|11.01.14 at 11:51 pm ET|
The Bruins’ defense could easily be a complete disaster right now. With Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller all injured and Matt Bartkowski struggling mightily, disaster might have even been the expectation.
But thanks to the way Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman and David Warsofsky have played the last two games, the Bruins’ defense has not been a disaster. Warsofsky made one glaring mistake Thursday night against Buffalo on a bad pinch that led to an odd-man rush and a goal at the other end, but other than that, the trio of young defensemen (Trotman and Warsofsky are 24; Morrow is 21) have played mistake-free hockey, which is all anyone can realistically ask for given the situation.
“They’ve been really good,” Dougie Hamilton said. “I think it just shows how deep our organization is. You could see that in the preseason and training camp and everything. They can all play, so it shows, I guess, how deep we are as an organization. They’ve played really well, so it’s nice to have that.”
All three have played 15 or more minutes in each of the last two games. Warsofsky, who has the most NHL experience in the group with eight career games, has led the way at 18:09 on Thursday and 19:16 in Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Senators. Trotman, now up to six career NHL games, played a career-high 17:51 on Saturday. Morrow, a former first-round pick, played 16:05 Saturday after logging 17:51 in his NHL debut on Thursday.
Warsofsky and Trotman both saw significant power-play time Saturday, with Warsofsky’s 3:24 on the man advantage leading all Bruins. All three have gotten a taste of killing penalties as well.
One thing Warsofsky, Trotman and Morrow can all do well is break the puck out, either with their skating or their passing. They all still have work to do when it comes to playing without the puck, but their decision-making with the puck has been a noticeable strength so far.
“I think they’ve been very poised with the puck, skating the puck very well, and just playing consistent hockey,” Dennis Seidenberg said. “It’s nice to see that. We always talk about depth, and hopefully we can build on that and put some consistency together.”
It’s worth noting that the two games in which all three have played haven’t exactly been against the toughest competition. The Sabres are a contender for the first overall pick, and even though it took overtime for the Bruins to beat them, it was a game the B’s dominated from a possession standpoint. The Senators have a decent record (5-3-2), but they’re also not a very good possession team.
Still, the fact that Warsofsky, Trotman and Morrow have done what’s been asked of them is encouraging. These last two games should give them some confidence moving forward, and the Bruins will need them to continue their solid play while they wait for Chara, Krug and Miller to return.
“I think we’re all just taking advantage of it,” Warsofsky said. “We’re all around the same age and it’s all of our first handful of games, so we’re all kind of in the same boat. We’re having fun with it and trying to play our games every night like we do in Providence and translate that up here. I think so far everyone’s done a good job.”
|11.01.14 at 10:39 pm ET|
Claude Julien would not comment on a report from Hockey Night in Canada that he had agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Bruins.
And Bruins won't confirm, but word is that the team has extended coach Claude Julien for three more years.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) November 2, 2014
The Bruins have said nothing official about the matter, so Julien offered nothing when asked about it after Saturday night’s 4-2 win over the Senators.
“I have no comments on that, absolutely not,” Julien said. “Let’s talk about the team.”
The Bruins are off on Sunday.
|11.01.14 at 9:40 pm ET|
On paper, Saturday’s game against the Senators looked to be perhaps the hardest game of a relatively soft part of the Bruins’ schedule. The B’s were able to take care of it with a 4-2 win despite missing one of their best players.
A source told WEEI.com Saturday night that Krejci continues to deal with the hip injury that forced him to miss the first three games of the season. Krejci has been playing through pain and getting great results on the ice, but was finally given a night off on Saturday.
With Krejci out, the Bruins used the following lineup:
Lucic – Kelly – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne
Seidenberg – Hamilton
Morrow – McQuaid
Warsofsky – Trotman
Krejci will continue to battle his hip injury, but it’s unknown how many more games, whether sporadically throughout the season or otherwise, it will cost him.
Here are four other things we learned Saturday night:
FRASER GETS TO PLAY HIS POSITION
Matt Fraser will do whatever the Bruins ask of him, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be great at it. He needs to play left wing, preferably with some guys who can play. He did Saturday and scored two goals.
For just the second time this season, the left-shooting Fraser played on the left side. With Kelly moving up to Krejci’s spot, Fraser was able to slot in on the left wing of Carl Soderberg’s line with Loui Eriksson, reuniting a trio that looked good last postseason against the Canadiens.
In Fraser’s other four games this season, he was used as the right wing on a line with a rusty Milan Lucic and struggling Ryan Spooner (three games) and on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell last month in Buffalo.
Saturday marked the first time this season Fraser got a chance to play his position with a line that could do some offensive damage and got two goals out of it.
The first goal came just as Fraser was getting onto the ice, as he whacked a rebound past Robin Lehner with Eriksson in front. It was his second goal, scored just 1:28 later, that really showed why he’s deserving of NHL minutes. Fraser caught up to a beauty of a pass from Soderberg in the offensive zone and fired a snap shot over Lehner’s glove.
Because of his shot alone, Fraser should be an NHL player. When he doesn’t get to use it, he isn’t of much use out there. In his first four games of the season, Fraser had just two shots on goal. He had five Saturday, two of which went in.
MARCHAND HITS HIS STRIDE
For two straight seasons, Brad Marchand has responded to a slow start by catching fire.
Fortunately for the Bruins, it didn’t take him 26 games like it did last season. Marchand had just one goal over the first 11 games of the season, but after scoring the tying and winning goals Thursday against Buffalo, Marchand picked up his fourth goal of the season in the first period Saturday.
The goal was a positive sign for a Patrice Bergeron line that is coming around after a slow start. Bergeron won an offensive zone faceoff back to Marchand, who fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that trickled past Lehner to open the game’s scoring.
Given the way the last two seasons have gone, Marchand is establishing himself as a streaky player. At least he’s streaking the right way at this point.
SEIDENBERG OVERCOMES ROUGH LUCK
Technically, Dennis Seidenberg lost the puck to Mark Stone along the wall in the offensive zone, leading to an Ottawa 2-on-1 on which Stone scored in the first period. Replays showed that Seidenberg had to battle more than Stone, as the linesman got in the way, preventing Seidenberg from retaining the puck.
In the third period, the hockey gods made up for Seidenberg’s bad break when a puck squirted out to the top of the left circle. Seidenberg stepped into it and blasted it past Lehner, whose vision was obstructed by a screening Bergeron. The goal was Seidenberg’s first of the season.
Seidenberg later got beaten by Mika Zibanejad in front on the Senators’ second goal of the night.
BRUINS ARE STICKING WITH JOE MORROW
For the second straight game, the Bruins scratched Matt Bartkowski in favor of the former Penguins‘ first-round pick.
To be fair, the Bruins had healthy scratches in mind for Bartkowski when they signed him to a one-year, $1.25 million contract this offseason, but he without a doubt topped the ‘next guy up’ list. For him to be sitting with three of the team’s regular defensemen out of the lineup is a clear sign that both he and the team know he hasn’t been himself this season and that the Bruins are confident in Morrow.
Just how confident? After playing 17:51 against the Sabres (including an overtime shift), the B’s gave Morrow over 16 minutes for a second straight game. Bartkowski’s season-high is 20:57, which he played on Oct. 23 against the Islanders, but the Bruins have kept Bartkowski under 15 minutes in three of his five games.
|11.01.14 at 7:35 pm ET|
David Krejci missed Saturday night’s game with a hip injury he’s been battling all season, a source told WEEI.com.
Krejci, who missed the first three games of the season due to the injury, returned to the lineup for nine games before the pain caused him to miss Friday’s practice and Saturday’s game. Claude Julien said both Friday and Saturday afternoon that Krejci would play Saturday, with Krejci even taking warmups prior to the game.
The 28-year-old center was still able to perform as he dealt with the injury, putting up three goals and six assists for nine points in his nine games. Despite having missed time, Krejci’s assist and point totals led the team entering Saturday night.
With Krejci out Saturday, Chris Kelly stepped into Krejci’s usual spot with Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith. Matt Fraser stepped into the Bruins’ lineup for his fifth game of the season as he slotted into Kelly’s usual spot on the left wing of Boston’s third line. The rest of Boston’s lineup was unchanged.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|10.31.14 at 4:33 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly split center duties on Boston’s third line, but Soderberg showed Thursday night that he can win a key draw.
Kelly has taken most of Soderberg’s faceoffs this season, particularly in the defensive zone. On Friday, Soderberg and Claude Julien revealed that was partially due to a wrist injury that made it difficult for Soderberg to take draws. Additionally, Kelly, technically the line’s left wing, has done the center’s job of providing support down low in the defensive zone.
Yet with Julien juggling his lines for Thursday’s game against the Sabres, Soderberg had no such help and proved he didn’t need it on one play. With under six minutes to play and the Bruins trailing by a goal, Soderberg drew the puck back to Dennis Seidenberg to begin the sequence that resulted in Brad Marchand‘s game-tying goal.
“It felt pretty good,” Soderberg said Friday. “I like taking faceoffs.”
Through 12 games, Soderberg has taken just 53 draws, but over a fifth of them came Thursday night in his first game of the season without Kelly as his linemate. Soderberg went 5-for-11 at the dot (45 percent), but lost all three defensive zone draws he took.
That’s where Julien says the Bruins value having Kelly on Soderberg’s line. Kelly, who has taken 133 draws this season, is a better faceoff man than Soderberg anyway, but the B’s also like to have Kelly take defensive zone faceoffs because he’ll already be low in the zone in the event that he loses the draw.
“It is a luxury when Kells is on that line that they can have two guys taking draws,” Julien said. “Sometimes Kells will take them in the D zone just for the reason that if we don’t win the draw, he’s working down low. Kells is by the far the best, as far as working down low.”
It’s expected that Kelly will return to Soderberg’s line Saturday against the Senators after playing on Patrice Bergeron‘s line in Thursday’s win over the Sabres. With Soderberg saying his wrist is feeling better, perhaps there will be a more even split on faceoffs going forward. Julien highly values having two centers on the same line, something he had on the third line for years with Kelly and Rich Peverley.
Soderberg has said in the past that he doesn’t mind when Kelly takes faceoffs for him, but he said Friday that every center on the team should strive to become as good on draws as Patrice Bergeron, arguably the best faceoff man in the league.
Back in Sweden, Soderberg said he was good at the dot, generally winning 53 or 54 percent of his faceoffs.
“But people aren’t as good as here on faceoffs,” he added. “There’s more pride here to take them, so I’m going to do my very best get over 50 percent at the end of the season.”
|10.31.14 at 11:44 am ET|
WILMINGTON — David Krejci was absent from Friday’s Bruins practice at Ristuccia Arena. Krejci did not appear to suffer any sort of injury in Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Sabres, as he took regular shifts in regulation and overtime.
Asked after the practice if Krejci was being a ghost for Halloween, Claude Julien indicated that Krejci would be in lineup, saying, “Yes he is, but he won’t be a ghost tomorrow, if that’s what you want to know.”
With Krejci absent, Chris Kelly slotted into his place with Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith. Matt Fraser, who has been serving as the team’s extra forward, skated in Kelly’s usual spot with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson.
The other two lines were reverted to their usual incarnations after Claude Julien had juggled his forwards to begin Thursday’s game. The team’s game-winning goal came with Bergeron’s line reunited.
The lines in Friday’s practice were as follows:
Lucic – Kelly – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne
There were no unexpected absences among the Bruins defensemen. Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg, Joe Morrow, Adam McQuaid, Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky and Matt Bartkowski were all present.
|10.30.14 at 9:49 pm ET|
It shouldn’t take messages from Claude Julien to his players to beat the Sabres and it shouldn’t take overtime to beat the Sabres, but the Bruins were able to breathe a sigh of relief Thursday night thanks to both.
Reilly Smith and Brad Marchand, both of whom were moved off of Patrice Bergeron‘s line to begin the game, connected for the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win in Buffalo (box score) to improve to 6-6-0 on the season.
Maybe the old lines would have gotten the job done just as well against the lowly Sabres, but the Bruins found a way to hold possession throughout the night come back in the third period from what appeared to be the very real possibility of a regulation loss to one of the worst teams in the NHL.
Either way, a new-look third line of Carl Soderberg between Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson tied the game with 5:30 remaining when Soderberg, whose faceoffs are usually taken by Chris Kelly, won a draw back to Dennis Seidenberg, who sent the puck up to Eriksson. The veteran right winger’s shot went off Marchand’s glove and in to both tie the game and save the B’s some real embarrassment.
The lines began as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Kelly – Bergeron – Gagne
Marchand – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Smith
Smith moved back up to Bergeron’s line in the second period, with Gagne returning to Campbell’s line. Kelly skating on the other wing of that Bergeron line meant that Soderberg had to assume all center responsibilities on his line, including taking faceoffs. That didn’t end up being a problem, especially on the game-tying goal.
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