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Don Sweeney will continue to monitor trade market following Dennis Seidenberg injury

09.23.15 at 12:17 pm ET
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Don Sweeney

Don Sweeney

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. ‘€œonly 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.”

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What Dennis Seidenberg’s injury means for rest of Bruins defense

09.23.15 at 10:42 am ET
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Dennis Seidenberg will miss the next eight weeks due to back surgery. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Dennis Seidenberg will miss about eight weeks after Thursday’s back surgery. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The last time Dennis Seidenberg got hurt back in December of 2013, the best team in the Eastern Conference had to find someone to inherit Boston’s second-best defenseman’s minutes. This time around, things aren’t so cut and dried.

The Bruins announced Wednesday that Seidenberg, who has not taken the ice at all this training camp, would undergo back surgery Thursday and miss the next eight weeks. His absence for the next two months solves one problem and creates another.

Not having Seidenberg provides some clarity as it relates to the numbers game on Boston’s defense. The problem is that it does so by subtracting one of the only guys with ample experience as one of Claude Julien‘s most trusted defenders.

An issue for the Bruins entering camp is that they had too many defensemen, but not enough top-four blueliners. Though Seidenberg was coming off a bad season, the Dougie Hamilton trade left Zdeno Chara and Seidenberg as the only B’s with extensive top-four experience (Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid have taken on bigger roles at times over the last two seasons, but they’€™ve generally been reserved for playing against bottom-sixers). That the Bruins will go until Thanksgiving with three of their top-four defensemen treading relatively uncharted waters is concerning, but then again there was no guarantee that Seidenberg would have earned a top role over those guys anyway.

Seidenberg’s injury provides an opportunity for Krug, who will get his wish of being a top-four guy. Because right shot defensemen (of which the B’s have many) can’t play the left side, having a lefty to anchor the second pairing behind Chara is crucial. Seidenberg was a prime candidate if he was healthy and anything resembling his old self.

Now the candidates are Krug, Matt Irwin and Joe Morrow. The guess here is that Krug leads the second pairing with McQuaid on the right, with Irwin playing on the third pairing with either Kevan Miller or Colin Miller. While Colin Miller has more offensive upside than Kevan Miller, the absence left by Seidenberg on the penalty kill (Seidenberg led all Bruins players in shorthanded time on ice last season) could very well require the team to put Kevan Miller in the lineup over Colin Miller.

[An interesting note regarding Boston’s defense: Of the eight remaining healthy blueliners legitimately pushing for jobs — Chara, Krug, Trotman, McQuaid, both Millers, Morrow and Irwin — Colin Miller is the only that would not require waivers to be sent to Providence.]

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Dennis Seidenberg to have surgery on back

09.23.15 at 9:16 am ET
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Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg will have surgery on his back and is expected to be out eight weeks, the team announced Wednesday morning.

Seidenberg is scheduled to undergo a lumbar microdiscectomy on Thursday to repair a lumbar spine disc herniation. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said the 34-year-old defenseman came to team doctors last Monday complaining about nerve aggravation. The team obviously didn’t think the injury was too serious, as Seidenberg took the ice at captains’ practice the next day, though he did not participate when his teammates began scrimmaging.

Sweeney said the B’s recommended rest, but that when the issue did not subside, surgery became the obvious path. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Louis Jenis at Massachusetts General Hospital.

His absence makes it possible that the Bruins may carry eight defensemen to begin the season: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Zach Trotman, Matt Irwin, Joe Morrow, Colin Miller and Kevan Miller.


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Malcolm Subban off to good start on road to redemption

09.22.15 at 11:18 pm ET
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Malcolm Subban

Malcolm Subban

Malcolm Subban had just one opportunity to make a National Hockey League impression last season, and the resulting impression was not a good one.

After stopping all 17 pucks he faced on Tuesday night at TD Garden, Subban improved his chances at getting some redemption opportunities in 2015-2016.

It was only half of a pre-season game, of course, but it’€™s a start.

“It felt pretty good,”€ the Boston goaltending prospect said of his 29:43 of ice time in a Bruins 2-1 overtime victory against the Washington Capitals. “To be honest, [I was] maybe a little nervous at the start because from the start of [training] camp up until this game I didn’€™t feel at my best in practice. I didn’€™t feel too good like I was tracking the puck [well] but thankfully it all came together tonight and I thought I played pretty well.”

Subban, 21, looked focused throughout his period-and-a-half of action, with perhaps his best save coming on a second period penalty-kill deflection and ensuing skirmish in front.

“I thought Malcolm was really good at times there where he was flooded with some shots,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “He made a couple of big saves.”

Boston’€™s first-round selection (24th overall) of the 2012 draft, Subban made his NHL debut last year on February 20 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis and gave up goals on three straight shots in the second period before being pulled. It sent Subban back to the drawing board this offseason, with the help of goaltending coach Bob Essensa.

“In that game, I felt all the goals I was way too deep on,” Subban said. “€œEven though some of them might have been a tip or a screen, I felt I was too deep and didn’€™t give myself a chance to make the save. It wasn’€™t just that game, it was in the AHL, too. I felt the goals that were scored I was too deep. I’€™ve worked on that with Bob. That’€™s the biggest thing I need to work on, using my speed a bit more.”

Subban’€™s athleticism has always been one of his biggest assets, and he’€™s learning when to unleash it.

“€œI felt I could have played the puck a lot better,” Subban said of his Tuesday performance, admitting that he tends to be critical of himself after games. “I was challenging too early, so by the time they started to rim the puck I was way too far out and couldn’€™t get to it. [But] I felt I had pretty good rebound control. One squirted out in the first but other than that I was putting them into the mesh or the corner, or smothering them, so not too much was going on in front which helps the ‘€˜D’€™ out a lot. It helps us get the puck out and not be trapped in our zone.”

The battle for Tuukka Rask‘€™s backup will continue throughout the next few weeks of Bruins’€™ camp, with Jeremy Smith, Zane McIntyre and Jonas Gustavsson his competition. Although Subban is aware of the job that is up for grabs, he’€™s trying to stay focused on himself.

“You look around too much, you forget you’€™ve got to do the same job,”€ Subban said. “€œI’€™m trying to play my game. Obviously it’€™s a great competition for the guys to push you, knowing that these guys are competing for the same job, but at the same time we’€™re all trying to help each other.”

And if he wins the job, he’€™s ready for the redemption story to begin.

“€œIt’€™s the mentality you’€™ve got to have, whether it comes or not,” said Subban. “You’€™ve got to be ready. I felt I had that chance last year and wasn’€™t ready so, I’€™m looking forward to this year and made the necessary adjustments and hopefully I can make a better opportunity.”

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Claude Julien likes 3-on-3 (because he hates the shootout)

09.22.15 at 10:30 pm ET
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The Bruins didn’€™t get to practice 3-on-3 for long Tuesday night, as David Pastrnak ended the preseason overtime session just 12 seconds in.

Lack of experience aside, Claude Julien doesn’€™t need to see much to know he’€™s going to like the new overtime system more than he liked the old one. With the NHL moving to 3-on-3 for five minutes followed by a shootout, the chances are far greater that the game will be settled in overtime than in the shootout. In the old system of 4-on-4 followed by a shootout, the overtime session often did nothing but give way to the shootout. Julien wasn’€™t a fan of that, as one could say he hates the shootout.

“I hate the shootout,” Julien said Tuesday, confirming the aforementioned suspicion.

Julien didn’€™t hate what he saw Tuesday night. With Boston’€™s preseason game against the Capitals tied at the end of regulation, the game went to overtime (it would have no matter what the score, as the NHL is having teams practice the new format three times this preseason).

Julien sent David Krejci, Pastrnak and Torey Krug out to begin the session. Krejci won the faceoff, with Krug chasing the puck into over the Boston blueline. Krug threw the puck up to Krejci, who fed Pastrnak on a 2-on-1 to set up the game-winner.

Because he hates the shootout (see above) Julien spent the majority of the last two seasons sending three forwards and one defenseman out for 4-on-4. Tuesday’€™s deployment of Krejci, Pastrnak and Krug gives the Bruins both offensive creativity and skating, two things that come in handy in next-goal-wins scenarios. Yet Julien is willing to go even farther this season in 3-on-3, as the team has practiced 3-on-3 with three forwards and no defensemen. Julien says he intends to use three forwards at times in overtime.

“For me, when you’€™re playing in the overtime, you’€™re going for the win,” he said. “I mean, you’€™ve got the point, you want to get that second one, so why sit back? You know, let’€™s go for it. That’€™s my approach.”

The 3-on-3 will be a learning experience for all teams in the early months of the season, as pretty much any mistake (or line change) can end the game. Having gone 7-16 the last two seasons in shootouts, the Bruins should probably like their odds in overtime better than they like them in a shootout. With players like Pastrnak, Krejci, Krug, Ryan Spooner and others at their disposal, it pretty much has to work out better for the B’€™s than the old way.

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Observations from Bruins’ preseason win over Capitals

09.22.15 at 9:40 pm ET
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David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak

Here are some notes from the Bruins’€™ 2-1 overtime win over the Capitals Tuesday night:

– Tuesday’€™s game was going to go to overtime no matter what the score was at the end of regulation, as the league is having every team practice 3-on-3 three times this preseason. As fate would have it, the game was tied anyway.

Claude Julien went with two forwards (David Krejci and David Pastrnak) and a defenseman (Torey Krug). The group ended the game immediately, with Krejci feeding Pastrnak for the game-winner 12 seconds into the extra period. Pastrnak also scored the Bruins’€™ only goal of regulation.

– The game featured the first glimpse of David Krejci skating between free agent signing Matt Beleskey and second-year David Pastrnak right wing in a game. The three played on a line and served on the same power play unit with Torey Krug and Alexander Khokhlachev.

The Krejci line was unremarkable for most of the game, but Pastrnak scored on a backhander down low that snuck behind Washington goalie Philipp Grubauer during a third-period 4-on-4 .

Over the first two periods, the line didn’€™t generate much offensively and was caught offsides multiple times. Krejci also struggled on draws.

– Malcolm Subban got the start for the Bruins, stopping all 17 shots he faced before giving way to Zane McIntyre. The first-year pro gave up the first goal allowed by the Bruins all preseason, with a shot from the point during a Capitals power play getting through traffic and past him shortly after the B’€™s had taken the lead.

– Tuesday brought the first fight of Boston’€™s preseason, as right wing Justin Hickman fought Washington defenseman Tyler Lewington in the second period.

– Khokhlachev, who does not want to play in Providence again, drew a penalty in the third period. Boston’€™s power play wouldn’€™t last, however, as Brian Ferlin took a holding penalty 21 seconds in Boston’€™s man advantage. That set up the 4-on-4 play in which Pastrnak scored.

– The line of Chris Kelly between Anton Blidh and Hickman was interesting to watch. Blidh drew a first-period interference penalty and was a presence in scrums, while Hickman fed Kelly in the third period for a great scoring opportunity that went denied by Grubauer.

The lineup for the game was as follows:


Arnesson- Kevin Miller


Zac Rinaldo: ‘The way I piss people off is the way I play’

09.22.15 at 1:58 pm ET
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Zac Rinaldo is entering his first season as a Bruin. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Zac Rinaldo is entering his first season as a Bruin. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

There was no surprise more pleasant in Sunday night’€™s preseason opener than Zac Rinaldo drawing a pair of penalties, neither of which came after the whistle and both of which led to Matt Irwin goals.

Speaking to Rinaldo about it Tuesday, he wasn’€™t very surprised. The oft-suspended fourth-liner said that he feels he can draw penalties during the course of play rather than after the whistle.

“With me, the way I piss people off is the way I play. I play hard, I play physical. Me doing that alone, I don’€™t even got to talk and guys hate me,” Rinaldo said. “I can hit everyone and just play hard and be physical on the puck. Guys don’€™t like that and they’€™ll get frustrated and take it out on me.

“My speed, too. My speed down low. They can’€™t handle me down low sometimes and they have to hold me up. You saw it in the preseason game. They [took] two penalties on me just because of my speed alone. I didn’€™t even get a couple hits to piss [them] off.”

Rinaldo said he intentionally stayed out of scrums Sunday against the Devils. Asked if he likes going into scrums with the objective of getting the opponent to take a penalty, Rinaldo was borderline offended.

“I’€™m not going to fake a fall-down or do something just to antagonize a guy, to draw a penalty,” he said. “That’€™s not me. I don’€™t fake the game like that.

Added Rinaldo: “I don’€™t fake. I’€™m a straight-up guy on the ice. I’€™m not going to fake an injury or pretend I’€™m hurt just to draw a penalty. I’€™m not like that and I hate guys who do that.”

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