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Don Sweeney on Sunday Skate: Bruins not limiting their search at trade deadline, ‘nothing that’s set in stone’ with David Pastrnak

02.08.15 at 12:46 pm ET
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Don Sweeney

Don Sweeney

Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney joined Sunday Skate to discuss the Bruins’€™ roster as the team gets closer to the March 2 trade deadline. To listen to the interview, click here.

The B’€™s have been looking for a wing nearly all season, though they are among a large number of teams who could stand to improve defensively. Sweeney said the Bruins continue to look for a wing, but that general manager Peter Chiarelli isn’€™t limiting his search.

“Everybody’€™s sort of focused on the fact that maybe our depth on the wings or scoring ability would be an area that we would like to address, having the types of players that we’€™ve lost over the last couple of years,” Sweeney said. “I don’€™t think it’€™s any trade secret that that’€™s probably the area that we’€™ve primarily been focused on, but I don’€™t think if any trade situations and discussions come up, that Peter wouldn’€™t have the opportunity to pursue in any one area that might strengthen our club.”

The search for a forward is part of an ongoing process to find David Krejci a permanent right wing. David Pastrnak’€™s play with Krejci was enough for the Bruins to burn the first year off his entry-level contract and keep him on the roster, though the B’€™s moved Pastrnak off Krejci’€™s line last week to keep the rookie away from other teams’€™ top lines.

Pastrnak was moved back to Krejci’€™s line with Milan Lucic in the second period of Saturday’€™s game, however, as the Bruins had last line change and were matching Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line against New York’€™s first line. Sweeney said Pastrnak remains a candidate to play with Krejci, but that the team is still figuring out what his role will ultimately be this season.

“There’€™s nothing that’€™s set in stone,” Sweeney said. “We’€™re just going to continue to evaluate. We’€™ll go to the trade deadline, and Peter’€™s trying to improve our hockey club. If we can do that, then David may find his way out of the lineup, may find his way back in Providence. It doesn’€™t matter. The boy has been a sponge with all things, and we’€™re so excited about his development trajectory and hopefully he doesn’€™t hit a wall here as he goes down the stretch.”

Sweeney did say that if either Pastrnak or Reilly Smith forces the Bruins’€™ hand and fills the spot themselves, it would be “the perfect scenario.”

The Bruins have around $2.2 million in cap space, though they have an undisclosed amount of unused long-term injured reserve space that will allow them to exceed the upper limit. Though they don’€™t have too much money to spend — something that can be helped by a trade partner retaining a player’€™s salary — Sweeney did say that the Bruins have the assets to add players to their liking.

“I think we have the assets to be able to pursue any type of deal outside of a straight cap add-on,” he said. “Obviously, the wiggle room we have from just adding a player without necessarily moving some money around is going to be more problematic than not, but from an organizational standpoint of having assets to be able to pursue deals and talk deals and potentially explore them, we absolutely are in a position to do that.

“Obviously, the cap dollars are what they are. We’€™ve been in the station all year long. We’€™ve managed that and we have to continue to do that down the stretch. Our cap situation doesn’€™t grow as the season goes along because we’€™re in LTI, but we do have some wiggle room.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: David Pastrnak, Don Sweeney,

Tuukka Rask: ‘Nobody’s told me otherwise, so I’m sure I’m playing’ vs. Canadiens

02.07.15 at 10:57 pm ET
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After stopping 39 of the 40 shots he faced against the Islanders Saturday, Tuukka Rask said he is ready to go again Sunday against the Canadiens.

“Nobody’€™s told me otherwise, so I’€™m sure I’€™m playing,”€ Rask said Saturday night. “€œIf I play, hopefully we’€™ll get a win so I don’€™t ever have to answer [the] questions again.”

The questions to which Rask refers are those of whether he and the Bruins can beat the Canadiens. Boston has dropped all three of its meetings vs. the Habs this season, with Rask getting yanked in one of his two starts against Montreal.

In his career, Rask is 3-12-3 against the Canadiens in the regular season. While he shut out the Habs in one of his three postseason victories against them last year, Rask acknowledged that the Canadiens have been a problem for the Bruins.

“€œWe try to approach it as any other game, but the fact is that we haven’€™t been able to beat them that many times in the past,”€ he said. “€œWe have to change it because another fact is most likely we’€™re going to face them in the playoffs this year, so we have to learn to play against them.”€

Rask has already played in both games of back-to-backs four times this season. The possibilities to start for the Bruins if Rask doesn’€™t start are Niklas Svedberg and Malcolm Subban, the latter of whom is currently up with the Bruins. Subban hasn’€™t started a game in over two weeks, however, and playing him against the Canadiens in both his first NHL game and his first game at any level in a while would be a very challenging assignment.

Svedberg did not start Saturday in Providence, leaving open the possibility that he could be available for the B’€™s. Svedberg played most of the third period in Montreal in relief of Rask on Oct. 16 and allowed five goals to the Habs on Nov. 13 at the Bell Centre.

Claude Julien did not answer when asked who would be in net Sunday. The Bruins will not have a morning skate Sunday, so its likely that Boston’s starter will not be revealed until warmups at 7 p.m.

Read More: Malcolm Subban, Niklas Svedberg, Tuukka Rask,

5 things we learned as Loui Eriksson’s late goal helps Bruins take season series vs. Islanders

02.07.15 at 9:42 pm ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

When David Krejci was hurt early in the season, Claude Julien was hesitant to move Carl Soderberg up. When Krejci’€™s line needed a right wing, Julien was hesitant to move Loui Eriksson up. On Saturday, everyone saw why once again.

With the game tied at one goal apiece, Julien mixed up his lines to reunited the steady trio of Soderberg between Chris Kelly and Eriksson. The result: a late goal from Eriksson to break the tie and give the Bruins a 2-1 win over the Islanders (box) in the first game of a difficult back-to-back that brings the Habs to Boston on Sunday.

The goal, assisted by both Soderberg and Kelly, was Eriksson’€™s 12th goal of the season after posting just 10 goals over 61 games last season in his first campaign as a Bruin.

Saturday’s game was not the first time that Julien, after breaking up his trusty third line, went back to it and saw quick results. When Julien did it on Dec. 21 against the Sabres, Kelly scored on their first shift back together and Eriksson scored the game-winner in overtime.

Though former Bruins backup Chad Johnson started in goal for New York, it’s still worth noting the victory improved the Bruins to 2-1-0 against the Islanders this season, with their one loss coming in the Oct. 23 game in which Zdeno Chara tore his PCL.

Here are four more things we learned Saturday:


David Pastrnak’€™s play dropped off from its previous level after the Bruins announced in mid-January that they would be keeping him in Boston. Part of that included being dropped off David Krejci‘€™s line last week against the Islanders.

On Saturday, the 18-year-old rookie turned in perhaps his best performance since his offensive explosion late in his audition last month. Pastrnak’€™s night looked promising early on when he nearly netted one in the first period on the rebound of a Dougie Hamilton point shot, but it was Pastrnak’€™s second period that got him promoted back to Krejci’€™s line.

Playing on Boston’€™s first power play unit after a Matt Martin holding penalty, Pastrnak dangled around Brian Strait coming into the zone, though his decision to pass to Milan Lucic might not have been as smart as shooting the puck. Later in the shift, Pastrnak, who claims to weigh in the high 170s these days, threw a big hit on Strait.

Julien apparently liked what he saw on that power play, as he moved Pastrnak from Carl Soderberg’€™s line back to Krejci’€™s line in the middle of the second period.

On the subject of Claude Julien switching his right wings…  Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Skate Live Chat at 8 a.m.

02.07.15 at 6:51 pm ET
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Sunday Skate, WEEI’s new weekly hockey show hosted by DJ Bean and Joe McDonald, begins Sunday at 8 a.m.. To listen to WEEI live online, click here.

Sunday Skate will be an interactive show, with Pete Blackburn hosting a live chat in which listeners can participate throughout. Participants will be able to drive the show’s conversation while taking part in polls and anything else Blackburn digs up. Click below to join in. The chat will open shortly before the start of each show and will run through the duration of the two-hour program.

Live Blog Sunday Skate Live Chat

Kevan Miller advised not to fight rest of season, will require offseason surgery

02.07.15 at 5:46 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller said prior to Saturday’€™s game that he is learning to manage playing through right shoulder issues after dislocating the shoulder earlier in the season. He also confirmed that he will need offseason shoulder surgery, as was first reported by the Boston Herald last week.

Miller suffered the injury in a fight against Buffalo forward Nicolas Deslauriers on Oct. 18 and missed 13 games. He said that while he has continued to feel better since returning to the lineup on Nov. 21, he has been advised by doctors not to fight.

“It was told to me by the doctors that probably not a good idea to do that,” Miller said. “Whether it happens or not, it’€™s part of the game. You kind of have to be ready for anything either way. Just need to make sure I’€™m smart with it, I guess.”

Miller, a physical defender who fought seven times last season between the NHL and AHL last season, said that having to hold back on dropping the gloves shouldn’€™t change his game too much going forward.

“I don’€™t think it really changed as far as my approach to the game,” he said. “I just think, like I said, it’€™s something I have to be aware of, and maybe there are times that in the past maybe I would have been more apt to doing that, then this time kind of pulled back sometimes. Like I said, you kind of have to be ready for either way.”

In 36 games this season, Miller has two goals and four assists for six points and a team-leading plus-16 rating. He has a 48.9 Corsi percentage.

Brad Marchand returns to practice

02.06.15 at 11:24 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Brad Marchand was back on the ice for Friday’€™s practice after taking a maintenance day on Thursday.

In preparation for this weekend’€™s back-to-back against the Islanders and Canadiens, the Bruins iced the same lines they have used since last week’€™s meeting with the Islanders. Claude Julien switched up his right wings late in Wednesday’€™s meeting with the Rangers, but Friday’€™s practice saw the team’€™s recent lines reunited:


All seven defensemen and both goaltenders were present for Friday’s practice.

Will Malcolm Subban’s first NHL start come against Canadiens?

02.05.15 at 9:20 pm ET
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Malcolm Subban

Malcolm Subban

Malcolm Subban is due for a start somewhere.

When the Bruins recalled their 2012 first-round pick last week, it was a fun story as the second-year pro got his first regular-season taste of the NHL. All these days later, the fact that he lasted past last weekend (the anticipated length of his callup) brings something else to light: The kid is going on two weeks without playing a game.

That’€™s the longest stretch this season that Subban, who last played on Jan. 24 for Providence, has gone out of game action since a lower-body injury cost him time in mid-November.

The Bruins have a three-game homestand coming up, including a tough back-to-back against the Islanders and Canadiens this weekend. Asked whether Subban would get one of the starts, Claude Julien responded Thursday with his signature “we’€™ll see, guys” answer.

To give any goaltender their first NHL start in a Bruins-Canadiens game is the definition of throwing someone into the fire. Add in that Malcolm’€™s older brother P.K. is Montreal’€™s Norris-winning assistant captain, and a potential start Sunday would be quite the event. Malcolm admitted his parents would be on the next plane to Boston should it be the case, but he isn’€™t looking that far ahead.

“It would be pretty cool, but I’€™m not thinking into it too much,”€ Malcolm said Thursday. “Just trying to stay focused. Whenever my opportunity comes, hopefully I’€™ll be ready.”

The Bruins have played Tuukka Rask in both games of four different back-to-backs this season, so the fact that a backup (whether Subban or, should they return him to Providence, Niklas Svedberg) plays this weekend is far from a guarantee. The Canadiens angle does make it interesting from a game plan standpoint, however.

Rask has started two games against the Canadiens this season and is 0-2-0 with seven goals allowed. He was pulled from the teams’€™ first meeting this season after allowing five goals in an eventual 6-4 loss. The Bruins gave Svedberg the start in Montreal on Nov. 13, with Svedberg surrendering five goals on 34 shots.

The small chance that Subban could begin his NHL career in a Battle of the Subbans comes down to the Bruins’€™ philosophy with Rask and the Canadiens. Rask is one of the best goaltenders in the world and he doesn’€™t win a lot against Montreal (3-12-3 lifetime in the regular season). The fact that Rask is one of the best goaltenders in the world is not going to change, but the Bruins can take the Rangers/Henrik Lundqvist approach by simply hiding their star goaltender from the Habs. That worked when the Rangers beat the Habs in six games in the Eastern Conference finals last spring.

So it’€™s possible that the back-to-backs and Rask’€™s history could combine to make Subban’€™s dream debut take place, but it’€™s also worth considering that the Bruins prioritize their game plan over the neat story. Just ask Michigan native Steven Kampfer, who brought his family to his Joe Louis Arena homecoming when the Bruins faced the Red Wings in 2011, only to learn the night before the game that the B’€™s would be making him a healthy scratch for the game.

Whether or not Subban plays during this callup or at any point in Boston this season, the 21-year-old has enjoyed his brief NHL stint thus far. He’€™s seen the improved competition in practice and thinks the non-training-camp exposure to working life in the NHL has been a learning experience.

“Those shots that he’€™s getting here should be a little bit higher grade than what he gets over there, for obvious reasons,” Julien said. “It’€™s a good experience for him. We’€™re trying to groom him into being the goaltender that we expect him to be, and you’€™ve got to take some steps to do that. This is one of the steps that was part of grooming him.”

Read More: Malcolm Subban, P.K. Subban,
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