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Bruins’ new-look power play takes center stage vs. Wings 10.05.13 at 11:21 pm ET
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Torey Krug's power-play abilities have allowed the Bruins to move Zdeno Chara to the front of the net. (Mike Petraglia, WEEI.com)

Torey Krug’s power-play abilities have allowed the Bruins to move Zdeno Chara to the front of the net. (Mike Petraglia, WEEI.com)

Torey Krug gets the puck at the point. Zdeno Chara sets the screen in front. Goalie never sees the shot coming.

That’s exactly what the Bruins coaches had in mind when they decided to reconfigure the power play heading into this season, and the new look was executed perfectly on Boston’s first goal Saturday night.

Once Krug emerged as such a dangerous offensive weapon in last year’s playoffs, it was an easy decision to have him quarterback the top power-play unit — especially when you consider how much the Bruins’ power play struggled for most of last season. He has great hands and a great shot, and he’s able to create open lanes with his footwork.

The tougher decision — at least looking at it from the outside — was what to do with Chara. As great as Chara is in pretty much every other area, he never seemed totally comfortable as a power-play quarterback.

When he got an open look, he could take advantage with his rocket of a shot, but getting those looks — and being able to move the puck quickly when he didn’t — could sometimes be a struggle. The problem for the Bruins was that they didn’t have anyone else who was a great fit for the quarterback role, either. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bruins season preview: Defense/goalie projections 10.01.13 at 8:24 am ET
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Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

Here’s the second installment of the player projections for the 2013-14 season, featuring defensemen and goalies. For a look at the forwards, click here.

Note: It’s silly to predict injuries, so all players’ projections will assume they play somewhere in the 75-82-game range. Extra forwards/defensemen aren’t shown given the uncertainty of whether (and where) they’ll play. 

DEFENSEMEN

Zdeno Chara: 13 goals, 37 assists, 50 points

Chara wasn’t bad in the Stanley Cup finals; he was hurt. When he isn’t hurt, he’s one of the best defensemen in the game. It’s as simple as that.

Dennis Seidenberg: 5 goals, 22 assists, 27 points

It’s a contract year for the 32-year-old Seidenberg, so he’ll have plenty of motivation to perform. Depending on what happens cap-wise and given the Bruins’ group of young defensemen, this could very well be Seidenberg’s last season in Boston.

Dougie Hamilton: 10 goals, 20 assists, 30 points

Don’t forget how good Hamilton was at the start of last season. If he can sustain that throughout this campaign, the 10-goal mark is certainly within reach.

Torey Krug: 11 goals, 19 assists, 30 points

After what he did against the Rangers, people’s expectations of Krug might be a little high, but here’s what we do know: He can skate, he’s smart, and he’ll be on the power play. Points will find him.

Johnny Boychuk: 4 goals, 15 assists, 19 points

Johnny Rocket turned into Johnny Wrist Shot last postseason. It will be interesting to see if his offensive success changes his regular-season approach.

Adam McQuaid: 2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points

McQuaid isn’t there for his offense, which actually makes him a logical defensive partner to balance out Krug.

GOALIES 

Tuukka Rask: 54 starts, 2.20 goals-against average, .922 save-percentage

This isn’t a suggestion that Rask will take a step backwards performance-wise, but smaller goalie pads plus a Red Wings team that should score more than it did let season minus Andrew Ference should equal more human numbers.

The only question regarding Rask there should be is whether he can physically handle a full season and playoffs, something he’s never done as a starter at the NHL level. Rask did play 57 regular-season games and 16 playoff contests in the 2008-09 season for Providence, but he hadn’t played into late June in the previous season.

Chad Johnson: 28 starts, 2.41 goals-against average, .912 save-percentage

The 27-year-old Johnson doesn’t have a ton of NHL experience (10 games), but he’s been good at the NHL level with a 1.97 GAA, .929 save percentage and a shutout. We’ll see how good a replacement for Anton Khudobin he ends up being.

Read More: 2013-14 Bruins Projections, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Bruins continue captains practices 09.03.13 at 3:08 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — More and more Bruins are arriving for voluntary practices each day at Ristuccia Arena as the open of training camp gets closer. After last week featured groups of skaters in the single digits, Tuesday’s informal session featured a much larger group. The newcomers among NHLers were Torey Krug and Johnny Boychuk.

Joining them were, among others, Carl Soderberg, Shawn Thornton, Tuukka Rask, Daniel Paille, Bobby Robins, David Krejci, Loui Eirksson, Dennis Seidenberg, Niklas Svedberg and David Warsofsky.

The likes of Ryan Spooner, Jared Knight and Malcolm Subban were also in the house, but they were there for the first day of rookie camp, which featured meetings rather than ice time. The youngsters will take the ice Wednesday for the start of on-ice sessions, with the veterans skating beforehand as captains practices continue.

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Barry Pederson on D&C: Bruins ‘are going to be a good team for a long time’ 06.25.13 at 10:05 am ET
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NESN analyst Barry Pederson, in an interview on the Dennis & Callahan show, identified a number of roster decisions that now face the Bruins following their elimination in a Game 6 loss to the Blackhawks. Still, Pederson suggested that the team’s long-term outlook remains excellent.

With a number of young, still-improving talents like Tyler Seguin, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton, Pederson suggested that if Boston can re-sign restricted free agent Tuukka Rask and lock up Patrice Bergeron — who now has one year left in his contract — to an extension, the team has the core to continue to build upon its run of two Stanley Cup Finals and one championship in the last three years.

He emphasized the need for players like Tyler Seguin, Carl Soderberg and Jordan Caron to get stronger to help carry the Bruins through a 2013-14 season that starts in 13 weeks, but overall, Pederson pointed to a sunny outlook for a team that just endured a devastating defeat. Read the rest of this entry »

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Claude Julien on sticking with Torey Krug: ‘He didn’t lose any confidence’ 06.16.13 at 5:58 pm ET
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Torey Krug. (AP)

There were plenty of sideline coaches suggesting Torey Krug sit Game 2 out after his gaffe in Game 1 that led to Chicago’s second goal and gave the Blackhawks momentum to begin their comeback.

But not Claude Julien.

He stuck with his talented rookie defenseman. And all the justification he needed from Krug was provided early in Game 2.

“Extremely well,” Julien said when asked how he thought Krug handled Game 2. “He didn’t lose any confidence. Again, you look at last night, he pushed the puck up the middle again, was able to come back, nothing came out of it. But, you know, his game continued to go in the right direction.”

“I thought I did play my game pretty well in Game 2, jumping up on the ice when I could, clearing the puck a little bit better,” Krug said. “Basically, there are still some things I can fix but I felt very confident, especially in overtime. We were up in the offensive zone a little bit more than we were the whole game. I felt a lot better.”

The irony is that Krug didn’t lean on a fellow defenseman for support after Game 1. It came from Patrice Bergeron, a forward, and given his propensity for offense, maybe that’s appropriate.

“He’s got the same routine every game,” Krug said. “I have never seen him play a bad game, but if he is having a bad game, I don’t think he changes anything up so that’s important in being a professional. He always goes about his business. He is an unbelievable leader and he does the little things that’s what’s amazing about him. Read the rest of this entry »

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Shawn Thornton on D&C: Nathan Horton ‘big, tough, scary guy when he wants to be’ 06.14.13 at 11:30 am ET
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Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning, checking in the day before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals in Chicago. The Bruins forward stuck up for Torey Krug and was mum on the status of the injured Nathan Horton, saying he didn’t talk to the first-line winger Thursday.

“I didn’t see him yesterday, so I don’t know the extent of it. I hope he’s in,” Thornton said. “He’s such a good player for us. I’m sure if he’s in, he’s ready to go, so I’m not too worried about him. He’s a big, tough, scary guy when he wants to be. He can take care of himself.”

Although the Bruins officially call it an upper-body injury, Horton reportedly is suffering from a chronic shoulder injury, aggravated most recently during the B’s Game 1 loss. Nonetheless, Thornton wasn’t worried about the Blackhawks targeting the shoulder, should Horton be in the lineup.

“It’s playoffs, so people are finishing their checks anyway,” Thornton said.

When questioned on Krug’s momentum-changing, third-period turnover Wednesday, Thornton was careful not to speculate too much or make any lineup assumptions, admitting he doesn’t know what coach Claude Julien’s thought process is when it comes to benching players.

Thornton did, however, give the defenseman a vote of confidence. Krug has been strong for much of the playoffs.

“For the majority of the game last game, he was really good for us on the power play, he was really good for us getting up the ice and supporting the play. One mistake … is not indicative of how he played,” Thornton said. “Whoever is in or out of the lineup, it won’t be because of anything that happened — I don’t think — in the game previous. If an adjustment is made, it’s because he figures it gives us a better chance to match up in different situations on the other side and give us a better chance of winning.

“I doubt anything’s going to happen, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Thornton also hasn’t talked to Krug — the players had Thursday off — but anticipated the rookie being just fine mentally.

“He’s a pretty special player, and a couple of breaks went the other way. It happens to the best of us,” Thornton said. “It’s the same as the dynamic, thought process of the team: You can’t worry about what happened last game. Move on and get ready for Saturday.”

The hosts noted that the Bruins — or Bruins fans — don’t quite have a public enemy No. 1 for the finals as they did in series past. As far as Thornton is concerned, that’s OK. There are more important things going on.

“When you don’t play all year, it’s tough to have that guy, that animosity with a non-rival,” Thornton said. “I’m not sure if it’s necessary. We have to focus on winning games, not taking somebody’s head off. I hear what you’re saying — sometimes it’s motivating when you dislike a certain individual, but this time of year you shouldn’t need an extra motivation.”

To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

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Barry Pederson on D&C: Torey Krug’s third-period turnover ‘turning point’ in Game 1 06.13.13 at 10:19 am ET
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Torey Krug's turnover in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night led to the Blackhawks' second goal. (AP)

NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, and following the Bruins’ 4-3 triple-overtime loss to the Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, Pederson pegged defenseman Torey Krug’s third-period turnover that led to Chicago’s second goal as a turning point.

Krug’s cross-ice pass got intercepted by Andrew Shaw, who assisted Dave Bolland’s goal to cut the Bruins’ lead to 3-2 midway through the third period.

“The Bruins had complete control of this hockey game early in the third with that 3-1 lead. People I think are talking about the deflection, the bad break they got. But to me the turning point of the hockey game was the giveaway by Krug in his own end,” Pederson said. “That’s one of those plays that’s a rookie mistake under pressure. You have the near-side wall is wide open. You either have to carry it up or make that play. As we’re taught as youngsters throughout your hockey career, there’s one play you don’t make in your own end, and that’s cross ice. That to me was the one that really changed things.”

It was that turnover — and the ensuing “emotional letdown” — that did in the Bruins more than potential complacency up by two goals with about half a period to go, Pederson noted.

Despite the error, Pederson said he doesn’t think Claude Julien will bench Krug for Game 2 Saturday, nor does he think the rookie defenseman should be benched. Pederson noted that Krug’s ice time was lessened for much of the rest of the game, but he doesn’t expect that to carry over.

“I would hope not,” Pederson said, “because they really need him. He brings that element of speed and offense to the lineup, and I think he helps their power play as well.”

When the hosts expressed concern that the Bruins, particularly the older players, might be lagging come Saturday, Pederson said not to worry — the Blackhawks are in the same position, after all.

The bigger concern should be replacing Nathan Horton, if needed, after the forward left with an upper-body injury in the first overtime. Pederson suggested moving Tyler Seguin up to replace Horton on the first line, as Julien played it the rest of Game 1.

Read the rest of this entry »

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