|Milan Lucic, Bruins show what happens when you stick with game plan, don’t panic||10.22.14 at 6:32 am ET|
There may have been frustration among those in the sellout crowd at TD Garden when the Bruins allowed two goals in the span of 37 seconds of the second period Tuesday night, leading to a 3-2 deficit after 40 minutes of play. But that was not the mood in the dressing room as the Bruins prepared to take the ice in the third.
As a matter of fact, it was the determination to stick to the game plan of throwing pucks to the net and generating traffic in front of San Jose goalie Antti Niemi that Claude Julien, Milan Lucic and others credited for scoring three in the third, en route to a 5-3 win for Boston’s first winning streak of the season.
“It was exactly what we talked about after the second,” Julien said. “I really liked our game, even the second period was probably our best second period of the season. We just had that little lapse again that allowed them to score a couple goals. Coming out for the third, I thought we were playing well enough that we could give ourselves a chance if we just stayed with it. And our guys did exactly that. We found a way to get some goals. Same old, same old, getting your nose dirty around the net, jumping on those loose pucks. [It] made a big difference.”
Lucic had his most productive and active games of the season in front of the net. The effort didn’t produce any goals off his stick but he did assist on three goals, including the game-tying goal five minutes into the third period that sent the Bruins on their way.
“I think that’s the most important thing, especially when your down, is to stick with the game plan and play desperate to get yourself back in the game,” Lucic said. “Talking in the second intermission here, going out for the third, we just talked about being positive and sticking to the game plan and giving ourselves opportunities where we can get ourselves back in the game. We did that and were able to come out with a big win.”
|How Bruins overcame uncharacteristically bad nights from Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara||10.21.14 at 11:51 pm ET|
Usually the Patrice Bergeron line and Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton pairing are the Bruins’ constants. They’re the guys who are going to create offensive-zone possessions and not make mistakes.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday. Bergeron was on the ice for all three of the Sharks’ goals, linemates Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith joined him for two of them (it is worth noting that Marchand had a nice power-play goal), and Chara was on the ice for two of them as well. Those four and Hamilton were the only Bruins who finished with Corsi-for percentages under 50 percent, meaning they were the only Bruins who were on the ice for more 5-on-5 shot attempts against than shot attempts for.
That would seemingly be a recipe for disaster for the Bruins, especially when you consider that outside of the Carl Soderberg line, the rest of the team had been one giant question mark to this point in the season. David Krejci had looked good since his return, but linemate Milan Lucic was off to a slow start and he still didn’t have a set-in-stone right wing. The fourth line had featured several different combinations, and none of them had really done much. And the second and third defense pairings had been inconsistent at best, with Kevan Miller’s injury raising even more questions on the back end.
At least for one night, those questions turned into answers. Lucic, Krejci and rookie right wing Seth Griffith factored into four of the Bruins’ five goals, with Lucic notching three assists and Griffith scoring his first NHL goal. Two of the goals they were on the ice for — Griffith’s and Torey Krug’s — came as the direct result of getting bodies to the net. Krejci set a great screen on Krug’s, and then Lucic created some net-front havoc that freed up Griffith on his goal.
“I think it definitely was the best game that we’ve played so far this season,” Lucic said. “You saw we were hungry in the O-zone and hungry getting pucks to the net. We made some smart decisions in some important areas and it just seems like things are starting to head in the right direction.”
The fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Simon Gagne was a positive possession line that even created some chances against the Sharks’ top two lines. They scored what proved to be the game-winner midway through the third when Paille won the puck along the boards and threw a shot on net that Campbell tipped in for his first goal of the season.
Campbell and Paille were also big on the penalty kill, especially late in the game when Bergeron went to the box for a four-minute double minor. Until Krejci’s empty-netter to seal the win, Campbell had the biggest play on that kill when he blocked a Joe Thornton shot that came off a Chara turnover.
“We’ve got to be a responsible, reliable line, and Claude [Julien] has to trust us to put us in those situations,” Campbell said. “With hard work comes trust, and if we’re playing our game and we’re in on the forecheck and creating chances and bringing energy to the lineup, then he usually has confidence in us.”
As for the bottom two defense pairings, the only glaring error was a bad miscommunication between Krug and Dennis Seidenberg that led to a goal, but as Julien pointed out after the game, Bergeron’s line was just as much at fault, as Smith had failed to clear the zone and Bergeron and Marchand had gotten caught up ice.
Outside of that, the Seidenberg-Krug and Matt Bartkowski-Adam McQuaid pairings played well. Krug’s goal and two assists obviously stand out, but let’s not overlook the fact that Seidenberg had seven shots on goal and 12 shot attempts, and that he and Krug had Corsi-for percentages of 63 and 62 percent, respectively. McQuaid and Bartkowski weren’t far behind at 61 and 57 percent, respectively, and McQuaid was also big on that final penalty kill.
Obviously this is just one game. No one should think that all of the Bruins’ question marks are gone and that everyone’s going to be great from here on. But on a night when the Bruins’ best players were uncharacteristically unreliable, it was encouraging to see everyone else step up and show that they can lead the way, too.
|Bruins react to Johnny Boychuk trade and its ‘reality check’ impact going forward||10.05.14 at 10:41 am ET|
With the season opening at home Wednesday against the Flyers, the Bruins don’t have long to be upset about the loss of one of their best teammates.
Still, even coach Claude Julien said after Saturday’s preseason finale that the team will take a little time to get over “the sting” of losing Johnny Boychuk ($3.37 million) to the harsh realities of today’s salary cap NHL.
Torey Krug, just 23, now understands just how important managing the salary cap is for each team after spending most of the summer without a contract because GM Peter Chiarelli couldn’t fit him under the cap. Krug and Reilly Smith had to wait all summer and through most of camp to sign their $1.4 million deals because the team couldn’t sign them.
“[It’s] another lesson in the business for me,” said Krug. “I learned a few things this summer for sure, and it’s always going to be part of it forever as long as this game exists and the cap situation exists in this sport, so it’s tough to see him go for sure.”
Several defensemen will have to pick up the slack for Boychuk and will have the opportunity to step right in and play a bigger role in place of the 30-year-old who was considered one of the heart-and-soul parts of the B’s Stanley Cup run in 2011 and their finals appearance in 2013.
Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski and Krug all are younger than Boychuk and all likely will get chances to play alongside Dennis Seidenberg on Boston’s No. 2 D-pairing.
“I mean, it’s been like this the last few years, so it doesn’t really change anything,” Seidenberg said. “For me, it’s just trying to play wherever they put me and trying to do it well.”
“I didn’t know that — there was some talk about different things and stuff, but I was pretty much shocked,” McQuaid said in reacting Saturday. “I don’t know, I guess maybe we all just kind of had that hope in the back of our minds that somehow we could all stay. He’s a guy that’s a huge part of this team and for me a guy that always put a smile on my face every day. Always came to the rink in a good mood and was cracking jokes. I think I’ve played seven pro seasons and six have been with Johnny, so we’ve been through a lot together. He’s a guy that — I don’t think it’s really sunk in quite yet — but a guy that will be sorely missed.”
|David Pastrnak still not participating in full practice with Bruins||09.30.14 at 12:57 pm ET|
The Bruins held two practice sessions Tuesday at TD Garden in anticipation of Tuesday night’s preseason game against the Islanders.
Torey Krug and Reilly Smith took part in both sessions, though they are expected to be kept out of the lineup. They could get their first preseason action Friday in Connecticut.
David Pastrnak took part in the second session and will not play Tuesday. Though the team said that he is not officially cleared for full practice with the team, he is clearly taking contact, as was evident when he took a big hit from Kevan Miller Tuesday.
Anthony Camara (undisclosed), Linus Arnesson (groin) and Gregory Campbell (core) are all still out for the B’s.
|Peter Chiarelli hopes to sign Torey Krug, Reilly Smith to fair extensions soon||09.29.14 at 1:30 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said after signing Torey Krug and Reilly Smith to one-year deals Monday that he hopes to get extensions signed with the players soon.
Krug and Smith were both entry level free agents, meaning they were not eligible for arbitration and could not negotiate with other teams, so they were essentially forced to settle for the $1.4 million deals the cap-space-strapped Bruins gave them.
“Throughout the process I explained to them that we have some challenges here cap-wise and it was important for them to get in and play,” Chiarelli said. “We’ll try to bang out an extension as soon as we can because those are two kids, two young men, that we want to have in the mix. They missed a week and change but they both always are in pretty good shape.”
Both Krug and Smith expressed their preference to stay in Boston beyond this season. They’ll both be restricted free agents at season’s end if they are not signed by then.
“I want to be in Boston for as long as I can,” Krug said. “With this group of guys, you see the attitude in here and what it takes to win, and it’s something that I want to be a part of for as long as I can. Right now I’m just happy to be back and get through this season and make sure I do my job. I’ve never had an issue with having to prove myself again and I’ll try to do it again. We’ll see where it takes me.”
Both Smith and Krug were aware that their contracts for the coming season are less than they might be worth, but they both expressed optimism that they will eventually come to terms on fair value for their next contracts.
Said Chiarelli: “I explained to them throughout the process that these are two players we’d like to keep. Just please be patient with us and we’ll hammer away at it as soon as we can to try and keep these guys. So that means right away, on a one-year deal, right away you work at it and you can try and get something done. So, yeah. In the context of keeping them, yeah, these are two players that are good performers for us and they’re young. Young legs are good in this business.”
The Bruins still need to trade someone — likely a defenseman – to be cap-compliant, but Chiarelli said Monday that he is not going to “force anything.”
The Bruins got two blossoming young players, one a power-play cog and the other a second-line right wing, to take one-year contracts worth $1.4 million apiece.
Yet when all is said and done — and admittedly, we don’t say this often around these parts — Monday’s signings may not end up in the ‘Advantage: Chiarelli’ column.
Both Smith and Krug had exactly no leverage. They were entry-level free agents (players who had reached the end of their entry level deals but hadn’t accrued enough NHL service time to qualify for restricted free agency), so they were only allowed to negotiate with one team. That team happened to only have $3.218 million in cap space, so the summer, as well as the first 11 days of training camp, served as a waiting game of sorts.
On Monday, the wait ended, and the players swallowed their pride and took what is essentially the hockey version of the franchise tag, but instead of getting big money, they got underpaid.
That’s great for the Bruins this season. They don’t have to trade Johnny Boychuk, which was the worst-case scenario all along, and they don’t have to trade Chris Kelly, who despite carrying a high cap hit ($3 million), makes the Bruins a better team in ways unquantifiable. They still have to trade someone to fill out their roster with their young forwards or Simon Gagne, but the savings required is now under $1 million.
With the one-year deals to Smith and Krug, however, the Bruins are asking for trouble going forward. They already have $49,897,857 against the salary cap committed to 10 players (Marc Savard not included) for the 2015-16 season, with some important players still unsigned past this season.
The big ones: Johnny Boychuk and Carl Soderberg are both in the final year of their contracts before unrestricted free agency, while Smith and Krug can now be added to a restricted free agent class highlighted by Dougie Hamilton. Signing Hamilton to a multi-year deal that will eat up the early years of his prime is critical if they want to avoid the mistake the Canadiens made by giving P.K. Subban a bridge deal and then having to give him an eight-year, $72 million contract.
Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Adam McQuaid are also unrestricted free agents to be, while Jordan Caron, Justin Florek and Niklas Svedberg are set to become restricted free agents at season’s end. Peter Chiarelli has said he is going to trade a defenseman; McQuaid ($1.566 million cap hit) or Bartkowski ($1.25 million) would be enough to solve the Bruins’ cap situation for now.
If the Bruins had more cap space, the safe play would have been to give both Krug and Smith two- or three-year deals with cap hits of $2.5 million or more. With good seasons – Krug had 40 points last season and Smith raced out to 18 goals in the first 52 games of the season before getting sick during the Olympic break and being ineffective down the stretch of the regular season — both players could command even more than that next summer, but unlike these negotiations, they’ll be able to both file for arbitration and talk to other teams.
This isn’t so dissimilar from what happened when the Bruins signed Jarome Iginla last summer. Knowing cap space was tight, they bet on the current season by giving Iginla a deal that would see most of its money count against the next season in the form of a cap penalty. They got a great season out of Iginla, but ultimately were unable to sign him and ended up in the sticky situation in which they currently find themselves.
The Bruins are again betting on this season. Time will tell if it pays off or results in a messy offseason next summer that sees them lose more players.
The Bruins announced Monday morning that they have signed defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith to one-year contracts worth $1.4 million apiece.
The B’s, who entered training camp with $3.218 million in cap space, ultimately did not have to trade anyone in order to create more room to sign Smith and Krug, who were entry level free agents unable to negotiate with other teams.
Though getting the players to take low dollars is a financial win for the Bruins this season, it also presents a major risk to the B’s going forward. Both Smith and Krug will be restricted free agents at the end of the season and will have arbitration rights.
It also adds Smith and Krug to Boston’s list of players it needs to sign going forward. Both Johnny Boychuk and Carl Soderberg will be unrestricted free agents at season’s end, while Dougie Hamilton, Smith and Krug are among the B’s restricted free agents-to-be.
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