|09.22.15 at 11:36 am ET|
Folks will get their first look at a potential line of David Krejci between Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak when the Bruins host the Capitals in a preseason game at TD Garden Tuesday night. Based on Tuesday’s first practice, Zane McIntyre is expected to get the start.
Alexander Khokhlachev and Brandon DeFazio are the only players in Tuesday’s lineup that played in Sunday’s preseason opener. The lineup for Tuesday is as follows:
Some other observations from Tuesday:
– Loui Eriksson practiced as the right wing on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand‘s line. Eriksson has been moved around Boston’s lineup a bit in camp, playing mostly with either David Krejci or Bergeron. He skated with Bergeron and Marchand on Saturday.
– Dennis Seidenberg did not practice Tuesday. He remains out with an upper-body injury.
|09.21.15 at 10:56 pm ET|
Seth Griffith received bad news when he learned that the knee injury he suffered in Sunday’s preseason opener is an MCL sprain that will end his training camp. Of course, he’s been getting bad news for months now.
Last training camp, the second-year pro was skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Though Griffith was on the Bergeron line because the Bruins were waiting for Reilly Smith to settle for the contract Boston was offering, he was on his way to becoming David Krejci‘s right wing. Because Jarome Iginla was gone and David Pastrnak wasn’t ready, Griffith was Boston’s best option.
Fast forward a year, and though the 22-year-old Griffith came to camp older and more experienced than he was a season ago, his chances of making the NHL club were slim even before his injury. Why? Because dating back to the Brett Connolly trade in March, the B’s have positioned themselves to have plenty of right wings. It’s not a good time to be a fringe guy.
With Pastrnak now an NHL regular, Connolly healthy, Jimmy Hayes in for Reilly Smith, Loui Eriksson coming off his best year as a Bruin, Brian Ferlin continuing to push and both Max Talbot and Zac Rinaldo capable of playing wing, the Bruins are more than set on the right side. In fact, guys like Hayes or Eriksson may end up playing left wing just because the B’s have so many right wings.
Given Boston’s plethora of right wings, Griffith, a former 45-goal-scorer in the OHL, was likely headed to Providence to begin the season. Though he played 30 games for Boston last season (6 G, 4 A), the majority of his time last season was spent in Providence, where he served as Alexander Khokhlachev’s right wing.
Griffith was a first-line player in the AHL last season who totaled 31 points (12 G, 19 A) in 39 games, but his game appeared to drop off down the stretch. He scored just three goals over 24 games to finish the regular season in Providence. He’d add two goals in the playoffs to end the season on something of a high note.
“I want to go out there and I want to score almost every shift, or at least get a good chance. When I’m not getting those chances it’s a little bit frustrating for me,” he said prior to his injury. “[Providence coach Bruce Cassidy] helped me a lot through that and eventually I found my game. It was better late than never. I don’t want that to happen again, but I think it was just a learning point for me.”
If Griffith makes it back to Boston, it might not be in the role he had last season. Griffith was underwhelming in the NHL when he wasn’t with Krejci; he’ll need to prove to the Bruins that he could play in the bottom six and work his way up if he wants to eventually carve out a job in Boston.
“It’s going to be a little tougher, but I think if you want to play any line on the Bruins, you’ve got to have that gritty side of your game there,” he said. “I don’t [have] to change a whole lot; it’s just a matter of getting pucks deep and not trying to be fancy all the time. I think it’s just [being] more of a straight-line guy than fancy.”
Griffith’s bid to impress the B’s will be on hold for now. He was a longshot to make the Bruins out of camp anyway, but he’s shown enough promise at points that perhaps the young wing could someday overcome the logjam that is the Bruins’ group of right wings.
|09.21.15 at 1:32 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Monday that right wing Seth Griffith will miss three to four weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
Griffith suffered the injury in Sunday night’s preseason game against the Devils. The 22-year-old faced an uphill climb to make Boston’s roster out of training camp, a scenario now eliminated by the injury.
In 30 games for the Bruins last season, Griffith scored six goals and added four goals for 10 points. He had 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 39 games for Providence.
Griffith is the second player to be hampered by an injury this fall. Dennis Seidenberg has yet to take the ice during training camp due to an upper-body injury.
|09.20.15 at 9:52 pm ET|
The Bruins opened their preseason schedule with some of their newcomers helping them to a 2-0 win over the Devils Sunday night in Providence.
Zac Rinaldo, acquired from the Flyers in the offseason, drew a pair of penalties on the night, with both leading to power-play goals from free agent signing Matt Irwin. The former Sharks defenseman, who took a one-year, $800,000 contract in the offseason, figures to be one of Boston’s defensemen this season regardless of whether the Bruins carry seven or eight on the back end. Both of Irwin’s goals were assisted by Colin Miller, whom the B’s received in the Milan Lucic trade.
Among the potential members of this season’s NHL club to lace up for the Bruins Sunday night were Ryan Spooner, Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly, Joonas Kemppainen, Alexander Khokhlachev, Seth Griffith, Rinaldo, Irwin and Colin Miller. Spooner centered Hayes and Connolly, as he has done thus far in training camp practices. First-round picks Jakub Zboril and Jake DeBrusk were also in Boston’s lineup.
Griffith left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return.
Jonas Gustavsson, who is in camp with the Bruins on a professional tryout, got the start for the Bruins and stopped all 18 shots he faced. Jeremy Smith, who split time with Malcolm Subban in Providence last season, took over for Gustavsson in the second period and completed the shutout.
The Bruins will continue to practice throughout the week, with preseason games Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
|09.19.15 at 3:16 pm ET|
Bruins prospect Alexander Khokhlachev feels that he is overdue for a job in the NHL. He is not happy with the Bruins for not giving him one.
“Boston should make a decision with me,” the 2011 second-round pick said on Saturday. “I’ve waited for my chance already. Two years. I’m just still waiting. We’ll see. They should make a decision. Give me a chance, or I don’t know. We’ll see [what] they’ll do.”
Khokhlachev, who was taken 40th overall in 2011, has played four games in the NHL over the last two seasons, spending nearly all of his Bruins career in Providence. Asked whether he’ll demand a trade if he doesn’t make the team this season, he was not definitive, though he said he wouldn’t want to stay with the organization if they didn’t play him in the NHL.
“This is my last year of my contract,” he said. “I’m 22 already. If they don’t give me the chance to play, why am I here? I will not play in Providence all my life. They told me, ‘Just wait for your chance.’ I’m still waiting for it.”
Khokhlachev’s words, in addition to being depressing for anyone over the age of 22, were interesting given that his frustration with the B’s might go both ways. Having invested a high pick in him, the team is within its rights to be upset that he hasn’t taken a job by now.
Asked if he’s done all that he should have to become an NHLer, Khokhlachev stayed the course.
“Yeah, why not?” he responded. “I played in Providence two years and I led them in scoring two years. I think I’m playing good. I’m not a young guy anymore. I’m 22. I think I’m ready for the chance.”
Khokhlachev was given the opportunity (along with Ryan Spooner) to challenge for the team’s fourth-line center job last fall. When Khokhlachev turned in an underwhelming preseason, he was returned to Providence.
Boston played him for three games in November, though the third game saw him used on a sparingly played fourth line. Khokhlachev was given just 2:53 of ice time in that contest, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins on Nov. 24.
“I played two games and the third game I played two minutes,” he said of his NHL season. “I don’t think that’s really a chance. I played fourth line. It doesn’t really matter what line I play, but I don’t think it’s really a chance to be played two games.”
A left-shot center, the Moscow native has indeed led the Baby B’s in points in both 2014-15 (43 points in 61 games) and 2013-14 (57 points in 65 games). Winning a job (or, to stay consistent, being given one) will not be easy. The Bruins’ top-nine centers are already set (Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Spooner) while Khokhlachev is part of a large number of players vying for Boston’s fourth-line center job. Chris Kelly, Zac Rinaldo and Max Talbot are all on one-way contracts, while Khokhlachev’s two-way deal and lack of service means he could be sent up and down without waivers and cost less if he’s in the AHL.
Unlike Kelly, Rinaldo and Talbot, Khokhlachev cannot play wing. Khokhlachev has centered Loui Eriksson and Jake DeBrusk in the first two days of camp.
Khokhlachev, whose father is the general manager of a KHL team, could return home to play in Russia if he decides to leave North America after this season. From his words, he seems to believe he gave the Bruins two years of AHL service in exchange for an eventual spot in the pros, which isn’t exactly how it works. He would prefer the NHL over the KHL, where he played unsuccessfully in 2012.
“My dream is NHL and I want to play there,” he said, “but if Boston will not give me the chance, I can’t do anything.”
|09.19.15 at 1:44 pm ET|
While the Bruins’ seven-man defense group is difficult to project, anyone trying to do so is wise to start with the top and the bottom. Zdeno Chara will of course be the B’s No. 1 defenseman. Matt Irwin, seemingly, will be the seventh.
After signing a one-year deal worth $800,000 in the offseason, Irwin isn’t subscribing to that logic.
“I’m looking to play every game,” the former Shark said. “That’s my goal. I think I can bring a lot to this team. There’s competition and there’s opportunity. I’m looking to be in the lineup every night and help this team win.”
Irwin, 27, came to the Bruins after spending first five years as a pro in the San Jose organization. An offensive defenseman, he had eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points over 53 games in the lineup. His pairing with Scott Hannan was not good possession-wise (46.7 Corsi percentage in 5-on-5), though Irwin’s overall Corsi in 5-on-5 was 51.6 percent.
With the Bruins changing their breakouts and placing more emphasis on a defenseman joining the attack, Irwin feels that he’s entering a good situation for his skill set. He also noted that the Sharks used a similar breakout, which makes his adjustment period to a new team a bit easier.
“It’s similar to San Jose,” he said. “The last few years there we encouraged our D men to get up in the rush, have that second wave of offense coming in, create some havoc, push their D back. It’s very similar to what we did there, what they’re trying to implement here for this year.”
Irwin’s cheap contract (which is a one-way), age and experience as a guy who’s been in and out of an NHL lineup suggests the Bruins would be better off using him a seventh defenseman over players like Joe Morrow or Colin Miller. Spending too much out of the lineup can stunt a developing player’s progress, so Morrow and Miller (neither of whom require waivers) should either play in Boston or play in Providence. Sitting should not be in their job description.
Plus, Irwin has versatility on his side. A left shot who is comfortable playing both sides, Irwin is something of an ideal seventh guy given that he can slot in for any of Boston’s defenders in the event of an emergency.
That’s not Irwin’s plan, however. He wants to be one of the six in the lineup at all times. His chances aren’t great, but he’ll take them.
|09.18.15 at 4:32 pm ET|
When asked Friday if the Bruins’ new emphasis on defensemen supporting the attack would boost his offensive numbers, defenseman Adam McQuaid smirked and replied, “There’s only room for improvement there.”
Then, as McQuaid got more serious, he added, “I never put numbers on things.”
Fairly or unfairly, a number has been put on him, and it’s a high one — 2.75 million, to be exact. That’s McQuaid’s cap hit for the next four seasons, a substantial raise from the $1.566 million he averaged over the course of his previous contract.
McQuaid’s four-year, $11 million contract has widely been viewed as an overpayment on the part of the B’s. An intangibles player who comes with as mean a streak as any defenseman in the NHL, McQuaid is a player any team would love to have on its third pairing. With the way he’s being paid however, coupled with the fact that frequent partner Torey Krug makes $3.4 million for his offensive contributions, the risk that the Bruins run is that McQuaid will either be overpaid for a third-pairing defenseman or potentially out of place as a top-four defenseman.
Though the news of his contract came out after the Bruins traded Dougie Hamilton, McQuaid actually had agreed hours before the trade was made. So, in a matter of hours, the 28-year-old went from returning to the same defense group he knew to potentially picking up bigger minutes. McQuaid wants to be a key piece of the defense, but he doesn’t want his contract to dictate his role.
“I think you have to earn those things, obviously,” he said Friday. “I’d like to play a bigger role, but it’s got to be something that you earn and you show that you’re able to do. I think you can tell that we have a lot of depth on the blue line this year. It’s going to be competitive and every day you’re going to need to show your worth or there’s going to be somebody else who can step in and do it.
“At this point in my career, I’d like to continue to improve and get better and play a bigger role, but I’ve got to prove I can do that and work towards that.”