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Zac Rinaldo: ‘The way I piss people off is the way I play’ 09.22.15 at 1:58 pm ET
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Zac Rinaldo is entering his first season as a Bruin. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Zac Rinaldo is entering his first season as a Bruin. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

There was no surprise more pleasant in Sunday night’€™s preseason opener than Zac Rinaldo drawing a pair of penalties, neither of which came after the whistle and both of which led to Matt Irwin goals.

Speaking to Rinaldo about it Tuesday, he wasn’€™t very surprised. The oft-suspended fourth-liner said that he feels he can draw penalties during the course of play rather than after the whistle.

“With me, the way I piss people off is the way I play. I play hard, I play physical. Me doing that alone, I don’€™t even got to talk and guys hate me,” Rinaldo said. “I can hit everyone and just play hard and be physical on the puck. Guys don’€™t like that and they’€™ll get frustrated and take it out on me.

“My speed, too. My speed down low. They can’€™t handle me down low sometimes and they have to hold me up. You saw it in the preseason game. They [took] two penalties on me just because of my speed alone. I didn’€™t even get a couple hits to piss [them] off.”

Rinaldo said he intentionally stayed out of scrums Sunday against the Devils. Asked if he likes going into scrums with the objective of getting the opponent to take a penalty, Rinaldo was borderline offended.

“I’€™m not going to fake a fall-down or do something just to antagonize a guy, to draw a penalty,” he said. “That’€™s not me. I don’€™t fake the game like that.

Added Rinaldo: “I don’€™t fake. I’€™m a straight-up guy on the ice. I’€™m not going to fake an injury or pretend I’€™m hurt just to draw a penalty. I’€™m not like that and I hate guys who do that.”

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Slide to the left: Chris Kelly ready for another season of mixing and matching 09.22.15 at 1:25 pm ET
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When Chris Kelly was given the chance to become an NHL regular back in 2005, he told a fib.

“I didn’€™t play center until I got to the NHL,” the veteran forward said. “They ask, ‘€˜Can you play center?’€™ and you say, ‘€˜Absolutely.’€™”

Kelly, who was drafted as a left wing, was moved to center because he was on a line of three wingers: himself, Brian McGrattan and Vaclav Varada.

Ten years later, Kelly’€™s situation has been reversed: He’€™s a longtime center who has spent ample time at wing on a line full of pivots. Entering this season, he figures to find himself on a line with at least one other center again. Where he plays, however, is up in the air.

Kelly says he has never played a traditional left wing in the NHL. When he was moved back to left wing in Ottawa, he was playing with a very similar player in Antoine Vermette. The two shared center responsibilities, something that came in handy when Kelly was given a similar task with Carl Soderberg. Though Soderberg was the de facto center on his line with Kelly and Loui Eriksson, Kelly often helped out with draws and took on the center’€™s responsibilities in the defensive zone.

Prior to playing with Soderberg in Boston, Kelly was teamed with yet another center in Rich Peverley. That gave Claude Julien a left-shot center and a right-shot center on one line.

So far in training camp, Kelly has gotten reps at both left wing and center. If the B’€™s use him as a left wing, he could be an option for Ryan Spooner’€™s line, which would allow him to aid Spooner the way he did with Soderberg. So far, however, Spooner has played exclusively with Jimmy Hayes on the left and Brett Connolly on the right. It’s the one line that has gone unchanged thus far in training camp.

Kelly could also center the fourth line, something he did down the stretch last season. Such a scenario could see another center moved to wing in Max Talbot.  Julien enjoys playing Kelly with other centers and Kelly likes skating with other pivots, whether it’€™s helping them with defensive responsibilities or giving his line another option on faceoffs.

“It’€™s a lot easier to go from center to wing than from wing to center,” Kelly said. “It’€™s a different game and I think, at the end of the day, if things can be made easier for everyone, that’€™s what you want to do. The less working you have to do out there and thinking and just reacting, I think it makes everyone that much better.”

Because Kelly’€™s $3 million cap hit is high for a forward who doesn’€™t score many goals (he had seven in 80 games last season), he’€™s an easy target for casual hockey observers. Even if he winds up being a fourth-liner this season, Julien knows what he’€™s getting no matter where Kelly lines up.

“Yes, he’€™s not that top-line player that scores goals and everything, but [for] a team to succeed, [it] needs a little bit of everything,” Julien said. “He’€™s certainly got some versatility, where he can play either position.”

With Kelly set to turn 35 in November, he’s seen plenty in his time in the NHL. As far as mixing and matching positions goes, this coming season could be more of the same.

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Matt Beleskey, David Krejci among Bruins to make preseason debut Tuesday 09.22.15 at 11:36 am ET
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Folks will get their first look at a potential line of David Krejci between Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak when the Bruins host the Capitals in a preseason game at TD Garden Tuesday night. Based on Tuesday’s first practice, Zane McIntyre is expected to get the start.

Alexander Khokhlachev and Brandon DeFazio are the only players in Tuesday’s lineup that played in Sunday’s preseason opener. The lineup for Tuesday is as follows:





Some other observations from Tuesday:

– Loui Eriksson practiced as the right wing on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand‘s line. Eriksson has been moved around Boston’s lineup a bit in camp, playing mostly with either David Krejci or Bergeron. He skated with Bergeron and Marchand on Saturday.

Dennis Seidenberg did not practice Tuesday. He remains out with an upper-body injury.

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Uphill climb continues for Bruins’ Seth Griffith 09.21.15 at 10:56 pm ET
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Seth Griffith had an easier road to the Bruins last season. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Seth Griffith had an easier road to the Bruins last season. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Seth Griffith received bad news when he learned that the knee injury he suffered in Sunday’€™s preseason opener is an MCL sprain that will end his training camp. Of course, he’€™s been getting bad news for months now.

Last training camp, the second-year pro was skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Though Griffith was on the Bergeron line because the Bruins were waiting for Reilly Smith to settle for the contract Boston was offering, he was on his way to becoming David Krejci‘€™s right wing. Because Jarome Iginla was gone and David Pastrnak wasn’t ready, Griffith was Boston’s best option.

Fast forward a year, and though the 22-year-old Griffith came to camp older and more experienced than he was a season ago, his chances of making the NHL club were slim even before his injury. Why? Because dating back to the Brett Connolly trade in March, the B’€™s have positioned themselves to have plenty of right wings. It’€™s not a good time to be a fringe guy.

With Pastrnak now an NHL regular, Connolly healthy, Jimmy Hayes in for Reilly Smith, Loui Eriksson coming off his best year as a Bruin, Brian Ferlin continuing to push and both Max Talbot and Zac Rinaldo capable of playing wing, the Bruins are more than set on the right side. In fact, guys like Hayes or Eriksson may end up playing left wing just because the B’€™s have so many right wings.

Given Boston’€™s plethora of right wings, Griffith, a former 45-goal-scorer in the OHL, was likely headed to Providence to begin the season. Though he played 30 games for Boston last season (6 G, 4 A), the majority of his time last season was spent in Providence, where he served as Alexander Khokhlachev’€™s right wing.

Griffith was a first-line player in the AHL last season who totaled 31 points (12 G, 19 A) in 39 games, but his game appeared to drop off down the stretch. He scored just three goals over 24 games to finish the regular season in Providence. He’€™d add two goals in the playoffs to end the season on something of a high note.

“€œI want to go out there and I want to score almost every shift, or at least get a good chance. When I’€™m not getting those chances it’€™s a little bit frustrating for me,”€ he said prior to his injury. “[Providence coach Bruce Cassidy] helped me a lot through that and eventually I found my game. It was better late than never. I don’€™t want that to happen again, but I think it was just a learning point for me.”

If Griffith makes it back to Boston, it might not be in the role he had last season. Griffith was underwhelming in the NHL when he wasn’€™t with Krejci; he’€™ll need to prove to the Bruins that he could play in the bottom six and work his way up if he wants to eventually carve out a job in Boston.

“€œIt’€™s going to be a little tougher, but I think if you want to play any line on the Bruins, you’€™ve got to have that gritty side of your game there,” he said. “€œI don’€™t [have] to change a whole lot; it’€™s just a matter of getting pucks deep and not trying to be fancy all the time. I think it’€™s just [being] more of a straight-line guy than fancy.”

Griffith’€™s bid to impress the B’€™s will be on hold for now. He was a longshot to make the Bruins out of camp anyway, but he’€™s shown enough promise at points that perhaps the young wing could someday overcome the logjam that is the Bruins’€™ group of right wings.

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Seth Griffith out 3-4 weeks with sprained MCL 09.21.15 at 1:32 pm ET
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Seth Griffith

Seth Griffith

The Bruins announced Monday that right wing Seth Griffith will miss three to four weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee.

Griffith suffered the injury in Sunday night’s preseason game against the Devils. The 22-year-old faced an uphill climb to make Boston’s roster out of training camp, a scenario now eliminated by the injury.

In 30 games for the Bruins last season, Griffith scored six goals and added four goals for 10 points. He had 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 39 games for Providence.

Griffith is the second player to be hampered by an injury this fall. Dennis Seidenberg has yet to take the ice during training camp due to an upper-body injury.

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Seth Griffith,
Opposite day: Alexander Khokhlachev running out of patience with Bruins 09.19.15 at 3:16 pm ET
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Alexander Khokhachev

Alexander Khokhachev

Bruins prospect Alexander Khokhlachev feels that he is overdue for a job in the NHL. He is not happy with the Bruins for not giving him one.

“Boston should make a decision with me,” the 2011 second-round pick said on Saturday. “€œI’€™ve waited for my chance already. Two years. I’€™m just still waiting. We’€™ll see. They should make a decision. Give me a chance, or I don’€™t know. We’€™ll see [what] they’€™ll do.”€

Khokhlachev, who was taken 40th overall in 2011, has played four games in the NHL over the last two seasons, spending nearly all of his Bruins career in Providence. Asked whether he’€™ll demand a trade if he doesn’€™t make the team this season, he was not definitive, though he said he wouldn’€™t want to stay with the organization if they didn’€™t play him in the NHL.

“€œThis is my last year of my contract,”€ he said. “I’€™m 22 already. If they don’€™t give me the chance to play, why am I here? I will not play in Providence all my life. They told me, ‘€˜Just wait for your chance.’€™ I’€™m still waiting for it.”

Khokhlachev’€™s words, in addition to being depressing for anyone over the age of 22, were interesting given that his frustration with the B’€™s might go both ways. Having invested a high pick in him, the team is within its rights to be upset that he hasn’€™t taken a job by now.

Asked if he’€™s done all that he should have to become an NHLer, Khokhlachev stayed the course.

“Yeah, why not?” he responded. “I played in Providence two years and I led them in scoring two years. I think I’€™m playing good. I’€™m not a young guy anymore. I’€™m 22. I think I’€™m ready for the chance.”

Khokhlachev was given the opportunity (along with Ryan Spooner) to challenge for the team’€™s fourth-line center job last fall. When Khokhlachev turned in an underwhelming preseason, he was returned to Providence.

Boston played him for three games in November, though the third game saw him used on a sparingly played fourth line. Khokhlachev was given just 2:53 of ice time in that contest, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins on Nov. 24.

“I played two games and the third game I played two minutes,” he said of his NHL season. “I don’€™t think that’€™s really a chance. I played fourth line. It doesn’€™t really matter what line I play, but I don’€™t think it’€™s really a chance to be played two games.”

A left-shot center, the Moscow native has indeed led the Baby B’s in points in both 2014-15 (43 points in 61 games) and 2013-14 (57 points in 65 games). Winning a job (or, to stay consistent, being given one) will not be easy. The Bruins’ top-nine centers are already set (Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Spooner) while Khokhlachev is part of a large number of players vying for Boston’s fourth-line center job. Chris Kelly, Zac Rinaldo and Max Talbot are all on one-way contracts, while Khokhlachev’s two-way deal and lack of service means he could be sent up and down without waivers and cost less if he’s in the AHL.

Unlike Kelly, Rinaldo and Talbot, Khokhlachev cannot play wing. Khokhlachev has centered Loui Eriksson and Jake DeBrusk in the first two days of camp.

Khokhlachev, whose father is the general manager of a KHL team, could return home to play in Russia if he decides to leave North America after this season. From his words, he seems to believe he gave the Bruins two years of AHL service in exchange for an eventual spot in the pros, which isn’t exactly how it works. He would prefer the NHL over the KHL, where he played unsuccessfully in 2012.

“My dream is NHL and I want to play there,” he said, “but if Boston will not give me the chance, I can’t do anything.”

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Matt Irwin not ready to be called a seventh defenseman 09.19.15 at 1:44 pm ET
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Matt Irwin signed with the Bruins as a free agent. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Matt Irwin signed with the Bruins as a free agent. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

While the Bruins’€™ seven-man defense group is difficult to project, anyone trying to do so is wise to start with the top and the bottom. Zdeno Chara will of course be the B’€™s No. 1 defenseman. Matt Irwin, seemingly, will be the seventh.

After signing a one-year deal worth $800,000 in the offseason, Irwin isn’€™t subscribing to that logic.

“€œI’€™m looking to play every game,” the former Shark said. “€œThat’€™s my goal. I think I can bring a lot to this team. There’€™s competition and there’€™s opportunity. I’€™m looking to be in the lineup every night and help this team win.”

Irwin, 27, came to the Bruins after spending first five years as a pro in the San Jose organization. An offensive defenseman, he had eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points over 53 games in the lineup. His pairing with Scott Hannan was not good possession-wise (46.7 Corsi percentage in 5-on-5), though Irwin’€™s overall Corsi in 5-on-5 was 51.6 percent.

With the Bruins changing their breakouts and placing more emphasis on a defenseman joining the attack, Irwin feels that he’€™s entering a good situation for his skill set. He also noted that the Sharks used a similar breakout, which makes his adjustment period to a new team a bit easier.

“€œIt’€™s similar to San Jose,”€ he said. “€œThe last few years there we encouraged our D men to get up in the rush, have that second wave of offense coming in, create some havoc, push their D back. It’€™s very similar to what we did there, what they’€™re trying to implement here for this year.”€

This usage chart (courtesy of illustrates how Matt Irwin fared compared to Bruins defensemen in 2014-15.

This usage chart (courtesy of illustrates how Matt Irwin fared compared to Bruins defensemen in 2014-15.

Irwin’s cheap contract (which is a one-way), age and experience as a guy who’€™s been in and out of an NHL lineup suggests the Bruins would be better off using him a seventh defenseman over players like Joe Morrow or Colin Miller. Spending too much out of the lineup can stunt a developing player’s progress, so Morrow and Miller (neither of whom require waivers) should either play in Boston or play in Providence. Sitting should not be in their job description.

Plus, Irwin has versatility on his side. A left shot who is comfortable playing both sides, Irwin is something of an ideal seventh guy given that he can slot in for any of Boston’€™s defenders in the event of an emergency.

That’€™s not Irwin’€™s plan, however. He wants to be one of the six in the lineup at all times. His chances aren’€™t great, but he’€™ll take them.


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