|David Backes discusses Bruins contract length, fit with David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Spooner||07.01.16 at 5:23 pm ET|
The best question on David Backes’ introductory conference call was asked by himself.
Or, at least, it was a question he recalled asking the Bruins as they went about trying to sign the former Blues captain.
“Through the process I was asking questions and didn’t want to pull myself out of being part of the Bruins, but I said, ‘You’ve got Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, who are top-tier center-icemen and are both right-handed,’” Backes said. “’You’re going to bring me in as another right-handed center men. Your top three center men are all going to be right-handed. How’s that going to work?’”
The elephant in the room that follows Backes’ signing is that someone’s either got to go or be used differently. Ryan Spooner is the Bruins’ sole left-shot center, so could Krejci be traded? Could Backes be moved to wing? Backes said that his talks with the B’s prior to signing focused “mostly” on him playing center, but he allowed for the possibility of playing right wing, as he did during the postseason for the Blues.
“If a guy like Spooner can play the third-line center and I move up to the right side with [Brad] Marchand and Bergeron, that gives us a heavy, responsible line that can put a lot of pucks in the net,” Backes said.
“If you want to call me third-line, I completely respect that,” Backes said. “Those two other guys are awesome, but I’ve got to imagine that we’re going to share a lot of responsibility and not burden one guy with all the hard ice or the heavy lifting. When you have responsible guys that can share those roles, then we can all flourish on the other side of the ice and have tons of energy to go out for the ends of games to close it out or score a late big goal.”
The number of right-shot centers presents something of a redundancy. The length of his contract, however, is what is most worrisome. Backes has stayed healthy throughout his career, but one has to wonder who he will hold up in the final two years of his deal.
“I’m 32; I’m not 52,” Backes said. “I think there’s plenty of legs and plenty of physicality and energy left in me. The terms that I’ve come to, people may have questions, but for me, I expect to still be at the top of my game for the last year and still be a contributing member for the Boston Bruins.”
Added Backes: “I don’t think the game’s getting slower. It’s a fast game, but if you start to manage the puck in the right way, you can occupy the offensive zone and do a lot of the things that teams that are heavy and control the puck and occupy the zone do, it’s not a track meet up and down the ice. With Pittsburgh winning the Cup, a team that was kind of designed on that track meet, ‘let’s go, let’s see who can skate the fastest up the ice,’ there may be a trend or a tendency to try to start to build teams like that, but you’ve also seen teams in the LA Kings and the Boston Bruins win playing that heavy game and maybe not having the fastest team, but winning every battle that you get into, being able to control the puck once you get it.”
|Patrice Bergeron has maintenance day as Bruins prepare for Islanders||03.11.16 at 12:38 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Patrice Bergeron was the only player absent from Friday’s practice as the Bruins prepared to host the Islanders in the upcoming Saturday matinee.
Bergeron, who committed an ill-timed line change in the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Hurricanes on Thursday, was given a maintenance day on Friday, according to Claude Julien.
Kevan Miller, who has missed the Bruins’ last three games since taking a hit from behind from Alexander Ovechkin last Saturday, practiced with the Bruins for the second straight day.
|Eriksson-Bergeron-Pastrnak an intriguing option for Bruins||01.07.16 at 11:29 pm ET|
It looks like the Bruins are going to use David Pastrnak the right way.
After recalling the 19-year-old scorer from Providence, the Bruins skated Pastrnak on the right wing of Patrice Bergeron‘s line in Thursday’s practice. Loui Eriksson was at left wing, as Brad Marchand will serve the final game of his three-game suspension Friday night.
The line is extremely intriguing. Playing Pastrnak on Bergeron’s line has always seemed to make sense (see: Tyler Seguin‘s 29-goal 2011-12 season), but “the Bergeron line” usually means “the Bergeron and Marchand line.” Bergeron and Marchand have pretty much been a package deal since midway through the 2010-11 season, and for good reason. They’re among the best duos in the NHL.
Yet having Eriksson at left wing could have an interesting impact on Pastrnak. Both Eriksson and Marchand are scorers — they have 15 and 14 goals, respectively — but Marchand is more of an electric player with the puck on his stick than Eriksson. Bergeron, a very good scorer in his own right with 15 goals, can pretty much just dish to Marchand, count to three and be part of a scoring chance.
Eriksson does a lot of things, but he isn’t the skater or offensively ambitious player that Marchand is. With the exception of the 2011-12 season, when Seguin scored 29 goals, Marchand has always scored more goals than his line’s right wing.
Having Eriksson on the line could open up the door for the Bergeron line’s right wing to be more of a scorer.
“Brad creates a lot by having the puck and by me trying to send him with his speed,” Bergeron said. “I think Loui’s more territorial and possession and kind of slowing the play down a little bit more. They’re different in their own rights.
“Me being a righty, my tendency is to go to my left side a little bit more, so maybe my righties are not as happy with me, but we’re trying to use both sides. Brad’s got the puck a little bit more than Loui would. Loui likes to kind of send it and chip it and dump it a little bit more.”
Speaking after Thursday’s practice, Pastrnak seemed thrilled by the idea of playing with Bergeron. After not playing since Oct. 31 due to a foot injury and a lengthy rehab tour that took him to Finland for the World Junior Championships, he was probably just relieved to be back with the B’s.
Skating with both Eriksson and Bergeron will be a new experience for the young forward, but based on what Bergeron would want in a right wing on a line with Eriksson, Pastrnak sounds like a good fit.
“I think the righty needs to go a little bit more and use his speed more and try to [have] us find him,” Bergeron said.
Brett Connolly, who has spent a lot of time on the right wing of Bergeron’s line this season, has had both Marchand and Eriksson as his left wing.
“Obviously Marchy’s more gritty, in your face,” Connolly said. “Loui’s more [about] using his hockey sense to make some plays. He seems to always be in the right areas. Two good players. Two smart players.”
If Eriksson’s presence allows for more facilitating, Pastrnak could be beneficiary for at least a game. One would think Marchand and Bergeron would be reunited once Marchand’s suspension is up, but for now Claude Julien has an interesting line at his disposal.
|Patrice Bergeron named NHL All-Star||01.06.16 at 12:51 pm ET|
This is the second consecutive and second overall All-Star nod for Patrice Bergeron. The silly event will take place Jan. 30-31 at Bridgestone Arena.
Bergeron leads the Bruins with 37 points. With 15 goals, he’s on pace for a career-high 32 goals. Bergeron has hit the 30-goal mark twice in his career, reaching the plateau in 2005-06 (31 goals) and 2014-15 (30).
Bergeron is the Bruins’ only representative in the tournament, meaning Zdeno Chara will not be able to participate in the Hardest Shot competition for the second-straight All-Star game. Chara holds the record for hardest recorded shot at 108.8 miles per hour, set in 2012.
|Undermanned Bruins in a strange state after season-worst 5-of-6 skid||01.05.16 at 11:58 pm ET|
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the first period and never trailed en route to a 3-2 victory at TD Garden.
Now, compared to the B’s poor effort in a 5-1 loss to Montreal on New Year’s Day, Tuesday’s one-goal defeat might even qualify for “moral victory” status to some.
However, when the B’s big picture now paints a season-worst funk, with the team having lost five of its last six games, it was hard to find great optimism in the Boston locker room after Tuesday’s game.
“I don’t know, a little bit up and down,” winger Loui Eriksson said of his team’s effort. “We’re playing a good team and they took advantage of us in the first [period]. We came back a couple of times, but in the end they won a game. It’s a tough one, we need to start winning here again.”
Coach Claude Julien approved of the will, but not quite the way.
“Yes, for me, disappointed in the loss,” Julien said. “Not disappointed in the effort. There’s no moral victory, but I can’t criticize the effort our team gave tonight. In the situation we’re in we almost had to play a perfect game to beat those guys. Our guys worked hard, they had chances, and this is a good [Washington] hockey club.
“We gave ourselves a chance there, I don’t think we ever quit. We were down a goal, then down two and came back into it. They made a big save on [Zdeno Chara] at the end to keep that game from being tied. I think our guys tried, really tried, but at the same time in this league you’ve got to win hockey games. We’ve got to be disappointed, hungrier for the next game so we can turn things around here. Hopefully the bitterness in our mouth from losing tonight is going to carry into Friday in New Jersey.”
|Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara can’t explain Bruins falling so flat||01.01.16 at 6:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — No excuses.
The Bruins managed just three shots in the opening 20 minutes of the biggest hockey spectacle in New England since the 2013 Stanley Cup finals.
They went a span of 15 minutes in the first period without a single shot.
The Bruins were without the suspended Brad Marchand and the injured David Krejci but still, Bruins players couldn’t come up with a reason for such a flat effort in a 5-1 loss to Montreal in the 2016 Winter Classic.
“We couldn’t generate any rhythm,” Patrice Bergeron said. “We weren’t first on pucks. We were second on every one of them, and you can’t get any pucks on net if you don’t have the puck, so that was basically the reason why.”
|5 things we learned as Frank Vatrano’s hat trick leads Bruins past Penguins||12.18.15 at 9:44 pm ET|
Frank Vatrano had gone nine straight games without a goal. He now has three in his last 10 games.
Vatrano busted out of his scoring slump with the first hat trick of his career as the Bruins separated in the third period to enjoy a 6-2 victory at the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center. The victory saw the Bruins sweep this week’s home-and-home series with the Penguins.
Patrice Bergeron also had a multi-goal game, as he netted a shorthanded tally in the second and added an even-strength goal early in the third to extend Boston’s lead. The goals brought his season total to 11, putting him behind only Brad Marchand (15) and Loui Eriksson (12) on the Bruins this season. He is also at over a point-per-game pace this season with 32 points in 31 games.
As for Tuukka Rask, the Bruins’ top netminder stood tall against a struggling Penguins offense for his eighth win in his last 10 appearances (8-0-2). With 29 saves on Friday, Rask has a .959 save percentage over his last 10 games.
The Bruins would have another goal in the third period, but a goal from Landon Ferraro was not allowed due to what the officials found to be goaltender interference committed by Max Talbot.
Here are four more things we learned Friday night:
Vatrano wasn’t the only UMass product with a couple of points Friday, as his former teammate in Conor Sheary had both a goal and an assist for the first two points of his career.
Sheary’s goal came on a bit of bad luck for the Bruins, as Bergeron fanned on a puck behind the net, leading Sidney Crosby to send it in front for Sheary. The Melrose native had the secondary helper on a second-period goal from Trevor Daley.
Bergeron took a holding penalty in the first period to put him at 20 penalty minutes on the season, which puts him on pace to set a new career-high for the third straight year. With the Bruins managing to kill off the ensuing Penguins power play without their best penalty-killing forward, Bergeron made up for it the following period.
With Kevan Miller in the box for tripping Sheary early in the second, Brad Marchand won a puck high in the Penguins zone and fed it to his penalty-killing partner. Bergeron rewarded Marchand for his work by flicking the puck past Jeff Zatkoff for the Bruins’ sixth shorthanded goal of the season.
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 19, 2015
While the Bruins’ penalty kill was technically a perfect 5-for-5 on the night, a point shot from Daley made its way through traffic and past Rask just seconds after rate expiration of Miller’s penalty.
POINTS KEEP COMING FOR SPOONER
After a two-point night for Ryan Spooner Wednesday (two assists; what appeared to be a second-period Spooner goal was credited to Jimmy Hayes, as it apparently hit the shaft of his stick), the young Bruins center doubled that production on Friday with a career-best four-assist night.
Spooner took the puck from the wall after some strong work along the wall from Ferraro, walked it over to the faceoff dot and fed it back to Vatrano, who snapped the puck past Zatkoff to tie the game at one goal apiece. Spooner assisted all three of Vatrano’s goals and Loui Eriksson’s power play goal.
With Spooner’s four assist on Friday, he now has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) over his last six games.
Another point wasn’t the only thing Spooner dropped on Friday. Following a big hit from Patric Hornqvist on Dennis Seidenberg in the second period, Spooner threw his gloves down and went after the Penguins forward. Hornqvist was not interesting in fighting, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Spooner. The fight would have been the first of Spooner’s professional career and quite possibly of his life, as Spooner did not fight at the OHL level either.
THREE STRAIGHT FOR ERIKSSON
Eriksson was relentless in trying to jam a loose puck past Zatkoff during a second-period Bruins power play, eventually doing so for his 12th goal of the year. The tally also made it three straight games with a goal for Eriksson, who will easily surpass the 22 goals he scored last season as long as he stays healthy.
Eriksson could have had two power play goals on the night, but he couldn’t control a slap pass from Krug at the right circle despite having a wide open net.