|09.24.15 at 9:54 pm ET|
The Bruins enjoyed a 4-3 shootout win over the Rangers in Thursday night’s preseason contest at TD Garden. Here are some observations from what proved to be a more-entertaining-than-usual preseason game.
– There’s no word yet on what the upper-body injury Zdeno Chara suffered is, but there’s a good chance it occurred on the hit he took from Ryan Bourque on his third and final shift of the night. As previously noted, Chara appeared to be OK after the hit, so perhaps he was taken out for precautionary reasons. The Bruins had better hope that’s the case, as they’re already without Dennis Seidenberg.
If Chara is to be out for any stretch of time in the regular season, the Bruins would be without their four best defensemen from last season’s camp: Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Johnny Boychuk and Seidenberg.
There was another scare on Boston’s defense when Joe Morrow blocked a shot and limped off the ice late in regulation, but he would return to the game.
– Jeremy Smith played the entire game for the Bruins, and there’s no better test for someone trying to prove they can hack it in the NHL than going against a good lineup (the Rangers had Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes, Keith Yandle and Ryan McDonagh, among others, in the lineup Thursday) without Zdeno Chara in front of you.
Smith allowed three goals, two of which were power play tallies. The lone even-strength goal he allowed came on a Rangers rush during a Boston line change. Smith made the initial save on Brady Skjei’s shot but had it bounce off the post, then his back and in. He then allowed a Mats Zuccarello power play goal later in the period and saw a second-period Kevin Hayes shot go off him and in for New York’s second tally on the man advantage.
The 26-year-old netminder had some bright spots as well, stopping Kevin Hayes in the slot on a second-period Rangers power play and then robbing him with a glove save in the third.
– Smith stopped Hayes and Keith Yandle and John Gibbons in the shootout, though he allowed shootout goals to Mats Zuccarello and Dan Boyle. Ryan Bourque hit the post.
Boston got shootout goals from Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and Brad Marchand.
– Zac Rinaldo swears he’s better than he gets credit for, and based on two preseason games, he may have a case. The numbers through two games: one assist, zero penalty minutes and a whopping four drawn penalties.
Rinaldo picked up an assist on Tyler Randell’s first-period goal, capping a strong shift by feeding the puck to Joe Morrow at the point, with Morrow’s shot being redirected by Randell past Henrik Lundqvist.
The former Flyer drew a period in the second period when he got Ryan McDonagh to break his stick on a slash. In the third period, Rinaldo threw a big (albeit clean) hit on Tommy Hughes in the neutral zone. He was then jumped by Tanner Glass, but Rinaldo kept his gloves on, with Glass being given a roughing minor for the exchange.
Perhaps most surprisingly (and most amusing): Rinaldo tried to show off his hands with a between-the-legs bid off the rush in the second period.
– Speaking of drawing penalties, Ryan Spooner’s line with Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly drew a pair on Thursday. Spooner drew a tripping penalty in the first period, while Connolly was slashed by Keith Yandle in the second.
It was a point apiece for the Hayes brothers, as Jimmy capped a very strong shift by picking up the secondary helper on a third-period Brandon Carlo goal.
– With the Bruins trailing in the final minute of regulation, Spooner scored as the extra attacker skating with Patrice Bergeron‘s line. Bergeron skated with Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson Thursday night, an indication that Eriksson could at long last wind up being Bergeron’s right wing.
– Joonas Kemppainen continues to impress. He set up the rush on which Rinaldo got fancy by forcing a turnover at the Bruins’ blueline and taking it the other way.
– Matt Irwin took a penalty during the 3-on-3 overtime, meaning the Rangers got to add a player to the ice rather than the Bruins losing one. Bergeron, Morrow and Adam McQuaid made up Boston’s three-man penalty kill unit. Smith made a number of big saves before the power play was ended by a Rangers too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.
– The Bruins had to mix and match on defense once Chara went down early, but Joe Morrow and Colin Miller skating together was an interesting sight. Such a pairing goes for broke offensively but would likely give Claude Julien anxiety in the defensive zone.
|09.24.15 at 8:01 pm ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara left Thursday’s preseason game against the Rangers with what the team is calling an upper-body injury.
Chara played just three shifts, the last of which ended at 4:12 of the first, before leaving the game. He took a hit from Rangers forward Ryan Bourque on his final shift, with Chara being thrown into the boards as a result. He appeared to be carrying himself fine after the hit, however.
Following the game, Claude Julien offered no update on Chara’s situation. It goes without saying that the B’s don’t want to find out what an already changed team would look like if it had to head into the regular season without him.
“He’s always a huge component to our team,” Brad Marchand said. “He’s a huge leader on and off the ice; he’s such a strong presence. I don’t exactly know what happened, but hopefully he’s OK.”
Thursday marked Chara’s first game of the preseason. The 38-year-old is looking to have a healthy season after missing 19 games due to a torn PCL last season.
|09.24.15 at 5:00 pm ET|
The Bruins made another round of cuts Thursday, with 2015 15th overall pick Zach Senyshyn among them.
Colby Cave and Colton Hargrove were both assigned to Providence, while Andrew Cherniwchan, Max Everson, Matt Ginn, Max Iafrate, Eric Neiley and Frankie Simonelli will all attend Providence’s camp, which opens on Sunday. Senyshyn will head back to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL, while Jeremy Lauzon will return to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL.
With Thursday’s cuts, the Bruins now have 48 healthy players left in camp.
|09.24.15 at 11:55 am ET|
The Bruins will play their third game of the preseason when they host the Rangers Thursday at TD Garden. Jeremy Smith and Zane McIntyre will share goaltending duties, while Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand are among those playing in their first game of the preseason.
Bergeron and Marchand will play with Loui Eriksson at right wing Thursday. The first-line duo has skated with both Eriksson and David Pastrnak on the right side thus far in camp. Pastrnak played on David Krejci‘s line with Matt Beleskey in Tuesday’s preseason game against the Capitals. Pastrnak, Krejci and Beleskey will all have Thursday off.
Ryan Spooner’s line with Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly will also play together Thursday. Claude Julien has kept the three together since the start of camp, as he would like to use the three in the regular season if the three mesh well.
Kevin Hayes, the younger brother of Jimmy, will be in New York’s lineup Thursday. Kevin, a former first-rounder of the Blackhawks, is coming off a very strong rookie season with the Rangers. A Boston College product like Jimmy, Kevin scored 17 goals and added 28 assists for a 45-point campaign with the Rangers.
Henrik Lundqvist is also in the Rangers’ lineup. He is set to play the first two periods before giving way to Jeff Malcolm.
|09.23.15 at 5:11 pm ET|
The Bruins made two cuts Wednesday, releasing a pair of 2015 draft picks from training camp.
Forward Jesse Gabrielle, a fifth-round pick in June, will head back to the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, while goaltender Daniel Vladar will return to the Chicago Steel of the USHL. The Bruins selected Vladar in the third round (No. 75 overall).
With Wednesday’s moves and the injuries to Seth Griffith and Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins now have 56 healthy players left in camp.
|09.23.15 at 1:51 pm ET|
Dennis Seidenberg‘s injury leaves the Bruins with multiple questions regarding their defense. Here’s a big one: Who’s going to kill penalties?
Because Zdeno Chara missed 19 games, Dennis Seidenberg led the Bruins in shorthanded time on ice (209:54). His average of 2:33 per game on the penalty kill ranked third among Bruins defensemen.
With Seidenberg now out for the next eight weeks, the Bruins are down an experienced penalty killer, and they weren’t exactly overflowing with them to begin with. Of Boston’s defensemen last season, Seidenberg was one of five to average even one minute of shorthanded time on ice per game. Another one of those players is gone in Dougie Hamilton (1:10 of shorthanded time on ice per game). Given that free agent signing Matt Irwin and trade acquisition Colin Miller are both offensive defensemen who haven’t killed a lot of penalties, the only players the B’s have on the back end who were regular penalty killers in the NHL last season are Chara, Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid.
Two of those players are righties, so with Boston’s current group it’s very possible that the B’s may need to slide righty penalty killers to the left. That’s rare for defensemen, as right-shot defensemen usually can’t play both sides the way that lefties can. Kevan Miller and Zach Trotman have done it before (both in the AHL, though Miller would play the left side in 2013-14 when killing penalties with Johnny Boychuk), so that may increase their value in Claude Julien‘s eyes.
Julien said Wednesday that he may change his defensive group from game to game depending on whether he’d like to load up on power play guys or experienced penalty killers. That could make the difference regarding which Miller (Kevan a penalty killer, Colin a strong skater with a tremendous slap shot) plays and sits.
“When the time comes, we’ll look at our lineup and what is best for us at that time,” Julien said. “If we need a more offensive kind of defenseman or a guy that can kill, it depends. I always say the same thing: When you play some big teams, sometimes you need some weight out there. Sometimes [you play] a not-so-heavy team, so you can afford to have a little bit more of a lighter back end that can move the puck well also. It’s about balancing the killers and the power play guys, so we’ll look at that.’
From Irwin to Morrow to Colin Miller, Boston’s defensemen lacking in NHL penalty killing experience said they’re confident they can do it. The logic is simple: Somebody who hasn’t played a ton of PK time is going to have to do it, so it might as well be them. Plus, with all three of them being power play options, being able to do both would help them hold a job in Boston’s lineup.
“I definitely embrace the opportunity to kill penalties,” Morrow said. “Penalty kill, power play, anything. Any situation, you always want to be on the ice for. It’s more enjoyable when they put a little more [responsibility] on you.”
|09.23.15 at 12:17 pm ET|
Shortly after Don Sweeney chose against signing a relatively low-cost veteran defenseman late in the offseason, he said that while he had faith in his young defensemen, he would continue to monitor options to improve the team. That’s GM speak for “maybe I’ll do something, maybe I won’t.”
While Seidenberg’s absence leaves the Bruins without a veteran defenseman (28-year-old Adam McQuaid is now the team’s oldest healthy defenseman not named Zdeno Chara), it does not necessarily make them worse. The Bruins hoped Seidenberg would be better than he was last season, but they didn’t know that.
As such, Sweeney now can potentially let all of Boston’s healthy NHL-caliber defensemen (of which there are eight — Chara, McQuaid, Torey Krug, Zach Trotman, Matt Irwin, Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller and Colin Miller) make the team and let the cream rise to the top. He can also go out and trade for cream (this has gotten confusing), which could potentially leave the Bruins with an even bigger logjam of good-not-great defensemen once Seidenberg returns in two months.
“It’s a void that internally we’re trying to assess,” Sweeney said Wednesday, “and as I’ve always said, I’ll continue to talk to the other teams and people that may or may not be available to see if we need to fill that void.”
Sweeney said that he would potentially swing a deal for a defender. ‘only under the right circumstances.’
“It’s got to be the right fit for us relative to the guys that we have and have been assessing overall,” he said. “We felt that we had very good depth, albeit some of it inexperienced, but now they’re getting an opportunity. Hopefully now they can take advantage of it.”