Sweeney concedes Bruins’ defense is a ‘work in progress’

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Despite calling his defense a “work in progress” — which is a nice way of saying it’s not all that great — Bruins GM Don Sweeney doesn’t intend to do anything rash as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches.

“I think you have to be of a mindset to grow it,” Sweeney told the Boston Herald. “That may seem counterintuitive to a player we traded in that light (Dougie Hamilton), though circumstances may have dictated otherwise.

“But I firmly believe we have players in the pipeline and we’re going to look to continue to improve that, be it through trade, be it through free agency, or whatever way.”

The Bruins did draft a defenseman with one of their three first-round picks in June; they got Jakub Zboril 13th overall. They also selected d-men Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon 37th and 52nd overall, respectively.

So, Sweeney’s not wrong. They do have some players in the pipeline.

Still, it’ll be a while before those guys are ready to make an impact, if they ever do make an impact. With that in mind, we wonder if the B’s might pursue a proven NHLer like Dustin Byfuglien. Perhaps not at the trade deadline, but in free agency if he’s still available July 1.

Byfuglien in a Bruins jersey.

Yeah, we could picture that.

Related: Jack Edwards says there’s ‘no alpha dog on the way’ for Bruins blue line

Flyers strike quickly in third period to defeat the Bruins

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From a one-goal lead to a one-goal deficit, it didn’t take the Boston Bruins long to suddenly find themselves on the losing end of the score Wednesday.

After a feisty start to this game, the Bruins, in a fight for a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, held a one-goal lead into the third period. Then, within the span of 1:22 midway through the third, they were trailing.

The Philadelphia Flyers, on third-period goals from Wayne Simmonds — exactly how did he score from that angle? — and Mark Streit, came back to earn a 3-2 victory on Rivalry Night.

The Flyers are now winners of four straight games.

And that battle for Wild Card positions is getting awfully crowded. There are seven teams — Tampa Bay, Boston, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Philadelphia, and Carolina — separated by only three points in that race for the final two playoff spots in the conference.

Bruins will be without Krejci, McQuaid for at least two more games

The Boston Bruins have just two wins in their last 10 games. They’re barely hanging on to the final wild-card spot in the East. And it gets worse.

Per CSN New England, injured regulars David Krejci and Adam McQuaid aren’t expected back for the final two games of the Bruins’ road trip (tonight in Philadelphia, Friday in Buffalo), and it may be longer than that.

“They’re still home,” said coach Claude Julien. “They’re not coming on this road trip so far, so that’s all I need to know at this point.

“Those guys…you hope they’re getting better, but in McQuaid’s case it was one of those hits from behind. Who knows what is going to happen with him?

“I’d suspect David is healing as predicted from week-to-week, and that he is getting better.”

On Dec. 21 — the day before the B’s entered this challenging stretch — Boston was one point back of first in the Atlantic and had a five-point playoff cushion.

Today, the standings look like this:

Standings

Related: Kevan Miller is not the problem for Bruins, but he does illustrate the problem

Kevan Miller is not the problem for Bruins, but he does illustrate the problem

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We’d link to some of the things Bruins fans were tweeting last night about Kevan Miller, but this is a family blog and we’d get in trouble.

To be sure, the 28-year-old had a tough time at MSG. He was on the ice for the Rangers’ winning goal, which came late in the third. Earlier in the period, he’d been on for the tying goal, too.

And so Bruins fans vented about Miller on social media, while CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty wrote the following:

Kevan Miller is a perfectly fine and rugged bottom-pairing defenseman that brings toughness, and can survive well enough against other team’s bottom two forward lines. But he has struggled all season when charged with stopping the other team’s best offensive players, and it has really started coming to a head over the last month.

Now, Haggerty’s point was not to pick on Miller. It was to show that this Bruins roster has some significant holes.

Because here’s the thing about Miller. His pro career has actually been a tremendous success, given his resume. Most undrafted college players don’t play 122 NHL games. They don’t play in the NHL at all.

Miller — a pending unrestricted free agent with a cap hit of just $800,000 — has logged the fourth-most minutes among Bruins defensemen this season. Only Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Adam McQuaid have played more. And McQuaid is hurt right now.

The reality is that this was always going to be a challenging season for a Bruins blue line that, in the last couple of years, has lost Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton in trades that didn’t return a single roster player.

It’s why Jack Edwards recently said the defense “is in a crisis right now as far as a mid- to long-term outlook. There’s no alpha dog on the way.”

In other words, Miller isn’t the problem. He only illustrates the problem. And that’s on GM Don Sweeney to fix.

OK, fine, one tweet:

Related: Sweeney explains Hamilton trade

Late goal by Jesper Fast gives Rangers 2-1 win over Bruins

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NEW YORK (AP) Jesper Fast scored on a deflection in front with 1:42 to play and the New York Rangers rallied to beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 on Monday night.

Derick Brassard also scored in the third period and Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves, including a highlight-reel stop on Max Talbot, as the Rangers beat the Bruins for only the fourth time in 12 meetings (4-8).

Jimmy Hayes scored for the Bruins, and Tuukka Rask had 28 saves. Boston is 2-6-1 in its last nine games.

It marked the first time this season the Rangers overcame a deficit at the start of the third period and won in regulation. They were 0-11-2 entering the game.

Lundqvist kept the game tied with a magnificent save on Talbot shortly after Brassard evened the score early in the third.

With the goalie out of position after a shot in front, the puck came to Talbot to the left of a wide-open net. Lundqvist slid back with his pad on the ice and then lifted his leg to make a pad save as Talbot elevated the puck.

Fast got the game-winner by deflecting a point shot from defenseman Keith Yandle.

The Rangers needed only 35 seconds to wipe out a 1-0 deficit entering the third period. The big move was made by coach Alain Vigneault, who put Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash back on the same line.

New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh worked the puck along the left boards and shoveled it to Zuccarello. He worked his way toward the net and flipped the puck to the crease past Rask and defenseman Torey Krug to a wide-open Brassard for his 15th goal.

Hayes, who was playing against his brother, Kevin, for the fifth time, gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 9:04 of the second period with a 40-shot snap shot to the corner of the net that simply beat a stunned Lundqvist.

The Bruins probably deserved a bigger lead. Ryan Spooner clanged a shot off the post on a first-period breakaway, and Bret Connolly rang another shot off the post late in the second period when Boston kept the puck in the Rangers end for almost the final 2 minutes.

Lundqvist, making his ninth consecutive start, became the first Rangers goalie to record 20,000 career saves.

NOTES: Rangers D Dan Girardi left with a lacerated hand in the second period and did not return. … With Chris Kreider returning to the lineup after missing two games with a cut hand, rookie Oscar Lindberg was a healthy scratch for the second time this season. … The game was Boston’s third on a five-game road trip, with the final two stops in Philadelphia and Buffalo. … The Rangers play their next three on the road against the Islanders, Flyers and Capitals. … Krug played in his 200th NHL game, while fellow Bruins D Adam McQuaid missed his third straight with an upper-body injury.

This story has been corrected to reflect that the Rangers are 4-8 in their last 12 games against the Bruins.