After strong World Junior showing, Pastrnak rejoins Bruins

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The Bruins are hoping David Pastrnak’s impressive play at the World Junior level will translate to the big league.

On Tuesday, the B’s recalled Pastrnak from AHL Providence, on the heels of his impressive performance for the Czechs at the recently-completed WJC tourney in Toronto and Montreal. Pastrnak, Boston’s first-round pick (25th overall) at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, led his Czech team in scoring — seven points in six games — and finished tied with Canada’s Sam Reinhart for third in the tournament in assists, with six.

This will mark the 18-year-old’s second stint with the B’s this year. Earlier, Pastrnak appeared in five games and fared well, notching an assist and 14 shots on goal while averaging over 14 minutes a night.

The Bruins wouldn’t really trade Lucic… would they?

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Some interesting stuff from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman this morning, courtesy Nichols on Hockey:

“The only thing I’ve heard about Lucic I think there’s at least one team, I believe, that’s asked about him and I don’t think there was a deal to be made there.

“Lucic, I mean if you trade him. Here’s the thing with Boston. I think the question with Lucic is he’s not a $6 million player right now, but he can be one. He is a guy who emotionally controls a team. When Boston was at its best, Lucic was very much their emotional core. He can play a major role. I think the question is – there’s two questions. No. 1, is something wrong with his body that it’s finally breaking down because of the role he’s played? No. 2, are they trying to get him to play whistle-to-whistle and he’s simply lost his effectiveness.

“I think one of the biggest questions being asked in Boston as an organization right now is, ‘What has happened here?’ and, ‘How long-term is this? What does it mean?’ I think the Bruins are being asked about him. I think there’s a lot of hard, internal questions being asked about, ‘Do we do it, or do we think that there’s still a lot left to give because if we do trade him, we change the makeup of our team in a major way.’ “

This, of course, coincides with one of the worst slumps of Lucic’s career — six goals in 39 games, one in his last 15 — and head coach Claude Julien recently calling out the burly power forward.

“His whole game, I think,” was Julien’s reply when asked what Lucic needs to improve, per the Boston Globe. “We’d like to see him do a lot more than what he’s done. He’s a heavy player and everybody talks about him hitting — yeah, that’s one part of his game — but he’s also a guy that with his size and strength he can go to the net hard.

“He can get his nose dirty in those areas and maybe that increases his goal production and stuff like that.”

You can tell B’s are choked about this season slipping away. They started the year 13-8-0 and have gone 6-7-6 since, and guys are venting. Tuukka Rask used the word “embarrassing” to describe Sunday’s loss to Carolina and, following Saturday’s OT loss to Ottawa, Julien said Lucic — who recorded just a single shot on goal — has “got to be capable, of, again, more than one measly shot.”

In terms of contractual mobility, Lucic’s an interesting case. He’s still only 26 and has just one year remaining on a deal that pays $6M annually. But he also has a modified no-movement clause and, with free agency looming at the end of 2015-16, could be in line for another payday… assuming this current slump is something he can break out of, and not the beginning of a downward slide.

Per the Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, the extension Nick Foligno recently inked with Columbus — a six-year, $33 million deal — could factor into Lucic’s next contract. There’s still plenty that could happen to change that, but it’s definitely something teams thinking about acquiring Lucic would take into consideration.

The bigger issue, though, is what Friedman stated above — would Boston be willing to dramatically alter its persona during the course of the season? Outside of captain Zdeno Chara, there’s no player that embodies the Bruins quite like Lucic, and it’s tough to predict how profound an effect his departure would have on the club.

The flip side, of course, is that many a NHL team’s been burned by focusing on what a player’s done in the past — rather than what he’ll do in the future.

Rask wonders if Bruins could use a few pregame beers

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Hockey players have their pregame rituals. Some, like Nicklas Lidstrom in his playing days, eat the same boring meal. You don’t hear about players enjoying a couple cold ones before a contest, though … at least not publicly.

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask almost seems out of ideas after his team fell flat against the Carolina Hurricanes in a 2-1 shootout loss on Sunday, so he pitched an outside-the-keg idea to CSNNE.com.

“Yeah, maybe mix in a couple of beers before the games. That would make us relax. That might be the final option,” Rask said. “We don’t see a play and don’t make it, then we try to force a play and it’s a turnover where we spend a minute in our own end. That’s how it is. It’s mental…it’s mental. It’s not like the skill is gone.”

The 27-year-old was joking for comic effect (one would assume), but maybe there’s a kernel of truth in the Bruins over-thinking things.

Whatever the explanation was, Rask was confounded by the fact that the Bruins went 17 minutes without a shot on goal.

The Bruins have now lost three straight games, all after regulation. While that means Boston is at least squeezing out standings points, it’s understandable that Rask & Co. are frustrated.

Maybe they need to take a break (and possibly crack open a brew or two)? The Bruins don’t play again until Wednesday, so maybe this is the breather an anxious bunch needs.

Bruins come out flat, lose to Canes in shootout

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For the third game in a row, the Boston Bruins have lost in extra time as the Carolina Hurricanes earned a 2-1 shootout win this afternoon. While the margin might have been razor thin, it’s hard for the Bruins to be satisfied with what happened.

“I feel like I’ve spent a little too much time talking about things, and defending myself on things. Enough with the talking, and it’s time to start playing the way I know I can,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic told CSN New England before the start of the contest. Then Boston proceeded to have one of its worst starts in recent memory.

The Bruins didn’t even register a shot on goal until 16:55 minutes into the game and were outshot 14-4 in the first period. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask kept them in the game though and Patrice Bergeron found the back of the net in a comparatively better second period.

The Bruins only managed two shots on goal in the third though and couldn’t figure out their former teammate, goaltender Anton Khudobin, in the shootout. Carolina’s Eric Staal was the only player to score in the skills competition.

With three straight overtime/shootout losses, Boston is now 19-15-6 this season. That puts them one point shy of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the second Wild Card spot. For the Hurricanes, this is their first two-game winning streak since they earned four consecutive victories from Nov. 1-7.

Julien doesn’t think Bruins are getting ‘benefit of the doubt’ from officials

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Here’s what we know: the Boston Bruins have received easily the least amount of power-play opportunities so far with 88, 14 less than the Montreal Canadiens’ 102 (and the Habs have a game in hand).

It’s not as if the Bruins are not going to the penalty box themselves, either, as their 117 times shorthanded ranks higher than nine other teams.

Overall, that’s 29 more times killing power plays than receiving one, which isn’t the greatest trend in just 38 games of action.

What we don’t know is why this is happening.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien seemed pretty frustrated with the issue, for one, as he told CSNNE.com on Thursday.

“Welcome to, again, the same questions every game. I think it was a trip [on Marchand], I think it was pretty obvious to everybody,” Julien said. “It’s getting frustrating to say the least. You see a lot of things out there, or even the hook. I gotta look at it again – on Lucic trying to go to the net there in the second period. We’re not getting the benefit of the doubt, that’s for sure.”

Is it a matter of style of play or reputation? That’s unclear, but this disparity doesn’t seem that out of order. The Bruins received the fewest power-play opportunities in 2013-14 (230, nine fewer than the Nashville Predators) and 2012-13 (122, 13 fewer than the Anaheim Ducks), as well.

Those stats were lower on the radar when Boston was in the upper ranks for the East, but with the margin for error being much smaller this season, it’s a more prevalent concern.

It’s tough to say what, exactly, the Bruins can do about this. Sometimes merely “lobbying” officials makes a difference, though.