Archive for September, 2013

Bruins thrilled to see Andrew Ference named captain of Oilers

Sunday, September 29th, 2013
ferencedarthquaider

Andrew Ference is the new captain of the Oilers.

While the Bruins haven’t yet revealed who will wear Andrew Ference‘s ‘A’, the hockey world learned Sunday which letter the veteran defenseman will wear in Edmonton: ‘C’.

Ference, who signed a four-year, $13 million dollar with the Oilers on the first day of free agency this summer after not being brought back by the B’s, was named captain of the team on Sunday. There, the 34-year-old will a team with such young stars as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov.

The folks around TD Garden were delighted to hear the news.

“Captain?! Really?! I didn’t know that,” an animated Patrice Bergeron said upon being told. “That’s awesome! It’s well-deserved. It’s not really surprising to me, to be honest with you, but like I’ve said before, I’m going to miss him because he’s a great guy that I was really close to. I’m really happy for him and I think he’s going to do a great job.”

In his time with the Bruins, Ference’s leadership and value to the community was constantly on display. He came up with various things in to unify the team, from the ‘Darth Quaider’ t-shirt and the old nylon jacket in the 2010-11 season, to the chain the following season, to the short-lived rooster shirt last year and the Army Ranger jacket following the Boston Marathon bombing.

“I just sent him a text to congratulate him,” Claude Julien said. “I think he’s deserving. Everybody that knows him here knows what kind of a person he was and what kind of a leader he was on and off the ice.

“They’ve got a young team over there, and the minute he signed there, in the back of my mind I thought he had an opportunity to become the captain there. I think they made a great choice. He’s very deserving because of what he is and what he represents and what he does for a hockey team.”

Bruins waive Nick Johnson; David Krejci, Carl Soderberg ‘day-to-day’

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Both David Krejci and Carl Soderberg were absent from Bruins practice Sunday, with the B’s placing forward Nick Johnson on waivers just prior to the skate. The team made the move with the intention of sending Johnson to Providence, but he must clear waivers first.

Krejci missed Friday’s preseason finale with back spasms.

“Right now I would say they’re just day-to-day,” Claude Julien said after Sunday’s practice. “Maybe as we move further it might be better. To be honest with you, with Krej it might be better.

“With Carl, I’m not sure yet, because the injury was suffered when he hit a rut the other night. It’s still up in the air as far as the seriousness of it. We had first deemed it minor and now it’s questionable.”

Johnson being placed on waivers means that the team’s roster is more or less set. Jordan Caron will be the team’s 13th forward, while the team will keep eight defensemen (with Kevan Miller the eighth).

Assuming all players are healthy, the roster should look like this for opening night based on the players currently on the roster:

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Loui Eriksson
Carl Soderberg – Chris Kelly – Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara – Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg – Dougie Hamilton
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask
Chad Johnson

Healthy scratches: Jordan Caron, Matt Bartkowski, Kevan Miller

Bruins send Ryan Spooner, Niklas Svedberg, Matt Fraser, Matt Lindblad to Providence

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

The Bruins made four cuts from camp Saturday morning, with Ryan Spooner and Niklas Svedberg the two most notable. With Svedberg cut, Chad Johnson has won the backup goaltending job. Also sent to Providence were Matt Fraser and Matt Lindblad.

Prior to the announcement of the cuts, Spooner gave word of his assignment on Twitter.

Spooner impressed in camp, but with all four center positions locked up there was no feasible spot for him. He has never played wing competitively and the team is not interested in moving him from center, where his smarts and playmaking ability should make him a top-six player at the NHL level down the road.

With Spooner sent down, it would appear the team’s extra forward spot is down to Nick Johnson and Jordan Caron. Both could make the team if the B’s elect to keep 14 forwards. Since Spooner is on his entry level deal, he can be sent to Providence without being subject to waivers, whereas the B’s would risk losing Johnson or Caron to waivers by sending them down.

As for Svedberg, the Bruins were able to save $400,000 off the cap by sending him to Providence rather than Johnson. Svedberg has a $1 million NHL cap hit to Johnson’s $600,000, while Svedberg being on a two-way deal means he’ll be paid $70,000 at the AHL level. Johnson, who is a on a one-way deal, would be paid $600,000 either way.

Neither goalie was necessarily better than the other in camp, making it more sensible to keep Johnson over Svedberg.

With these moves having been made, there are two left to be made. Bobby Robins (out with a knee injury) and Kevan Miller figure to go back to Providence, while the team will also make a decision to move Johnson or Caron down (or out) or keep both.

Bruins roster projection 2.0: Decisions to make with extra forward(s), backup goalie

Friday, September 27th, 2013

With the season-opener against the Lightning just six days away, here’s another projection of the Bruins’ lineup:

Forwards

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Loui Eriksson
Carl Soderberg – Chris Kelly – Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

Extra forwards: Nick Johnson, Jordan Caron

It might be unlikely that they keep two extra forwards, but this scenario would at least allow them to avoid the risk of losing Johnson or Caron to waivers.

The two players who deserve to make the team as an extra forward are Johnson and Ryan Spooner, but it’s hard to imagine Spooner getting a shot. For starters, he wouldn’t be subject to waivers. Also, the only scenario in which he would play would be if a center got hurt, in which case the B’s could just call him up. They’re not going to play him out of position, as he’s never played there before and the Bruins have enough wingers.

Defensemen

Zdeno Chara – Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg – Dougie Hamilton
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Extra defenseman: Matt Bartkowski

No surprises here. In fact, maybe the biggest surprise was the fact that the B’s sent Zach Trotman back as early as they did. Trotman figured to be pushing Dougie Hamilton the most, and though Kevan Miller has played well, he isn’t taking Hamilton’s spot or replacing Matt Bartkowsi as the seventh defenseman.

Goalies

Tuukka Rask
Chad Johnson

Niklas Svedberg looked really good at points in Thursday’s overtime win over the Jets, but Johnson also had a solid start when he blanked the Red Wings last Saturday. If they’re even close to even, the job should go to Johnson since he’s on a one-way deal (making the same amount — $600,000 — no matter where he plays) and would carry a $600,000 cap hit at the NHL level as opposed to Svedberg’s $1 million hit. Svedberg is also on a two-way deal, so it would be cheaper to have Johnson making NHL money and Svedberg making AHL money as opposed to both players getting paid NHL dollars.

Bruins chat at noon

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

With the regular season less than a week away, chat all things Bruins with DJ Bean Friday at noon.

 

Takeaways from Bruins’ overtime win over Jets

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Loui Eriksson scored 1:46 into overtime off a feed from Ryan Spooner to give the B’s a 3-2 win Thursday night against the Jets in Winnipeg. The teams will play once more Friday in Saskatoon, which will be Boston’s final preseason game.

Here are some observations from the contest:

- Niklas Svedberg got his first full game of the preseason and took turns being spectacular and rather unspectacular. He seemed unsure of himself a couple times early on, including when he let a shot trickle through his five hole that was saved by Dougie Hamilton.

Yet there was also a lot to like about Svedberg’s game. He was sharp enough to glove Chris Thorburn about a minute and a half into the game when the Jets forward picked up a loose puck that had been given away by Dennis Seidenberg in front of the net and threw a quick back-hander on net.

Svedberg also turned in a nice save when, after he kicked a rebound from a Michael Frolik shot to Evander Kane, Svedberg robbed Kane to keep it a 1-1 game at the time.

- Patrice Bergeron‘s line remains a work in progress, as there was some good and bad from the trio. Bergeron scored the game’s opening goal and the trio nearly had a second goal when Eriksson fed Bergeron in front of the net on a second-period power play.

On the other hand, Eriksson crashed into Brad Marchand at the blue line in the second period on a play on which the B’s were whistled for being offsides. So there’s that.

One of the highlights of the game when Marchand didn’t completely undress Dustin Byfuglien on a shorthanded bid, but he did make him drop his stick.

- Hamilton doesn’t need to worry about job security, but he sure didn’t have a good game Thursday night. Hamilton took two penalties and was checked onto bench by Jim Slater in second period. He was also on the ice for Mark Scheifele‘s power-play goal in the third period.

- Spooner’s strong camp continued as he evened the game at two goals apiece on a shot that initially appeared to be tipped by Matt Fraser but was later credited to him. he also assisted Eriksson’s game-winning goal. Spooner, who skated on a line with Fraser and Reilly Smith, has done everything he can to earn a spot on the B’s, but he figures to be a victim of circumstance given that the B’s have more than enough centers and Spooner wouldn’t be subject to waivers like Jordan Caron or Nick Johnson.

Despite hiccup, Reilly Smith could give Bruins another penalty killer

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Reilly Smith (left) looks like a good bet to be the Bruins' third-line right wing. (AP)

Reilly Smith (left) looks like a good bet to be the Bruins’ third-line right wing. (AP)

Bruins right wing Reilly Smith has a rather self-deprecating sense of humor, so when the third-line hopeful pooh-poohed the job he did Monday night against the Capitals, perhaps it was to be taken with a grain of salt.

But seriously, it was bad.

Smith, who is both running away with the third line right wing job in training camp and humble enough to admit that defensemen were allowed to take faceoffs before he was in his college days, appears to be getting some more responsibility as the preseason goes on. He has now skated on the projected third line with Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg in two straight games, and on Tuesday the B’s gave him a look on the penalty kill.

Smith, who killed penalties in the AHL last season (his first out of college, which he split between the Texas and Dallas Stars), has not done so at the NHL level. Perhaps that showed when, after a too-many men call in the second period, Smith was given his first PK shift of the night and saw Connor Carrick score just 16 seconds into it.

“I thought I was going to go serve the penalty,” Smith said Wednesday of the bench minor, which was served by Ryan Spooner. “Kells was like, ‘No Smitty, you’ve got to come. You’ve got to [kill the penalty] with me.’ I was like, ‘Ah, this isn’t going to turn out well.’ They scored about 10 seconds later, so we’ll see if I’m playing the penalty kill tomorrow.”

While the experience was a comically bad one for Smith, he should take the fact that Julien put him on the penalty kill as a good sign. Smith, who was acquired in the July 4 blockbuster with the Stars, has shown legitimate two-way abilities,  strength on the wall, strong skating and a decent bit of grit in his first training camp with the Bruins. Putting him on the PK means the Bruins are taking him seriously.

If he can kill penalties at the NHL level, that will be a big plus for Smith. After all, he’s playing on Rich Peverley‘s old line, and Peverley was a penalty killer for the B’s over the years.

“I guess we’ll see,” Claude Julien said of whether he feels Smith could be a viable option on the PK. “I think we need to have a look at him first and then decide. That’s what preseason games are for. You experiment with those things and then you evaluate and make those decisions. I think overall we’ve got a pretty good group of penalty killers, guys who have killed before, but you try to find out as much as you can from every player, especially the new ones.”

Bad experiences aside — and the B’s did give Smith another shift on the penalty kill, which he says was an opportunity to redeem himself — Smith doesn’t see why he couldn’t become a penalty killer for Boston. He’s a smart two-way player, so even if it isn’t right away, Smith would be happy to offer his services.

“It’s just attention to detail,” he said. “Sometimes you get caught in the wrong spot. I played a lot of penalty kill in the AHL last year. It’s just something that you get better at with time. The NHL’s a lot faster and a lot quicker, so that’s one thing you just have to adapt you.”