|Bruins prepare for preseason game vs. Rangers||09.24.15 at 11:55 am ET|
The Bruins will play their third game of the preseason when they host the Rangers Thursday at TD Garden. Jeremy Smith and Zane McIntyre will share goaltending duties, while Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand are among those playing in their first game of the preseason.
Bergeron and Marchand will play with Loui Eriksson at right wing Thursday. The first-line duo has skated with both Eriksson and David Pastrnak on the right side thus far in camp. Pastrnak played on David Krejci‘s line with Matt Beleskey in Tuesday’s preseason game against the Capitals. Pastrnak, Krejci and Beleskey will all have Thursday off.
Ryan Spooner’s line with Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly will also play together Thursday. Claude Julien has kept the three together since the start of camp, as he would like to use the three in the regular season if the three mesh well.
Kevin Hayes, the younger brother of Jimmy, will be in New York’s lineup Thursday. Kevin, a former first-rounder of the Blackhawks, is coming off a very strong rookie season with the Rangers. A Boston College product like Jimmy, Kevin scored 17 goals and added 28 assists for a 45-point campaign with the Rangers.
Henrik Lundqvist is also in the Rangers’ lineup. He is set to play the first two periods before giving way to Jeff Malcolm.
|Bruins make two cuts||09.23.15 at 5:11 pm ET|
The Bruins made two cuts Wednesday, releasing a pair of 2015 draft picks from training camp.
Forward Jesse Gabrielle, a fifth-round pick in June, will head back to the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, while goaltender Daniel Vladar will return to the Chicago Steel of the USHL. The Bruins selected Vladar in the third round (No. 75 overall).
With Wednesday’s moves and the injuries to Seth Griffith and Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins now have 56 healthy players left in camp.
|Step right up: Dennis Seidenberg injury throws monkey wrench into Bruins penalty kill||09.23.15 at 1:51 pm ET|
Dennis Seidenberg‘s injury leaves the Bruins with multiple questions regarding their defense. Here’s a big one: Who’s going to kill penalties?
Because Zdeno Chara missed 19 games, Dennis Seidenberg led the Bruins in shorthanded time on ice (209:54). His average of 2:33 per game on the penalty kill ranked third among Bruins defensemen.
With Seidenberg now out for the next eight weeks, the Bruins are down an experienced penalty killer, and they weren’t exactly overflowing with them to begin with. Of Boston’s defensemen last season, Seidenberg was one of five to average even one minute of shorthanded time on ice per game. Another one of those players is gone in Dougie Hamilton (1:10 of shorthanded time on ice per game). Given that free agent signing Matt Irwin and trade acquisition Colin Miller are both offensive defensemen who haven’t killed a lot of penalties, the only players the B’s have on the back end who were regular penalty killers in the NHL last season are Chara, Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid.
Two of those players are righties, so with Boston’s current group it’s very possible that the B’s may need to slide righty penalty killers to the left. That’s rare for defensemen, as right-shot defensemen usually can’t play both sides the way that lefties can. Kevan Miller and Zach Trotman have done it before (both in the AHL, though Miller would play the left side in 2013-14 when killing penalties with Johnny Boychuk), so that may increase their value in Claude Julien‘s eyes.
Julien said Wednesday that he may change his defensive group from game to game depending on whether he’d like to load up on power play guys or experienced penalty killers. That could make the difference regarding which Miller (Kevan a penalty killer, Colin a strong skater with a tremendous slap shot) plays and sits.
“When the time comes, we’ll look at our lineup and what is best for us at that time,” Julien said. “If we need a more offensive kind of defenseman or a guy that can kill, it depends. I always say the same thing: When you play some big teams, sometimes you need some weight out there. Sometimes [you play] a not-so-heavy team, so you can afford to have a little bit more of a lighter back end that can move the puck well also. It’s about balancing the killers and the power play guys, so we’ll look at that.’
From Irwin to Morrow to Colin Miller, Boston’s defensemen lacking in NHL penalty killing experience said they’re confident they can do it. The logic is simple: Somebody who hasn’t played a ton of PK time is going to have to do it, so it might as well be them. Plus, with all three of them being power play options, being able to do both would help them hold a job in Boston’s lineup.
“I definitely embrace the opportunity to kill penalties,” Morrow said. “Penalty kill, power play, anything. Any situation, you always want to be on the ice for. It’s more enjoyable when they put a little more [responsibility] on you.”
|Don Sweeney will continue to monitor trade market following Dennis Seidenberg injury||09.23.15 at 12:17 pm ET|
Shortly after Don Sweeney chose against signing a relatively low-cost veteran defenseman late in the offseason, he said that while he had faith in his young defensemen, he would continue to monitor options to improve the team. That’s GM speak for “maybe I’ll do something, maybe I won’t.”
While Seidenberg’s absence leaves the Bruins without a veteran defenseman (28-year-old Adam McQuaid is now the team’s oldest healthy defenseman not named Zdeno Chara), it does not necessarily make them worse. The Bruins hoped Seidenberg would be better than he was last season, but they didn’t know that.
As such, Sweeney now can potentially let all of Boston’s healthy NHL-caliber defensemen (of which there are eight — Chara, McQuaid, Torey Krug, Zach Trotman, Matt Irwin, Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller and Colin Miller) make the team and let the cream rise to the top. He can also go out and trade for cream (this has gotten confusing), which could potentially leave the Bruins with an even bigger logjam of good-not-great defensemen once Seidenberg returns in two months.
“It’s a void that internally we’re trying to assess,” Sweeney said Wednesday, “and as I’ve always said, I’ll continue to talk to the other teams and people that may or may not be available to see if we need to fill that void.”
Sweeney said that he would potentially swing a deal for a defender. ‘only under the right circumstances.’
“It’s got to be the right fit for us relative to the guys that we have and have been assessing overall,” he said. “We felt that we had very good depth, albeit some of it inexperienced, but now they’re getting an opportunity. Hopefully now they can take advantage of it.”
|What Dennis Seidenberg’s injury means for rest of Bruins defense||09.23.15 at 10:42 am ET|
The last time Dennis Seidenberg got hurt back in December of 2013, the best team in the Eastern Conference had to find someone to inherit Boston’s second-best defenseman’s minutes. This time around, things aren’t so cut and dried.
The Bruins announced Wednesday that Seidenberg, who has not taken the ice at all this training camp, would undergo back surgery Thursday and miss the next eight weeks. His absence for the next two months solves one problem and creates another.
Not having Seidenberg provides some clarity as it relates to the numbers game on Boston’s defense. The problem is that it does so by subtracting one of the only guys with ample experience as one of Claude Julien‘s most trusted defenders.
An issue for the Bruins entering camp is that they had too many defensemen, but not enough top-four blueliners. Though Seidenberg was coming off a bad season, the Dougie Hamilton trade left Zdeno Chara and Seidenberg as the only B’s with extensive top-four experience (Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid have taken on bigger roles at times over the last two seasons, but they’ve generally been reserved for playing against bottom-sixers). That the Bruins will go until Thanksgiving with three of their top-four defensemen treading relatively uncharted waters is concerning, but then again there was no guarantee that Seidenberg would have earned a top role over those guys anyway.
Seidenberg’s injury provides an opportunity for Krug, who will get his wish of being a top-four guy. Because right shot defensemen (of which the B’s have many) can’t play the left side, having a lefty to anchor the second pairing behind Chara is crucial. Seidenberg was a prime candidate if he was healthy and anything resembling his old self.
Now the candidates are Krug, Matt Irwin and Joe Morrow. The guess here is that Krug leads the second pairing with McQuaid on the right, with Irwin playing on the third pairing with either Kevan Miller or Colin Miller. While Colin Miller has more offensive upside than Kevan Miller, the absence left by Seidenberg on the penalty kill (Seidenberg led all Bruins players in shorthanded time on ice last season) could very well require the team to put Kevan Miller in the lineup over Colin Miller.
[An interesting note regarding Boston’s defense: Of the eight remaining healthy blueliners legitimately pushing for jobs — Chara, Krug, Trotman, McQuaid, both Millers, Morrow and Irwin — Colin Miller is the only that would not require waivers to be sent to Providence.]
|Claude Julien likes 3-on-3 (because he hates the shootout)||09.22.15 at 10:30 pm ET|
The Bruins didn’t get to practice 3-on-3 for long Tuesday night, as David Pastrnak ended the preseason overtime session just 12 seconds in.
Lack of experience aside, Claude Julien doesn’t need to see much to know he’s going to like the new overtime system more than he liked the old one. With the NHL moving to 3-on-3 for five minutes followed by a shootout, the chances are far greater that the game will be settled in overtime than in the shootout. In the old system of 4-on-4 followed by a shootout, the overtime session often did nothing but give way to the shootout. Julien wasn’t a fan of that, as one could say he hates the shootout.
“I hate the shootout,” Julien said Tuesday, confirming the aforementioned suspicion.
Julien didn’t hate what he saw Tuesday night. With Boston’s preseason game against the Capitals tied at the end of regulation, the game went to overtime (it would have no matter what the score, as the NHL is having teams practice the new format three times this preseason).
Julien sent David Krejci, Pastrnak and Torey Krug out to begin the session. Krejci won the faceoff, with Krug chasing the puck into over the Boston blueline. Krug threw the puck up to Krejci, who fed Pastrnak on a 2-on-1 to set up the game-winner.
Because he hates the shootout (see above) Julien spent the majority of the last two seasons sending three forwards and one defenseman out for 4-on-4. Tuesday’s deployment of Krejci, Pastrnak and Krug gives the Bruins both offensive creativity and skating, two things that come in handy in next-goal-wins scenarios. Yet Julien is willing to go even farther this season in 3-on-3, as the team has practiced 3-on-3 with three forwards and no defensemen. Julien says he intends to use three forwards at times in overtime.
“For me, when you’re playing in the overtime, you’re going for the win,” he said. “I mean, you’ve got the point, you want to get that second one, so why sit back? You know, let’s go for it. That’s my approach.”
The 3-on-3 will be a learning experience for all teams in the early months of the season, as pretty much any mistake (or line change) can end the game. Having gone 7-16 the last two seasons in shootouts, the Bruins should probably like their odds in overtime better than they like them in a shootout. With players like Pastrnak, Krejci, Krug, Ryan Spooner and others at their disposal, it pretty much has to work out better for the B’s than the old way.
|Observations from Bruins’ preseason win over Capitals||09.22.15 at 9:40 pm ET|
Here are some notes from the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime win over the Capitals Tuesday night:
– Tuesday’s game was going to go to overtime no matter what the score was at the end of regulation, as the league is having every team practice 3-on-3 three times this preseason. As fate would have it, the game was tied anyway.
Claude Julien went with two forwards (David Krejci and David Pastrnak) and a defenseman (Torey Krug). The group ended the game immediately, with Krejci feeding Pastrnak for the game-winner 12 seconds into the extra period. Pastrnak also scored the Bruins’ only goal of regulation.
– The game featured the first glimpse of David Krejci skating between free agent signing Matt Beleskey and second-year David Pastrnak right wing in a game. The three played on a line and served on the same power play unit with Torey Krug and Alexander Khokhlachev.
The Krejci line was unremarkable for most of the game, but Pastrnak scored on a backhander down low that snuck behind Washington goalie Philipp Grubauer during a third-period 4-on-4 .
Over the first two periods, the line didn’t generate much offensively and was caught offsides multiple times. Krejci also struggled on draws.
– Malcolm Subban got the start for the Bruins, stopping all 17 shots he faced before giving way to Zane McIntyre. The first-year pro gave up the first goal allowed by the Bruins all preseason, with a shot from the point during a Capitals power play getting through traffic and past him shortly after the B’s had taken the lead.
– Tuesday brought the first fight of Boston’s preseason, as right wing Justin Hickman fought Washington defenseman Tyler Lewington in the second period.
– Khokhlachev, who does not want to play in Providence again, drew a penalty in the third period. Boston’s power play wouldn’t last, however, as Brian Ferlin took a holding penalty 21 seconds in Boston’s man advantage. That set up the 4-on-4 play in which Pastrnak scored.
– The line of Chris Kelly between Anton Blidh and Hickman was interesting to watch. Blidh drew a first-period interference penalty and was a presence in scrums, while Hickman fed Kelly in the third period for a great scoring opportunity that went denied by Grubauer.
The lineup for the game was as follows:
Arnesson- Kevin Miller