|Giant defenseman Oleg Yevenko hopes to make most of development camp invitation with Bruins||07.09.14 at 10:57 pm ET|
There is a great big European defenseman on the ice at Bruins development camp.
His name is Oleg Yevenko, he stands 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds and he’s from Belarus. He’s 23 years old and isn’t a member of an NHL organization; he’s in town on an invitation from the B’s (he was in the Devils prospect camp last year and the Islanders prospect camp two years ago). He plays his college hockey at UMass, where he’ll be a senior in the fall. He also played for Belarus in the IIHF World Championship back in May.
And, like many giant players before him, the question is obvious: Can he skate?
It’s a question that was applied to the 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara for years, and the answer wasn’t always yes. With hard work came the skating, and Chara, a third-round pick of the Islanders, became Chara.
“He’s definitely the example,” Yevenko said Wednesday of Chara. “He’s one of the best defensemen in the league at the moment. He uses his size very, very well and there’s a lot to learn from that guy.”
Yevenko strives for a future in the NHL, something that led him to North America at the age of 18.
A hockey player since he was 8 years old, Yevenko got a tryout with the Fargo Force of the USHL and made the team. If that team sounds familiar, it’s because that’s where Bruins goaltending prospect Zane Gothberg played before heading to the University of North Dakota.
Gothberg’s been watching Yevenko for years, from the not-so-pretty to the better-than-not-so-pretty.
“He’s a huge body, man. I remember him coming to camp in Fargo,” Gothberg said. “He could barely move his boots and stuff; had a tough time skating. Now, he’s come a heck of a long way. He’s got good feet for a big man. It’s obviously something he [still] could work on, but that’s with anything in everybody; you’ve always got something to work on.”
Yevenko takes a lot of penalties and was suspended multiple times in his three years in the USHL. He views his size as a big part of that, which is reminiscent of the difficulty Dougie Hamilton – albeit a much younger Dougie Hamilton – had in junior hockey being physical without being called for infractions.
“Every decent or big collision, normally you get called,” Yevenko said. “That’s one of the things that happened during the last year, too. You get called a lot, sometimes get suspended. It kind of influences your game to a certain degree. Maybe on a conscious level, you’re just more careful when you come in a corner because you don’t want to put your team in a bad position.”
|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
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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 injury roundup: Matt Fraser played on broken foot||05.16.14 at 1:30 pm ET|
As is customary on breakup day, word emerged on injuries the Bruins dealt with during the postseason. The bravest of the bunch proved to be Matt Fraser, who played the entire postseason with a broken foot.
Fraser, who was sporting a cast and crutches Friday, broke his right foot in Game 1 of the first round of the AHL postseason while playing for the Providence Bruins. He was dealing with the injury when he was called up in the second round by the Bruins and he scored the overtime winner in Game 4 of the second round for Boston.
Chris Kelly, who suffered a back injury late in the season, had a herniated disc and said it was the most pain he had ever dealt with. Kelly said he hoped he could have returned in some point in the playoffs but wasn’t sure. Kelly will undergo surgery at some point.
Milan Lucic was sporting a soft cast on his left wrist after suffering an injury in Game 7 of the second round against Montreal. He was set to receive an MRI on Friday.
Regarding Zdeno Chara‘s fractured finger, the Bruins captain said that he might not need surgery.
As for Dennis Seidenberg, the defenseman said his plan all along was to return this season after tearing his ACL and MCL on Dec. 27 and having surgery in early January. Seidenberg said he would have been able to play in the Eastern Conference finals had the team gotten there.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Report: Zdeno Chara played through fractured finger||05.15.14 at 7:56 pm ET|
Slovakian national team general manager Otto Sykora told reporters Thursday that Bruins captain Zdeno Chara would not be joining the Slovakian team at the World Hockey Championships because Chara required surgery on a finger he fractured during the second round of the NHL playoffs against the Canadiens.
Chara was slashed in the first period of Game 3 by Michael Bournival and left the ice briefly but returned to the game. Chara’s play diminished as the series went on, and he looked to be in pain after being slashed in the same area by Max Pacioretty in Game 7.
The final two games of the series were particularly bad for Chara, as he failed to take the body on Pacioretty in Game 6 on a play in which Pacioretty scored, while he had a pair of weak giveaways during a first-period penalty kill in Game 7 and saw Montreal’s final goal of the series go off his skate and past Tuukka Rask.
This marks the second consecutive season in which Chara had to play through an injury at the end of the season, as he struggled through a hip injury against the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals last season.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘My teammates always are with me’||05.13.14 at 10:43 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning, after Monday’s disappointing 4-0 loss to the Canadiens in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Canadiens grabbed the lead when the Bruins misplayed a puck near the net and Lars Eller made them pay just 2:11 into the game.
“That first goal, two minutes in, we’re down by one with a very gratuitous bounce to them, then you’re battling back again,” Thornton said. “I felt like we were ready to go. I thought our first three shifts, we applied a lot of pressure, then that goal happens, they kind of picked the momentum up from there.
“I don’t know how many chances we had last night, but I felt like we had a lot of offensive-zone time, I felt like we had a lot of chances. Like [Milan Lucic] said, nine times out of 10 he buries that [shot he missed on an open net], and it’s 1-1 instead of being 2-0. Some things like that contributed to them winning last night. We’ve got to fight through that and bring it tomorrow.”
The teams will meet in Game 7 on Wednesday night in Boston.
“We’ve been there a lot in the last seven years that I’ve been here,” Thornton said. “You have to get your mindset in a place where you’re not squeezing your stick, but you know that every shift could be the deciding factor in whether you’re playing next week or sitting at home.
“I like that we have a group that’s been there a bunch now. That’s no guarantee, but I think we have a good, core group of guys that knows how to approach these games, and the coaching staff knows how to approach these games.”
|Claude Julien calls out Habs for late-game antics, says he expects Bruins to win Game 7||05.12.14 at 11:08 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Claude Julien had a field day with officials in the final minute of the Bruins’ 4-0 Game 6 loss to the Canadiens Monday night, and that frustration carried over into his postgame press conference.
Julien was angry that the Canadiens were taking liberties and not getting called for dangerous plays. Julien was angry that what he believed to be a David Desharnais slew-foot on Brad Marchand went uncalled in the third period, with emotions boiling over after Andrei Markov put his stick between Zdeno Chara‘s legs and whacked the Boston captain in the groin.
Scrums ensued from there, and Julien said such things will happen when dirty plays go unpunished.
“Although we’re perceived as the bad guys and they’re the good guys, when Markov trips Chara and then he puts his stick between his legs and nothing’s going to be called, eventually somebody’s going to react,” Julien said. “Whether it’s right or wrong, Zdeno reacted and then everything else started.
“There was a slew-foot before — Desharnais on Marchand. It’s a slew foot. Those are things that we keep talking about that are dangerous in our game. It’s a rivalry and there are some things going on on both sides.”
The Bruins are considered to be the aggressors in pretty much any series they play given their physicality and a tendency to cross the line. Julien said that the Bruins have pulled their share of stunts as well this series, but that Game 6 should show that it isn’t one-sided.
“I’m not portraying ourselves as innocent here,” Julien said. “I’m just saying it takes two teams to [tango].”
Julien was asked one more question after that, with a reporter asking what he expects from the seventh game.
“I expect us to win,” Julien said.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Don Cherry on D&C: Bruins ‘just don’t seem to be ready’||05.07.14 at 9:25 am ET|
Legendary Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the Bruins’ disappointing 4-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“That was not one of their better games. I don’t understand it,” the former Bruins coach said. “They spot teams a 3-0 lead and think they’re going to come back in the third period. It’s a dumb way to play.”
The Bruins were hurt by a couple of defensive breakdowns that led to early Canadiens goals, and Cherry said their failure to be prepared to play hard and focused from the opening faceoff is an issue that continues to haunt them.
“It’s funny, you can sit here and dissect it. You have to be behind the bench to realize that Montreal is going to come out flying,” Cherry said. “They have their favorite singer. You have to be ready for something like that. It’s easy to say. I’ve been there many times before.
“There’s so many mistakes made, even down to the one where [Tuukka] Rask doesn’t bang his stick on the breakaway. You’re taught in junior, in bantams, when you see a penalty near the end, you bang your stick to warn the guys. Here’s a guy that’s not ready. They just don’t seem to be ready. They think that they can come back all the time in the third period. They seem to be relying on that third period all the time. They don’t play desperate right now. I’m telling you, they better start, because they’re sky high, Montreal is sky high.”
Added Cherry: “You’ve got to play like [Brad] Marchand. Believe it or not, he was plus-2 last night. He is a guy that they’ve got to look to. He plays like that all the time, and that’s the way they’ve got to play. They were fast asleep the first two periods.”
The Bruins’ problems start in goal, where Rask has continued his career-long struggles against the Canadiens, while Carey Price has come up with some big saves at the other end.
“Rask is not playing the way Rask can play. … Price is outplaying him, that’s for sure,” Cherry said. “Rask is not playing like he did in the season for some reason. Montreal’s got — I don’t know if they’ve got his number or what. But he’s not the Rask that I know.
“But here’s the thing that bothers me, is the Bruins were out-hit last night. Imagine the Bruins being out-hit by those little midgets with Montreal. They’re just not ready. And if they’re not ready, it’s going to be a short series.”
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