|01.30.16 at 1:13 am ET|
PROVIDENCE — While Boston’s hockey team was off duty due to the All-Star break, Boston’s AHL farm club in Providence put on an NHL-type show.
Featuring a top line of Frank Vatrano – Seth Griffith – David Pastrnak, the P-Bruins blitzed the Springfield Falcons on Friday night at the Dunkin Donuts’ Center by a final of 8-1. Vatrano and Griffith each had five points, with Vatrano’s hat-trick stealing the show, while Pastrnak added a goal and two assists.
And while the 19-year-old Pastrnak is almost assuredly on a short-term loan to Providence as he continues to sharpen his game after missing time due to injuries, the 21-year-old Vatrano and 23-year-old Griffith are making strong cases that they should be working back in Boston soon, too.
With Griffith’s goal-and-four-assist night Friday he took over the AHL scoring lead, having compiled 46 points (14 goals and 32 assists) over his 35 games of action. And that’s having played some 10-to-12 fewer games than many other players close behind him on the AHL points’ leaderboard.
Vatrano, meanwhile, has already seen 30 games on NHL ice this season. Since being demoted on January 21 due in part to a Boston numbers-crunch, all Vatrano has done is light up AHL stat sheets to the tune of six goals and four assists over a four-game stretch. In 15 total AHL games this year, he has now scored 16 times.
“I just feel more and more confident on the ice,” Vatrano said of his second stint in the AHL this season. “Plays are coming quicker to me, I feel like I have more time and space. I came down here to make a statement when I got sent down from Boston, and I’m feeling really great out there. Playing with some good guys down here has helped me build confidence.”
|01.27.16 at 11:50 pm ET|
The Bruins released an update on Jonas Gustavsson Wednesday night, revealing that the goaltender’s departure from Tuesday’s game and trip to the hospital was indeed heart-related.
“Jonas Gustavsson was removed from Tuesday’s game for precautionary reasons due to an elevated heart rate,” Wednesday’s statement read. “He was taken to Mass General Hospital and remained there overnight for testing. All preliminary tests came back negative and he was discharged Wednesday afternoon. Jonas is expected to rejoin the team after the NHL All-Star Break pending clearance from the Bruins medical staff.”
This is not the first time Gustavsson has dealt with heart issues in his career, as he has had three different heart procedures since coming to the NHL from Sweden in 2009.
The 31-year-old goaltender allowed two goals on 16 shots against the Ducks Tuesday before leaving the game. On the season, he is 9-3-1 with a .915 save percentage and 2.38 goals-against average.
|01.27.16 at 7:07 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Wednesday that forward David Pastrnak was assigned to AHL Providence. The move was made so the 19-year-old can see some action during the NHL All-Star break, as he’s missed most of the season due to injury. He is expected to rejoin the Bruins next week, before their first game back Tuesday.
Pastrnak was sidelined two months with a fractured foot suffered in late October. He then had a brief stint with Providence before joining the Czech Republic for the World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland. Since rejoining the B’s on Jan. 8, he has three goals and two assists in eight games.
Providence hosts Springfield on Friday.
|01.27.16 at 2:15 am ET|
The Bruins’ final game before the All-Star break didn’t go their way, a 6-2 loss to Anaheim that dropped the B’s home record to a lousy 11-13-2.
However, the players in the Boston dressing room seemed content with their lot in life as they packed up for a week’s furlough, a 26-18-5 season mark in tow that was holding them third place in the Atlantic Division with 33 games remaining on the season.
“We’ve surprised a lot of people,” said defenseman Torey Krug. “We’re not surprised in here where we [are]. We had a goal to be in the top three [of our division] before the All-Star break and we’re sitting right there.”
“At the beginning of the year there were a lot of people that probably thought that we wouldn’t be in the playoffs,” echoed forward Ryan Spooner. “You kind of heard that stuff, and that we would be a younger team. But we’ve shown that we can play with the top teams. We’ve proved a lot of people wrong and we just have to keep that up.”
The Bruins have indeed exceeded many preseason prognostications to this point. The team’s 21-10-2 record against the Eastern Conference shines bright, as does its 12-6-1 mark within the division. The latter includes a 4-0 performance against the two teams ahead of Boston in the Atlantic (Florida and Detroit).
That said, despite winning five of their last seven games, players also are willing to admit that their current playoff perch is a tenuous one.
|01.26.16 at 11:40 pm ET|
The Bruins offered no update on the status of goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who left Tuesday’s loss to the Ducks after the first period and was taken to the hospital.
The only word that the Bruins offered was during the game, when they shared that Gustavsson was ill and taken to Mass General. Gustavsson has a history of heart procedures, which led to speculation that the goaltender could have had another such issue.
Asked specifically whether Gustavsson’s situation was heart-related, Claude Julien said he had ‘no idea.’ The Bruins said afterwards that they would not have any update for at least the rest of the day.
Tuukka Rask replaced Gustavsson for the final two periods. He too said he was unaware of Gustavsson’s status.
“He just went to the trainer’s room after the period and that was it,” Rask said. “That’s all I know.”
|01.26.16 at 11:18 pm ET|
The Bruins lost Tuesday’s game because they were terrible for most of the opening 40 minutes, not because Torey Krug lost a fight.
During the 6-2 loss Krug took on the much bigger Chris Stewart (the former future Bruin has 5 inches and 45 pounds on Krug) and predictably lost. While fans during the game wanted Krug’s defeat avenged — and for all we know maybe Stewart was challenged at another point during the game — Krug and Claude Julien both took no issue with the fight after the game.
“I started it,” Krug said. “He didn’t want to fight me. It was a mismatch, but at the end of the day, I don’t know, I didn’t like what happened there and it got a little crazy.”
Said Julien: “Torey dropped the gloves against him. It’s disappointing to see that kind of fight, but when your player drops his gloves against you, what is he supposed to do? He defended himself, and some people might have done it a little differently, but it doesn’t matter. To me, Torey dropped the gloves like he wanted to fight, and I don’t think that took any juice out of our team. I think if anything it kind of gave a little bit more animosity to the rest of the game.”
|01.26.16 at 9:49 pm ET|
Third periods have been a problem for the Bruins this season, so they implemented an interesting strategy Tuesday night. They only played the third period.
After a generally listless 40 minutes that saw the Ducks take a 4-1 lead, the Bruins pushed back in the third by cutting into Anaheim’s lead with a Zdeno Chara goal 2:20 into the third. That would prove to be the extent of Boston’s offense despite some solid chances late, however, and the B’s hit the All-Star break as losers of a 6-2 contest.
The game featured plenty of the unexpected, from Zach Trotman scoring on the game’s first shift to Torey Krug fighting Chris Stewart (as in the Chris Stewart who is five inches and 45 pounds bigger than Krug), but the Bruins’ sleepy play throughout much of the night was not enough to yield significant production against an Anaheim team desperate for points.
The Bruins will be off until next Tuesday, when they host the Leafs at TD Garden.
Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:
GUSTAVSSON TAKEN TO MASS GENERAL
At this point, Bruins goaltenders should be ready for anything on their off-days. After Jonas Gustavsson was given a last-minute start on Saturday due to a Tuukka Rask ailment, Rask was forced to enter Tuesday’s game in the second period as a result of Gustavsson being taken to the hospital.
Gustavsson, who was given the start Tuesday, left the game due to an illness and was taken to Mass General. That left the Bruins without a backup goalie on the bench for the entire second period.