|10.21.14 at 9:03 am ET|
WILMINGTON — As his team prepares to take on San Jose, the Islanders and Toronto this week, Claude Julien can finally sense things coming together after a sluggish start.
The Bruins started 1-2-0, including an ugly 4-0 loss to the Capitals on home ice and a brutal 2-1 loss to Colorado in the final second. After beating the Red Wings in a shootout, the Bruins were embarrassed again in Montreal, featuring the emotional meltdown of Milan Lucic.
But things finally seemed to click in Buffalo, where Niklas Svedberg earned his first career shutout in just his third NHL start. The 4-0 win seemed to give the Julien and the team something to build on. Two wins in three games doesn’t classify as red-hot, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction the way Julien sees it.
“I don’t know if it’s how far we’ve come or how far we have to go,” Julien said. “I think it’s just a matter of us continuing to get better as a team. I think it’s still early in the season and I think there are a lot of teams that are probably saying the same thing. It takes certain guys a while to get going. It takes others even longer. Some guys get off to a good start and then they slow down.
“We’re just looking at our team as a whole. I think what we’re looking for is consistency and we’re looking for an identity. And that’s what we’re starting to get right now, more of an identity. I think we’ve been a lot more consistent in the last three games.”
What is that identity?
“Same as it’s always been,” Julien said, referring to his team’s tough, rugged style that relies on good defense, a good forecheck, stellar goaltending and opportunistic play around the net.
|10.20.14 at 10:56 pm ET|
In the offseason, Peter Chiarelli said he felt the Bruins had nine NHL-caliber defensemen. A 10th, he would later say, was close in Zach Trotman. It was hard to disagree.
Then the B’s traded Johnny Boychuk. Then Kevan Miller dislocated his right shoulder in a fight Saturday night, leaving him out indefinitely.
You can bet that all the defensive depth you’ve heard about now will be put to the test.
The obvious replacement with Miller out of the lineup is Matt Bartkowski. The Bruins would take turns sitting guys to find ways to get him in the lineup last season before Dennis Seidenberg‘s knee injury gave him a full-time job. With a healthier group this season, Bartkowski has been limited to just one game.
After that, David Warsofsky is the only remaining blueliner from the summer’s advertised group not on the roster. The B’s had to put him on waivers in order to send him to Providence at the end of training camp, but nobody claimed him. In five AHL games this season, the 24-year-old Warsofsky has no points and a minus-5 rating.
The thing with both Bartkowski and Warsofsky is that they are both left shots, while Miller is a righty. The Bruins, as you’ve probably noticed by now, like to play with a lefty on the left and a righty on the right unless it’s a Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg (both lefties) type of pairing.
There have been other exceptions to the lefty-righty rule, as Torey Krug played a bit on the right side down the stretch last season and Seidenberg has played on the left when paired with Bartkowski. It’s worth noting that the Bartkowski-Seidenberg pairing has struggled when used in games dating back to last season before Seidenberg’s injury.
|10.20.14 at 6:59 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — In the midst of a whirlwind week, Seth Griffith is just trying to soak everything in.
The 21-year-old, 5-foot-9 winger had the chance to skate with Milan Lucic and David Krejci on Monday. He was recalled Monday after scoring his second goal of the season in three games for AHL Providence on Sunday against Portland. Just two days earlier, he nearly scored against Montreal. He’s been up and down twice in the span of five days.
Griffith, who played two games with Krejci and Lucic last week, is part of the Bruins’ great early-season experiment to try and find a replacement for Jarome Iginla on Krejci’s line. Saturday night in Buffalo, it was Simon Gagne slotted in with Lucic and Krejci. But on Monday in practice it was Griffith, who has nine shots in three games with Providence but only four in three games with Boston.
“It’s pretty crazy how much faster and stronger it is in the NHL,” Griffith said. “Coming from the AHL just [Sunday] night, you can tell there’s a huge difference so hopefully, I got a little confidence [Sunday] night, come back here and try and bear down on one and hopefully, I get one.
“It’s an adjustment coming from the AHL up here. There’s bigger, faster, stronger guys so just little things along the wall, puck protection skills like that go a long way. You learn a lot from them. It’s not everyday guys get to come in and work with guys like this. You learn a lot of things, just in drills, little tricks you can do in the corners, stuff along the wall. It helps a lot.”
Coach Claude Julien admitted Monday after practice that he is forced into a situation of playing a young player like Griffith at the NHL level because of a lack of veteran bodies due to salary cap restrictions. Griffith is trying to take advantage of that chance by watching and listening to Lucic and Krejci during practice.
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|10.20.14 at 3:57 pm ET|
According to the Buffalo News, Rask and a few teammates went to a show at the Allentown music venue in Buffalo on Friday night while they were in town for Saturday night’s game against the Sabres, a 4-0 Bruins win.
Rask asked local band The Mustn’ts if he could play drums for a song, and they let him sit in for a cover of Phish’s “Back on the Train.”
Here’s video of the performance:
|10.20.14 at 3:12 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller is out indefinitely with a dislocated right shoulder, general manager Peter Chiarelli announced Monday. Miller suffered the injury in a fight with Buffalo’s Nicolas Deslaurier on Saturday night.
Miller had played in six of seven games for the Bruins, posting zero points and a plus-4 rating. He also has a plus-10.48 Corsi per 60 minutes and plus-0.2 CorsiRel, according to behindthenet.ca.
In Miller’s absence, Matt Bartkowski is likely to see more playing time.
|10.20.14 at 12:56 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins coach Claude Julien said Monday after practice that defenseman Kevan Miller is being examined for what the team termed an upper body injury following a fight Saturday in the 4-0 win in Buffalo.
“He’s just being looked at by our doctors,” Julien said. “We will probably have more [Tuesday].”
Julien also said he likes the way Seth Griffith has looked early in the season and would probably benefit from playing with the top line of David Krejci and Milan Lucic, as was the case Monday in practice.
“I think anytime a player can play with some experienced players, it gives you a little bit more confidence,” Julien said. “Guys are pretty good with helping guys through and giving them the opportunity to get accustomed to our team, get accustomed to his line so it certainly helps. I think that’s what Seth has been doing right now, trying to soak up as much as he can.”
The key right now to allowing Griffith to gain some experience at the NHL level is Simon Gagne. The 34-year-old veteran played with Lucic and Krejci on Saturday night in Buffalo. He also has skated on the fourth line in games, as was the case again in practice Monday. Julien said he liked what he saw from Gagne on Saturday night.
“He was OK. What you saw today is probably what you’ve been seeing all along, a little bit of moving around,” Julien said. “He can play on that line, he play on the fourth line. I think he’s made the fourth line a pretty good line. If Seth is going to play, he needs to play on one of those lines right now. If he’s going to gain some experience, I think it’s with those guys. We can alternate Simon in those positions and that’s what we’ve been doing so far.”
All of this, naturally, results from the fact that the Bruins are still searching for an answer at right wing on their top line and Julien is trying to find the right combination early in the season while still being patient with young players like Griffith, Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser and Craig Cunningham.
“You have to be a little bit patient,” Julien said “Fortunately, today for the players, you have to be able to bring some young guys in. There was a time when they really had to pay their dues and learn the game in the minors before they even got a shot. But in today’s game, you have to bring some young guys in for reasons like the cap and everything else. So you have to be able to live with some of the learning curves they have to go through and, at the same time, as a coach you try to minimize those so it doesn’t cost your team. That’s the balance you have to have in letting a young guy gain some experience and get better.”
It’s homecoming week against the Bruins as they host Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night at the Garden. On Thursday, Johnny Boychuk makes his first return to Boston since being traded to the Islanders in the preseason.
|10.20.14 at 10:57 am ET|
The Bruins dressed just six defensemen in practice as Kevan Miller was absent. He left Saturday’s game following a fight and did not return with what the team termed an upper-body injury.
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