|5 things we learned: David Krejci injured, Malcolm Subban pulled and Bruins could be toast||02.20.15 at 10:37 pm ET|
Both Malcolm Subban and David Krejci left Friday’s game in the second period. Subban’s night was disappointing. Krejci’s could end up being the final nail in the coffin for the 2014-15 Bruins.
Krejci left the ice and needed help down the tunnel after colliding with Alexander Steen at the blue line in the second period. He did not return to the game. His injury appeared to be of the lower-body variety.
The injury came amidst a three-goal stretch for St. Louis to open the period and chase Subban, who was making his NHL debut, from the game. Subban was brought back into the game in the final minutes of the third period with the Blues holding a 5-1 lead, which would stand as the game’s final score (box).
Should Krejci’s injury cost him significant time, this season is toast for the Bruins. If it costs him any time, Boston’s chances of piecing things together and holding down a playoff spot (they have just a one-point lead over the Panthers for the last Wild Card spot; Florida has a game in hand) still take a big hit.
In losing Friday’s game, the Bruins have lost the first four games of their current road trip. They have lost six straight games (0-2-4).
Here are four more things we learned Friday.
SUBBAN’S GLOVE DOESN’T CUT IT
Subban faced only three shots in the first period. He let the next three in.
Whether as a result of rookie jitters, the fact that he was a 21-year-old goalie playing in an NHL game or anything else, Subban struggled mightily with his glove. Petteri Lindbohm’s slapshot in the first minute of the second period went off Subban’s glove and in, while Alex Pietrangelo’s shot from the left circle snuck under the netminder’s glove. T.J. Oshie beat Subban glove-side high from a tough angle less than a minute after Pietrangelo’s goal, giving the Blue three goals on three shots in 4:21.
Subban was not happy as he left the game, slamming his stick down as he reached the bench.
NO REST FOR RASK
Tuukka Rask didn’t look much happier as he got ready to take the ice following St. Louis’ third goal. Rask tossed a chair down the tunnel, looking more dejected than angry as he did so.
With Friday’s game, Rask has now played in 16 straight games and 25 of the Bruins’ last 26. He allowed a pair of goals, the first of which was on a St. Louis power play and the second of which came on a 2-on-1.
This is not good for the Bruins. It would be one thing if the Bruins had to ride Rask to victories while they worked things out solidified their postseason position. Yet by playing Rask and playing as poorly in front of him as they have, they’re both wearing down their No. 1 goalie and making the possibility of missing the playoffs very realistic.
FIRST PERIOD NOT ENOUGH
The Bruins played a strong first period, which despite their struggles this season shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise given that they’ve played well against the Blues in recent seasons.
Part of that was probably the fact that Subban was in net. When a team knows that it doesn’t have a sure thing like Rask behind them, it naturally tends to tighten up and limit chances. That was the case when they held St. Louis without a shot until 12:14 into the period. The B’s took a 1-0 lead into the intermission thanks to a Brad Marchand goal, but things unraveled quickly.
CHARA BACK TO POINT
The Bruins only got one power play in Wednesday’s loss and they scored on it. A new-look first unit played about a minute and a half and scored, so the second unit was not revealed.
That finally happened Friday, and the changes included Zdeno Chara moving back to the point after playing in front of the net since the beginning of last season. Chara and Reilly Smith manned the points on the second unit, with Milan Lucic, David Pastrnak and Carl Soderberg up front.
The first unit remained Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, Patrice Bergeron, Krejci and Loui Eriksson.
|David Krejci admits Bruins power play ‘just sucks’ right now||02.10.15 at 11:07 pm ET|
Give David Krejci credit for this much: He’s not sugar-coating the Bruins’ power-play effort of late.
After not only failing to score Tuesday night, the Bruins allowed their first two shorthanded goals of the season at a horrible time, and fell to the Stars, 5-3, at TD Garden.
The first shorthanded marker by Dallas came directly as a result of a sloppy, lazy pass from Krejci that never got to Torey Krug along the Dallas blue line. It was picked off by Vernon Fiddler, who beat Niklas Svedberg up top for a 1-0 Dallas lead. After the Bruins battled back to tie the game, 3-3, it was another shorthanded goal that was Boston’s undoing, as Trevor Daley skated past a standing Krejci and beat Tuukka Rask. The Bruins entered the game as the only team in the NHL not to allow a goal while on the power play.
The Bruins, who scored a shorthanded goal of their own from Patrice Bergeron, did manage nine shots on the man advantage in four chances but no goals. What gives?
“Just sucks, that’s the only word I’ve got,” Krejci said. “We’ve been working on it in practices but it’s no good, so that’s where we’re at right now.”
Krejci had no disagreement with Claude Julien‘s assessment that the Bruins were plain sloppy on the power play at critical times.
“One hundred percent. I mean, it’s not just a goal against us, there’s more things to it,” Krejci said. “We’re just not playing well on the power play, we have to practice way more. Maybe we have to change something, but that’s up to the coaches. We just have to find a way to be better, and it has to start in practices.”
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|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins need ‘proven’ veteran who can score goals||02.05.15 at 1:50 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB after the Bruins’ loss to the Rangers Wednesday night, and to look ahead to their stretch of games before the trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
With the trade deadline approaching, McGuire feels the Bruins’ biggest need is a veteran presence on the first line who can score goals, and play with Milan Lucic and David Krejci. He feels the defense can be corrected on its own.
“I don’t know about the top four [defenseman], it’s a fair question,” McGuire said. “I think it is more pressure and get more consistent offense in the first line and insert with [Milan] Lucic and [David] Krejci, and this isn’t a knock on whomever they have tried there — whether it’s [Loui] Eriksson or Reilly Smith, whenever it be anybody, David Pastrnak — it doesn’t matter. I think they really need a veteran presence, a proven guy that can score goals in a first line situation and then the rest of the batting order kind of stabilizes itself.
“I think they can do it by committee on defense really because of the way the team plays. I think they need to get more run support with consistency, I think that is one of the reasons why they play so many one goal games, they are in so many close games, they just don’t have consistent run support for their defense and their goalie.”
“The one thing that stands out to me and not even being 19 years of age or pretty darn close to it, he can still dominate the puck,” said McGuire. “He made some pretty creative plays last night. It’s a hard league for kids that weigh 165-170 pounds to play in. I don’t see him tailing off. I think this will be a lot like what we saw with Tyler Seguin in the Bruins run to the Cup in , just because it took awhile for Tyler to get comfortable and once he got comfortable you saw what he did in the Tampa Bay series in particular.
|David Pastrnak’s first year burned off as his line comes down to earth||01.17.15 at 10:59 pm ET|
Given all of the attention that’s been placed on Pastrnak prior to the Bruins deciding to keep him and the success that the trio has had, the goose-egg from Boston’s trio actually is somewhat notable, really only because it’s the first time the line hasn’t been very good since being united.
Pastrnak, who has now officially accrued one season of service time in the eyes of the NHL and NHLPA (Saturday was 10th NHL game this season, which means this season is officially the first of his three-year entry level contract) and his linemates came down earth against the Blue Jackets, overpassing and losing the possession battle in Boston’s first regulation loss in 10 games.
“A lot of passing, a lot of missed passes,” Lucic said. “Maybe trying to do too much and didn’t play that north-south type of game that gave us success when we were put together originally.
“We have to know night-in, night-out as a line that in order to be successful and get results and contribute to the team, that there’s a certain way that we need to play. That’s a straight-ahead game and using our speed and obviously using our skill, but when we’re moving straight ahead and using all those things, that’s when we’re going to have success.”
The line nearly scored in the first period when David Krejci threw a puck on net from the top of the right circle that bounced off Pastrnak’s skates in front with half the net open. Pastrnak whiffed on his shot attempt as the puck glided to Blue Jackets netminder Curtis McElhinney. That stood as the line’s best chance, though Pastrnak did draw a penalty in the final minute of the period when he was tripped by Scott Hartnell.
But that was the extent of the good for the line offensively. Though Lucic tied for the team lead with five shots on goal, the Czech Davids combined for zero. Saturday was Pastrnak’s first game without a shot on goal since his NHL debut on Nov. 24.
Since coming up, Pastrnak has been a standout player. He’s found instant chemistry with Krejci, whose vision and creativity could make him a 30-goal scorer in future seasons. Yet there will be speed bumps along the way, such as when Pastrnak took a drop pass from Krejci entering the zone in the first period and, rather than shooting or finding Krejci again, forced a n0-look pass across the ice to Lucic that would have earned him an intentional grounding penalty in the NFL.
“That line didn’t do much for us tonight; nobody did as a matter of fact,” Julien said. “We need David to use his speed on the outside; we need Krech to make sure to use his speed on the outside and find him. If you’re going to be cute and try and overpass, you’re not going to get the results. That’s not how we’ve had success in the past. I don’t think that’s how we’re going to get success in the future.”
One telling takeaway that should bode well for this line’s future: In eight periods together, the Lucic-Krejci-Pastrnak trio has yet to get scored on. They have four goals for and none against.
|Bruins to keep David Pastrnak, burn off first year of entry level contract||01.15.15 at 7:57 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced Thursday night that the team intends to keep rookie forward David Pastrnak on the NHL roster and play him for a 10th NHL game, at which point this season will officially become the first of the 18-year-old’s three-year entry level contract.
The Bruins can still send Pastrnak down and up between Providence and Boston going forward this season, as burning the first year one’s entry level does not require a team to keep the player on its NHL roster. The incentive for the Bruins to have not kept Pastrnak in the NHL for 10 games was that his three-year window would have slid ahead to begin next year, meaning he would be up for a new contract as a restricted free agent after the 2017-18 season rather than after the 2016-17 season, the latter of which will now be the case.
Chiarelli credited Pastrnak’s work with Providence both at the beginning of the season and following his November/December callup — which Chiarelli said was dominant — as a major reason as to why the Bruins felt he was ready for the NHL.
“He went down there and he did what we told him to do, which was play without the puck, play heavier, play on the wall, the defensive wall, offensive battles,” Chiarelli said. “Then he came up here and played in the West Coast trip and I think he got his feet wet a little bit, went back down and dominated down there again. I think in making this decision, we really scrutinized his play in Providence and we felt that he was able to play and excel at that level with the proper physicality for him and against the proper physicality.
“He’s going to be up here and we’re happy to make that decision and we’re going to continue to look at it as a development piece, which means that, as we’ve done before with some of the younger players, it doesn’t mean you’re in the lineup all the time. There may be points in time when his play dips a little bit and we may sit him down for a game or two here or there, but I think the important thing to take away from this is that he’s going to be up with the big team, practice with the team, and hopefully play on a regular basis.”
Thursday night’s game against the Rangers, in which Pastrnak remained on the Bruins’ first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic and was a plus-1 in Boston’s victory, marked Pastrnak’s ninth NHL game.
In his brief NHL career, Pastrnak has four goals and one assist, with his goals coming in back-to-back two-goal performances Saturday and Tuesday. Pastrnak was first recalled on Nov. 23 and made his NHL debut the next night against Pittsburgh. The right wing stayed up with Boston for a six-game stretch in which he played five games and was a healthy scratch in another.
After the game, Krejci expressed excitement for both Pastrnak and himself, quipping, “I have a Czech buddy.” He won’t have a Czech roommate, however, as the Bruins will make other living arrangements for the 18-year-old. Teenage players often live with veteran players in their first years, as Patrice Bergeron did with Martin Lapointe and Dougie Hamilton did with Adam McQuaid.
Boston chose Pastrnak with the 25th overall pick of the first round last June and kept him in North America with the Providence Bruins rather than sending him back to Sweden, where he’d played the previous two seasons. After sending him down in December, the B’s loaned him to the Czech National Team for the World Junior Championships and sent him to Providence for a one-game pit stop before bringing him up to the NHL club on Jan. 6.
Pastrnak has been the youngest player at both the AHL and NHL levels this season. In 24 AHL games, Pastrnak has 10 goals and 17 assists for 27 points.
|Bruins confident David Pastrnak can hold up defensively||01.14.15 at 6:11 pm ET|
With David Pastrnak, the Bruins’ first line will be able to score goals. The question is how many it will give up.
Given that Pastrnak, though clearly offensively gifted, is the youngest player in the NHL, it’s only fair to question how Krejci and Milan Lucic‘s line will do in the plus-minus department when playing against other teams’ top players. The line did not allow a goal in its first game together on Tuesday (really half a game, as they were united midway through the second), but it did score three. Claude Julien will take that any day of the week.
Yet the cautionary tale of the Tyler Seguin Experiment exists, as Pastrnak isn’t the first highly talented youngster to see time in the spot that has typically reserved for veteran power forwards (Nathan Horton, Jarome Iginla) over the years.
When Horton was out for the season with a concussion in March of 2012, Julien went for broke offensively by sticking the then-20-year-old Seguin with Lucic and Krejci. They produced at over a goal-per-game clip, but gave up 10 goals before Julien separated them. When the B’s were desperate for offense in Game 7 of the first round in 2013, Julien again put Seguin with Krejci and Lucic, only to see them allow goals on their first two shifts.
In case you haven’t noticed by now, Julien isn’t comfortable with lines that give up more goals than they score (insert then-why-does-he-ever-play-the-fourth-line quip here), so if he plays a trio together, he does so because he thinks it can do more good on the scoreboard than damage.
As such, it was interesting to see that, after the Lightning scored to make it a one-goal game Tuesday night, Julien kept Pastrnak with Krejci and Lucic for the top line’s next shift.
Or, put it this way: With the Bruins defending a one-goal lead in a game they had to win against the division leaders, Julien put the youngest player in the league — one whose defense seemed to be one of the things he’d need to improve in order to make the NHL — on the ice against Steven Stamkos and the Bruins lived to tell about it.
“This is not a time to test guys,” Julien said Wednesday of his decision to play Pastrnak in such an important spot. “If he was out there, it was because I felt comfortable with him.”
Julien said that he considers such decisions with young players to be ‘calculated chances.’ He noted Pastrnak’s improvement getting pucks out along the wall in his defensive zone (Julien makes a good point; Pastrnak had some struggles there in his first five game stint with the B’s) and sound decision-making he’d seen from the rookie all night that made him confident that Pastrnak would not be defensive liability in the game’s most crucial minutes.
“I think for a player to develop, when you see the right things on certain nights, you’ve got to allow that player to have an opportunity,” he said. “That’s how you gain that kind of experience in those situations. Throughout the game, if you’ve seen situations where he’s kind of struggled and had some tough situations come up, you try to keep him away from that. It’s up to me to stay on top of the player and the game itself and see whether he’s earned it.”
Both Krejci and Lucic have given their endorsements to Pastrnak; it would be rather difficult to do given that he’s scored four goals over his last two games. Yet while Lucic acknowledged that the trio must stick to the team’s system to avoid suffering the same score-a-goal, allow-two-goals fate that they did in the Seguin days, Krejci said that Pastrnak, who hopes to become a strong two-way player like Krejci, will become better and better at applying his defensive learnings as he gains experience.
“It’s going to happen that we’re going to get scored on, that’s for sure, but we have to try to minimize the mistakes,” Krejci said. “On the other hand, he knows what to do defensively, but he has just been here a small amount of games and sometimes in a situation, he has to think twice of what do, and in that split second, something can go wrong. It will come with games played and I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
WILMINGTON — David Pastrnak is just one of the reasons the Bruins are starting to win again. His center being healthy enough to stick in the lineup and perform is among the biggest.
After going in and out of the lineup with lower-body injuries and missing a total of 20 games, Krejci has been back in Boston’s lineup for nearly a month. Though he has since hit his stride (nine points in his last eight games) and has established quick chemistry with Pastrnak, Krejci told WEEI.com Wednesday that his injury concerns aren’t fully in the rear-view mirror.
“I feel better and better every day,” he said. “It is what it is, but yesterday I felt pretty good. As long as there’s no setbacks, that’s great news.”
Asked Wednesday if he’s had to do anything to manage the injury since re-entering the lineup on Dec. 17, Krejci said that he’s been cautious to make sure what’s been his longest healthy stretch of the season doesn’t get derailed.
“Yeah, just because this is the [fourth] time coming back,” he said. “If it was only the only the first time and I would be fine, I would be like, ‘Oh, whatever,’ but now I know that I have to stay on top of it. Yeah, it’s just because this is the [fourth] time and I don’t want to be sidelined again with that. I’m trying to take care of it every day and it’s been working.”