|Top line feels it’s still a work in progress||10.01.10 at 11:30 am ET|
BELFAST — The offensive lines, for all intents and purposes, seem to be just about set for when the Bruins begin the season next weekend against the Coyotes. Assuming nothing changes, the top line will be David Krejci between Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, the second will feature Patrice Bergeron in the middle of Mark Recchi and Jordan Caron, Tyler Seguin will likely be in the middle of Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler on the third line, and Gregory Campbell will center Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton, with Brian McGrattan likely the 13th forward.
Time is running out for these lines to hit their stride and for players to get comfortable with one another. In Seguin’s case, he’s still picking up the little things needed to round out his game in his own end, plus there’s the adjustment to a couple of new linemates in a new league.
Considering that each of the team’s four lines has a newcomer on it, the line that has impressed most thus far in training camp has been that top line of Krejci, Lucic, and Horton. The former Panther in Horton has picked up a pair of goals so far in the preseason, and Krejci seems ready to shine as a No. 1 center. Factor in Lucic’s aspirations to score at least 20 goals this season without losing his physical mentality, and the makings seem to be there for something special. Even with the promise shown, nobody is satisfied yet.
“I don’t think we click together very well yet,” Krejci said Friday. “I think we’ve had some good shifts, some good chemistry on some shifts, but I don’t think we’ve brought it every shift. I believe that there is something and we’re going to try to find it in each shift when we go out there.”
Horton agreed. Though Seguin and Caron might not have gigantic expectations because of their age, Horton, 25, is expected to put up career numbers in his first season in Boston.
“I think we’re getting better,” Horton said. “Obviously, we need to get better, but we’re just trying to work on things, getting used to each other’s games. It will come, I think. We’ve got two more games to get ready for the regular season.”
Asked if players can get by on talent alone in the preseason before having to show more cohesion with linemates when it counts, Krecji didn’t feel the difference between an exhibition and a regular season game was substantial enough.
“It’s not really much different than the [regular season] games,” Krejci said. “Everybody works so hard, does the same things, but you’ve got to know how to use experience and buy some time. That’s what happened when Horton scored that goal against Florida at home, so little things like that could help, and hopefully that’s going to help us tomorrow and the first exhibition game in Czech. Then, hopefully we can carry it into regular season games.”
|Wide ice an overseas obstacle||at 10:04 am ET|
BELFAST — Sprints from side to side along the blue lines and center ice at the Odyssey Arena appears to be a bit more of a tiring affair than usual for the Bruins, and it’s not because of jet lag. Because the Bruins are playing in Europe, they will have to get used to European ice, which is wider and thus makes for a more offensive game.
“You have to really adjust your defensive game,” captain Zdeno Chara said Friday. “You know that the opponent has way more ice to take. You can’t be running out of your position. You’ve got to play more as far as dots on the ice. You can’t get too carries away running to the boards.
“There’s probably an extra 10 feet on each side, so there’s going to be way more room for forwards. As a defenseman, you still have to play that structure and tight defensively.”
Though the defensemen have to be much more careful to prevent a high-scoring game, David Krejci and the forwards have enjoyed how spacious playing in the offensive zone is.
“There’s so much room,” Krejci said. “We did some drills today in the corners. Back in Boston, it’s so tight, you don’t have much room. Here, you’ve got so much room and a little more time, too. It’s going to take a little more time to get used to, so you don’t have to move [the puck] too quick. You can hold it a little bit longer — not too long — but a little longer and make some smarter plays.”
As for getting used to new ice, a new time zone, and not falling apart in the process, Nathan Horton doesn’t think the team has lost any steam since arriving at around 10:30 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. EST).
“I think everyone felt better today,” Horton, who slept for two hours on the plane but joked that “you can’t doze off” when films such as The A-Team and the Jaden Smith remake of The Karate Kid were being shown. “I think it was a better practice overall, and I think we’re getting better every day.”
|Lucic-Krejci-Horton line surfaces||09.24.10 at 12:45 pm ET|
The Bruins split up into two groups that featured members of both of this preseason’s squads. Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask both took the ice, which is encouraging as we keep an eye on just how many days off Thomas gets as he recovers from offseason hip surgery.
Though it’s still preseason and the team likely isn’t done trying things out, the top two lines on the ice friday were Lucic-Krejci-Horton and Seguin-Bergeron-Recchi. It’s very difficult to imagine those not being the top two lines on Oct. 9 when the team opens the season in Prague against the Coyotes.
The other lines out there on Friday morning consisted of Gregory Campbell, Jamie Arniel and Brian McGrattan, as well as Jordan Caron, Ryan Spooner, and Max Sauve.
|Having lost in poker, Krejci puts extra work toward the wrist||09.16.10 at 12:57 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The six Bruins skaters that showed up to the final captain’s practice only had one target to shoot on, but David Krejci didn’t wait for Nolan Schaefer or the rest of his teammates to take the ice. Krejci, still recovering from surgery on his right wrist, made the ice his driving range early on Thursday, taking a crate of pucks and firing an estimated 100 shots against the wall.
The center admitted to having some soreness following the session, but noted that the pain came with the increased workload.
“My average is five shots at most a game,” Krejci said. “I took a hundred today.”
He took mostly wrist shots, and by the time he’d moved onto slap shots, his teammates had joined him on the ice and they broke into a very relaxed session of light offensive drills.
Asked what he made of the poor turnout, Krejci pointed to Friday’s early wakeup call for fitness testing as a reason why players would be wise to rest up. The Bruins have been keeping busy between the voluntary practice sessions, Monday’s golf tournament, and Marco Sturm’s poker tournament Wednesday night.
“I lost badly,” Krejci said of the poker tournament. With it being set up as having one Bruin per table, Krejci was fortunate that none of his teammates could knock him out. Krejci said ultimately he wasn’t concerned with winning, but that the poker players that showed up for the $250 buy-in definitely varied in skill level. The event, which featured over a dozen Bruins including Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and Tuukka Rask, benefitted the Franciscan Hospital for Children.
|Light turnout for Thursday’s captains practice||at 10:31 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Captain’s practice continued for the Bruins veterans Thursday morning, but the attendance numbers were way down. A typical session has seen somewhere between 15 and 20 skaters with at least two goalies, but Thursday just seven guys on the ice total. They consisted of Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell, Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and goaltender Nolan Schaefer. Krejci was the first one on the ice, and he spent the first few minutes out there with a crate of pucks taking wrist shots against the boards.
|No longer setting off metal detectors, David Krejci is ‘days’ away from being 100 percent||09.13.10 at 1:34 pm ET|
BOLTON — David Krejci took a few minutes to talk about his wrist, the Bruins’ much-anticipated Prague trip, and, of course, the links on Monday at the team’s annual golf tournament at The International in Bolton.
“I can skate, so I can golf,” Krejci said with a grin. The center suffered an ugly injury in the Eastern Conference semifinals when he separated his right wrist but now has every necessary procedure, including getting screws removed, in the rear view mirror.
The 24-year-old said throughout the summer that he would be fine for training camp, and he confirmed as much on Monday.
“It’s really close. Really close,” Krejci said. “We’re talking about days [until] it’s going to be 100 percent. I don’t think it’s 100 percent right now, but it’s really close.”
Krejci participated in captain’s practice last week at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. Though he was still getting a feel then, he said Monday that by the time camp officially opens he’ll be able to say he’s totally healed.
“It still [hurts a little]. I can feel it sometimes when I shoot, [but] I can shoot almost 100 percent,” Krejci said. “By the camp, I think I’ll be [better].”
It’s been four weeks by Krejci’s estimation since he started putting the wrist through the usual trials. Though he’s piecing everything together in the days leading up to Friday, he’s seen enough encouraging signs to know he’ll be good to train with his teammates and use the preseason to ready himself for his third year in the league.
“I can stickhandle fine. My motion’s there. I have no problem with that. It’s a little weaker, but I’ve been working on it the last four weeks,” Krejci said. “I’m getting the muscle back, so I should be fine by the [time the] season comes.”
Here are a couple unusual notes from Krejci’s chat:
– He’s excited to walk through metal detectors at the airport with confidence. Because of the screws in his wrist that were removed about a month ago, he constantly set off the machines in his travels.
“They checked me completely,” Krejci said of security. “It wasn’t fun, but it is what it is.”
– Maybe reading too much into a city before travelling there can be a bad thing. Asked if cab drivers in Prague were as difficult to deal with as this would suggest, Krejci said they were fine in Prague, but not necessarily in the neighboring towns. He did note that taxis aren’t as frequently utilized over there and that “you can’t just go in the street and stop one.”
|Michael Ryder expected to return to Bruins||at 12:50 pm ET|
BOLTON — The Bruins and friends teed off for their golf tournament at The International, meaning practically all of the players were available to chat Monday morning in Bolton. Though David Krejci gave WEEI.com some good tips on dealing with cab drivers in Prague, the most interesting player to speak may have been his winger in Michael Ryder.
“I’m anxious to get started this year. Last year was disappointing, especially the way it ended,” Ryder said. “I think especially regular season too I think will be a lot better. There are things we have to improve on this year and hopefully we can do that.”
It’s no secret that Ryder was among the players who took the brunt of criticism when the Bruins offense stalled for the entire season. As a result, and with him entering the final year of a three-year deal, many wondered whether Ryder and his $4 million cap hit would be back this season.
“It happens everywhere you go,” Ryder, who seemed genuinely unfazed by the offseason speculation said. “After the season there’s always going to people talking and saying things [regarding] who should go where, and whatever, but you’ve got to forget about it and concentrate on starting off the season.”
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli rained on the parade of angry fans who wanted Ryder gone when he said early in the offseason that the team would not be buying the final year of Ryder’s deal out. He pointed to an off-year for the winger, who said he “expected to be back” with the team. Ryder admits that coming off a 27-goal season in 2008-09, his 18-goal showing last season was a letdown and he accepts whatever negative chatter comes with it.
“The whole team didn’t score goals last year. We had a hard time putting the puck in the net in the regular season,” Ryder said. “When you’re looked at to score goals and the team’s not scoring, you’re one of the guys that’s under the gun. I kind of accept that and I’ve just got to try to find ways to make that happen.”
Ryder remains a possible victim of the salary cap. The team will be approximately $3.5 million over the $59.4 million mark once Marco Sturm returns from long-term injury status. Asked if he felt he considers each practice and game from here on out an “audition,” Ryder expressed confidence in his role with the Bruins.
“I know I’m still part of this team,” he said. “I’ve just got to go out and prove that I belong here.”
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