|Bruins trying out center-heavy Spooner-Krejci-Backes line||10.04.16 at 12:08 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — For the second straight day, the Bruins iced a line consisting of David Krejci between Ryan Spooner and David Backes in practice at Warrior Ice Arena. By the looks of it (and by what Claude Julien essentially confirmed), it figures to be a line used in Tuesday night’s exhibition against the Canadiens when Krejci makes his return from hip surgery.
Considering there are only three preseason games left, the idea that the B’s would use that line at this point suggests they’re actually taking it seriously. The Bruins figured to be loaded at center after signing Backes, but three centers on one line?
“Obviously it’s something new,” Krejci said. “New linemates, but I’m pretty excited. We have three centermen. If I’m having a tough time on the draw, those two other guys can step in. Spoons is a lefty, so he can take some draws as well. I’m really excited. I’ve known Spoons for a long time. Backes, I’ve played against him for a really long time, so I know him as well. I know what he can do; hopefully we can click right away and who knows? Maybe stick together for some time.”
Though he didn’t fully admit it, it’s entirely possible that Julien got the idea for such a line while coaching at the World Cup of Hockey, where Team Canada had only two actual wingers (Brad Marchand and Corey Perry) on its roster. The rest of the forwards were centers, meaning every line was loaded with multiple pivots. Canada’s first line had three-time Selke-winning center Patrice Bergeron playing right wing.
“We had a lot of centers playing wing,” Julien said. “It was great for faceoffs; one gets kicked out, the other goes in. They adapted well; it just gave us more flexibility. It’s hard to replace a center; it’s much easier to replace a winger.”
“We’ve got the opportunity to see what it’s going to give us tonight,” Julien said. “We want to see different things and see where it goes. It just makes our decisions a lot easier when we’ve had the chance see it vs. wondering what if we would have done this or that. We’re trying everything right now. For sure, by the start of the season we’ll certainly have a much clearer picture. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be set in stone, but at least we’ll have some options.”
If the Bruins were to use such a line in the regular season, they’d still easily have the centers to fill out the rest of their lineup. Dominic Moore figures to center the fourth line, while Austin Czarnik’s strong training camp could make him a candidate to center the third line.
If that second part sounds like a stretch, look no further than another line that was used Tuesday morning: Beleskey-Czarnik-Hayes.
Boston’s lines Tuesday morning were as follows:
|David Krejci, Torey Krug to play Tuesday vs. Canadiens||10.03.16 at 5:41 pm ET|
Prior to training camp, both David Krejci and Torey Krug expressed their intentions to play in next Thursday’s season opener. Barring setbacks, that appears to be in the cards.
With three preseason games left before the regular season begins, both rehabbing players will get into exhibition action Tuesday against the Canadiens in Quebec City. The team announced the roster Monday evening, hours after Claude Julien intimidated they would play soon.
“They have to. I think that they’re that close that we will see them,” Julien said Monday afternoon. “I think there’s some decisions that have to be made, probably today, in talking to the medical crew and all that stuff, whether they’re ready tomorrow or whether they’re ready Thursday. That’s what we’ve got to kind of [figure out] in the next few hours.”
Krejci is coming off offseason hip surgery, while Krug had a shoulder operation following last season. If they don’t play Tuesday in Quebec City, they could still get into a game either Thursday in Columbus or Saturday against the Flyers.
The roster for Tuesday’s game is as follows:
Forwards: Noel Acciari, David Backes, Matt Beleskey, Patrice Bergeron, Austin Czarnik, Jake DeBrusk, Jimmy Hayes, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Tyler Randell, Tim Schaller, Ryan Spooner
Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Christian Ehrhoff, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller, Kevan Miller, and Rob O’Gara.
Goalies: Tuukka Rask and Malcolm Subban
|Brad Marchand says deal was pretty much done before Sidney Crosby speculation began||10.03.16 at 1:09 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — Brad Marchand knew well before signing his contract extension last week that he’d be staying in Boston on a long-term deal. In his words, it was “so close to being done” before he left for the World Cup of Hockey, and that minor details needed to be tied up before his eight-year pact would be signed.
Other people knew as well, a group that obviously included his agent and Bruins management. Patrice Bergeron also knew, as it would have been pretty inconsiderate to keep him in the dark as seemingly logical speculation began to emerge that his longtime linemate could run off with World Cup linemate Sidney Crosby next summer.
“I was in the loop with him,” Bergeron said Monday. “I kind of knew what was going on. Otherwise I would have been worried for sure, especially the way he was playing with Sid and the chemistry they had, but it’s well-deserved.“
Said Marchand: “It was funny. The deal was pretty much done when some of that stuff was all coming out. It was tough for me to comment, but it was interesting. We had some good laughs about it, but ultimately we knew we were going to be here where we wanted to be.”
Without knowing that a deal with Boston was all but done, it would be hard to blame someone for thinking that the Penguins might do what they could to land Marchand as a free agent. Skating with Crosby and Bergeron, Marchand led the World Cup of Hockey with five goals in six games.
With Marchand coming off a 37-goal season and Crosby still being Crosby, the duo could have been dominant in Pittsburgh, but Marchand passed that up by forgoing free agency and taking eight years — something no other team could give him — in Boston. In order to take the maximum eight years, Marchand accepted a lower cap hit than he’d have gotten elsewhere, with his $6.125 million average annual value sitting lower than he could have easily commanded on the open market.
“I wanted to be here as long as I can and play as long as I possibly can,” he said. “That’s where I think the eighth year came in for myself and for the team allowed a lower cap hit. I don’t think at the end of the day I’m more concerned with the overall dollar value as I am about being part of this team for a long time.”
Marchand also admitted part of signing before his walk year was to avoid the attention that accompanies free agents to-be. He said Loui Eriksson’s final season in Boston was cumbersome for both the player and his teammates.
“I just remember watching Loui last year and what we all had to deal with with answering questions all the time and the uncertainty about him being around this year,” Marchand said. “It’s a lot to weigh on the players, on the minds of everyone, on himself and on the management where instead of focusing on individual players and where they’re going to be, more about the team stuff and what we needed to do to win. I think all that is something we had in mind. We wanted to get it done and put it behind us.”
|Christian Ehrhoff joins Bruins for Monday’s practice||10.03.16 at 10:44 am ET|
BRIGHTON — Christian Ehrhoff literally said hello to the Bruins on Monday, as the veteran defenseman could be seen introducing himself to Boston coaches on the ice at Warrior Ice Arena.
Monday was the 34-year-old Ehrhoff’s first practice with the B’s after accepting a professional tryout from the team over the weekend. Also making their training camp debuts Monday were World Cup of Hockey finalists Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
The aforementioned four players were all part of the first of two groups to skate Monday, with players like Danton Heinen and John Michael-Liles among those saved for the second group. The forward lines for the first group were as follows:
|Sean Kuraly hopes for bright future with Bruins||10.03.16 at 12:56 am ET|
When the Bruins traded Martin Jones’ rights to the Sharks last offseason, one asset they received ended up being a lot worse than expected. The first-round pick acquired in the deal, projected by many across the league to be in the top half of the order, ended up being 29th overall when the Sharks made a run to the Stanley Cup Final.
As for the other asset: Well, at least he’s here.
While the first-rounder was the centerpiece of the trade, the Bruins also received the rights to center Sean Kuraly, a fifth-round pick of the Sharks in the 2011 draft. Kuraly concluded his college career last season, after which he signed an entry level contract with the Bruins.
Given that he was drafted when he was and had played out his college career, Kuraly was a candidate to use article 8.6(c) of the CBA to his advantage the way Jimmy Vesey did and become a free agent. Considering the Bruins’ depth at center — established stars at the top and solid youngsters both in the NHL and on the way — Kuraly might have found an easier path to the NHL in a different organization. He ultimately chose against that path, however, deciding that the B’s trading for him told him all he needed to know.
“It really wasn’t much of a decision, really,” he said. “I think you want to be somewhere where they want you. Obviously in the trade that happened, that was expressed. I think it’s just something that me and my agent didn’t even think much about. We thought it was the right thing to do.”
A physical center with good size, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Kuraly had a down year on a Miami of Ohio team that had a down year altogether. After posting back-to-back 29-point seasons, Kuraly saw his production drop off to 23 points. Most jarring was his goal total, which went from 19 as a junior to six as a senior.
The Ohio native says he’s starting to consider himself a forward rather than just a center, and that might help his case for an eventual future job. The B’s have used him at both center and left wing in preseason games.
“I’m obviously more comfortable in the middle of the ice, for the most part but I’ve played a little wing now and I’m getting used to it,” he said. “There’s still things I’m still getting used to, but I would say I’m just a forward. You grow up playing center, but a ton of guys grew up playing center. I think it’s more natural to go center to wing than wing to center.”
Kuraly has his work cut out for him if he wants to play in the NHL any time soon, especially as a pivot. Boston has Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Ryan Spooner and David Backes locking up top-nine spots, while Dominic Moore has seemingly jumped ahead of Noel Acciari as a favorite to center the fourth line. There’s also Kuraly’s former Miami teammate Austin Czarnik, who had a strong first professional season (61 points in 68 games) and has looked good in training camp. Down the road (literally) there’s Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, a 2015 second-round pick who put up 30 points in his freshman year at Boston University.
“There’s tons of competition, obviously,” Kuraly said. “At the end of the day, if you just put your best foot forward and do the best you can, I think you’ll find a way to get where you need to be. As long as you’re doing your best and you’re good enough, I think things have a way of working themselves out. You’re just doing the best you can every day and making sure you’re making the most of the situation you’re in.
“Competition is good. That’s not something we were trying to get away from. That’s something that was the situation, and you just deal with it and make the best of it.”
|Zach Senyshyn, Peter Mueller among Bruins’ cuts||10.02.16 at 7:43 pm ET|
The Bruins announced roster 23 cuts Sunday, perhaps the most notable of which was Peter Mueller being released from his professional tryout.
Among the other big names to be released from camp were 2015 draft picks Zach Senyshyn, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon, though none of them were expected to contend for an NHL spot this season.
Here’s a breakdown of Sunday’s cuts:
Assigned to Providence: Anton Blidh, Colby Cave, Peter Cehlarik, Colton Hargrove, Justin Hickman, Linus Arnesson, Matt Grzelcyk, Zane McIntyre, Dan Vladar
Returned to junior: Jesse Gabrielle, Zach Senyshyn, Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril
Sent to Providence training camp: Mark Naclerio, A.J. White, Josh Atkinson, Chris Breen, Alex Roach, Matt Ginn
Placed on waivers for the purpose of reassignment: Chris Casto, Tommy Cross, Alex Grant
Released from professional tryout: Peter Mueller
|David Backes, David Pastrnak, Danton Heinen produce for Bruins in preseason win over Flyers||10.02.16 at 12:46 am ET|
David Backes and David Pastrnak had three points apiece as the Bruins picked up a 4-3 shootout win over the Flyers in preseason action Saturday night.
Backes, who centered Pastrnak and Danton Heinen, had three assists in regulation, while Pastrnak had two goals and an assist. Heinen had one goal, bringing his preseason total to three in three games, and also scored in the shootout. Jake DeBrusk also scored for Boston in the shootout, while Malcolm Subban stopped two of three shots after making 29 saves on 32 shots during the course of play.
A first year pro, Heinen is a strong candidate to start the season in the NHL given that the Bruins are expected to be without Frank Vatrano until late December. The left-shot wing, who was drafted by the B’s in the fourth round of the 2014 draft and signed after his sophomore year at the University of Denver, will play in Providence if he doesn’t make Boston’s roster.
The Bruins are expected to announce roster cuts shortly. Their next preseason game will be played Tuesday against the Canadiens in Quebec City.