Boston Bruins

Bruins have to ‘step up,’ starting tonight in Nashville

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The Boston Bruins have played 30 games and lost 13 of them outright.

In 2013-14, they only lost 19 games outright all season.

At their current pace, they’d lose 35 in 2014-15, their most since 2006-07, which was the last time they missed the playoffs.

So, you know…it’s probably time to pick it up a bit.

“We’ve got to step up.” said coach Claude Julien, per CSN New England. “That’s what you’ve got to do in that situation. That’s what all teams have to do in that situation. There’s no real mystery or surprise there. Nobody is going to do it for us. Nobody really cares whether we win or lose, except for ourselves. So it’s up to us to battle our way out of it.”

It won’t be easy. The B’s kick off a three-games-in-four-nights road trip tonight in Nashville, followed by stops in Minnesota tomorrow and Winnipeg Friday.

All three of those teams have better records than Boston.

“It’s not going to be easy at all,” said winger Milan Lucic. “We need to embrace this road trip, and look at it as a huge challenge. We have five games before the Christmas break, and where do we want to be as a team headed into that break? It starts [Tuesday] on this road trip with three teams that are in that playoff picture in the Western Conference.”

Chara says he needs to improve ‘every part’ of his game

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The Boston Bruins haven’t been able to win in the two games since Zdeno Chara returned from injury, and the big captain told CSNNE.com that he isn’t happy with his own play.

“The first guy, I’m looking at myself. I’ve got to be better and I have to work to be at the top of my game. When you’re not scoring, that means defensively you just have to be better to defend games like this,” Chara said. “Every part of my game [needs improvement]. There are no excuses. Like I said after my first game, I missed whatever time, but I have to work very hard to get where I want to be and I will get there.”

While the 37-year-old’s possession stats look fine from those two losses, he’s shown rust in certain areas, as CSNNE.com discusses:

Chara has had a few good moments where he looks like the prime defensive stopper that he is, but the four penalties over two games against Chicago and Ottawa clearly also reveal a player that’s behind the speed of the play right now. He’s cheating rather than moving his feet and anticipating the play, and that’s pretty indicative of a player that’s waiting for things to slow down around.

This week presents an interesting test for Chara and the Bruins, who’ve lost two in a row and seven of their last nine games. They face three road games: Tuesday at Nashville, Wednesday at Minnesota and Friday at Winnipeg.

If that run goes poorly, it might be time to get a little concerned.

PHT Morning Skate: Ugly Christmas sweaters and Ovechkin’s heart of gold

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Plenty of NHL players do great work for charities and other organizations, but Alex Ovechkin has really made waves in particular with some heartwarming stuff lately. His latest act of kindness falls in line with some great actions from the Washington Capitals star. (CSNWashington.com)

So, uh, this is odd.

Speaking of odd, will Christmas sweaters/holiday celebrations essentially furnish us with Halloween-level goofy photos of hockey players? This photo of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Jason Demers makes a strong argument in that regard:

So much to take in.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $15,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $1,400. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The evolution of Zdeno Chara’s scariness. (The Hockey News)

The Colorado Avalanche understand why Paul Stastny left. (The Denver Post)

Toews feels great despite big hit; Crawford’s getting better, too

However Jonathan Toews might feel about the Dennis Seidenberg hit itself, it sounds like that big check won’t sidetrack the versatile Chicago Blackhawks captain.

He told CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers that he’s good to go against the New York Islanders and doesn’t have any regrets about the way the situation was handled.

“Even though everything went well and I felt fine, they still wanted to play it safe and hold me out, given the situation where we were up 3 goals at the time,” Toews said, who added that, if he had it to do over again, he would “absolutely” still stay on the ice for that 5-on-3 power play.

In case you missed it, here’s the check by the Boston Bruins defenseman:

Toews can play against the New York Islanders tonight, and while the same can’t be said for Corey Crawford, it sounds like he can return as soon as next week.

Considering the fact that the Blackhawks are currently on an eight-game winning streak and Scott Darling has emerged as a viable backup candidate, it’s no surprise that head coach Joel Quenneville is quick to mention that he doesn’t want to rush Crawford back into action.

Ryan’s shootout winner helps Sens top Bruins

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The Ottawa Senators battled back from two one-goal deficits to top the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a shootout Saturday afternoon.

Bobby Ryan, who had a highlight-reel goal against the L.A. Kings on Thursday, had another beauty for the shootout winner.

Ottawa has now won two of three while Boston has lost two in a row and five of six.

Craig Cunningham opened the scoring for the Bruins, shorthanded, with his first career NHL goal.

After Mika Zibanejad tied it at 1-1 early in the second, Loui Eriksson gave Boston a 2-1 lead.

David Legwand knotted it at 2-2 early in the third, with a power play marker, setting up overtime.

The Boston Bruins got a scare late in the third period as Patrice Bergeron took a slash from Mike Hoffman in the hand and and left the game momentarily, but he returned for overtime.

Sens veteran defenseman Chris Phillips was a healthy scratch.

Robin Lehner made 29 saves to improve to 6-4-1 on the season while Tuukka Rask stopped 29 shots in the loss.