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Bruins beat Canes, bump Marchand to fourth line

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The Boston Bruins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in Cam Ward’s return to action on Monday, taking it 4-1.

This snaps a three-game road skid for the Bruins, which was about the only way they haven’t been climbing lately; they’ve now won five of their last six games.

Boston’s lesser known forwards played well tonight, with Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith pitching in a goal and an assist apiece. Smith, 23, is quietly making the Tyler Seguin trade look a little more even for Boston with a solid 13 points in 20 contests.

Speaking of Seguin, his former running mate continues to face ups and downs. Brad Marchand was demoted to the fourth line for Jordan Caron, with CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty arguing that it was more about Marchand’s struggles than Caron’s successes.

Ward wasn’t able to get the win for Carolina, but the Hurricanes are likely just glad to see the 29-year-old come back. He stopped 26 out of 29 shots.

One other promising sign for the ‘Canes: Tuomo Ruutu scored his first goal of 2013-14. If he can approach the form he showed in healthier days, Carolina might have a better chance of rising above its mediocre status (8-9-4).

Bruins dress Caron, scratch Thornton on Monday

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The Boston Bruins tweaked their lineup for Monday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, substituting Jordan Caron for Shawn Thornton.

It was a performance instead of injury-related move, as Thornton (pictured) is a healthy scratch tonight.

Neither forward has put up big numbers this year. Thornton, 36, has two goals in 19 games while Caron, 23, has one tally in nine contests.

This is a minor tweak, but some believe that Thornton is one of the league’s better fourth-line players, for whatever that’s worth.

Video: Lucic’s overtime breakaway locks up Bruins’ fourth straight win

Milan Lucic
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The Boston Bruins won their fourth game in a row by taking out the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in overtime.

They were able to do it thanks to a breakaway goal by Milan Lucic beating Sergei Bobrovsky in the closing seconds of the extra session.

For Lucic, the goal was his team-leading eighth of the year. Keep in mind he had only seven goals all last year.

Those numbers are also important for the Blue Jackets as they’ve lost seven of their last eight games. Incredibly, if the Jackets beat the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night, they’ll be just two points back of third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Sure is nice to be in the Eastern Conference, isn’t it?

Bruins’ Rask: Shootouts are ‘not that cool’

Dallas Stars v Boston Bruins
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Talk out of the general manager’s meetings about the prospect of some day extending the overtime has once again ignited players’ opinions on the shootout.

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was one player to speak out against the skills competition. And there are others in his corner throughout the National Hockey League.

Over the years, Rask has actually accrued a 13-10 record in the shootout as a member of the Bruins. But he’s not a fan, well, not when he’s involved in them, anyway.

“I wouldn’t mind [getting rid of the shootout.] It doesn’t have anything to do with the game you just played. It’s just so dramatic when you lose,” Rask told CSNNE.com.

“As a goalie it’s tough to accept that it’s not all your fault if you lose. I don’t know. As a viewer I’m a fan of the shootout, but when you’re in it, it’s not that cool, especially when you’re on the losing end.

“A five- or 10-minute overtime? I’d be OK with that. But going to 3-on-3 [in overtime]…that sounds a little crazy to me.”

On Tuesday, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland expressed an interest from other GMs about possibly extending overtime as a way to reduce the number of games decided by the shootout.

“You can’t have too long of an overtime. I don’t know, 10 minutes maximum you can play in overtime,” Canucks’ forward Daniel Sedin said Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing three-on-three out there. It’s exciting. It’s tough losing in a shootout. I don’t know. Maybe it’s tough losing in overtime, too. But I hadn’t really liked the shootout. I know it’s fun for the crowd but I think three-on-three would be pretty fun, too.”

Leafs coach liked what he saw in the second period against the Bruins

Randy Carlyle

There seems to be a contingent of Maple Leafs fans that get its hackles up whenever the fact is raised that Toronto gets outshot in almost every single game it plays.

This is understandable, given the Leafs are 11-6-0 and tied for second in the Eastern Conference. Hockey games are won by scoring the most goals, not by getting the most shots.

But shot totals are often a reflection of how much a team has the puck. After all, you can’t shoot the puck unless you possess it first.

Also, puck possession is something that Leafs coach Randy Carlyle has said he wants more of. So if it’s important to the coach, it’s probably worth mentioning.

Specifically, Carlyle would love his team to have the kind of possession it enjoyed during the second period of Saturday’s game in Boston when the Leafs outshot the Bruins, 18-10, and outscored them, 1-0.

“I think every coach would like their team to play that way,” Carlyle said, per the Globe and Mail. “That’s more the type of hockey that we’re going to ask the hockey club to play. A little bit more of a cycle game, a little bit more of a puck-possession game, you know, instead of the up and down, trading chances.”

Writes the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle:

The analysis of the Leafs’ shots-on-goal problems has been beaten to death over the past 10 months, but the real issue in the long term is one of zone time, not simply putting meaningless rubber on goal.

By any measure, Toronto spends a disproportionate amount of time in its own end, with new statistics estimating their offensive versus defensive zone time at 41.4 per cent, the second-worst rating in the league.

At the end of the day, there’s no right way to win hockey games. The Leafs have overcome their lack of puck possession with great goaltending, good special teams, and a high shooting percentage. For the team’s fans, it must be frustrating for critics to keep saying the collapse is coming. But it’s not personal; it’s mostly just an interesting narrative, particularly for those who are interested in hockey’s so-called advanced statistics.

By the way, Toronto is in Minnesota on Wednesday to play a Wild team whose possession stats have improved dramatically this season.

The Leafs have lost two of their last three, including Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to the B’s.