Kelly will joke that he can’t stand playing with the pair of Europeans, when in actuality the three work quite well together.
Soderberg and Kelly are tied for the team lead with five points each. Soderberg has two goals and three assists, while Kelly has one goal and four assists. Eriksson has two goals and two assists for four points.
“We’ve been playing well and controlling the puck well in the offensive zone,” Kelly said. “Obviously, I would like the puck to go in the net a little bit more, but at the end of the night the chances are there and you’ve got to take the positives.”
Once Jarome Iginla signed as a free agent with the Colorado Avalanche on July 1, the Bruins had a vacancy on their top line. Numerous times during the offseason, general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien said they could envision Eriksson on the right side, with David Krejci in the middle and Milan Lucic on the left.
Even when Krejci returned to the lineup after missing the first three games, Julien decided to keep his third line intact.
“It’s been important and that’s why we put them back together,” Julien said. “When David was injured, and we felt that we didn’t have all the players in place, we put the ones that we thought had some good chemistry in the past together. That was [Patrice Bergeron’s] line and Carl’s line. Because of that they helped us weather the storm a little bit, so it’s been hard to break them. The other lines are starting to come around too, so we’ve got to keep plugging away in the early season.”
Julien attempts to keep his lineup as consistent as possible. It’s a long season and situations occur that will force the coach to make some changes.
“The chemistry’s there and we work well with one another. We’re reading off each other better and better every game,” Kelly said. “But things change. It’s 82 games and obviously Claude’s going to do what he feels is best for the team, not just three individuals.”
When Soderberg first arrived in Boston in 2013, his game was not even close to being ready for the NHL. He had enjoyed success in the Swedish Elite League, but it took him a while to get his game to translate to the North American style. He started to make progress last season and it was evident how comfortable he was playing with Eriksson and Kelly.
“I enjoy playing with those guys and I think I’ve played pretty good,” Soderberg said. “I want to keep that going and score some more goals too.”
Kelly is the perfect conduit for the Swedish players. He’s a leader on and off the ice, and when he’s healthy and productive, he’s a consistent player.
“He brings a lot,” Soderberg said. “He’s strong with the puck and really good on the forecheck. He makes some good plays and he means a lot to us and he makes the line complete.”
That line’s success was on display during Saturday’s 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Boston already had a 3-0 lead in the second period, when Kelly’s strong forecheck forced a turnover behind the Buffalo net. Eriksson was positioned perfectly to retrieve the puck before quickly passing it to Soderberg, who scored on a nifty backhand.
“You can see Carl from when he’s come over till the end of last year and this year and how much he’s improved, just knowing the North American game and how well he’s reading and understanding the play,” Kelly said.
Another aspect to the line’s ability to succeed is the fact that both Kelly and Soderberg can play center. Kelly is a little more versatile on the wing, and Soderberg prefers center.
“It’s really important,” Kelly said. “It’s fairly easy for a centerman to go to wing, as opposed to having a winger go to center. Carl and I communicate well. We both can take faceoffs, and both can play in our own end and know the center position well.”
Griffith played three games for the Bruins this season, while Spooner has played five.
Since veteran forward Simon Gagne has progressed to a point where he’s playing on the top line, and Gregory Campbell returned to the lineup on Thursday, Griffith and Spooner have been healthy scratches.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- After the Boston Bruins struggled at the start of the 2014-2015 season with a 1-3-0 record in their first four games, coach Claude Julien felt the team's first multi-city road trip could help turns things around.
Sure enough, it did.
The Bruins concluded this three-game road trip with a 2-1-0 record by shutting out the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday at First Niagara Center. Boston also beat the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday before they lost to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
On Saturday, the Bruins played with more intensity and produced a solid defensive game, which had been missing to start the season. The Bruins return home feeling good about their play and will host the San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders this week at TD Garden.
"When you come off a road trip, you want to come off with a winning record," Julien said. "If we do that every road trip, we're going to be OK. You've got to start somewhere; we know we've struggled out of the gate, but you feel like it's starting to come around. You can see it even in the body language of the players. They're starting to have more fun, and when you have more fun, you seem to have better legs, and we seem to move the puck better, so you've just got to hope that it continues. I like the way we've played the last three games, and if you take away those defensive mistakes in Montreal, it was a good road trip."
The past three seasons, the Bruins have had three different backup goalies, including Anton Khudobin, Chad Johnson and now Niklas Svedberg. Khudobin (14-9-4) and Johnson (17-4-3) both were solid.
Svedberg's off to a decent start, too.
The 25-year-old netminder recorded his first NHL shutout with a 32-save performance in Boston's 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday at First Niagara Center.
"It's a great feeling," Svedberg said. "Most of all, to get the win for us was huge today, and of course, I'm happy with the shutout, too."
It was only his second start (third game) this season, and it was also his first win.
"He's been good," Julien said. "He came in [against Montreal on Friday] cold and had to make some saves. I'm pretty happy with the way he's handled himself. In that first game that he lost, he was really good as well. It was tough to give up that goal with half a second left, and we know it wasn't his fault, so been pretty happy. We've been fortunate that we've got a good goaltender in Tuukka, and everybody that seems to come in continues to do the job, so that's great."
When the final buzzer sounded, Svedberg was mobbed by his teammates.
"He's working really hard," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "He's making great steps forward, and everybody was really happy for him. He deserved the shutout. If you look back, he made some really big saves in the game. Buffalo had some chances and actually could have made it a tighter game than it was, but he made some really big saves for us."
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night at First Niagara Center, the Boston Bruins finished with a 2-1-0 record on this three-game road trip.
Since the Bruins' struggles to score to start the season, coach Claude Julien has preached the need to get more traffic in front and more pucks to the net, and the Bruins have been working on getting it done in practice. On Saturday, three of Boston's four goals came from the point, with the Bruins creating limited visibility for Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth.
The Bruins received goals from Dougie Hamilton, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Carl Soderberg, while goaltender Niklas Svedberg finished with 32 saves.
Hamilton gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 9:56 of the first period. Bergeron won a puck battle in the corner and fed the puck back to the right point. Hamilton's shot found its way through traffic and beat Enroth.
Chara netted his goal at 13:31 of the first period. Teammate Brad Marchand teed up the puck with a drop pass, and Chara had plenty of time to step into a cannon of a shot that beat Enroth to give Boston a 2-0 lead.
The Bruins added to their lead in the second period when top-line center David Krejci won a faceoff in the offensive zone back to Krug, who pulled the puck off the boards and unleashed a wrister that found its way through traffic to beat Enroth and give Boston a 3-0 lead at 11:40.
Boston added to its lead when Soderberg scored at 14:48 of the second period. Linemate Chris Kelly was strong on the forecheck and allowed Loui Eriksson to gain control behind the net and quickly move the puck to Soderberg in the slot. He showed patience and beat a sprawling Enroth with a backhander to the top corner.
ZERO: In only his second start of the season (third game), Svedberg was sharp and recorded his first NHL career shutout with a 32-save performance. He nearly scored on himself early in the third period, when he played the puck and attempted to pass it behind his net but instead sent it off the side of it.
DROP 'EM: The Bruins' Kevan Miller dropped the gloves with the Sabres' Nicolas Deslauriers at 7:55 of the first period. Both landed a few good punches. At the end of the fight, the two landed hard on the ice, and Miller needed to go to the room and did not return for the remainder of the game. Due to the injury, the Bruins were forced to play the rest of the game with five defensemen. After the game, Julien didn't provide any specifics concerning Miller.
"I don't know. I haven't even talked to the trainers," Julien said. "Obviously, you're going to hear the upper-body injury and it happened during the fight, so I think when he fell he hurt himself and he came off with pain. I don't know exactly what the injury is, so I'm going to refrain from saying anything and we'll see how everything boils out in the next day or so and maybe give you guys some clarification."
KILLING IT: The Bruins were called for eight penalties and were short-handed seven times. With Miller out due to injury after his fighting major, Boston's PK unit was taxed, especially when defensemen Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg were called for penalties. Still, the Bruins killed off all their penalties.
The Bruins are 2-4-0 (four points) and the Sabres are 1-4-0 (two points). Here's what to watch for:
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY: The Bruins are coming off an emotional 6-4 loss Thursday to the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Boston defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. The struggling Sabres lost 1-0 to the Florida Panthers on Friday night at First Niagara Center.
GOING WITH THE VETERAN: At the Bruins' morning skate, Bruins coach Claude Julien had Simon Gagne on the team's top line, along with center David Krejci and left winger Milan Lucic. In his first two games with the Bruins, Gagne has mostly played on the fourth line, but Julien has been using the veteran forward on the top line late in games. Gagne scored his first goal of the season against Montreal, with Lucic and Krejci both assisting on the tally. "Every game he's a threat, and I think we need that on our hockey club," Julien said. "So far it's been good, but two games in, you like the direction he's going in."
BACK IN: After being a healthy scratch the last three games, forward Matt Fraser will play tonight against the Sabres. Based on the morning skate, he will be on the fourth line, alongside Gregory Campbell in the middle and Daniel Paille on the left. Julien said he liked the way Fraser played during the preseason, but the coach also said Fraser struggled in his first three games. "He has to re-establish what he did during training camp," Julien said. "He had a good presence, strong along the walls and shot the pucks well. We didn't see that the first couple of games, so he's a young player, and you give those players a chance again. Our team wasn't very good in the first couple of games, so it's not all about Fraser, it's more about giving him another chance to go in there and show that he can be that player we saw in camp."
MASKED MEN: It appears Niklas Svedberg will make his second start of the season tonight. He's 0-1-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage. He entered Thursday's game against the Canadiens when Julien pulled starter Tuukka Rask after Montreal's fifth goal in the third period.
On Friday, the NHL fined Lucic $5,000. After Saturday's morning skate, Lucic addressed the situation, apologizing to the Bruins, Canadiens and fans of both teams.
"Obviously, I'm not proud of what I did there," Lucic said. "... I know (Canadiens fans) can get under your skin sometimes, but they are great fans. I apologize for my actions. I regret what I did."
With Boston trailing 5-4, Lucic was given a two-minute boarding penalty at 18:40 of the third period when he hit the Canadiens' Alexei Emelin. Lucic did not agree with the call and, as he entered the box, made a motion with his right hand and then mocked as if he was lifting the Stanley Cup.
After the Canadiens scored an empty-net, power-play goal, Lucic screamed something at the referee when he was leaving the penalty box and was ejected.
Lucic said it was the penalty call that sent him over the edge.
"It's inexcusable, the way I acted," Lucic said. "It was the call that was made, because I felt it did take away our opportunity of tying the game up.
"I disagree with the call 100 percent. When a guy turns at the last second ... we even get video shown to us at the start of the year that it's on the guy getting hit when you turn at the last second. I still disagree with the hit."
Lucic is an emotional player. His ability, size and strength are what make him force in this league. Bruins fans love that type of emotion. He simply went too far Thursday. There’s a difference between being a Big Bad Bruin and acting like a junior varsity player.
He should not have been called for a boarding penalty against the Canadiens’ Alexei Emelin on Thursday night. Lucic had every right to be upset with the official, because Emelin turned toward the boards at the point of contact.
But what followed is not what the Bruins want.
Lucic did not speak with reporters after Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the Canadiens. Perhaps it’s because the team knows he is the type of player who always speaks his mind and that it was best to let him calm down.
He will have to address it at some point, maybe after the team’s morning skate Saturday at First Niagara Center as the Bruins prepare to face the Sabres on Saturday night. In the past, he’s held himself accountable for his actions. And he needs to do it again.
You don’t see Chara or Patrice Bergeron acting that way.
Lucic was already the center of attention before the Bruins landed in Montreal in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Fans couldn’t wait to chant, “Looch, you suck” upon his first visit to the Bell Centre since the Bruins’ playoff ouster last season. The hatred stems from the now infamous comments he made to the Canadiens’ Dale Weise in the handshake line after Boston’s Game 7 loss to Montreal last May at TD Garden.
At the time, he said he wouldn’t apologize for it because it’s something that happens all the time, a notion Bruins president and Hall of Famer Cam Neely backed up.
I have no problem with what was said during the handshake last spring. These guys are professional athletes and losing isn’t tolerable, at least to the ones who actually care. But when it comes to pro athletes gesturing toward the fans in the manner in which Lucic did Thursday night? That’s not acceptable.
Lucic is a talented player. There’s a reason general manager Peter Chiarelli called him a “pillar” of the organization. Lucic made a mistake, but it won’t change the way he plays the game. He plays with emotion, and that’s what makes him a prototypical Bruin.
He just needs to find a way to harness that passion and emotion when something ticks him off.
The league announced the fine, the maximum allowed per rules of the collective bargaining agreement, on Friday morning.
Lucic appeared to make the vulgar gesture toward fans at the Bell Centre as he skated to the penalty box after being whistled for boarding Alexei Emelin in the third period of the Bruins' 6-4 loss.
The incident escalated the existing enmity between the teams and their respective fan bases. The clubs met in the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring and heated words were exchanged in the handshake line after the Habs bounced the Bruins from the playoffs.
Lucic did not speak to reporters after Thursday night's game.
"Yeah, welcome back, right?” Campbell said with a laugh. “It’s all good.”
The veteran forward missed training camp, the preseason exhibition schedule and the first four games of the regular season with a mid-core injury. Bruins coach Claude Julien said Campbell would be a game-time decision prior to Thursday’s matchup, but when puck dropped he was back centering the fourth line, along with wingers Daniel Paille and Simon Gagne.
The Canadiens defeated the Bruins 6-4 in the first regular-season game since Montreal ousted Boston in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last May. Without Campbell in the mix, Julien has been forced to use a variety of different players in the lineup to start the season, including Ryan Spooner as the team’s fourth-line center. He was a healthy scratch Thursday night and will likely be sent to Providence of the AHL.
Prior to his recent injury, Campbell hadn’t missed a game in the last two seasons, playing all 82 last season and the 48 during the lockout-shortened season in 2013.
“It’s the worst thing for an athlete not to play and not to be a part of it,” he said. “This is what I live for. I love competing and love being part of this group. It was tough but I just tried to focus on getting myself better and healing. I had a lot of help along the way, a lot of support from my teammates, so I’m glad to be back.”
Campbell logged 10:38 of ice time and showed no ill effects of missing time.
“The injury was fine. I didn’t have any issues whatsoever, which is a good thing,” he said. “I felt my speed was fine. Naturally, I haven’t played a game, but otherwise I felt pretty good.”
Boston’s energy line is a thing of the past. For years it was Paille on the left side, Campbell in the middle and Shawn Thornton on the right. That trio was consistent and accountable. After the Bruins decided not to re-sign Thornton in the offseason, he signed with the Florida Panthers. And now that Campbell is back from IR, Boston’s fourth line has a bit of a different look with Simon Gagne on the right side.
Either way, Campbell believes the line can have success this season.
“I do, yeah,” he said. “I like what we each bring. There are different components to our games, each one of us, but we each bring something different. I enjoyed playing with those two tonight and I think it’ll work.”
But it's no laughing matter.
His so-called "nightmare" continued on Thursday as the Canadiens handed Boston a 6-4 loss in Montreal's 2014-2015 home opener at Bell Centre. Rask allowed five goals on 23 shots before he was pulled at 7:17 of the third period and replaced by backup Niklas Svedberg.
In 18 career regular-season games versus Montreal, Rask is 3-11-3 with a .902 save percentage. It was also the first regular-season matchup since the Canadiens ousted the Bruins in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last May.
In Thursday's Bruins loss, it wasn't all about Rask's performance. Once again, the Bruins had too many defensive miscues, and a few of Montreal's goals were the result of lucky bounces in the Canadiens' favor.
"From my point of view, it was one of those nightmare nights when the bounces aren't going your way," Rask said.
When Rask was asked why he has so much difficulty against the Canadiens, he could only smile in disbelief.
"I don't know," he said with a laugh. "I've got to do something about it. I don't know but I'll figure something out. We started good and I felt good in the first, then they get that one bounce, then another one and you're 'OK, it doesn't matter.' Then you get a third one and you're kind of like, 'OK, it's one of those nights again.' I've got no answers. If I had an answer, we'd probably win more games here. We'll battle. We'll keep battling and get stronger."
MONTREAL -- Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic appeared to make a vulgar gesture to Canadiens fans as he entered the penalty box late in the third period of Thursday night's 6-4 loss to Montreal at Bell Centre.
The NHL is reviewing the situation, a source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun.
Lucic was given a two-minute boarding penalty at 18:40 when he hit the Canadiens' Alexei Emelin. Lucic did not agree with the call, and as he entered the box, he made a motion with his right hand and then mocked as if he was lifting the Stanley Cup.
After the Canadiens scored an empty-net, power-play goal, Lucic screamed something at the referee when he was leaving and was ejected from the game.
After the game, Lucic was not made available to the media despite numerous requests.
When Bruins coach Claude Julien was asked for his thoughts on the penalty, he said: "No comments."
On the play, Emelin turned toward the boards at the instant Lucic made contact.
On Lucic's first shift of the game, Emelin dropped the Bruins forward with a clean open-ice hit.
Lucic has been the center of attention since the now-infamous comments he made in the handshake line after Game 7 of the second-round series loss to the Canadiens last May.
MONTREAL -- Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask continues to have his difficulties against the Montreal Canadiens.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner allowed five goals on 23 shots as the Canadiens posted a 6-4 victory Thursday night at Bell Centre. It was the rivals' first regular-season matchup since Montreal ousted the Bruins in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last May.
In 18 career regular-season games, Rask is 3-11-3 against the Canadiens.
After the Bruins defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, it was a quick turnaround for Rask and the Bruins to face their storied rival in Montreal's home opener.
The Canadiens' Brendan Gallagher scored a pair of goals off Rask, while Montreal goaltender Carey Price finished with 25 saves.
The Bruins received goals from Zdeno Chara, Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson and Simon Gagne. Rask finished with 18 saves before he was pulled at 7:17 of the third period after Montreal scored its fifth goal of the game.
The Bruins gained a 1-0 lead when Chara scored a power-play goal at 9:03 of the first period. Boston controlled the puck in the offensive zone when David Krejci took a slap shot from the point. Chara was camped out in front of Price and redirected the puck past the Montreal goaltender.
Montreal quickly responded and knotted the game at 1-1 at 11:33 of the first. With Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg in the penalty box for holding the stick, the Canadiens' David Desharnais collected the puck in the neutral zone, split defenders Adam McQuaid and Chara and broke in on Rask, who made the initial save on Desharnais. But the Canadiens' Max Pacioretty was credited with the goal, as the rebound redirected off McQuaid and then Pacioretty's skate to beat Rask.
The second period seems to always be a problem for the Bruins in this building, but Boston went back and forth with Montreal on Thursday.
After Gallagher gave the Canadiens a 2-1 lead at 7:43 of the second, Bruins quickly responded when Soderberg scored less than a minute later to tie the game at 2-2 at 8:34. Boston regained its momentum and took a 3-2 lead when Torey Krug showed patience with the puck and waited for the shot. When he unloaded, the puck ricocheted off a defender's skate and beat Price at 11:31.
With the second period winding down, Montreal kept the pressure on and scored two late goals for a 4-3 advantage. First, Jiri Sekac notched his first NHL goal when he shoveled in a loose puck during a scramble in front of Rask at 18:11 to tie the game. Again, Montreal caught the Bruins flat-footed in the waning seconds of the period when Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored at 19:36 to give the Canadiens the one-goal lead.
After Chara was outmuscled in front of the net by Gallagher, it resulted in his second goal of the game, at 7:17 of the third period, to give Montreal a 5-3 lead. That was the end of the night for Rask as backup Niklas Svedberg came on in relief.
The Bruins kept chipping away as Gagne scored with 5:49 remaining in regulation to cut Boston's deficit to one goal. It was his first goal as a Bruin.
In the closing seconds, and with Svedberg off, the Canadiens added an empty-netter on the power play for a 6-4 win.
OBSTRUCTION: At different points during the game, a green laser light could be seen around Rask, and a couple of other times during different faceoffs. The Canadiens do have state-of-the-art laser equipment for their always impressive pregame presentations. Since it was opening night, first thought was maybe there was a light malfunction, but it could be seen shining on different spots on the ice.
DEBUT: After missing training camp, the preseason exhibition schedule and the first five games of the regular season, veteran Bruins forward Gregory Campbell returned to the lineup and centered the fourth line, alongside Daniel Paille and Simon Gagne. Campbell had been sidelined with a mid-core injury.
SCRATCHES: With Campbell back in the lineup, Ryan Spooner was a healthy scratch. Joining Spooner on press level was forward Matt Fraser and defenseman Matt Bartkowski.
UP NEXT: For the second time already this season, the Bruins will have three games in four nights when they travel to Buffalo to face the Sabres on Saturday.