|Bruins’ defense shuffle led to rare move from Claude Julien in recent games||11.12.15 at 12:56 pm ET|
Claude Julien has been trying some new things with his lineup this season. He’s even separated Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the Bruins’ current equivalent of Hall & Oates (assuming you’re smart and don’t underrate John Oates).
On defense, Julien’s experimenting has led to an unusual occurrence recently: a righty playing the left side. That’s very uncommon in the NHL, but when Julien opted to take left Joe Morrow out of the lineup for righty Zach Trotman, the result was a righty (Kevan Miller) having to play his off-side. That will change once Dennis Seidenberg returns to the lineup (as early as Thursday evening).
The reasoning behind why righties typically don’t play the left side is simple: They never really learned to do it because they’ve never had to. With left-shot D outnumbering them, it’s so rare that a team would have more righties than lefties. As such, it’s common for lefties to have experience playing the right side — Dennis Seidenberg and Torey Krug play both sides well — but very uncommon for a righty to be comfortable over on the left.
“To me, it would be common if some of those guys really felt comfortable on those sides,’ Julien said this week. “We’ve seen Dennis Seidenberg in the past play the right side and it doesn’t bother him to play his off-side. Some players are capable of doing that. Some others aren’t that comfortable because they’ve never done it before. We’re having to make some decisions here. There’s guys that are saying, ‘I haven’t really done it but I’m willing to give it a shot,’ and I think we’ve seen enough from some of those guys to let them go there and do that job.”
Miller, one of four righties in Boston’s seven-man group, played the left side at times in college and in Providence due to lefties being injured at various points. Though he noted he’s had the odd even-strength shift here and there on the left side over the last few years — never many at a time — he said it took adjusting when playing the last couple games.
“There’s advantages and disadvantages,” he said. “Obviously on offensive zone faceoffs, you have certain one-timers out there and then you see different plays better sometimes, but obviously worse with others. You kind of just have to manage your game.”
Seidenberg appears close to returning, with Julien saying he’s a game-time decision for Thursday’s game against the Avalanche. Should both Seidenberg and Krug (also a game-time decision after taking Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s practices off) play, Miller will be free to return to the right side, assuming he stays in the lineup. Thursday’s morning skate saw Miller play on the right side of a pairing with Krug.
While he’s obviously more comfortable on the right side, he hopes the Bruins won’t hesitate to use him on the left if need be in the future.
“I feel like everybody would probably prefer to be on their strong side, but anything you can do to help the team, you’re going to do it,’ he said. ‘If they ask me to do it, then I’m happy to do it.”
|Bruins’ worst fears realized as inexperienced defense struggles mightily in loss to Jets||10.08.15 at 11:51 pm ET|
If you were worried about the Bruins defense being a disaster with Dougie Hamilton gone and Zdeno Chara banged up, your worst fears were realized in Thursday night’s season-opening loss against the Jets.
The game actually didn’t start off too badly at all. The Bruins were on the attack most of the first period and the defense didn’t really give the Jets any good looks on the few occasions they did get into the Bruins’ zone.
But then the second period happened. The Jets’ first goal came off a combination of all three Bruins forwards getting caught up ice and Joe Morrow not putting enough on his pass into the neutral zone, leading to an easy interception for Dustin Byfuglien and an odd-man rush the other way.
The second came off a brutal turnover by Matt Irwin behind the Bruins’ net, as Andrew Ladd picked his pocket clean before setting up former Bruin Blake Wheeler right in front. The third resulted from another tough sequence for Irwin and defensive partner Zach Trotman. Trotman couldn’t get his stick on a pass through the slot that went right by him, and then Irwin compounded that by completely losing track of his man and allowing Drew Stafford an easy finish on the doorstep.
Things didn’t get any better in the third. After the Bruins cut the deficit to 3-2, Irwin got caught pinching in the offensive zone (as you’ve probably gathered by now, the UMass product did not have a good night) and David Krejci, who was the closest to being able to cover for Irwin, could not keep up with Chris Thorburn on the rush the other way. The Jets then made it 5-2 when Torey Krug couldn’t clear out 5-foot-9 Nicolas Petan and watched a centering pass bounce off Petan’s skate and in.
“I think the examples are pretty clear of where we made those mistakes and where it cost us goals,” Claude Julien said after the game. “It was clear right from the get-go there, so it’s going to be easy to show those kinds of things. We’re early in the season, you’ve got to show those kinds of things. We’ve got to work and rectify those things as soon as possible.” Read the rest of this entry »
|5 things we learned as Bruins score 3 straight to beat Red Wings||04.02.15 at 10:15 pm ET|
Zach Trotman picked a perfect time for his first NHL goal, as he gathered the puck after his point shot was blocked and sent it past Petr Mrazek to cap the Bruins’ come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Red Wings. The Bruins pulled out the victory by scoring three unanswered goals in the third period after the Red Wings built a 2-0 lead.
With the win, the Bruins pulled even with the Red Wings with 93 points for the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, though Detroit has five games remaining to Boston’s four. The teams are even in regulation and overtime wins (the first tiebreaker), but the Bruins now own the second tiebreaker after winning the season series against the Red Wings.
The Senators beat the Lightning in overtime later in the evening, keeping the Senators within three points of the B’s and Wings.
As the Red Wings dominated the first two periods, Tuukka Rask kept the game within reach for the B’s. His efforts were eventually rewarded when, after Detroit made it 2-0 with a Stephen Weiss power-play goal, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson scored 31 seconds apart. Reilly Smith earned the primary assist on both goals.
Trotman made it 3-2 with 3:08 remaining, and a too-many-men penalty for Detroit with 47.2 while trying to play 6-on-5 sealed Boston’s fourth straight win.
Brett Connolly, who made his Bruins debut, assisted both Trotman’s game-winner and Carl Soderberg’s power-play goal in the third for a two-point night.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
BERGERON LEAVES, RETURNS
Patrice Bergeron played only one shift in the second period, and he appeared to get injured on it following a faceoff against Luke Glendening. During a battle for the puck, Justin Abdelkader’s stick appeared to get Bergeron somewhere in the face.
Bergeron would return to the game for the start of the third period wearing a full shield. He tripped Glendening 58 seconds into the period, setting a new career high in penalty minutes with 44 on the season.
|Zach Trotman hopes to make up for loss of Dougie Hamilton||03.26.15 at 3:07 pm ET|
There is no positive to Dougie Hamilton being out of the lineup. He is too good and the Bruins’ situation is too dire. It could be the injury that finally does them in.
Yet with Hamilton out for a number of weeks (and most likely the rest of the regular season unless he’s rushed back from his upper-body injury), the Bruins must make one last push for a playoff spot with their back end depleted.
Injuries to Hamilton and Kevan Miller (out for the season after getting shoulder surgery last month) meant that Adam McQuaid was Boston’s only right-shot defenseman left. As such, the Bruins opted for the right-shooting Zach Trotman over the left-shooting Joe Morrow when they made the call to Providence for a replacement.
The call was familiar for Trotman, who had already played 17 games this season (Sunday’s loss to the Lightning made it 18). In fact, Trotman said that given all of Boston’s injuries this season, the feeling in Providence has been different from years past. To this point, the Bruins’ number of callups has hit the 30s.
“Going into weekends, you never know who’s going to be there when the weekend starts and who’s going to be there when the weekend ends,” Trotman said of the vibe around the Baby B’s.
While the margin for error is extremely slim during this recall, this situation isn’t completely new to Trotman. After all, he was in the Bruins’ lineup for the team’s 1-2-4 stretch in early December, so getting into games when wins are of the utmost importance shouldn’t be a major development.
“It’s a little familiar, but now it’s definitely a lot more into crunch time,” Trotman said Thursday. “It’s a lot more serious now. That’s really all there is to it.”
Trotman has been skating on a third pairing with Matt Bartkowski the last three days after seeing time mostly with Zdeno Chara against the Lightning. The Bartkowski-Trotman pairing means that usual No. 5/6 Torey Krug is being elevated to a second pairing.
Claude Julien hasn’t been afraid to tinker with his lineup this season, however, and with every game a must-win down the stretch, tinker he will. Whatever the number of shifts with whomever, Trotman thinks he’ll be able to handle it.
“I’ve played with Bart many times before,” he said. “I played with Seids quite a bit when I was up last time. Krug a little bit. I played with Zee some last game, and I’ve played with him in training camp before. I’m pretty comfortable with everyone right now.”
Trotman is big, strong and responsible, but he doesn’t bring the skill set that Hamilton brings. The team doesn’t expect him to replace Hamilton, who is easily Boston’s second-best defenseman and the team’s second leader in points in this season.
What they do expect is for him to be a serviceable third-pairing player on a back end that needs to be solid enough to get the Bruins into the playoffs.
“We realize we have to get things done now,” Trotman said. “It’s a backs-in-the-corner kind of deal. It’s a tougher situation than normal maybe to come up in, but I’m just trying to do my part, play my game, be simple, play hard and try to help the team win as many games as possible here.”
|Dougie Hamilton out vs. Lightning; Bruins recall Zach Trotman||03.22.15 at 11:57 am ET|
Dougie Hamilton will not play Sunday against the Lightning due to injury, according to a source. With Hamilton out, the Bruins recalled defenseman Zach Trotman from Providence on an emergency basis Sunday.
Hamilton will undergo further testing back in Boston on Monday. He did not play at all in the third period or overtime of Saturday night’s shootout loss to the Panthers, seemingly due to a second-period play in which he was hit by both Nick Bjugstad and Scottie Upshall.
The Bruins had only been carrying six defensemen. Trotman was recalled last weekend for Saturday’s game against the Penguins, but was returned to Providence without playing any games during the callup.
Trotman has played 17 games for the Bruins this season, registering four assists.
Sunday will mark the first game Hamilton has missed this season. He has played in every game this season, making him one of just three Bruins to play in each of the first 72 games for the Bruins.
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|Bruins assign Zach Trotman, Matt Lindblad to Providence||01.01.15 at 2:39 pm ET|
The Bruins returned Matt Lindblad and Zach Trotman to Providence Thursday.
Lindblad had been recalled prior to Monday’s game on an emergency basis after the B’s lost Matt Fraser on waivers to the Oilers. He skated on a line with Craig Cunningham and Seth Griffith in Boston’s win over Detroit, but served as a healthy scratch Wednesday when both Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron returned to the lineup.
In two NHL games this season, Lindblad has no points, three shots on goal and an average time on ice of 7:46.
Trotman has skated in 17 games for the Bruins, averaging 17:16 of ice time, but was a healthy scratch in Boston’s last six games. His assignment to Providence leaves the Bruins with seven defensemen and suggests Adam McQuaid (thumb) could be nearing a return.
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|Bruins should still make room for Joe Morrow||12.11.14 at 1:26 pm ET|
Joe Morrow should be playing in the NHL. He might even be a guy worth making room for if you’re the Bruins.
Yet with the B’s finally getting their biggest piece back on defense and that room not being made, this could be the beginning of a prolonged stay in the press box or even a return to Providence for the twice-traded-yet-somehow-not-neurotic blueliner.
Even before Zdeno Chara was ready to return, the Bruins began scratching Morrow last week when they, for whatever reason, sat him in the middle two games of their four-game West Coast trip. It doesn’t seem Morrow has done anything to get himself benched, however. Since being recalled in late October, the 22-year-old defenseman was everything but rocky, which was the biggest concern about him heading in given his offensive tendencies. Getting decent minutes (he averaged 16:41) against other teams’ bottom-sixers, Morrow provided stability that Matt Bartkowski couldn’t earlier in the season. His decision-making was sound and he didn’t have major issues in coverage.
Now, Morrow understands those minutes may be harder to come by.
“Every day, even up here there’s still healthy guys most of the time, so it was an ongoing process of possibly being in and out, so there’s really not much to it,” he said. “You’ve just got to go out and practice and see where you fit in and wait for another opportunity, whether it be here or whatever they decide to do. You never know.
“They keep you in the dark; they keep you out of everything and if you don’t let that get to you, you should be fine. Just stay positive and live every day.”
The level-headed Morrow is keeping surprisingly calm throughout the process. When the B’s took him out of the lineup, he didn’t become overly critical of himself or wondered what earned the benching, which is something young players experience frequently early in their careers.
“I guess at one point there’s a part where you’ve got to look at yourself and say, ‘Oh, well did I do something wrong or is it just kind of [they’ve] got to get some other guys in the lineup, switch things up a bit?'” Morrow said. “Personally, I didn’t take it to heart.”
The Bruins can still make room for Morrow. Zach Trotman remains in the lineup, with Claude Julien saying this week that he’s felt Trotman has been the team’s best defenseman on certain nights. He also likes that Trotman is a right shot, though the Bruins have lefties in Dennis Seidenberg and Torey Krug who can move over to allow another lefty, such as Morrow, to enter the lineup. The B’s also shouldn’t be above sitting Kevan Miller at points if need be.
“We’re going to have a healthier back end, which will allow us to out the best players in the lineup,” Julien said. “You hear us say it all the time – it’s almost a cliche now – but healthy competition, right? That’s what it ends up being.”
Though coaches feel he has been a better NHL player than an AHL player, the possibility exists that Morrow could eventually fall victim to the waiver process and be sent to Providence. The B’s can send guys like Morrow or Trotman up and down without exposing them to waivers, which is not the case for other defensemen such as Bartkowski. Morrow knows he could be sent back down, but he would be understanding of the numbers game if it happened.
“It’s in the back of your mind, you know it is [a possibility],” Morrow said. “It is a chess match. You know they’ve got to strategically do things to help this organization and to keep it intact. Whatever that may be, I know I’m a part of it and I’m here to help out, too, so if that’s the case that it does work out better that way, you can’t be mad or you can’t be disappointed about it. It’s just the way things are.”