|Takeaways from Bruins’ overtime win over Jets||09.26.13 at 10:12 pm ET|
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||09.25.13 at 4:32 pm ET|
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.
“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.”
|Backup goalie competition far from settled as Niklas Svedberg awaits first start||09.25.13 at 1:12 pm ET|
With the Bruins headed north to play their final two games of the preseason, there’s still one thing that they need to see: Niklas Svedberg play an entire game. He’ll do that Thursday against the Jets.
The reigning AHL goaltender of the year played the second half of last week’s shootout win over the Capitals in Baltimore, but to this point Chad Johnson has seen more game action. Johnson struggled in allowing three goals on eight shots in Montreal last week but bounced back with a shutout Saturday against the Red Wings.
At this point, Johnson would appear to have the upper hand in the competition simply because he’s played more and has a good performance under his belt. Yet the competition for Tuukka Rask‘s backup remains wide open between the two, and Svedberg will get his chance Thursday. Rask will then play the preseason finale Friday and have a bit of a wait before the season-opener next Thursday.
Svedberg had a woeful practice Wednesday, as skaters scored on him in bunches during drills. In particular, he was beaten stick side numerous times, and his glove wasn’t much better. Afterwards, Claude Julien cautioned against getting carried away with practices.
“To be honest with you, I don’t put too much value in those practices,” Julien said. “There are guys that get lit up in practice but you can’t get a puck by them in a game, and vice versa. To me, it’s evaluating guys in game situations. As long as he has a good work ethic in practice and has a good attitude, I’m good with that, but at the end of the day it’s what you do in game situations. This is the opportunity we’re going to have to see him tomorrow.”
|Bruins cut Craig Cunningham, David Warsofsky, Mike Moore||09.23.13 at 11:53 pm ET|
The Bruins made three cuts from camp Monday night, sending Craig Cunningham and David Warsofsky to Providence and placing Mike Moore on the waivers for the purpose of assignment to Providence.
None of the three cuts were surprises, as these were relatively minor moves. With two preseason games left and 28 healthy players, expect bigger cuts in the coming days leading up to next Thursday’s regular season opener.
|Bruins feel fighting worth risk in preseason||09.23.13 at 11:23 pm ET|
The NHL is having a ball with preseason fights, and the Bruins and Capitals were the most recent participants. There were five fights at TD Garden Monday night, with Bruins regulars participating in three of them.
In addition to Kevan Miller and Nick Johnson, the B’s saw Milan Lucic, Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid drop the gloves at different points Monday against the Capitals. Joel Rechlicz was the adversary of both Lucic and Boychuk.
While it sure looked like fun for the parties involved, fighting always carries a risk, and the reward is that you can either swing the momentum of the game or prove that you and your teammates stick up for one another. Sorry, but in the preseason, proving either of those two things doesn’t outweigh the risk of getting hurt. The Bruins feel differently.
“There's a lot of cons to fighting in the preseason,” Lucic admitted following the game. “You don't want to break a hand or get a concussion or anything like that from fighting in the preseason. The pros are you're showing that no matter what the situation is and no matter what the game is, you're going to stick up for yourself and your teammates, [no matter] what the situation is.”
One major issue surrounding fighting is that this season will be the first in which players will be penalized for removing their helmets before a fight. Last week, the Islanders and Devils got creative when Krys Barch and Brett Gallant politely removed each other’s helmet and then fought. There was a similar situation involving Miller and Aaron Volpatti Monday night.
Asked about the new rule, Lucic clearly wasn’t in favor but gave as politically correct an answer as he could.
“I know with the mandatory visors and not being able to take off your helmet, you're going to see a lot more guys punching a lot more helmets and maybe guys breaking their hands a lot more just from hitting a helmet,” he said. “So it's one of those rules that the NHL felt like they needed to make; regardless of what I think of it we still have to live with it.”
|Takeaways from Bruins’ 3-2 win over Capitals: Power play strong again; Ryan Spooner impresses||09.23.13 at 9:55 pm ET|
Chris Kelly scored in overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 win over the Capitals in their final home game of the preseason Monday night at TD Garden.
They’ll finish out the preseason later this week with a pair of games against the Jets before opening up the regular season at home next Thursday against the Lightning.
The Bruins iced the following lineup:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Soderberg – Kelly – Smith
Caron – Spooner – Johnson
Paille – Lindblad – Thornton
Chara – Boychuk
Bartkowski – McQuaid
Seidenber – Miller
Here are some takeaways from the game:
- The Bruins got a power-play goal with who else but Zdeno Chara in front. Chara tipped a Dennis Seidenberg shot from from the point past Braden Holtby in the second period to tie the game at one. This is the power play the Bruins used and had been working on in practice earlier in the day:
Krejci – Seidenberg
Iginla – Lucic
- There were quite a few fights, with Kevan Miller squaring off with Aaron Colpatti, Lucic and Johnny Boychuk dropping the gloves with Joel Rechlicz in separate fights. Additionally, Adam McQuaid and Dane Byers fought at the same time as Nick Johnson and Michal Cajkovsky in the third period.
Players can and do work on their technique in practice without having to land punches, so there isn’t much of a point in risking injury (or suspension if things get out of hand like they did in Toronto on Sunday night) during the preseason. Lots of fights = lots of unnecessary risk.
- Ryan Spooner was one of the best players on the ice for the B’s as he continues to try to force the team to make a tough decision. The team isn’t interested in making him a wing, and they probably shouldn’t be given that Reilly Smith has had a strong camp, but Spooner could at the very least push to be the team’s extra forward. At the very least, Spooner is outperforming Jordan Caron, who entered camp as a favorite to earn the 13th forward spot.
- Smith looked good in the first period and was kind of underwhelming the rest of the way. He came out flying on his first shift and made a fool out of Connor Carrick in the offensive zone as he cycled the puck to himself, and in general the former Star seems to be everything that Caron is supposed to be. He’s good in his own end and tough to out-muscle, which is strange because he’s two inches shorter and more than 35 pounds lighter than Caron. Either way, Smith plays bigger than his body and is making a good case to keep that third-line right wing job. Smith was on the ice for both of Washington’s goals, however, with the first goal coming on Smith’s first PK shift of the night.
- The Bruins allowed just seven shots on goal through the first 53-plus minutes of the game, but two of them went past Tuukka Rask. The Caps could have scored on what would have been their eighth shot following a Krejci turnover in the third period, but Miller was able to break up the 2-on-1 bid before the Caps could get a shot on goal. The B’s outshot the Capitals, 37-12, in regulation.
- Speaking of Krejci and turnovers, he made some in the offensive zone in what certainly wasn’t his prettiest game. He’s also gotten rather drop-pass happy.
|Chad Johnson turning his training camp around||09.23.13 at 2:15 pm ET|
Johnson, who was signed as a free agent this summer following the departure of Anton Khudobin, wasn’t anything special in the first few days of training camp and then turned in a woeful performance in his preseason debut, allowing three goals on eight shots against the Canadiens last Monday. The first of those goals came when he couldn’t glove an easy wrister and allowed the Habs to score on the rebound. Though it was just the first game of the preseason, it looked as though Niklas Svedberg may have become the favorite by not even playing.
Yet Johnson’s second start was drastically different. Playing the whole game against the Red Wings Saturday, Johnson stopped all 18 shots he saw in a shutout performance that he felt was more like him than his other start.
As things stand right now, the competition for Tuukka Rask‘s backup job would seem to remain open between Johnson and Svedberg. As Johnson looks at things, he doesn’t feel his poor first impression should be read too much into.
“It was my first period in three months. I obviously didn’t finish last [season] in the NHL, so you’re coming in having to adjust to the speed and getting comfortable there,” he said. “There’s obviously a little bit of an adjustment, so I was trying to catch up to pucks that first game and trying to get comfortable. There’s going to be mistakes and it didn’t go the way I wanted it to, so I just wanted to regroup and get back to my game and do the little things and get comfortable in the game like I’ve always done.”
Johnson, 27, is a veteran of 10 NHL games. In four games last season, he went 2-0-2 with a shutout while posting a .954 save percentage and 1.21 goals-against average.
The former Ranger and Coyote has played the vast majority of his professional career in the AHL, but he says that he actually finds it easier to get good reads on plays at the NHL level, since players are making less mistakes.
As such, he’s trying to making the most of whatever preseason ice time he can get at the NHL level, regardless of whether he sticks in Boston for the season.
“I think the way I play and the way my style is, it suits the speed and the style of the NHL game,” Johnson said. “That’s why I think I’ve always had success at this level. Down in the minors, it’s a different game, different speed. Guys have a little more time, they miss their shots, they miss their passes.
“For me, it’s hard to read the plays sometimes because they don’t happen the way they should happen. At this level, and in the last game, you can read plays and see things happen. For myself at this level, it helps my game because I like to see everything in front of me and make reads so I have success when I’ve had the opportunity to play at this level.”
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