|Zdeno Chara takes light contact, still not taking slap shots||10.06.15 at 1:18 pm ET|
Zdeno Chara is not quite his normal self, and it showed during his first practice back with the Bruins on Tuesday.
Typically, when it isn’t Chara’s turn in 3-on-3 battle drills, the captain spends his breathers taking slap shots the length of the ice. On Tuesday, Chara took light contact in the drills and instead spent his breaks stickhandling and flinging the occasional wrist shot. It was progress as Chara continued to work his way back from an upper-body injury suffered on Sept. 24, but it was a sign that he remains a work in progress.
“His first day, it would be normal that it was light contact,” Claude Julien said after the practice. “He got into traffic, he got into different things, but he wasn’t going to be out there throwing his weight around. That’s his first day, when he’s told to be that way. The last thing we need right now is a setback.”
The Bruins will practice again Wednesday in their final tuneup before Thursday night’s season-opener against the Jets. Chara, who skated on a pairing with Colin Miller in Tuesday’s practice, would not discuss his chances of playing Thursday, instead taking a Belichickian approach.
“I’m not looking at Thursday. I’m looking at tomorrow,” Chara said. “It’s day-to-day and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s practice. My goal is to be better than I was today.”
If Chara were unable to play early in the season, the Bruins would be looking at Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid as the team’s first pair, something that could be helped by the fact that Boston has last change at home, but it would be far from ideal. Then again, if Chara rushes back and gets hurt again, having Boston’s potentially shaky defense go a long time without his services would be much worse.
“We need everybody. It’s not just one guy,” Chara said. “Obviously, I’m going to do whatever I can to be out there and playing, but I think that right now, at this point of the season when we have so many guys available, it’s a big plus that you have so many varieties and options that you can use.”
Chara remains on injured reserve, which is retroactive to the date he was injured. The Bruins can take him off and play him at any point, but keeping him on IR allows the team to carry the group it has. Including Max Talbot and not counting Jeremy Smith, Boston’s roster is currently at the maximum of 23 players. The B’s could send Talbot to Providence once they activate Chara.
The Bruins lines in practice Tuesday were as follows:
|Max Talbot and Jeremy Smith go unclaimed on waivers||10.06.15 at 12:33 pm ET|
Bruins goaltender Jeremy Smith and forward Max Talbot both cleared waivers on Tuesday, meaning both players can now be assigned to Providence of the AHL.
Though both players were on waivers until noon, Talbot took part in Boston’s 10:30 a.m. practice and Smith did not. Though Smith was at TD Garden earlier in the day, his locker was cleared out by the team media was let into Boston’s dressing room.
Talbot is still awaiting word on Boston’s plan for him.
“There’s no more confusion,” Talbot said of learning that he was unclaimed. “It’s something I guess that’s part of the game, part of the business, part of the job. I’m just going to come back here to work every day. I came here to camp with the idea of helping my teammates.
“Right now, I’m not sure yet what’s going to happen to me, meaning if they’re going to send me down or keep me here, but I’m going to have a good attitude and whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do.”
|Bruins place Max Talbot and Jeremy Smith on waivers, Zdeno Chara on IR||10.05.15 at 12:52 pm ET|
According to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports and Bob McKenzie of TSN, the Bruins placed forward Max Talbot and goaltender Jeremy Smith on waivers on Monday. If Talbot and Smith go unclaimed over the next 24 hours, they can be assigned to Providence.
While the writing was on the wall for Smith when the Bruins signed Jonas Gustavsson to be their backup goalie on Sunday, waiving Talbot comes as something of a surprise. The Bruins got the Avalanche to retain salary on Talbot when they traded for him last season, meaning the veteran fourth-liner only costs $900,000 against the cap. Still, the emergence of potential fourth-liners Joonas Kemppainen and Tyler Randell in training camp likely made Talbot expendable in the eyes of new general manager Don Sweeney.
By taking Talbot off the roster, however, some clarity is provided to the team’s fourth-line situation. With Boston’s third line set to consist of Ryan Spooner between Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly, the B’s were overflowing with fourth-line options, the vast majority of which were left shots in Chris Kelly, Kemppainen, Zac Rinaldo and Talbot. The right-shooting Randell could now push to see time as Boston’s fourth-line right wing, though a Kelly-Kemppainen-Rinaldo line also makes sense.
Either way, Talbot’s subtraction figures to lock in Boston’s 13 forwards to begin the season, with Kelly, Kemppainen, Rinaldo and Randell rounding out the group.
Smith, a second-round pick of the Predators in 2007, built a strong case to be Tuukka Rask‘s backup with a .933 save percentage in 39 games for Providence last season. Though he has yet to play an NHL game, he seemed a likely candidate to make Boston’s team after re-signing with Boston in the offseason on a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level. The Bruins already have Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre in Providence, so it will be interesting to see what the B’s do with Smith if he goes unclaimed.
Update (6:20 p.m.): In another minor roster move, Zdeno Chara is now listed as being on injured reserve. Given that players must be kept out for seven days after being put on IR, Chara’s potential status for Thursday’s season-opener is not impacted by this move. His placement on IR is likely retroactive to Sept. 24 (the day he suffered his upper-body injury), meaning the Bruins could activate him whenever they want.
|Bruins sign Jonas Gustavsson to 1-year deal||10.04.15 at 5:43 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday that they have signed goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year, one-way deal worth $700,000.
The signing comes as something of a surprise, as 26-year-old Jeremy Smith entered camp as the projected backup for Tuukka Rask. Smith, a former Predators second-round pick who split time with Malcolm Subban in Providence last season, was signed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level this summer. He would have to clear waivers to be sent to Providence, where Subban and Zane McIntyre are already assigned.
Gustavsson played in two games for the Bruins this preseason, stopping 42 of 45 shots he faced for a .933 save percentage. Injuries (most notably a separated shoulder0 limited the 30-year-old to seven NHL games last season, his third season with the Red Wings after playing the first three seasons of his NHL career with the Maple Leafs.
With his status uncertain late last week, Gustavsson said that he believed that even if he didn’t get a contract with Boston, he felt that he’d answered any questions in his mind as to whether he could bounce back from an injury-plagued season.
“Last year was different,” he said last week. “I had a big injury, so I missed a lot of time there and didn’t play that many games, but the last three months I was on the ice and I worked hard and practiced. I felt like my game was back to where it was before the injury.”
Teams have until 5 p.m. to set their 23-man rosters.
|Video: Zdeno Chara (upper-body injury) still skating, not taking contact||10.04.15 at 1:41 pm ET|
‘ DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) October 4, 2015
The intrigue as Zdeno Chara stepped onto the ice midway through the Bruins’ practice Sunday was short-lived. Though Chara skated lightly on one end of the ice while the B’s worked on 2-on-2 battle drills on the other, Chara was forced to the bench when the team needed the full sheet of ice after about five minutes.
His work would resume later in the day, however, as the 38-year-old defenseman returned to the ice to skate with assistant coach Doug Houda for over 40 minutes following the Bruins’ practice. Chara, who was limited to just three shifts this preseason due to an upper-body injury suffered on Sept. 24, could be a close call for Thursday’s season-opener given that he still has not taken contact and does not yet appear able to take slap shots. While the latter wouldn’t necessarily stop him from playing, he would likely need to participate in some battle drills after 10 days without contact.
‘ DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) October 4, 2015
Though it’s worth noting that the Bruins are off on Monday, Claude Julien said that Chara is close to being able to fully participate in practice.
“In his situation, we said day-to-day because his injury was not one that we could say ‘it’s going to be a week,’ which it’s been right now,” Julien said following Sunday’s practice. “We didn’t know, so you can’t go out there and say he’s out for a week and then all of a sudden, three day’s later, he’s in.
“So he’s still day-to-day. I think he’s inching closer and I think he’s getting very close to practicing with our team. Because it’s day-to-day, I don’t know if he’s going to be in tomorrow, the day after, whatever. We’re hoping that’s the case. It’s looking like it’s heading in that direction, but there’s no guarantees.
“So we don’t know. He’s still day-to-day and we look forward to having him back as soon as possible, but he’s skating, he’s feeling better every day. That’s the positive thing about Zdeno’s situation.”
If Chara is unable to play Thursday against the Jets, Adam McQuaid will be the only top-four defenseman from opening night last season to play in this season’s opener, as Dougie Hamilton is in Calgary and Dennis Seidenberg remains out as he recovers from back surgery.
|Jonas Gustavsson enters wait-and-see mode with Bruins||10.02.15 at 1:23 pm ET|
Now, the waiting game begins for Jonas Gustavsson.
After going through training camp and playing one and a half preseason games for the Bruins on a professional tryout, the 30-year-old netminder can do nothing but hope that the work he put in was good enough to earn him a contract and a spot on the bench as Tuukka Rask‘s backup.
Claude Julien said Friday morning that Gustavsson would not travel with the team for Friday’s preseason finale against the Capitals, with Rask starting and Jeremy Smith serving as backup. That means the preseason book is closed on Gustavsson, who stopped 42 of 45 shots over parts of two preseason games for a .933 save percentage.
“I’m not trying to think about it too much; I’m trying to do whatever I usually do – just practice, play games whenever I get a chance to play and have some fun,” Gustavsson said after Friday’s practice. “All the other stuff, that’s not in my hands. I guess I’m waiting, but on the other hand, at the same time, I’m just taking it day-by-day like I always do.”
Smith, a 26-year-old who was drafted in the second round by the Predators in 2007, is the favorite to win the backup job after a strong showing last season in Providence. That leaves Gustavsson, who played formerly with the Leafs and Red Wings but was limited to seven games with the Wings by injuries last season, potentially on the outside looking in.
Julien insisted Friday morning that a decision has not been made on the backup goaltender.
“There’s a lot that’s going to come into play there in that decision-making. It’s going to be a group decision,” he said. “We’re going to look at the pros and cons and everything else that goes into it. Unfortunately, that’s where it would be nice to have more preseason games and give a lot of those guys an opportunity to play even more and us assess them even longer, but that’s the way it is. Tuukka’s got to play. He’s our goaltender that we’ve got to get ready for the start of the season.”
Gustavsson’s preseason availability was limited by the birth of his first child, which cost him a preseason start that was perhaps made up when he played all of Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. Malcolm Subban (who started two preseason games) and Zane McIntyre are already back in Providence having been cut from camp.
Julien has noted that the decision the team makes for Rask’s backup will not necessarily be the team’s final decision. If the team loses confidence in the backup, as the Bruins did with Niklas Svedberg last season, they won’t hesitate to call up Subban and give him his shot. Should Smith get the first crack at the gig, such a scenario would do Gustavsson no good unless he remains unsigned.
Gustavsson saw his injuries create that situation last season in Detroit. As he battled a shoulder injury, AHL callup Petr Mrazek emerged as a starting option for the Red Wings, which made his services no longer required. If Gustavsson does happen to win a job in Boston, he intends to keep it.
“Every time you’re on the ice, you’re trying to prove yourself,” he said. “That’s what you’ve got to do, no matter if you have a contract or not. There’s always going to be competition. You can’t really take any spots for granted, no matter if you’re on a one-way or two-way or tryout or whatever it is. If you’re not going to perform over time, some younger kid or some other goalie’s going to take your spot. There’s only 60 spots in the league and there’s tons of good goalies.”
Gustavsson still considers himself one of them. He’ll have to wait to see if the Bruins agree.
|Max Talbot, Jonas Gustavsson won’t travel for preseason finale||10.02.15 at 11:31 am ET|
The Bruins will play their preseason finale Friday when they face the Capitals at the Verizon Center, but they’ll be leaving a pair of players behind.
Forward Max Talbot and backup goalie candidate Jonas Gustavsson will hang back for Friday night’s game, with Claude Julien saying that neither move is an indication of either player’s status with the team. Tuukka Rask will get the start, with Jeremy Smith backing him up.
The lines in Friday’s practice were as follows:
All seven of the Bruins’ healthy defensemen — Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, Matt Irwin, Colin Miller and Kevan Miller — are expected to make the trip. Zdeno Chara did not practice with the B’s Friday, though he did skate again prior to the practice.