|10.20.16 at 9:52 pm ET|
The lines may have shaken up, but the source of offense didn’t. With the return of Patrice Bergeron, forwards found themselves in new roles, but in a 2-1 rout of the Devils, the Bruins proved their top six forwards can be relied upon no matter which line they’re skating on.
Bergeron provided the dagger with just 1:15 left to claim the win for the Bruins, one-timing a shot off a pass from Brad Marchand to put the Bruins up by the decisive margin.
“I saw an opening,” Bergeron said. “I thought there was a little miscommunication on the D zone and I knew that Brad was going to come around the net and see me there, so I was just waiting and I was ready for the one-timer and obviously I was just trying to put it on net. I wasn’t necessarily trying to look at an area; I was just trying to put it on net and I was lucky to get that goal.”
Faced with a one-goal deficit and less than 10 minutes to play, Marchand danced his way from center ice into the offensive zone at 9:47 and wristed the puck through the five-hole of Devils captain Andy Greene and over the right shoulder of Cory Schneider.
“Well obviously we got the result that wanted. I thought for the most part it was an exciting game. New Jersey is an improved hockey club,” head coach Claude Julien said. “I thought their transition game was good and we knew that before the game started but we told our guys that we needed to be patient and play our game and it wasn’t going to be a high scoring game but we had to really stay with it and I thought our guys did a really good job. Unfortunately they got that first goal again but I liked our response after that.”
With the return of Bergeron, David Backes slid from centering the first line to the right wing of the second, and was still a seamless fit — as was Bergeron in Backes’ vacated role.
The Devils’ lone goal came a little over five and a half minutes before Marchand’s. On the power play, Kyle Palmieri snuck a shot underneath Brandon Carlo before gliding between the legs of an unassuming Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins will take the ice again on Saturday in their first matchup this season against the Canadiens.
Here are four more things we learned in Thursday’s win.
David Backes will only help improve David Krejci
Backes skating to Krejci’s right has already started turning into a potent combination, even if it didn’t result in any points on Thursday. Even with Danton Heinen being virtually absent on the second line, both Backes and Krejci did a good job of opening up the ice and creating chances for one another.
I thought we had some good stuff,” Krejci said. “Good forecheck, good rushes, a couple good scoring chances, so just kind of stay positive and it will come.”
Torey Krug can be serviceable on the right side, but should not totally relied upon
It has not been a frequent choice of Claude Julien’s, and it should probably remain that way. Krug was moved to the right side so he could pair with Joe Morrow, who was getting his first game action this season. While he certainly wasn’t awful, he looked visibly more comfortable offensively when he was playing left while on the power play.
“Yeah I think Torey had some hiccups tonight with the puck but I thought as the game went on, he definitely got better and took charge and that’s what we want from Torey.”
He spent time playing on the right when he was coming up through Providence, and per Julien when he made the decision, “He’s very comfortable on the right.”
The reality appears after this small sample size, however, that given Morrow’s streakiness — especially with the lack of routine playing time — it’s not worthy to take offense out of Krug in order to get Morrow in the lineup.
The power play still needs work
At times, the power play was painfully underwhelming.
Giveaways in the offensive zone led to the Bruins falling to 1-for-14 on the power play this season after failing to execute on all four of their opportunities Thursday night.
“Yeah. [Bergeron] was a little bit better. We got some more scoring chances. The puck’s not finding the back of the net. But, like I said, stay positive and keep creating chances and eventually, it will go in.”
Passing is going to create problems
While an excuse can be made that the situation will fix itself with time, the Bruins’ inability to pass effectively came close to detrimental at multiple points.
Nearing the end of the first period, Brad Marchand had a brutal giveaway at center ice that nearly allowed the Devils into the attacking zone without any pressure.
Colin Miller didn’t help the cause much on the power play, either, allowing an errant pass as he tripped to fall to a Devils stick and be cleared out of the zone.
|10.20.16 at 5:33 pm ET|
Ahead of Wednesday’s home opener, Bruins head coach Claude Julien announced 23-year-old center Austin Czarnik had been sent to the AHL.
Czarnik started the season off centering the third line, but after the first two games was scratched in favor of veteran Riley Nash. Even with the demotion, however, he made a mark in his time with the Bruins.
“He had a tremendous camp. We just want him to go down there and play, and we’ll see what goes on from there,” said Julien. “I was extremely impressed with his training camp. He’s a smart player. When we get to this type of situation, I think he’s playing to find his game again and we’re going to allow him to do that. With the way that he’s played, there’s a good chance we’re going to see him again.”
Julien also added that there is a “good chance” Czarnik gets called back up to the Bruins at some point.
Patrice Bergeron will play his first game of the season Wednesday, after missing the first three games with a lower body injury. On top of his offensive and defensive contributions, the mere presence of the 31-year-old is expected to give the Bruins a lift.
“It doesn’t matter what night it is. I think anytime Patrice comes back into the room, it’s a big lift. He’s regarded as one of the best players in the league,” Julien said.
“So, when you coach some games without him and you see him coming back, it’s a lift to everybody — players, teammates, organization, coaching staff, and hopefully the fans as well.”
Defenseman Joe Morrow, who has yet to play in a game this season, will likely start on Wednesday. He was paired with Torey Krug during morning skate, while Rob O’Gara stayed on the ice late, an indication that he will likely be scratched in favor of Morrow.
“When [Morrow] plays well, he’s a good addition to our team,” Julien said. “He skates well, he gets the puck out of our own end, with [Kevin Miller] out, the same thing. You’re looking for consistency from game to game. The sharpness and compete level are important aspects of playing in the NHL and right now, he needs both of those to get there.”
Also skating late at practice was winger Ryan Spooner, who has struggled to kickstart his season, with one assist in the first three games. Should he be scratched, Tim Schaller would replace him, having skated in Spooner’s spot on the fourth line left wing Wednesday morning.
“He’s just a smart player that plays hard, I think, in all aspects,” Julien said of Schaller. “He’s a centerman that can play the wing, he’s got good size, I think his hockey sense is great. Last time we put him in there, I thought he did a good job with that line which turned out to be one of one better lines against Winnipeg.”
Here are the Bruins projected lines for their tilt against the Devils.
|10.17.16 at 10:45 pm ET|
So far, so good.
The Bruins will take these kind of performances as they find their way early in the season, claiming their second win of the season with a 4-1 victory over host Winnipeg.
The decisive goal came with just 58 seconds left in the second period, as David Pastrnak — celebrating his 100th NHL game — notching his fourth goal of the season. It sends the B’s home for their first game at TD Garden, Thursday night, at 2-1.
The Bruins would add two late goals, from Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara, to seal the deal.
Also coming up big for the Bruins was goalie Tuukka Rask, who has now won both of his starts this season. The netminder was excellent throughout, making 33 saves.
It was former Bruin Blake Wheeler who got the scoring going with a goal at 10:00 of the first period, breaking out of the pack and gathering in a lead pass from Alex Burmistrov just before the blue line. Once in the clear, Wheeler made a quick move on Rask before sliding in a back-hand.
The Bruins responded just 19 seconds later when Dominic Moore jammed on a rebound past Winnipeg goalie Conor Hellebuyck on the far side of the net after an initial save on Tim Schaller’s attempt. It was Moore’s first goal as a Bruin.
The Bruins locked things up with Carlo’s first NHL goal, coming with 1:59 left in the game. Chara’s was an open-net opportunity.
|10.15.16 at 10:02 pm ET|
It’s a better start than last year’s 0-3 opening record (and with those losses all on home ice), but Boston’s 2016 record is back to an even 1-1 after a 4-1 loss to Toronto Saturday night at Air Canada Center.
The six-goal bounty displayed in Thursday’s contest was a distant memory as the Bruins were held to just one goal on 25 shots Saturday, and most of those attempts from outside of the prime-scoring areas.
The Bruins were again missing two veteran players as center Patrice Bergeron and defenseman Adam McQuaid remained in Boston recovering from injuries. The line combinations stayed the same for coach Claude Julien, but the Brad Marchand – David Backes – David Pastrnak line was unable to carry the team in this one as it did in the opener.
Boston did a fine job limiting the league’s number-one overall draft pick Auston Matthews (entering the game with four goals) — holding him to no points and just two shots — but Toronto found plenty of offense elsewhere en route to the comfortable win.
The B’s next head to Winnipeg for an 8 p.m. faceoff Monday.
|10.13.16 at 10:15 pm ET|
The Bruins trailed 2-0 after one period and 3-1 midway through the contest, but a magical night from Brad Marchand — along with his linemates David Pastrnak and David Backes — sparked a 6-3 Bruins comeback win in their 2016 season opener Thursday in Columbus.
Marchand, fresh off a championship with Team Canada in the World Cup and a new eight year, $49 million offseason deal, put together his second career five-point night with two goals and three assists.
Marchand’s two tallies came in the third period to break a 3-3 tie, the first following a Pastrnak breakaway chance at the 9:54 mark and the second at 15:25 on a brilliant individual effort. Marchand started the later sequence from his own blue line and up the right wing wall before dancing through Columbus defenseman Markus Nutivaara to roof one past Sergei Bobrovsky in the low slot.
A Pastrnak empty-net goal capped off the incredible 12-point night from the Bruins newly-formed top line.
The Bruins next play Saturday at 7pm in Toronto in what should be an electric atmosphere with the league’s top-overall draft pick Auston Matthews coming off a four-goal debut in his team’s opener in Ottawa Wednesday.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
|10.12.16 at 2:21 pm ET|
The Boston Bruins’ 2016-17 opening roster was submitted to the league on Tuesday, but multiple injuries have made it a fluid document with the team’s first regular-season contest approaching Thursday in Columbus.
Boston initially placed blueliners Kevan Miller (fractured left hand, out six weeks) and Adam McQuaid (upper body, day-to-day) on injured reserve, in addition to winger Frank Vatrano (foot surgery, out three months). McQuaid will miss at least three games with the league’s mandated seven-day stay on IR.
The team then announced on Wednesday that top-line center Patrice Bergeron will be a scratch for at least the season’s first game with a lower body injury. Tim Schaller, a 25-year-old Providence College product, was recalled for roster insurance. Schaller signed a two-way deal with Boston in July after starting his career in the Buffalo organization.
For now, the team’s 13 forwards are: Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner, David Krejci, David Backes, Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Dominic Moore, Riley Nash, Danton Heinen, Noel Acciari, and Schaller.
The seven healthy defensemen that begin the season with the big club are: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, John-Michael Liles, Colin Miller, Brandon Carlo, Joe Morrow and Rob O’Gara.
|10.12.16 at 2:00 pm ET|
The NHL season is upon us, leaving Bruins fans wondering whether they’re in for a return to the playoffs or just another frustrating regular season.
Heading into Thursday night’s season opener against the Blue Jackets, B’s fans are probably leaning toward the latter, but an influx of youth into the lineup makes this a potentially exciting team to watch this season, even if expectations aren’t set particularly high.
We’ve done basically every type of season preview imaginable over the years, but Ben Rohrbach did one like this a while back and I want to copy that style, so here’s a bunch of lists to get you ready for the Bruins’ season:
Three questions you probably have:
Will they make the playoffs?
Maybe. Detroit is the only Eastern Conference playoff team from last season that looks like a safe bet to fall out of the playoff picture, and the Canadiens will fare better than they did a season ago. The third Atlantic spot would be a good goal for the Bruins, but their roster isn’t any better than it was when they missed the postseason a year ago.
Will Claude Julien get fired?
I’m not gaga about this team, but the schedule is pretty light early on (see below), so it’s hard to envision them stumbling so much out of the gate that they’d have to pull the plug. If they do struggle, however, he’s an easy scapegoat.
How will the defense be?
You know the answer to that.
Four rookies who are getting a shot:
Austin Czarnik: Of the Bruins’ four rookies, he’s the only who isn’t a first-year pro. Czarnik recently suffered a concussion, but returned to practice Wednesday. The speedy center was all but penciled in to be the team’s third-line center leading up to his injury, and should still get that spot.
Brandon Carlo: The 6-foot-5 righty is eligible for Providence, and while he’ll start the season in Boston, the team is high enough on him that he might have made the team otherwise. Still, he’s just 19, so if he gets squeezed out of the lineup he’ll be better off in the AHL.
Danton Heinen: After two years at the University of Denver, Heinen went pro with an outside shot of making the B’s. That became a reality when Frank Vatrano needed foot surgery and Heinen tied for the team lead with three preseason goals.
Rob O’Gara: Carlo isn’t the only tall rookie defenseman on the roster. The 6-foot-4 Yale grad’s best bet at getting into games early on would be if the team opted to sit Joe Morrow despite the injuries on the blue line.
Three new guys and one kind of new guy:
David Backes: He’s 32 and he’s on a five-year deal. The best-case scenario is that he’s the guy he was last postseason (seven goals and seven assists for 14 points) and sustains that for a few years.
Dominic Moore: Tied with old friend Lee Stempniak for most teams, the journeyman center is a logical fit centering the fourth line.
Riley Nash: When guys are healthy he’s a fourth-line wing. He can also play center if needed.
Anton Khudobin: If Tuukka Rask’s numbers aren’t the same with a lesser defense, banking on Khudobin to experience smooth sailing his second time in Boston might be an overestimation.
Two guys they’ll miss:
Loui Eriksson: The B’s chose David Backes’ mid-30s over Eriksson’s. We’ll see if that was the right decision, but the guess here is that it wasn’t.
Frank Vatrano: Well at least he’ll be back. After scoring 36 goals in 36 AHL games last season, Vatrano might end up scoring no goals in the first 36 NHL games this season due to foot surgery. He’s expected back sometime around late December.
Two guys who could be traded:
Adam McQuaid: The 30-year-old is a good third-pairing right defenseman, but the B’s already have one of those in the younger and cheaper Kevan Miller. McQuaid has three years left on his deal with an annual cap hit of $2.75 million. Moving him would allow the B’s to give a full-time job to Carlo should they feel he’s ready.
Ryan Spooner: This goes against the whole “developing young talent” thing, but the fact is they need a sure thing on defense and Spooner is rightfully one of their best chips because he’s a good young player. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
One guy they’ll have to bury in the AHL:
Zac Rinaldo: I’ll be maybe the first person to ever say “the poor guy” when referring to Rinaldo, but it’s true. He didn’t trade a third-round pick for himself.
One smart re-signing:
John-Michael Liles: They’ve got too many bodies on D (seven defenders are on one-way deals), but if the B’s do make moves, Liles has the flexibility to serve as a left or right defenseman on the second or third pairing. He also provides time for guys like Carlo to develop in the AHL if need be.
One happy stat:
– The Bruins are going to score because they pretty much always do. They finished fifth in goals last season and have finished in the top five in four of the last five 82-game seasons.
One sad stat:
– The Bruins had three 30-goal-scorers last year. They replaced one of them (Eriksson) with a guy (Backes) who has seen his goal total decline in each of the past two seasons, from 27 in 2013-14 to 21 last season.
One guy who will have better luck than last year:
Torey Krug: His four goals last season were surprising, but he had a career-high 244 shots on goal with an unbelievably unfortunate 1.6 shooting percentage. If that percentage bumps up to even 5 (it was 7.7 and 5.9 his other two seasons), he would have had 12 goals. Krug still managed to rack up 40 assists and a career-high 44 points. Between his performance and his health throughout his career (he’s missed a total of eight regular-season games in his three full seasons), there isn’t much to worry about with Krug.
Speaking of Krug, three guys who could get Chris Kelly’s ‘A’:
Torey Krug: The top choice here. Young guy who’s got his act together and, most importantly, hasn’t won. You won’t find complacency there.
David Backes: The longtime captain of the Blues has made himself comfortable in Boston.
Brad Marchand: Often times, you just give the letter to the best player. Marchand cares more than anybody, but it’s safe to assume he’s got at least three or four more suspensions ahead of him in his career.
Three dumb takes you might hear during the season:
Brad Marchand’s on pace for fewer than 37 goals. Did they sign him too early?
– No. He took a team-friendly deal. Even with something of a statistical regression, he still could have gotten that deal at the end of the season. It just wouldn’t be as team-friendly.
(After month) They’re in first place. Are they Cup contenders?
– Seriously, watch out for mid-November, because the B’s might be sitting pretty standings-wise at that point. Only six of their first 16 games are against teams that made the playoffs last season, including five straight against non-playoff teams to begin the season. By Nov. 13 (the end of another such five-game stretch), high standing would be encouraging, but not a sign that their problems are fixed.
(Probably at a lot of points when they lose) Julien’s the problem.
– He probably won’t be the problem that often.