|01.23.16 at 11:36 am ET|
Matt Beleskey was among those on the ice as the Bruins held a well-attended optional skate Saturday morning.
Beleskey, who missed Friday’s practice due to illness, is a possibility for Saturday’s game against the Blue Jackets. He said after skating that he was feeling better, though Claude Julien would not confirm the player’s status.
Jonas Gustavsson was the only goaltender on the ice for the morning skate, an indication that Tuukka Rask will get the start.
|01.22.16 at 1:29 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Patrice Bergeron spent this past summer skating with Daniel Paille. He spent the previous six seasons with Paille as his teammate. At the end of the summer, Bergeron went to Bruins training camp as usual, while Paille’s routine changed rather drastically.
Unsigned over the summer as a free agent, the 31-year-old Paille went to the Blackhawks’ training camp, where he was cut before eventually signing an AHL contract with the Rockford IceHogs, Chicago’s minor-league squad. Thirty-one AHL games and a Spengler Cup appearance with Team Canada later, Paille finally returned to the NHL this week when he signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Rangers worth $575,000 in the NHL and $100,000 in the AHL.
“I’ll be honest. I’m surprised that it took so long, but I’m happy,” Bergeron said Friday. “He was in Rockford for most of the time, he went to the Spengler Cup and did well there and won. I’m happy for him. Hopefully he gets a good shot at it and he can show what he can do.”
Paille’s inability to find work was a product of teams opting to give chances to players on entry-level deals rather than signing veterans, even if the veterans’ immediate impact might have been higher. Other players who spent the summer unsigned included Lee Stempniak, David Schlemko and Marek Zidlicky. It’s a trend that might hurt current Bruins Chris Kelly and Max Talbot once their contracts expire at season’s end.
“To me, it seems like the cap situation for most of the teams and the fact that they want to see their young players and see how they react to the league kind of pushed the older guys away a little bit, and it was unfortunate,” Bergeron said. “It was definitely the worst I’ve seen in the summer, with older guys not getting jobs and stuff like that.”
Paille is best-known in Boston for rounding out the Bruins’ Merlot Line in their Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 season after Brad Marchand moved up to Patrice Bergeron‘s line. He also scored in overtime of Game 2 of the 2013 Cup Final to tie the series in Chicago.
“He brought us some good years,” Claude Julien said. “He was part of that Stanley Cup run that we had, so absolutely. When you see a player like that get an opportunity somewhere, you’re happy for him.”
After scoring 10 goals as a fourth-liner and penalty killer in the aforementioned lockout-shortened 2013 season, the performance of both Paille and the Bruins’ fourth line trended downward. The Bruins notified Paille at the end of last season, which saw him spend time as a healthy scratch, that they would not be retaining him.
“I skated with him all summer, or most of the summer anyways, and he still looks like the Piesy we all know,” Bergeron said. “He skates well and is very good on the penalty kill. He’s a smart player, so I’m sure he can still do the job.”
|01.22.16 at 12:47 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins were without Matt Beleskey for Friday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, with Claude Julien saying after the skate that the left wing was ill and sent home.
Beleskey’s absence contributed to some wonky practice lines, which were as follows:
All seven defensemen were on the ice. The Bruins will host the Blue Jackets Saturday at TD Garden.
|01.22.16 at 1:19 am ET|
If momentum in baseball is limited by the next day’s pitcher, momentum in hockey seems limited by the next game’s puck management.
And for the Bruins, all their Thursday momentum aided by David Krejci‘s return to the lineup and the team’s three-game winning streak – which included a rare win over arch-rival Montreal on Tuesday – vanished at TD Garden in a 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks thanks to sloppy play at inopportune times.
“We play well for three or four games, we do the things that we need to do, and then we get away from it for a bit,” center Ryan Spooner admitted after the defeat. “As a team now, we need to play the same way.”
Perhaps the B’s lineup changes prohibited the ability to repeat recent quality performances. Out went Frank Vatrano and Joonas Kemppainen, while in came Krejci and Landon Ferraro after injury absences. Three of Boston’s four forward lines had personnel tweaks entering Thursday’s action.
And by the end of the night, lacking enough quality scoring chances, there would be more tweaks coming from head coach Claude Julien.
|01.21.16 at 9:36 pm ET|
David Krejci‘s return to the Bruins’ lineup was ruined by a shaky third period that ended up snapping the team’s three-game winning streak.
Though Brad Marchand managed to tie the game at two after the B’s had allowed the go-ahead goal in the opening minutes of the third, the Canucks once again took the lead at 7:03 of the period on Daniel Sedin’s 20th goal of the season. That third goal, which came when Sedin buried a rebound that Zach Trotman was unable to corral, proved to be all the Canucks needed. Sedin would add an empty-netter with 22.1 seconds remaining to give Vancouver a 4-2 victory at TD Garden.
Krejci’s return and inconsistent play from some of Boston’s forwards saw Claude Julien juggle his lines throughout the night, something that might continue given that the B’s were held to a pair of goals Thursday.
The Bruins will next play Saturday when they host the Blue Jackets.
FERRARO ALSO RETURNS, KEMPPAINEN SITS
In addition to Krejci returning, Landon Ferraro was back in the Bruins’ lineup after missing Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury.
With both players returning, the Bruins opted to keep Max Talbot in the lineup and scratch Joonas Kemppainen, who had been serving as the team’s third-line center while Krejci was out. Frank Vatrano was sent to Providence earlier in the day in correspondence with Krejci’s activation.
On defense, Colin Miller sat for a third straight game. The Bruins’ lineup began the game as follows:
RETOOLED THIRD LINE GIVETH AND TAKETH AWAY
Playing with Matt Beleskey and Ryan Spooner, Jimmy Hayes had multiple scoring chances through the first two periods — many of which were farther away from the net than the slot from where Hayes typically scores — but he finally buried one late in the second period for his 11th goal of the season when he sent a wrister from the top of the left circle that might have gone off Christopher Tanev on its way past Jacob Markstrom.
Hayes’ goal came on a shift that saw Pastrnak jump down to the third line in place of Beleskey, who moved back up to Krejci’s line. That move allowed Loui Eriksson, who began the game at left wing, to go back to right wing and give the Bruins the Beleskey-Krejci-Eriksson line they had for much of the season leading up to Krejci’s injury.
Of course, the new-look third line gave up a goal on its first shift of the third period when Pastrnak was unable to break up a pass from Emerson Etem to Alexandre Burrows in the high slot, leading to a Burrows slapper past Tuukka Rask. Pastrnak was eventually dropped to the fourth line as he struggled with giveaways throughout the night.
In a display of how long ago 2011 was, neither team took a penalty on Thursday. That made the game the second this season in which the B’s haven’t had a single power play. It was also the third time (second in six games) that the B’s never had to kill a penalty.
SPOONER KEEPS ‘EM COMING
Spooner had the secondary helper on Hayes’ goal, giving him 10 assists and 12 points over his last 11 games. With 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) through 46 games, Spooner is now on pace for 61 points this season.
|01.21.16 at 1:04 pm ET|
Matt Bartkowski assumed that after years of being in and out of the lineup, his time with the Bruins was done when his contract expired at the end of last season. Even after the team traded Dougie Hamilton at the draft ahead of free agency, Bartkowski considered himself a goner, set to find a new home where he could play consistently.
That didn’t make the change easy for him, however. Unless your last name is Drouin, it’s common for players to want to become a full-time player with the team that develops them. Bartkowski has become a full-time player, but it’s with the Vancouver Canucks after signing a one-year deal with the team in July.
“I have a lot of good memories here. I developed here as a player,” Bartkowski, who has played in 46 of Vancouver’s 47 games entering Thursday’s game against the Bruins, said after the team’s morning skate. “Now it’s good to I guess have that piece of mind [to be a lineup regular].”
The Bruins didn’t draft Bartkowski, but after acquiring his rights from the Panthers in the 2010 Dennis Seidenberg trade, they were the team with whom he went pro and the team that brought him up to the NHL. After being one of the final cuts in the preseason of their Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 season, Bartkowski spent the next four seasons up and down and in and out of Boston’s lineup.
The most games Bartkowski played with the Bruins was 64 in the 2013-14, an opportunity created by Seidenberg’s season-ending knee injury at the time. Yet between a numbers game on defense and occasional struggles with confidence when he was in the lineup, Bartkowski was never able to hold down a full-time job in the Bruins’ lineup.
Asked about the Hamilton trade, Bartkowski said that the move didn’t re-open door to explore staying with the Bruins. That makes sense given that the B’s still had a number of young defensemen pushing for jobs, a group that they added to with the Milan Lucic trade that netted them Colin Miller.
“I kind of knew that I was going to go somewhere else,’ Bartkowski said. “In terms of trading Dougie, that was definitely a shock. It’s not every day you get a defenseman like that.”
Bartkowski also went to bat for his former teammate. Hamilton not being the most popular guy in the Bruins’ dressing room – an issue clearly not big enough to be a major concern given that the team still wanted to sign him – made its way into the news following the Bruins’ trade with the Flames, but Bartkowski spoke highly of Hamilton’s character.
“I like Dougie,” Bartkowski said. “I heard about all that. I don’t know where that was really coming from. Yeah, he’s a quiet kid, but he’s a nice kid. If you get to know him a little bit, you’ll find that out.”
Bartkowski would probably love to accentuate his return to the Garden with a goal, something he never did in 131 regular-season games with the Bruins (his lone goal came in the playoffs in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs). By comparison, he’s an offensive dynamo this season, as he’s scored twice for the Canucks.
|01.21.16 at 12:45 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask is expected to start against the Canucks Thursday at TD Garden, but the team still has some things to clear up regarding the rest of its lineup.
[UPDATE 2:30 p.m.] Both David Krejci and Landon Ferraro took part in an optional morning skate Thursday. Krejci, who has missed the last 10 games with an upper-body injury, was activated from injured reserve Thursday afternoon.
While Ferraro’s absence from Tuesday’s game due to a lower body made it plausible that the team might place him on IR to make room for Krejci, the Bruins instead sent Frank Vatrano to Providence, a sign that Ferraro is closer to returning.
While Vatrano is a better player than some of Boston’s active forwards (Zac Rinaldo, Tyler Randell), it actually made sense for the Bruins to eventually have him back in Providence. Vatrano has played 30 games for the Bruins this season, putting him 10 away from a season accrued towards eventually unrestricted free agency. Perhaps the team is interested in avoiding that for the rookie.
Ferraro’s availability is unknown for Thursday. The Bruins currently have 14 forwards on their active roster and are at the 23-player max.