|With Bruins’ fourth line constantly changing, Craig Cunningham appears a safe bet to stay||01.13.15 at 12:39 pm ET|
The Bruins, injuries and a suspension aside, pretty much had one fourth line since midway through the 2010-11 season: Gregory Campbell between Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton. Just over halfway through this season, they’ve had 15 different fourth lines by our count (see below).
As Scott McLaughlin recently pointed out, these fourth lines have mostly been ineffective. Yet with Simon Gagne recently informing the Bruins he will not be returning this season, the team can at least have a better idea of who will make up their bottom trio. Specifically, you can count on Craig Cunningham to stick on Gregory Campbell’s right wing.
In a season that has seen the Bruins struggle to get any traction with their bottom trio(s), playing Cunningham has looked to be the right idea all along. He moves relatively well, brings an element of grit, and, when given the minutes, isn’t to throw the puck on net even if it isn’t the prettiest chance.
“Any time the goalie kicks out a rebound, no one really knows where it’s going and it’s a 50-50 puck,” Cunningham said Tuesday.
Claude Julien acknowledged Tuesday that the Bruins are giving Cunningham a real shot to become a permanent member of the line, but he doesn’t feel he’s won anything yet.
“No. I don’t think so,’ Cunningham said. “For me, I’m still trying to make an impact and show that I can play at this level every night. You live day-to-day up here. For me, you never want to get comfortable. I think every day is kind of like a tryout. They’re watching you and you’ve got to bring something every single day.”
Daniel Paille moved up from the line last week as he was promoted to a new-look top-six trio with Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic. Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron have manned his left wing spot since, but that could continue to change.
As long as Campbell is in Boston, he figures to be on that fourth line, and it seems Cunningham stands a better chance than any of Boston’s youngsters of sticking on the right side. The other wing may continue to be a revolving door, but in the meantime, Campbell and Cunningham, linemates for eight games entering Tuesday night, should seize the opportunity to prove they’re the men for the job as the Bruins look to re-establish the puck-possessing, energy-providing fourth line the Bruins once had.
“I guess I was lucky — we were lucky, in a sense — to have that stability for the last four years,” Campbell said. “You kind of take it for granted, because if you look around, it doesn’t happen often where a line’s together that long where you can create that chemistry and whatever. The thing is, our role doesn’t change. We just have to take pride in that. The guys that have been on the line are more than capable of doing the job and they’re good players. We’ll make it work. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer.”
THE MANY DIFFERENT FOURTH LINES
These aren’t groups that were just used for shifts at a time. From tracking the team’s lineups throughout the season, these are the lines that the B’s have used for a game or games at a time. Some have changed from mid-game line shakeups, but that has rarely been the case.
Paille-Cunningham-Robins: Games 1, 2, 3
Paille-Spooner-Caron: Game 4
Paille-Spooner-Gagne: Game 5
Paille-Campbell-Gagne: Games 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28
Paille-Campbell-Fraser: Game 7, 34, 35, 36
Paille-Campbell-Smith: Game 12
Kelly-Campbell-Paille: Game 15
Lindblad-Khokhlachev-Fraser: Game 22
Caron-Khokhlachev-Pastrnak: Game 23
Smith-Kelly-Griffith: Game 24
Paille-Campbell-Griffith: Games 29, 30, 31
Paille-Campbell-Cunningham: Game 32, 33, 38, 39, 40, 41
Lindblad-Cunningham-Griffith: Game 37
Caron-Campbell-Cunningham: Game 42
Kelly-Campbell-Cunningham: Game 43
|Bruins keep same lineup against banged-up Lightning||01.13.15 at 11:41 am ET|
All players were present for the Bruins’ morning skate as they prepared for Tuesday night’s contest against the Lightning at TD Garden. Tuukka Rask is expected to start in goal.
The lines and defense pairings are the same as they were in Saturday’s win over the Flyers:
Marchand - Krejci – Pastrnak
Lucic – Bergeron - Paille
Smith - Soderberg - Eriksson
Kelly – Campbell – Cunningham
Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – McQuaid
Krug – Miller
The Lightning are coming off a 7-3 loss to the Flyers Monday night in Philadelphia in which they lost star defenseman Victory Hedman and All-Star forward Tyler Johnson to lower-body injuries. Lightning coach John Cooper told reporters after Monday’s game that there is a “good chance” that neither player will be available for Tampa against the Bruins, with Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reporting Tuesday that both players are out.
Hedman and Johnson both out tonight, neither considered long term, Johnson closer than Hedman, both may return before All Star break
— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) January 13, 2015
Johnson leads the Lightning with 45 points this season.
|Simon Gagne will not return to Bruins||01.12.15 at 5:17 pm ET|
The Bruins and Simon Gagne announced Monday that the veteran forward will not return to the team this season as he remains with his family following the death of his father.
Gagne, who signed a one-year deal with the Bruins in October and registered three goals and one assist over 23 games, took a leave of absence on Dec. 10 following his father’s cancer diagnosis. The Bruins have changed his status to ‘suspended player,’ a move that Gagne supported.
By suspending Gagne, the Bruins will not be charged his $600,000 cap hit.
“The last month has been extremely difficult for me with my father being sick and his passing,” Gagne said in a statement released by the team. “To play in the NHL you have to be 100 percent mentally, emotionally and physically committed to the game. At this time I know that I cannot be close to those levels.
“The Bruins organization and my teammates have been great to my family and I during this time. When I decided not to return this season, I spoke to Peter and assured him that I did not want the organization or my teammates to be impacted. Together we made the decision that my status would be changed so that the team could have a full active roster. In addition, I would like to thank the fans and the NHL family for all of the support that they have given my family and I during this difficult time. It has truly meant a lot.”
It is possible that this could mark the end of the 34-year-old’s NHL career. Gagne did not play last season but turned a professional tryout agreement into a contract with Boston after the B’s struggled offensively in the first four games of the season.
Since debuting with the Flyers in 1999, Gagne has played 822 regular-season NHL games, scoring 291 goals and adding 310 assists for 601 points.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Zdeno Chara’s hardest shot dominance ends; does he still think he has hardest shot in league?||01.12.15 at 1:16 pm ET|
Given that Chara is not an All-Star this season, he will not participate in the hardest shot competition, which he was won five times in a row from 2007-2012. The NHL has not had an All-Star weekend the last two seasons due to the 2012-13 lockout and the 2014 Winter Olympics, so Chara is still the defending champion in the talent show.
Over the years, Chara set new records in the contest and developed a good rivalry with Nashville’s Shea Weber, who has finished second to Boston’s captain in each of the last three contests. In the last contest, Chara’s shot was clocked at 108.8 mph, the fastest on record to date.
Chara is understanding of why he won’t take part in the contest, as he noted that you need to be an All-Star first, and it would have been hard to make a case for him qualifying.
“Obviously I missed a big chunk of the first half,” he said. “It’s based on the play and performance of the players, and obviously I didn’t play most of it.”
Given that there hasn’t been one of these contests in a couple years and that Chara is now in his age 37-38 season, it would have been interesting to see if Chara’s shot still reigned supreme. Furthermore, Chara is two victories shy of tying wooden stick wonder Al MacInnis for most hardest shot crowns (seven).
Chara’s been able to step into powerful shots at points this season on goals against Buffalo on Oct. 18 and last week in Pittsburgh. Asked whether he felt his shot remains the hardest in the league, Chara thought for three full seconds before answering.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a different thing doing the shots during the game and when you have to skate into it and wind up. I assume I could be up there, but a lot of guys have hard shots.”
Chara won’t win this season, but given that a healthy Chara should be an automatic All-Star, perhaps he’ll return to the contest in the coming seasons.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I think it was exciting for fans; it was exciting for players. We always made it kind of interesting with different players and it was always a bit hyped before the contest.”
|Bruins return to practice sporting same lines||01.12.15 at 12:40 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins began their preparations for a three-game homestand Monday after taking Sunday off.
Pastrnak’s presence and Daniel Paille‘s recent promotion to Patrice Bergeron‘s line has moved Reilly Smith out of the top six, as he has taken Chris Kelly‘s spot on Carl Soderberg’s line, which in turn has left Kelly on the fourth line.
The lines were as follows:
Marchand – Krejci – Pastrnak
Lucic – Bergeron – Paille
Smith – Soderberg – Eriksson
Caron – Kelly – Campbell – Cunningham
All seven defensemen and both goaltenders took part in practice.
The B’s will host the Atlantic Division-leading Lightning on Tuesday. Tampa Bay, currently eight points ahead of the Bruins with one game in hand as of Monday morning, will play the Flyers Monday night in Philadelphia.
|Bruins send Seth Griffith to Providence||01.11.15 at 1:44 pm ET|
The Bruins sent forward Seth Griffith to Providence after Saturday’s victory over the Flyers.
Griffith has played in 30 games this season for the Bruins, many of which have seen him play on the right wing of David Krejci‘s line. With David Pastrnak currently serving in that role and the rest of Boston’s forwards healthy, he was a healthy scratch on Saturday for the second straight game.
Pastrnak, who has played seven NHL games, can play two more without accruing an NHL season on his contract. If he plays 10 games, the first year of his three-year entry level pact will be burned. If Pastrnak performs like he did Saturday, when he netted the first two goals of his NHL career, it would appear a good bet that he’ll stick with the B’s.
Jordan Caron is now the Bruins’ 13th forward with Griffith in Providence.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Patrice Bergeron named to All-Star Game||01.11.15 at 8:00 am ET|
The selection is the first of Bergeron’s career. He leads the Bruins with 31 points and 21 assists.
Each team needed at least one representative for the contest. With Zdeno Chara not making the team, he will be unable to defend his title in the Hardest Shot competition, which he last won in 2012.
There has not been an All-Star Game in either of the last two seasons due to the lockout in 2013 and Olympics in 2014.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.