|Claude Julien: Bruins’ age of keeping same lines is over for now||10.27.15 at 12:07 pm ET|
In discussing his new-look lines for Tuesday night’s game, Claude Julien stated the obvious on Tuesday: He’s probably going to be tinkering with his lines a lot this season.
Though the Bruins enter Tuesday’s action third in the NHL with 3.9 goals per game, they’ve only kept the same forward lines in consecutive games one. Injuries aside, Boston’s new group of wings and the ongoing search for an ideal fit for Ryan Spooner has made Julien more active than he was in Boston’s recent heyday, when filling out his lineup was a set-it-and-forget-it affair.
“In order to coach, you’ve got to make the right moves at the right time,” Julien said Tuesday. “For me, [Tuesday’s lineup] is a start. We’ll see how that goes, and if it doesn’t go I’ve got to make some adjustments here. That could be happening all year round. I know people are used to seeing me with certain lines and sticking with them, but I think that stage of that consistency is gone right now. It’s not there yet, or it’s gone. Like any coach, you adapt to what you have, and that’s what I’m doing right now.”
By the looks of morning skate, both the third and fourth lines will be different from last game. Matt Beleskey, returning from injury, will skate with Spooner’s line for the first time after skating with David Krejci‘s line in the first five games. Loui Eriksson will remain with Krejci, while Boston’s fourth line looks to be Joonas Kemppainen between Chris Kelly and Tyler Randell, a line that has not been iced this season.
Krejci has had David Pastrnak on his right wing for all seven games this season, though there’s no guarantee that they’ll stick together. Pastrnak has had more growing pains this season than he did as a rookie, so Julien could eventually tinker with Krejci’s trio again.
The veteran center, who is tied for the NHL with 12 points (he’s played seven games; the other three players with 12 points have played at least eight), had a good four year stretch in which his linemates rarely changed and barely ever changed in-season. Milan Lucic was his left wing and Nathan Horton was his right wing (Rich Peverley would sub in when Horton was concussed), until Horton departed in free agency and Jarome Iginla replaced him.
Last season, in addition to being in and out of the lineup, Krejci had numerous different right wings and expressed unhappiness that he didn’t have Eriksson as his full-time right wing. He said Tuesday that playing with different linemates has been a learning experience.
“It’s always nice to play with the same guys, that’s for sure, but what I’ve learned from [these] last couple years when I’ve had different linemates is don’t worry about who’s on your line,” Krejci said. “The chemistry will come, but just try to be the best you will be. Then your wings will try to be the best they can be and the chemistry will develop. Sometimes it will develops early, sometimes later, but don’t try to change your game for the guy next to you. Just keep playing your game.”
As for his left wing of the last two games, Eriksson has been bounced around Boston’s lineup enough over the years — with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, without Bergeron and Marchand, with Carl Soderberg, with Krejci, etc. — that he’s used to different linemates. Arguably Boston’s best player this season, it would be hard for Eriksson to complain about his current spot.
“I’m kind of used to it,” Eriksson said. “I played with different lines in Dallas, too. … It’s been the same thing here in Boston. It’s always a challenge, but when you get used to it and find some chemistry with some guys, it’s always easier.”
|Observations from Bruins’ preseason loss to Red Wings||09.28.15 at 9:28 pm ET|
Jimmy Howard lost his shutout bid in the final minute of Monday night’s preseason contest as the Red Wings earned a 3-1 win over the Bruins at TD Garden. Here are some quick observations from the preseason contest:
— Tuukka Rask made his first start of the preseason. After coming up with an impressive kick save on Drew Miller and stopping him again point blank in the second period, Miller finally cashed in on one of his chances when he fired a shot from the right circle past Rask at 7:11 of the second.
Rask didn’t get much help from the guys in front of him on Detroit’s second goal. After getting burned by Tomas Jurco, Linus Arnesson took a hack at Jurco but did not deter the Red Wings forward from scoring on the delayed penalty call. The Wings went up 3-0 in the third on a Andreas Athanosiou wrist shot from the point.
Rask finished the game with 21 saves on 23 shots.
— Loui Eriksson scored Boston’s only goal, with Loui Eriksson picking up a rebound in front off a Torey Krug point shot during 6-on-5 play and jamming it past Howard. It was a good finish to the game for his line with Patrice Bergeron and Marchand after the trio struggled to stay onside early in the contest.
— The B’s survived an injury scare late in the second period. After leaving the ice slowly and in pain, Brad Marchand could be seen grabbing his right thigh area as he remained on the bench for the final 5:38 of the period. Fortunately for the Bruins, Marchand was back on the ice to start the third period.
— David Pastrnak may have taken an uncalled stick to the face late in the third period. Pastrnak dropped his stick and left the ice holding his mouth after Brian Lashoff’s stick apparently got him with a little more than four minutes remaining.
– David Krejci was not in Monday’s lineup, Matt Beleskey and Pastrnak were centered by Austin Czarnik. The line wasn’t anything special, though it did draw a pair of penalties.
Pastrnak sprung Beleskey for a breakaway, but the puck was just out of his reach and Jimmy came out of his net to minimize the threat.
Tuukka Rask will see his first preseason action Monday night, as he is expected to play the entire time as the Bruins host the Red Wings.
Speaking after Monday’s practice, Rask said he doesn’t mind having sat out the Bruins’ first four games of the preseason, as he’s as invested in seeing who wins the backup job as anyone.
“I’ve been fine. I’m sure I could have had a game or half a game if I really wanted to,” Rask said. “We figured that I’ll play my games this week and carry it over to next week.”
Jonas Gustavsson will back up Rask on Monday. Still on a professional tryout, he is back with the team after leaving to attend the birth of his first child. Gustavsson, Rask and Jeremy Smith are the only goalies left in camp after the B’s sent Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre to Providence Sunday.
The projected lineup for Monday’s game is as follows:
David Krejci, who was given Sunday off, practiced with the second group Monday. Among the others to skate with the second group were Adam McQuaid, Zac Rinaldo and Brett Connolly. Word is that practice was particularly taxing, as one player was overheard saying it with the toughest of camp so far.
|Matt Beleskey, David Krejci among Bruins to make preseason debut Tuesday||09.22.15 at 11:36 am ET|
Folks will get their first look at a potential line of David Krejci between Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak when the Bruins host the Capitals in a preseason game at TD Garden Tuesday night. Based on Tuesday’s first practice, Zane McIntyre is expected to get the start.
Alexander Khokhlachev and Brandon DeFazio are the only players in Tuesday’s lineup that played in Sunday’s preseason opener. The lineup for Tuesday is as follows:
Some other observations from Tuesday:
– Loui Eriksson practiced as the right wing on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand‘s line. Eriksson has been moved around Boston’s lineup a bit in camp, playing mostly with either David Krejci or Bergeron. He skated with Bergeron and Marchand on Saturday.
– Dennis Seidenberg did not practice Tuesday. He remains out with an upper-body injury.
|Early training camp observations: Jimmy Hayes on left wing with Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak skates with David Krejci||09.18.15 at 3:29 pm ET|
The Bruins began their on-ice training camp sessions Friday at TD Garden in anticipation of Sunday night’s preseason opener. Predictably, Friday saw more change than Septembers past, both from personnel and strategic standpoints.
Here are some observations from the first day of camp:
– As expected, Dennis Seidenberg did not take part in Friday’s sessions. The 34-year-old defenseman is dealing with an upper-body injury that is expected to keep him off the ice for a few days.
– Breakouts were the name of the game Friday, as the B’s got right to work on implementing Claude Julien‘s changes.
In running through the breakouts, one defenseman fed the other behind the goal line before jumping to the front of the net. The strongside D then sent the puck up (both to the center and up the wall to the wing were practiced) and the three forwards, who were joined by the weakside D, raced up the ice as a four-man attack.
While the changes may take some getting used to, forwards and defensemen expressed their excitement for the quicker pace and, hopefully, increased scoring chances.
– As for who will play where, the three groups presented some interesting possibilities. The most notable trio was David Krejci between Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak. Such a trio would keep a bit of snarl to left of Krejci after Milan Lucic‘s departure while teaming a pair of Czechs in Krejci and Pastrnak.
Loui Eriksson, a left-shot right wing who could play left wing this season, skated on the right wing of a line with Alexander Khokhlachev and Jake DeBrusk.
Jimmy Hayes, a right-shot right wing with experience on both sides, played left wing on a line with Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly. That line could certainly be in consideration for a longer look.
The right wing fortunate enough to play Ringo to Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron‘s John and Paul was… first-round project Zach Senyshyn. Consider that line more of a fantasy camp-type scenario than an indication that the 15th overall pick is anything close to a first-line NHL forward.
– Defensively, Zdeno Chara and Zach Trotman were paired together. The duo played together at points last season, including late in the season while Dougie Hamilton was out with broken ribs. Other pairs included Joe Morrow with Kevan Miller and Linus Arnesson with Colin Miller.
– With the NHL changing its overtime format to 3-on-3 and a shootout rather than 4-on-4 and a shootout, the B’s spent time scrimmaging 3-on-3. Julien, who used one defenseman and three forwards in 4-on-4 the last two seasons, sent out looks of either three forwards or one defenseman and two forwards.
– The second session saw the day’s first injury scare. Zac Rinaldo caught goaltender Zane McIntyre in the face with his stick during 3-on-3s, seemingly cutting the goaltender above the eye in the process. McIntyre went to the bench to get patched up, though he returned to drills in short order.
– Senyshyn led off the third session’s shootout by beating Tuukka Rask. Malcolm Subban was beaten by both Seth Griffith and Jake DeBrusk in the first session’s shootout, though he did stop the other shooter he faced in Eriksson.
|David Krejci looks forward to new linemates, fixing Bruins’ scoring woes and (hopefully) health||09.14.15 at 2:41 pm ET|
BOLTON — After a season of terrible moments, David Krejci had one of the best moments of his life when he and his wife recently welcomed their first child to their family. As far as hockey goes, he should hope he doesn’t have to go to another hospital for a while.
Krejci, who had previously never missed more than seven games in a regular season in his entire professional career, had a highly frustrating go of it last season. After fighting nagging lower-body injuries through the first few months of the season, Krejci suffered a partially torn MCL in late February. All in all, Krejci missed 35 games in a season that saw Boston’s offense suffer without him.
Now, after an extra-long offseason that saw him lose his running buddy of his five-year tenure as a first-line center in Milan Lucic, Krejci hopes to return to both the health and performance of seasons past. He said prior to Monday’s Bruins golf tournament that his workouts were not encumbered this offseason, so he sees no reason why things wouldn’t get back on track.
“Last year was the first year in my career that I had [ongoing] injury troubles,” Krejci said. “I’ve been working out since pretty much the season ended and have had no setbacks. I’m shooting for 82 games, so we’ll see what happens.”
With whom Krejci plays those games is wide open. It’s safe to assume the Bruins will plan on free agent signing Matt Beleskey filling Lucic’s spot, but there’s no telling whether it will be David Pastrnak, Brett Connolly, Jimmy Hayes or somebody else on the right side. Loui Eriksson could potentially be an option, though he’ll likely be moved to left wing this season given Boston’s number of right-shot wings.
Krejci’s had some different right wings since 2010-11, from Nathan Horton to Rich Peverley to Jarome Iginla to a revolving door of players (Seth Griffith, Simon Gagne and Pastrnak among them) last season. He’s used to change on the right side, but losing his longtime left wing in Lucic, now with the Kings, will present new challenges.
“It’s going to be weird,” he said. “We’ve been together for a long time, and now he’s gone, so obviously that was a really sad day. We have to understand that it’s a business as well and there were some upper-management changes. They’re just trying to make our team better than last year, and they did some changes. I really like the we have right now, so we’ll see how that goes.”
The good news for Krejci is that he signed a contract extension prior to the start of last season. Last season was the final year of his contract, so rather than hitting free agency after injuries, he at least has the security of a new six-year deal. With that comes pressure to live up to the $43.5 million he’ll be making.
Last season was bad for pretty much everyone on the Bruins, injured or healthy. The teamwide dropoff in shooting percentage suggests the B’s will get back to scoring as long as they don’t have two consecutive seasons of wretched luck. Having Krejci back will undoubtedly help as well.
“It’s definitely something that you can’t replace,” Patrice Bergeron said. “He’s a player that is so important to our club. To have him fresh and healthy is something we’re going to a lot from. I’m really happy to have him and happy he feels good.”
|Claude Julien should go back to what works in must-win games||04.09.15 at 11:15 am ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — By the end of Thursday night, the Bruins could either be in the playoffs, a win away from them, or in big trouble.
Two points against the Panthers is the team’s surest path of avoiding that last scenario. With the B’s tied with the Senators with 95 points and holding the regulation and overtime wins tiebreaker for the time being, the Bruins must assume that Ottawa will win both its remaining games. The Rangers have incentive to let Ottawa win on Thursday as a means of making sure they don’t have to see Tuukka Rask in the postseason. Winning Thursday and Saturday could very well be the only way in for Boston.
After Wednesday’s loss to the Capitals, Claude Julien should go back to some of the lines that helped the Bruins beat the Panthers and four other teams during Boston’s recent five-game win streak.
A confusing lack of commitment was a bigger reason for Wednesday’s result, but the lines also played a part. Julien broke up the trio of Ryan Spooner between Milan Lucic and David Pastrnak Wednesday in his second attempt to return David Krejci to center. The Lucic-Krejci-Pastrnak line opened with two bad shifts, the second of which saw them give Washington a goal, and they were broken up. In the third period, Julien went back to Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak and returned Krejci to Patrice Bergeron‘s right wing.
He shouldn’t wait that long Thursday. The Spooner line scored the game-tying and game-winning goals against the Panthers on March 31 at the Garden, making up for the fact that they allowed a Brad Boyes goal.
It’s understandable why Julien wants to move Krejci back to center, but at this point the B’s could actually better afford to experiment in Game 1 or 2 of the playoffs than in Game 81 of the regular season. Julien should go back to Brad Marchand-Bergeron-Krejci and Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak against the Panthers.
Where things go from there is unknown. The Bruins did not have a morning skate on Thursday, so Julien’s plan with his lines is once again anyone’s guess.
He should use the lines he used against the Maple Leafs last Saturday. Even if they scored only one goal during 65 minutes of play against a bad team, they took 81 shots. Such performances should pay off on the scoreboard, even if one didn’t overwhelm on Saturday.
The lines in that game were as follows:
That game saw the Marchand-Bergeron-Krejci line score its first goal in its six games together. Moving Krejci to center meant breaking up a line when it was just starting to produce.
After a couple of costly mistakes from Reilly Smith, Brett Connolly moved up to play with Carl Soderberg and Louis Eriksson. Julien should start the game with Connolly playing in that spot.
This is suboptimal for the Bruins. In a perfect world, they could take their time and get to a point where Lucic and Krejci can be reunited. Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak playing against weaker competition is too proven to go away from now, however. Julien’s best bet at winning these games is sticking with what works.