|Bruins seem comfortable with idea of Loui Eriksson on top line||07.25.14 at 2:56 pm ET|
Bruins fans should prepare for Loui Eriksson on the first line next season.
Speaking to the media for the first time this summer, Claude Julien reiterated on Thursday’s conference call what’s already been said by Peter Chiarelli this summer: The team is confident that Eriksson is a viable replacement for the departed Jarome Iginla to skate alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
“We don’t feel like were in a real tough situation,” Julien said. “We’ve lost Jarome, but as you’ve probably heard, I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year. I think we started seeing that at the end of the year, and he could be a replacement for Jarome as a possibility.”
One issue with Eriksson playing on that line that has come up numerous times is the fact that he’s a left shot and that Krejci hasn’t had a left shot on the right wing in recent years, as Iginla, Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin were all righties. Maybe that won’t be a problem for him at all, and maybe there will be some adjustment.
It is worth noting that Eriksson played on that line late in the regular season when the Bruins gave Iginla some time off to get him sharp for the playoffs. Amidst that stretch came Eriksson’s best offensive performance of the season, as he registered four assists (three of which were on goals by Lucic or Krejci) and had a season-high seven shots on goal.
In his time with Dallas, Eriksson was a first-liner, and the expectation when he came to Boston was that he would be the perfect second-line right wing to a team with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Those three never formed chemistry, and the struggles of Marchand and the two concussions for Eriksson meant that trio wouldn’t stick. He returned from his second concussion as a third-liner and teamed wonderfully with Carl Soderberg to provide the Bruins with their strongest third line since the Peverley-Chris Kelly–Michael Ryder days of 2011.
If the roster remains the way it is now, the Bruins should absolutely weaken their third line and put Eriksson on the top line. The roster isn’t going to remain the way it is, however, as the team should trade at least one of what Chiarelli considers to be nine NHL defensemen.
Unless the defenseman traded is Johnny Boychuk, the Bruins probably won’t be getting a sure-fire first-line right wing back. If they trade a lesser commodity like David Warsofsky or Matt Bartkowski, it’s more realistic to expect a third-line candidate in return.
Barring a trade for a first-line right wing, that Krejci line will be different than years past no matter what. Since Krejci became the team’s first-line center in the 2010-11 season, he has had bookend power forwards on his line, with Lucic to his left and Horton or Iginla on his right. Eriksson is far from a power forward, and the Bruins don’t have anyone on their roster who can bring the sandpaper to the right wing the way Horton and Iginla did.
There are pros to having Eriksson there, however. He may not be as tiring to play against as Iginla, but he’s younger, faster and depends well. And it isn’t like he can’t score; last season was the first time in a full season that he hasn’t scored at least 26 goals since 2007-08. He was a 36-goal scorer once upon a time, hitting that mark in the 2008-09 season.
Last offseason, Eriksson’s place in the Bruins’ lineup seemed obvious, but that changed. Perhaps the expectations held now can change as well, but for now it appears that Eriksson is a good bet to be a first-liner.
|Leftover pieces from Peter Chiarelli’s press conference||07.13.14 at 10:27 pm ET|
During Peter Chiarelli‘s press conference to conclude development camp, he discussed the future of some of the team’s prospects and shared that the team has discussed moving Gregory Campbell to the wing to allow one of the team’s center prospects to reach the NHL.
He also discussed a lot of other things. Here are some of the other bits:
– Chiarelli said that the players who dealt with injuries late last season are all on schedule to be ready for training camp. That group includes Chris Kelly (back), Matt Fraser (foot) and Adam McQuaid (multiple injuries).
– It’s been a common occurrence in Chiarelli’s tenure as Bruins GM to not let his star players reach free agency, so it’s likely he’ll try to get new deals for David Krejci and Johnny Boychuk done before next summer if he intends to keep the players.
“I’m not going to go into details as to our negotiations,” Chiarelli said. ‘I can say that we will try and get guys done, I try and be proactive and we’re working on a couple things right now.”
– Chiarelli said he wasn’t surprised by the eight-year deals with annual $10.5 million cap hits that were given to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
– Fraser’s shot alone is enough to make him a darkhorse candidate to replace Jarome Iginla on Boston’s first line next year. Asked about that being a possibility, Chiarelli noted the left-shooting Fraser’s experience on the right side.
“He’s played on the right side; he can really shoot it,” Chiarelli said. “We haven’t got him signed yet but we’ll get him signed shortly. He’s showed that he can play a two-way game and that you can put him up on that lineup because you end up getting all the matchups, right? So you have to have a responsible player up there. But you know, he’s a guy that we’re going to have a look at.”
– Some free agents remain unsigned, a group that includes right wing Lee Stempniak, a player with whom the Bruins have spoken. Cap space is tight, so while it’s no sure thing the Bruins will sign any free agent for their NHL roster, they’re still looking at them.
“There’s a list of guys that I’m looking at and there is also a list of guys internally,” Chiarelli said. “I like the competition, you’ve heard me talk about the competition. I think it really energizes the team and guys bubble up, they thrive in it. So I’m balancing the two things and there are a lot of our players available right now.”
– One of the three forward spots that are open for the Bruins won’t go to a fighter. The B’s have Bobby Robins and Tyler Randell in the AHL if they need them, but Chiarelli said he feels the Bruins already have team toughness.
“I believe it’s already there, I do,” he said. “Also, we have a couple of candidates that played in Providence that surely could fit in if we need them. I really think it’s already there, I do, and you’re going to see Adam back, whoever’s playing D. We’ve got some tough guys there that can hold up their own, so I believe it’s already there.”
– The Bruins have lots of assets that they could trade if they want to add a forward that way. Chiarelli said that for now, trade talks have slowed throughout the league.
“There’s stuff going on; it’s just not fast,” Chiarelli said. “There’s parameters and deals talked about and it’s just kind of pushing it along slowly. There’s not urgency. It may happen that it happens on the eve of training camp or two days before, because the player has to get to that camp from where he is but, it’s slow. It’s slow.”
|David Krejci feels breakthrough coming: ‘My time is about to come and I’m going to be big for my team’||05.12.14 at 1:35 pm ET|
MONTREAL — It’s not often that you hear professional athletes in any sport make a prediction, but David Krejci couldn’t help but make one Monday morning before Game 6 against the Canadiens.
With his team one win away from the Eastern Conference finals, the man who has led the Bruins in playoff scoring since 2011 feels a breakout is coming. Krejci, with only three assists and a minus-3 rating in 10 playoff games so far, says he owes a debt of gratitude to his linemates Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla and his teammates, in general, for picking him up so far in these playoffs.
“That’s what you need in the playoffs. You need different guys to step up,” Krejci said. “I believe my time is about to come and I’m going to be big for my team. I owe to it these guys, so I’m going to do everything I can to start tonight.
“It feels like it’s right there. We have to execute on our chances. We have to start putting the puck in the net more often. My linemates have been doing a pretty good job at it. They’ve been great for me all year. I want to return the favor for them and I’m going to try and be better for them.”
|Bruins, Canadiens running out of time for first lines to produce||05.10.14 at 1:37 pm ET|
The Bruins are still awaiting the arrival of David Krejci‘s production in the second round, but first-line silence hasn’t been a one way street. On the other side, Montreal is still awaiting Max Pacioretty‘s first goal of the series after the Connecticut native put up 39 goals during the regular season.
Both Pacioretty and David Desharnais, who make up two thirds of Montreal’s top line with either Thomas Vanek or Brendan Gallagher, have just one point — each an assist — apiece through four games thus far.
“Playing here in this environment, I’ve got to be relied upon, I’ve got to be relied upon to score important goals and I haven’t done that yet,” Pacioretty said after the Habs’ morning skate Saturday. “I’ve just got to keep playing the way I have been and maybe just calm down a bit.”
It isn’t just that Pacioretty isn’t showing up, but rather the fact that he has to play against the best defenseman in the league. Pacioretty admitted that Zdeno Chara has gotten the better of him so far in the series, as Chara and Dougie Hamilton haven’t allowed anything to that top line in five-on-five play.
“That’s priority No. 1 I think,” Hamilton said Saturday of keeping Pacioretty quiet. “For me, I’m just trying to shut down their top lines and play physical on them and limit them. We’ve just got to keep trying to do that. I think all our D have done a good job of that, just trying to stay aware and limit our mistakes.”
Said Pacioretty: “It’s obvious that they want to pair certain guys against us. It’s not an excuse; it’s a good challenge. We haven’t risen to that challenge yet. Myself personally, I’ve got to do a better job of being able to overcome that adversity.”
Krejci and friends don’t have to worry about going up against a player like Chara, but Montreal has taken away their space. Boston’s first line created a ton of chances in Game 1 of the series but failed to score, and the line has yet to play that well since the series opened. Milan Lucic scored an empty netter that Krejci assisted and Jarome Iginla scored a 6-on-5 goal by tipping an Andrej Meszaros shot in the final minutes of Game 3, but the trio has yet to produce a five-on-five goal this series.
With it now a three-game series, the question becomes which top line will step up first or which team is better suited to win a series without getting anything from its first line. The Canadiens are a deeper opponent offensively than the Red Wings were, and their third line of Lars Eller between Brian Gionta and Rene Bourque has gotten chances throughout the series.
The same goes for Boston’s third line, which produced the only goal of Game 4 when Matt Fraser scored the game-winner in overtime. Especially against Montreal’s third pairing of Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver, that line has gotten chance after chance but hasn’t capitalized enough. Daniel Paille scored the third line’s other goal in Game 2 when he was playing with Soderberg and Loui Eriksson.
Should Michel Therrien keep Weaver and Murray together, Soderberg and friends should be champing at the bit to continue to take advantage of that matchup, but with more production. The first lines are often expected to cancel each other out in the postseason, but when neither teams’ first lines are doing anything, even more responsibility falls on everyone else.
“I think our team is built like that,” Eriksson said. “Everyone can score on every line. I thought the last game we had some really good chances, our line, and we finally got one. That’s something we want to do to try to help the team as much as we can and score those goals.”
Neither the Bruins nor the Canadiens should be satisfied with the performance they’ve gotten out of their best forwards. Within days, one team will undoubtedly view it as a reason as to why their season was ended.
“It’s a three-game series now, and we’re in a very good position,” Pacioretty said. “We had a great first round, four games into this we’re tied up. I like where our team’s standing right now.”
|David Krejci, Bruins first-liners look to cash in on Carey Price in Game 2||05.02.14 at 2:16 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Missed opportunities were what separated the Bruins from winning and losing Game 1. Carey Price was beyond great for the Canadiens, but the B’s found themselves earning great scoring chances and somehow not finding the back of the net too often.
Though Carl Soderberg had the biggest heartbreaker of a failed bid in overtime when he sent a puck behind Price but across the crease, it was Boston’s first-liners in David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla who can play the “snakebitten” card the most as they prepare for Game 2.
Though the only even-strength goal Krejci was on the ice for was Francis Bouillon‘s third-period tally, the Krejci line turned in a borderline dominant performance after coming on strong late in the first round against the Red Wings. Yet Krejci missed the net on a second-period breakaway and was robbed by Price on a breakaway in overtime, Iginla missed the net on a rebound with plenty of space during a second-period power play and Lucic had a colossal fan in the third period just prior to Bouillon’s goal.
‘I thought we had so many chances, we could’ve scored like 10 goals yesterday,” Krejci said. “But we didn’t, so hopefully we are saving them for next game.’
Had the Bruins buried even one or two of those chances, they’d have won. Lucic said Friday that he didn’t see the puck as it was coming from Krejci, as Krejci sent the puck through Brandon Gallagher‘s legs. The result was him missing the puck by a mile despite having half the net open.
“It was a split-second; I couldn’t see it until the last second,” Lucic said. “Unfortunately, my stick wasn’t in the right spot where it went off it and in, and I missed it. We’ve got to do the same sort of things tomorrow to create those chances, but get a few more and bury them.”
Krejci’s line generated very little offense in Game 1 against the Red Wings in the first round and was on for a goal against in Game 2 before Lucic scored in the second period. When the series shifted to Detroit, the line was quiet as it handled the task of keeping Pavel Datsyuk from scoring, but the trio had a very sluggish start to Game 4. The line came alive late with a Lucic goal in the third period and the overtime winner from Iginla.
From there, Boston’s top line has elevated its game to the point where it looked like a group ready to score by the handful in the opening game against the Habs.
“Our shots and the chances that we were able to create last night, I think that’s definitely a positive,” Lucic said. “Once we got our feet moving in the second period there when we were down, 2-0, we were able to control the pace of the game and create all those chances like I was talking about. Going into next game, I guess the main focus is you don’t want to grip your stick too tight and bury those opportunities when you get them.
“It sucks losing the way that we did, it was a tough loss to swallow, but you’ve got to have short-term memory and forget about it as quick as you can and focus on the next one because it’s coming soon with a 12:30 game tomorrow. We’re excited about it.”
|Bruins can’t wait for fourth win vs. Red Wings like they did with Leafs||04.25.14 at 12:27 am ET|
DETROIT — The Bruins know too well that 3-1 doesn’t mean a series is over.
Even without taking into consideration their blown 3-0 lead against the Flyers in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, all they have to do is think back to the first round a year ago.
Just like they did last season in Toronto, the B’s earned an overtime win in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead. What happened next the last time around were two straight 2-1 losses to a force a Game 7 that they would have lost were it not for a major comeback.
What happens this time around can be different, and the B’s will keep last year in mind.
“We were in this position last year, same thing, winning in overtime in Game 4 in Toronto,” Milan Lucic said Thursday after the B’s 3-2 overtime win over the Red Wings. “We all know what happened after that, so we’re not taking anything for granted here. We all know how hard it is to close out a series and we all know how desperate they’re going to be headed into Saturday.”
The team that the Bruins had up 3-1 in the first round last year hadn’t been to the playoffs in nine years. The one the B’s face now are in the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive season. Though the B’s also faced a solid coach in Randy Carlyle in the first round, this Red Wings team is an experienced and extremely well-coached team. If the B’s go into cruise control, guys like Pavel Datsyuk will take advantage and the Red Wings will close the gap.
So, with a recent reminder of what can happen, the B’s — particularly David Krejci‘s line, which won’t have to play against Datsyuk with the Bruins getting last change at home — need to keep the pedal to the metal.
“You can’t really describe it with words,” Krejci said. “You just go out there and you use those experiences. Everything happens so fast out there, so you’ve got use what happened in the past and learn from it.”
If the Bruins can close out the Red Wings and advance to the second round, they will face the Habs for the first time since they played in the first round in 2011. Oddly enough, that first-round series also saw the Bruins win Game 4 in overtime.
The B’s showed in Games 3 and 4 that they can win at Joe Louis Arena — something they hadn’t done since 2007 in the regular season — but they’d be silly to want to return for a Game 6. Saturday presents an opportunity to get to the second round without any of the dramatics.
The B’s are better-served saving those for the later rounds, anyway.
“We can talk about it all we want, but it’s going to show in our play,” Lucic said. “We’ve learned a lot of hard lessons in the past, like Toronto, and fortunately we were able to get out of that and move on, and last year we had Chicago down, 2-1, and we probably didn’t play our best Game 4 and lost that in overtime and weren’t able to recover after that. You don’t want to do anything to give the other team life in a series.”
|Bruins won’t let Henrik Zetterberg distract them from Pavel Datsyuk||04.24.14 at 2:02 pm ET|
Claude Julien thinks he knows.
“In my mind, he’s going to be there tonight,” Julien said.
Zetterberg has not played an NHL game since Feb. 8 and had back surgery on Feb. 21 after playing one Olympic game. He skated on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader in Thursday’s morning skate, suggesting he will be in the lineup and play on Detroit’s top line. Babcock did note that he must first be cleared by a doctor.
Babcock matched Datsyuk’s line against David Krejci‘s in Game 3. If he does that again Thursday, it will be interesting for a couple of reasons. For starters, it could potentially make that top line a handful for Krejci’s trio. Having Datsyuk play against a line not centered by Patrice Bergeron is one thing, but Datsyuk and Zetterberg together is a different animal.
For Krejci, his focus won’t change if Zetterberg’s in the lineup. As he sees it, there is one man that absolutely has to be accounted for, and that’s Datsyuk.
“You know what? [Zetterberg] is a good player, but Datsyuk is Datsyuk and we still have to be aware of Datsyuk any time he’s on the ice,” Krejci said.
The Bruins have held Datsuk to one goal on four shots on goal in the first three games of the series. In total, Detroit has scored just two goals through three games.
With Zetterberg skating alongside Datsyuk, Krejci would welcome the challenge of facing such a line. Krejci has led two of the last three postseasons in scoring, but has no points thus far as he has been tasked with keeping Detroit’s offense quiet, especially in Game 3. That’s different from some other series, but it’s working out for Boston.
“It’s kind of fun,” Krejci said. “For most of the year, you’re facing lines that are trying to shut you down and you’re fighting through it. This time, it’s a little bit different. We’re trying to shut their line down. It’s kind of fun. It’s a little bit challenging at times, but I’ve been having lots of fun this series so far.”
If Datsyuk’s line with Zetterberg does play against Krejci’s line, it also means that a player returning from a back injury will have to take regular shifts against Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla — two very physical players — in his first game back.
Asked whether he thought Zetterberg would be up to that physical challenge, Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith laughed.
“Are you serious? Like yeah, obviously I think he can,” Smith said. “I mean, the harder the competition, the better Z is. You look at series before where you have [Ryan] Getzlaf and [Corey] Perry, who are big boys. He just came in and stepped in really well there and then he had to go against [Marian] Hossa and [Jonathan] Toews and just kind of toyed with them.
“He’s an unbelievable player. He’s a top-notch player. Yeah, any first line on any team is going to be tough to come in for your first game, but that’s the type of player he is. He’s a competitor.”
Regardless of which line plays against Datsyuk and Zetterberg, you can bet Zdeno Chara will be on the ice against them. Zetterberg scored two five-on-five goals this season when both Chara and Bergeron were on the ice, which is fairly unheard of.
“They’re very dangerous,” Chara said of Datsyuk and Zetterberg being teamed together. “They play really well together. They know about each other pretty well, even without looking at each other, they know every time where they’re at. It’s a really good line with them being together.”