defensemen to attack opponents. Much like with the struggling Buffalo Sabres, it may also take some time for a new coach to sort things out with a lot of young players.

On the bright side, there are some early returns for young players who could play a role in turning this around … eventually. Calder candidate Clayton Keller leads the Coyotes with three goals and ties Max Domi for the team lead with four points in five games.

Here’s the bad news: their schedule only gets tougher to close out October.

Tue, Oct 17 @ Dallas
Thu, Oct 19 vs Dallas
Sat, Oct 21 vs Chicago
Tue, Oct 24 @ NY Islanders
Thu, Oct 26 @ NY Rangers
Sat, Oct 28 @ New Jersey
Mon, Oct 30 @ Philadelphia
Tue, Oct 31 @ Detroit

With the Blackhawks continuing to find ways to win and the Stars possibly getting back on track, the next three games stand as a serious challenge. After that, a five-game road trip could really test the mettle of a group that’s already likely dealing with shaken confidence.

Consider that the Coyotes have lost two: the Vegas Golden Knights twice, a banged-up Ducks team, a fast-starting but still doubted Red Wings group, and an up-and-down Bruins team.

There’s the scary possibility that the Coyotes may still see a zero at the beginning of their record come November.

Also scary: that November schedule, which includes a stretch with seven of eight road games from Nov. 6-20.

Yikes.

Then again, sometimes teams bond during tough stretches. Just about every NHL team needs to navigate big bumps in the road during a season, so the Coyotes can only explain things away so much before such reasons merely sound like excuses.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Golden Knights recall Vadim Shipachyov, who could make NHL debut vs. Bruins

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The Vegas Golden Knights have recalled forward Vadim Shipachyov from the American Hockey League, according to multiple reports.

According to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, the Golden Knights placed Erik Haula on the injured list in a corresponding move, opening up a roster spot for the 30-year-old Shipachyov, who is on a two-year, $9 million deal with Vegas after lighting it up in the KHL for the past few years.

The talented Russian forward wasn’t on the Golden Knights opening night roster and has missed the first four games of their season, which raised controversy when reports surfaced that Shipachyov and his agent were looking to find a way to get back to the KHL.

General manager George McPhee denied the report, saying Shipachyov wouldn’t report to Chicago.

“This is a roster move and it’s not about performance,” McPhee told NHL.com earlier this week.

The Golden Knights have enjoyed a 3-1 start to their first season in the league, with James Neal continuing his hot streak with another goal, his sixth of the season, on Friday in what turned into a 6-3 Vegas loss to Detroit. The Red Wings entered the third period down a goal, but scored four unanswered for the win.

With a roster assembled through the expansion draft, the Golden Knights are expected to struggle at times offensively this season. The organization’s plan is geared more towards the long term, but in the case of their 2017-18 season, there is going to be a fair amount of intrigue to see what Shipachyov — who scored 26 goals and 76 points in the KHL last season — can do once he gets into the lineup and acclimatized to the NHL level.

In the midst of a seven-game home stand, the Golden Knights host the Boston Bruins on Sunday. Per Steve Carp of the Vegas Review Journal, Shipachyov is expected to make his debut tomorrow.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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