|04.07.15 at 11:19 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Zdeno Chara took the ice early and participated in Tuesday’s practice with his teammates. The Bruins captain missed Monday’s skate due to an injury suffered blocking a shot with his left foot/ankle Saturday.
Claude Julien had said after Monday’s practice that Chara’s situation was “day-to-day.” The fact that Chara stayed out for practice and did not appear limited is an encouraging sign.
Dennis Seidenberg was the only player missing from Tuesday’s practice. Julien said Tuesday that Seidenberg was under the weather but would travel with the team for their upcoming three-game road trip. Dougie Hamilton, who skated by himself for the second straight day, will not travel. The possibility always exists that Hamilton could meet the team for one of the final couple games of the regular season if he is ready to return.
Joe Morrow, who was recalled Monday morning on an emergency basis, remains with the team.
The lineup in practice was as follows:
|04.06.15 at 12:54 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Long after his teammates had showered, fulfilled their media responsibilities, grabbed food in the team lounge and headed home, Gregory Campbell was still on the ice at Ristuccia Arena by himself.
A healthy scratch for the first time in his Bruins career Saturday, Campbell didn’t feel ready to leave following Monday’s approximately 40-minute practice (one for which he took the ice early). The image of him shooting pucks alone for approximately 55 minutes was fitting of his 2014-15 season: He wants to be better, but his spot in the lineup is questionable at best.
“I like being out here,” Campbell said as he got off the ice, adding: “I wanted to do some things.
“It’s uncharted,” he said of not playing. “I’ve never experience it before, but at this stage of the game, it’s about putting personal agendas aside and it’s about honoring the team and the decisions the coaches make. It is what it is. It’s about honoring the team.”
Saturday’s benching was perhaps overdue given the way Campbell and his fellow fourth-liners have fared this season.
After coming to Boston and centering the best fourth line in the league with Brad Marchand and Shawn Thornton, Campbell’s eventual line with Daniel Paille and Thornton routinely put opponents’ bottom-sixers on their heels, most notably helping change the momentum of Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals after Vancouver took it to Boston in the early shifts.
Yet those vintage Merlot Line days, which really lasted until Campbell broke his leg in the 2013 Eastern Conference finals, are long over. Thornton is gone, Paille has been a healthy scratch in Boston’s last six games, while Campbell at long last sat over the weekend.
That’s where the aforementioned personal agendas may come in. A free agent at season’s end who seems unlikely to return, Campbell has given a lot to this team. It can’t be easy to go from a fan favorite to a scapegoat in what’s been a trying season for both him and the Bruins.
|04.06.15 at 11:57 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Dougie Hamilton skated on his own prior to Monday’s practice, Claude Julien said after the skate.
Hamilton has been out with an upper-body injury suffered in the Bruins’ March 28 game against the Panthers. Following the injury, a source close to the situation told WEEI.com that Hamilton needed a few weeks to heal.
Julien said it is unclear whether Hamilton will travel for this week’s road trip. Excluding Hamilton and counting Zdeno Chara (day-to-day), the B’s currently have seven defensemen at their disposal for the trip.
|04.06.15 at 10:32 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins recalled defenseman Joe Morrow on an emergency basis Monday. Morrow was on the ice at the start of Monday’s practice, while Zdeno Chara was missing.
Chara was in pain after blocking a David Booth shot in the third period of Saturday night’s shootout win over the Maple Leafs. The shot hit Chara in the foot/ankle area, and while Chara was slow to get off the ice, he did not miss any time.
The play came as a result of a Reilly Smith turnover at the point during a power play. Chara had to race back and lay out to block Booth’s bid, hobbling him as he skated to the bench.
Claude Julien said after the practice that Chara’s absence was indeed related to the blocked shot, but Chara could be back on the ice for Tuesday’s practice. Julien termed Chara “day-to-day.”
All other players were present for Monday’s practice, with Claude Julien changing his lineup for the skate. Julien has tinkered with his lines in practices and used different ones in games (as was the case with Saturday’s morning skate and game), so the following lineup used Monday should be taken with a grain of salt:
The B’s are entering their final three games of the season. They currently sit third in the Atlantic Division, as they are tied with the Red Wings with 95 points but hold the second tiebreaker thanks to their edge in the season series between the teams.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|04.05.15 at 10:27 am ET|
Chris Kelly is hardly worried about the looming decisions that will have to be made to determine who will play and who won’t come playoff time.
Kelly moved from his left wing spot and centered a line Saturday that had Max Talbot on left wing and newcomer Brett Connolly on the right. This left out Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille. The way Kelly sees it, there are five players trying to make Claude Julien‘s job as difficult as possible with competition in the last week.
“Competition, that’s why we all play. Competition is good, and it makes everyone better, I think. We’ve got a great problem to have, good players that can play in the lineup, and I think every guy is trying to make it difficult on him to make those tough decisions,” Kelly said. “Ultimately, you want to go out there and play your best hockey and help the team.”
Connolly played in just his second game with the Bruins since returning from a broken finger in his second practice with the Bruins and was relieved to finally contribute. Kelly said he was happy from what he saw from his line during a 2-1 shootout win over the Maple Leafs Saturday.
“We had some pretty good chances,” Kelly said. “I think all three of us, our feet were moving, and we weren’t in our end too often, so it was good. A bounce here, a bounce there, maybe we would’ve been able to get one.”
Julien insisted after the game that what he’s trying to do is more about keeping everyone fresh than holding an audition for the fourth line in the final week. Read the rest of this entry »
|04.05.15 at 12:58 am ET|
Easter questions? Lineup questions? Playoff questions? Questions that Kelly Olynyk would answer by revealing secrets about Dougie Hamilton? Comments of any kind? Everything is welcome in the Sunday Skate live chat with Pete Blackburn, DJ Bean and Joe McDonald.
Brett Connolly is this week’s guest. Tune in and chat away from 7-9 a.m. Click here to listen online.
|04.05.15 at 12:15 am ET|
Forget whether or not Brett Connolly has one of the best shots in the NHL. The most important thing is that the Bruins are a better team now that he’s in the lineup.
How much better remains to be seen. He’s not a superstar, but he’s an upgrade over Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, the Bruins’ two healthy scratches Saturday. He’s better at creating chances, he shoots more and he’s a better possession player.
Where Connolly settles into the lineup also remains to be seen. He has played two games so far since returning from a finger injury that delayed his Bruins debut, and he has played with pretty much everyone. He played on the fourth line with Max Talbot and Chris Kelly for most of Saturday’s 2-1 shootout win over Toronto, but he also got moved up a couple times to take some shifts with other lines.
“Obviously coach is trying to feel some things out. It was good,” Connolly said. “I thought that me, Max and Kells had a pretty good start to the third, kind of got better as the game went on, too. It was good. … I’ve played with pretty much everybody on the team so far, just trying to feel it out.”
The fourth line didn’t find the score sheet Saturday, but Connolly, Talbot and Kelly did combine for seven shots on goal and they all finished with a Corsi better than 70 percent (Connolly was on the ice for 12 five-on-five shot attempts for and five against).
“We had some pretty good chances,” Kelly said. “I think all three of us, our feet were moving and we weren’t in our end too often, so it was good. A bounce here, a bounce there, maybe we would’ve been able to get one.”
The thinking when the Bruins acquired Connolly on March 2 was that he could be a top-six forward, something the Bruins desperately needed at the time. He still might end up there, but David Krejci returning from injury and Ryan Spooner playing much better means there’s a little more competition for those spots.
Naturally, that means there’s also more competition for fourth-line spots now. Connolly doesn’t fit the mold of the old-school, grinding, checking fourth-liner, but the old school is just that — old. Fourth lines need to have some skill now, and the Bruins finally have the pieces they need to make that transition, one they seemed ready to make in the offseason when they let Shawn Thornton walk.
Saturday night offered a glimpse of what a more skilled fourth line can do, even if you factor in that it came against a terrible Maple Leafs team. For what it’s worth, Claude Julien said after the game that there could still be some rotation on the fourth line (and every other line, for that matter).
“I feel we’ve got a lot of players that can go in and out right now,” Julien said. “But at the same time I’m trying to create a little bit of competition here. I don’t want anybody comfortable, knowing that they’re automatics game in and game out.”
Regardless, it’s hard to imagine Connolly’s spot not being safe. He’s probably the top option to move into a top-nine role if someone struggles (Reilly Smith?), but he also makes the fourth line better if he stays there. For his part, Connolly says he’ll be happy wherever as long as he’s helping the team.
“Very excited to finally be out there and get a couple wins here in my first two games and to be able to contribute a little bit and help the team win,” Connolly said. “Again, the team’s playing well so far lately. It’s been a lot of fun to step in and be a part of it.”
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