|Tuukka Rask happy to get back on ice: ‘You kind of forget how tough it is out there’||09.29.15 at 12:12 am ET|
The long wait finally came to an end for Tuukka Rask Monday night.
The 28-year-old goalie made his 2015 preseason debut after watching the likes of Jonas Gustavsson, Jeremy Smith, Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre fill the void over the first four games, all wins.
Monday night wasn’t about the final result, a 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. It was about getting Rask’s feet wet for the first time in game action since the regular season finale last April 11 at Tampa Bay. That night, the Bruins were eliminated in the middle of the game. Monday night, in a game with far less significance, Rask stopped 21 of 24 shots in getting his first taste of action.
“Good to get it out of the way,” Rask said. “You kind of forget how tough it is out there. It doesn’t matter how much you workout or skate, it’s always different when it’s a real game and I definitely felt it. It’s good to get that first one out of the belt and to keep moving on that.”
Rask posted a 2.30 goals against last season with a 34-21-13 mark in 70 games. He will, of course, be the starting goalie for the Bruins when they open the season on Oct. 8 against Winnipeg at TD Garden.
“I think at this point I focus on myself and getting my game where I feel like it needs to be – it’s just with the feel and everything,” Rask said. “I felt that timing was sometimes a little off, angles were a little off at times — not natural all the time. Those are the things I need to work on, but I think in the bigger picture too, looking at the breakouts we did a pretty good job today and communication was pretty good too. The first period I had to handle it a couple times, the first one of the game I just made a bad pass, but after that I made a couple good passes. A couple guys talked to me where they wanted the puck to be and I think they did a good job in front of the net, clearing some sticks and some players. I think it was good.”
Rask realizes that improving Boston’s breakout this season begins with him.
|Bruins defense a work in progress with season approaching||at 12:07 am ET|
Rather, it was the group of six defensemen who saw action in front of Rask that Julien was watching most intently.
“We’re evaluating more the back end than we were Tuukka,” Julien said. “We’ve got some young D’s here and some spots to fill. Spots to win and spots to lose. So we’re looking closely at those guys on the back end. Some of those goals tonight [Rask] didn’t get much help.”
Boston dropped the final decision to Detroit 3-1, allowing at least two markers that didn’t thrill Julien in regards to his team’s play on that back end.
“That first goal a guy walks right into the slot,” said Julien of the game’s first goal scored by Detroit’s Drew Miller, with Boston’s defensemen Linus Arnesson and Kevan Miller near the crease some distance away.
And the second Detroit goal, with Tomas Jurko getting behind Arnesson and Colin Miller to make it 2-0?
“It was a mix-up there between our two D’s,” said Julien. “We laid it in [on the dump-in] and our right D changed hoping that our left D would go to right to be closer to the bench. Somehow they stayed in the same half of the ice and allowed them that breakaway.”
Without the blue-line services of Dennis Seidenberg for several more weeks and Zdeno Chara for an unknown length of time, some of Julien’s young defensemen will need to raise their game when the season begins a week from this Thursday.
“I think guys are getting used to having more pressure on them on the forecheck,” said Zach Trotman, who logged 18:39 of ice time Monday playing primarily alongside Torey Krug. “Getting used to reads. Getting some chemistry with other players and partners. We’ve gotten to play with each other for a couple games now. You’re going to notice that breakouts are a little cleaner, neutral zone is going to be a little cleaner. And then jumping up in the play and stuff and adjusting to the tweaks we’ve made to our system.”
Those tweaks to the Bruins system are designed to help spark an offense that ranked 22nd in the NHL in goals-per-game (2.55) last season. However, timing is everything in making sure the defense doesn’t suffer.
|What Dennis Seidenberg’s injury means for rest of Bruins defense||09.23.15 at 10:42 am ET|
The last time Dennis Seidenberg got hurt back in December of 2013, the best team in the Eastern Conference had to find someone to inherit Boston’s second-best defenseman’s minutes. This time around, things aren’t so cut and dried.
The Bruins announced Wednesday that Seidenberg, who has not taken the ice at all this training camp, would undergo back surgery Thursday and miss the next eight weeks. His absence for the next two months solves one problem and creates another.
Not having Seidenberg provides some clarity as it relates to the numbers game on Boston’s defense. The problem is that it does so by subtracting one of the only guys with ample experience as one of Claude Julien‘s most trusted defenders.
An issue for the Bruins entering camp is that they had too many defensemen, but not enough top-four blueliners. Though Seidenberg was coming off a bad season, the Dougie Hamilton trade left Zdeno Chara and Seidenberg as the only B’s with extensive top-four experience (Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid have taken on bigger roles at times over the last two seasons, but they’ve generally been reserved for playing against bottom-sixers). That the Bruins will go until Thanksgiving with three of their top-four defensemen treading relatively uncharted waters is concerning, but then again there was no guarantee that Seidenberg would have earned a top role over those guys anyway.
Seidenberg’s injury provides an opportunity for Krug, who will get his wish of being a top-four guy. Because right shot defensemen (of which the B’s have many) can’t play the left side, having a lefty to anchor the second pairing behind Chara is crucial. Seidenberg was a prime candidate if he was healthy and anything resembling his old self.
Now the candidates are Krug, Matt Irwin and Joe Morrow. The guess here is that Krug leads the second pairing with McQuaid on the right, with Irwin playing on the third pairing with either Kevan Miller or Colin Miller. While Colin Miller has more offensive upside than Kevan Miller, the absence left by Seidenberg on the penalty kill (Seidenberg led all Bruins players in shorthanded time on ice last season) could very well require the team to put Kevan Miller in the lineup over Colin Miller.
[An interesting note regarding Boston’s defense: Of the eight remaining healthy blueliners legitimately pushing for jobs — Chara, Krug, Trotman, McQuaid, both Millers, Morrow and Irwin — Colin Miller is the only that would not require waivers to be sent to Providence.]
|Claude Julien likes 3-on-3 (because he hates the shootout)||09.22.15 at 10:30 pm ET|
The Bruins didn’t get to practice 3-on-3 for long Tuesday night, as David Pastrnak ended the preseason overtime session just 12 seconds in.
Lack of experience aside, Claude Julien doesn’t need to see much to know he’s going to like the new overtime system more than he liked the old one. With the NHL moving to 3-on-3 for five minutes followed by a shootout, the chances are far greater that the game will be settled in overtime than in the shootout. In the old system of 4-on-4 followed by a shootout, the overtime session often did nothing but give way to the shootout. Julien wasn’t a fan of that, as one could say he hates the shootout.
“I hate the shootout,” Julien said Tuesday, confirming the aforementioned suspicion.
Julien didn’t hate what he saw Tuesday night. With Boston’s preseason game against the Capitals tied at the end of regulation, the game went to overtime (it would have no matter what the score, as the NHL is having teams practice the new format three times this preseason).
Julien sent David Krejci, Pastrnak and Torey Krug out to begin the session. Krejci won the faceoff, with Krug chasing the puck into over the Boston blueline. Krug threw the puck up to Krejci, who fed Pastrnak on a 2-on-1 to set up the game-winner.
Because he hates the shootout (see above) Julien spent the majority of the last two seasons sending three forwards and one defenseman out for 4-on-4. Tuesday’s deployment of Krejci, Pastrnak and Krug gives the Bruins both offensive creativity and skating, two things that come in handy in next-goal-wins scenarios. Yet Julien is willing to go even farther this season in 3-on-3, as the team has practiced 3-on-3 with three forwards and no defensemen. Julien says he intends to use three forwards at times in overtime.
“For me, when you’re playing in the overtime, you’re going for the win,” he said. “I mean, you’ve got the point, you want to get that second one, so why sit back? You know, let’s go for it. That’s my approach.”
The 3-on-3 will be a learning experience for all teams in the early months of the season, as pretty much any mistake (or line change) can end the game. Having gone 7-16 the last two seasons in shootouts, the Bruins should probably like their odds in overtime better than they like them in a shootout. With players like Pastrnak, Krejci, Krug, Ryan Spooner and others at their disposal, it pretty much has to work out better for the B’s than the old way.
|Don Cherry on MFB: Milan Lucic is ‘[going to] come back with a force’ this season||07.02.15 at 12:52 pm ET|
Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry joined Middays with MFB on Thursday to discuss the Bruins’ recent moves. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
Prior to the NHL draft Milan Lucic and 22-year-old defenseman Dougie Hamilton were traded to the Kings and Flames, respectively. The trades caught many by surprise, though the return for both of them gave the Bruins pieces to work with, namely those acquired in the Lucic trade.
The winger was traded to Los Angeles for goaltender Martin Jones, defenseman Colin Miller and the No. 15 overall pick in last Friday’s draft. The B’s were able to flip Jones to the Sharks afterwards for a first-round pick in 2016 and the rights to Miami Redhawks rising senior Sean Kuraly.
“I think what happened is [Lucic] sort of fell out of favor with that  goals [last season],” Cherry said. “You expected more goals from him. I have to admit, he wasn’t Lucic of old last year, but somehow or other, I always think of the Bruins, I think of them as tough and everybody thinks of them as tough.”
“Lucic, I know he had an off-year last year, but he’s [going to] come back with a force,” he added. “When you think of the Bruins, when everybody thinks of the Bruins, they think of Lucic, and then a 22-year-old guy. … You don’t get a 22-year-old stud like that guy and Calgary now has the best defense in the league, there’s no doubt about it.”
Following Hamilton being traded there were reports saying Hamilton was a “loner” and an “uppity kid.” Cherry said that wouldn’t matter to him if he were coaching the Bruins.
“If I had Hamilton, somehow I’d work him in, and that’s the job of the organization,” he said. “When I hear he doesn’t work and he’s a loner, who cares? Look at the way he plays, it’s on the ice. I don’t care if he’s a loner or not. I don’t believe in that stuff.”
|After losing Dougie Hamilton, Claude Julien says young players ask for too much too soon||06.26.15 at 11:48 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — Claude Julien lamented the fact that Dougie Hamilton wanted top dollar hours after the Bruins traded the 22-year-old star defenseman in a stunning deal with the Flames.
With statistics and big-name comps on Hamilton’s side, the defenseman’s camp sought a deal commensurate with those of other top young defensemen such as Drew Doughty and Alex Pietrangelo. The Bruins were unwilling to pay that, with a source telling WEEI.com Friday that none of Boston’s offers exceeded $6 million a year.
Julien said he understood why Hamilton wants to be paid like his peers, but he doesn’t like how soon players cash in these days.
“The players and the organization, I guess everybody’s in their right with the way CBA is,” Julien said after the first round of the draft on Friday. “As a coach, to be honest with you, I find it very unfortunate that players that have played maybe three years in the league, all of a sudden they’re looking to be up there with the top-paid players.
“I prefer it the other way, where they work their way up: years of service and everything else.
“That’s not to say he wasn’t in his right. He’s in his right. He’s entitled to do what he did. I’m not standing here blaming him at all. Would we like to have kept him? I think we would have liked to have kept Dougie Hamilton. He’s a good promising young player, but you move on.”
|Claude Julien wants to stay with Bruins as long as he’s wanted||06.10.15 at 11:29 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Claude Julien said Wednesday that the Bruins did not give him permission to talk to other teams and that he didn’t necessarily want it.
That’s a lot of faith to have in the Bruins keeping him, but Julien said his impression throughout his two-month stay in coaching purgatory was that he would be back with the Bruins.
“The impression I got from the get-go was that they were hoping to keep me and it was going to depend on the new GM,” Julien said. “And I agree: As much as you want the new GM to be comfortable with his guy, it’s the same thing. If the new GM doesn’t like me as a coach, I don’t want to be here either.
“I understood that right from the get-go when Peter was let go. Basically, I was waiting to see if that was going to be a good match and it turned out to be.”
The fact that new general manager Don Sweeney took as long as he did to make a decision on Julien suggests he could be on a short leash. Julien said he feels good about his job security based on philosophical similarities with Sweeney.
“I know a lot of speculations have been made on whether this is temporary or whatever it is,” Julien said. “But we’re really committed and determined to take this team and move forward in the right directions. Don and I have had talks and have a very, very similar outlook on what’s needed and what we want to do. There was never an issue there at all. That’s why it’s worked out. We seemed to be seeing the same things.”
Jukuen said he intends to make adjustments to his coaching style, but that he intended to do that anyway, noting that he and his assistants met two days after the season to outline their intended changes.
When pressed on what those changes were, Julien said pretty much the same thing that Peter Chiarelli said before being fired and Sweeney said after being hired: transition the puck better.
“There are things we feel we can do with the way the game has changed a little bit to help out transition game a little better,’ Julien said. ‘There was a time when our transition game was good with the way teams were forechecking.
“Teams’ forechecking has changed a lot so there are thing we feel we can do with our transition game that we feel we can do a lot better with creating some speed. We had already kind of addressed that and we’re going to introduce that into camp like we do every year. To me, those aren’t changes. Those are adjustments like we do every year.”