|11.11.14 at 1:07 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are now 6-1-0 without Zdeno Chara. They’re also 5-0-0 with Joe Morrow in the lineup instead of Matt Bartkowski.
The latter point isn’t a shot at Bartkowski, a good player whose struggles with his game and his confidence led him to the press box for the time being, but it does tell part of the story as to why the Bruins have improved defensively over the course of this stretch without their best defenseman.
Paired with Adam McQuaid, Morrow, a 2011 first-round pick, has been safe. For a team that had been looking up to tighten up defensively, that’s all the B’s could have wanted. Like Bartkowski, Morrow is a good skater and passer, but Bartkowski’s decision-making and defensive coverage were uncharacteristically poor in his five games this season. The Bruins called up Morrow after the team’s Oct. 28 loss to the Wild to replace Bartkowski.
Decision-making was one of the questions attached to Morrow when the Bruins got him from the Stars as part of the Tyler Seguin trade. Peter Chiarelli said the day of the trade that the B’s would be patient with the twice-traded player and give him the proper AHL instruction. That potential red flag that has been mentioned at points of his two-year-plus AHL career has yet to pop up.
“I don’t know exactly what that means, but when you when you have the company of these players around you and that’s what you’re playing with, you kind of raise your game match theirs and to contribute,” Morrow said. “You don’t want to let anyone in the dressing room down. You know it’s really important to win up here, so you give that little extra effort.
“Yeah, I think I have a more suitable style to the National Hockey League than I do to the American Hockey League, but I guess time will tell if that’s really true.”
His coaches and former coaches aren’t the only ones who have been satisfied with what Morrow’s brought to the table. Tuukka Rask said that Morrow has brought some defensive stability to the B’s.
“I think he’s been playing really good and improving every game,” Rask said of Morrow. “Especially the past couple of games, I’ve really liked the way he’s played and played defense and carried the puck up the ice.”
Rask pointed to a third-period play Monday against the Devils in which Morrow’s positioning allowed him to break up a potential back-door scoring opportunity and skate the puck to safety.
“Things like that that people might not see,” Rask said, “I see and try to give them credit for it.”
All in all, Rask likes the way the team has looked defensively of late.
“Really good. Really good,” Rask said of the Bruins’ play in their own zone. “We’re eliminating chances we kind of want to eliminate and making little plays around the net and taking their sticks away and stuff. It’s paid off lately. I feel like we’re really taking steps in the right direction.”
Bartkowski is a better player than he’s shown and he will be better if and when he gets more games. His absence, however, has allowed the Bruins to get a look at another young defender and enjoy stronger defensive efforts.
|11.11.14 at 12:05 pm ET|
Krejci has been in and out of the lineup since suffering a hip injury in the preseason, with the 28-year-old center missing three of the last four games. By missing the next two games, Krejci will have missed five of the last six games and eight games in total this season. He last played last Thursday when he returned for one game against the Oilers but left the bench in the third period due to what he called soreness.
Kevan Miller participated in practice as he continued to work his way back from a dislocated shoulder suffered on Oct. 18. He will travel with the B’s, though Julien said that Miller still is not taking contact.
Lucic – Kelly – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille- Campbell – Gagne
Seidenberg – Hamilton
Morrow – McQuaid
Krug – Trotman
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|11.11.14 at 1:24 am ET|
Everyone in attendance at TD Garden will remember Monday night’s 4-2 win over the Devils for Seth Griffith’s spectacular effort late in the second-period.
But truth be told, the significance of the win goes far beyond that 10-second span. In winning their fifth straight game, the Bruins showed yet again they can actually finish around the net, something they struggled badly with in their 5-6-0 start.
At the center of the finishing was the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith. Bergeron had two assists and a goal, Smith had a goal and an assist and Carl Soderberg finished his power play chance in front.
Whether it was from the circle (Bergeron), or in the slot (Smith), or on the doorstep (Soderberg), the Bruins were finding ways to put the puck in the net.
“I think it’s finishing, yeah, because there’s been some games where we have given up too many shots and too many offensive opportunities and Tuukks [Tuukka Rask] has done a great job, same with Sveddy [Niklas Svedberg], but I think we are just doing a better job finishing the puck, and we are getting chances and it seems like we are doing a better job putting it in the back of the net than we did, you know, starting in the year,” Smith said.
“When Patrice gets the puck, I just let him do his thing,” he added. “You know sometimes you can call someone for the puck and you can kind of put someone out of their groove a little bit, because you know it’s not their first play, but Bergy has eyes in the back of his head so you know I just trust him that he will make the right play all the time.”
|11.11.14 at 12:10 am ET|
Seth Griffith doesn’t talk the same game he plays.
So, when asked about his blocked shot, sprint through a pair of opponents and spin-o-rama that ended with a goal on a backhanded shot with his back facing the net, the rookie had to quote Patrice Bergeron to do the feat justice.
“He just said that was a sick play,” Griffith said. “He’s one of the guys that talks to me all the time and he’s making me more confident in the room. Bergy was one of the first to congratulate me. It’s always pretty cool when a guy like that says something to you like that. He’s a great guy.”
The goal that Griffith scored with 1:59 left in the second period not only snapped a 2-2 tie, but it provided much needed inspiration that helped the Bruins beat the Devils, 4-2, Monday night at TD Garden. The reason for the inspiration was exactly how the play unfolded.
With the Devils possessing the puck in the Bruins’ zone, Griffith slid down to block a shot. In one motion, he got up, controlled the puck and took off on a sprint. He split Devils defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Bryce Salvador and somehow managed to carry the puck, lose it, get it back, put his back to goalie Corey Schneider and backhand it through his own legs and under the left pad of the Devils’ goalie for the go-ahead tally.
“Yeah, we picked up our game after that but it just goes to show how good we can play and we shouldn’t wait for stuff like that to happen to get going,” Griffith said.
|11.10.14 at 11:07 pm ET|
The Bruins are slowly but surely getting healthier on defense, as Torey Krug returned to the lineup Monday and is starting to forget all about his broken pinky finger.
While a pinky injury might sound like a minor injury, it’s actually quite the obstacle to overcome. Without the full use of the pinky, as Zdeno Chara explained months ago, one can’t grip things. Without being able to grip things, one can’t take a slap shot. Without a slap shot, an NHL defenseman – especially one of the better offensive ones – isn’t quite himself.
So while Krug took his usual spot at the point of the Bruins’ top power play unit, it wasn’t a night full of blasts to the net just yet. He took five shots on the night, only one of which was a slap shot. The lone shot he landed on net was a wrist shot.
Krug had two full practices with the B’s before returning to game action. He admitted that as he worked his way back from the injury, trying to shoot presented issues for him.
“I definitely had some challenges with shooting at first and the vibrations of the stick,” Krug said, “but everything’s good now.”
The injury was suffered on Oct. 28 on a slash from Zach Parise. Krug logged 21:16 of ice time on Monday night, saying that the toughest challenge he faced was not thinking about the injury.
“I think the last thing is just making sure I’m not thinking about it,” he said. “There were times in practice where I’m protecting myself and making sure it doesn’t get hit or something like that. You get into live game action and you can’t really think about that because otherwise the puck’s going to end up in your net.”
Julien said that Krug looked like someone who was playing in his first game back from an injury, but that he liked his game Monday night.
“He’s been out for a while, and I think he had one or maybe two practices with us and that’s it,” Julien said. “But he came in and did his job. Obviously he’s not at 100 percent with his situation, but he seems to be handling the puck well. Again, maybe he didn’t get that many shots on net tonight, but still I thought he was a good player.”
|11.10.14 at 9:29 pm ET|
One goal can make a game. Seth Griffith’s second-period goal did just that.
With the Bruins and Devils tied at two goals apiece late in the second period, the Bruins rookie scored what is likely the most impressive goal he’ll score in his career when, after blocking a shot, he battled for a puck through Bryce Salvador and got tangled up with Marek Zidlicky as he raced to the net. After getting spun around, he backhanded the puck through his legs and those of Cory Schneider to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
Reilly Smith would score soon after, giving the Bruins two goals in the final two minutes of the second period and sending them on their way to a 4-2 victory over the Devils (Check out the game boxscore).
Griffith, who was playing in his 12th NHL game after getting called up for top-six duty last month, is becoming no stranger to sensational goals. After flying through the air Bobby Orr-style on his Oct. 28 goal against the Wild, Griffith is setting the bar pretty high for himself going forward in his young NHL career.
Here are four other things we learned Monday night:
Torey Krug returned to the lineup after a four-game absence caused by a broken pinky finger suffered on Oct. 28.
Krug skated on the team’s third defensive pairing with Zach Trotman, taking the place of the injured David Warsofsky, who is out 2-4 weeks with a groin strain. The second-year defenseman also returned to his usual spot on the point of Boston’s first power play unit.
Matt Bartkowski served as a healthy scratch for the fifth consecutive game.
|11.10.14 at 12:32 pm ET|
Chelmford’s Jack Eichel is expected to be a top-two pick in the coming NHL draft. As he dominates his freshman year at Boston University, the accolades and comparisons are pouring in rapidly.
In a recent appearance on Middays with MFB, Pierre McGuire compared the 6-foot-2 Eichel to Jaromir Jagr given his strength and ability to hold onto the puck. So, with the Devils in town, it seemed worth it to get Jagr’s thoughts on the young scorer.
In true Jagr fashion, the 42-year-old admitted to having no clue who Eichel was, but seemed pretty excited anyway.
“He’s like a Czech kid?” Jagr asked.
“He’s going to be drafted this year?”
Sure is. Then Jagr smiled.
“Hopefully I’m going to have a chance to stay here one more year in the NHL so I can have a chance to see him,” he said.
Maybe, just maybe, it would be like Jaromir Jagr against Jaromir Jagr.
Of course, if Eichel was exactly like Jagr, that matchup would be a scoreless game in which the two took turns keeping the puck in the corner. That still sounds like something worth watching.
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