|11.21.14 at 9:54 pm ET|
The Bruins were in danger of extending their road woes, but they came out of a shaky performance in Columbus with two points thanks to an injury replacement.
Alexander Khokhlachev, filling in for the injured David Krejci, netted the only goal of a seven-round shootout to give the Bruins a 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets (box). The Bruins overcame a 2-0 deficit with three third-period goals to take a 3-2 lead on Daniel Paille‘s first goal of the season, but Jack Johnson responded to tie the game at three apiece.
Boston can only hope Friday’s win can set them up for further road success in the coming weeks. The Bruins have three straight games at home against some tough opponents (the Canadiens Saturday and the Penguins Monday before wrapping up the homestand against the Jets), but after that they’ll embark upon a very challenging four-game West Coast road trip. With any luck, they’ll be healthier then.
Here are four other things we learned Friday night:
DAVID KREJCI IS NOT YET IN THE CLEAR
Krejci missed yet another game Friday, his 10th of the season. The first-line center has battled lower-body issues all season and has not played in consecutive games since Oct. 28 and 30.
Earlier this week, Adam McQuaid explained what it’s like to go through a situation like Krejci’s. McQuaid was in and out of the lineup last season with lower-body injuries that eventually cost him his season after 30 games.
“It’s hard,” McQuaid said. “If you’re feeling good, you’re going to go. If you’re feeling good, you’re not going to take extra time if you don’t feel like you need it. Hopefully when he’s back, he’s back and back to stay.”
With Krejci and Brad Marchand out of the lineup, Boston forward lines were as follows:
Fraser – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly - Soderberg - Eriksson
Lucic - Khokhlachev - Griffith
Paille - Campbell – Gagne
In another potential injury development, Dougie Hamilton did not play the last 9:24 of regulation and stayed on the bench throughout overtime as well. Hamilton missed Wednesday’s practice with what the team called the flu, though he practiced Thursday.
|11.21.14 at 7:19 pm ET|
Krejci, who has been in and out of the lineup this season due to lower-body injuries, has now missed 10 games this season. He missed the first three of the season, played nine, missed two, returned for one, missed four more and then played Tuesday against the Blues before coming back out of the lineup Friday.
It is unknown whether Krejci’s absence Friday was related to previous injuries. Alexander Khokhlachev centered Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith in his place.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|11.21.14 at 1:12 pm ET|
The Bruins called up forward Alexander Khokhlachev from AHL Providence on an emergency basis so that he will be eligible for Friday’s road game against the Blue Jackets.
Khokhlachev, a 5-foot-11, 184-pounder, has a team-high five goals along with 11 assists and a plus-2 rating.
The 21-year-old from Moscow was selected by the Bruins in the second round of the 2011 draft.
|11.20.14 at 3:58 pm ET|
Dougie’s Big Contract is on hold, for now.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding the salary cap going forward, the Bruins and agent J.P. Barry have yet to begin formal discussions on a new contract for defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who will be a restricted free agent at season’s end. Same goes for Carl Soderberg and Daniel Paille, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents this summer and are also represented by Barry.
Barry and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli have been talking regularly, the agent told WEEI.com Thursday, but the longtime agent said he has no problem being patient as the Bruins wait and see what kind of contracts they can offer Hamilton and their other players with expiring deals.
The agent, who also represents Loui Eriksson and has a good relationship with Chiarelli, sees no reason for concern at this point, saying “I’ll know when Peter’s ready.”
Hamilton is in the midst of the final year of his entry level contract. He leads the Bruins with a 22:34 average time on ice and is tied for third on the team with 11 points (tops among B’s defensemen). Playing mostly against other team’s top players both as Zdeno Chara‘s partner and his replacement, Hamilton carries an even rating through 20 games. He is also one of two Bruins defensemen to play every game this season, with the other being Dennis Seidenberg.
The Bruins currently have $49,897,857 committed against the cap to 10 players (not counting Marc Savard) for the 2015-16 season. The cap ceiling is $69 million this season; the Bruins traded Johnny Boychuk prior to the season in order to get under it.
There was an expectation that the cap would increase by $5 million or more next season, but the New York Post reported reported earlier this month that the projected decline in the Canadian dollar might prevent the NHL Players’ Association from exercising a five-percent escalator for next season. The escalator will be voted on in June.
Asked about the future of the cap and how it impacts how the Bruins will do their business, Bruins president Cam Neely didn’t get into specifics but admitted the Bruins are doing every calculation they can.
“We’re constantly thinking about future years,” Neely said. “As much as we put a lot of time and effort and thought into the current year, we look at where our team is going to be next year and the following year, especially when you have guys that have contracts coming up or you have guys with term. You always have to look at the math.”
Historically, Chiarelli has prioritized getting new deals done for his players either before they enter their contract year or during it, with David Krejci, Marc Savard and Rich Peverley among the players he has re-upped in-season over the years.
|11.20.14 at 3:17 pm ET|
It’s been four weeks to the day since Zdeno Chara suffered a torn PCL on Oct. 23 against the Islanders. His anticipated recovery time was 4-6 weeks.
Chara has been seen around the team at various points, his limp subsiding in the weeks following his injury as he’s walked through the press box at games and – if you can believe it — even eaten from the dessert tray on the ninth floor of TD Garden. He could be seen doing agility drills in the hallway Tuesday morning, but he has yet to be spotted on the ice.
“He’s getting closer,” Cam Neely said Thursday. “I mean, you put that time between when he got hurt and now, there’s been a lot of forward progress for him.”
Neely said that Chara has handled being out of the lineup well. Given his competitive nature and the fact that he hasn’t missed more than five games in any of his previous eight seasons, this might not be the easiest time for the Bruins’ captain.
“It’s frustrating for anybody that’s been out of the lineup for any length of time,” Neely said. “Regardless of if you’ve been relatively healthy your whole career, no one likes watching.”
|11.20.14 at 3:14 pm ET|
Peter Chiarelli will probably never say how many NHL defensemen he thinks he has again.
Since saying that he felt he had nine this offseason, the number has been tested significantly. After trading one of them in Johnny Boychuk, Chiarelli has seen five of his defensemen get hurt in the first 20 games of the season. Of the nine NHL-caliber defensemen Chiarelli said he felt the Bruins possessed, the only three who haven’t suffered an injury this season have been Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski.
That is rough, rough stuff for the Bruins, but it does allow that list of NHL defensemen to get longer. Games played as injury replacements have been the avenue to the NHL for many of Boston’s young defensemen, with Hamilton really the only one who was actually given a job to begin his NHL career.
Adam McQuaid filled in for an injured Mark Stuart and took his job in 2011. Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski earned their sweaters in the 2013 postseason. Kevan Miller and Zach Trotman got their feet wet a season ago with injuries to various blueliners, while Joe Morrow initially came up to replace the struggling Bartkowski this season but will remain in the lineup in part because of Boston’s ailing back end.
Krug thinks that’s a respectable way to become an NHL player. He feels jumping in to replace a hurt player leaves less room for thinking, which is a good way to avoid mistakes for a young player.
“It doesn’t leave you time to think about what could happen or what could go wrong, because you’re the only option,” he said. “They’re putting you in the game and you’ve just got to go out and do your thing. All the guys that have gone out and done so so far have taken the right mindset.
“That’s the only reason I’m here right now, is because there was an opportunity with a couple guys hurt in the playoffs, and I [made] the best of it. I think these guys are doing a good job of taking these opportunities and running with it. It’s fun when you earn things like that.”
McQuaid had gotten off to a very encouraging start to this season coming off an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign that saw him dress in only 30 games. With a broken thumb putting his season on hold for 6-8 weeks, the Bruins have to go back to their group of young defensemen for bigger and tougher minutes.
That won’t be easy, but given the job that Miller did replacing him last season and the play they’ve gotten from other young blueliners, the Bruins are confident they can handle the loss.
“Is it a silver lining? It is in a way because we really felt we had some good depth on the back end,” Claude Julien said. “I think it’s showing now. Whoever we bring up seems to be doing a decent job. A lot of guys that are here now are going to make it difficult for us when it’s all said and done. There’s a pretty good competition going again on our back end.”
Morrow, a 2011 first-round pick, has proven to be a better NHL player than he was an AHL player. Trotman, meanwhile, was replaced by Bartkowski on Saturday and eventually sent to Providence, but now he’s back with the NHL club. Neither player was on Chiarelli’s unofficial list of nine this summer, but they can add their names to it with strong performances.
Given their injuries, the Bruins’ list of NHL-caliber defensemen isn’t anything like what it was in the offseason, but as players return to the lineup, the B’s could eventually find themselves at a point where they have more guys capable of handling NHL minutes than they did immediately after trading Boychuk.
“I think that number’s grown,” Krug said. “You’re witnessing Joe come in and do a great job, and Trots is getting the experience and he’s doing well. I think that number’s getting higher and higher. Hopefully at some point, we have that many guys that the coaching staff has to make a decision who to play.”
|11.20.14 at 3:09 pm ET|
Brad Marchand will not travel with the Bruins to Columbus, coach Claude Julien said after Thursday’s practice. Marchand participated in the practice, but shared left wing duties on his line with Matt Fraser.
Friday’s game against the Blue Jackets will be the second consecutive contest Marchand has missed due to an undisclosed injury that was suffered in Saturday’s win over the Hurricanes. Julien said that Marchand is “doing better,” but that he remains day-to-day and the team wants to give him more time to recover.
Dougie Hamilton practiced Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice with the flu.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
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