|David Warsofsky deserves chance somewhere in NHL||09.07.14 at 9:33 am ET|
Being NHL-ready and stuck in the AHL because of organizational depth is tough, but sometimes there’s a solution.
If it were another player, it would be logical to thank the organization for the chance and respectfully ask the team to explore trade options, but it’s more complicated than that with David Warsofsky.
The chances of him cracking Boston’s lineup as long as Torey Krug is around and healthy are remote, but the Marshfield native grew up a Bruins fan and has family here, so the idea of parting with the organization isn’t as appetizing.
“I’ve got a big family around here, and everybody loves coming to the games, so that’s obviously easy for them,” Warsofsky said this week as he attended each of the Bruins’ semi-formal practices at Ristuccia Arena. “At the end of the day, it is a business, so I think wherever hockey takes me, that’s where it is. Right now it’s Boston, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Warsofsky, who played at Cushing Academy before heading to Boston University for three years, has spent three seasons (parts of four) in Providence since being acquired from the Blues in 2010 for Vladimir Sobotka. In Providence, he’s played his game — that of an undersized puck-moving defenseman – and last season put up 32 points in 56 regular-season games and added nine more in 12 postseason games.
He also held his own in six games last season for Boston, contributing offensively by scoring his first NHL goal in his fourth game on Dec. 28 against Ottawa and assisting on a Chris Kelly goal against the Senators on Feb. 8.
“Obviously to get a couple games in and get that confidence that you can play at that level is obviously good,” he said. “In my head I obviously thought I could play at that level, but the reassurance of coming up here and playing well definitely helped a lot too.”
This offseason, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he considers Warsofsky to be in the group of nine NHL defensemen he feels the Bruins possess. He’s probably right, but as long as Torey Krug is in town and healthy, none of us can be sure.
Both players possess similar size (Krug is listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Warsofsky is listed as being the same height and 10 pounds lighter). They’re both strong skaters and power play assets. Warsofsky, at 24 years of age, is less than a year older than Krug.
With all the defensemen the Bruins have, there isn’t room for that redundancy. Krug has spent the majority of his Bruins career as the team’s No. 5/6 defenseman in addition to his power play responsibilities. Warsofsky isn’t going to leapfrog him.
“It is a tough situation with all the defensemen they have here, and obviously Torey and me play a similar type of game,” Warsofsky said. “I’m just focusing on myself right now, [which] is all I can really do; control what I can control and I’ll see what happens [in training camp].”
So again, a player in Warsofsky’s position might look for opportunities elsewhere, much like how the Bruins have looked at trade options to give Jordan Caron an opportunity to be in an NHL lineup every night. As a restricted free agent this summer, Warsofsky could have tried to leverage his way to another team, but instead happily signed a one-year, two-way deal to stay with the B’s.
“Obviously I wanted to come back to the Bruins,” he said. “This is my hometown and I want to play for the Bruins for a long time.”
Whether that happens remains to be seen. The Bruins need to make some sort of trade in order to free up space if they want to give Krug and Reilly Smith, both unsigned entry level free agents, respectable contracts. Trading Warsofsky wouldn’t solve any of the team’s cap woes, but including him in a trade would both yield a better return and finally give Warsofsky the opportunity he seems to deserve.
|Contract extension talks between David Krejci, Bruins expected to pick up soon||08.27.14 at 10:51 am ET|
Though two key free agents remain unsigned in Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, the team has had talks to avoid a similar situation with one of their top players next summer.
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Bruins have had “casual discussions” with David Krejci‘s camp about a contract extension for the first-line center. Krejci, 28, is entering the final year of a three-year, $15.75 million contract and is set to be an unrestricted free agent after the coming season.
The source said there is an expectation that talks will accelerate in the near future. Historically, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has tried to get deals with his franchise players done before they enter their contract years. Chiarelli did it prior to the 2010-11 season, when he locked up free-agents-to-be Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, and last summer, when he signed Bergeron to an eight-year extension.
Krejci’s current contract was signed during his contract year, as Krejci was months away from restricted free agency when the B’s gave him the three-year pact in December of 2011.
The Czech center is coming off the second-most productive regular season of his career. His 69 points (19 goals, 50 assists) were the most he put up since posting 73 points in the 2008-09 season. Krejci enjoyed the successful regular season while centering Boston’s top line with longtime linemate Milan Lucic and the since-departed Jarome Iginla. With Iginla now in Colorado, Loui Eriksson is expected to serve as the Bruins’ first-line right wing.
Krejci fell short in the postseason, however, scoring no goals and contributing four assists in 12 playoff games. His quiet playoff performance was rather uncharacteristic of him, as he had led two of the previous three postseasons in points.
As for Smith and Krug, both players are entry level free agents, meaning they are at the end of their entry level contracts but have not accrued enough NHL service time to qualify for restricted free agency. As such, neither player can negotiate with other teams. Using figures from Capgeek.com, Bruins currently have 3.218 million in cap space, assuming Marc Savard will be placed on long-term injured reserve.
|Bruins report card: Defensemen/goaltenders||06.10.14 at 4:12 pm ET|
As the Stanley Cup finals take place, the fact that the Bruins didn’t even reach the Eastern Conference finals after winning the Presidents’ Trophy further accentuates the failure that was their 2013-14 season. Here are the individual grades.
Zdeno Chara: A-
Regular season: 77 GP, 17 G, 23 A, 40 PTS, plus-25
Postseason: 12 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS, plus-4
The good: He was the best defenseman in the league in the regular season and was the most deserving Norris candidate, though the guess here is he’ll lose to Duncan Keith. The bad: He wasn’t himself in the last couple of games against the Canadiens, which cemented the fact that when Chara isn’t right, neither are the Bruins.
Torey Krug: A-/B+
Regular season: 79 GP, 14 G, 26 A, 40 PTS, plus-18
Postseason: 12 GP, 2 G, 8 A, 10 PTS, minus-2
RESTRICTED FREE AGENT
Krug gets this high a mark because he’s a bottom-pairing defenseman who gives the Bruins major production in offensive situation and on the power play. He’s also getting better in his own end. It will be interesting to see what kind of money Krug commands as a restricted free agent, as this was just his first full season in the NHL.
Dougie Hamilton: B+
Regular season: 64 GP, 7 G, 18 A, 25 PTS, plus-22
Postseason: 12 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 7 PTS, plus-1
When he was healthy, Hamilton made big strides in his second season. Paired with Chara on the Bruins’ shutdown pairing in the postseason, he had a ball against the Red Wings in the first round, but his Game 3 mental gaffe with P.K. Subban coming out of the penalty box was the low point of what was otherwise a very promising campaign from the 20-year-old.
Johnny Boychuk: B+
Regular season: 75 GP, 5 G, 18 A, 23 PTS, plus-31
Postseason: 12 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, plus-3
Know who loves playing for the Bruins? Johnny Boychuk. Know who’s in the prime of his career (30) and a really good right-shot defenseman who could command a ton of money if he hits free agency after next season? Johnny Boychuk. This could get interesting. The Bruins could either concede that they won’t be able to afford him by trading Boychuk this offseason or they can try to get a deal done with him before the season starts, the latter of which is Peter Chiarelli‘s usual plan of attack.
Kevan Miller: B+
Regular season: 47 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, plus-20
Postseason: 11 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 PTS, plus-2
He’s a young defenseman who isn’t immune to making mistakes, but he’s steady enough to play the Adam McQuaid role of third-pairing defenseman with a healthy dose of nasty. While Miller proved himself to be an NHL regular, his first taste of the playoffs wasn’t so swell, as his postseason will be remembered for his giveaway in Game 6 against the Canadiens that resulted in what would end up standing as the game-winning goal. The fact that he signed a two-year extension with an $800,000 cap hit might make him a better commodity than McQuaid going forward.
Dennis Seidenberg: B
Regular season: 34 GP, 1 G, 9 A, 10 P, plus-11
Seidenberg was fine before he went down with a torn ACL/MCL, and you have to commend his effort to return to the lineup, which he would have done had the Bruins reached the Eastern Conference finals. He signed a four-year extension before the first game of the season. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins not afraid of Bell Centre magic entering Game 6||05.12.14 at 2:19 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Monday’s Game 6 marks the Bruins’ last game at the Bell Centre this season. It’s up to them to decide whether the same goes for the Canadiens.
There’s no home-ice advantage like the Bell Centre. Look up home and away records and it will tell you otherwise, but there is no crowd like the Montreal crowd — both in decibel level and in influence.
The Bruins actually had a much better home record (31-7-3) than the Canadiens (23-13-5) this season, which makes sense because the Bruins were the best team in the NHL. The Bruins already have a victory at Centre Bell this series, and they can fondly recall the days of winning Games 3 and 4 in Montreal in 2011. Yet as the teams prepare for Monday’s Game 6, the idea of eliminating the Canadiens in their own building is daunting. The B’s couldn’t do it when they had the chance in 2011, as it took a seventh game and Nathan Horton overtime heroics to close out that series.
Should the Canadiens take Game 6, as they did in that classic 2011 series, they’ll have a full head of momentum headed into Boston for a winner-take-all seventh game. It’s do-or-golf time for the Habs, and they wouldn’t rather face it anywhere else.
“We understand they use their crowd to their advantage here,” Torey Krug said after Monday’s morning skate. “They come out very fast. When you can handle that, it does well for your team. We’re just going to come in and make sure we focus on the first 10 minutes and then after that we’ll see what happens and let it take care of itself.”
The Bruins aren’t going to psych themselves out, however. They know the building and they’ve won in the building. As intimidating as it may be to sit in the dressing room and hear all the madness going on during Montreal’s epic — and it is epic — pregame ceremony, they’re smart enough to try to avoid it. That especially goes for the younger guys.
“You try to focus on yourself. The biggest thing is you know they’re going to have their game plan and we’re going to have ours,” Matt Fraser said. “I think for us, we want to dictate the pace of play and dictate how things out there. That’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to stick to our game plan.”
Fraser handled his first real experience in the Bell Centre (he’d played a preseason game there back in September) extremely well, as he was given a career-high 14:44 of ice time and scored the game’s only goal on his first shift in overtime of Game 4. Read the rest of this entry »
|X-factor? Bruins know Red Wings’ Luke Glendening well||04.22.14 at 1:26 pm ET|
DETROIT — There’s something about Luke Glendening.
At least there is for Mike Babcock, and that’s really all that matters as the Red Wings try to find a way to both quiet Boston’s scorers and create advantageous matchups for their own.
The first two games of the series saw Babcock use Glendening — an undrafted rookie fourth-line center who played three games on a tryout with the Providence Bruins two years ago — in ways that demonstrated significant trust in the player. Glendening, who was a two-year captain for Michigan and wore an ‘A’ as a sophomore, is a key member of Detroit’s penalty kill, but he also saw plenty of shifts against David Krejci‘s line in the first two games. He scored his first career playoff goal and second career NHL goal in Game 1 against the Krejci line and was later on the ice for Milan Lucic‘s goal.
If you’re surprised by how big a role he’s been given thus far, don’t be. Torey Krug, who saw plenty of him in college, isn’t.
“I’m not surprised, and we don’t even view him as [a fourth-liner],” Krug said. “He’s a good player and he shuts down opposing teams’ guys. In Game 1 he’s out there when it’s 1-0 in the last minute. I saw him in that role before and I’m not surprised that he’s in it now.”
As the series shifts to Joe Louis Arena and Babcock gets last change, he wants to see more of Glendening against Boston’s best players. Babcock wants to get his young scorers, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, away from Boston’s power forwards, as Lucic and Jarome Iginla have rendered them invisible through the first two games.
|Torey Krug and Bruins embrace high expectations: ‘I wouldn’t call it pressure’||04.18.14 at 2:00 pm ET|
Pressure is what you make it.
As the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, the Bruins are making it nothing more than chance to fulfill their own expectations.
According to the Vegas line provided by Bodog.com, the Bruins are 7-2 favorites to win their second Stanley Cup in four years by the time late June rolls around, and for good reason. They are relatively healthy heading into the playoffs, though nursing injuries to Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly while battling a flu bug.
“Well, we never get comfortable,” Claude Julien said before Friday’s Game 1 with the Red Wings. “We’ve always talked about that. No matter what we’ve accomplished, we always know that the good things happen from hard work, so the minute we stop working hard and focusing on the areas we need to focus on, things can change. So that’s always been our approach.”
But it’s not the flu or injuries to Paille or Kelly that are of primary concern – it’s the parity in the Stanley Cup playoffs that present the biggest obstacle. Julien reminded everyone Friday that there’s nothing to be taken for granted when a team like the Bruins take on a club like the Red Wings, a difference of 24 points in the season standings.
“Not with parity,” Julien said. “I don’t think that exists anymore. I’ve been mentioning that for the last couple of days, about the percentage of upsets in the first round over the last couple of years. So it just goes to prove to you that anything can happen in the playoffs. We’ve seen it many times before and I don’t expect that to change this year also.”
Bruins defenseman Torey Krug says he learned a lot from his first experience in the playoffs last year. That experience, he says, will help as he and the Bruins open the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden.
“Pressure is whatever you put on yourself,” Krug said. “This team has high expectations of itself. I wouldn’t call it pressure. We’re going to respond well to whatever it is. We’re excited to get things going.”
Krug broke onto the scene in the 2014 playoffs as a power play weapon and an offensive force.
“You have to play like that,” Krug contined. “If you’re scared to make mistakes, the puck is going to end up in the back of your own net. You have to make sure you play with confidence. That’s the same message the coaching staff was preaching today. It’s the same thing as last summer. Just eager to get going. It’s an exciting time.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins say they ‘have another gear’ to their game||03.19.14 at 1:41 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ 10-game win streak, Brad Marchand, Carl Soderberg and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Bruins have been on a tear recently, winning 10 straight games and outscoring opponents 41-15 in that span. Despite all their success, the team still is looking to improve.
“They’ve been able to do a lot of things really during this streak,” Brickley said. “But it’s amazing when you talk to the coaching staff and even to the players to a man, they say, ‘We’re not peaking, we haven’t hit our stride. Yes, we’re winning games because we’re playing team hockey, and we’re getting some good results, but we definitely have another gear.’ ”
Marchand has been quiet during the streak, only recording two goals and three assists. Brickley admits that while the 25-year-old winger has struggled at times, he has had a successful season.
“He’s having a terrific season really, on the whole, when you take a look at it,” Brickley said. “Certainly there were times, maybe, at different points in the season where it wasn’t going his way and he was kind of fighting it or searching for that balance.”
The B’s third line compares favorably to many of the third lines across the NHL. One guy in that line that has improved, according to Brickley, is Soderberg.
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