Bruins

Beleskey ready to 'stick with his game' coming off down season with Bruins

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Beleskey ready to 'stick with his game' coming off down season with Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – At the end of a frustratingly tough season last spring, it was obvious to Matt Beleskey he needed to make some changes.

So the hard-nosed winger did something about it. Beleskey stuck around Boston for most of the summer offseason, worked out with the Bruins training staff and has now put himself in the best position to bounce back from a truly disappointing second campaign with the Bruins. Beleskey has dropped a few pounds after never really getting up to speed last season through injuries and inconsistency, and fully acknowledges he’s trying to keep up with the ever-growing speed within the NHL just like everybody else.

“I tried to change a lot of aspects in my training. I tried some new stuff with my diet and I hope it’s going to pay off here. Nutrition-wise I just tried to simplify what I eat and really stick with it. Seven or eight years ago you might have needed a couple of extra pounds, but not anymore,” said Beleskey. “The team showed confidence in me this summer, so I just need to repay that confidence and keep working hard.

“I talked to Don Sweeney and they made a commitment to me just like I made a commitment to this city here. They stuck with it. I don’t know if that was their plan all the time, but that’s the way it worked out. We’re happy to be here.”

It’s not to say that the 29-year-old isn’t going to stray too far away from the physicality and hard-hitting that’s always been a staple of his game. Clearly, Beleskey knows it simply comes down to being better than he was last season when he finished with three goals and eight points in 49 games, or he might not be in Boston much longer. The Bruins left Beleskey unprotected in the expansion draft and the trade rumors were certainly out there last spring prior to the trade deadline, but for now the former Anaheim Ducks grinder gets another chance in Boston.

Certainly nothing is going to be handed to Beleskey despite his contract and 10-year career in the NHL, and he’ll be in direct competition with young forward prospects like Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork that are coming up through the ranks.

It’s simply about turning things around and posting something a lot closer to the 15 goals and 37 points that he posted in his first season in Boston when he provided an effective mix of punishing hits and solid secondary offense.

“It’s not what I wanted last year and I’m really ready to get things going,” said Beleskey, who still has three years remaining on his contract at $3.8 million per season. “I just need to have some confidence and stick with my game. I don’t think you lose your hockey-playing ability in one year. I came off the best year of my hockey career the year before, so I just need to get some bounces, use my confidence and skill and work hard. It’s the first I really experienced [a down season], so I just need to keep working through it.”

The belief at this address is that a knee injury and perhaps a touch of complacency really buried Beleskey last season after a solid first year in Boston. There isn’t likely to be a repeat of that from a proud, fiery competitor that’s still on the right side of 30 years old, and instead last season should look more like an outlier lost season once Beleskey gets it going this year. If that’s the case then the Bruins will simply have another hard-working, hard-to-play-against veteran on a Boston roster that is going to skew very, very young this season. 

Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

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Morning Skate: 'After Hours'? Injured Jagr is open

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering if it shouldn’t be more of an issue that potential Red Sox manager Alex Cora was good buddies with Dustin Pedroia when the two played together in Boston.

*Jaromir Jagr suffers a lower-body injury and then goes on Hockey Night in Canada’s “After Hours” program to show once again how wonderful it is to be “The Jagr.”

*The Ottawa Senators get Erik Karlsson back this week, but now they’ve lost power forward Bobby Ryan for a month with a broken finger.

*The Montreal Canadiens are getting exposed for the very flawed team that they are during a brutal start to the 2017-18 season.

*Keep an eye out on the Los Angeles Kings now that they’ve suffered an injury with Jeff Carter and do appear to be in the running for the playoffs this season.

*New Jersey Devils fans help a singer belt out the national anthem after there might have been a case of forgetting the words.

*Doug Gilmour might not have always enjoyed the prying eyes while playing in Toronto, a case that gives you an idea what it’s like to be a pro hockey player in a market like Toronto where everybody knows your name.

*For something completely different: There’s no doubting that Aaron Judge has brought life and energy back to the Yankees and that’s something that’s very good for baseball.

 

Brutal loss shows Bruins reaching their limit for injuries

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Brutal loss shows Bruins reaching their limit for injuries

BOSTON – It feels like the Bruins might finally be hitting their critical mass with all of the injuries in the first few weeks of the season.

The B’s were down Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and David Krejci as the new injuries Saturday night and clearly missed those players, along with the others currently out with injuries in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden. The Bruins had a three-goal lead in the second period and a two-goal lead in the third but frittered away both while allowing the hapless Sabres to outshoot them 21-6 in the third and overtime.

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Anton Khudobin battled his rebound control for most of the game while facing 42 shots on net but it was the absence of Miller and McQuaid in the D-zone that made it a little too easy for Buffalo to push Boston when it mattered late.

Torey Krug was on the ice for the last three of Buffalo’s goals and was out penalty killing late in the third period in a spot where he would never have been in if the B’s were healthy on the back end.

“That’s where the appreciation comes in for the Kevan Miller’s and the Adam McQuaid’s of the world. They’re not always flashy, but in those instances, they’re money. They get it done. And that’s why they are paid to get it done,” said Bruce Cassidy. “So yes, we miss them. But, last week we missed other players. So the guys that are out there, it’s up to them to get it done, right?

“It didn’t happen tonight, and hopefully we learned from it and can be hungrier the next time. There’s not much else to analyze that. That was it. Someone had to play in that situation. We pick guys who we figure would get the job done, and it didn’t work out for us. Next time, we’ll keep working at it.”

As part of the injury factor, there are also players that are banged-up and back in who are also clearly not back to full strength. Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and David Backes (diverticulitis) are both back from their early-season issues and Krug continues to play with a healing fractured jaw, but all three key players combined for just a single assist and three shots on net in a game that featured nine goals.

Krug was the most noticeable weak link in the loss as he was overwhelmed in the D-zone on the game-tying goal when an Evander Kane shot bounced on him on its way into the goal. Krug was down on his stomach after losing his balance while battling in front of the net. Krug then was out for an extended period in OT before bumping a Sabres player around the crease who fell into Khudobin just as Ryan O’Reilly was pushing the game-winning goal past him.

Krug spoke on Saturday morning about feeling like things were starting to come together for him but he finished a minus-3 against the Sabres with his big, bad teammates out with injuries. He's a startling minus-8 after the first two weeks of the season.

“Obviously we have to do a better job tonight. Two-goal lead in your own building, it’s got to be the hardest place for the opposing team to come in and overcome that. We’ve got to be better,” said Krug. “I thought I had an opportunity to win a battle in the corner on that loose puck. Just trying to swat away and all of a sudden it comes out the other side, and we just couldn’t overcome. That’s survival mode. “Especially when they were able to make changes like they were. We just got to stay calm, composed, and make sure we’re not getting beat one-on-one. We obviously managed it for a while, but we just couldn’t get the puck back.”

It was also clearly about Khudobin, who had a big chance to put the Bruins team on his back with Rask out with a concussion. The Russian netminder made 37 saves and at times looked energetic and ready to battle between the pipes but at other times couldn’t make the clean save that the Bruins needed in order to get a whistle and calm things down. In OT, Khudobin couldn’t make a clean glove save on a Rasmus Ristolainen tester from the high slot that would have allowed the Bruins to get some tired players off the ice in the 3-on-3 OT.

Instead, Krug, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were out on the ice for 2 minutes, 15 seconds and eventually got beaten on O’Reilly’s play that took the puck straight to the Boston net. Cassidy called it an “erratic” night for Khudobin when they needed calmer, more poised play from their goaltender and that was clearly a reflection of the Black and Gold missing Rask.

“[Khudobin] was erratic. He battles. We love that about him. He battled to the end. [He] certainly made his share of saves. We need to be better in front of him,” said Cassidy. “But there were times that, there were fires that needed to be put out [on plays] that shouldn’t have been necessary. But that happens sometimes.

“[There were instances] in the third period, plus overtime, where we needed to calm the game down. Whether it’s a face-off, even right before the overtime goal, we had opportunities to get possession out of that pile. They came out with it. And that’s what I said. They were hungrier than us. Late, they won more pucks. If we win that puck out of that pile, we might not be talking about losing. Maybe we get out of trouble and it goes our way. We’ll never know.”

Maybe things would have gone the Bruins way if they had more of their walking wounded back and contributing. Instead, it feels as if the B’s are being tested with new, damaging injuries with each passing day. A number of those had a direct impact on a brutal loss to the Sabres on Saturday night. One has to wonder if there are more of those coming until the Bruins can start stabilizing their medical situation.