|Injuries mean jobs: Bruins’ young defensemen should seize moment like those before them||11.20.14 at 3:14 pm ET|
Peter Chiarelli will probably never say how many NHL defensemen he thinks he has again.
Since saying that he felt he had nine this offseason, the number has been tested significantly. After trading one of them in Johnny Boychuk, Chiarelli has seen five of his defensemen get hurt in the first 20 games of the season. Of the nine NHL-caliber defensemen Chiarelli said he felt the Bruins possessed, the only three who haven’t suffered an injury this season have been Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski.
That is rough, rough stuff for the Bruins, but it does allow that list of NHL defensemen to get longer. Games played as injury replacements have been the avenue to the NHL for many of Boston’s young defensemen, with Hamilton really the only one who was actually given a job to begin his NHL career.
Adam McQuaid filled in for an injured Mark Stuart and took his job in 2011. Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski earned their sweaters in the 2013 postseason. Kevan Miller and Zach Trotman got their feet wet a season ago with injuries to various blueliners, while Joe Morrow initially came up to replace the struggling Bartkowski this season but will remain in the lineup in part because of Boston’s ailing back end.
Krug thinks that’s a respectable way to become an NHL player. He feels jumping in to replace a hurt player leaves less room for thinking, which is a good way to avoid mistakes for a young player.
“It doesn’t leave you time to think about what could happen or what could go wrong, because you’re the only option,” he said. “They’re putting you in the game and you’ve just got to go out and do your thing. All the guys that have gone out and done so so far have taken the right mindset.
“That’s the only reason I’m here right now, is because there was an opportunity with a couple guys hurt in the playoffs, and I [made] the best of it. I think these guys are doing a good job of taking these opportunities and running with it. It’s fun when you earn things like that.”
McQuaid had gotten off to a very encouraging start to this season coming off an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign that saw him dress in only 30 games. With a broken thumb putting his season on hold for 6-8 weeks, the Bruins have to go back to their group of young defensemen for bigger and tougher minutes.
That won’t be easy, but given the job that Miller did replacing him last season and the play they’ve gotten from other young blueliners, the Bruins are confident they can handle the loss.
“Is it a silver lining? It is in a way because we really felt we had some good depth on the back end,” Claude Julien said. “I think it’s showing now. Whoever we bring up seems to be doing a decent job. A lot of guys that are here now are going to make it difficult for us when it’s all said and done. There’s a pretty good competition going again on our back end.”
Morrow, a 2011 first-round pick, has proven to be a better NHL player than he was an AHL player. Trotman, meanwhile, was replaced by Bartkowski on Saturday and eventually sent to Providence, but now he’s back with the NHL club. Neither player was on Chiarelli’s unofficial list of nine this summer, but they can add their names to it with strong performances.
Given their injuries, the Bruins’ list of NHL-caliber defensemen isn’t anything like what it was in the offseason, but as players return to the lineup, the B’s could eventually find themselves at a point where they have more guys capable of handling NHL minutes than they did immediately after trading Boychuk.
“I think that number’s grown,” Krug said. “You’re witnessing Joe come in and do a great job, and Trots is getting the experience and he’s doing well. I think that number’s getting higher and higher. Hopefully at some point, we have that many guys that the coaching staff has to make a decision who to play.”
|Slap shots will come as Torey Krug gets more comfortable||11.10.14 at 11:07 pm ET|
The Bruins are slowly but surely getting healthier on defense, as Torey Krug returned to the lineup Monday and is starting to forget all about his broken pinky finger.
While a pinky injury might sound like a minor injury, it’s actually quite the obstacle to overcome. Without the full use of the pinky, as Zdeno Chara explained months ago, one can’t grip things. Without being able to grip things, one can’t take a slap shot. Without a slap shot, an NHL defenseman – especially one of the better offensive ones – isn’t quite himself.
So while Krug took his usual spot at the point of the Bruins’ top power play unit, it wasn’t a night full of blasts to the net just yet. He took five shots on the night, only one of which was a slap shot. The lone shot he landed on net was a wrist shot.
Krug had two full practices with the B’s before returning to game action. He admitted that as he worked his way back from the injury, trying to shoot presented issues for him.
“I definitely had some challenges with shooting at first and the vibrations of the stick,” Krug said, “but everything’s good now.”
The injury was suffered on Oct. 28 on a slash from Zach Parise. Krug logged 21:16 of ice time on Monday night, saying that the toughest challenge he faced was not thinking about the injury.
“I think the last thing is just making sure I’m not thinking about it,” he said. “There were times in practice where I’m protecting myself and making sure it doesn’t get hit or something like that. You get into live game action and you can’t really think about that because otherwise the puck’s going to end up in your net.”
Julien said that Krug looked like someone who was playing in his first game back from an injury, but that he liked his game Monday night.
“He’s been out for a while, and I think he had one or maybe two practices with us and that’s it,” Julien said. “But he came in and did his job. Obviously he’s not at 100 percent with his situation, but he seems to be handling the puck well. Again, maybe he didn’t get that many shots on net tonight, but still I thought he was a good player.”
One goal can make a game. Seth Griffith’s second-period goal did just that.
With the Bruins and Devils tied at two goals apiece late in the second period, the Bruins rookie scored what is likely the most impressive goal he’ll score in his career when, after blocking a shot, he battled for a puck through Bryce Salvador and got tangled up with Marek Zidlicky as he raced to the net. After getting spun around, he backhanded the puck through his legs and those of Cory Schneider to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
Reilly Smith would score soon after, giving the Bruins two goals in the final two minutes of the second period and sending them on their way to a 4-2 victory over the Devils (Check out the game boxscore).
Griffith, who was playing in his 12th NHL game after getting called up for top-six duty last month, is becoming no stranger to sensational goals. After flying through the air Bobby Orr-style on his Oct. 28 goal against the Wild, Griffith is setting the bar pretty high for himself going forward in his young NHL career.
Here are four other things we learned Monday night:
Torey Krug returned to the lineup after a four-game absence caused by a broken pinky finger suffered on Oct. 28.
Krug skated on the team’s third defensive pairing with Zach Trotman, taking the place of the injured David Warsofsky, who is out 2-4 weeks with a groin strain. The second-year defenseman also returned to his usual spot on the point of Boston’s first power play unit.
Matt Bartkowski served as a healthy scratch for the fifth consecutive game.
|David Krejci out vs. Devils, Torey Krug a game-time decision||at 11:26 am ET|
Bruins center David Krejci will not play Monday against the Devils, Claude Julien said after the team’s optional morning skate. It will be Krejci’s third absence in the last four games as he continues to battle a hip injury suffered in the preseason finale. Krejci also missed the first three games of the season.
Torey Krug (finger) is a possibility to return Monday night. He took part in the morning skate, with Julien saying he would be a game-time decision. Krug has missed the last four games since suffering his injury on Oct. 28.
Kevan Miller (dislocated shoulder) also took part in the morning skate, which was attended by all healthy players but Krejci and Loui Eriksson. Julien offered no update on Miller’s status and added that Zdeno Chara has not started skating in his recovery from a torn PCL.
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|Torey Krug returns to Bruins practice, David Krejci among absences||11.07.14 at 11:51 am ET|
Krug is working his way back from a broken finger suffered last Tuesday against the Wild. He has been skating, but Friday marked his first time practicing with the team. Krug took contact in the practice.
At the time of his injury, he was expected to miss 2-3 weeks.
The Bruins don’t play again until Monday, so it’s possible the absences could be more about maintenance than an inability to go. Krejci, who returned from what’s believed to be a hip injury Thursday night, left the bench briefly during the third period because he said he was sore.
With Krejci not on the ice, Chris Kelly centered Krejci’s line with Seth Griffith and Milan Lucic Friday. Matt Fraser was in Kelly’s familiar spot on Carl Soderberg’s line with Loui Eriksson. Fraser played there in the two games that Krejci missed and played the first two-plus periods with Soderberg and Eriksson Thursday before being taken off the line in the third period.
Bergeron has not missed any games this season. Krug wore a gold jersey and skated with Bergeron’s line during line drills.
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|David Krejci a possibility to return to Bruins lineup Thursday||11.06.14 at 11:37 am ET|
The Bruins held an optional morning skate Thursday, with both David Krejci and Torey Krug taking the ice at TD Garden.
Krejci has missed the last two games (and five overall this season) due to a hip injury. He skated prior to Wednesday’s practice and could make his return to the lineup Thursday against the Oilers. Claude Julien said the team would determine during the day whether he would take pregame warmups and, should that happen, decide if he plays after that.
“We’ll see after he gets off,” Julien said of Krejci taking warmups when asked as the optional skate took place. “If he does, there’s a chance he’ll play, obviously.”
Krug remains out with a broken finger that was suffered last Tuesday against the Wild. Skating isn’t the issue for Krug, but rather his ability to grip his stick.
“He’s doing well. Obviously his finger is doing much, much, much better,” Julien said. “It depends again how quickly that comes around. He’s the only one that’s probably going to be able to tell us. Right now, medically they’ve given him permission to go out and skate and hold on to his stick and everything else. I think, from what I’m being told right now, it will be up to him how quickly he gets that feeling that he can hold his stick properly and that it’s not going to be an issue.”
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: ‘I believe [Bruins] will find a way’||10.30.14 at 2:07 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB in advance of Thursday night’s Bruins game with the Sabres and to talk about the injuries the Bruins have been forced to deal with. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Bruins have lost two of their last three games, including two, one-goal games at home — the latest a 4-3 loss to the Wild where they blew a two-goal lead in the third period. McGuire stressed even if the Bruins were to lose to Buffalo Thursday night, it would not be a time to panic.
“It’s an 82-game schedule,” McGuire said. “This isn’t football, it’s not every week being a Super Bowl game. You have to understand there are ebbs and flows in every season and there’s huge peaks and gigantic valleys that you have to climb out of. This reminds me so much of what Detroit went through last year without [Henrik] Zetterberg and [Pavel] Datsyuk — they had so many key injuries. Jimmy Howard was not doing well due to injury and illness. Everyone said they wouldn’t make the playoffs – 22 years in a row they made it, 23 won’t happen — but, guess what? They found a way.
“I believe this Boston Bruins team will find a way and a lot of those young players are getting an opportunity to play now, they are going to be the beneficiaries in this.”
Added McGuire: “I’m bullish on the Bruins, I really am. There’s no substitute for grit and there’s no substitute for maturity and this is a mature leadership kind of team that has a tremendous amount of grit.”
The Bruins have had a number of injuries to their defensive group, including Zdeno Chara (ligament tear in knee), Torey Krug (broken finger), Kevan Miller (upper-body) on top of the trade of Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders before the season. McGuire says this is a time for three other Bruins defensemen to step up, as well as an important stretch for assistant coach Doug Houda.
“The biggest thing is – limited ice time — this is where Doug Houda, who is not a real big-name on the Bruins, but he’s the assistant coach that changes the defense, he’s got to really pay attention to matchups,” said McGuire. “This is where [Dennis] Seidenberg has to play like he played in Toronto the other night — almost 26 minutes, he was really good. Dougie Hamilton obviously was fantastic in that game. He’s going to have to be good. This is where you need Adam McQuaid to be a little bit more stable and better with the puck. Those three guys are going to have to be a lot better, especially when you consider not having Chara, Krug and the trading of Boychuk.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.